Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Janet Kegg and PG Distributed Proofreaders
A SUMMER IN
LESLIE GOLDTHWAITE'S LIFE
Mrs. A. D. T. WHITNEY
THE MEMORY OF MY DEAR FRIEND
MARIA S. CUMMINS
AND OF DAYS AMONG THE MOUNTAINS MADE
BEAUTIFUL BY HER COMPANIONSHIP
I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE STORY
PREFACE TO REAL FOLKS SERIES.
"Leslie Goldthwaite" was the first of a series of four, which grew from
this beginning, and was written in 1866 and the years nearly following;
the first two stories--this and "We Girls"--having been furnished, by
request, for the magazine "Our Young Folks," published at that time with
such success by Messrs. Fields, Osgood & Co., and edited by Mr. Howard
M. Ticknor and Miss Lucy Larcom. The last two volumes--"Real Folks" and
"The Other Girls"--were asked for to complete the set, and were not
delayed by serial publication, but issued at once, in their order of
completion, in book form.
There is a sequence of purpose, character, and incident in the four
stories, of which it is well to remind new readers, upon their
reappearance in fresh editions. They all deal especially with girl-life
and home-life; endeavoring, even in the narration of experiences outside
the home and seeming to preclude its life, to keep for girlhood and
womanhood the true motive and tendency, through whatever temporary
interruption and necessity, of and toward the best spirit and shaping of
womanly work and surrounding; making the home-life the ideal one, and
home itself the centre and goal of effort and hope.
The writing of "The Other Girls" was interrupted by the Great Fire of
1872, and the work upon the Women's Relief Committee, which brought
close contact and personal knowledge to reinforce mere sympathy and
theory,--and so, I hope, into this last of the series, a touch of
something that may deepen the influence of them all to stronger help.
* * * * *
I wish, without withdrawing or superseding the special dedication of
"Leslie Goldthwaite" to the memory of the dear friend with whom the
weeks were spent in which I gathered material for Leslie's "Summer," to
remember, in this new presentation of the whole series, that other
friend, with whom all the after work in it was associated and made the
first links of a long regard and fellowship, now lifted up and reaching
onward into the hopes and certainties of the "Land o' the Leal."
I wish to join to my own name in this, the name of Lucy Larcom, which
stands representative of most brave and earnest work, in most gentle,
ADELINE D. T. WHITNEY.
I. THE GREEN OF THE LEAF
II. WAYSIDE GLIMPSES
IV. MARMADUKE WHARNE
VI. DAKIE THAYNE
VII. DOWN AT OUTLEDGE
VIII. SIXTEEN AND SIXTY
IX. "I DON'T SEE WHY"
XI. IN THE PINES
XII. CROWDED OUT
XIII. A HOWL
XIV. "FRIENDS OF MAMMON"
XV. QUICKSILVER AND GOLD
XVI. "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?"
A SUMMER IN LESLIE GOLDTHWAITE'S LIFE.
THE GREEN OF THE LEAF.
"Nothing but leaves--leaves--leaves! The green things don't know enough
to do anything better!"
Leslie Goldthwaite said this, standing in the bay-window among her
plants, which had been green and flourishing, but persistently
blossomless, all winter, and now the spring days were come.
Cousin Delight looked up; and her white ruffling, that she was daintily
hemstitching, fell to her lap, as she looked, still with a certain wide
intentness in her eyes, upon the pleasant window, and the bright, fresh
things it framed. Not the least bright and fresh among them was the
human creature in her early girlhood, tender and pleasant in its
beautiful leafage, but waiting, like any other young and growing life,
to prove what sort of flower should come of it.
"Now you've got one of your 'thoughts,' Cousin Delight! I see it
'biggening,' as Elspie says." Leslie turned round, with her little green
watering-pot suspended in her hand, waiting for the thought.
To have a thought, and to give it, were nearly simultaneous things with
Cousin Delight; so true, so pure, so unselfish, so made to give,--like
perfume or music, which cannot be, and be withheld,--were thoughts with
I must say a word, before I go further, of Delight Goldthwaite. I think
of her as of quite a young person; you, youthful readers, would
doubtless have declared that she was old,--very old, at least for a
young lady. She was twenty-eight, at this time of which I write; Leslie,
her young cousin, was just "past the half, and catching up," as she said
herself,--being fifteen. Leslie's mother called Miss Goldthwaite,
playfully, "Ladies' Delight;" and, taking up the idea, half her women
friends knew her by this significant and epigrammatic title. There was
something doubly pertinent in it. She made you think at once of nothing
so much as heart's-ease,--a garden heart's-ease, that flower of many
names; not of the frail, scentless, wild wood-violet,--she had been
cultured to something larger. The violet nature was there, colored and
shaped more richly, and gifted with rare fragrance--for those whose
delicate sense could perceive it. The very face was a pansy face; with
its deep, large, purple-blue eyes, and golden brows and lashes, the
color of her hair,--pale gold, so pale that careless people who had
perception only for such beauty as can flash upon you from a crowd, or
across a drawing-room, said hastily that she had _no_ brows or lashes,
and that this spoiled her. She was not a beauty, therefore; nor was she,
in any sort, a belle. She never drew around her the common attention
that is paid eagerly to very pretty, outwardly bewitching girls; and she
never seemed to care for this. At a party, she was as apt as not to sit
in a corner; but the quiet people,--the mothers, looking on, or the
girls, waiting for partners,--getting into that same corner also, found
the best pleasure of their evening there. There was something about her
dress, too, that women appreciated most fully; the delicate textures,
the finishings--and only those--of rare, exquisite lace, the perfect
harmony of the whole unobtrusive toilet,--women looked at these in
wonder at the unerring instinct of her taste; in wonder, also, that they
only with each other raved about her. Nobody had ever been supposed to
be devoted to her; she had never been reported as "engaged;" there had
never been any of this sort of gossip about her; gentlemen found her,
they said, hard to get acquainted with; she had not much of the small
talk which must usually begin an acquaintance; a few--her relatives, or
her elders, or the husbands of her intimate married friends--understood
and valued her; but it was her girl friends and women friends who knew
her best, and declared that there was nobody like her; and so came her
sobriquet, and the double pertinence of it.
Especially she was Leslie Goldthwaite's delight. Leslie had no sisters,
and her aunts were old,--far older than her mother; on her father's
side, a broken and scattered family had left few ties for her; next to
her mother, and even closer, in some young sympathies, she clung to
With this diversion, we will go back now to her, and to her thought.
"I was thinking," she said, with that intent look in her eyes, "I often
think, of how something else was found, once, having nothing but leaves;
and of what came to it."
"I know," answered Leslie, with an evasive quickness, and turned round
with her watering-pot to her plants again.
There was sometimes a bit of waywardness about Leslie Goldthwaite; there
was a fitfulness of frankness and reserve. She was eager for truth; yet
now and then she would thrust it aside. She said that "nobody liked a
nicely pointed moral better than she did; only she would just as lief
it shouldn't be pointed at her." The fact was, she was in that sensitive
state in which many a young girl finds herself, when she begins to ask
and to weigh with herself the great questions of life, and shrinks shyly
from the open mention of the very thing she longs more fully to
Cousin Delight took no notice; it is perhaps likely that she understood
sufficiently well for that. She turned toward the table by which she
sat, and pulled toward her a heavy Atlas that lay open at the map of
Connecticut. Beside it was Lippincott's Gazetteer,--open, also.
"Yes. I've been a charming journey this morning, before you came. I
wonder if I ever _shall_ travel, in reality. I've done a monstrous deal
of it with maps and gazetteers."
"This hasn't been one of the stereotyped tours, it seems."
"Oh, no! What's the use of doing Niagara or the White Mountains, or even
New York and Philadelphia and Washington, on the map? I've been one of
my little by-way trips, round among the villages; stopping wherever I
found one cuddled in between a river and a hill, or in a little seashore
nook. Those are the places, after all, that I would hunt out, if I had
plenty of money to go where I liked with. It's so pleasant to imagine
how the people live there, and what sort of folks they would be likely
to be. It isn't so much traveling as living round,--awhile in one home,
and then in another. How many different little biding-places there are
in the world! And how queer it is only really to know about one or two
"What's this place you're at just now? Winsted?"
"Yes; there's where I've brought up, at the end of that bit of railroad.
It's a bigger place than I fancied, though. I always steer clear of the
names that end in 'ville.' They're sure to be stupid, money-making
towns, all grown up in a minute, with some common man's name tacked on
to them, that happened to build a saw-mill, or something, first. But
Winsted has such a sweet, little, quiet, English sound. I know it never
_began_ with a mill. They make pins and clocks and tools and machines
there now; and it's 'the largest and most prosperous post-village of
Litchfield County.' But I don't care for the pins and machinery.
It's got a lake alongside of it; and Still River--don't that sound
nice?--runs through; and there are the great hills, big enough to put on
the map, out beyond. I can fancy where the girls take their sunset
walks; and the moonlight parties, boating on the pond, and the way the
woods look, round Still River. Oh, yes! that's one of the places I mean
to go to."
Leslie Goldthwaite lived in one of the inland cities of Massachusetts.
She had grown up and gone to school there, and had never yet been thirty
miles away. Her father was a busy lawyer, making a handsome living for
his family, and laying aside abundantly for their future provision, but
giving himself no lengthened recreations, and scarcely thinking of them
as needful for the rest.
It was a pleasant, large, brown, wooden house they lived in, on the
corner of two streets; with a great green door-yard about it on two
sides, where chestnut and cherry trees shaded it from the public way,
and flower-beds brightened under the parlor windows and about the porch.
Just greenness and bloom enough to suggest, always, more; just sweetness
and sunshine and bird-song enough, in the early summer days, to whisper
of broad fields and deep woods where they rioted without stint; and
these days always put Leslie into a certain happy impatience, and set
her dreaming and imagining; and she learned a great deal of her
geography in the fashion that we have hinted at.
Miss Goldthwaite was singularly discursive and fragmentary in her
conversation this morning, somehow. She dropped the map-traveling
suddenly, and asked a new question. "And how comes on the
"O Cousin Del! I'm humiliated,--disgusted! I feel as small as
butterflies' pinfeathers! I've been to see the Haddens. Mrs. Linceford
has just got home from Paris, and brought them wardrobes to last to
remotest posterity! And _such_ things! Such rufflings, and stitchings,
and embroiderings! Why, mine look--as if they'd been made by the
The "linen-drawer" was an institution of Mrs. Goldthwaite's; resultant,
partly, from her old-fashioned New England ideas of womanly industry and
thrift,--born and brought up, as she had been, in a family whose
traditions were of house-linen sufficient for a lifetime spun and woven
by girls before their twenty-first year, and whose inheritance, from
mother to daughter, was invariably of heedfully stored personal and
household plenishings, made of pure material that was worth the laying
by, and carefully bleached and looked to year by year; partly, also,
from a certain theory of wisdom which she had adopted, that when girls
were once old enough to care for and pride themselves on a plentiful
outfit, it was best they should have it as a natural prerogative of
young-ladyhood, rather than that the "trousseau" should come to be, as
she believed it so apt to be, one of the inciting temptations to
heedless matrimony. I have heard of a mother whose passion was for
elegant old lace; and who boasted to her female friends that, when her
little daughter was ten years old, she had her "lace-box," with the
beginning of her hoard in costly contributions from the stores of
herself and of the child's maiden aunts. Mrs. Goldthwaite did a better
and more sensible thing than this; when Leslie was fifteen, she
presented her with pieces of beautiful linen and cotton and cambric, and
bade her begin to make garments which should be in dozens, to be laid
by, in reserve, as she completed them, until she had a well-filled
bureau that should defend her from the necessity of what she called a
"wretched living from hand to mouth,--always having underclothing to
make up, in the midst of all else that she would find to do and to
Leslie need not have been ashamed, and I don't think in her heart she
was, of the fresh, white, light-lying piles that had already begun to
make promise of filling a drawer, which she drew out as she answered
Cousin Delight's question.
The fine-lined gathers; the tiny dots of stitches that held them to
their delicate bindings; the hems and tucks, true to a thread, and
dotted with the same fairy needle dimples (no machine-work, but all
real, dainty finger-craft); the bits of ruffling peeping out from the
folds, with their edges in almost invisible whip-hems; and here and
there a finishing of lovely, lace-like crochet, done at odd minutes, and
for "visiting work,"--there was something prettier and more precious,
really, in all this than in the imported fineries which had come,
without labor and without thought, to her friends the Haddens. Besides,
there were the pleasant talks and readings of the winter evenings, all
threaded in and out, and associated indelibly with every seam. There was
the whole of "David Copperfield," and the beginning of "Our Mutual
Friend," ruffled up into the night-dresses; and some of the crochet was
beautiful with the rhymed pathos of "Enoch Arden," and some with the
poetry of the "Wayside Inn;" and there were places where stitches had
had to be picked out and done over, when the eye grew dim and the hand
trembled while the great war news was being read.
Leslie loved it, and had a pride in it all; it was not, truly and only,
humiliation and disgust at self-comparison with the Haddens, but some
other and unexplained doubt which moved her now, and which was stirred
often by this, or any other of the objects and circumstances of her
life, and which kept her standing there with her hand upon the
bureau-knob, in a sort of absence, while Cousin Delight looked in,
approved, and presently dropped quietly among the rest, like a bit of
money into a contribution-box, the delicate breadths of linen cambric
she had just finished hemstitching and rolled together.
"Oh, thank you! But, Cousin Delight," said Leslie, shutting the drawer,
and turning short round, suddenly, "I wish you'd just tell me--what you
think--is the sense of that--about the fig-tree! I suppose it's awfully
wicked, but I never could see. Is everything fig-leaves that isn't out
and out fruit, and is it all to be cursed, and why _should_ there be
anything but leaves when 'the time of figs was not yet'?" After her
first hesitation, she spoke quickly, impetuously, and without pause, as
something that _would_ come out.
"I suppose that has troubled you, as I dare say it has troubled a great
many other people," said Cousin Delight. "It used to be a puzzle and a
trouble to me. But now it seems to me one of the most beautiful things
of all." She paused.
"I can_not_ see how," said Leslie emphatically. "It always seems to me
She said this in a lower tone, as afraid of the uttered audacity of her
own thought; and she walked off, as she spoke, towards the window once
more, and stood with her back to Miss Goldthwaite, almost as if she
wished to have done, again, with the topic. It was not easy for Leslie
to speak out upon such things; it almost made her feel cross when she
had done it.
"People mistake the true cause and effect, I think," said Delight
Goldthwaite, "and so lose all the wonderful enforcement of that acted
parable. It was not, 'Cursed be the fig-tree because I have found
nothing thereon;' but, 'Let _no fruit_ grow on thee, henceforward,
forever.' It seems to me I can hear the tone of tender solemnity in
which Jesus would say such words; knowing, as only he knew, all that
they meant, and what should come, inevitably, of such a sentence. 'And
presently the fig-tree withered away.' The life was nothing, any longer,
from the moment when it might not be, what all life is, a reaching
forward to the perfecting of some fruit. There was nothing to come, ever
again, of all its greenness and beauty, and the greenness and beauty,
which were only a form and a promise, ceased to be. It was the way he
took to show his disciples, in a manner they should never forget, the
inexorable condition upon which all life is given, and that the barren
life, so soon as its barrenness is absolutely hopeless, becomes a
Leslie stood still, with her back to Miss Goldthwaite, and her face to
the window. Her perplexity was changed, but hardly cleared. There were
many things that crowded into her thoughts, and might have been spoken;
but it was quite impossible for her to speak. Impossible on this topic,
and she certainly could not speak, at once, on any other.
Many seconds of silence counted themselves between the two. Then Cousin
Delight, feeling an intuition of much that held and hindered the young
girl, spoke again. "Does this make life seem hard?"
"Yes," said Leslie then, with an effort that hoarsened her very voice,
"frightful." And as she spoke, she turned again quickly, as if to be
motionless longer were to invite more talk, and went over to the other
window, where her bird-cage hung, and began to take down the glasses.
"Like all parables, it is manifold," said Delight gently. "There is a
great hope in it, too."
Leslie was at her basin, now, turning the water faucet, to rinse and
refill the little drinking-vessel. She handled the things quietly, but
she made no pause.
"It shows that, while we see the leaf, we may have hope of the fruit, in
ourselves or in others."
She could not see Leslie's face. If she had, she would have perceived a
quick lifting and lightening upon it; then a questioning that would not
very long be repressed to silence.
The glasses were put in the cage again, and presently Leslie came back
to a little low seat by Miss Goldthwaite's side, which she had been
occupying before all this talk began. "Other people puzzle me as much as
myself," she said. "I think the whole world is running to leaves,
"Some things flower almost invisibly, and hide away their fruit under
thick foliage. It is often only when the winds shake their leaves down,
and strip the branches bare, that we find the best that has been
"They make a great fuss and flourish with the leaves, though, as long as
they can. And it's who shall grow the broadest and tallest, and flaunt
out, with the most of them. After all, it's natural; and they _are_
beautiful in themselves. And there's a 'time' for leaves, too, before
"Exactly. We have a right to look for the leaves, and to be glad of
them. That is a part of the parable."
"Cousin Delight! Let's talk of real things, and let the parable alone a
Leslie sprang impulsively to her bureau again, and flung forth the linen
"There are my fig-leaves,--some of them; and here are more." She turned,
with a quick movement, to her wardrobe; pulled out and uncovered a
bonnet-box which held a dainty headgear of the new spring fashion, and
then took down from a hook and tossed upon it a silken garment that
fluttered with fresh ribbons. "How much of this outside business is
right, and how much wrong, I should be glad to know? It all takes time
and thoughts; and those are life. How much life must go into the leaves?
That's what puzzles me. I can't do without the things; and I can't be
let to take 'clear comfort' in them, as grandma says, either." She was
on the floor, now, beside her little fineries; her hands clasped
together about one knee, and her face turned up to Cousin Delight's. She
looked as if she half believed herself to be ill-used.
"And clothes are but the first want,--the primitive fig-leaves; the
world is full of other outside business,--as much outside as these,"
pursued Miss Goldthwaite, thoughtfully.
"Everything is outside," said Leslie. "Learning, and behaving, and
going, and doing, and seeing, and hearing, and having. 'It's all a
muddle,' as the poor man says in 'Hard Times.'"
"I don't think I can do without the parable," said Cousin Delight. "The
real inward principle of the tree--that which corresponds to thought and
purpose in the soul--urges always to the finishing of its life in the
fruit. The leaves are only by the way,--an outgrowth of the same
vitality, and a process toward the end; but never, in any living thing,
the end itself."
"Um," said Leslie, in her nonchalant fashion again; her chin between her
two hands now, and her head making little appreciative nods. "That's
like condensed milk; a great deal in a little of it. I'll put the
fig-leaves away now, and think it over."
But, as she sprang up, and came round behind Miss Goldthwaite's chair,
she stopped and gave her a little kiss on the top of her head. If Cousin
Delight had seen, there was a bright softness in the eyes, which told of
feeling, and of gladness that welcomed the quick touch of truth.
Miss Goldthwaite knew one good thing,--when she had driven her nail.
"She never hammered in the head with a punch, like a carpenter," Leslie
said of her. She believed that, in moral tool-craft, that finishing
implement belonged properly to the hand of an after-workman.
I have mentioned one little theory, relating solely to domestic thrift,
which guided Mrs. Goldthwaite in her arrangements for her daughter. I
believe that, with this exception, she brought up her family very
nearly without any theory whatever. She did it very much on the
taking-for-granted system. She took for granted that her children were
born with the same natural perceptions as herself; that they could
recognize, little by little, as they grew into it, the principles of the
moral world,--reason, right, propriety,--as they recognized, growing
into them, the conditions of their outward living. She made her own life
a consistent recognition of these, and she lived _openly_ before them.
There was never any course pursued with sole calculation as to its
effect on the children. Family discussion and deliberation was seldom
with closed doors. Questions that came up were considered as they came;
and the young members of the household perceived as soon as their elders
the "reasons why" of most decisions. They were part and parcel of the
whole regime. They learned politeness by being as politely attended to
as company. They learned to be reasonable by seeing how the _reason_
compelled father and mother, and not by having their vision stopped
short at the arbitrary fact that father and mother compelled them. I
think, on the whole, the Goldthwaite no-method turned out as good a
method as any. Men have found out lately that even horses may be guided
It was characteristic, therefore, that Mrs. Goldthwaite--receiving one
day a confidential note proposing to her a pleasant plan in behalf of
Leslie, and intended to guard against a premature delight and eagerness,
and so perhaps an ultimate disappointment for that young lady--should
instantly, on reading it, lay it open upon the table before her
daughter. "From Mrs. Linceford," she said, "and concerning you."
Leslie took it up, expecting, possibly, an invitation to tea. When she
saw what it really was, her dark eyes almost blazed with sudden, joyous
"Of course, I should be delighted to say yes for you," said Mrs.
Goldthwaite, "but there are things to be considered. I can't tell how it
will strike your father."
"School," suggested Leslie, the light in her eyes quieting a little.
"Yes, and expense; though I don't think he would refuse on that score.
I should have _liked_"--Mrs. Goldthwaite's tone was only half, and very
gently, objecting; there was an inflection of ready self-relinquishment
in it, also--"to have had your _first_ journey with me. But you might
have waited a long time for that."
If Leslie were disappointed in the end, she would have known that her
mother's heart had been with her from the beginning, and grown people
seldom realize how this helps even the merest child to bear a denial.
"There is only a month now to vacation," said the young girl.
"What do you think Mr. Waylie would say?"
"I really think," answered Leslie, after a pause, "that he would say it
was better than books."
They sat at their sewing together, after this, without speaking very
much more, at the present time, about it. Mrs. Goldthwaite was thinking
it over in her motherly mind, and in the mind of Leslie thought and hope
and anticipation were dancing a reel with each other. It is time to tell
the reader of the what and why.
Mrs. Linceford, the elder married daughter of the Hadden family,--many
years the elder of her sisters, Jeannie and Elinor,--was about to take
them, under her care, to the mountains for the summer, and she kindly
proposed joining Leslie Goldthwaite to her charge. "The mountains" in
New England means usually, in common speech, the one royal range of the
You can think what this opportunity was to a young girl full of fancy,
loving to hunt out, even by map and gazetteer, the by-nooks of travel,
and wondering already if she should ever really journey otherwise. You
can think how she waited, trying to believe she could bear any decision,
for the final determination concerning her.
"If it had been to Newport or Saratoga, I should have said no at once,"
said Mr. Goldthwaite. "Mrs. Linceford is a gay, extravagant woman, and
the Haddens' ideas don't precisely suit mine. But the mountains,--she
can't get into much harm there."
"I shouldn't have cared for Newport or the Springs, father, truly," said
Leslie, with a little hopeful flutter of eagerness in her voice; "but
the real mountains,--O father!"
The "O father!" was not without its weight. Also Mr. Waylie, whom Mr.
Goldthwaite called on and consulted, threw his opinion into the favoring
scale, precisely as Leslie had foreseen. He was a teacher who did not
imagine all possible educational advantage to be shut up within the four
walls of his or any other schoolroom. "She is just the girl to whom it
will do great good," he said. Leslie's last week's lessons were not
accomplished the less satisfactorily for this word of his, and the
pleasure it opened to her.
There came a few busy days of stitching and starching, and crimping and
packing, and then, in the last of June, they would be off. They were to
go on Monday. The Haddens came over on Saturday afternoon, just as
Leslie had nearly put the last things into her trunk,--a new trunk,
quite her own, with her initials in black paint upon the russet leather
at each end. On the bed lay her pretty balmoral suit, made purposely for
mountain wears and just finished. The young girls got together here, in
Leslie's chamber, of course.
"Oh, how pretty! It's perfectly charming,--the loveliest balmoral I ever
saw in my life!" cried Jeannie Hadden, seizing upon it instantly as she
entered the room. "Why, you'll look like a hamadryad, all in these wood
It was an uncommonly pretty striped petticoat, in two alternating shades
of dark and golden brown, with just a hair-line of black defining their
edges; and the border was one broad, soft, velvety band of black, and a
narrower one following it above and below, easing the contrast and
blending the colors. The jacket, or rather shirt, finished at the waist
with a bit of a polka frill, was a soft flannel, of the bright brown
shade, braided with the darker hue and with black; and two pairs of
bright brown raw-silk stockings, marked transversely with mere
thread-lines of black, completed the mountain outfit.
"Yes; all I want is"--said Leslie, stopping short as she took up the hat
that lay there also,--last summer's hat, a plain black straw, with a
slight brim, and ornamented only with a round lace veil and two bits of
ostrich feather. "But never mind! It'll do well enough!"
As she laid it down again and ceased speaking, Cousin Delight came in,
straight from Boston, where she had been doing two days' shopping; and
in her hand she carried a parcel in white paper. I was going to say a
round parcel, which it would have been but for something which ran out
in a sharp tangent from one side, and pushed the wrappings into an odd
angle. This she put into Leslie's hands.
"A fresh--fig-leaf--for you, my dear."
"What _does_ she mean?" cried the Haddens, coming close to see.
"Only a little Paradise fashion of speech between Cousin Del and me,"
said Leslie, coloring a little and laughing, while she began, somewhat
hurriedly, to remove the wrappings.
"What have you done? And how did you come to think?" she exclaimed, as
the thing inclosed appeared: a round brown straw turban,--not a staring
turban, but one of those that slope with a little graceful downward
droop upon the brow,--bound with a pheasant's breast, the wing shooting
out jauntily, in the tangent I mentioned, over the right ear; all in
bright browns, in lovely harmony with the rest of the hamadryad costume.
"It's no use to begin to thank you, Cousin Del. It's just one of the
things you re always doing, and rejoice in doing." The happy face was
full of loving thanks, plainer than many words. "Only you're a kind of a
_sarpent_ yourself after all, I'm afraid, with your beguilements. I
wonder if you thought of that," whispered Leslie merrily, while the
others oh-oh'd over the gift. "What else do you think I shall be good
for when I get all those on?"
"I'll venture you," said Cousin Delight; and the trifling words conveyed
a real, earnest confidence, the best possible antidote to the
"One thing is funny," said Jeannie Hadden suddenly, with an accent of
demur. "We're all pheasants. _Our_ new hats are pheasants, too. I don't
know what Augusta will think of such a covey of us."
"Oh, it's no matter," said Elinor. "This is a golden pheasant, on brown
straw, and ours are purple, on black. Besides, we all _look_ different
"I suppose it doesn't signify," returned Jeannie; "and if Augusta thinks
it does, she may just give me that black and white plover of hers I
wanted so. I think our complexions _are_ all pretty well suited."
This was true. The fair hair and deep blue eyes of Elinor were as pretty
under the purple plumage as Jeannie's darker locks and brilliant bloom;
and there was a wonderful bright mingling of color between the golden
pheasant's breast and the gleaming chestnut waves it crowned, as Leslie
took her hat and tried it on.
This was one of the little touches of perfect taste and adaptation which
could sometimes make Leslie Goldthwaite almost beautiful, and was there
ever a girl of fifteen who would not like to be beautiful if she could?
This wish, and the thought and effort it would induce, were likely to be
her great temptation. Passably pretty girls, who may, with care, make
themselves often more than passable, have far the hardest of it with
their consciences about these things; and Leslie had a conscience, and
was reflective for her age,--and we have seen how questions had begun to
A Sunday between a packing and a journey is a trying day always. There
are the trunks, and it is impossible not to think of the getting up and
getting off to-morrow; and one hates so to take out fresh sleeves and
collars and pocket-handkerchiefs, and to wear one's nice white skirts.
It is a Sunday put off, too probably, with but odds and ends of thought
as well as apparel.
Leslie went to church, of course,--the Goldthwaites were always regular
in this; and she wore her quiet straw bonnet. Mrs. Goldthwaite had a
feeling that hats were rather pert and coquettish for the sanctuary.
Nevertheless they met the Haddens in the porch, in the glory of their
purple pheasant plumes, whereof the long tail-feathers made great
circles in the air as the young heads turned this way and that, in the
excitement of a few snatched words before they entered.
The organ was playing; and the low, deep, tremulous rumble that an organ
gives sometimes, when it seems to creep under and vibrate all things
with a strange, vital thrill, overswept their trivial chat and made
Leslie almost shiver. "Oh, I wish they wouldn't do that," she said,
turning to go in.
"What?" said Jeannie Hadden, unaware.
"Touch the nerve. The great nerve--of creation."
"What queer things Les' Goldthwaite says sometimes," whispered Elinor;
and they passed the inner door.
The Goldthwaites sat two pews behind the Haddens. Leslie could not help
thinking how elegant Mrs. Linceford was, as she swept in, in her rich
black silk, and real lace shawl, and delicate, costly bonnet; and the
perfectly gloved hand that upheld a bit of extravagance in Valenciennes
lace and cambric made devotion seem--what? The more graceful and
touching in one who had all this world's luxuries, or--almost a mockery?
The pheasant-plumed hats went decorously down in prayer-time, but the
tail-feathers ran up perker than ever, from the posture; Leslie saw
this, because she had lifted her own head and unclosed her eyes in a
self-indignant honesty, when she found on what her secret thoughts were
running. Were other people so much better than she? And _could_ they do
both things? How much was right in all this that was outwardly so
beguiling, and where did the "serving Mammon" begin?
Was everything so much intenser and more absorbing with her than with
the Haddens? Why could she not take things as they came, as these girls
did, or seemed to do?--be glad of her pretty things, her pretty looks
even, her coming pleasures, with no misgivings or self-searchings, and
then turn round and say her prayers properly?
Wasn't beauty put into the world for the sake of beauty? And wasn't it
right to love it, and make much of it, and multiply it? What were arts
and human ingenuities for, and the things given to work with? All this
grave weighing of a great moral question was in the mind of the young
girl of fifteen again this Sunday morning. Such doubts and balancings
begin far earlier, often, than we are apt to think.
The minister shook hands cordially and respectfully with Mrs. Linceford
after church. He had no hesitation at her stylishness and fineries.
Everybody took everybody else for granted; and it was all right, Leslie
Goldthwaite supposed, except in her own foolish, unregulated thoughts.
Everybody else had done their Sunday duty, and it was enough; only she
had been all wrong and astray, and in confusion. There was a time for
everything, only her times and thoughts would mix themselves up and
interfere. Perhaps she was very weak-minded, and the only way for her
would be to give it all up, and wear drab, or whatever else might be
most unbecoming, and be fiercely severe, mortifying the flesh. She got
over that--her young nature reacting--as they all walked up the street
together, while the sun shone down smilingly upon the world in Sunday
best, and the flowers were gay in the door-yards, and Miss Milliken's
shop was reverential with the green shutters before the windows that
had been gorgeous yesterday with bright ribbons and fresh fashions; and
there was something thankful in her feeling of the pleasantness that was
about her, and a certainty that she should only grow morose if she took
to resisting it all. She would be as good as she could, and let the
pleasantness and the prettiness come "by the way." Yes, that was just
what Cousin Delight had said. "All these things shall be added,"--was
not that the Gospel word? So her troubling thought was laid for the
hour; but it should come up again. It was in the "seeking first" that
the question lay. By and by she would go back of the other to this, and
see clearer,--in the light, perhaps, of something that had been already
given her, and which, as she lived on toward a fuller readiness for it,
should be "brought to her remembrance."
Monday brought the perfection of a traveler's morning. There had been a
shower during the night, and the highways lay cool, moist, and dark
brown between the green of the fields and the clean-washed, red-brick
pavements of the town. There would be no dust even on the railroad, and
the air was an impalpable draught of delight. To the three young girls,
standing there under the station portico,--for they chose the smell of
the morning rather than the odors of apples and cakes and
indescribables which go to make up the distinctive atmosphere of a
railway waiting-room,--there was but one thing to be done to-day in the
world; one thing for which the sun rose, and wheeled himself toward that
point in the heavens which would make eight o'clock down below. Of all
the ships that might sail this day out of harbors, or the trains that
might steam out of cities across States, they recked nothing but of this
that was to take them toward the hills. There were unfortunates,
doubtless, bound elsewhere, by peremptory necessity; there were people
who were going nowhere but about their daily work and errands; all these
were simply to be pitied, or wondered at, as to how they could feel
_not_ to be going upon a mountain journey. It is queer to think, on a
last Thursday in November, or on a Fourth of July, of States where there
may not be a Thanksgiving, or of far-off lands that have no Independence
day. It was just as strange, somehow, to imagine how this day, that was
to them the culminating point of so much happy anticipation, the
beginning of so much certain joy, could be otherwise, and yet be
anything to the supernumerary people who filled up around them the life
that centred in just this to them. Yet in truth it was, to most folks,
simply a fair Monday morning, and an excellent "drying day."
They bounded off along the iron track,--the great steam pulse throbbed
no faster than in time to their bright young eagerness. It had been a
momentous matter to decide upon their seats, of which there had been
opportunity for choice when they entered the car; at last they had been
happily settled, face to face, by the good-natured removal of a couple
of young farmers, who saw that the four ladies wished to be seated
together. Their hand-bags were hung up, their rolls of shawls disposed
beneath their feet, and Mrs. Linceford had taken out her novel. The
Haddens had each a book also in her bag, to be perfectly according to
rule in their equipment; but they were not old travelers enough to care
to begin upon them yet. As to Leslie Goldthwaite, _her_ book lay ready
open before her, for long, contented reading, in two chapters, both
visible at once--the broad, open country, with its shifting pictures and
suggestions of life and pleasantness; and the carriage interior, with
its dissimilar human freight, and its yet more varied hints of history
and character and purpose.
She made a story in her own mind, half unconsciously, of every one about
her. Of the pretty girl alone, with no elaborate traveling arrangements,
going only, it was evident, from one way-station to another, perhaps to
spend a summer day with a friend. Of the stout old country grandmamma,
with a basket full of doughnuts and early apples, that made a spiciness
and orchard fragrance all about her, and that she surely never meant to
eat herself, seeing, first, that she had not a tooth in her head, and
also that she made repeated anxious requests of the conductor, catching
him by the coat-skirts as he passed, to "let her know in season when
they began to get into Bartley;" who asked, confidentially, of her next
neighbor, a well-dressed elderly gentleman, if "he didn't think it was
about as cheap comin' by the cars as it would ha' ben to hire a passage
any other way?" and innocently endured the smile that her query called
forth on half a dozen faces about her. The gentleman, _without_ a smile,
courteously lowered his newspaper to reply that "he always thought it
better to avail one's self of established conveniences rather than to
waste time in independent contrivances;" and the old lady sat back,--as
far back as she dared, considering her momentary apprehension of
Bartley,--quite happily complacent in the confirmation of her own
There was a trig, not to say prim, spinster, without a vestige of
comeliness in her face, save the comeliness of a clear, clean, energetic
expression,--such as a new broom or a bright tea-kettle might have,
suggesting capacity for house thrift and hearth comfort,--who wore a
gray straw bonnet, clean and neat as if it had not lasted for six years
at least, which its fashion evidenced, and which, having a bright green
tuft of artificial grass stuck arbitrarily upon its brim by way of
modern adornment, put Leslie mischievously in mind of a roof so old that
blades had sprouted in the eaves. She was glad afterwards that she had
not spoken her mischief.
What made life beautiful to all these people? These farmers, who put on
at daybreak their coarse homespun, for long hours of rough labor? These
homely, home-bred women, who knew nothing of graceful fashions; who had
always too much to do to think of elegance in doing? Perhaps that was
just it; they had always something to do, something outside of
themselves,--in their honest, earnest lives there was little to tempt
them to a frivolous self-engrossment. Leslie touched close upon the very
help and solution she wanted, as she thought these thoughts.
Opposite to her there sat a poor man, to whom there had happened a great
misfortune. One eye was lost, and the cheek was drawn and marked by some
great scar of wound or burn. One half his face was a fearful blot. How
did people bear such things as these,--to go through the world knowing
that it could never be pleasant to any human being to look upon them?
that an instinct of pity and courtesy would even turn every casual
glance away? There was a strange, sorrowful pleading in the one
expressive side of the man's countenance, and a singularly untoward
incident presently called it forth, and made it almost ludicrously
pitiful. A bustling fellow entered at a way-station, his arms full of a
great frame that he carried. As he blundered along the passage, looking
for a seat, a jolt of the car, in starting, pitched him suddenly into
the vacant place beside this man; and the open expanse of the large
looking-glass--for it was that which the frame held--was fairly smitten,
like an insult of fate, into the very face of the unfortunate.
"Beg pardon," the new comer said, in an off-hand way, as he settled
himself, holding the glass full before the other while he righted it;
and then, for the first time, giving a quick glance toward him. The
astonishment, the intuitive repulsion, the consciousness of what he had
done, betokened by the instant look of the one man, and the helpless,
mute "How could you?" that seemed spoken in the strange, uprolled,
one-sided expression of the other,--these involuntarily-met regards made
a brief concurrence at once sad and irresistibly funny, as so many
things in this strange life are.
The man of the mirror inclined his burden quietly the other way; and now
it reflected the bright faces opposite, under the pheasant plumes. Was
it any delight to Leslie to see her own face so? What was the use of
being--what right had she to wish to be--pretty and pleasant to look at,
when there were such utter lifelong loss and disfigurement in the world
for others? Why should it not as well happen to her? And how did the
world seem to such a person, and where was the _worth while_ of it? This
was the question which lingered last in her mind, and to which all else
reverted. _To be able to bear_--perhaps this was it; and this was
greater, indeed, than any outer grace.
Such as these were the wayside meanings that came to Leslie Goldthwaite
that morning in the first few hours of her journey. Meanwhile, Jeannie
and Elinor Hadden had begun to be tired; and Mrs. Linceford, not much
entertained with her novel, held it half closed over her finger, drew
her brown veil closely, and sat with her eyes shut, compensating herself
with a doze for her early rising. Had the same things come to these? Not
precisely; something else, perhaps. In all things, one is still taken
and another left. I can only follow, minutely, one.
The road left the flat farming country now, and turned northward, up the
beautiful river valley. There was plenty to enjoy outside; and it was
growing more and more lovely with almost every mile. They left the great
towns gradually behind; each succeeding one seemed more simply rural.
Young girls were gathered on the platforms at the little stations where
they stopped sometimes; it was the grand excitement of the place,--the
coming of the train,--and to these village lasses was what the piazzas
or the springs are to gay dwellers at Saratoga.
By dinner-time they steamed up to the stately back staircase of the
"Pemigewasset." In the little parlor where they smoothed their hair and
rested a moment before going to the dining-hall, they met again the lady
of the grass-grown bonnet. She took this off, making herself
comfortable, in her primitive fashion, for dinner; and then Leslie
noticed how little it was from any poverty of nature that the fair and
abundant hair, at least, had not been made use of to take down the
severe primness of her outward style. It did take it down in spite of
all, the moment the gray straw was removed. The great round coil behind
was all real and _solid_, though it was wound about with no thought save
of security, and fastened with a buffalo-horn comb. Hair was a matter of
course; the thing was, to keep it out of the way; that was what the
fashion of this head expressed, and nothing more. Where it was tucked
over the small ears,--and native refinement or the other thing shows
very plainly in the ears,--it lay full, and shaped into a soft curve.
She was only plain, not ugly, after all; and they are very different
things,--there being a beauty of plainness in men and women, as there is
in a rich fabric, sometimes.
While Leslie was noticing these things, Elinor Hadden stood by a window
with her back to the others. She did not complain at first; one doesn't
like to allow, at once, that the toothache, or a mischance like this
that had happened to her, is an established fact,--one is in for it the
moment one does that. But she had got a cinder in her eye; and though
she had winked, and stared, and rolled her eyelid under, and tried all
the approved and instinctive means, it seemed persistent; and she was
forced at last, just as her party was going in to dinner, to acknowledge
that this traveler's misery had befallen her, and to make up her mind
to the pain and wretchedness and ugliness of it for hours, if not even
for days. Her face was quite disfigured already; the afflicted eye was
bloodshot, and the whole cheek was red with tears and rubbing; she could
only follow blindly along, her handkerchief up, and, half groping into
the seat offered her, begin comfortlessly to help herself to some soup
with her left hand. There was leaning across to inquire and pity; there
were half a dozen things suggested, to which she could only reply,
forlornly and impatiently, "I've tried it." None of them could eat much,
or with any satisfaction; this atom in the wrong place set everything
wrong all at once with four people who, till now, had been so cheery.
The spinster lady was seated at some little distance down, on the
opposite side. She began to send quick, interested glances over at them;
to make little half-starts toward them, as if she would speak; and at
last, leaving her own dinner unfinished, she suddenly pushed back her
chair, got up, and came round. She touched Elinor Hadden on the
shoulder, without the least ado of ceremony. "Come out here with me,"
she said. "I can set you right in half a minute;" and, confident of
being followed, moved off briskly out of the long hall.
Elinor gave a one-sided, questioning glance at her sisters before she
complied, reminding Leslie comically of the poor, one-eyed man in the
cars; and presently, with a little hesitation, Mrs. Linceford and
Jeannie compromised the matter by rising themselves and accompanying
Elinor from the room. Leslie, of course, went also.
The lady had her gray bonnet on when they got back to the little parlor;
there is no time to lose in mere waiting for anything at a railway
dining-place; and she had her bag--a veritable, old-fashioned, home-made
carpet thing--open on a chair before her, and in her hand a long, knit
purse with steel beads and rings. Out of this she took a twisted bit of
paper, and from the paper a minute something which she popped between
her lips as she replaced the other things. Then she just beckoned,
hastily, to Elinor.
"It's only an eyestone; did you ever have one in? Well, you needn't be
afraid of it; I've had 'em in hundreds of times. You wouldn't know 't
was there, and it'll just ease all the worry; and by and by it'll drop
out of itself, cinder and all. They're terribly teasing things, cinders;
and somebody's always sure to get one. I always keep three eyestones in
my purse. You needn't mind my not having it back; I've got a little
glass bottle full at home, and it's wonderful the sight of comfort
they've been to folks."
Elinor shrunk; Mrs. Linceford showed a little high-bred demur about
accepting the offered aid of their unknown traveling companion; but the
good woman comprehended nothing of this, and went on insisting.
"You'd better let me put it in right off; it's only just to drop it
under the eyelid, and it'll work round till it finds the speck. But you
can take it and put it in yourself, when you've made up your mind, if
you'd rather." With which she darted her head quickly from side to side,
looking about the room, and, spying a scrap of paper on a table, had the
eyestone twisted in it in an instant, and pressed it into Elinor's hand.
"You'll be glad enough of it, yet," said she, and then took up her bag,
and moved quickly off among the other passengers descending to the
"What a funny woman, to be always carrying eyestones about, and putting
them in people's eyes!" said Jeannie.
"It was quite kind of her, I'm sure," said Mrs. Linceford, with a
mingling in her tone of acknowledgment and of polite tolerance for a
great liberty. When elegant people break their necks or their limbs,
common ones may approach and assist; as, when a house takes fire,
persons get in who never did before; and perhaps a suffering eye may
come into the catalogue of misfortunes sufficient to equalize
differences for the time being. But it _is_ queer for a woman to make
free to go without her own dinner to offer help to a stranger in pain.
Not many people, in any sense of the word, go about provided with
eyestones against the chance cinders that may worry others. Something in
this touched Leslie Goldthwaite with a curious sense of a beauty in
living that was not external.
If it had not been for Elinor's mishap and inability to enjoy, it would
have been pure delight from the very beginning, this afternoon's ride.
They had their seats upon the "mountain side," where the view of the
thronging hills was like an ever-moving panorama; as, winding their way
farther and farther up into the heart of the wild and beautiful region,
the horizon seemed continually to fill with always vaster shapes, that
lifted themselves, or emerged, over and from behind each other, like
mustering clans of giants, bestirred and curious, because of the
invasion among their fastnesses of this sprite of steam.
"Where you can come down, I can go up," it seemed to fizz, in its
strong, exulting whisper, to the river; passing it always, yet never
getting by; tracking, step by step, the great stream backward toward its
"See, there are real blue peaks!" cried Leslie joyously, pointing away
to the north and east where the outlines lay faint and lovely in the far
"Oh, I wish I could see! I'm losing it all!" said Elinor, plaintively
"Why don't you try the eyestone?" said Jeannie.
But Elinor shrunk, even yet, from deliberately putting that great thing
in her eye, agonized already by the presence of a mote.
There came a touch on her shoulder, as before. The good woman of the
gray bonnet had come forward from her seat farther down the car.
"I'm going to stop presently," she said, "at East Haverhill; and I
_should_ feel more satisfied in my mind if you'd just let me see you
easy before I go. Besides, if you don't do something quick, the cinder
will get so bedded in, and make such an inflammation, that a dozen
eyestones wouldn't draw it out."
At this terror, poor Elinor yielded, in a negative sort of way. She
ceased to make resistance when her unknown friend, taking the little
twist of paper from the hand still fast closed over it with the
half-conscious grasp of pain, dexterously unrolled it, and produced the
wonderful chalky morsel.
"Now, 'let's see, says the blind man;'" and she drew down hand and
handkerchief with determined yet gentle touch. "Wet it in your own
mouth,"--and the eyestone was between Elinor's lips before she could
refuse or be aware. Then one thumb and finger was held to take it again,
while the other made a sudden pinch at the lower eyelid, and, drawing it
at the outer corner before it could so much as quiver away again, the
little white stone was slid safely under.
"Now 'wink as much as you please,' as the man said that took an
awful-looking daguerreotype of me once. Good-by. Here's where I get out.
And there they all are to meet me." And then, the cars stopping, she
made her way, with her carpet-bag and parasol and a great newspaper
bundle, gathered up hurriedly from goodness knows where, along the
passage, and out upon the platform.
"Why, it's the strangest thing! I don't feel it in the least! Do you
suppose it ever _will_ come out again, Augusta?" cried Elinor, in a tone
greatly altered from any in which she had spoken for two hours.
"Of course it will," cried "Gray-bonnet" from beneath the window. "Don't
be under the least mite of concern about anything but looking out for it
when it does, to keep it against next time."
Leslie saw the plain, kindly woman surrounded in a minute by half a
dozen eager young welcomers and claimants, and a whole history came out
in the unreserved exclamations of the few instants for which the train
"Oh, it's _such_ a blessing you've come! I don't know as Emma Jane would
have been married at all if you hadn't!"
"We warn't sure you'd get the letter."
"Or as Aunt Nisby would spare you."
"'Life wanted to come over on his crutches. He's just got his new ones,
and he gets about first-rate. But we wouldn't let him beat himself out
"How is 'Life?"
"Hearty as would anyway be consistent--with one-leggedness. He'd never
'a' got back, we all know, if you hadn't gone after him." It was a young
man's voice that spoke these last sentences, and it grew tender at the
"You're to trim the cake," began one of the young girls again, crowding
up. "She says nobody else can. Nobody else _ever_ can. And"--with a
little more mystery--"there's the veil to fix. She says you're used to
wedd'n's and know about veils; and you was down to Lawrence at Lorany's.
And she wants things in _real style_. She's dreadful _pudjicky_, Emma
Jane is; she won't have anything without it's exactly right."
The plain face was full of beaming sympathy and readiness. The
stiff-looking spinster woman, with the "grass in the eaves of her
bonnet,"--grass grown, also, over many an old hope in her own life, may
be,--was here in the midst of young joy and busy interest, making them
all her own; had come on purpose, looked for and hailed as the one
without whom nothing could ever be done,--more tenderly yet, as one but
for whom some brave life and brother love would have gone down. In the
midst of it all she had had ear and answer, to the very last, for the
stranger she had comforted on her way. What difference did it make
whether she wore an old bonnet with green grass in it, or a round hat
with a gay feather? whether she were fifteen or forty-five, but for the
good she had had time to do? whether Lorany's wedding down at Lawrence
had been really a stylish festival or no? There was a beauty here which
verily shone out through all; and such a life should have no time to be
The engine panted, and the train sped on. She never met her
fellow-traveler again, but these things Leslie Goldthwaite had learned
from her,--these things she laid by silently in her heart. And the woman
in the gray bonnet never knew the half that she had done.
After taking one through wildernesses of beauty, after whirling one past
nooks where one could gladly linger whole summers, it is strange at what
commonplace and graceless termini these railroads contrive to land one.
Lovely Wells River, where the road makes its sharp angle, and runs back
again until it strikes out eastward through the valley of the
Ammonoosuc; where the waters leap to each other, and the hills bend
round in majestic greeting; where our young party cried out, in an
ignorance at once blessed and pathetic, "Oh, if Littleton should only be
like this, or if we could stop here!"--yet where one cannot stop,
because here there is no regular stage connection, and nothing else to
be found, very probably, that travelers might want, save the outdoor
glory,--Wells River and Woodsville were left behind, lying in the
evening stillness of June,--in the grand and beautiful disregard of
things greater than the world is rushing by to seek,--and for an hour
more they threaded through fair valley sweeps and reaches, past solitary
hillside clearings and detached farms and the most primitive of mountain
hamlets, where the limit and sparseness of neighborhood drew forth from
a gentleman sitting behind them--come, doubtless, from some suburban
home, where numberless household wants kept horse and wagon perpetually
on the way for city or village--the suggestive query, "I wonder what
they do here when they're out of saleratus?"
They brought them up, as against a dead wall of dreariness and
disappointment, at the Littleton station. It had been managed as it
always is: the train had turned most ingeniously into a corner whence
there was scarcely an outlook upon anything of all the magnificence that
must yet be lying close about them; and here was only a tolerably
well-populated country town, filled up to just the point that excludes
the picturesque and does not attain to the highly civilized. And into
the heart of this they were to be borne, and to be shut up there this
summer night, with the full moon flooding mountain and river, and the
woods whispering up their peace to heaven.
It was bad enough, but worse came. The hotel coach was waiting, and they
hastened to secure their seats, giving their checks to the driver, who
disappeared with a handful of these and others, leaving his horses with
the reins tied to the dash-board, and a boy ten years old upon the box.
There were heads out anxiously at either side, between concern for
safety of body and of property. Mrs. Linceford looked uneasily toward
the confused group upon the platform, from among whom luggage began to
be drawn out in a fashion regardless of covers and corners. The large
russet trunk with the black "H,"--the two linen-cased ones with "Hadden"
in full;--the two square bonnet-boxes,--these, one by one, were dragged
and whirled toward the vehicle and jerked upon the rack; but the "ark,"
as they called Mrs. Linceford's huge light French box, and the one
precious receptacle that held all Leslie's pretty outfit, where were
"Those are not all, driver! There is a high black French trunk, and a
russet leather one."
"Got all you give me checks for,--seb'm pieces;" and he pointed to two
strange articles of luggage waiting their turn to be lifted up,--a long,
old-fashioned gray hair trunk, with letters in brass nails upon the lid,
and as antiquated a carpet-bag, strapped and padlocked across the mouth,
suggestive in size and fashion of the United States mail.
"Never saw them before in my life! There's some dreadful mistake! What
_can_ have become of ours?"
"Can't say, ma'am, I'm sure. Don't often happen. But them was your
Mrs. Linceford leaned back for an instant in a breathless despair. "I
must get out and see."
"If you please, ma'am. But 't ain't no use. The things is all cleared
off." Then, stooping to examine the trunk, and turning over the bag,
"Queer, too. These things is chalked all right for Littleton. Must ha'
been a mistake with the checks, and somebody changed their minds on the
way,--Plymouth, most likely,--and stopped with the wrong baggage.
Wouldn't worry, ma'am; it's as bad for one as for t' other, anyhow, and
they'll be along to-morrow, no kind o' doubt. Strays allers turns up on
this here road. No danger about that. I'll see to havin' these 'ere
stowed away in the baggage-room." And shouldering the bag, he seized the
trunk by the handle and hauled it along over the rough embankment and up
the steps, flaying one side as he went.
"But, dear me! what am I to do?" said Mrs. Linceford piteously.
"Everything in it that I want to-night,--my dressing-box and my wrappers
and my air-cushion; they'll be sure not to have any bolsters on the
beds, and only one feather in each corner of the pillows!"
But this was only the first surprise of annoyance. She recollected
herself on the instant, and leaned back again, saying nothing more. She
had no idea of amusing her unknown stage companions at any length with
her fine-lady miseries. Only, just before they reached the hotel, she
added low to Jeannie, out of the unbroken train of her own private
lamentation, "And my rose-glycerine! After all this dust and heat! I
feel parched to a mummy, and I shall be an object to behold!"
Leslie sat upon her right hand. She leaned closer, and said quickly,
glad of the little power to comfort, "I have some rose-glycerine here in
Mrs. Linceford looked round at her; her face was really bright. As if
she had not lost her one trunk also! "You are a phoenix of a traveling
companion, you young thing!" the lady thought, and felt suddenly ashamed
of her own unwonted discomfiture.
Half an hour afterward Leslie Goldthwaite flitted across the passage
between the two rooms they had secured for their party, with a bottle in
her hand and a pair of pillows over her arm. "Ours is a double-bedded
room, too, Mrs. Linceford, and neither Elinor nor I care for more than
one pillow. And here is the rose-glycerine."
These essential comforts, and the instinct of good-breeding, brought the
grace and the smile back fully to Mrs. Linceford's face. More than that,
she felt a gratefulness, and the contagion and emulation of cheerful
patience under a common misfortune. She bent over and kissed Leslie as
she took the bottle from her hand. "You're a dear little sunbeam," she
said. "We'll send an imperative message down the line, and have all our
own traps again to-morrow."
The collar that Elinor Hadden had lent Leslie was not very becoming,
the sleeves had enormous wristbands, and were made for double
sleeve-buttons, while her own were single; moreover, the brown silk net,
which she had supposed thoroughly trustworthy, had given way all at
once into a great hole under the waterfall, and the soft hair would fret
itself through and threaten to stray untidily.
She had two such pretty nets in reserve in her missing trunk, and she
did hate so to be in any way coming to pieces! Yet there was somehow a
feeling that repaid it all, and even quieted the real anxiety as to
the final "turning up" of their fugitive property,--not a mere
self-complacence, hardly a self-complacence at all, but a half-surprised
gladness, that had something thankful in it. If she might not be all
leaves, perhaps, after all! If she really could, even in some slight
thing, care most for the life and spirit underneath, to keep this sweet
and pleasant, and the fruit of it a daily good, and not a bitterness; if
she could begin by holding herself undisturbed, though obliged to wear a
collar that stood up behind and turned over in front with those lappet
corners she had always thought so ugly,--yes, even though the waterfall
should leak out and ripple over stubbornly,--though these things must go
on for twenty-four hours at least, and these twenty-four hours be spent
unwillingly in a dull country tavern, where the windows looked out from
one side into a village street, and from the other into stable and
clothes yards! There would be something for her to do: to keep bright
and help to keep the others bright. There was a hope in it; the life
was more than raiment; it was better worth while than to have only got
on the nice round collar and dainty cuffs that fitted and suited her, or
even the little bead net that came over in a Marie Stuart point so
prettily between the small crimped puffs of her hair.
A little matter, nothing to be self-applauding about,--only a straw;
but--if it showed the possible way of the wind, the motive power that
might be courted to set through her life, taking her out of the
trade-currents of vanity? Might she have it in her, after all? Might she
even be able to come, if need be, to the strength of mind for wearing an
old gray straw bonnet, and bearing to be forty years old, and helping to
adorn the young and beautiful for looks that never--just so--should be
bent again on her?
Leslie Goldthwaite had read of martyr and hero sufferance all her life,
as she had looked upon her poor one-eyed fellow-traveler to-day; the
pang of sympathy had always been: "These things have been borne, are
being borne, in the world; how much of the least of them could I
endure,--I, looking for even the little things of life to be made
smooth?" It depended, she began faintly and afar off to see, upon where
the true life lay; how far behind the mere outer covering vitality
Up--up--up,--from glory to glory!
This was what it seemed to Leslie Goldthwaite, riding, that golden June
morning, over the road that threaded along, always climbing, the chain
of hills that _could_ be climbed, into the nearer and nearer presence of
those mountain majesties, penetrating farther and father into the grand
solitudes sentineled forever by their inaccessible pride.
Mrs. Linceford had grown impatient; she had declared it impossible, when
the splendid sunshine of that next day challenged them forth out of
their dull sojourn, to remain there twenty-four hours longer, waiting
for anything. Trunks or none, she would go on, and wait at Jefferson, at
least, where there was something to console one. All possible precaution
was taken; all possible promises were made; the luggage should be sent
on next day,--perhaps that very night; wagons were going and returning
often now; there would be no further trouble, they might rest assured.
The hotel-keeper had a "capital team,"--his very best,--at their
instant service, if they chose to go on this morning; it could be at the
door in twenty minutes. So it was chartered, and ordered round,--an open
mountain wagon, with four horses; their remaining luggage was secured
upon it, and they themselves took their seats gayly.
"Who cares for trunks or boxes now?" Leslie cried out in joyousness,
catching the first, preparatory glimpse of grandeur, when their road,
that wound for a time through the low, wet valley-lands, began to ascend
a rugged hillside, whence opened vistas that hinted something of the
glory that was to come. All the morning long, there wheeled about them,
and smiled out in the sunshine, or changed to grave, grand reticence
under the cloud-shadows, those shapes of might and beauty that filled up
earth and heaven.
Leslie grew silent, with the hours of over-full delight. Thoughts
thronged in upon her. All that had been deepest and strongest in the
little of life that she had lived wakened and lifted again in such
transcendent presence. Only the high places of spirit can answer to
these high places of God in his creation.
Now and then, Jeannie and Elinor fell into their chatter, about their
summer plans, and pleasures, and dress; about New York, and the new
house Mrs. Linceford had taken in West Twenty-ninth Street, where they
were to visit her next winter, and participate for the first time, under
her matronizing, in city gayeties. Leslie wondered how they could; she
only answered when appealed to; she felt as if people were jogging her
elbow, and whispering distractions, in the midst of some noble
The woods had a word for her; a question, and their own sweet answer of
help. The fair June leafage was out in its young glory of vivid green;
it reminded her of her talk with Cousin Delight.
"We _do_ love leaves for their own sake; trees, and vines, and the very
green grass, even." So she said to herself, asking still for the perfect
parable that should solve and teach all.
It came, with the breath of wild grape vines, hidden somewhere in the
wayside thickets. "Under the leaf lies our tiny green blossom," it said;
"and its perfume is out on the air. Folded in the grass-blade is a
feathery bloom, of seed or grain; and by and by the fields will be all
waving with it. Be sure that the blossom is under the leaf."
Elinor Hadden's sweet child-face, always gentle and good-humored, though
visited little yet with the deep touch of earnest thought,--smiling upon
life as life smiled upon her,--looked lovelier to Leslie as this whisper
made itself heard in her heart; and it was with a sweeter patience and a
more believing kindliness that she answered, and tried to enter into,
her next merry words.
There was something different about Jeannie. She was older; there was a
kind of hard determination sometimes with her, in turning from
suggestions of graver things; the child-unconsciousness was no longer
there; something restless, now and then defiant, had taken its place;
she had caught a sound of the deeper voices, but her soul would not yet
turn to listen. She felt the blossom of life yearning under the leaf;
but she bent the green beauty heedfully above it, and made believe it
was not there.
Looking into herself and about her with asking eyes, Leslie had learned
something already by which she apprehended these things of others.
Heretofore, her two friends had seemed to her alike,--able, both of
them, to take life innocently and carelessly as it came; she began now
to feel a difference.
Her eyes were bent away off toward the Franconia hills, when Mrs.
Linceford leaned round to look in them, and spoke, in the tone her voice
had begun to take toward her. She felt one of her strong likings--her
immense fancies, as she called them, which were really warm sympathies
of the best of her with the best she found in the world--for Leslie
"It seems to me you are a _stray_ sunbeam this morning," she said, in
her winning way. "What kind of thoughts are going out so far? What is it
A verse of the Psalms was ringing itself in Leslie's mind; had been
there, under all the other vague musings and chance suggestions for many
minutes of her silence. But she would not have spoken it--she _could_
not--for all the world. She gave the lady one of the chance suggestions
instead. "I have been looking down into that lovely hollow; it seems
like a children's party, with all the grave, grown folks looking on."
"Childhood and grown-up-hood; not a bad simile."
It was not, indeed. It was a wild basin, within a group of the lesser
hills close by; full of little feathery birches, that twinkled and
played in the light breeze and gorgeous sunshine slanting in upon them
between the slopes that lay in shadow above,--slopes clothed with ranks
of dark pines and cedars and hemlocks, looking down seriously, yet with
a sort of protecting tenderness, upon the shimmer and frolic they seemed
to have climbed up out of. Those which stood in the half way shadow were
gravest. Hoar old stems upon the very tops were touched with the
self-same glory that lavished itself below. This also was no less a true
"Know ye not this parable?" the Master said. "How then shall ye know
all parables?" Verily, they lie about us by the wayside, and the whole
earth is vocal with the wisdom of the Lord.
I cannot go with our party step by step; I have a summer to spend with
them. They came to Jefferson at noon, and sat themselves down in the
solemn high court and council of the mountain kings. First, they must
have rooms. In the very face of majesty they must settle their traps.
"You are lucky in coming in for one vacancy, made to-day," the
proprietor said, throwing open a door that showed them a commodious
second-floor corner-room, looking each way with broad windows upon the
circle of glory, from Adams to Lafayette. A wide balcony ran along the
southern side against the window which gave that aspect. There were two
beds here, and two at least of the party must be content to occupy. Mrs.
Linceford, of course; and it was settled that Jeannie should share it
Upstairs, again, was choice of two rooms,--one flight, or two. But the
first looked out westward, where was comparatively little of what they
had come for. Higher up, they could have the same outlook that the
others had; a slanting ceiling opened with dormer window full upon the
grandeur of Washington, and a second faced southward to where beautiful
blue, dreamy Lafayette lay soft against the tender heaven.
"Oh, let us have this!" said Leslie eagerly. "We don't mind stairs." And
so it was settled.
"Only two days here?" they began to say, when they gathered in Mrs.
Linceford's room at nearly tea-time, after a rest and freshening of
"We might stay longer," Mrs. Linceford answered. "But the rooms are
taken for us at Outledge, and one can't settle and unpack, when it's
only a lingering from day to day. All there is here one sees from the
windows. A great deal, to be sure; but it's all there at the first
glance. We'll see how we feel on Friday."
"The Thoresbys are here, Augusta. I saw Ginevra on the balcony just now.
They seem to have a large party with them. And I'm sure I heard them
talk of a hop to-night. If your trunks would only come!"
"They could not in time. They can only come in the train that reaches
Littleton at six."
"But you'll go in, won't you? 'T isn't likely they dress much
here,--though Ginevra Thoresby always dresses. Elinor and I could just
put on our blue grenadines, and you've got plenty of things in your
other boxes. One of your shawls is all you want, and we can lend Leslie
"I've only my thick traveling boots," said Leslie; "and I shouldn't
feel fit without a thorough dressing. It won't matter the first night,
"Leslie Goldthwaite, you're getting slow! Augusta!"
"As true as I live, there is old Marmaduke Wharne!"
"Let Augusta alone for not noticing a question till she chooses to
answer it," said Jeannie Hadden, laughing. "And who, pray, is Marmaduke
Wharne? With a name like that, if you didn't say 'old,' I should make up
my mind to a real hero, right out of a book."
"He's an original. And--yes--he is a hero,--_out_ of a book, too, in his
way. I met him at Catskill last summer. He stayed there the whole
season, till they shut the house up and drove him down the mountain.
Other people came and went, took a look, and ran away; but he was a
fixture. He says he always does so,--goes off somewhere and 'finds an
Ararat,' and there drifts up and sticks fast. In the winter he's in New
York; but that's a needle in a haystack. I never heard of him till I
found him at Catskill. He's an English-man, and they say had more to his
name once. It was Wharne_cliffe_, or Wharne_leigh_, or something, and
there's a baronetcy in the family. I don't doubt, myself, that it's his,
and that a part of his oddity has been to drop it. He was a poor
preacher, years ago; and then, of a sudden, he went out to England, and
came back with plenty of money, and since then he's been an apostle and
missionary among the poor. That's his winter work; the summers, as I
said, he spends in the hills. Most people are half afraid of him; for
he's one you'll get the blunt truth from, if you never got it before.
But come, there's the gong,--ugh! how they batter it! and we must get
through tea and out upon the balcony, to see the sunset and the 'purple
light.' There's no time now, girls, for blue grenadines; and it's always
vulgar to come out in a hurry with dress in a strange place." And Mrs.
Linceford gave a last touch to her hair, straightened the things on her
dressing-table, shut down the lid of a box, and led the way from the
Out upon the balcony they watched the long, golden going down of the
sun, and the creeping shadows, and the purple half-light, and the
after-smile upon the crests. And then the heaven gathered itself in its
night stillness, and the mountains were grand in the soft gloom, until
the full moon came up over Washington.
There had been a few words of recognition with the Thoresby party, and
then our little group had betaken itself to the eastern end of the
piazza. After a while, one by one, the others strayed away, and they
were left almost alone. There was a gathering and a sound of voices
about the drawing-room, and presently came the tones of the piano,
struck merrily. They jarred, somehow, too; for the ringing, thrilling
notes of a horn, blown below, had just gone down the diminishing echoes
from cliff to cliff, and died into a listening silence, away over, one
could not tell where, beyond the mysterious ramparts.
"It's getting cold," said Jeannie impatiently. "I think we've stayed
here long enough. Augusta, _don't_ you mean to get a proper shawl, and
put some sort of lace thing on your head, and come in with us for a
look, at least, at the hop? Come, Nell; come, Leslie; you might as well
be at home as in a place like this, if you're only going to mope."
"It seems to me," said Leslie, more to herself than to Jeannie, looking
over upon the curves and ridges and ravines of Mount Washington, showing
vast and solemn under the climbing moon, "as if we had got into a
"And the 'great nerve' was being touched! Well,--that don't make _me_
shiver. Besides, I didn't come here to shiver. I've come to have a right
good time; and to look at the mountains--as much as is reasonable."
It was a pretty good definition of what Jeannie Hadden thought she had
come into the world for. There was subtle indication in it, also, that
the shadow of some doubt had not failed to touch her either, and that
this with her was less a careless instinct than a resolved conclusion.
Elinor, in her happy good-humor, was ready for either thing: to stay in
the night splendor longer, or to go in. It ended in their going in.
Outside, the moon wheeled on in her long southerly circuit, the stars
trembled in their infinite depths, and the mountains abided in awful
might. Within was a piano tinkle of gay music, and demi-toilette, and
demi-festival,--the poor, abridged reproduction of city revelry in the
inadequate parlor of an unpretending mountain-house, on a three-ply
Marmaduke Wharne came and looked in at the doorway. Mrs. Linceford rose
from her seat upon the sofa close by, and gave him courteous greeting.
"The season has begun early, and you seem likely to have a pleasant
summer here," she said, with the half-considered meaning of a common
fashion of speech.
"No, madam!" answered Marmaduke Wharne, out of his real thought, with a
"You think not?" said Mrs. Linceford suavely, in a quiet amusement. "It
looks rather like it to-night."
"_This?_--It's no use for people to bring their bodies to the
mountains, if they can't bring souls in them!" And Marmaduke Wharne
turned on his heel, and, without further courtesy, strode away.
"What an old Grimgriffinhoof!" cried Jeannie under her breath; and
Elinor laughed her little musical laugh of fun.
Mrs. Linceford drew up her shawl, and sat down again, the remnant of a
well-bred smile upon her face. Leslie Goldthwaite rather wished old
Marmaduke Wharne would come back again and say more. But this first
glimpse of him was all they got to-night.
"Blown crystal clear by Freedom's northern wind."
Leslie said the last line of Whittier's glorious mountain sonnet, low,
to herself, standing on the balcony again that next morning, in the
cold, clear breeze; the magnificent lines of the great earth-masses
rearing themselves before her sharply against a cloudless morning sky,
defining and revealing themselves anew.
"Freedom's northern wind will take all the wave out of your hair, and
give you a red nose!" said Jeannie, coming round from her room, and upon
Well, Jeannie _was_ a pretty thing to look at, in her delicate blue
cambric morning dress, gracefully braided with white, with the fresh
rose of recent sleep in her young cheeks, and the gladness of young life
in her dark eyes. One might look away from the mountains to look at her;
for, after all, the human beauty is the highest. Only, it must express
high things, or at last one turns aside.
"And there comes Marmaduke; he's worse than the north wind. I can't
stay to be 'blown clear' by him." And Jeannie, in high, merry
good-humor, flitted off. It is easy to be merry and good-humored when
one's new dress fits exquisitely, and one's hair hasn't been fractious
in the doing up.
Leslie had never, apparently to herself, cared less, somehow, for self
and little vanities; it seemed as if it were going to be quite easy for
her, now and henceforth, to care most for the nobler things of life. The
great mountain enthusiasm had seized her for the first time and swept
away before it all meaner thought; and, besides, her trunk had been left
behind, and she had nothing to put herself into but her plain brown
She let the wind play with the puffs of her hair, and send some little
light locks astray about her forehead. She wrapped her shawl around her,
and went and sat where she had sat the night before, at the eastern end
of the balcony, her face toward the morning hills, as it had been toward
the evening radiance and purple shade. Marmaduke Wharne was moving up
and down, stopping a little short of her when he turned, keeping his own
solitude as she kept hers. Faces and figures glanced out at the
hall-door for an instant each, and the keen salute of the north wind
sent them invariably in again. Nobody wanted to go with a red nose or
tossed hair to the breakfast-table; and breakfast was almost ready. But
presently Mrs. Linceford came, and, seeing Mr. Wharne, who always
interested and amused her, she ventured forth, bidding him good-morning.
"Good-morning, madam. It _is_ a good morning."
"A little sharp, isn't it?" she said, shrugging her shoulders together,
irresolute about further lingering. "Ah, Leslie? Let me introduce you to
the Reverend Mr. Wharne. My young friend and traveling companion, Miss
Leslie Goldthwaite, Mr. Wharne. Have you two driven everybody else off,
or is it the nipping air?"
"I think it is either that they have not said their prayers this
morning, or that they don't know their daily bread when they see it.
They think it is only saleratus cakes and maple molasses."
"As cross this morning as last night?" the lady questioned playfully.
"Not cross at all, Mrs. Linceford. Only jarred upon continually by these
people we have here just now. It was different two years ago. But
Jefferson is getting to be too well known. The mountain places are being
spoiled, one after another."
"People will come. You can't help that."
"Yes, they will come, and frivel about the gates, without ever once
entering in. 'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who shall
stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who
hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity.'"
Leslie Goldthwaite's face quickened and glowed; they were the psalm
lines that had haunted her thought yesterday, among the opening visions
of the hill-country. Marmaduke Wharne bent his keen eyes upon her, from
under their gray brows, noting her narrowly. She wist not that she was
noted, or that her face shone.
"One soul here, at least!" was what the stern old man said to himself in
He was cynical and intolerant here among the mountains, where he felt
the holy places desecrated, and the gift of God unheeded. In the haunts
of city misery and vice,--misery and vice shut in upon itself, with no
broad outlook to the heavens,--he was tender, with the love of Christ
"'My house shall be called the house of prayer, but these have made it a
den of thieves.' It is true not alone of the temples built with hands."
"Is that fair? How do you _know_, Mr. Wharne?" The sudden, impetuous
questions come from Leslie Goldthwaite.
"I see--what I see."
"The whole?" said Leslie, more restrainedly. She remembered her respect
for age and office. Yet she felt sorely tempted, shy, proud girl as she
was, to take up cudgels for her friends, at least. Mr. Wharne liked her
the better for that.
"They turn away from this, with five words,--the toll of custom,--or
half a look, when the wind is north; and they go in to what you saw last
"After all, isn't it just _enjoyment_, either way? Mayn't one be as
selfish as the other? People were kind, and bright, and pleasant with
each other last night. Is that a bad thing?"
"No, little girl, it is not." And Marmaduke Wharne came nearer to
Leslie, and looked at her with a gentle look that was wonderfully
beautiful upon his stern gray face. "Only, I would have a kindness that
should go deep,--coming from a depth. There are two things for live men
and women to do: to receive, from God; and to give out, to their
fellows. One cannot be done without the other. No fruit, without the
drinking of the sunshine. No true tasting of the sunshine that is not
gathering itself toward the ripening of fruit."
Here it was again; more teaching to the self-same point,--as we always
do get it, with a seeming strangeness, whether it be for mind only, or
for soul. You never heard of a new name, or fact in history, that did
not come out again presently in some fresh or further mention or
allusion. It is the tender training of Him before whom our life is of
so great value.
At this moment, the gong sounded again; saleratus cakes and maple
molasses were ready, and they all went in.
Leslie saw Imogen Thoresby change seats with her mother, because the
draught from the door was less in her place; and take the pale top cake
from the plate, leaving a brown one for the mother. Everybody likes
brown cakes best; and it was very unbecoming to sit opposite a great,
unshaded window, to say nothing of the draught. Surely a little blossom
peeped out here from under the leaf. Leslie thought Imogen Thoresby
might be forgiven for having done her curls so elaborately, and put on
such an elegant wrapper; even for having ventured only a half-look out
at the balcony door, when she found the wind was north. The parable was
already teaching her both ways.
I do not mean to preach upon every page. I have begun by trying to tell
you how a great influencing thought was given into Leslie Goldthwaite's
life, and began to unravel for her perplexing questions that had
troubled her,--questions that come, I think, to many a young girl just
entering upon the world, as they came to her; how, in the simple history
of her summer among the mountains, a great deal solved itself and grew
clear. I would like to succeed in making you divine this, as you follow
out the simple history itself.
"Just in time!" cried Jeannie Hadden, running up into Leslie's room at
mid-afternoon that day. "There's a stage over from Littleton, and your
trunk is being brought up this minute."
"And the hair-trunk and the mail-bag came on, too, after all, and the
queerest people with them!" added Elinor, entering behind her.
They both stood back and were silent, as a man came heavily along the
passage with the trunk upon his shoulder. He set it down and unfastened
the straps, and in a minute more was gone, and Leslie had the lid open.
All there, just as it had been in her own room at home three days ago.
Her face brightened, seeing her little treasures again. She had borne it
well; she had been able to enjoy without them; but she was very glad
that they were come.
"It's nice that dinner is at lunch-time here, and that nobody dresses
until now. Make haste, and get on something pretty. Augusta won't let us
get out organdies, but we're determined on the blue grenadines. It's
awfully hot,--hot enough for anything. Do your hair over the high rats,
just for once."
"I always get into such a fuss with them, and I can't bear to waste the
time. How will this do?" Leslie unpinned from its cambric cover a gray
iron barege, with a narrow puffing round the hem of the full skirt and
the little pointed bertha cape. With it lay bright cherry ribbons for
the neck and hair.
"Lovely! Make haste and come down to our room." And having to dress
herself, Jeannie ran off again, and Elinor shut the door.
It was nice to have on everything fresh; to have got her feet into
rosetted slippers instead of heavy balmoral boots; to feel the lightness
and grace of her own movement as she went downstairs and along the halls
in floating folds of delicate barege, after wearing the close,
uncomfortable traveling-dress, with the sense of dust and fatigue that
clung about it; to have a little flutter of bright ribbon in her hair,
that she knew was, as Elinor said, "the prettiest part of her." It was
pleasant to see Mrs. Linceford looked pleased, as she opened her door to
her, and to have her say, "You always do get on exactly the right
thing!" There was a fresh feeling of pleasure even in looking over at
Washington, sun-lighted and shadowed in his miles of heights and depths,
as she sat by the cool east window, feeling quite her dainty self again.
Dress is but the outside thing, as beauty is but "skin deep;" but there
is a deal of inevitable skin-sensation, pleasurable or uncomfortable,
and Leslie had a good right to be thoroughly comfortable now.
The blinds to the balcony window were closed; that led to a funny little
episode presently,--an odd commentary on the soul-and-body question, as
it had come up to them in graver fashion.
Outside, to two chairs just under the window, came a couple newly
arrived,--the identical proprietors of the exchanged luggage. It was an
elderly countryman, and his home-bred, matter-of-fact wife. They, too,
had had their privations and anxieties, and the outset of their
evidently unusual travels had been marred in its pleasure. In plain
truth, the good woman was manifestly soured by her experience.
Right square before the blinds she turned her back, unconscious of the
audience within, lifted her elbows, like clothes-poles, to raise her
draperies, and settled herself with a dissatisfied flounce, that
expressed beforehand what she was about to put in words. "For _my_
part," she announced deliberately, "I think the White Mountains is a
"Good large hummocks, anyway," returned her companion.
"You know what I mean. 'T ain't worth comin' for. Losin' baggage, an'
everything. We'd enough sight better ha' stayed at Plymouth. An' if it
hadn't 'a' ben for your dunderheadedness, givin' up the checks an' never
stoppin' to see what was comin' of 'em, trunks or hencoops, we might.
There's somethin' to see, there. That little bridge leadin' over to the
swings and seats across the river was real pretty and pleasant. And the
cars comin' in an' startin' off, right at the back door, made it lively.
I alwers _did_ like to see passin.'"
The attitudes inside the blinds were something, at this moment. Mrs.
Linceford, in a spasm of suppressed laughter herself, held her
handkerchief to her lips with one hand, and motioned peremptory silence
to the girls with the other. Jeannie was noiselessly clapping her hands,
and dancing from one toe to the other with delight. Leslie and Elinor
squeezed each other's fingers lightly, and leaned forward together,
their faces brimming over with fun; and the former whispered with
emphatic pantomime to Mrs. Linceford, "_If_ Mr. Wharne were only here!"
"You've ben worried," said the man. "And you've ben comin' up to 'em
gradooal. You don't take 'em in. If one of these 'ere hills was set out
in our fields to home, you'd think it was something more than a hummock,
"Well, why ain't they, then? It's the best way to put things where you
can see 'em to an advantage. They're all in the way of each other here,
and don't show for nothing to speak of. Worried! I guess I hev ben! I
shan't git over it till I've got home an' ben settled down a week. It's
a mercy I've ever laid eyes agin on that bran'-new black alpacky!"
"Well, p'r'aps the folks felt wuss that lost them stylish-lookin'
trunks. I'll bet they had something more in 'em than black alpackys."
"That don't comfort me none. I've had _my_ tribulation."
"Well, come, don't be grouty, Hannah. We've got through the wust of it,
and if you ain't satisfied, why, we'll go back to Plymouth again. I can
stand it awhile, I guess, if 't _is_ four dollars a day."
He had evidently sat still a good while for him, honest man; and he got
up with this, and began to pace up and down, looking at the "hummocks,"
which signified greater meanings to him than to his wife.
Mrs. Linceford came over and put the window down. It was absolutely
necessary to laugh now, however much of further entertainment might be
Hannah jumped up, electrified, as the sash went down behind her.
"John! John! There's folks in there!"
"S'pose likely," said John, with quiet relish of amends. "What's good
for me 'ill do for them!"
"Grimgriffinhoof won't speak to you to-night," said Jeannie Hadden,
after tea, upon the balcony.
She was mistaken. There was something different, still, in Leslie
Goldthwaite's look, as she came out under the sunset light, from the
looks that prevailed in the Thoresby group when they, too, made their
appearance. The one moved self-forgetfully,--her consciousness and
thought sent forth, not fluttering in her robes and ribbons; with the
others there was a little air and bustle, as of people coming into an
opera-box in presence of a full house. They said "lovely!" and
"splendid!" of course,--their little word of applause for the scenic
grandeur of mountain and heaven, and then the half of them turned their
backs upon it, and commenced talking together about whether waterfalls
were really to be given up or not, and of how people were going to look
in high-crowned bonnets.
Mrs. Linceford told the "hummux" story to Marmaduke Wharne. The old man
laughed till the Thoresby party turned to see.
"But I like one thing," he said. "The woman was honest. Her 'black
alpacky' was most to her, and she owned up to it."
The regular thing being done, outside, the company drifted back, as the
shadows fell, to the parlor again. Mrs. Linceford's party moved also,
and drifted with the rest. Marmaduke Wharne, quite graciously, walked
after. The Lancers was just forming.
"The bear is playing tame and amiable," whispered Jeannie. "But he'll
eat you up, for all that. I wouldn't trust him. He's going to watch, to
see how wicked you'll be."
"I shall let him see," replied Leslie quietly.
"Miss Goldthwaite, you're for the dance to-night? For the 'bright and
kind and pleasant,' eh?" the "bear" said, coming to her side within the
"If anybody asks me," answered Leslie, with brave simplicity. "I like
"I'll find you a partner, then," said Mr. Wharne.
She looked up, surprised; but he was quite in earnest. He walked across
the room, and brought back with him a lad of thirteen or so,--well grown
for his age, and bright and manly-looking; but only a boy, and a little
shy and stiff at first, as boys have to be for a while. Leslie had seen
him before, in the afternoon, rolling the balls through a solitary game
of croquet; and afterward taking his tea by himself at the lower end of
the table. He had seemed to belong to nobody, and as yet hardly to have
got the "run" of the place.
"This is Master Thayne, Miss Leslie Goldthwaite, and I think he would
like to dance, if you please."
Master Thayne made a proper bow, and glanced up at the young girl with a
smile lurking behind the diffidence in his face. Leslie smiled outright,
and held out her hand.
It was not a brilliant debut, perhaps. The Haddens had been appropriated
by a couple of youths in frock coats and orthodox kids, with a suspicion
of mustaches; and one of the Thoresbys had a young captain of cavalry,
with gold bars on his shoulders. Elinor Hadden raised her pretty
eyebrows, and put as much of a mock-miserable look into her happy little
face as it could hold, when she found her friend, so paired, at her
"It's very good of you to stand up with me," said the boy simply. "It's
awful slow, not knowing anybody."
"Are you here alone?" asked Leslie.
"Yes; there was nobody to come with me. Oliver--my brother--will come
by and by, and perhaps my uncle and the rest of them, to meet me where
I'm to be, down among the mountains. We're all broken up this summer,
and I'm to take care of myself."
"Then you don't stay here?"
"No; I only came this way to see what it was like. I've got a jolly
place engaged for me, at Outledge."
"Outledge? Why, we are going there!"
"Are you? That's--jolly!" repeated the boy, pausing a second for a
fresher or politer word, but unable to supply a synonym.
"I'm glad you think so," answered Leslie, with her genuine smile again.
The two had already made up their minds to be friends. In fact, Master
Thayne would hardly have acquiesced in being led up for introduction to
any other young girl in the room. There had been something in Leslie
Goldthwaite's face that had looked kind and sisterly to him. He had no
fear of a snub with her; and these things Mr. Wharne had read, in his
behalf, as well.
"He's a queer old fellow, that Mr. Wharne, isn't he?" pursued Master
Thayne, after forward and back, as he turned his partner to place. "But
he's the only one that's had anything to say to me, and I like him.
I've been down to the old mill with him to-day. Those people"--motioning
slightly toward the other set, where the Thoresbys were dancing--"were
down there, too. You'd ought to have seen them look! Don't they hate
"Hate him? Why should they do that?"
"Oh, I don't know. People feel each other out, I suppose. And a word of
his is as much as a whole preach of anybody's else. He says a word now
and then, and it hits."
"Yes," responded Leslie, laughing.
"What _did_ you do it for?" whispered Elinor, in hands across.
"I like him; he's got something to say," returned Leslie.
"Augusta's looking at you, like a hen after a stray chicken. She's all
but clucking now."
"Mr. Wharne will tell her."
But Mr. Wharne was not in the room. He came back just as Leslie was
making her way again, after the dance, to Mrs. Linceford.
"Will you do a galop with me presently?--if you don't get a better
partner, I mean," said Master Thayne.
"That wouldn't be much of a promise," answered Leslie, smiling. "I will,
at any rate; that is, if--after I've spoken to Mrs. Linceford."
Mr. Wharne came up and said something to young Thayne, just then; and
the latter turned eagerly to Leslie. "The telescope's fixed, out on the
balcony; and you can see Jupiter and three of his moons! We must make
haste, before _our_ moon's up."
"Will you go and look, Mrs. Linceford?" asked Mr. Wharne of the lady, as
Leslie reached her side.
They went with him, and Master Thayne followed. Jeannie and Elinor and
the Miss Thoresbys were doing the inevitable promenade after the
"Who is your young friend?" inquired Mrs. Linceford, with a shade of
doubt in her whisper, as they came out on the balcony.
"Master"--Leslie began to introduce, but stopped. The name, which she
had not been quite certain of, escaped her.
"My name is Dakie Thayne," said the boy, with a bow to the matron.
"Now, Mrs. Linceford, if you'll just sit here," said Mr. Wharne, placing
a chair. "I suppose I ought to have come to you first; but it's all
right," he added, in a low tone, over her shoulder. "He's a nice boy."