Part 3 out of 4
and spent hours there, with books or work, or looking forth in a
luxurious listlessness from out the cool upon the warm, bright
valley-picture, and the shining water wandering down from far heights
and unknown solitudes to see the world.
"It's better so," said Miss Craydocke, when the others left them. "I
had a word I wanted to say to you. What do you suppose those two came up
here to the mountains for?" And Miss Craydocke nodded up, indicatively,
toward the two girl-figures just visible by their draperies in a nook of
rock beyond and above the benches.
"To get the good of them, as we did, I suppose," Leslie answered,
wondering a little what Miss Craydocke might exactly mean.
"I suppose so, too," was the reply. "And I suppose--the Lord's love came
with them! I suppose He cares whether they get the full of the good. And
yet I think He leaves it, like everything else, a little to us."
Leslie's heart beat quicker, hearing these words. It beat quicker always
when such thoughts were touched. She was shy of seeking them; she almost
tried, in an involuntary way, to escape them at first, when they were
openly broached; yet she longed always, at the same time, for a deeper
understanding of them. "I should like to know the Miss Josselyns
better," she said presently, when Miss Craydocke made no haste to speak
again. "I have been thinking so this morning. I have thought so very
often. But they seem so quiet, always. One doesn't like to intrude."
"They ought to be more with young people," Miss Craydocke went on. "And
they ought to do less ripping and sewing and darning, if it could be
managed. They brought three trunks with them. And what do you think the
third is full of?"
Leslie had no idea, of course.
"Old winter dresses. To be made over. For the children at home. So that
their mother may be coaxed to take her turn and go away upon a visit
when they get back, seeing that the fall sewing will be half done!
That's a pretty coming to the mountains for two tired-out young things,
"Oh dear!" cried Leslie pitifully; and then a secret compunction seized
her, thinking of her own little elegant, odd-minute work, which was all
she had to interfere with mountain pleasure.
"And isn't it some of our business, if we could get at it?" asked Miss
"Dear Miss Craydocke!" said Leslie, with a warm brightness in her face,
as she looked up, "the world is full of business; but so few people find
out any but their own! Nobody but you dreamt of this, or of Prissy
Hoskins, till you showed us,--or of all the little Wigleys. How do you
come to know, when other people go on in their own way, and see
nothing,--like the priests and Levites?" This last she added by a sudden
occurrence and application, that half answered, beforehand, her own
"When we think of people's needs as the _Master's!_" said Miss
Craydocke, evading herself, and never minding her syntax. "When we think
what every separate soul is to Him, that He came into the world to care
for as God cares for the sparrows! It's my faith that He's never gone
away from his work, dear; that his love lies alongside every life, and
in all its experience; and that his life is in his love; and that if we
want to find Him--_there_ we may! Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the
least of these, ye have done it unto me.'" She grew eloquent--the plain,
simple-speaking woman--when something that was great and living to her
would find utterance.
"How do you mean that?" said Leslie, with a sort of abruptness, as of
one who must have definiteness, but who hurried with her asking, lest
after a minute she might not dare. "That He really knows, and thinks, of
every special thing and person,--and cares? Or only _would?_"
"I take it as He said it," said Miss Craydocke. "'All power is given me
in heaven and in earth.' 'And lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world!' He put the two together himself, dear!"
A great, warm, instant glow seemed to rush over Leslie inwardly. In the
light and quickening of it, other words shone out and declared
themselves. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide
in me." And this was the abiding! The sympathy, the interest, that found
itself side by side with his! The faith that felt his uniting presence
To this child of sixteen came a moment's glimpse of what might be,
truly, that life which is "hid with Christ in God," and which has its
blessed work with the Lord in the world,--came, with the word of a
plain, old, unconsidered woman, whom heedless girls made daily sport
of,--came, bringing with it "old and new," like a householder of the
kingdom of heaven; showing how the life and the fruit are inextricably
one,--how the growth and the withering are inevitably determined!
They reached the benches now; they saw the Josselyns busy up beyond,
with their chess-board between them, and their mending basket at their
feet; they would not go now and interrupt their game.
The seat which the sisters had chosen, because it was just a quiet
little corner for two, was a nook scooped out, as it were, in a jut of
granite; hollowed in behind and perpendicularly to a height above their
heads, and embracing a mossy little flat below, so that it seemed like a
great solid armchair into which two could get together, and a third
could not possibly intrude.
Miss Craydocke and Leslie settled themselves, and both were silent.
Presently Leslie spoke again, giving out a fragmentary link of the train
of thought that had been going on in her. "If it weren't for just one
thing!" she said, and there she stopped.
"What?" asked Miss Craydocke, as not a bit at a loss to made out the
"The old puzzle. We _have_ to think and work a good deal of the time for
ourselves. And then we lose sight"--
"Of Him? Why?"
Leslie said no more, but waited. Miss Craydocke's tone was clear,
untroubled. The young girl looked, therefore, for this clear confidence
to be spoken out.
"Why, since He is close to _our_ life also, and cares tenderly for
that?--since, if we let him possess himself of it, it is one of his own
channels, by which He still gives himself unto the world? He didn't do
it all in one single history of three years, my child, or thirty-three,
out there in Judaea. He keeps on,--so I believe,--through every possible
way and circumstance of human living now, if only the life is grafted on
his. The Vine and the branches, and God tending all. And the fruit is
the kingdom of heaven."
It is never too late, and never impossible, for a human face to look
beautiful. In the soft light and shadow of the stirring pines, with the
moving from within of that which at once illumined and veiled, with an
exultation and an awe, there came a glory over the homely and faded
features which they could neither bar nor dim. And the thought took
possession of the word and tone, and made them simply grand and heavenly
After that they sat still again,--it matters not how many minutes. The
crisp green spines rustled dreamily over their heads; the wild birds
called to each other, far back in the closer lying woods; the water
glanced on, millions of new drops every instant making the self-same
circles and gushes and falls, and the wealth of summer sunshine holding
and vivifying all. Leslie had word and scene stamped together on her
spirit and memory in those moments. There was a Presence in the hush and
beauty. Two souls were here met together in the name of the living
Christ. And for that there is the promise.
Martha Josselyn and her sister sat and played and mended on.
By and by Dakie Thayne came; said a bright word or two; glanced round,
in restless boy-fashion, as if taking in the elements of the situation,
and considering what was to be made out of it; perceived the pair at
chess; and presently, with his mountain stick, went springing away from
point to point, up and around the piles and masses of rock and mound
that made up the broadening ascent of the ledge.
"Check to your queen," said Sue.
Martha put her elbow upon her knee, and held her needle suspended by its
thread. Sue darned away, and got a great hole laid lengthwise with
smooth lines, before her threatening move had been provided for. Then a
red knight came with gallant leap, right down in the midst of the white
forces, menacing in his turn right and left; and Martha drew a long
sigh, and sat back, and poised her needle-lance again, and went to work;
and it was Sue's turn to lean over the board with knit brows and holden
Something peered over the rock above them at this moment. A boy's head,
from which the cap had been removed.
"If only they'll play now, and not chatter!" thought Dakie Thayne, lying
prone along the cliff above, and putting up his elbows to rest his head
between his hands. "This'll be jolly, if it don't turn to eavesdropping.
Poor old Noll! I haven't had a game since I played with him!"
Sue would not withdraw her attack. She planted a bishop so that, if the
knight should move, it would open a course straight down toward a weak
point beside the red king.
"She means to 'fight it out on that line, if it takes all summer,'"
Dakie went on within himself, having grasped, during the long pause
before Sue's move, the whole position. "They're no fools at it, to have
got it into a shape like that! I'd just like Noll to see it!"
Martha looked, and drew a thread or two into her stocking, and looked
again. Then she stabbed her cotton-ball with her needle, and put up both
hands--one with the white stocking-foot still drawn over it--beside her
temples. At last she castled.
Sue was as calm as the morning. She always grew calm and strong as the
game drew near the end. She had even let her thoughts go off to other
things while Martha pondered and she wove in the cross-threads of her
"I wonder, Martha," she said now, suddenly, before attending to the new
aspect of the board, "if I couldn't do without that muslin skirt I made
to wear under my _pina_, and turn it into a couple of white waists to
carry home to mother? If she goes away, you know"--
It was a short, sharp, unspellable sound that came from above. Sue
started, and a red piece rolled from the board. Then there was a
rustling and a crashing and a leaping, and by a much shorter and more
hazardous way than he had climbed, Dakie Thayne came down and stood
before them. "I had to let you know! I couldn't listen. I was in hopes
you wouldn't talk. Don't move, please! I'll find the man. I do beg your
pardon,--I had no business,--but I so like chess,--when it's any sort of
While he spoke, he was looking about the base of the rock, and by good
fortune spied and pounced upon the bit of bright-colored ivory, which
had rolled and rested itself against a hummock of sod.
"May I see it out?" he begged, approaching, and putting the piece upon
the board. "You must have played a good deal," looking at Sue.
"We play often at home, my sister and I; and I had some good practice
in"--There she stopped.
"In the hospital," said Martha, with the sharp little way she took up
sometimes. "Why shouldn't you tell of it?"
"Has Miss Josselyn been in the hospitals?" asked Dakie Thayne, with a
certain quick change in his tone.
"For the best of two years," Martha answered.
At this moment, seeing how Dakie was breaking the ice for them, up came
Miss Craydocke and Leslie Goldthwaite.
"Miss Leslie! Miss Craydocke! This lady has been away among our
soldiers, in the hospitals, half through the war! Perhaps--did you
ever"--But with that he broke off. There was a great flush on his face,
and his eyes glowed with boy-enthusiasm lit at the thought of the war,
and of brave men, and of noble, ministering women, of whom he suddenly
found himself face to face with one.
The game of chess got swept together. "It was as good as over," Martha
Josselyn said. And these five sat down together among the rocks, and in
half an hour, after weeks of mere "good-mornings," they had grown to be
old friends. But Dakie Thayne--he best knew why--left his fragment of a
The "by and by" people came at last: Jeannie and Elinor, and Sin Saxon,
and the Arnalls, and Josie Scherman. They wanted Leslie,--to tell and
ask her half a hundred things about the projected tableaux. If it had
only been Miss Craydocke and the Josselyns sitting together, with Dakie
Thayne, how would that have concerned them,--the later comers? It would
only have been a bit of "the pines" preoccupied: they would have found a
place for themselves, and gone on with their own chatter. But Leslie's
presence made all the difference. The little group became the nucleus of
the enlarging circle. Miss Craydocke had known very well how this would
They asked this and that of Leslie which they had come to ask; and she
would keep turning to the Josselyns and appealing to them; so they were
drawn in. There was a curtain to be made, first of all. Miss Craydocke
would undertake that, drafting Leslie and the Miss Josselyns to help
her; they should all come to her room early to-morrow, and they would
have it ready by ten o'clock. Leslie wondered a little that she found
_work_ for them to do: a part of the play she thought would have been
better; but Miss Craydocke knew how that must come about. Besides, she
had more than one little line to lay and to pull, this serpent-wise old
maiden, in behalf of her ultimate designs concerning them.
I can't stay here under the pines and tell you all their talk this
summer morning,--how Sin Saxon grew social and saucy with the quiet Miss
Josselyns; how she fell upon the mending-basket and their notability,
and declared that the most foolish and pernicious proverb in the world
was that old thing about a stitch in time saving nine; it might save
certain special stitches; but how about the _time_ itself, and _other_
stitches? She didn't believe in it,--running round after a
darning-needle and forty other things, the minute a thread broke, and
dropping whatever else one had in hand, to let it ravel itself all out
again; "she believed in a good big basket, in a dark closet, and laying
up there for a rainy day, and being at peace in the pleasant weather.
Then, too, there was another thing; she didn't believe in notability
itself, at all: the more one was fool enough to know, the more one had
to do, all one's life long. Providence always took care of the lame and
the lazy; and, besides, those capable people never had contented minds.
They couldn't keep servants: their own fingers were always itching to do
things better. Her sister Effie was a lamentable instance. She'd married
a man,--well, not _very_ rich,--and she had set out to learn and direct
everything. The consequence was, she was like Eve after the apple,--she
knew good and evil; and wasn't the garden just a wilderness after that?
She never thought of it before, but she believed that was exactly what
that old poem in Genesis was written for!"
How Miss Craydocke answered, with her gentle, tolerant common-sense, and
right thought, and wide-awake brightness; how the Josselyns grew cordial
and confident enough to confess that, with five little children in the
house, there wasn't a great necessity for laying up against a rainy day,
and with stockings at a dollar and a half a pair, one was apt to get the
nine stitches, or a pretty comfortable multiple of them, every Wednesday
when the wash came in; and how these different kinds of lives, coming
together with a friendly friction, found themselves not so uncongenial,
or so incomprehensible to each other, after all,--all this, in its
detail of bright words, I cannot stop to tell you; it would take a good
many summers to go through one like this so fully; but when the big
bell rang for dinner, they all came down the ledge together, and Sue
and Martha Josselyn, for the first time in four weeks, felt themselves
fairly one with the current interest and life of the gay house in which
they had been dwellers and yet only lookers-on.
Mrs. Thoresby, coming down to dinner, a few minutes late, with her
daughters, and pausing--as people always did at the Green Cottage,
without knowing why--to step from the foot of the stairway to the open
piazza-door, and glance out before turning toward the dining-room, saw
the ledge party just dividing itself into its two little streams, that
were to head, respectively, for cottage and hotel.
"It is a wonder to me that Mrs. Linceford allows it!" was her comment.
"Just the odds and ends of all the company here. And those girls, who
might take whatever stand they pleased."
"Miss Leslie always finds out the nicest people, and the best times, _I_
think," said Etty, who had dragged through but a dull morning behind the
blinds of her mother's window, puzzling over crochet,--which she hated,
because she said it was like everlastingly poking one's finger after a
sliver,--and had caught now and then, over the still air, the laughter
and bird-notes that came together from among the pines. One of the Miss
Haughtleys had sat with them; but that only "stiffened out the
dullness," as Etty had declared, the instant the young lady left them.
"Don't be pert, Etty. You don't know what you want, or what is for your
interest. The Haddens were well enough, by themselves; but when it comes
to Tom, Dick, and Harry!"
"I don't believe that's elegant, mamma," said Etty demurely; "and there
isn't Tom, Dick, nor Harry; only Dakie Thayne, and that nice, _nice_
Miss Craydocke! And--I _hate_ the Haughtleys!" This with a sudden
explosiveness at the last, after the demureness.
"Etty!"--and Mrs. Thoresby intoned an indescribable astonishment of
displeasure in her utterance of her daughter's name,--"remember
yourself. You are neither to be impertinent to me, nor to speak rudely
of persons whom I choose for your acquaintance. When you are older, you
will come to understand how these chance meetings may lead to the most
valuable friendships, or, on the contrary, to the most mortifying
embarrassments. In the mean time, you are to be guided." After which
little sententious homily out of the Book of the World, Mrs. Thoresby
ruffled herself with dignity, and led her brood away with her.
Next day, Tom, Dick, and Harry--that is to say, Miss Craydocke, Susan
and Martha Josselyn, and Leslie Goldthwaite--were gathered in the
first-named lady's room, to make the great green curtain. And there Sin
Saxon came in upon them,--ostensibly to bring the curtain-rings, and
explain how she wanted them put on; but after that she lingered.
"It's like the Tower of Babel upstairs," she said, "and just about as
likely ever to get built. I can't bear to stay where I can't hear myself
talk. You're nice and cosy here, Miss Craydocke." And with that, she
settled herself down on the floor, with all her little ruffles and
flounces and billows of muslin heaping and curling themselves about her,
till her pretty head and shoulders were like a new and charming sort of
floating-island in the midst.
And it came to pass that presently the talk drifted round to vanities
and vexations,--on this wise.
"Everybody wants to be everything," said Sin Saxon. "They don't say so,
of course. But they keep objecting, and unsettling. Nothing hushes
anybody up but proposing them for some especially magnificent part. And
you can't hush them all at once in that way. If they'd only _say_ what
they want, and be done with it! But they're so dreadfully polite! Only
finding out continual reasons why nobody will do for this and that, or
have time to dress, or something, and waiting modestly to be suggested
and shut up! When I came down they were in full tilt about 'The Lady of
Shalott.' It's to be one of the crack scenes, you know,--river of blue
cambric, and a real, regular, lovely property-boat. Frank Scherman sent
for it, and it came up on the stage yesterday,--drivers swearing all the
way. Now they'll go on for half an hour, at least; and at the end of
that time I shall walk in, upon the plain of Shinar, with my hair all
let down,--it's real, every _bit of it_, not a tail tied on
anywhere,--and tell them I--myself--am to be the Lady of Shalott! I
think I shall relish flinging in that little bit of honesty, like a dash
of cold water into the middle of a fry. Won't it sizzle?"
She sat twirling the cord upon which the dozens of great brass rings
were strung, watching the shining ellipse they made as they
revolved,--like a child set down upon the carpet with a
plaything,--expecting no answer, only waiting for the next vagrant
whimsicality that should come across her brain,--not altogether without
method, either,--to give it utterance.
"I don't suppose I could convince you of it," she resumed; "but I do
actually have serious thoughts sometimes. I think that very likely some
of us--most of us--are going to the dogs. And I wonder what it will be
when we get there. Why don't you contradict, or confirm, what I say,
"You haven't said out, yet, have you?"
Sin Saxon opened wide her great, wondering, saucy blue eyes, and turned
them full upon Miss Craydocke's face. "Well, you _are_ a oner! as
somebody in Dickens says. There's no such thing as a leading question
for you. It's like the rope the dog slipped his head out of, and left
the man holding fast at the other end, in touching confidence that he
was coming on. I saw that once on Broadway. Now I experience it. I
suppose I've got to say more. Well, then, in a general way, do you think
living amounts to anything, Miss Craydocke?"
"Sharp--as a knife that's just cut through a lemon! _Ours_, then, if you
please; us girls', for instance."
"You haven't done much of your living yet, my dear." The tone was
gentle, as of one who looked down from such a height of years that she
felt tenderly the climbing that had been, for those who had it yet to
"We're as busy at it, too, as we can be. But sometimes I've mistrusted
something like what I discovered very indignantly one day when I was
four years old, and fancied I was making a petticoat, sewing through
and through a bit of flannel. The thread hadn't any knot in it!"
"That was very well, too, until you knew just where to put the stitches
that should stay."
"Which brings us to our subject of the morning, as the sermons say
sometimes, when they're half through, or ought to be. There are all
kinds of stitches,--embroidery, and plain over-and-over, and whippings,
and darns! When are we to make our knot and begin? and which kind are we
"Most lives find occasion, more or less, for each. Practiced fingers
will know how to manage all."
"But--it's--the--pro_por_tion!" cried Sin, in a crescendo that ended
with an emphasis that was nearly a little scream.
"I think that, when one looks to what is really needed most and first,
will arrange itself," said Miss Craydocke. "Something gets crowded out,
with us all. It depends upon what, and how, and with what willingness we
let it go."
"_Now_ we come to the superlative sort of people,--the extra good ones,
who let everything go that isn't solid duty; all the ornament of
life,--good looks,--tidiness even,--and everything that's the least bit
jolly, and that don't keep your high-mindedness on the strain. I want to
be _low_-minded--_weak_-minded at least--now and then. I can't bear
ferociously elevated people, who won't say a word that don't count;
people that talk about their time being interrupted (as if their time
wasn't everybody else's time, too), because somebody comes in once in a
while for a friendly call; and who go about the streets as if they were
so intent upon some tremendous good work, or big thinking, that it would
be dangerous even to bow to a common sinner, for fear of being waylaid
and hindered. I know people like that; and all I've to say is that, if
they're to make up the heavenly circles, I'd full as lief go down lower,
where they're kind of social!"
There can scarcely be a subject touched, in ever so light a
way,--especially a moral or a spiritual subject,--in however small a
company of persons, that shall not set in motion varied and intense
currents of thought; bear diverse and searching application to
consciousness and experience. The Josselyns sat silent with the long
breadths of green cambric over their laps, listening with an amusement
that freshened into their habitual work-day mood like a willful little
summer breeze born out of blue morning skies, unconscious of clouds, to
the oddities of Sin Saxon; but the drift of her sayings, the meaning she
actually had under them, bore down upon their different knowledge
with a significance whose sharpness she had no dream of. "Plain
over-and-over,"--how well it illustrated what their young days and the
disposal of them had been. Miss Craydocke thought of the darns; her
story cannot be told here; but she knew what it meant to have the darns
of life fall to one's share,--to have the filling up to do, with
dexterousness and pains and sacrifice, of holes that other people make!
For Leslie Goldthwaite, she got the next word of the lesson she was
learning,--"_It depends on what one is willing to let get crowded out_."
Sin Saxon went on again.
"I've had a special disgust given me to superiority. I wouldn't be
superior for all the world. We had a superior specimen come among us at
Highslope last year. She's there yet, it's commonly believed; but nobody
takes the trouble to be positive of it. Reason why, she took up
immediately such a position of mental and moral altitude above our
heads, and became so sublimely unconscious of all beneath, that all
beneath wasn't going to strain its neck to look after her, much less
provide itself with telescopes. We're pretty nice people, we think, but
we're not particularly curious in astronomy. We heard great things of
her, beforehand; and we were all ready to make much of her. We asked her
to our parties. She came, with a look upon her as if some unpleasant
duty had forced her temporarily into purgatory. She shied round like a
cat in a strange garret, as if all she wanted was to get out. She
wouldn't dance; she wouldn't talk; she went home early,--to her studies,
I suppose, and her plans for next day's unmitigated usefulness. She took
it for granted we had nothing in us _but_ dance, and so, as Artemus Ward
says, 'If the American Eagle could solace itself in that way, we let it
went!' She might have done some good to us,--we needed to be done to, I
don't doubt,--but it's all over now. That light is under a bushel, and
that city's hid, so far as Highslope is concerned. And we've pretty much
made up our minds, among us, to be bad and jolly. Only sometimes I get
She got up, giving the string of rings a final whirl, and tossing them
into Leslie Goldthwaite's lap. "Good-by," she said, shaking down her
flounces. "It's time for me to go and assert myself at Shinar.
'_L'empire, c'est moi!_' Napoleon was great when he said that. A great
deal greater than if he'd pretended to be meek, and want nothing but the
"What gets crowded out?" Day by day that is the great test of our life.
Just now, everything seemed likely to get crowded out with the young
folks at Outledge but dresses, characters, and rehearsals. The swivel
the earth turned on at this moment was the coming Tuesday evening and
its performance. And the central axis of that, to nearly every
individual interest, was what such particular individual was to "be."
They had asked Leslie to take the part of Zorayda in the "Three Moorish
Princesses of the Alhambra." Jeannie and Elinor were to be Zayda and
Zorahayda. As for Leslie, she liked well enough, as we know, to look
pretty; it was, or had been, till other thoughts of late had begun to
"crowd it out," something like a besetting weakness; she had only
lately--to tell the whole truth as it seldom is told--begun to be
ashamed, before her higher self, to turn, the first thing in the
morning, with a certain half-mechanical anxiety toward her glass, to see
how she was looking. Without studying into separate causes of complexion
and so forth, as older women given to these things come to do, she knew
that somehow there was often a difference; and beside the standing
question in her mind as to whether there were a chance of her growing up
to anything like positive beauty or not, there was apt often to be a
reason why she would like _to-day_, if possible, to be in particular
good looks. When she got an invitation, or an excursion was planned, the
first thing that came into her head was naturally what she should wear;
and a good deal of the pleasure would depend on that. A party without an
especially pretty dress didn't amount to much; she couldn't help that;
it did count with everybody, and it made a difference. She would like,
undoubtedly, a "pretty part" in these tableaux; but there was more in
Leslie Goldthwaite, even without touching upon the deep things, than all
this. _Only_ a pretty part did not quite satisfy: she had capacity for
something more. In spite of the lovely Moorish costume to be contrived
out of blue silk and white muslin, and to contrast so picturesquely with
Jeannie's crimson, and the soft, snowy drapery of Elinor, she would have
been half willing to be the "discreet Kadiga" instead; for the old woman
had really to look _something_ as well as _somehow_, and there was a
spirit and a fun in that.
The pros and cons and possibilities were working themselves gradually
clear to her thoughts, as she sat and listened, with external attention
in the beginning, to Sin Saxon's chatter. Ideas about the adaptation of
her dress-material, and the character she could bring out of, or get
into, her part, mingled themselves together; and Irving's delicious old
legend that she had read hundreds of times, entranced, as a child,
repeated itself in snatches to her recollection. Jeannie must be
stately; that would quite suit her. Elinor--must just be Elinor. Then
the airs and graces remained for herself. She thought she could
illustrate with some spirit the latent coquetry of the imprisoned
beauty; she believed, notwithstanding the fashion in which the story
measured out their speech in rations,--always an appropriate bit, and
just so much of it to each,--that the gay Zorayda must have had the
principal hand in their affairs; must have put the others up to
mischief, and coaxed most winningly the discreet Kadiga. She could make
something out of it: it shouldn't be mere flat prettiness. She began to
congratulate herself upon the character. And then her ingenious fancy
flew off to something else that had occurred to her, and that she had
only secretly proposed to Sin Saxon; an illustration of a certain
ancient nursery ballad, to vary by contrast the pathetic representations
of "Auld Robin Gray" and "The Lady of Shalott." It was a bright plan,
and she was nearly sure she could carry it out; but it was not a "pretty
part," and Sin Saxon had thought it fair she should have one; therefore
Zorayda. All this was reason why Leslie's brain was busy, like her
fingers, as she sat and sewed on the green curtain, and let Sin Saxon
talk. Till Miss Craydocke said that "something always gets crowded out,"
and so those words came to her in the midst of all.
The Josselyns went away to their own room when the last rings had been
sewn on; and the curtain was ready, as had been promised, at ten
o'clock. Leslie stayed, waiting for Dakie Thayne to come and fetch it.
While she sat there, silent, by the window, Miss Craydocke brought out a
new armful of something from a drawer, and came and placed her Shaker
rocking-chair beside her. Leslie looked around, and saw her lap full of
two little bright plaid dresses.
"It's only the buttonholes," said Miss Craydocke. "I'm going to make
them now, before they find me out."
Leslie looked very uncomprehending.
"You didn't suppose I let those girls come in here and spend their
morning on that nonsense for nothing, did you? This is some of _their_
work, the work that's crowding all the frolic out of their lives. I've
found out where they keep it, and I've stolen some. I'm Scotch, you
know, and I believe in brownies. They're good to believe in. Old fables
are generally _all but_ true. You've only to 'put in one to make it so,'
as children say in 'odd and even.'" And Miss Craydocke overcasted her
first buttonhole energetically.
Leslie Goldthwaite saw through the whole now, in a minute. "You did it
on purpose, for an excuse!" she said; and there was a ring of
applauding delight in her voice which a note of admiration poorly
"Well, you must begin somehow," said Miss Craydocke. "And after you've
once begun, you can keep on." Which, as a generality, was not so
glittering, perhaps, as might be; but Leslie could imagine, with a warm
heart-throb, what, in this case, Miss Craydocke's "keeping on" would be.
"I found them out by degrees," said Miss Craydocke. "They've been
overhead here, this month nearly, and if you _don't_ listen nor look
more than is lady-like, you can't help scraps enough to piece something
out of by that time. They sit by their window, and I sit by mine. I
cough, and sneeze, and sing, as much as I find comfortable, and they
can't help knowing where their neighbors are; and after that, it's their
lookout, of course. I lent them some books one Sunday, and so we got on
a sort of visiting terms, and lately I've gone in, sometimes, and sat
down awhile when I've had an errand, and they've been here; the amount
of it is, they're two young things that'll grow old before they know
they've ever been young, if somebody don't take hold. They've only got
just so much time to stay; and if we don't contrive a holiday for them
before it's over, why,--there's the 'Inasmuch,'--that's all."
Dakie Thayne came to the door to fetch Leslie and the curtain.
"It's all ready, Dakie,--here; but I can't go just now,--not unless
they want me _very_ much, and then you'll come, please, won't you, and
let me know again?" said Leslie, bundling up the mass of cambric, and
piling it upon Dakie's arms.
Dakie looked disappointed, but promised, and departed. They were finding
him useful upstairs, and Leslie had begged him to help.
"Now give me that other dress," she said, turning to Miss Craydocke.
"And you,--couldn't you go and steal something else?" She spoke
impetuously, and her eyes shone with eagerness, and more.
"I've had to lay a plan," resumed Miss Craydocke, as Leslie took the
measure of a buttonhole and began. "Change of work is as good as a rest.
So I've had them down here on the curtain among the girls. Next, I'm
going to have a bee. I've got some things to finish up for Prissy
Hoskins, and they're likely to be wanted in something of a hurry. She's
got another aunt in Portsmouth, and if she can only be provided with
proper things to wear, she can go down there, Aunt Hoskins says, and
stay all winter, get some schooling, and see a city doctor. The man here
tells them that something might be done for her hearing by a person
skilled in such things, and Miss Hoskins says 'there's a little money of
the child's own, from the vandoo when her father died,' that would pay
for traveling and advice, and 'ef the right sort ain't to be had in
Portsmouth, when she once gets started, she shall go whuzzever't is, if
she has to have a vandoo herself!' It's a whole human life of comfort
and usefulness, Leslie Goldthwaite, may be, that depends!--Well, I'll
have a bee, and get Prissy fixed out. Her Portsmouth aunt is coming up,
and will take her back. She'll give her a welcome, but she's poor
herself, and can't afford much more. And then the Josselyns are to have
a bee. Not everybody; but you and me, and we'll see by that time who
else. It's to begin as if we meant to have them all round, for the
frolic and the sociability; and besides that, we'll steal all we can.
For your part, you must get intimate. Nobody can do anything, except as
a friend. And the last week they're here is the very week I'm going
everywhere in! I'm going to charter the little red, and have parties of
my own. We'll have a picnic at the Cliff, and Prissy will wait on us
with raspberries and cream. We'll walk up Feather-Cap, and ride up
Giant's Cairn, and we'll have a sunset at Minster Rock. And it's going
to be pleasant weather every day!"
They stitched away, then, dropping their talk. Miss Craydocke was out of
breath; and Leslie measured her even loops with eyes that glittered more
The half-dozen buttonholes apiece were completed; and then Miss
Craydocke trotted off with the two little frocks upon her arm. She came
back, bringing some two or three pairs of cotton-flannel drawers.
"I took them up, just as they lay, cut out and ready, on the bed. I
wouldn't have a word. I told them I'd nothing to do, and so I haven't.
My hurry is coming on all of a sudden when I have my bee. Now I've done
it once, I can do it again. They'll find out it's my way, and when
you've once set up a way, people always turn out for it."
Miss Craydocke was in high glee.
Leslie stitched up three little legs before Dakie came again, and said
they must have her upstairs.
One thing occurred to her, as they ran along the winding passages, up
and down, and up again, to the new hall in the far-off L.
The Moorish dress would take so long to arrange. Wouldn't Imogen
Thoresby like the part? She was only in the "Three Fishers." Imogen and
Jeannie met her as she came in.
"It is just you I wanted to find," cried Leslie, sealing her warm
impulse with immediate act. "Will you be Zorayda, Imogen,--with Jeannie
and Elinor, you know? I've got so much to do without. Sin Saxon
understands; it's a bit of a secret as yet. I shall be _so_ obliged!"
Imogen's blue eyes sparkled and widened. It was just what she had been
secretly longing for. But why in the world should Leslie Goldthwaite
want to give it up?
It had got crowded out, that was all.
Another thing kept coming into Leslie's head that day,--the yards of
delicate grass-linen that she had hemstitched, and knotted into bands
that summer,--just for idle work, when plain bindings and simple
ruffling would have done as well,--and all for her accumulating treasure
of reserved robings, while here were these two girls darning stockings,
and sewing over heavy woollen stuffs, that actual, inevitable work might
be dispatched in these bright, warm hours that had been meant for
holiday. It troubled her to think of it, seeing that the time was gone,
and nothing now but these threads and holes remained of it to her share.
Martha Josselyn had asked her yesterday about the stitch,--some little
baby-daintiness she had thought of for the mother who couldn't afford
embroideries and thread-laces for her youngest and least of so many.
Leslie would go and show her, and, as Miss Craydocke said, get intimate.
It was true there were certain little things one could not do, except as
Meanwhile, Martha Josselyn must be the Sister of Charity in that lovely
tableau of Consolation.
It does not take long for two young girls to grow intimate over tableau
plans and fancy stitches. Two days after this, Leslie Goldthwaite was as
cosily established in the Josselyns' room as if she had been there every
day all summer. Some people _are_ like drops of quicksilver, as Martha
Josselyn had declared, only one can't tell how that is till one gets out
of the bottle.
"Thank you," she said to Leslie, as she mastered the little intricacy of
the work upon the experimental scrap of cambric she had drawn. "I
understand it now, I think, and I shall find time, somehow, after I get
home, for what I want to do." With that, she laid it in a corner of her
basket, and took up cotton-flannel again.
Leslie put something, twisted lightly in soft paper, beside it. "I want
you to keep that, please, for a pattern, and to remember me," she said.
"I've made yards more than I really want. It's nothing," she added,
hastily interrupting the surprised and remonstrating thanks of the
other. "And now we must see about that scapulary thing, or whatever it
is, for your nun's dress."
And there was no more about it, only an unusual feeling in Martha
Josselyn's heart, that came up warm long after, and by and by a little
difference among Leslie Goldthwaite's pretty garnishings, where
something had got crowded out.
This is the way, from small to great, things sort themselves.
"No man can serve two masters," is as full and true and strong upon the
side of encouragement as of rebuke.
The tableaux had to be put off. Frank Scherman was obliged to go down to
Boston, unexpectedly, to attend to business, and nothing could be done
without him. The young girls felt all the reaction that comes with the
sudden interruption of eager plans. A stagnation seemed to succeed to
their excitement and energy. They were thrown back into a vacuum.
"There is nothing on earth to do, or to think about," said Florrie
"Just as much as there was last week," replied Josie Scherman,
common-sense-ically. Frank was only her brother, and that made a
difference. "There's Giant's Cairn as big as ever, and Feather-Cap, and
Minster Rock, and the Spires. And there's plenty to do. Tableaux aren't
everything. There's your 'howl,' Sin Saxon. That hasn't come off yet."
"'It isn't the fall that hurts,--it's the fetch-up,' as the Irishman
observed," said Sin Saxon, with a yawn. "It wasn't that I doted
particularly on the tableaux, but 'the waters wild went o'er my child,
and I was left lamenting.' It was what I happened to be after at the
moment. When I get ready for a go, I do hate to take off my bonnet and
sit down at home."
"But the 'howl,' Sin! What's to become of that?"
"Ain't I howling all I can?"
And this was all Sin Saxon would say about it. The girls meant to keep
her in mind, and to have their frolic,--the half of them in the most
imaginative ignorance as to what it might prove to be; but somehow their
leader herself seemed to have lost her enthusiasm or her intention.
Leslie Goldthwaite felt neither disappointment nor impatience. She had
got a permanent interest. It is good always to have something to fall
back upon. The tableaux would come by and by; meanwhile, there was
plenty of time for their "bees," and for the Cliff.
They had long mornings in the pines, and cool, quiet afternoons in Miss
Craydocke's pretty room. It was wonderful the cleverness the Josselyns
had come to with little frocks. One a skirt, and the other a body,--they
made nothing of finishing the whole at a sitting. "It's only seeing
the end from the beginning," Martha said, when Leslie uttered her
astonishment. "We know the way, right through; and no way seems
long when you've traveled it often." To be sure, Prissy Hoskins's
delaines and calicoes didn't need to be contrived after Demorest's
Then they had their holiday, taking the things over to the Cliff, and
trying them all on Prissy, very much as if they had been a party of
children, and she a paper doll. Her rosy little face and willful curls
came out of each prettier than the last, precisely as a paper dolly's
does, and when at the end of all they got her into a bright violet print
and a white bib-apron, it was well they were the last, for they couldn't
have had the heart to take her out of them. Leslie had made for her a
small hoop from the upper half of one of her own, and laced a little
cover upon it, of striped seersucker, of which there was a petticoat
also to wear above. These, clear, clean, and stiffened, came from Miss
Craydocke's stores. She never traveled without her charity-trunk,
wherein, put at once in perfect readiness for different use the moment
they passed beyond her own, she kept all spare material that waited for
such call. Breadths of old dresses, ripped and sponged and pressed, or
starched, ironed, and folded; flannel petticoats shrunken short;
stockings "cut down" in the old, thrifty, grandmother fashion;
underclothing strongly patched (as she said, "the Lord's mark put upon
it, since it had pleased Him to give her the means to do without
patches"); odds and ends of bonnet-ribbons, dipped in spirits and rolled
tightly upon blocks, from which they unrolled nearly as good as
new,--all these things, and more, religiously made the most of for
whomsoever they might first benefit, went about with her in this, the
biggest of her boxes, which, give out from it as she might, she never
seemed, she said, to get quite to the bottom of.
Under the rounded skirts, below the short, plain trousers, Prissy's
ankles and feet were made shapely with white stockings and new, stout
boots. (Aunt Hoskins believed in "white stockin's, or go athout. Bilin'
an' bleachin' an' comin' out new; none o' yer aggravations 'v
everlastin' dirt-color.") And one thing more, the prettiest of all. A
great net of golden-brown silk that Leslie had begged Mrs. Linceford,
who liked netting, to make, gathered into strong, large meshes the
unruly wealth of hair brushed back in rippling lines from Prissy's
temples, and showing so its brighter, natural color from underneath,
where the outside had grown sun-faded.
"I'm just like Cinderella,--with four godmothers!" cried the child; and
she danced up and down, as Leslie let her go from under her hands.
"You're just like--a little heathen!" screamed Aunt Hoskins. "Where's
yer thanks?" Her own thanks spoke themselves, partly in an hysterical
sort of chuckle and sniffle, that stopped each other short, and the
rebuke with them. "But there! she don't know no better! 'T ain't fer
every day, you needn't think. It's for company to-day, an' fer Sundays,
an' to go to Portsmouth."
"Don't spoil it for her, Miss Hoskins. Children hate to think it isn't
for every day," said Leslie Goldthwaite.
But the child-antidote to that was also ready.
"I don't care," cried Prissy. "To-day's a great, long day, and Sunday's
for ever and ever, and Portsmouth'll be always."
"_Can't_ yer stop ter kerchy, and say--Lud-o'-light 'n' massy, I donno
what to _tell_ ye ter say!" And Miss Hoskins sniffled and gurgled again,
and gave it up.
"She has thanked us, I think," said Miss Craydocke, in her simple way,
"when she called us Godmothers!" The word came home to her good heart.
God had given her, the lonely woman, the larger motherhood. "Brothers,
and sisters, and mothers!" She thought how Christ traced out the
relationships, and claimed them even to himself!
"Now, for once, _you_'re to be done up. That's general order number
two," Miss Craydocke said to the Josselyn girls, as they all first met
together again after the Cliff party. "We've worked together till we're
friends. And so there's not a word to be said. We owe you time that
we've taken, and more that we mean to take before you go. I'll tell you
what for, when it's necessary."
It was a nicer matter to get the Josselyns to be helped than to help. It
was not easy for them to bring forth their breadths and their linings,
and their braids that were to be pieced, and their trimmings that
were to be turned, and to lay bare to other eyes all their little
economies of contrivance; but Miss Craydocke managed it by simple
straightforwardness,--by not behaving as if there were anything to be
glossed over or ignored. Instead of hushing up about economies, she
brought them forward, and gave them a most cheery and comfortable, not
to say dignified air. It was all ordinary matter of course,--the way
everybody did, or ought to do. This was the freshest end of this
breadth, and should go down; this other had a darn that might be cut
across, and a straight piecing made, for which the slope of the skirt
would allow,--_she_ should do it so; that hem might be taken off
altogether and a new one turned; this was a very nice trimming, and
plenty of it, and the wrong side was brighter than the right; she knew a
way of joining worsted braid that never showed,--you might have a dozen
pieces in the binding of a skirt and not be noticed. This little blue
frock had no trimming; they would finish that at home. No, the prettiest
thing in the world for it would be pipings of black silk, and Miss
Craydocke had some bits just right for covering cord, thick as a board,
big enough for nothing else; and out they came, as did many another
thing, without remark, from her bags and baskets. She had hooks and
eyes, and button-fasteners, when these gave out; she used from her own
cotton-spools and skeins of silk; she had tailors' twist for
buttonholes, and large black cord for the pipings; and these were but
working implements, like scissors and thimble,--taken for granted,
without count. There was nothing on the surface for the most shrinking
delicacy to rub against; but there was a kindness that went down into
the hearts of the two young girls continually.
For an hour or two at least each day they sat together so, for the being
together. The work was "taken up." Dakie Thayne read stories to them
sometimes: Miss Craydocke had something always to produce and to summon
them to sit and hear; some sketch of strange adventure, or a ghost
marvel, or a bright, spicy magazine essay; or, knowing where to find
sympathizers and helpers, Dakie would rush in upon them uncalled, with
some discovery, or want, or beautiful thing to show of his own. They
were quite a little coterie by themselves. It shaped itself to this more
Leslie did not neglect her own party. She drove and walked with Mrs.
Linceford, and was ready for anything the Haddens really wanted of her;
but Mrs. Linceford napped and lounged a good deal, and could spare her
then; and Jeannie and Elinor seemed somehow to feel the want of her less
than they had done,--Elinor unconsciously drawn away by new attraction,
Jeannie rather of a purpose.
I am afraid I cannot call it anything else but a little loss of caste
which seemed coming to Leslie Goldthwaite just now, through these new
intimacies of hers. "Something always gets crowded out." This, too,--her
popularity among the first,--might have to be, perhaps, one of the
Now and then she felt it so,--perceived the shade of difference toward
her in the tone and manner of these young girls. I cannot say that it
did not hurt her a little. She had self-love, of course; yet, for all,
she was loyal to the more generous love,--to the truer self-respect. If
she could not have both, she would keep the best. There came to be a
little pride in her own demeanor,--a waiting to be sought again.
"I can't think what has come over Les'," said Jeannie Hadden, one
night, on the piazza, to a knot of girls. She spoke in a tone at once
apologetic and annoyed. "She was always up to anything at home. I
thought she meant to lead us all off here. She might have done almost
what she pleased."
"Everybody likes Leslie," said Elinor.
"Why, yes, we all do," put in Mattie Shannon. "Only she will take up
queer people, you see. And--well, they're nice enough, I suppose; only
there's never room enough for everybody."
"I thought we were all to be nowhere when she first came. There was
something about her,--I don't know what,--not wonderful, but taking.
'Put her where you pleased, she was the central point of the picture,'
Frank said." This came from Josie Scherman.
"And she's just dropped all, to run after goodness knows what and whom!
I can't see through her!" rejoined Jeannie, with a sort of finality in
her accent that seemed to imply, "_I_ wash my hands of her, and won't be
"Knew ye not," broke in a gentle voice, "that she must be about her
Master's business?" It was scarcely addressed to them. Miss Craydocke
just breathed audibly the thought she could not help.
There came a downfall of silence upon the group.
When they took breath again,--"Oh, if she's _religious_!" Mattie
Shannon just said, as of a thing yet farther off and more finally done
with. And then their talk waited under a restraint again.
"I supposed we were all religious,--Sundays, at least," broke forth Sin
Saxon suddenly, who, strangely, had not spoken before. "I don't know,
though. Last Saturday night we danced the German till half past twelve,
and we talked charades instead of going to church, till I felt--as if
I'd sat all the morning with my feet over a register, reading a novel,
when I'd ought to have been doing a German exercise or something. If
she's religious every day, she's seven times better than we are, that's
all. _I_ think--she's got a knot to her thread!"
Nobody dared send Leslie Goldthwaite quite to Coventry after this.
Sin Saxon found herself in the position of many another leader,--obliged
to make some demonstration to satisfy the aroused expectations of her
followers. Her heart was no longer thoroughly in it; but she had
promised them a "howl," and a howl they were determined upon, either
with or against her.
Opportunity arose just now also. Madam Routh went off on a party to the
Notch, with some New York friends, taking with her one or two of the
younger pupils, for whom she felt most constant responsibility. The
elder girls were domesticated and acquainted now at Outledge; there were
several matronly ladies with whom the whole party was sufficiently
associated in daily intercourse for all the air of chaperonage that
might be needed; and one assistant pupil, whom, to be sure, the young
ladies themselves counted as a most convenient nonentity, was left in
Now or never, the girls declared with one voice it must be. All they
knew about it--the most of them--was that it was some sort of an
out-of-hours frolic, such as boarding-school ne'er-do-weels delight in;
and it was to plague Miss Craydocke, against whom, by this time, they
had none of them really any manner of spite; neither had they any longer
the idea of forcing her to evacuate; but they had got wound up on that
key at the beginning, and nobody thought of changing it. Nobody but Sin
Saxon. She had begun, perhaps, to have a little feeling that she would
change it, if she could.
Nevertheless, with such show of heartiness as she found possible, she
assented to their demand, and the time was fixed. Her merry, mischievous
temperament asserted itself as she went on, until she really grew into
the mood for it once more, from the pure fun of the thing.
It took two days to get ready. After the German on Thursday night, the
howl was announced to come off in Number Thirteen, West Wing. This, of
course, was the boudoir; but nobody but the initiated knew that. It was
supposed to be Maud Walcott's room. The assistant pupil made faint
remonstrances against she knew not what, and was politely told so;
moreover, she was pressingly invited to render herself with the other
guests at the little piazza door, precisely at eleven. The matronly
ladies, always amused, sometimes a little annoyed and scandalized, at
Sin Saxon's escapades, asked her, one and another, at different times,
what it was all to be, and if she really thought she had better, and
among themselves expressed tolerably grave doubts about proprieties, and
wished Madam Routh would return. The vague mystery and excitement of the
howl kept all the house gently agog for this Tuesday and Wednesday
intervening. Sin Saxon gave out odd hints here and there in confidence.
It was to be a "spread;" and the "grub" (Sin was a boarding-school girl,
you know, and had brothers in college) was all to be stolen. There was
an uncommon clearance of cakes and doughnuts, and pie and cheese, from
each meal, at this time. Cup-custards, even, disappeared,--cups and all.
A cold supper, laid at nine on Wednesday evening, for some expected
travelers, turned out a more meagre provision on the arrival of the
guests than the good host of the Giant's Cairn had ever been known to
make. At bedtime Sin Saxon presented herself in Miss Craydocke's room.
"There's something heavy on my conscience," she said, with a disquiet
air. "I'm really worried; and it's too late to help it now."
Miss Craydocke looked at her with a kind anxiety.
"It's never too late to _try_ to help a mistake. And _you_, Miss
Saxon,--you can always do what you choose."
She was afraid for her,--the good lady,--that her heedlessness might
compromise herself and others in some untoward scrape. She didn't like
these rumors of the howl,--the last thing she thought of being her own
rest and comfort, which were to be purposely invaded.
"I've let the chance go by," said Sin Saxon desperately. "It's of no use
now." And she rocked herself back and forth in the Shaker chair of which
she had taken possession.
"My dear," said Miss Craydocke, "if you would only explain to
"You _might_!" cried Sin, jumping up, and making a rush at the good
woman, seizing her by both hands. "They'd never suspect you. It's that
cold roast chicken in the pantry. I _can't_ get over it, that I didn't
Sin was incorrigible. Miss Craydocke shook her head, taking care to
turn it aside at the same moment; for she felt her lips twitch and her
eyes twinkle, in spite of herself.
"I won't take this till the time comes," said Sin, laying her hand on
the back of the Shaker chair. "But it's confiscated for to-morrow night,
and I shall come for it. And, Miss Craydocke, if you _do_ manage about
the chicken,--I hate to trouble you to go downstairs, but I dare say you
want matches, or a drink of water, or something, and another time I'll
wait upon you with pleasure,--here's the door, made for the emergency,
and I on the other side of it dissolved in tears of gratitude!"
And so, for the time, Sin Saxon disappeared.
The next afternoon, Jimmy Wigley brought a big basket of raspberries to
the little piazza door. A pitcher of cream vanished from the tea-table
just before the gong was struck. Nobody supposed the cat had got it. The
people of the house understood pretty well what was going on, and who
was at the bottom of it all; but Madam Routh's party was large, and the
life of the place; they would wink hard and long before complaining at
anything that might be done in the west wing.
Sin Saxon opened her door upon Miss Craydocke when she was dressed for
the German, and about to go downstairs. "I'll trust you," she said,
"about the rocking-chair. You'll want it, perhaps, till bedtime, and
then you'll just put it in here. I shouldn't like to disturb you by
coming for it late. And please step in a minute now, won't you?"
She took her through the boudoir. There lay the "spread" upon a long
table, contrived by the contribution of one ordinary little one from
each sleeping-chamber, and covered by a pair of clean sheets, which
swept the floor along the sides. About it were ranged chairs. Two
pyramids of candles, built up ingeniously by the grouping of bedroom
tins upon hidden supports, vine-sprays and mosses serving gracefully for
concealment and decoration, stood, one on each side, half way between
the ends and centre. Cake-plates were garnished with wreathed
oak-leaves, and in the midst a great white Indian basket held the red,
piled-up berries, fresh and fragrant.
"That's the little bit of righteousness to save the city. That's paid
for," said Sin Saxon. "Jimmy Wigley's gone home with more scrip than he
ever got at once before; and if your chicken-heartedness hadn't taken
the wrong direction, Miss Craydocke, I should be perfectly at ease in my
"It's very pretty," said Miss Craydocke; "but do you think Madam Routh
would quite approve? And why couldn't you have had it openly in the
dining-room? And what do you call it a 'howl' for?" Miss Craydocke's
questions came softly and hesitatingly, as her doubts came. The little
festival was charming--but for the way and place.
"Oh, Miss Craydocke! Well, you're not wicked, and you can't be supposed
to know; but you must take my word for it, that, if it was tamed down,
the game wouldn't be worth the candle. And the howl? You just wait and
The invited guests were told to come to the little piazza door. The
girls asked all their partners in the German, and the matronly ladies
were asked, as a good many respectable people are civilly invited where
their declining is counted upon. Leslie Goldthwaite, and the Haddens,
and Mrs. Linceford, and the Thoresbys were all asked, and might come if
they chose. Their stay would be another matter. And so the evening and
the German went on.
Till eleven, when they broke up; and the entertainers in a body rushed
merrily and noisily along the passages to Number Thirteen, West Wing,
rousing from their first naps many quietly disposed, delicate people,
who kept early hours, and a few babies whose nurses and mammas would
bear them anything but gratefully in mind through the midnight hours to
They gained two minutes, perhaps, upon their guests, who had, some of
them, to look up wraps, and to come round by the front hall and piazzas.
In these two minutes, by Sin Saxon's order, they seated themselves
comfortably at table. They had plenty of room; but they spread their
robes gracefully,--they had all dressed in their very prettiest
to-night,--and they quite filled up the space. Bright colors, and soft,
rich textures floating and mingling together, were like a rainbow
encircling the feast. The candles had been touched with kerosene, and
matches lay ready. The lighting-up had been done in an instant. And then
Sin Saxon went to the door, and drew back the chintz curtains from
across the upper half, which was of glass. A group of the guests, young
men, were already there, beneath the elms outside. But how should she
see them, looking from the bright light into the tree-shadows? She went
quietly back, and took her place at the head, leaving the door fast
There came a knock. Sin Saxon took no heed, but smilingly addressed
herself to offering dainties right and left. Some of the girls stared,
and one or two half rose to go and give admittance.
"Keep your seats," said Sin, in her most lady-like way and tone, with
the unchanged smile upon her face. "_That_'s the _howl_!"
They began to perceive the joke outside. They began to knock
vociferously. They took up their cue with a readiness, and made plenty
of noise, not doubting, as yet, that they should be admitted at last.
Some of the ladies came round, gave a glance, saw how things were going,
and retreated,--except a few, parties from other houses who had escorts
among the gentlemen, and who waited a little to see how the frolic would
end, or at least to reclaim their attendants.
Well, it was very unpardonable,--outrageous, the scandalized neighbors
were beginning already to say in their rooms. Even Sin Saxon had a
little excitement in her eye beyond the fun, as she still maintained the
most graceful order within, and the exchange of courtesies went on
around the board, and the tumult increased without. They tree-toaded,
they cat-called, they shouted, they cheered, they howled, they even
hissed. Sin Saxon sat motionless an instant when it came to that, and
gave a glance toward the lights. A word from her would put them out, and
end the whole. She held her _coup_ in reserve, however, knowing her
resource, and sat, as it were, with her finger on the spring, determined
to carry through coolly what she had begun.
Dakie Thayne had gone away with the Linceford party when they crossed to
the Green Cottage. Afterward, he came out again and stood in the open
road. Some ladies, boarders at Blashford's, up above, came slowly away
from the uproar, homeward. One or two young men detached themselves from
the group on the piazza, and followed to see them safe, as it belonged
to them to do. The rest sat themselves down, at this moment, upon the
steps and platform, and struck up, with one accord, "We won't go home
till morning." In the midst of this, a part broke off and took up,
discordantly, the refrain, "Polly, put the kettle on, we'll all have
tea;" others complicated the confusion further with, "Cruel, cruel Polly
Hopkins, treat me so,--oh, treat me so!" till they fell, at last,
into an indistinguishable jumble and clamor, from which extricated
themselves now and again and prevailed, the choruses of "Upidee," and
"Bum-bum-bye," with an occasional drum-beat of emphasis given upon the
"Don't go back there, James," Dakie Thayne heard a voice from the
retiring party say as they passed him; "it's disgraceful!"
"The house won't hold Sin Saxon after this," said another. "They were
out in the upper hall, half a dozen of them, just now, ringing their
bells and calling for Mr. Biscombe."
"The poor man don't know who to side with. He don't want to lose the
whole west wing. After all, there must be young people in the house,
and if it weren't one thing it would be another. It's only a few fidgets
that complain. They'll hush up and go off presently, and the whole thing
will be a joke over the breakfast-table to-morrow morning, after
everybody's had a little sleep."
The singing died partially away just then, and some growling, less
noisy, but more in earnest, began.
"They don't _mean_ to let us in! I say, this is getting rather rough!"
"It's only to smash a pane of glass above the bolt and let ourselves in.
Why shouldn't we? We're invited." The latent mob-element was very near
developing itself in these young gentlemen, high-bred, but irate.
At this moment, a wagon came whirling down the road around the ledges.
Dakie Thayne caught sight of the two white leaders, recognized them, and
flew across to the hotel. "Stop!" cried he. At the same instant a figure
moved hastily away from behind Miss Craydocke's blinds. It was a mercy
that the wagon had driven around to the front hall door.
A mercy in one way; but the misfortune was that the supper-party within
knew nothing of it. A musical, lady-like laugh, quite in contrast to the
demonstrative utterances outside, had just broken forth, in response to
one of Sin Saxon's brightest speeches, when through the adjoining
apartment came suddenly upon them the unlooked-for apparition of "the
spinster." Miss Craydocke went straight across to the beleaguered door,
drew the bolt, and threw it back. "Gently, young gentlemen! Draw up the
piazza chairs, if you please, and sit down," said she. "Mr. Lowe, Mr.
Brookhouse, here are plates; will you be kind enough to serve your
In three minutes she had filled and passed outward half a dozen saucers
of fruit, and sent a basket of cake among them. Then she drew a seat for
herself, and began to eat raspberries. It was all done so quickly--they
were so either taken by surprise--that nobody, inside or out, gain-said
or delayed her by a word.
It was hardly done when a knock sounded at the door upon the passage.
"Young ladies!" a voice called,--Madam Routh's.
She and her friends had driven down from the Notch by sunset and
moonlight. Nobody had said anything to her of the disturbance when she
came in: her arrival had rather stopped the complaints that had begun;
for people are not malignant, after all, as a general thing, and there
is a curious propensity in human nature which cools off indignation even
at the greatest crimes, just as the culprit is likely to suffer. We are
apt to check the foot just as we might have planted it upon the noxious
creature, and to let off great state criminals on parole. Madam Routh
had seen the bright light and the gathering about the west wing. She had
caught some sounds of the commotion. She made her way at once to look
after her charge.
Sin Saxon was not a pupil now, and there was no condign punishment
actually to fear; but her heart stood still a second, for all that, and
she realized that she had been on the verge of an "awful scrape." It was
bad enough now, as Madam Routh stood there gravely silent. She could not
approve. She was amazed to see Miss Craydocke present, countenancing and
matronizing. But Miss Craydocke _was_ present, and it altered the whole
face of affairs. Her eye took in, too, the modification of the
room,--quite an elegant little private parlor as it had been made. The
young men were gathered decorously about the doorway and upon the
platform, one or two only politely assisting within. They had taken this
cue as readily as the other; indeed, they were by no means aware that
this was not the issue intended from the beginning, long as the joke had
been allowed to go on, and their good-humor and courtesy had been
instantly restored. Miss Craydocke, by one master-stroke of generous
presence of mind, had achieved an instantaneous change in the position,
and given an absolutely new complexion to the performance.
"It is late, young ladies," was all Madam Routh's remark at length.
"They gave up their German early on purpose; it was a little surprise
they planned," Miss Craydocke said, as she moved to meet her.
And then Madam Routh, with wise, considerate dignity, took _her_ cue.
She even came forward to the table and accepted a little fruit; stayed
five minutes perhaps, and then, without a spoken word, her movement to
go broke up, with unmistakable intent, the party. Fifteen minutes after,
all was quiet in the west wing.
But Sin Saxon, when the doors closed at either hand, and the girls alone
were left around the fragments of their feast, rushed impetuously across
toward Miss Craydocke, and went down beside her on her knees.
"Oh, you dear, magnificent old Christian!" she cried out, and laid her
head down on her lap, with little sobs, half laughter and half tears.
"There, there!"--and Miss Craydocke softly patted her golden hair, and
spoke as she would soothe a fretted and excited child.
Next morning, at breakfast, Sin Saxon was as beautifully ruffled,
ratted, and crimped, as gay, as bewitching, and defiant as ever, seated
next Madam Routh, assiduously devoted to her in the little attentions
of the meal, in high spirits and favor; even saucily alluding, across
the table, to "_our_ howl, Miss Craydocke!"
Public opinion was carried by storm; the benison of sleep had laid
wrath. Nobody knew that, an hour before, she had been in Madam Routh's
room, making a clean breast of the whole transaction, and disclosing
the truth of Miss Craydocke's magnanimous and tactful interposition,
confessing that without this she had been at her wits' ends how to put a
stop to it, and promising, like a sorry child, to behave better, and
never do so any more.
Two hours later she came meekly to Miss Craydocke's room, where the
"bee" was gathered,--for mere companionship to-day, with chess and
fancy-work,--her flourishes all laid aside, her very hair brushed close
to her pretty head, and a plain gingham dress on.
"Miss Craydocke!" she said, with an air she could not divest of a little
comicality, but with an earnestness behind it shining through her eyes,
"I'm good; I'm converted. I want some tow-cloth to sew on immediately."
And she sat down, folding her hands, waiting.
Miss Craydocke laughed. "I don't know. I'm afraid I haven't anything to
be done just now, unless I cut out some very coarse, heavy homespun."
"I'd be glad if you would. Beggars mustn't be choosers; but if they
might, I should say it was the very thing. Sackcloth, you know; and
then, perhaps, the ashes might be excused. I'm in solemn earnest,
though. I'm reformed. You've done it; and you," she added, turning
round short on Leslie Goldthwaite,--"you've been at it a long time,
_unbeknownst_ to yourself; and you, ma'am,--you finished it last night.
It's been like the casting out of the devils in Scripture. They always
give a howl, you know, and go out of 'em!"
"FRIENDS OF MAMMON."
Sin Saxon came heart and soul into Miss Craydocke's generous and
delicate plans. The work was done, to be sure. The third trunk, that had
been "full of old winter dresses to be made over," was locked upon the
nice little completed frocks and sacks that forestalled the care and
hurry of "fall work" for the overburdened mother, and were to gladden
her unexpecting eyes, as such store only can gladden the anxious family
manager who feels the changeful, shortening days come treading, with
their speedy demands, upon the very skirts of long, golden sunshiny
Susan and Martha Josselyn felt, on their part, as only busy workers feel
who fasten the last thread, or dash a period to the last page, and turn
around to breathe the breath of the free, and choose for once and for a
while what they shall do. The first hour of this freedom rested them
more than the whole six weeks that they had been getting half-rest, with
the burden still upon their thought and always waiting for their hands.
It was like the first half-day to children, when school has closed and
books are brought home for the long vacation. All the possible delight
of coming weeks is distilled to one delicious drop, and tasted then.
"It's 'none of my funeral,' I know," Sin Saxon said to Miss Craydocke.
"I'm only an eleventh-hour helper; but I'll come in for the holiday
business, if you'll let me; and perhaps, after all, that's more in my
Everything seemed to be in her line that she once took hold of. She had
little private consultations with Miss Craydocke. "It's to be your party
to Feather-Cap, but it shall be my party to Minster Rock," she said.
"Leave that to me, please. Now the howl's off my hands, I feel equal to
Just in time for the party to Minster Rock, a great basket and box from
home arrived for Sin Saxon. In the first were delicious early peaches,
rose-color and gold, wrapped one by one in soft paper and laid among
fine sawdust; early pears, also, with the summer incense in their
spiciness; greenhouse grapes, white and amber and purple. The other held
delicate cakes and confections unknown to Outledge, as carefully put up,
and quite fresh and unharmed. "Everything comes in right for me," she
exclaimed, running back and forth to Miss Craydocke with new and more
charming discoveries as she excavated. Not a word did she say of the
letter that had gone down from her four days before, asking her mother
for these things, and to send her some money; "for a party," she told
her, "that she would rather give here than to have her usual summer
_fete_ after her return."
"You quite eclipse and extinguish my poor little doings," said Miss
Craydocke, admiring and rejoicing all the while as genuinely as Sin
"Dear Miss Craydocke!" cried the girl; "if I thought it would seem like
that, I would send and tip them all into the river. But you,--you
_can't_ be eclipsed! Your orbit runs too high above ours."
Sin Saxon's brightness and independence, that lapsed so easily
into sauciness, and made it so hard for her to observe the mere
conventionalisms of respect, in no way hindered the real reverence that
grew in her toward the superiority she recognized, and that now softened
her tone to a tenderness of humility before her friend.
There was a grace upon her in these days that all saw. Over her real wit
and native vivacity, it was like a porcelain shade about a flame. One
could look at it, and be glad of it, without winking. The brightness was
all there, but there was a difference in the giving forth. What had been
a bit self-centred and self-conscious--bright as if only for being
bright and for dazzling--was outgoing and self-forgetful, and so
softened. Leslie Goldthwaite read by it a new answer to some of her old
questions. "What harm is there in it?" she had asked herself on their
first meeting, when Sin Saxon's overflow of merry mischief, that yet did
"no special or obvious good," made her so taking, so the centre of
whatever group into which she came. Afterward, when, running to its
height, this spirit showed in behavior that raised misgivings among the
scrupulous and orderly that would not let them any longer be wholly
amused; and came near betraying her, or actually did betray her, into
indecorums beyond excuse or countenance, Leslie had felt the harm, and
begun to shrink away. "Nothing _but_ leaves" came back to her; her
summer thought recurred and drew to itself a new illustration. This it
was to have no aim but to rustle and flaunt; to grow leaves continually;
to make one's _self_ central and conspicuous, and to fill great space.
But now among these very leaves gleamed something golden and glorious;
something was ripening suddenly out that had lain unseen in its
greenness; the time of figs seemed coming. Sin Saxon was intent upon new
purpose; something to be _done_ would not let her "stand upon the order"
or the fashion of her doing. She forgot her little airs, that had been
apt to detract from her very wit, and leave it only smartness; bright
things came to her, and she uttered and acted them; but they seemed
involuntary and only on the way; she could not help herself, and nobody
would have had it helped; she was still Sin Saxon; but she had simply
told the truth in her wayward way that morning. Miss Craydocke had done
it, with her kindly patience that was no stupidity, her simple dignity
that never lowered itself and that therefore could not be lowered, and
her quiet continuance in generous well-doing,--and Sin Saxon was
different. She was won to a perception of the really best in life,--that
which this plain old spinster, with her "scrap of lace and a front," had
found worth living for after the golden days were over. The impulse of
temperament, and the generosity which made everything instant and entire
with her, acted in this also, and carried her full over to an enthusiasm
of affectionate cooeperation.
There were a few people at Outledge--of the sort who, having once made
up their minds that no good is ever to come out of Nazareth, see all
things in the light of that conviction--who would not allow the praise
of any voluntary amendment to this tempering and new direction of Sin's
vivacity. "It was time she was put down," they said, "and they were glad
that it was done. That last outbreak had finished her. She might as well
run after people now whom she had never noticed before; it was plain
there was nothing else left for her; her place was gone, and her reign
was over." Of all others, Mrs. Thoresby insisted upon this most
The whole school-party had considerably subsided. Madam Routh held a
tighter rein; but that Sin Saxon had a place and a power still, she
found ways to show in a new spirit. Into a quiet corner of the
dancing-hall, skimming her way, with the dance yet in her feet, between
groups of staid observers, she came straight, one evening, from a
bright, spirited figure of the German, and stretched her hand to Martha
Josselyn. "It's in your eyes," she whispered,--"come!"
Night after night Martha Josselyn had sat there with the waltz-music in
her ears, and her little feet, that had had one merry winter's training
before the war, and many a home practice since with the younger ones,
quivering to the time beneath her robes, and seen other girls chosen out
and led away,--young matrons, and little short-petticoated children
even, taken to "excursionize" between the figures,--while nobody thought
of her. "I might be ninety, or a cripple," she said to her sister, "from
their taking for granted it is nothing to me. How is it that everything
goes by, and I only twenty?" There had been danger that Martha
Josselyn's sweet, generous temper should get a dash of sour, only
because of there lying alongside it a clear common-sense and a pure
instinct of justice. Susan's heart longed with a motherly tenderness for
her young sister when she said such words,--longed to put all pleasant
things somehow within her reach. She had given it up for herself, years
since. And now, all at once, Sin Saxon came and "took her out."
It was a more generous act than it shows for, written. There is a little
tacit consent about such things which few young people of a "set" have
thought, desire, or courage to disregard. Sin Saxon never did anything
more gracefully. It was one of the moments that came now, when she wist
not that she shone. She was dropping, little by little, in the reality
of a better desire, that "satisfaction" Jeannie Hadden had spoken of, of
"knowing when one is at one's prettiest," or doing one's cleverest. The
"leaf and the fruit" never fitted better in their significance than to
Sin Saxon. Something intenser and more truly living was taking the place
of the mere flutter and flash and grace of effect.
It was the figure in which the dancers form in facing columns, two and
two, the girls and the young men; when the "four hands round" keeps them
moving in bright circles all along the floor, and under arches of raised
and joined hands the girls came down, two and two, to the end, forming
their long line face to face against the opposing line of their
partners. The German may be, in many respects, an undesirable dance; it
may be, as I have sometimes thought, at least a selfish dance, affording
pleasure chiefly to the initiated few, and excluding gradually, almost
from society itself, those who do not participate in it. I speak of it
here neither to uphold nor to condemn,--simply because they _did_ dance
it at Outledge as they do everywhere, and I cannot tell my story without
it; but I think at this moment, when Sin Saxon led the figure with
Martha Josselyn, there was something lovely, not alone in its graceful
grouping, but in the very spirit and possibility of the thing that so
appeared. There is scope and chance even here, young girls, for the
beauty of kindness and generous thought. Even here, one may give a joy,
may soothe a neglect, may make some heart conscious for a moment of the
great warmth of a human welcome; and, though it be but to a pastime, I
think it comes into the benison of the Master's words when, even for
this, some spirit gets a feeling like them,--"I was a stranger, and ye
took me in."
Some one, standing behind where Leslie Goldthwaite came to her place at
the end of the line by the hall-door, had followed and interpreted the
whole; had read the rare, shy pleasure in Martha Josselyn's face and
movement, the bright, expressive warmth in Sin Saxon's and the
half-surprise of observation upon others; and he thought as I do.
"'Friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.' That girl has even
sanctified the German!"
There was only one voice like that, only one person who would so speak
himself out. Leslie Goldthwaite turned quickly, and found herself face
to face with Marmaduke Wharne. "I am so glad you have come!" said she.
He regarded her shrewdly. "Then you can do without me," he said. "I
didn't know by this time how it might be."
The last two had taken their places below Leslie while these words were
exchanged, and now the whole line moved forward to meet their partners,
and the waltz began. Frank Scherman had got back to-day, and was dancing
with Sin Saxon. Leslie and Dakie Thayne were together, as they had been
that first evening at Jefferson, and as they often were. The four
stopped, after their merry whirl, in this same corner by the door where
Mr. Wharne was standing. Dakie Thayne shook hands with his friend in his
glad boy's way. Across their greetings came Sin Saxon's words, spoken to
her companion,--"You're to take her, Frank." Frank Scherman was an old
childhood's friend, not a mere mountain acquaintance. "I'll bring up
plenty of others first, but you're to wait and take _her_. And, wherever
she got her training, you'll find she's the featest-footed among us." It
was among the children--training them--that she had caught the trick of
it, but Sin Saxon did not know.
"I'm ready to agree with you, with but just the reservation that _you_
could not make," Frank Scherman answered.
"Nonsense," said Sin Saxon. "But stop! here's something better and
quicker. They're getting the bouquets. Give her yours. It's your turn.
Sin Saxon's blue eyes sparkled like two stars; the golden mist of
her hair was tossed into lighter clouds by exercise; on her cheeks a
bright rose-glow burned; and the lips parted with their sweetest,
because most unconscious, curve over the tiny gleaming teeth. Her
word and her glance sent Frank Scherman straight to do her bidding;
and a bunch of wild azaleas and scarlet lilies was laid in Martha
Josselyn's hand, and she was taken out again into the dance by the
best partner there. We may trust her to Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman, and her own "feat-footedness;" everything will not go by
her any more, and she but twenty.
Marmaduke Wharne watched it all with that keen glance of his that was
like a level line of fire from under the rough, gray brows.
"I am glad you saw that," said Leslie Goldthwaite, watching also, and
"By the light of your own little text,--'kind, and bright, and
pleasant'? You think it will do me good?"
"I think it _was_ good; and I am glad you should really know Sin
Saxon--at the first." And at the best; Marmaduke Wharne quite understood
her. She gave him, unconsciously, the key to a whole character. It might
as easily have been something quite different that he should have first
seen in this young girl.
Next morning they all met on the piazza. Leslie Goldthwaite presented
Sin Saxon to Mr. Wharne.
"So, my dear," he said, without preface, "you are the belle of the
He looked to see how she would take it. There was not the first twinkle
of a simper about eye or lip. Surprised, but quite gravely, she looked
up, and met his odd bluntness with as quaint an honesty of her own. "I
was pretty sure of it a while ago," she said. "And perhaps I was, in a
demoralized sort of a way. But I've come down, Mr. Wharne,--like the
coon. I'll tell you presently," she went on,--and she spoke now with
warmth,--"who is the real belle,--the beautiful one of this place! There
Miss Craydocke, in her nice, plain cambric morning-gown, and her smooth
front, was approaching down the side passage across the wing. Just as
she had come one morning, weeks ago; and it was the identical "fresh
petticoat" of that morning she wore now. The sudden coincidence and
recollection struck Sin Saxon as she spoke. To her surprise, Miss
Craydocke and Marmaduke Wharne moved quickly toward each other, and
grasped hands like old friends.
"Then you know all about it!" Sin Saxon said, a few minutes after, when
she got her chance. "But you _don't_ know, sir," she added, with a
desperate candor, "the way I took to find it out! I've been tormenting
her, Mr. Wharne, all summer. And I'm heartily ashamed of it."
Marmaduke Wharne smiled. There was something about this girl that suited
his own vein. "I doubt she _was_ tormented," he said quietly.
At that Sin Saxon smiled, too, and looked up out of her hearty shame
which she had truly felt upon her at her own reminder. "No, Mr. Wharne,
she never was; but that wasn't my fault. After all, perhaps,--isn't that
what the optimists think?--it was best so. I should never have found her
thoroughly out in any other way. It's like"--and there she stopped short
of her comparison.
"Like what?" asked Mr. Wharne, waiting.
"I can't tell you now, sir," she answered with a gleam of her old
fearless brightness. "It's one end of a grand idea, I believe, that I
just touched on. I must think it out, if I can, and see if it all holds
"And then I'm to have it?"
"It will take a monstrous deal of thinking, Mr. Wharne."
QUICKSILVER AND GOLD.
"If I could only remember the chemicals!" said Sin Saxon. She was down
among the outcrops and fragments at the foot of Minster Rock. Close in
around the stones grew the short, mossy sward. In a safe hollow between
two of them, against a back formed by another that rose higher with a
smooth perpendicular, she had chosen her fireplace, and there she had
been making the coffee. Quite intent upon the comfort of her friends she
was to-day; something really to do she had: "in better business," as
Leslie Goldthwaite phrased it to herself once, she found herself, than
only to make herself brilliant and enchanting after the manner of the
day at Feather-Cap. And let me assure you, if you have not tried it,
that to make the coffee and arrange the feast at a picnic like this is
something quite different from being merely an ornamental. There is the
fire to coax with chips and twigs, and a good deal of smoke to swallow,
and one's dress to disregard. And all the rest are off in scattered
groups, not caring in the least to watch the pot boil, but supposing,
none the less, that it will. To be sure, Frank Scherman and Dakie Thayne
brought her firewood, and the water from the spring, and waited loyally
while she seemed to need them; indeed, Frank Scherman, much as he
unquestionably was charmed with her gay moods, stayed longest by her in
her quiet ones; but she herself sent them off, at last, to climb with
Leslie and the Josselyns again into the Minster, and see thence the
wonderful picture that the late sloping light made on the far hills and
fields that showed to their sight between framing tree-branches and tall
trunk-shafts as they looked from out the dimness of the rock.
She sat there alone, working out a thought; and at last she spoke as I
have said: "If I could only remember the chemicals!"
"My dear! What do you mean? The chemicals? For the coffee?" It was Miss
Craydocke who questioned, coming up with Mr. Wharne.
"Not the coffee,--no," said Sin Saxon, laughing rather absently, as too
intent to be purely amused. "But the--assaying. There,--I've remembered
_that_ word, at least!"
Miss Craydocke was more than ever bewildered. "What is it, my dear? An
"No; an analogy. Something that's been in my head these three days. I
can't make everything quite clear, Mr. Wharne, but I know it's there. I
went, I must tell you, a little while ago, to see some Colorado
specimens--ores and things--that some friends of ours had, who are
interested in the mines; and they talked about the processes, and
somebody explained. There were gold and silver and iron, and copper and
lead and sulphur, that had all been boiled up together some time, and
cooled into rock. And the thing was to sort them out. First, they
crushed the whole mass into powder, and then did something to
it--applied heat, I believe--to drive away the sulphur. That fumed off,
and left the rest as promiscuous as before. Then they--oxidized the
lead, however they managed it, and got that out. You see I'm not quite
sure of the order of things, or of the chemical part. But they got it
out, and something took it. Then they put in quicksilver, and that took
hold of the gold. Then there were silver and copper and iron. So they
had to put back the lead again, and that grappled the silver. And what
they did with the copper and iron is just what I can't possibly
recollect, but they divided them somehow, and there was the great rock
riddle all read out. Now, haven't we been just like that this summer?
And I wonder if the world isn't like it, somehow? And ourselves, too,
all muddled up, and not knowing what we _are_ made of, till the right
chemicals touch us? There's so much in it, Mr. Wharne, I can't put it
in clear order. But it _is_ there,--isn't it?"
"Yes, it is there," answered Mr. Wharne, with the briefest gravity. For
Miss Craydocke, there were little shining drops standing in her eyes,
and she tried not to wink lest they should fall out, pretending they had
been really tears. And what was there to cry about, you know?
"Here we have been," Sin Saxon resumed, "all crushed up together, and
the characters coming out little by little, with different things.
Sulphur's always the first,--heats up and flies off,--it don't take long
to find that; and common oxygen gets at common lead, and so on; but,
dear Miss Craydocke, do you know what comforts me? That you _must_ have
the quicksilver to discover the gold!"
Miss Craydocke winked. She had to do it then, and the two little round
drops fell. They went down, unseen, into the short pasture-grass, and I
wonder what little wild-flowers grew of their watering some day
It was getting a little too quiet between them now for people on a
picnic, perhaps; and so in a minute Sin Saxon said again: "It's good to
know there is a way to sort everything out. Perhaps the tares and wheat
mean the same thing. Mr. Wharne, why is it that things seem more sure
and true as soon as we find out we can make an allegory to them?"
"Because we do _not_ make the allegory. It is there, as you have said.
'I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things which have been
kept secret from the foundation of the world.' These things are that
speech of God that was in the beginning. The Word made flesh,--it is He
That was too great to give small answer to. Nobody spoke again till Sin
Saxon had to jump up to attend to her coffee, that was boiling over, and
then they took up their little cares of the feast, and their chat over
Cakes and coffee, fruits and cream,--I do not care to linger over these.
I would rather take you to the cool, shadowy, solemn Minster cavern, the
deep, wondrous recess in the face of solid rock, whose foundation and
whose roof are a mountain; or above, upon the beetling crag that makes
but its porch-lintel, and looks forth itself across great air-spaces
toward its kindred cliffs, lesser and more mighty, all around, making
one listen in one's heart for the awful voices wherewith they call to
each other forevermore.
The party had scattered again, after the repast, and Leslie and the
Josselyns had gone back into the Minster entrance, where they never
tired of standing, and out of whose gloom they looked now upon all the
flood of splendor, rosy, purple, and gold, which the royal sun flung
back--his last and richest largess--upon the heights that looked longest
after him. Mr. Wharne and Miss Craydocke climbed the cliff. Sin Saxon,
on her way up, stopped short among the broken crags below. There was
something very earnest in her gaze, as she lifted her eyes, wide and
beautiful with the wonder in them, to the face of granite upreared
before her, and then turned slowly to look across and up the valley,
where other and yet grander mountain ramparts thrust their great
forbiddance on the reaching vision. She sat down, where she was, upon a
"You are very tired?" Frank Scherman said, inquiringly.
"See how they measure themselves against each other," Sin Saxon said,
for answer. "Look at them, Leslie and the rest, inside the Minster that
arches up so many times their height above their heads,--yet what a
little bit, a mere mousehole, it is out of the cliff itself; and then
look at the whole cliff against the Ledges, that, seen from anywhere
else, seem to run so low along the river; and compare the Ledges with
Feather-Cap, and Feather-Cap with Giant's Cairn, and Giant's Cairn with
Washington, thirty miles away!"
"It is grand surveying," said Frank Scherman.
"I think we see things from the little best," rejoined Sin Saxon.
"Washington is the big end of the telescope."
"Now you have made me look at it," said Frank Scherman, "I don't think I
have been in any other spot that has given me such a real idea of the
mountains as this. One must have steps to climb by, even in imagination.
How impertinent we are, rushing at the tremendousness of Washington in
the way we do; scaling it in little pleasure-wagons, and never taking in
the thought of it at all!"
Something suddenly brought a flush to Sin Saxon's face, and almost a
quiver to her lips. She was sitting with her hands clasped across her
knees, and her head a little bent with a downward look, after that long,
wondering mountain gaze, that had filled itself and then withdrawn for
thought. She lifted her face suddenly to her companion. The impetuous
look was in her eyes. "There's other measuring too, Frank. What a fool
Frank Scherman was silent. It was a little awkward for him, scarcely
comprehending what she meant. He could by no means agree with Sin Saxon
when she called herself a fool; yet he hardly knew what he was to
"We're well placed at this minute. Leslie Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne
and the Josselyns half way up above there, in the Minster. Mr. Wharne
and Miss Craydocke at the top. And I down here, where I belong.
Impertinence! To think of the things I've said in my silliness to that
woman, whose greatness I can no more measure! Why didn't somebody stop
me? I don't answer for you, Frank, and I won't keep you; but I think
I'll just stay where I am, and not spoil the significance!"
"I'm content to rank beside you; we can climb together," said Frank
Scherman. "Even Miss Craydocke has not got to the highest, you see," he
went on, a little hurriedly.
Sin Saxon broke in as hurriedly as he, with a deeper flush still upon
her face. "There's everything beyond. That's part of it. But she helps
one to feel what the higher--the Highest--must be. She's like the rock
she stands on. She's one of the steps."
"Come, Asenath, let's go up." And he held out his hand to her till she
took it and rose. They had known each other from childhood, as I said;
but Frank Scherman hardly ever called her by her name. "Miss Saxon" was
formal, and her school sobriquet he could not use. It seemed to mean a
great deal when he did say "Asenath."
And Sin Saxon took his hand and let him lead her up, notwithstanding the
They are young, and I am not writing a love-story; but I think they
will "climb together;" and that the words that wait to be said are mere
words,--they have known and understood each other so long.
* * * * *
"I feel like a camel at a fountain, drinking in what is to last through
the dry places," said Martha Josselyn, as they came up. "Miss Saxon, you
don't know what you have given us to-day. I shall take home the hills in
"We might have gone without seeing this," said Susan.
"No, you mightn't," said Sin Saxon. "It's my good luck to see you see
it, that's all. It couldn't be in the order of things, you know, that
you should be so near it, and want it, and not have it, somehow."
"So much _is_ in the order of things, though!" said Martha. "And there
are so many things we want, without knowing them even to _be_!"
"That's the beauty of it, I think," said Leslie Goldthwaite, turning
back from where she stood, bright in the sunset glory, on the open rock.
Her voice was like that of some young prophet of joy, she was so full of
the gladness and loveliness of the time. "That's the beauty of it, I
think. There is such a worldful, and you never know what you may be
coming to next!"
"Well, this is our last--of the mountains. We go on Tuesday."
"It isn't your last of us, though, or of what we want of you," rejoined
Sin Saxon. "We must have the tableaux for Monday. We can't do without
you in Robin Gray or Consolation. And about Tuesday,--it's only your own
making up of minds. You haven't written, have you? They don't expect
you? When a week's broken in upon, like a dollar, the rest is of no
account. And there'll be sure to be something doing, so many are going
the week after."
"We shall have letters to-night," said Susan. "But I think we must go on
Everybody had letters that night. The mail was in early, and Captain
Green came up from the post-office as the Minster party was alighting
from the wagons. He gave Dakie Thayne the bag. It was Dakie's delight to
distribute, calling out the fortunate names as the expectant group
pressed around him, like people waiting the issue of a lottery venture.
"Mrs. Linceford, Miss Goldthwaite, Mrs. Linceford, Mrs. _Lince_ford!
Master--hm!--Thayne," and he pocketed a big one like a dispatch.
"Captain Jotham Green. Where is he? Here, Captain Green; you and I have
got the biggest, if Mrs. Linceford does get the most. I believe she
tells her friends to write in hits, and put one letter into three or
four envelopes. When I was a _very_ little boy, I used to get a dollar
changed into a hundred coppers, and feel ever so much richer."
"That boy's forwardness is getting insufferable!" exclaimed Mrs.
Thoresby, sitting apart, with two or three others who had not joined the
group about Dakie Thayne. "And why Captain Green should give _him_ the
bag always, I can't understand. It is growing to be a positive
Nobody out of the Thoresby clique thought it so. They had a merry time
together,--"you and I and the post," as Dakie said. But then, between
you and me and that confidential personage, Mrs. Thoresby and her
daughters hadn't very many letters.
"That is all," said Dakie, shaking the bag. "They're only for the very
good, to-night." He was not saucy: he was only brimming-over glad. He
knew "Noll's" square handwriting, and his big envelopes.
There was great news to-night at the Cottage. They were to have a hero,
perhaps two or three, among them. General Ingleside and friends were
coming, early in the week, the Captain told them with expansive face.
There are a great many generals and a great many heroes now. This man
had been a hero beside Sheridan, and under Sherman. Colonel Ingleside
he was at Stone River and Chattanooga,--leading a brave Western regiment
in desperate, magnificent charges, whose daring helped to turn that
terrible point of the war and made his fame.
But Leslie, though her heart stirred at the thought of a real, great
commander fresh from the field, had her own news that half neutralized
the excitement of the other: Cousin Delight was coming, to share her
room with her for the last fortnight.
The Josselyns got their letters. Aunt Lucy was staying on. Aunt Lucy's
husband had gone away to preach for three Sundays for a parish where he
had a prospect of a call. Mrs. Josselyn could not leave home
immediately, therefore, although the girls should return; and their room
was the airiest for Aunt Lucy. There was no reason why they should not
prolong their holiday if they chose, and they might hardly ever get away
to the mountains again. More than all, Uncle David was off once more for
China and Japan, and had given his sister two more fifties,--"for what
did a sailor want of greenbacks after he got afloat?" It was "a clover
summer" for the Josselyns. Uncle David and his fifties wouldn't be back
among them for two years or more. They must make the most of it.
Sin Saxon sat up late, writing this letter to her mother:--
DARLING MAMMA,--I've just begun to find out really what to do here.
Cream doesn't always rise to the top. You remember the Josselyns, our
quiet neighbors in town, that lived in the little house in the
old-fashioned block opposite,--Sue Josselyn, Effie's schoolmate? And how
they used to tell me stories and keep me to nursery-tea? Well, they're
the cream; they and Miss Craydocke. Sue has been in the hospitals,--two
years, mamma!--while I've been learning nocturnes, and going to Germans.
And Martha has been at home, sewing her face sharp; and they're here now
to get rounded out. Well now, mamma, I want so--a real dish of mountains
and cream, if you ever heard of such a thing! I want to take a wagon,
and invite a party as I did my little one to Minster Rock, and go
through the hills,--be gone as many days as you will send me money for.
And I want you to take the money from that particular little corner of
your purse where my carpet and wall-paper and curtains, that were to
new-furnish my room on my leaving school, are metaphorically rolled up.
There's plenty there, you know; for you promised me my choice of
everything, and I had fixed on that lovely pearl-gray paper at ----'s,
with the ivy and holly pattern, and the ivy and scarlet-geranium carpet
that was such a match. I'll have something cheaper, or nothing at all,
and thank you unutterably, if you'll only let me have my way in this. It
will do me so much good, mamma! More than you've the least idea of.
People can do without French paper and Brussels carpets, but everybody
has a right to mountain and sea and cloud glory,--only they don't half
of them get it, and perhaps that's the other half's lookout!
I know you'll understand me, mamma, particularly when I talk sense; for
you always understood my nonsense when nobody else did. And I'm going to
do your faith and discrimination credit yet.
Your bad child,--with just a small, hidden savor of grace in her,
_being_ your child,--
"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?"
Saturday was a day of hammering, basting, draping, dressing, rehearsing,
running from room to room. Upstairs, in Mrs. Green's garret, Leslie
Goldthwaite and Dakie Thayne, with a third party never before introduced
upon the stage, had a private practicing; and at tea-time, when the
great hall was cleared, they got up there with Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman, locked the doors, and in costume, with regular accompaniment
of bell and curtain, the performance was repeated.
Dakie Thayne was stage-manager and curtain-puller; Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman represented the audience, with clapping and stamping, and
laughter that suspended both; making as nearly the noise of two hundred
as two could: this being an essential part of the rehearsal in respect
to the untried nerves of the _debutant_, which might easily be a little
"He stands fire like a Yankee veteran."
"It's inimitable," said Sin Saxon, wiping the moist merriment from her
eyes. "And your cap, Leslie! And that bonnet! And this unutterable old
oddity of a gown! Who did contrive it all? and where did they come from?
You'll carry off the glory of the evening. It ought to be the last."
"No, indeed," said Leslie. "Barbara Frietchie must be last, of course.
But I'm so glad you think it will do. I hope they'll be amused."
"Amused! If you could only see your own face!"
"I see Sir Charles's, and that makes mine."
The new performer, you perceive, was an actor with a title.
That night's coach, driving up while the dress-rehearsal of the other
tableaux was going on at the hall, brought Cousin Delight to the Green
Cottage, and Leslie met her at the door.
Sunday morning was a pause and rest and hush of beauty and joy. They
sat--Delight and Leslie--by their open window, where the smell of the
lately harvested hay came over from the wide, sunshiny entrance of the
great barn, and away beyond stretched the pine woods, and the hills
swelled near in dusky evergreen, and indigo shadows, and lessened far
down toward Winnipiseogee, to where, faint and tender and blue, the
outline of little Ossipee peeped in between great shoulders so
modestly,--seen only through the clearest air on days like this.
Leslie's little table, with fresh white cover, held a vase of ferns and
white convolvulus, and beside this Cousin Delight's two books that came
out always from the top of her trunk,--her Bible and her little "Daily
Food." To-day the verses from Old and New Testaments were these: "The
steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his
way." "Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the
They had a talk about the first,--"The steps," the little details; not
merely the general trend and final issue; if, indeed, these could be
directed without the other.
"You always make me see things, Cousin Delight," Leslie said.
"It is very plain," Delight answered; "if people only would read the