Part 4 out of 4
Bible as they read even a careless letter from a friend, counting each
word of value, and searching for more meaning and fresh inference to
draw out the most. One word often answers great doubts and askings that
have troubled the world."
Afterward, they walked round by a still wood-path under the Ledge to the
North Village, where there was a service. It was a plain little church,
with unpainted pews; but the windows looked forth upon a green mountain
side, and whispers of oaks and pines and river-music crept in, and the
breath of sweet water-lilies, heaped in a great bowl upon the communion
table of common stained cherrywood, floated up and filled the place. The
minister, a quiet, gray-haired man, stayed his foot an instant at that
simple altar, before he went up the few steps to the desk. He had a
sermon in his pocket from the text, "The hairs of your heads are all
numbered." He changed it at the moment in his mind, and, when presently
he rose to preach, gave forth in a tone touched, through the very
presence of that reminding beauty, with the very spontaneousness of the
Master's own saying, "Consider the lilies." And then he told them of
God's momently thought and care.
There were scattered strangers, from various houses, among the simple
rural congregation. Walking home through the pines again, Delight and
Leslie and Dakie Thayne found themselves preceded and followed along the
narrow way. Sin Saxon and Frank Scherman came up and joined them when
the wider openings permitted.
Two persons just in front were commenting upon the sermon.
"Very fair for a country parson," said a tall, elegant-looking man,
whose broad, intellectual brow was touched by dark hair slightly
frosted, and whose lip had the curve that betokens self-reliance and
strong decision,--"very fair. All the better for not flying too high.
Narrow, of course. He seems to think the Almighty has nothing grander to
do than to finger every little cog of the tremendous machinery of the
universe,--that he measures out the ocean of his purposes as we drop a
liquid from a phial. To me it seems belittling the Infinite."
"I don't know whether it is littleness or greatness, Robert, that must
escape minutiae," said his companion, apparently his wife. "If we could
reach to the particles, perhaps we might move the mountains."
"We never agree upon this, Margie. We won't begin again. To my mind, the
grand plan of things was settled ages ago,--the impulses generated that
must needs work on. Foreknowledge and intention, doubtless; in that
sense the hairs _were_ numbered. But that there is a special direction
and interference to-day for you and me--well, we won't argue, as I said;
but I never can conceive it so; and I think a wider look at the world
brings a question to all such primitive faith."
The speakers turned down a side way with this, leaving the ledge path
and their subject to our friends. Only to their thoughts at first; but
presently Cousin Delight said, in a quiet tone, to Leslie, "That doesn't
account for the steps, does it?"
"I am glad it _can't_," said Leslie.
Dakie Thayne turned a look toward Leslie, as if he would gladly know of
what she spoke,--a look in which a kind of gentle reverence was
strangely mingled with the open friendliness. I cannot easily indicate
to you the sort of feeling with which the boy had come to regard this
young girl, just above him in years and thought and in the attitude
which true womanhood, young or old, takes toward man. He had no sisters;
he had been intimately associated with no girl-companions; he had lived
with his brother and an uncle and a young aunt, Rose. Leslie
Goldthwaite's kindness had drawn him into the sphere of a new and
powerful influence,--something different in thought and purpose from the
apparent unthought of the present little world about her; and this
lifted her up in his regard and enshrined her with a sort of pure
sanctity. He was sometimes really timid before her, in the midst of his
"I wish you'd tell me," he said suddenly, falling back with her as the
path narrowed again. "What are the 'steps'?"
"It was a verse we found this morning,--Cousin Delight and I," Leslie
answered; and as she spoke the color came up full in her cheeks, and her
voice was a little shy and tremulous. "'The steps of a good man are
ordered by the Lord.' That one word seemed to make one certain.
'Steps,'--not path, nor the end of it; but all the way." Somehow she was
quite out of breath as she finished.
Meantime Sin Saxon and Frank had got with Miss Goldthwaite, and were
"Set spinning," they heard Sin Saxon say, "and then let go. That was his
idea. Well! Only it seems to me there's been especial pains taken to
show us it can't be done. Or else, why don't they find out perpetual
motion? Everything stops after a while, unless--I can't talk
theologically, but I mean all right--you hit it again."
"You've a way of your own of putting things, Asenath," said Frank
Scherman,--with a glance that beamed kindly and admiringly upon her and
"her way,"--"but you've put that clear to me as nobody else ever did. A
proof set in the very laws themselves, momentum that must lessen and
lose itself with the square of the distance. The machinery cavil won't
"Wheels; but a living spirit within the wheels," said Cousin Delight.
"Every instant a fresh impulse; to think of it so makes it real, Miss
Goldthwaite,--and grand and awful." The young man spoke with a strength
in the clear voice that could be so light and gay.
"And tender, too. 'Thou layest Thine hand upon me,'" said Delight
Sin Saxon was quiet; her own thought coming back upon her with a
reflective force, and a thrill at her heart at Frank Scherman's words.
Had these two only planned tableaux and danced Germans together before?
Dakie Thayne walked on by Leslie Goldthwaite's side, in his happy
content touched with something higher and brighter through that
instant's approach and confidence. If I were to write down his thought
as he walked, it would be with phrase and distinction peculiar to
himself and to the boy-mind,--"It's the real thing with her; it don't
make a fellow squirm like a pin put out at a caterpillar. She's _good_;
but she isn't _pious!_"
This was the Sunday that lay between the busy Saturday and Monday. "It
is always so wherever Cousin Delight is," Leslie Goldthwaite said to
herself, comparing it with other Sundays that had gone. Yet she too, for
weeks before, by the truth that had come into her own life and gone out
from it, had been helping to make these moments possible. She had been
shone upon, and had put forth; henceforth she should scarcely know when
the fruit was ripening or sowing itself anew, or the good and gladness
of it were at human lips.
She was in Mrs. Linceford's room on Monday morning, putting high
velvet-covered corks to the heels of her slippers, when Sin Saxon came
over hurriedly, and tapped at the door.
"_Could_ you be _two_ old women?" she asked, the instant Leslie opened.
"Ginevra Thoresby has given out. She says it's her cold,--that she
doesn't feel equal to it; but the amount of it is she got her chill with
the Shannons going away so suddenly, and the Amy Robsart and Queen
Elizabeth picture being dropped. There was nothing else to put her in,
and so she won't be Barbara."
"Won't be Barbara Frietchie!" cried Leslie, with an astonishment as if
it had been angelhood refused.
"No. Barbara Frietchie is only an old woman in a cap and kerchief, and
she just puts her head out of a window: the _flag_ is the whole of it,
Ginevra Thoresby says."
"_May_ I do it? Do you think I can be different enough in the two? Will
there be time?" Leslie questioned eagerly.
"We'll change the programme, and put 'Taking the Oath' between. The caps
can be different, and you can powder your hair for one, and--_would_ it
do to ask Miss Craydocke for a front for the other?" Sin Saxon had grown
delicate in her feeling for the dear old friend whose hair had once been
"I'll tell her about it, and ask her to help me contrive. She'll be sure
to think of anything that can be thought of."
"Only there's the dance afterward, and you had so much more costume for
the other," Sin Saxon said demurringly.
"Never mind. I shall _be_ Barbara; and Barbara wouldn't dance, I
"Mother Hubbard would, marvelously."
"Never mind," Leslie answered again, laying down the little slipper,
"She don't care _what_ she is, so that she helps along," Sin Saxon said
of her, rejoining the others in the hall. "I'm ashamed of myself and all
the rest of you, beside her. Now make yourselves as fine as you please."
We must pass over the hours as only stories and dreams do, and put
ourselves, at ten of the clock that night, behind the green curtain and
the footlights, in the blaze of the three rows of bright lamps, that,
one above another, poured their illumination from the left upon the
stage, behind the wide picture-frame.
Susan Josselyn and Frank Scherman were just "posed" for "Consolation."
They had given Susan this part, after all, because they wanted Martha
for "Taking the Oath," afterward. Leslie Goldthwaite was giving a hasty
touch to the tent drapery and the gray blanket; Leonard Brookhouse and
Dakie Thayne manned the halyards for raising the curtain; there was the
usual scuttling about the stage for hasty clearance; and Sin Saxon's
hand was on the bell, when Grahame Lowe sprang hastily in through the
dressing-room upon the scene.
"Hold on a minute," he said to Brookhouse. "Miss Saxon, General
Ingleside and party are over at Green's,--been there since nine o'clock.
Oughtn't we to send compliments or something, before we finish up?"
Then there was a pressing forward and an excitement. The wounded soldier
sprang from his couch; the nun came nearer, with a quick light in her
eye; Leslie Goldthwaite, in her mob cap, quilted petticoat, big-flowered
calico train, and high-heeled shoes; two or three supernumeraries, in
Rebel gray, with bayonets, coming on in "Barbara Frietchie;" and Sir
Charles, bouncing out from somewhere behind, to the great hazard of the
frame of lights,--huddled together upon the stage and consulted. Dakie
Thayne had dropped his cord and almost made a rush off at the first
announcement; but he stood now, with a repressed eagerness that trembled
through every fibre, and waited.
"Would he come?" "Isn't it too late?" "Would it be any compliment?"
"Won't it be rude not to?" "All the patriotic pieces are just coming!"
"Will the audience like to wait?" "Make a speech and tell 'em. You,
Brookhouse." "Oh, he _must_ come! Barbara Frietchie and the flag! Just
think!" "Isn't it grand?" "Oh, I'm so frightened!" These were the
hurried sentences that made the buzz behind the scenes; while in front
"all the world wondered." Meanwhile, lamps trembled, the curtain
vibrated, the very framework swayed.
"What is it? Fire?" queried a nervous voice from near the footlights.
"This won't do," said Frank Scherman. "Speak to them, Brookhouse. Dakie
Thayne, run over to Green's, and say, the ladies' compliments to General
Ingleside and friends,--and beg the honor of their presence at the
Dakie was off with a glowing face. Something like an odd, knowing smile
twinkling out from the glow also, as he looked up at Scherman and took
his orders. All this while he had said nothing.
Leonard Brookhouse made his little speech, received with applause and a
cheer. Then they quieted down behind the scenes, and a rustle and buzz
began in front,--kept up for five minutes or so, in gentle fashion, till
two gentlemen, in plain clothes, walked quietly in at the open door; at
sight of whom, with instinctive certainty, the whole assembly rose.
Leslie Goldthwaite, peeping through the folds of the curtain, saw a
tall, grand-looking man, in what may be called the youth of middle age,
every inch a soldier, bowing as he was ushered forward to a seat vacated
for him, and followed by one younger, who modestly ignored the notice
intended for his chief. Dakie Thayne was making his way, with eyes
alight and excited, down a side passage to his post.
Then the two actors hurried once more into position; the stage was
cleared by a whispered peremptory order; the bell rung once, the tent
trembling with some one whisking further out of sight behind it,--twice,
and the curtain rose upon "Consolation."
Lovely as the picture is, it was lovelier in the living tableau. There
was something deep and intense in the pale calm of Susan Josselyn's
face, which they had not counted on even when they discovered that hers
was the very face for the "Sister." Something made you thrill at the
thought of what those eyes would show, if the downcast, quiet lids were
raised. The earnest gaze of the dying soldier met more, perhaps, in its
uplifting; for Frank Scherman had a look, in this instant of enacting,
that he had never got before in all his practicings. The picture was too
real for applause,--almost, it suddenly seemed, for representation.
"Don't I know that face, Noll?" General Ingleside asked, in a low tone,
of his companion.
Instead of answering at once, the younger man bent further forward
toward the stage, and his own very plain, broad, honest face, full over
against the downcast one of the Sister of Mercy, took upon itself that
force of magnetic expression which makes a look felt even across a
crowd of other glances, as if there were but one straight line of
vision, and that between such two. The curtain was going slowly down;
the veiling lids trembled, and the paleness replaced itself with a
slow-mounting flush of color over the features, still held motionless.
They let the cords run more quickly then. She was getting tired, they
said; the curtain had been up too long. Be that as it might, nothing
could persuade Susan Josselyn to sit again, and "Consolation" could not
So then came "Mother Hubbard and her Dog"--the slow old lady and the
knowing beast that was always getting one step ahead of her. The
possibility had occurred to Leslie Goldthwaite as she and Dakie Thayne
amused themselves one day with Captain Green's sagacious Sir Charles
Grandison, a handsome black spaniel, whose trained accomplishment was to
hold himself patiently in any posture in which he might be placed, until
the word of release was given. You might stand him on his hind legs,
with paws folded on his breast; you might extend him on his back, with
helpless legs in air; you might put him in any attitude possible to be
maintained, and maintain it he would, faithfully, until the signal was
made. From this prompting came the illustration of Mother Hubbard. Also,
Leslie Goldthwaite had seized the hidden suggestion of application, and
hinted it in certain touches of costume and order of performance. Nobody
would think, perhaps, at first, that the striped scarlet and white
petticoat under the tucked-up train, or the common print apron of dark
blue, figured with innumerable little white stars, meant anything beyond
the ordinary adjuncts of a traditional old woman's dress; but when, in
the second scene, the bonnet went on,--an ancient marvel of exasperated
front and crown, pitched over the forehead like an enormous helmet, and
decorated, upon the side next the audience, with black and white eagle
plumes springing straight up from the fastening of an American shield;
above all, when the dog himself appeared, "dressed in his clothes" (a
cane, an all-round white collar and a natty little tie, a pair of
three-dollar tasseled kid gloves dangling from his left paw, and a small
monitor hat with a big spread--eagle stuck above the brim,--the
remaining details of costume being of no consequence),--when he stood
"reading the news" from a huge bulletin,--"LATEST BY CABLE FROM
EUROPE,"--nobody could mistake the personification of Old and Young
It had cost much pains and many dainty morsels to drill Sir Charles,
with all the aid of his excellent fundamental education; and the great
fear had been that he might fail them at the last. But the scenes were
rapid, in consideration of canine infirmity. If the cupboard was empty,
Mother Hubbard's basket behind was not; he got his morsels duly; and the
audience was "requested to refrain from applause until the end." Refrain
from laughter they could not, as the idea dawned upon them and
developed; but Sir Charles was used to that in the execution of his
ordinary tricks; he could hardly have done without it better than any
other old actor. A dog knows when he is having his day, to say nothing
of doing his duty; and these things are as sustaining to him as to
anybody. This state of his mind, manifest in his air, helped also to
complete the Young America expression. Mother Hubbard's mingled
consternation and pride at each successive achievement of her
astonishing puppy were inimitable. Each separate illustration made its
point. Patriotism, especially, came in when the undertaker, bearing the
pall with red-lettered border,--Rebellion,--finds the dog, with
upturned, knowing eye, and parted jaws, suggestive as much of a good
grip as of laughter, half risen upon fore-paws, as far from "dead" as
ever, mounting guard over the old bone "Constitution."
The curtain fell at last amid peals of applause and calls for the
Dakie Thayne had accompanied with the reading of the ballad, slightly
transposed and adapted. As Leslie led Sir Charles before the curtain,
in response to the continued demand, he added the concluding stanza,--
"The dame made a courtesy,
The dog made a bow;
The dame said, 'Your servant,'
The dog said, 'Bow-wow.'"
Which, with a suppressed "Speak, sir!" from Frank Scherman, was brought
properly to pass. Done with cleverness and quickness from beginning to
end, and taking the audience utterly by surprise, Leslie's little
combination of wit and sagacity had been throughout a signal success.
The actors crowded round her. "We'd no idea of it!" "Capital!" "A great
hit!" they exclaimed. "Mother Hubbard is the star of the evening," said
Leonard Brookhouse. "No, indeed," returned Leslie, patting Sir Charles's
head,--"this is the dog-star." "Rather a Sirius reflection upon the rest
of us," rejoined Brookhouse, shrugging his shoulders, as he walked off
to take his place in the "Oath," and Leslie disappeared to make ready
for "Barbara Frietchie."
Several persons, before and behind the curtain, were making up their
minds, just now, to a fresh opinion. There was nothing so very slow or
tame, after all, about Leslie Goldthwaite. Several others had known that
"Taking the Oath" was piquant and spirited. The touch of restive scorn
that could come out on Martha Josselyn's face just suited her part; and
Leonard Brookhouse was very cool and courteous, and handsome and
gentlemanly-triumphant as the Union officer.
"Barbara Frietchie" was grand. Grahame Lowe played Stonewall Jackson.
They had improvised a pretty bit of scenery at the back, with a few
sticks, some paint, brown carpet-paper, and a couple of mosquito bars; a
Dutch gable with a lattice window, vines trained up over it, and bushes
below. It was a moving tableau, enacted to the reading of Whittier's
glorious ballad. "Only an old woman in a cap and kerchief, putting her
head out at a garret window,"--that was all; but the fire was in the
young eyes under the painted wrinkles and the snowy hair; the arm
stretched itself out quick and bravely at the very instant of the
pistol-shot that startled timid ears; one skillful movement detached and
seized the staff in its apparent fall, and the liberty-colors flashed
full in Rebel faces, as the broken lower fragment went clattering to the
stage. All depended on the one instant action and expression. These were
perfect. The very spirit of Barbara stirred her representative. The
curtain began to descend slowly, and the applause broke forth before the
reading ended. But a hand, held up, hushed it till the concluding lines
were given in thrilling tones, as the tableau was covered from sight.
"Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.
"Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
"Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!
"Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
"And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!"
Then one great cheer broke forth, and was prolonged to three.
"Not be Barbara Frietchie!" Leslie would not have missed that thrill for
the finest beauty-part of all. For the applause--that was for the flag,
of course, as Ginevra Thoresby said.
The benches were slid out at a window upon a lower roof, the curtain was
looped up, and the footlights carried away; the "music" came up, and
took possession of the stage; and the audience hall resolved itself into
a ball-room. Under the chandelier, in the middle, a tableau not set
forth in the programme was rehearsed and added a few minutes after.
Mrs. Thoresby, of course, had been introduced to the General; Mrs.
Thoresby, with her bright, full, gray curls and her handsome figure,
stood holding him in conversation between introductions, graciously
waiving her privilege as new comers claimed their modest word. Mrs.
Thoresby took possession; had praised the tableaux, as "quite
creditable, really, considering the resources we had," and was following
a slight lead into a long talk, of information and advice on her part,
about Dixville Notch. The General thought he should go there, after a
day or two at Outledge.
Just here came up Dakie Thayne. The actors, in costume, were gradually
mingling among the audience, and Barbara Frietchie, in white hair, from
which there was not time to remove the powder, plain cap and kerchief,
and brown woolen gown, with her silken flag yet in her hand, came with
him. This boy, who "was always everywhere," made no hesitation, but
walked straight up to the central group, taking Leslie by the hand.
Close to the General, he waited courteously for a long sentence of Mrs.
Thoresby's to be ended, and then said, simply, "Uncle James, this is my
friend Miss Leslie Goldthwaite. My brother, Dr. Ingleside--why, where is
Dr. Oliver Ingleside had stepped out of the circle in the last half of
the long sentence. The Sister of Mercy--no longer in costume,
however--had come down the little flight of steps that led from the
stage to the floor. At their foot the young army surgeon was shaking
hands with Susan Josselyn. These two had had the chess-practice
together--and other practice--down there among the Southern hospitals.
Mrs. Thoresby's face was very like some fabric subjected to chemical
experiment, from which one color and aspect has been suddenly and
utterly discharged to make room for something different and new. Between
the first and last there waits a blank. With this blank full upon her,
she stood there for one brief, unprecedented instant in her life, a
figure without presence or effect. I have seen a daguerreotype in which
were cap, hair, and collar, quite correct,--what should have been a face
rubbed out. Mrs. Thoresby rubbed herself out, and so performed her
"Of course I might have guessed. I wonder it never occurred to me," Mrs.
Linceford was replying presently, to her vacuous inquiry. "The name
seemed familiar, too; only he called himself 'Dakie.' I remember
perfectly now. Old Jacob Thayne, the Chicago millionaire. He married
pretty little Mrs. Ingleside, the Illinois Representative's widow, that
first winter I was in Washington. Why, Dakie must be a dollar prince!"
He was just Dakie Thayne, though, for all that. He and Leslie and
Cousin Delight, the Josselyns and the Inglesides, dear Miss Craydocke
hurrying up to congratulate, Marmaduke Wharne looking on without a shade
of cynicism in the gladness of his face, and Sin Saxon and Frank
Scherman flitting up in the pauses of dance and promenade,--well, after
all, these were the central group that night. The pivot of the little
solar system was changed; but the chief planets made but slight account
of that; they just felt that it had grown very warm and bright.
"Oh, Chicken Little!" Mrs. Linceford cried to Leslie Goldthwaite, giving
her a small shake with her good-night kiss at her door. "How did you
know the sky was going to fall? And how have you led us all this chase
to cheat Fox Lox at last?"
But that wasn't the way Chicken Little looked at it. She didn't care
much for the bit of dramatic _denouement_ that had come about by
accident,--like a story, Elinor said,--or the touch of poetic justice
that tickled Mrs. Linceford's world-instructed sense of fun. Dakie
Thayne wasn't a sum that needed proving. It was very nice that this
famous general should be his uncle,--but not at all strange: they were
just the sort of people he _must_ belong to. And it was nicest of
all that Dr. Ingleside and Susan Josselyn should have known each
other,--"in the glory of their lives," she phrased it to herself, with
a little flash of girl enthusiasm and a vague suggestion of romance.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Mrs. Linceford said to Dakie Thayne next
morning. "Everybody would have"--She stopped. She could not tell this
boy to his frank face that everybody would have thought more and made
more of him because his uncle had got brave stars on his shoulders, and
his father had died leaving two millions or so of dollars.
"I know they would have," said Dakie Thayne. "That was just it. What is
the use of telling things? I'll wait till I've done something that tells
There was a pretty general break-up at Outledge during the week
following. The tableaux were the _finale_ of the season's gayety,--of
this particular little episode, at least, which grew out of the
association together of these personages of our story. There might come
a later set, and later doings; but this last week of August sent the
mere summer-birds fluttering. Madam Routh must be back in New York, to
prepare for the reopening of her school; Mrs. Linceford had letters from
her husband, proposing to meet her by the first, in N----, and so the
Haddens would be off; the Thoresbys had stayed as long as they cared to
in any one place where there seemed no special inducement; General
Ingleside was going through the mountains to Dixville Notch. Rose
Ingleside,--bright and charming as her name; just a fit flower to put
beside our Ladies' Delight, finding out at once, as all girls and women
did, her sweetness, and leaning more and more to the rare and delicate
sphere of her quiet attraction,--Oliver and Dakie Thayne,--these were
his family party; but there came to be question about Leslie and
Delight. Would not they make six? And since Mrs. Linceford and her
sisters must go, it seemed so exactly the thing for them to fall into;
otherwise Miss Goldthwaite's journey hither would hardly seem to have
been worth while. Early September was so lovely among the hills;
opportunities for a party to Dixville Notch would not come every day; in
short, Dakie had set his heart upon it, Rose begged, the General was as
pressing as true politeness would allow, and it was settled.
"Only," Sin Saxon said suddenly, on being told, "I should like if you
would tell me, General Ingleside, the precise military expression
synonymous with 'taking the wind out of one's sails.' Because that's
just what you've done for me."
"My dear Miss Saxon! In what way?"
"Invited my party,--some of them,--and taken my road. That's all. I
spoke first, though I didn't speak out loud. See here!" And she produced
a letter from her mother, received that morning. "Observe the date, if
you please,--August 24. 'Your letter reached me yesterday.' And it had
traveled round, as usual, two days in papa's pocket, beside. I always
allow for that. 'I quite approve your plan; provided, as you say, the
party be properly matronized. I'--H'm--h'm! that refers to little
explanations of my own. Well, all is, I was going to do this very
thing,--with enlargements. And now Miss Craydocke and I may collapse."
"Why, when with you and your enlargements we might make the most
admirable combination? At least, the Dixville road is open to all."
"Very kind of you to say so,--the first part, I mean,--if you could
possibly have helped it. But there are insurmountable obstacles on that
Dixville road--to us. There's a lion in the way. Don't you see we should
be like the little ragged boys running after the soldier-company? We
couldn't think of putting ourselves in that 'bony light,' especially
before the eyes of Mrs.--Grundy." This last, as Mrs. Thoresby swept
impressively along the piazza in full dinner costume.
"Unless you go first, and we run after you," suggested the General.
"All the same. You talked Dixville to her the very first evening, you
know. No, nobody can have an original Dixville idea any more. And I've
been asking them,--the Josselyns, and Mr. Wharne and all, and was just
coming to the Goldthwaites; and now I've got them on my hands, and I
don't know where in the world to take them. That comes of keeping an
inspiration to ripen. Well, it's a lesson of wisdom! Only, as Effie says
about her housekeeping, the two dearest things in living are butter and
Amidst laughter and banter and repartee, they came to it, of course; the
most delightful combination and joint arrangement. Two wagons, the
General's and Dr. Ingleside's two saddle-horses, Frank Scherman's little
mountain mare, that climbed like a cat, and was sure-footed as a
chamois,--these, with a side-saddle for the use of a lady sometimes upon
the last, made up the general equipment of the expedition. All Mrs.
Grundy knew was that they were wonderfully merry and excited together,
until this plan came out as the upshot.
The Josselyns had not quite consented at once, though their faces were
bright with a most thankful appreciation of the kindness that offered
them such a pleasure; nay, that entreated their companionship as a thing
so genuinely coveted to make its own pleasure complete. Somehow, when
the whole plan developed, there was a little sudden shrinking on Sue's
part, perhaps on similar grounds to Sin Saxon's perception of
insurmountable obstacles; but she was shyer than Sin of putting forth
her objections, and the general zeal and delight, and Martha's longing
look, unconscious of cause why not, carried the day.
There had never been a blither setting off from the Giant's Cairn. All
the remaining guests were gathered to see them go. There was not a mote
in the blue air between Outledge and the crest of Washington. All the
subtile strength of the hills--ores and sweet waters and resinous
perfumes and breath of healing leaf and root distilled to absolute
purity in the clear ether that sweeps only from such bare,
thunder-scoured summits--made up the exhilarant draught in which they
drank the mountain joy and received afar off its baptism of delight.
It was beautiful to see the Josselyns so girlish and gay; it was lovely
to look at old Miss Craydocke, with her little tremors of pleasure, and
the sudden glistenings in her eyes; Sin Saxon's pretty face was clear
and noble, with its pure impulse of kindliness, and her fun was like a
sparkle upon deep waters. Dakie Thayne rushed about in a sort of general
satisfaction which would not let him be quiet anywhere. Outsiders looked
with a kind of new, half-jealous respect on these privileged few who had
so suddenly become the "General's party." Sin Saxon whispered to Leslie
Goldthwaite: "It's neither his nor mine, honeysuckle; it's
yours,--Henny-penny and all the rest of it, as Mrs. Linceford said."
Leslie was glad with the crowning gladness of her bright summer.
"That girl has played her cards well," Mrs. Thoresby said of her, a
little below her voice, as she saw the General himself making her
especially comfortable with Cousin Delight in a back seat.
"Particularly, my dear madam," said Marmaduke Wharne, coming close and
speaking with clear emphasis, "as she could not possibly have known that
she had a trump in her hand!"
* * * * *
To tell of all that week's journeying, and of Dixville Notch; the
adventure, the brightness, the beauty, and the glory; the sympathy of
abounding enjoyment, the waking of new life that it was to some of them;
the interchange of thought, the cementing of friendships,--would be to
begin another story, possibly a yet longer one. Leslie's summer,
according to the calendar, is already ended. Much in this world must
pause unfinished, or come to abrupt conclusion. People "die suddenly at
last," after the most tedious illnesses. "Married and lived happy ever
after," is the inclusive summary that winds up many an old tale whose
time of action only runs through hours. If in this summer-time with
Leslie Goldthwaite your thoughts have broadened somewhat with hers, some
questions for you have been partly answered; if it has appeared to you
how a life enriches itself by drawing toward and going forth into the
life of others through seeing how this began with her, it is no
unfinished tale that I leave with you.
A little picture I will give you, farther on, a hint of something
farther yet, and say good-by.
Some of them came back to Outledge, and stayed far into the still, rich
September. Delight and Leslie sat before the Green Cottage one morning,
in the heart of a golden haze and a gorgeous bloom.
All around the feet of the great hills lay the garlands of early-ripened
autumn. You see nothing like it in the lowlands,--nothing like the fire
of the maples, the carbuncle-splendor of the oaks, the flash of scarlet
sumachs and creepers, the illumination of every kind of little leaf in
its own way, upon which the frost touch comes down from those tremendous
heights that stand rimy in each morning's sun, trying on white caps that
by and by they shall pull down heavily over their brows, till they cloak
all their shoulders also in the like sculptured folds, to stand and
wait, blind, awful chrysalides, through the long winter of their death
Delight and Leslie had got letters from the Josselyns and Dakie Thayne.
There was news in them such as thrills always the half-comprehending
sympathies of girlhood. Leslie's vague suggestion of romance had become
fulfillment. Dakie Thayne was wild with rejoicing that dear old Noll was
to marry Sue. "She had always made him think of Noll, and his ways and
likings, ever since that day of the game of chess that by his means
came to grief. It was awful slang, but he could not help it: it was just
the very jolliest go!"
Susan Josselyn's quiet letter said,--"That kindness which kept us on and
made it beautiful for us, strangers, at Outledge, has brought to me, by
God's providence, this great happiness of my life."
After a long pause of trying to take it in, Leslie looked up. "What a
summer this has been! So full; so much has happened! I feel as if I had
been living such a great deal!"
"You have been living in others' lives. You have had a great deal to do
with what has happened."
"Oh, Cousin Delight! I have only been _among_ it! I could not
_do_--except such a very little."
"There is a working from us beyond our own. But if our working runs with
that?--You have done more than you will ever know, little one." Delight
Goldthwaite spoke very tenderly. Her own life, somehow, had been closely
touched, through that which had grown and gathered about Leslie. "It
depends on that abiding. 'In me, and I in you; so shall ye bear much
She stopped. She would not say more. Leslie thought her talking rather
wide of the first suggestion; but this child would never know, as
Delight had said, what a centre, in her simple, loving way, she had
been for the working of a purpose beyond her thought.
Sin Saxon came across the lawn, crowned with gold and scarlet, trailing
creepers twined about her shoulders, and flames of beauty in her full
hands. "Miss Craydocke says she praised God with every leaf she took.
I'm afraid I forgot to, for the little ones. But I was so greedy and so
busy, getting them all for her. Come, Miss Craydocke; we've got no end
of pressing to do, to save half of them!"
"She can't do enough for her. Oh, Cousin Delight, the leaves _are_
glorified, after all! Asenath never was so charming; and she is more
beautiful than ever!"
Delight's glance took in also another face than Asenath's, grown into
something in these months that no training or taking thought could have
done for it. "Yes," she said, in the same still way in which she had
spoken before, "that comes too,--as God wills. All things shall be
* * * * *
My hint is of a Western home, just outside the leaping growth and
ceaseless stir of a great Western city; a large, low, cosy mansion, with
a certain Old World mellowness and rest in its aspect,--looking forth,
even, as it does on one side, upon the illimitable sunset-ward sweep of
the magnificent promise of the New; on the other, it catches a glimpse,
beyond and beside the town, of the calm blue of a fresh-water ocean.
The place is "Ingleside;" the General will call it by no other than the
family name,--the sweet Scottish synonym for Home-corner. And here,
while I have been writing and you reading these pages, he has had them
all with him; Oliver and Susan, on their bridal journey, which waited
for summer-time to come again, though they have been six months married;
Rose, of course, and Dakie Thayne, home in vacation from a great school
where he is studying hard, hoping for West Point by and by; Leslie
Goldthwaite, who is Dakie's inspiration still; and our Flower, our
Pansy, our Delight,--golden-eyed Lady of innumerable sweet names.
The sweetest and truest of all, says the brave soldier and high-souled
gentleman, is that which he has persuaded her to wear for life,--Delight