Part 1 out of 4
This eBook was produced byJuliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team
MARY J. HOLMES
Author of "Maggie Miller," "Dora Drane," "English Orphans," "The
Homestead on the Hillside," "Meadowbrook Farm," "Lena Rivers,"
"Rosamond," "Cousin Maude," "Tempest and Sunshine," "Rector of St.
Marks," "Mildred," "The Leighton Homestead," "Miss McDonald"
THE EXAMINING COMMITTEE.
The good people of Devonshire were rather given to quarreling--
sometimes about the minister's wife, meek, gentle Mrs. Tiverton, whose
manner of housekeeping, and style of dress, did not exactly suit them;
sometimes about the minister himself, good, patient Mr. Tiverton, who
vainly imagined that if he preached three sermons a week, attended the
Wednesday evening prayer-meeting, the Thursday evening sewing society,
officiated at every funeral, visited all the sick, and gave to every
beggar who called at his door, besides superintending the Sunday
school, he was earning his salary of six hundred per year.
Sometimes, and that not rarely, the quarrel crept into the choir, and
then, for one whole Sunday, it was all in vain that Mr. Tiverton read
the psalm and hymn, casting troubled glances toward the vacant seats
of his refractory singers. There was no one to respond, unless it were
good old Mr. Hodges, who pitched so high that few could follow him;
while Mrs. Captain Simpson--whose daughter, the organist, had been
snubbed at the last choir meeting by Mr. Hodges' daughter, the alto
singer--rolled up her eyes at her next neighbor, or fanned herself
furiously in token of her disgust.
Latterly, however, there had come up a new cause of quarrel, before
which every other cause sank into insignificance. Now, though the
village of Devonshire could boast but one public schoolhouse, said
house being divided into two departments, the upper and lower
divisions, there were in the town several district schools; and for
the last few years a committee of three had been annually appointed to
examine and decide upon the merits of the various candidates for
teaching, giving to each, if the decision were favorable, a little
slip of paper certifying their qualifications to teach a common
school. Strange that over such an office so fierce a feud should have
arisen; but when Mr. Tiverton, Squire Lamb and Lawyer Whittemore, in
the full conviction that they were doing right, refused a certificate
of scholarship to Laura Tisdale, niece of Mrs. Judge Tisdale, and
awarded it to one whose earnings in a factory had procured for her a
thorough English education, the villagers, to use a vulgar phrase,
were at once set by the ears, the aristocracy abusing, and the
democracy upholding the dismayed trio, who, as the breeze blew harder,
quietly resigned their office, and Devonshire was without a school
In this emergency something must be done, and, as the two belligerent
parties could only unite on a stranger, it seemed a matter of special
providence that only two months before, young Dr. Holbrook, a native
of modern Athens, had rented the pleasant little office on the village
common, formerly occupied by old Dr. Carey, now lying in the graveyard
by the side of some whose days he had prolonged, and others whose days
he had surely shortened. Besides being handsome, and skillful, and
quite as familiar with the poor as the rich, the young doctor was
descended from the aristocratic line of Boston Holbrooks, facts which
tended to make him a favorite with both classes; and, greatly to his
surprise, he found himself unanimously elected to the responsible
office of sole Inspector of Common Schools in Devonshire. It was in
vain that he remonstrated, saying he knew nothing whatever of the
qualifications requisite for a teacher; that he could not talk to
girls, young ones especially; that he should make a miserable failure,
and so forth. The people would not listen. Somebody must examine the
teachers and that somebody might as well be Dr. Holbrook as anybody.
"Only be strict with 'em, draw the reins tight, find out to your
satisfaction whether a gal knows her P's and Q's before you give her a
stifficut. We've had enough of your ignoramuses," said Colonel Lewis,
the democratic potentate to whom Dr. Holbrook was expressing his fears
that he should not give satisfaction. Then, as a bright idea suggested
itself to the old gentleman, he added: "I tell you what, just cut one
or two at first; that'll give you a name for being particular, which
is just the thing."
Accordingly, with no definite idea as to what was expected of him,
except that he was to find out "whether a girl knew her P's and Q's,"
and was also to "cut one or two of the first candidates," Dr. Holbrook
accepted the office, and then awaited rather nervously his initiation.
He was not easy in the society of ladies, unless, indeed, the lady
stood in need of his professional services, when he lost sight of
_her_ at once, and thought only of her disease. His patient once
well, however, he became nervously shy and embarrassed, retreating as
soon as possible from her presence to the covert of his friendly
office, where, with his boots upon the table and his head thrown back
in a most comfortable position, he sat one April morning, in happy
oblivion of the bevy of girls who must, of course, ere long-invade his
"Something for you, sir. The lady will wait for an answer," said his
"chore boy," passing to his master a little three-cornered note, and
nodding toward the street.
Following the direction indicated, the doctor saw, drawn up near his
door, an old-fashioned one-horse wagon, such as is still occasionally
seen in New England. A square boxed, dark green wagon, drawn by a
sorrel horse, sometimes called by the genuine Yankee "yellow," and
driven by a white-haired man, whose silvery locks, falling around his
wrinkled face, gave to him a pleasing, patriarchal appearance, which
interested the doctor far more than did the flutter of the blue ribbon
beside him, even though the bonnet that ribbon tied shaded the face of
a young girl. The note was from her, and, tearing it open, the doctor
read, in the prettiest of all pretty, girlish handwriting:
Here it was plainly visible that a "D" had been written as if she
would have said "Dear." Then, evidently changing her mind, she had
with her finger blotted out the "D," and made it into an oddly shaped
"S," so that it read simply:
"Dr. Holbrook--Sir: Will you be at leisure to examine me on Monday
afternoon, at three o'clock?
"MADELINE A. CLYDE.
"P. S.--For particular reasons I hope you can attend to me as early as
Monday. M. A. C."
Dr. Holbrook knew very little of girls, but he thought this note, with
its P. S., decidedly girlish. Still he made no comment, either verbal
or mental, so flurried was he with knowing that the evil he so much
dreaded had come upon him at last. Had it been left to his choice, he
would far rather have extracted every one of that maiden's teeth, than
to have set himself up before her like some horrid ogre, asking what
she knew. But the choice was not his, and, turning to the boy, he
said, laconically, "Tell her to come."
Most men would have sought for a glimpse of the face under the bonnet
tied with blue, but Dr. Holbrook did not care a picayune whether it
were ugly or fair, though it did strike him that the voice was
singularly sweet, which, after the boy had delivered his message, said
to the old man, "Now, grandpa, we'll go home. I know you must be
Slowly Sorrel trotted down the street, the blue ribbons fluttering in
the wind, while one little ungloved hand was seen carefully adjusting
about the old man's shoulders the ancient camlet cloak which had done
duty for many a year, and was needed on this chill April day. The
doctor saw all this, and the impression left upon his mind was, that
Candidate No. 1 was probably a nice-ish kind of a girl, and very good
to her grandfather. But what should he ask her, and how demean himself
toward her? Monday afternoon was frightfully near, he thought, as this
was only Saturday; and then, feeling that he must be ready, he brought
out from the trunk, where, since his arrival in Devonshire, they had
bean quietly lying, books enough to have frightened an older person
than poor little Madeline Clyde, riding slowly home with grandpa, and
wishing so much that she'd had a glimpse of Dr. Holbrook, so as to
know what he was like, and hoping he would give her a chance to repeat
some of the many pages of geography and "Parley's History," which she
knew by heart. How she would have trembled could she have seen the
formidable volumes heaped upon his table and waiting for her. There
were French and Latin grammars, "Hamilton's Metaphysics," "Olmstead's
Philosophy," "Day's Algebra," "Butler's Analogy," and many others,
into which poor Madeline had never so much as looked. Arranging them
in a row, and half wishing himself back again to the days when he had
studied them, the doctor went out to visit his patients, of which
there were so many that Madeline Clyde entirely escaped his mind, nor
did she trouble him again until the dreaded Monday came, and the hands
of his watch pointed to two.
"One hour more," he said to himself, just as the roll of wheels and a
cloud of dust announced the approach of something.
Could it be Sorrel and the square-boxed wagon? Oh, no; far different
from grandfather Clyde's turnout was the stylish carriage and the
spirited bays dashing down the street, the colored driver reining them
suddenly, not before the office door, but just in front of the white
cottage in the same yard, the house where Dr. Holbrook boarded, and
where, if he ever married in Devonshire, he would most likely bring
"Guy Remington, the very chap of all others whom I'd rather see, and,
as I live, there's Agnes, with Jessie. Who knew she was in these
parts?" was the doctor's mental exclamation, as, running his fingers
through his hair and making a feint of pulling up the corners of his
rather limp collar, he hurried out to the carriage, from which a
dashing looking lady of thirty, or thereabouts, was alighting.
"Why, Agnes, I beg your pardon, Mrs. Remington, when did you come?" he
asked, offering his hand to the lady, who, coquettishly shaking back
from her pretty, dollish face a profusion of light brown curls, gave
him the tips of her lavender kids, while she told him she had come to
Aikenside the Saturday before; and hearing, from Guy that the lady
with whom he boarded was an old friend of hers, she had driven over to
call, and brought Jessie with her. "Here, Jessie, speak to the doctor.
He was poor dear papa's friend," and a very proper sigh escaped Agnes
Remington's lips as she pushed a little curly-haired girl toward Dr.
The lady of the house had spied them by this time, and came running
down the walk to meet her rather distinguished visitor, wondering, it
may be, to what she was indebted for this call from one who, since her
marriage with the supposed wealthy Dr. Remington, had rather cut her
former acquaintances. Agnes was delighted to see her, and, as Guy
declined entering the cottage just then, the two friends disappeared
within the door, while the doctor and Guy repaired to the office, the
latter sitting down in the very chair intended for Madeline Clyde.
This reminded the doctor of his perplexity, and also brought the
comforting thought that Guy, who had never failed him yet, could
surely offer some suggestions. But he would not speak of her just now;
he had other matters to talk about, and so, jamming his penknife into
a pine table covered with similar jams, he said: "Agnes, it seems, has
come to Aikenside, notwithstanding she declared she never would, when
she found that the whole of the Remington property belonged to your
mother, and not your father."
"Oh, yes. She got over her pique as soon as I settled a handsome
little income on Jessie, and, in fact, on her too, until she is
foolish enough to marry again, when it will cease, of course, as I do
not feel it my duty to support any man's wife, unless it be my own, or
my father's," was Guy Remington's reply; whereupon the penknife went
again into the table, and this time with so much force that the point
was broken off; but the doctor did not mind it, and with the jagged
end continued to make jagged marks, while he continued: "She'll hardly
marry again, though she may. She's young--not over twenty-six---
"Twenty-eight, if the family Bible does not lie; but she'd never
forgive me if she knew I told you that. So let it pass that she's
twenty-six. She certainly is not more than three years your senior, a
mere nothing, if you wish to make her Mrs. Holbrook;" and Guy's dark
eyes scanned curiously the doctor's face, as if seeking there for the
secret of his proud young stepmother's anxiety to visit plain Mrs.
Conner that afternoon. But the doctor only laughed merrily at the idea
of his being father to Guy, his college chum and long-tried friend.
Agnes Remington--reclining languidly in Mrs. Conner's easy-chair, and
overwhelming her former friend with descriptions of the gay parties
she had attended in Boston, and the fine sights she saw in Europe,
whither her gray-haired husband had taken her for a wedding tour--
would not have felt particularly flattered, could she have seen that
smile, or heard how easily, from talking of her, Dr. Holbrook turned
to another theme, to Madeline Clyde, expected now almost every moment.
There was a merry laugh on Guy's part, as he listened to the doctor's
story, and, when it was finished, he said: "Why, I see nothing so very
distasteful in examining a pretty girl, and puzzling her, to see her
blush. I half wish I were in your place. I should enjoy the novelty of
the thing." "Oh, take it, then; take my place, Guy," the doctor
exclaimed, eagerly. "She does not know me from Adam. Here are books,
all you will need. You went to a district school once a week when you
were staying in the country. You surely have some idea, while I have
not the slightest. Will you, Guy?" he persisted more earnestly, as he
heard wheels in the street, and was sure old Sorrel had come again.
Guy Remington liked anything savoring of a frolic, but in his mind
there were certain conscientious scruples touching the justice of the
thing, and so at first he demurred; while the doctor still insisted,
until at last he laughingly consented to commence the examination,
provided the doctor would sit by, and occasionally come to his aid.
"You must write the certificate, of course," he said, "testifying that
she is qualified to teach."
"Yes, certainly, Guy, if she is; but maybe she won't be, and my orders
are, to be strict--very strict."
"How did she look?" Guy asked, and the doctor replied: "Saw nothing
but her bonnet. Came in a queer old go-giggle of a wagon, such as your
country farmers drive. Guess she won't be likely to stir up the bile
of either of us, particularly as I am bullet proof, and you have been
engaged for years. By the way, when do you cross the sea again for the
fair Lucy? Rumor says this summer."
"Rumor is wrong, as usual, then," was Guy's reply, a soft light
stealing into his handsome eyes. Then, after a moment, he added: "Miss
Atherstone's health is far too delicate for her to incur the risks of
a climate like ours. If she were well acclimated, I should be glad,
for it is terribly lonely up at Aikenside."
"And do you really think a wife would make it pleasanter?" Dr Holbrook
asked, the tone of his voice indicating a little doubt as to a man's
being happier for having a helpmate to share his joys and sorrows.
But no such doubts dwelt in the mind of Guy Remington. Eminently
fitted for domestic happiness, he looked forward anxiously to the time
when sweet Lucy Atherstone, the fair English girl to whom he had
become engaged when, four years before, he visited Europe, should be
strong enough to bear transplanting to American soil. Twice since his
engagement he had visited her, finding her always lovely, gentle, and
yielding. Too yielding, it sometimes seemed to him, while occasionally
the thought had flashed upon him that she did not possess a very
remarkable depth of intellect. But he said to himself, he did not
care; he hated strong-minded women, and would far rather his wife
should be a little weak than masculine, like his Aunt Margaret, who
sometimes wore bloomers, and advocated women's rights. Yes, he greatly
preferred Lucy Atherstone, as she was, to a wife like the stately
Margaret, or like Agnes, his pretty stepmother, who only thought how
she could best attract attention; and as it had never occurred to him
that there might be a happy medium, that a woman need not be brainless
to be feminine and gentle, he was satisfied with his choice, as well
he might be, for a fairer, sweeter flower never bloomed than Lucy
Atherstone, his affianced bride. Guy loved to think of Lucy, and as
the doctor's remarks brought her to his mind, he went off into a
reverie concerning her, becoming so lost in thought that until the
doctor's hand was laid upon his shoulder by way of rousing him, he did
not see that what his friend had designated as a go-giggle was
stopping in front of the office, and that from it a young girl was
Naturally very polite to females, Guy's first impulse was to go to her
assistance, but she did not need it, as was proven by the light spring
with which she reached the ground. The white-haired man was with her
again, but he evidently did not intend to stop, and a close observer
might have detected a shade of sadness and anxiety upon his face as
Madeline called cheerily out to him: "Good-by, grandpa. Don't fear for
me; I hope you have good luck;" then, as he drove away, she ran a step
after him and said; "Don't look so sorry, for if Mr. Remington won't
let you have the money, there's my pony, Beauty. I am willing to give
"Never, Maddy. It's all the little fortin' you've got. I'll let the
old place go first;" and, chirruping to Sorrel, the old man drove on,
while Madeline walked, with a beating heart, to the office door,
Glancing involuntarily at each other, the young men exchanged meaning
smiles, while the doctor whispered softly: "Verdant--that's sure.
Wonder if she'll knock at a church."
As Guy sat nearest the door, it was he who held it ajar while Madeline
came in, her soft brown eyes glistening with something like a tear,
and her cheeks burning with excitement as she took the chair indicated
by Guy Remington, who unconsciously found himself master of
Poor little Madeline!
Madge her schoolmates called her, because the name suited her, they
said; but Maddy they called her at home, and there was a world of
unutterable tenderness in the voices of the old couple, her
grandparents, when they said that name, while their dim eyes lighted
up with pride and joy when they rested upon the young girl who
answered to the name of Maddy. Their only daughter's only child, she
had lived with them since her mother's death, for her father was a sea
captain, who never returned from his last voyage to China, made two
months before she was born. Very lonely and desolate would the home of
Grandfather Markham have been without the presence of Madeline, but
with her there, the old red farmhouse seemed to the aged couple like a
Forty years they had lived there, tilling the rather barren soil of
the rocky homestead, and, saving the sad night when they heard that
Richard Clyde was lost at sea, and the far sadder morning when their
daughter died, bitter sorrow had not come to them; and, truly thankful
for the blessings so long vouchsafed them, they had retired each night
in peace with God and man, and risen each morning to pray. But a
change was coming over them. In an evil hour Grandpa Markham had
signed a note for a neighbor and friend, who failed to pay, and so it
all fell on Mr. Markham, who, to meet the demand, mortgaged his
homestead; the recreant neighbor still insisting that long before the
mortgage should be due, he certainly would be able himself to meet it.
This, however, he had not done, and, after twice begging off a
foreclosure, poor old Grandfather Markham found himself at the mercy
of a grasping, remorseless man, into whose hands the mortgage had
passed. It was vain to hope that Silas Slocum would wait. The money
must either be forthcoming, or the red farmhouse be sold, with its few
acres of land. Among his neighbors there was not one who had the money
to spare, even if they had been willing to do so. And so he must look
"If I could only help," Madeline had said one evening when they sat
talking over their troubles; "but there's nothing I can do, unless I
apply for our school this summer. Mr. Green is committeeman; he likes
us, and I don't believe but what he'll let me have it. I mean to go
and see;" and, ere the old people had recovered from their
astonishment, Madeline had caught her bonnet and shawl, and was flying
down the road.
Madeline was a favorite with all, especially with Mr. Green, and as
the school would be small that summer, the plan struck him favorably.
Her age, however, was an objection, and he must take time to see what
others thought of a child like her becoming a schoolmistress. Others
thought well of it, and so before the close of the next day it was
generally known through Honedale, as the southern part of Devonshire
was called, that pretty little Madge Clyde had been engaged as
teacher, she receiving three dollars a week, with the understanding
that she must board herself. It did not take Madeline long to
calculate that twelve times three were thirty-six, more than a tenth
of what her grandfather must borrow. It seemed like a little fortune,
and blithe as a singing bird she flitted about the house, now stopping
a moment to fondle her pet kitten, while she whispered the good news
in its very appreciative ear, and then stroking her grandfather's
silvery hair, as she said:
"You can tell them that you are sure of paying thirty-six dollars in
the fall, and if I do well, maybe they'll hire me longer. I mean to
try my very best. I wonder if ever anybody before me taught a school
when they were only fourteen and a half. Do I look as young as that?"
and for an instant the bright; childish face scanned itself eagerly in
the old-fashioned mirror, with the figure of an eagle on the top.
She did look very young, and yet there was something womanly, too, in
the expression of the face, something which said that life's realities
were already beginning to be understood by her.
"If my hair were not short I should do better. What a pity I cut it
the last time; it would have been so long and splendid now," she
continued, giving a kind of contemptuous pull at the thick, beautiful
brown hair on whose glossy surface there was in certain lights a
reddish tinge, which added to its beauty.
"Never mind the hair, Maddy," the old man said, gazing fondly at her
with a half sigh as he remembered another brown head, pillowed now
beneath the graveyard turf. "Maybe you won't pass muster, and then the
hair will make no difference. There's a new committee-man, that Dr.
Holbrook, from Boston, and new ones are apt to be mighty strict."
Instantly Maddy's face flushed all over with nervous dread, as she
thought: "What if I should fail?" fancying that to do so would be an
eternal disgrace. But she should not. She was called by everybody the
very best scholar in school, the one whom the teachers always put
forward when desirous of showing off, the one whom Mr. Tiverton, and
Squire Lamb, and Lawyer Whittemore always noticed so much. Of course
she should not fail, though she did dread Dr. Holbrook, wondering much
what he would ask her first, and hoping it would be something in
arithmetic, provided he did not stumble upon decimals, where she was
apt to get bewildered. She had no fears of grammar. She could pick out
the most obscure sentence and dissect a double relative with perfect
ease; then, as to geography, she could repeat whole pages of that,
while in the spelling-book, the foundation of a thorough education, as
she had been taught, she had no superiors, and but a very few equals.
Still she would be very glad when it was over, and she appointed
Monday, both because it was close at hand, and because that was the
day her grandfather had set in which to ride to Aikenside, in an
adjoining town, and ask its young master for the loan of three hundred
He could hardly tell why he had thought of applying to Guy Remington
for help, unless it were that he once had saved the life of Guy's
father, who, as long as he lived, had evinced a great regard for his
benefactor, frequently asserting that he meant to do something for
him. But the something was never done, the father was dead, and in his
strait the old man turned to the son, whom he knew to be very rich,
and who he had been told was exceedingly generous.
"How I wish I could go with you clear up to Aikenside! They say it's
so beautiful," Madeline had said, as on Saturday evening they sat
discussing the expected events of the following Monday. "Mrs. Noah,
the housekeeper, had Sarah Jones there once, to sew, and she told me
all about it. There are graveled walks, and nice green lawns, and big,
tall trees, and flowers--oh! so many!--and marble fountains, with gold
fishes in the basin; and statues, big as folks, all over the yard,
with two brass lions on the gateposts. But the house is finest of all.
There's a drawing-room bigger than a ballroom, with carpets that let
your feet sink in so far; pictures and mirrors clear to the floor--
think of that, grandpa! a looking-glass so tall that one can see the
very bottom of their dress and know just how it hangs. Oh, I do so
wish I could have a peep at it! There are two in one room, and the
windows are like doors, with lace curtains; but what is queerest of
all, the chairs and sofas are covered with real silk, just like that
funny, gored gown of grandma's up in the oak chest. Dear me! I wonder
if I'll ever live in such a place as Aikenside?"
"No, no, Maddy, no. Be satisfied with the lot where God has put you,
and don't be longing after something higher, Our Father in heaven
knows just what is best for us; as He didn't see fit to put you up at
Aikenside, 'tain't noways likely you'll ever live in the like of it."
"Not unless I should happen to marry a rich man. Poor girls like me
have sometimes done that, haven't they?" was Maddy's demure reply.
Grandpa Markham shook his head.
"They have, but it's mostly their ruination; so don't build castles in
the air about this Guy Remington."
"Me! Oh, grandpa, I never dreamed of Mr. Guy!" and Madeline blushed
half indignantly. "He's too rich, too aristocratic, though Sarah said
he didn't act one bit proud, and was so pleasant, the servants all
worship him, and Mrs. Noah thinks him good enough for the Queen of
England. I shall think so, too, if he lets you have the money. How I
wish it was Monday night, so we could know sure!"
"Perhaps we both shall be terribly disappointed," suggested grandpa,
but Maddy was more hopeful.
She, at least, would not fail, while what she had heard of Guy
Remington, the heir of Aikenside, made her believe that he would
accede at once to her grandpa's request.
All that night she was working to pay the debt, giving the money
herself into the hands of Guy Remington, whom she had never seen, but
who came up in her dreams the tall, handsome-looking man she had so
often heard described by Sarah Jones after her return from Aikenside.
Even the next day, when, by her grandparent's side, Maddy knelt
reverently in the small, time-worn church at Honedale, her thoughts,
it must be confessed, were wandering more to the to-morrow and
Aikenside, than to the sacred words her lips were uttering. She knew
it was wrong, and with a nervous start would try to bring her mind
back from decimal fractions to what the minister was saying; but Maddy
was mortal, and right in the midst of the Collect, Aikenside and its
owner would rise before her, together with the wonder how she and her
grandfather would feel one week from that Sabbath day. Would the
desired certificate be hers? or would she be disgraced forever and
ever by a rejection? Would the mortgage be paid and her grandfather at
ease, or would his heart be breaking with the knowing he must leave
what had been his home for so many years? Not thus was it with the
aged disciple beside her--the good old man, whose white locks swept
the large lettered book over which his wrinkled face was bent, as he
joined in the responses, or said the prayers whose words had over him
so soothing an influence, carrying his thoughts upward to the house
not made with hands, which he felt assured would one day be his. Once
or twice, it is true, thoughts of losing the dear old red cottage
flitted across his mind with a keen, sudden pang, but he put it
quickly aside, remembering at the same instant how the Father he loved
doeth all things well to such as are His children. Grandpa Markham was
old in the Christian course, while Maddy could hardly be said to have
commenced as yet, and so to her that April Sunday was long and
wearisome. How she did wish she might just look over the geography, by
way of refreshing her memory, or see exactly how the rule for
extracting the cube root did read, but Maddy forebore, reading only
the Pilgrim's Progress, the Bible, and the book brought from the
With the earliest dawn, however, she was up, and her grandmother heard
her repeating to herself much of what she dreaded Dr. Holbrook might
question her upon. Even when bending over the washtub, for there were
no servants at the red cottage, a book was arranged before her so that
she could study with her eyes, while her small, fat hands and dimpled
arms were busy in the suds. Before ten o'clock everything was done,
the clothes, white as the snowdrops in the garden beds, were swinging
on the line, the kitchen floor was scrubbed, the windows washed, the
best room swept, the vegetables cleaned for dinner, and then Maddy's
work was finished. "Grandma could do all the rest," she said, and
Madeline was free "to put her eyes out over them big books if she
Swiftly flew the hours until it was time to be getting ready, when
again the short hair was deplored, as before her looking-glass
Madeline brushed and arranged her shining, beautiful locks. Would Dr.
Holbrook think of her age? Suppose he should ask it. But no, he
wouldn't. If Mr. Green thought her old enough, surely it was not a
matter with which the doctor need trouble himself; and, somewhat at
ease on that point, Madeline donned her longest frock, and, standing
in a chair, tried to discover how much of her pantalets was visible.
"I could see splendidly in Mr. Remington's mirrors," she said to
herself, with a half sigh of regret that her lot had not been cast in
some such place as Aikenside, instead of there beneath the hill in
that wee bit of a cottage, whose rear slanted back until it almost
touched the ground. "After all, I guess I'm happier here," she
thought. "Everybody likes me, while if I were Mr. Guy's sister and
lived at Aikenside, I might be proud and wicked, and--"
She did not finish the sentence, but somehow the story of Dives and
Lazarus, read by her grandfather that morning, recurred to her mind,
and feeling how much rather she would rest in Abraham's bosom than
share the fate of him who once was clothed in purple and fine linen
she pinned on her little neat plaid shawl, and, tying the blue ribbons
of her coarse straw hat, glanced once more at the formidable cube
root, and then hurried down to where her grandfather and old Sorrel
wore waiting for her.
"I shall be so happy when I come back, because it will then be over,
just like having a tooth out, you know," she said to her grandmother,
who bent down for the good-by kiss without which Maddy never left her.
"Now, grandpa, drive on; I was to be there at three," and chirruping
herself to Sorrel, the impatient Madge went riding from the cottage
door, chatting cheerily until the village of Devonshire was reached;
then, with a farewell to her grandfather, who never dreamed that the
man whom he was seeking was so near, she tripped up the flagging walk,
and, as we have seen, soon stood in the presence of not only Dr.
Holbrook, but also of Guy Remington.
Poor, poor little Madge!
It was Guy who received her, Guy who pointed to a chair, Guy who
seemed perfectly at home, and, naturally enough, she took him for Dr.
Holbrook, wondering who the other black-haired man could be, and if he
meant to stay in there all the while. It would be very dreadful if he
did, and in her agitation and excitement the cube root was in danger
of being altogether forgotten. Half guessing the cause of her
uneasiness, and feeling more averse than ever to taking part in the
matter, the doctor, after a hasty survey of her person, withdrew into
the background, and sat where he could not be seen. This brought the
short dress into full view, together with the dainty little foot,
nervously beating the floor.
"She's very young," he thought; "too young, by far," and Maddy's
chances of success were beginning to decline even before a word had
How terribly still it was for the time, during which telegraphic
communications were silently passing between Guy and the doctor, the
latter shaking his dead decidedly, while the former insisted that he
should do his duty. Madeline could almost hear the beatings of her
heart, and only by counting and recounting the poplar trees growing
across the street could she keep back the tears. What was he waiting
for, she wondered, and, at last, summoning all her courage, she lifted
her great brown eyes to Guy, and said, pleadingly:
"Would you be so kind, sir, as to begin?"
"Yes, certainly," and electrified by that young, bird-like voice, the
sweetest save one he had ever heard, Guy knocked down from the pile of
books the only one at all appropriate to the occasion, the others
being as far beyond what was taught in the district schools as his
classical education was beyond Madeline's common one.
Remembering that the teacher of whom he had once been for a week a
pupil, in the town of Framingham, had commenced operations by
sharpening a lead pencil, so he now sharpened a similar one,
determining as far as he could to follow that teacher's example. Maddy
counted every fragment as it fell upon the floor, wishing so much that
he would commence, and fancying that it would not be half so bad to
have him approach her with some one of those terrible dental
instruments lying before her, as it was to sit and wait as she was
waiting. Had Guy Remington reflected a little, he would never have
consented to do the doctor's work; but, unaccustomed to country
usages, especially those pertaining to schools and teachers, he did
not consider that it mattered which examined that young girl, himself
or Dr. Holbrook. Viewing it somewhat in the light of a joke, he rather
enjoyed it; and as the Framingham teacher had first asked her pupils
their names and ages, so he, when the pencil was sharpened
sufficiently, startled Madeline by asking her name.
"Madeline Amelia Clyde," was the meek reply, which Guy quickly
Now, Guy Remington intended no irreverence; indeed, he could not tell
what he did intend, or what it was which prompted his next query:
"Who gave you this name?"
Perhaps he fancied himself a boy again in the Sunday school, and
standing before the railing of the altar, where, with others of his
age, he had been asked the question propounded to Madeline Clyde, who
did not hear the doctor's smothered laugh as he retreated into the
In all her preconceived ideas of this examination, she had never
dreamed of being catechised, and with a feeling of terror as she
thought of that long answer to the question, "What is thy duty to thy
neighbor?" and doubted her ability to repeat it, she said: "My
sponsors, in baptism gave me the first name of Madeline Amelia, sir,"
adding, as she caught and misconstrued the strange gleam in the dark
eyes bent upon her, "I am afraid I have forgotten some of the
catechism; I did not know it was necessary in order to teach school."
"Certainly, no; I do not think it is. I beg your pardon," were Guy
Remington's ejaculatory replies, as he glanced from Madeline to the
open door of the adjoining room, where was visible a slate, on which,
in huge letters, the amused doctor had written "Blockhead."
There was something in Madeline's quiet, womanly, earnest manner which
commanded Guy's respect, or he would have given vent to the laughter
which was choking him, and thrown off his disguise. But he could not
bear now to undeceive her, and, resolutely turning his back upon the
doctor, he sat down by that pile of books and commenced the
examination in earnest, asking first her age.
"Going on fifteen," sounded older to Madeline than "Fourteen and a
half," so "Going on fifteen" was the reply, to which Guy responded:
"That is very young, Miss Clyde."
"Yes, but Mr. Green did not mind. He's the committeeman. He knew how
young I was," Madeline said, eagerly, her great brown eyes growing
large with the look of fear which came so suddenly into them.
Guy noticed the eyes then, and thought them very bright and handsome
for brown, but not so bright or handsome as a certain pair of soft
blue orbs he knew, and feeling a thrill of satisfaction that sweet
Lucy Atherstone was not obliged to sit there in that doctor's office
to be questioned by him or any other man, he said: "Of course, if your
employers are satisfied it is nothing to me, only I had associated
teaching with women much older than yourself. What is logic, Miss
The abruptness with which he put the question startled Madeline to
such a degree that she could not positively tell whether she had ever
heard that word before, much less could she recall its meaning, and so
she answered frankly, "I don't know."
A girl who did not know what logic was did not know much, in Guy's
estimation, but it would not do to stop here, and so he asked her next
how many cases there were in Latin!
Maddy felt the hot blood tingling to her very fingertips, the
examination had taken a course so widely different from her ideas of
what it would probably be. She had never looked inside a Latin
grammar, and again her truthful "I don't know, sir," fell on Guy's
ear, but this time there was a half despairing tone in the young voice
usually so hopeful.
"Perhaps, then, you can conjugate the verb _Amo,_" Guy said, his
manner indicating the doubt he was beginning to feel as to her
Maddy knew well what "conjugate" meant, but that verb _Amo_, what
could it mean? and had she ever heard it before? Mr. Remington was
waiting for her; she must say something, and with a gasp she began: "I
amo, thou amoest, he amoes. Plural: We amo, ye or you amo, they amo."
Guy looked at her aghast for a single moment, and then a comical smile
broke all over his face, telling poor Maddy plainer than words could
have done, that she had made a most ridiculous mistake.
"Oh, sir," she cried, her eyes wearing the look of the frightened
hare, "it is not right. I don't know what it means. Tell me, teach me.
What is it to amo?"
To most men it would not have seemed a very disagreeable task,
teaching young Madeline Clyde "to amo," as she termed it, and some
such idea flitted across Guy's mind, as he thought how pretty and
bright was the eager face upturned to his, the pure white forehead,
suffused with a faint flush, the cheeks a crimson hue, and the pale
lips parted slightly as Maddy appealed to him for the definition of
"It is a Latin verb, and means 'to love'" Guy said, with an emphasis
on the last word, which would have made Maddy blush had she been less
anxious and frightened.
Thus far she had answered nothing correctly, and, feeling puzzled to
know how to proceed, Guy stepped into the adjoining room to consult
with the doctor, but he was gone. So returning again to Madeline, Guy
resumed the examination by asking her how "minus into minus could
Again Maddy was at fault, and her low-spoken "I don't know" sounded
like a wail of despair. Did she know anything, Guy wondered, and
feeling some curiosity now to ascertain that fact, he plied her with
questions philosophical, questions algebraical, and questions
geometrical, until in an agony of distress Maddy raised her hands
deprecatingly, as if she would ward off any similar questions, and
"Oh, sir, no more. It makes my head so dizzy. They don't teach that in
common schools. Ask me something I do know."
Suddenly it occurred to Guy that he had gone entirely wrong, and
mentally cursing himself for the blockhead the doctor had called him,
he asked, kindly:
"What do they teach? Perhaps you can enlighten me?"
"Geography, arithmetic, grammar, history, and spelling-book," Madeline
replied, untying and throwing off her bonnet, in the vain hope that it
might bring relief to her poor, giddy head, which throbbed so
fearfully that all her ideas seemed for the time to have left her.
This was a natural consequence of the high excitement under which she
was laboring, and so, when Guy did ask her concerning the books
designated, she answered but little better than before, and Guy was
wondering what he should do next, when the doctor's welcome step was
heard, and leaving Madeline again, he repaired to the next room to
report his ill success.
"She does not seem to know anything. The veriest child ought to do
better than she has done. Why, she has scarcely answered half a dozen
This was what poor Maddy heard, though it was spoken in a low whisper;
but every word was distinctly understood and burned into her heart's
core, drying her tears and hardening her into a block of marble. She
knew that Guy had not done her justice, and this helped to increase
the torpor stealing over her. Still she did not lose a syllable of
what was saying in the back office, and her lip curled scornfully when
she heard Guy remark: "I pity her; she is so young, and evidently
takes it so hard. Maybe she's as good as they average. Suppose we give
her the certificate."
Then Dr. Holbrook spoke, but to poor, dazed Maddy his words were all a
riddle. It was nothing to him--who was he that he should be dictating
thus? There seemed to be a difference of opinion between the young
men, Guy insisting that out of pity she should not be rejected; and
the doctor demurring on the ground that he ought to be more strict. As
usual, Guy overruled, and seating himself at the table, the doctor was
just commencing: "I hereby certify--" while Guy was bending over him,
when the latter was startled by a hand laid firmly on his arm, and
turning quickly he confronted Madeline Clyde, who, with her short hair
pushed from her blue-veined forehead, her face as pale as ashes, save
where a round spot of purplish red burned upon her cheeks, and her
eyes gleaming like coals of fire, stood before him.
"He need not write that," she said, huskily, pointing to the doctor,
"It would be a lie, and I could not take it. You do not think me
qualified. I heard you say so. I do not want to be pitied. I do not
want a certificate because I am so young, and you think I'll feel
badly. I do not want--"
Her voice failed her, her bosom heaved, and the choking sobs came
thick and fast, but still she shed no tear, and in her bright, dry
eyes there was a look which made both those young men turn away
involuntarily. Once Guy tried to excuse her failure, saying she no
doubt was frightened. She would probably do better again, and might as
well accept the certificate, but Madeline still said no, so decidedly
that further remonstrance was useless. She would not take what she had
no right to, she said, but if they pleased she would wait there in the
back office until her grandfather came back; it would not be long, and
she should not trouble them.
Guy brought her the easy-chair from the front room and placed it for
her by the window. With a faint smile she thanked him and said: "You
are very kind," but the smile hurt Guy cruelly, it was so sad, so full
of unintentional reproach, while the eyes she lifted to his looked so
grieved and weary that he insensibly murmured to himself: "Poor
child!" as he left her, and with the doctor repaired to the house,
where Agnes was impatiently waiting for them. Poor, poor little Madge!
Let those smile who may at her distress; it was the first keen
disappointment she had ever had, and it crushed her as completely as
many an older person has been crushed by heavier calamities.
"Disgraced for ever and ever," she kept repeating to herself, as she
tried to shake off the horrid nightmare stealing over her. "How can I
hold up my head again at home where nobody will understand just how it
was; nobody but grandpa and grandma? Oh, grandpa, I can't earn that
thirty-six dollars now. I most wish I was dead, and I am--I am dying.
There was a heavy fall, and while in Mrs. Conner's parlor Guy
Remington and Dr. Holbrook were chatting gayly with Agnes, a childish
figure was lying upon the office floor, white, stiff, and insensible.
Little Jessie Remington, tired of sitting still and listening to what
her mamma and Mrs. Conner were saying, had strayed off into the
garden, and after filling her chubby hands with daffodils and early
violets, wended her way to the office, the door of which was partially
ajar. Peering curiously in, she saw the crumpled bonnet, with its
ribbons of blue, and, attracted by this, advanced into the room, until
she came where Madeline was lying. With a feeling that something was
wrong, Jessie bent over the prostrate girl, asking if she were asleep,
and lifting next the long, fringed lashes drooping on the colorless
cheek. The dull, dead expression of the eyes sent a chill through
Jessie's frame, and hurrying to the house she cried: "Oh, Brother Guy,
somebody's dead in the office, and her bonnet is all jammed!"
Scarcely were the words uttered ere Guy and the doctor both were with
Madeline, the former holding her tenderly in his arms, while he
smoothed the short hair, thinking even then how soft and luxuriant it
was, and how fair was the face which never moved a muscle beneath his
scrutiny. The doctor was wholly self-possessed. Maddy had no terrors
for him now. She needed his services, and he rendered them willingly,
applying restoratives which soon brought back signs of life in the
rigid form. With a shiver and a moan Madeline whispered: "Oh, grandma,
I'm so tired," and nestled closer to the bosom where she had never
dreamed of lying.
By this time both Mrs. Conner and Agnes had come out, asking in much
surprise who the stranger could be, and what was the cause of her
illness. As if there had been a previous understanding between them,
the doctor and Guy were silent with regard to the recent farce enacted
there, simply saying it was possible she was in the habit of fainting;
many people were. Very daintily, Agnes held up and back the skirt of
her rich silk as if fearful that it might come in contact with
Madeline's plain delaine; then, as it was not very interesting for her
to stand and see the doctor "make so much fuss over a young girl," as
she mentally expressed it, she returned to the house, bidding Jessie
do the same. But Jessie refused, choosing to stay by Madeline, whom
they placed upon the comfortable lounge, which she preferred to being
taken to the house, as Guy proposed.
"I'm better now, much better," she said. "Leave me, please. I'd rather
So they left her, all but Jessie, who, fascinated by the sweet young
face, climbed upon the lounge and, laying her curly head caressingly
against Madeline's arm, said to her: "Poor girl, you're sick, and I am
so sorry. What makes you sick?"
There was genuine sympathy in that little voice, and it opened the
pent-up flood beating so furiously, and roused Maddy's heart. With a
cry as of sudden pain she clasped the child in her arms and wept out a
wild, stormy fit of weeping which did her so much good. Forgetting
that Jessie could not understand, and feeling it a relief to tell her
grief to some one, she said, in reply to Jessie's oft repeated
inquiries as to what was the matter: "I did not get a certificate, and
I wanted it so much, for we are poor, and our house is mortgaged, and
I was going to help grandpa pay it."
"It's dreadful to be poor!" sighed little Jessie, as her waxen fingers
threaded the soft, nut-brown hair resting in her lap, where Maddy had
lain her aching head.
Maddy did not know who this beautiful child was, but her sympathy was
very sweet, and they talked together as children will, until Mrs.
Agnes' voice was heard calling to her little girl that it was time to
"I love you, Maddy, and I mean to tell brother about it," Jessie said,
as she wound her arms around Madeline's neck and kissed her at
It never occurred to Maddy to ask her name, so stupified she felt, and
with a responsive kiss she sent her away. Leaning her head upon the
table, she forgot all but her own wretchedness, and so did not see the
gayly-dressed, haughty-looking lady who swept past the door,
accompanied by Guy and Dr. Holbrook. Neither did she hear, or notice,
if she did, the hum of their voices as they talked together for a
moment, Agnes asking the doctor very prettily to come up to Aikenside
while she was there, and bring his ladylove. Engaged young men like
Guy were so stupid, she said, as with a merry laugh she sprang into
the carriage; and, bowing gracefully to the doctor, was driven rapidly
Rather slowly the doctor returned to the office, and after fidgeting
for a time among the powders and phials, summoned courage to ask
Madeline how she felt, and if any of the fainting symptoms had
"No, sir," was all the reply she gave him, never lifting up her head,
or even thinking which of the two young men it was speaking to her.
There was a call just then for Dr. Holbrook, and leaving his office in
charge of Tom, his chore boy, he went away, feeling slightly
uncomfortable whenever he thought of the girl to whom he felt that
justice had not been done.
"I half wish I had examined her myself," he said. "Of course she was
excited, and could not answer; beside, hanged if I don't believe it
was all humbug tormenting her with Greek and Latin. Yes; I'll question
her when I get back, and if she'll possibly pass, give her the
certificate. Poor child; how white she was, and what a queer look
there was in those great eyes, when she said: 'I shall not take it.'"
Never in his life before had Dr. Holbrook been as much interested in
any female who was not sick as he was in Madeline, and determining to
make his call on Mrs. Briggs as brief as possible, he alighted at her
gate, and knocked impatiently at her door. He found her pretty sick,
while both her children needed a prescription, and so long a time was
he detained that his heart misgave him on his homeward route, lest
Maddy should be gone, and with her the chance to remedy the wrong he
might have done her.
Maddy was gone, and the wheel ruts of the square-boxed wagon were
fresh before the door when he came back. Grandpa Markham had returned,
and Madeline, who recognized old Sorrel's step, had gathered her shawl
around her and gone sadly out to meet him. One look at her face was
"You failed, Maddy?" the old man said, fixing about her feet the warm
buffalo robe, for the night wind was blowing cool.
"Yes, grandpa, I failed."
They were out of the village and more than a mile on their way home
before Madeline found voice to say so much, and they were nearer home
by half a mile ere the old man answered back:
"And, Maddy, I failed too."
Mrs. Noah, the housekeeper at Aikenside, was slicing vegetable oysters
for the nice little dish intended for her own supper, when the head of
Sorrel came around the corner of the building, followed by the square-
boxed wagon containing Grandpa Markham, who, bewildered by the beauty
and spaciousness of the grounds, and wholly uncertain as to where he
ought to stop, had driven over the smooth-graveled road around to the
front kitchen door, Mrs. Noah's spacious domain, as sacred as Betsey
Trotwood's patch of green.
"In the name of wonder, what codger is that? and what is he doing
here?" was Mrs. Noah's exclamation, as she dropped the bit of salsify
she was scraping, and hurrying to the door, called out: "I say, you,
sir, what made you drive up here, when I've said over and over again,
that I wouldn't have wheels tearing up turf and gravel?"
"I--I beg your pardon. I lost my way, I guess, there was so many
turnin's, I'm sorry, but a little rain will fetch it right," grandpa
said, glancing ruefully at the ruts in the gravel and the marks on the
Mrs. Noah was not at heart an unkind woman, and something in the
benignant expression of grandpa's face, or in the apologetic tone of
his voice, mollified her somewhat, and without further comment she
stood waiting for his next remark. It was a most unfortunate one, for
though as free from weakness as most of her sex, Mrs. Noah was
terribly sensitive as to her age, and the same census-taker would
never venture twice within her precincts. Glancing at her dress, which
was this leisure afternoon much smarter than usual, grandpa concluded
she could not be a servant; and as she seemed to have a right to say
where he should drive and where he should not, the meek old man
concluded she was a near relation of Guy--mother, perhaps; but no,
Guy's mother was dead, as grandpa well knew, for all Devonshire had
heard of the young bride Agnes, who had married Guy's father for money
and rank. To have been mistaken for Guy's mother would not have
offended Mrs. Noah particularly; but how was she shocked when Grandpa
"I come on business with Squire Guy. Are you his gran'marm?" "His
gran'marm!" and Mrs. Noah bit off the last syllable spitefully. "Bless
you, man, Squire Guy, as you call him, is twenty-five years old."
As Grandpa Markham was rather blind, he failed to see the point, but
knew that in some way he had given offense.
"I beg your pardon, ma'am; I was sure you was some kin--maybe an
No, she was not even that; but willing enough to let the old man
believe her a lady of the Remington order, she did not explain that
she was simply the housekeeper, she simply said:
"If it's Mr. Guy you want, I can tell you he is not at home, which
will save your getting out."
"Not at home, and I've come so far to see him!" grandpa exclaimed, and
in his voice there was so much genuine disappointment that Mrs. Noah
rejoined, quite kindly:
"He's gone over to Devonshire with the young lady his stepmother.
Perhaps you might tell your business to me; I know all Mr. Guy's
"If I might come in, ma'am," he answered, meekly, as through the open
door he caught glimpses of a cheerful fire. "It's mighty chilly for
such as me." He did look cold and blue, Mrs. Noah thought, and she
bade him come in, feeling a very little contempt for the old-fashioned
camlet cloak in which his feet became entangled, and smiling inwardly
at the shrunken, faded pantaloons, betokening poverty.
"As you know all Squire Guy's affairs," grandpa said, when he was
seated before the fire, "maybe you could tell whether he would be
likely to lend a stranger three hundred dollars, and that stranger
Mrs. Noah stared at him aghast. Was he crazy, or did he mean to insult
her master? Evidently neither. He seemed as sane as herself, while no
one could associate an insult with him. He did not know anything. That
was the solution of his audacity, and pityingly, as she would have
addressed a half idiot, Mrs. Noah made him understand how impossible
it was for him to think her master would lend to a stranger like him.
"You say he's gone to Devonshire," grandpa said, softly, with a quiver
on his lip when she had finished. "I wish I'd knew it; I left my
granddarter there to be examined. Mabby I'll meet him going back, and
can ask him."
"I tell you it won't be no use. Mr. Guy has no three hundred dollars
to throw away," was Mrs. Noah's rather sharp rejoinder.
"Wall, wall, we won't quarrel about it," the old man replied, in his
most conciliatory manner, as he turned his head away to hide the
Grandfather Markham's heart was very sore, and Mrs. Noah's harshness
troubled him. He could not bear to think that she really was cross
with him, besides that he wanted something to carry Maddy besides
disappointment, so by way of testing Mrs. Noah's amiability and
pleasing Maddy, too, he said, as he arose: "I'm an old man, lady, old
enough to be your father." Here Mrs. Noah's face grew brighter, and
she listened attentively while he continued: "You won't take what I
say amiss, I'm sure. I have a little girl at home, a grandchild, who
has heard big stories of the fine things at Aikenside. She has a
hankerin' after such vanities, and it would please her mightily to
have me tell her what I saw up here, so maybe you wouldn't mind
lettin' me go into that big room where the silk fixin's are. I'll take
off my shoes, if you say so."
"Your shoes won't hurt an atom; come right along," Mrs. Noah replied,
now in the best of moods, for, except her cup of green tea with
raspberry jam and cream, she enjoyed nothing more than showing their
Conducting him through the wide, marbled hall, she ushered him into
the drawing-room, where for a time he stood perfectly bewildered. It
was his first introduction to rosewood, velvet, and brocatelle, and it
seemed to him as if he had suddenly been transported to fairy-land.
"Maddy would like this--it's her nature," he whispered, advancing a
step or two, and setting down his feet as softly as if stepping on
Happening to lift his eyes before one of the long mirrors, he spied
himself, wondering much what that "queer-looking chap" was doing there
in the midst of so much elegance, and why Mrs. Noah did not turn him
out! Then mentally asking forgiveness for this flash of pride, and
determined to make amends, he bowed low to the figure in the glass,
which bowed as low in return, but did not reply to the very good-natured
remark: "How d'ye do--pretty well, to-day?"
There was a familiar look about the round cape of the camlet cloak,
and Grandpa Markham's face turned crimson as the truth burst upon him.
"How 'shamed of me Maddy would be," he thought, glancing sidewise at
Mrs. Noah, who had witnessed the blunder, and was now looking from the
window to hide her laughter.
Grandpa believed she did not see him, and comforted with that assurance,
he began to remark upon the mirror, saying "it made it appear as if
there was two of you," a remark which Mrs. Noah fully appreciated. He
saw the silk chairs, slyly touching one to see if it did feel like the
gored, peach-blossom dress worn by his wife forty-two years ago that
very spring. Then he tried one of them, examined the rare ornaments, and
came near bowing again to the portrait of the first Mrs. Remington, so
natural and lifelike it looked standing out from the canvas.
"This will last Maddy a week. I thank you, ma'am. You have added some
considerable to the happiness of a young girl, who wouldn't disgrace
even such a room as this," he said, as he passed into the hall.
Mrs. Noah received his thanks graciously, and led him to the yard,
where Sorrel stood waiting for him.
"Odd, but clever as the day is long," was Mrs. Noah's comment, as,
after seeing him safe out of her yard, she went back to her vegetable
oysters boiling on the stove.
Driving at a brisk trot through the grounds, Sorrel was soon out upon
the highway; and with spirits exhilarated by thoughts of going home,
he kept up the trot until, turning a sudden corner, his master saw the
carriage from Aikenside approaching at a rapid rate. The driver, Paul,
saw him too, but scorning to give half the road to such as Sorrel and
the square-boxed wagons, he kept steadily on, while Grandpa Markham,
determined to speak with Guy, reined his horse a little nearer,
raising his hand in token that the negro should stop. As a natural
consequence, the wheels of the two vehicles became interlocked, and as
the powerful grays were more than a match for Sorrel, the front wheel
of Grandpa Markham's wagon was wrenched off, and the old man
precipitated to the ground; which, fortunately for him, was in that
locality covered with sand banks, so that he was only stunned for an
instant, and thus failed to hear the insolent negro's remark: "Served
you right, old cove; might of turned out for gentlemen;" neither did
he see the sudden flashing of Guy Remington's eye, as, leaping from
his carriage, he seized the astonished African by the collar, and,
hurling him from the box, demanded what he meant by serving an old man
so shameful a trick and then insulting him.
All apology and regret, the cringing driver tried to make some excuse,
but Guy stopped him short, telling him to see how much the wagon was
damaged, while he ran to the old man, who had recovered from the first
shock and was trying to extricate himself from the folds of his camlet
cloak. Nearby was a blacksmith's shop, and thither Guy ordered his
driver to take the broken-down wagon with a view to getting it
"Tell him I want it done at once." he said, authoritatively, as if he
well knew his name carried weight with it; then, turning to grandpa,
he asked again if he were hurt.
"No, not specially--jolted my old bones some. You are very kind, sir,"
grandpa replied, brushing the dust from his pantaloons and then
involuntarily grasping Guy's arm for support, as his weak knees began
to tremble from the effects of excitement and fright.
"That darky shall rue this job," Guy said, savagely, as he gazed
pityingly upon the shaky old creature beside him. "I'll discharge him
"No, young man. Don't be rash. He'll never do't again; and sprigs like
him think they've a right to make fun of old codgers like me," was
grandpa's meek expostulation.
"Do, pray, Guy, how long must we wait here?" Agnes asked, impatiently,
leaning back in the carriage and partially drawing her veil over her
face as she glanced at Grandpa Markham, but a look from Guy silenced
her; and turning again to grandpa, he asked:
"What did you say? You have been to Aikenside to see me?"
"Yes, and I was sorry to miss you. I--I--it makes me feel awkward to
tell you, but I wanted to borrow some money, and I didn't know nobody
as likely to have it as you. That woman up to your house said she
knowed you wouldn't let me have it, 'cause you hadn't it to spare.
Mebby you haven't," and grandpa waited anxiously for Guy's reply.
Now, Mrs. Noah had a singular influence over her young master, who was
in the habit of consulting her with regard to his affairs, and nothing
could have been more unpropitious to the success of grandpa's suit
than the knowing she disapproved. Beside this, Guy had only the
previous week lost a small amount loaned under similar circumstances.
Standing silent for a moment, while he buried and reburied his shining
patent leather boots in the hills of sand, he said at last: "Candidly,
sir, I don't believe I can accommodate you. I am about to make repairs
at Aikenside, and have partially promised to loan money on good
security to a Mr. Silas Slocum, who, 'if things work right,' as he
expressed it, intends building a mill on some property which has come,
or is coming, into his hands."
"That's mine--that's mine, my homestead," gasped grandpa, turning
white almost as his hair blowing in the April wind. "There's a stream
of water on it, and he says if he forecloses and gets it he shall
build a mill, and tear our old house down."
Guy was in a dilemma. He had not asked how much Mr. Markham wanted,
and as the latter had not told him, he naturally concluded it a much
larger sum than it really was, and did not care just then to lend it.
"I tell you what I'll do," he said, after a little. "I'll drop Slocum
a note to-night saying I've changed my mind, and shall not let him
have the money. Perhaps, then, he won't be so anxious to foreclose,
and will give you time to look among your friends."
Guy laid a little emphasis on that last word, and looking up quickly
grandpa was about to say: "I am not so much a stranger as you think. I
knew your father well;" but he checked himself with the thought: "No,
that will be too much like begging pay for a deed of mercy done years
ago." So Guy never suspected that the old man before him had once laid
his sire under a debt of gratitude. The more he reflected the less
inclined he was to lend the money, and as grandpa was too timid to
urge his needs, the result was that when at last the wheel was
replaced, and Sorrel again trotting on toward Devonshire, he drew
after him a sad, heavy heart, and not once until the village was
reached did he hear the cheery chuckle with which his kind master was
wont to encourage him.
"Poor Maddy! I dread tellin' her the most, she was so sure," grandpa
whispered, as he stopped before the office door, where Maddy waited
But Maddy's disappointment was keener than his own, and so after the
sorrowful words, "and I failed, too," he bent himself to comfort the
poor child, who, leaning her throbbing head against his shoulder,
sobbed bitterly, as in the soft spring twilight they drove back to the
low red cottage where grandma waited for them.
It was Farmer Green's new buggy and Farmer Green's bay colt which,
three days later than this, stopped before Dr. Holbrook's office. Not
the square-boxed wagon, with old Sorrel attached; the former was
standing quietly in the chip-yard behind the low red house, while the
latter with his nose over the barnyard fence, neighing occasionally,
as if he missed the little hands which had daily fed him the oatmeal
he liked so much, and which now lay hot and parched and helpless upon
the white counterpane Grandma Markham had spun and woven herself.
Maddy might have been just as sick as she was if the examination had
never occurred, but it was natural for those who loved her to impute
it all to the effects of excitement and cruel disappointment, so there
was something like indignation mingling with the sorrow gnawing at the
hearts of the old couple as they watched by their fever-stricken
darling. Farmer Green, too, shared the feeling, and numerous at first
were his mental animadversions against that "prig of a Holbrook." But
when Maddy grew so bad as not to know him or his wife, he laid aside
his prejudices, and suggested to Grandpa Markham that Dr. Holbrook be
"He's great on fevers," he said, "and is good on curin' sick folks,"
so, though he would have preferred some one else should have been
called, confidence in the young doctor's skill won the day, and
This, then, was the errand of Farmer Green, and with his usual
bluntness, he said to the recreant doctor, who chanced to be at home:
"Wall, you nigh about killed our little Madge t'other day, when you
refused the stifficut, and now we want you to cure her."
The doctor looked up in surprise, but Farmer Green soon explained his
meaning, making out a most aggravated case, and representing Maddy as
wild with delirium.
"Keeps talkin' about the big books, the Latin and the Hebrew, and even
the Catechism, as if such like was 'lowed in our school. I s'pose you
didn't know no better; but if Maddy dies, you'll have it to answer
for, I reckon."
The doctor did not try to excuse himself, but hastily took down the
medicines he thought he might need, and stowed them carefully away. He
had expected to hear from that examination, but not in this way, and
rather nervously he made some inquiries, as to how long she had been
ill, and so forth.
Maddy's case lost nothing by Mr. Green's account, and by the time the
doctor's horse was ready, and he on his way to the cottage, he had
arrived at the conclusion that of all the villainous men outside the
walls of the State's prison, he was the most villainous, and Guy
What a cozy little chamber it was where Maddy lay, just such a room as
a girl like her might be supposed to occupy, and the bachelor doctor
felt like treading upon forbidden ground as he entered the room so
rife with girlish habits, from the fairy slippers hung on a peg, to
the fanciful little workbox made of cones and acorns. Maddy was
asleep, and sitting down beside her, he asked that the shawl which had
been pinned across the window might be removed so that he could see
her, and thus judge better of her condition. They took the shawl away,
and the sunlight came streaming in, disclosing to the doctor's view
the face never before seen distinctly, or thought about, if seen. It
was ghastly pale, save where the hot blood seemed bursting through the
cheeks, while the beautiful brown hair was brushed back from the brow
where the veins were swollen and full. The lips were slightly apart,
and the hot breath came in quick, panting gasps, while occasionally a
faint moan escaped them, and once the doctor heard, or thought he
heard, the sound of his own name. One little dimpled hand lay upon the
bedspread, but the doctor did not touch it. Ordinarily he would have
grasped it as readily as if it had been a piece of marble, but the
sight of Maddy, lying there so sick, and the fearing he had helped to
bring her where she was, awoke to life a curious state of feeling with
regard to her, making him almost as nervous as on the day when she
appeared before him as candidate No. 1.
"Feel her pulse, doctor; they are faster most than you can count,"
Grandma Markham whispered; and thus entreated, the doctor took the
soft hand in his own, its touch sending through his frame a thrill
such as the touch of no other hand had ever sent.
Somehow the act reassured him. All fear of Maddy vanished, leaving
behind only an intense desire to help, if possible, the young girl
whose fingers seemed to cling around his own as he felt for and found
the rapid pulse,
"If she could awaken," he said, laying the hand softly down and
placing his other upon her forehead, where the great sweat drops lay.
And, after a time, Maddy did awaken, but in the eyes fixed, for a
moment, so intently on him, there was no look of recognition, and the
doctor was half glad that it was so. He did not wish her to associate
him with her late disastrous disappointment; he would rather she
should think of him as some one come to cure her, for cure her he
would, he said to himself, as he gazed into her childish face and
thought how sad it was for such as she to die. When first he entered
the cottage he had been struck with the extreme plainness of the
furniture, betokening that wealth had not there an abiding place, but
now he forgot everything except the sick girl, who grew more and more
restless, talking of him and the Latin verb which meant "to love," she
said, and which was not in the grammar.
"Guy was a fool and I was a brute," the doctor muttered, as he folded
up the bits of paper whose contents he hoped might do much toward
saving Maddy's life.
Then, promising to come again, he rode rapidly away, to visit other
patients, who, that afternoon, were in danger of being sadly
neglected, so constantly was their young physician's mind dwelling
upon the little, low-walled chamber where Maddy Clyde was lying. As
night closed in she knew them all, and heard that Dr. Holbrook had
been there prescribing for her. Turning her face to the wall, she
seemed to be thinking; then, calling her grandmother to her, she
whispered: "Did he smooth my hair back and say, 'poor child?'"
Her grandmother hardly thought he did, though she was not in the room
all the time, she said. "He had stayed a long while and was greatly
Maddy had a vague remembrance of such an incident, and in her heart
forgave the doctor for his rejection, thinking only how handsome he
had looked, even while tormenting her with such unheard of questions,
and how kind he was to her now. The sight of her grandfather awakened
a new train of ideas, and bidding him to sit beside her, she asked if
their home must be sold. Maddy was not to be put off with an evasion,
and so grandpa told her honestly at last that Slocum would foreclose,
but not while she was sick; he had been seen that day by Mr. Green,
and had promised so much forbearance.
This was the last rational conversation held with Maddy for many a
week, and when next morning the doctor came, there was a look of deep
anxiety upon his face as he watched the alarming symptoms of his
delirious patient, who talked incessantly, not of the examination now,
but of the mortgage and the foreclosure, begging the doctor to see
that the house was not sold, to tell them she was earning thirty-six
dollars by teaching school, that Beauty should be sold to save their
dear old home. All this was strange at first to the doctor, but the
rather voluble Mrs. Green, who had come to Grandma Markham's relief,
enlightened him, dwelling with a kind of malicious pleasure upon the
fact that Maddy's earnings, had she been permitted to get a
"stifficut," were to be appropriated toward paying the debt.
If the doctor had hated himself the previous day when he from the red
cottage gate, he hated himself doubly now as he went dashing down the
road, determined to resign his office of school inspector that very
day. And he did.
Summoning around him those who had been most active in electing him,
he refused to officiate again, assuring them that if any more
candidates came he should either turn them from his door or give them
a certificate without asking a question.
"Put anybody you like in my place," he said; "anybody but Guy
Remington. Don't for thunder's sake take him."
There was no probability of this, as Guy lived in another town, and
could not have officiated had he wished. But the doctor was too much
excited to reason upon anything save Madeline Clyde's case. That he
perfectly understood; and during the next few weeks his other patients
waited many times in vain for his coming, while he sat by Maddy's side
watching every change, whether for the worse or better. Even Agnes
Remington was totally neglected; and so one day she sent Guy down to
Devonshire to say that as Jessie seemed more than usually delicate,
she wished the doctor to take her under his charge and visit her at
least once a week. The doctor was not at home, but Tom said he
expected him every moment. So seating himself in the armchair, Guy
waited until he came.
"Well, Hal," he began, jocosely, but the joking words he would have
uttered next died on his lips as he noticed the strange look of
excitement and anxiety on the doctor's face. "What is it?" he asked.
"Are all your patients dead?"
"Guy," and the doctor came closely to him, whispering huskily, "you
and I are murderers in the first degree. Yes; and both deserve to be
hung. Do you remember that Madeline Clyde whom you insulted with your
logic and Latin verbs? She'd set her heart on that certificate. She
wanted the money, not for new gowns and fooleries mind, but to help
her old grandfather pay his debts. His place is mortgaged. I don't
understand it; but he asked some old hunks to lend him the money, and
the miserly rascal, whoever he was, refused. I wish I had it. I'd give
it to him out and out. But that's nothing to do with the girl--Maddy
they call her. The disappointment killed her, and she's dying--is
raving crazy--and keeps talking of that confounded examination. I tell
you, Guy, my inward parts get terribly mixed up when I hear her talk,
and my heart thumps like a trip-hammer. That's the reason I have not
been up to Aikenside. I wouldn't leave Maddy so long as there was
hope. I did not tell them this morning. I couldn't make that poor
couple feel worse than they are feeling; but when I looked at her,
tossing from side to side and picking at the bedclothes, I knew it
would soon be over--that when I saw her again the poor little arms
would be still enough and the bright eyes shut forever. Guy, I
couldn't see her die--I don't like to see anybody die, but her, Maddy,
of all others--and so I came away. If you stay long enough, you'll
hear the bell toll, I reckon. There is none at Honedale Church, which
they attend. They are Episcopalians, you see, and so they'll come up
here, maybe. I hope I shall be deafer than an adder."
Here the doctor stopped, wholly out of breath, while Guy for a moment
sat without speaking a single word. Jessie, in his hearing, had told
her mother what the sick girl in the doctor's office had said about
being poor and wanting the money for grandpa, while Mrs. Noah had
given him a rather exaggerated account of Mr. Markham's visit; but he
had not associated the two together until now, when he saw the whole,
and almost as much as the doctor himself regretted the part he had had
in Maddy's illness and her grandfather's distress.
"Doc," he said, laying his hand on the doctor's arm, "I am that old
hunks, the miserly rascal who refused the money. I met the old man
going home that day, and he asked me for help. You say the place must
be sold. It never shall, never. I'll see to that, and you must save
"I can't, Guy. I've done all I can, and now, if she lives, it will be
wholly owing to the prayers that old saint of a grandfather says for
her. I never thought much of these things until I heard him pray; not
that she should live anyway, but that if it were right Maddy might not
die. Guy, there's something in such a prayer as that. It's more
powerful than all my medicine swallowed at one grand gulp."
Guy didn't know very much about praying then, and so he did not
respond, but he thought of Lucy Atherstone, whose life was one hymn of
prayer and praise, and he wished she could know of Maddy, and join her
petitions with those of the grandfather. Starting suddenly from his
chair, he exclaimed, "I'm going down there. It will look queerly, too,
to go alone. Ah, I have it! I'll drive back to Aikenside for Jessie,
who has talked so much of the girl that her lady mother, forgetting
that she was once a teacher, is disgusted. Yes, I'll take Jessie with
me, but you must order it; you must say it is good for her to ride,
and, Hal, give me some medicine for her, just to quiet Agnes, no
matter what, provided it's not strychnine."
Contrary to Guy's expectations, Agnes did not refuse to let Jessie go
for a ride, particularly as she had no suspicion where he intended
taking her, and the little girl was soon seated by her brother's side,
chatting merrily of the different things they passed upon the road.
But when Guy told her where they were going, and why they were going
there, the tears came at once into her eyes, and hiding her face in
Guy's lap she sobbed bitterly.
"I did like her so much that day," she said, "and she looked so sorry,
too. It's terrible to die!"
Then she plied Guy with questions concerning Maddy's probable future.
"Would she go to heaven, sure?" and When Guy answered at random,
"Yes," she asked, "How did he know? Had he heard that Maddy was that
kind of good which lets folks in heaven? Because, Brother Guy," and
the little preacher nestled closely to the young man, fingering his
coat buttons as she talked, "because, Brother Guy, folks can be good--
that is, not do naughty things--and still God won't love them unless
they--I don't know what, I wish I did."
Guy drew her nearer to him, but to that childish yearning for
knowledge he could not respond, so he said:
"Who taught you all this, little one?--not your mother, surely."
"No, not mamma, but Miriam, the waiting-maid we left in Boston. She
told me about it, and taught me to pray different from mamma. Do you
pray, Brother Guy?"
The question startled the young man, who was glad his coachman spoke
to him just then, asking if he should drive through Devonshire
village, or go direct to Honedale by a shorter route.
They would go to the village, Guy said, hoping that thus the doctor
might be persuaded to accompany them. This diverted Jessie's mind, and
she said no more of praying; but the first tiny grain was sown, the
mustard seed, which should hereafter spring up into a mighty tree, the
indirect result of Maddy's disappointment and almost fatal illness.
They found the doctor at home and willing to go with them. Indeed, so
impatient had he become listening for the first stroke of the bell
which was to herald the death he deemed so sure, that he was on the
point of mounting his horse and galloping off alone, when Guy's
invitation came. It was five miles from Devonshire to Honedale, and
when they reached a hill which lay halfway between, they stopped for a
few moments to rest the tired horses. Suddenly, as they sat waiting, a
sharp, ringing sound fell on their ears, and grasping Guy's knee, the
doctor said, "I told you so; Madeline Clyde is dead."
It was the village bell, and its twice three strokes betokened that it
tolled for somebody youthful, somebody young, like Maddy Clyde. Jessie
wept silently, but there were no tears in the eyes of the young men,
as with beating hearts they sat listening to the slow, solemn sounds
which came echoing up the hill. There was a pause; the sexton's
dirgelike task was done, and now it only remained for him to strike
the age, and tell how many years the departed one had numbered.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten;" Jessie
counted it aloud, while every stroke fell like a heavy blow upon the
hearts of the young men, who a few weeks ago, knew not that such as
Maddy Clyde had ever had existence.
How long it seemed before another stroke, and Guy was beginning to
hope they'd heard the last, when again the dull, muffled sound came
floating on the air, and Dr. Holbrook's black, bearded lip half
quivered as he now counted aloud, "one, two, three, four, five."
That was all; there it stopped; and vain were all their listenings to
catch another note. Fifteen years, and only fifteen had passed over
the form now forever still.
"She was fifteen," Guy whispered, remembering distinctly to have heard
that number from Maddy herself.
"I thought they told me fourteen, but of course it's she," the doctor
rejoined. "Poor child, I would have given much to have saved her."
Jessie did not talk; only once, when she asked Guy, if it was very far
to heaven, and if he supposed Maddy had got there by this time.
"We'll go just the same," said Guy. "I will do what I can for the old
man;" and so the carriage drove on, down the hill, across the
meadow-land, and past a low-roofed house whose walls inclosed the
stiffened form of him for whom the bell had tolled, the boy, fifteen
years of age, who had been the patient of another than Dr. Holbrook.
Maddy was not dead, but the paroxysm of restlessness had passed, and
she lay now in a heavy sleep so nearly resembling death that they who
watched, waited expectantly to see the going out of her last breath.
Never before had a carriage like that from Aikenside stopped at that
humble cottage, but the neighbors thought it came merely to bring the
doctor, whom they welcomed with a glad smile, making a way for him to
pass to Maddy's bedside. Guy preferred waiting in the carriage until
such time as Grandpa Markham could speak with him, but Jessie went
with the doctor into the sick room, startling even the grandmother,
and causing her to wonder who the richly-dressed child could be.
"Dying, doctor," said one of the women, affirmatively, not
interrogatively; but the doctor shook his head, and holding in one
hand his watch he counted the faint pulse beats as with his eye he
measured off the minute.
"There are too many here," he said. "She needs the air you are
breathing," and in his singular, authoritative way, he cleared the
crowded room of the mistaken friends who were unwittingly breathing up
Maddy's very life.
All but the grandparents and Jessie; these he suffered to remain, and
sitting down by Maddy, watched till the long sleep was ended. Silently
and earnestly the aged couple prayed for their darling, asking that if
possible she might be spared, and God heard their prayers, lifting, at
last, the heavy fog from Maddy's brain, and waking her to life and
partial consciousness. It was Jessie who first caught the expression
of the opening eyes, and darting forward, she exclaimed, "She's waked
up, Dr. Holbrook. She will live."
Wonderingly Maddy looked at her, and then as a confused recollection
of where they had met before crossed her mind, she smiled faintly, and
"Where am I now? Have I never come home, and is this Dr. Holbrook's
"No, no; it's home, your home, and you are getting well," Jessie
cried, bending over the bewildered girl. "Dr. Holbrook has cured you,
and Guy is here, and I, and--"
"Hush, you disturb her," the doctor said, gently pulling Jessie away,
and himself asking Maddy how she felt.
She did not recognize him. She only had a vague idea that he might be
some doctor, but not Dr. Holbrook, sure; not the one who had so
puzzled and tortured her on a day which seemed now so far behind. From
the white-haired man kneeling by the bedside there was a burst of
thanksgiving for the life restored, and then Grandpa Markham tottered
from the room, out into the open air, which had never fallen so
refreshingly on his tried frame as it fell now, when he first knew
that Maddy would live. He did not care for his homestead; that might
go, and he still be happy with Maddy left. But He who had marked that
true disciple's every sigh, had another good in store, willing it so
that both should come together, even as the two disappointments had
come hand in hand.
From the soft cushions of his carriage, where he sat reclining, Guy
Remington saw the old man as he came out, and alighting at once, he
accosted him pleasantly, and then walked with him to the garden,
where, on a rustic bench, built for Maddy beneath the cherry trees,
Grandpa Markham sat down to rest. From speaking of Madeline it was
easy to go back to the day when Guy had first met grandpa, whose
application for money he had refused.
"I have thought better of it since," he said, "and am sorry I did not
accede to your proposal. One object of my coming here to-day was to
say that my purse is at your disposal. You can have as much as you
wish, paying me whenever you like, and the house shall not be sold.
Slocum, I understand, holds the mortgage. I will see him to-morrow and
stop the whole proceeding."
Guy spoke rapidly, determined to make a clean breast of it, but
grandpa understood him, and bowing his white head upon his bosom, the
big tears dropped like rain upon the turf, while his lips quivered,
first with thanks to the Providence who had truly done all things
well, and next with thanks to his benefactor.
"Blessings on your head, young man, for making me so happy. You are
worthy of your father, and he was the best of men."
"My father--did you know him?" Guy asked, in some surprise, and then
the story came out, how, years before, when a city hotel was on fire,
and one of its guests in imminent danger from the locality of his
room, and his own nervous fear which made him powerless to act,
another guest braved fearlessly the hissing flame, and scaling the
tottering wall, dragged out to life and liberty one who, until that
hour, was to him an utter stranger.
Pushing back his snowy hair, Grandfather Markham showed upon his
temple a long, white scar, obtained the night when he periled his own
life to save that of another. There was a doubly warm pressure now of
the old man's hand, as Guy replied, "I've heard that story from father
himself, but the name of his preserver had escaped me. Why didn't you
tell me who you were?"
"I thought 'twould look too much like demanding it as a right--too
much like begging, and I s'pose I felt too proud. Pride is my
besetting sin--the one I pray most against."
Guy looked keenly now at the man whose besetting sin was pride, and as
he marked the cheapness of his attire, his pantaloons faded and short,
his coat worn threadbare and shabby, his shoes both patched at the
toes, his cotton shirt minus a bosom, and then thought of the humble
cottage, with its few rocky acres, he wondered of what he could be
Meantime, for Maddy, Dr. Holbrook had prescribed perfect quiet,
bidding them darken again the window from which the shade had been
removed, and ordering all save the grandmother to leave the room and
let the patient sleep, if possible. Even Jessie was not permitted to
stay, though Maddy clung to her as to a dear friend. In a few
whispered words Jessie had told her name, saying she came from
Aikenside, and that her Brother Guy was there, too, outdoors, in the
carriage. "He heard how sick you were at Devonshire, this morning, and
drove right home for me to come to see you. I told him of you that day
in the office, and that's why he brought me, I guess. You'll like Guy.
I know all the girls do--he's so good."
Sick and weary as she was, and unable as yet to comprehend the entire
meaning of all she heard, Maddy was conscious of a thrill of pride in
knowing that Guy Remington, from Aikenside, was interested in her, and
had brought his sister to see her. Winding her feeble arms around
Jessie's neck, she kissed the soft, warm cheek, and said, "You'll come
again, I hope."
"Yes, every day, if mamma will let me. I don't mind it a bit, if you
"Tut, tut, little tattler!" and Dr. Holbrook, who, unseen by the
children, had all the while been standing near, took Jessie by the
arm. "What makes you think them poor?"
In the closely-shaded room Maddy could see nothing distinctly, but she
heard Jessie's reply: "Because the plastering comes down so low, and
Maddy's pillows are so teenty, not much bigger than my dolly's. But I
love her; don't you doctor?"
Through the darkness the doctor caught the sudden flash of Maddy's
eyes, and something impelled him to lay his cool, broad hand on her
forehead, as he replied, "I love all my patients;" then, taking
Jessie's arm, he led her out to where Guy was waiting for her.
Had it not been for the presence of Dr. Holbrook, who, accepting Guy's
invitation to tea, rode back with him to Aikenside, Mrs. Agnes would
have gone off into a passion when told that Jessie had been "exposed
to fever and mercy knows what."
"There's no telling what one will catch among the very poor," she said
to Dr. Holbrook, as she clasped and unclasped the heavy gold bracelets
flashing on her white, round arm.
"I'll be answerable for any disease Jessie caught at Mr. Markham's,"
the doctor replied.
"At Mr. Who's? What did you call him?" Agnes asked, the bright color
on her cheek fading as the doctor replied:
"Markham--an old man who lives in Honedale. You never knew him, of
Involuntarily Agnes glanced at Guy, in whose eye there was, as she
fancied, a peculiar expression. Could it be he knew the secret she
guarded so carefully? Impossible, she said to herself; but still the
white fingers trembled as she handled the china and silver, and for
once she was glad when the doctor took his leave, and she was alone
"What was that girl's name?" she asked, "the one you went to see?"
"Maddy, mother--Madeline Clyde. She's so pretty. I'm going to see her
again. May I?"
Agnes did not reply directly, but continued to question the child with
regard to the cottage which Jessie thought so funny, slanting away
back, she said, so that the roof on one side almost touched the
ground. The window panes, too, were so very tiny, and the room where
Maddy lay sick was small and low.
"Yes, yes, I know," Agnes said at last, impatiently, weary of hearing
of the cottage whose humble exterior and interior she knew so much
better than Jessie herself.
But this was not to be divulged; for surely the haughty Agnes
Remington, who, in Boston, aspired to lead in society into which, as
the wife of Dr. Remington, she had been admitted, and who, in
Aikenside, was looked upon with envy, could have nothing in common
with the red cottage or its inmates. So when Jessie asked again if she
could not visit Maddy on the morrow, she answered decidedly: "No,
daughter, no. I do not wish you to associate with such people," and
when Jessie insisted on knowing why she must not associate with such
people as Maddy Clyde, the answer was: "Because you are a Remington,"
and as if this of itself were of an unanswerable objection, Agnes sent
her child from her, refusing to talk longer on a subject so
disagreeable to her and so suggestive of the past. It was all in vain
that Jessie, and even Guy himself, tried to revoke the decision.
Jessie should not be permitted to come in contact with that kind of
people, she said, or incur the risk of catching that dreadful fever.
So day after day, while life and health were slowly throbbing through
her veins, Maddy waited and longed for the little girl whose one visit
to her sick room seemed so much like a dream. From her grandfather she
had heard the good news of Guy Remington's generosity, and that, quite
as much as Dr. Holbrook's medicines, helped to bring the color back to
the pallid cheek and the brightness to her eyes.
She was asleep the first time the doctor came after the occasion of
Jessie's visit, and as sleep, be said, would do her more good than
anything he might prescribe, he did not awaken her; but for a long
time, as it seemed to Grandma Markham, who stood very little in awe of
the Boston doctor, he watched her as she slept, now clasping the
blue-veined wrist as he felt for the pulse, and now wiping from her
forehead the drops of sweat, or pushing back her soft, damp hair. It
would be three days before he could see her again, for a sick father
in Cambridge needed his attention, and after numerous directions as to
the administering of sundry powders and pills, he left her, feeling
that the next three days would be long ones to him. Dr. Holbrook did
not stop to analyze the nature of his interest in Maddy Clyde--an
interest so different from any he had ever felt before for his
patients; and even if he had sought to solve the riddle, he would have
said that the knowing how he had wronged her was the sole cause of his
thinking far more of her and of her case than of the thirty other
patients on his list. Dr. Holbrook was a handsome man, a thorough
scholar, and a most skillful physician; but ladies who expected from
him those little polite attentions which the sex value so highly
generally expected in vain, for he was no ladies' man, and his
language and manners were oftentimes abrupt, even when both were
prompted by the utmost kindness of heart. In his organization, too,
there was not a quick perception of what would be exactly appropriate,
and so, when, at last, he was about starting to visit Maddy again, he
puzzled his brains until they fairly ached with wondering what he
could do to give her a pleasant surprise and show that he was not as
formidable a personage as her past experience might lead her to think.
"If I could only take her something," he said, glancing ruefully
around his office. "Now, if she were Jessie, nuts and raisins might
answer--but she must not eat such trash as that," and he set himself
to think again, just as Guy Remington rode up, bearing in his hand a
most exquisite bouquet, whose fragrance filled the medicine-odored
office at once, and whose beauty elicited an exclamation of delight
even from the matter-of-fact Dr. Holbrook.
"I thought you might be going down to Honedale, as I knew you returned
last night, so I brought these flowers for your patient with my
compliments, or if you prefer I give them to you, and you can thus
present them as if coming from yourself."
"As if I would do that," the doctor answered, taking the bouquet in
his hand the better to examine and admire it. "Did you arrange it, or
your gardener?" he asked, and when Guy replied that the merit of
arrangement, if merit there were, belonged to himself, he began to
deprecate his own awkwardness and want of tact. "Here I have been
cudgeling my head this half hour trying to think what I could take her
as a peace offering, and could think of nothing, while you--Well, you
and I are different entirely. You know just what is proper--just what
to say, and when to say it--while I am a perfect bore, and without
doubt shall make some ludicrous blunder in delivering the flowers.
To-day will be the first time really that we meet, as she was sleeping
when I was there last, while on all other occasions she has paid no
attention whatever to me."
For a moment Guy regarded his friend attentively, noticing now that
extra care had been bestowed upon his toilet, that the collar was
fresh from the laundry, and the new cravat tied in a most
unexceptionable manner, instead of being twisted into a hard knot,
with the ends looking as if they had been chewed.
"Doc," he said, when his survey was completed, "how old are you--
twenty-five or twenty-six?"
"Twenty-five--just your age--why?" and the doctor looked with an
expression so wholly innocent of Guy's real meaning that the latter,
instead of telling why, replied:
"Oh! nothing; only I was wondering if you would do to be my father.
Agnes, I verily believe, is more than half in love with you; but, on
the whole, I would not like to be your son; so I guess you'd better
take some one younger--say Jessie. You are only eighteen years her
The doctor stared at him amazed, and when he had finished said with
the utmost candor: "What has that to do with Madeline? I thought we
were talking of her." "Innocent as the newly-born babe," was Guy's
mental comment, as he congratulated himself on his larger and more
And truly Dr, Holbrook was as simple-hearted as a child, never
dreaming of Guy's meaning, or that any emotion save a perfectly proper
one had a lodgment in his breast as he drove down to Honedale,
guarding carefully Guy's bouquet, and wishing he knew just what he
ought to say when he presented it.
Maddy had gained rapidly the last three days. Good nursing and the
doctor's medicines were working miracles, and on the morning when the
doctor, with Guy's bouquet, was riding rapidly toward Honedale, she
was feeling so much better that in view of his coming she asked if she
could not be permitted to receive him sitting in the rocking-chair,
instead of lying there in bed, and when this plan was vetoed as
utterly impossible, she asked, anxiously:
"And must I see him in this nightgown? Can't I have on my pink gingham
Hitherto Maddy had been too sick to care at all about her personal
appearance, but it was different now. She did care, and thoughts of
meeting again the handsome, stylish-looking man who had asked her to
conjugate _amo_ and whom she fully believed to be Dr. Holbrook,
made her rather nervous. Dim remembrances she had of some one gliding
in and out, and when the pain and noise in her head was at its
highest, a hand, large, and, oh! so cool had been laid upon her
temples, quieting their throbbings and making the blood course less
madly through the swollen veins. They had told her how kind, how
attentive he had been, and to herself she had said: "He's sorry about
that certificate. He wishes to show me that he did not mean to be
unkind. Yes; I forgive him: for I really was very stupid that
And so, in a most forgiving frame of mind, Maddy submitted to the
snowy robe which grandma brought in place of the coveted gingham
wrapper, and which became her well, with its daintily-crimped ruffles
about the neck and wrists. Those wrists and hands! How white and small
they had grown! and Maddy sighed, as her grandmother buttoned together
the wristbands, to see how loose it was.
"I have been very sick," she said. "Are my cheeks as thin as my arms?"
They were not, though they had lost some of their symmetrical
roundness. Still there was much of childish beauty in the young, eager
face, and the hair had lost comparatively none of its glossy
"That's him," grandma said, as the sound of a horse's gallop was
heard, and in a moment the doctor reined up before the gate.
From Mrs. Markham, who met him in the door, he learned how much better
she was; also how "she has been reckoning on this visit, making
herself all a-sweat about it."
Suddenly the doctor felt returning all his old dread of Maddy Clyde.
Why should she wrong herself into a sweat? What was there in that
visit different from any other? Nothing, he said to himself, nothing;
and yet he, too, had been more anxious about it than any he had ever
paid. Depositing his hat and gloves upon the table, he followed Mrs.
Markham up the stairs, vaguely conscious of wishing she would stay
down, and very conscious of feeling glad; when just at Maddy's door
and opposite a little window, she espied the hens busily engaged in
devouring the yeast cakes, with which she had taken so much pains, and
which she had placed in the hot sun to dry. Finding that they paid no
heed to her loud "Shoo, shoos," she started herself to drive them
away, telling the doctor to go right on and to help himself.
The perspiration was standing under Maddy's hair by this time, and
when the doctor stepped across the threshold, and she knew he really
was coming near her, it oozed out upon her forehead in big, round
drops, while her cheeks glowed with a feverish heat. Thinking he
should get along with it better if he treated her just as he would
Jessie, the doctor confronted her at once, and asked:
"How is my little patient to-day?"
A faint scream broke from Maddy's lips, and she involuntarily raised
her hands to thrust the stranger away. This black-eyed, black-haired,
thick-set man was not Dr. Holbrook, for he was taller, and more
slight, while she had not been deceived in the dark brown eyes which,
even while they seemed to be mocking her, had worn a strange
fascination for the maiden of fourteen and a half. The doctor fancied
her delirious again, and this reassured him at once. Dropping the
bouquet upon the bed, he clasped one of her hands in his, and without
the slightest idea that she comprehended him, said, soothingly:
"Poor child, are you afraid of me--the doctor, Dr. Holbrook?" Maddy
did not try to withdraw her hand, but raising her eyes, swimming in
tears, to his face, she stammered out:
"What does it mean, and where is he--the one who--asked me--those
dreadful questions? I thought that was Dr. Holbrook."
Here was a dilemma--something for which the doctor was not prepared,
and with a feeling that he would not betray Guy, he said:
"No; that was some one else--a friend of mine--but I was there in the
back office. Don't you remember me? Please don't grow excited. Compose
yourself, and I will explain all by and by. This is wrong. 'Twill
never do," and talking thus rapidly he wiped away the sweat, about
which grandma had told him.
Maddy was disappointed, and it took her some time to rally
sufficiently to convince the doctor that she was not flighty, as he
termed it; but composing herself at last, she answered all his
questions, and then, as he saw her eyes wandering toward the bouquet,
he suddenly remembered that it was not yet presented, and placing it
in her hands, he said:
"You like flowers, I know, and these are for you. I----"
"Oh! thank you, thank you, doctor; I am so glad. I love them so much,
and you are so kind. What made you think to bring them? I've wanted
flowers so badly; but I could not have them, because I was sick and
did not work in the garden. It was so good in you," and in her delight
Maddy's tears dropped upon the fair blossoms.
For a moment the doctor was sorely tempted to keep the credit thus
enthusiastically given; but he was too truthful for that, and so
watching her as her eyes glistened with pleased excitement, he said:
"I am glad you like them, Miss Clyde, and so will Mr. Remington be. He
sent them to you from his conservatory."
"Not Mr. Remington from Aikenside--not Jessie's brother?" and Maddy's
eyes now fairly danced as they sought the doctor's face.
"Yes Jessie's brother. He came here with her. He is interested in you,
and brought these down this morning."
"It was Jessie, I guess, who sent them," Maddy suggested, but the
doctor persisted that it was Guy.
"He wished me to present them with his compliments. He thought they