Part 2 out of 5
commenced receiving idiotic pupils, and has maintained a school for them
in Berlin up to the present time. Herr Saegert is inclined to regard
idiocy as dependent upon the condition of the brain and nervous system,
to a greater extent, perhaps, than Dr. Seguin, and to rely upon
medication to some extent; though in his writings he professes to
consider it a condition, and not a disease.
The success of the efforts of Seguin and Saegert was soon reported
in other countries, and as early as 1846 excited the attention of
philanthropists in England and the United States. Schools for the
training of idiots were established, on a small scale at first, by some
benevolent ladies, at Bath, Brighton, and Lancaster, England. In
1847, an effort was made to establish an institution in some degree
commensurate with the wants of the unfortunate class for whom it
was intended. In this movement, Dr. John Conolly, the father of the
non-restraint system in the treatment of the insane, Rev. Dr. Andrew
Reed, Rev. Edwin Sidney, and Sir S.M. Peto have distinguished themselves
by their zeal and liberality. Extensive buildings were rented at
Highgate, near London, and at Colchester, for the accommodation of
idiotic pupils, while a strenuous and successful effort was made to
obtain the necessary funds for the erection of an asylum of great size.
The Royal Institution for Idiots, completed in 1856, has between four
hundred and five hundred beds, and is already nearly or quite full.
Essex Hall, at Colchester, has also been fitted up as a permanent
establishment for their instruction, and furnishes accommodation for
some two hundred more. Two small institutions, supported by private
beneficence, have also been organized in Scotland.
The British institutions have admitted, to a very considerable extent,
a class of pupils who are not properly idiots, but only persons of
imbecile purpose, or simply awkward, and of partially developed
intellects. Some of these, who have arrived even at the age of
twenty-five or thirty years, have been greatly benefited, and, after
two or three years' instruction, have left the institution with as much
intelligence, apparently, as most of those in the same walk of life.
This result is, and should be, a matter of great gratification to the
managers; but it is hardly just to regard success in such cases as cures
of idiocy. The greater part of the admissions to the Royal Institution
are from the pauper and poor laboring classes; and the simple
substitution of wholesome and sufficient food for a meagre and
innutritious diet is alone sufficient to effect a marked change in them.
The greater part of the pupils in that institution are instructed in
some of the simpler mechanic arts, and the Reports assure us that they
have generally acquired them with facility.
There can be no question of the benevolence of attempting the
restoration to society, and to active and useful life, of these
awkward, undeveloped, and backward youth,--of educating their hitherto
undeveloped faculties, of eradicating those habits which rendered them
disagreeable, and often almost unendurable; but these youths are not
idiots, and no such analogy exists between them and idiots as would
enable us to infer with certainty the successful treatment of the latter
from the comparatively rapid development of the former.
In our own country more satisfactory data exist for determining this
point. The movement for the instruction of idiots commenced almost
simultaneously in New York and Massachusetts. The first school for
idiots in this country was commenced at Barre, Massachusetts, by Dr.
H.B. Wilbur, in July, 1848; and the Massachusetts Experimental School,
by Dr. S.G. Howe, in October of the same year. There are now in the
United Slates six institutions for the instruction and training of this
unfortunate class, namely: the Massachusetts School, at South Boston,
still under the general superintendence of Dr. Howe; a private
institution for idiots, imbeciles, backward and eccentric children at
Barre, under the care of Dr. George Brown, being the one originally
founded by Dr. Wilbur; the New York State Asylum for Idiots, at
Syracuse, of which Dr. Wilbur is the superintendent; a private school
for idiots and imbeciles at Haerlem, N.Y., under the care of Mr. J.B.
Richards; the Pennsylvania Training School for Idiots, at Germantown,
Penn., under the care of Dr. Parish; and an Experimental School,
recently organized, at Columbus, Ohio, under an appropriation from the
State legislature, presided over by Dr. Patterson. Of these, only the
first three have had an experience sufficiently long to offer any
reliable results from which the success of idiot instruction can be
The solution of the question, whether the idiot can be elevated to the
standard of mediocrity, physically and intellectually, is not merely one
of interest to the psychologist, who seeks to ascertain the metes and
bounds of the mental capacity of the race; it is also of paramount
importance to the political economist, who wishes to determine the
productive force of the community, physical and intellectual; it is
of practical interest to the statesman, who seeks to know how large a
proportion of the population are necessarily dependent upon the state or
individuals for their support; it is a matter of pecuniary importance
to the tax-payer, who is naturally desirous of learning whether these
drones in the hive, who not only perform no labor themselves, but
require others to attend them, and who often, also, from their
imbecility, are made the tools and dupes of others in the commission of
crime, cannot be transformed into producers instead of consumers, and
become quiet and orderly citizens, instead of pests in the community.
The statistics of idiocy are necessarily imperfect. No United States
census or State enumeration is at all reliable; the idea of what
constitutes idiocy is so very vague, that one census-taker would report
_none_, in a district where another might find twenty. It is very seldom
the case that the friends or relatives of an idiot will admit that he
is more than a little eccentric; many of the worst cases in the
institutions for idiots were brought there by friends who protested that
they were not idiots, but only a little singular in their habits.
In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Ohio, efforts have been made, by
correspondence with physicians and town officers, to obtain data from
which an approximate estimate might be attained. These efforts, though
not so satisfactory as could be desired, are yet sufficient to authorize
the conclusion that there are in those three States (and probably the
same figures would hold good for the rest of the Union) about one fifth
of one per cent. of the population who are idiots of low grade, and
about the same number who are of weak and imbecile intellect. This would
give us in the United States about fifty-two thousand idiots, and as
many more imbeciles. At the lowest estimate, the cost of supporting this
vast army of the unfortunate, beyond the trifling sum which a few of
them may be able to earn, is more than ten millions of dollars per
annum. Nor is this all, or even the worst feature of their case. The
greater part of them are without sense of shame, without any notions of
chastity or decency, and so weak in moral sense as to be the ready
tools and dupes of artful villains, and often themselves exhibit a
perverseness and malignity of character which render them dangerous
members of society. Their influence for evil, direct and indirect, no
man can estimate. The chaplains and other officers of our State prisons
and penitentiaries will testify that a large proportion of the inmates
of those establishments, though not idiots, are weak-minded and
imbecile; and it by no means a rare circumstance to find persons, who
should properly be under treatment as idiots, suffering the doom of the
Under these circumstances, the question, What can be done with this
unfortunate and helpless class? becomes one of great importance.
A careful examination of the institutions for their training in this
country and Europe, and an extended inquiry into their present condition
when not under instruction, have enabled us to arrive at the following
There is very little hope of any considerable permanent improvement of
the idiot, if not placed under training before his sixteenth year.
His habits may, indeed, be somewhat amended, and the mind temporarily
roused; but this improvement will seldom continue after he is removed
from the institution.
The existence of severe epilepsy, or other profound disease, is a
serious bar to success.
Of those not affected by epilepsy, who are brought under instruction in
childhood, from one third to one fourth may be so far improved as to
become capable of performing the ordinary duties of life with tolerable
fidelity and ability. They may acquire sufficient knowledge to be able
to read, to write, to understand the elementary facts of geography,
history, and arithmetic; they may be capable of writing a passable
letter; they may acquire a sufficient knowledge of farming, or of the
mechanic arts, to be able to work well and faithfully under appropriate
supervision; they may attain a sufficient knowledge of the government
and laws under which they live, to be qualified to exercise the
electoral franchise quite as well as many of those who do exercise it;
they may make such advances in morals, as to act with justice and honor
toward their fellow-men, and exhibit the influence of Christianity in
changing their degraded and wayward natures to purity, chastity, and
A larger class, probably one half of the whole, can be so much
benefited, as to become cleanly in their habits, quiet in their
deportment, capable, perhaps, of reading and writing, but not of
original composition, able to perform, with suitable supervision, many
kinds of work which require little close thought, and, under the care of
friends, of becoming happy and useful. This class, if neglected after
leaving the school, will be likely to relapse into some of their early
habits, but if properly cared for, may continue to improve.
A small number, and as frequently, perhaps, as otherwise, those
apparently the most promising at entering, will make little or no
progress. It cannot be predicted beforehand that such will be the result
of any case, for the most hopeless at entering have often made decided
advancement; but the fact remains, that no methods of instruction
yet adopted will _invariably_ develope the slumbering intellect, or
strengthen and correct the enfeebled or depraved will.
The institutions for the training of idiots should be greatly
multiplied, and should have a department for awkward, eccentric, and
backward children. The methods adopted would be of great benefit to
these, and would often call into activity intellects which might be
useful in their proper spheres.
We regard this great movement for the improvement of a class hitherto
considered so hopeless, as one of the most honorable and benevolent
enterprises of our time. It is yet in its infancy; but we hope to see,
ere many years have passed, in every State of our Union, asylums reared,
where these waifs of humanity shall be gathered, and such training
given them as may develope in the highest degree possible the hitherto
rudimentary faculties of their minds, and render them capable of
performing, in some humble measure, their part in the drama of life.
* * * * *
AMOURS DE VOYAGE.
Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio,
And taste with a distempered appetite! Shakspeare.
Il doutait de tout, meme de l'amour.--French Novel.
Solvitur ambulando. Solutio Sophismatum.
Non elaboratum ad pedem.--Horace.
Over the great windy waters, and over the clear crested summits,
Unto the sun and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth,
Come, let us go,--to a land wherein gods of the old time wandered,
Where every breath even now changes to ether divine.
Come, let us go; though withal a voice whisper, "The world that we
Whithersoever we turn, still is the same narrow crib;
'Tis but to prove limitation, and measure a cord, that we travel;
Let who would 'scape and be free go to his chamber and think;
Tis but to change idle fancies for memories wilfully falser;
'Tis but to go and have been."--Come, little bark, let us go!
I.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Dear Eustatio, I write that you may write me an answer,
Or at the least to put us _en rapport_ with each other.
Rome disappoints me much,--St. Peter's, perhaps, in especial;
Only the Arch of Titus and view from the Lateran please me:
This, however, perhaps, is the weather, which truly is horrid.
Greece must be better, surely; and yet I am feeling so spiteful,
That I could travel to Athens, to Delphi, and Troy, and Mount Sinai,
Though but to see with my eyes that these are vanity also.
Rome disappoints me much; I hardly as yet understand, but
_Rubbishy_ seems the word that most exactly would suit it.
All the foolish destructions, and all the sillier savings,
All the incongruous things of past incompatible ages,
Seem to be treasured up here to make fools of present and future.
Would to Heaven the old Goths had made a cleaner sweep of it!
Would to Heaven some new ones would come and destroy me these churches!
However, one can live in Rome as also in London.
Rome is better than London, because it is other than London.
It is a blessing, no doubt, to be rid, at least for a time, of
All one's friends and relations,--yourself (forgive me!) included,--
All the _assujettissement_ of having been what one has been,
What one thinks one is, or thinks that others suppose one;
Yet, in despite of all, we turn like fools to the English.
Vernon has been my fate; who is here the same that you knew him,--
Making the tour, it seems, with friends of the name of Trevellyn.
II.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Rome disappoints me still; but I shrink and adapt myself to it.
Somehow a tyrannous sense of a superincumbent oppression
Still, wherever I go, accompanies ever, and makes me
Feel like a tree (shall I say?) buried under a ruin of brick-work.
Rome, believe me, my friend, is like its own Monte Testaceo,
Merely a marvellous mass of broken and castaway wine-pots.
Ye gods! what do I want with this rubbish of ages departed,
Things that Nature abhors, the experiments that she has failed in?
What do I think of the Forum? An archway and two or three pillars.
Well, but St. Peter's? Alas, Bernini has filled it with sculpture!
No one can cavil, I grant, at the size of the great Coliseum.
Doubtless the notion of grand and capacious and massive amusement,
This the old Romans had; but tell me, is this an idea?
Yet of solidity much, but of splendor little is extant:
"Brickwork I found thee, and marble I left thee!" their Emperor vaunted;
"Marble I thought thee, and brickwork I find thee!" the Tourist may
III.--GEORGINA TREVELLYN TO LOUISA -----.
At last, dearest Louisa, I take up my pen to address you.
Here we are, you see, with the seven-and-seventy boxes,
Courier, Papa and Mamma, the children, and Mary and Susan:
Here we all are at Rome, and delighted of course with St Peter's,
And very pleasantly lodged in the famous Piazza di Spagna.
Rome is a wonderful place, but Mary shall tell you about it;
Not very gay, however; the English are mostly at Naples;
There are the A.s, we hear, and most of the W. party.
George, however, is come; did I tell you about his mustachios?
Dear, I must really stop, for the carriage, they tell me, is waiting.
Mary will finish; and Susan is writing, they say, to Sophia.
Adieu, dearest Louise,--evermore your faithful Georgina.
Who can a Mr. Claude be whom George has taken to be with?
Very stupid, I think, but George says so _very_ clever.
IV.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
No, the Christian faith, as at any rate I understood it,
With its humiliations and exaltations combining,
Exaltations sublime, and yet diviner abasements,
Aspirations from something most shameful here upon earth and
In our poor selves to something most perfect above in the heavens,--
No, the Christian faith, as I, at least, understood it,
Is not here, O Rome, in any of these thy churches;
Is not here, but in Freiberg, or Rheims, or Westminster Abbey.
What in thy Dome I find, in all thy recenter efforts,
Is a something, I think, more _rational_ far, more earthly,
Actual, less ideal, devout not in scorn and refusal,
But in a positive, calm, Stoic-Epicurean acceptance.
This I begin to detect in St. Peter's and some of the churches,
Mostly in all that I see of the sixteenth-century masters;
Overlaid of course with infinite gauds and gewgaws,
Innocent, playful follies, the toys and trinkets of childhood,
Forced on maturer years, as the serious one thing essential,
By the barbarian will of the rigid and ignorant Spaniard.
V.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Luther, they say, was unwise; like a half-taught German, he could not
See that old follies were passing most tranquilly out of remembrance;
Leo the Tenth was employing all efforts to clear out abuses;
Jupiter, Juno, and Venus, Fine Arts, and Fine Letters, the Poets,
Scholars, and Sculptors, and Painters, were quietly clearing away the
Martyrs, and Virgins, and Saints, or at any rate Thomas Aquinas.
He must forsooth make a fuss and distend his huge Wittenberg lungs, and
Bring back Theology once yet again in a flood upon Europe:
Lo, you, for forty days from the windows of heaven it fell; the
Waters prevail on the earth yet more for a hundred and fifty;
Are they abating at last? The doves that are sent to explore are
Wearily fain to return, at the best with a leaflet of promise,--
Fain to return, as they went, to the wandering wave-tost vessel,--
Fain to reenter the roof which covers the clean and the unclean.
Luther, they say, was unwise; he didn't see how things were going;
Luther was foolish,--but, O great God! what call you Ignatius?
O my tolerant soul, be still! but you talk of barbarians,
Alaric, Attila, Genseric;--why, they came, they killed, they
Ravaged, and went on their way; but these vile, tyrannous Spaniards,
These are here still,--how long, O ye Heavens, in the country of Dante?
These, that fanaticized Europe, which now can forget them, release not
This, their choicest of prey, this Italy; here you can see them,--
Here, with emasculate pupils and gimcrack churches of Gesu,
Pseudo-learning and lies, confessional-boxes and postures,--
Here, with metallic beliefs and regimental devotions,--
Here, overcrusting with shame, perverting, defacing, debasing,
Michael Angelo's dome, that had hung the Pantheon in heaven,
Raphael's Joys and Graces, and thy clear stars, Galileo!
VI.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Which of three Misses Trevellyn it is that Vernon shall marry
Is not a thing to be known; for our friend's is one of those natures
Which have their perfect delight in the general tender-domestic,
So that he trifles with Mary's shawl, ties Susan's bonnet,
Dances with all, but at home is most, they say, with Georgina,
Who is, however, _too_ silly in my apprehension for Vernon.
I, as before when I wrote, continue to see them a little;
Not that I like them so much, or care a _bajocco_ for Vernon,
But I am slow at Italian, have not many English acquaintance,
And I am asked, in short, and am not good at excuses.
Middle-class people these, bankers very likely, not wholly
Pure of the taint of the shop; will at table d'hote and restaurant
Have their shilling's worth, their penny's pennyworth even:
Neither man's aristocracy this, nor God's, God knoweth!
Yet they are fairly descended, they give you to know, well connected;
Doubtless somewhere in some neighborhood have, and careful to keep, some
Threadbare-genteel relations, who in their turn are enchanted
Grandly among county people to introduce at assemblies
To the unpennied cadets our cousins with excellent fortunes.
Neither man's aristocracy this, nor God's, God knoweth!
VII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Ah, what a shame, indeed, to abuse these most worthy people!
Ah, what a sin to have sneered at their innocent rustic pretensions!
Is it not laudable really, this reverent worship of station?
Is it not fitting that wealth should tender this homage to culture?
Is it not touching to witness these efforts, if little availing,
Painfully made, to perform the old ritual service of manners?
Shall not devotion atone for the absence of knowledge? and fervor
Palliate, cover, the fault of a superstitious observance?
Dear, dear, what have I said? but, alas, just now, like Iago,
I can be nothing at all, if it is not critical wholly;
So in fantastic height, in coxcomb exaltation,
Here in the Garden I walk, can freely concede to the Maker
That the works of his hand are all very good: his creatures,
Beast of the field and fowl, he brings them before me; I name them;
That which I name them, they are,--the bird, the beast, and the cattle.
But for Adam,--alas, poor critical coxcomb Adam!
But for Adam there is not found an help-meet for him.
VIII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
No, great Dome of Agrippa, thou art not Christian! canst not,
Strip and replaster and daub and do what they will with thee, be so!
Here underneath the great porch of colossal Corinthian columns,
Here as I walk, do I dream of the Christian belfries above them;
Or on a bench as I sit and abide for long hours, till thy whole vast
Round grows dim as in dreams to my eyes, I repeople thy niches,
Not with the Martyrs, and Saints, and Confessors, and Virgins,
But with the mightier forms of an older, austerer worship;
And I recite to myself, how
Eager for battle here
Stood Vulcan, here matronal Juno,
And with the bow to his shoulder faithful
He who with pure dew laveth of Castaly
His flowing locks, who holdeth of Lycia
The oak forest and the wood that bore him,
Delos and Patara's own Apollo.[A]
Hic avidus stetit
Vulcanus, hic matrona Juno, et
Nunquam humero positurus arcum;
Qui rore puro Castaliae lavat
Crines solutos, qui Lyciae tenet
Dumeta natalemque sylvum,
Delius et Patareus Apollo.]
IX.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE,
Yet it is pleasant, I own it, to be in their company: pleasant,
Whatever else it may be, to abide in the feminine presence.
Pleasant, but wrong, will you say? But this happy, serene coexistence
Is to some poor soft souls, I fear, a necessity simple,
Meat and drink and life, and music, filling with sweetness,
Thrilling with melody sweet, with harmonies strange overwhelming,
All the long-silent strings of an awkward, meaningless fabric.
Yet as for that, I could live, I believe, with children; to have those
Pure and delicate forms encompassing, moving about you,
This were enough, I could think; and truly with glad resignation
Could from the dream of romance, from the fever of flushed adolescence,
Look to escape and subside into peaceful avuncular functions.
Nephews and nieces! alas, for as yet I have none! and, moreover,
Mothers are jealous, I fear me, too often, too rightfully; fathers
Think they have title exclusive to spoiling their own little darlings;
And by the law of the land, in despite of Malthusian doctrine,
No sort of proper provision is made for that most patriotic,
Most meritorious subject, the childless and bachelor uncle.
X.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Ye, too, marvellous Twain, that erect on the Monte Cavallo
Stand by your rearing steeds in the grace of your motionless movement,
Stand with your upstretched arms and tranquil regardant faces,
Stand as instinct with life in the might of immutable manhood,--
O ye mighty and strange, ye ancient divine ones of Hellas,
Are ye Christian too? to convert and redeem and renew you,
Will the brief form have sufficed, that a Pope has set up on the apex
Of the Egyptian stone that o'ertops you the Christian symbol?
And ye, silent, supreme in serene and victorious marble,
Ye that encircle the walls of the stately Vatican chambers,
Juno and Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, the Muses and Bacchus,
Ye unto whom far and near come posting the Christian pilgrims,
Ye that are ranged in the halls of the mystic Christian pontiff,
Are ye also baptized? are ye of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Utter, O some one, the word that shall reconcile Ancient and Modern!
Am I to turn me for this unto thee, great Chapel of Sixtus?
XI.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
These are the facts. The uncle, the elder brother, the squire, (a
Little embarrassed, I fancy,) resides in a family place in
Cornwall, of course. "Papa is in business," Mary informs me;
He's a good sensible man, whatever his trade is. The mother
Is--shall I call it fine?--herself she would tell you refined, and
Greatly, I fear me, looks down on my bookish and maladroit manners;
Somewhat affecteth the blue; would talk to me often of poets;
Quotes, which I hate, Childe Harold; but also appreciates Wordsworth;
Sometimes adventures on Schiller; and then to religion diverges;
Questions me much about Oxford; and yet, in her loftiest flights, still
Grates the fastidious ear with the slightly mercantile accent.
Is it contemptible, Eustace,--I'm perfectly ready to think so,--
Is it,--the horrible pleasure of pleasing inferior people?
I am ashamed my own self; and yet true it is, if disgraceful,
That for the first time in life I am living and moving with freedom.
I, who never could talk to the people I meet with my uncle,--
I, who have always failed,--I, trust me, can suit the Trevellyns;
I, believe me,--great conquest,--am liked by the country bankers.
And I am glad to be liked, and like in return very kindly.
So it proceeds; _Laissez faire, laissez aller_,--such is the watchword.
Well, I know there are thousands as pretty and hundreds as pleasant,
Girls by the dozen as good, and girls in abundance with polish
Higher and manners more perfect than Susan or Mary Trevellyn.
Well, I know, after all, it is only juxtaposition,--
Juxtaposition, in short; and what is juxtaposition?
XII.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
But I am in for it now,--_laissez faire_, of a truth, _laissez aller_.
Yes, I am going,--I feel it, I feel and cannot recall it,--
Fusing with this thing and that, entering into all sorts of relations,
Tying I know not what ties, which, whatever they are, I know one thing,
Will and must, woe is me, be one day painfully broken,--
Broken with painful remorses, with shrinkings of soul, and relentings,
Foolish delays, more foolish evasions, most foolish renewals.
But I am in for it now,--I have quitted the ship of Ulysses;
Yet on my lips is the _moly_, medicinal, offered of Hermes.
I have passed into the precinct, the labyrinth closes around me,
Path into path rounding slyly; I pace slowly on, and the fancy,
Struggling awhile to sustain the long sequences, weary, bewildered,
Fain must collapse in despair; I yield, I am lost and know nothing;
Yet in my bosom unbroken remaineth the clue; I shall use it.
Lo, with the rope on my loins I descend through the fissure; I sink, yet
Inly secure in the strength of invisible arms up above me;
Still, wheresoever I swing, wherever to shore, or to shelf, or
Floor of cavern untrodden, shell-sprinkled, enchanting, I know I
Yet shall one time feel the strong cord tighten about me,--
Feel it, relentless, upbear me from spots I would rest in; and though the
Rope sway wildly, I faint, crags wound me, from crag unto crag re-
Bounding, or, wide in the void, I die ten deaths ere the end, I
Yet shall plant firm foot on the broad lofty spaces I quit, shall
Feel underneath me again the great massy strengths of abstraction,
Look yet abroad from the height o'er the sea whose salt wave I
XIII.--GEORGINA TREVELLYN TO LOUISA -----
DEAREST LOUISA,--Inquire, if you please, about Mr. Claude -----.
He has been once at R., and remembers meeting the H.s.
Harriet L., perhaps, may be able to tell you about him.
It is an awkward youth, but still with very good manners;
Not without prospects, we hear; and, George says, highly connected.
Georgy declares it absurd, but Mamma is alarmed and insists he has
Taken up strange opinions and may be turning a Papist.
Certainly once he spoke of a daily service he went to.
"Where?" we asked, and he laughed and answered, "At the Pantheon."
This was a temple, you know, and now is a Catholic church; and
Though it is said that Mazzini has sold it for Protestant service,
Yet I suppose the change can hardly as yet be effected.
Adieu again,--evermore, my dearest, your loving Georgina.
P.S. BY MARY TREVELLYN.
I am to tell you, you say, what I think of our last new acquaintance.
Well, then, I think that George has a very fair right to be jealous.
I do not like him much, though I do not dislike being with him.
He is what people call, I suppose, a superior man, and
Certainly seems so to me; but I think he is frightfully selfish.
* * * * *
Alba, thou findest me still, and, Alba, thou findest me ever,
Now from the Capitol steps, now over Titus's Arch,
Here from the large grassy spaces that spread from the Lateran portal,
Towering o'er aqueduct lines lost in perspective between,
Or from a Vatican window, or bridge, or the high Coliseum,
Clear by the garlanded line cut of the Flavian ring.
Beautiful can I not call thee, and yet thou hast power to o'ermaster,
Power of mere beauty; in dreams, Alba, thou hauntest me still.
Is it religion? I ask me; or is it a vain superstition?
Slavery abject and gross? service, too feeble, of truth?
Is it an idol I bow to, or is it a god that I worship?
Do I sink back on the old, or do I soar from the mean?
So through the city I wander and question, unsatisfied ever,
Reverent so I accept, doubtful because I revere.
[To be continued.]
* * * * *
On the tenth of May, 1857, I became the glad possessor of a tank capable
of holding thirteen or fourteen gallons of water. Its substantial frame
of well-seasoned oak, its stout plank bottom, lavishly covered with
cement, promised to resist alike the heat and dryness from without and
the wet within. The sides and ends, of double flint-glass, seemed to
invite the eye across their clearness. Its chosen site was at a south
window, so shaded by a wing of the house as to receive only the morning
sun for about two hours; and clustering vines overhung the window, so
that the beams fell in checkered light. All was now ready.
A few fragments of white quartz were arranged in rude imitation of ocean
recesses, and in their fissures were placed four or five small plants
of Enteromorpha and Corallina. Sand was strewn upon the bottom, to the
depth of two inches, and ten gallons of sea-water were then poured in.
This had been brought from one of the wharves, at high tide, twenty-four
hours previously, and twice drawn off with a siphon,--each time after
twelve hours' rest. It was not, however, perfectly translucent, and at
the end of a week was still cloudy. On the fifth day after the tank was
filled, I began to introduce the animals to their future home.
Ten Buccina were first put in possession, in the hope that they would
perform the part of gardeners to the young plants. On the sixth day,
seven Actinias were disposed upon the rock-work. On the seventh, a
Horsefoot (or, as our Southern neighbors call it, a King-Crab, though of
most unregal aspect) was allowed to make his burrow in the sand. On
the eighth day, four Hermit and Soldier Crabs and two Sand-Crabs were
invited to choose their several retreats. On the ninth, three fine
Sticklebacks and three Minnows were made free of the mimic ocean; and on
the tenth, an Eel and two Prawns.
All seemed well until the evening of the twelfth day, when a small white
cloud was seen rising from the bottom. The spot was searched for some
dead member of the new colony; but none was found, either there, or in
any other part of the tank.
Supposing that the impure gas might be generated by the decay of minute
creatures congregated in the cloudy corner, a lump of charcoal was tied
to a stone and sunk upon the spot. Next morning, the cloud had cleared
from around the charcoal, but slender wreaths of similar appearance were
rapidly rising from the sand in every other part of the Aquarium. The
fishes came oftener to the surface than they were wont, and all the
animals had lost vigor.
Aeration was resorted to, which was performed by dipping up the water,
and pouring it back in a thin stream from a height of several feet,
continuing the operation for ten minutes. This was repeated four or five
times during the day, and at night more charcoal was added. Some of the
pieces were sunk to the bottom, and others were suspended at different
depths in the water.
Two or three days passed in this way,--the putrescence kept in check by
the means used, but not entirely overcome. Meantime, though none of the
stock had died, there was less vitality than at first; especially each
morning, after seven or eight hours unaided by aeration.
Tired of what seemed an ineffectual struggle, I determined to leave the
Aquarium untouched for a day, and await the result. Accordingly, the
charcoal was withdrawn and aeration discontinued. The milky cloud
increased in density, and the whole mass of water became turbid. The
fishes kept constantly near the surface, swam languidly, and snatched
mouthfuls of atmospheric air. The Eel became bloodshot about the gills,
and, writhing, gasped for breath. The Soldier-Crabs hung listlessly
from their shells, and no longer went about in quest of food. Even the
Actinise shrunk to half their former size; and the Buccina, crawling
above the water, ranged themselves in a row upon the dry glass.
Disappointed, but not discouraged, I filled several shallow pans with
pure sea-water, clean sand, and fresh plants, and transferred to them my
suffering and wellnigh exhausted animals. A day restored them to their
normal condition, and now I was ready to begin my Aquarium anew.
But to what purpose should I begin anew? Would there not be the same
failure? What had been wrong?
At least two great faults were evident. First, in order to guard against
the possibility of a leak, the bottom and posts of the tank had been
covered with many coats of an alcoholic varnish. Now it was probable
that time enough had not elapsed between the several applications for
the thorough evaporation of the alcohol. Might not its gradual infusion
in the water have caused the death of the animalcula in such numbers as
to taint the whole by their decay?
The second fault was, strewing upon the surface of the sand a handful or
two of white powdered quartz, which, from having been pulverized in an
iron mortar, was so oxydized as to turn a deep yellow. This might have
poisoned the animalcula.
The first fault seemed to me the chief, but I proceeded to remedy both.
The whole contents of the tank being removed, it was thoroughly washed
on the inside, exposed for several days to the sun and air, and then
soaked for twelve hours in clean sea-water. This being thrown away, the
stones, scalded and well-washed, were restored, and clean sand, replaced
Water was drawn from the dock at high tide; but it was less clear now,
on the fourth of June, than that which had been got early in May. This
surprised me not a little; for, as I stood upon the wharf and looked
down into it just before sunset on the previous evening, I was struck
with its beautiful limpidity. Curious to see if its aspect remained
unaltered, I went to the same spot where I had stood the night before.
The tide was at the same height, but twelve hours had made a marvellous
change in the appearance of the water. Its sparkling clearness had given
way to greenness and turbidity, and no object could be seen a foot below
the surface. No storm had stirred its depths during the night,--why this
change? Conjecture was of no practical utility, and I returned home
satisfied that my fifteen gallons of water were as clear as any it was
then in my power to obtain. Covering the tub from the dust, I left it to
settle until sunset. Then the ever-useful siphon drew off two thirds of
it tolerably clear, leaving a thick green deposit upon the sides
and bottom of the vessel. Next day, it was again drawn off from the
sediment, (at this time, small in quantity,) and poured into the tank.
Several newly obtained plants of well-growing Enteromorpha and Corallina
were arranged among the stones, and the Aquarium was left at rest.
Gradually the water became nearly clear, but not perfectly so until
after the introduction of animals.
Eight days after it was filled, the Actinias were put in; on the ninth,
several small Mollusks; on the tenth, Crustacea; and on the eleventh and
twelfth, other varieties of the same types; but not until the fourteenth
day were fishes ventured upon.
Day by day the water grew clearer and clearer, until, at the end of
three weeks, it was beautifully translucent. Three more weeks passed,
during which the beauty of the Aquarium was much heightened by a
luxuriant growth of Confervae mingled with Enteromorpha, which together
covered all those parts of the stones which received a direct light.
The mimic rocks seemed draped in green velvet, and in the sunlight were
studded with pearly bubbles. There was, however, one blemish: the hungry
crabs had so nibbled the larger plants that it was deemed necessary to
renew them, in order to secure a sufficient supply of food and oxygen.
Accordingly, a fine specimen of Enteromorpha was added. It consisted of
five or six delicate fronds about five inches in length, and these soon
increased to treble their original number and twice their original size.
At the end of about two weeks, they suddenly became covered with a dull
bluish mould, at the same time ceasing to give out bubbles; and the
whole plant, instead of rising to the surface of the water as hitherto,
hung limp from the fissure where it was placed, and trailed upon the
sand. Coincidently, (was it consequently?) a greenish tinge pervaded the
water, speedily increasing in depth and opacity. In five days, no object
could be discerned six inches from the glass, and my beautiful Aquarium
was transformed to an unsightly ditch.
Yet the water was apparently pure, and the activity of its inhabitants
was in no wise lessened. What was this vexatious greenness? Was it
animal or vegetable? Was it the diffused spores of the perfected
Enteromorpha or of the rank Confervae upon the stones? If neither, what
was its cause?
Excess of light was the most obvious suggestion; and so it was supposed
that its exclusion might be a potent remedy. Therefore a double curtain
of glazed muslin was stretched across the window; and the tank, both top
and sides, wrapped in folds of paper. A week of darkness changed the
deep green to a dingy olive. But the experiment could not be continued.
The nightly admission of air by lifting the paper covering was
insufficient to maintain the imprisoned creatures. They were happy,
though captive, while in a mimic ocean, but miserable in a dark dungeon.
Languid and spiritless, they lay supine, or crawled listlessly and
aimlessly about. This would not do, and so light was again admitted
freely to all but one side of the tank; there, a screen of yellow paper
intercepted the direct rays of the sun, while upon the top they fell
through the foliage of a Clematis vine.
Three weeks more wrought a slight change for the better; but it was too
slight and too slow for my patience, or that of curious friends waiting
to see my Aquarium.
The second experiment had failed, and so once more the tank was emptied.
Two or three animals only had died; all the others gave evidence of
health. Again they were removed to other vessels, and again I began
Clean sand, clean stones, water drawn at high tide and carefully
decanted, three small plants of Ulva Latissima, with one clump of
Corallina Officinalis, made up the contents of the tank, when, on the
tenth of August, it was the third time filled. A sheet of yellow paper
was placed between the tank and the window, and it was left three days
at rest. At the end of that time, the water, which was beautifully clear
when introduced, had grown a little hazy, and, as the sunbeams fell
aslant it, the unaided eye could perceive a multitude of minute whitish
creatures darting forward and backward like a swarm of bees. Then five
Actinias were laid upon the rocks, to which they at once adhered,
spreading out their restless tentacles in busy seizure of the tiny prey.
In a week more the foggy appearance had ceased; but the clearness of the
water was marred by the slimy exudations from the Actinias. Knowing
that this matter was eaten by some of the Crustacea, five or six small
Soldier-Crabs were dropped in, which faithfully performed their allotted
labor. From this time, animals were added daily, until they had reached
to thirty in number. On the fifteenth of September, a fine specimen of
brown Chondrus Crispus was added, and on the thirtieth, a very large
frond of Ulva Latissima. A great portion of the Chondrus decayed at its
junction with the shell on which it grew, and fell off; but the Ulva
increased much in size, as well as in depth of color and firmness of
And now months have gone by, and at last my Aquarium is successful.
Fifty lively denizens now sport in the crystalline water and come at the
daily roll-call. Come with me and I will introduce them to you. A fig
for scientific nomenclature! you shall know them by their household
This Bernhard Crab in the front, so leisurely pushing away the sand
before him with his broad, flat claws, quietly enjoys the meal he finds,
undisturbed by fears of a failing supply. There is less of enterprise
than complacency in his character, and I call him Micawber, for he
is always expecting "something to turn up." Twice since March has he
changed his coat, and thrown off his tight boots and gloves for new
ones. The disrobing seemed to give him little trouble, though he sat
dozing at the door of his cell some hours after, as though fatigued by
the unusual effort. Very becoming is the new costume; and the red coat
is prettily relieved by the gray tint of his Diogenes-like dwelling.
There goes a military cousin of his, striding along, with his heavy
armor clattering against the glass as he walks. A pugnacious fellow is
that same soldier; and if he meet an opponent, you may see the tug of
war. Should he chance to prefer the other's shield to his own, he will
seize him in his burly arms, and shake him from under its protection.
Yet he is cautious withal; for though obliged to doff his own armor
before he can try that of his denuded foe, he retains hold of both until
satisfied with the trial. If he like the new mail, he will march off
with it; if not, he will array himself in his own again. Meanwhile the
vanquished combatant waits tremblingly the result of the examination,
glad to get possession of the rejected defence, be it which it may.
Yon dark little crab, with the bulky claws so gayly mottled with yellow
and black, lurks in that hole at the base of the cliff nearly all day
long. His name is 'Possum; for at the slightest sign of danger
he doubles up his claws like a dead spider, and lies in feigned
Speaking of spiders,--here are two Spider-Crabs, the very monkeys of
this aqueous menagerie. The small one climbing the post is Topsy. There
she is, sliding down again, and with headlong pace is now scampering
over yon yielding Anemone. Heedless of its hundred arms, so generally
dreaded and avoided, she jumps this way and that across its wide mouth;
and now, seated on its back, she snatches morsels from its shrinking
side. Now look at her sister sprite, Crazy Kate. Her head adorned with
a long plume of Coralline, she is tearing ribbon-like shreds from the
silky lettuce and hanging them upon her already fantastic person. Anon
she dances in mad glee, and next her arms are solemnly stretched upward
in grotesque similitude to one in prayer.
When she is hungry, she will, one by one, take off those weedy trophies
from her back and feed upon them.
Why do you start? That is not a sea-serpent winding from under the arch,
but only an innocent Eel. Yet innocent and tiny though it be, there is
something frightful about it. Its fixed, staring eye, its snake-like
stealthiness, bid you be on your guard. Sometimes it rises behind that
bushy Carrageen, and with high uplifted head peers over at me in such
a way that I am half afraid; it is so like the old pictures of Satan
Would you like to see an Actinia eat? I will drop a bit of raw oyster
upon its outspread disk. See with what eager start it closes its fingers
about the dainty viand, passing it along slowly, but surely, to its
now gaping mouth, while every nerve is vibrating with the anticipated
pleasure of the feast! That milk-white one is my favorite, and I call it
Una. Seated in modest contentment on that brown-stone seat, she upturns
her pure face to the mild light of evening; but folds her arms, and bows
her head, and veils herself, when the noon-day sun gazes too ardently
This one in the rich salmon-colored robe has all our national propensity
for travelling. Wandering restlessly about, she never remains two days
on the same spot. Yesterday, she climbed the cliff, and sat looking off
upon the water nearly all day long. To-day, she has come down to the
sand, where, with base distended, as if in caricature of crinoline, she
perambulates the crowded thoroughfare.
Here is a semi-twin, one base and two trunks. Shall I call it Janus, for
its two faces? or will Chang-and-Eng best distinguish this dual unit?
Sometimes, one, with tentacles in-tucked and mouth sealed, seems dozing;
while his waking brother is busily waving his arms for food. At another
time, you may see them both folded together in sleep, like the Babes in
the Woods all bestrewn with leaves.
Ah, you should have seen my Amphitrite! She bore her plumy crown so
grandly, you would have said she was indeed the queen of Actiniae. But,
alas! she could not brook imprisonment, and, pining for the unwalled
grottoes of Poseidon, she drooped and died.
Behind that sheltering rock, and overhung with sea-weed, there is a
dark, deep cave, the chosen abode of Giant Grim. Push one of those
soldiers to the mouth of the den and wait the result. At the first
movement made by the unwitting trespasser on guarded ground, two long,
flexile rods are thrust out, reconnoitring right and left. Two huge
claws follow, lighted up by two great glaring eyes. At last the whole
creature emerges, seizes the intruder, and bears him swiftly away, far
beyond his jealously kept premises. With dogged mien he stalks gravely
back to his stronghold. You exclaim, "It is a Lobster!" A lobster truly;
but saw you ever a lobster with such presence before? Does he resemble
the poor bewildered crustaceans you have seen bunched together at a
fish-stall? Bears he any likeness to the innocent-looking edibles you
have seen lying on a dish, by boiling turned, like the morn, from black
Those ghost-like Prawns are near relatives of the giant. See them,
gliding so gracefully from under the arch, disappearing under the waving
Ulva, and floating into sight again from behind the cliff. At night, if
you look at them athwart a lighted candle, their eyes are seen to glow
like living rubies. As they row silently and swiftly towards you, you
might fancy each a fairy gondola, with gem-lighted prow.
A quick dashing startles you, and you see a Scallop rising to the top of
the water with zigzag jerks, and immediately sinking to the sand again,
on the side opposite that whence it started. There it rests with
expanded branchiae and moving cilia; a rude passer-by jostles it, and
with startled sensitiveness it shrinks from the outer world and hides
behind a stony mask.
The small, greenish, rough-coated creature, so like a flattened burr,
is an Echinus. It is hardly domiciliated, being a new-comer, and creeps
restlessly across the glass.
Under this sand-mound some one lies self-buried,--not dead, but only
hiding from the crowd in this bustling watering-place. He must learn
that there is no lasting retirement in Newport; so tap with a stick at
his lodging. With anger vexed, forth rushes the Swimming-Crab and dashes
away from the unwelcome visitor. As if he knew a bore to be the most
persistent of hunters, he plies his paddles with rapid beat until far
from his invaded chamber. His swimming is more like the fluttering of a
butterfly than the steady poise of a fish. Pretty as is his variegated
coat by day, it is far more beautiful by night; then his limbs shine
with metallic lustre, and every joint seems tinged with molten gold.
I could spend the day in showing you my Aquarium;--the merry antics
of the blithe Minnows; the slow wheeling of the less vivacious
Sticklebacks; the beautiful siphon of the Quahaug and the Clam; the
starry disk of the Serpula; the snug tent of the Limpet; the lithe
proboscis of the busy Buccinum; the erect and rapid march of his little
flesh-tinted cousin; the slow Horsefoot, balancing his huge umbrella as
he goes; the----But I cannot name them all.
Neither could you learn to know them at a single visit. Come and sit by
this indoor sea, day by day, and learn to love its people. Many a lesson
for good have they taught me. When weary and disheartened, the patient
perseverance of these undoubting beings has given me new impulses upward
and onward. Remembering that their sole guide is instinct, while mine is
the voice behind me, saying, "This is the way," I have risen with new
resolve to walk therein. Seeing the blind persistency with which some
straying zooephyte has refused to follow other counsel than its own, I
have learned that self-reliance and strength of will are not, in higher
natures, virtues for gratulation, but, if unsanctified, faults to blush
for. Finding each creature here so fitted with organs and instincts for
the life it was meant to lead, I have considered that to me also is
given all that I ought to wish, more than I have ever rightly used.
New evidences are here disclosed to me of God's care for his creation,
deepening my faith in the fact that he is not merely the great First
Cause, but still the watchful Father. New revelations teach me of his
sympathy in our joys, as well as of his care for our necessities. The
Maker's love of the beautiful fills me with gladness, and I catch
new glimpses of those boundless regions where the perfection of his
conceptions has never been marred by sin; and where each of us who
may attain thereto shall find a fitting sphere for every energy, an
answering joy for every pure aspiration.
* * * * *
THE QUEEN OF THE RED CHESSMEN.
The box of chessmen had been left open all night. That was a great
oversight! For everybody knows that the contending chessmen are but too
eager to fight their battles over again by mid-night, if a chance is
only allowed them.
It was at the Willows,--so called, not because the house is surrounded
by willows, but because a little clump of them hangs over the pond close
by. It is a pretty place, with its broad lawn in front of the door-way,
its winding avenue hidden from the road by high trees. It is a quiet
place, too; the sun rests gently on the green lawn, and the drooping
leaves of the willows hang heavily over the water.
No one would imagine what violent contests were going on under the still
roof, this very night. It was the night of the first of May. The moon
came silently out from the shadows; the trees were scarcely stirring.
The box of chessmen had been left on the balcony steps by the
drawing-room window, and the window, too, that warm night, had been left
open. So, one by one, all the chessmen came out to fight over again
their evening's battles.
It was a famously carved set of chessmen. The bishops wore their mitres,
the knights pranced on spirited steeds, the castles rested on the backs
of elephants,--even the pawns mimicked the private soldiers of an army.
The skilful carver had given to each piece, and each pawn, too, a
certain individuality. That night there had been a close contest. Two
well-matched players had guided the game, and it had ended with leaving
a deep irritation on the conquered side.
It was Isabella, the Queen of the Red Chessmen, who had been obliged to
yield. She was young and proud, and it was she, indeed, who held the
rule; for her father, the old Red King, had grown too imbecile to direct
affairs; he merely bore the name of sovereignty. And Isabella was loved
by knights, pawns, and all; the bishops were willing to die in her
cause, the castles would have crumbled to earth for her. Opposed to her,
stood the detested White Queen. All the Whites, of course, were despised
by her; but the haughty, self-sufficient queen angered her most.
The White Queen was reigning during the minority of her only son. The
White Prince had reached the age of nineteen, but the strong mind of
his mother had kept him always under restraint. A simple youth, he had
always yielded to her control. He was pure-hearted and gentle, but never
ventured to make a move of his own. He sought shelter under cover of his
castles, while his more energetic mother went forth at the head of his
army. She was dreaded by her subjects,--never loved by them. Her own
pawn, it is true, had ventured much for her sake, had often with his own
life redeemed her from captivity; but it was loyalty that bound even
him,--no warmer feeling of devotion or love.
The Queen Isabella was the first to come out from her prison.
"I will stay here no longer," she cried; "the blood of the Reds grows
pale in this inactivity."
She stood upon the marble steps; the May moon shone down upon her. She
listened a moment to a slight murmuring within the drawing-room window.
The Spanish lady, the Murillo-painted Spanish lady, had come down from
her frame that bound her against the wall. Just for this one night in
the year, she stepped out from the canvas to walk up and down the
rooms majestically. She would not exchange a word with anybody; nobody
understood her language. She could remember when Murillo looked at her,
watched over her, created her with his pencil. She could have nothing to
say to little paltry shepherdesses, and other articles of _virtu_, that
came into grace and motion just at this moment.
The Queen of the Red Chessmen turned away, down into the avenue. The May
moon shone upon her. Her feet trod upon unaccustomed ground; no black or
white square hemmed her in; she felt a new liberty.
"My poor old father!" she exclaimed, "I will leave him behind; better
let him slumber in an ignoble repose than wander over the board, a
laughing-stock for his enemies. We have been conquered,--the foolish
White Prince rules!"
A strange inspiration stole upon her; the breath of the May night
hovered over her; the May moon shone upon her. She could move without
waiting for the will of another; she was free. She passed down the
avenue; she had left her old prison behind.
Early in the morning,--it was just after sunrise,--the kind Doctor
Lester was driving home, after watching half the night out with a
patient. He passed the avenue to the Willows, but drew up his horse just
as he was leaving the entrance. He saw a young girl sitting under the
hedge. She was without any bonnet, in a red dress, fitting closely and
hanging heavily about her. She was so very beautiful, she looked so
strangely lost and out of place here at this early hour, that the Doctor
could not resist speaking to her.
"My child, how came you here?"
The young girl rose up, and looked round with uncertainty.
"Where am I?" she asked.
She was very tall and graceful, with an air of command, but with a
strange, wild look in her eyes.
"The young woman must be slightly insane," thought the Doctor; "but she
cannot have wandered far."
"Let me take you home," he said aloud. "Perhaps you come from the
"Oh, don't take me back there!" cried Isabella, "they will imprison me
again! I had rather be a slave than a conquered queen!"
"Decidedly insane!" thought the Doctor. "I must take her back to the
He persuaded the young girl to let him lift her into his chaise. She did
not resist him; but when he turned up the avenue, she leaned back in
despair. He was fortunate enough to find one of the servants up at the
house, just sweeping the steps of the hall-door. Getting out of his
chaise, he said confidentially to the servant,--
"I have brought back your young lady."
"Our young lady!" exclaimed the man, as the Doctor pointed out Isabella.
"Yes, she is a little insane, is she not?"
"She is not our young lady," answered the servant; "we have nobody
in the house just now, but Mr. and Mrs. Fogerty, and Mrs. Fogerty's
brother, the old geologist"
"Where did she come from?" inquired the Doctor.
"I never saw her before," said the servant, "and I certainly should
remember. There's some foreign folks live down in the cottage, by the
railroad; but they are not the like of her!"
The Doctor got into his chaise again, bewildered.
"My child," he said, "you must tell me where you came from."
"Oh, don't let me go back again!" said Isabella, clasping her hands
imploringly. "Think how hard it must be never to take a move of one's
own! to know how the game might be won, then see it lost through folly!
Oh, that last game, lost through utter weakness! There was that one
move! Why did he not push me down to the king's row? I might have
checkmated the White Prince, shut in by his own castles and pawns,--it
would have been a direct checkmate! Think of his folly! he stopped
to take the queen's pawn with his bishop, and within one move of a
"Quite insane!" repeated the Doctor. "But I must have my breakfast. She
seems quiet; I think I can keep her till after breakfast, and then I
must try and find where the poor child's friends live. I don't know what
Mrs. Lester will think of her."
They rode on. Isabella looked timidly round.
"You don't quite believe me," she said, at last. "It seems strange to
"It does," answered the Doctor, "seem very strange."
"Not stranger than to me," said Isabella,--"it is so very grand to me!
All this motion! Look down at that great field there, not cut up into
squares! If I only had my knights and squires there! I would be willing
to give her as good a field, too; but I would show her where the true
bravery lies. What a place for the castles, just to defend that pass!"
The Doctor whipped up his horse.
Mrs. Lester was a little surprised at the companion her husband had
brought home to breakfast with him.
"Who is it?" she whispered.
"That I don't know,--I shall have to find out," he answered, a little
"Where is her bonnet?" asked Mrs. Lester; this was the first absence of
conventionality she had noticed.
"You had better ask her," answered the Doctor.
But Mrs. Lester preferred leaving her guest in the parlor while she
questioned her husband. She was somewhat disturbed when she found he had
nothing more satisfactory to tell her.
"An insane girl! and what shall we do with her?" she asked.
"After breakfast I will make some inquiries about her," answered the
"And leave her alone with us? that will never do! You must take her away
directly,--at least to the Insane Asylum,--somewhere! What if she should
grow wild while you were gone? She might kill us all! I will go in and
tell her that she cannot stay here."
On returning to the parlor, she found Isabella looking dreamily out of
the window. As Mrs. Lester approached, she turned.
"You will let me stay with you a little while, will you not?"
She spoke in a quiet tone, with an air somewhat commanding. It imposed
upon nervous little Mrs. Lester. But she made a faint struggle.
"Perhaps you would rather go home," she said.
"I have no home now," said Isabella; "some time I may recover it; but my
throne has been usurped."
Mrs. Lester looked round in alarm, to see if the Doctor were near.
"Perhaps you had better come in to breakfast," she suggested.
She was glad to place the Doctor between herself and their new guest.
Celia Lester, the only daughter, came down stairs. She had heard that
her father had picked up a lost girl in the road. As she came down in
her clean morning dress, she expected to have to hold her skirts away
from some little squalid object of charity. She started when she saw the
elegant-looking young girl who sat at the table. There was something in
her air and manner that seemed to make the breakfast equipage, and the
furniture of the room about her, look a little mean and poor. Yet the
Doctor was very well off, and Mrs. Lester fancied she had everything
quite in style. Celia stole into her place, feeling small in the
presence of the stranger.
After breakfast, when the Doctor had somewhat refreshed himself by its
good cheer from his last night's fatigue, Isabella requested to speak
"Let me stay with you a little while," she asked, beseechingly; "I will
do everything for you that you desire. You shall teach me anything;--I
know I can learn all that you will show me, all that Mrs. Lester will
"Perhaps so,--perhaps that will be best," answered the Doctor, "until
your friends inquire for you; then I must send you back to them."
"Very well, very well," said Isabella, relieved. "But I must tell you
they will not inquire for me. I see you will not believe my story. If
you only would listen to me, I could tell it all to you."
"That is the only condition I can make with you," answered the Doctor,
"that you will not tell your story,--that you will never even think of
it yourself. I am a physician. I know that it is not good for you to
dwell upon such things. Do not talk of them to me, nor to my wife or
daughter. Never speak of your story to any one who comes here. It will
be better for you."
"Better for me," said Isabella, dreamily, "that no one should know!
Perhaps so. I am, in truth, captive to the White Prince; and if he
should come and demand me,--I should be half afraid to try the risks of
"Stop, stop!" exclaimed the Doctor, "you are already forgetting the
condition. I shall be obliged to take you away to some retreat, unless
you promise me"----
"Oh, I will promise you anything." interrupted Isabella; "and you will
see that I can keep my promise."
Meanwhile Mrs. Lester and Celia had been holding a consultation.
"I think she must be some one in disguise," suggested Celia.
Celia was one of the most unromantic of persons. Both she and her mother
had passed their lives in an unvarying routine of duties. Neither of
them had ever found time from their sewing even to read. Celia had her
books of history laid out, that she meant to take up when she should get
through her work; but it seemed hopeless that this time would ever come.
It had never come to Mrs. Lester, and she was now fifty years old. Celia
had never read any novels. She had tried to read them, but never was
interested in them. So she had a vague idea of what romance was,
conceiving of it only as something quite different from her every-day
life. For this reason the unnatural event that was taking place this
very day was gradually appearing to her something possible and natural.
Because she knew there was such a thing as romance, and that it was
something quite beyond her comprehension, she was the more willing to
receive this event quietly from finding it incomprehensible.
"We can let her stay here to-day, at least," said Mrs. Lester. "We will
keep John at work in the front door-yard, in case we should want him.
And I will set Mrs. Anderson's boy to weeding in the border; we can call
him, if we should want to send for help."
She was quite ashamed of herself, when she had uttered these words, and
Isabella walked into the room, so composed, so refined in her manners.
"The Doctor says I may stay here a little while, if you will let me,"
said Isabella, as she took Mrs. Lester's hands.
"We will try to make you comfortable," replied Mrs. Lester.
"He says you will teach me many things,--I think he said, how to sew."
"How to sew! Was it possible she did not know how to sew?" Celia thought
to herself, "How many servants she must have had, never to have learned
how to sew, herself!"
And this occupation was directly provided, while the Doctor set forth
on his day's duties, and at the same time to inquire about the strange
apparition of the young girl. He was so convinced that there was a vein
of insanity about her, that he was very sure that questioning her only
excited her the more. Just as he had parted from her, some compunction
seized her, and she followed him to the door.
"There is my father," said she.
"Your father! where shall I find him?" asked the Doctor.
"Oh, he could not help me," she replied; "it is a long time since he
has been able to direct affairs. He has scarcely been conscious of my
presence, and will hardly feel my absence, his mind is so weak."
"But where can I find him?" persisted the Doctor.
"He did not come out," said Isabella; "the White Queen would not allow
"Stop, stop!" exclaimed the Doctor, "we are on forbidden ground."
He drove away.
"So there is insanity in the family," he thought to himself. "I am quite
interested in this case. A new form of monomania! I should be quite
sorry to lose sight of it. I shall be loath to give her up to her
But he was not yet put to that test. No one could give him any light
with regard to the strange girl. He went first to the Willows, and found
there so much confusion that he could hardly persuade any one to listen
to his questions. Mrs. Fogerty's brother, the geologist, had been riding
that morning, and had fallen from his horse and broken his leg. The
Doctor arrived just in time to be of service in setting it. Then he must
linger some time to see that the old gentleman was comfortable, so that
he was obliged to stay nearly the whole morning. He was much amused at
the state of disturbance in which he left the family. The whole house
was in confusion, looking after some lost chessmen.
"There was nothing," said Mrs. Fogerty, apologetically, "that would
soothe her brother so much as a game of chess. That, perhaps, might keep
him quiet. He would be willing to play chess with Mr. Fogerty by the day
together. It was so strange! they had a game the night before, and now
some of the pieces could not be found. Her brother had lost the game,
and to-day he was so eager to take his revenge!"
"How absurd!" thought the Doctor; "what trifling things people interest
themselves in! Here is this old man more disturbed at losing his game of
chess than he is at breaking his leg! It is different in my profession,
where one deals with life and death. Here is this young girl's fate in
my hands, and they talk to me of the loss of a few paltry chessmen!"
The "foreign people" at the cottage knew nothing of Isabella. No one had
seen her the night before, or at any time. Dr. Lester even drove ten
miles to Dr. Giles's Retreat for the Insane, to see if it were possible
that a patient could have wandered away from there. Dr. Giles was deeply
interested in the account Dr. Lester gave. He would very gladly take
such a person under his care.
"No," said Dr. Lester, "I will wait awhile. I am interested in the young
girl. It is not impossible but that I shall in time find out from her,
by chance, perhaps, who her friends are, and where she came from. She
must have wandered away in some delirium of fever,--but it is very
strange, for she appears perfectly calm now. Yet I hardly know in what
state I shall find her."
He returned to find her very quiet and calm, learning from his wife
and daughter how to sew. She seemed deeply interested in this new
occupation, and had given all her time and thought to it. Celia and
her mother privately confided to the Doctor their admiration of their
strange guest. Her ways were so graceful and beautiful! all that she
said seemed so new and singular! The Doctor, before he went away, had
exhorted Mrs. Lester and Celia to ask her no questions about her former
life, and everything had gone on very smoothly. And everything went on
as smoothly for some weeks. Isabella seemed willing to be as silent as
the Doctor, upon all exciting subjects. She appeared to be quite taken
up with her sewing, much to Mrs. Lester's delight.
"She will turn out quite as good a seamstress as Celia," said she to the
Doctor. "She sews steadily all the time, and nothing seems to please her
so much as to finish a piece of work. She will be able to do much more
than her own sewing, and may prove quite a help to us."
"I shall be very glad," said the Doctor, "if anything can be a help, to
prevent you and Celia from working yourselves to death. I shall be glad
if you can ever have done with that eternal sewing. It is time that
Celia should do something about cultivating her mind."
"Celia's mind is so well regulated," interrupted Mrs. Lester.
"We won't discuss that," continued the Doctor,--"we never come to an
agreement there. I was going on to say that I am becoming so interested
in Isabella, that I feel towards her as if she were my own. If she is of
help to the family, that is very well,--it is the best thing for her to
be able to make herself of use. But I don't care to make any profit to
ourselves out of her help. Somehow I begin to think of her as belonging
to us. Certainly she belongs to nobody else. Let us treat her as our own
child. We have but one, yet God has given us means enough to care for
many more. I confess I should find it hard to give Isabella up to any
one else. I like to find her when I come home,--it is pleasant to look
"And I, too, love her," said Mrs. Lester. "I like to see her as she sits
quietly at her work."
So Isabella went on learning what it was to be one of the family, and
becoming, as Mrs. Lester remarked, a very experienced seamstress. She
seldom said anything as she sat at her work, but seemed quite occupied
with her sewing; while Mrs. Lester and Celia kept up a stream of
conversation, seldom addressing Isabella, as, indeed, they had few
topics in common.
One day, Celia and Isabella were sitting together.
"Have you always sewed?" asked Isabella.
"Oh, yes," answered Celia,--"since I was quite a child."
"And do you remember when you were a child?" asked Isabella, laying down
"Oh, yes, indeed," said Celia; "I used to make all my doll's dresses
"Your doll's dresses!" repeated Isabella.
"Oh, yes," replied Celia,--"I was not ashamed to play with dolls in that
"I should like to see some dolls," said Isabella.
"I will show you my large doll," said Celia; "I have always kept it,
because I fitted it out with such a nice set of clothes. And I keep it
for children to play with."
She brought her doll, and Isabella handled it and looked at it with
"So you dressed this, and played with it," said Isabella, inquiringly,
"and moved it about as one would move a piece at chess?"
Celia started at this word "chess." It was one of the forbidden words.
But Isabella went on:--
"Suppose this doll should suddenly have begun to speak, to move, and
walk round, would not you have liked it?"
"Oh, no!" exclaimed Celia. "What! a wooden thing speak and move! It
would have frightened me very much."
"Why should it not speak, if it has a mouth, and walk, if it has feet?"
"What foolish questions you ask!" exclaimed Celia, "of course it has not
"Oh, life,--that is it!" said Isabella. "Well, what is life?"
"Life! why it is what makes us live," answered Celia. "Of course you
know what life is."
"No, I don't know," said Isabella, "but I have been thinking about it
lately, while I have been sewing,--what it is."
"But you should not think, you should talk more, Isabella," said Celia.
"Mamma and I talk while we are at work, but you are always very silent."
"But you think sometimes?" asked Isabella.
"Not about such things," replied Celia. "I have to think about my work."
"But your father thinks, I suppose, when he comes home and sits in his
"Oh, he reads when he goes into his study,--he reads books and studies
them," said Celia.
"Do you know how to read?" asked Isabella.
"Do I know how to read!" cried Celia, angrily.
"Forgive me," said Isabella, quickly, "but I never saw you reading. I
thought perhaps--women are so different here!"
She did not finish her sentence, for she saw Celia was really angry. Yet
she had no idea of hurting her feelings. She had tried to accommodate
herself to her new circumstances. She had observed a great deal, and
had never been in the habit of asking questions. Celia was disturbed at
having it supposed that she did not know how to read; therefore it must
be a very important thing to know how to read, and she determined she
must learn. She applied to the Doctor. He was astonished at her entire
ignorance, but he was very glad to help her. Isabella gave herself up to
her reading, as she had done before to her sewing. The Doctor was now
the gainer. All the time he was away, Isabella sat in his study, poring
over her books; when he returned, she had a famous lesson to recite to
him. Then he began to tell her of books that he was interested in. He
made Celia come in, for a history class. It was such a pleasure to him
to find Isabella interested in what he could tell her of history!
"All this really happened," said Isabella to Celia once,--"these people
"Yes, but they died," responded Celia, in an indifferent tone,--"and
ever so long ago, too!"
"But did they die," asked Isabella, "if we can talk about them, and
imagine how they looked? They live for us as much as they did then."
"That I can't understand," said Celia. "My uncle saw Napoleon when he
was in Europe, long ago. But I never saw Napoleon. He is dead and gone
to me, just as much as Alexander the Great."
"Well, who does live, if Alexander the Great, if Napoleon, and Columbus
do not live?" asked Isabella, impatiently.
"Why, papa and mamma live," answered Celia, "and you"----
"And the butcher," interrupted Isabella, "because he brings you meat to
eat; and Mr. Spool, because he keeps the thread store. Thank you for
putting me in, too! Once"----
"Once!" answered Celia, in a dignified tone, "I suppose once you lived
in a grander circle, and it appears to you we have nobody better than
Mr. Spool and the butcher."
Isabella was silent, and thought of her "circle," her former circle.
The circle here was large enough, the circumference not very great, but
there were as many points in it as in a larger one. There were pleasant,
motherly Mrs. Gibbs, and her agreeable daughters,--the Gresham
boys, just in college,--the Misses Tarletan, fresh from a New York
boarding-school,--Mr. Lovell, the young minister,--and the old Misses
Pendleton, that made raspberry-jam,--together with Celia's particular
friends, Anna and Selina Mountfort, who had a great deal of talking with
Celia in private, but not a word to say to anybody in the parlor. All
these, with many others in the background, had been speculating upon the
riddle that Isabella presented,--"Who was she? and where did she come
Nobody found any satisfactory answer. Neither Celia nor her mother would
disclose anything. It is a great convenience in keeping a secret, not to
know what it is. One can't easily tell what one does not know.
"The Doctor really has a treasure in his wife and daughter," said Mrs.
Gibbs, "they keep his secrets so well! Neither of them will lisp a word
about this handsome Isabella."
"I have no doubt she is the daughter of an Italian refugee," said one of
the Misses Tarletan. "We saw a number of Italian refugees in New York."
This opinion became prevalent in the neighborhood. That Dr. Lester
should be willing to take charge of an unknown girl did not astonish
those who knew of his many charitable deeds. It was not more than he had
done for his cousin's child, who had no especial claim upon him. He had
adopted Lawrence Egerton, educated him, sent him to college, and was
giving him every advantage in his study of the law. In the end Lawrence
would probably marry Celia and the pretty property that the Doctor would
leave behind for his daughter.
"She is one of my patients," the Doctor would say, to any one who asked
him about her.
The tale that she was the daughter of an Italian refugee became more
rife after Isabella had begun to study Italian. She liked to have the
musical Italian words linger on her tongue. She quoted Italian poetry,
read Italian history. In conversation, she generally talked of the
present, rarely of the past or of the future. She listened with wonder
to those who had a talent for reminiscence. How rich their past must be,
that they should be willing to dwell in it! Her own she thought very
meagre. If she wanted to live in the past, it must be in the past of
great men, not in that of her own little self. So she read of great
painters and great artists, and because she read of them she talked of
them. Other people, in referring to bygone events, would say, "When I
was in Trenton last summer,"--"In Cuba the spring that we were there";
but Isabella would say, "When Raphael died, or when Dante lived."
Everybody liked to talk with her,--laughed with her at her enthusiasm.
There was something inspiring, too, in this enthusiasm; it compelled
attention, as her air and manner always attracted notice. By her side,
the style and elegance of the Misses Tarletan faded out; here was a moon
that quite extinguished the light of their little tapers. She became the
centre of admiration; the young girls admired her, as they are prone to
admire some one particular star. She never courted attention, but it was
"Isabella attracts everybody," said Celia to her mother. "Even the old
Mr. Spencers, who have never been touched by woman before, follow her,
and act just as she wills."
Little Celia, who had been quite a belle hitherto, sunk into the shade
by the side of the brilliant Isabella. Yet she followed willingly in the
sunny wake that Isabella left behind. She expanded somewhat, herself,
for she was quite ashamed to know nothing of all that Isabella talked
about so earnestly. The sewing gave place to a little reading, to Mrs.
Lester's horror. The Mountforts and the Gibbses met with Isabella and
Celia to read and study, and went into town with them to lectures and to
A winter passed away and another summer came. Still Isabella was at Dr.
Lester's; and with the lapse of time the harder did it become for the
Doctor to question her of her past history,--the more, too, was she
herself weaned from it.
The young people had been walking in the garden one evening.
"Let me sit by you here in the porch," said Lawrence Egerton to
Celia,--"I want rest, for body and spirit. I am always in a battle-field
when I am talking with Isabella. I must either fight with her or against
her. She insists on my fighting all the time. I have to keep my
weapons bright, ready for use, every moment. She will lead me, too, in
conversation, sends me here, orders me there. I feel like a poor knight
in chess, under the sway of a queen"----
"I don't know anything about chess," said Celia, curtly.
"It is a comfort to have you a little ignorant," said Lawrence. "Please
stay in bliss awhile. It is repose, it is refreshment. Isabella drags
one into the company of her heroes, and then one feels completely
ashamed not to be on more familiar terms with them all. Her Mazzinis,
her Tancreds, heroes false and true,--it makes no difference to
her,--put one into a whirl between history and story. What a row she
would make in Italy, if she went back there!"
"What could we do without her?" said Celia; "it was so quiet and
commonplace before she came!"
"That is the trouble," replied Lawrence, "Isabella won't let anything
remain commonplace. She pulls everything out of its place,--makes a hero
or heroine out of a piece of clay. I don't want to be in heroics all the
time. Even Homer's heroes ate their suppers comfortably. I think it was
a mistake in your father, bringing her here. Let her stay in her sphere
queening it, and leave us poor mortals to our bread and butter."
"You know you don't think so," expostulated Celia; "you worship her
shoe-tie, the hem of her garment."
"But I don't want to," said Lawrence,--"it is a compulsory worship. I
had rather be quiet."
"Lazy Lawrence!" cried Celia, "it is better for you. You would be
the first to miss Isabella. You would find us quite flat without her
brilliancy, and would be hunting after some other excitement."
"Perhaps so," said Lawrence. "But here she comes to goad us on again.
Queen Isabella, when do the bull-fights begin?"
"I wish I were Queen Isabella!" she exclaimed. "Have you read the last
accounts from Spain? I was reading them to the Doctor to-day. Nobody
knows what to do there. Only think what an opportunity for the Queen to
show herself a queen! Why will not she make of herself such a queen as
the great Isabella of Castile was?"
"I can't say," answered Lawrence.
"Queens rule in chess," said Horace Gresham. "I always wondered that the
king was made such a poor character there. He is not only ruled by his
cabinet, bishops, and knights, but his queen is by far the more warlike
"Whoever plays the game rules,--you or Mr. Egerton," said Isabella,
bitterly; "it is not the poor queen. She must yield to the power of the
moving hand. I suppose it is so with us women. We see a great aim before
us, but have not the power."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Lawrence, "it is just the reverse. With some
women,--for I won't be personal,--the aim, as you call it, is very
small,--a poor amusement, another dress, a larger house"----
"You may stop," interrupted Isabella, "for you don't believe this. At
least, keep some of your flings for the women that deserve them; Celia
and I don't accept them."
"Then we'll talk of the last aim we were discussing,--the ride
The next winter was passed by Mrs. Lester, her daughter, and Isabella in
Cuba. Lawrence Egerton accompanied them thither, and the Doctor hoped to
go for them in the spring. They went on Mrs. Lester's account. She had
worn herself out with her household labors,--very uselessly, the Doctor
thought,--so he determined to send her away from them. Isabella and
Celia were very happy all this winter and spring. With Isabella Spanish
took the place of Italian studies. She liked talking in Spanish. They
made some friends among the residents, as well as among the strangers,
particularly the Americans. Of these last, they enjoyed most the society
of Mrs. Blanchard and her son, Otho, who were at the same hotel with
The opera, too, was a new delight to Isabella, and even Celia was
excited by it.
"It is a little too absurd, to see the dying scene of Romeo and Juliet
sung out in an opera!" remarked Lawrence Egerton, one morning; "all
the music of the spheres could not have made that scene, last night,
otherwise than supremely ridiculous."
"I am glad you did not sit by us, then," replied Celia; "Isabella and I
"I dare say," said Lawrence. "I should be afraid to take you to see a
tragedy well acted. You would both be in hysterics before the killing
"I should be really afraid," said Celia, "to see Romeo and Juliet finely
performed. It would be too sad."
"It would be much better to end it up comfortably," said Lawrence. "Why
should not Juliet marry her Romeo in peace?"
"It would be impossible!" exclaimed Isabella,--"impossible to bring
together two such hostile families! Of course the result must be a
"In romances," answered Lawrence, "that may be necessary; but not in
"Why not in real life?" asked Isabella. "When two thunder-clouds meet,
there must be an explosion."
"But we don't have such hostile families arrayed against each other
now-a-days," said Lawrence. "The Bianchi and the Neri have died out;
unless the feud lives between the whites and the blacks of the present
"Are you sure that it has died out everywhere?" asked Isabella.
"Certainly not," said Otho Blanchard; "my mother, Bianca Bianco,
inherits her name from a long line of ancestry, and with it come its
hatreds as well as its loves."
"You speak like an Italian or Spaniard," said Lawrence. "We are
cold-blooded Yankees, and in our slow veins such passions do die out. I
should have taken you for an American from your name."
"It is our name Americanized; we have made Americans of ourselves, and
the Bianchi have become the Blanchards."
"The romance of the family, then," persisted Lawrence, "must needs
become Americanized too. If you were to meet with a lovely young lady of
the enemy's race, I think you would be willing to bury your sword in the
sheath for her sake."
"I hope I should not forget the honor of my family," said Otho. "I
certainly never could, as long as my mother lives; her feelings on the
subject are stronger even than mine."
"I cannot imagine the possibility of such feelings dying out," said
Isabella. "I cannot imagine such different elements amalgamating. It
would be like fire and water uniting. Then there would be no longer any
contest; the game of life would be over."
"Why will you make out life to be a battle always?" exclaimed Lawrence;
"won't you allow us any peace? I do not find such contests all the
time,--never, except when I am fighting with you."
"I had rather fight with you than against you," said Isabella, laughing.
"But when one is not striving, one is sleeping."
"That reminds me that it is time for our siesta," said Lawrence; "so we
need not fight any longer."
Afterwards Isabella and Celia were talking of their new friend Otho.
"He does not seem to me like a Spaniard," said Celia, "his complexion is
so light; then, too, his name sounds German."
"But his passions are quick," replied Isabella. "How he colored up when
he spoke of the honor of his family!"
"I wonder that you like him," said Celia; "when he is with his mother,
he hardly ventures to say his soul is his own."
"I don't like his mother," said Isabella; "her manner is too imperious
and unrefined, it appears to me. No wonder that Otho is ill at ease in
her presence. It is evident that her way of talking is not agreeable to
him. He is afraid that she will commit herself in some way."
"But he never stands up for himself," answered Celia; "he always yields
to her. Now I should not think you would like that."
"He yields because she is his mother," said Isabella; "and it would not
be becoming to contradict her."
"He yields to you, too," said Celia; "how happens that?"
"I hope he does not yield to me more than is becoming," answered
Isabella, laughing; "perhaps that is why I like him. After all, I don't
care to be always sparring, as I am with Lawrence Egerton. With Otho I
find that I agree wonderfully in many things. Neither of us yields to
the other, neither of us is obliged to convince the other."
"Now I should think you would find that stupid," said Celia. "What
becomes of this desire of yours never to rest, always to be struggling
"We might strive together, we might struggle together," responded
She said this musingly, not in answer to Celia, but to her own
thoughts,--as she looked away, out from everything that surrounded her.
The passion for ruling had always been uppermost in her mind; suddenly
there dawned upon her the pleasure of being ruled. She became conscious
of the pleasure of conquering all things for the sake of giving all to
another. A new sense of peace stole upon her mind. Before, she had felt
herself alone, even in the midst of the kindness of the home that had
been given her. She had never dared to think or to speak of the past,
and as little of the future. She had gladly flung herself into the
details of every-day life. She had given her mind to the study of all
that it required. She loved the Doctor, because he was always leading
her on to fresh fields, always exciting her to a new knowledge. She
loved him, too, for himself, for his tenderness and kindness to her.
With Mrs. Lester and Celia she felt herself on a different footing. They
admired her, but they never came near her. She led them, and they were
always behind her.
With Otho she experienced a new feeling. He seemed, very much as she
did herself, out of place in the world just around him. He was a
foreigner,--was not yet acclimated to the society about him. He was
willing to talk of other things than every-day events. He did not talk
of "things," indeed, but he speculated, as though he lived a separate
life from that of mere eating and drinking. He was not content with what
seemed to every-day people possible, but was willing to believe that
there were things not dreamed of in their philosophy.
"It is a satisfaction," said Lawrence once to Celia, "that Isabella has
found somebody who will go high enough into the clouds to suit her.
Besides, it gives me a little repose."
"And a secret jealousy at the same time; is it not so?" asked Celia. "He
takes up too much of Isabella's time to please you."
"The reason he pleases her," said Lawrence, "is because he is more
womanly than manly, and she thinks women ought to rule the world. Now
if the world were made up of such as he, it would be very easily ruled.
Isabella loves power too well to like to see it in others. Look at her
when she is with Mrs. Blanchard! It is a splendid sight to see them
"How can you say so? I am always afraid of some outbreak."
These families were, however, so much drawn together, that, when the
Doctor came to summon his wife and daughter and Isabella home, Mrs.
Blanchard was anxious to accompany them to New England. She wondered if
it were not possible to find a country-seat somewhere near the Lesters,
that she could occupy for a time. The Doctor knew that the Willows was
to be vacant this spring. The Fogertys were all going to Europe, and
would be very willing to let their place.
So it was arranged after their return. The Fogertys left for Europe, and
Mrs. Blanchard took possession of the Willows. It was a pleasant walking
distance from the Lesters, but it was several weeks before Isabella made
her first visit there. She was averse to going into the house, but,
in company with Celia, Lawrence, and Otho, walked about the grounds.
Presently they stopped near a pretty fountain that was playing in the
midst of the garden.
"That is a pretty place for an Undine," said Otho.
"The idea of an Undine makes me shiver," said Lawrence. "Think what a
cold-blooded, unearthly being she would be!"
"Not after she had a soul!" exclaimed Isabella.
"An Undine with a soul!" cried Lawrence. "I conceive of them as
malicious spirits, who live and die as the bubbles of water rise and
"You talk as if there were such things as Undines," said Celia. "I
remember once trying to read the story of Undine, but I never could
"It ends tragically," remarked Otho.
"Of course all such stories must," responded Lawrence; "of course it is
impossible to bring the natural and the unnatural together."
"That depends upon what you call the natural," said Otho.
"We should differ, I suppose," said Lawrence, "if we tried to explain
what we each call the natural. I fancy your 'real life' is different
"Pictures of real life," said Isabella, "are sometimes pictures of
horses and dogs, sometimes of children playing, sometimes of fruits of
different seasons heaped upon one dish, sometimes of watermelons cut
"That is hardly your picture of real life," said Lawrence, laughing,--"a
watermelon cut open! I think you would rather choose the picture of the
Water Fairies from the Duesseldorf Gallery."
"Why not?" said Isabella. "The life we see must be very far from being
the only life that is."
"That is very true," answered Lawrence; "but let the fairies live their
life by themselves, while we live our life in our own way. Why should
they come to disturb our peace, since we cannot comprehend them, and
they certainly cannot comprehend us?"
"You do not think it well, then," said Isabella, stopping in their walk,
and looking down,--"you do not think it well that beings of different
natures should mingle?"
"I do not see how they can," replied Lawrence. "I am limited by my
senses; I can perceive only what they show me. Even my imagination can
picture to me only what my senses can paint."
"Your senses!" cried Otho, contemptuously,--"it is very true, as you
confess, you are limited by your senses. Is all this beauty around you
created merely for you--and the other insects about us? I have no doubt
it is filled with invisible life."
"Do let us go in!" said Celia. "This talk, just at twilight, under
the shade of this shrubbery, makes me shudder. I am not afraid of the
fairies. I never could read fairy stories when I was a child; they were
tiresome to me. But talking in this way makes one timid. There might be
strollers or thieves under all these hedges."
They went into the house, through the hall, and different apartments,
till they reached the drawing-room. Isabella stood transfixed upon the
threshold. It was all so familiar to her!--everything as she had known
it before! Over the mantelpiece hung the picture of the scornful Spanish
lady; a heavy bookcase stood in one corner; comfortable chairs and
couches were scattered round the room; beautiful landscapes against the
wall seemed like windows cut into foreign scenery. There was an air of
ease in the room, an old-fashioned sort of ease, such as the Fogertys
must have loved.
"It is a pretty room, is it not?" said Lawrence. "You look at it as if
it pleased you. How much more comfort there is about it than in the
fashionable parlors of the day! It is solid, substantial comfort."
"You look at it as if you had seen it before," said Otho to Isabella.
"Do you know the room impressed me in that way, too?"
"It is singular," said Lawrence, "the feeling, that 'all this has been
before,' that comes over one at times. I have heard it expressed by a
great many people."
"Have you, indeed, ever had this feeling?" asked Isabella.
"Certainly," replied Lawrence; "I say to myself sometimes, 'I have been
through all this before!' and I can almost go on to tell what is to come
next,--it seems so much a part of my past experience."
"It is strange it should be so with you,--and with you too," she said,
turning to Otho.
"Perhaps we are all more alike than we have thought," said Otho.
Otho's mother appeared, and the conversation took another turn.
Isabella did not go to the Willows again, until all the Lester family
were summoned there to a large party that Mrs. Blanchard gave. She
called it a house-warming, although she had been in the house some time.
It was a beautiful evening. A clear moonlight made it as brilliant
outside on the lawn as the lights made the house within. There was a
band of music stationed under the shrubbery, and those who chose could
dance. Those who were more romantic wandered away down the shaded walks,
and listened to the dripping of the fountain.
Lawrence and Isabella returned from a walk through the grounds, and
stopped a moment on the terrace in front of the house. Just then a dark
cloud appeared in the sky, threatening the moon. The wind, too, was
rising, and made a motion among the leaves of the trees.
"Do you remember," asked Lawrence, "that child's story of the Fisherman
and his Wife? how the fisherman went down to the sea-shore, and cried
'O man of the sea,
Come listen to me!
For Alice, my wife,
The plague of my life,
Has sent me to beg a boon of thee!'
The sea muttered and roared;--do you remember? There was always something
impressive to me in the descriptions, in the old story, of the changes
in the sea, and of the tempest that rose up, more and more fearful, as
the fisherman's wife grew more ambitious and more and more grasping in
her desires, each time that the fisherman went down to the sea-shore. I
believe my first impression of the sea came from that. The coming on of
a storm is always associated with it. I always fancy that it is bringing
with it something beside the tempest,--that there is something ruinous
"That is more fanciful than you usually are," said Isabella; "but, alas!
I cannot remember your story, for I never read it."
"That is where your education and Celia's was fearfully neglected," said
Lawrence; "you were not brought up on fairy stories and Mother Goose.
You have not needed the first, as Celia has; but Mother Goose would have
given a tone to your way of thinking, that is certainly wanting."
A little while afterwards, Isabella stood upon the balcony steps leading
from the drawing-room. Otho was with her. The threatening clouds had
driven almost every one into the house. There was distant thunder and
lightning; but through the cloud-rifts, now and then, the moonlight
streamed down. Isabella and Otho had been talking earnestly,--so
earnestly, that they were quite unobservant of the coming storm, of the
strange lurid light that hung around.
"It is strange that this should take place here!" said Isabella,--"that
just here I should learn that you love me! Strange that my destiny
should be completed in this spot!"
"And this spot has its strange associations with me," said Otho, "of
which I must some time speak to you. But now I can think only of the
present. Now, for the first time, do I feel what life is,--now that you
have promised to be mine!"
Otho was interrupted by a sudden cry. He turned to find his mother
standing behind him.
"You are here with Isabella! she has promised herself to you!" she
exclaimed. "It is a fatality, a terrible fatality! Listen, Isabella!
You are the Queen of the Red Chessmen; and he, Otho, is the King of the
White Chessmen,--and I, their Queen. Can there be two queens? Can there
be a marriage between two hostile families? Do you not see, if there
were a marriage between the Reds and the Whites, there were no game?
Look! I have found our old prison! The pieces would all be here,--but
we, we are missing! Would you return to the imprisonment of this poor
box,--to your old mimic life? No, my children, go back! Isabella, marry
this Lawrence Egerton, who loves you. You will find what life is, then.
Leave Otho, that he may find this same life also."
Isabella stood motionless.
"Otho, the White Prince! Alas! where is my hatred? But life without
him! Even stagnation were better! I must needs be captive to the White
She stretched out her hand to Otho. He seized it passionately. At this
moment there was a grand crash of thunder.
A gust of wind extinguished at once all the lights in the drawing-room.
The terrified guests hurried into the hall, into the other rooms.
"The lightning must have struck the house!" they exclaimed.
A heavy rain followed; then all was still. Everybody began to recover
his spirits. The servants relighted the candles. The drawing-room was
found untenanted. It was time to go; yet there was a constraint upon all
the party, who were eager to find their hostess and bid her good-bye.
But the hostess could not be found! Isabella and Otho, too, were
missing! The Doctor and Lawrence went everywhere, calling for them,
seeking them in the house, in the grounds. They were nowhere to be
found,--neither that night, nor the next day, nor ever afterwards!
The Doctor found in the balcony a box of chessmen fallen down. It was
nearly filled; but the red queen, and the white king and queen, were
lying at a little distance. In the box was the red king, his crown
fallen from his head, himself broken in pieces. The Doctor took up the
red queen, and carried it home.
"Are you crazy?" asked his wife. "What are you going to do with that red
But the Doctor placed the figure on his study-table, and often gazed at
Whenever, afterwards, as was often the case, any one suggested a new
theory to account for the mysterious disappearance of Isabella and the
Blanchards, the Doctor looked at the carved image on his table and was
* * * * *
A wind came up out of the sea,