Part 8 out of 9
Christine could only cling weeping to Dennis.
When the hymn ceased, in harshest discord the voice of a half-drunken
man grated on their ears.
"An' what in bloody blazes does yer Jasus burn us all up for, I'd like
to know. Sure an' he's no right to send us to hell before our time."
"Oh, hush! hush!" cried a dozen voices, shocked and pained.
"Divil a bit will I hush, sure; an' haven't I as good a right to have
me say as that singin' parson!"
"You are an Irishman, are you not?" said Dennis, now venturing out of
"Yis! what have ye got to say agin it?" asked the man, belligerent at
"Did you ever know an Irishman refuse to do what a lady asked of him?"
"Faith no, and I niver will."
"Then this lady, who is sick and suffering, asks you to please keep
still, and I will be still also; so that's fair."
The Irishman scratched his head a moment, and said in a quieter tone,
"Since ye spake so civil and dacent, I'll do as ye sez; and here's to
the leddy's health;" and he finished a bottle of whiskey, which he
soon laid him out on the beach.
"Thank you! Thank you!" said grateful voices on every side.
Dennis found the mother of the child and gave it to her; and then
causing Christine to sit down near the water, where he could easily
throw it on her, he stood at her side, vigilant and almost tender in
his solicitude. Her tears were falling very fast, and he presently
stooped down and said, gently, "Miss Ludolph, I think the worst of the
danger is over."
"Oh, Mr. Fleet!" she whispered, "dreadful as it may seem to you, the
words of that drunken brute there are nearer the language of my heart
than those of your sweet hymn. How can a good God permit such creatures
and evils to exist?"
"Again I must say to you," said Dennis, "that I cannot explain the
mystery of evil. But I know this, God is superior to it; He will at
last triumph over it. The Bible reveals Him to us as able and as seeking
to deliver all who will trust Him and work with Him, and those who
venture out upon His promises find them true. Miss Ludolph, this is
not merely a matter of theory, argument, and belief. It is more truly
a matter of experience. The Bible invites, 'Oh, taste and see that the
Lord is good.' I have tasted and know He is. I have trusted Him for
years, and He never failed me."
"You certainly have been sustained throughout this dreadful scene by
a principle that I cannot understand, but I would give all the world
to possess it."
"You may possess it, Miss Ludolph."
"How? how?" she asked, eagerly.
"Do you wish to believe as I do?"
"Yes, indeed; and yet my heart rebels against a God who permits, even
if He does not cause, all this evil."
"Does it rebel against a Being who from first to last tries to save
men from evil?"
"Tries! tries! what an expression to apply to a God! Why does He not
do it in every case?"
"Because multitudes will not let Him."
"Oh, that is worse still! Surely, Mr. Fleet, you let your reason have
nothing to do with your faith. How can a poor and weak being like
myself prevent an Almighty one from doing what He pleases?"
"I am stronger than you, Miss Ludolph, and yet I could not have saved
you to-night unless you had first trusted me, and then done everything
in your power to further my efforts."
"But your power is human and limited, and you say God is all-powerful."
"Yes, but it is His plan and purpose never to save us against our will.
He has made us in His own image and endowed us with reason, conscience,
and a will to choose between good and evil. He appeals to these noble
faculties from first to last. He has given us hearts, and seeks to
win them by revealing His love to us. More than all, His Spirit,
present in the world, uses every form of truth in persuading and making
us willing to become His true children. So you see that neither on the
one hand does God gather us up like drift-wood nor does He on the other
drag us at His chariot wheels, unwilling captives, as did those who,
at various times, have sought to overrun the world by force. God seeks
to conquer the world by the might of the truth, by the might of love."
Christine was hanging with the most eager interest on his words.
Suddenly his eyes, which had expressed such a kindly and almost tender
interest in her, blazed with indignation, and he darted up the beach.
Turning around she saw, at some little distance, a young woman most
scantily clad, clinging desperately to a bundle which a large, coarse
man was trying to wrench from her. The wretch, finding that he could
not loosen her hold, struck her in the face with such force that she
fell stunned upon the ground, and the bundle flew out of her hand.
He eagerly snatched it up, believing it to contain jewelry. Before
he could escape he was confronted by an unexpected enemy. But Dennis
was in a passion, and withal weak and exhausted, while his adversary
was cool, and an adept in the pugilistic art. The two men fought
savagely, and Christine, forgetting herself in her instinctive desire
to help Dennis, was rushing to his side, crying, "If there is a man
here worthy of the name, let him strike for the right!" but before she
and others could reach the combatants the thief had planted his fist
on Dennis's temple. Though the latter partially parried the blow, it
fell with such force as to extend him senseless on the earth. The
villain, with a shout of derision, snatched up the bundle and dashed
off apparently toward the fire. There was but a feeble attempt made
to follow him. Few understood the case, and indeed scenes of violence
and terror had become so common that the majority had grown apathetic,
save in respect to their personal well-being.
Christine lifted the pale face, down which the blood was trickling,
into her lap, and cried, in a tone of indescribable anguish, "Oh, he
is dead! he is dead!"
"Oh, no, miss; he is not dead, I guess," said a good-natured voice
near. "Let me bring a hatful of water from the lake, and that'll bring
And so it did. Dennis opened his eyes, put his hand to his head, and
then looked around. But when he saw Christine bending over him with
tearful eyes, and realized how tenderly she had pillowed his aching
head, he started up with a deep flush of pleasure, and said: "Do not
be alarmed, Miss Ludolph; I was only stunned for a moment. Where is
"Oh, they let him escape," said Christine, indignantly.
"Shame!" cried Dennis, regaining his feet rather unsteadily.
"Wal, stranger, a good many wrongs to-night must go unrighted."
The poor girl who had been robbed sat on the sands swaying backing and
forth, wringing her hands, and crying that she had lost everything.
"Well, my poor friend, that is about the case with the most of us. We
may be thankful that we have our lives. Here is my coat," for her
shoulders and neck were bare; "and if you will come down to the lake
this lady," pointing to Christine, "will bathe the place where the
brute struck you."
"Shall I not give up my shawl to some of these poor creatures?" asked
"No, Miss Ludolph, I do not know how long we may be kept here; but I
fear we shall suffer as much from cold as from heat, and your life
might depend upon keeping warm."
"I will do whatever you bid me," she said, looking gratefully at him.
"That is the way to feel and act toward God," he said, gently.
But with sudden impetuosity she answered: "I cannot see what He has
just permitted to happen before my eyes. Right has not triumphed, but
the foulest wrong."
"You do not see the end, Miss Ludolph."
"But I must judge from what I see."
After she had bathed the poor girl's face, comforted and reassured
her, Dennis took up the conversation again and found Christine eager
to listen. Pausing every few moments to throw water over his companion,
he said: "Faith is beyond reason, beyond knowledge, though not contrary
to them. You are judging as we do not judge about the commonest
affairs--from a few isolated, mysterious facts, instead of carefully
looking the subject all over. You pass by what is plain and well
understood to what is obscure, and from that point seek to understand
Christianity. Every science has its obscure points and mysteries, but
who begins with those to learn the science? Can you ignore the fact
that millions of highly intelligent people, with every motive to know
the truth, have satisfied themselves as to the reality of our faith?
Our Bible system of truth may contain much that is obscure, even as
the starry vault has distances that no eye or telescope can penetrate,
and as this little earth has mysteries that science cannot solve, but
there is enough known and understood to satisfy us perfectly. Let me
assure you, Miss Ludolph, that Christianity rests on broad truths, and
is sustained by arguments that no candid mind can resist after patiently
She shook her head, silenced perhaps, but not satisfied.
"PRAYER IS MIGHTY"--CHRISTINE A CHRISTIAN
The day was now declining, and the fire in that part of the city
opposite them had so spent itself that they were beginning to have a
little respite from immediate danger. The fiery storm of sparks and
cinders was falling mostly to the northward.
Dennis now ventured to sit down almost for the first time, for he was
wearied beyond endurance. The tremendous danger and excitements, and
the consciousness of peril to the one most dear to him, had kept him
alert long after he ought to have had rest, but overtaxed nature now
asserted its rights, and the moment the sharp spur of danger was removed
he was overpowered by sleep.
Christine spoke to him as he sat near, but even to her (a thing he
could not have imagined possible) he returned an incoherent reply.
"My poor friend, you do indeed need rest," said she, in kindest accents.
He heard her voice like a sweet and distant harmony in a dream, swayed
a moment, and would have fallen over in utter unconsciousness on the
sands, had she not glided to his side and caught his head upon her lap.
In the heavy stupor that follows the utmost exhaustion, Dennis slept
hour after hour. The rest of the day was a perfect blank to him. But
Christine, partially covering and shading his face with the edge of
her shawl, bent over him as patient in watching as he had been brave
in her deliverance. It was beautiful to see the features once so cold
and haughty, now sweet with more than womanly tenderness. There upon
that desolate beach, cold, hungry, homeless, shelterless, she was
happier than she had been for months. But she trembled as she thought
of the future; everything was so uncertain. She seemed involved in a
labyrinth of dangers and difficulties from which she could see no
escape. She knew that both store and home had gone, and probably most,
if not all, of her father's fortune. She felt that these losses might
greatly modify his plans, and really hoped that they would lead him
to remain in this country. She felt almost sure that he would not go
back to Germany a poor man, and to remain in America was to give her
a chance of happiness, and happiness now meant life with him over whom
she bent. For a long time she had felt that she could give up all the
world for him, but now existence would scarcely be endurable without
him. In proportion to the slowness with which her love had been kindled
was its intensity--the steady, concentrated passion of a strong,
resolute nature, for the first time fully aroused. All indecision
passed from her mind, and she was ready to respond whenever he should
speak; but woman's silence sealed her lips, and more than maiden
delicacy masked her heart. While she bent over him with an expression
that, had he opened his eyes, might have caused him to imagine for a
moment that his sleep had been death, and he had wakened in heaven,
yet he must needs awake to find that the look and manner of earth had
returned. Her sensitive pride made her guarded even in expressing her
gratitude, and she purposed to slip his head off upon her shawl whenever
he showed signs of awakening, so that he might believe that the earth
only had been his resting-place.
But now in his unconsciousness, and unnoted by all around, indeed more
completely isolated by the universal misery and apathy about her than
she could have been in her own home, with a delicious sense of security,
she bent her eyes upon him, and toyed daintily with the curling locks
on his brow. Whatever the future might be, nothing should rob her of
the strange, unexpected happiness of this opportunity to be near him,
purchased at such cost.
As she sat there and saw the fire rush and roar away to the northward,
and the sun decline over the ruins of her earthly fortune, she thought
more deeply and earnestly of life than ever before. The long, heavy
sleep induced by the opiate had now taken away all sense of drowsiness,
and never had her mind been clearer. In the light of the terrible
conflagration many things stood out with a distinctness that impressed
her as nothing had ever done before. Wealth and rank had shrivelled
to their true proportions, and she said, half aloud:--
"That which can vanish in a night in flame and smoke cannot belong to
us, is not a part of us. All that has come out of the crucible of this
fire is my character, myself. It is the same with Mr. Fleet; but
comparing his character with mine, how much richer he is! What if there
is a future life, and we enter into it with no other possession than
our character? and that which is called soul or spirit is driven forth
from earth and the body as we have just been from our wealth and homes?
I can no longer coolly and contemptuously ignore as superstition what
he believes. He is not superstitious, but calm, fearless, and seemingly
assured of something that as yet I cannot understand. One would think
that there must be reality in his belief, for it sustains him and
others in the greatest of trials. The hymn he sang was like a magnet
introduced among steel filings mingled with this sand. The mere earth
cannot move, but the steel is instinct with life. So, while many of
us could not respond, others seemed inspired at the name of Jesus with
new hope and courage, and cried to the Nazarene as if He could hear
them. Why don't people cry for help to other good men who lived in the
dim past, and whose lives and deeds are half myth and half truth? why
to this one man only? for educated Catholics no longer pray to the
Then her thoughts reverted to Mr. Ludolph.
"Poor father!" said she; "how will he endure these changes? We have
not felt and acted toward each other as we ought. He is now probably
anxious beyond measure, fearing that I perished in my sleep, and so
I should have done, had it not been for this more than friend that I
have so wronged. Oh, that I could make amends! I wonder--oh, I wonder
if he has any spark of love left for me? He seems kind, even tender,
but he is so to every one--he saved Miss Brown--"
But here a most violent interruption took place. Christine, in the
complete absorption of her thoughts, had not noticed that a group of
rough men and women near by, who had been drinking all day, had now
become intoxicated and violent. They were pushing and staggering,
howling and fighting, in reckless disregard of the comfort of others,
and before she knew it she was in the midst of a drunken brawl. One
rough fellow struck against her, and another trod on Dennis, who started
up with a cry of pain. In a moment he comprehended the situation, and,
snatching up Christine and the shawl, he pushed his way out of the
melee with his right arm, the wretches striking at him and one another
aimlessly in their fury; while both men and women used language that
was worse than their blows. After a brief struggle, Dennis and Christine
extricated themselves, and made their way northward up the beach till
they found a place where the people seemed quiet.
Dennis's sudden awakening had revealed to him that his head had been
pillowed, and it seemed such a kind and thoughtful act on Christine's
part that he could scarcely believe it; at the same time he was full
of shame and self-reproach that by his sleep he had left her unguarded,
and he said: "Miss Ludolph, I hope you will pardon you recreant knight,
who slept while you were in danger; but really I could not help it."
"It is I who must ask pardon," replied Christine, warmly. "After your
superhuman exertions, your very life depended on rest. But I made a
wretched watcher--indeed I have lost confidence in myself every way.
To tell the truth, Mr. Fleet, I was lost in thought, and with your
permission I would like to ask you further about two things you said
this morning. You asserted that you knew God loved you, and that
Christianity was sustained by arguments that no candid mind could
resist. What are those arguments? and how can you know such a comforting
thing as the love of God?"
His eyes lighted up in his intense delight that she should again
voluntarily recur to this subject, and he hoped that God was leading
her to a knowledge of Him, and that he, in answer to his own and his
mother's prayers, might be partially instrumental in bringing the
light. Therefore he said, earnestly: "Miss Ludolph, this is scarcely
the time and place to go over the evidences of Christianity. When in
happy security I hope you may do this at your leisure, and am sure you
will be convinced, for I believe that you honestly wish the truth. But
there is no need that you should wait and look forward into the
uncertain future for this priceless knowledge. The father will not
keep his child waiting who tries to find him. God is not far from any
one of us. When our Lord was on earth, He never repulsed those who
sought Him in sincerity, and He is the true manifestation of God.
"Moreover," he continued, reverently, "God is now on earth as truly
as when Christ walked the waves of Galilee, or stood with the
life-giving word upon His lips at the grave of His friend Lazarus. The
mighty Spirit of God now dwells among men to persuade, help, and lead
them into all truth, and I believe He is guiding you. This Divine
Spirit can act as directly on your mind as did Christ's healing hand
when He touched blind eyes and they saw, and palsied bodies and they
sprung into joyous activity."
Under his eager, earnest words, Christine's eyes also lighted up with
hope, but after a moment her face became very sad, and she said,
wearily, "Mystery! mystery! you are speaking a language that I do not
"Can you not understand this: 'For God so loved the world, that He
gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life'? and that the Bible tells us that
His Son did, in very truth, die that we might live?"
"Yes, yes, I know that the Bible seems to teach all that, but there
must be some mistake about it. Why should an all-powerful God take
such a costly, indirect way of accomplishing His purpose when a word
"We will not discuss God's reasons; I think they are beyond us. But
imagining the Bible story to be true, even though you do not believe
it, is not the love of God revealed to us through His son, Jesus
"Yes, it is the very extravagance of disinterested love, So much so
that my reason revolts at it. It is contrary to all my ideas of Deity
"Pardon me, Miss Ludolph, for saying it, but I think your ideas of
Deity are borrowed more from mythology and human greatness than from
the Bible. Let your reason stand aside a moment; this is not contrary
to it, but beyond it. Imagining the Bible story true, can you not wish
it true? If the man who died on Calvary out of love for you I and for
us all is also God, would you fear to trust yourself to Him? Could
you distrust One who loved you well enough to die for you?"
"No! no, indeed! if I only could believe it, no! But how can I ever
be sure it is true? I am sure of nothing. I am not sure there is a
God. I am not sure the Bible is more than human in its character. I
feel as if my feet stood out upon those shifting waves, and as if there
were nothing certain or stable."
"But in part you know the truth, Miss Ludolph, though you do not believe
it, and I believe that the God of whom we have spoken _can directly
reveal Himself to you_ and make His truth as real to you as it is to
"Mr. Fleet," cried Christine, "if I could believe as you do, I should
be the happiest of the happy, for I should feel that, however much I
suffered in this brief life, in the existence beyond I should be more
than compensated;" and covering her tearful face with her hands she
moaned, as if it were wrung from her, "I have suffered so much, and
there seemed no remedy!"
Dennis's feelings were also deeply touched, and the dew of sympathy
gathered in his own eyes. In the gentlest accents be said, "Oh, that
you could trust that merciful, mighty One who invites all the heavy
laden to come to Him for rest!"
She looked up and saw his sympathy, and was greatly moved. In faltering
tones she said: "You feel for me, Mr. Fleet. You do not condemn me in
my blindness and unbelief. I cannot trust Him, because I am not sure
He exists. If there was such a God I would gladly devote my whole being
to Him; but I trust _you_, and will do anything you say."
"Will you kneel on these sands with me in prayer to Him?" he asked,
She hesitated, trembled, but at last said, "Yes."
He took her hand as if they were brother and sister, and they kneeled
together on the desolate beach. The glow of sunset was lost in the
redder glow of the fire that smouldered all over the ruins, and still
raged in the northwest, and the smoke and gathering gloom involved
them in obscurity.
Though the weary, apathetic fugitives regarded them not, we believe
that angelic forms gathered round, and that the heart of the Divine
Father yearned toward His children.
When they rose, after a simple prayer from Dennis, in which he pleaded
almost as a child might with an earthly father, Christine trembled
like a leaf, and was very pale, but her face grew tearless, quiet, and
very sad. Dennis still held her hand in the warm, strong grasp of
sympathy. Gently she withdrew it, and said, in a low, despairing tone:
"It is all in vain. There is no answer. Your voice has been lost in
the winds and waves."
"Wait the King's time," said he, reverently.
"You addressed him as Father. Would a good father keep his child
"Yes, sometimes He does; He is also King."
After a moment she turned to him the saddest face he ever looked upon,
and said, gently, again giving him her hand, "Mr. Fleet, you have done
your best for me, and I thank you all the same."
He was obliged to turn away to hide his feelings. Silently they again
sat down on the beach together. Weariness and something like despair
began to tell on Christine, and Dennis trembled when he thought of the
long night of exposure before her. He bent his face into his hands and
prayed as he had never prayed before. She looked at him wistfully, and
knew he was pleading for her; but she now believed it was all in vain.
The feeling grew upon her that belief or unbelief was a matter of
education and temperament, and that the feelings of which Dennis spoke
were but the deceptive emotions of our agitated hearts. To that degree
that the Divine love seemed visionary and hopeless, she longed for him
to speak of his own, if in truth it still existed, that she could
understand and believe in. If during what remained of life she could
only drink the sweetness of that, she felt it was the best she could
hope for--and then the blank of nothingness.
But he prayed on, and with something of his mother's faith seemed at
last, as it were, in the personal presence of Christ. With an
importunity that would not be denied, he entreated for her who despaired
at his side.
At last, putting her hand lightly on his arm, she said: "Mr. Fleet,
waste no more time on me. From the groans I hear, some poor woman is
sick or hurt. Perhaps you can do some real good by seeing to her needs."
He rose quietly, feeling that in some way God would answer, and that
he must patiently wait.
Going up the beach a short distance he found a German woman lying just
on the edge of the water. In answer to his questions, he learned from
her broken English that she was sick and in pain. A sudden thought
struck him. In seeking to help another, might not Christine find help
herself, and in the performance of a good deed, might not the Author
of all good reveal Himself? Returning to her, he said: "Miss Ludolph,
the poor woman you have heard is sick and alone. She is German, and
you can speak to her and comfort her as only a woman can."
Christine went at once, though with little confidence in her powers.
Indeed it was, perhaps, the first visit of charity and mercy she had
ever made. But she would have done anything he asked, and determined
to do her best. She helped the poor creature further up from the water,
and then, taking her hands, spoke to her soothingly and gently in her
"Heaven and all the angels bless your sweet face for taking pity on
a poor lone body, and so they will too," is the free rendering of her
"Would you please say a little prayer for a lone, sick body?" she
asked, after a little while.
Christine hesitated a moment, and then thought: "Why not? if it will
be of any comfort to the poor thing. It can do neither of us harm."
Dennis saw her kneel at the woman's side, lift her white face to heaven,
and her lips move. Her attitude was unmistakably that of prayer. He
could scarcely believe his eyes.
Her petition was brief and characteristic: "O God--if there is a
God--help this poor creature!"
Then Dennis saw her start up and glance around in a strange, bewildered
manner. Suddenly she clasped her hands and looked up with an ecstatic,
thrilling cry: "There is! there is! God lives and loves me, I feel,
I know, and therefore I may hope and live." Turning to the still raging
flames, she exclaimed: "Burn on with your fiery billows, I do not fear
you now! I am safe, safe forever! Oh, how can I ever love and praise
Then, springing to Dennis's side, she took both his hands in hers, and
said: "Mr. Fleet, you have saved my life again and again, and I am,
oh, how grateful! but in leading me to this knowledge you have made
me your debtor for evermore. God does live, and I believe now He loves
As the glare of the fire fell on her face, he was awed and speechless
at its expression. From its ecstatic joy and purity it seemed that the
light of heaven, instead of her burning home, was illumining it.
At last he said, brokenly, "Thank God! thank God! my many, many prayers
The look of love and gratitude she gave him will only find its
counterpart in heaven, when the saved beam upon those who led them to
the Saviour. The whole of her strong womanly soul, thoroughly aroused,
was in her face, and it shone like that of an angel.
To Dennis, with the force of fulfilled prophecy, recurred his mother's
words, and unconsciously he spoke them aloud: "PRAYER is MIGHTY."
After a moment Christine returned to her charge and said, gently, "I
think I can take better care of you now."
The poor woman looked at her in a bewildered way, half fearing she had
lost her senses. But there was that in Christine's tone and manner now
that went like sunlight and warmth to the heart, and in broadest German
the grateful creature was soon blessing her again and again, and
Christine felt that she was blessed beyond even her wildest dreams.
Dennis now felt that she must have food and rest. She appeared, in the
ghostly light of the distant flames, so pale and spirit-like, that he
almost feared she would slip away to heaven at once, and he began
looking for some one stronger, older, and more suitable, to take her
place. At a little distance further north he at last found a stout
German woman sitting with her two children on a large feather bed, the
sole relic of her household goods. Dennis acquainted her with the case,
and she soon took the matter out of his and Christine's hands in a
very satisfactory way.
To the south and west opportunity of escape was utterly cut off;
eastward were the waters of the lake, so that their only chance was
to push northward. After making their way slowly for a short distance
among the thickly scattered groups and the varied articles that had
been dragged to the shore for safety, Dennis thought he heard a familiar
"Dr. Arten!" he cried.
"Hallo! who wants me?" answered the good old physician, bustling up
in rather incongruous costume, consisting of a dress coat, white vest,
red flannel drawers, and a very soiled pair of slippers.
"Oh, doctor! the very sight of you inspires hope and courage."
"Surely a young fellow like you can be in no want of those articles?"
"If he is lacking," cried Christine, "it must be for the reason that
he has given hope and courage to every one he has met, and so has
"Heigho!" exclaimed the doctor, "you here?"
"Yes, thanks to the heroism of Mr. Fleet."
"Fleet, is that all you have saved from the fire?" asked the doctor,
with a humorous twinkle, pointing to Christine.
"I am well satisfied," said Dennis, quietly, but with rising color.
"I should have perished, had not Mr. Fleet come to my rescue," continued
Christine, warmly, glad of an opportunity to express a little of her
The doctor turned his genial, humorous eye on her and said: "Don't be
too grateful, Miss Ludolph; he is a young man, and only did his duty.
Now if I had been so fortunate you might have been as grateful as you
It was Christine's turn to grow rather rosier than even the red fire
warranted, but she said, "You would have your joke, doctor, if the
world were burning up."
"Yes, and after it burned up," he replied. "What do you think of that,
Miss Ludolph, with your German scepticism?"
Tears came in Christine's eyes, and she said, in a low tone, "I am
glad to say that I have lost my German scepticism in the fire also."
"What!" cried the doctor, seizing both her hands in his hearty way.
"Will you accept of our Christian superstition?"
"I think I have accepted your glorious Christian truth, and the thought
makes me very happy."
"Well, now I can almost say, Praise God for the fire, though old Dr.
Arten must commence again where the youngsters are who kick up their
heels in their office all day."
With professional instinct he slipped his finger on Christine's pulse,
then rummaged in his pocket and soon drew out some powders, and in his
brusque way made her take one.
"Oh, how bitter!" she exclaimed.
"That is the way the ladies treat me," began the merry bachelor: "not
an ounce of gratitude when I save their lives. But let a young fellow
like Fleet come along and get them out of danger by mere brute strength,
instead of my delicate, skilful way, and language breaks down with their
thanks. Very well, I shall have compensation--I shall present
my bill before long. And now, young man, since you have set out to
rescue my little friend here, you had better carry the matter through,
for several reasons which I need not urge. Your best chance is to make
your way northward, and then continue around the west, where you can
find food and shelter;" and with a hearty grasp of the hand, the brave,
genial old man wished them "God speed!"
Dennis told him of the poor German woman, and then pushed on in the
direction indicated. But Christine was growing weak and exhausted. At
last they reached the Catholic cemetery. It was crowded with fugitives
and the fire to the northwest still cut off all escape, even if
Christine's strength had permitted further exertion. It was now
approaching midnight, and she said, wearily: "Mr. Fleet, I am very
sorry, but I fear I cannot take another step. The powder Dr. Arten
gave me strengthened me for a time, but its effect is passing away,
and I feel almost paralyzed with fatigue. I am not afraid to stay here,
or indeed anywhere now."
"It seems a very hard necessity that you should have to remain in such
a place, Miss Ludolph, but I see no help for it. We are certainly as
well off as thousands of others, and so I suppose ought not to
"I feel as if I could never complain again, Mr. Fleet. I only hope my
father is as safe and as well as we are. I cannot tell you how my heart
goes out toward him now that I see everything in a different light.
I have not been a true daughter, and I do long to make amends. He
surely has escaped, don't you think?"
"Mr. Ludolph was possessed of unusual sagacity and prudence," said
Dennis, evasively. "What any man could do, he could. And now,
Miss Ludolph, I will try to find you a resting-place. There are such
crowds here that I think we had better go nearer that side, where early
in the evening the fire drove people away."
The cemetery had not been used of late years, and many of the bodies
had been removed. This caused excavations here and there, and one of
these from which the gathered leaves and grass had been burned, Dennis
thought might answer for Christine's couch, as in the hollow of this
vacant and nearly filled grave she would be quite sheltered from the
wind, and the sand was still warm from the effects of the fire. To his
surprise she made no objection.
"I am so weary that I can rest anywhere," she said, "and a grave is
not to me what it was once."
He arranged her shawl so that it might be mattress, pillow, and
covering, and wrapped her up.
"And how will you endure the long, cold hours, my friend?" she asked,
looking up most sympathetically.
"Thanks to your kindness, I had such a good sleep this afternoon that
I feel strong and rested," he replied, with a smile.
"I fear you say so to put my mind at rest;" but even as she spoke her
eyes closed and she went to sleep like a tired and trusting child. As
with Dennis a few hours before, the limit of nature's endurance had
been reached, and the wealthy, high-born Miss Ludolph, who on Sabbath
night had slept in the midst of artistic elegance and luxury, now, on
Monday night, rested in a vacant grave under the open and
storm-gathering sky. Soon--to be accurate, at two o'clock on the morning
of Tuesday--rain began to fall. But, with all the discomfort it brought,
never had rain been more welcome.
Christine shivered in her sleep, and Dennis looked around vainly for
some additional covering. The thronging fugitives were all in a similar
plight, and their only course was simply to endure till some path of
The night was indeed a long one to him. At first excitement and
happiness kept him awake and unconscious of time and discomfort. But
he soon felt how weary and hungry he was, for he had eaten nothing
since his slight supper on Sabbath evening. The heat of the fire
perceptibly lessened as the rain began falling, and without his coat
Dennis was soon chilled to the bone. On every side he heard moans of
discomfort, and he knew that he had far more reason to endure patiently
than many near him. He tried to keep himself warm by walking around,
but at last he grew too weary for that, and sat, a patient, cowering
watcher, at the head of Christine's weird couch, listening sadly at
times to the pitiful crying of little children and the sighs and groans
of older sufferers.
At last the light of welcome day streaked the eastern horizon, and
Christine opened her eyes in a bewildered way, but, on seeing him
swaying backward and forward with half-closed eyes, sprang up and said,
"And have you sat and watched there all the long night?"
"I hope you feel rested and better, Miss Ludolph," he replied, startled
from drowsiness by her voice.
"It has been raining, too. I fear you are wet through. Oh, how much
you must have suffered on my account!"
"I imagine you are as wet as I am, Miss Ludolph. This has been a very
democratic experience for you. We are all about alike in this strange
"No; your kindness made me quite comfortable. Indeed, I never slept
better. And you, without any coat or shelter, have watched patiently
hour after hour."
"Well, you did as much for me yesterday afternoon, so we are quits."
"I think there is a great difference," she said. "And remember what
a watcher I made; I let those drunken creatures run over you."
"I don't see how you could have helped it," said he, laughing. "That
you should have cared for me as you did was a favor that I never
expected," he added, blushing.
She blushed too, but made no reply; at the same time she was vexed
with herself that she did not. Dennis, with a lover's blindness,
misunderstood her silence, and thought that, as a friend, she was more
grateful than he could wish, but he must speak in no other character.
Then he remembered that it would be dishonorable to urge his suit under
the circumstances; it would be a source of inexpressible pain to her,
with her strong sense of obligation, to put aside expressions of his
deeper regard, and he resolved to avoid if possible any manifestations
of his feelings. While she was dependent upon him he would act the
part of a brother toward her, and if his human love could never find
its consummation, he would bear his loss as patiently as possible. But
in spite of himself a tinge of sadness and restraint came into his
manner, and Christine sighed to herself, "If _he_ only knew, and _I_
only knew, just the truth, how much happier we might be!" There was a
general movement now in the strangely assorted multitude. The fire had
swept everything away so completely on the north side that there were
not hot blazing ruins to prevent crossing. Accordingly men came pouring
over, looking for their families. On every side were cries of joy on
recognition of those whom fear and terrible forebodings had buried under
the blackened remains of once happy homes. But mingled with exclamations
of joy were sobs and wails of anguish, as some now realized in the
lapsing hours that absent members of the household were lost.
Christine looked in vain for her father; at last Dennis said: "Miss
Ludolph, do you feel equal to the effort of crossing to the west side?
You must be faint with hunger, and there only can we hope for help."
"Oh, yes! let us go at once, for your sake as well as mine;" for she
saw that his long fasting and great fatigue had made him very haggard.
They urged their way across the burned district as fast as their
exhausted state would permit, carefully avoiding burning brands that
still lay in the street.
"I hope you will have patience with me in my slow progress," said
Christine, "for I feel as I imagine Rip Van Winkle must have done,
after his twenty years' nap."
"I think you have borne up heroically, Miss Ludolph," said Dennis,
"Oh, no! I am not in the least heroic, but I confess that I am very
hungry. I never knew what hunger was before. Well, I can now appreciate
what must often be the condition of the poor, and hope not to be so
forgetful of them hereafter."
"I am glad to hear you say that you are hungry, Miss Ludolph, for it
proves that with care you will rally after this dreadful exposure, and
be your former self."
"Ah! Mr. Fleet, I hope I shall never be my old self again. I shudder
when I think what I was when you awakened me that dreadful night."
"But I have feared," said he, ever avoiding any reference to his own
services, "that, though you might escape the fire, the exposure would
be greater than you could endure. I trembled for you last night when
it began to rain, but could find no additional covering."
"No brother could be kinder or more thoughtful of me," she said, turning
upon him a glad, grateful face.
"That is it," thought Dennis. "She hints to me what must be our
relationship. She is the Baroness Ludolph, and is pledged to a future
that I cannot share."
But as he saw her gratitude, he resolved all the more resolutely not
to put it to the hard test of refusing his love. A little later he
unconsciously sighed wearily, and she looked at him wistfully.
"Oh, that I _knew_ if he felt toward me as he once did!" she said to
They now reached the unscathed streets of the west side, which were
already thronged with fugitives as hungry and gaunt as themselves.
Mingling with this great strange tide of weak, begrimed, hollow-eyed
humanity, they at last reached Dr. Goodwin's beautiful church. Here
already had begun the noble charity dispensed from that place during
the days of want and suffering that followed.
Waiting with multitudes of others, Christine and Dennis at last received
an army biscuit (hardtack in the soldier's vernacular) and a tin-cup
of what resembled coffee. To him it was very touching to see how eagerly
she received this coarse fare, proving that she was indeed almost
famished. Too weak to stand, they sat down near the door on the
sidewalk. A kind lady presently came and said, "If you have no place to
go you will find it more comfortable in the church."
They gladly availed themselves of her permission, as the thronged
street was anything but pleasant.
"Mr. Fleet," said Christine, "I am now going to take care of you in
return for your care last night," and she led him up to a secluded
part of the church by the organ, arranged some cushions on a seat, and
then continued: "As I have obeyed you, so you must now be equally
docile. Don't you dare move from that place till I call you;" and she
He was indeed wearied beyond expression, and most grateful for a chance
to rest. This refuge and the way it was secured seemed almost a heavenly
experience, and he thought with deepest longing, "If we could always
take care of each other, I should be perhaps too well satisfied with
this earthly life."
When after a little time Christine returned he was sleeping as heavily
as he had done before upon the beach, but the smile his last thought
occasioned still rested on his face.
For some little time she also sat near and rested, and her eyes sought
his face as if a story were written there that she never could finish.
Then she went to make inquiries after her father. But no one to whom
she spoke knew anything about him.
Bread and other provisions were constantly arriving, but not fast
enough to meet the needs of famishing thousands. Though not feeling
very strong she offered her services, and was soon busily engaged. All
present were strangers to her, but, when they learned from the inquiries
for her father that she was Miss Ludolph, she was treated with deference
and sympathy. But she assumed nothing, and as her strength permitted,
during the day, she was ready for any task, even the humblest. She
handed food around among the hungry, eager applicants, with such a
sweet and pitying face that she heard many a murmured blessing. Her
efforts were all the more appreciated as all saw that she too had
passed through the fire and had suffered deeply. At last a kind,
motherly lady said: "My dear, you look ready to drop. Here, take this,"
and she poured out a glass of wine and gave her a sandwich; "now, go
and find some quiet nook and rest. It's your duty."
"I have a friend who has suffered almost everything in saving me. He
is asleep now, but he has had scarcely anything to eat for nearly three
days, and I know he will be very hungry when he wakes."
"Nothing to eat for three days! Why, you must take him a whole loaf,
and this, and this," cried the good lady, about to provision Dennis
for a month.
"Oh, no," said Christine, with a smile, "so much would not be good for
him. If you will give me three or four sandwiches, and let me come for
some coffee when he wakes, it will be sufficient;" and she carried
what now seemed treasures to where Dennis was sleeping, and sat down
with a happy look in her face.
The day had been full of sweet, trustful thoughts. She was conscious
of a presence within her heart and all around that she knew was Divine,
and in spite of her anxiety about her father and the uncertainty of
the future, she had a rest and contentment of mind that she had never
experienced before. Then she felt such a genuine sympathy for the
sufferers about her, and found them so grateful when she spoke to them
gently and kindly, that she wondered she had never before discovered
the joy of ministering to others. She was entering a new world, and,
though there might be suffering in it, the antidote was ever near, and
the pleasures promised to grow richer, fuller, more satisfying, till
they developed into the perfect happiness of heaven. But every Christian
joy that was like a sweet surprise--every thrilling hope that pointed
to endless progress in all that is best and noblest in life, instead
of the sudden blank and nothingness that threatened but yesterday--and,
above all, the animating consciousness of the Divine love which kept
her murmuring, "My Saviour, my good, kind Heavenly Father," all reminded
her of him who had been instrumental in bringing about the wondrous
change. Often during the day she would go and look at him, and could
Dennis only have opened his eyes at such a moment, and caught her
expression, no words would have been needed to assure him of his
The low afternoon sun shone in gold and crimson on his brow and face
through the stained windows before he gave signs of waking, and then
she hurried away to get the coffee hot from the urn.
She had hardly gone before he arose greatly refreshed and strengthened,
but so famished that a roast ox would have seemed but a comfortable
meal. His eye at once caught the sandwiches placed temptingly near.
"That is Miss Ludolph's work," he said; "I wonder if she has saved any
for herself." He was about to go and geek her when she met him with
"Go back," she said; "how dare you disobey orders?"
"I was coming to find you."
"Well, that is the best excuse you could have made, but I am here; so
sit down and drink this coffee and devour these sandwiches."
"Not unless you share them with me."
"Insubordinate! See here," and she took out her more dainty provision
from behind a seat and sat down opposite, in such a pretty,
companionable way that he in his admiration and pleasure forgot his
"What is the matter?" she asked. "You are to eat the sandwiches, not
"A very proper hint, Miss Ludolph; one might well be inclined to make
"Now that is a compliment worthy of the king of the Cannibal Islands."
"Miss Ludolph," said Dennis, looking at her earnestly, "you do indeed
A ray of light slanting through a yellow diamond of glass fell with
a sudden glory upon her face, and in a tone of almost ecstasy she said:
"Oh, I am so glad and grateful, when I realize what might have been,
and what is! It seems that I have lost so little in this fire in
comparison with what I have gained. And but for you I might have lost
everything. How rich this first day of life, real, true life, has been!
My Heavenly Father has been so kind to me that I cannot express it.
And then to think how I have wronged Him all these years!"
"You have indeed learned the secret of true eternal happiness, Miss
"I believe it--I feel sure of it. All trouble, all pain will one day
pass away forever; and sometimes I feel as if I must sing for joy. I
do so long to see my father and tell him. I fear he won't believe it
at first, but I can pray as you did, and it seems as if my Saviour
would not deny me anything. And now, Mr. Fleet, when you have finished
your lunch, I am going to ask one more favor, and then will dub you
truest knight that ever served defenceless woman. You will find my
father for me, for I believe you can do anything."
Even in the shadow where he sat she caught the pained expression of
She started up and grasped his arm.
"You know something," she said; then added: "Do not be afraid to find
my father now. When he knows what services you have rendered me, all
estrangement, if any existed, will pass away."
But he averted his face, and she saw tears gathering in his eyes.
"Mr. Fleet," she gasped, "do you know anything I do not?"
He could hide the truth no longer. Indeed it was time she should learn
it. Turning and taking her trembling hand, he looked at her so sadly
and kindly that she at once knew her father was dead.
"Oh, my father!" she cried, in a tone of anguish that he could never
forget, "you will never, never know. All day I have been longing to
prove to you the truth of Christianity by my loving, patient tenderness,
but you have died, and will never know," she moaned, shudderingly.
He still held her hand--indeed she clung to his as to something that
might help sustain her in the dark, bitter hour.
"Poor, poor father!" she cried; "I never treated him as I ought, and
now he will never know the wealth of love I was hoping to lavish on
him." Then, looking at Dennis almost reproachfully, she said: "Could
you not save him? You saved so many others."
"Indeed I could not, Miss Ludolph; I tried, and nearly lost my life
in the effort. The great hotel behind the store fell and crushed all
in a moment."
She shuddered, but at last whispered, "Why have you kept this so long
"How could I tell you when the blow would have been death? Even now
you can scarcely bear it."
"My little beginning of faith is sorely tried. Heavenly Spirit," she
cried, "guide me through this darkness, and let not doubt and unbelief
cloud my mind again."
"Such prayer will be answered," said Dennis, in a deep, low tone.
They sat in the twilight in silence. He still held her hand, and she
was sobbing more gently and quietly. Suddenly she asked, "Is it wrong
thus to grieve over the breaking of an earthly tie?"
"No, not if you will say as did your Lord in His agony, 'Oh, my Father,
Thy will be done.'"
"I will try," she said, softly, "but it is hard."
"He is a merciful and faithful High Priest. For in that He Himself
hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor them that are
"Do you know that I think my change in feeling makes me grieve all the
more deeply? Until to-day I never loved my father as I ought. It is
the curse of unbelief to deaden everything good in the heart. Oh, I
do feel such a great, unspeakable pity for him!"
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that
"Is that in the Bible?" she asked.
"It is very sweet. He indeed must be my refuge now, for I am alone in
"He has said, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' I have passed
through this sorrow so recently myself that I can sympathize with you
as a fellow-sufferer."
"True, true, you have," she answered. "Is that the reason that Christ
suffered with us--that we might know He sympathized with us?"
"How unspeakably comforting is such sympathy, both human and divine!
Tell me about your mother."
"I fear I cannot without being unmanned. She was one of Heaven's
favorites, and I owe everything to her. I can tell you one thing,
though, she prayed for you continually--even with her dying lips, when
my faith had broken down."
This touched Christine very deeply. At last she said, "I shall see her
"I wish you had seen her," he continued very sadly, looking as if at
a scene far away.
"You cannot wish it more than I. Indeed I would have called on her,
had it not been for an unfortunate accident."
He looked at her with some surprise, as if not understanding her remark,
but said, "She greatly wished to see you before she died."
"Oh, I wish I had known it!"
"Did you not know it?" he asked, in a startled manner.
"No, but I felt grateful to her, for I understood that she offered to
take care of me in case I had the smallpox. I wanted to visit her very
much, and at last thought I would venture to do so, but just then I
sprained my ankle. I sent my maid to inquire, but fear she didn't do
my errand very well," added Christine, looking down.
"She never came, Miss Ludolph." Then he continued, eagerly: "I fear
I have done you a great wrong. A little time before my mother died,
she wrote you a line saying that she was dying and would like to see
you. I did not know you could not come--I thought you would not."
Crimson with shame and humiliation, Christine buried her burning cheeks
in her hands and murmured, "I never received it."
"And did you send the exquisite flowers and fruit?" he asked. "Ah, I
see that you did. I am so glad--so very glad that I was mistaken! I
sincerely ask your pardon for my unjust thoughts."
"It is I who should ask pardon, and for a long time I have earnestly
wished that I might find opportunity to do so. My conduct has been
simply monstrous, but of late it has seemed worse than the reality.
Everything has been against me. If you only knew--but--" (and her head
bowed lower). Then she added, hastily, "My maid has been false, and
I must have appeared more heartless than ever." But, with biter shame
and sorrow, she remembered who must have been the inspirer of the
treachery, and, though she never spoke of it again, she feared that
Dennis suspected it also. It was one of those painful things that must
be buried, even as the grave closes over the frail, perishing body.
Let those who are tempted to a wicked, dishonorable deed remember that,
even after they are gone, the knowledge of it may come to those who
loved them, like an incurable wound.
Dennis's resolution not to speak till Christine should be no longer
dependent on him was fast melting away, as he learned that she had not
been so callous and forgetful as she had seemed. But before he could
add another word, a wild, sweet, mournful voice was heard singing:
"O fiery storm, wilt never cease?
Thy burning hail falls on my heart;
Bury me deep, that I in peace
May rest where death no more can part."
In awed, startled tones they both exclaimed, "SUSIE WINTHROP!"
DOCTOR ARTEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING
Hastening down into the body of the church, Dennis and Christine found
Mrs. Leonard lying on some cushions in a pew. She was scantily clad,
her sweet face scorched and blackened, and her beautiful hair almost
Her husband was bending over her in an agony of mingled grief and joy.
She had just been brought in from wandering aimlessly and alone quite
out upon the prairie, singing in a low, plaintive way to herself words
suggested by the sudden disaster that had temporarily robbed her of
husband, of reason, and almost of life.
Dennis afterward learned from Professor Leonard that when first aroused
they had escaped from the hotel, but, not realizing the danger, he had
stepped back a moment at her request to get something she valued very
much, and they had become separated.
"And thus at last I find the poor child," he cried, with a look of
Mrs. Leonard did not know any of them, but continued her low, plaintive
Dr. Arten, who had found his way to the church as one of the centres,
was soon in attendance, his benevolent face becoming the very embodiment
of pity. The crowd were pushed back, and with other kind ladies
Christine took charge of her poor unconscious friend, and all was done
that skill and tender love could suggest. At last, under the doctor's
opiates, her low, weird singing ceased, and she slept, her husband
holding her hand. The thronging fugitives were kept a little away, and
Dr. Arten slept near, to be within call.
A lady asked Christine to go home with her, but she thanked her and
said, "No, I would rather remain in the church near my friends."
Dennis saw that she was greatly wearied. Taking her hand, he said:
"Miss Ludolph, it is my turn to take care of you again. See, our friends
are preparing a place there for the ladies to sleep. Please go to rest
at once, for you do indeed need it."
"I am very tired, but I know I could not sleep. How strange this life
is! All day, the world, in spite of what has happened, seemed growing
brighter. Now with the night has come the deeper darkness of sorrow.
On every side pain and suffering seem to predominate, and to me there
will ever be so much mystery in events like my father's death and my
friend Susie's experience, that I know it will be hard to maintain a
"God will help you to trust; you will not be left to struggle alone.
Then remember you are His child, and earthly parents do much that
little children cannot understand."
With a faint smile she answered: "I fear I shall be one of those
troublesome children that are ever asking why. All day it has seemed
so easy to be a Christian, but already I learn that there will be times
when I shall have to cling to my Saviour, instead of being carried
forward in His arms. Indeed, I almost fear that I shall lose Him in
"But He will not lose you," replied Dennis. "Since you are not sleepy,
let me tell you a short Bible story."
"Oh, do, please do, just as if I were a little child."
"It is in the New Testament. Jesus had sent His disciples in a boat
across the sea of Galilee, while He should go up alone on a mountain
to pray. The night came, and with it a storm swept down against the
disciples. The smooth sea was lashed into great foam-crested waves
which broke over their little ship. They tugged hour after hour at
the oars, but in vain. The night grew darker, the wind more contrary,
the waves higher and more threatening, their arms wearied, and they
may have feared that they would perish alone and without remedy in the
black midnight. But we read that 'He saw them toiling in rowing,'
though they knew it not. From the distant mountain side 'He saw
them'--marked every weary stroke of the oar, and every throb of fear.
But at last, when they were most ready to welcome Him, when none could
say, 'We should have rowed through the storm alone,' He came to them
walking safely on the dark waves that threatened them with death, and
said, 'Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.' Then they gladly
received Him into the ship, and immediately the rough waves were hushed,
and the keel of the boat grated on the beach toward which they had
vainly rowed. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him,
saying, 'Of a truth thou art the Son of God.'
"Now it was on the evening of that very night that these same disciples
had engaged in a scene of festivity. They had stood in the sunset on
the mountain slope, and seen their Lord feed many thousand. Then all
was peace, safety, and good cheer. Life changed as quickly for them
as for you, but did not their Divine Master see them as truly in the
stormy night as in the sunlight? Did He leave them to perish?
"He is watching you, Miss Ludolph, for He is ever the same; and before
this stormy night of your sorrow passes away you will hear His voice,
saying, 'Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.'"
"Already I hear it," she said, in a low, glad voice, smiling through
her tears. "I can, I do trust Him, and the conflicting winds of doubt
and fear are becoming still. Among all these homeless people there
must be many sad, discouraged hearts. You have helped me so much; can
you not say a word or sing something that will help them?"
Dennis thought a moment, and then, in a sweet, clear voice that
penetrated every part of the large building, sang:
"Father in Heaven, the night is around us,
Terror and danger our portion have been;
We cry unto Thee, oh, save and defend us,
Comfort the trembling, and pardon our sin.
"Hearts that are heavy, look onward and upward;
Though wild was the storm that wrecked your loved homes,
Faith lifts your sad glances hopefully heavenward,
To mansions prepared with glory-crowned domes.
"Hearts that are breaking, whose lov'd ones have vanished,
Swept down in the seething ocean of fire,
E'en now they may rest where pain is all banished,
And join their glad songs with the heavenly choir.
"Hearts that are groaning with life's weary burden,
Who fear to go forward, to sorrow a prey;
Jesus invites you--'Oh, come, heavy laden';
Leave sin at His feet, bear mercy away."
After the first line there was a breathless hush; but, when he closed,
low sobbings might be heard from many of the women, and in the dim
light not a few tears shone in the eyes of manhood. Dennis's voice was
sympathetic in its character, and he had the power of throwing into
it much feeling.
Christine was weeping quietly, but her tears now were like the warm
spring rain as it falls on the precious seed. At last she said, "You
have done these people much good."
"To you belongs all the credit, for it was at your suggestion I sang."
She shook her head, and then said, "Good-night, my friend, I shall
never forget this day with its mingled experience; but I think, I hope,
I shall never doubt God again;" and she went to her rest.
The light of the next day brought to view many hard realities, and
chief among these was the bread question. Dennis was up with the dawn,
and by eager inquiries sought to comprehend the situation. Some were
gloomy and discouraged, some apathetic, and some determined, courageous,
and hopeful; and to this last class he belonged.
Most thankful that he had come out of the fiery ordeal unscathed, he
resolved to contribute his quota toward a new and better Chicago.
Young, and sanguine in temperament, he already saw the city rise from
its ashes in statelier proportions and richer prosperity. With a thrill
of exultation he heard the report that some Napoleonic business men
had already telegraphed for building material, and were even now
excavating the hot ruins.
Christine had hardly joined him as he stood at the door when a gentleman
entered and asked, "Who here are willing and able to work for fair
"I am at your service," said Dennis, stepping forward promptly.
"You are a gentleman, sir," said the speaker, impressed with the fact
by Dennis's bearing, though his hat and coat were gone; "I need laborers
who can handle the pick and shovel."
"I will work for less, then, till I can handle these tools as well as
a laborer. There is no reason why I should eat the bread of charity
a day longer, especially when so many need it more than I."
"I said you were a gentleman; I now say you are a man, and that to me
means a great deal more," said the energetic stranger. "You shall have
two dollars a day with the rest."
He turned to Christine and said, almost proudly, "The supper you have
to-night shall be yours also."
"That is," she replied, with a smile, "I shall live on your charity
instead of that of some one else."
His face grew sad at once, but he answered, as he went away, "I could
not give you charity, Miss Ludolph."
Christine saw that she had pained him, and was much vexed with herself.
But his remark added to the hope and almost belief that she still held
her old place in his heart, and she resolved to make amends in the
evening for her unlucky speech.
With a smile she said to herself: "If he only knew that I would prefer
the coarsest, scantiest fare provided by him to the most costly banquet,
he would not have gone away with that long face. How rich life would
be if I could commence it with him, and we struggle up together! Oh,
Heaven, grant," she sighed, looking earnestly upward, "that through
these wonderful, terrible changes, I may climb the mountain at his
side, as he so graphically portrayed it in his picture!"
Mrs. Leonard still slept, and her husband in an agony of anxiety watched
at her side. At last, a little before midday, she opened her eyes and
said, in her natural tone: "Why, John, I must have greatly overslept.
Where am I?" and then, as her husband fairly sobbed for joy, she started
up and said, hurriedly: "What is the matter? What has happened?"
"Oh, be calm!" whispered Christine to the professor. "Everything depends
on keeping her quiet." Then she bent over her friend, and said: "Do
not be alarmed, Susie; you are now safe and well, and so is your
husband. But you have been ill, and for his sake and your own you must
She turned inquiringly to her husband, who said, more calmly, "It is
all true, and if you can only be careful we can go back to Boston as
well as ever."
"I will do anything you say, John; but why am I in a church?"
"You were taken sick in the street, and this was the nearest place to
"Oh, dear! I have had such strange, dreadful dreams. I am so glad they
were only dreams, and you are here with me;" and she lay quietly holding
her husband's hands and looking contentedly in his face. It was evident
she was herself again, and much better.
Dr. Arten soon after came and said, cheerily, "All right! all right!
will have you out in a day or two as good as new, and then, Miss
Ludolph, you will see how much more grateful she is to the old doctor
than you were."
"You must present your bill," replied Christine, with a smile.
"May I?" retorted the doctor, wiping his lips.
"Oh, I don't know about that," cried Christine; adding, quickly, "when
I welcome you to my own home you may."
"An old maid's hall, I suppose."
"It will be an orphan's home, at least," said Christine, softly and
Tears filled the old man's eyes, and putting his arm around her he
drew her to him, saying, as he stroked her drooping head: "Poor child!
poor child! I did not know. But you shall never want a protector while
the old doctor is above ground. As far as possible I will be a father
to you;" and Christine knew she had found a friend as true and strong
as steel, and she buried her face on his shoulder and cried as
trustingly as his own child might have done.
"Oh, Christine!" cried Mrs. Leonard, "I am so sorry for you!"
At the voice of her old friend she at once rallied, and, trying to
smile through her tears, said, "God has been so much better to me than
I deserved that I have only gratitude when I think of myself; but my
poor father--" and again she covered her face and wept.
"Christine, come here," said Mrs. Leonard, softly, and she put her
arms around the weeping girl. "You spoke of God's being good to you.
Have you in truth found and learned to trust Him?"
"Yes," she replied, eagerly, joy and peace coming out in her face like
the sun shining through clouds and rain. Then with bowed head she
whispered low: "The one I wronged on earth led me to the One I wronged
in heaven, and both have forgiven me. Oh, I am so glad, so happy!"
"Then you have seen Mr. Fleet."
"Yes, he saved my life again and again, but in teaching me how to find
my Saviour, he has done far more for me."
"And you will not wrong him any more, will you, Christine? He has loved
you so long and faithfully."
In reply she lifted an eager face to her friend and said, "Do you think
he can love me still after my treatment of him?"
"Give him a chance to tell you," said Mrs. Leonard, with a
half-mischievous smile. "Has he not shown his feelings?"
"He has treated me more as a brother might have done, and yet he is
so very respectful and deferential--I hope--but I am not perfectly
sure--and then he seems under some restraint."
Mrs. Leonard said, musingly: "He knows that you are Baroness Ludolph.
I told him last week, for I thought he ought to know, and the fact of
your approaching departure for Europe has been no secret of late. He
thinks you are pledged to a future in which he cannot share; and in
your grateful, dependent condition he would not cause you the pain of
refusing him. I think that is just where he stands," she concluded,
with a woman's mastery of the science of love, and taking almost as
much interest in her friend's affair as she had felt in her own. To
most ladies this subject has a peculiar fascination, and, having settled
their own matters, they enter with scarcely less zest on the task of
helping others arrange theirs. Mrs. Leonard rallied faster under the
excitement of this new interest than from the doctor's remedies.
After a few moments' thought Christine said, decidedly: "All that
nonsense about the Baroness Ludolph is past forever--burned up in the
fire with many things of more value. I have been fed too long on the
husks of human greatness and ambition to want any more of them. They
never did satisfy me, and in the light and heat of the terrific ordeal
through which I have just passed they shrivelled into utter nothingness.
I want something that I cannot lose in a whiff of smoke and flame, and
I think I have found it. Henceforth I claim no other character than
that of a simple Christian girl." Then bowing her head on her friend's
shoulder she added, in a whisper, "If I could climb to true greatness
by Mr. Fleet's side, as he portrayed it in his picture, it seems to
me heaven would begin at once."
The doctor, who had taken the professor aside, now joined them, and
said: "Mrs. Leonard, you have only to take reasonable care of yourself,
and you will soon recover from this shock and exposure. I wish all my
patients were doing as well."
She replied with a smile, taking her husband's hand: "Since I have
found my old Greek here, with his learned spectacles, I am quite myself,
and I feel as if I were only playing invalid."
"You may have slept in a church before," said the doctor, with a twinkle
in his eye, "and you must do so again. But no one will thunder at you
from the pulpit this time, so I leave you in peace and security, and
to-night will be within call."
Christine followed him to the lobby of the church, when the
irrepressible joker could not forbear saying: "Now let me give you a
little paternal advice. Don't be too grateful to that young Fleet. He
only did his duty, and of course doesn't deserve any special--"
Christine, with flushing cheeks, interrupted him as if she had not
heard: "Doctor, how good and kind you are! Here you are off without
any rest to look after the sick and suffering, and you seem to bring
health and hope wherever you go."
"Yes, yes; but I send my bill in too--mind that." (Some of his poorer
patients never received any, and he, when twitted of the fact, would
mutter, roughly, "Business oversight--can't attend to everything.")
Christine looked for a moment at the face so inspiring in its hearty
benevolence, and with an impulse, so unlike the cold, haughty girl of
old, sprang forward, threw her arms around his neck, and gave him a
kiss which he declared afterward was like a mild stroke of lightning,
and said, "And there is the first instalment of what I owe you."
The old gentleman looked as if he decidedly liked the currency, and
with moistened eyes that he vainly tried to render humorous, he raised
his finger impressively in parting, and said, "Don't you ever get out
of debt to me."
BILL CRONK'S TOAST
After all, it was a long day to Christine. Tears would start from her
eyes at the thought of her father, but she realized that the only thing
for her to do was to shroud his memory in a great, forgiving pity, and
put it away forever. She could only turn from the mystery of his life
and death--the mystery of evil--to Him who taketh away the sin of the
world. There was no darkness in that direction. She busied herself
with Mrs. Leonard, and the distribution of food to others, till six
o'clock, and then she stood near the door to watch till her true knight
should appear in his shirt-sleeves, with a shovel on his shoulder, and
an old burned, tattered felt hat on his head, instead of jewelled crest
and heron plume.
Dennis had gone to his work not very hopeful. He knew Christine would
be his grateful friend while she lived, and would perhaps even regard
him as a brother, but all this might be and still she be unable to
respond to his deeper feelings. Moreover, he knew she was Baroness
Ludolph, and might be heiress of such titles and estates in Germany
as would require that she should go at once to secure them; and so she
seemed clearly to pass beyond his sphere.
As he shovelled the hot bricks and cinders hour after hour among other
laborers, the distance between himself and the Baroness Ludolph seemed
to increase; and when, begrimed and weary, he sat down to eat his
dinner of a single sandwich saved from breakfast (for as yet he had
no money), the ruins around him were quite in keeping with his feelings.
He thought most regretfully of his two thousand dollars and burned
picture. The brave, resolute spirit of the morning had deserted him.
He did not realize that few men have lived who could be brave and
hopeful when weary and hungry, and fewer still, when, in addition,
they doubted the favor of the lady of their love.
The work of the afternoon seemed desperately hard and long, but with
dogged persistency Dennis held his own with the others till six, and
in common with them received his two dollars. Whether Christine would
accept the supper he brought or not, he determined to fulfil his promise
and bring one. Wearily he trudged off to the west side, in order to
find a store. No one who met him would have imagined that this plodding
laborer was the artist who the week before had won the prize and title
If he had been purchasing a supper for himself, he would doubtless
have been sensible about it; but one that the Baroness Ludolph might
share was a different matter. He bought some very rich cake, a can of
peaches, a box of sardines, some fruit, and then his money gave out!
But, with these incongruous and indigestible articles made up into one
large bundle, he started for the church. He had gone but a little way
when some one rushed upon him, and little Ernst clasped him round the
neck and fairly cried for joy. Sitting on the sidewalk near were the
other little Bruders, looking as forlorn and dirty as three motherless
children could. Dennis stopped and sat down beside them (for he was
too tired to stand), while Ernst told his story--how their mother had
left them, and how she had been found so burned that she was recognized
only by a ring (which he had) and a bit of the picture preserved under
her body. They had been looking ever since to find him, and had slept
where they could.
As Ernst sobbingly told his story the other children cried in doleful
chorus, and Dennis's tears fell fast too, as he realized how his humble
friend had perished. He remembered her kindness to his mother and
little sisters, and his heart acknowledged the claim of these poor
little orphans. Prudence whispered, "You cannot afford to burden
yourself with all these children," and pride added, "What a figure you
will make in presenting yourself before the Baroness Ludolph with all
these children at your heels!" But he put such thoughts resolutely
aside, and spoke like a brother; and when one of the children sobbed,
"We so hungry!" out came the Baroness Ludolph's fruit and cake, and
nothing remained for Christine but the sardines and peaches, since
these could not well be opened in the street. The little Bruders having
devoured what seemed to them the ambrosia of the gods, he took the
youngest in his arms, Ernst following with the others; and so they
slowly made their way to the church where Christine was now anxiously
waiting, with many surmises and forebodings at Dennis's delay.
At last, in the dusk, the little group appeared at the church-door,
and she exclaimed, "What has kept you so, Mr. Fleet?"
He determined to put the best face on the situation, and indulge in
no heroics, so he said, "You could not expect such a body of infantry
as this to march rapidly."
"What!" she exclaimed, "have you brought all the lost children in the
city back with you?"
"No, only those that fell properly to my care;" and in a few words he
told their story.
"And do you, without a cent in the world, mean to assume the burden
of these four children?" she asked, in accents of surprise.
He could not see her face, but his heart sank within him, for he thought
that to her it would seem quixotic and become another barrier between
them; but he answered, firmly: "Yes, till God, who has imposed the
burden, removes it, and enables me to place them among friends in a
good home. Mrs. Bruder, before she died, wrote to her family in Germany,
telling her whole story. Relatives may take the children; if not, some
way will be provided."
"Mr. Fleet, I wonder at you," was her answer. "Give me that child, and
you bring the others."
He wondered at her as he saw her take the child and imprint a kiss on
the sleepy, dirty face; and Ernst, who had been eying her askance,
crept timidly nearer when he saw the kiss, and whispered, "Perhaps her
old outside heart has been burned away."
They followed to a lobby of the lecture-room, and here she procured
a damp towel and proceeded to remove the tear and dust stains from the
round and wondering faces of the children. Having restored them to
something of their original color, she took them away to supper, saying
to Dennis, with a decided nod, "You stay here till I come for you."
Something in her manner reminded him of the same little autocrat who
had ordered him about when they arranged the store together. She soon
returned with a basin of water and a towel, saying: "See what a luxury
you secure by obeying orders. Now give an account of yourself, as every
lady's knight should on his return. How have you spent the day?"
He could not forbear laughing as he said: "My employment has been
almost ludicrously incongruous with the title by which you honor me.
I have been shovelling brick and mortar with other laborers."
Her glance became so tender and wistful that he forgot to wash his
hands in looking at her, and felt for the moment as if he could shovel
rubbish forever, if such could be his reward.
Seemingly by an effort, she regained her brusque manner, which he did
not know was but the mask she was trying to wear, and said, quickly:
"What is the matter? Why don't you wash your face?"
"You told me to give an account of myself," he retorted, at the same
time showing rising color in his dust-begrimed face.
"Well, one of your ability can do two things at once. What have you
got in that bundle?"
"You may have forgotten, but I promised to bring you home something
that you chose to regard as charity."
"If I was so ungracious, you ought to have rewarded me by bringing me
a broken brick. Will you let me see what you brought?" but without
waiting for permission she pounced upon the bundle and dragged out the
peaches and sardines.
He, having washed and partially wiped his face, was now able to display
more of his embarrassment, and added, apologetically: "That is not all
I had. I also bought some cake and fruit, and then my money gave out."
"And do you mean to say that you have no money left?"
"Not a penny," he answered, desperately.
"But where are the cake and fruit?"
"Well," he said, laughingly, "I found the little Bruders famishing on
the sidewalk, and they got the best part of your supper."
"What an escape I have had!" she exclaimed. "Do you think I should
have survived the night if I had eaten those strangely assorted
dainties, as in honor bound I would have done, since you brought them?"
Then with a face of comical severity she turned upon him and said:
"Mr. Fleet, you need some one to take care of you. What kind of economy
do you call this, sir, especially on the part of one who has burdened
himself with four helpless children?"
There was a mingling of sense and seriousness in her raillery, which
he recognized, and he said, with a half-vexed laugh at himself: "Well,
really, Miss Ludolph, I suppose that I have not wholly regained my
wits since the fire. I throw myself on your mercy." (The same expression
he had used once before. She remembered it, and her face changed
instantly.) Turning hastily away to hide her feelings, she said, in
a rather husky voice, "When I was a wicked fool, I told you I had none;
but I think I am a little changed now." Then she added, sharply, "Please
don't stand there keeping our friends waiting"; and she led the way
into the lecture-room, now filled with tables and hungry people.
Dennis was in a maze, and could scarcely understand her, she was so
different from the pensive lady, shrinking from rude contact with the
world, that he had expected to meet. He did not realize that there was
not a particle of weak sentimentality about her, and that, since now
pride was gone, her energetic spirit would make her as truly a leader
in scenes like these as in those with which she had been familiar.
Much less could he understand that she was hiding a heart brimming
over with love to him.
He followed her, however, with much assumed humility. When in the
middle of the room, who should meet him squarely but Bill Cronk?
"Hello!" he roared, giving Dennis a slap on his back that startled
even the hungry, apathetic people at the tables.
Dennis was now almost desperate. Glad as he was to see Cronk, he felt
that he was gathering around him a company as incongruous as was the
supper he had brought home. If Yahcob Bunk or even the red-nosed
bartender had appeared, to claim him as brother, he would scarcely
have been surprised. He naturally thought that the Baroness Ludolph
might hesitate before entering such a circle of intimates. But he was
not guilty of the meanness of cutting a humble friend, even though he
saw the eyes of Christine resting on him. In his embarrassment, however,
he held out the washbasin in his confused effort to shake hands, and
said, heartily, "Why, Cronk, I am glad you came safely out of it."
"Is this gentleman a friend of yours?" asked Christine, with inimitable
"Yes!" said Dennis, firmly, though coloring somewhat. "He once rendered
me a great kindness--"
"Well, miss, you bet your money on the right hoss that time,"
interrupted Bill. "If I hain't a friend of his'n, I'd like to know where
you'll find one; though I did kick up like a cussed ole mule
when he knocked the bottle out of my hand. Like enough if he hadn't
I wouldn't be here."
"Won't you present me, Mr. Fleet?" said Christine, with an amused
twinkle in her eye.
"Mr. Cronk," said Dennis (who had now reached that state of mind when
one becomes reckless), "this lady is Miss Ludolph, and, I hope I may
venture to add, another friend of mine."
She at once put out her hand, that seemed like a snowflake in the great
horny paw of the drover, and said, "Indeed, Mr. Cronk, I will permit
no one to claim stronger friendship to Mr. Fleet than mine."
"I can take any friend of Mr. Fleet's to my buzzom at once," said Bill,
speaking figuratively, but Christine instinctively shrank nearer Dennis.
In talking with men, Bill used the off-hand vernacular of his calling,
but when addressing ladies, he evidently thought that a certain style
of metaphor bordering on sentiment was the proper thing. But Christine
said, "As a friend of Mr. Fleet's you shall join our party at once";
and she led them to the further end of the room, where at a table sat
Dr. Arten, Professor and Mrs. Leonard, Ernst, and the little Bruders,
who at the prospect of more eating were wide awake again. After the
most hearty greetings they were seated, and she took her place by the
side of the little children in order to wait on them. Few more
remarkable groups sat down together, even in that time of chaos and
deprivation. Professor Leonard was without vest or collar, and sat
with coat buttoned tight up to his chin to hide the defect. He had
lost his scholarly gold-rimmed spectacles; and a wonderful pair of
goggles bestrode his nose in their place. Mrs. Leonard was lost in the
folds of an old delaine dress that was a mile too large, and her face
looked as if she had assisted actively in an Irish wake. Dr. Arten did
the honors at the head of the table in his dress coat and vest that
had once been white, though he no longer figured around in red flannel
drawers as he had done on the beach. The little round faces of the
Bruders seemed as if protruding from animated rag babies, while nothing
could dim the glory of Ernst's great spiritual eyes, as they gratefully
and wistfully followed Dennis's every movement. Cronk was in a very
dilapidated and famished state, and endured many and varied tortures
in his efforts to be polite while he bolted sandwiches at a rate that
threatened famine. Christine still wore the woollen dress she had so
hastily donned with Dennis's assistance on Sunday night, and the marks
of the fire were all over it. Around her neck the sparks had burned
a hole here and there, through which her white shoulders gleamed. While
she was self-possessed and assiduous in her attention to the little
children, there was a glow of excitement in her eyes which perhaps
Mrs. Leonard understood better than any one else, though the shrewd
old doctor was anything but blind.
Dennis sat next to Christine in shirt-sleeves once white, but now,
through dust and smoke, of as many colors as Joseph's coat. He was too
weary to eat much, and there was a weight upon his spirits that he
could not throw off--the inevitable despondency that follows great
fatigue when the mind is not at rest.
Christine darted away and brought him a huge mug of hot coffee.
"Really, Miss Ludolph," he remonstrated, "you should not wait on me
in this style."
"You may well feel honored, sir," said Mrs. Leonard. "It is not every
man that is waited on by a baroness."
"The trouble with Christine is that she is too grateful," put in the
"Now I should say that was scarcely possible in view of--" commenced
the professor, innocently.
"I really hope Miss Ludolph will do nothing more from gratitude,"
interrupted Dennis, in a low tone that showed decided annoyance.
The doctor and Mrs. Leonard were ready to burst with suppressed
amusement, and Cronk, seeing something going on that he did not
understand, looked curiously around with a sandwich half-way to his
open mouth, while Ernst, believing from Dennis's tone that he was
wronged, turned his great eyes reproachfully from one to another. But
Christine was equal to the occasion. Lifting her head and looking round
with a free, clear glance she said, "And I say that men who meet this
great disaster with courage and fortitude, and hopefully set about
retrieving it, possess an inherent nobility such as no king or kaiser
could bestow, and, were I twenty times a baroness, I should esteem it
an honor to wait upon them."
A round of applause followed this speech, in which Cronk joined
vociferously, and Mrs. Leonard whispered: "Oh, Christine, how
beautifully I learn from your face the difference between dignity and
pride! That was your same old proud look, changed and glorified into
something so much better."
Dennis also saw her expression, and could not disguise his admiration,
but every moment he increasingly felt how desperately hard it would
be to give her up, now that she seemed to realize his very ideal of
And Cronk, having satisfied the clamors of his appetite, began to be
fascinated in his rough way with her grace and beauty. Nudging Dennis
he asked in a loud whisper heard by all, which nearly caused Dr. Arten
to choke, "The young filly is a German lady, ain't she?"
Dennis, much embarrassed, nodded assent.
A happy thought struck Bill. Though impeded by the weight of an
indefinite number of sandwiches, he slowly rose and looked solemnly
round on the little group. Dennis trembled, for he feared some dreadful
bull on the part of his rough, though well-meaning friend, but Dr.
Arten, in a state of intense enjoyment, cried, "Mr. Cronk has the
Lifting a can of coffee containing about a quart, the drover said
impressively, and with an attempt at great stateliness:
"Beautiful ladies and honorable gentlemen here assembled, I would
respectfully ask you to drink to a toast in this harmless beverage:
_The United States of Ameriky!_ When the two great elemental
races--the sanguinary Yankee and the phlegmatic German--become one,
and, as represented in the blooded team before me" (waving his hand
majestically over the heads of Dennis and Christine), "pull in the
traces together, how will the ship of state go forward!" and his face
disappeared behind his huge flagon of coffee in the deepest pledge.
Bill thought he had uttered a very profound and elegant sentiment, but
his speech fell like a bombshell in the little company.
"The very spirit of mischief is abroad to-day," Dennis groaned. And
Christine, with a face like a peony, snatched up the youngest little
Bruder, saying, "It is time these sleepy children were in bed"; but
the doctor and the Leonards went off again and again in uncontrollable
fits of laughter, in which Dennis could not refrain from joining,
though he wished the unlucky Cronk a thousand miles away. Bill put
down his mug, stared around in a surprised and nonplussed manner, and
then said, in a loud whisper, "I say, Fleet, was there any hitch in
what I said?"
This set them off again, but Dennis answered good-naturedly, slapping
his friend on the shoulder, "Cronk, you would make a man laugh in the
face of fate."
Bill took this as a compliment, and the strange party, thrown together
by an event that mingled all classes in the community, broke up and
went their several ways.
EVERY BARRIER BURNED AWAY
Dennis was glad to escape, and went to a side door where he could cool
his hot cheeks in the night air. He fairly dreaded to meet Christine
again, and, even where the wind blew cold upon him, his cheeks grew
hotter and hotter, as he remembered what had occurred. He had been
there but a little time when a light hand fell on his arm, and he was
startled by her voice--"Mr. Fleet, are you very tired?"
"Not in the least," he answered, eagerly.
"You must be: it is wrong for me to think of it."
"Miss Ludolph, please tell me what I can do for you?"
She looked at him wistfully and said: "This is a time when loss and
disaster burden every heart, and I know it is a duty to try to maintain
a cheerful courage, and forget personal troubles. I have tried to-day,
and, with God's help, hope in time to succeed. While endeavoring to
wear in public a cheerful face, I may perhaps now, and to so true a
friend as yourself, show more of my real feelings. Is it too far--would
it take too long, to go to where my father died? His remains could not
have been removed."
"Alas, Miss Ludolph," said Dennis, very gently, "there can be no visible
remains. The words of the Prayer Book are literally true in this
case--'Ashes to ashes.' But I can take you to the spot, and it is
natural that you should wish to go. Are you equal to the fatigue?"
"I shall not feel it if you go with me, and then we can ride part of
the way, for I have a little money." (Dr. Arten had insisted on her
taking some.) "Wait for me a moment."
She soon reappeared with her shawl cut in two equal parts. One she
insisted on folding and putting around him as a Scotsman wears his
plaid. "You will need it in the cool night wind," she said, and then
she took his arm in perfect trust, and they started.
In the cars she gave him her money, and he said, "I will return my
fare to-morrow night."
"What!" she replied, looking a little hurt. "After spending two dollars
on me, will you not take five cents in return?"
"But I spent it foolishly."
"You spent it like a generous man. Surely, Mr. Fleet, you did not
understand my badinage this evening. If I had not spoken to you in
that strain, I could not have spoken at all. You have been a brother
to me, and we should not stand on these little things."
"That is it," thought he again. "She looks upon and trusts me as a
brother, and such I must try to be till she departs for her own land;
yet if she knew the agony of the effort she would scarcely ask it."
But as they left the car, he said, "All that you would ask from a
brother, please ask from me."
She put her hand in his, and said, "I now ask your support, sympathy,
and prayer, for I feel that I shall need all here."
Still retaining her hand, he placed it on his arm and guided her most
carefully around the hot ruins and heaps of rubbish till they came to
where the Art Building had stood. The moon shone brightly down, lighting
up with weird and ghostly effect the few walls remaining. They were
utterly alone in the midst of a desolation sevenfold more impressing
than that of the desert. Pointing to the spot where, in the midst of his
treasures of art and idolized worldly possessions, Mr. Ludolph had
perished, she said, in a thrilling whisper, "My father's ashes are
Her breath came quick and short, and her face was so pale and agonized
that he trembled for her, but he tightened his grasp on her hand, and
his tears fell with hers.
"Oh, my father!" she cried, in a tone of unspeakable pathos, "can I
never, never see you again? Can I never tell you of the love of Jesus,
and the better and happier life beyond? Oh, how my heart yearns after
you! God forgive me if this is wrong, but I cannot help it!"
"It is not wrong," said Dennis, brokenly. "Our Lord himself wept over
those He could not save."
"It is all that I can do," she murmured, and, leaning her head on his
shoulder, a tempest of sobs shook her person.
He supported her tenderly, and said, in accents of the deepest sympathy,
"Let every tear fall that will: they will do you good." At last, as
she became calmer, he added, "Remember that your great Elder Brother
has called the heavy laden to Him for rest."
At last she raised her head, turned, and gave one long parting look,
and, as Dennis saw her face in the white moonlight, it was the face
of a pitying angel. A low "Farewell!" trembled from her lips, she
leaned heavily on his arm, they turned away, and seemingly the curtain
fell between father and child to rise no more.
"Mr. Fleet," she said, pleadingly, "are you too tired to take me to
my old home on the north side?"
"Miss Ludolph, I could go to the ends of the earth for you, but you
are not equal to this strain upon your feelings. Have mercy on
But she said, in a low, dreamy tone: "I wish to take leave to-night
of my old life--the strange, sad past with its mystery of evil; and
then I shall set my face resolutely toward a better life--a better
country. So bear with me, my true, kind friend, a little longer."
"Believe me, my thought was all for you. All sense of fatigue has
Silently they made their way, till they stood where, a few short days
before, had been the elegant home that was full of sad and painful
memories to both.
"There was my studio," she said in the same dreamy tone, "where I
indulged in my wild, ambitious dreams, and sought to grasp a little
fading circlet of laurel, while ignoring a heavenly and an immortal
crown. There," she continued, her pale face becoming crimson, even in
the white moonlight, "I most painfully wronged you, my most generous,
forgiving friend, and a noble revenge you took when you saved my life
and led me to a Saviour. May God reward you; but I humbly ask your
"Please, Miss Ludolph, do not speak of that. I have buried it all. Do
not pain yourself by recalling that which I have forgiven and almost
forgotten. You are now my ideal of all that is noble and good, and in
my solitary artist life of the future you shall be my gentle yet potent
"Why must your life be solitary in the future?" she asked, in a low
He was very pale, and his arm trembled under her hand; at last he said,
in a hoarse voice, "Do not ask me. Why should I pain you by telling
you the truth?"
"Is it the part of a true friend to refuse confidence?" she asked,
He turned his face away, that she might not see the evidences of the
bitter struggle within--the severest he had ever known; but at last
he spoke in the firm and quiet voice of victory. She had called him
brother, and trusted him as such. She had ventured out alone on a
sacred mission with him, as she might with a brother. She was dependent
on him, and burdened by a feeling of obligation. His high sense of