Part 1 out of 6
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A STORY OF NORTHERN OHIO.
I. A FAILURE
II. THE BLUE CHAMBER
IV. AT THE POST OFFICE
V. MRS. MARKHAM'S VIEWS
VI. WHAT HE THOUGHT OF THINGS
VII. LOGIC OF THE GODS
VIII. A RAMBLE IN THE WOODS, AND WHAT CAME OF IT
IX. A DARKENED SOUL
X. AFTER THE FLOOD
XI. UNCLE ALECK
XII. A CONSECRATION
XIV. THE YOUNG IDEA SHOOTS
XV. SNOW'S PARTY
XVIII. SUGAR MAKING
XX. WHAT THE GIRLS SAID
XXI. A DEPARTURE
XXII. A SHATTERED COLUMN
XXIII. THE STORM
XXIV. A LAW SUIT (TO BE SKIPPED)
XXV. THE WARNING
XXVII. THE BABES IN THE WOODS
XXVIII. AT JUDGE MARKHAM'S
XXXI. OLD BEN
XXXII. THE LETTERS
XXXIII. AT WILDER'S
XXXIV. ROUGH SKETCHES
XXXVI. OLD GID
XXXVII. THE OLD STORY
XXXVIII. THE OLD STORY OVER AGAIN
XXXIX. ABOUT LAWYERS, AND DULL
XL. THE DISGUISE
XLI. THE INVITATION
XLIV. FINDING THE WAY
XLV. SOME THINGS PUT AT REST
XLVI. PRINCE ARTHUR
XLVII. THE TRIAL
XLVIII. THE ADVOCATE
L. THE GOSPEL OF LOVE
LI. THE RETURN
LII. FINAL DREAM LAND
He could see from the top of the hill, down which the road wound to
the river, that the bridge was gone, and he paused for a moment
with an involuntary feeling that it was useless to go forward; but
remembering that his way led across, at all events, he walked down to
the bank. There it ran, broad, rapid, and in places apparently deep.
He looked up and down in vain: no lodged drift-wood; no fallen trees;
no raft or wreck; a recent freshet had swept all clear to high-water
mark, and the stream rolled, and foamed, and boiled, and gurgled, and
murmured in the afternoon August sun as gleefully and mockingly as if
its very purpose was to baffle the wearied youth who looked into and
over its changing tide.
In coming from Cleveland that morning he had taken a wrong road, and
now, at mid-afternoon, he found his progress stayed with half his
day's journey still before him. It would have been but a moment's task
to remove his clothes and swim over, but the region was open and clear
on that side for a considerable distance, and notwithstanding his
solitude, he hesitated to make the transit in that manner. It was
apparent, from the little-travelled road, that the stream had been
forded by an indirect course, and one not easily determined from the
shore. It occurred to him that possibly some team from Cleveland might
pass along and take him over; and, wearied, he sat down by his light
valise to wait, and at least rest; and as he gazed into the rapid
current a half-remembered line of a forgotten poet ran and ran through
his mind thus:
"Which running runs, and will run forever on."
His reflections were not cheerful. Three months before he had gone
over to Hudson with a very young man's scheme of maintaining himself
at school, and finally in college; and finding it impracticable, had
strayed off to the lower part of the State with a vague idea of going
down the Mississippi, and, perhaps, to Texas. He spent some time with
relatives near Cincinnati, and under a sudden impulse--all his plans,
as he was pleased to call them, were impulses--he had returned,
adding, as he was conscious, another to a long-growing list of
failures, which, in the estimation of many acquaintances, also
His meditations were interrupted by the sound of an approaching
carriage coming over the hill. He knew the horses. They were Judge
Markham's, and driven by the Judge himself, alone, in a light vehicle.
The young man sprang up at the sight. Here was the man whom of all men
he most respected, and feared as much as he could fear any man, whose
good opinion he most cared to have, and yet who he was conscious had a
dislike for him.
The Judge would certainly take him over the river, and so home, but
in his frank and ingenuous nature how could he face him on his
almost ignominious return? He stood still, a little away from the
carriage-track, half wishing he might not be seen. He was seen,
however, and a close observer might have discovered the half sneer on
the otherwise handsome and manly face of the Judge, who had taken in
the situation. The horses were held in a walk as they came down near
where the young man stood, with a half ashamed, yet eager, expression
of countenance, and turned partly away, as if he expected--in fact,
wished for nothing.
"What are you doing here?" called out the Judge.
It was not a wholly courteous inquiry, and scarcely necessary, though
not purposely offensive; but the tone and manner struck like an insult
on the young man's sensitive spirit, and his answer went back a little
"I am waiting for the river to run by,"
"Ah! I see. Well, I am glad you have found something that suits you."
There was no mistaking the sarcasm of this remark, and perhaps its
sting was deeper than was meant. The Judge was not an unkind man,
though he did not relish the reply to his question; he held up his
horses on the margin of the water, and perhaps he wanted to be asked
by this pert youth for the favor of a passage over. Of course the
petition was not, and never would have been made. He lingered a
moment, and without another word entered the river, and, turning his
horses' heads up stream for a short distance, drove out on the other
side; as he turned into the regular track again, he caught a view of
the young man standing impassive on the same spot where he first saw
It is possible that Judge Markham, the most wealthy and popular man
of his region, did not feel wholly at ease as, with his fine team and
empty carriage, he drove away, leaving the weary, travel-stained youth
standing on the other side of the river; and it is possible that
the form of the deserted one may be brought to his memory in the
"'Something that suits me'--'something that suits me!' All right,
Judge Markham!" and as the carriage was hidden in the woods, the
waters that rolled on between them were as nothing to the bitter,
swelling tide that, for a moment, swept through the young man's bosom.
He was undecided no longer.
Removing his boots and stockings, he entered the river at the point,
and, following the course taken by the Judge, he passed out, and
resumed his journey homeward.
As he walked rapidly onward, the momentary bitterness subsided. He was
not one to hate, or cherish animosities, but he was capable of deep
impressions, and of forming strong resolutions. There was a chord of
melancholy running through his nature, which, under excitement, often
vibrated the longest; and almost any strong emotion left behind a tone
of sadness that lingered for hours, and sometimes for days, although
his mind was normally buoyant and hopeful.
As he went on over the hills, in the rude pioneer country of Northern
Ohio, thirty-six or seven years ago, he thought sad-colored thoughts
of the past, or, rather, he recalled sombre memories of the, to him,
far-off time, when, with his mother and brothers, he formed one of
a sobbing group around a bed whereon a gasping, dying man was vainly
trying to say some last words; of afterwards awakening in the deep
nights, and listening to the unutterably sweet and mournful singing of
his mother, unable to sleep in her loneliness; of the putting away
of his baby brother, and the jubilee when he was brought back; of the
final breaking up of the family, and of his own first goings away; of
the unceasing homesickness and pining with which he always languished
for home in his young boy years; of the joy with which he always
hurried home, the means by which he would prolong his stay, and the
anguish with which he went away again. His mother was to him the chief
good. For him, like Providence, she always was, and he could imagine
no possible good, or even existence, without her--it would be the end
of the world when she ceased to be. And he remembered all the places
where he had lived, and the many times he had run away. And then came
the memory of Julia Markham, as she was years ago, when he lived in
her neighborhood, and her sweet and beautiful mother used to intrust
her to his care, in the walks to and from school, down on the State
road--Julia, with her great wonderful eyes, and world of wavy hair,
and red lips; and then, as she grew into beautiful and ever more
beautiful girlhood, he used to be more and more at Judge Markham's
house, and used to read to Julia's mother and herself. It was there
that he discovered Shakespeare, and learned to like him, and Milton,
whom he didn't like and wouldn't read, and the Sketch Book, and
Knickerbocker's History, and Cooper's novels, and Scott, and,
more than all, Byron, whom Mrs. Markham did not want him to read,
recommending, instead, Young's Night Thoughts, and Pollock's Course of
Time, and Southey--the dear good woman!
And then came a time when he was in the store of Markham & Co., and
finally was taken from the counter, because of his sharp words to
customers, and set at the books, and sent away from that post because
he illustrated them with caricatures on the margins, and smart
personal rhymes. Julia was sixteen, and as sweet a romping, hoydenish,
laughing, brave, strong girl as ever bewitched the heart of dreaming
youth; and he had taught her to ride on horseback; and then she was
sent off, away "down country," to the centre of the world, to Boston,
where were uncles and aunts, and was gone, oh, ever and ever so
long!--half a lifetime--nearly two years--and came back; and then his
thoughts became confused. Then he thought of Judge Markham, and now
he was sure that the Judge did not like him; and he remembered that
Julia's mother, as he came towards manhood, was kind and patronizing,
and that when he went to say good-by to Julia, three months ago,
although she knew he was coming, she was not at home, and he only saw
her mother and Nell Roberts. Then he thought of all the things he had
tried to do within the last two years, and how he had done none of
them. People had not liked him, and he had not suspected why, and had
not cared. People liked his elder brothers, and he was glad and proud
of it; and a jumble of odds and ends and fragments became tangled and
snarled in his mind. What would people say of his return? Did he care?
He asked nobody's leave to go, and came back on his own account. But
his mother--she would look sad; but she would be glad. It certainly
was a mistake, his going; could it be a blunder, his returning?
He was thinking shallowly; but deeper thoughts came to him. He began
to believe that easy places did not exist; and he scorned to seek them
for himself, if they did. The world was as much to be struggled with
in one place as another; and, after all, was not the struggle mainly
with one's own self, and could that be avoided? Then what in himself
was wrong? what should be fought against? Who would tell him? Men
spoke roughly to him, and he answered back sharply. He couldn't help
doing that. How could he be blamed? He suspected he might be.
He knew there were better things than to chop and clear land, and
make black salts, or tend a saw-mill, or drive oxen, or sell tape and
calico; but, in these woods, poor and unfriended, how could he find
them? Was not his brother Henry studying law at Jefferson, and were
they not all proud of him, and did not everybody expect great things
of him? But Henry was different from him. Dr. Lyman believed in
him; Judge Markham spoke with respect of him. Julia Markham--how
inexpressibly lovely and radiant and distant and inaccessible she
appeared! And then he felt sore, as if her father had dealt him a
blow, and he thought of his sending him away the year before, and
wished he had explained. No matter. How he writhed again and again
under the sting of his contemptuous sarcasm! "He wouldn't even pick me
up; would leave me to lie by the wayside."
Towards sundown, weary and saddened, he reached the centre,
"Jugville," as he had named it, years before, in derision. He was a
mile and a half from home, and paused a moment to sit on the platform
in front of "Marlow's Hotel," and rest. The loungers were present in
more than usual force,--Jo and Biather Alexander, old Neaze Savage,
old Cal Chase, Tinker,--any number of old and not highly-esteemed
"Hullo, Bart Ridgeley! is that you?"
Bart did not seem to think it necessary to affirm or deny.
"Ben away, hain't ye? Must a-gone purty much all over all creation,
these last three months. How's all the folks where you ben?"
No reply. A nod to one or two of the dozen attracted towards him was
the only notice he took of them, seeming not to hear the question and
comments of Tinker. His silence tempted old Cal, the small joker of
the place, to open:
"You's gone an everlastin' while. S'pose you hardly know the place,
it's changed so."
"It has changed some," he answered to this; "its bar-room loafers
are a good deal more unendurable, and its fools, always large, have
increased in size."
A good-natured laugh welcomed this reply.
"There, uncle Cal, it 'pears to me you've got it," said one.
"'Pears to me we've all got it," was the response of that worthy.
"Come in, Bart," said the landlord, "and take something on the
strength o' that."
"Thank you, I will be excused; I have a horror of a sudden death;"
and, taking up his valise, he started across the fields to the near
"Bully!" "Good!" "You've got that!" cried several to the discomfited
seller of drinks. "It is your treat; we'll risk the stuff!" and the
party turned in to the bar to realize their expectations.
"There is one thing 'bout it," said Bi, "Bart hain't changed much,
"And there's another thing 'bout it," said uncle Bill, "a chap that
carries such a sassy tongue should be sassy able. He'll answer some
chap, some day, that wun't stan' it."
"The man that picks him up'll find an ugly customer; he'd be licked
afore he begun. I tell you what, them Ridgeley boys is no fighters,
but the stuff's in 'em, and Bart's filled jest full. I'd as liv tackle
a young painter." This was Neaze's view.
"That's so," said Jo. "Do you remember the time he had here last fall,
with that braggin' hunter chap, Mc-Something, who came along with his
rifle, darin' all hands about here to shute with him? He had one of
them new peck-lock rifles, and nobody dared shute with him; and Bart
came along, and asked to look at the feller's gun, and said something
'bout it, and Mc-Somebody dared him to shute, and Bart sent over to
Haw's and got 'old Potleg,' that Steve Patterson shot himself with,
and loaded 'er up, and then the hunter feller wouldn't shute except
on a bet, and Bart hadn't but fifty cents, and they shot twenty rods
off-hand, and Bart beat him; and they doubled the bet, and Bart beat
agin, and they went on till Bart won more'n sixty dollars. Sometimes
the feller shot wild, and Bart told him he'd have to get a dog to hunt
where he hit, and he got mad, and Bart picked up his first half-dollar
and pitched it to Jotham, who put up the mark, and left the rest on
"There come mighty near bein' trouble then, an' there would ha' ben ef
the Major hadn't took Bart off," said Bi.
And while these rough, good-natured men talked him over, Barton walked
off southerly, across the newly-shorn meadow, to the woods. Twilight
was in their depths, and shadows were stealing mysteriously out, and
already the faint and subtle aroma which the gathering dew releases
from foliage, came out like an incense to bathe the quick and healthy
senses of the wearied youth. He removed his hat, opened his bosom,
expanded his nostrils and lungs, and drank it as the bee takes nectar
from the flowers. What an exquisite sense of relief and quiet came to
him, as he found himself lost in the shadows of the young night! Not a
tree in these woods that he did not know, and they all seemed to reach
out their mossy arms with their myriad of little, cool, green
hands, to welcome him back. They knew nothing of his failures and
disappointments, and were more sympathizing than the coarse and ribald
men whose rude taunts he had just heard, and to whose admiration he
was as indifferent as to their sarcasm. These were grand and beautiful
maple woods, free from tangling underbrush, and standing thick and
stately on wide, gentle slopes; and to-night the lisping breath of
the summer evening came to this young but sad and burdened heart, with
whispers soothing and restful.
He had never been so long from home before; the nearer he approached
it, the more intense his longings grew, and he passed rapidly through
the open glades, disappearing momentarily in the obscurity of the
thickets, past the deserted sugar camp, until finally the woods grew
lighter, the trees more scattered, and he reached the open pasture
lands in sight of the low farm-house, which held his mother and home.
How strange, and yet familiar, even an absence of only three months
made everything! The distance of his journey seemed to have expanded
the months into years.
He entered by a back way, and found his mother in the little front
sitting-room. She arose with--"Oh, Barton, have you come?" and
received from his lips and eyes the testimonials of his heart. She
was slight, lithe, and well made, with good Puritan blood, brain, and
resolution; and as she stood holding her child by both his hands, and
looking eagerly into his face, a stranger would have noticed their
striking resemblance. Her face, though womanly, was too marked and
strong for beauty. Both had the square decisive brow, and wide, deep
eyes--hers a lustrous black, and his dark gray or blue, as the light
was. Her hair was abundant, and very dark; his a light brown, thick,
wavy, and long. Both had the same aquiline nose, short upper-lip,
bland, firm, but soft mouth, and well-formed chin. Her complexion was
dark, and his fair--too fair for a man.
"Yes, mother, I have come; are you glad to see me?"
"Glad--very glad, but sorry." She had a good deal of the Spartan in
her nature, and received her son with a sense of another failure,
and failures were not popular with her. "I did not hear from you--was
anxious about you; but now, when you come back to the nothing for you
here, I know you found less elsewhere."
"Well, mother, I know I am a dreadful drag even on your patience, and
I fear a burden besides, instead of a help. I need not say much to
you; you, at least, understand me. It was a mistake to go away as
I did, and I bring back all I carried away, with the result of some
reflection. I can do as much here as anywhere. I hoped I could do
something for you, and I, poor unweaned baby and booby, can do better
for myself near you than elsewhere."
Not much was said. She was thoughtful, deep natured, tender, and
highly strung, though not demonstrative, and these qualities in him
were modified by the soft, sensuous, imaginative elements that came to
him--all that he inherited, except his complexion, from his father.
His mother gave him supper, and he sat and inquired about home events,
and gave her a pleasant account of their relatives in the lower part
of the State. He said nothing of the discovery he had made among
them--her own family relatives--that she had married beneath her,
and had never been forgiven; and he fancied that he discovered some
opening of old, old sorrows, dating back to her girlhood days, as
he talked of her relatives. The two younger brothers came rattling
in--George, a handsome, eager young threshing-machine, a bright,
broad-browed boy, and Edward, older, with drooping head and thoughtful
face, and with something of Bart's readiness at reply. George ran to
"Oh, Bart, I am so glad! and there is so much--a flock of turkeys--and
a wolverine, and oh! so many pigeons and everything--more than you can
shoot in all the fall!"
"Well, captain, we will let them all live, I guess, unless that
wolverine comes around!"
"There is a real, true wolverine; several have seen him, and he
screeches, and yells, and climbs trees, and everything!"
"There _is_ something around," said Edward. "Theodore and Bill Johnson
heard him, over in the woods, not a week ago."
"Likely enough," replied Bart; "but wolverines don't climb. There
may be a panther. Now, Ed, what has been going on on the farm? Is the
"Yes; and the wheat is all in, and most all the oats. The corn is
splendid in the old elm lot, and then the Major has been chopping
down your old sugar camp, where we worked when you came home from old
"Oh, dear, that was the loveliest bit of woodland, in the bend of the
creek, in all the magnificent woods; well?"
"He has nearly finished the Jenks house," resumed Edward, "and is now
at Snow's, in Auburn. He said you would be home before now."
"What about his colts?"
"Oh, Arab runs about wild as ever, and he has Dolf with him."
"How many hands has he with him?"
"Four or five."
"Dr. Lyman asked about you," said George, "and wondered where you
were. He said you would be back in three weeks, and that something
must have happened."
"It would be lucky for the Doctor's patients," replied Bart, "if
something should keep him away three days."
"I guess he wants you to go a-fishing with him. They had a great time
down there the other day--he, and Mr. Young, and Sol Johnson. They
undertook to put up a sail as Henry and you do, and it didn't work,
and they came near upsetting; and' Sol and old man Young were scart,
and old Young thought he would get drownded. Oh, it must have been
And so the boys chippered, chirped, and laughed on to a late bed-time,
and then went to bed perfectly happy.
Then came inquiries about Henry, who had written not long before, and
had wondered why he had not heard from Barton; and, at last, wearied
and worn with his three hundred miles' walk, Bart bade his mother
good-night, and went to his old room, to rest and sleep as the young,
and healthful, and hopeful, without deep sorrows or the stings of
conscience, may do. In the strange freaks of a half-sleeping fancy, in
his dreams, he remembered to have heard the screech of a wild animal,
and to have seen the face of Julia Markham, pale with the mingled
expression of courage and fear.
THE BLUE CHAMBER.
In the morning he found the front yard had a wild and tangled, and
the garden a neglected look, and busied himself, with the boys, in
improving their appearance.
In the afternoon he overhauled a small desk, the contents of which
soon lay about on the floor. There were papers of all colors and
sizes--scraps, single sheets, and collections of several pages--all
covered with verses in many hands, from that of the young boy to
elegant clerkly manuscript. They seemed to represent every style of
poetic composition. It would have been amusing to watch the manner
and expression with which the youth dealt with these children of his
fancy, and to listen to his exclamations of condensed criticism. He
evidently found little to commend. As he opened or unrolled one after
another, and caught the heading, or a line of the text, he dashed it
to the floor, with a single word of contempt, disgust, or derision.
"Faugh!" "Oh!" "Pshaw!" "Blank verse? Blank enough!" Some he lingered
over for a moment, but his brow never cleared or relented, and each
and all were condemned with equal justice and impartiality. When the
last was thrown down, and he was certain that none remained, he rose
and contemplated their crumpled and creased forms with calm disdain.
"Oh, dear! you thought, some of you, that you might possibly be
poetry, you miserable weaklings and beguilers! You are not even
verses--are hardly rhymes. You are, one and all, without sense or
sound." His brow grew severe in its condemnation. "There! take
that! and that! and that!"--stamping them with his foot; "poor
broken-backed, halting, limping, club-footed, no-going, unbodied,
unsouled, nameless things. How do you like it? What business had you
to be? You had no right to be born--never were born; had no capacity
for birth; you don't even amount to failures! Words are wasted on you:
let me see if you'll burn." Lighting one, he threw it upon the hearth.
"It does! I am surprised at that. I rather like it. How blue and faint
the flame is--it hardly produces smoke, and"--watching until it was
consumed--"no ashes. Too ethereal for smoke and ashes. Let me try the
rest;" and he did.
He then opened a small drawer and took out a portfolio, in which were
various bits of bristol-board and paper, covered with crayon and pen
sketches, and some things in water-colors--all giving evidence of a
ready hand which showed some untaught practice. Whether his sense of
justice was somewhat appeased, or because he regarded them with more
favor, or reserved them for another occasion, was, perhaps, uncertain.
Singularly enough, on each of them, no matter what was the subject,
appeared one or more young girl's heads--some full-faced, some
three-fourths, and more in profile--all spirited, all looking alike,
and each having a strong resemblance to Julia Markham. Two or three
were studied and deliberate attempts. He contemplated these long and
earnestly, and laid them away with a sigh. They undoubtedly saved the
That night he wrote to Henry:
"DEAR BROTHER,--I am back, of course. It is an unpleasant way of
mine--this coming back. It was visionary for me to try a fall with the
sciences at Hudson. You would have been too many for them; I ran
away. I found Colton sick at Cincinnati. The Texan Rangers had left.
I looked into the waters of the Ohio, running and hurrying away
returnlessly to the south-west. Lord, how they called to me in their
liquid offers to carry me away! They seemed to draw me to linger, and
gurgle, and murmur in little staying, coaxing eddies at my feet, to
persuade me to go.
"How near one seems to that far-off region of fever and swamp, of sun
and sea, of adventure and blood, and old buccaneering, standing by
those swift waters, already on their way thither! Should I go? Was
I not too good to go, and be lost? Think of the high moral
considerations involved? No matter, I didn't go--I came! Well!
"On reflection--and I thus assume that I do reflect--I think men don't
find opportunities, or, if they do, they don't know them. One must
make an opportunity for himself, and then he will know what to do with
it. The other day I stood on the other side of the Chagrin waiting for
an opportunity, and it didn't come, and I made one. I waded through,
and liked it, and that was not the only lesson I learned at the same
time. But that other was for my personal improvement. A man can as
well find the material for his opportunity in one place as another.
See how I excuse myself!
"Just now, I am a reformed young Blue Beard. Fatima and her sister may
go--have gone. I have just overhauled my 'Blue Chamber,' taken down
all my suspended wives, and burned them. They ended in smoke. Lord!
there wasn't flesh and blood enough in them all to decompose, and they
gave out no odor even while burning. I burned them all, cleaned off
all the blood-spots, ventilated the room, opened the windows, and will
turn it to a workshop. No more sighing for the unattainable, no more
grasping at the intangible, no more clutching at the impalpable. I am
no poet, and we don't want poetry. Our civilization isn't old enough.
Poets, like other maggots, will be produced when fermentation comes.
I am going about the humdrum and the useful. I am about as low in
the public estimation as I can well go; at any rate I am down on hard
land, which will be a good starting-point. Now don't go off and become
sanguine over me, nor trouble yourself much about me.
"'The world will find me after many a day,' as Southey says of one of
his books. I doubt if it ever did. The Doctor contends that Southey
was a poet; but then he thinks I am, also!
"What a deuce of a clamor is made about this new comet or planet! What
a useful thing to us poor, mud-stranded mortals to find out that there
is another little fragment of a world, away some hundreds of
millions of miles, outside of no particular where--for I believe
this astronomical detective is only on its track! The Doctor is in
ecstacies over it, takes it as a special personal favor, and declaims
luminously and constellationally about writing one's name among the
stars, like that frisky cow who, in jumping over the moon, upon a
time, made the milky way. I've always had some doubts about that
exploit; but then there is the mark she left. Your friend Roberts
is uneasy about this new star business; he is afraid that it will
unsettle the cheese market, and he don't know about it, nor do I.
"There! I got home only last night, and haven't heard any news to
write you. Some time I will tell of two or three things I saw and
heard, and about some of our cousins, who regard us as belonging to
the outer and lower skirts of the race. If I am to be one end of a
family, let it be the beginning.
"Mother sends love. Edward and George speak of you constantly. I've
not seen our Major since my return.
"Write me a good, sharp, cutting, criticising, deuced brotherly letter
soon. As ever,
"P.S. Have you read Pickwick?
It was full of badinage, with only a dip or two into an absorbing
purpose that he had fully formed, and which he evidenced to himself by
the summary expulsion of the muses.
In the world of nature and humanity, is there such an embodiment of
contradictions and absurdities as a youth in his transit from the
dreamland of boyhood to the battle-field of manhood, through a region
partaking of both, and abounding with strange products of its own? I
am not speaking of the average boy, such boys as make up the male mass
of the world--the undreaming, unthinking, plodding, drudging, sweating
herd, whose few old commonplace, well-worn ideas don't possess the
power of reproduction, and whose thoughts are thirteenth or thirteen
hundredth-handed, and transmitted unimpregnated to other dullards, and
whose life and spirit is that of the young animal merely--but a real
young man, one of possibilities, intended for a man, and not merely
for a male, one in whom the primitive forces of nature are planted,
and who may develop into a new driving or forming power. What a mad,
impulsive, freaky thing it is! You may see him bruising his still
soft head a score of times against the impossible, and he will still
contend that he can do it. He will spring frantically up the face of
an unclimbable precipice, as the young salmon leaps up a cataract, and
die in the faith that he can go up it.
Oh, sublime faith! Oh, sublime folly! What strides he is constantly
taking to the ridiculous, and not always from the sublime! How strong!
how weak! How wise! how foolish! Consistent only in folly, and steady
in the purpose of being foolish. How beautiful, and how ugly! What a
lovable, detestable, desirable, proud, wilful, arrogant, supercilious,
laughing, passionate, tender, cruel, loving, hating, good sort of a
good-for-nothing he is! He believes everything--he believes nothing;
and, like Mary's Son, questions and mocks the doctors to their beards
in the very temple. Patience! he must have his time, and room to grow
in, develop, and shape out. Let him have coral for his teeth, and
climbing, and running, and jumping for his muscle. No man may love
him, and no woman but his mother, and she is to be tried to the extent
of endurance. Wait for him; he will, with or without your help, turn
out good or bad, and in either event people will say: "I always told
you so," "I always knew it was in him"; and cite a score of unhappened
things in proof of their sagacity.
Barton was one of these; neither better nor worse, full of
possibilities and capabilities, impulsive, rash, and unreasoning. He
has just made a resolve, and will act upon it; proud and sensitive
to a degree, he had heard a word of fault once at the store, which
another word would have explained. He would not say it, and went. It
was discovered that the fault was not his, in time for him to remain;
but he left without that word. He is willing to take his chances, and
must speak and act for himself.
He sealed and directed his letter, walked about with the plaintive
airs of old melodies running and running through his head, and sang
snatches and verses of sad old ballads, going over and over with some
touching line, or complaining strain, till he was saturated with its
tender melancholy, and so he came back to ordinary life.
Newbury was one of the twenty-odd townships, five miles square, that
then made up the county of Geauga, and a part of the Western Reserve,
the Yankee-doodledom of Ohio, settled exclusively by emigrants from
New England. It was so much of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont,
etc., translated into the broader and freer West. It has been
said that the Yankee, like a certain vegetable, heads best when
transplanted. It was the old thing over, under new and trying
circumstances. The same old ideas and notions, habits of thought and
life; poor, economical and thrifty folk, with the same reverence
for religion and law, love of education, and restless desire for
improvement, and to better the present condition. In the West the
Yankee developed his best qualities in the second generation. He
became a little straighter and less angular, and wider between the
eyes. In the first generation he lived out his life scarcely refracted
by the new atmosphere. This crop still stood firm and hardy on the
Reserve, and they often turned homesick eyes, talked lovingly and
lingeringly of "down country," as they all called loved and cherished
New England. Most of the first settlers were poor, but hardy and
enterprising. The two last qualities were absolutely necessary to take
them through the long, wearisome journey to Ohio, the then far West.
They took up lands, built cabins, and forced a subsistence from the
newly-cleared, stumpy virgin soil. This homogeneous people constituted
a practical and thorough democracy. Their social relations were based
on personal equality, varied only by the accident of superior talents,
address or enterprise, and as yet but little modified by wealth or its
Among the emigrants scattered here and there was occasionally found a
branch of a "down country" family of some pretensions, dating back to
services in the Revolution, to old wealth, or official position.
Among these were one or two families at Painesville, near the lake, at
Parkman, several at Warren, and more at Cleveland, who had made each
other's acquaintance, and who, as the country improved and the
means of communication were perfected, formed and kept up a sort of
association over the heads, and hardly within the observation, of the
people generally. Of these, as we may say, by right of his wife,
was Judge Markham. He was a hardy, intelligent, and, for his day, a
cultivated man, who came early into the woods as an agent for many
large stockholders of the old Connecticut Land Company, and a liberal
percentage of the sales placed in his hands the nucleus of a large
fortune. Sagacity in investments and improvements, with thorough
business capacity, had already made him one of the wealthiest men on
the Reserve; while a handsome person, and frank, pleasant address,
rendered him very popular. He had been for several years an associate
judge of the court of common pleas for Geauga county, and had an
extensive acquaintance and influence. Mrs. Markham, a genuine daughter
of the old Puritan ancestry, dating back to the first landing, a true
specimen of the best Yankee woman under favorable circumstances, was
a most thoroughly accomplished lady, who had gone into the woods with
her young husband, and who shed and exercised a wide and beneficent
influence through her sphere. So simple, sweet, natural and judicious
was she ever, that her neighbors felt her to be quite one of
themselves, as she was. Everybody was drawn to her; and so
approachable was she, that the lower and more common declared that she
was no lady at all.
Their only child, Julia, just maturing into womanhood, was one of the
best and highest specimens of the American girl, to whom refinement,
grace, and a strong, rich, sweet nature, came by right of birth,
while she inherited beauty from both parents; she seemed, however,
unconscious of this last possession, as she was of the admiration
which filled the atmosphere that surrounded her. She, too, must speak
and act for herself.
At the time of the incidents to be narrated, the northern and eastern
part of Newbury had a considerable population. It was traversed by
a highway leading west through its centre to Cleveland, and by a
stage-road leading from Painesville to the Ohio river, through its
eastern part. This was called the "State road," and on it stood
Parker's Hotel, a stage-house much frequented, and constituting the
centre of a little village, while further south was the extensive
trading establishment of Markham & Co., using the name and some of
the capital of the Judge, and managed mainly by Roberts and another
junior. Judge Markham's spacious and elegant dwelling stood about half
a mile south of the store.
The south-western part of the township, with much of two adjoining
townships, remained an unbroken forest, belonging to an eccentric
landholder who refused to sell it. This was spoken of as "the
woods," and furnished cover and haunts for wild game and animals,
hunting-ground for the pioneers, and also gave shelter to a few
shiftless squatters, in various parts of its wide expanse. In the
eastern border of the township was Punderson's pond, a beautiful,
irregular-shaped body of limpid water, embosomed by deep wooded
hills, and of considerable extent, well stocked with fish, and much
frequented on that account.
In the afternoon of the second day after his return, Bart went down
a highway leading east to the State road, to the post-office, kept at
Markham's store, and this road took him down by the southern end of
the pond, and thence southerly on the State road. He passed along by
Dr. Lyman's, Jonah Johnson's, and so on, past houses, and clearings,
and woodlands, looking almost wistfully, as if he expected pleasant
greetings; but the few he saw merely nodded to him, or called out:
"Are you back again?" He paused on the hill by the saw-mill, which
overlooked the pond, and gazed long over its beautiful surface,
sleeping in utter solitude amid the green hills, under the slanting
summer sun, and seemed to recognize in it what he had observed, on the
evening of his return, about the old homestead--the change that had
taken place in himself--a change which often accounts for the strange
appearance of the most familiar and cherished places. We find it
reflected in the face of inanimate nature, and wonder at her altered
guise, unconscious of the cause. He sauntered musingly on to the
State road, and over by the old grist-mill, past several houses, up to
Parker's. Here, by a beautiful spring under the shade of old apple
and cherry-trees, near the carriage-way, was an indolent group of
afternoon idlers. Conspicuous among them was the dark and striking
face of Dr. Lyman, the rich mahogany of Uncle Josh, and the homely,
shrewd, and fresh-colored countenance of Jonah Johnson. Bart could not
avoid them if he would; and regretted that he had not gone across the
woods to the post-office, and so escaped them.
"Well, young Scholasticus," said the Doctor, after the slight
greetings had been given to the new-comer, "you seem to have graduated
with great rapidity. You went through college like--"
"One of your emetics, Doctor. I came out at the same door I went in
at. Now, doctus, doctior, doctissimus, I am fair game on this point,
so blaze away with everything but your saddle-bags, and I will laugh
with the rest of you."
A good-natured laugh welcomed this coming down.
"Well," replied the doctor, "there can't be much more said."
"I should like to know, young man," remarked Uncle Josh, "whether you
raly got into the college, I should."
"Well, Mr. Burnett, I _raly_ did not, I didn't," mimicking Uncle Josh.
"What did you do, badinage apart?"
"I took a good outside look at the buildings, which was improving;
called on your friends Dr. Nutting and Rev. Beriah Green, who asked me
what church I belonged to, and who was my instructor in Latin."
"What reply did you make?"
"What could I say? I didn't hear the first; and as to the second, I
couldn't bring reproach upon you, and so I said I had never had
one. You must own, Doctor, that I showed great tenderness for your
"You certainly did me a kindness."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"I should raly like to know," said Uncle Josh, "what you are thanking
the Doctor for, I should."
"Well, go on."
"I went off," continued Bart. "The fact is, I thought that that
retreat of the sciences might hold that little learning, which is a
dangerous thing--as you used to not quote exactly--and I thought it
prudent to avoid that 'Pierian spring.'"
"What is the young man talking about now?" inquired Uncle Josh. "I
would raly like to know, I would."
"I must ask the Doctor to explain," answered Bart. "I was referring to
one of his old drinking-places, where, according to him, the more
one drank the soberer he grew. You would not fancy that tipple, would
"You see, Uncle Josh," said the Doctor, laughing, "what comes of a
young man's going a week to college."
"The young man didn't know anything at all, before," declared Uncle
Josh, "and he seems to know less now, amazingly."
This was Uncle Josh's sincere opinion, and was received with a shout
of laughter, in which Bart heartily joined. Indeed, it was his first
sincere laugh for many a day.
Johnson asked him "whether he went to the Ohio river," and being
answered in the affirmative, asked him "by what route he went, and
what he saw."
Uncle Jonah, as Bart usually called him, was one of his very few
recognized friends, and asked in a way that induced him to make a
"I walked the most of the way there, and all the way back. I went by
way of Canton, Columbus, Dayton, and so to Cincinnati, and returned
the same way."
"What do you think of that part of the State which you saw?"
"Unquestionably we have the poorest part of it. As our ancestors
landed on the most desolate part of the continent, so we took the
worst part of Ohio. If you were to see the wheat-fields of Stark, or
the corn on the Scioto, and the whole of the region about Xenia and
Dayton, and on the Miami, you would want to emigrate."
"What about the people?"
"Oh, dear! I didn't see much of them, and that little did not make
me wish to see more. The moment you step across the south line of the
Reserve you step into a foreign country, and among a foreign people,
who speak a foreign language, and who know one of us as quick as they
see us; and they seem to have a very prudent distrust of us. After
passing this black, Dutch region, you enter a population of emigrants
from Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, and some from North Carolina, and
all unite in detesting and distrusting the Reserve Yankee.
"It is singular, the difference between the lake and river side of the
State. At Cincinnati you seem to be within a step of New Orleans, and
hear of no other place--not a word of New York, and less of Boston.
There everything looks and goes south-west, while we all tend
eastward." In reply to questions, Bart told them of Columbus and
Cincinnati, giving fresh and graphic descriptions, for he observed
closely, and described with a racy, piquant exaggeration what he saw.
Breaking off rather abruptly, he seemed vexed at the length of his
monologue, and went on towards the post-office.
"That young man will not come to a single darn," said Uncle Josh; "not
one darn. He is not good for anything, and never will be. His father
was a very likely man, and so is his mother, and his older brothers
are very likely men, but he is not worth a cuss."
"Uncle Josh is thinking about Bart's sketch of him, clawing old Nore
Morton's face," said Uncle Jonah.
"I did not like that; I did not like it at all. It made me look like
hell amazingly," said the old man, much moved.
"You had good reason for not liking it," rejoined Uncle Jonah, "for it
was exactly like you."
"Dr. Lyman, what do you think of this young man? He was with you,
wa'n't he, studyin' something or other?" asked Uncle Josh; "don't you
agree with me?"
"I don't know," answered the Doctor, "I am out of all patience with
him. He is quick and ready, and wants to try his hand at every new
thing; and the moment he finds he can do it, he quits it. There is
no stability to him. He studied botany a week, and Latin a month, and
Euclid ten days."
"He hunts well, and fishes well--don't he?" asked another.
"They say he shoots well," said Uncle Josh, "but he will wander in the
woods all day, and let game run off from under his eyes, amazingly!
They said at the big hunt, in the woods, he opened the lines and let
all the deer out. He isn't good for a thing--not a cussed thing."
"Isn't he as smart as his brother Henry?" asked Uncle Jonah.
"It is not a question of smartness," replied the Doctor. "He is too
smart; but Henry has steadiness, and bottom, and purpose, and power,
and will, and industry. But Bart, if you start him on a thing, runs
away out of sight of you in an hour. The next you see of him he is off
loafing about, quizzing somebody; and if you call his attention
back to what you set him at, he laughs at you. I have given him
up, utterly; though I mean to ask him to go a-fishing one of these
"Exactly," said Uncle Jonah, "make him useful. But, Dr. Lyman and
Joshua Burnett, the boy has got the stuff in him--the stuff in him.
Why, he told you here, in fifteen minutes, more about the State of
Ohio than you both ever knew. You will see--"
"You will see, too, that he will not come to a darn," said Uncle Josh,
regarding that as a sad doom indeed.
AT THE POST-OFFICE.
Barton found a more attractive group at the store. The post-office
occupied a window and corner near the front of the large,
old-fashioned, square store-room; and, as he entered the front door,
he saw, in the back part of the room, a gay, laughing, warbling,
giggling, chirping group of girls gathered about Julia Markham, as
their natural centre. Barton was a little abashed; he might have
moved up more cautiously, and reconnoitred, had he not been taken
by surprise. There was no help for it. He deposited his letters and
called for his mail, which gave him time to gather his forces in hand.
Now Barton was born to love and serve women in all places, and under
all forms and circumstances. His was not a light, silly, vapid,
complimentary devotion, but deep in his nature, through and through,
he reverenced woman as something sacred and high, and above the vulgar
nature of men; this reformed his mind, and inspired his manners; and,
while he was generally disliked by men, he was favorably regarded by
women. It was not in woman's nature to think ill of a youth who was
always so modestly respectful, and anxious to please and oblige;
and no man thus constituted was ever awkward or long embarrassed in
woman's presence. She always gets from him, if not his best, what
is proper. If he can lose self-consciousness, and receive the full
inspiration of her presence, he will soon be at his ease, if not
The last thing absolutely that ever could occur to Barton, and it
never had as yet, was the possibility of his being an object of
interest personally to a woman, or to women. He was modest--almost to
bashfulness; but as he never presumed, he was never snubbed; and now,
on this summer afternoon, he had came upon a group of seven or eight
of the most attractive girls of the neighborhood, accompanied by one
or two strangers. There was Julia, never so lovely before, with a
warm color on her cheek, and a liquid light in her dark eyes, in
whose presence all other girls were commonplace; and her friends Nell
Roberts and Kate Fisher, Lizzie Mun and Pearlie Burnett, and several
others. The young man was seen and recognized, and had to advance.
Think of walking thirty feet alone in the faces of seven or eight
beautiful girls, and at the same time be easy and graceful! It is
funny, what a hush the presence of one young man will bring over
a laughing, romping cluster of young women. At his entrance, their
girlish clamor sunk to a liquid murmur; and, when he approached, they
were nearly silent, all but Julia and a stylish blonde, whom Barton
had never seen before. They were gathered around a cloud and tangle of
women's mysterious fabrics, whose names are as unknown to men as
their uses. Most of the young girls suspended their examinations and
rippling comments, and, with a little heightened color, awaited the
approach of the enemy. He came on, and gracefully bowed to each, was
permitted to take the hands of two or three, and greeted with a little
chorus of--"You have come back!" "Where have you been?" "How do you
do?" Julia greeted him with her eyes, as he entered, with a sweet
woman's way, that thrilled him, and which enabled him to approach her
so well. She had remained examining a bit of goods, as if unaware of
his immediate presence for a moment, and he had been introduced to
the strange lady by Kate Fisher as her cousin, Miss Walters, from
Then Julia turned to him, and, with a charming manner, asked: "Mr.
Ridgeley"--she had not called him Bart, or Barton, since her return
from Boston--"Mr. Ridgeley, what do the girls mean? Have you really
"Have I really been away? And if I really have, am I to be permitted
to take your hand, and asked how I really do? as if you really cared?"
"Really," was her answer, "you see we have just received our fall
fashions, and it is not the fall style this year to give and take
hands after an absence."
"A-h! how popular that will be with poor masculines! Is that to be
worn by all of you?"
"I don't know," said Kate; "it is not fall with some of us yet."
"Thank you! and may I ask Miss Markham if it was the spring and summer
style not to say good-bye at a parting?"
The tone was gay, but there was something more in it, and the girl
replied: "That depends upon the lady, I presume; both styles may be
varied at her pleasure."
"Ah, I think I understand! You are kind to explain."
"Mr. Barton," said Lizzie, "Flora and I here cannot determine about
our colors"--holding up some gay ribbons--"and the rest can't help us
out. What do you think of them?"
"That they are brilliant," answered Barton, looking both steadily and
innocently in the faces, in a way that deepened their hues.
"Oh, no! these ribbons?" exclaimed the blushing girl, thrusting them
towards his eyes.
"Indeed I am color blind, though not wholly blind to color." And a
little ripple of laughter ran over the bright group, and then they all
Can any one tell why a young girl laughs, save that she is happy and
joyous? If she does or says anything, she laughs, and if she don't,
she laughs, and her companions laugh because she does, and then they
all laugh, and then laugh again because they laughed before, and then
they look at each other and laugh again; thus they did now, and Barton
could no more tell what they were laughing at than could they; he was
not so foolishly jealous as to imagine that they were laughing at him.
Then Kate turned to him: "You won't go away again, I hope. We are
going to have a little party before long, and you must come, and I
want to see you waltz with my cousin. She waltzes beautifully, and I
want to see her with a good partner. Will you come?"
"Indeed I would be most happy; but your compliment is ironical. You
know we don't waltz, and none of us can, if we try."
"Is that the awful dance where the gentleman takes the lady around the
waist, and she leans on him, and they go swinging around? Oh, I think
that is awful!"
"The Germans, and many of our best ladies, and gentlemen, waltz,"
replied Miss Walters, "as they do in Baltimore and New York, and I
suppose my cousin thought no harm could be said of it at her little
"Oh, I am sure I did not mean that it was wrong, and I would like to
see the dance!" was the eager disclaimer.
Barton had drawn away from this discussion, and lingered a moment near
Julia, to ask after her mother. She replied that Mrs. Markham was very
well, but did not ask him to call and see for himself, nor did she in
any way encourage him to prolong the conversation. So, with a little
badinage and _persiflage_, he took his leave.
I shall not attempt to set down what was said of him after he left,
nor will I affirm that anything was said. Young ladies, for aught I
know, occasionally talk up young men among themselves, and if they do
it is nobody's business.
MRS. MARKHAM'S VIEWS.
In the gathering twilight, in a parlor at the Markham mansion, sat
Julia by the piano, resting her head on one hand, while with the other
she brought little ripples of music from the keys; sometimes a medley,
then single and prolonged notes, like heavy drops of water into a
deep pool, and then a twinkling shower of melody. She was not sad, or
pensive, or thoughtful; but in one of these quiet, sweet, and grave
moods that come to deep natures--as a cloud passing over deep, still
water enables one under its shadow to see into its depths. Her mother
stood at an open window, inhaling the evening fragrance of flowers,
and occasionally listening to the wild note of the mysterious
whippoorwill, that came from a thicket of forest-trees in the
The step of her father caught the ear of the young girl, who sprang up
and ran towards him with eager face and sparkle of eye and voice.
"Oh, papa, the trunks came this afternoon, with the fashion-plates,
and patterns, and everything, and all we girls--Nell, Kate Fisher,
Miss Flora Walter, Pearlie, Ann, and all hands of us--have had a
regular 'opening.' We went through with them all. The cottage bonnet
is a love of a thing, and I am going to have it trimmed for myself.
Sleeves are bigger than ever, and there were lots of splendid things!"
"And so Roberts has suited you all, for once, has he?" said the Judge,
passing an arm around her small waist.
"Roberts! Faugh, he had nothing to do with it. Aunt Mary selected
them all herself. They are the latest and newest from Paris--almost
"Does that make them better?"
"Well, I don't know that there is anything in their coming from Paris,
except that one likes to know that they come from the beginning-place
of such things. Now if they had been made in Boston, New York, or
Baltimore, one would not be certain they were like the right thing;
and now we know they are the real thing itself. Do you understand?"
"Oh, yes--as well as a man may; and it is quite well put, too, and
I don't know that I ever had so clear an idea of the value of things
from a distance before."
"Well, you see, when a thing comes clear from the farthest off,
we know there ain't anything beyond; and when it comes from the
beginning, we don't take it second hand."
"I see; but why do you care, you girls in this far-off, rude region?"
"Mamma, do you hear that? Here is my own especial father, and your
husband, asking me, a woman, and a very young woman too, for a
"It is because you are a very young one that he expects you to give
a reason. Perhaps he thinks you will not claim the privilege of our
"Well, I won't. Now, then, Papa Judge, this is not a far-off, rude
region, and you see that the French ladies want these styles and
fashions, and all that; well, if they want them, we want them too."
"Now I don't quite see. How do you know they want them? Perhaps they
are sent here because they don't want them; and, besides, why should
a backwoods girl in Ohio want what a high-born lady in the French
"Because the American girl is a woman; and, besides, the court must
hear and decide, and not ask absurd questions."
"And who is to see you in French millinery, here in the woods?"
"Oh, bless its foolish man's heart, that thinks a woman dresses to
please its taste, when it hasn't any! We dress to please ourselves and
plague each other--don't you know that? and we ain't pleased with poky
"Julia! Mother," appealed the Judge, with uplifted hands, to Mrs.
Markham, "where did this young lady get her notions?"
"From the common source of woman's notions, as you call them, I
presume--her feelings and fancies; and she is merely letting you see
the workings of a woman's mind. We should all betray our sex a hundred
times a day, if our blessed husbands and fathers had the power to
understand us, I fear."
"And don't we understand you?"
"Of course you do, as well as you ever will. My dear husband, don't
you also understand that if you fully comprehended us, or we you, we
should lose interest in each other? that now we may be a perpetual
revelation and study to each other, and so never become worn and
"There, Papa Judge, are you satisfied--not with our arguments, but
"The man who was not would be unreasonable and--"
"Man-like," put in Julia. "Let me sing you my new song."
A piano was a novelty in Northern Ohio. Julia played with a real skill
and expression, and her father, though no musician, loved to listen,
and more to hear her sing, with her clear, strong, sweet voice, and so
she played and sang her song.
When she had finished, "By the way," remarked her father, "I
understand that our travelled young townsman, who has just returned
from foreign parts, was at the post-office this afternoon, and perhaps
you met him."
"Whom do you mean?" asked Julia.
"Your mother's pet, Bart Ridgeley."
"Now, papa, that is hardly kind, after what you said of him the other
day. He is not mother's pet at all. She is only kind to him, as to
everybody. Indeed, he don't seem to me like anybody's pet, to be
patted and kept in-doors when it rains, and eat jellies, and be nice.
I saw him at the store a moment; he was very civil, and merely asked
after mamma, and went out."
"Did you ask him to call and see mamma?" asked her father a little
"Not at all. The truth is, papa, after what you said I could not ask
him, and was hardly civil to him."
"Was it unpleasant to be hardly civil to him?"
"No; though I like to be civil to everybody. You know I have seen
little of him since I came home, and when I have, he was sometimes
silent and distant, and not like what he was before I went away."
"You find him improved in appearance and manners?" persisted the
"Well, he was always good-looking, and had the way of a gentleman.
Miss Walters seemed quite taken with him, and was surprised that he
had grown up here in the woods."
Her father was silent a moment, and the subject was changed. Mrs.
Markham was attentive to what was said of poor Bart, but made no
comment at the time.
* * * * *
In their room, that night, in her sweet, serious way, she said to
her husband, "Edward, I do not want to say a word in favor of Barton
Ridgeley. I do not ask you to change your opinion of him or your
course towards him; but I wish to ask if it is necessary to discuss
him, especially with Julia?"
"Well, can it be productive of good? If you are mistaken in your
estimate of him, you do him injustice, and in any event you will call
her attention to him, and she may observe and study him; and almost
any young woman who should do that might become interested in him."
"Do you think so? Men don't like him."
"Is that a reason why a woman would not?"
"Have you discovered any reason to think that Julia cares in the least
"Julia is young, and, like the women of our family, develops in these
respects slowly; but, like the rest of us, she will have her own
fancies some time, and you know"--with a still softer voice--"that
one of them left a beautiful home, and a circle of love and luxury, to
follow her heart into the woods."
"Yes, and thank God that she did! Roses and blessings and grace came
with you," said the Judge, with emotion. "But this boy--what is he
to us, or what can he ever be? He is so freaky, and unsteady, and
passionate, and flies off at a word, and goes before he is touched. He
will do nothing, and come to nothing."
"What can he do? Would you really have him buy an axe and chop
cord-wood, or work as a carpenter, or sell tape behind the counter?
Are there not enough to do all that work as fast as it needs to be
done? Is there not a clamorous need of brain-work, and who is there to
do it? Who is to govern, and manage, and control twenty years hence?
Look over all the young men whom you know, and who promises to be fit
to lead? Think over those you know in Cleveland, or Painesville, or
Warren. Is somebody to come from somewhere else? Think of your own
plans and expectations. Who can help you? I see possibilities in this
wayward, passionate, hasty, generous youth. He is a tender and devoted
son, and I am glad he came back; and nobody knows how he may be pushed
against us and others."
"Well," said the Judge, after a thoughtful pause, "what can I do? What
would you have me do--change myself, or try to change him?"
"I don't know," thoughtfully: "I think there is nothing you can do
now. I would wish you to cultivate a manner towards him that would
leave it in your power to serve him or make him useful, if occasion
presents. He needs a better education, and perhaps a profession. He
should study law. He has a capacity to become a very superior public
speaker--one of the first. I don't think there is much danger of his
forming bad habits or associations. He avoids and shuns everything of
that kind. You know he deeded his share of his father's land to his
brother, to provide a home for his mother, and I presume will remain,
both from choice and necessity, with her for the present."
The Judge mused over her words. He did not tell her of having met and
left Barton the other side of the Chagrin; nor did he disclose fully
the dislike he felt for him, or the fears he may have entertained at
the idea of any intimacy between him and Julia. His wife mused also
in her woman's way. She, too, would have hesitated to have Barton
restored to the old relations of his boyhood. While she knew of much
to admire and hope for in him, she knew also that there was much
to cause anxiety, if not apprehension. In thinking further, she was
inclined to call upon his mother, whom she much esteemed for her
strong and decisive traits of character, soft and womanly though
she was. Cares and anxieties had kept her from association with her
neighbors, among whom, as she knew, she seldom appeared, except on
occasions of sickness or suffering, or when some event seemed
to demand the presence of a deciding woman's mind and will. She
remembered one or two such times in their earlier forest life, when
Mrs. Ridgeley had quietly assumed her natural place for a day, to
go back to her round of widowed love, care and toil. She would make
occasion to see her, and perhaps find some indirect way to be useful
to both mother and son.
WHAT HE THOUGHT OF THINGS.
How grateful to the sensitive heart of the young man would have been
the knowledge that he was an object of thoughtful interest to Julia's
mother, who, next to his own, had his reverence and regard! He knew he
was generally disliked; his intuitions assured him of this, and in his
young arrogance he had not cared. Indeed, he had come to feel a morbid
pleasure in avoiding and being avoided; but now, as he sat in the
little silent room in the late night, he felt his isolation. He
had been appalled at a discovery--or rather a revelation--made that
afternoon. He knew that he loved Julia, and that this love would be
the one passion of manhood, as it had been of his boyhood. He had
given himself up to it as to a delicious onflowing stream, drifting
him through enchanted lands, and had not thought or cared whither it
might bear, or on what desolate shore it might finally strand him.
Now he felt its full strength and power, and he knew, too, that it was
a force to be controlled, when perhaps that had become impossible. He
had never asked himself if a return of his passion were even possible,
until now, when his whole fervid nature had gone out in a great hungry
longing for her love and sympathy. She had never stood so lovely and
so inaccessible as he had seen her that day. How deeply through and
through came the first greeting of her eyes! It was an electric flash
never received before, and which as suddenly disappeared. How cool and
indifferent was her manner and look as he approached, and stood near
her! No inquiry, save that mocking one! Not a word; not a thought of
where he had been, or why he had returned, or what he would do; the
shortest answer as to his inquiry about her mother; no intimation that
he might even call at the house. Thus he went over with it all--over
and over again. What did he care? But he did, and could not deceive
himself. He did care, and must not; and then he went back over all
their intercourse since her return home, two or three months before he
left, and it was all alike on her part--a cool, indifferent avoidance
Oh, she was so glorious--so beautiful! The whole world lay in the
span of her slender waist--a world not for him. Was it something to
be adventured for, fought for, found anywhere? something that he could
climb up to and take? something to plunge down to in fathomless ocean
and carry back? No, it was her woman's heart. Like her father, she
disliked him; and if, like her father, she would openly let him see
and hear it--but doesn't she? What had he to offer her? How could he
overcome her father's dislike? He felt in his soul what would come to
him finally, but then, in the lapsing time? And she avoided him now!
He returned to his algebraic problem, with a desperate plunge at its
solution. The unknown quantity remained unknown; and, a moment later,
he was gratified to see how he had finally caught and expressed, with
his pencil, a look of Julia, that had always eluded him before. But
was he to be overcome by a girl? Was life and its ambitions to be
crushed out and brought to nought by one small hand? He would see. It
would be inexpressible luxury to tell her once--but just once--all his
passion and worship, and then, of course, remain silent forever, and
go out of her presence. He wished her to know it all, so that, as she
would hear and know of him in the coming years, she would know that he
was worthy, not of her love, but worthy to love her, whatever that may
mean, or whatever of comfort it might bring to either. What precious
logic the heart of a young man in his twenty-second year is capable
LOGIC OF THE GODS.
"Doctor," said Barton, in the little office of the latter, "I've
called to borrow your Euclid; may I have it? I have never tried
"Oh, yes, you can have it, and welcome. Do you want to try yourself on
the _pons asinorum?_"
"What is that; another bridge of sighs? for I suppose they can be
found out of Venice."
"It is a place over which asses have to be carried. It is, indeed, a
bridge of sighs, and a bridge of size."
"Oh, Doctor, don't you do that! Well, let me try it! I want more
work; and especially I want a wrestle with Euclid."
"Work! what are you doing, that you call work?"
"Well, hoeing beans, pulling up weeds, harvesting oats, with
recreations in Latin Grammar, Dabol, Algebra, Watts on the Mind,
Butler's Analogy, and other trifles."
"All at one time?"
"No, not more than three at the same time. Don't lecture me, Doctor, I
am incorrigible. When I work, I don't play."
"And when you don't play you work, occasionally; well, I think Euclid
will do you good."
"I won't take it as a prescription, Doctor!"
"A thorough course of mathematics would do more for one of your
flighty mind, than anything else; you want chaining down to the severe
logic of lines and angles."
"To the solution of such profound problems as, that the whole of a
thing is more than a fraction of it; and things that are exactly alike
resemble each other, for instance, eh?"
"Pshaw! you will make fun of everything. Will you ever reach
discretion, and deal with things seriously?"
"I was never more serious in my life, and could cry with mortification
over my lost, idled-away hours, you never believed in me, and are not
to blame for that, nor have I any promises to make. I am not thought
to be at all promising, I believe."
"Bart," said the Doctor, seriously, "you don't lack capacity; but you
are too quick and impulsive, and all imagination and fancy."
"Well, Doctor, you flatter me; but really is not the imagination one
of the highest elements of the human mind? In the wide world's history
was it not a crowning, and one of the most useful qualities of many of
the greatest men?"
"Great men have had imagination. I presume, and achieved great things
in spite of it; but through it, never."
"Why, Doctor! the mere mathematician is the most servile of mortals.
He is useful, but cannot create, or even discover. He weighs and
measures. Project one of his angles into space, and, though it may
reach within ten feet of a blazing star that dazzles men with eyes,
yet he will neither see nor know of its existence. His foot-rule won't
reach it, and he has no eyes. Imagination! it was the logic of the
gods--the power to create; and among men it abolishes the impossible.
By its force and strength one may strike fire from hidden flints in
darkened worlds, and beat new windows in the blind sides of the ages.
Columbus imagined another continent, and sailed to it; and so of all
The Doctor listened with some surprise. "Did it ever occur to you,
Bart, that you might be an orator of some sort?"
"Such an orator as Brutus is--cold, formal, and dead? I'd rather
not be an orator at all, 'but talk right on,' like plain, blunt Mark
"And yet Brutus has been quoted and held up by poets and orators as a
sublime example of virtue and patriotism, young man!"
"And yet he never made murder the fashion;" and--striking an
attitude--"Caesar had his Brutus! Charles had his Cromwell! and George
III. had--what the devil did George have? He was stupid enough to have
been a mathematician, though I never heard that he was."
"Oh dear, Bart!" said the Doctor, with a sigh, "for God's sake, and
your own, do study Euclid if you can! Don't you see that your mind is
always sky-rocketing and chasing thistle-down through the air?"
"'The downy thistle-seed my fare,
My strain forever new,'"
said Bart, laughing, and preparing to go.
"By the way," asked the Doctor, "wouldn't you like to go fishing one
of these nights? We haven't been but once or twice this summer. Jonah,
and Theodore, and 'Brother Young' and I have been talking about it
for some days. We will rig up a fire-jack, if you will go, and use the
"I am afraid I would be sky-rocketing, Doctor; but send me word when
you are ready."
* * * * *
Barton had now entered upon something like a regular course. He had
one of those intense nervous temperaments that did not require or
permit excessive sleep. He arose with the first light, and took up at
once the severest study he had until breakfast, and then worked with
the boys, or alone, the most of the forenoon, at whatever on the farm,
or about the house, seemed most to want his hand; the afternoons and
evenings were given to unremitting study or reading. His tone of mind
and new habit of introspection induced him to take long walks in the
woods and secluded places, and after his work for the day was done;
he imposed upon himself a regular and systematic course, and compelled
himself to adhere to it. He saw few, went nowhere; and among that busy
people, after the little buzz occasioned by his return had subsided,
he ceased to be an object of interest or comment.
It was remarked among them that they did not hear his rifle in the
forests, and nobody had presents of wild turkeys and venison, as they
sometimes had, and he was in his own silent way shaping out his own
He received a letter from Henry in reply to his own, full of kindness,
with such hints as the elder could give as to his course of study. His
observing mother saw at once a marked change in his manner and
words. Thoughtful and forbearing, his arrogance disappeared, and his
impetuous, dashing way evidently toned down, while he was more tender
towards her, and seemed to fall naturally into the place of an elder
brother--careful and gentle to the young boys.
A RAMBLE IN THE WOODS, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
Already the summer had deepened and ripened into autumn. The sky had
a darker tint, and the breeze had a plaintive note in its voice; and
here and there the footprints of change were in the tree-tops.
On one of those serene, deep afternoons, Barton, who had been
importuned by the boys to go into the woods in pursuit of a flock of
turkeys, that George had over and over declared "could be found just
out south, and which were just as thick and fat as anything," yielded,
and, taking his rifle, started out, accompanied by them, in high glee.
George's declaration about the turkeys was, without much difficulty,
verified, and Bart, who was a practised hunter, and knew all the
habits of the shy and difficult bird, managed in a short time to
secure two. He felt an old longing for a good, long, lonely ramble,
and directed the boys, who were in ecstacies at his skill and the
result, to carry the game back to their mother, while he went out
to the Slashing, adding that if he did not come back until into the
night, they might know he had gone to the pond, to meet the Doctor and
a fishing-party; and with a good-natured admonition from George, to
look out for that wolverine that haunted the Slashing, they separated.
The "Slashing" was a large tract of fallen timber, all of which had
been cut down years before, and left to decay as it fell. Near this,
and to the east, an old roadway had been cut, leading south, which was
often used by the neighbors to go from the Ridgeley neighborhood
to settlements skirting the eastern border of "the woods" before
mentioned. Still further east, and surrounded by forest, on a small
stream, was Coe's carding machine and fulling mill, to which a
by-way led from the State road, at a point near Parker's. The Coes,
a shiftless, harmless set, lived much secluded, and were often the
objects of charity, and as such somewhat under the patronage of Mrs.
Markham and Julia; and some of her young friends were occasionally
attracted there for a ramble among the rocks and springs, from which
Coe's creek, a little stream, arose. From the old road a path led to
the fields of Judge Markham, about a fourth of a mile distant, which
was the shortest route from his house to Coe's.
* * * * *
On his return ramble, just as Bart was about to emerge from the woods
into the opening made by the old road from the west, he was surprised
to see Julia approaching him, going along that track towards home. She
was alone, and walking with a quick step. Lifting his hat, he stepped
forward towards the path in which she was walking. The meeting in the
wild, still woods, under the deepening shades of approaching night,
was a surprise to both; and, by the light in the eyes of the youth,
and warmer color in the face of the maiden, seemed not unpleasant to
"This is a surprise, meeting you here alone," said Barton, stepping to
the side of the footway, a little in advance of her.
"It must be," answered Julia. "Poor old lady Coe is quite ill, and
I've been around there, and, as it was latish, I have taken this short
way home, rather than go all the way around the road."
"Indeed, if you are really going this way you must permit me to
attend you," said Bart, placing his gun against a stump. "It is a
good half-mile to the path that leads out to your father's, and it is
already darkening;" and he turned and walked by her side.
"It is really not necessary," said the girl, quite decidedly. "I know
the way, and am not in the least afraid."
"Forgive me, Miss Markham, but I really fear that you must choose
between my attendance out of these woods and turning back around the
road," replied Bart.
His manner, so frank and courteous, and his voice, so gentle, had
nevertheless, to her woman's ear, a vibration of the man's nerve of
force and will, to which the girl seemed unconsciously to yield. They
walked along. The mystery of night was weaving its weird charm in the
forest, and strange notes and sounds came from its depths, and these
young, pure natures found an undefined sweetness in companionship.
On they walked in silence, as if neither cared to break it. The young
girl at length said:
"Mr. Ridgeley"--not Barton, or his first name, as in her
childhood--what a heart-swoon smote the youth at the formal
address!--"Mr. Ridgeley, there is something I must say to you. My
father does not care to have me in your company, and I must not
receive the most ordinary attention from you. He would not, I fear,
like to know that you were at our house."
Did it cost her anything to say this? Apparently not, though her voice
and manner diminished its sting. A moment's pause, and Barton's voice,
cold and steady, answered back:
"I know what your father's feelings towards me are," and then, with
warmth, "but I am sure that he would think less of me, if possible,
were I to permit any woman to find her way, at this hour, out of this
It was not much to say, but it was well said, and he turned his face
towards her as he said it, lit up with a clear expression of man's
loyalty to woman--not unpleasant to the young girl. Why could not
he leave it there and to the future? They walked on, and the shadows
"Miss Markham, I, too, must say a thing to you: from my boyhood to
this hour, deeply, passionately, with my whole heart and soul, have I
There was no mistaking; the intensity of his voice made his words
thrill. She recoiled from them as if stunned, and turned her face,
pale now, and marked, fully towards him.
"What! What did you say?"
"I love you!" with a deep, full voice.
"How dare you utter such words to me?"
Her eyes flashed and nostrils dilated.
"Because they are true; because I am a man and you are a woman,"
steadily and proudly.
"A man! you a man! Is it manly to waylay me in this lonely place,
and force yourself upon me, and insult me with this? You compel me
"Scorn and despise you!" supplied the youth, in a bitter tone.
"Take the words, then, if you choose them."
She was simply grand in her style, till this last expression, which
had the angry snap of an enraged woman. Some high natures might have
answered back her scorn; a lower one might have complained; and still
another would have left her in the woods. Barton said nothing,
but, with a cold, stony face, walked on by her side. If, in his
desperation, he wanted this killing thrust, which must ever rankle and
never heal, to enable him to overcome and subdue his great passion, he
had got it. That little hand, that emphasized her words with a gesture
of superb disdain, would never have to repeat the blow. It raised
about her a barrier that he was never after to approach.
He was not a man to complain. He would have told her why he said these
words; he could not now. Some men are like wolves in traps, and die
without a moan. Barton could die, and smile back into the face of his
slayer, and say no word.
Night was now deepening in the woods, with the haughty maiden, and
high, proud and humiliated youth, walking still side by side through
its shadows. They at length reached the path that led from the open
way to the left, approaching Julia's home. There was a continuous
thicket of thrifty second-growth young trees bordering the track along
which the two were journeying, and the opening through it made by this
narrow path was black with shadow, like the entrance to a cave.
"This is the way," said Bart, turning into it.
These were the first words he had uttered, and came as if from a
distance. Without a word of hesitation Julia turned into the path with
him, yet with almost a shudder at the darkness. They had not taken
a dozen steps when an appalling, shrieking yell, a brute yell, of
ferocious animal rage--the rage for blood and lust to mangle and
tear--burst from the thicket on their right. A wild plunge through
tangled brush and limbs, another more appalling shriek, and a dark,
shadowy form, with a fierce, hungry growl, crouched in the pathway
just before them, with its yellow, tawny, cruel eyes flashing in their
faces. The first sound seemed to heat every fiery particle of the
blood of the youth into madness, and open an outlet to the burning
elements of his nature. Here was something to encounter, and for her,
and in her presence; and the brute had hardly crouched as if for its
spring, when, with an answering cry, a man's shout, a challenge and
a charge, he sprang forward, with his unarmed strength, to the
encounter. As if cowed and overcome by the higher nature, the brute
turned, and with a complaining whine like a kicked dog, ran into the
depths of the woods. Barton had momentarily, in a half frenzy, wished
for a grapple, and felt a pang of real disappointment.
"The brute is a coward," he said, as he turned back, where the white
robes of Julia were dimly visible in the darkness. She was a daughter
of the Puritans, and had the blood and high courage of her race. The
first cry of the animal had almost frozen her blood, but the eager,
proud, manly shout of Barton affected her like a trumpet-call. She
exulted in his dashing courage, and felt an irresistible impulse to
rush forward to his aid. It all occurred in the fraction of a moment;
and when she realized that the peril was over, she was well-nigh
"You were always brave," said Barton, cheerily, with just a little
strain in his voice; "you were in no danger, and it is all over."
"You are not overcome?" with an anxious voice. "Oh," coming close to
her, "if I might offer you support!"
He held out his hand, and she put hers in it. How cool and firm his
touch was, and how her tremor subsided under it! He pulled her hand
within his arm, and hers rested fully upon his, with but their light
summer draperies between them.
"But a little way further," he said, in his cheery voice, and they
Neither spoke. What did either think? The youth was sorry for the
awful fright of the poor girl, and so glad of the little thing that
eased his own humiliation. The girl--who can tell what a girl thinks?
As they reached the cleared land, a sense of relief came to Julia,
who had started a dozen times, in her escape out of the woods, at
imaginary sounds. Day was still in the heavens, and the sight of her
father's house gladdened her.
"Will you mind the dew?" asked her companion.
"Not in the least," she answered; and he led her across the pastures
to the rear of an enclosure that surrounded the homestead. He seemed
to know the way, and conducted her through a large open gate, and so
to a lane that led directly to the rear of the house, but a few yards
distant. He laid his hand upon the small gate that opened into it, and
turning to her, said:
"I may not intrude further upon you. For your relief, I ought perhaps
to say that the words of madness and folly which I uttered to you will
neither be recalled nor repeated. Let them lie where they fell--under
your feet. Your father's house, and your father's daughter, will be
sacred from me."
The voice was firm, low, and steady; and opening the gate, the young
girl entered, paused a moment, and then, without a word, ran rapidly
towards the house. As she turned an angle, she saw the youth still
standing by the gate, as if to protect her. She flew past the corner,
and called, in a distressed voice:
"Mamma! mamma! oh, mother!"
She was a Puritan girl, with the self-repression and control of her
race, and the momentary apprehension that seized her as she left the
side of Barton was overcome as she entered her father's house.
"Julia!" exclaimed her mother, coming forward, "is that you? Where
have you come from? What is the matter?"
"I came through the woods," said the girl, hurriedly. "I've been so
awfully frightened! Such dreadful things have happened!" with a half
hysterical laugh, which ended in a sob.
"Julia! Julia! my child! what under the heavens has happened? Are you
"No, only dreadfully frightened. I was belated, and it came on dark,
and just as we turned into the path from the old road, that awful
beast, with a terrible shriek, sprang into the road before us, and was
about to leap upon me, when Barton sprang at him and drove him off. If
it had not been for him, I would have been torn in pieces."
"Barton?--was he with you? Thank God! oh, bless and thank God for
your escape! My child! my child! How awful it sounds! Come! come to my
room, and let me hold you, and hear it all!"
"Oh, mamma! what a weak and cowardly thing a woman is! I thought I was
so strong, and really courageous, and the thought of this thing makes
me tremble now."
They gained her mother's room, and Julia, seating herself at her
mother's feet, and resting her arms on her mother's lap, undertook to
tell her story.
"I cannot tell you how it all happened. Barton met me, and would come
along with me, and then he said strange things to me; and I answered
him back, and quarrelled with him, and--"
"What could he have said to you? Tell me all."
Julia began and told with great minuteness, and with much feeling, her
whole adventure. She explained that she really did not want Bart to
come with her, for that it would displease her father; and that when
he did, she thought he ought to know that he was not at liberty to be
her escort or come to the house, and so she told him. She could not
tell why she answered him just as she did, but she was surprised, and
not quite herself, and she might have said it differently, and need
not have said so much, and he certainly must know that she did not
mean it all. Surely it was most his fault; if he really had such
feelings, why should he tell her, and tell her as he did? It was
dreadful, and she would never be happy again; and she laid her head in
her mother's lap, in her great anguish.
When her burst of grief had subsided, and she was calm, her mother
asked several questions, and learned all that was said, and was
much excited at Julia's account of the encounter with the beast and
Barton's intrepidity. She seemed to feel that they had both escaped a
great danger, through his courage.
"My dear child," she said, "I don't know what to think of these
strange and trying events, mixed up as they are. There is one very,
very unfortunate thing about it."
"That I met Barton? Oh, mother!"
"No, no; not that. It was unfortunate that you came the way you did,
or unfortunate that you went, perhaps; but it is not that. It was most
providential that Barton was with you, but so unfortunate that he said
to you what he did."
"Is it a misfortune to be loved, mother?"
"Let us not talk of this to-night, my darling," stooping and kissing
her still pale cheek. "God only knows of these things. It may not be a
misfortune, but it may bring unhappiness, dear, to somebody."
"Perhaps, mother, if he had not had such feelings he would not have
come with me."
"My child! my child! don't say what might have happened. I am glad
and grateful--so grateful that he was with you--that he was generous
enough to come, after what you said to him; but now, how can we
express our gratitude to him?"
"Oh, mamma! I am sure it is no matter. He won't care now what we
"You are too much agitated, my daughter, to-night; let us not talk it
over now. But what became of Barton? did he come in?"
"No, I left him at the back gate, without a word, only waiting for me
to run in. Of course he went back to the woods and wild beasts. What
other place was there for him?"
"Don't, don't, Julia! don't say such words. Harm will not come to
"I know it won't," said the young girl; "for when the whole world
turns against a brave, true heart, God watches over it with the more
"True, my child; and we can at least pray God to be near him, only
don't think of this matter now. In a day or two you will be yourself,
and look at it in a different light. Your father will return
to-morrow, and it may not be best to tell him of all this at present.
It would only disturb him."
"Yes, mamma; I could not tell him everything as I have told you, and
so I must not tell him anything, nor anybody else. How wretched it all
A DARKENED SOUL.
As Julia left Bart, the full force of her scornful words seemed for
the first time to reach him. The great restraint her presence imposed
in some way suspended, or broke their effect, and he turned from the
gate with a half-uttered moan of anguish. He did not then recall her
words or manner; he only realized that, in a cruel and merciless way,
she had crushed his heart and soul. It was not long; both recoiled
with a sense of wrong and injustice, and utter helplessness, for the
hurt came from a woman. Instinctively he returned to the point whence
they had emerged when they left the woods, and the thought of the
screaming brute came to him with a sense of relief. Here was an object
upon which he could wreak himself, and in a half frenzy of madness he
hurried towards a spot in the edge of the Slashing, towards which
the cowardly thing had run when it fled from his onset. He paused
to listen upon the margin of that tangled wilderness of young trees,
briers, and decaying trunks. How solemn and quiet, wild and lonely it
was, in the deep night and deeper woods! The solemn hush fell upon
the bruised spirit of the youth with the quieting touch and awe of a
palpable presence, rebukingly, yet tenderly and pityingly.
Quick to compassionate others, he had ever been relentless to himself,
and refused to regard himself as an object of injustice, or as needing
compassion. As he stood for a moment confronting himself, scorned,
despised and humiliated, he felt for himself the measureless contempt
to which he seemed to have fallen; yet, under it all, and against it
all, he arose. "Oh, Bart! Bart! what a poor, abject, grovelling
thing you really are," he said bitterly, "when the word of a girl
so overcomes you! when the slap of her little hand so benumbs and
paralyzes you! If you can't put her haunting face from you now, God
can hardly help you. How grand she was, in her rage and scorn! Let me
always see her thus!" and he turned back into the old road. Along
this he sauntered until his eye met the dull gleam of his rifle-barrel
against the old stump where he left it. With a great start, he
exclaimed, "Oh, if I could only go back to the moment when I stood
here with power to choose, and dream!" It was a momentary weakness, a
mere recoil from the wound still so fresh and ragged.
It was still in early evening, with time and life heavy on his hands,
when he remembered that the Doctor had sent him word to come to the
pond that night. Taking his rifle by the muzzle, and throwing it
across his shoulder, he plunged into the woods in a right line for the
west shore of the pond, at about its midway.
Through thick woods tangled with underbrush and laced with wild
vines, down steep banks, over high hills and rocky precipices, across
clearings and hairy brier patches, he took his way, and found relief
in the physical exertions of which he was still capable. At last he
stood on the margin of the forest and hill-embosomed waters of that
lovely little lake. It was solitary and silent, but for the weird
sounds of night birds and aquatic animals that frequented its reedy
margin, and a soft, silvery mist was just rising from its unruffled
surface, that gathered in a translucent veil against the dark forest
of the opposite shore. Its simple, serene and quiet beauty, under the
stars and rising moon, was not lost upon the poetic nature of Barton,
still heaving with the recent storm.
He ran his eye along the surface of the water, and discerned in the
shadow of the wood, near the island, a fourth of a mile distant, a
light, and below it the dark form of a boat. Placing his closed hands
to his lips, he blew a strong, clear, full whistle, with one or two