Part 9 out of 11
"Why, Georgia, of course."
The hands were removed, and Georgia Asbury's merry face greeted her.
"I am glad to see you, Georgia. Where is Helen?"
"Oh, gone to ride with one of her adorers; but I have brought
somebody to see you who is worth the whole Asbury family. No less a
personage than my famous cousin Reginald Lindsay, whom you have
heard us speak of so often. Oh, how tempting those luscious berries
are! Reginald and I intend to stay to tea, and father will perhaps
come out in the carriage for us. Come, yonder is my cousin on the
gallery looking at you, and pretending to talk to Mrs. Williams. He
has read your magazine sketches and is very anxious to see you. How
nice you look; only a little too statuish. Can't you get up a smile?
That is better. Here, let me twine this cluster of wistaria in your
hair; I stole it as I ran up the steps."
Beulah was clad in a pure white mull muslin, and wore a short black
silk apron, confined at the waist by a heavy cord and tassel.
Georgia fastened the purple blossoms in her silky hair, and they
entered the house. Mr. Lindsay met them, and, as his cousin
introduced him, Beulah looked at him, and met the earnest gaze of a
pair of deep blue eyes which seemed to index a nature singularly
tranquil. She greeted him quietly, and would have led the way to the
front of the house; but Georgia threw herself down on the steps, and
"Do let us stay here; the air is so deliciously sweet and cool.
Cousin, there is a chair. Beulah, you and I will stem these berries
at once, so that they may be ready for tea."
She took the basket, and soon their fingers were stained with the
rosy juice of the fragrant fruit. All restraint vanished; the
conversation was gay, and spiced now and then with repartees which
elicited Georgia's birdish laugh and banished for a time the weary,
joyless expression of Beulah's countenance. The berries were finally
arranged to suit Georgia's taste, and the party returned to the
little parlor. Here Beulah was soon engaged by Mr. Lindsay in the
discussion of some of the leading literary questions of the day. She
forgot the great sorrow that brooded over her heart, a faint, pearly
glow crept into her cheeks, and the mouth lost its expression of
resolute endurance. She found Mr. Lindsay highly cultivated in his
tastes, polished in his manners, and possessed of rare intellectual
attainments, while the utter absence of egotism and pedantry
impressed her with involuntary admiration. Extensive travel and long
study had familiarized him with almost every branch of science and
department of literature, and the ease and grace with which he
imparted some information she desired respecting the European
schools of art contrasted favorably with the confused account Eugene
had rendered of the same subject. She remarked a singular composure
of countenance, voice, and even position, which seemed
idiosyncratic, and was directly opposed to the stern rigidity and
cynicism of her guardian. She shrank from the calm, steadfast gaze
of his eyes, which looked into hers with a deep yet gentle scrutiny,
and resolved ere the close of the evening to sound him concerning
some of the philosophic phases of the age. Had he escaped the upas
taint of skepticism? An opportunity soon occurred to favor her
wishes, for, chancing to allude to his visit to Rydal Mount, while
in the lake region of England, the transition to a discussion of the
metaphysical tone of the "Excursion" was quite easy.
"You seemed disposed, like Howitt, to accord it the title of 'Bible
of Quakerism,'" said Mr. Lindsay, in answer to a remark of hers
concerning its tendency.
"It is a fertile theme of disputation, sir, and, since critics are
so divided in their verdicts, I may well be pardoned an opinion
which so many passages seem to sanction. If Quakerism is belief in
'immediate inspiration,' which you will scarcely deny, then
throughout the 'Excursion' Wordsworth seems its apostle."
"No; he stands as a high priest in the temple of nature, and calls
mankind from scientific lore to offer their orisons there at his
altar and receive passively the teachings of the material universe.
"'Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things,'"
"and promises, in nature, an unerring guide and teacher of truth. In
his lines on revisiting the Wye, he declares himself,"
'"Well pleased to recognize
In nature, and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart and soul,
Of all my moral being.'"
"Quakerism rejects all extraneous aids to a knowledge of God; a
silent band of friends sit waiting for the direct inspiration which
alone can impart true light. Wordsworth made the senses, the
appreciation of the beauty and sublimity of the universe, an avenue
of light; while Quakerism, according to the doctrines of Fox and his
early followers, is merely a form of mysticism nearly allied to the
'ecstasy' of Plotinus. The Quaker silences his reason, his every
faculty, and in utter passivity waits for the infusion of divine
light into his mind; the mystic of Alexandria, as far as possible,
divests his intellect of all personality, and becomes absorbed in
the Infinite intelligence from which it emanated."
Beulah knitted her brows, and answered musingly:
"And here, then, extremes meet. To know God we must be God.
Mysticism and Pantheism link hands over the gulf which seemed to
"Miss Benton, is this view of the subject a novel one?" said he,
looking at her very intently.
"No; a singular passage in the 'Biographia Literaria' suggested it
to me long ago. But unwelcome hints are rarely accepted, you know."
"Why unwelcome in this case?"
She looked at him, but made no reply, and none was needed. He
understood why, and said quietly yet impressively:
"It sets the seal of necessity upon Revelation. Not the mystical
intuitions of the dreamers, who would fain teach of continued direct
inspiration from God, even at the present time, but the revelation
which began in Genesis and ended with John on Patmos. The very
absurdities of philosophy are the most potent arguments in
substantiating the claims of Christianity. Kant's theory that we can
know nothing beyond ourselves gave the deathblow to philosophy.
Mysticism contends that reason only darkens the mind, and
consequently, discarding all reasoning processes, relies upon
immediate revelation. But the extravagances of Swedenborg, and even
of George Fox, prove the fallacy of the assumption of continued
inspiration, and the only alternative is to rest upon the Christian
Revelation, which has successfully defied all assaults."
There was an instantaneous flash of joy over Beulah's troubled face,
and she said hastily:
"You have escaped the contagion, then? Such exemption is rare
nowadays, for skepticism broods with sable wings over the age"
"It has always brooded where man essayed to lift the veil of Isis;
to elucidate the arcana of the universe, to solve the unsolvable.
Skepticism is the disease of minds which Christian faith alone can
The thrust showed she was not invulnerable; but before she could
reply, Georgia exclaimed:
"In the name of common sense, Reginald, what are you discoursing
about so tiresomely? I suppose I am shamefully stupid, but I don't
understand a word you two have been saying. When father and Beulah
get on such dry, tedious subjects I always set up an opposition at
the piano, which in this instance I am forced to do, from sheer
She raised the lid of the piano and rattled off a brilliant
overture; then made Beulah join her in several instrumental duets.
As the latter rose, Mr. Lindsay said, somewhat abruptly:
"I believe you sing. My cousins have been extolling your voice, and
I have some curiosity to hear you. Will you gratify me?"
"Certainly, if you desire it."
She could not refrain from smiling at the perfect nonchalance of his
manner, and, passing her fingers over the keys, sang a beautiful air
from "Lucia." Her guest listened attentively, and, when the song was
ended, approached the piano, and said, with some interest:
"I should prefer a simple ballad, if you will favor me with one."
"Something after the order of 'Lilly Dale,' Beulah. He hears nothing
else in his country home," said Georgia teasingly.
He smiled, but did not contradict her, and Beulah sang that
exquisite ballad, "Why Do Summer Roses Fade?" It was one of her
guardian's favorite airs, and now his image was associated with the
strain. Ere the first verse was finished, a deep, rich, manly voice,
which had sometimes echoed through the study, seemed again to join
hers, and, despite her efforts, her own tones trembled.
Soon after Beulah took her place at the tea table in the center of
the room, and conversation turned on the delights of country life.
"Reginald, how do you manage to amuse yourself in that little town
of yours?" asked Georgia, drawing the bowl of strawberries near and
helping him bountifully.
"I might answer that I had passed the age when amusement was
necessary, but I will not beg your question so completely. In the
first place, I do not reside in town. My office is there, and during
the day, when not absent at court, I am generally in my office; but
evening always finds me at home. Once there, I have endless sources
of amusement; my mother's flowers and birds, my farm affairs, my
music, and my library, to say nothing of hunting and fishing.
Remember, Georgia, that, as a class, lawyers are not addicted to
what you call amusements."
"But after living in Europe, and traveling so much, I should think
that plantation would be horribly dull. Do you never suffer from
ennui, cut off as you are from all society?"
"Ennui is a disease of which I am yet happily ignorant. But for my
mother I should feel the need of society; in a great measure her
presence supplies it. I shall tell you no more, cousin mine, since
you and Helen are to spend a portion of your summer with us, and can
judge for yourselves of the attractions of my country home."
"Are you residing near Mr. Arlington?" said Beulah.
"Quite near; his plantation adjoins mine. Is he a friend of yours?"
"No; but I have a friend living this year in his family. Miss
Sanders is governess for his children. You probably know her."
"Yes; I see her occasionally. Report says she is soon to become the
bride of Richard Arlington."
A slight smile curved his lips as he watched Beulah's countenance.
She offered no comment, and he perceived that the on dit was not new
"Beulah, I suppose you have heard of Dr. Hartwell's intended journey
to the East? What an oddity he is! Told me he contemplated renting a
bungalow somewhere in heathendom, and turning either Brahmin or
Parsee, he had not quite decided which. He has sold his beautiful
place to the Farleys. The greenhouse plants he gave to mother, and
all the statuary and paintings are to be sent to us until his
return, which cannot be predicted with any certainty. Father frets a
good deal over this freak, as he calls it, and says the doctor had
much better stay at home and physic the sick. I thought it was a
sudden whim; but he says he has contemplated the trip a long time.
He is going immediately, I believe. It must be a trial to you," said
the thoughtless girl.
"Yes; I cannot realize it yet," replied Beulah, struggling with
herself for composure, and hastily setting down her teacup, which
trembled violently. The shadows swept over her once more. Mr.
Lindsay noticed her agitation, and, with delicate consideration,
forbore to look at her. Georgia continued heedlessly:
"I wanted that melodeon that sits in his study; but, though the
remainder of the furniture is to be auctioned off, he says he will
not sell the melodeon, and requested my father to have it carefully
locked up somewhere at home. I asked if I might not use it, and what
do you suppose he said? That I might have his grand piano, if I
would accept it, but that nobody was to touch his melodeon. I told
him he ought to send the piano out to you, in his absence; but he
looked cross, and said you would not use it if he did."
Poor Beulah! her lips quivered, and her fingers clasped each other
tightly, but she said nothing. Just then she heard Dr. Asbury's
quick step in the hall, and, to her infinite relief, he entered,
accompanied by Helen. She saw that, though his manner was kind and
bantering as usual, there was an anxious look on his benevolent
face, and his heavy brows occasionally knitted. When he went into
the adjoining room to see Mrs. Williams, she understood his glance,
and followed him. He paused in the hall, and said eagerly:
"Has Hartwell been here lately?"
"Yes; he was here last week."
"Did he tell you of his whim about traveling East?"
"Yes; he told me."
"Beulah, take care what you are about! You are working mischief not
easily rectified. Child, keep Guy at home!"
"He is master of his own movements, and you know his stubborn will.
I would keep him here if I could; but I have no influence."
"All fiddlesticks! I know better! I am neither a bat nor a mole.
Beulah, I warn you; I beg you, child, mind how you act. Once
entirely estranged, all the steam of Christendom could not force him
back. Don't let him go; if you do, the game is up, I tell you now.
You will repent your own work, if you do not take care. I told him
he was a fool to leave such a position as his and go to dodging
robbers in Eastern deserts; whereupon he looked as bland and
impenetrable as if I had compared him to Solomon. There, go back to
your company, end mind what I say; don't let Guy go."
He left her; and, though she exerted herself to entertain her
guests, Mr. Lindsay saw that her mind was troubled and her heart
oppressed. He endeavored to divert her thoughts, by introducing
various topics; and she talked and smiled, and even played and sang,
yet the unlifting cloud lay on her brow. The evening seemed
strangely long, and she accompanied her visitors to the door with a
sensation of relief. At parting Mr. Lindsay took her hand, and said
in a low voice:
"May I come whenever I am in your city?"
"Certainly; I shall be pleased to see you when you have leisure,"
she replied hurriedly.
"I shall avail myself of your permission, I assure you."
She had often heard Dr. Asbury speak with fond pride of this nephew;
and, as Eugene had also frequently mentioned him in his early
letters from Heidelberg, she felt that he was scarcely a stranger,
in the ordinary acceptation of the term. To her, his parting words
seemed merely polite, commonplace forms; and, with no thought of a
future acquaintance, she dismissed him from her mind, which was too
painfully preoccupied to dwell upon the circumstances of his visit.
A few days passed, and one Saturday morning she sat in the dining
room, finishing a large drawing upon which she had for months
expended all her leisure moments. It was designed from a description
in "Queen Mab," and she took up her crayon to give the final touch,
when heavy steps in the hall arrested her attention, and, glancing
toward the door, she saw Hal, Dr. Hartwell's driver, with a wooden
box on his shoulder and Charon by his side. The latter barked with
delight, and sprang to meet the girl, who had hastily risen.
"How do you do, Miss Beulah? It is many a day since I have seen you,
and you look worse of wear too. Haven't been sick, have you?" said
Hal, sliding the box down on the floor.
"Not exactly sick, but not so well as usual," she answered, passing
her trembling hands over the dog's head.
"Well, I don't see, for my part, what is to become of us all, now
"Gone!" echoed Beulah.
"Why, to be sure. He started to the plantation yesterday, to set
things all in order there, and then he is going straight on to New
York. The house looks desolate enough, and I feel like I was about
to dig my own grave. Just before he left he called me into the
study, and told me that, as soon as he had gone, I was to bring
Charon over to you and ask you to keep him and take care of him. He
tried to unlock the collar on his neck, but somehow the key would
not turn. Master looked dreadful sad when he patted poor Char's head
and let the brute put his paws on his shoulders for the last time.
Just as the boat pushed off he called to me to be sure to bring him
to you; so here he is; and, Miss Beulah, the poor fellow seems to
know something is wrong; he whined all night, and ran over the empty
house this morning, growling and snuffing. You are to keep him till
master comes home; the Lord only knows when that will be. I tried to
find out; but he looked for the world like one of them stone faces
in the study, and gave me no satisfaction. Miss Beulah, Dr. Asbury
was at the house just as I started, and he sent over this box to
you. Told me to tell you that he had all the pictures moved to his
house, but had not room to hang all, so he sent one over for you to
take care of. Shall I take it out of the case?"
"Never mind, Hal; I can do that. Did your master leave no other
message for me? was there no note?" She leaned heavily on a chair to
"None that I know of, except that you must be kind to Charon. I have
no time to spare; Dr. Asbury needs me; so good-by, Miss Beulah. I
will stop some day when I am passing, and see how the dog comes on.
I know he will be satisfied with you."
The faithful servant touched his hat and withdrew. The storm of
grief could no longer be repressed, and, sinking down on the floor,
Beulah clasped her arms round Charon's neck and hid her face in his
soft, curling hair, while her whole frame shook with convulsive
sobs. She had not believed her guardian would leave without coming
again, and had confidently expected him, and now he had gone.
Perhaps forever; at best, for many years. She might never see him
again, and this thought was more than she could endure. The proud
restraint she was wont to impose upon her feelings all vanished, and
in her despairing sorrow she wept and moaned as she had never done
before, even when Lilly was taken from her. Charon crouched close to
her, with a mute grief clearly written in his sober, sagacious
countenance, and each clung to the other, as to a last stay and
solace. He was a powerful animal, with huge limbs, and a think,
shaggy covering, sable as midnight, without a speck of white about
him. Around his neck was a silver chain, supporting a broad piece of
plate, on which was engraved, in German letters, the single word,
"Hartwell." How long she sat there Beulah knew not; but a growl
roused her, and she saw Mrs. Williams looking sorrowfully at her.
"My child, what makes you moan and weep so bitterly."
"Oh, because I am so miserable; because I have lost my best friend;
my only friend; my guardian. He has gone--gone! and I did not see
him." With a stifled cry her face went down again.
The matron had never seen her so unnerved before, and wondered at
the vehemence of her grief, but knew her nature too well to attempt
consolation. Beulah lifted the box and retired to her own room,
followed by Charon. Securing the door, she put the case on the table
and looked at it wistfully. Were her conjectures, her hopes,
correct? She raised the lid and unwrapped the frame, and there was
the noble head of her guardian. She hung the portrait on a hook just
above her desk, and then stood, with streaming eyes, looking up at
it. It had been painted a few weeks after his marriage, and
represented him in the full morning of manhood, ere his heart was
embittered and his clear brow overshadowed. The artist had suffered
a ray of sunshine to fall on the brown hair that rippled round his
white temples with careless grace. There was no mustache to shade
the sculptured lips, and they seemed about to part in one of those
rare, fascinating smiles which Beulah had often watched for in vain.
The matchless eyes looked down at her, with brooding tenderness in
their hazel depths, and now seemed to question her uncontrollable
grief. Yet she had pained him; had in part caused his exile from the
home of his youth, and added another sorrow to those which now
veiled that peerless face in gloom. He had placed his happiness in
her hands; had asked her to be his wife. She looked at the portrait,
and shuddered and moaned. She loved him above all others; loved him
as a child adores its father; but how could she, who had so
reverenced him, consent to become his wife? Besides, she could not
believe he loved her. He liked her; pitied her isolation and
orphanage; felt the need of her society, and wanted her always in
his home. But she could not realize that he, who so worshiped
beauty, could possibly love her. It was all like a hideous dream
which morning would dispel; but there was the reality, and there was
Charon looking steadily up at the portrait he was at no loss to
"Oh, if I could have seen him once more! If he had parted with me in
kindness, it would not be so intolerable. But to remember his stern,
sad face, as last I saw it; oh, how can I bear it I To have it
haunting me through life, like a horrible specter; no friendly words
to cherish; no final message; all gloom and anger. Oh, how shall I
bear it!" And she fell on Charon's neck and wept bitterly.
In the early days of summer Mr. and Mrs. Graham left the city for
one of the fashionable watering-places on the Gulf, accompanied by
Antoinette. Eugene remained, on some pretext of business, but
promised to follow in a short time. The week subsequent to their
departure saw a party of gentlemen assembled to dine at his house.
The long afternoon wore away; still they sat round the table. The
cloth had been removed, and only wine and cigars remained; bottle
after bottle was emptied, and finally decanters were in requisition.
The servants shrugged their shoulders, and looked on with amused
expectancy. The conversation grew loud and boisterous, now and then
flavored with oaths; twilight came on--the shutters were closed--the
magnificent chandelier lighted. Eugene seized a crystal ice bowl,
and was about to extract a lump of ice when it fell from his fingers
and shivered to atoms. A roar of laughter succeeded the exploit,
and, uncorking a fresh bottle of champagne, he demanded a song.
Already a few of the guests were leaning on the table stupefied, but
several began the strain. It was a genuine Bacchanalian ode, and the
deafening shout rose to the frescoed ceiling as the revelers leaned
forward and touched their glasses. Touched, did I say; it were
better written clashed. There was a ringing chorus as crystal met
crystal; glittering fragments flew in every direction; down ran the
foaming wine, thick with splintered glass, on the rosewood table.
But the strain was kept up; fresh glasses were supplied; fresh
bottles drained; the waiters looked on, wondered where all this
would end, and pointed to the ruin of the costly service. The
brilliant gaslight shone on a scene of recklessness pitiable indeed.
All were young men, and, except Eugene, all unmarried; but they
seemed familiar with such occasions. One or two, thoroughly
intoxicated, lay with their heads on the table, unconscious of what
passed; others struggled to sit upright, yet the shout was still
raised from time to time.
"Fill up, and let us have that glorious song from Lucrezia Borgia.
Hey, Proctor!" cried Eugene.
"That is poor fun without Vincent. He sings it equal to Vestvali.
Fill up there, Munroe, and shake up Cowdon. Come, begin, and--"
He raised his glass with a disgusting oath, and was about to
commence, when Munroe said stammeringly:
"Where is Fred, anyhow? He is a devilish fine fellow for a frolic.
"Why, gone to the coast with Graham's pretty wife. He is all
devotion. They waltz and ride, and, in fine, he is her admirer par
excellence. Stop your stupid stammering, and begin."
Eugene half rose at this insulting mention of his wife's name, but
the song was now ringing around him, and, sinking back, he, too,
raised his unsteady voice. Again and again the words were madly
shouted; and then, dashing his empty glass against the marble
mantel, Proctor swore he would not drink another drop. What a
picture of degradation! Disordered hair, soiled clothes, flushed,
burning cheeks, glaring eyes, and nerveless hands. Eugene attempted
to rise, but fell back in his chair, tearing off his cravat, which
seemed to suffocate him. Proctor, who was too thoroughly inured to
such excesses to feel it as sensibly as the remainder of the party,
laughed brutally, and, kicking over a chair which stood in his way,
grasped his host by the arm, and exclaimed:
"Come out of this confounded room; it is as hot as a furnace; and
let us have a ride to cool us. Come. Munroe and Cowdon must look
after the others. By Jove, Graham, old father Bacchus himself could
not find fault with your cellar. Come."
Each took a cigar from the stand and descended to the front door,
where a light buggy was waiting the conclusion of the revel. It was
a cloudless July night, and the full moon poured a flood of silver
light over the silent earth. Proctor assisted Eugene into the buggy,
and, gathering up the reins, seized the whip, gave a flourish and
shout, and off sprang the spirited horse, which the groom could with
difficulty hold until the riders were seated.
"Now, Graham, I will bet a couple of baskets of Heidseick that my
royal Telegraph will make the first mile post in 2.30. What say
"Done; 2.40 is the lowest."
"Phew! Telegraph, my jewel, show what manner of flesh you are made
of. Now, then, out with your watch."
He shook the reins and the horse rushed forward like an arrow.
Before the mile post was reached it became evident that Telegraph
had taken the game entirely out of his master's hands. In vain the
reins were tightened. Proctor leaned so far back that his hat fell
off. Still the frantic horse sped on. The mile post flashed by, but
Eugene could barely sit erect, much less note the time. At this
stage of the proceedings, the whir of wheels behind gave a new
impetus to Telegraph's flying feet. They were near a point in the
road where an alley led off at right angles, and thinking,
doubtless, that it was time to retrace his steps, the horse dashed
down the alley, heedless of Proctor's efforts to restrain him, and,
turning into a neighboring street, rushed back toward the city.
Bareheaded, and with heavy drops of perspiration streaming from his
face, Proctor cursed, and jerked, and drew the useless reins. On
went Telegraph, making good his title, now swerving to this side of
the road and now to that; but as he approached a mass of bricks
which were piled on one side of the street, near the foundations of
a new building, the moonlight flashed upon a piece of tin in the
sand on the opposite side, and, frightened by the glitter, he
plunged toward the bricks. The wheels struck, the buggy tilted, then
came down again with a terrible jolt, and Eugene was thrown out on
the pile. Proctor was jerked over the dashboard, dragged some
distance, and finally left in the sand, while Telegraph ran on to
It was eleven o'clock, but Beulah was writing in her own room; and
through the open window heard the thundering tramp, the rattle among
the bricks, Proctor's furious curses, and surmised that some
accident had happened. She sprang to the window, saw the buggy just
as it was wheeled on, and hoped nothing was hurt. But Charon, who
slept on the portico, leaped over the paling, ran around the bricks,
and barked alarmingly. She unlocked the door, saw that no one was
passing, and, opening the little gate, looked out. Charon stood
watching a prostrate form, and she fearlessly crossed the street and
bent over the body. One arm was crushed beneath him; the other
thrown up over the face. She recognized the watch chain, which was
of a curious pattern; and, for an instant, all objects swam before
her. She felt faint; her heart seemed to grow icy and numb; but,
with a great effort, she moved the arm, and looked on the face
gleaming in the moonlight. Trembling like a weed in a wintry blast,
she knelt beside him. He was insensible, but not dead; though it was
evident there must have been some severe contusion about the head.
She saw that no time should be lost, and, running into one of the
neighboring houses, knocked violently. The noise of the horse and
buggy had already aroused the inmates, and very soon the motionless
form was borne into Beulah's little cottage and placed on a couch,
while a messenger was dispatched for Dr. Asbury. Eugene remained
just as they placed him; and, kneeling beside him, Beulah held his
cold hands in hers, and watched, in almost breathless anxiety, for
some return of animation. She knew that he was intoxicated; that
this, and this only, caused the accident; and tears of shame and
commiseration trickled down her cheeks. Since their parting
interview, previous to his marriage, they had met but once, and then
in silence, beside Cornelia in her dying hour. It was little more
than a year since she had risked his displeasure, and remonstrated
with him on his ruinous course; and that comparatively short period
had wrought painful changes in his once noble, handsome face. She
had hoped that Cornelia's dying prayer would save him; but now,
alas, it was too apparent that the appeal had been futile. She knew
not that his wife was absent, and determined to send for her as soon
as possible. The long hour of waiting seemed an eternity; but at
last Dr. Asbury came, and carefully examined the bruised limbs.
Beulah grasped his arm.
"Oh! will he die?"
"I don't know, child; this arm is badly fractured, and I am afraid
there is a severe injury on the back of the head. It won't do to
move him home, so send Hal in from my buggy to help put him in bed.
Have me some bandages at once, Beulah."
As they carried him into Mrs. Williams' room and prepared to set the
fractured arm, he groaned, and for a moment struggled, then relapsed
into a heavy stupor. Dr. Asbury carefully straightened and bandaged
the limb, and washed the blood from his temples, where a gash had
been inflicted in the fall.
"Will you go to his wife at once, sir, and inform her of his
condition?" said Beulah, who stood by the blood-stained pillow, pale
"Don't you know his wife is not here? She has gone for the summer.
Wife! did I say? She does not deserve the sacred name! If he had had
a wife he would never have come to this ruin and disgrace. It is
nothing more than I expected when he married her. I could easily put
her soul on the end of a lancet, and as for heart--she has none at
all! She is a pretty flirt, fonder of admiration than of her
husband. I will write by the earliest mail, informing Graham of the
accident and its possible consequences, and perhaps respect for the
opinion of the world may bring her home to him. Beulah, it is a
difficult matter to believe that that drunken, stupid victim there
is Eugene Graham, who promised to become an honor to his friends and
his name. Satan must have established the first distillery; the
institution smacks of the infernal! Child, keep ice upon that head,
will you, and see that as soon as possible he takes a spoonful of
the medicine I mixed just now. I am afraid it will be many days
before he leaves this house. If he lives, the only consolation is
that it may be a lesson and warning to him. I will be back in an
hour or so. As for Proctor, whom I met limping home, it would have
been a blessing to the other young men of the city, and to society
generally, if he had never crawled out of the sand where he was
A little while after the silence was broken by a heavy sob, and,
glancing up, Beulah perceived the matron standing near the bed,
gazing at the sleeper.
"Oh, that he should come to this! I would ten thousand times rather
he had died in his unstained boyhood."
"If he lives, this accident may be his salvation."
"God grant it may--God grant it may!"
Falling on her knees, the aged woman put up a prayer of passionate
entreaty, that Almighty God would spare his life and save him from a
"If I, too, could pray for him, it might ease my aching heart,"
thought Beulah, as she listened to the imploring words of the
And why not? Ah! the murky vapors of unbelief shrouded the All-
Father from her wandering soul. Dawn looked in upon two sorrowing
watchers beside that stupid slumberer, and showed that the
physician's fears were realized; a raging fever had set in, and this
night was but the commencement of long and weary vigils. About noon
Beulah was crossing the hall with a bowl of ice in her hand, when
someone at the door pronounced her name, and Proctor approached her,
accompanied by Cowdon. She had once met the former at Mr. Graham's,
and, having heard Cornelia regret the miserable influence he exerted
over her brother, was prepared to receive him coldly.
"We have come to see Graham, madam," said he, shrinking from her
sad, searching eyes, yet assuming an air of haughty indifference.
"You cannot see him, sir."
"But I tell you I must! I shall remove him to his own house, where
he can be properly attended to. Where is he?"
"The physician particularly urged the necessity of keeping
everything quiet. He shall not be disturbed; but, as he is
unconscious, perhaps it will afford you some gratification to behold
the ruin you have wrought. Gentlemen, here is your victim."
She opened the door and suffered them to stand on the threshold and
look at the prostrate form, with the head enveloped in icy cloths
and the face bloated and purplish from bruises and fever. Neither
Proctor nor his companion could endure the smile of withering
contempt which curled her lips as she pointed to the victim of their
temptations and influence, and, with a half-suppressed imprecation,
Proctor turned on his heel and left the house. Apparently this brief
visit quite satisfied them, for it was not repeated. Days and nights
of unremitted watching ensued; Eugene was wildly delirious, now
singing snatches of drinking songs, and waving his hand, as if to
his guests; and now bitterly upbraiding his wife for her
heartlessness and folly. The confinement of his fractured arm
frenzied him; often he struggled violently to free himself, fancying
that he was incarcerated in some horrid dungeon. On the morning of
the fourth day after the accident a carriage stopped at the cottage
gate, and, springing out, Mr. Graham hurried into the house. As he
entered the sickroom and caught sight of the tossing sufferer, a
groan escaped him, and he covered his eyes an instant, as if to shut
out the vision. Eugene imagined he saw one of the Heidelberg
professors, and, laughing immoderately, began a rapid conversation
in German. Mr. Graham could not conceal his emotion, and, fearing
its effect on the excitable patient, Beulah beckoned him aside and
warned him of the possible consequences. He grasped her hand, and
asked the particulars of the occurrence, which had been mentioned to
him vaguely. She told him the account given by Eugene's servants of
the night's revel, and then the denouement in front of her door. In
conclusion she said earnestly:
"Where is his wife? Why is she not here?"
"She seemed to think she could render no assistance; and, fearing
that all would be over before we could get here, preferred my coming
at once and writing to her of his condition. Ah! she is miserably
fitted for such scenes as you must have witnessed." And the gray-
haired man sighed heavily.
"What! can she bear to commit her husband to other hands at such a
crisis as this? How can she live away from his side when every hour
may be his last? Oh, is she indeed so utterly, utterly heartless,
selfish, callous? Poor Eugene! Better find release from such a union
in death than go through life bound to a wife so unblushingly
Her face was one flash of scorn and indignation, and, extending her
hand toward the restless invalid, she continued in a lower tone:
"She has deserted her sacred post; but a truer, better friend, one
who has always loved him as a brother, will supply her place. All
that a sister's care can do, assuredly he shall have."
"You are very kind, Miss Beulah; my family are under lasting
obligations to you for your generous attentions to that poor boy of
ours, and I--"
"No. You understand little of the nature of our friendship. We were
orphan children, warmly attached to each other, before you took him
to a home of wealth and lavish indulgence. Were he my own brother, I
could not feel more deeply interested in his welfare, and while he
requires care and nursing I consider it my privilege to watch over
and guard him. There is Dr. Asbury in the hall; he can tell you
better than I of his probable recovery,"
Ah, reader, is
"Friendship but a name?
A charm that lulls to Bleep,
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
And leaves the wretch to weep?"
Mr. Graham remained at the cottage, and, having written to
Antoinette of the imminent danger in which he found her husband,
urged her to lose no time in joining him. Unluckily, he was ignorant
of all the information which is so essential in the occupation of
nursing. He was anxious to do everything in his power; but, like the
majority of persons on such occasions, failed wretchedly in his
attempts. Almost as restless and nervous as the sick man, he only
increased the difficulties he would fain have remedied, and Beulah
finally prevailed upon him to abandon his efforts and leave the
room, where his constant movements annoyed and irritated the
sufferer. Eugene recognized no one, but his eyes followed Beulah
continually; and when his delirium was at its height only her voice
and clasp of his hand could in any degree soothe him. In his ravings
she noticed two constantly conflicting emotions: a stern bitterness
of feeling toward his wife and an almost adoring fondness for his
infant child. Of the latter he talked incessantly, and vowed that
she, at least, should love him. As the weary days crept by Beulah
started at every sound, fancying that the wife had certainly come;
but hour after hour found only Mrs. Williams and the orphan guarding
the deserted husband. Gradually the fever abated, and a death-like
stupor succeeded. Mr. Graham stole about the house like a haunting
spirit, miserable and useless, and in the solemn stillness of
midnight only Beulah sat by the pillow, where a head now rested
motionless as that of a corpse. Mrs. Williams was asleep on a couch
at the opposite end of the room, and, in the dim, spectral light of
the shaded lamp, the watcher and her charge looked unearthly. Faint
from constant vigils, Beulah threw her arm on the bed and leaned her
head upon it, keeping her eyes on the colorless face before her. Who
that has watched over friends, hovering upon the borders of the
spiritland, needs to be told how dreary was the heart of the
solitary nurse? And to those who have not thus suffered and endured,
no description would adequately portray the desolation and gloom.
The stars were waning, when Eugene moved, threw up his hand over the
pillow, and, after a moment, opened his eyes. Beulah leaned forward,
and he looked at her fixedly, as if puzzled; then said feebly:
"Beulah, is it you?"
A cry of joy rolled to her lips; but she hushed it, and answered
"Yes, Eugene; it is Beulah."
His eyes wandered about the room, and then rested again on her
countenance, with a confused, perplexed expression.
"Am I at home? What is the matter?"
"Yes, Eugene; at home among your best friends. Don't talk any more;
try to sleep again." With a great joy in her heart she extinguished
the light, so that he could see nothing. After a few moments he said
"Beulah, did I dream I saw you? Beulah!" She felt his hand put out,
as if to feel for her.
"No; I am sitting by you, but will not talk to you now. You must
There was a short silence.
"But where am I? Not at home, I know."
She did not reply, and he repeated the question more earnestly.
"You are in my house, Eugene; let that satisfy you."
His fingers closed over hers tightly, and soon he slept.
The sun was high in the sky when he again unclosed his eyes and
found Dr. Asbury feeling his pulse. His mind was still bewildered,
and he looked around him wonderingly.
"How do you feel, Graham?" said the doctor.
"Feel! as if I had been standing on my head. What is the matter with
me, doctor? Have I been sick?"
"Well--yes; you have not been exactly well, and feel stupid after a
long nap. Take a spoonful of this nectar I have prepared for you. No
wry faces, man! It will clear your head."
Eugene attempted to raise himself, but fell back exhausted, while,
for the first time, he noticed his arm firmly incased in wood and
"What have you been doing to my arm? Why, I can't move it. I should-
"Oh, don't trouble yourself, Graham; you injured it, and I bound it
up, that is all. When gentlemen amuse themselves with such gymnastic
feats as you performed, they must expect a little temporary
inconvenience from crushed bones and overstrained muscles. Beulah,
mind my directions about silence and quiet."
The doctor walked out to escape further questioning. Eugene looked
at his useless, stiffened arm and then at Beulah, saying anxiously:
"What is the matter with me?"
"You were thrown out of a buggy and fractured your arm in the fall."
She thought it best to tell the truth at once.
Memory flew back to her deserted throne, and dimly the events of
that evening's revel passed through his mind. A flush of shame rose
to his temples, and, turning his head toward the wall, he hid his
face in the pillow. Then Beulah heard a deep, shuddering sigh and a
groan of remorseful agony. After a long silence, he said, in a tone
of humiliation that drew tears to her eyes:
"How long have I been here?"
She told him the number of days, and he immediately asked,
"Have I been in any danger?"
"Yes; very great danger; out that has all passed now, and if you
will only be composed and careful you will soon be strong again."
"I heard my father talking to you. Who else is here?"
He looked at her with eager interest.
"No one else, except our kind matron. Mr. Graham came as soon as the
letter reached him, and has not left the house since."
A look of indescribable sorrow and shame swept over his countenance
as he continued bitterly:
"And did Antoinette know all at once? Stop, Beulah; tell me the
miserable truth. Did she know all and still remain away?"
"She knew all that had been communicated to Mr. Graham when he came;
and he has written to her every day. He is now writing to inform her
that you are better."
She shrank from giving the pain she was conscious her words
"I deserve it all! Yes, ingratitude, indifference, and desertion! If
I had died she would have heard it unmoved. Oh, Cornelia, Cornelia,
it is a fearful retribution; more bitter than death!" Averting his
face, his whole frame trembled with ill-concealed emotion.
"Eugene, you must compose yourself. Remember you jeopardize your
life by this sort of excitement."
"Why didn't you let me die? What have I to live for? A name
disgraced and a wife unloving and heartless! What has the future but
wretchedness and shame?"
"Not unless you will it so. You should want to live to retrieve your
character, to take an honorable position, which, hitherto, you have
recklessly forfeited; to make the world respect you, your wife
revere you, and your child feel that she may be proud of her father!
Ah, Eugene, all this the future calls you to do."
He looked up at her as she stood beside him, pale, thin, and weary,
and his feeble voice faltered, as he asked:
"Beulah, my best friend, my sister, do you quite despise me?"
She laid her hands softly on his, and, stooping down, pressed her
lips to his forehead.
"Eugene, once I feared that you had fallen even below my pity; but
now I believe you will redeem yourself. I hope that, thoroughly
reformed, you will command the respect of all who know you and
realize the proud aspirations I once indulged for you. That you can
do this I feel assured; that you will, I do most sincerely trust. I
have not yet lost faith in you, Eugene. I hope still."
She left him to ponder in solitude the humiliating result of his
course of dissipation.
The hours of gradual convalescence were very trying to Beulah, now
that the sense of danger no longer nerved her to almost superhuman
endurance and exertion. Mr. Graham waited until his adopted son was
able to sit up, and then returned to the watering-place where his
wife remained. Thus the entire charge of the invalid devolved on the
tireless friends who had watched over him in the hour of peril.
Beulah had endeavored to banish the sorrow that pressed so heavily
on her heart, and to dispel the gloom and despondency which seemed
to have taken possession of the deserted husband. She read, talked,
sang to him, and constantly strove to cheer him by painting a future
in which the past was to be effectually canceled. Though well-nigh
exhausted by incessant care and loss of sleep, she never complained
of weariness, and always forced a smile of welcome to her lips when
the' invalid had his chair wheeled to her side, or tottered out into
the dining room to join her. One morning in August she sat on the
little gallery at the rear of the house, with a table before her,
engaged in drawing some of the clusters of blue, white, and pink
convolvulus which festooned the pillars and balustrade. Eugene sat
near her, with his thin face leaning on his hand, his thoughts
evidently far removed from flowers. His arm was still in a sling,
and he looked emaciated and dejected. Mrs. Williams had been talking
to him cheerfully about some money matters he had promised to
arrange for her so soon as he was well enough to go to his office;
but, gathering up her working materials, the old lady went into the
kitchen, and the two sat for some time in silence. One of his long-
drawn sighs arrested Beulah's attention, and she said kindly:
"What is the matter, brother mine? Are you tired of watching my
clumsy fingers? Shall I finish that essay of Macaulay's you were so
much interested in yesterday, or will you have another of Bryant's
poems?" She laid down her pencil, quite ready to divert his mind by
"No; do not quit your drawing; I should not enjoy even Macaulay to-
He threw his head back, and sighed again.
"Why, Eugene? Don't you feel as well as usual this morning? Remember
your family will arrive to-day; you should be the happiest man
"Oh, Beulah! don't mock me. I cannot bear it. My life seems a
"You ought not to talk so despondingly; you have everything to live
for. House your energies. Be indeed a man. Conquer this weak,
repining spirit. Don't you remember the motto on the tombstone at
"'Look not mournfully on the past--it comes not back;
Enjoy the present--it is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future
With a manly heart, and without fear.'"
"You know little of what oppresses me. It is the knowledge of my--of
Antoinette's indifference which makes the future so joyless, so
desolate. Beulah, this has caused my ruin. When I stood by
Cornelia's coffin, and recalled her last frantic appeal; when I
looked down at her cold face, and remembered her devoted love for
her unworthy brother, I vowed never to touch wine again; to absent
myself from the associates who had led me to dissipation. Beulah, I
was honest, and intended to reform from that hour. But Antoinette's
avowed coldness, or, to call it by its proper name, heartless
selfishness and fondness for admiration, first disgusted and then
maddened me. I would have gladly spent my evenings quietly, in our
elegant home; but she contrived to have it crowded with visitors as
soulless and frivolous as herself. I remonstrated; she was sneering,
defiant, and unyielding, and assured me she would 'amuse' herself as
she thought proper; I followed her example, and went back to the
reckless companions who continually beset my path. I was miserably
deceived in Antoinette's character. She was very beautiful, and I
was blind to her mental, nay, I may as well say it at once, her
moral, defects. I believed she was warmly attached to me, and I
loved her most devotedly. But no sooner were we married than I
discovered my blind rashness. Cornelia warned me; but what man,
fascinated by a beautiful girl, ever listened to counsels that
opposed his heart? Antoinette is too intensely selfish to love
anything or anybody but herself; she does not even love her child.
Strange as it may seem, she is too entirely engrossed by her weak
fondness for display and admiration even to caress her babe. Except
at breakfast and dinner we rarely meet, and then, unless company is
present (which is generally the case), our intercourse is studiedly
cold. Do you wonder that I am hopeless in view of a life passed with
such a companion? Oh, that I could blot out the last two years of my
He groaned, and shaded his face with his hands.
"But, Eugene, probably your reformation and altered course will win
you your wife's love and reverence," suggested Beulah, anxious to
offer some incentive to exertion.
"I know her nature too well to hope that. A woman who prefers to
dance and ride with gentlemen rather than remain in her luxurious
home with her babe and her duties, cannot be won from her moth-like
life. No, no! I despair of happiness from her society and affection,
and, if at all, must derive it from other sources. My child is the
one living blossom amidst all my withered hopes. She is the only
treasure I have, except your friendship. She shall never blush for
her father's degradation. Henceforth, though an unhappy man, I shall
prove myself a temperate one. I cannot trust my child's education to
Antoinette; she is unworthy the sacred charge; I must fit myself to
form her character. Oh, Beulah, if I could make her such a woman as
you are, then I could indeed bear my lot patiently! I named her
Cornelia, but henceforth she shall be called Beulah also, in token
of her father's gratitude to his truest friend."
"No, Eugene; call her not after me, lest some of my sorrows come
upon her young head. Oh, no! name her not Beulah; let her be called
Cornelia. I would not have her soul shrouded as mine has been."
Beulah spoke vehemently, and, laying her hand on his arm, she added:
"Eugene, to-day you will leave me and go back to your own house, to
your family; but before you go, I ask you, if not for your sake, for
that of your child, to promise me solemnly that you will never again
touch intoxicating drinks of any kind. Oh, will you promise? Will
you reform entirely?"
There was a brief pause, and he answered slowly:
"I promise, Beulah. Nay, my friend, I swear I will abstain in
future. Ah, I will never disgrace my angel child! Never, so help me
The sound of approaching steps interrupted the conversation, and,
expecting to see Antoinette and her infant, accompanied by Mr. and
Mrs. Graham, Beulah looked up quickly, and perceived Mr. Lindsay.
"Does my advent startle you, that you look so pale and breathless?"
said he, smiling as he took her hand.
"I am certainly very much surprised to see you here, sir."
"And I am heartily glad you have come, Reginald," cried Eugene,
returning his friend's tight clasp.
"I intended coming to nurse you, Graham, as soon as I heard of the
accident, but my mother's illness prevented my leaving home. I need
not ask about your arm; I see it still requires cautious handling;
but how are you otherwise? Regaining your strength, I hope?"
"Yes; gradually. I am better than I deserve to be, Reginald."
"That remains to be proved in future, Graham. Come, get well as
rapidly as possible; I have a plan to submit to you, the earliest
day you are strong enough to discuss business topics. Miss Beulah,
let me sharpen your pencil."
He took it from her, trimmed it carefully, and handed it back; then
drew her portfolio near him, and glanced over the numerous
"I have several books filled with European sketches which, I think,
might afford you some pleasure. They were taken by different
persons; and some of the views on the Rhine, and particularly some
along the southern shore of Spain, are unsurpassed by any I have
seen. You may receive them some day, after I return."
"Thank you; I shall copy them with great pleasure."
"I see you are not as much of a pyrrhonist in art as in philosophy,"
said Mr. Lindsay, watching her countenance as she bent over her
"Who told you, sir, that I was one in any department?" She looked up
suddenly, with flashing eyes.
"There is no need to be told. I can readily perceive it."
"Your penetration is at fault, then. Of all others, the charge of
pyrrhonism is the last I merit."
He smiled, and said quietly:
"What, then, is your aesthetic creed, if I may inquire?"
"It is nearly allied to Cousin's."
"I thought you had abjured eclecticism; yet Cousin is its apostle.
Once admit his theory of the beautiful, and you cannot reject his
psychology and ethics; nay, his theodicea."
"I do not desire to separate his system; as such I receive it."
Beulah compressed her lips firmly and looked at her interrogator
"You deliberately shut your eyes, then, to the goal his philosophy
sets before you?"
"No; I am nearing the goal, looking steadily toward it." She spoke
hastily, and with an involuntary wrinkling of her brow.
"And that goal is pantheism; draped gorgeously, but pantheism
still," answered Mr. Lindsay, with solemn emphasis.
"No; his whole psychology is opposed to pantheism!" cried Beulah,
pushing aside her drawing materials and meeting his eyes fixedly.
"You probably attach undue weight to his assertion that, although
God passes into the universe, or therein manifests all the elements
of his being, he is not 'exhausted in the act.' Now, granting, for
the sake of argument, that God is not entirely absorbed in the
universe, Cousin's pet doctrine of the 'Spontaneous Apperception of
Absolute Truths' clearly renders man a modification of God.
Difference in degree, you know, implies sameness of kind; from this
there is no escape. He says, 'The God of consciousness is not a
solitary sovereign, banished beyond creation, upon the throne of a
silent eternity, and an absolute existence, which resembles
existence in no respect whatever. He is a God, at once true and
real, substance and cause, one and many, eternity and time, essence
and life, end and middle; at the summit of existence and at its
base, infinite and finite together; in a word, a Trinity; being at
the same time God, Nature, and Humanity.' His separation of reason
and reasoning, and the results of his boasted 'spontaneous
apperception,' are very nearly allied to those of Schelling's
'Intellectual Intuition'; yet I suppose you would shrink from the
'absolute identity' of the latter?"
"You have not stated the question fairly, sir. He reiterates that
the absolute belongs to none of us. We perceive truth, but do not
create it!" retorted Beulah.
"You will perhaps remember his saying explicitly that we can
comprehend the Absolute?"
"Yes; I recollect; and, moreover, he declares that 'we are conducted
to God by a ray of his own being.'"
"Can limited faculties comprehend the infinite and eternal creator?"
"We do not attain a knowledge of him through finite channels. Cousin
contends that it is by means of relation to the absolute that we
"Then, to know the absolute, or God, you must be the absolute; or,
in other words, God only can find God. This is the simple doctrine,
when you unwind the veil he has cleverly hung over it. True, he
denounces pantheism; but here is pantheism of the eclectic patent,
differing from that of other systems only in subtlety of expression,
wherein Cousin certainly excels. One of the most profound
philosophical writers of the age, [Footnote: J. D. Moreil.
"Speculative Philosophy of Europe."] and one whose opinion on this
point certainly merits careful consideration, has remarked, in an
analysis of Cousin's system, 'with regard to his notion of Deity, we
have already shown how closely this verges upon the principle of
Pantheism. Even if we admit that it is not a doctrine, like that of
Spinoza, which identifies God with the abstract idea of substance;
or even like that of Hegel, which regards Deity as synonymous with
the absolute law and process of the universe; if we admit, in fact,
that the Deity of Cousin possesses a conscious personality, yet
still it is one which contains in itself the infinite personality
and consciousness of every subordinate mind. God is the ocean--we
are but the waves; the ocean may be one individuality, and each wave
another; but still they are essentially one and the same. We see not
how Cousin's Theism can possibly be consistent with any idea of
moral evil; neither do we see how, starting from such a dogma, he
can ever vindicate and uphold his own theory of human liberty. On
such theistic principles all sin must be simply defect, and all
defect must be absolutely fatuitous.' Eclecticism was a beautiful
but frail levee, opposed to the swollen tide of skepticism, and, as
in every other crevasse when swept away, it only caused the stream
to rush on more madly."
He watched her closely as he spoke, and observed the quiver of her
long, curling lashes; he saw, too, that she was resolved not to
surrender, and waited for an explicit defense; but here Eugene
"All this tweedledum and tweedledee reminds me of Heidelberg days,
when a few of us roamed about the Odenwald, chopping off flowers
with our canes and discussing philosophy. Rare jargon we made of it;
talking of cosmothetie idealism or hypothetical dualism, of noetic
and dianoetic principles, of hylozoism and hypostasis, and
demonstrating the most undemonstrable propositions by appeals to the
law of contradiction or of excluded middle. I fancied then that I
was growing very learned--wondered whether Beulah here would be able
to keep up with me, and really thought I understood what I
discoursed about so logically."
"You can at least console yourself, Graham, by determining that
"'You know what's what, and that's as high
As metaphysic wit can fly.'"
I imagine there are very few of us who would agree with some of our
philosophers, that 'the pursuit of truth is far more important than
the attainment thereof'--that philosophizing is more valuable than
philosophy. To be conversant with the abstractions which, in the
hands of some metaphysical giants, have rendered both mind and
matter like abstractions, is a course of proceeding I should
scarcely indorse; and the best antidote I remember just now to any
such web-spinning proclivities is a persual of the three first
lectures of Sidney Smith on 'Moral Philosophy.' In recapitulating
the tenets of the schools, he says: 'The speculations of many of the
ancients on the human understanding are so confused, and so purely
hypothetical, that their greatest admirers are not agreed upon their
meaning; and whenever we can procure a plain statement of their
doctrines, all other modes of refuting them appear to be wholly
superfluous.' Miss Beulah, I especially commend you to these
humorous lectures." He bowed to her with easy grace.
"I have them, sir--have read them with great pleasure," said Beulah,
smiling at his droll manner of mingled reserve and freedom.
"What an exalted estimate that same incorrigible Sidney must have
placed upon the public taste of this republican land of ours? In one
of his lectures on 'the beauty of form,' I remember he says: 'A chin
ending in a very sharp angle would be a perfect deformity. A man
whose chin terminated in a point would be under the immediate
necessity of retiring to America--he would be such a perfect
horror!' Decidedly flattering to our national type of beauty." As
Eugene spoke, his lips wore a smile more akin to those of his
boyhood than any Beulah had seen since his return from Europe.
"Yes; that was to show the influence of custom, be it remembered;
and, in the same connection, he remarks, honestly enough, that he
'hardly knows what a Grecian face is; but thinks it very probable
that if the elegant arts had been transmitted to us from the
Chinese, instead of the Greeks, that singular piece of deformity--a
Chinese nose--would have been held in high estimation.' It was
"Which I don't believe a word of!" cried Beulah, appropriating the
last as a lunge at her favorite absolutism. Rising, she placed her
drawings in the portfolio, for the sun had crept round the corner of
the gallery and was shining in her face.
Mr. Lindsay smiled, without replying, and gave his arm to assist
Eugene into the house. They were comfortably seated in the dining
room, and Beulah knew that the discussion was about to be renewed,
when a carriage dashed up to the door. Eugene turned pale, and a
sudden rigidity seized his features. Beulah gave her guest a quick,
meaning glance, and retreated to the gallery, whither he instantly
followed her, leaving Eugene to receive his wife without witnesses.
Leaning against one of the pillars, Beulah unfastened a wreath of
blue convolvulus which Mrs. Williams had twined in her hair an hour
before. The delicate petals were withered, and, with a suppressed
sigh, she threw them away. Mr. Lindsay drew a letter from his pocket
and handed it to her, saying briefly:
"I was commissioned to give you this, and, knowing the contents,
hope a favorable answer."
It was from Clara, urging her to come up the following week and
officiate as bridesmaid at her wedding. She could return home with
Helen and George Asbury. Beulah read the letter, smiled sadly, and
put it in her pocket.
"Will you go?"
"Why not? You need a change of air, and the trip would benefit you.
You do not probably know how much you have altered in appearance
since I saw you. My uncle is coming out to persuade you to go. Can't
I succeed without his aid?"
"I could not leave home now. Eugene's illness has prevented my
accomplishing some necessary work, and as I consign him to other
hands to-day, I must make amends for my long indolence. Thank you
for taking charge of my letter; but I cannot think of going."
He perceived that no amount of persuasion would avail, and for an
instant a look of annoyance crossed his face. But his brow cleared
as he said, with a smile:
"For a year I have watched for your articles, and the magazine is a
constant companion of my desk. Sometimes I am tempted to criticise
your sketches; perhaps I may do so yet, and that in no Boswell
"Doubtless, sir, you would find them very vulnerable to criticism,
which nowadays has become a synonym for fault-finding; at least this
carping proclivity characterizes the class who seem desirous only of
earning reputation as literary Jeffreys. I am aware, sir, that I am
"Suppose, then, that at the next month's literary assize (as you
seem disposed to consider it), you find in some of the magazines a
severe animadversion upon the spirit of your writings? Dare I do
this, and still hope for your friendship?"
He watched her closely.
"Certainly, sir. I am not writing merely to see myself in print, nor
wholly for remuneration in dollars and cents. I am earnestly
searching for truth, and if in my articles you discover error and
can correct it, I shall be glad to have you do so, provided you
adopt the catholic spirit which should distinguish such
undertakings. Now, if you merely intend to hold me up for ridicule
as thoroughly as possible, I prefer that you let me and my articles
rest; but a calm, dispassionate criticism I should not shrink from.
I write only what I believe, and if I am in error, I shall be glad
to have it corrected."
"Miss Benton, may I venture to correct it without having recourse to
the vehicle of public criticism? Will you permit me to discuss with
you, here in your quiet home, those vital questions whose solution
seems to engage your every thought?"
She drew back, and answered, with a dreary sort of smile:
"I am afraid you would derive little pleasure, and I less profit,
from such disputation. I have learned from bitter experience that
merely logical forms of argumentation do not satisfy the hungry
soul. The rigid processes of Idealism annihilated the external
world; and Hume proved that Mind was a like chimera; yet who was
ever seriously converted by their incontrovertible reasoning? I have
lost faith in ratiocination."
"Still you cling to opinions founded on its errors. Why not be
consistent, and, in rejecting its most potent ally, reject the
conclusions of Rationalism also?"
"Because I must believe something. Faith in some creed is an
absolute necessity of human nature."
"You distinguish faith, then, from intellectual belief?"
"No; I compound them; my faith is based on mental conviction,"
replied Beulah, perceiving whither he was leading her, and resolved
not to follow.
"And this conviction results from those same processes of
ratiocination which you condemn as unworthy of credence, because
subject to gross, sometimes ludicrous, perversions?"
"I am unable to detect any such perversion or inaccuracy in the
cautious course of reasoning which has assisted me to my present
"Pardon me; but does this fact convince you of the Infallibility of
the course? Have you constituted your individual reason the sole
"Yes; there is no other left me."
"And your conclusions are true for you only, since the individual
organism of your mind makes them so. To an intellect of a higher or
lower grade these conclusions would be untenable, since the
depressed or exalted reason judged them accordingly. You may cling
to some doctrine as absolutely and necessarily true, yet to my mind
it may seem a shallow delusion, like the vagaries of spirit-
"No; reasoning is often fallacious, but reason is divine; reasoning
often clouds the truth, but reason, by spontaneous apperception,
grasps truth," persisted Beulah unhesitatingly.
"Then truth has as many phases, and as antagonistic, as there are
individuals in the universe. All men are prophets; all are alike
inspired; all alike worthy of trust and credence. Spontaneous reason
has grasped a number of oddly conflicting doctrines, let me tell
you, and the reconciliation of these would be an undertaking to
which the dozen labors of Hercules seem a farce."
"The superstitions of various ages and nations are not valid
arguments against the existence of universal and necessary
"Why, then, have these principles produced no unanimity of faith?
The history of the human race is the history of the rise of one
philosophy and religion from the ashes of its predecessor. There is
one universal belief in the necessity of religion, and this belief
built altars in the dawn of time; but your spontaneous reason is
perpetually changing the idols on these altars. The God of one man's
reason will not satisfy that of his neighbor."
Before Beulah could reply she heard Eugene calling her in the hall,
and was hastening to meet him; but Mr. Lindsay caught her hand, and
said: "You have not yet given me permission to intrude on your
seclusion." She withdrew her hand instantly.
"When you have nothing else to occupy you, and wish to while away an
hour in literary discussion, you will generally find me at home
She walked on and joined Eugene in the hall. Antoinette stood in the
door, and they merely exchanged bows, while Mr. Graham grasped her
hand and earnestly thanked her for the many kindnesses she had
rendered to his family. Beulah looked at the composed, beautiful
face of the young wife, and then at the thin form of the husband,
and said hastily:
"You owe me no thanks, sir; the claims of true friendship are
imperative. In removing to his own house I trust Eugene's
improvement may not be retarded."
Antoinette tripped down the steps, and, gathering the flounces of
her costly dress, seated herself in the carriage. Mr. Graham bit his
lip, colored, and, after a cordial good-by, joined her. Eugene
smiled bitterly, and, turning to Beulah, took both her hands in his,
"Beulah, I leave your house a wiser, if not less miserable man. I am
going to atone for the past; to prove to you that your faith in me
is not altogether unmerited. If I am saved from ruin and disgrace I
owe it to you; and to you I shall look for sympathy and
encouragement. To you, my best friend, I shall often come for
sisterly aid, when clouds gather black and stormy over my miserable
home. God bless you, Beulah! I have promised reformation, and will
keep my promise sacred if it cost me my life."
He raised her hand to his lips, and, linking his arm in Mr.
Lindsay's, left the house and entered the carriage, while the latter
mounted his horse and rode slowly away.
"You look weary, child. You must give yourself some rest now," said
Mrs. Williams, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron.
"Rest! Ah, yes; if I could find it," returned the girl, taking the
comb from the back of her head and shaking down the folds of hair
till it hung round her like a long mourning veil.
"Suppose you try to sleep some," suggested the matron.
"I have some work to do first," said she, drawing a long breath and
wiping the dust from her desk.
Mrs. Williams withdrew; and, clasping her hands over her forehead,
Beulah stood looking up, with dim eyes, at the cloudless face that
smiled down on her, until she almost fancied the lips parted to
Mr. Lindsay's visits grew more frequent. At first Beulah wondered
what brought him so often from his distant home to the city, and
supposed it must be some legal business which engaged him; but
gradually a different solution dawned upon her mind. She rejected it
as the prompting of vanity, but again and again the supposition
recurred. The imperturbable gravity and repose of his manner often
disconcerted her. It was in vain that she resorted to sarcasm, and
irony; he was incorrigibly unruffled; in vain she was cold,
repellent, haughty; his quiet smile remained unaltered. His
superior, and thoroughly cultivated intellect, and the unaffected
simplicity of his manner, characterized by singular candor, rendered
him an unusually agreeable companion; but Beulah rebelled against
the unobtrusive yet constant care with which she fancied he watched
her. The seclusion of her life, and the reserve of her nature,
conspired to impart a degree of abruptness to her own manners; and
to one who understood her character less than Reginald Lindsay there
was an unhesitating sincerity of expression which might have been
termed rudeness. The frequency of his visits attracted the attention
of strangers; already the busy tongue of meddling gossip had
connected their names; Dr. Asbury, too, bantered her unmercifully
upon his nephew's constant pilgrimages to the city; and the result
was that Mr. Lindsay's receptions grew colder and less flattering
continually. From the first she had not encouraged his visits, and
now she positively discouraged them by every intimation which the
rules of etiquette justified her in offering. Yet she respected,
esteemed, and in many things admired him; and readily confessed to
her own heart that his society often gave her pleasure,
One winter evening she sat alone by the dining-room fire, with a
newspaper in her hand, reading a notice of the last number of the
magazine, in which one of her sketches was roughly handled. Of
course she was no better pleased with the unflattering criticism
than the majority of writers in such cases. She frowned, bit her
lip, and wondered who could have written it. The review was
communicated, and the paper had been sent to her by some unknown
hand. Once more she read the article, and her brow cleared, while a
smile broke over her face. She had recognized a particular dictum,
and was no longer puzzled. Leaning her head on her palm, she sat
looking into the fire, ruminating on the objections urged against
her piece; it was the first time she had ever been unfavorably
criticised, and this was sufficient food for thought.
Mr. Lindsay came in and stood near her unobserved. They had not met
for several weeks, and she was not aware that he was in the city.
Charon, who lay on the rug at her feet, growled, and she looked
"Good-evening," said her visitor, extending his hand.
She did not accept it; but merely inclined her head, saying:
"Ah, how do you do, sir?"
He laid a package on the table, drew a chair near the hearth without
looking at her, and, calling to Charon, patted his huge head kindly.
"What have you there, Miss Beulah? Merely a newspaper; it seems to
interest you intensely. May I see it?"
"I am certainly very much obliged to you, sir, for the chivalrous
spirit in which you indited your criticism. I was just pondering it
when you entered."
She smiled as she spoke, and shook the paper at him.
"I thought I had feigned a style you would not recognize," he
answered quite unconcernedly.
"You succeeded admirably, with the exception of one pet phrase,
which betrayed you. Next time, recollect that you are very partial
to some particular expressions, with which I happen to be
acquainted; and avoid their introduction."
"I rather think I shall not repeat the experiment; especially as my
arguments seem to have failed signally in their design. Are you
quite sure that you understand my review perfectly?"
He looked a little curious--she fancied disappointed--and she
"Oh, I think I do; it is not so very abstruse."
He leaned forward, took the paper from her, before she was aware of
his intention, and threw it into the fire.
She looked surprised, and he offered his hand once more.
"Are we still friends? Will you shake hands with your reviewer?"
She unhesitatingly put her hand in his, and answered:
"Friendship is not a gossamer thread, to be severed by a stroke of
She endeavored to withdraw her fingers, but he held them firmly,
while his blue eyes rested upon her with an expression she by no
means liked. Her black brows met in a heavy frown, and her lips
parted angrily. He saw it, and instantly released her hand.
"Miss Beulah, my uncle commissioned me to say to you that he
received a letter to-day from Dr. Hartwell. It was written during
his voyage down the Red Sea, and contained a long farewell, as
inland travel would afford no facilities for writing."
He noted the tight clasp in which her fingers locked each other, and
the livid paleness of her lips and brow, as the long lashes drooped
and she sat silently listening. Charon laid his head on her knee and
looked up at her. There was a brief silence, and Mr. Lindsay added
"My uncle fears he will never return. Do you cherish the hope?"
"Yes; he will come back, if his life is spared. It may be many
years; but he will come, he will come."
Their eyes met; there was a long, searching look from Mr. Lindsay;
she did not shrink from the scrutiny. An expression of keen sorrow
swept over his face, but he conquered his emotion, took the parcel
he had brought, and, unwrapping a book, said, in his usual quiet
"When I saw you last you were regretting your inability to procure
Sir William Hamilton's 'Philosophy of the Conditioned,' and I have
taken the liberty of bringing you my own copy. Read it at your
leisure; I shall not need it again soon. I do not offer it as a
system which will satisfy your mind, by solving all your problems;
but I do most earnestly commend his 'Philosophy of the Conditioned,'
as the surest antidote to the abstractions in which your speculation
has involved you. The most erudite scholar of the age, and one of
the finest metaphysical minds the world has ever known, he expressly
sums up his vast philosophic researches with the humble confession:
'There are two sorts of ignorances; we philosophize to escape
ignorance, and the consummation of our philosophy is ignorance; we
start from the one, we repose in the other; they are the goals from
which, and to which, we tend; and the pursuit of knowledge is but a
course between two ignorances, as human life is itself only a
traveling from grave to grave. The highest reach of human science is
the scientific recognition of human ignorance.' Like you, Miss
Beulah, I set out to discover some system where no mysteries
existed; where I should only believe what I could clearly
comprehend. 'Yes,' said I proudly, 'I will believe nothing that I
cannot understand.' I wandered on until, like you, I stood in a wide
waste, strewn with the wreck of beliefs. My pride asserted that my
reason was the only and sufficient guide, and whither did it lead
me? Into vagaries more inexplicable than aught I fled from in
Revelation. It was easier to believe that, 'in the beginning, God
created the heaven and the earth,' than that the glorious universe
looked to chance as its sole architect, or that it was a huge
lumbering machine of matter, grinding out laws. I saw that I was the
victim of a miserable delusion in supposing my finite faculties
could successfully grapple with the mysteries of the universe. I
found that to receive the attempted solutions of philosophy required
more faith than Revelation, and my proud soul humbled itself and
rested in the Bible. My philosophic experience had taught me that if
mankind were to have any knowledge of their origin, their destiny,
their God, it must be revealed by that God, for man could never
discover aught for himself. There are mysteries in the Bible which I
cannot explain; but it bears incontrovertible marks of divine
origin, and as such I receive it. I can sooner believe the Mosaic
revelation than the doctrine which tells you that you are part of
God and capable of penetrating to absolute truth. To quote the
expressive language of an acute critic (whose well-known
latitudinarianism and disbelief in the verbal inspiration of
Scripture give peculiar weight to his opinion on this subject),
'when the advocates of this natural, spontaneous inspiration will
come forth from their recesses of thought and deliver prophecies as
clear as those of the Hebrew seer; when they shall mold the elements
of nature to their will; when they shall speak with the sublime
authority of Jesus of Nazareth; and with the same infinite ease,
rising beyond all the influence of time, place, and circumstances,
explain the past and unfold the future; when they die for the truth
they utter, and rise again as witnesses to its divinity; then we may
begin to place them on the elevation which they so thoughtlessly
claim. But until they either prove these facts to be delusions, or
give their parallel in themselves, the world may well laugh at their
ambition and trample their spurious inspiration beneath its feet.'
There is an infinite, eternal, and loving God; I am a finite
creature, unable to comprehend him, and knowing him only through his
own revelation. This very revelation is insufficient for our
aspiring souls, I grant; but it declares emphatically that here 'we
see through a glass darkly.' Better this than the starless night in
which you grope, without a promise of the dawn of eternity, where
all mystery shall be explained. Are you not weary of fruitless,
mocking speculation?" He looked at her anxiously.
She raised her colorless face, and said drearily, as she passed her
hand over her forehead:
"Weary? Ah, yes; weary as the lonely mariner, tempest-tossed on some
pathless ocean, without chart or compass. In my sky, even the star
of hope is shrouded. Weary? Yes; in body and mind."
"Then humble your proud intellect; confess your ignorance and
inability, and rest in God and Christianity."
She made an impatient gesture, and, turning away, he walked up and
down the floor. For some moments neither spoke. Finally he
approached her, and continued:
"There is strange significance in the Mosaic record of the Fall.
Longing for the fruits of knowledge, whereby the mysteries of God
would be revealed, cost man Eden. The first pair ate, knowledge
mocked them, and only the curse remained. That primeval curse of
desiring to know all things descended to all posterity, and at this
instant you exemplify its existence. Ah! you must humble your
intellect if you would have it exalted; must be willing to be guided
along unknown paths by other light than that of reason if you would
be happy. Well might Sir William Hamilton exclaim: 'It is this
powerful tendency of the most vigorous minds to transcend the sphere
of our faculties, which makes a "learned ignorance" the most
difficult acquirement, perhaps indeed the consummation of
He sighed as he uttered these words; she said nothing; and, putting
his hand gently upon hers, as they lay folded on the table beside
her, he added sadly:
"I had hoped that I could aid you; but I see my efforts are useless;
you will not be guided nor influenced by others; are determined to
wander on in ever-deepening night, solitary and restless! God help
A shudder ran over her; but she made no reply.
He took her cold hands in his.
"And now we part. Since the evening I first saw you with your basket
of strawberries, I have cherished the hope that I might one day be
more than a friend. You have constantly shown me that I was nothing
more to you; I have seen it all along, but still I hoped; and,
notwithstanding your coldness, I shall continue to hope. My love is
too entirely yours to be readily effaced. I can wait patiently.
Beulah, you do not love me now; perhaps never can; but I shall at
least cling to the hope. I shall not come again; shall not weary you
with professions and attentions. I know your nature, and even had I
the power would not persuade you to give me your hand now. But time
may change your feelings; on this frail tenure I rest my hopes.
Meantime, should circumstances occur which demand the aid or counsel
of devoted friendship, may I ask you to feel no hesitancy in
claiming any assistance I can render? And, Beulah, at any instant, a
line, a word can recall me. The separation will be very painful to
me; but I cannot longer obtrude myself on your presence. If, as I
earnestly hope, the hour, however distant, should come when you
desire to see me, oh, Beulah, how gladly will I hasten to you--"
"We can never be more than friends; never!" cried Beulah.
"You think so now, and perhaps I am doomed to disappointment; but,
without your sanction, I shall hope it. Good-by." He pressed his
lips to her hand and walked away.
Beulah heard the closing of the little gate, and then, for the first
time, his meaning flashed upon her mind. He believed she loved her
guardian; fancied that long absence would obliterate his image from
her heart, and that, finally, grown indifferent to one who might
never return, she would give her love to him whose constancy merited
it. Genuine delicacy of feeling prevented his expressing all this;
but she was conscious now that only this induced his unexpected
course toward herself. A burning flush suffused her face as she
"Oh, how unworthy I am of such love as his! how utterly
Soon after, opening the book he had brought at the place designated,
she drew the lamp near her and began its perusal. Hour after hour
glided away, and not until the last page was concluded did she lay
it aside. The work contained very little that was new; the same
trains of thought had passed through her mind more than once before;
but here they were far more clearly and forcibly expressed.
She drew her chair to the window, threw up the sash, and looked out.
It was wintry midnight, and the sky blazed with its undying watch-
fires. This starry page was the first her childish intellect had
puzzled over. She had, from early years, gazed up into the
glittering temple of night, and asked: "Whence came yon silent
worlds, floating in solemn grandeur along the blue, waveless ocean
of space? Since the universe sprang phoenix-like from that dim
chaos, which may have been but the charnel-house of dead worlds,
those unfading lights have burned on, bright as when they sang
together at the creation. And I have stretched out my arms
helplessly to them, and prayed to hear just once their unceasing
chant of praise to the Lord of Glory. Will they shine on forever? or
are they indeed God's light-bearers, set to illumine the depths of
space and blaze a path along which the soul may travel to its God?
Will they one day flicker and go out?" To every thoughtful mind
these questions propound themselves, and Beulah especially had
essayed to answer them. Science had named the starry hosts, and
computed their movements with wonderful skill; but what could it
teach her of their origin and destiny? Absolutely nothing. And how
stood her investigations in the more occult departments of
psychology and ontology? An honest seeker of truth, what had these
years of inquiry and speculation accomplished? Let her answer as,
with face bowed on her palms, her eyes roved over the midnight sky.
"Once I had some principles, some truths clearly defined; but now I
know nothing distinctly, believe nothing. The more I read and study
the more obscure seem the questions I am toiling to answer. Is this
increasing intricacy the reward of an earnestly inquiring mind? Is
this to be the end of all my glorious aspirations? Have I come to
this? 'Thus far, and no farther.' I have stumbled on these
boundaries many times, and now must I rest here? Oh, is this my
recompense? Can this be all? All!" Smothered sobs convulsed her
She had long before rejected a "revealed code" as unnecessary; the
next step was to decipher nature's symbols, and thus grasp God's
hidden laws; but here the old trouble arose. How far was
"individualism" allowable and safe? To reconcile the theories of
rationalism, she felt, was indeed a herculean task, and she groped
on into deeper night. Now and then her horizon was bestarred, and,
in her delight, she shouted, "Eureka!" But when the telescope of her
infallible reason was brought to bear upon the coldly glittering
points, they flickered and went out. More than once a flaming comet,
of German manufacture, trailed in glory athwart her dazzled vision;
but close observation resolved the gilded nebula, and the nucleus
mocked her. Doubt engendered doubt; the death of one difficulty was
the instant birth of another. Wave after wave of skepticism surged
over her soul, until the image of a great personal God was swept
from its altar. But atheism never yet usurped the sovereignty of the
human mind; in all ages, moldering vestiges of protean deism
confront the giant specter, and every nation under heaven has reared
its fane to the "unknown God." Beulah had striven to enthrone in her
desecrated soul the huge, dim, shapeless phantom of pantheism, and
had turned eagerly to the system of Spinoza. The heroic grandeur of
the man's life and character had strangely fascinated her; but now,
that idol of a "substance, whose two infinite attributes were
extension and thought," mocked her; and she hurled it from its
pedestal, and looked back wistfully to the pure faith of her
childhood. A Godless world; a Godless woman. She took up the lamp
and retired to her own room. On all sides books greeted her; here
was the varied lore of dead centuries; here she had held communion
with the great souls entombed in these dusty pages. Here, wrestling
alone with those grim puzzles, she had read out the vexed and vexing
questions, in this debating club of the moldering dead, and
endeavored to make them solve them. These well-worn volumes, with
close "marginalias," echoed her inquiries, but answered them not to
her satisfaction. Was her life to be thus passed in feverish toil
and ended as by a leap out into a black, shoreless abyss? Like a
spent child she threw her arms on the mantelpiece and wept
"Oh, better die now than live as I have lived, in perpetual
stragglings! What is life worth without peace of mind, without hope;
and what hope have I? Diamonded webs of sophistry can no longer
entangle; like Noah's dove, my soul has fluttered among them,
striving in vain for a sure hold to perch upon; but, unlike it, I
have no ark to flee to. Weary and almost hopeless, I would fain
believe that this world is indeed as a deluge, and in it there is no
ark of refuge but the Bible. It is true, I did not see this souls'
ark constructed; I know nothing of the machinery employed; and no
more than Noah's dove can I explore and fully understand its secret
chambers; yet, all untutored, the exhausted bird sought safety in
the incomprehensible, and was saved. As to the mysteries of
revelation and inspiration, why, I meet mysteries, turn which way I
will. Man, earth, time, eternity, God, are all inscrutable mysteries
My own soul is a mystery unto itself, and so long as I am impotent
to fathom its depths, how shall I hope to unfold the secrets of the
She had rejected Christian theism, because she could not understand
how God had created the universe out of nothing. True, "with God,
all things are possible"; but she could not understand this creation
out of nothing, and therefore would not believe it. Yet (oh,
inconsistency of human reasoning!) she had believed that the
universe created laws; that matter gradually created mind. This was
the inevitable result of pantheism; for, according to geology, there
was a primeval period when neither vegetable nor animal life
existed; when the earth was a huge mass of inorganic matter. Of two
incomprehensibilities, which was the most plausible? To-night this
question recurred to her mind with irresistible force, and, as her
eyes wandered over the volumes she had so long consulted, she
"Oh, philosophy! thou hast mocked my hungry soul; thy gilded fruits
have crumbled to ashes in my grasp. In lieu of the holy faith of my
girlhood, thou hast given me but dim, doubtful conjecture, cold
metaphysical abstractions, intangible shadows, that flit along my
path, and lure me on to deeper morasses. Oh, what is the shadow of
death, in comparison with the starless night which has fallen upon
me, even in the morning of my life! My God, save me! Give me light!
Of myself I can know nothing!"
Her proud intellect was humbled, and, falling on her knees, for the
first time in many months, a sobbing prayer went up to the throne of
the living God; while the vast clockwork of stars looked in on a
pale brow and lips, where heavy drops of moisture glistened.
Four years had passed since Eugene Graham returned to his home,
after his severe illness, and now, as he sits alone in his library,
with a bundle of legal documents before him, it is not difficult to
perceive that his promise has been held sacred. Through the
suggestion of Mr. Lindsay, and the persuasions of Beulah, he had
closely applied himself to the study of law immediately after his
recovery. Hopeless of happiness in his home, ambition became the
ruling passion, and scourged him on to unceasing exertion. The
aspirations of his boyhood revived; the memory of his humiliating
course goaded him to cover the past with the garlands of fame; and
consciousness of unusual talents assured him of final success. Mr.
Graham no longer opposed the design as formerly, but facilitated its
execution to the utmost of his ability. Under these circumstances,
it was not surprising that earnest application soon procured his
admission to the bar. His efforts were redoubled, and, ere long, his
eloquence obtained for him a connection with one of the most
prominent members of the profession. The world wondered at this
complete revolution; many doubted its continuance; but, step by
step, he climbed the ladder to eminence, and merited the applause
which the public lavished upon him. Success only inflamed his
ambition, and it became evident he aimed at political renown. Nature
had fitted him for the political arena, had endowed him with
oratorical powers of no ordinary stamp; and, though long dormant,
they were not impaired by his inertia. It was fortunate for him that
an exciting Presidential canvass afforded numerous opportunities for
the development of these, and at its close he found himself
possessed of an enviable reputation. To a certain extent, his wife
was elated with his success; she was proud of his acknowledged
talent; but her selfish nature was utterly incapable of the
tenderness and sincere affection he demanded. Their alienation was
complete. No bickerings disturbed the serene atmosphere of their
home, because mutual indifference precluded the necessity. Mrs.
Graham gave parties and attended them; rode, danced, spent her
summers at fashionable watering-places and her winters in a round of
folly and dissipation, while her husband pursued his profession,
careless of her movements and rarely in her company. In the lady's
conduct the circle in which she moved saw nothing reprehensible. She
dressed superbly, gave elegant entertainments, and was, par
excellence, the leader of bon-ton. True, she was quite as much of a
belle as any young lady in the city, and received the attentions and
flattery of gentlemen as unreservedly, nay, delightedly, as though
she had no neglected husband and child at home who had claims upon
her; put this sort of conjugal indifference was in vogue, and, as
she frowned down, or smiled up, some family laboriously toiling to
reach her circle, her "clique" blindly followed her example and
humored her whims. As regarded her deportment toward her husband,
one alteration was perceptible; she respected--almost feared him;
shrank from his presence, and generally contrived to fill the house
with company when she was, for short intervals, at home. He ceased
to upbraid, or even remonstrate; his days were spent in the
courtroom or his office, and his evenings in his library. She
dressed as extravagantly as she chose; he made no comments, paid her
accounts, and grew more taciturn and abstracted day by day.
Oh, woman! woman! when will you sever the fetters which fashion,
wealth, and worldliness have bound about you, and prove yourselves
worthy the noble mission for which you were created? How much longer
will heartless, soulless wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters
waltz, moth-like, round the consuming flame of fashion; and, by
neglecting their duties and deserting their sphere, drive their
husbands, sons, and brothers out into the world, reckless and
depraved, with callous hearts, irrevocably laid on the altars of
Mammon? God help the women of America! Grant them the true womanly
instincts which, in the dawn of our republic, made "home" the Eden,
the acme of all human hopes and joys. Teach them that gilded
saloons, with their accompanying allurements of French latitude in
dress and dancing, and the sans-souci manners and style of
conversation (which, in less degenerate times, would have branded
with disgrace and infamy all who indulged it), teach them that all
these tend to the depths of social evil; and oh, lead them back to
the hearthstone, that holy post which too many, alas, have deserted!
Eugene Graham's love and tenderness were all bestowed on his
daughter, a beautiful child, not yet five years old; the sole
companion of the hours spent at home, she became his idol.
It was one sunny afternoon that he finished copying some papers,
necessary in a case to be defended the following day. The sunshine,
stealing through the shutters, fell on his lofty brow, pale from
continued study; his whole countenance bespoke a nature saddened,
vexed, but resolute, and, leaning forward, he touched the bell-rope.
As he did so, there came quick footsteps pattering along the hall;
the door was pushed open, and a little fairy form, with a head of
rich auburn ringlets, peeped in cautiously, while a sweet, childish
voice asked eagerly:
"May I come now, father? Have you done writing? I won't make a
noise; indeed I won't!"
The gloom fled from his face, and he held out his arms to her,
"I have done writing; you may come now, my darling."
She sprang into his lap and threw her little, snowy arms about his
neck, kissing him rapturously, and passing her fragile fingers
through his hair. She resembled him closely, having the same
classical contour and large, soft, dark eyes. He returned her
caresses with an expression of almost adoring fondness, stroking her
curls with a light, gentle touch. The evening was warm, and large
drops stood on his forehead. She noticed it, and, standing on his
knee, took the corner of her tiny embroidered apron and wiped away
the moisture, kissing the forehead as she did so. A servant looked
in at the door.
"Did you ring, sir?"
"Yes; tell Philip I want my buggy."
"Oh, you are going to ride! Can I go? and will we go to see Aunt
Beulah--will we?" She looked at him earnestly.
"Would you like to go there, Cornelia?"
"Oh, yes! I always like to go there. I love her, she is so good!
Let's go to see her, won't you?"
"Yes; you shall go with me, my darling."
He bent down to kiss her coral lips, and just then Mrs. Graham swept
into the room. She was attired in an elegant riding habit of dark
purple, while a velvet hat of the same color, with a long, drooping
plume, shaded her face. Her hands were incased in delicate kid
gauntlets, which fitted with perfect exactness. She was a beautiful
woman, and the costume heightened her loveliness. She started
slightly on perceiving her husband, and said hastily:
"I thought you were at your office. Cornelia, what on earth have you
done with my riding whip? you mischievous little wretch! You lost it
once before. Go find it; I am waiting for it. Go this instant!"
"I don't know where it is," returned the child, making no effort to
leave her father's arms.
Eugene glanced up at his wife; his eyes wandered over her becoming
and beautiful dress, then went back to the sunny face of his child.
An angry flush dyed Antoinette's cheeks as she observed her
"Where is my whip? I say. Flora saw you with it yesterday, whipping
that hobby-horse. I told you to keep your hands off of it, didn't I?
If you don't go and find it quick, I'll box you soundly, you
meddlesome little brat!"
"I haven't had it since you told me I shouldn't play with it. Flora
tells a story," answered Cornelia, sobbing.
"You did have it!" cried the angry mother, shaking her hand
"Did you see her with it?" asked Eugene, rising, with the child in
"I know she had it!"
"Did you see her with it, I asked you?"
"No; but Flora did, and that is all the same; besides, I--"
"Here is the whip, ma'am. I found it last week in the hall, behind a
chair, and put it in the cane stand. The last time you went to ride,
you put it and your gloves on a chair in the hall, and went into the
parlor to see some company. Flora picked up the gloves and carried
them upstairs, but didn't see the whip."