Part 1 out of 7
Edited by Charles Aldarondo (email@example.com)
They sat together in the twilight conversing. Three years, with
their alternations of joy and grief had swept over their married
life, bringing their hearts into closer alliance, as each new
emotion thrilled and upheaved the buried life within.
That night their souls seemed attuned to a richer melody than ever
before; and as the twilight deepened, and one by one the stars
appeared, the blessed baptism of a heavenly calm descended and
rested upon their spirits.
"Then you think there are but very few harmonious marriages, Hugh?"
"My deep experience with human nature, and close observations of
life, have led me to that conclusion. Our own, and a few happy
exceptions beside, are but feeble offsets to the countless cases of
"Unhappy; why?" he continued, talking more to himself than to the
fair woman at his side; "people are only married fractionally, as a
great thinker has written; and knowing so little of themselves, how
can they know each other? The greatest strangers to each other whom
I have ever met, have been parties bound together by the marriage
"But you would not sunder so holy a bond as that of marriage, Hugh?"
"I could not, and would not if I could. Whatever assimilates,
whether of mind or matter, can not be sundered. I would only destroy
false conditions, and build up in their places those of peace and
harmony. While I fully appreciate the marriage covenant, I sorrow
over the imperfect manhood which desecrates it. I question again and
again, why persons so dissimilar in tastes and habits, are brought
together; and then the question is partly, if not fully answered, by
the great truth of God's economy, which brings the lesser unto the
greater to receive, darkness unto light, that all may grow together.
I almost know by seeing one party, what the other is. Thus are the
weak and strong--not strength and might--coupled. Marriage should be a
help, and not a hindrance. In the present state of society, we are
too restricted to know what marriage is. Either one, or both of
those united, are selfish and narrow, allowing no conditions in
which each may grow."
"Do I limit you, Hugh?"
"No, dearest, no; I never meant it should be so, either. When I gave
you my love, I did not surrender my individual life and right of
action. All of my being which you can appropriate to yourself is
yours; you can take no more. What I take from you, is your love and
sympathy. I cannot exhaust or receive you wholly."
"But I give you all of myself."
"Yet I can only take what I can absorb or receive into my being. The
qualities of a human soul are too mighty to be absorbed by any one."
"What matters it if I am content in your love that I wish for none
"I have often feared, dear Alice, that your individual life was lost
in your love for me."
"What matters it, if you give me yourself in return?"
"It matters much. If we are not strong for ourselves, we are not
strength to each other. If we have no reserve force, we shall in
time consume each other's life. We can never be wholly another's."
"Am I not wholly yours, dear Hugh?" she said, raising her eyes
tenderly to his, in that summer twilight.
"Not all mine, but all that I can receive."
"It may be true, but it seems cold to me," she replied, a little
"Too much philosophy and not enough love for your tender woman
nature, is it not, darling?"
"I think you have explained it. I feel as though you were drifting
away from me, Hugh, when you talk as you do to-night. Although I
dearly love progress and enlarged views of life, I do not like many
of the questions that are being agitated in reference to marriage."
"Because you do not take comprehensive views of the matter. I can, I
think, set you clear on the whole subject, and divorce from your
mind the thought that liberty is license. Liberty, in its full, true
meaning, is the pure action of a true manhood, in obedience to the
laws of the individual. For a simple illustration, look at our
neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Danforth. She, as you well know, is an
ambitious woman; smart, and rather above the majority of her
neighbors, intellectually, but not spiritually. Her husband is a
kind-hearted man, content to fill an ordinary station in life, but
spiritually far her superior. His nature is rich in affection; her
nature is cold and intellectual. He knows nothing of other woman's
views, consequently has no standard by which to form an estimate of
those of his wife. If she was wise, as well as sharp, she would see
that she is standing in her own light; for the man whom she wishes
to look upon her, and her only, will soon be a pure negation, a mere
machine, an echo of her own jealousy and selfish pride. Now,
freedom, or his liberty, would give him the right to mingle and
converse with other women; then he would know what his wife was to
him, while he would retain himself and give to her his manhood,
instead of the mere return of her own self. At present he dare not
utter a word to which she does not fully subscribe. She talks of his
'love' for her; it should be his 'servility.' They live in too close
relation to be all they might to each other. I have heard her
proudly assert, that he never spent an evening from home! I think
they are both to be pitied; but, am I making the subject of freedom
in any degree clear to your mind, my patient wife?"
"Yes, I begin to see that it is higher and nobler to be free, and
far purer than I supposed."
"Yes, dear one," he said, drawing her close to his heart, "we must
at times go from what we most tenderly love, in order to be drawn
closer. The closest links are those which do not bind at all. It is
a great mistake to keep the marriage tie so binding, and to force
upon society such a dearth of social life as we see around us daily.
Give men and women liberty to enjoy themselves on high social
planes, and we shall not have the debasing things which are
occurring daily, and are constantly on the increase. If I should
take a lady of culture and refinement to a concert, a lecture, or to
a theatre, would not society lift up its hands in holy horror, and
scandal-mongers go from house to house? If men and women come not
together on high planes, they will meet on debasing ones. Give us
more liberty, and we shall have more purity. I speak these words not
impulsively; they are the result of long thinking, and were they my
last, I would as strongly and as fearlessly utter them."
"I feel myself growing in thought, to-night, Hugh, and O, how proud
I feel that the little being who is soon to claim our love, if all
is well, will come into at least some knowledge of these things."
In a few weeks she expected to become a mother, and was looking
hopefully forward to the event, as all women do, or should, who have
pleasant homes and worthy husbands.
"I, too, am glad that we can give it the benefit of our experience,
and shall be proud to welcome into the world a legitimate child."
"Why, Hugh! what do you mean? All children are legitimate, are they
not, that are born in wedlock?"
"Very far from it. In very many cases they are wholly illegitimate."
His wife looked eagerly for an explanation.
"All persons who are not living in harmony and love, are bringing
into the world illegitimate offspring. Children should be born
because they are wanted. A welcome should greet every new-born
child, and yet a mere physical relation is all that exists between
thousands of parents and children, while thousands who have not
given physical birth are more fitted by qualities of heart and soul
to be the parents of these spiritual orphans than the blood
relations, who claim them as their own. I often think that many in
the other life will find, even though they may have had no offspring
in this, that they have children by the ties of soul and
heart-affinity, which constitutes after all the only relationship
that is immortal."
Ten days after the above conversation, the eventful period came. All
night she lingered in pain, and at daybreak a bright and beautiful
daughter was laid at her side. But, alas! life here was not for her.
Mother and babe were about to be separated, for the fast receding
pulse told plainly to the watchful physician that her days were
numbered. Her anguished husband read it in the hopeless features of
the doctor, and leaning over the dear one he loved so well, be
caught from her these last words,--
"Call her DAWN! for is she not a coming light to you? See, the day
is breaking, Hugh,"--then the lips closed forever.
"Come back, come back to me, my loved, my darling one," broke from
the anguished heart of the stricken husband, and falling on his
knees beside the now lifeless form, he buried his face in his hands,
But even grief cannot always have its sway.
A low, wailing cry from the infant moved his heart with a strange
thrill, he knew not whether of joy or pain, and rising from the
posture in which grief had thrown him, he went and bowed himself
over the silent form.
One gone, another come.
But the little being had her life in its veins, and slowly he felt
himself drawn earthward by this new claim upon his love and
A strange feeling came over him as the nurse took the little child,
and laid upon the bed the robes its mother had prepared for it.
It was too much, and the heart-stricken man left the room, and
locking himself in his library, where he had spent so many happy
hours with his lost one, gave full vent to the deep anguish of his
soul. He heard the kind physician's steps as he left, and no more.
For hours he sat bowed in grief, and silent, while sorrow's bitter
waters surged over him.
No more would her sweet smile light his home; no more her voice call
his name in those tender tones, that had so often been music to his
ears; no more could they walk or sit in the moonlight and converse.
Was it really true? Had Alice gone, or was it not all a troubled
Noon came, and his brow became more fevered. But there was no soft
hand to soothe the pain away. Night came, and still he sat and
mourned; and then the sound of voices reached his ears. He roused
himself to meet the friends and relations of his dear departed one,
and then all seemed vague, indefinite and dreamlike.
The funeral rites, the burial, the falling earth upon the coffin
lid; these all passed before him, then like one in a stupor he went
back to his home, and took up the broken threads of life again, and
learned to live and smile for his bright-eyed, beautiful Dawn. May
she be Dawn to the world, he said unto himself, as he looked into
her heaven-blue eyes; then thanked God that his life was spared to
guide her over life's rough seas, and each day brought fresh
inspirations of hope, new aspirations of strength, and more
confiding trust in Him whose ways are not as our ways.
Dawn grew to be very beautiful. Every day revealed some new charm,
until Hugh feared she too might go and live with the angels. But
there was a mission for her to perform on the earth, and she lived.
Each day he talked to her of her mother, and kept her memory alive
to her beautiful traits, until the child grew so familiar with her
being as to know no loss of her bodily presence, save in temporal
A faithful and efficient woman kept their house, and cared for
Dawn's physical wants; her father attending to her needs, both
mental and spiritual, until she reached the age of seven, when a
change in his business required him to be so often away from home,
that he advertised for a governess to superintend her studies and
her daily deportment.
"What was mamma like?" asked Dawn of her father one evening as they
sat in the moonlight together, "was she like the twilight?"
He turned upon the child with admiration, for to him nothing in
nature could better be likened unto his lost and lovely Alice.
"Yes, darling," he said, kissing her again and again, "mamma was
just like the twilight--sweet, tender, and soothing."
"Then I am not at all like mamma?" she remarked, a little sadly.
"Because I am strong and full of life. I always feel as though it
was just daylight. I never feel tired, papa, I only feel hushed."
"Heaven grant my daughter may never be weary," he said, and stooped
to kiss her, while he brushed away a tear which started as he did
"I shall never be weary while I have you, papa. You will never leave
me, will you?"
"I hope to be spared many years to guard and love my charge."
A few days after, Dawn was surprised to find the governess, of whom
her father had spoken, in the library, and her father with his
carpet-bag packed, ready for a journey.
Am I not going too, papa?" she said, turning on him her face, as
though her heart was ready to burst with grief. It was their first
parting, and equally hard for parent and child.
"Not this time, darling, but in the summer we shall go to the
sea-shore and the mountains, and take Miss Vernon with us. Come,
this is your teacher, Dawn; I want you to be very good and obedient
while I am away," and then, looking at his watch, he bade them both
He knew the child was weeping bitterly. All the way to the cars, and
on the journey through that long, sunny day, he felt her calling him
back. There could be no real separation between them, and it was
painful to part, and keep both so drawn and attenuated in spirit.
In vain Miss Vernon exerted herself to make the child happy. It was
of no use. Her delicate organism had received its first shock; but
in due time her spirit broke through the clouds in its native
brilliancy, and there was no lingering shadow left on her sky. Dawn
was as bright and smiling as she had been sad and dispirited.
"I will gather some wild flowers and make the room all bright and
lovely for papa," she said, and in a moment was far away.
"It's no use training her, you see, Miss," the good housekeeper
asserted, as a sort of an apology for the child, whom she loved
almost to idolatry, "might as well try to trap the sunlight or catch
moonbeams. She'll have her way, and, somehow to me, her way seems
always right. Will you please step out to tea, Miss, and then I will
go and look after her; or, if you like, you can follow that little
path that leads from the garden gate to the hill where she has gone
for her flowers."
Miss Vernon was glad to go; and after a light supper, was on her
way, almost fearful that the child might consider her an intruder,
for she instinctively felt that she must work her way into the
affections of her new charge.
She followed the path to the hill, and after walking for some time
and not finding Dawn, was about to retrace her steps, when she heard
a low, sweet voice, chanting an evening hymn. She sat upon a bed of
grey moss until the chanting ceased, and then went in the direction
from which the sound came.
There sat Dawn, with eyes uplifted, lips parted as though in
conversation, and features glowing with intensest emotion. Then the
eyes dropped, and her little hands were pressed to her heart, as
though the effort had been too great.
Slowly Miss Vernon stepped towards her. Dawn caught her eye, and
motioned her to come nearer.
"Are you not lonely here, child?" she asked.
"Lonely? O, no. I am not alone, Miss Vernon, God is here, and I am
so full I sing, or I should die. Did you hear me?"
"I did. Who taught you that beautiful chant?"
"No one; it grew in me; just as the flowers grow on the plants."
"I have an instructor here, and one I shall find more interesting
than tractable," mused the governess, as she looked upon the child.
But Dawn was not learned in one day, as she afterwards found.
The sun sank behind the hills just as they entered the garden
together. Dawn missed her father too much to be quite up to her
usual point of life, and she went and laid herself down upon a couch
in the library, and chatted away the hour before her bedtime. She
missed him more than she could tell; and then she thought to
herself, "Who can I tell how much I miss my father?"
"Did you ever have any body you loved go away, Miss Vernon?" she at
last ventured to ask, and her voice told what she suffered.
"I have no near friends living, dear child."
"What! did they all die? Only my mamma is dead; but I don't miss
her; I think she must be in the air, I feel her so. Have n't you any
father, Miss Vernon?"
"No. He died when I was quite young, and then my mother, and before
I came here I buried my last near relative-an aunt."
"But aunts don't know us, do they?"
"Why not? I don't quite understand you," she said, wishing to bring
the child out.
"Why, they don't feel our souls. I have got aunts and cousins, but
they seem away off, O, so far. They live here, but I don't feel
them; and they make me, O, so tired. They never say anything that
makes me thrill all over as papa does. Don't you see now what I
"Yes, I see. Will you tell me after I have been here awhile, if I
make you tired?"
"I need not tell you in words. You will see me get tired."
"Very good. I hope I shall not weary you."
"I can tell by to-morrow, and if I do look tired you will go, won't
"Certainly; and for fear I may weary you now, I will retire, if you
will promise to go too."
She yielded willingly to Miss Vernon's wish, and was led to her
room, where the sensitive, pure being was soon at rest.
It seemed almost too early for any one to be stirring, when Miss
Vernon heard a little tap on her door, and the next moment beheld a
childish face peeping in.
"May I come?"
"Certainly. I hope you have had pleasant dreams, Dawn. Can you tell
me why they gave you such a strange name?"
"Strange? Why I am Dawn, that is the reason; and mamma was Twilight,
only her mother did n't give her the right name."
"Have you slept well?"
"I did n't know anything till I woke up. Was that sleeping well?"
"I think it was. Now will you tell me at what hour you have
breakfast, that I may prepare myself in season?"
"When papa is at home, at eight o'clock. This morning I am going to
see Bessie, the new calf, and Minnie Day's kittens, and Percy
Willard's new pony, so Aunt Sue says she can have breakfast any
Miss Vernon upon this concluded that she need make no hasty toilet,
and sank back upon her pillow to think awhile of her new
Breakfast waited, but no Dawn appeared. Aunt Sue, fearing that the
toast and coffee might be spoiled, rang for Miss Vernon.
At eleven Dawn came in with soiled clothes and wet feet.
"O, Aunty, the pony was so wild, and the kittens so cunning, I could
n't come before."
"And see your clothes, Dawn. I must work very hard to-day to wash
and dry them. Now go to your room and change them all, and try to
remember others when you are in your enjoyments, won't you?"
"Yes, and I won't soil them again, auntie."
"Until the next time, I fear," said the kind housekeeper, who was,
perhaps, too forgiving with the strange, wild child.
The next day Dawn was filled with delight at her father's return. He
came early in the morning, and found his pet awake and watching for
"O, papa, such a dream, a real dream, as I had last night. Sit right
here by the window, please, while I tell it to you."
"Perhaps your dream will be so real that we shall not want anything
more substantial for breakfast."
"O, it's better than food, papa."
"Well, go on, my pet."
"I was thinking how glad I should be to see my papa, when I went to
sleep and had this beautiful dream:--
"I was walking in a garden all full of flowers and vines, when I saw
my mother coming towards me, with something upon her arm. She came
close, and then I saw it was a robe, O, such a white robe, whiter
than snow. She put it on me, and it was too long. I asked if it was
for me why it was so long. 'You will grow,' she said, 'tall and
beautiful, and need the long garment.' Then she led the way, and
motioned me to follow. She led me down a dismal lane, and into a
damp, dreadful place, where the streets were all mud and dirt. 'O,
my dress,' I said, 'my pure white robe.' 'No dust and dirt can stain
it,' she replied, 'walk through that dark street and see.' I went,
and looked back at each step, but my pure white robe was not soiled,
and when I returned to her, it was as spotless as ever. Was it not a
lovely dream, and what does it mean, papa?"
"A lesson too deep for your childhood to comprehend, and yet I will
some day tell you. But here comes Miss Vernon, and the bell has rung
The next day, while Dawn wandered over the hills, her father
conversed with Miss Vernon on what to his mind constituted an
"I know that all our growth is slow, but I wish to take the right
steps if possible in the right direction; I wish my daughter to be
wholly, not fractionally developed. There are certain parts of her
nature which I shall trust to no one. Her daily lessons, a knowledge
respecting domestic affairs, a thorough comprehension of the making
and cost of wearing apparel, and a due regard to proper attire, I
shall trust to you, if you are competent to fill such a position,
and I think you are."
"I have seen so much misery," he continued, "resulting from the
inability of some women to make a home happy, that I have resolved
if my child lives to years of maturity, all accomplishments shall
give way, if need be, to this one thing, a thorough knowledge of
domestic affairs. Society is so at fault in these matters, and women
generally have such false ideas of them, that I despair of reforming
any one. If I can educate my daughter to live, or rather approximate
in some degree, to my ideal of a true woman's life, it is all I can
expect. Are you fond of domestic life, Miss Vernon?"
He turned so abruptly upon her that she feared her hesitation might
be taken for a lack of feeling on the subject, and yet she could not
bear the thought that one whose ideal was so near her own, did not
fully comprehend her upon such a theme; but there was no mistaking
her meaning when she replied,--
"I love home, and all that makes that spot holy. I only regret that
my one-sided labor and my circumstances have kept me from mingling,
to any great extent, in its joys and responsibilities. My ideal life
would be to work, study and teach, but as no opportunities for doing
so have been presented to me, and having had no home of my own, I
have been obliged to work on in my one-sided way, unsatisfying as it
"It shall be so no more, Miss Vernon. If you will call my house your
home, so long as we harmonize, you shall have an opportunity to
realize your wishes, and I will see that your services are well
She was too full of gratitude to speak, but a tear started from her
eye, and Mr. Wyman noticed that she turned aside to brush it away.
"You will stay with us, Miss Vernon, I am sure of that. Take Dawn
into the kitchen every day, no matter if she rebels, as I fear she
may, and slowly, but thoroughly educate her in all those seemingly
minor details of household economy. Cause her to feel the importance
of these things, and teach her to apply herself diligently to labor.
I am not anxious that she should make any exhibition of her mental
accomplishments, for I have learned to dislike parlor parades, and
the showing off of children's acquirements. I do not want Dawn to
dazzle with false how, but to be what she seems, and of use to the
world. At the close of each day I shall question her about her
studies, and show to her that I am interested not only in her books,
but in her domestic attainments. Supply to her, as well as you can,
that material, the want of which is so great a loss to a young girl,
and your happiness shall be my study. Treat her as you would an own
dear child, and when she gives you trouble, send her to me. I fear I
may have wearied you, Miss Vernon, and as the day is so fine, had
you not better take a walk?"
She was already too anxious to go by herself, and think of the
happiness which was about opening for her. It seemed too much. All
the years that had passed since her dear mother's death had been so
lonely. No one had ever understood her nature, or seemed to think
her anything but a machine to teach the children their daily
lessons. But now what a prospective! How earnestly would she begin
her new life; and burdened with this thought she walked to the edge
of a green wood, and sat down to weep tears of pure joy.
When she returned she found her room filled with mosses and trailing
vines, which Dawn had gathered for her. She was rapidly learning to
love the child, and felt lonely when she was out of her sight.
In the evening they sat together,--father, child, and teacher, or
companion, as she really was to them, in the library, communing in
silence, no word breaking the spell, until Dawn did so by asking
Miss Vernon if she played.
She glanced longingly at the beautiful instrument, which had not
been opened since Mrs. Wyman's death, and said,--
"I do play and sing, but not as well as I hope to with opportunities
"Do open the piano, papa, it will spoil shut up so."
"So it will, Dawn. I will open it this moment," and he silently
accused himself for keeping it closed so long.
"Do you love music, Dawn?" asked Miss Vernon, "can you sing?"
"You shall hear her, and then judge. Come, darling, while I play
your favorite song;" and he commenced the prelude to a low, sweet
air. She began at first tremulously, but gained confidence at each
word, until at length her sweet, childish tones rose pure and clear
above the voice of her father, who hummed rather than sang the song
in his deep, rich bass.
His eyes were full of tears when they closed, for that hymn was his
wife's favorite. He had taught it to Dawn, without telling her that
her mother ever sung it.
"It seemed just as though mamma was here and sang too, papa, did n't
"Mamma, no doubt, is with us. I am glad my little girl feels her
presence, and always remember that she is with you, too, when you
feel tempted to do wrong."
She nestled her head on his bosom and wept. Tears of joy or sorrow?
Only they whose souls are finely and intensely strung, can know what
made her weep.
"You must sing for us now, Miss Vernon," he said, and would have led
her to the instrument, but for the burden of love, which was resting
on his heart.
"I play only simple songs, Mr. Wyman, and, indeed, am quite out of
"You have some gems stowed away, I know; please sing us one."
She arose, and after a few trembling notes, sang a sweet song with
such pathos and richness that Mr. Wyman called again for more and
more. Dawn was wild with joy, and then her father, after Miss Vernon
declined to play more, proposed that they should sing an evening
In this they all joined, Miss Vernon's rich contralto blending
sweetly with Dawn's pure soprano.
Their dreams were sweet and peaceful that night. Their souls had all
met and harmonized, and harmony ever brings rest.
The following day Miss Vernon looked over Dawn's clothing, and laid
aside whatever needed repairing. She was just folding some aprons,
when the child rushed into the room, saying,--
"O, Miss Vernon, I must wear my blue dress to-day."
"Why that one?"
"Because I feel good, and blue is heavenly, so let me wear it,
please, will you?"
"It's rather short, Dawn, but I suppose it will cover all your
goodness for one day, will it not?"
"O, don't laugh, I feel truly good to-day, and any other dress would
"You shall have it, Dawn. I am glad you like to dress according to
your feelings. I do myself."
"Then how do you feel to-day, and what shall you dress in?"
"I feel very, very happy, but have no garment to symbolize my
"I don't want you to wear that grey dress, though, to-day?"
"Because it don't say anything."
"Nor my black?"
"O, no, no!"
"How will the drab with blue trimmings suit?"
"It's just the dress. You are silent, and have been rather sad, you
know, Miss Vernon, and the blue is the glimmer of sky above your
old, dull life. Do wear the drab with blue ribbons."
"I will, Dawn. My life is brighter, because I have some one to
love;" and she pressed her lips warmly to the cheeks of her little
When Mr. Wyman came in to dinner he thought he had never seen Dawn
looking so fresh and beautiful, while his eyes rested in full
satisfaction on Miss Vernon's lovely form, so becomingly arrayed. He
liked the absence of the black dress, for its removal seemed to
betoken a happier life, a life which he knew she needed, and which
he mentally resolved she should possess, so far as he could
contribute to it.
At the table, Mr. Wyman was talkative and gay, touching lightly here
and there, upon subjects, without argument. It was conversation, not
discussion, or an array of opinions, which flowed from the minds of
those around the board, and of such a nature that all could join,
from young to old.
Miss Vernon delighted in watching him as his eyes rested tenderly on
his child. It was charming to witness such a tender relation
existing between father and daughter.
The days flew swiftly by, and the still, peaceful Sabbath dawned.
How tranquil, and yet how full of life it seemed to Miss Vernon as
she sat at her window and gazed on the scene of beauty before her. A
lovely spring morning-the distant hills soft and mellow; the emerald
fields glittering with dew-the tasseled pines nodding in the gentle
breeze-and the whole atmosphere vibrating with the tones of the
"Surely," she said, "I need no form of worship. God is in all this.
I wonder if I must go from all these beauties to a temple made with
"Is n't this pleasanter than sitting in a bare walled church?" said
Dawn, who had entered the room so softly that Miss Vernon was only
made aware of her presence by this inquiry.
"I think it is. Do you go to church?"
"No. Papa does sometimes, but he never makes me go."
"I hope not."
"Shall you go to-day, Miss Vernon?"
"Not if I can act my pleasure."
"I am so glad, for papa said if you did not go, we would all take a
walk, but if you wished to go, he would harness Swift and take you.
"I had much rather take the walk to-day. Some day, I shall want to
go to your church."
"There, papa is ready, I hear him in the hall. Get your hat, Miss
"But you forget he has not yet invited me."
"Dawn, ask Miss Vernon whether she will take a walk with us, or go
to church?" said Mr. Wyman, at that moment calling from the foot of
Miss Vernon was not long in making known her choice, for she sprang
and put on her hat, and in a few moments the three were walking
through the garden towards the woods and fields.
"Which direction, Miss Vernon, shall we take?"
"Any; it's all lovely."
"Then lead the way, Dawn, and mind you act as a good pilot, and do
not get us into any brooks."
She ran gaily on before, and they soon found themselves on the verge
of a rich, mossy dell.
"O, is it not beautiful, papa? I shall carry all this lovely moss
"No, Dawn, let it remain. Gather a few specimens from here and
there, but do not mar the general beautiful effect. It is ours now;
we can not make it more so by carrying it home to fade and die. Can
"No. You are always right and good, papa."
"To-morrow others may come here, and the lovely scene will be as
pleasing to them as to us. There is a possession, Miss Vernon, other
than that which the world recognizes; and it is always pleasant to
me to think that though a man may build himself a palace, and call
himself its proprietor, he alone really owns it whose eyes see the
most of its beauties, and whose soul appropriates them. And so, a
lovely spot like this, or the finest garden may belong to the
passer-by whose purse does not contain a penny."
"How it smoothes in life the inequalities of station, and makes us
content to admire, rather than strive for ownership."
"I see by your fervent enjoyment of the scene around us, Miss
Vernon, that you, too, have discarded some of the old forms of
worship, or rather found that a true worship of the divine is not
limited by four walls."
"I have. For a long time I have seen so much bigotry, and so great a
lack of all the Christian virtues, even in the most liberal
churches, that I have felt I must seek my own mode of enjoying the
"I long ago found my true relation to all places and forms of
devotion," remarked Mr. Wyman. "I do not for a moment ignore the
church, nor what Christianity has done for us, yet while I see the
good the church has accomplished, I also see its shortcomings and
regret them. As an individual, I can say that I have done with most
church organizations. I have heard good and earnest words spoken by
clergymen in the pulpit once a week, and as good from the lips of
working people at their tasks every day. I do not undervalue the
influence that the forms of worship have on the masses. While they
need them, they must remain where they are, and have them. I only
want the church to be so liberal, that men and women who feel that
they are getting life in another direction, will be recognized by it
to be as good and true to their needs, as though they sat within its
walls. How much have we at the present day of this? Who is large
enough to feel that we cannot always draw from one fount? We are not
machines, to be continually run in one direction."
"What do you think of our sabbath schools. Do they not need a new
"Unquestionably. I think they need an infusion of dramatic life;
something that interests while it instructs. Dry catechisms are not
suited to the children of our day. We want the living present, and
not the dead past. If I was called to superintend a sabbath school,
I would have a little play enacted by a portion of the children, and
then another portion, until all were actors in their turn."
"If you express your opinions, I fear you will wait a long time for
"I do not crave the position; I am only anxious to see the effect of
my theory in practice. Children need demonstration; need muscular
action. But I am, perhaps, wearying you."
"Go on. I am interested in all that relates to new phases of life."
"I should astonish some divines of the conservative order, were I to
publish my views of social and religious life. I would sooner give
money to build theatres, than churches. Everywhere I would cultivate
a love for the drama, which is the highest and most impressive form
of representing truth. My being is stirred to greater depths by good
acting than it can possibly be by mere preaching. I shall be happy
to see the day when religion is acknowledged to be the simple living
out of individual lives, always toned, of course, by pure morality.
I hope to see acts of kindness looked upon as religion, instead of a
mere personal attendance upon worship. But I have talked too long.
Where is Dawn?"
They walked on, and soon found her sitting on a moss-covered stone,
twining a wreath of wild flowers. She looked like a queen, as she
was for a time, of that beautiful dell.
"Have flowers souls, papa?" she asked, as he approached her.
"I hope they are immortal, at least in type. But why do you ask?"
"Because these flowers I have gathered will fade and die, and if
they have souls they will not love me for gathering them, will
"Perhaps all the sweetness of these flowers, when they die, passes
into the soul of the one who gathers them."
"O, how pretty! That makes me think about the little girl who played
with me one day and got angry. You told me that she was better for
the bad feeling I had; that I had taken some of her evil, because I
could overcome it-it with good."
"I am glad you remember so well what I tell you. Now as we cannot
tell whether flowers have souls or not, we will believe that all
their sweetness passes into ours."
"But if I should kill a serpent?"
"You must cover the evil with good."
"But, papa, people come to our house all full of evil things, like
serpents. Don't they have enough good to cover them, or why do I
feel them so plain?"
"I fear not; or, rather, their goodness has not been cultivated and
made large enough to absorb the evil. We must go home now, or Aunt
Susan will be waiting for us."
The three walked home together, in harmony with nature and
themselves. They found their dinner waiting, and the simple meal
neatly prepared, was graced with a vase of beautiful flowers.
In a few weeks the little neighborhood was duly aroused, and
discussing the state of affairs at Mr. Wyman's. Each one considered
herself called upon to pass judgment upon the daily proceedings.
"It's too ridiculous, right in the face and eyes of honest people,
to see this woman and Mr. Wyman carrying on as they do," said Miss
Gay, a lady of forty years, whose notions of the mingling of the
sexes were of the strictest character.
"Why, how? Do tell us," chimed in her companion, a garrulous old
"Why, they say that this young woman is going about with Mr. Wyman
all the time. He takes her to ride almost every day, and they have
interminable walks and daily confabs together."
"Well, I should think the child's lessons would come off slim, Miss
"O, that's only a subterfuge. They'll be married 'fore one year has
"I do not believe Hugh Wyman will ever marry again," said one who
knew his character better than the others.
"Then what can he want of that young woman? No good, depend on
that," and Mrs. Green shook her head as though she had more in it
than she wished at that time to display.
While they chat and waste the hours, let us go and listen to the
parties talked of, and judge for ourselves whether two earnest souls
can not approach, enjoy each other, and yet be pure and blameless.
"I can scarcely believe, Mr. Wyman, that so brief a period could
work such a change in my being. Before I came here, I thought all
the world cold and heartless. You have taught me that friendship,
even between men and women, may exist, and that the only true
relations are of soul and not of blood. I can never by words tell
you how grateful I feel to you for all these teachings," and she
looked thoughtfully out on the summer scene before her.
"I am very glad that you are happy here, Miss Vernon, for when I
first saw you I instinctively felt that you were just the companion
for myself and daughter. I saw, too, the cloud which hung over you,
and felt that my hand could lift it. You belong to Dawn and myself,
and we shall keep you so long as you are happy."
"But what? I know your fears, and what this busy little neighborhood
will say. I care no more for all its ideas of life than for the
wind, while I feel right here," said Mr. Wyman, placing his hand
upon his heart. "The time has come for all to live individual lives.
I would not for a moment have your name sullied, but should you go,
would gossip cease? No; stay here, Miss Vernon, and show to this
little portion of the world that man and woman can live together
sociably and honorably. I love you as a sister; no more. My dear
Alice is now my wife, the same as when on earth. I speak as I do,
knowing that you will meet with many sneers and frowns if you stay,
but the consciousness of right will sustain you."
"How could you know what was in my mind? You have, indeed, expressed
all my fears as regards this relation between us."
"Will you go or stay?"
"I shall stay."
"May you never regret the decision."
"Now may I ask you about this strange belief, that the departed are
about us? Excuse me, if I seem curious, but when you spoke of your
dear wife, my whole being quivered with a new and strange emotion. I
only ask from deepest interest."
"I believe you. I wish I could transmit to your mind the proofs of
my belief. I have almost daily positive proof of my wife's presence,
sometimes by my own powers, and then again from those of my child."
"Then she, too, sees like yourself?"
"She does. And every day my experiences are too real and tangible
for me to deny, or even doubt that the loved, and so-called 'lost,'
are with us still. To my mind, there is nothing unnatural about it.
Every day my faith deepens, and not for all the glory of this life
would I change my belief. Death has brought myself and Alice nearer
together. But I can only state to you my faith in this, my
experience cannot be imparted. Each must seek, and find, and be
convinced alone by personal experience and observation."
"I believe you, and your earnest words have sunk deep within my
mind, yet in modern spiritualism I have little faith."
"Mere phenomenal spiritism is of course only designed to arrest the
attention; its other form appeals to the soul, and becomes a part of
the daily lives of those who realize it."
"But I have heard of so much that was contradictory, so much that
cannot be reconciled."
"Neither can we reconcile the usual manifestations of life. Our
daily experiences teach us that seeming absurdities abound on every
"That is true. I sometimes think I shall never get the evidence
which my nature requires to convince."
"In God's own time and way it will come, and when you are best
fitted to receive it."
"But please go on, Mr. Wyman, and tell me more of your experience."
"I would I could tell you how often when I am weary, my dear Alice
comes and watches over me at night; how truly I feel her thoughts,
which she cannot express in words; and how, when the poor and needy
are suffering, she leads me to where they dwell amid scenes of want.
When my pure child speaks thoughts beyond herself, and describes to
me some vision which I at the same time behold, with the exact look
and gesture of her mother, I say I believe in spirit communion. I
can well afford to let the world laugh; I know what I see and feel.
And well do I know how much there is mixed with this modern
spiritism, which has no origin save in the minds of the persons who
substitute their hopes and thoughts for impressions. On this I have
much to say to you at some future period. It is well that it is so,
else we should not discriminate. Life is so full of adulterations,
that which the world calls 'evil' is so mingled with that it calls
'good,' would it not be strange if this phase should come to us pure
"It would not take you long to make me a convert to your faith; yet
I hope sometime to have my own experiences. If there was not so much
that conflicts with our reason, I think every one would naturally
accept the belief you so fondly cherish."
"Without such conflicting experiences, we should be mere machines.
We must grow in every direction, using every faculty for our
guidance, yet ever remembering there are mightier realms than
reason, and that the human soul must often go beyond that portal, to
catch glimpses of the silent land."
"Life would indeed be blessed to me, could I feel an assurance that
my mother was near me to strengthen me in my hours of weakness, and
that she was interested in my labors."
"I know all our earnest longings are answered, and that sufficient
proof will be given you. Say nothing of this conversation to Dawn. I
have my reasons, and should not be surprised if, in a few days, she
should give you a test of spirit presence."
"Can Dawn see as clearly as yourself?"
"She can, and far better. I do not force the gift upon her, or seek
to overwork her powers. I want it to be natural and to unfold with
all her other capacities. Never question her, let all come freely."
"I will remember; and here she comes laden as usual with flowers."
"O, Miss Vernon, O, papa, I have had such a good time!" she
exclaimed out of breath and almost wild with excitement.
"What was it all about, child?"
"I was on the hill out here, getting flowers, when I seemed to hear
music, all at once in the air. I think I went to sleep, but if it
was a dream I know it means something, for I saw a tall, beautiful
lady come to me, and on her forehead were the letters, M. V. Then
she took a little box inlaid with gems, and drew from it a necklace
of pearls, and then she went away, and as she turned-I saw these
words come like a light-'Tell Florence.' Now, papa, what did it
Mr. Wyman turned to Miss Vernon who was weeping. He waited until her
emotion subsided and then said,--
"Your mother, was it not?"
"They were my mother's initials. Her name was Mabel Vernon, and mine
"How strange. And the necklace, do you recognize that?"
"My mother gave me-on her dying bed-a pearl necklace in such a box
as described by Dawn."
"And we did not know your name was Florence. We only knew you as
"Can it-can this be true? Ah, something tells me I may believe. I am
too full now, Mr. Wyman, to talk. I must go."
"Call me Hugh, Florence, I am your brother--" and he led her gently
to the house.
She remained in her room all that evening. Deep and strong was the
tide which was setting into her new life. "If 't is true, 't is the
greatest truth mortal has found," she said again and again to
herself, as the old upheaved, and the new flowed into her soul. Life
was becoming almost too full; her brain grew fevered, but at last
sweet sleep, that soul refiner, came, and after a night's repose she
awoke, calm and at rest.
After breakfast, Mr. Wyman informed Miss Vernon and Dawn that he
should go away that day on business, and be absent perhaps two
"I have a book which I would like you to take to Miss Evans for me
to-day," he said, addressing Miss Vernon.
"The lady who called here soon after I came?"
"I like her much, and should be pleased to see her again."
"I am glad you do. She is my ideal of a true woman, and one whom
every young, earnest soul ought to know. You will go to-day?"
"Certainly; I am anxious to see her in her own home."
"She is queen of her domain, and entertains her friends in a most
lady-like manner; but I must bid you both good-bye, and be off. Be
happy, Miss Vernon, Florence, and let me find you full of good
things to tell of yourself and Dawn, on my return. Good-bye."
"Good-bye, papa," rang out on the sweet summer air till he was out
of sight, then the child's lid trembled, the lips quivered, and she
laid her head on the bosom of her friend and teacher, and gave vent
to the grief which ever wrung her at parting with her kind parent.
"I am glad you did not let your father see those tears. You are
getting quite brave, Dawn."
"I feel so bad when he goes. Shall I ever be strong like you, and
look calm after these partings? Perhaps you don't love papa; but
every body does that knows him-you do, don't you?"
"Very much; but we will go to our lessons, now, dear."
"Can I bring my book into the hall, to-day? I like to stay where I
saw him last."
"Certainly; and we will have a review to-day and see how well you
remember your lessons. We shall have no interruptions this morning,
and after dinner we will go together to see Miss Evans."
An hour passed, and the lessons were but half through, when a ring
at the door caused them both to start, and they left the hall.
Aunt Susan answered the call, and ushered the visitors into the
"Some ladies have called to see you, Miss Vernon," she said,
thrusting her head into the doorway of the room where teacher and
pupil sat close together with clasped hands, as though some invading
force was about to wrest their lives apart.
"In a moment, Aunty, I will see them," and a strange shudder shook
"Where shall I go while they stay?" asked Dawn.
"Anywhere; only not far from home, as we intend to have an early
"Then I will stay here, and look over papa's folio of drawings."
Miss Vernon went to her room to see that her hair and dress were all
right, and then slowly descended the stairs to the sitting-room. Her
hand trembled violently as she turned the knob, and she almost
resolved to go back to her room. "I am growing so sensitive of
late," she said to herself, "but this will never do, I must go in,"
and she opened the door.
Three ladies hastily rose and bowed very formally, as she entered.
The tallest and most stylish of the three blandly inquired for her
health, and after a few commonplace remarks, announced the object of
"We have come to you, Miss Vernon, to-day, as friends of our sex, to
inform you of, as you may not fully comprehend, the character of the
man whom you are serving."
Miss Vernon coolly signified her attention.
"We deemed it our duty to do so, being married women," broke in a
little squeaky voice, belonging to the most demure-looking one of
"Yes, we all decided, after long deliberation," added the third,
"that no young woman who cared for her reputation, would tarry a day
longer under this roof. This visit of ours is an act of the purest
kindness, and we trust you will receive it as such, and in a kind
"Yes," resumed the first speaker, "it is no pleasant duty, and one
we have long delayed performing, but we could not bear to see youth
and innocence betrayed."
Miss Vernon at first seemed stunned. She knew not what to say, so
many emotions filled her. She tried to speak, but her tongue lost
its power, and all was silent. She made one more effort, and voice
and courage returned, enabling her to address her "friends."
"Will you inform me, ladies, what grounds you have for your
accusations against Mr. Wyman?"
"I beg pardon, Miss, we who have known him longer than yourself, of
course know both sides of his character; indeed he has no reputation
in B--, as all know."
She started involuntarily. What passed through her mind at that
moment none can tell, but all can form some idea of the wild tremor
of doubt which was gaining strength under their vile calumny and
They saw their vantage ground, and followed close with such
invectives as women only know how to hurl against whomsoever they
"Strangers," she could not call them ladies, "I can only speak out
of my own experience of this person who a few months ago was unknown
to me. He has ever treated me with all delicacy and respect. I have
ever found him to be a gentleman. I cannot, will not, believe your
assertions," she said with emphasis, a sudden strength coming over
"If you do not believe us, then seek one proof of his wrong dealing,
which you can find any day, at a small cottage near the uplands, on
the road to L--. 'Tis only a mile from here, Miss, and we would
advise you to acquaint yourself with the fact. Take our good advice
and leave this house. That is all we can say to you. Of course, if
you remain here, you will not be admitted into respectable society."
"I will not leave his house while he remains the friend and brother
he is to me now."
"No virtuous woman will permit you, then, to enter her house;
remember this, Miss Vernon," and the tall lady assumed an attitude
of offended dignity.
"I see," she continued, "our visit has done but little save to
arouse you. It may be at some future day, you will thank us for our
advice to you this morning. We must go now. Good day, Miss."
"Good morning," replied Miss Vernon, rising and accompanying them to
the door, scarce able to repel the strong tide of grief, or bear up
under the weight of sadness that was bearing down her soul.
"My brief, happy days so soon, O, how soon, gone by, and over," she
said, after she had closed the door; and she sank on her knees and
prayed as only those have prayed before, in like trouble.
She knew not how long she knelt there, but she was roused by Dawn's
sweet voice, which was always music to her soul, saying, "Please,
may I come, Miss Vernon?"
She rose and held out her arms to receive the little one, who stood
hesitatingly on the threshold of the library, then pressing the dear
child to her heart, found a sweet sense of relief in doing so.
"I know what makes you feel so, Miss Vernon."
"What, Dawn, tell me all you feel," and she sank upon a seat and
rested her face on her hand.
"I was looking over the drawings, and feeling very happy, when the
room grew dark and cold, so cold I was frightened. Then I heard
something say, 'Fear not, Dawn,' and I laid my head down upon the
couch, and saw you standing in a damp, cold valley, on either side
of which were beautiful green mountains, whose tops overlooked all
the towns around. They were so steep that no one could climb them.
While you stood there, a great cloud came directly over your head.
It was full of rain, and it burst and flooded the whole valley. I
feared you would be drowned; but you rose with the water, instead of
its going over you, and when the tide was as high as the mountain,
you stepped to its highest point, on the beautiful green grass, and
sat down. Slowly the waters went down and left you on the
mountain-top, where you could never have gone without the flood.
Then I looked up, and the room was all full of sunshine just as it
was before. I felt cold, and I heard the women go, and then-"
"Then what, Dawn?"
"Then I came to you. The cloud is over you now, but the high green
mountain is more lovely than the valley, and overlooks all the
pleasant vales and hills around. Do you care if the clouds burst
now, Miss Vernon?"
"No, child, I will stand firm and sure while the rain descends. O,
Dawn, so justly named, come and soothe my brow, for it aches so
The child passed her soft, white hands over the forehead of Miss
Vernon, and the throbbing pain passed away under her magic touch.
The bell rang for dinner long before they were ready for the
summons, but they soon took their places at the table, yet with
little appetite for food.
"A poor compliment you pay my dinner," said Aunt Susan, as she came
to remove the dishes, and prepare for dessert. "I suppose you are
both lonely without Mr. Wyman. I, too, miss his pleasant face and
How Miss Vernon wished she had not spoken his name just then.
The form of dinner over, Miss Vernon and Dawn dressed themselves for
their walk, knowing that they must start in good season, as it was a
long way to the house, and they would need to rest a little before
"I almost question, Dawn, if I should go to Miss Evans while this
cloud is over me," remarked Miss Vernon, feeling as though she was
seeking counsel from one her superior in wisdom, rather than
addressing a mere child.
"Why, Miss Evans is just what you need to-day. She is as calm as the
lovely lake on which we sailed last week."
"Well, I need her to-day; but should I carry my state to her?"
"Why, she is like a great stream that carries all lesser streams to
the ocean of truth," said Dawn, in a voice not her own, and so deep
and thrilling that it made her teacher start and gaze with new
wonder upon the child.
"Then we will go this very minute, Dawn; and through the pleasant
fields, that we may avoid the dusty road."
Miss Evans sat quietly reading, when a gentle ring at the door,
which seemed to reach her heart rather than her ears, aroused her
from an intensely interesting chapter; but she laid the book aside,
and promptly answered the call.
Her face looked the welcome her heart gave them, as she asked Dawn
and her teacher into her cool, airy room. It was one of those snug,
homelike spots, made bright by touches of beauty. Here a vase of
flowers, there a basket of work; books, pictures, every chair and
footstool betokened the taste of the occupant, and the air of home
sacredness that pervaded all, soon made Miss Vernon at ease.
"We could n't help coming," said Dawn, as Miss Evans removed her hat
and mantle, and her glowing features confirmed the assertion.
"Just the kind of visitors I like, fresh and spontaneous. We shall
have a nice time, I know, this lovely afternoon."
"Can I walk in your garden, Miss Evans?"
"Certainly. But are you not too tired, now?"
"O, no," and Dawn was out of sight the next instant.
"I have brought you a book, Miss Evans, which Mr. Wyman requested me
to bring, myself."
"O, yes," she said, glancing at the title, "the one he promised to
loan me so long ago. Is he away from home?"
"He left this morning."
"You must miss him very much."
Miss Evans saw, with a woman's intuition, that something was
weighing on the mind of her visitor, and kindly sought to divert her
thoughts. The conversation brightened a little, yet it was apparent
that Miss Vernon's interest flagged, and that her mind grew
"I shall not relieve her, unless I probe the wound," said Miss Evans
to herself, and she boldly ventured on grounds which her subtle
penetration discovered to be the cause of her gloom.
"You find my friend, Mr. Wyman, an agreeable companion, I hope, Miss
"He has ever been so, and very kind and thoughtful."
"He is a true gentleman, and a man of honor, as well of refinement
and noble character."
Miss Vernon breathed freer.
"You have made him very happy," resumed Miss Evans, "by consenting
to remain with him and his daughter. They are both much attached to
A flush of pain she could not conceal passed over the face of the
caller. "O, if I might but speak to you as I would," she said,
almost fainting with emotion.
"Do tell me in words what you have already so plainly told me in
your looks. Tell me freely the cause of the shadow that hangs over
In response to this appeal, Florence related the experience of the
"I am not at all surprised at this," said Miss Evans, after the
statement had been made, "for well I know the dark surmisings that
the dwellers in this little village have worked up into imaginary
evils. Sages would no doubt assert that all rumors have some degree
of truth, however slight, for a foundation. This may be true; at
least I will not deny that it is so, but the instigators of the
cruel slanders in this case have nothing but ignorance upon which to
base them. Hugh Wyman is what some might call eccentric. The fact
is, he is so far beyond the majority of his fellow men that he
stands alone, and is the cause of great clamor among those who do
not know him. He expresses his views upon social questions freely
but wisely. His opinions respecting the social relations that should
exist between men and women, and their right to selfhood, are not
his alone, but are held by the best minds in the world; and his home
is often visited by men and women of the largest culture and
ability, both as thinkers and writers. I do not wonder for a moment
that your equilibrium was disturbed by these shallow-brained women.
And now before I advocate my friend's honesty and virtue farther, I
will tell you, what no one save myself and he knows, of one of the
women who called upon you this morning. It is your due, after what
has occurred, and belongs to this moment. I believe in such moments
it is right to raise the veil of the past. Listen:--
"A few years ago, one of that number who came to you, sought by
every subterfuge and art, to gain the affections of Hugh Wyman.
Intellectually, spiritually, in every way his inferior, of course he
could not for a moment desire her society. Yet she sought him at all
times, and when, at last, he told her in words what he had all along
so forcibly expressed by his acts, that he had not even respect for
her, and bade her cease her maneuverings, she turned upon him in
slander; and even on his wedding day asserted that his fair Alice
was a woman of no repute--abandoned by her friends. Nor is this
all;-one year after the marriage of Hugh, she gave birth to a child;
it was laid at night at his door, and he was charged with being its
"But was she married, then?"
"No. She subsequently went to a small village in N--, and married."
"Did the town people believe her story?"
"A few-but proofs of his innocence long since established the
falsity of the charge, except in the minds of those who seem to
delight only in that which dispoils the character of another."
"But his wife? did she too suffer with doubt?"
"Never. Not for a moment was her faith in her husband clouded."
"And this child must be the one they spoke of to deceive me."
"It is. I will go with you some day to see him, and if your eyes can
detect the slightest resemblance to Hugh Wyman, I shall think you
are gifted with more than second sight. I do not wish to weary you,
Miss Vernon, but my friend's character is too sacred to me to be
thus assailed, and I not use all my powers to make known the truth,
and prove him innocent."
"I believe his views upon marriage are rather radical, are they not,
"They are. I join him fully in all his ideas, for long have I seen
that our system needs thorough reformation, and that while the
marriage bond is holy, too many have desecrated it. I believe some
of the most inharmonious offspring are brought into the world, under
the sanction of marriage-children diseased, mentally and physically;
and worse than orphans. I do not say this to countenance
licentiousness. Indeed, I know that licentiousness is not all
outside of wedlock. It is to purify and elevate the low, and not to
give license to such, that earnest men and women are talking and
writing to-day. I do not blame you, Miss Vernon, for wishing proof
of Mr. Wyman's purity and honor. I like a mind that demands
evidence. And now, tell me, have I scattered or broken the cloud
that hung over you?"
"You have. I shall trust Mr. Wyman till I have some personal proof
that he is not all I feel him to be."
"That is the true course to pursue, my friend. In that way alone you
have your own life developed. If by word, look or deed he ever
betrays your trust, I shall call my intuitions vain, and all my
insight into human character mere idle conjecture."
"But I must go now, Miss Evans. I thank you much for the light which
you have given me, and your sympathy, all of which I so much
"Your position was indeed trying, but do you not feel that your
character will be deeper and stronger for this disturbance?"
"I feel as though I had lived through a long period."
"I have one question to put to you, which you must answer from your
soul's deep intuition, and not from your reason alone. Do you
believe Hugh Wyman guilty of the crimes charged against him?"
"I do not."
There was no hesitation in the answer; their souls met on
sympathetic ground, and those two women loved Hugh Wyman alike, with
a pure sisterly affection.
There are pauses in every life; seasons of thought after outward
experiences, when the soul questions, balances, and adjusts its
emotions; weighs each act, condemns and justifies self in one
breath, then throws itself hopefully into the future to await the
incoming tide, whether of joy or sorrow it knows not.
In such a state Florence Vernon found herself a few days after her
visit to Miss Evans. She thought when with her that no doubt could
ever shadow her heart again; but fears had crept over her, even
though she desired to be firm.
"Shall I stay and trust his nature, or go away and take up my old
life, and be again desolate and lonely? Which?" She kept asking this
again and again to herself. "I have been so happy here; but, if I
go, it must be before he returns. No! I will not. I will stay and
brave the talk, and-"
"Miss Vernon, please come down, papa has come!
"O, why did he come so soon? How I dread to meet him," were the
words that Florence found springing to her lips; but not hearing his
voice, she thought that Dawn must have been only in jest.
She listened again. Yes, Mr. Wyman was talking to Dawn in the hall.
She sat very still, and soon heard them both go into the garden;
then all was still. Again alone, she tried to analyze her emotions,
and see whether her deepest feeling was that of peace and rest, the
same she felt when she first entered the home of Mr. Wyman. It was
there, as it had been, but so agitated that the effort to ascertain
its presence gave back no deep trust to her questioning heart. The
bell rang for tea. She would gladly have stayed away, but could fame
no excuse, and after bathing her eyes, which were red and swollen,
she went slowly down stairs.
"I suppose you are surprised, Florence, among the rest, at my
unexpected presence. I did not myself expect to be at home so soon,
but meeting one of the firm with whom my business was connected, I
was but too glad to adjust it and return at once. I have felt very
weary, too, since the first day I left home, as though some cloud
was hanging over my home. My first thought was of Dawn, but her
rosy, happy face soon put to flight the apprehensions I had for her;
yet you, Florence, are not looking well; are you ill?"
"I am quite well, thank you."
He looked deeper than her words, and saw within a tumult of
emotions. He did not notice her farther, but talked with Dawn during
the remainder of the meal, and when they were through went alone to
"He shuns me," she said, as she went into her room and sat down, sad
and dejected, "what but wrong can make him appear so? But I will not
leave it thus. I will know from him to-night whether these reports
are true, and then if true, leave here forever. Happiness, like that
I have experienced the past few months is too great to last."
He sat alone in the library; she rapped softly at his door.
"Come in," he said kindly, and rose to meet her as she entered.
She motioned him back to his seat. "Stay, do not rise," was all she
could say, and fell at his feet.
He lifted her gently, as a mother might have raised a weary child,
and placed her beside him. Then, taking her hand, cold with
excitement, in his own, said,--
"I knew, Florence, by my depression, that your grief called me home.
Some slander has reached your ears. Is it not so?"
"It is. I have trusted and doubted, until I scarce know my own
"Do you feel most at rest when you trust me?"
"I think-yes, I know I do. Forgive me," she continued, "if these
shadows had not fallen so suddenly on my path, I never should for a
moment have lost my trust in you. I have been shaken, convulsed, and
scarce know my best thoughts."
"You have, indeed. I know not who have thus disturbed you, but may
they never suffer as we both have, and more especially yourself. I
say I know not, and yet my suspicions may not be entirely without
foundation. And now remember, Florence, the moment you feel that I
am not what your ideal of a friend and brother should be, that
moment we had better part."
She started, and grew pale.
"I do not allude to the present, or to the scandal which has
unnerved and disturbed your state; nor can I expect you who are
learning to trust impressions rather than experiences, to feel
otherwise than you have. It was natural. I only wonder that you did
not go at once. Your remaining has shown me your worth, and a trait
of character which I admire. Now that the ordeal is passed, I shall
feel that you are my friend, even though slander, vile and dark, may
be hurled against me, as it is possible, for I have a battle to
fight for you, my friend, and all womankind. The rights of woman,
which have been ignored, or thought but lightly of, I shall strongly
advocate, as opportunity occurs. I shall be misunderstood, over and
underrated in the contest, but for that I care not. I only am too
impatient to see the day when your sex shall not marry for mere
shelter, and when labor of all kinds shall be open for their heads
and hands, with remuneration commensurate with their efforts. I am
anxiously looking for the time when their right to vote shall be
admitted them, not grudgingly, but freely and willingly given; for
is not woman God's highest work, and his best gift to man? Now, if
the shadows come again, in shape of scandal, think you, you can
"I can. I do, and can never doubt again. Forgive the past. I was
"There is nothing to forgive," said Mr. Wyman, as he leaned over and
kissed her forehead.
The seal of brotherhood was set, and Hugh and Florence knew from
that hour the bond which bound them, and that it was pure and
Mrs. Deane sat rocking, and casting impatient glances at the little
clock upon the mantle. The book which she had an hour previous been
deeply interested in, lay closed upon her lap, while the nervous
glancing of her eye towards the door, told that she was anxiously
awaiting the arrival of some one. The clock struck ten, and rising
from her seat, she went to the window, and drawing the curtain
aside, looked out on the soft summer night. It was one of those
lovely evenings towards the close of the season, when the slightly
chilled air reminds one of cosy firesides, and close companionship
with those dearest to the heart. But her thoughts were not of a
peaceful cast. She was alone, and jealous of him who had left her
so. A moment later and the sound of footsteps was heard upon the
piazza; a sound which in earlier years she had heard with thrills of
pleasure. But to-night they only loosed the tension of long-pent
passion, and selfish thoughts of neglect. She sank into a chair, and
sat with the air of one deeply wronged, as her husband entered the
"What, up and waiting for me?" he said, going towards her, his face
glowing with mental exhilaration.
She turned coldly from him, and took up her book. He drew it gently
from her, saying,--
"Listen, Mabel, to me. I want to talk with you awhile. You can read
when I am away."
"Yes, sir, I find ample opportunities for that," and she cast on him
a look of keen rebuke.
"Don't, Mabel; listen to me."
"I am all attention; why do you not proceed?"
"Do you think I can talk while you are in such a frame of mind?"
"Why, what would you have me do? I am waiting for your words of
wisdom, or, maybe, a lecture on the foibles of the sex in general,
and myself in particular; proceed, it's quite a relief, I assure
you, to hear a human voice after these lonely evenings, which seem
"Why, Mabel, what do you mean? I have not spent an evening away from
you for nearly a year before this. My absence this evening has been
purely accidental, although I have passed it very agreeably."
"And may I ask where you find such delightful entertainment, that
kept you away till this late hour, for it is nearly midnight?"
"Yes. I have spent the evening with Miss Evans."
"That detestable strong-minded-"
"Mabel! I will not hear her spoken of in this manner."
"O, no indeed. All the men in L--are crazy after her society,--so
refined, so progressive, so intelligent. I am sick of it all. I
suppose you think we poor wives will submit to all this. No, no; I
shall not, for one. You will spend your evenings at home with me.
Howard Deane, you have no right to leave me for the society of any
woman, as you have to-night."
Having thus expended her breath and wrath, she sank back into her
hair and gave vent to her feelings in a flood of tears. To her
limited sight, she was an injured woman. How different would she
have felt could she have kindly listened to the words which he was
longing to speak to her.
"O, Mabel, if you would only listen to me. To-night I have heard
such glorious thoughts that my whole being longed to share them with
you. Thoughts that would make any man or woman live a nobler and
better life. O, Mabel, be my helpmate. Do not turn from one who
"A strange way to manifest your love for me, spending your hours
with other women,--"
"Stop, Mabel. I will, at least, have myself heard, and be free to
hear the thoughts of other women, as well as those of men. I begin
to believe that the words of Hugh Wyman are too true, 'marriage, in
nine cases out of ten, is a bondage-a yoke of tyranny, keeping two
souls fretting and wearing each other's lives away.'"
He stopped, fearful that he had gone too far, and looked earnestly
on the cold features of his wife. Forgive him, reader, he could not
help comparing her then with Miss Evans, the latter so calm,
earnest, and deep in her love for humanity and progressive life.
He stepped close to her side, and taking her hand as tenderly as a
lover might, said,--
"Mabel, forgive me; I was excited, and said too much. I love you, as
you well know, as I love no other woman, but I must have the
innocent freedom of enjoying a friend's society, even though that
friend be a woman.
"O, certainly, Mr. Deane. I would not for a moment debar you from
social pleasures. I see I am not congenial, and do not attract you.
Perhaps Miss Evans is your soul-affinity; if so, I beg you not to
let me stand in your way. I can go to my father's, any day."
"Mabel!" It was all he could utter, and went out of the room.
Alone, and left to her own reflections, she became more calm. A tear
of real penitence for her hasty words, stole down her cheek. "I will
go and tell Howard I am sorry for my unkind remarks," she said, as
she brushed it from her face, and she rose to do so. At that moment
a short, quick ring of the doorbell shook away the resolve, and she
trembled with fear, unable to answer the summons.
How thankful she felt to hear her husband's firm, manly step in the
hall, and then his voice, low and rich as ever, welcoming her own
parents. Why were they here? and what could have happened? were the
questions which came to her mind, as her mother rushed into the
room, followed by her father, with a carpet-bag and sundry packages.
"We have given you a surprise this time, I guess, Mabel," he said,
kissing her as tenderly as he used to when she sat upon his knee,
and listened to almost endless stories of his own making.
"But why is it that you are so late?" she asked, anxiously.
"The cars were delayed three hours by an accident, so instead of
arriving in good time, we have come in rather out of order, but not
unwelcome, Mabel, I know."
He did not see her face, or he might have feared that the welcome
was not as warm as usual. She answered quickly:
"Why, yes, father, you and mother are welcome at any time of day or
night," and yet she wished she was alone with Howard that moment.
"I told father," said her mother, looking at the clock, "that it was
so late we had better go to a hotel, but he would come, saying,
Howard would not mind getting up to give the old folks a welcome."
"We should have been very sorry to have had you done so. O, here
comes Howard," and the husband of Mabel entered, looking very pale.
"Late hours don't agree with you, my son. What has kept you up so
"Some winged messenger, I suspect, knowing you were coming; but you
must be weary," and he offered the new-comers refreshments from the
side board. Mabel, however, had flown to the dining-room and
prepared them something more substantial in the way of cold meats,
and a cup of tea, which she made in an incredibly short space of
It was a relief when she had shown them to their room. She went
below and sat alone, hoping Howard would come to her. He had gone
into his study, where he sometimes passed a greater part of the
night in writing, for he was a lawyer by profession, being a man of
more than average abilities, his services were sought for many miles
around. Mabel waited, but he came not, and being unable longer to
bear delay, she sought him in his retreat.
"Mabel, you ought to be in bed; its now half past one. You will
scarce be able to entertain your father and mother, I fear, if you
do not go now," and he resumed his writing.
"So cold! Well, I can live without his love," she said to herself,
and turned to leave the room. He glanced at her lithe form, and all
the lover-like feelings of early years came over him. He longed to
fold her once more to his heart, and rose to follow her.
"Good night, sir," came from her lips in icy tones, and he returned
to his labors, chilled, heart-sick and weary, where we will leave
him and turn back one chapter to the cause of all this
misconception, and see if we find in it aught but words of truth,
and principles which should be understood by all.
Like too many women, Mrs. Deane had striven to keep her husband
wholly to herself. She could not realize that one who is determined
in her own way and time to get the whole, may not get even a part.
She wanted him entirely for herself, ignorant of the fact, or if
knowing, rebellious against it, that his being would flow to herself
after a temporary receding, far richer in love. Alas, how many women
are dwarfing noble men, and cheating themselves out of the highest
enjoyments of life.
Of Miss Evans she knew nothing, save by report. Like the many, she
allowed her prejudices to control her, and avoided all opportunities
of making the acquaintance of a worthy woman, one who was fast
becoming life and light to minds of a high order. The thoughts which
had thrilled the heart and soul of her husband we will record for
the benefit of those who may be struggling for light.
Howard Deane walked to the village post office that evening with no
other thought than of receiving his papers and returning home. While
there, he met Hugh Wyman, who requested him, as it was on his way,
to take a magazine to Miss Evans. He did not hesitate to grant the
request of his friend. Reaching her home he found her alone, and
common courtesies led them into conversation. This at first touched
only upon daily events, but soon it led into deeper channels, and
their individual thoughts were brought out upon religious subjects,
each receiving suggestions from the standpoint of the other.
"I am impatient, I know," said Miss Evans, as the subject warmed and
brightened under the glow of words, "to see the day when my long
cherished ideas will be wrought into actual life. Will it not be
grand when religion shall no longer be an abstract, soulless
science, a musty theology, but a living, vital truth, lived and
acted, not merely professed and preached; when the human family
shall be united in one bond, and man love to do his brother good;
when he who is strong, shall care for him who is weak; when daily
deeds of kindness shall be accepted as true worship; when the golden
rule shall be the only creed of mankind, and woman shall throw upon
her erring sisters the blessed veil of charity. The world is full of
need to-day. It never so much needed the labor of every earnest man
and woman as now. All can work for its advancement; some speak, some
write, others act, and thus unitedly aid in ushering in the
millenium of humanity. Religion is to me only a daily life of
goodness. The church has little but form. We want vital christianity
flowing from heart to heart; and prayers, not at stated times, but
when souls mount heavenward, whether in words or deeds, to be
recognized as true worship. When our churches shall be adorned by
art; when the theatre, now so little understood, is employed as a
lever of moral power, equal if not greater than the church, for
reaching the heart, and enriching the intellect; when these two
forces approach each other, then shall we have a real church and
true worship. Art in every form must be acknowledged as the great
mediator between God and man, and when this is done we shall have a
completeness in our worship, which is little dreamed of now. To my
mind, the drama appears as the great instructor of the coming time--
greater than the church, more potent, hence more effectual, and
will, I think, at some day occupy its place. I have talked long, but
the fullness of the theme must be my excuse."
"I am but too glad to hear expressions of such thoughts from any
one. I have been for a long time reaching for something more
satisfactory than I have received. The forms of worship have long
been dull and void of life to me."
"Too long have our minds been lumbered with doctrines, instead of
principles," said Miss Evans, her face glowing with earnest thought,
"but the signs of the times are now glorious. Men will no longer
feed on husks and dry bones. The call is every day for light, more
light, and theories are fast giving place to human experiences. A
strong current of individual life, too, is setting in, which
inspires every speaker and writer with high and noble thoughts, and
they are forced to give bread and not stones to the multitude. We
shall, I hope, Mr. Deane, live to see the coming of the new day, for
surely we have little but darkness now, and yet all the light we
could use, I suppose, else it would have come before."
"I trust we shall, and if men and women are true to the light they
have, the day will soon be here. But, really, Miss Evans," he said,
looking at his watch, "'t is almost ten o'clock; how rapidly the
moments have flown."
"I lose all idea of time when I feel the beating and pulsing of a
human soul," responded Miss Evans. "I hope you will come again and
bring your wife; I only know her by features; I really wish to know
her through her thoughts."
"I will, I thank you," and he left, full to overflowing, impatient
to impart to his wife the thoughts of an earnest soul. We have met
him in his home, and know the result,--the sharp reverse side of most
of life's best experiences.
Mrs. Deane found the hours drag heavily while her parents remained.
She was not like her former self, and they could not but notice the
It was the first time in their married life that she wished them at
home. One hour alone with her husband would have set all right; but
there were none, for business seemed to press in from all quarters,
and every moment of his time, far into the night, was occupied in
They saw nothing of each other save in the presence of their
parents, for Mr. Deane only snatched a few hours' sleep at early
dawn, and awoke just in time to prepare for breakfast. They were
estranged, and circumstances to embitter the sad state of affairs
seemed to daily multiply.
The fourth evening after the arrival, there was a slight pause in
the pressure of his business, but feeling no inclination to join the
family, knowing that Mabel and himself would be in feelings miles
apart, he called again upon Miss Evans.
To his relief he found her alone, for he longed for another
communion with a mind so comprehensive, and a soul so pure as her
own. She noticed the look of sadness on his face, and was glad her
own heart was light and her soul strong in trust, that she might
administer to him.
Had he come last night, she said to herself, how little could I have
done for him, for my own soul was dark with grief, my lips dumb. His
face bore a more buoyant look as her words of hope and thoughtful
sayings appealed to his good judgment, and before long it glowed
with joy like her own. He forgot the cloud that had arisen over
himself and Mabel; forgot her words that so wounded his soul; and
only her best and true self was mirrored on his heart, as he
listened to the vital truths which flowed from the lips of the noble
woman in whose presence he sat.
"Our conversation the other night," he said, "awakened such new
emotions, or rather aroused feelings which were dormant, that I
could not resist the strong impulse I felt to call on you again and
renew our conversation."
"I am very glad you have come, for it does my soul good to see
others interested in these newly-developed views, and recognizing
the great needs of humanity, and the imperative demands of our
"I have felt," remarked Mr. Deane, "for a long time that the church,
the subject of our last conversation, needs more life; that it must
open its doors to all rays of light, and not longer admit only a
few, and that those doors must be broad enough and high enough, that
whatever is needed for the advancement of mankind may enter therein,
come from whence it may, and called by whatever name it may be. In a
word, the church must go on in advance of the people, or at least