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Etexts from The Snow Image by Hawthorne by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Part 2 out of 2

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and still faster fled the unapproachable brevity of his tail; and
louder and fiercer grew his yells of rage and animosity; until,
utterly exhausted, and as far from the goal as ever, the foolish
old dog ceased his performance as suddenly as he had begun it.
The next moment he was as mild, quiet, sensible, and respectable
in his deportment, as when he first scraped acquaintance with the

As may be supposed, the exhibition was greeted with universal
laughter, clapping of hands, and shouts of encore, to which the
canine performer responded by wagging all that there was to wag
of his tail, but appeared totally unable to repeat his very
successful effort to amuse the spectators.

Meanwhile, Ethan Brand had resumed his seat upon the log, and
moved, as it might be, by a perception of some remote analogy
between his own case and that of this self-pursuing cur, he broke
into the awful laugh, which, more than any other token, expressed
the condition of his inward being. From that moment, the
merriment of the party was at an end; they stood aghast, dreading
lest the inauspicious sound should be reverberated around the
horizon, and that mountain would thunder it to mountain, and so
the horror be prolonged upon their ears. Then, whispering one to
another that it was late,--that the moon was almost down,-that
the August night was growing chill,--they hurried homewards,
leaving the lime-burner and little Joe to deal as they might with
their unwelcome guest. Save for these three human beings, the
open space on the hill-side was a solitude, set in a vast gloom
of forest. Beyond that darksome verge, the firelight glimmered on
the stately trunks and almost black foliage of pines, intermixed
with the lighter verdure of sapling oaks, maples, and poplars,
while here and there lay the gigantic corpses of dead trees,
decaying on the leaf-strewn soil. And it seemed to little Joe --a
timorous and imaginative child--that the silent forest was
holding its breath until some fearful thing should happen.

Ethan Brand thrust more wood into the fire, and closed the door
of the kiln; then looking over his shoulder at the lime-burner
and his son, he bade, rather than advised, them to retire to

"For myself, I cannot sleep," said he. "I have matters that it
concerns me to meditate upon. I will watch the fire, as I used to
do in the old time."

"And call the Devil out of the furnace to keep you company, I
suppose," muttered Bartram, who had been making intimate
acquaintance with the black bottle above mentioned. "But watch,
if you like, and call as many devils as you like! For my part, I
shall be all the better for a snooze. Come, Joe!"

As the boy followed his father into the hut, he looked back at
the wayfarer, and the tears came into his eyes, for his tender
spirit had an intuition of the bleak and terrible loneliness in
which this man had enveloped himself.

When they had gone, Ethan Brand sat listening to the crackling of
the kindled wood, and looking at the little spirts of fire that
issued through the chinks of the door. These trifles, however,
once so familiar, had but the slightest hold of his attention,
while deep within his mind he was reviewing the gradual but
marvellous change that had been wrought upon him by the search to
which he had devoted himself. He remembered how the night dew had
fallen upon him,--how the dark forest had whispered to him,--how
the stars had gleamed upon him,--a simple and loving man,
watching his fire in the years gone by, and ever musing as it
burned. He remembered with what tenderness, with what love and
sympathy for mankind and what pity for human guilt and woe, he
had first begun to contemplate those ideas which afterwards
became the inspiration of his life; with what reverence he had
then looked into the heart of man, viewing it as a temple
originally divine, and, however desecrated, still to be held
sacred by a brother; with what awful fear he had deprecated the
success of his pursuit, and prayed that the Unpardonable Sin
might never be revealed to him. Then ensued that vast
intellectual development, which, in its progress, disturbed the
counterpoise between his mind and heart. The Idea that possessed
his life had operated as a means of education; it had gone on
cultivating his powers to the highest point of which they were
susceptible; it had raised him from the level of an unlettered
laborer to stand on a star-lit eminence, whither the philosophers
of the earth, laden with the lore of universities, might vainly
strive to clamber after him. So much for the intellect! But where
was the heart? That, indeed, had withered,--had contracted,--had
hardened,--had perished! It had ceased to partake of the
universal throb. He had lost his hold of the magnetic chain of
humanity. He was no longer a brother-man, opening the chambers or
the dungeons of our common nature by the key of holy sympathy,
which gave him a right to share in all its secrets; he was now a
cold observer, looking on mankind as the subject of his
experiment, and, at length, converting man and woman to be his
puppets, and pulling the wires that moved them to such degrees of
crime as were demanded for his study.

Thus Ethan Brand became a fiend. He began to be so from the
moment that his moral nature had ceased to keep the pace of
improvement with his intellect. And now, as his highest effort
and inevitable development,--as the bright and gorgeous flower,
and rich, delicious fruit of his life's labor,--he had produced
the Unpardonable Sin!

"What more have I to seek? what more to achieve?" said Ethan
Brand to himself. "My task is done, and well done!"

Starting from the log with a certain alacrity in his gait and
ascending the hillock of earth that was raised against the stone
circumference of the lime-kiln, he thus reached the top of the
structure. It was a space of perhaps ten feet across, from edge
to edge, presenting a view of the upper surface of the immense
mass of broken marble with which the kiln was heaped. All these
innumerable blocks and fragments of marble were redhot and
vividly on fire, sending up great spouts of blue flame, which
quivered aloft and danced madly, as within a magic circle, and
sank and rose again, with continual and multitudinous activity.
As the lonely man bent forward over this terrible body of fire,
the blasting heat smote up against his person with a breath that,
it might be supposed, would have scorched and shrivelled him up
in a moment.

Ethan Brand stood erect, and raised his arms on high. The blue
flames played upon his face, and imparted the wild and ghastly
light which alone could have suited its expression; it was that
of a fiend on the verge of plunging into his gulf of intensest

"O Mother Earth," cried he, "who art no more my Mother, and into
whose bosom this frame shall never be resolved! O mankind, whose
brotherhood I have cast off, and trampled thy great heart beneath
my feet! O stars of heaven, that shone on me of old, as if to
light me onward and upward!--farewell all, and forever. Come,
deadly element of Fire,-henceforth my familiar friend! Embrace
me, as I do thee! "

That night the sound of a fearful peal of laughter rolled heavily
through the sleep of the lime-burner and his little son; dim
shapes of horror and anguish haunted their dreams, and seemed
still present in the rude hovel, when they opened their eyes to
the daylight.

"Up, boy, up!" cried the lime-burner, staring about him. "Thank
Heaven, the night is gone, at last; and rather than pass such
another, I would watch my lime-kiln, wide awake, for a
twelvemonth. This Ethan Brand, with his humbug of an Unpardonable
Sin, has done me no such mighty favor, in taking my place!"

He issued from the hut, followed by little Joe, who kept fast
hold of his father's hand. The early sunshine was already pouring
its gold upon the mountain-tops, and though the valleys were
still in shadow, they smiled cheerfully in the promise of the
bright day that was hastening onward. The village, completely
shut in by hills, which swelled away gently about it, looked as
if it had rested peacefully in the hollow of the great hand of
Providence. Every dwelling was distinctly visible; the little
spires of the two churches pointed upwards, and caught a
fore-glimmering of brightness from the sun-gilt skies upon their
gilded weather-cocks. The tavern was astir, and the figure of the
old, smoke-dried stage-agent, cigar in mouth, was seen beneath
the stoop. Old Graylock was glorified with a golden cloud upon
his head. Scattered likewise over the breasts of the surrounding
mountains, there were heaps of hoary mist, in fantastic shapes,
some of them far down into the valley, others high up towards the
summits, and still others, of the same family of mist or cloud,
hovering in the gold radiance of the upper atmosphere. Stepping
from one to another of the clouds that rested on the hills, and
thence to the loftier brotherhood that sailed in air, it seemed
almost as if a mortal man might thus ascend into the heavenly
regions. Earth was so mingled with sky that it was a day-dream to
look at it.

To supply that charm of the familiar and homely, which Nature so
readily adopts into a scene like this, the stage-coach was
rattling down the mountain-road, and the driver sounded his horn,
while Echo caught up the notes, and intertwined them into a rich
and varied and elaborate harmony, of which the original performer
could lay claim to little share. The great hills played a concert
among themselves, each contributing a strain of airy sweetness.

Little Joe's face brightened at once.

"Dear father," cried he, skipping cheerily to and fro, "that
strange man is gone, and the sky and the mountains all seem glad
of it!"

"Yes," growled the lime-burner, with an oath, "but he has let the
fire go down, and no thanks to him if five hundred bushels of
lime are not spoiled. If I catch the fellow hereabouts again, I
shall feel like tossing him into the furnace!"

With his long pole in his hand, he ascended to the top of the
kiln. After a moment's pause, he called to his son.

"Come up here, Joe!" said he.

So little Joe ran up the hillock, and stood by his father's side.
The marble was all burnt into perfect, snow-white lime. But on
its surface, in the midst of the circle,--snow-white too, and
thoroughly converted into lime,--lay a human skeleton, in the
attitude of a person who, after long toil, lies down to long
repose. Within the ribs--strange to say--was the shape of a human

"Was the fellow's heart made of marble?" cried Bartram, in some
perplexity at this phenomenon. "At any rate, it is burnt into
what looks like special good lime; and, taking all the bones
together, my kiln is half a bushel the richer for him."

So saying, the rude lime-burner lifted his pole, and, letting it
fall upon the skeleton, the relics of Ethan Brand were crumbled
into fragments.


The summer moon, which shines in so many a tale, was beaming over
a broad extent of uneven country. Some of its brightest rays were
flung into a spring of water, where no traveller, toiling, as the
writer has, up the hilly road beside which it gushes, ever failed
to quench his thirst. The work of neat hands and considerate art
was visible about this blessed fountain. An open cistern, hewn
and hollowed out of solid stone, was placed above the waters,
which filled it to the brim, but by some invisible outlet were
conveyed away without dripping down its sides. Though the basin
had not room for another drop, and the continual gush of water
made a tremor on the surface, there was a secret charm that
forbade it to overflow. I remember, that when I had slaked my
summer thirst, and sat panting by the cistern, it was my fanciful
theory that Nature could not afford to lavish so pure a liquid,
as she does the waters of all meaner fountains.

While the moon was hanging almost perpendicularly over this spot,
two figures appeared on the summit of the hill, and came with
noiseless footsteps down towards the spring. They were then in
the first freshness of youth; nor is there a wrinkle now on
either of their brows, and yet they wore a strange, old-fashioned
garb. One, a young man with ruddy cheeks, walked beneath the
canopy of a broad-brimmed gray hat; he seemed to have inherited
his great-grandsire's square-skirted coat, and a waistcoat that
extended its immense flaps to his knees; his brown locks, also,
hung down behind, in a mode unknown to our times. By his side was
a sweet young damsel, her fair features sheltered by a prim
little bonnet, within which appeared the vestal muslin of a cap;
her close, long-waisted gown, and indeed her whole attire, might
have been worn by some rustic beauty who had faded half a century
before. But that there was something too warm and life-like in
them, I would here have compared this couple to the ghosts of two
young lovers who had died long since in the glow of passion, and
now were straying out of their graves, to renew the old vows, and
shadow forth the unforgotten kiss of their earthly lips, beside
the moonlit spring.

"Thee and I will rest here a moment, Miriam," said the young man,
as they drew near the stone cistern, "for there is no fear that
the elders know what we have done; and this may be the last time
we shall ever taste this water."

Thus speaking, with a little sadness in his face, which was also
visible in that of his companion, he made her sit down on a
stone, and was about to place himself very close to her side;
she, however, repelled him, though not unkindly.

"Nay, Josiah," said she, giving him a timid push with her maiden
hand, "thee must sit farther off, on that other stone, with the
spring between us. What would the sisters say, if thee were to
sit so close to me?"

"But we are of the world's people now, Miriam," answered Josiah.

The girl persisted in her prudery, nor did the youth, in fact,
seem altogether free from a similar sort of shyness; so they sat
apart from each other, gazing up the hill, where the moonlight
discovered the tops of a group of buildings. While their
attention was thus occupied, a party of travellers, who had come
wearily up the long ascent, made a halt to refresh themselves at
the spring. There were three men, a woman, and a little girl and
boy. Their attire was mean, covered with the dust of the summer's
day, and damp with the night-dew; they all looked woebegone, as
if the cares and sorrows of the world had made their steps
heavier as they climbed the hill; even the two little children
appeared older in evil days than the young man and maiden who had
first approached the spring.

"Good evening to you, young folks," was the salutation of the
travellers; and "Good evening, friends," replied the youth and

"Is that white building the Shaker meeting-house?" asked one of
the strangers. "And are those the red roofs of the Shaker

"Friend, it is the Shaker village," answered Josiah, after some

The travellers, who, from the first, had looked suspiciously at
the garb of these young people, now taxed them with an intention
which all the circumstances, indeed, rendered too obvious to be

"It is true, friends," replied the young man, summoning up his
courage. "Miriam and I have a gift to love each other, and we are
going among the world's people, to live after their fashion. And
ye know that we do not transgress the law of the land; and
neither ye, nor the elders themselves, have a right to hinder

"Yet you think it expedient to depart without leave-taking,"
remarked one of the travellers.

"Yea, ye-a," said Josiah, reluctantly, "because father Job is a
very awful man to speak with; and being aged himself, he has but
little charity for what he calls the iniquities of the flesh."

"Well," said the stranger, "we will neither use force to bring
you back to the village, nor will we betray you to the elders.
But sit you here awhile, and when you have heard what we shall
tell you of the world which we have left, and into which you are
going, perhaps you will turn back with us of your own accord.
What say you?" added he, turning to his companions. "We have
travelled thus far without becoming known to each other. Shall we
tell our stories, here by this pleasant spring, for our own
pastime, and the benefit of these misguided young lovers?"

In accordance with this proposal, the whole party stationed
themselves round the stone cistern; the two children, being very
weary, fell asleep upon the damp earth, and the pretty Shaker
girl, whose feelings were those of a nun or a Turkish lady, crept
as close as possible to the female traveller, and as far as she
well could from the unknown men. The same person who had hitherto
been the chief spokesman now stood up, waving his hat in his
hand, and suffered the moonlight to fall full upon his front.

"In me," said he, with a certain majesty of utterance,--"in me,
you behold a poet."

Though a lithographic print of this gentleman is extant, it may
be well to notice that he was now nearly forty, a thin and
stooping figure, in a black coat, out at elbows; notwithstanding
the ill condition of his attire, there were about him several
tokens of a peculiar sort of foppery, unworthy of a mature man,
particularly in the arrangement of his hair which was so disposed
as to give all possible loftiness and breadth to his forehead.
However, he had an intelligent eye, and, on the whole, a marked

"A poet!" repeated the young Shaker, a little puzzled how to
understand such a designation, seldom heard in the utilitarian
community where he had spent his life. "Oh, ay, Miriam, he means
a varse-maker, thee must know."

This remark jarred upon the susceptible nerves of the poet; nor
could he help wondering what strange fatality had put into this
young man's mouth an epithet, which ill-natured people had
affirmed to be more proper to his merit than the one assumed by

"True, I am a verse-maker," he resumed, "but my verse is no more
than the material body into which I breathe the celestial soul of
thought. Alas! how many a pang has it cost me, this same
insensibility to the ethereal essence of poetry, with which you
have here tortured me again, at the moment when I am to
relinquish my profession forever! O Fate! why hast thou warred
with Nature, turning all her higher and more perfect gifts to the
ruin of me, their possessor? What is the voice of song, when the
world lacks the ear of taste? How can I rejoice in my strength
and delicacy of feeling, when they have but made great sorrows
out of little ones? Have I dreaded scorn like death, and yearned
for fame as others pant for vital air, only to find myself in a
middle state between obscurity and infamy? But I have my revenge!
I could have given existence to a thousand bright creations. I
crush them into my heart, and there let them putrefy! I shake off
the dust of my feet against my countrymen! But posterity, tracing
my footsteps up this weary hill, will cry shame upon the unworthy
age that drove one of the fathers of American song to end his
days in a Shaker village! "

During this harangue, the speaker gesticulated with great energy,
and, as poetry is the natural language of passion, there appeared
reason to apprehend his final explosion into an ode extempore.
The reader must understand that, for all these bitter words, he
was a kind, gentle, harmless, poor fellow enough, whom Nature,
tossing her ingredients together without looking at her recipe,
had sent into the world with too much of one sort of brain, and
hardly any of another.

"Friend," said the young Shaker, in some perplexity, "thee
seemest to have met with great troubles; and, doubtless, I should
pity them, if--if I could but understand what they were."

"Happy in your ignorance!" replied the poet, with an air of
sublime superiority. "To your coarser mind, perhaps, I may seem
to speak of more important griefs when I add, what I had well-
nigh forgotten, that I am out at elbows, and almost starved to
death. At any rate, you have the advice and example of one
individual to warn you back; for I am come hither, a disappointed
man, flinging aside the fragments of my hopes, and seeking
shelter in the calm retreat which you are so anxious to leave."

"I thank thee, friend," rejoined the youth, "but I do not mean to
be a poet, nor, Heaven be praised! do I think Miriam ever made a
varse in her life. So we need not fear thy disappointments. But,
Miriam," he added, with real concern, "thee knowest that the
elders admit nobody that has not a gift to be useful. Now, what
under the sun can they do with this poor varse-maker?"

"Nay, Josiah, do not thee discourage the poor man," said the
girl, in all simplicity and kindness. "Our hymns are very rough,
and perhaps they may trust him to smooth them."

Without noticing this hint of professional employment, the poet
turned away, and gave himself up to a sort of vague reverie,
which he called thought. Sometimes he watched the moon, pouring a
silvery liquid on the clouds, through which it slowly melted till
they became all bright; then he saw the same sweet radiance
dancing on the leafy trees which rustled as if to shake it off,
or sleeping on the high tops of hills, or hovering down in
distant valleys, like the material of unshaped dreams; lastly, he
looked into the spring, and there the light was mingling with the
water. In its crystal bosom, too, beholding all heaven reflected
there, he found an emblem of a pure and tranquil breast. He
listened to that most ethereal of all sounds, the song of
crickets, coming in full choir upon the wind, and fancied that,
if moonlight could be heard, it would sound just like that.
Finally, he took a draught at the Shaker spring, and, as if it
were the true Castalia, was forthwith moved to compose a lyric, a
Farewell to his Harp, which he swore should be its closing
strain, the last verse that an ungrateful world should have from
him. This effusion, with two or three other little pieces,
subsequently written, he took the first opportunity to send, by
one of the Shaker brethren, to Concord, where they were published
in the New Hampshire Patriot.

Meantime, another of the Canterbury pilgrims, one so different
from the poet that the delicate fancy of the latter could hardly
have conceived of him, began to relate his sad experience. He was
a small man, of quick and unquiet gestures, about fifty years
old, with a narrow forehead, all wrinkled and drawn together. He
held in his hand a pencil, and a card of some commission-merchant
in foreign parts, on the back of which, for there was light
enough to read or write by, he seemed ready to figure out a

"Young man," said he, abruptly, "what quantity of land do the
Shakers own here, in Canterbury?"

"That is more than I can tell thee, friend," answered Josiah,
"but it is a very rich establishment, and for a long way by the
roadside thee may guess the land to be ours, by the neatness of
the fences."

"And what may be the value of the whole," continued the stranger,
"with all the buildings and improvements, pretty nearly, in round

"Oh, a monstrous sum,--more than I can reckon," replied the young

"Well, sir," said the pilgrim, "there was a day, and not very
long ago, neither, when I stood at my counting-room window, and
watched the signal flags of three of my own ships entering the
harbor, from the East Indies, from Liverpool, and from up the
Straits, and I would not have given the invoice of the least of
them for the title-deeds of this whole Shaker settlement. You
stare. Perhaps, now, you won't believe that I could have put more
value on a little piece of paper, no bigger than the palm of your
hand, than all these solid acres of grain, grass, and
pasture-land would sell for?"

"I won't dispute it, friend," answered Josiah, "but I know I had
rather have fifty acres of this good land than a whole sheet of
thy paper."

"You may say so now," said the ruined merchant, bitterly, "for my
name would not be worth the paper I should write it on. Of
course, you must have heard of my failure?"

And the stranger mentioned his name, which, however mighty it
might have been in the commercial world, the young Shaker had
never heard of among the Canterbury hills.

"Not heard of my failure!" exclaimed the merchant, considerably
piqued. "Why, it was spoken of on 'Change in London, and from
Boston to New Orleans men trembled in their shoes. At all events,
I did fail, and you see me here on my road to the Shaker village,
where, doubtless (for the Shakers are a shrewd sect), they will
have a due respect for my experience, and give me the management
of the trading part of the concern, in which case I think I can
pledge myself to double their capital in four or five years. Turn
back with me, young man; for though you will never meet with my
good luck, you can hardly escape my bad."

"I will not turn back for this," replied Josiah. calmly, "any
more than for the advice of the varse-maker, between whom and
thee, friend, I see a sort of likeness, though I can't justly say
where it lies. But Miriam and I can earn our daily bread among
the world's people as well as in the Shaker village. And do we
want anything more, Miriam?"

"Nothing more, Josiah," said the girl, quietly.

"Yea, Miriam, and daily bread for some other little mouths, if
God send them," observed the simple Shaker lad.

Miriam did not reply, but looked down into the spring, where she
encountered the image of her own pretty face, blushing within the
prim little bonnet. The third pilgrim now took up the
conversation. He was a sunburnt countryman, of tall frame and
bony strength, on whose rude and manly face there appeared a
darker, more sullen and obstinate despondency, than on those of
either the poet or the merchant.

"Well, now, youngster," he began, "these folks have had their
say, so I'll take my turn. My story will cut but a poor figure by
the side of theirs; for I never supposed that I could have a
right to meat and drink, and great praise besides, only for
tagging rhymes together, as it seems this man does; nor ever
tried to get the substance of hundreds into my own hands, like
the trader there. When I was about of your years, I married me a
wife,--just such a neat and pretty young woman as Miriam, if
that's her name,--and all I asked of Providence was an ordinary
blessing on the sweat of my brow, so that we might be decent and
comfortable, and have daily bread for ourselves, and for some
other little mouths that we soon had to feed. We had no very
great prospects before us; but I never wanted to be idle; and I
thought it a matter of course that the Lord would help me,
because I was willing to help myself."

"And didn't He help thee, friend?" demanded Josiah, with some

"No," said the yeoman, sullenly; "for then you would not have
seen me here. I have labored hard for years; and my means have
been growing narrower, and my living poorer, and my heart colder
and heavier, all the time; till at last I could bear it no
longer. I set myself down to calculate whether I had best go on
the Oregon expedition, or come here to the Shaker village; but I
had not hope enough left in me to begin the world over again;
and, to make my story short, here I am. And now, youngster, take
my advice, and turn back; or else, some few years hence, you'll
have to climb this hill, with as heavy a heart as mine."

This simple story had a strong effect on the young fugitives. The
misfortunes of the poet and merchant had won little sympathy from
their plain good sense and unworldly feelings, qualities which
made them such unprejudiced and inflexible judges, that few men
would have chosen to take the opinion of this youth and maiden as
to the wisdom or folly of their pursuits. But here was one whose
simple wishes had resembled their own, and who, after efforts
which almost gave him a right to claim success from fate, had
failed in accomplishing them.

"But thy wife, friend?" exclaimed the younger man. "What became
of the pretty girl, like Miriam? Oh, I am afraid she is dead!"

"Yea, poor man, she must be dead,--she and the children, too,"
sobbed Miriam.

The female pilgrim had been leaning over the spring, wherein
latterly a tear or two might have been seen to fall, and form its
little circle on the surface of the water. She now looked up,
disclosing features still comely, but which had acquired an
expression of fretfulness, in the same long course of evil
fortune that had thrown a sullen gloom over the temper of the
unprosperous yeoman.

"I am his wife," said she, a shade of irritability just
perceptible in the sadness of her tone. "These poor little
things, asleep on the ground, are two of our children. We had two
more, but God has provided better for them than we could, by
taking them to Himself."

"And what would thee advise Josiah and me to do?" asked Miriam,
this being the first question which she had put to either of the

" 'Tis a thing almost against nature for a woman to try to part
true lovers," answered the yeoman's wife, after a pause; "but
I'll speak as truly to you as if these were my dying words.
Though my husband told you some of our troubles, he didn't
mention the greatest, and that which makes all the rest so hard
to bear. If you and your sweetheart marry, you'll be kind and
pleasant to each other for a year or two, and while that's the
case, you never will repent; but, by and by, he'll grow gloomy,
rough, and hard to please, and you'll be peevish, and full of
little angry fits, and apt to be complaining by the fireside,
when he comes to rest himself from his troubles out of doors; so
your love will wear away by little and little, and leave you
miserable at last. It has been so with us; and yet my husband and
I were true lovers once, if ever two young folks were ."

As she ceased, the yeoman and his wife exchanged a glance, in
which there was more and warmer affection than they had supposed
to have escaped the frost of a wintry fate, in either of their
breasts. At that moment, when they stood on the utmost verge of
married life, one word fitly spoken, or perhaps one peculiar
look, had they had mutual confidence enough to reciprocate it,
might have renewed all their old feelings, and sent them back,
resolved to sustain each other amid the struggles of the world.
But the crisis passed and never came again. Just then, also, the
children, roused by their mother's voice, looked up, and added
their wailing accents to the testimony borne by all the
Canterbury pilgrims against the world from which they fled.

"We are tired and hungry!" cried they. "Is it far to the Shaker

The Shaker youth and maiden looked mournfully into each other's
eyes. They had but stepped across the threshold of their homes,
when lo! the dark array of cares and sorrows that rose up to warn
them back. The varied narratives of the strangers had arranged
themselves into a parable; they seemed not merely instances of
woful fate that had befallen others, but shadowy omens of
disappointed hope and unavailing toil, domestic grief and
estranged affection, that would cloud the onward path of these
poor fugitives. But after one instant's hesitation, they opened
their arms, and sealed their resolve with as pure and fond an
embrace as ever youthful love had hallowed.

"We will not go back," said they. "The world never can be dark to
us, for we will always love one another."

Then the Canterbury pilgrims went up the hill, while the poet
chanted a drear and desperate stanza of the Farewell to his Harp,
fitting music for that melancholy band. They sought a home where
all former ties of nature or society would be sundered, and all
old distinctions levelled, and a cold and passionless security be
substituted for mortal hope and fear, as in that other refuge of
the world's weary outcasts, the grave. The lovers drank at the
Shaker spring, and then, with chastened hopes, but more confiding
affections, went on to mingle in an untried life.


On a bitter evening of December, I arrived by mail in a large
town, which was then the residence of an intimate friend, one of
those gifted youths who cultivate poetry and the belles-lettres,
and call themselves students at law. My first business, after
supper, was to visit him at the office of his distinguished
instructor. As I have said, it was a bitter night, clear
starlight, but cold as Nova Zembla,--the shop-windows along the
street being frosted, so as almost to hide the lights, while the
wheels of coaches thundered equally loud over frozen earth and
pavements of stone. There was no snow, either on the ground or
the roofs of the houses. The wind blew so violently, that I had
but to spread my cloak like a main-sail, and scud along the
street at the rate of ten knots, greatly envied by other
navigators, who were beating slowly up, with the gale right in
their teeth. One of these I capsized, but was gone on the wings
of the wind before he could even vociferate an oath.

After this picture of an inclement night, behold us seated by a
great blazing fire, which looked so comfortable and delicious
that I felt inclined to lie down and roll among the hot coals.
The usual furniture of a lawyer's office was around us,--rows of
volumes in sheepskin, and a multitude of writs, summonses, and
other legal papers, scattered over the desks and tables. But
there were certain objects which seemed to intimate that we had
little dread of the intrusion of clients, or of the learned
counsellor himself, who, indeed, was attending court in a distant
town. A tall, decanter-shaped bottle stood on the table, between
two tumblers, and beside a pile of blotted manuscripts,
altogether dissimilar to any law documents recognized in our
courts. My friend, whom I shall call Oberon,--it was a name of
fancy and friendship between him and me,--my friend Oberon looked
at these papers with a peculiar expression of disquietude.

"I do believe," said he, soberly, "or, at least, I could believe,
if I chose, that there is a devil in this pile of blotted papers.
You have read them, and know what I mean,--that conception in
which I endeavored to embody the character of a fiend, as
represented in our traditions and the written records of
witchcraft. Oh, I have a horror of what was created in my own
brain, and shudder at the manuscripts in which I gave that dark
idea a sort of material existence! Would they were out of my

"And of mine, too," thought I.

"You remember," continued Oberon, "how the hellish thing used to
suck away the happiness of those who, by a simple concession that
seemed almost innocent, subjected themselves to his power. Just
so my peace is gone, and all by these accursed manuscripts. Have
you felt nothing of the same influence?"

"Nothing," replied I, "unless the spell be hid in a desire to
turn novelist, after reading your delightful tales."

"Novelist!" exclaimed Oberon, half seriously. "Then, indeed, my
devil has his claw on you! You are gone! You cannot even pray for
deliverance! But we will be the last and only victims; for this
night I mean to burn the manuscripts, and commit the fiend to his
retribution in the flames."

"Burn your tales!" repeated I, startled at the desperation of the

"Even so," said the author, despondingly. "You cannot conceive
what an effect the composition of these tales has had on me. I
have become ambitious of a bubble, and careless of solid
reputation. I am surrounding myself with shadows, which bewilder
me, by aping the realities of life. They have drawn me aside from
the beaten path of the world, and led me into a strange sort of
solitude,--a solitude in the midst of men,-where nobody wishes
for what I do, nor thinks nor feels as I do. The tales have done
all this. When they are ashes, perhaps I shall be as I was before
they had existence. Moreover, the sacrifice is less than you may
suppose, since nobody will publish them."

"That does make a difference, indeed," said I.

"They have been offered, by letter," continued Oberon, reddening
with vexation, "to some seventeen booksellers. It would make you
stare to read their answers; and read them you should, only that
I burnt them as fast as they arrived. One man publishes nothing
but school-books; another has five novels already under

"What a voluminous mass the unpublished literature of America
must be!" cried I.

"Oh, the Alexandrian manuscripts were nothing to it!" said my
friend. "Well, another gentleman is just giving up business, on
purpose, I verily believe, to escape publishing my book. Several,
however, would not absolutely decline the agency, on my advancing
half the cost of an edition, and giving bonds for the remainder,
besides a high percentage to themselves, whether the book sells
or not. Another advises a subscription."

"The villain!" exclaimed I.

"A fact!" said Oberon. "In short, of all the seventeen
booksellers, only one has vouchsafed even to read my tales; and
he--a literary dabbler himself, I should judge--has the
impertinence to criticise them, proposing what he calls vast
improvements, and concluding, after a general sentence of
condemnation, with the definitive assurance that he will not be
concerned on any terms."

"It might not be amiss to pull that fellow's nose," remarked I.

"If the whole 'trade' had one common nose, there would be some
satisfaction in pulling it," answered the author. "But, there
does seem to be one honest man among these seventeen unrighteous
ones; and he tells me fairly, that no American publisher will
meddle with an American work,--seldom if by a known writer, and
never if by a new one,--unless at the writer's risk."

"The paltry rogues!" cried I. "Will they live by literature, and
yet risk nothing for its sake? But, after all, you might publish
on your own account."

"And so I might," replied Oberon. "But the devil of the business
is this. These people have put me so out of conceit with the
tales, that I loathe the very thought of them, and actually
experience a physical sickness of the stomach, whenever I glance
at them on the table. I tell you there is a demon in them! I
anticipate a wild enjoyment in seeing them in the blaze; such as
I should feel in taking vengeance on an enemy, or destroying
something noxious."

I did not very strenuously oppose this determination, being
privately of opinion, in spite of my partiality for the author,
that his tales would make a more brilliant appearance in the fire
than anywhere else. Before proceeding to execution, we broached
the bottle of champagne, which Oberon had provided for keeping up
his spirits in this doleful business. We swallowed each a
tumblerful, in sparkling commotion; it went bubbling down our
throats, and brightened my eyes at once, but left my friend sad
and heavy as before. He drew the tales towards him, with a
mixture of natural affection and natural disgust, like a father
taking a deformed infant into his arms.

"Pooh! Pish! Pshaw!" exclaimed he, holding them at arm's-length.
"It was Gray's idea of heaven, to lounge on a sofa and read new
novels. Now, what more appropriate torture would Dante himself
have contrived, for the sinner who perpetrates a bad book, than
to be continually turning over the manuscript?"

"It would fail of effect," said I, "because a bad author is
always his own great admirer."

"I lack that one characteristic of my tribe,--the only desirable
one," observed Oberon. "But how many recollections throng upon
me, as I turn over these leaves! This scene came into my fancy as
I walked along a hilly road, on a starlight October evening; in
the pure and bracing air, I became all soul, and felt as if I
could climb the sky, and run a race along the Milky Way. Here is
another tale, in which I wrapt myself during a dark and dreary
night-ride in the month of March, till the rattling of the wheels
and the voices of my companions seemed like faint sounds of a
dream, and my visions a bright reality. That scribbled page
describes shadows which I summoned to my bedside at midnight:
they would not depart when I bade them; the gray dawn came, and
found me wide awake and feverish, the victim of my own

"There must have been a sort of happiness in all this," said I,
smitten with a strange longing to make proof of it.

"There may be happiness in a fever fit," replied the author. "And
then the various moods in which I wrote! Sometimes my ideas were
like precious stones under the earth, requiring toil to dig them
up, and care to polish and brighten them; but often a delicious
stream of thought would gush out upon the page at once, like
water sparkling up suddenly in the desert; and when it had
passed, I gnawed my pen hopelessly, or blundered on with cold and
miserable toil, as if there were a wall of ice between me and my

"Do you now perceive a corresponding difference," inquired I,
"between the passages which you wrote so coldly, and those fervid
flashes of the mind?"

"No," said Oberon, tossing the manuscripts on the table. "I find
no traces of the golden pen with which I wrote in characters of
fire. My treasure of fairy coin is changed to worthless dross. My
picture, painted in what seemed the loveliest hues, presents
nothing but a faded and indistinguishable surface. I have been
eloquent and poetical and humorous in a dream,--and behold! it is
all nonsense, now that I am awake."

My friend now threw sticks of wood and dry chips upon the fire,
and seeing it blaze like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, seized the
champagne bottle, and drank two or three brimming bumpers,
successively. The heady liquor combined with his agitation to
throw him into a species of rage. He laid violent hands on the
tales. In one instant more, their faults and beauties would alike
have vanished in a glowing purgatory. But, all at once, I
remembered passages of high imagination, deep pathos, original
thoughts, and points of such varied excellence, that the vastness
of the sacrifice struck me most forcibly. I caught his arm.

"Surely, you do not mean to burn them!" I exclaimed.

"Let me alone!" cried Oberon, his eyes flashing fire. "I will
burn them! Not a scorched syllable shall escape! Would you have
me a damned author?--To undergo sneers, taunts, abuse, and cold
neglect, and faint praise, bestowed, for pity's sake, against the
giver's conscience! A hissing and a laughing-stock to my own
traitorous thoughts! An outlaw from the protection of the
grave,--one whose ashes every careless foot might spurn,
unhonored in life, and remembered scornfully in death! Am I to
bear all this, when yonder fire will insure me from the whole?
No! There go the tales! May my hand wither when it would write

The deed was done. He had thrown the manuscripts into the hottest
of the fire, which at first seemed to shrink away, but soon
curled around them, and made them a part of its own fervent
brightness. Oberon stood gazing at the conflagration, and shortly
began to soliloquize, in the wildest strain, as if Fancy resisted
and became riotous, at the moment when he would have compelled
her to ascend that funeral pile. His words described objects
which he appeared to discern in the fire, fed by his own precious
thoughts; perhaps the thousand visions which the writer's magic
had incorporated with these pages became visible to him in the
dissolving heat, brightening forth ere they vanished forever;
while the smoke, the vivid sheets of flame, the ruddy and
whitening coals, caught the aspect of a varied scenery.

"They blaze," said he, "as if I had steeped them in the intensest
spirit of genius. There I see my lovers clasped in each other's
arms. How pure the flame that bursts from their glowing hearts!
And yonder the features of a villain writhing in the fire that
shall torment him to eternity. My holy men, my pious and angelic
women, stand like martyrs amid the flames, their mild eyes lifted
heavenward. Ring out the bells! A city is on fire.
See!--destruction roars through my dark forests, while the lakes
boil up in steaming billows, and the mountains are volcanoes, and
the sky kindles with a lurid brightness! All elements are but one
pervading flame! Ha! The fiend!"

I was somewhat startled by this latter exclamation. The tales
were almost consumed, but just then threw forth a broad sheet of
fire, which flickered as with laughter, making the whole room
dance in its brightness, and then roared portentously up the

"You saw him? You must have seen him!" cried Oberon. "How he
glared at me and laughed, in that last sheet of flame, with just
the features that I imagined for him! Well! The tales are gone."

The papers were indeed reduced to a heap of black cinders, with a
multitude of sparks hurrying confusedly among them, the traces of
the pen being now represented by white lines, and the whole mass
fluttering to and fro in the draughts of air. The destroyer knelt
down to look at them.

"What is more potent than fire!" said he, in his gloomiest tone.
"Even thought, invisible and incorporeal as it is, cannot escape
it. In this little time, it has annihilated the creations of long
nights and days, which I could no more reproduce, in their first
glow and freshness, than cause ashes and whitened bones to rise
up and live. There, too, I sacrificed the unborn children of my
mind. All that I had accomplished--all that I planned for future
years--has perished by one common ruin, and left only this heap
of embers! The deed has been my fate. And what remains? A weary
and aimless life,--a long repentance of this hour,--and at last
an obscure grave, where they will bury and forget me!"

As the author concluded his dolorous moan, the extinguished
embers arose and settled down and arose again, and finally flew
up the chimney, like a demon with sable wings. Just as they
disappeared, there was a loud and solitary cry in the street
below us. "Fire!" Fire! Other voices caught up that terrible
word, and it speedily became the shout of a multitude. Oberon
started to his feet, in fresh excitement.

"A fire on such a night!" cried he. "The wind blows a gale, and
wherever it whirls the flames, the roofs will flash up like
gunpowder. Every pump is frozen up, and boiling water would turn
to ice the moment it was flung from the engine. In an hour, this
wooden town will be one great bonfire! What a glorious scene for
my next--Pshaw!"

The street was now all alive with footsteps, and the air full of
voices. We heard one engine thundering round a corner, and
another rattling from a distance over the pavements. The bells of
three steeples clanged out at once, spreading the alarm to many a
neighboring town, and expressing hurry, confusion, and terror, so
inimitably that I could almost distinguish in their peal the
burden of the universal cry,--"Fire! Fire! Fire!"

"What is so eloquent as their iron tongues!" exclaimed Oberon.
"My heart leaps and trembles, but not with fear. And that other
sound, too, -deep and awful as a mighty organ,--the roar and
thunder of the multitude on the pavement below! Come! We are
losing time. I will cry out in the loudest of the uproar, and
mingle my spirit with the wildest of the confusion, and be a
bubble on the top of the ferment!"

From the first outcry, my forebodings had warned me of the true
object and centre of alarm. There was nothing now but uproar,
above, beneath, and around us; footsteps stumbling pell-mell up
the public staircase, eager shouts and heavy thumps at the door,
the whiz and dash of water from the engines, and the crash of
furniture thrown upon the pavement. At once, the truth flashed
upon my friend. His frenzy took the hue of joy, and, with a wild
gesture of exultation, he leaped almost to the ceiling of the

"My tales!" cried Oberon. "The chimney! The roof! The Fiend has
gone forth by night, and startled thousands in fear and wonder
from their beds! Here I stand,--a triumphant author! Huzza!
Huzza! My brain has set the town on fire! Huzza!"


After the kings of Great Britain had assumed the right of
appointing the colonial governors, the measures of the latter
seldom met with the ready and generous approbation which had been
paid to those of their predecessors, under the original charters.
The people looked with most jealous scrutiny to the exercise of
power which did not emanate from themselves, and they usually
rewarded their rulers with slender gratitude for the compliances
by which, in softening their instructions from beyond the sea,
they had incurred the reprehension of those who gave them. The
annals of Massachusetts Bay will inform us, that of six governors
in the space of about forty years from the surrender of the old
charter, under James II, two were imprisoned by a popular
insurrection; a third, as Hutchinson inclines to believe, was
driven from the province by the whizzing of a musket-ball; a
fourth, in the opinion of the same historian, was hastened to his
grave by continual bickerings with the House of Representatives;
and the remaining two, as well as their successors, till the
Revolution, were favored with few and brief intervals of peaceful
sway. The inferior members of the court party, in times of high
political excitement, led scarcely a more desirable life. These
remarks may serve as a preface to the following adventures, which
chanced upon a summer night, not far from a hundred years ago.
The reader, in order to avoid a long and dry detail of colonial
affairs, is requested to dispense with an account of the train of
circumstances that had caused much temporary inflammation of the
popular mind.

It was near nine o'clock of a moonlight evening, when a boat
crossed the ferry with a single passenger, who had obtained his
conveyance at that unusual hour by the promise of an extra fare.
While he stood on the landing-place, searching in either pocket
for the means of fulfilling his agreement, the ferryman lifted a
lantern, by the aid of which, and the newly risen moon, he took a
very accurate survey of the stranger's figure. He was a youth of
barely eighteen years, evidently country-bred, and now, as it
should seem, upon his first visit to town. He was clad in a
coarse gray coat, well worn, but in excellent repair; his under
garments were durably constructed of leather, and fitted tight to
a pair of serviceable and well-shaped limbs; his stockings of
blue yarn were the incontrovertible work of a mother or a sister;
and on his head was a three-cornered hat, which in its better
days had perhaps sheltered the graver brow of the lad's father.
Under his left arm was a heavy cudgel formed of an oak sapling,
and retaining a part of the hardened root; and his equipment was
completed by a wallet, not so abundantly stocked as to incommode
the vigorous shoulders on which it hung. Brown, curly hair,
well-shaped features, and bright, cheerful eyes were nature's
gifts, and worth all that art could have done for his adornment.

The youth, one of whose names was Robin, finally drew from his
pocket the half of a little province bill of five shillings,
which, in the depreciation in that sort of currency, did but
satisfy the ferryman's demand, with the surplus of a sexangular
piece of parchment, valued at three pence. He then walked forward
into the town, with as light a step as if his day's journey had
not already exceeded thirty miles, and with as eager an eye as if
he were entering London city, instead of the little metropolis of
a New England colony. Before Robin had proceeded far, however, it
occurred to him that he knew not whither to direct his steps; so
he paused, and looked up and down the narrow street, scrutinizing
the small and mean wooden buildings that were scattered on either

"This low hovel cannot be my kinsman's dwelling," thought he,
"nor yonder old house, where the moonlight enters at the broken
casement; and truly I see none hereabouts that might be worthy of
him. It would have been wise to inquire my way of the ferryman,
and doubtless he would have gone with me, and earned a shilling
from the Major for his pains. But the next man I meet will do as

He resumed his walk, and was glad to perceive that the street now
became wider, and the houses more respectable in their
appearance. He soon discerned a figure moving on moderately in
advance, and hastened his steps to overtake it. As Robin drew
nigh, he saw that the passenger was a man in years, with a full
periwig of gray hair, a wide-skirted coat of dark cloth, and silk
stockings rolled above his knees. He carried a long and polished
cane, which he struck down perpendicularly before him at every
step; and at regular intervals he uttered two successive hems, of
a peculiarly solemn and sepulchral intonation. Having made these
observations, Robin laid hold of the skirt of the old man's coat
just when the light from the open door and windows of a barber's
shop fell upon both their figures.

"Good evening to you, honored sir," said he, making a low bow,
and still retaining his hold of the skirt. "I pray you tell me
whereabouts is the dwelling of my kinsman, Major Molineux."

The youth's question was uttered very loudly; and one of the
barbers, whose razor was descending on a well-soaped chin, and
another who was dressing a Ramillies wig, left their occupations,
and came to the door. The citizen, in the mean time, turned a
long-favored countenance upon Robin, and answered him in a tone
of excessive anger and annoyance. His two sepulchral hems,
however, broke into the very centre of his rebuke, with most
singular effect, like a thought of the cold grave obtruding among
wrathful passions.

"Let go my garment, fellow! I tell you, I know not the man you
speak of. What! I have authority, I have--hem, hem--authority;
and if this be the respect you show for your betters, your feet
shall be brought acquainted with the stocks by daylight, tomorrow

Robin released the old man's skirt, and hastened away, pursued by
an ill-mannered roar of laughter from the barber's shop. He was
at first considerably surprised by the result of his question,
but, being a shrewd youth, soon thought himself able to account
for the mystery.

"This is some country representative," was his conclusion, "who
has never seen the inside of my kinsman's door, and lacks the
breeding to answer a stranger civilly. The man is old, or
verily--I might be tempted to turn back and smite him on the
nose. Ah, Robin, Robin! even the barber's boys laugh at you for
choosing such a guide! You will be wiser in time, friend Robin."

He now became entangled in a succession of crooked and narrow
streets, which crossed each other, and meandered at no great
distance from the water-side. The smell of tar was obvious to his
nostrils, the masts of vessels pierced the moonlight above the
tops of the buildings, and the numerous signs, which Robin paused
to read, informed him that he was near the centre of business.
But the streets were empty, the shops were closed, and lights
were visible only in the second stories of a few dwelling-houses.
At length, on the corner of a narrow lane, through which he was
passing, he beheld the broad countenance of a British hero
swinging before the door of an inn, whence proceeded the voices
of many guests. The casement of one of the lower windows was
thrown back, and a very thin curtain permitted Robin to
distinguish a party at supper, round a well-furnished table. The
fragrance of the good cheer steamed forth into the outer air, and
the youth could not fail to recollect that the last remnant of
his travelling stock of provision had yielded to his morning
appetite, and that noon had found and left him dinnerless.

"Oh, that a parchment three-penny might give me a right to sit
down at yonder table!" said Robin, with a sigh. "But the Major
will make me welcome to the best of his victuals; so I will even
step boldly in, and inquire my way to his dwelling."

He entered the tavern, and was guided by the murmur of voices and
the fumes of tobacco to the public-room. It was a long and low
apartment, with oaken walls, grown dark in the continual smoke,
and a floor which was thickly sanded, but of no immaculate
purity. A number of persons--the larger part of whom appeared to
be mariners, or in some way connected with the sea--occupied the
wooden benches, or leatherbottomed chairs, conversing on various
matters, and occasionally lending their attention to some topic
of general interest. Three or four little groups were draining as
many bowls of punch, which the West India trade had long since
made a familiar drink in the colony. Others, who had the
appearance of men who lived by regular and laborious handicraft,
preferred the insulated bliss of an unshared potation, and became
more taciturn under its influence. Nearly all, in short, evinced
a predilection for the Good Creature in some of its various
shapes, for this is a vice to which, as Fast Day sermons of a
hundred years ago will testify, we have a long hereditary claim.
The only guests to whom Robin's sympathies inclined him were two
or three sheepish countrymen, who were using the inn somewhat
after the fashion of a Turkish caravansary; they had gotten
themselves into the darkest corner of the room, and heedless of
the Nicotian atmosphere, were supping on the bread of their own
ovens, and the bacon cured in their own chimney-smoke. But though
Robin felt a sort of brotherhood with these strangers, his eyes
were attracted from them to a person who stood near the door,
holding whispered conversation with a group of ill-dressed
associates. His features were separately striking almost to
grotesqueness, and the whole face left a deep impression on the
memory. The forehead bulged out into a double prominence, with a
vale between; the nose came boldly forth in an irregular curve,
and its bridge was of more than a finger's breadth; the eyebrows
were deep and shaggy, and the eyes glowed beneath them like fire
in a cave.

While Robin deliberated of whom to inquire respecting his
kinsman's dwelling, he was accosted by the innkeeper, a little
man in a stained white apron, who had come to pay his
professional welcome to the stranger. Being in the second
generation from a French Protestant, he seemed to have inherited
the courtesy of his parent nation; but no variety of
circumstances was ever known to change his voice from the one
shrill note in which he now addressed Robin.

"From the country, I presume, sir?" said he, with a profound bow.
"Beg leave to congratulate you on your arrival, and trust you
intend a long stay with us. Fine town here, sir, beautiful
buildings, and much that may interest a stranger. May I hope for
the honor of your commands in respect to supper?"

"The man sees a family likeness! the rogue has guessed that I am
related to the Major!" thought Robin, who had hitherto
experienced little superfluous civility.

All eyes were now turned on the country lad, standing at the
door, in his worn three-cornered hat, gray coat, leather
breeches, and blue yarn stockings, leaning on an oaken cudgel,
and bearing a wallet on his back.

Robin replied to the courteous innkeeper, with such an assumption
of confidence as befitted the Major's relative. "My honest
friend," he said, "I shall make it a point to patronize your
house on some occasion, when"--here he could not help lowering
his voice--"when I may have more than a parchment three-pence in
my pocket. My present business," continued he, speaking with
lofty confidence, "is merely to inquire my way to the dwelling of
my kinsman, Major Molineux."

There was a sudden and general movement in the room, which Robin
interpreted as expressing the eagerness of each individual to
become his guide. But the innkeeper turned his eyes to a written
paper on the wall, which he read, or seemed to read, with
occasional recurrences to the young man's figure.

"What have we here?" said he, breaking his speech into little dry
fragments. " 'Left the house of the subscriber, bounden servant,
Hezekiah Mudge,--had on, when he went away, gray coat, leather
breeches, master's third-best hat. One pound currency reward to
whosoever shall lodge him in any jail of the providence.' Better
trudge, boy; better trudge!"

Robin had begun to draw his hand towards the lighter end of the
oak cudgel, but a strange hostility in every countenance induced
him to relinquish his purpose of breaking the courteous
innkeeper's head. As he turned to leave the room, he encountered
a sneering glance from the bold-featured personage whom he had
before noticed; and no sooner was he beyond the door, than he
heard a general laugh, in which the innkeeper's voice might be
distinguished, like the dropping of small stones into a kettle.

"Now, is it not strange," thought Robin, with his usual
shrewdness, "is it not strange that the confession of an empty
pocket should outweigh the name of my kinsman, Major Molineux?
Oh, if I had one of those grinning rascals in the woods, where I
and my oak sapling grew up together, I would teach him that my
arm is heavy though my purse be light!"

On turning the corner of the narrow lane, Robin found himself in
a spacious street, with an unbroken line of lofty houses on each
side, and a steepled building at the upper end, whence the
ringing of a bell announced the hour of nine. The light of the
moon, and the lamps from the numerous shop-windows, discovered
people promenading on the pavement, and amongst them Robin had
hoped to recognize his hitherto inscrutable relative. The result
of his former inquiries made him unwilling to hazard another, in
a scene of such publicity, and he determined to walk slowly and
silently up the street, thrusting his face close to that of every
elderly gentleman, in search of the Major's lineaments. In his
progress, Robin encountered many gay and gallant figures.
Embroidered garments of showy colors, enormous periwigs,
gold-laced hats, and silver-hilted swords glided past him and
dazzled his optics. Travelled youths, imitators of the European
fine gentlemen of the period, trod jauntily along, half dancing
to the fashionable tunes which they hummed, and making poor Robin
ashamed of his quiet and natural gait. At length, after many
pauses to examine the gorgeous display of goods in the
shop-windows, and after suffering some rebukes for the
impertinence of his scrutiny into people's faces, the Major's
kinsman found himself near the steepled building, still
unsuccessful in his search. As yet, however, he had seen only one
side of the thronged street; so Robin crossed, and continued the
same sort of inquisition down the opposite pavement, with
stronger hopes than the philosopher seeking an honest man, but
with no better fortune. He had arrived about midway towards the
lower end, from which his course began, when he overheard the
approach of some one who struck down a cane on the flag-stones at
every step, uttering at regular intervals, two sepulchral hems.

"Mercy on us!" quoth Robin, recognizing the sound.

Turning a corner, which chanced to be close at his right hand, he
hastened to pursue his researches in some other part of the town.
His patience now was wearing low, and he seemed to feel more
fatigue from his rambles since he crossed the ferry, than from
his journey of several days on the other side. Hunger also
pleaded loudly within him, and Robin began to balance the
propriety of demanding, violently, and with lifted cudgel, the
necessary guidance from the first solitary passenger whom he
should meet. While a resolution to this effect was gaining
strength, he entered a street of mean appearance, on either side
of which a row of ill-built houses was straggling towards the
harbor. The moonlight fell upon no passenger along the whole
extent, but in the third domicile which Robin passed there was a
half-opened door, and his keen glance detected a woman's garment

"My luck may be better here," said he to himself.

Accordingly, he approached the doors and beheld it shut closer as
he did so; yet an open space remained, sufficing for the fair
occupant to observe the stranger, without a corresponding display
on her part. All that Robin could discern was a strip of scarlet
petticoat, and the occasional sparkle of an eye, as if the
moonbeams were trembling on some bright thing.

"Pretty mistress," for I may call her so with a good conscience
thought the shrewd youth, since I know nothing to the
contrary,--"my sweet pretty mistress, will you be kind enough to
tell me whereabouts I must seek the dwelling of my kinsman, Major

Robin's voice was plaintive and winning, and the female, seeing
nothing to be shunned in the handsome country youth, thrust open
the door, and came forth into the moonlight. She was a dainty
little figure with a white neck, round arms, and a slender waist,
at the extremity of which her scarlet petticoat jutted out over a
hoop, as if she were standing in a balloon. Moreover, her face
was oval and pretty, her hair dark beneath the little cap, and
her bright eyes possessed a sly freedom, which triumphed over
those of Robin.

"Major Molineux dwells here," said this fair woman.

Now, her voice was the sweetest Robin had heard that night, yet
he could not help doubting whether that sweet voice spoke Gospel
truth. He looked up and down the mean street, and then surveyed
the house before which they stood. It was a small, dark edifice
of two stories, the second of which projected over the lower
floor, and the front apartment had the aspect of a shop for petty

"Now, truly, I am in luck," replied Robin, cunningly, "and so
indeed is my kinsman, the Major, in having so pretty a
housekeeper. But I prithee trouble him to step to the door; I
will deliver him a message from his friends in the country, and
then go back to my lodgings at the inn."

"Nay, the Major has been abed this hour or more," said the lady
of the scarlet petticoat; "and it would be to little purpose to
disturb him to-night, seeing his evening draught was of the
strongest. But he is a kind-hearted man, and it would be as much
as my life's worth to let a kinsman of his turn away from the
door. You are the good old gentleman's very picture, and I could
swear that was his rainy-weather hat. Also he has garments very
much resembling those leather small-clothes. But come in, I pray,
for I bid you hearty welcome in his name."

So saying, the fair and hospitable dame took our hero by the
hand; and the touch was light, and the force was gentleness, and
though Robin read in her eyes what he did not hear in her words,
yet the slender-waisted woman in the scarlet petticoat proved
stronger than the athletic country youth. She had drawn his
half-willing footsteps nearly to the threshold, when the opening
of a door in the neighborhood startled the Major's housekeeper,
and, leaving the Major's kinsman, she vanished speedily into her
own domicile. A heavy yawn preceded the appearance of a man, who,
like the Moonshine of Pyramus and Thisbe, carried a lantern,
needlessly aiding his sister luminary in the heavens. As he
walked sleepily up the street, he turned his broad, dull face on
Robin, and displayed a long staff, spiked at the end.

"Home, vagabond, home!" said the watchman, in accents that seemed
to fall asleep as soon as they were uttered. "Home, or we'll set
you in the stocks by peep of day!"

"This is the second hint of the kind," thought Robin. "I wish
they would end my difficulties, by setting me there to-night."

Nevertheless, the youth felt an instinctive antipathy towards the
guardian of midnight order, which at first prevented him from
asking his usual question. But just when the man was about to
vanish behind the corner, Robin resolved not to lose the
opportunity, and shouted lustily after him, "I say, friend! will
you guide me to the house of my kinsman, Major Molineux?"

The watchman made no reply, but turned the corner and was gone;
yet Robin seemed to hear the sound of drowsy laughter stealing
along the solitary street. At that moment, also, a pleasant
titter saluted him from the open window above his head; he looked
up, and caught the sparkle of a saucy eye; a round arm beckoned
to him, and next he heard light footsteps descending the
staircase within. But Robin, being of the household of a New
England clergyman, was a good youth, as well as a shrewd one; so
he resisted temptation, and fled away.

He now roamed desperately, and at random, through the town,
almost ready to believe that a spell was on him, like that by
which a wizard of his country had once kept three pursuers
wandering, a whole winter night, within twenty paces of the
cottage which they sought. The streets lay before him, strange
and desolate, and the lights were extinguished in almost every
house. Twice, however, little parties of men, among whom Robin
distinguished individuals in outlandish attire, came hurrying
along; but, though on both occasions, they paused to address him
such intercourse did not at all enlighten his perplexity. They
did but utter a few words in some language of which Robin knew
nothing, and perceiving his inability to answer, bestowed a curse
upon him in plain English and hastened away. Finally, the lad
determined to knock at the door of every mansion that might
appear worthy to be occupied by his kinsman, trusting that
perseverance would overcome the fatality that had hitherto
thwarted him. Firm in this resolve, he was passing beneath the
walls of a church, which formed the corner of two streets, when,
as he turned into the shade of its steeple, he encountered a
bulky stranger muffled in a cloak. The man was proceeding with
the speed of earnest business, but Robin planted himself full
before him, holding the oak cudgel with both hands across his
body as a bar to further passage

"Halt, honest man, and answer me a question," said he, very
resolutely. "Tell me, this instant, whereabouts is the dwelling
of my kinsman, Major Molineux!"

"Keep your tongue between your teeth, fool, and let me pass!"
said a deep, gruff voice, which Robin partly remembered. "Let me
pass, or I'll strike you to the earth!"

"No, no, neighbor!" cried Robin, flourishing his cudgel, and then
thrusting its larger end close to the man's muffled face. "No,
no, I'm not the fool you take me for, nor do you pass till I have
an answer to my question. Whereabouts is the dwelling of my
kinsman, Major Molineux?" The stranger, instead of attempting to
force his passage, stepped back into the moonlight, unmuffled his
face, and stared full into that of Robin.

"Watch here an hour, and Major Molineux will pass by," said he.

Robin gazed with dismay and astonishment on the unprecedented
physiognomy of the speaker. The forehead with its double
prominence the broad hooked nose, the shaggy eyebrows, and fiery
eyes were those which he had noticed at the inn, but the man's
complexion had undergone a singular, or, more properly, a twofold
change. One side of the face blazed an intense red, while the
other was black as midnight, the division line being in the broad
bridge of the nose; and a mouth which seemed to extend from ear
to ear was black or red, in contrast to the color of the cheek.
The effect was as if two individual devils, a fiend of fire and a
fiend of darkness, had united themselves to form this infernal
visage. The stranger grinned in Robin's face, muffled his
party-colored features, and was out of sight in a moment.

"Strange things we travellers see!" ejaculated Robin.

He seated himself, however, upon the steps of the church-door,
resolving to wait the appointed time for his kinsman. A few
moments were consumed in philosophical speculations upon the
species of man who had just left him; but having settled this
point shrewdly, rationally, and satisfactorily, he was compelled
to look elsewhere for his amusement. And first he threw his eyes
along the street. It was of more respectable appearance than most
of those into which he had wandered, and the moon, creating, like
the imaginative power, a beautiful strangeness in familiar
objects, gave something of romance to a scene that might not have
possessed it in the light of day. The irregular and often quaint
architecture of the houses, some of whose roofs were broken into
numerous little peaks, while others ascended, steep and narrow,
into a single point, and others again were square; the pure
snow-white of some of their complexions, the aged darkness of
others, and the thousand sparklings, reflected from bright
substances in the walls of many; these matters engaged Robin's
attention for a while, and then began to grow wearisome. Next he
endeavored to define the forms of distant objects, starting away,
with almost ghostly indistinctness, just as his eye appeared to
grasp them, and finally he took a minute survey of an edifice
which stood on the opposite side of the street, directly in front
of the church-door, where he was stationed. It was a large,
square mansion, distinguished from its neighbors by a balcony,
which rested on tall pillars, and by an elaborate Gothic window,
communicating therewith.

"Perhaps this is the very house I have been seeking," thought

Then he strove to speed away the time, by listening to a murmur
which swept continually along the street, yet was scarcely
audible, except to an unaccustomed ear like his; it was a low,
dull, dreamy sound, compounded of many noises, each of which was
at too great a distance to be separately heard. Robin marvelled
at this snore of a sleeping town, and marvelled more whenever its
continuity was broken by now and then a distant shout, apparently
loud where it originated. But altogether it was a sleep-inspiring
sound, and, to shake off its drowsy influence, Robin arose, and
climbed a window-frame, that he might view the interior of the
church. There the moonbeams came trembling in, and fell down upon
the deserted pews, and extended along the quiet aisles. A fainter
yet more awful radiance was hovering around the pulpit, and one
solitary ray had dared to rest upon the open page of the great
Bible. Had nature, in that deep hour, become a worshipper in the
house which man had builded? Or was that heavenly light the
visible sanctity of the place,--visible because no earthly and
impure feet were within the walls? The scene made Robin's heart
shiver with a sensation of loneliness stronger than he had ever
felt in the remotest depths of his native woods; so he turned
away and sat down again before the door. There were graves around
the church, and now an uneasy thought obtruded into Robin's
breast. What if the object of his search, which had been so often
and so strangely thwarted, were all the time mouldering in his
shroud? What if his kinsman should glide through yonder gate, and
nod and smile to him in dimly passing by?

"Oh that any breathing thing were here with me!" said Robin.

Recalling his thoughts from this uncomfortable track, he sent
them over forest, hill, and stream, and attempted to imagine how
that evening of ambiguity and weariness had been spent by his
father's household. He pictured them assembled at the door,
beneath the tree, the great old tree, which had been spared for
its huge twisted trunk and venerable shade, when a thousand leafy
brethren fell. There, at the going down of the summer sun, it was
his father's custom to perform domestic worship that the
neighbors might come and join with him like brothers of the
family, and that the wayfaring man might pause to drink at that
fountain, and keep his heart pure by freshening the memory of
home. Robin distinguished the seat of every individual of the
little audience; he saw the good man in the midst, holding the
Scriptures in the golden light that fell from the western clouds;
he beheld him close the book and all rise up to pray. He heard
the old thanksgivings for daily mercies, the old supplications
for their continuance to which he had so often listened in
weariness, but which were now among his dear remembrances. He
perceived the slight inequality of his father's voice when he
came to speak of the absent one; he noted how his mother turned
her face to the broad and knotted trunk; how his elder brother
scorned, because the beard was rough upon his upper lip, to
permit his features to be moved; how the younger sister drew down
a low hanging branch before her eyes; and how the little one of
all, whose sports had hitherto broken the decorum of the scene,
understood the prayer for her playmate, and burst into clamorous
grief. Then he saw them go in at the door; and when Robin would
have entered also, the latch tinkled into its place, and he was
excluded from his home.

"Am I here, or there?" cried Robin, starting; for all at once,
when his thoughts had become visible and audible in a dream, the
long, wide, solitary street shone out before him.

He aroused himself, and endeavored to fix his attention steadily
upon the large edifice which he had surveyed before. But still
his mind kept vibrating between fancy and reality; by turns, the
pillars of the balcony lengthened into the tall, bare stems of
pines, dwindled down to human figures, settled again into their
true shape and size, and then commenced a new succession of
changes. For a single moment, when he deemed himself awake, he
could have sworn that a visage--one which he seemed to remember,
yet could not absolutely name as his kinsman's--was looking
towards him from the Gothic window. A deeper sleep wrestled with
and nearly overcame him, but fled at the sound of footsteps along
the opposite pavement. Robin rubbed his eyes, discerned a man
passing at the foot of the balcony, and addressed him in a loud,
peevish, and lamentable cry.

"Hallo, friend! must I wait here all night for my kinsman, Major

The sleeping echoes awoke, and answered the voice; and the
passenger, barely able to discern a figure sitting in the oblique
shade of the steeple, traversed the street to obtain a nearer
view. He was himself a gentleman in his prime, of open,
intelligent, cheerful, and altogether prepossessing countenance.
Perceiving a country youth, apparently homeless and without
friends, he accosted him in a tone of real kindness, which had
become strange to Robin's ears.

"Well, my good lad, why are you sitting here?" inquired he. "Can
I be of service to you in any way?"

"I am afraid not, sir," replied Robin, despondingly; "yet I shall
take it kindly, if you'll answer me a single question. I've been
searching, half the night, for one Major Molineux, now, sir, is
there really such a person in these parts, or am I dreaming?"

"Major Molineux! The name is not altogether strange to me," said
the gentleman, smiling. "Have you any objection to telling me the
nature of your business with him?"

Then Robin briefly related that his father was a clergyman,
settled on a small salary, at a long distance back in the
country, and that he and Major Molineux were brothers' children.
The Major, having inherited riches, and acquired civil and
military rank, had visited his cousin, in great pomp, a year or
two before; had manifested much interest in Robin and an elder
brother, and, being childless himself, had thrown out hints
respecting the future establishment of one of them in life. The
elder brother was destined to succeed to the farm which his
father cultivated in the interval of sacred duties; it was
therefore determined that Robin should profit by his kinsman's
generous intentions, especially as he seemed to be rather the
favorite, and was thought to possess other necessary endowments.

"For I have the name of being a shrewd youth," observed Robin, in
this part of his story.

"I doubt not you deserve it," replied his new friend,
good-naturedly; "but pray proceed."

"Well, sir, being nearly eighteen years old, and well grown, as
you see," continued Robin, drawing himself up to his full height,
"I thought it high time to begin in the world. So my mother and
sister put me in handsome trim, and my father gave me half the
remnant of his last year's salary, and five days ago I started
for this place, to pay the Major a visit. But, would you believe
it, sir! I crossed the ferry a little after dark, and have yet
found nobody that would show me the way to his dwelling; only, an
hour or two since, I was told to wait here, and Major Molineux
would pass by."

"Can you describe the man who told you this?" inquired the

"Oh, he was a very ill-favored fellow, sir," replied Robin, "with
two great bumps on his forehead, a hook nose, fiery eyes; and,
what struck me as the strangest, his face was of two different
colors. Do you happen to know such a man, sir?"

"Not intimately," answered the stranger, "but I chanced to meet
him a little time previous to your stopping me. I believe you may
trust his word, and that the Major will very shortly pass through
this street. In the mean time, as I have a singular curiosity to
witness your meeting, I will sit down here upon the steps and
bear you company."

He seated himself accordingly, and soon engaged his companion in
animated discourse. It was but of brief continuance, however, for
a noise of shouting, which had long been remotely audible, drew
so much nearer that Robin inquired its cause.

"What may be the meaning of this uproar?" asked he. "Truly, if
your town be always as noisy, I shall find little sleep while I
am an inhabitant."

"Why, indeed, friend Robin, there do appear to be three or four
riotous fellows abroad to-night," replied the gentleman. "You
must not expect all the stillness of your native woods here in
our streets. But the watch will shortly be at the heels of these
lads and--"

"Ay, and set them in the stocks by peep of day," interrupted
Robin recollecting his own encounter with the drowsy
lantern-bearer. "But, dear sir, if I may trust my ears, an army
of watchmen would never make head against such a multitude of
rioters. There were at least a thousand voices went up to make
that one shout."

"May not a man have several voices, Robin, as well as two
complexions?" said his friend.

"Perhaps a man may; but Heaven forbid that a woman should!"
responded the shrewd youth, thinking of the seductive tones of
the Major's housekeeper.

The sounds of a trumpet in some neighboring street now became so
evident and continual, that Robin's curiosity was strongly
excited. In addition to the shouts, he heard frequent bursts from
many instruments of discord, and a wild and confused laughter
filled up the intervals. Robin rose from the steps, and looked
wistfully towards a point whither people seemed to be hastening.

"Surely some prodigious merry-making is going on," exclaimed he
"I have laughed very little since I left home, sir, and should be
sorry to lose an opportunity. Shall we step round the corner by
that darkish house and take our share of the fun?"

"Sit down again, sit down, good Robin," replied the gentleman,
laying his hand on the skirt of the gray coat. "You forget that
we must wait here for your kinsman; and there is reason to
believe that he will pass by, in the course of a very few

The near approach of the uproar had now disturbed the
neighborhood; windows flew open on all sides; and many heads, in
the attire of the pillow, and confused by sleep suddenly broken,
were protruded to the gaze of whoever had leisure to observe
them. Eager voices hailed each other from house to house, all
demanding the explanation, which not a soul could give.
Half-dressed men hurried towards the unknown commotion stumbling
as they went over the stone steps that thrust themselves into the
narrow foot-walk. The shouts, the laughter, and the tuneless bray
the antipodes of music, came onwards with increasing din, till
scattered individuals, and then denser bodies, began to appear
round a corner at the distance of a hundred yards

"Will you recognize your kinsman, if he passes in this crowd?"
inquired the gentleman

"Indeed, I can't warrant it, sir; but I'll take my stand here,
and keep a bright lookout," answered Robin, descending to the
outer edge of the pavement.

A mighty stream of people now emptied into the street, and came
rolling slowly towards the church. A single horseman wheeled the
corner in the midst of them, and close behind him came a band of
fearful wind instruments, sending forth a fresher discord now
no intervening buildings kept it from the ear. Then a redder
light disturbed the moonbeams, and a dense multitude of torches
shone along the street, concealing, by their glare, whatever
object they illuminated. The single horseman, clad in a military
dress, and bearing a drawn sword, rode onward as the leader, and,
by his fierce and variegated countenance, appeared like war
personified; the red of one cheek was an emblem of fire and
sword; the blackness of the other betokened the mourning that
attends them. In his train were wild figures in the Indian dress,
and many fantastic shapes without a model, giving the whole march
a visionary air, as if a dream had broken forth from some
feverish brain, and were sweeping visibly through the midnight
streets. A mass of people, inactive, except as applauding
spectators, hemmed the procession in; and several women ran along
the sidewalk, piercing the confusion of heavier sounds with their
shrill voices of mirth or terror.

"The double-faced fellow has his eye upon me," muttered Robin,
with an indefinite but an uncomfortable idea that he was himself
to bear a part in the pageantry.

The leader turned himself in the saddle, and fixed his glance
full upon the country youth, as the steed went slowly by. When
Robin had freed his eyes from those fiery ones, the musicians
were passing before him, and the torches were close at hand; but
the unsteady brightness of the latter formed a veil which he
could not penetrate. The rattling of wheels over the stones
sometimes found its way to his ear, and confused traces of a
human form appeared at intervals, and then melted into the vivid
light. A moment more, and the leader thundered a command to halt:
the trumpets vomited a horrid breath, and then held their peace;
the shouts and laughter of the people died away, and there
remained only a universal hum, allied to silence. Right before
Robin's eyes was an uncovered cart. There the torches blazed the
brightest, there the moon shone out like day, and there, in
tar-and-feathery dignity, sat his kinsman, Major Molineux!

He was an elderly man, of large and majestic person, and strong,
square features, betokening a steady soul; but steady as it was,
his enemies had found means to shake it. His face was pale as
death, and far more ghastly; the broad forehead was contracted in
his agony, so that his eyebrows formed one grizzled line; his
eyes were red and wild, and the foam hung white upon his
quivering lip. His whole frame was agitated by a quick and
continual tremor, which his pride strove to quell, even in those
circumstances of overwhelming humiliation. But perhaps the
bitterest pang of all was when his eyes met those of Robin; for
he evidently knew him on the instant, as the youth stood
witnessing the foul disgrace of a head grown gray in honor. They
stared at each other in silence, and Robin's knees shook, and his
hair bristled, with a mixture of pity and terror. Soon, however,
a bewildering excitement began to seize upon his mind; the
preceding adventures of the night, the unexpected appearance of
the crowd, the torches, the confused din and the hush that
followed, the spectre of his kinsman reviled by that great
multitude,--all this, and, more than all, a perception of
tremendous ridicule in the whole scene, affected him with a sort
of mental inebriety. At that moment a voice of sluggish merriment
saluted Robin's ears; he turned instinctively, and just behind
the corner of the church stood the lantern-bearer, rubbing his
eyes, and drowsily enjoying the lad's amazement. Then he heard a
peal of laughter like the ringing of silvery bells; a woman
twitched his arm, a saucy eye met his, and he saw the lady of the
scarlet petticoat. A sharp, dry cachinnation appealed to his
memory, and, standing on tiptoe in the crowd, with his white
apron over his head, he beheld the courteous little innkeeper.
And lastly, there sailed over the heads of the multitude a great,
broad laugh, broken in the midst by two sepulchral hems; thus,
"Haw, haw, haw,--hem, hem,--haw, haw, haw, haw!"

The sound proceeded from the balcony of the opposite edifice, and
thither Robin turned his eyes. In front of the Gothic window
stood the old citizen, wrapped in a wide gown, his gray periwig
exchanged for a nightcap, which was thrust back from his
forehead, and his silk stockings hanging about his legs. He
supported himself on his polished cane in a fit of convulsive
merriment, which manifested itself on his solemn old features
like a funny inscription on a tombstone. Then Robin seemed to
hear the voices of the barbers, of the guests of the inn, and of
all who had made sport of him that night. The contagion was
spreading among the multitude, when all at once, it seized upon
Robin, and he sent forth a shout of laughter that echoed through
the street,--every man shook his sides, every man emptied his
lungs, but Robin's shout was the loudest there. The cloud-spirits
peeped from their silvery islands, as the congregated mirth went
roaring up the sky! The Man in the Moon heard the far bellow.
"Oho," quoth he, "the old earth is frolicsome to-night!"

When there was a momentary calm in that tempestuous sea of sound,
the leader gave the sign, the procession resumed its march. On
they went, like fiends that throng in mockery around some dead
potentate, mighty no more, but majestic still in his agony. On
they went, in counterfeited pomp, in senseless uproar, in
frenzied merriment, trampling all on an old man's heart. On swept
the tumult, and left a silent street behind.

. . . . . . . . . . .

"Well, Robin, are you dreaming?" inquired the gentleman, laying
his hand on the youth's shoulder.

Robin started, and withdrew his arm from the stone post to which
he had instinctively clung, as the living stream rolled by him.
His cheek was somewhat pale, and his eye not quite as lively as
in the earlier part of the evening.

"Will you be kind enough to show me the way to the ferry?" said
he, after a moment's pause.

"You have, then, adopted a new subject of inquiry?" observed his
companion, with a smile.

"Why, yes, sir," replied Robin, rather dryly. "Thanks to you, and
to my other friends, I have at last met my kinsman, and he will
scarce desire to see my face again. I begin to grow weary of a
town life, sir. Will you show me the way to the ferry?"

"No, my good friend Robin,--not to-night, at least," said the
gentleman. "Some few days hence, if you wish it, I will speed you
on your journey. Or, if you prefer to remain with us, perhaps, as
you are a shrewd youth, you may rise in the world without the
help of your kinsman, Major Molineux."

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