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Ethelyn's Mistake by Mary Jane Holmes

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Bad Hugh.
Cousin Maude.
Darkness and Daylight.
Dora Deane.
Edith Lyle's Secret.
English Orphans, The.
Ethelyn's Mistake.
Family Pride.
Homestead on the Hillside, The.
Hugh Worthington.
Leighton Homestead, The.
Lena Rivers.
Maggie Miller.
Marion Grey.
Meadow Brook.
Mildred; or, The Child of Adoption.
Millbank; or, Roger
Irving's Ward.
Miss McDonald.
Rector of St. Marks, The.
Rose Mather.
Tempest and Sunshine.

_Price, postpaid, 50c. each, or any three
books for $1.25_







There was a sweet odor of clover blossoms in the early morning air, and
the dew stood in great drops upon the summer flowers, and dropped from
the foliage of the elm trees which skirted the village common. There was
a cloud of mist upon the meadows, and the windings of the river could be
distinctly traced by the white fog which curled above it. But the fog
and the mists were rolling away as the warm June sun came over the
eastern hills, and here and there signs of life were visible in the
little New England town of Chicopee, where our story opens. The
mechanics who worked in the large shoe-shop halfway down Cottage Row had
been up an hour or more, while the hissing of the steam which carried
the huge manufactory had been heard since the first robin peeped from
its nest in the alders down by the running brook; but higher up, on
Bellevue Street, where the old inhabitants lived, everything was quiet,
and the loamy road, moist and damp with the dews of the previous night,
was as yet unbroken by the foot of man or rut of passing wheel.

The people who lived there, the Mumfords, and the Beechers, and the
Grangers, and the Thorns, did not strictly belong to the working class.
They held stocks in railroads, and mortgages on farms, and so could
afford to sleep after the shrill whistle from the manufactory had
wakened the echoes of the distant hills and sounded across the waters
of Pordunk Pond. Only one dwelling here showed signs of life, and that
the large square building, shaded in front with elms and ornamented at
the side with a luxuriant queen of the prairie, whose blossoms were
turning their blushing faces to the rising sun. This was the Bigelow
house, the joint property of Mrs. Dr. Van Buren, nee Sophia Bigelow, who
lived in Boston, and her sister, Miss Barbara Bigelow, the quaintest and
kindest-hearted woman who ever bore the sobriquet of an old maid, and
was aunt to everybody. She was awake long before the whistle sounded
across the river and along the meadow lands, where some of the workmen
lived, and just as the robin, whose nest for four summers had been under
the eaves where neither boy nor cat could reach it, brought the first
worm to its clamorous young, she pushed the fringed curtain from her
open window, and with her broad frilled cap still on her head, stood for
a moment looking out upon the morning as it crept up the eastern sky.
"She will have a nice day for her wedding. May her future life be as
fair," Aunt Barbara whispered softly, then kneeling before the window
with her head bowed upon the sill, she prayed earnestly for God's
blessing on the bridal to take place that night beneath her roof, and
upon the young girl who had been both a care and a comfort since the
Christmas morning eighteen years before, when her half-sister Julia had
come home to die, bringing with her the little Ethelyn, then but two
years old.

Aunt Barbara's prayers were always to the point. She said what she had
to say in the fewest possible words, wasting no time in repetition, and
on this occasion she was briefer than usual, for the good woman had many
things upon her mind this morning. First, there was Betty to rouse and
get into a state of locomotion, a good half hour's work, as Aunt Barbara
knew from a three years' experience. There was the "sponge" put to rise
the previous night. She must see if that had risen, and with her own
hands mold the snowy breakfast rolls which Ethelyn liked so much. There
were the chambers to be inspected a second time, to ascertain if
everything was in its place, and dinner to be prepared for the "Van
Buren set" expected up from Boston, while last, though far from least,
there was Ethelyn herself to waken when the clock should chime the hour
of six, and this was a pleasure which good Aunt Barbara would not for
the world have foregone. Every morning for the last sixteen years, when
Ethelyn was at home, she had gone to the pleasant, airy chamber where
her darling slept, and bending over her had kissed her fair, glowing
cheek, and so called her back from the dreamless slumber which otherwise
might have been prolonged to an indefinite time, for Ethelyn did not
believe in the maxim, "Early to bed and early to rise," and always
begged for a little more indulgence, even after the brown eyes unclosed
and flashed forth a responsive greeting to the motherly face bending
above them.

This morning, however, it was not needful that Aunt Barbara should waken
her, for long before the robin sang, or the white-fringed curtain had
been pushed aside from Aunt Barbara's window, she was awake, and the
brown eyes, which had in them a strange expression for a bride's eyes to
wear, had scanned the eastern horizon wistfully, aye, drearily it may
be, to see if it were morning, and when the clock in the kitchen struck
four, the quivering lip had whispered, oh, so sadly, "Sixteen hours
more, only sixteen," and with a little shiver the bed-clothes had been
drawn more closely around the plump shoulders, and the troubled face had
nestled down among the pillows to smother the sigh which never ought to
have come from a maiden's lips upon her wedding day. The chamber of the
bride-elect was a pleasant one, large and airy and high, with windows
looking out upon the Chicopee hills, and from which Ethelyn had many a
time watched the fading of the purplish twilight as, girl-like, she
speculated upon the future and wondered what it might have in store for
her. One leaf of the great book had been turned and lay open to her
view, but she shrank away from what was written there, and wished so
much that the record were otherwise. Upon the walls of Ethelyn's chamber
many pictures were hung, some in water colors, which she had done
herself in the happy schooldays which now seemed so far away, and some
in oil, mementos also of those days. Pictures, too, there were of
people, one of dear Aunt Barbara, whose kindly face was the first to
smile on Ethelyn when she woke, and whose patient, watchful eyes seemed
to keep guard over her while she slept. Besides Aunt Barbara's picture
there was another one, a fair, boyish face, with a look not wholly
unlike Ethelyn, herself, save that it lacked the firmness and decision
which were so apparent in the proud curve of her lip and the flash of
her brown eyes. Fair-haired and blue-eyed, with something feminine in
every feature, it seemed preposterous that the original could ever make
a young girl's heart ache as Ethelyn Grant's was aching that June
morning, when, taking the small oval frame from the wall, she kissed it
passionately, and then thrust it away into the bureau drawer, which held
other relics than the oval frame. It was, in fact, the grave of
Ethelyn's buried hopes--the tomb she had sworn never to unlock again;
but now, as her fingers lingered a moment amid the mementos of the years
when, in her girlish ignorance, she had been so happy, she felt her
resolution giving way, and sitting down upon the floor, with her long
hair unfastened and falling loosely about her, she bowed her head over
buried treasures, and dropped into their grave the bitterest tears she
had ever shed. Then, as there swept over her some better impulse,
whispering of the wrong she was doing to her promised husband, she said:

"I will not leave them here to madden me again some other day. I will
burn them, every one."

There were matches within her reach, while the little fireplace was not
far away, and, sitting just where she was, Ethelyn Grant burned one
after another, letters and notes, some directed in schoolboy style, and
others showing a manlier hand, as the dates grew more recent and the
envelopes bore a more modern and fashionable look. Over one, the
freshest and the last, Ethelyn lingered a moment, her eyes growing dark
with passion, and her lips twitching nervously as she read:

"BOSTON, April--

"Dear Ethie: I reckon mother is right, after all. She generally is, you
know, so we may as well be resigned, and believe it wicked for cousins
to marry each other. Of course I can never like Nettie as I have liked
you, and I feel a twinge every time I remember the dear old times. But
what must be must, and there's no use fretting. Do you remember old
Colonel Markham's nephew from out West--the one who wore the short pants
and the rusty crape on his hat when he visited his uncle, in Chicopee,
some years ago? I mean the chap who helped you over the fence the time
you stole the colonel's apples. He has become a member of Congress, and
quite a big gun for the West, at least, mother thinks. He called on her
to-day with a message from Mrs. Woodhull, but I did not see him. He goes
up to Chicopee to-morrow, I believe. He is looking for a wife, they say,
and mother thinks it would be a good match for you, as you could go to
Washington next winter and queen it over them all. But don't, Ethie,
don't for thunder's sake! It fairly makes me faint to think of you
belonging to another, even though you may never belong to me. Yours
always, Frank."

There was a dark, defiant look in Ethelyn's face as she applied the
match to this letter, and then watched it blacken and crisp upon the
hearth. How well she remembered the day when she received it--the dark,
dismal April day, when the rain which dropped so fast from the leaden
clouds, seemed weeping for her, who could not weep then, so complete was
her humiliation, so utter her desolation. That was not quite three
months ago, and so much had happened since then as the result of that
M.C.'s visit to Chicopee. He was there again, this morning, an inmate of
the great yellow house, with the large, old-fashioned brass knocker,
and, by just putting aside her curtain, Ethelyn could see the very
window of the chamber where he slept. But Ethelyn had other matters in
hand, and if she thought at all of that window whose shutters were
rarely opened except when Colonel Markham had, as now, an honored
guest, it was with a faint shudder of terror, and she went on destroying
mementos which were only a mockery of the past. One little note, the
first ever received from Frank, after a, memorable morning in the
huckleberry hills, she could not burn. It was only a line, and, if read
by a stranger, would convey no particular meaning; so she laid it aside
with the lock of light, soft hair, which clung to her fingers with a
kind of caressing touch, and brought to her hot eyelids a mist which
cooled their feverish heat. And now nothing remained of the treasures
but a tiny tortoise-shell box, where, in its bed of pink cotton, lay a
little ring, with "Ethie" marked upon it. It was too small for the
finger it once encircled, for Ethel was but a child when first she wore
it. Her hands were larger; plumper, now, and it would not pass the
second joint of her finger, though she exerted all her strength to push
it on, taking a kind of savage delight in the pain it caused her, and
feeling that she was thus revenging herself on someone, she hardly knew
or cared whom. At last, however, with a quick, jerking motion she drew
it off, and covering her face with her hands, moaned bitterly:

"It hurts! it hurts! just as the bonds hurt which are closing around my
heart. Oh! Frank, Frank, it was cruel to serve me so."

There was a step in the hall below. Aunt Barbara was coming to waken
Ethelyn, and, with a spring, the young girl bounded to her feet, swept
her hands twice across her face, and, shedding back from her forehead
her wealth of bright brown hair, laughingly confronted the good woman,
who, in the same breath, expressed her surprise that her niece was once
up without being called, and her wonder at the peculiar odor pervading
the apartment.

"Smells if all the old newspapers in the barrel up garret had been burnt
at once," she said; but the fireplace, which lay in shadow, told no
tales, and Aunt Barbara never suspected the pain tugging at the heart of
the girl, whose cheeks glowed with an unnatural red as she dashed hot
water over neck, and arms, and face, playfully plashing a few large
drops upon her aunt's white apron, and asking if there was not an old
adage, "Blessed is the bride the sun shines on." "If so, I must be
greatly blessed," she said, pushing open the eastern shutter, and
letting in a flood of yellow sunlight.

"The day bids fair to be a scorcher. I hope it will grow cool this
evening. A crowded party is so terrible when one feels hot and
uncomfortable, and the millers and horn-bugs come in so thickly, and I
always get so red in the face. Please, auntie, you twist up my hair in a
flat knot--no matter how. I don't seem to have any strength in my arms
this morning, and my head is all in a whirl. It must be the weather,"
and, with a long, panting breath, Ethelyn sank, half fainting, into a
chair, while her frightened aunt ran for water, and camphor, and
cologne, hoping Ethelyn was not coming down with fever, or any other
dire complaint, on this her wedding day.

"It is the weather, most likely, and the awful amount of sewing you've
done these last few weeks," said Aunt Barbara; and Ethelyn suffered her
to think so, though she herself had a far different theory with regard
to that almost fainting fit, which served as an excuse for her unusual
pallor, for her listless apathy, and her want of appetite, even for the
flaky rolls, and the delicious strawberries, and thick, yellow cream
which Aunt Barbara put before her.

She was not hungry, she said, as she turned over the berries with her
spoon, and pecked at the snowy rolls. By and by she might want
something, perhaps, and then Betty would make her a slice of toast to
stay her stomach till the late dinner they were to have on Aunt Van
Buren's account--that lady always professing to be greatly shocked at
the early dinners in Chicopee, and generally managing, during her visits
home, to change entirely the ways and customs of Aunt Barbara Bigelow's
well-ordered household.

"I wish she was not coming, or anybody else. Getting married is a bore!"
Ethelyn exclaimed, while Aunt Barbara looked curiously enough at her,
wondering, for the first time, if the girl's heart were really in this
marriage, which for weeks had been agitating the feminine portion of
Chicopee, and for which so great preparations had been made.

Wholly honest and truthful and sincere herself, Aunt Barbara seldom
suspected wrong in others, and so when Ethelyn, one April night, after a
drive around the road which encircles Pordunk Pond, came to her and
said, "Congratulate me, auntie, I am to be Mrs. Judge Markham," she had
believed all was well, and that as sister Sophia Van Buren, of Boston,
had so often averred, there was not, nor ever had been, anything serious
between dandyish Frank, Mrs. Van Buren's only son, who parted his curly
hair in the middle, and the high-spirited, impulsive Ethelyn, whose eyes
shone like stars as she told of her engagement, and whose hand was icy
cold as she held it up to the lamp-light to show the large diamond which
flashed from the fourth finger as proof of what she said. The stone
itself was of the first water, but the setting was old, so old that a
connoisseur in such matters might wonder why Judge Markham had chosen
such a ring as the seal of his betrothal. Ethelyn knew why, and the
softest, kindliest feeling she had experienced for her promised husband
was awakened when he told her of the fair young sister whose name was
Daisy, and who for many years had slept on the Western prairie beneath
the blossoms whose name she bore. This young girl, loving God with all
her soul, loved too all the beautiful things he had made, and rejoiced
in them as so much given her to enjoy. Brought up in the far West, where
the tastes of the people were simpler than those of our Eastern
neighbors, it was strange, he said, how strong a passion she possessed
for gems and precious stones, especially the diamond. To have for her
own a ring like one she once saw upon a grand Chicago lady was her great
ambition, and knowing this the brother hoarded carefully his own
earnings, until enough was saved to buy the coveted ring, which he
brought to his young sister on her fourteenth birthday. But death even
then had cast its shadow around her, and the slender fingers soon grew
too small for the ring, which she nevertheless kept constantly by her,
admiring its brilliancy, and flashing it in the sunlight for the sake of
the rainbow hues it gave. And when, at last, she lay dying in her
brother's arms, with her golden head upon his breast, she had given back
the ring, and said, "I am going, Richard, where there are far more
beautiful things than this: 'for eye hath not seen, neither hath it
entered into the heart of man, the things prepared for those who love
Him,' and I do love Him, brother, oh! so much, and feel His arms around
me now as sensibly as I feel yours. His will stay after yours are
removed, and I am done with earth; but keep the ring, Brother Dick, and
when in after years you love some pure young girl as well as you love
me, only different--some girl who will prize such things, and is worthy
of it--give it to her, and tell her it was Daisy's; tell her for me, and
that I bade her love you, as you deserve to be loved."

All this Richard Markham had said to Ethelyn as they stood for a few
minutes upon the beach of the pond, with its waters breaking softly upon
the sands at their feet, and the young spring moon shining down upon
them like Daisy's eyes, as the brother described them when they last
looked on him. There was a picture of Daisy in their best room at home,
an oil painting made by a traveling artist, Richard said, and some day
Ethelyn would see it, for she had promised to be his wife, and the
engagement ring--Daisy's ring--was on her finger, sparkling in the
moonbeam, just as it used to sparkle when the dead girl held it in the
light. It was a superb diamond--even Frank, with all his fastidiousness,
would admit that, Ethelyn thought, her mind more, alas! on Frank and his
opinion than on what her lover was saying to her, of his believing that
she was pure and good as Daisy could have desired, that Daisy would
approve his choice, if she only knew, as perhaps she did; he could not
help feeling that she was there with them, looking into their
hearts--that the silvery light resting so calmly on the silent water was
the halo of her invisible presence blessing their betrothal. This was a
good deal for Richard Markham to say, for he was not given to poetry, or
sentiment, or imagery, but Ethelyn's face and Ethelyn's eyes had played
strange antics with the staid, matter-of-fact man of Western Iowa, and
stirred his blood as it had never been stirred before. He did fancy his
angel-sister was there; but when he said so to Ethelyn she started with
a shiver, and asked to be driven home, for she did not care to have even
dead eyes looking into her heart, where the fires of passion were
surging and swelling, like some hidden volcano, struggling to be free.
She knew she was doing wrong--knew she was not the pure maiden whom
Daisy would have chosen--was not worthy to be the bride of Daisy's
brother; but she must do something or die, and as she did not care to
die, she pledged her hand with no heart in it, and hushing the voice of
conscience clamoring so loudly against what she was doing, walked back
across the yellow sand, beneath the spring moonlight, to where the
carriage waited, and, in comparative silence, was driven to Aunt
Barbara's gate.

This was the history of the ring, and here, as well as elsewhere, we may
tell Ethelyn's history up to the time when, on her bridal day, she sat
with Aunt Barbara at the breakfast table, idly playing with her spoon
and occasionally sipping the fragrant coffee. The child of Aunt
Barbara's half-sister, she inherited none of the so-called Bigelow
estate which had come to the two daughters, Aunt Barbara and Aunt
Sophia, from their mother's family. But the Bigelow blood of which Aunt
Sophy Van Buren was so proud was in her veins, and so to this aunt she
was an object of interest, and even value, though not enough so to
warrant that lady in taking her for her own when, eighteen years before
our story opens, her mother, Mrs. Julia Bigelow Grant, had died. This
task devolved on Aunt Barbara, whose great motherly heart opened at once
to the little orphan who had never felt a mother's loss, so faithful and
true had Aunt Barbara been to her trust. Partly because she did not wish
to seem more selfish than her sister, and partly because she really
liked the bright, handsome child who made Aunt Barbara's home so cheery,
Mrs. Dr. Van Buren of Boston, insisted upon superintending the little
Ethelyn's education, and so, when only twelve years of age, Ethelyn was
taken from the old brick house under the elms, which Mrs. Dr. Van Buren
of Boston despised as the "district school where Tom, Dick, and Harry
congregated," and transplanted to the highly select and very expensive
school taught by Madame--, in plain sight of Beacon Street and Boston
Common. And so, as Ethelyn increased in stature, she grew also in wisdom
and knowledge, both of books and manners, and the style of the great
world around her. Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's house was the resort both of the
fashionable and literary people, with a sprinkling of the religious, for
the great lady affected everything which could effect her interest.
Naturally generous, her name was conspicuous on all subscription lists
and charitable associations, while the lady herself owned a pew in----
Church, where she was a regular attendant, together with her only son,
Frank, who was taught to kneel and respond in the right places and bow
in the creed, and then, after church, required to give a synopsis of the
sermon, by way of proving that his mind had not been running off after
the dancing school he attended during the week, under his mother's
watchful supervision. Mrs. Van Buren meant to be a model mother, and
bring up her boy as a model man, and so she gave him every possible
advantage of books and teachers, while far in the future floated the
possibility that she might some day reign at the White House, not as the
President's wife--this could not be, she knew, for the man who had made
her Mrs. Dr. Van Buren of Boston slept in the shadow of a very tall
monument out at Mount Auburn, and the turf was growing fresh and green
over his head. So if she went to Washington, as she fondly hoped she
might, it would be as the President's mother; but when examination after
examination found Frank at the foot of his class, and teacher after
teacher said he could not learn, she gave up the presidential chair, and
contenting herself with a seat in Congress, asked that great pains
should be taken to bring out the talent for debate and speech-making
which she was sure Frank possessed; but when even this failed, and
nineteen times out of twenty Frank could get no farther than "My name
is Norval, on the Grampian Hills," she yielded the M.C. too, and set
herself to make him a gentleman, polished, refined, and cultivated--one,
in short, who was au fait with all that fashionable society required;
and here she succeeded better. Frank was perfectly at home on the
dancing floor or in the saloons of gaiety, or the establishment of a
fashionable tailor, so that when Ethelyn, at twelve, went down to
Boston, she found her tall, slender, light-haired cousin of sixteen a
perfect dandy, with a capability and a disposition to criticise and
laugh at whatever there was of gaucherie in her country manners and
country dress. In some things the two were of mutual benefit to each
other. Ethelyn, who could conquer any lesson however difficult, helped
thick-headed, indolent Frank in his studies, translating his hard
passages in Virgil, working out his problems in mathematics, and even
writing, or at least revising and correcting, his compositions, while he
in return gave her lessons in etiquette as practiced by the Boston
girls, teaching her how to polka a waltz gracefully, so he would not be
ashamed to introduce her as his cousin, he said, at the children's
parties which they attended together. It was not strange that Frank Van
Buren should admire a girl as bright and piquant and pretty as his
cousin Ethelyn, but it was strange that she should idolize him, bearing
patiently with all his criticisms, trying hard to please him, and
feeling more than repaid for her exertions by a word of praise or
commendation from her exacting teacher, who, viewing her at first as a
poor relation, was inclined to be exacting, if not overbearing, in his
demands. But as time passed on all this was changed, and the
well-developed girl of fifteen, whom so many noticed and admired, would
no longer be patronized by the young man Frank, who, finding himself in
danger of being snubbed, as he termed Ethelyn's grand way of putting him
down, suddenly awoke to the fact that he loved his high-spirited cousin,
and he told her so one hazy day, when they were in Chicopee, and had
wandered up to a ledge of rocks in the huckleberry hills which
overlooked the town.

"They might as well make a sure thing of it," he said, in his off-hand
way. "If she liked him and he liked her, they would clinch the bargain
at once, even if they were so young." And so, when they went down the
hill back to the shadow of the elm trees, where Mrs. Dr. Van Buren sat
cooling herself and reading "Vanity Fair," there was a tiny ring on
Ethelyn's finger, and she had pledged herself to be Frank's wife some
day in the future.

Frank had promised to tell his mother, for Ethelyn would have no
concealment; and so, holding up her hand and pointing to the ring, he
said, more in jest than earnest:

"Look, mother, Ethie and I are engaged. If you have any objections,
state them now, or ever after hold your peace."

He did not think proper to explain either to his mother or Ethie that
this was his second serious entanglement, and that the ring had been
bought before for a pretty milliner girl, at least six years his senior,
whose acquaintance he had made at Nahant the summer previous, and whom
he had forgotten when he learned that to her taste his mother was
indebted for the stylish bonnet she sported every season. Frank
generally had some love affair in hand--it was a part of his nature; and
as he was not always careful in his choice, the mother had occasionally
felt a twinge of fear lest, after all her care, some terrible
mesalliance should be thrust upon her by her susceptible son. So she
listened graciously to the news of his betrothal--nay, she was pleased
with it, as for the time being it would divert his mind and keep him out
of mischief. That he would eventually marry Ethelyn was impossible, for
his bride must be rich; but Ethelyn answered the purpose now, and could
easily be disposed of when other and better game appeared. So the
scheming woman smiled, and said "it was not well for cousins to marry
and even if it were, they were both too young to know their minds, and
would do well to keep their engagement a secret for a time," and then
returned to Becky Sharp, while Frank went to sleep upon the lounge, and
Ethelyn stole off upstairs to dream over her happiness, which was as
real to her as such a thing could well be to an impulsive, womanly girl
of fifteen summers. She, at least, was in earnest, and as time passed on
Frank seemed to be in earnest, too, devoting himself wholly to his
cousin, whose influence over him was so great that he was fast becoming
what Aunt Barbara called a man, while his mother began again to have
visions of a seat in Congress, and brilliant speeches, which would find
their way to Boston and be read and admired in the circles in which
she moved.

And so the days and years wore on until Frank was a man of
twenty-four--a third-rate practitioner, too, whose sign, "Frank Van
Buren, Attorney-at-law," etc., looked very fresh and respectable in
front of the office on Washington Street, and Frank himself began to
have thoughts of claiming Ethelyn's promise and having a home of his
own. He would not live with his mother, he said; it was more independent
to be alone; and then, from some things he had discovered in his
bride-elect, he had an uneasy feeling that possibly the brown of
Ethelyn's eyes might not wholly harmonize with the gray of his mother's,
"for Ethie was spunky as the old Nick," he argued with himself, while
"for perversity and self-conceit his mother could not be beaten." It was
better they should keep up two households, his mother seeing to both,
and if need be, supplying the wants of both. To do Frank justice, he had
some very correct notions with regard to domestic happiness, and had he
been poor and dependent upon his own exertions he might have been an
average husband; at least he would have gotten on well with Ethelyn,
whose stronger nature would have upheld his and been like a supporting
prop to a feeble timber. As it was, he drew many pleasing pictures of
the home which was to be his and Ethie's. Now it was in the city, near
to his mother's and Mrs. General Tophevie, his mother's intimate friend,
whose house was the open sesame to the creme de la creme of Boston
society; but oftener it was a rose-embowered cottage, of easy access to
the city, where he could have Ethie all to himself when his day's labor
was over, and where the skies would not be brighter than Ethie's eyes
as she welcomed him home at night, leaning over the gate in the pale
buff muslin he liked so much, with rosebuds in her hair.

He had seen her thus so often in fancy, that the picture had become a
reality, and refused to be erased at once from the mental canvas, when,
in January, Miss Nettie Hudson, niece to Mrs. General Tophevie, came
from Philadelphia, and at once took prestige of everything on the
strength of the one hundred thousand dollars of which she was sole
heiress. The Hudson blood was a mixture of blacksmith's and shoemaker's,
and peddler's too, it was said; but that was far back in the past. The
Hudsons of the present day scarcely knew whether peddler were spelled
with two d's or one. They bought their shoes at the most fashionable
shops, and could, if they chose, have their horses shod with gold, and
so the handsome Nettie reigned supreme as belle. The moment Mrs. Dr. Van
Buren saw her, she recognized her daughter-in-law, the future Mrs.
Frank, and Ethie's fate was sealed. There had been times when Mrs. Dr.
Van Buren thought it possible that Ethelyn might, after all, be the most
favored of women, the wife of her son. These times were at Saratoga, and
Newport, and Nahant, where Ethelyn Grant was more sought after than any
young lady there, and where the proud woman herself took pride in
talking of "my niece," hinting once, when Ethelyn's star was at its
height, of a childish affaire du coeur between the young lady and her
son, and insinuating that it might yet amount to something. She changed
her mind when Nettie came with her one hundred thousand dollars, and
showed a willingness to be admired by Frank. That childish affaire du
coeur was a very childish affair, indeed; she never gave it a moment's
thought herself--she greatly doubted if Frank had ever been in earnest,
and if Ethelyn had led him into an entanglement, she would not, of
course, hold him to his promise if he wished to be released. He must
have a rich wife to support him in his refined tastes and luxurious
habits, for her own fortune was not so great as many supposed. She might
need it all herself, as she was far from being old, and then again it
was wicked for cousins to marry each other. It did not matter if the
mothers were only half-sisters; there was the same blood in the veins of
each, and it would not do at all, even if Ethelyn's affections were
enlisted, which Mrs. Van Buren greatly doubted.

This was what Mrs. Dr. Van Buren said to Ethelyn, after a stormy
interview with Frank, who had at first sworn roundly that he would not
give Ethie up, then had thanked his mother not to meddle with his
business, then bidden her "go to thunder," and finally, between a cry
and a blubber, said he should always like Ethie best if he married a
hundred Netties. This was in the morning, and the afternoon train had
carried Mrs. Dr. Van Buren to Chicopee, where Ethelyn's glowing face
flashed a bright welcome when she came, but was white and pallid as the
face of a corpse when the voluminous skirts of Mrs. Van Buren's poplin
dress passed through the gate next day and disappeared in the direction
of the depot. Aunt Barbara was not at home--she had gone to visit a
friend in Albany; and so Ethelyn met and fought with her pain alone,
stifling it as best she could, and succeeding so well that Aunt Barbara,
on her return, never suspected the fierce storm which Ethelyn had passed
through during her absence, or dreamed how anxiously the young girl
watched and waited for some word from Frank which should say that he was
ready to defy his mother, and abide by his first promise. But no such
letter came, and at last, when she could bear the suspense no longer,
Ethelyn wrote herself to her recreant lover, asking if it were really so
that hereafter their lives lay apart from each other. If such was his
wish, she was content, she said, and Frank Van Buren, who could not
detect the air of superb scorn which breathed in every line of that
letter, felt somehow aggrieved that "Ethie should take it so easy," and
relieved too, that with her he should have no trouble, as he had
anticipated. He was getting used to Nettie, and getting to like her,
too, for her manner toward him was far more agreeable than Ethie's
brusque way of manifesting her impatience at his lack of manliness. It
was inexplicable how Ethie could care for one so greatly her inferior,
both mentally and physically, but it would seem that she loved him all
the more for the very weakness which made her nature a necessity of his,
and the bitterest pang she had ever felt came with the answer which
Frank sent back to her letter, and which the reader has seen.

* * * * *

It was all over now, settled, finished, and two days after she hunted up
Aunt Barbara's spectacles for her, and then sat very quiet while the old
lady read Aunt Sophia's letter, announcing Frank's engagement with Miss
Nettie Hudson, of Philadelphia. Aunt Barbara knew of Ethelyn's
engagement with Frank, but like her sister at the time of its
occurrence, she had esteemed it mere child's play. Later, however, as
she saw how they clung to each other, she had thought it possible that
something might come of it, but as Ethelyn was wholly reticent on that
subject, it had never been mentioned between them. When, however, the
news of Frank's second engagement came, Aunt Barbara looked over her
spectacles straight at the girl, who, for any sign she gave, might have
been a block of marble, so rigid was every muscle of her face, and even
the tone of her voice as she said:

"I am glad Aunt Sophia is suited. Frank will be pleased with anything."

"She does not care for him and I am glad, for he is not half smart
enough for her," was Aunt Barbara's mental comment, as she laid the
letter by for a second reading, and then told her niece, as the last
item of news, that old Captain Markham's nephew had come, and they were
making a great ado over him now that he was a member of Congress, and a
Judge, too. They had asked the Howells and Grangers and the Carters
there to tea for the next day, she said, adding that she and Ethelyn
were also invited. "They want to be polite to him," old Mrs. Markham
said. Aunt Barbara continued, "but for my part, if I were he, I should
not care much for politeness that comes so late. I remember when he was
here ten years ago, on such a matter, and they fairly acted as if they
were ashamed of him then; but titles make a difference. He's an
Honorable now, and the old Captain is mighty proud of him."

What Aunt Barbara had said was strictly true, for there had been a time
when proud old Captain Markham ignored his brother's family living on
the far prairies of the West; but when the eldest son, Richard, called
for him, had become a growing man, as boys out West are apt to do,
rising from justice of the peace to a member of the State Legislature,
then to a judgeship, and finally to a seat in Congress, and all before
he was quite thirty-two, the Captain's tactics changed, and a most
cordial letter, addressed to "My dear nephew," and signed "Your
affectionate uncle," was sent to Washington, urging a visit from the
young man ere he returned to Iowa.

And that was how Richard Markham, M.C., came to be in Chicopee at the
precise time when Ethelyn's heart was bleeding at every pore, and ready
to seize upon any new excitement which would divert it from its pain.
She remembered well the time he had once before visited Chicopee. She
was a little girl of ten, fleeing across the meadow-land from a maddened
cow, when a tall, athletic young man had come to her rescue, standing
between her and danger, helping her over the fence, picking up the apron
full of apples which she had been purloining from the Captain's orchard,
and even pinning together a huge rent made in her dress by catching it
upon a protruding splint as she sprang to the ground. She was too much
frightened to know whether he had been wholly graceful in his endeavors
to serve her, and too thankful for her escape to think that possibly her
torn dress was the result of his rather awkward handling. She remembered
only the dark, handsome face which bent so near to hers, the brown,
curly head actually bumping against her own, as he stooped to gather the
stolen apples. She remembered, too, the kindly voice which asked if "her
aunt would scold," while the large, red hands pinned together the
unsightly seam, and she liked the Westerner, as the people of Chicopee
called the stranger who had recently come among them. Frank was in
Chicopee then, fishing on the river, when her mishaps occurred; and once
after that, when walking with him, she had met Richard Markham, who
bowed modestly and passed on, never taking his hands from his pockets
where they were planted so firmly, and never touching his hat as Frank
said a gentleman would have done.

"Isn't he handsome?" Ethelyn had asked, and Frank had answered, "Looks
well enough, though anybody with half an eye would know he was a codger
from the West. His pants are a great deal too short; and look at his
coat--at least three years behind the fashion; and such a hat, with that
rusty old band of crape around it. Wonder if he is in mourning for his
grandmother. Oh, my! we boys would hoot him in Boston. He's what I
call a gawky."

That settled it with Ethelyn. If fourteen-year-old Frank Van Buren,
whose pants and coats and neckties and hats were always the latest make,
said that Richard Markham was a gawky, he was one, and henceforth during
his stay in Chicopee, the Western young man was regarded by Ethelyn with
a feeling akin to pity for his benighted condition. Aunt Barbara's pew
was very near to Captain Markham's, and Richard, who was not much of a
churchman, and as often as any way lounged upon the faded damask
curtains, instead of standing up, often met Ethelyn's brown eyes fixed
curiously upon him, but never dreamed that she regarded him as a species
of heathen, whom it would be a pious act to Christianize. Richard rarely
thought of himself at all, or if he did, it was with a feeling that he
"was well enough "; that if his mother and "the neighbors" were
satisfied with him, as he knew they were, he ought to be satisfied with
himself. So he had no suspicion of the severe criticism passed upon him
by the little girl who read the service so womanly, he thought, eating
caraway and lozenges between times, and whose face he carried in memory
back to his prairie home, associating her always with the graceful
dark-brown heifer bearing so strong a resemblance to the cow which had
so frightened Ethelyn on the day of his first introduction to her.

But he forgot her in the excitement which followed, when he began to
grow rapidly, as only Western men can grow, and we doubt if she had been
in his mind for years until her name was mentioned by Mrs. Dr. Van
Buren, who saw in him a most eligible match for her niece. He was well
connected--own nephew to Captain Markham, and first cousin to Mrs.
Senator Woodhull, of New York, who kept a suite of servants for herself
and husband, and had the finest turn-out in the Park. Yes, he would do
nicely for Ethelyn and by way of quieting her conscience, which kept
whispering that she had not been altogether just to her niece, Mrs. Dr.
Van Buren packed her trunk and took the train for Chicopee the very day
of Mrs. Captain Markham's tea party.

Ethelyn was going, and she looked very pretty in her dark-green silk,
with the bit of soft, rich lace at the throat and the scarlet ribbon in
her hair. She was not dressed for effect. She cared very little, in
fact, what impression she made upon the Western Judge, though she did
wonder if, as a Judge, he was much improved from the raw young man whom
Frank had called a "gawky." He was standing with his elbow upon the
mantel talking to Susie Granger, when Ethelyn entered Mrs. Markham's
parlor; one foot was carelessly crossed over the other, so that only the
toe of the boot touched the carpet, while his hand grasped his large
handkerchief rather awkwardly. He was not at ease with the ladies; he
had never been very much accustomed to their society. He did not know
what to say to them, and Susie's saucy black eyes and sprightly manner
evidently embarrassed and abashed him. That vocabulary of small talk so
prevalent in society, and a limited knowledge of which is rather
necessary to one's getting on well with everybody, were unknown to him,
and he was casting about for some way to escape from his companion, when
Ethelyn was introduced, and his mind went back to the stolen apples and
the torn dress which he had pinned together.

Judge Markham was a tall, finely formed man, with deep hazel eyes, which
could be very stern or very soft in their expression, just as his mood
happened to be. But the chief attraction of his face was his smile,
which changed his entire expression, making him very handsome, as
Ethelyn thought, when he stood for a moment holding her hand between
both his broad palms and chatting familiarly with her as with an old
acquaintance. He could talk to her better than to Susie Granger, for
Ethie, though neither very deep nor learned, was fond of books and
tolerably well versed in the current literature of the day. Besides
that, she had a faculty of seeming to know more than she really did and
so the impression left upon the Judge's mind, when the little party was
over and he had returned from escorting Ethelyn to her door, was that
Miss Grant was far superior to any girl he had ever met since Daisy
died, and like the Judge in Whittier's "Maud Muller," he whistled
snatches of an old love tune he had not whistled in years, as he went
slowly back to his uncle's, and thought strange thoughts for him, the
grave old bachelor who had said he should never marry. He was not
looking for a wife, as rumor intimated, but he dreamed of Ethelyn Grant
that night, and called upon her the next day, and the next, until the
village began to gossip, and Mrs. Dr. Van Buren was in an ecstasy of
delight, talking openly of the delightful time her niece would have in
Washington the next winter, and predicting for her a brilliant career as
reigning belle, and even hinting the possibility of her taking a house
so as to entertain her Boston friends.

And Ethelyn herself had many and varied feelings on the subject, the
strangest of which was a perverse desire to let Frank know that she did
not care--that her heart was not broken by his desertion, and that there
were those who prized her even if he did not. She had criticised Judge
Markham very severely. She had weighed him in the balance with Frank,
and found him sadly, wanting in all those little points which she
considered as marks of culture and good breeding. He was not a ladies'
man; he was even worse than that, for he was sometimes positively rude
and ungentlemanly, as she thought, when he would open a gate or a door
and pass through it first himself instead of holding it deferentially
for her, as Frank would have done. He did not know how to swing his
cane, or touch his hat, or even bow as Frank Van Buren did; while the
cut of his coat, if not six, was at least two years behind the times,
and he did not seem to know it either. All these things Ethelyn wrote
against him; but the account was more than balanced by the seat in
Congress, the anticipated winter in Washington, the great wealth he was
said to possess, the high estimation in which she knew he was held, and
the keen pang of disappointment from which she was suffering. This last
really did the most to turn the scale in Richard's favor, for, like many
a poor, deluded girl, she fancied that marrying another was the surest
way to forget a past which it was not pleasant to remember. She
respected Judge Markham highly, and knew that in everything pertaining
to a noble manhood he was worth a dozen Franks, even if he never had
been to dancing school, and did not obsequiously pick up the
handkerchief which she purposely dropped to see what he would do. And
so, when Aunt Sophia had gone back to the city, and Judge Markham was in
a few days to return to his Western home, she rode with him around the
Pond, and when she came back the dead Daisy's ring was upon her finger
and she was a promised wife. A dozen times since then she had been
tempted to write to Richard Markham, asking to be released from her
engagement; for, bad as she has thus far appeared to the reader, there
were many noble traits in her character, and she shrank from wronging
the man of whom she knew she was not worthy.

But the deference paid her as Mrs. Judge Markham-elect, the delight of
Aunt Sophia, the approbation of Aunt Barbara, the letter of
congratulation sent her by Mrs. Senator Woodhull, Richard's cousin, and
more than all, Frank's discomfiture, as evinced by the complaining note
he sent her, prevailed to keep her to her promise, and the bridegroom,
when he came in June to claim her hand, little guessed how heavy was the
heart which lay in the bosom of the young girl so passively suffering
his caresses, but whose lips never moved in response to the kiss he
pressed upon them.

She was very shy, he thought--more so, even, than when he saw her last;
but he loved her just as well, and never suspected that, when on the
first evening of his arrival he sat with his arm around her, wondering a
little what made her so silent, she was burning with mortification
because the coat he wore was the very same she had criticised last
spring, hoping in her heart of hearts that long before he came to her
again it might find its proper place, either in the sewing society or
with some Jewish vender of old clothes. Yet here it was again, and her
head was resting against it, while her heart beat almost audibly, and
her voice was even petulant in its tone as she answered her lover's
questions. Ethelyn was making a terrible mistake, and she knew it,
hating herself for her duplicity, and vaguely hoping that something
would happen to save her from the fate she so much dreaded. But nothing
did happen, and it was now too late to retract herself. The bridal
trousseau was prepared under Mrs. Van Buren's supervision, the bridal
guests were bidden, the bridal tour was planned, the bridegroom had
arrived, and she would keep her word if she died in the attempt.

And so we find her on her bridal morning wishing nobody was coming, and
denouncing getting married "a bore," while Aunt Barbara looked at her in
surprise, wondering if everything were right. In spite of her ill humor,
she was very handsome that morning in her white cambric wrapper, with
just a little color in her cheeks and her heavy hair pushed back in
behind her ears and twisted under the silk net. Ethelyn cared little for
her looks--at least not then; by and by she might, when it was time for
Mrs. Dr. Van Buren to arrive with Frank and Nettie Hudson, whom she had
never seen. She should want to look her very best then, but now it did
not matter, even if her bridegroom was distant not an eighth of a mile,
and would in all probability be coming in ere long. She wished he would
stay away--she would rather not see him till night; and she experienced
a feeling of relief when, about nine o'clock, Mrs. Markham's maid
brought her a little note which read as follows:


"You must not think it strange if I do not come to you this morning, for
I am suffering from one of my blinding headaches, and can scarcely see
to write you this. I shall be better by night. Yours lovingly,


Ethelyn was sitting upon the piazza steps, arranging a bouquet, when the
note was brought to her; and as it was some trouble to put all the roses
from her lap, she sent the girl for a pencil, and on the back of the
note wrote hastily:

"It does not matter, as you would only be in the way, and I have
something of a headache, too.


"Take this back to Judge Markham," she said to the girl, and then
resumed her bouquet-making, wondering if every bride-elect were as
wretched as herself, or if to any other maiden of twenty the world had
ever looked so desolate and dreary, as it did to her this morning.



Captain Markham's carryall, which Jake, the hired man, had brushed up
wonderfully for the occasion, had gone over to West Chicopee after the
party from Boston--Mrs. Dr. Van Buren, with Frank, and his betrothed,
Miss Nettie Hudson, from Philadelphia. Others had been invited from the
city, but one after another their regrets had come to Ethelyn, who would
gladly have excused the entire set, Aunt Van Buren, Frank and all,
though she confessed to herself a great deal of curiosity with regard to
Miss Nettie, whom she had never seen; neither had she met Frank since
the dissolution of their engagement, for though she had been in Boston,
where most of her dresses were made, Mrs. Dr. Van Buren had wisely
arranged that Frank should be absent from home. She was herself not
willing to risk a meeting between him and Ethelyn until matters were too
well adjusted to admit of a change, for Frank had more than once shown
signs of rebellion. He was in a more quiescent state now, having made up
his mind that what could not be cured must be endured, and as he had
sensibility enough to feel very keenly the awkwardness of meeting
Ethelyn under present circumstances, and as Miss Nettie was really very
fond of him, and he, after a fashion, was fond of her, he was in the
best of spirits when he stepped from the train at West Chicopee and
handed his mother and Nettie into the spacious carryall of which he had
made fun as a country ark, while they rode slowly toward Aunt Barbara
Bigelow's. Everything was in readiness for them. The large north chamber
was aired and swept and dusted, and only little bars of light came
through the closed shutters, and the room looked very cool and nice,
with its fresh muslin curtains looped back with blue, its carpet of the
same cool shade, its pretty chestnut furniture, its snowbank of a bed,
and the tasteful bouquets which Ethelyn had arranged--Ethelyn, who
lingered longer in this room than the other one across the hall, the
bridal chamber, where the ribbons which held the curtains were white,
and the polished marble of the bureau and washstand, sent a shiver
through her veins whenever she looked in there. She was in her own cozy
chamber now, and the silken hair, which in the early morning had been
twisted under her net, was bound in heavy braids about her head, while a
pearl comb held it in its place, and a half-opened rose was fastened
just behind her ear. She had hesitated some time in her choice of a
dress, vacillating between a pale buff, which Frank had always admired,
and a delicate blue muslin, in which Judge Markham had once said she
looked so pretty. The blue had won the day, for Ethelyn felt that she
owed some concession to the man whose kind note she had treated so
cavalierly that morning, and so she wore the blue for him, feeling glad
of the faint, sick feeling which kept the blood from rushing too hotly
to her face, and made her fairer and paler than her wont. She knew that
she was very handsome when her toilet was made, and that was one secret
of the assurance with which she went forward to meet Nettie Hudson when
at last the carryall stopped before the gate.

Mrs. Dr. Van Buren was tired, and hot, and dusty, and as she was always
a little cross when in this condition, she merely kissed Ethelyn once,
and shaking hands with Aunt Barbara, went directly to the north chamber,
asking that a cup of tea might be made for her dinner instead of the
coffee whose fragrant odor met her olfactories as she stepped into the
house. First, however, she introduced Nettie, who after glancing at
Ethelyn, turned her eyes wonderingly upon Frank, thinking his greeting
of his cousin rather more demonstrative than was exactly becoming even
if they were cousins, and had been, as Mrs. Dr. Van Buren affirmed, just
like brother and sister. That was no reason why Frank should have wound
his arm around her waist, and kept it there, while he kissed her twice,
and brought such a bright color to her cheeks. Miss Nettie cared just
enough for Frank Van Buren to be jealous of him. She wanted all his
attentions herself, and so the little blonde was in something of a pet
as she followed on into the house, and twisted her hat strings into a
hard knot, which Frank had to disentangle for her, just as he had to
kiss away the wrinkle which had gathered on her forehead. She was a
beautiful little creature, scarcely larger than a child of twelve, with
a pleading, helpless look in her large, blue eyes which seemed to be
saying: "Look at me; speak to me, won't you?--notice me a little."

She was just the one to be made a tool of; and Ethelyn readily saw that
she had been as clay in Mrs. Van Buren's skillful hands.

"Pretty, very pretty, but decidedly a nonentity and a baby," was
Ethelyn's mental comment, and she felt something like contempt for
Frank, who, after loving and leaning on her, could so easily turn to
weak little Nettie Hudson.

At the sight of Frank and the sound of his voice, she had felt all the
olden feeling rushing back to her heart; but when, after Nettie had
followed Mrs. Van Buren to her chamber, and she stood for a moment alone
with him, he felt constrained to say something, and stammered out, "It's
deuced mean, Ethie, to serve you so, and mother ought to be indicted. I
hope you don't care much," all her pride and womanliness was roused and
she answered promptly: "Of course, I don't care; do you think I would
wish to marry Judge Markham if I were not all over that childish affair?
You have not seen him yet. He is a splendid man."

Ethelyn felt better after paying this tribute to Richard Markham, and
she liked him better, too, now that she had spoken for him, but Frank's
reply, "Yes, mother told me so, but said there was a good deal of your
Westernism about him yet," jarred on her feelings as she plucked the
roses growing at the end of the piazza and crushed them, thorns and all,
in her hands, feeling the smart less than the dull, heavy throbbing at
her heart. Frank did not seem to her just as he used to be; he was the
same polished dandy as of old, and just as careful to perform every
little act of gallantry, but the something lacking which she had always
felt to a certain extent was more perceptible now, and to herself she
accused him of having degenerated since he had passed from her
influence. She never dreamed of charging it to her interviews with Judge
Markham, whose topics of conversation were so widely different from
Frank's. She was not generous enough to concede anything in his favor,
though she felt glad that Frank was not quite the same he had been--it
would make the evening bridal before her easier to bear; and Ethelyn's
eyes were brighter and her smiles more frequent as she sat down to
dinner and answered Mrs. Van Buren's question: "Where is the Judge that
he does not dine with us?"

"Sick, is he?" Mrs. Van Buren said, when told of his headache, while
Frank remarked, "Sick of his bargain, maybe," laughing loudly at his own
joke, while the others laughed in unison; and so the dinner passed off
without that stiffness which Ethelyn had so much dreaded.

After it was over, Mrs. Dr. Van Buren felt better, and began to talk of
the "Judge," and to ask if Ethelyn knew whether they would board or keep
house in Washington the coming winter. Ethelyn did not know. She had
never mentioned Washington to Richard Markham, and he had never guessed
how much that prospective season at the capital had to do with her
decision. That it would be hers to enjoy she had no shadow of doubt, but
as she felt then she did not particularly care to keep up a household
for the sake of entertaining her aunt, and possibly Frank and his wife,
so she replied that she presumed "they should board, as it would be the
short session--if he was re-elected they might consider the house."

"There may be a still higher honor in store for him than a re-election,"
Mrs. Van Buren said, and then proceeded to speak of a letter which she
had received from a lady in Camden, who had once lived in Boston, and
who had written congratulating her old friend upon her niece's good
fortune. "There was no young man more popular in that section of the
country than Judge Markham," she said, "and there had been serious talk
of nominating him for governor. Some, however, thought him too young,
and so they were waiting for a few years when he would undoubtedly be
elected to the highest office in the State."

This piece of intelligence had greatly increased Mrs. Van Buren's
respect for the lady-elect of Iowa's future governor, and she gave the
item of news with a great deal of satisfaction, but did not tell that
her correspondent had added, "It is a pity, though, that he does not
know more of the usages of good society. Ethelyn is so refined and
sensitive that she will be often shocked, no doubt, with the manners of
the husband and his family."

This clause had troubled Mrs. Dr. Van Buren. She really liked Ethelyn,
and now that she was out of Frank's way she liked her very much, and
would do a good deal to serve her. She did not wish her to be unhappy,
as she feared she might be from the sundry rumors which had reached her
concerning that home out West, whither she was going. So, when, after
dinner, they were alone for a few moments, she endeavored to impress
upon her niece the importance of having an establishment of her own as
soon as possible.

"It is not well for sons' wives to live with the mother," she said. "She
did not mean that Nettie should live with her; and Ethelyn should at
once insist upon a separate home; then, if she should see any little
thing in her husband's manners which needed correcting, she could do it
so much better away from his mother. I do not say that there is anything
wrong in his manners," she continued, as she saw how painfully red
Ethelyn was getting, "but it is quite natural there should be, living
West as he does. You cannot expect prairie people to be as refined as
Bostonians are; but you must polish him, dear. You know how; you have
had Frank for a model so long; and even if he does not improve, people
overlook a great deal in a member of Congress, and will overlook more in
a governor, so don't feel badly, darling," and Mrs. Van Buren kissed
tenderly the poor girl, before whom all the dreary loneliness of the
future had arisen like a mountain, and whose heart even at that late
hour would fain have drawn back if possible.

But when, by the way of soothing her, Mrs. Van Buren talked of the
winter in Washington, and the honors which would always be accorded to
her as the wife of an M.C., and then dwelt upon the possibility of her
one day writing herself governor's lady, Ethelyn's girlish ambition was
roused, and her vanity flattered, so that the chances were that even
Frank would have been put aside for the future greatness, had he been
offered to her.

It was five o'clock now, in the afternoon, nearly time for the bridal
toilet to commence, and Mrs. Van Buren began to wonder "why the Judge
had not appeared." He was better of his headache and up and around, the
maid had reported, when at four she brought over the remainder of Mrs.
Captain Markham's silver, which had not been sent in the morning, and
then went back for extra napkins. There was no need to tell Ethelyn that
"he was up and around," for she had known it ever since a certain
shutter had been opened, and a man in his shirt-sleeves had appeared
before the window and thrown water from the wash bowl upon the lilac
bushes below. Ethelyn knew very well that old Mrs. Markham's servants
were spoiled, that her domestic arrangements were not of the best kind,
and that probably there was no receptacle for the dirty water except the
ground; but she did not consider this, or reflect that aside from all
other considerations the act was wholly like a man; she only thought it
like him, Judge Markham, and feelings of shame and mortification, such
as no woman likes to entertain with regard to her husband, began to rise
and swell in her heart. In the excitement of her toilet, however, she
forgot everything, even the ceremony for which she was dressing, and
which came to her with a shiver when a bridesmaid announced that Captain
Markham's carriage had just left his yard with a gentleman in it.

Judge Markham was on his way to his bridal.



He preferred to be called Richard by his friends and Mr. Markham by
strangers--not that he was insensible to the prestige which the title of
Judge or Honorable gave him, but he was a plain, matter-of-fact man, who
had not been lifted off his balance, or grown dizzy by the rapidity with
which he had risen in public favor. At home he was simply Dick to his
three burly brothers, who were at once so proud and fond of him, while
his practical, unpretending mother called him Richard, feeling, however,
that it was very proper for the neighbors to give him the title of
Judge. Of Mrs. Markham we shall have occasion to speak hereafter, so now
we will only say that she saw no fault in her gifted son, and she was
ready to do battle with anyone who should suggest the existence of a
fault. Richard's wishes had never been thwarted, but rather deferred to
by the entire family, and, as a natural consequence, he had come to
believe that his habits and opinions were as nearly correct as they well
could be. He had never mingled much in society--he was not fond of it;
and the "quilting bees" and "sugar pulls" and "apple parings" which had
prevailed in his neighborhood were not at all to his taste. He greatly
preferred his books to the gayest of frolics, and thus he early earned
for himself the sobriquet of "the old bachelor who hated girls"; all but
Abigail Jones, the shoemaker's daughter, whose black eyes and bright red
cheeks had proved too much for the grave, sober Richard. His first act
of gallantry was performed for her, and even after he grew to be Judge
his former companions never wearied of telling how, on the occasion of
his first going home with the fair Abigail Jones from spelling school,
he had kept at a respectful distance from her, and when the lights from
her father's window became visible he remarked that "he guessed she
would not be afraid to go the rest of the way alone," and abruptly
bidding her good-night, ran back as fast as he could run. Whether this
story were true or not, he was very shy of the girls, though the
dark-eyed Abigail exerted over him so strong an influence that, at the
early age of twenty he had asked her to be his wife, and she had
answered yes, while his mother sanctioned the match, for she had known
the Joneses in Vermont, and knew them for honest, thrifty people, whose
daughter would make a faithful, economical wife for any man. But death
came in to separate the lovers, and Abigail's cheeks grew redder still,
and her eyes were strangely bright as the fever burned in her veins,
until at last when the Indian-summer sun was shining down upon the
prairies, they buried her one day beneath the late summer flowers, and
the almost boy-widower wore upon his hat the band of crape which Ethelyn
remembered as looking so rusty when, the year following, he came to
Chicopee. Richard Markham believed that he had loved Abigail truly when
she died, but he knew now that she was not the one he would have chosen
in his mature manhood. She was suitable for him, perhaps, as he was when
he lost her, but not as he was now, and it was long since he had ceased
to visit her grave, or think of her with the feelings of sad regret
which used to come over him when, at night, he lay awake listening to
the moaning of the wind as it swept over the prairies, or watching the
glittering stars, and wondering if she had found a home beyond them with
Daisy, his only sister. There was nothing false about Richard Markham,
and when he stood with Ethelyn upon the shore of Pordunk Pond, and asked
her to be his wife, he told her of Abigail Jones, who had been two years
older than himself, and to whom he was once engaged.

"But I did not give her Daisy's ring," he said; and he spoke very
reverently as he continued, "Abigail was a good, sensible girl, and even
if she hears what I am saying she will pardon me when I tell you that it
did not seem to me that diamonds were befitting such as she; Daisy, I am
sure, had a different kind of person in view when she made me keep the
ring for the maiden who would prize such things, and who was worthy of
it. Abigail was worthy, but there was not a fitness in giving it to her,
neither would she have prized it; so I kept it in its little box with a
curl of Daisy's hair. Had she become my wife, I might eventually have
given it to her, but she died, and it was well. She would not have
satisfied me now, and I should--"

He was going to add "should not have been what I am," but that would
have savored too much of pride, and possibly of disrespect for the dead;
so he checked himself, and while his rare, pleasant smile broke all over
his beaming face, and his hazel eyes grew soft and tender in their
expression, he said: "You, Ethelyn, seem to me the one Daisy would have
chosen for a sister. You are quiet, and gentle, and pure like her, and I
am so glad of the Providence which led me to Chicopee. They said I was
looking for a wife, but I had no such idea. I never thought to marry
until I met you that afternoon when you wore the pretty delaine, with
the red ribbon in your hair. Do you remember it, Ethelyn?"

Ethelyn did not answer him at once. She was looking far off upon the
water, where the moonlight lay sleeping, and revolving in her mind the
expediency of being equally truthful with her future husband, and saying
to him, "I, too, have loved, and been promised to another." She knew
she ought to tell him this and she would, perhaps, have done so, for
Ethie meant to be honest, and her heart was touched and softened by
Richard's tender love for his sister; but when he was so unfortunate as
to call the green silk which Madame--, in Boston, had made, a pretty
delaine, and her scarlet velvet band a "red ribbon," her heart hardened,
and her secret remained untold, while her proud lip half curled in scorn
at the thought of Abigail Jones, who once stood, perhaps, as she was
standing, with her hand on Richard Markham's and the kiss of betrothal
wet upon her forehead. Ah, Ethie, there was this difference: Abigail had
kissed her lover back, and her great black eyes had looked straight into
his with an eager, blissful joy, as she promised to be his wife, and
when he wound his arm around her, she had leaned up to the bashful
youth, encouraging his caresses, while you--gave back no answering
caress, and shook lightly off the arm laid across your neck. Possibly
Richard thought of the difference, but if he did he imputed Ethelyn's
cold impassiveness to her modest, retiring nature, so different from
Abigail's. It was hardly fair to compare the two girls, they were so
wholly unlike, for Abigail had been a plain, simple-hearted, buxom
country girl of the West, whose world was all contained within the
limits of the neighborhood where she lived, while Ethie was a
high-spirited, petted, impulsive creature, knowing but little of such
people as Abigail Jones, and wholly unfitted to cope with any world
outside that to which she had been accustomed. But love is blind, and so
was Richard; for with his whole heart he did love Ethelyn Grant; and,
notwithstanding his habits of thirty years, she could then have molded
him to her will, had she tried, by the simple process of love. But,
alas! there was no answering throb in her heart when she felt the touch
of his hand or his breath upon her cheek. She was only conscious of a
desire to avoid his caress, if possible, while, as the days went by, she
felt a growing disgust for "Abigail Jones," whose family, she gathered
from her lover, lived near to, and were quite familiar with, his mother.

In happy ignorance of her real feelings, so well did she dissemble
them, and so proper and ladylike was her deportment, Richard bade her
good-by early in May, and went back to his Western home, writing to her
often, but not such letters, it must be confessed, as were calculated to
win a maiden's heart, or keep it after it was won. If he was awkward at
love-making, and only allowed himself to be occasionally surprised into
flashes of tenderness, he was still more awkward in letter-writing; and
Ethelyn always indulged in a headache, or a fit of blues, after
receiving one of his short, practical letters, which gave but little
sign of the strong, deep affection he cherished for her. Those were hard
days for Ethelyn--the days which intervened between her lover's bidding
her adieu and his return to claim her hand--and only her deeply wounded
pride, and her great desire for a change of scene and a winter in
Washington, kept her from asking a release from the engagement she knew
never ought to have been. Aside, however, from all this, there was some
gratification in knowing that she was an object of envy to Susie Graham,
and Anna Thorn, and Carrie Bell, either of whom would gladly have taken
her place as bride-elect of an M.C., while proud old Captain Markham's
frequent mention of "my nephew in Congress, ahem!" and Mrs. Dr. Van
Buren's constant exultation over the "splendid match," helped to keep up
the glamour of excitement, so that her promise had never been revoked,
and now he was there to claim it. He had not gone at once to Miss
Bigelow's on his arrival in Chicopee, for the day was hot and sultry,
and he was very tired with his forty-eight hours' constant travel, and
so he had rested a while in his chamber, which looked toward Ethelyn's,
and then sat upon the piazza with his uncle till the heat of the day was
past, and the round red moon was showing itself above the eastern hills
as the sun disappeared in the west. Then, in his new linen coat, cut and
made by Mrs. Jones, mother to Abigail, deceased, he had started for the
dwelling of his betrothed. Ethelyn had seen him as he came from the
depot in Captain Markham's carriage, and her cheek had crimsoned, and
then grown pale at sight of the ancient-looking hair trunk swinging
behind the carriage, all unconscious of the indignation it was exciting,
or of the vast difference between itself and the two huge Saratoga
trunks standing in Aunt Barbara Bigelow's upper hall, and looking so
clean and nice in their fresh coverings. Poor Ethelyn! That hair trunk,
which had done its owner such good service in his journeys to and from
Washington, and which the mother had packed with so much care, never
dreaming how very, very far it was behind the times, brought the hot
blood in torrents to her face, and made the white hands clasp each other
spasmodically, as she thought "Had I known of that hair trunk, I would
certainly have told him no."

Even Abigail Jones, the shoemaker's daughter, faded into insignificance
before this indignity, and it was long before Ethelyn could recover her
composure or her pulse resume its regular beat. She was in no haste to
see him; but such is the inconsistency of perverse girlhood that,
because he delayed his coming, she felt annoyed and piqued, and was half
tempted to have a headache and go to bed, and so not see him at all. But
he was coming at last, linen coat and all; and Susie Graham, who had
stopped for a moment by the gate to speak with Ethelyn, pronounced him
"a magnificent-looking fellow," and said to Ethelyn, "I should think you
would feel so proud."

Susie did not observe the linen coat, or if she had, she most likely
thought it a very sensible arrangement for a day when the thermometer
stood no degrees in the shade; but Susie was not Boston finished. She
had been educated at Mount Holyoke, which made a difference, Ethelyn
thought. Still, Susie's comment did much towards reconciling her to the
linen coat; and, as Richard Markham came up the street, she did feel a
thrill of pride and even pleasure, for he had a splendid figure and
carried himself like a prince, while his fine face beamed all over with
that joyous, happy expression which comes only from a kind, true heart,
as he drew near the house and his eye caught the flutter of a white robe
through the open door. Ethelyn was very pretty in her cool, cambric
dress, with a bunch of sweet English violets in her hair; and at sight
of her the man usually so grave and quiet, and undemonstrative with
those of the opposite sex, felt all his reserve give way, and there was
a world of tenderness in his voice and a misty look in his eye, as he
bent over her, giving her the second kiss he had ever given to her, and
asking, "How is my darling to-night?"

She did not take his arm from her neck this time--he had a right to keep
it there--and she suffered the caress, feeling no greater inconvenience
than that his big hand was very warm and pressed a little too hard
sometimes upon her shoulders. He spoke to her of the errand on which he
had come, and the great, warm hand pressed more heavily as he said, "It
seems to me all a dream that in a few days you will be my own Ethie, my
wife, from whom I need not be parted"; and then he spoke of his mother
and his three brothers, James, and John, and Anderson, or Andy, as he
was called. Each of these had sent kindly messages to Richard's
bride--the mother saying she should be glad to have a daughter in her
home, and the three brothers promising to love their new sister so much
as to make "old Dick" jealous, if possible.

These messages "old Dick" delivered, but wisely refrained from telling
how his mother feared he had not chosen wisely, that a young lady with
Boston notions was not the wife to make a Western man very happy.
Neither did he tell her of an interview he had with Mrs. Jones, who had
always evinced a motherly care over him since her daughter's death, and
to whom he had dutifully communicated the news of his intended marriage.
It was not what Mrs. Jones had expected. She had watched Richard's
upward progress with all the pride of a mother-in-law, lamenting often
to Mrs. Markham that poor Abigail could not have lived to share his
greatness, and during the term of his judgeship, when he stayed mostly
in Camden, the county seat, she had, on the occasion of her going to
town with butter and eggs, and chickens, taken a mournful pleasure in
perambulating the streets, and selecting the house where Abigail might,
perhaps, have resided, and where she could have had her cup of young
hyson after the fatigue of the day, instead of eating her dry lunch of
cheese and fried cakes in the rather comfortless depot, while waiting
for the train. Richard's long-continued bachelorhood had given her
peculiar pleasure, inasmuch as it betokened a continual remembrance of
her daughter; and as her youngest child, the blooming Melinda, who was
as like the departed Abigail as sisters ever are to each other ripened
into womanhood, and the grave Richard spoke oftener to her than to the
other maidens of the prairie village, she began to speculate upon what
might possibly be, and refused the loan of her brass kettle to the
neighbor whose husband did not vote for Richard when he ran for member
of Congress. Melinda, too, had her little ambitions, her silent hopes
and aspirations, and even her vague longings for a winter in Washington,
As the Markham house and the Jones house were distant from each other
only half a mile, she was a frequent visitor of Richard's mother, always
assisting when there was more work than usual on hand and on the
occasion of Richard's first going to Washington ironing his shirts and
packing them herself in the square hair trunk which had called forth
Ethelyn's ire. Though she did not remember much about "Abby," she knew
that, had she lived, Richard would have been her brother; and somehow he
seemed to her just like one now, she said to Mrs. Markham, as she hemmed
his pocket handkerchiefs, working his initials in the corner with pink
floss, and upon the last and best, the one which had cost sixty-two and
a half cents, venturing to weave her own hair, which was long, and
glossy, and black, as Abigail's had been. Several times a week during
Richard's absence, she visited Mrs. Markham, inquiring always after "the
Judge," and making herself so agreeable and useful, too, in
clear-starching and doing up Mrs. Markham's caps, and in giving receipts
for sundry new and economical dishes, that the good woman herself
frequently doubted if Richard could do better than take the black-eyed
Melinda; and when he told her of Ethelyn Grant, she experienced a
feeling of disappointment and regret, doubting much if a Boston girl,
with Boston notions, would make her as happy as the plainer Melinda, who
knew all her ways. Something of this she said to her son, omitting, of
course, that part of her thoughts which referred to Melinda. With Mrs.
Jones, however, it was different. In her surprise and disappointment she
let fall some remarks which opened Richard's eyes a little, and made him
look at her half amused and half sorry, as, suspending her employment of
paring apples for the dinner pie she put the corner of her apron to her
eyes, and "hoped the new bride would not have many airs, and would put
up with his mother's ways.

"You," and here the apron and hand with the knife in it came down from
her eyes--"you'll excuse me, Richard, for speaking so plain, but you
seem like my own boy, and I can't help it. Your mother is the best and
cleverest woman in the world, but she has some peculiarities which a
Boston girl may not put up with, not being used to them as Melin--I
mean, as poor Abigail was."

It was the first time it had ever occurred to Richard that his mother
had peculiarities, and even now he did not know what they were. Taking
her all in all, she was as nearly perfect, he thought, as a woman well
could be, and on his way home from his interview with Mrs. Jones he
pondered in his mind what she could mean, and then wondered if for the
asking he could have taken Melinda Jones to the fireside where he was
going to install Ethelyn Grant. There was a comical smile about his
mouth as he thought how little either Melinda or Abigail would suit him
now; and then, by way of making amends for what seemed disrespect to the
dead, he went round to the sunken grave where Abigail had slept for so
many years, and stood again just where he had stood that day when he
fancied the light from his heart had gone out forever. But he could not
bring back the olden feeling, or wish that Abigail had lived.

"She is happy now--happier than I could have made her. It is better as
it is," he said, as he walked away to Daisy's grave, where his tears
dropped just as they always did when he stood by the sod which covered
the fairest, brightest, purest being he had ever known, except
his Ethie.

She was just as pure and gentle and good as blue-eyed Daisy had been,
and on the manly face turned so wistfully to the eastward there was a
world of love and tenderness for the Ethie who, alas, did not deserve it
then, and to whom a few weeks later he gave his mother's kindly message.
Then, remembering what Mrs. Jones had said, he felt in duty bound
to add:

"Mother has some peculiarities, I believe most old people have; but I
trust to your good sense to humor them as much as possible. She has had
her own way a long time, and though you will virtually be mistress of
the house, inasmuch as it belongs to me, it will be better for mother to
take the lead, as heretofore."

There was a curl on Ethelyn's lip as she received her first lesson with
regard to her behavior as daughter-in-law; but she made no reply, not
even to ask what the peculiarities were which she was to humor. She
really did not care what they were, as she fully intended having an
establishment of her own in the thriving prairie village, just half a
mile from her husband's home. She should probably spend a few weeks with
Mrs. Markham, senior, whom she fancied a tall, stately woman, wearing
heavy black silk dresses and thread lace caps on great occasions, and
having always on hand some fine lamb's-wool knitting work when she sat
in the parlor where Daisy's picture hung. Ethelyn could not tell why it
was that she always saw Richard's mother thus, unless it were what Mrs.
Captain Markham once said with regard to her Western sister-in-law,
sending to Boston for a black silk which cost three dollars per yard--a
great price for those days--and for two yards of handsome thread lace,
which she, the Mrs. Captain, had run all over the city to get, "John's
wife was so particular to have it just the pattern and width she
described in her letter."

This was Richard's mother as Ethelyn saw her, while the house on the
prairie, which she knew had been built within a few years, presented a
very respectable appearance to her mind's eye, being large, and
fashioned something after the new house across the Common, which had a
bay window at the side, and a kind of cupola on the roof. It would be
quite possible to spend a few weeks comfortably there, especially as she
would have the Washington gayeties in prospect, but in the spring, when,
after a winter of dissipation she returned to the prairies, she should
go to her own home, either in Olney or Camden; the latter, perhaps, as
Richard could as well live there as elsewhere. This was Ethelyn's plan,
but she kept it to herself, and changing the conversation from Richard's
mother and her peculiarities, she talked instead of the places they were
to visit--Quebec and Montreal, the seaside and the mountains, and lastly
that great Babel of fashion, Saratoga, for which place several of her
dresses had been expressly made.

Ethelyn had planned this trip herself, and Richard, though knowing how
awfully he should be bored before the summer was over, had assented to
all that she proposed, secretly hoping the while that the last days of
August would find him safe at home in Olney among his books, his horses,
and his farming pursuits. He was very tired that night, and he did not
tarry longer than ten, though a word from Ethelyn would have kept him
for hours at her side, so intoxicated was he with her beauty, and so
quiet and happy he felt with her; but the word was not spoken, and he
left her standing on the piazza, where he could see the gleaming of her
white robes when he looked back, as he more than once did ere reaching
his uncle's door.

The next three days passed rapidly, bringing at last the eventful one
for which all others were made, it seemed to him, as he looked out upon
the early, dewy morning, thinking how pleasant it was there in that
quiet New England town, and trying to fight back the unwelcome headache
which finally drove him back to his bed, from which he wrote the little
note to Ethelyn, who might think strange at his non-appearance when he
had been accustomed to go to her immediately after breakfast. He never
dreamed of the relief it was to her not to have him come, as he lay
flushed and heated upon his pillow, the veins upon his forehead
swelling with their pressure of hot blood, and his ear strained to catch
the first sound of the servant's returning step. Ethelyn would either
come herself to see him, or send some cheerful message, he was sure.
How, then, was he disappointed to find his own note returned, with the
assurance that "it did not matter, as he would only be in the way."

Several times he read it over, trying to extract some comfort from it,
and finding it at last in the fact that Ethelyn had a headache, too.
This was the reason for her seeming indifference; and in wishing himself
able to go to her, Richard forgot in part his own pain, and fell into a
quiet sleep, which did him untold good. It was three o'clock when at
last he rose, knowing pretty well all that had been doing during the
hours of his seclusion in the darkened room. The "Van Buren set" had
come, and he overheard Mrs. Markham's Esther saying to Aunt Barbara's
Betsy, when she came for the silver cake-basket, that "Mr. Frank seemed
in mighty fine spirits, considering all the flirtations he used to have
with Miss Ethelyn."

This was the first intimation Richard had received of a flirtation, and
even now it did not strike him unpleasantly. They were cousins, he
reflected, and as such had undoubtedly been very familiar with each
other. It was natural, and nothing for which he need care. He did not
care, either, as he deliberately began to make his wedding toilet,
thinking himself, when it was completed, that he was looking unusually
well in the entire new suit which his cousin, Mrs. Woodhull, had
insisted upon his getting in New York, when on his way home in April he
had gone that way and told her of his approaching marriage. It was a
splendid suit, made after the most approved style, and costing a sum
which he had kept secret from his mother, who, nevertheless, guessed
somewhere near the truth, and thought the Olney tailor would have suited
him quite as well at a quarter the price, or even Mrs. Jones, who,
having been a tailoress when a young girl in Vermont, still kept up her
profession to a limited extent, retaining her "press-board" and "goose,"
and the mammoth shears which had cut Richard's linen coat after a
Chicago pattern of not the most recent date Richard thought very little
about his personal appearance--too little, in fact--but he felt a glow
of satisfaction now as he contemplated himself in the glass, feeling
only that Ethelyn would be pleased to see him thus.

And Ethelyn was pleased. She had half expected the old coat of she did
not know how many years' make, and there was a fierce pang of pain in
her heart as she imagined Frank's cool criticisms, and saw, in fancy,
the contrast between the two men. So when Judge Markham alighted at the
gate, and from her window she took in at a glance his tout ensemble, the
revulsion of feeling was so great that the glad tears sprang to her
eyes, and a brighter, happier look broke over her face than had been
there for many weeks. She was not present when Frank was introduced to
him; but when next she met her cousin, he said to her, in his usual
off-hand way, "I say, Ethie, he is pretty well got up for a Westerner.
But for his eyes and teeth I should never have known him for the chap
who wore short pants and stove-pipe hat with the butternut-colored
crape. Who was he in mourning for anyway?"

It was too bad to be reminded of Abigail Jones, just as she was
beginning to feel more comfortable; but Ethelyn bore it very well, and
laughingly answered, "For his sweetheart, I dare say," her cheeks
flushing very red as Frank whispered slyly, "You are even, then, on
that score."

No man of any delicacy of feeling or true refinement would have made
this allusion to the past, with his first love within a few hours of her
bridal, and his own betrothed standing near. But Frank had neither
delicacy of feeling nor genuine refinement, and he even felt a secret
gratification in seeing the blood mount to Ethelyn's cheeks as he thus
referred to the past.



There was a great deal of sincere and tender interest in Richard's
manner when, in reply to his inquiries for Ethelyn's headache, Aunt
Barbara told him of the almost fainting fit in the morning and her
belief that Ethelyn was not as strong this summer as she used to be.

"The mountain air will do her good, I trust," casting wistful glances up
the stairs and toward the door of the chamber, where girlish voices were
heard, Nettie Hudson and Susie Granger chatting gayly and uttering
exclamations of delight as they arranged and adjusted Ethelyn's
bridal robes.

Once during the period of his judgeship Richard had attended a large and
fashionable bridal party, but when, on his return to Olney, Melinda
Jones questioned him with regard to the dresses of the bride and the
guests, he found himself utterly unable to give either fabric, fashion,
or even color, so little attention had he given to the subject. He never
noticed such things, he said, but he believed some of the dresses were
made of something flimsy, for he could see through them, and he knew
they were very long, for he had stepped on some half dozen. And this was
all the information the inquisitive Melinda could obtain. Dress was of
little consequence, he thought, so it was clean and whole.

This was his theory; but when, as the twilight deepened on the Chicopee
hills, and the lamps were lighted in Aunt Barbara's parlors, and old
Captain Markham began to wonder "why the plague the folks did not come,"
as he stalked up and down the piazza in all the pride and pomposity of
one who felt himself to all intents and purposes the village aristocrat,
and when the mysterious door of Ethie's room, which had been closed so
long, was opened, and the bridegroom told that he might go in, he
started in surprise at the beautiful tableau presented to his view as he
stepped across the threshold. As was natural, he fancied that never
before had he seen three young girls so perfectly beautiful as the three
before him--Ethie, and Susie, and Nettie.

As a matter of course, he gave the preference to Ethelyn, who was very,
very lovely in her bridal robes, with the orange wreath resting like a
coronet upon her marble brow. There were pearls upon her fair neck and
pearls upon her arms, the gift of Mrs. Dr. Van Buren, who had waited
till the very last, hoping the Judge would have forethought enough to
buy them himself. But the Judge had not. He knew something of diamonds,
for they had been Daisy's favorites; but pearls were novelties to him,
and Ethelyn's pale cheeks would have burned crimson had she known that
he was thinking "how becoming those white beads were to her."

Poor, ignorant Richard! He will know more by and by of what constitutes
a fashionable lady's toilet; but now he is in blissful ignorance of
minutiae, and sees only the tout ensemble, which he pronounces perfect.
He was half afraid of her, though, she seemed so cold, so passive, so
silent, and when in the same breath Susie Granger asks if he ever saw
anyone so lovely as Ethelyn and bids him kiss her quick, he starts and
hesitates, and finally kisses Susie instead. He might, perhaps, have
done the same with Ethelyn if she had not stepped backward to avoid it,
her long train sweeping across the hearth where that morning she had
knelt in such utter desolation, and where now was lying a bit of
blackened paper, which the housemaid's broom had not found when, early
in the day, the room was swept and dusted. So Ethelyn's white satin
brushed against the gossamer thing, which floated upward for a moment,
and then settled back upon the heavy, shining folds. It was Richard who
saw it first, and Richard's hand which brushed away the skeleton of
Frank's letter from the skirts of his bride, leaving a soiled, yellowish
stain, which Susie Granger loudly deplored, while Ethelyn only drew her
drapery around her, saying coldly, that "it did not matter in the least.
She would as soon have it there as not."

It was meet, she thought, that the purity of her bridal garments should
be tarnished; for was not her heart all stained, and black, and crisp
with cruel deception? That little incident, however, affected her
strangely, bringing back so vividly the scene on the ledge of rocks
beneath the New England laurels, where Frank had sat beside her and
poured words of boyish passion into her ear. There was for a moment a
pitiful look of anguish in her eyes as they went out into the summer
night toward the huckleberry hills, where lay that ledge of massy rock,
and then come back to the realities about her. Frank saw the look of
pain, and it awoke in his own breast an answering throb as he wondered
if, after all, Ethie would not have preferred that he were standing by
her instead of the grave Judge, fitting on his gloves with an
awkwardness which said that such articles were comparative strangers to
his large, red hands.

It was time now to go down. The guests had all arrived, the clergyman
was waiting, and Captain Markham had grown very red in the face with his
impatience, which his wife tried in vain to quiet. If at this last
moment there arose in Ethelyn's bosom any wild impulse to break away
from the dreadful scene, and rush out into the darkness which lay so
softly upon the hills, she put it aside, with the thought, "too late
now--forever too late"; and taking the arm which Richard offered her,
she went mechanically down the staircase into the large parlor where the
wedding guests were assembled. Surely, surely, she did not know what she
was doing, or realize the solemn words: "I charge and require you both,
as ye shall answer at the great day, when the secrets of all hearts
shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment why ye may
not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it, for
be ye well assured," and so forth. She did not even hear them; for the
numb, dead feeling which crept over her, chilling her blood, and making
her hand, which Richard took in his while he fitted the wedding ring, so
cold and clammy to the touch, that Richard felt tempted to hold and
chafe it in his own warm, broad palms; but that was not in accordance
with the ceremony, and so he let it fall, wondering that Ethelyn could
be so cold when the sweat was standing in great drops upon his own face,
and moistening his wavy hair, which clustered in short, thick curls
around his brow, making him look so handsome, as more than one maiden
thought, envying Ethelyn her good fortune, and marveling at the pallor
of her lips and the rigidity of her form.

The ceremony was ended, and Ethelyn Grant was Mrs. Richard Markham; but
the new name brought no blushes to her cheek, nor yet the kiss her
husband gave her, nor the congratulations of the guests, nor Aunt
Barbara's tears, which dropped upon the forehead of her darling as the
good woman bent over her and thought how she had lost her; but when
Frank Van Buren stooped down to touch her lips the sluggish blood
quickened and a thrill went through and through her veins, sending the
bright color to her cheeks, which burned as with a hectic flush. Frank
saw the power he held, but to his credit he did not then exult; he only
felt that it was finished, that Ethie was gone past his recall; and for
the first time in his life he experienced a genuine pang of desolation,
such as he had never felt before, and he fought hard to master his
emotions while he watched the bride receiving the bridal guests. Another
than Frank was watching her, too--Mrs. Dr. Van Buren--who at one time
feared lest Ethelyn should faint, and who, as soon as an opportunity
offered, whispered to her niece, "Do, Ethie, put some animation in your
manner or people will think you an unwilling bride."

For a moment a gleam of anger flashed from the eyes which looked
unflinchingly into Mrs. Van Buren's, and the pale lips quivered with
passion. But Ethelyn had too much pride to admit of her letting the
people know what she was suffering, and so with great effort she rallied
her fainting spirits, and twice ere the evening was at a close her merry
laugh was heard even above Susie Granger's, as a knot of her gay
companions gathered round her with their merry jokes and gay repartees.

Susie Granger was in her happiest mood, and her lively spirits seemed to
pervade the whole party. Now that he knew her better, Richard was more
at ease with her, and returned her playful sallies until even Ethelyn
wondered to see him so funny. He never once forgot her, however, as was
evinced by the loving glances he bent upon her, and by his hovering
constantly at her side, as if afraid to lose her.

Once, when they were standing together and Frank was near to them,
Richard laid his hand upon Ethelyn's shoulder which the cut of the
wedding dress left bare. It was a very beautiful neck--white, and plump,
and soft--and Richard's hand pressed somewhat heavily; but with a shiver
Ethelyn drew herself away, and Frank, who was watching her, fancied he
saw the flesh creep backward from the touch. Perhaps it was a feeling of
pity, and perhaps it was a mean desire to test his own influence over
her, which prompted him carelessly to take her hand to inspect the
wedding-ring. It was only her hand, but as Frank held it in his own, he
felt it growing warm and flushed, while the color deepened on Ethelyn's
cheeks, and then died suddenly away at Frank's characteristic remark,
spoken for her ear alone, "You feel like thunder, Ethie, and so do I."

The speech did Ethelyn good. No matter how she felt, it was not Frank's
place to speak to her thus. She was now a wife, and she meant to be true
to her marriage vow, both in look and deed; so, with an impatient
gesture, she flung aside Frank's hand, repelling him fiercely with the
reply, "You are mistaken, sir--at least, so far as I am concerned."

After that she stayed more with Richard, and once, of her own accord,
she put her arm in his and stood half leaning against him with both
hands clasped together, while he held the bouquet which Mrs. Senator
Woodhull had sent by express from New York. It is true that Richard
smelled and breathed upon the flowers oftener than was desirable; and
once Ethelyn saw him extracting leaves from the very choicest blossoms;
but on the whole he did very well, considering that it was the first
time he had ever held a lady's bouquet in such an expensive holder.

As Ethelyn had predicted, the evening was hot and sultry; but the bugs
and beetles and millers she had dreaded did not come in to annoy her,
and when, as the clock struck twelve, the company dispersed, they were
sincere in their assertions of having passed a delightful evening, and
many were the good wishes expressed for Mrs. Judge Markham's happiness
as the guests took their way to their respective homes.

An hour later and the lights had disappeared from Miss Barbara Bigelow's
windows, and the summer stars looked down upon the quiet house where
that strange bridal had been.



From Mrs. Senator Woodhull's elegant house--where Mrs. Judge Markham had
been petted, and flattered, and caressed, and Mr. Judge Markham had been
adroitly tutored and trained without the least effect--the newly wedded
pair went on to Quebec and Montreal, and thence to the White Mountains,
where Ethelyn's handsome traveling dress was ruined and Richard's linen
coat, so obnoxious to his bride, was torn past repair and laid away in
one of Ethelyn's trunks, with the remark that "Mother could mend it for
Andy, who always took his brother's cast-off clothes." The hair trunk
had been left in Chicopee, and so Ethelyn had not that to vex her.

Noticed everywhere, and admired by all whom she met, the first part of
her wedding trip was not as irksome as she had feared it might be.
Pleased, as a boy, with his young bride, Richard was all attention, and
Ethelyn had only to express a wish to have it gratified, so that casual
lookers-on would have pronounced her supremely happy. And Ethelyn's
heart did not ache one-half so hard as on that terrible day of her
bridal. In the railway car, on the crowded steamboat, or at the large
hotels, where all were entire strangers, she forgot to watch and
criticise her husband, and if any dereliction from etiquette did occur,
he yielded so readily to her suggestion that to him seemed an easy task.
The habits of years, however, are not so easily broken, and by the time
Saratoga was reached, Richard's patience began to give way beneath
Ethelyn's multifarious exactions and the ennui consequent upon his
traveling about so long. Still he did pretty well for him, growing very
red in the face with his efforts to draw on gloves a size too small, and
feeling excessively hot and uncomfortable in his coat, which he wore
even in the retirement of his own room, where he desired so much to
indulge in the cool luxury of shirt-sleeves--a suggestion which Ethelyn
heard with horror, openly exclaiming against the glaring vulgarity, and
asking, a little contemptuously, if that were the way he had been
accustomed to do at home.

"Why, yes," he answered. "Out West upon the prairies we go in for
comfort, and don't mind so small a matter as shirt-sleeves on a
sweltering August day."

"Please do not use such expressions as sweltering and go in--they do not
sound well," Ethelyn rejoined. "And now I think of it, I wish you would
talk more to the ladies in the parlor. You hardly spoke to Mrs. Cameron
last evening, and she directed most of her conversation to you, too. I
was afraid she would either think that you were rude, or else that you
did not know what to say."

"She hit it right, if she came to the latter conclusion," Richard said,
good-humoredly, "for the fact is, Ethie, I don't know what to say to
such women as she. I am not a ladies' man, and it's no use trying to
make me over. You can't teach old dogs new tricks."

Ethie fairly groaned as she clasped her bracelets upon her arms and
shook down the folds of her blue silk; then after a moment she
continued: "You can talk to me, and why not to others?"

"You are my wife, Ethie, and I love you, which makes a heap of
difference," Richard said, and winding his arms around Ethie's waist he
drew her face toward his own and kissed it affectionately.

They had been three days at Saratoga when this little scene occurred
and their room was one of those miserable little apartments in the
Ainsworth block which look out upon nothing but a patch of weeds and the
rear of a church. Ethelyn did not like it at all, and liked it the less
because she felt that to some extent her husband was to blame. He ought
to have written and engaged rooms beforehand--Aunt Van Buren always did,
and Mrs. Col. Tophevie, and everybody who understood the ins and outs of
fashionable life. But Richard did not understand them. He believed in
taking what was offered to him without making a fuss, he said. He had
never been to Saratoga before, and he secretly hoped he should never
come again, for he did not enjoy those close, hot rooms and worm-eaten
furniture any better than Ethelyn did, but he accepted it with a better
grace, saying, when he first entered it, that "he could put up with
'most anything, though to be sure it was hotter than an oven."

His mode of expressing himself had never suited Ethelyn. Particular, and
even elegant in her choice of language, it grated upon her sensitive
ear, and forgetting that she had all her life heard similar expressions
in Chicopee, she charged it to the West, and Iowa was blamed for the
faults of her son more than she deserved. At Saratoga, where they met
many of her acquaintances, all of whom were anxious to see the
fastidious Ethelyn's husband, it seemed to her that he was more remiss
than ever in those little things which make up the finished gentleman,
while his peculiar expressions sometimes made every nerve quiver with
pain. The consequence of this was that Ethelyn became a very little
cross, as Richard thought, though she had never so openly attacked him
as on that day, the third after their arrival, when to her horror he
took off his coat, preparatory to a little comfort, while she was
dressing for dinner. At Ethelyn's request, however, he put it on again,
saying as he did so, that he was "sweating like a butcher," which remark
called out his wife's contemptuous inquiries concerning his habits at
home. Richard was still too much in love with his young wife to feel
very greatly irritated. In word and deed she had done her duty toward
him thus far, and he had nothing to complain of. It is true she was very
quiet and passive, and undemonstrative, never giving him back any caress
as he had seen wives do. But then he was not very demonstrative himself,
and so he excused it the more readily in her, and loved her all the
same. It amused him that a girl of twenty should presume to criticise
him, a man of thirty-two, a Judge, and a member of Congress, to whom the
Olney people paid such deference, and he bore with her at first just as
a mother would bear with the little child which assumed a
superiority over her.

This afternoon, however, when she said so much to him, he was conscious
of a very little irritation, for he was naturally high-spirited. But he
put the feeling down, and gayly kissed his six-weeks bride, who, touched
with his forbearance, kissed him back again, and suffered him to hold
her cool face a moment between his hot, moist hands, while he bent
over her.

She did respect him in spite of his vulgarism; nor was she unconscious
of the position which, as his wife, she held. It was very pleasant to
hear people say of her when she passed by:

"That is Mrs. Judge Markham, of Iowa--her husband is a member of

Very pleasant, too, to meet with his friends, other M. C.'s, who paid
her deference on his account. Had they stayed away from Saratoga all
might have been well; but alas, they were there, and so was all of
Ethelyn's world--the Tophevies, the Hales, the Hungerfords and Van
Burens, with Nettie Hudson, opening her great blue eyes at Richard's
mistakes and asking Frank in Ethelyn's hearing, "if that Judge Markham's
manners were not a little outre."

They certainly were outre, there was no denying it, and Ethelyn's blood
tingled to her finger tips as she wondered if it would always be so. It
is a pitiable thing for a wife to blush for her husband, to watch
constantly lest he depart from those little points of etiquette which
women catch intuitively, but which some of our most learned men fail to
learn in a lifetime. And here they greatly err, for no man, however well
versed he may be in science and literature, is well educated, or well
balanced, or excusable, if he neglects the little things which good
breeding and common politeness require of him, and Richard was somewhat
to be blamed. It did not follow because his faults had never been
pointed out to him that they did not exist, or that others did not
observe them besides his wife. Ethelyn, to be sure, was more deeply
interested than anyone else, and felt his mistakes more keenly, while at
the same time she was over-fastidious, and had not the happiest faculty
for correcting him. She did not love him well enough to be very careful
of wounding him, but the patience and good humor with which he received
her reprimand that hot August afternoon, when the thermometer was one
hundred in the shade, and any man would have been excusable for
retorting upon his wife who lectured him, awoke a throb of something
nearer akin to love than anything she had felt since the night when she
stood upon the sandy beach and heard the story of Daisy.

Richard was going to do better. He would wear his coat all the time,
both day and night, if Ethelyn said so, He would not lean his elbow on
the table while waiting for dessert, as he had more than once been
guilty of doing; he would not help himself to a dish before passing it
to the ladies near him; he would talk to Mrs. Cameron in the evening,
and would try not to be so absorbed in his own thoughts as to pay no
attention when Mrs. Tophevie was addressing herself directly to him; he
would laugh in the right place, and, when spoken to, would answer in
something besides monosyllables; he would try to keep his hands out of
his pockets and his handkerchief out of his hand, or at least he would
not "snap it," as Ethie said he had done on the first evening of his
arrival at Saratoga. In short, he promised a complete reformation, even
saying that if Ethelyn would select some person who was an fait in those
matters in which he was so remiss, he would watch and copy that man to
the letter. Would she name someone? And Ethelyn named her cousin Frank,
while Richard felt a flush of something like resentment that he should
be required to imitate a person whom in his secret heart he despised as
dandyish, and weak, and silly, and "namby-pamby," as he would probably
have expressed it if he had not forsworn slang phrases of every kind.
But Richard had pledged his word, and meant to keep it; and so it was to
all appearances a very happy and loving couple which, when the dinner
gong sounded, walked into the dining room with Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's set,
Ethelyn's handsome blue silk sweeping far behind her, and her white bare
arm just touching the coat-sleeve of her husband, who was not insensible
to the impression made by the beautiful woman at his side.

There were no lectures that night, for Richard had done his best,
talking at least twenty times with both Mrs. Cameron and Mrs. Colonel
Tophevie, whom he found more agreeable than he had supposed. Then he had
held Ethelyn's white cloak upon his arm, and stood patiently against the
wall, while up at the United States she danced set after set--first, the
Lancers, with young Lieutenant Gray, then a polka with John Tophevie,
and lastly, a waltz with Frank Van Buren, who whirled his fair partner
about the room with a velocity which made Richard dizzy and awoke sundry
thoughts not wholly complimentary to that doubtful dance, the waltz.
Richard did not dance himself, at least not latterly. In his younger
days, when he and Abigail Jones attended the quilting-frolics together
and the "paring bees," he had with other young men, tried his feet at
Scotch reels, French fours, "The Cheat," and the "Twin Sisters," with
occasionally a cotillion, but he was not accomplished in the art. Even
the Olney girls called him awkward, preferring almost anyone else for a
partner, and so he abandoned the floor and cultivated his head rather
than his heels. He liked to see dancing, and at first it was rather
pleasant watching Ethelyn's lithe figure gliding gracefully through the
intricate movements of the Lancers; but when it came to the waltz, he
was not so sure about it, and he wondered if it were necessary for Frank
Van Buren to clasp her as tightly about the waist as he did, or for her
to lean so languidly upon his shoulder.

Richard was not naturally jealous--certainly not of Frank Van Buren; but
he would rather his wife should not waltz with him or any other man, and
so he said to her, asking this concession on her part in return for all
he had promised to attempt; and to Ethelyn's credit we record that she
yielded to her husband's wishes, and, greatly to Frank's surprise,
declined the waltz which he had proposed the following evening. But she
made amends in other dances, keeping poor Richard waiting for her night
after night, until he actually fell asleep and dreamed of the log cabin
on the prairie, where he had once danced a quadrille with Abigail Jones
to the tune of Money-musk, as played by the Plympton brothers--the one
on a cracked violin, and the other on an accordion.

A tap of Mrs. Tophevie's fan brought him back to consciousness, and he
was almost guilty of a sigh as the log cabin faded from his vision, with
the Plymptons and Abigail Jones, leaving instead that heated ballroom,
with its trained orchestra, its bevy of fair young girls, its score of
white-kidded dandies with wasp-like waists and perfumed locks, and Ethie
smiling in their midst.

Saratoga did not agree with Richard. He grew sick first of the water;
then of the fare; then of the daily routine of fashionable follies; then
of the people; and then, oh! so sick of the petty lectures which Ethelyn
gradually resumed as he failed in his attempts to imitate Frank Van
Buren and appear perfectly at ease in everybody's presence. Saratoga was
a "confounded bore," he said, and though he called himself a brute, and
a savage, and a heathen, he was only very glad when toward the last of
August Ethelyn became so seriously indisposed as to make a longer stay
in Saratoga impossible. Newport, of course, was given up, and Ethelyn's
desire was to go back to Chicopee and lie down again in the dear old
room which had been hers from childhood. Aunt Barbara's toast, Aunt
Barbara's tea, and Aunt Barbara's nursing, would soon bring her all
right again, she said; but in this she was mistaken, for although the
toast, and the tea, and the nursing each came in its turn, the September
flowers had faded, and the trees on the Chicopee hills were beginning to
flaunt their bright October robes ere she recovered from the low,
nervous fever, induced by the mental and bodily excitement through which
she had passed during the last three or four months.

Although he knew it was necessary that he should be at home if he would
transact any business before the opening of his next session in
Washington, Richard put aside all thoughts of self, and nursed his wife
with a devotedness which awakened her liveliest gratitude.

Richard was not awkward in the sick-room. It seemed to be his special
providence, and as he had once nursed and cared for Daisy and the baby
brother who died, so he now cared for Ethelyn, until she began to miss
him when he left her side, and to listen for his returning step when he
went out for an hour or so to smoke and talk politics with his uncle,
Captain Markham. With Mrs. Dr. Van Buren and Frank and the fashionable
world all away, Richard's faults were not so perceptible, and Ethelyn
even began to look forward with considerable interest to the time when
she should be able to start for her Western home, about which she had
built many delusive castles. Her piano had already been sent on in
advance, she saying to Susie Granger, who came in while it was being
boxed, that as they were not to keep house till spring she should not
take furniture now. Possibly they could find what they needed in
Chicago; if not, they could order from Boston.

Richard, who overheard this remark, wondered what it meant, for he had
not the most remote idea of separating himself from his mother. She was
very essential to his happiness; and he was hardly willing to confess to
himself how much during the last summer he had missed her. She had a way
of petting him and deferring to his judgment and making him feel that
Richard Markham was a very nice kind of man, far different from
Ethelyn's criticisms, which had sometimes led him seriously to inquire
whether he were a fool or not. No, he could not live apart from his
mother--he was firm upon that point; but there was time enough to say so
when the subject should be broached to him. So he went on nailing down
the cover to the pine box, and thinking as he nailed what a nice kitchen
cupboard the box would make when once it was safely landed at his home
in the prairie, and wondering, too, how his mother--who was not very
fond of music--would bear the sound of the piano and if Ethie would be
willing for Melinda Jones to practice upon it. He knew Melinda had taken
lessons at Camden, where she had been to school, and he had heard her
express a wish that someone nearer than the village had an instrument,
as she should soon forget all she had learned. Somehow Melinda was a
good deal in Richard's mind, and when a button was missing from his
shirts, or his toes came through his socks--as was often the case at
Saratoga--he found himself thinking of the way Melinda had of helping
"fix his things" when he was going from home, and of hearing his mother
say what a handy girl she was, and what a thrifty, careful wife she
would make. He meant nothing derogatory to Ethelyn in these
reminiscences; he would not have exchanged her for a thousand Melindas,
even if he had to pin his shirt bosoms together and go barefoot all his
life. But Melinda kept recurring to his mind much as if she had been his
sister, and he thought it would be but a simple act of gratitude for all
she had done for him to give her the use of the piano for at least one
hour each day.

In blissful ignorance of all that was meditated against her, Ethelyn saw
her piano taken away from the sitting room, where it would never stand
again, and saw the tears which rolled down Aunt Barbara's faded cheeks
as she, too, watched its going, and tried to fill up the vacancy it left
by moving a chair and a table and a footstool into the gap. Those were
hard days for Aunt Barbara, harder than for Ethelyn, who liked the
excitement of traveling, and was almost glad when the crisp October
morning came on which she was to say good-by to the home which was hers
no longer. Her two huge trunks stood in the hall, together with the
square hair trunk which held Richard's wardrobe, and the three tin cans
of peaches Mrs. Captain Markham was sending to her sister-in-law, with
the injunction to be sure and get that particular patent for cans if she
wished her fruit to keep. In addition to these, an immense box had been
forwarded by express, containing, besides Ethelyn's wearing apparel,
many little ornaments and pictures and brackets, which, during the

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