Part 1 out of 7
Produced by Al Haines
MRS. MARY J. HOLMES.
"TEMPEST AND SUNSHINE," "ENGLISH ORPHANS," "DARKNESS AND DAYLIGHT,"
"MARIAN GRAY," "ETHELYN'S MISTAKE," "CAMERON PRIDE," "EDNA BROWNING,"
"WEST LAWN," "EDITH LYLE," ETC., ETC.
If it be true, as some have said, that a _secret_ is safer in a
_preface_ than elsewhere, it would be worse than folly for me to
waste the "midnight oil," in the manufacture of an article which no
one would read, and which would serve no purpose, save the adding of
a page or so to a volume perhaps already too large. But I do not
think so. I wot of a few who, with a horror of anything savoring of
_humbug_, wade industriously through a preface, be it never so
lengthy, hoping therein to find the _moral_, without which the story
would, of course, be valueless. To such I would say, seek no
further, for though I claim for "'Lena Rivers," a moral--yes, half a
dozen morals, if you please--I shall not put them in the preface, as
I prefer having them sought after, for what I have written I wish to
Reared among the rugged hills of the Bay State, and for a time
constantly associated with a class of people known the wide world
over as _Yankees_, it is no more than natural that I should often
write of the places and scenes with which I have been the most
familiar. In my delineations of New England character I have aimed
to copy from memory, and in no one instance, I believe, have I
overdrawn the pictures; for among the New England mountains there
lives many a "Grandma Nichols," a "Joel Slocum," or a "Nancy
Scovandyke," while the wide world holds more than one '_Lena_, with
her high temper, extreme beauty, and rare combination of those
qualities which make the female character so lovely.
Nearly the same remarks will also apply to my portraitures of
Kentucky life and character, for it has been my good fortune to spend
a year and a half in that state, and in my descriptions of country
lanes and country life, I have with a few exceptions copied from what
I saw. _Mrs. Livingstone_ and _Mrs. Graham_ are characters found
everywhere, while the impulsive _John Jr_., and the generous-hearted
_Durward_, represent a class of individuals who belong more
exclusively to the "sunny south."
I have endeavored to make this book both a good and an interesting
one, and if I have failed in my attempt, it is too late to remedy it
now; and, such as it is, I give it to the world, trusting that the
same favor and forbearance which have been awarded to my other works,
will also be extended to this.
M. J. H.
BROCKPORT, N. Y., _October_, 1856.
For many days the storm continued. Highways were blocked up, while
roads less frequented were rendered wholly impassable. The oldest
inhabitants of Oakland had "never seen the like before," and they
shook their gray heads ominously as over and adown the New England
mountains the howling wind swept furiously, now shrieking exultingly
as one by one the huge forest trees bent before its power, and again
dying away in a low, sad wail, as it shook the casement of some
low-roofed cottage, where the blazing fire, "high piled upon the
hearth," danced merrily to the sound of the storm-wind, and then,
whirling in fantastic circles, disappeared up the broad-mouthed
For nearly a week there was scarcely a sign of life in the streets of
Oakland, but at the end of that time the storm abated, and the
December sun, emerging from its dark hiding-place, once more looked
smilingly down upon the white, untrodden snow, which covered the
earth for miles and miles around. Rapidly the roads were broken;
paths were made on the narrow sidewalk, and then the villagers
bethought themselves of their mountain neighbors, who might perchance
have suffered from the severity of the storm. Far up the mountain
side in an old yellow farmhouse, which had withstood the blasts of
many a winter, lived Grandfather and Grandmother Nichols, as they
were familiarly called, and ere the sun-setting, arrangements were
made for paying them a visit.
Oakland was a small rural village, nestled among rocky hills, where
the word fashion was seldom heard, and where many of the primitive
customs of our forefathers still prevailed. Consequently, neither
the buxom maidens, nor the hale old matrons, felt in the least
disgraced as they piled promiscuously upon the four-ox sled, which
erelong was moving slowly through the mammoth drifts which lay upon
the mountain road. As they drew near the farmhouse, they noticed
that the blue paper curtains which shaded the windows of Grandma
Nichols' "spare room," were rolled up, while the faint glimmer of a
tallow candle within, indicated that the room possessed an occupant.
Who could it be? Possibly it was _John_, the proud man, who lived in
Kentucky, and who, to please his wealthy bride exchanged the plebeian
name of Nichols, for that of _Livingstone_, which his high-born lady
fancied was more aristocratic in its sounding!
"And if it be John," said the passengers of the ox sled, with whom
that gentleman was no great favorite, "if it be John, we'll take
ourselves home as fast as ever we can."
Satisfied with this resolution, they kept on their way until they
reached the wide gateway, where they were met by Mr. Nichols, whose
greeting they fancied was less cordial than usual. With a simple
"how d'ye do," he led the way into the spacious kitchen, which
answered the treble purpose of dining-room, sitting-room, and
cook-room. Grandma Nichols, too, appeared somewhat disturbed, but
she met her visitors with an air which seemed to say, she was
determined to make the best of her trouble, whatever it might be.
The door of the "spare room" was slightly ajar, and while the
visitors were disrobing, one young girl, more curious than the rest,
peered cautiously in, exclaiming as she did so, "Mother! mother!
Helena is in there on the bed, pale as a ghost."
"Yes, Heleny is in there," interrupted Grandma Nichols, who overheard
the girl's remark. "She got hum the fust night of the storm, and
what's queerer than all, she's been married better than a year."
"Married! Married! Helena married! Who to? Where's her husband?"
asked a dozen voices in the same breath.
Grandfather Nichols groaned as if in pain, and his wife, glancing
anxiously toward the door of her daughter's room, said in reply to
the last question, "That's the worst on't. He was some grand rascal,
who lived at the suthard, and come up here to see what he could do.
He thought Heleny was handsome, I s'pose, and married her, making her
keep it still because his folks in Car'lina wouldn't like it. Of
course he got sick of her, and jest afore the baby was born he gin
her five hundred dollars and left her."
A murmur of surprise ran round the room, accompanied with a look of
incredulity, which Grandma Nichols quickly divined, and while her
withered cheek crimsoned at the implied disgrace, she added in an
elevated tone of voice, "It's true as the Bible. Old Father
Blanchard's son, that used to preach here, married them, and Heleny
brought us a letter from him, saying it was true. Here 'tis,--read
it yourselves, if you don't b'lieve me;" and she drew from a side
drawer a letter, on the back of which, the villagers recognized the
well remembered handwriting of their former pastor.
This proof of Helena's innocence was hardly relished by the clever
gossips of Oakland, for the young girl, though kind-hearted and
gentle, was far too beautiful to be a general favorite. Mothers saw
in her a rival for their daughters, while the daughters looked
enviously upon her clear white brow, and shining chestnut hair; which
fell in wavy curls about her neck and shoulders. Two years before
our story opens, she had left her mountain home to try the mysteries
of millinery in the city, where a distant relative of her mother was
living. Here her uncommon beauty attracted much attention, drawing
erelong to her side a wealthy young southerner, who, just freed from
the restraints of college life, found it vastly agreeable making love
to the fair Helena. Simple-minded, and wholly unused to the ways of
the world, she believed each word he said, and when at last he
proposed marriage, she not only consented, but also promised to keep
it a secret for a time, until he could in a measure reconcile his
father, who he feared might disinherit him for wedding a penniless
"Wait, darling, until he knows you," said he, "and then he will
gladly welcome you as his daughter."
Accordingly, one dark, wintry night, when neither moon nor stars were
visible, Helena stole softly from her quiet room at Mrs. Warren's,
and in less than an hour was the lawful bride of Harry Rivers, the
wife of the clergyman alone witnessing the ceremony.
"I wish I could take you home at once," said young Rivers, who was
less a rascal than a coward; "I wish I could take you home at once,
but it cannot be. We must wait awhile."
So Helena went back to Mrs. Warren's, where for a few weeks she
stayed, and then saying she was going home, she left and became the
mistress of a neat little cottage which stood a mile or two from the
city. Here for several months young Rivers devoted himself entirely
to her happiness, seeming to forget that there was aught else in the
world save his "beautiful 'Lena," as he was wont to call her. But at
last there came a change. Harry seemed sad, and absent-minded,
though ever kind to Helena, who strove in vain to learn the cause of
One morning when, later than usual, she awoke, she missed him from
her side; and on the table near her lay a letter containing the
"Forgive me, darling, that I leave you so abruptly. Circumstances
render it neccessary, but be assured, I shall come back again. In
the mean time, you had better return to your parents, where I will
seek you. Enclosed are five hundred dollars, enough for your present
There was one bitter cry of hopeless anguish, and when Helena Rivers
again awoke to perfect consciousness, she lay in a darkened room,
soft footsteps passed in and out, kind faces, in which were mingled
pity and reproach, bent anxiously over her, while at her side lay a
little tender thing, her infant daughter, three weeks old. And now
there arose within her a strong desire to see once more her
childhood's home, to lay her aching head upon her mother's lap, and
pour out the tale of grief which was crushing the life from out her
As soon, therefore, as her health would permit, she started for
Oakland, taking the precaution to procure from the clergyman, who had
married her, a letter confirming the fact. Wretched and weary she
reached her home at the dusk of evening, and with a bitter cry fell
fainting in the arms of her mother, who having heard regularly from
her, never dreamed that she was elsewhere than in the employ of Mrs.
Warren. With streaming eyes and trembling hands the old man and his
wife made ready the spare room for the wanderer more than once
blessing the fearful storm which for a time, at least, would keep
away the prying eyes of those who, they feared, would hardly credit
their daughter's story.
And their fears were right, for many of those who visited them on the
night of which we have spoken, disbelieved the tale, mentally
pronouncing the clergyman's letter a forgery, got up by Helena to
deceive her parents. Consequently, of the few who from time to time
came to the old farmhouse, nearly all were actuated by motives of
curiosity, rather than by feelings of pity for the young girl-mother,
who, though feeling their neglect, scarcely heeded it. Strong in the
knowledge of her own innocence, she lay day after day, watching and
waiting for one who never came. But at last, as days glided into
weeks, and weeks into months, hope died away, and turning wearily
upon her pillow, she prayed that she might die; and when the days
grew bright and gladsome in the warm spring sun, when the snow was
melted from off the mountain tops, and the first robin's note was
heard by the farmhouse door, Helena laid her baby on her mother's
bosom, and without a murmur glided down the dark, broad river, whose
deep waters move onward and onward, but never return.
When it was known in Oakland that Helena was dead, there came a
reaction, and those who had been loudest in their condemnation, were
now the first to hasten forward with offers of kindness and words of
sympathy. But neither tears nor regrets could recall to life the
fair young girl, who, wondrously beautiful even in death, slept
calmly in her narrow coffin, a smile of sadness wreathing her lips,
as if her last prayer had been for one who had robbed her thus early
of happiness and life. In the bright green valley at the foot of the
mountain, they buried her, and the old father, as he saw the damp
earth fall upon her grave, asked that he too might die. But his
wife, younger by several years, prayed to live--live that she might
protect and care for the little orphan, who first by its young
mother's tears, and again by the waters of the baptismal fountain,
was christened HELENA RIVERS;--the '_Lena_ of our story.
Ten years of sunlight and shadow have passed away, and the little
grave at the foot of the mountain is now grass-grown and sunken. Ten
times have the snows of winter fallen upon the hoary head of
Grandfather Nichols, bleaching his thin locks to their own whiteness
and bending his sturdy frame, until now, the old man lay dying--dying
in the same blue-curtained room, where years agone his only daughter
was born, and where ten years before she had died. Carefully did
Mrs. Nichols nurse him, watching, weeping, and praying that he might
live, while little 'Lena gladly shared her grandmother's vigils,
hovering ever by the bedside of her grandfather, who seemed more
quiet when her soft hand smoothed his tangled hair or wiped the cold
moisture from his brow. The villagers, too, remembering their
neglect, when once before death had brooded over the mountain
farmhouse, now daily came with offers of assistance.
But one thing still was wanting. John, their only remaining child,
was absent, and the sick man's heart grew sad and his eyes dim with
tears, as day by day went by, and still he did not come. Several
times had 'Lena written to her uncle, apprising him of his father's
danger, and once only had he answered. It was a brief, formal
letter, written, evidently, under some constraint, but it said that
he was coming, and with childish joy the old man had placed it
beneath his pillow, withdrawing it occasionally for 'Lena to read
again, particularly the passage, "Dear father, I am sorry you are
"Heaven bless him! I know he's sorry," Mr. Nichols would say. "He
was always a good boy--is a good boy now. Ain't he, Martha?"
And mother-like, Mrs. Nichols would answer, "Yes," forcing back the
while the tears which would start when she thought how long the "good
boy" had neglected them, eighteen years having elapsed since he had
crossed the threshold of his home.
With his hand plighted to one of the village maidens, he had left
Oakland to seek his fortune, going first to New York, then to Ohio,
and finally wending his way southward, to Kentucky. Here he
remained, readily falling into the luxurious habits of those around
him, and gradually forgetting the low-roofed farmhouse far away to
the northward, where dwelt a gray-haired pair and a beautiful young
girl, his parents and his sister. She to whom his vows were plighted
was neither graceful nor cultivated, and when, occasionally, her
tall, spare figure and uncouth manners arose before him, in contrast
with the fair forms around him, he smiled derisively at the thoughts
of making her his wife.
About this time there came from New Orleans a wealthy invalid, with
his only daughter Matilda. She was a proud haughty girl, whose
disposition, naturally unamiable, was rendered still worse by a
disappointment from which she was suffering. Accidentally Mr.
Richards, her father, made the acquaintance of John Nichols,
conceiving for him a violent fancy, and finally securing him as a
constant companion. For several weeks John appeared utterly
oblivious to the presence of Matilda who, accustomed to adulation,
began at last to feel piqued at his neglect, and to strive in many
ways to attract his attention.
John, who was ambitious, met her advances more than half way, and
finally, encouraged by her father, offered her his heart and hand.
Under other circumstances, Matilda would undoubtedly have spurned him
with contempt; but having heard that her recreant lover was about
taking to himself a bride, she felt a desire, as she expressed it,
"to let him know she could marry too." Accordingly, John was
accepted, on condition that he changed the name of Nichols, which
Miss Richards particularly disliked, to that of Livingstone. This
was easily done, and the next letter which went to Oakland carried
the news of John's marriage with the proud Matilda.
A few months later and Mr. Richards died, leaving his entire property
to his daughter and her husband. John was now richer far than even
in his wildest dreams he had ever hoped to be, and yet like many
others, he found that riches alone could not insure happiness. And,
indeed, to be happy with Matilda Richards, seemed impossible. Proud,
avaricious, and overbearing, she continually taunted her husband with
his entire dependence upon her, carefully watching him, lest any of
her hoarded wealth should find its way to the scanty purse of his
parents, of whom she always spoke with contempt.
Never but once had they asked for aid, and that to help them rear the
little 'Lena. Influenced by his wife, John replied sneeringly,
scouting the idea of Helena's marriage, denouncing her as his sister,
and saying of her child, that the poor-house stood ready for such as
she! This letter 'Lena had accidentally found among her
grandfather's papers, and though its contents gave her no definite
impression concerning her mother, it inspired her with a dislike for
her uncle, whose coming she greatly dreaded, for it was confidently
expected that she, together with her grandmother, would return with
him to Kentucky.
"You'll be better off there than here," said her grandfather one day,
when speaking of the subject. "Your Uncle John is rich, and you'll
grow up a fine lady."
"I don't want to be a lady--I won't be a lady," said 'Lena
passionately. "I don't like Uncle John. He called my mother a bad
woman and me a little brat! I hate him!" and the beautiful brown
eyes glittering with tears flashed forth their anger quite as
eloquently as language could express it.
The next moment 'Lena was bending over her grandfather, asking to be
forgiven for the hasty words which she knew had caused him pain.
"I'll try to like him," said she, as the palsied hand stroked her
disordered curls in token of forgiveness, "I'll try to like him,"
adding mentally, "but I do hope he won't come."
It would seem that 'Lena's wish was to be granted, for weeks glided
by and there came no tidings of the absent one. Daily Mr. Nichols
grew weaker, and when there was no longer hope of life, his heart
yearned more and more to once more behold his son; to hear again, ere
he died, the blessed name of father.
"'Lena," said Mrs. Nichols one afternoon when her husband seemed
worse, "'Lena, it's time for the stage, and do you run down to the
'turn' and see if your uncle's come; something tells me he'll be here
'Lena obeyed, and throwing on her faded calico sunbonnet, she was
soon at the "turn," a point in the road from which the village hotel
was plainly discernible. The stage had just arrived, and 'Lena saw
that one of the passengers evidently intended stopping, for he seemed
to be giving directions concerning his baggage.
"That's Uncle John, I most know," thought she, and seating herself on
a rock beneath some white birches, so common in New England, she
awaited his approach. She was right in her conjecture, for the
stranger was John Livingstone, returned after many years, but so
changed that the jolly landlord, who had known him when a boy, and
with whom he had cracked many a joke, now hardly dared to address
him, he seemed so cold and haughty.
"I will leave my trunk here for a few days," said John, "and perhaps
I shall wish for a room. Got any decent accommodations?"
"Wonder if he don't calculate to sleep to hum," thought the landlord,
replying at the same instant, "Yes, sir, tip-top accommodations.
Hain't more'n tew beds in any room, and nowadays we allers has a
wash-bowl and pitcher; don't go to the sink as we used to when you
lived round here."
With a gesture of impatience Mr. Livingstone left the house and
started up the mountain road, where 'Lena still kept her watch. Oh,
how that walk recalled to him the memories of other days, which came
thronging about him as one by one familiar way-marks appeared,
reminding him of his childhood, when he roamed over that
mountain-side with those who were now scattered far and wide, some on
the deep, blue sea, some at the distant west, and others far away
across the dark river of death. He had mingled much with the world
since last he had traversed that road, and his heart had grown
callous and indifferent, but he was not entirely hardened, and when
at the "turn" in the road, he came suddenly upon the tall walnut
tree, on whose shaggy bark his name was carved, together with that of
another--a maiden--he started as if smitten with a heavy blow, and
dashing a tear from his eye he exclaimed "Oh that I were a boy again!"
From her seat on the mossy rock 'Lena had been watching him. She was
very ardent and impulsive, strong in her likes and dislikes, but
quite ready to change the latter if she saw any indications of
improvement in the person disliked. For her uncle she had conceived
a great aversion, and when she saw him approaching, thrusting aside
the thistles and dandelions with his gold-headed cane, she mimicked
his motions, wondering "if he didn't feel big because he wore a large
gold chain dangling from his jacket pocket."
But when she saw his emotions beneath the walnut tree, her opinion
suddenly changed. "A very bad man wouldn't cry," she thought, and
springing to his side, she grasped his hand, exclaiming, "I know you
are my Uncle John, and I'm real glad you've come. Granny thought you
never would, and grandpa asks for you all the time."
Had his buried sister arisen before him, Mr. Livingstone would hardly
have been more startled, for in form and feature 'Lena was exactly
what her mother had been at her age. The same clear complexion,
large brown eyes, and wavy hair; and the tones of her voice, too, how
they thrilled the heart of the strong man, making him a boy again,
guiding the steps of his baby sister, or bearing her gently in his
arms when the path was steep and stony. It was but a moment,
however, and then the vision faded. His sister was dead, and the
little girl before him was her child--the child of shame he believed,
or rather, his wife had said it so often that he began to believe it.
Glancing at the old-womanish garb in which Mrs. Nichols always
arrayed her, a smile of mingled scorn and pity curled his lips, as he
thought of presenting her to his fastidious wife and elegant
daughters; then withdrawing the hand which she had taken, he said,
"And you are 'Lena--'Lena Nichols they call you, I suppose."
'Lena's old dislike began to return, and placing both hands upon her
hips in imitation of her grandmother she replied, "No 'tain't 'Lena
Nichols, neither. It's 'Lena Rivers. Granny says so, and the town
clark has got it so on his book. How are my cousins? Are they
pretty well? And how is _Ant_?"
Mr. Livingstone winced, at the same time feeling amused at this
little specimen of Yankeeism, in which he saw so much of his mother.
Poor little 'Lena! how should she know any better, living as she
always had with two old people, whose language savored so much of the
days before the flood! Some such thought passed through Mr.
Livingstone's mind, and very civilly he answered her concerning the
health of her cousins and aunt; proceeding next to question her of
his father, who, she said, "had never seen a well day since her
"Is there any one with him except your grandmother?" asked Mr.
Livingstone; and Lena replied, "Aunt Nancy Scovandyke has been with
us a few days, and is there now."
At the sound of that name John started, coloring so deeply that 'Lena
observed it, and asked "if he knew Miss Scovandyke?"
"I used to," said he, while 'Lena continued: "She's a nice woman, and
though she ain't any connection, I call her aunt. Granny thinks a
sight of her."
Miss Scovandyke was evidently an unpleasant topic for Mr.
Livingstone, and changing the subject, he said, "What makes you say
'Lena blushed painfully. 'Twas the first word she had ever uttered,
her grandmother having taught it to her, and encouraged her in its
use. Besides that, 'Lena had a great horror of anything which she
fancied was at all "stuck up," and thinking an entire change from
_Granny_ to _Grandmother_ would be altogether too much, she still
persisted in occasionally using her favorite word, in spite of the
ridicule it frequently called forth from her school companions.
Thinking to herself that it was none of her uncle's business what she
called her grandmother, she made no reply, and in a few moments they
came in sight of the yellow farmhouse, which looked to Mr.
Livingstone just as it did when he left it, eighteen years before.
There was the tall poplar, with its green leaves rustling in the
breeze, just as they had done years ago, when from a distant hill-top
he looked back to catch the last glimpse of his home. The well in
the rear was the same--the lilac bushes in front--the tansy patch on
the right and the gable-roofed barn on the left; all were there;
nothing was changed but himself.
Mechanically he followed 'Lena into the yard, half expecting to see
bleaching upon the grass the same web of home-made cloth, which he
remembered had lain there when he went away. One thing alone seemed
strange. The blue paper curtains were rolled away from the "spare
room" windows, which were open as if to admit as much air as possible.
"I shouldn't wonder if grandpa was worse," said 'Lena, hurrying him
along and ushering him at once into the sick-room.
At first Mrs. Nichols did not observe him, for she was bending
tenderly over the white, wrinkled face, which lay upon the small,
scanty pillow. John thought "how small and scanty they were," while
he almost shuddered at the sound of his footsteps upon the uncarpeted
floor. Everything was dreary and comfortless, and his conscience
reproached him that his old father should die so poor, when he
counted his money by thousands.
As he passed the window his tall figure obscured the fading daylight,
causing his mother to raise her head, and in a moment her long, bony
arms were twined around his neck. The cruel letter, his long
neglect, were all forgotten in the joy of once more beholding her
"darling boy," whose bearded cheek she kissed again and again. John
was unused to such demonstrations of affection, except, indeed, from
his little golden-haired Anna, who was _refined_ and _polished_, and
all that, which made a vast difference, as he thought. Still, he
returned his mother's greeting with a tolerably good grace, managing,
however, to tear himself from her as soon as possible.
"How is my father?" he asked; and his mother replied, "He grew worse
right away after 'Leny went out, and he seemed so put to't for
breath, that Nancy went for the doctor----"
Here a movement from the invalid arrested her attention and going to
the bedside she saw that he was awake. Bending over him she
whispered softly, "John has come. Would you like to see him?"
Quickly the feeble arms were outstretched, as if to feel what could
not be seen, for the old man's eyesight was dim with the shadows of
Taking both his father's hands in his, John said, "Here I am, father;
can't you see me?"
"No, John, no; I can't see you." And the poor man wept like a little
child. Soon growing more calm, he continued: "Your voice is the same
that it was years ago, when you lived with us at home. That hasn't
changed, though they say your name has. Oh, John, my boy, how could
you do so? 'Twas a good name--my name--and you the only one left to
bear it. What made you do so, oh John, John?"
Mr. Livingstone did not reply, and after a moment his father again
spoke; "John, lay your hand on my forehead. It's cold as ice. I am
dying, and your mother will be left alone. We are poor, my son;
poorer than you think. The homestead is mortgaged for all it's worth
and there are only a few dollars in the purse. Oh, I worked so hard
to earn them for her and the girl--Helena's child. Now, John,
promise me that when I am gone they shall go with you to your home in
the west. Promise, and I shall die happy."
This was a new idea to John, and for a time he hesitated. He glanced
at his mother; she was ignorant and peculiar, but she was his mother
still. He looked at 'Lena, she was beautiful--he knew that, but she
was odd and old-fashioned. He thought of his haughty wife, his
headstrong son and his imperious daughter. What would they say if he
made that promise, for if he made it he would keep it.
A long time his father awaited his answer, and then he spoke again:
"Won't you give your old mother a home?"
The voice was weaker than when it spoke before, and John knew that
life was fast ebbing away, for the brow on which his hand was resting
was cold and damp with the moisture of death. He could no longer
refuse, and the promise was given.
The next morning, the deep-toned bell of Oakland told that another
soul was gone, and the villagers as they counted the three score
strokes and ten knew that Grandfather Nichols was numbered with the
The funeral was over, and in the quiet valley by the side of his only
daughter, Grandfather Nichols was laid to rest. As far as possible
his father's business was settled, and then John began to speak of
his returning. More than once had he repented of the promise made to
his father, and as the time passed on he shrank more and more from
introducing his "plebeian" mother to his "lady" wife, who, he knew,
was meditating an open rebellion.
Immediately after his father's death he had written to his wife,
telling her all, and trying as far as he was able to smooth matters
over, so that his mother might at least have a decent reception. In
a violent passion, his wife had answered, that "she never would
submit to it--never. When I married you," said she, "I didn't
suppose I was marrying the 'old woman,' young one, and all; and as
for my having them to maintain, I will not, so _Mr. John Nichols_,
you understand it."
When Mrs. Livingstone was particularly angry, she called her husband
_Mr. John Nichols_, and when Mr. John Nichols was particularly angry,
he did as he pleased, so in this case he replied that "he should
bring home as many 'old women' and 'young ones' as he liked, and she
might help herself if she could!"
This state of things was hardly favorable to the future happiness of
Grandma Nichols, who, wholly unsuspecting and deeming herself as good
as anybody, never dreamed that her presence would be unwelcome to her
daughter-in-law, whom she thought to assist in various ways, "taking
perhaps the whole heft of the housework upon herself--though," she
added, "I mean to begin just as I can hold out. I've hearn of such
things as son's wives shirkin' the whole on to their old mothers, and
the minit 'Tilda shows any signs of that, I shall back out, I tell
John, who overheard this remark, bit his lip with vexation, and then
burst into a laugh as he fancied the elegant Mrs. Livingstone's
dismay at hearing herself called '_Tilda_. Had John chosen, he could
have given his mother a few useful hints with regard to her treatment
of his wife, but such an idea never entered his brain. He was a man
of few words, and generally allowed himself to be controlled by
circumstances, thinking that the easiest way of getting through the
world. He was very proud, and keenly felt how mortifying it would be
to present his mother to his fashionable acquaintances; but that was
in the future--many miles away--he wouldn't trouble himself about it
now; so he passed his time mostly in rambling through the woods and
over the hills, while his mother, good soul, busied herself with the
preparations for her journey, inviting each and every one of her
neighbors to "be sure and visit her if they ever came that way," and
urging some of them to come on purpose and "spend the winter."
Among those who promised compliance with this last request, was Miss
Nancy Scovandyke, whom we have once before mentioned, and who, as the
reader will have inferred, was the first love of John Livingstone.
On the night of his arrival, she had been sent in quest of the
physician, and when on her return she learned from 'Lena that he had
come, she kept out of sight, thinking she would wait awhile before
she met him. "Not that she cared the snap of her finger for him,"
the said, "only it was natural that she should hate to see him."
But when the time did come, she met it bravely, shaking his hand and
speaking to him as if nothing had ever happened, and while he was
wondering how he ever could have fancied _her_, she, too, was
mentally styling herself "a fool," for having liked "such a _pussy_,
overgrown thing!" Dearly did Miss Nancy love excitement, and during
the days that Mrs. Nichols was packing up, she was busy helping her
to stow away the "crockery," which the old lady declared should go,
particularly the "blue set, which she'd had ever since the day but
one before John was born, and which she intended as a part of 'Leny's
settin' out. Then, too, John's wife could use 'em when she had a
good deal of company; 'twould save buyin' new, and every little
"I wonder, now, if 'Tilda takes snuff," said Mrs. Nichols, one day,
seating herself upon an empty drygoods box which stood in the middle
of the floor, and helping herself to an enormous pinch of her
favorite Maccaboy; "I wonder if she takes snuff, 'cause if she does,
we shall take a sight of comfort together."
"I don't much b'lieve she does," answered Miss Nancy, whose face was
very red with trying to cram a pair of cracked bellows into the
already crowded top of John's leathern trunk, "I don't b'lieve she
does, for somehow it seems to me she's a mighty nipped-up thing, not
an atom like you nor me."
"Like enough," returned Mrs. Nichols, finishing her snuff, and wiping
her fingers upon the corner of her checked apron; "but, Nancy, can
you tell me how in the world I'm ever going to carry this _mop_?
It's bran new, never been used above a dozen times, and I can't
afford to give it away."
At this point, John, who was sitting in the adjoining room, came
forward. Hitherto he had not interfered in the least in his mother's
arrangements, but had looked silently on while she packed away
article after article which she would never need, and which
undoubtedly would be consigned to the flames the moment her back was
turned. The _mop_ business, however, was too much for him, and
before Miss Nancy had time to reply, he said, "For heaven's sake,
mother, how many traps do you propose taking, and what do you imagine
we can do with a mop? Why, I dare say not one of my servants would
know how to use it, and it's a wonder if some of the little chaps
didn't take it for a horse before night."
"A _nigger_ ride my mop! _my new mop_!" exclaimed Mrs. Nichols,
rolling up her eyes in astonishment, while Miss Nancy, turning to
John, said, "In the name of the people, how do you live without mops?
I should s'pose you'd rot alive!"
"I am not much versed in the mysteries of housekeeping," returned
John, with a smile; "but it's my impression that what little cleaning
our floors get is done with a cloth."
"Wall, if I won't give it up now," said Miss Nancy. "As good an
abolutionist as you used to be, make the poor colored folks wash the
floor with a rag, on their hands and knees! It can't be that you
indulge a hope, if you'll do such things!"
John made Miss Nancy no answer, but turning to his mother, he said,
"I'm in earnest, mother, about your carrying so many useless things.
_We_ don't want them. Our house is full now, and besides that, Mrs.
Livingstone is very particular about the style of her furniture, and
I am afraid yours would hardly come up to her ideas of elegance."
"That chist of drawers," said Mrs. Nichols, pointing to an
old-fashioned, high-topped bureau, "cost an ocean of money when 'twas
new, and if the brasses on it was rubbed up, 'Tilda couldn't tell 'em
from gold, unless she's seen more on't than I have, which ain't much
likely, bein' I'm double her age."
"The chest does very well for you, I admit," said John; "but we have
neither use nor room for it, so if you can't sell it, why, give it
away, or burn it, one or the other."
Mrs. Nichols saw he was decided, and forthwith 'Lena was dispatched
to Widow Fisher's, to see if she would take it at half price. The
widow had no fancy for second-hand articles, consequently Miss Nancy
was told "to keep it, and maybe she'd sometime have a chance to send
it to Kentucky. It won't come amiss, I know, s'posin' they be well
on't. I b'lieve in lookin' out for a rainy day. I can teach 'Tilda
economy yet," whispered Mrs. Nichols, glancing toward the room where
John sat, whistling, whittling, and pondering in his own mind the
best way if reconciling his wife to what could not well be helped.
'Lena, who was naturally quick-sighted, had partially divined the
cause of her uncle's moodiness. The more she saw of him the better
she liked him, and she began to think that she would willingly try to
cure herself of the peculiarities which evidently annoyed him, if he
would only notice her a little, which he was not likely to do. He
seldom noticed any child, much less little 'Lena, who he fancied was
ignorant as well as awkward; but he did not know her.
One day when, as usual, he sat whittling and thinking, 'Lena
approached him softly, and laying her hand upon his knee, said rather
timidly, "Uncle, I wish you'd tell me something about my cousins."
"What about them," he asked, somewhat gruffly, for it grated upon his
feelings to hear his daughters called cousin by her.
"I want to know how they look, and which one I shall like the best,"
"You'll like Anna the best," said her uncle, and 'Lena asked, "Why!
What sort of a girl is she? Does she love to go to school and study?"
"None too well, I reckon," returned her uncle, adding that "there
were not many little girls who did."
"Why _I_ do," said 'Lena, and her uncle, stopping for a moment his
whittling, replied rather scornfully, "_You_! I should like to know
what you ever studied besides the spelling-book!"
'Lena reddened, for she knew that, whether deservedly or not, she
bore the reputation of being an excellent scholar, for one of her
age, and now she rather tartly answered, "I study geography,
arithmetic, grammar, and----" history, she was going to add, but her
uncle stopped her, saying, "That'll do, that'll do. You study all
these? Now I don't suppose you know what one of 'em is."
"Yes, I do," said 'Lena, with a good deal of spirit. "Olney's
geography is a description of the earth; Colburn's arithmetic is the
science of numbers: Smith's grammar teaches us how to speak
"Why don't you do it then," asked her uncle.
"Do what?" said 'Lena, and her uncle continued, "Why don't you make
some use of your boasted knowledge of grammar? Why, my Anna has
never seen the inside of a grammar, as I know of, but she don't _talk
like you do_."
"Don't _what_, sir?" said 'Lena,
"Don't _talk like you do_," repeated her uncle, while 'Lena's eyes
fairly danced with mischief as she asked, "if that were good grammar."
Mr. Livingstone colored, thinking it just possible that he himself
might sometimes be guilty of the same things for which he had so
harshly chided 'Lena, of whom from this time he began to think more
favorably. It could hardly be said that he treated her with any more
attention, and still there was a difference which she felt, and which
made her very happy.
ON THE ROAD.
At last the packing-up process came to an end, everything too poor to
sell, and too good to give away, had found a place--some here, some
there, and some in John's trunk, among his ruffled bosoms, collars,
dickeys, and so forth. Miss Nancy, who stood by until the last, was
made the receiver of sundry cracked teacups, noseless pitchers, and
iron spoons, which could not be disposed of elsewhere.
And now every box and trunk was ready. Farmer Truesdale's red wagon
stood at the door, waiting to convey them to the depot, and nothing
remained for Grandma Nichols, but to bid adieu to the old spot,
endeared to her by so many associations. Again and again she went
from room to room, weeping always, and lingering longest in the one
where her children were born, and where her husband and daughter had
died. In the corner stood the old low-post bedstead, the first she
had ever owned, and now how vividly she recalled the time long years
before, when she, a happy maiden, ordered that bedstead, blushing
deeply at the sly allusion which the cabinet maker made to her
approaching marriage. _He_, too, was with her, strong and healthy.
Now, he was gone from her side forever. _His_ couch was a narrow
coffin, and the old bedstead stood there, naked--empty. Seating
herself upon it, the poor old lady rocked to and fro, moaning in her
grief, and wishing that she were not going to Kentucky, or that it
were possible now to remain at her mountain home. Summoning all her
courage, she gave one glance at the familiar objects around her, at
the flowers she had planted, and then taking 'Lena's hand, went down
to the gate, where her son waited.
He saw she had been weeping, and though he could not appreciate the
cause of her tears, in his heart he pitied her, and his voice and
manner were unusually kind as he helped her to the best seat in the
wagon, and asked if she were comfortable. Then his eye fell upon her
dress, and his pity changed to anger as he wondered if she was wholly
devoid of taste. At the time of his father's death, he purchased
decent mourning for both his mother and 'Lena; but these Mrs. Nichols
pronounced "altogether too good for the nasty cars; nobody'd think
any better of them for being rigged out in their best meetin' gowns."
So the bombazine was packed away, and in its place she wore a dark
blue and white spotted calico, which John could have sworn she had
twenty years before, and which was not unlikely, as she never wore
out a garment. She was an enemy to long skirts, hence hers came just
to her ankles, and as her black stockings had been footed with white,
there was visible a dark rim. Altogether she presented a rather
grotesque appearance, with her oblong work-bag, in which were her
snuff-box, brass spectacles and half a dozen "nutcakes," which would
"save John's buying dinner."
Unlike her grandmother's, 'Lena's dress was a great deal too long,
and as she never wore pantalets, she had the look of a premature old
woman, instead of a child ten summers old, as she was. Still the
uncommon beauty of her face, and the natural gracefulness of her
form, atoned in a measure for the singularity of her appearance.
In the doorway stood Miss Nancy, and by her side her nephew, Joel
Slocum, a freckle-faced boy, who had frequently shown a preference
for 'Lena, by going with her for her grandmother's cow, bringing her
harvest apples, and letting her ride on his sled oftener than the
other girls at school. Strange to say, his affection was not
returned, and now, notwithstanding he several times wiped both eyes
and nose, on the end of which there was an enormous freck, 'Lena did
not relent at all, but with a simple "Good-bye, Jo," she sprang into
the wagon, which moved rapidly away.
It was about five miles from the farmhouse to the depot, and when
half that distance had been gone over, Mrs. Nichols suddenly seized
the reins, ordering the driver to stop, and saying, "she must go
straight back, for on the shelf of the north room cupboard she had
left a whole paper of tea, which she couldn't afford to lose!"
"_Drive on_," said Johny rather angrily, at the same time telling his
mother that he could buy her a ton of tea if she wanted it.
"But that was already bought, and 'twould have saved so much," said
she, softly wiping away a tear, which was occasioned partly by her
son's manner, and partly by the great loss she felt she sustained in
leaving behind her favorite "old hyson."
This _saving_ was a matter of which Grandma Nichols said so much,
that John, who was himself slightly avaricious, began to regret that
he ever knew the definition of the word _save_. Lest our readers get
a wrong impression of Mrs. Nichols, we must say that she possessed
very many sterling qualities, and her habits of extreme economy
resulted more from the manner in which she had been compelled to
live, than from natural stinginess. For this John hardly made
allowance enough, and his mother's remarks, instead of restraining
him, only made him more lavish of his money than he would otherwise
When Mrs. Nichols and 'Lena entered the cars, they of course
attracted universal attention, which annoyed John excessively. In
Oakland, where his mother was known and appreciated, he could bear
it, but among strangers, and with those of his own caste, it was
different, so motioning them into the first unoccupied seat, he
sauntered on with an air which seemed to say, "they were nothing to
him," and finding a vacant seat at the other end of the car, he took
possession of it. Scarcely, however, had he entered into
conversation with a gentleman near him, when some one grasped his
arm, and looking up, he saw his mother, her box in one hand; and an
enormous pinch of snuff in the other.
"John," said she, elevating her voice so as to drown the noise of the
cars, "I never thought on't till this minit, but I'd just as lief
ride in the second-class cars as not, and it only costs half as much!"
Mr. Livingstone colored crimson, and bade her go back, saying that if
he paid the fare she needn't feel troubled about the cost. Just as
she was turning to leave, the loud ring and whistle, as the train
neared a crossing, startled her, and in great alarm she asked if
"somethin' hadn't bust!"
John made no answer, but the gentleman near him very politely
explained to her the cause of the disturbance, after which, she
returned to her seat. When the conductor appeared, he fortunately
came in at the door nearest John, who pointed out the two, for whom
he had tickets, and then turned again to converse with the gentleman,
who, though a stranger, was from Louisville, Kentucky, and whose
acquaintance was easily made. The sight of the conductor awoke in
Mrs. Nichols's brain a new idea, and after peering out upon the
platform, she went rushing up to her son, telling him that: "the
trunks, box, feather bed, and all, were every one on 'em left!"
"No, they are not," said John; "I saw them aboard myself."
"Wall, then, they're lost off, for as sure as you're born, there
ain't one on 'em in here; and there's as much as twenty weight of new
feathers, besides all the crockery! Holler to 'em to stop quick!"
The stranger, pitying Mr. Livingstone's chagrin, kindly explained to
her that there was a baggage car on purpose for trunks and the like,
and that her feather bed was undoubtedly safe. This quieted her, and
mentally styling him "a proper nice man," she again returned to her
"A rare specimen of the raw Yankee," said the stranger to John, never
dreaming in what relation she stood to him.
"Yes," answered John, not thinking it at all necessary to make any
By this time Mrs. Nichols had attracted the attention of all the
passengers, who watched her movements with great interest. Among
these was a fine-looking youth, fifteen or sixteen years of age, who
sat directly in front of 'Lena. He had a remarkably open, pleasing
countenance, while there was that in his eyes which showed him to be
a lover of fun. Thinking he had now found it in a rich form, he
turned partly round, and would undoubtedly have quizzed Mrs. Nichols
unmercifully, had not something in the appearance of 'Lena prevented
him. This was also her first ride in the cars, but she possessed a
tact of concealing the fact, and if she sometimes felt frightened,
she looked in the faces of those around her, gathering from them that
there was no danger. She knew that her grandmother was making
herself ridiculous, and her eyes filled with tears as she whispered,
"Do sit still, granny; everybody is looking at you."
The young lad noticed this, and while it quelled in him the spirit of
ridicule, it awoke a strange interest in 'Lena, who he saw was
beautiful, spite of her unseemly guise. She was a dear lover of
nature, and as the cars sped on through the wild mountain scenery,
between Pittsfield and Albany, she stood at the open window, her
hands closely locked together, her lips slightly parted, and her eyes
wide with wonder at the country through which they were passing. At
her grandmother's suggestion she had removed her bonnet, and the
brown curls which clustered around her white forehead and neck were
moved up and down by the fresh breeze which was blowing. The youth
was a passionate admirer of beauty, come in what garb it might, and
now as he watched, he felt a strong desire to touch one of the glossy
ringlets which floated within his reach. There would be no harm in
it, he thought--"she was only a little girl, and he was _almost a
man_--had tried to shave, and was going to enter college in the
fall." Still he felt some doubts as to the propriety of the act, and
was about making up his mind that he had better not, when the train
shot into the "tunnel," and for an instant they were in total
darkness. Quick as thought his hand sought the brown curls, but they
were gone, and when the cars again emerged into daylight, 'Lena's
arms were around her grandmother's neck, trying to hold her down, for
the old lady, sure of a _smash-up_ this time, had attempted to rise,
screaming loudly for "_John_!"
The boy laughed aloud--he could not help it; but when 'Lena's eyes
turned reprovingly upon him, he felt sorry; and anxious to make
amends, addressed himself very politely to Mrs. Nichols, explaining
to her that it was a "tunnel" through which they had passed, and
assuring her there was no danger whatever. Then turning to 'Lena, he
said, "I reckon your grandmother is not much accustomed to traveling."
"No, sir," answered 'Lena, the rich blood dyeing her cheek at being
addressed by a stranger.
It was the first time any one had ever said "_sir_" to the boy, and
now feeling quite like patronizing the little girl, he continued: "I
believe old people generally are timid when they enter the cars for
the first time."
Nothing from 'Lena except a slight straightening up of her body, and
a smoothing down of her dress, but the ice was broken, and erelong
she and her companion were conversing as familiarly as if they had
known each other for years. Still the boy was not inquisitive--he
did not ask her name, or where she was going, though he told her that
his home was in Louisville, and that at Albany he was to take the
boat for New York, where his mother was stopping with some friends.
He also told her that the gentleman near the door, with dark eyes and
whiskers, was his father.
Glancing toward the person indicated, 'Lena saw that it was the same
gentleman who, all the afternoon, had been talking with her uncle.
He was noble looking, and she felt glad that he was the father of the
boy--he was just such a man, she fancied, as ought to be his
father--just such a man as she could wish her father to be--and then
'Lena felt glad that the youth had asked her nothing concerning her
parentage, for, though her grandmother had seldom mentioned her
father in her presence, there were others ready and willing to inform
her that he was a villain, who broke her mother's heart.
When they reached Albany, the boy rose, and offering his hand to
'Lena, said "I suppose I must bid you good-bye, but I'd like right
well to go farther with you."
At this moment the stranger gentleman came up, and on seeing how his
son was occupied, said smilingly, "So-ho! Durward, you always manage
to make some lady acquaintance."
"Yes, father," returned the boy called Durward, "but not always one
like this. Isn't she pretty," he added in a whisper.
The stranger's eyes fell upon 'Lena's face, and for a moment, as if
by some strange fascination, seemed riveted there; but the crowd
pressed him forward, and 'Lena only heard him reply to his son, "Yes,
Durward, very pretty; but hurry, or we shall lose the boat."
The next moment they were gone. Leaning from the window, 'Lena tried
to catch another glimpse of him, but in vain. He was gone--she would
never see him again, she thought; and then she fell into a reverie
concerning his home, his mother, his sisters, if he had any, and
finally ended by wishing that she were his sister, and the daughter
of his father. While she was thus pondering, her grandmother, also,
was busy, and when 'Lena looked round for her she was gone. Stepping
from the car, 'Lena espied her in the distance, standing by her uncle
and anxiously watching for the appearance of her "great trunk, little
trunk, band-box, and bag." Each of these articles was forthcoming,
and in a few moments they were on the ferry-boat crossing the blue
waters of the Hudson, Mrs. Nichols declaring that "if she'd known it
wasn't a bridge she was steppin' onto, she'd be bound they wouldn't
have got her on in one while."
"Do sit down," said 'Lena; "the other people don't seem to be afraid,
and I'm sure we needn't."
This Mrs. Nichols was more willing to do, as directly at her side was
another old lady, traveling for the first time, frightened and
anxious. To her Mrs. Nichols addressed herself, announcing her firm
belief that "she should be blew sky high before she reached Kentucky,
where she was going to live with her son John, who she supposed was
well off, worth twenty negroes or more; but," she added, lowering her
voice, "I don't b'lieve in no such, and I mean he shall set 'em
free--poor critters, duddin' from mornin' till night without a cent
of pay. He says they call him 'master,' but I'll warrant he'll never
catch me a'callin' him so to one on 'em. I promised Nancy Scovandyke
that I wouldn't, and I won't!"
Here a little _popcorn_ boy came 'round, which reminded Mrs. Nichols
of her money, and that she hadn't once looked after it since she
started. Thinking this as favorable a time as she would have, she
drew from her capacious pocket an old knit purse, and commenced
counting out its contents, piece by piece.
"Beware of pickpockets!" said some one in her ear, and with the
exclamation of "Oh the Lord!" the purse disappeared in her pocket, on
which she kept her hand until the boat touched the opposite shore.
Then in the confusion and excitement it was withdrawn, the purse was
forgotten, and when on board the night express for Buffalo it was
again looked for, _it was gone_!
With a wild outcry the horror-stricken matron sprang up, calling for
John, who in some alarm came to her side, asking what she wanted.
"I've lost my purse. Somebody's stole it. Lock the door quick, and
search every man, woman, and child in the car!"
The conductor, who chanced to be present, now came up, demanding an
explanation, and trying to convince Mrs. Nichols how improbable it
was that any one present had her money.
"Stop the train then, and let me get off."
"Had you a large amount?" asked the conductor.
"Every cent I had in the world. Ain't you going to let me get off?"
was the answer.
The conductor looked inquiringly at John, who shook his head, at the
same time whispering to his mother not to feel so badly, as he would
give her all the money she wanted. Then placing a ten dollar bill in
her hand, he took a seat behind her. We doubt whether this would
have quieted the old lady, had not a happy idea that moment entered
her mind, causing her to exclaim loudly, "There, now, I've just this
minute thought. I hadn't but _five_ dollars in my purse; t'other
fifty I sewed up in an old night-gown sleeve, and tucked it away in
that satchel up there," pointing to 'Lena's traveling bag, which hung
over her head. She would undoubtedly have designated the very corner
of said satchel in which her money could be found, had not her son
touched her shoulder, bidding her be silent and not tell everybody
where her money was, if she didn't want it stolen.
Mrs. Nichols made no reply, but when she thought she was not
observed, she arose, and slyly taking down the satchel, placed it
under her. Then seating herself upon it, she gave a sigh of relief
as she thought, "they'd have to work hard to get it now, without her
knowing it!" Dear old soul, when arrived at her journey's end, how
much comfort she took in recounting over and over again the incidents
of the robbery, wondering if it was, as John said, the very man who
had so kindly cautioned her to beware of pickpockets, and who thus
ascertained where she kept her purse. Nancy Scovandyke, too, was
duly informed of her loss, and charged when she came to Kentucky, "to
look out on the ferry-boat for a youngish, good-looking man, with
brown frock coat, blue cravat, and mouth full of white teeth."
At Buffalo Mr. Livingstone had hard work to coax his mother on board
the steamboat, but he finally succeeded, and as the weather chanced
to be fine, she declared that ride on the lake to be the pleasantest
part of her journey. At Cleveland they took the cars for Cincinnati,
going thence to Lexington by stage. On ordinary occasions Mr.
Livingstone would have preferred the river, but knowing that in all
probability he should meet with some of his friends upon the boat, he
chose the route via Lexington, where he stopped at the Phoenix, as
was his usual custom.
After seeing his mother and niece into the public parlor he left them
for a time, saying he had some business to transact in the city.
Scarcely was he gone when the sound of shuffling footsteps in the
hall announced an arrival, and a moment after, a boy, apparently
fifteen years of age, appeared in the door. He was richly though
carelessly dressed, and notwithstanding the good-humored expression
of his rather handsome face, there was in his whole appearance an
indescribable something which at once pronounced him to be a "fast"
boy. A rowdy hat was set on one side of his head, after the most
approved fashion, while in his hand he held a lighted cigar, which he
applied to his mouth when he saw the parlor was unoccupied, save by
an "old woman" and a "little girl."
Instinctively 'Lena shrank from him, and withdrawing herself as far
as possible within the recess of the window, pretended to be busily
watching the passers-by. But she did not escape his notice, and
after coolly surveying her for a moment, he walked up to her, saying,
"How d'ye, polywog? I'll be hanged if I know to what gender you
belong--woman or _gal_--which is it, hey?"
"None of your business," was 'Lena's ready answer.
"Spunky, ain't you," said he, unceremoniously pulling one of the
brown curls which Durward had so longed to touch. "Seems to me your
hair don't match the rest of you; wonder if 'tisn't somebody else's
head set on your shoulders."
"No, it ain't. It's my own head, and you just let it alone,"
returned 'Lena, growing more and more indignant, and wondering if
this were a specimen of Kentucky boys.
"Don't be saucy," continued her tormentor; "I only want to see what
sort of stuff you are made of."
"Made of _dirt_" muttered 'Lena.
"I reckon you are," returned the boy; "but say, where _did_ you come
from and who _do_ you live with?"
"I came from Massachusetts, and I live with _granny_," said 'Lena,
thinking that if she answered him civilly, he would perhaps let her
alone. But she was mistaken.
Glancing at "_granny_," he burst into a loud laugh, and then placing
his hat a little more on one side, and assuming a nasal twang, he
said, "Neow dew tell, if you're from Massachusetts. How dew you dew,
little Yankee, and how are all the folks to hum?"
Feeling sure that not only herself but all her relations were
included in this insult, 'Lena darted forward hitting him a blow in
the face, which he returned by puffing smoke into hers, whereupon she
snatched the cigar from his mouth and hurled it into the street,
bidding him "touch her again if he dared." All this transpired so
rapidly that Mrs. Nichols had hardly time to understand its meaning,
but fully comprehending it now, she was about coming to the rescue,
when her son reappeared, exclaiming, "_John_, John Livingstone, Jr.,
how came you here?"
Had a cannon exploded at the feet of John Jr., as he was called, he
could not have been more startled. He was not expecting his father
for two or three days, and was making the most of his absence by
having what he called a regular "spree." Taking him altogether, he
was, without being naturally bad, a spoiled child, whom no one could
manage except his father, and as his father seldom tried, he was of
course seldom managed. Never yet had he remained at any school more
than two quarters, for if he were not sent away, he generally ran
away, sure of finding a champion in his mother, who had always petted
him, calling him, "Johnny darling," until he one day very coolly
informed her that she was "a silly old fool," and that "he'd thank
her not to 'Johnny darling' him any longer."
It would be difficult to describe the amazement of John Jr. when
'Lena was presented to him as his _cousin_, and Mrs. Nichols as his
_grandmother_. Something which sounded very much like an oath
escaped his lips, as turning to his father he muttered, "Won't mother
go into fits?" Then, as he began to realize the ludicrousness of the
whole affair, he exclaimed, "Rich, good, by gracious!" and laughing
loudly, he walked away to regale himself with another cigar.
Lena began to tremble for her future happiness, if this boy was to
live in the same house with her. She did not know that she had
already more than half won his good opinion, for he was far better
pleased with her antagonistical demonstrations, than he would have
been had she cried or ran from him, as his sister Anna generally did
when he teased her. After a few moments here turned to the parlor,
and walking up to Mrs. Nichols, commenced talking very sociably with
her, calling her "Granny," and winking slyly at 'Lena as he did so.
Mr. Livingstone had too much good sense to sit quietly by and hear
his mother ridiculed by his son, and in a loud, stern voice he bade
the young gentleman "behave himself."
"Law, now," said Mrs. Nichols, "let him talk if he wants to. I like
to hear him. He's the only grandson I've got."
This speech had the effect of silencing John Jr. quite as much as
his father's command. If he could tease his grandmother by talking
to her, he would take delight in doing so, but if she _wanted_ him to
talk--that was quite another thing. So moving away from her, he took
a seat near 'Lena, telling her her dress was "a heap too short," and
occasionally pinching her, just to vary the sport! This last,
however, 'Lena returned with so much force that he grew weary of the
fun, and informing her that he was going to a _circus_ which was in
town that evening, he arose to leave the room.
Mr. Livingstone, who partially overheard what he had said, stopped
him and asked "where he was going?"
Feigning a yawn and rubbing his eyes, John Jr. replied that "he was
confounded sleepy and was going to bed."
"'Lena, where did he say he was going?" asked her uncle.
'Lena trembled, for John Jr. had clinched his fist, and was shaking
it threateningly at her.
"Where did he say he was going?" repeated her uncle.
Poor 'Lena had never told a lie in her life, and now braving her
cousin's anger, she said, "To the circus, sir. Oh, I wish you had
not asked me."
"You'll get your pay for that," muttered John Jr. sullenly reseating
himself by his father, who kept an eye on him until he saw him safely
in his room.
Much as John Jr. frightened 'Lena with his threats, in his heart he
respected her for telling the truth, and if the next morning on their
way home in the stage, in which his father compelled him to take a
seat, he frequently found it convenient to step on her feet, it was
more from a natural propensity to torment than from any lurking
feeling of revenge. 'Lena was nowise backward in returning his
cousinly attentions, and so between an interchange of kicks, wry
faces, and so forth, they proceeded toward "Maple Grove," a
description of which will be given in another chapter.
The residence of Mr. Livingstone, or rather of Mr. Livingstone's wife,
was a large, handsome building, such as one often finds in Kentucky,
particularly in the country. Like most planters' houses, it stood at
some little distance from the street, from which its massive walls,
wreathed with evergreen, were just discernible. The carriage road
which led to it passed first through a heavy iron gate guarded by huge
bronze lions, so natural and life-like, that Mrs. Nichols, when first
she saw them, uttered a cry of fear. Next came a beautiful maple
grove, followed by a long, green lawn, dotted here and there with
forest trees and having on its right a deep running brook, whose
waters, farther on at the rear of the garden, were formed into a
The house itself was of brick--two storied, and surrounded on three
sides with a double piazza, whose pillars were entwined with climbing
roses, honey-suckle, and running vines, so closely interwoven as to
give it the appearance of an immense summer-house. In the spacious
yard in front, tall shade trees and bright green grass were growing,
while in the well-kept garden at the left, bloomed an endless variety
of roses and flowering shrubs, which in their season filled the air
with perfume, and made the spot brilliant with beauty. Directly
through the center of this garden ran the stream of which we have
spoken, and as its mossy banks were never disturbed, they presented the
appearance of a soft, velvety ridge, where each spring the starry
dandelion and the blue-eyed violet grew.
Across the brook two small foot-bridges had been built, both of which
were latticed and overgrown by luxuriant grape-vines, whose dark, green
foliage was now intermingled with clusters of the rich purple fruit.
At the right, and somewhat in the rear of the building, was a group of
linden trees, overshadowing the whitewashed houses of the negroes, who,
imitating as far as possible the taste of their master, beautified
their dwellings with hop-vines, creepers, hollyhocks and the like.
Altogether, it was as 'Lena said, "just the kind of place which one
reads of in stories," and which is often found at the "sunny south."
The interior of the building corresponded with the exterior, for with
one exception, the residence of a wealthy Englishman, Mrs. Livingstone
prided herself upon having the best furnished house in the county;
consequently neither pains nor money had been spared in the selection
of the furniture, which was of the most costly kind.
Carrie, the eldest of the daughters, was now about thirteen years of
age. Proud, imperious, deceitful, and self-willed, she was hated by
the servants, and disliked by her equals. Some thought her pretty.
_She_ felt sure of it, and many an hour she spent before the mirror,
admiring herself and anticipating the time when she would be a grown-up
lady, and as a matter of course, a belle. Her mother unfortunately
belonged to that class who seem to think that the chief aim in life is
to secure a "brilliant match," and thinking she could not commence too
soon, she had early instilled into her favorite daughter's mind the
necessity of appearing to the best possible advantage, when in the
presence of wealth and distinction, pointing out her own marriage as a
proof of the unhappiness resulting from unequal matches. In this way
Carrie had early learned that her father owed his present position to
her mother's condescension in marrying him--that he was once a poor boy
living among the northern hills--that his parents were poor, ignorant
and vulgar--and that there was with them a little girl, their
daughter's child, who never had a father, and whom she must never on
any occasion call her cousin.
All this had likewise been told to Anna, the youngest daughter, who was
about 'Lena's age, but upon her it made no impression. If her father
was once poor, he was in her opinion none the worse for that--and if
_he_ liked his parents, that was a sufficient reason why she should
like them too, and if little 'Lena was an orphan, she pitied her, and
hoped she might sometime see her and tell her so! Thus Anna reasoned,
while her mother, terribly shocked at her low-bred taste, strove to
instill into her mind some of her own more aristocratic notions. But
all in vain, for Anna was purely democratic, loving everybody and
beloved by everybody in return. It is true she had no particular
liking for books or study of any kind, but she was gentle and
affectionate in her manner, and kindly considerate of other people's
feelings. With her father she was a favorite, and to her he always
looked for sympathy, which she seldom failed to give--not in words, it
is true, but whenever he seemed to be in trouble, she would climb into
his lap, wind her arms around his neck, and laying her golden head upon
his shoulder, would sit thus until his brow and heart grew lighter as
he felt there was yet something in the wide world which loved and cared
For Carrie Mrs. Livingstone had great expectations, but Anna she feared
would never make a "brilliant match." For a long time Anna meditated
upon this, wondering what a "brilliant match" could mean, and at last
she determined to seek an explanation from Captain Atherton, a bachelor
and a millionaire, who was in the habit of visiting them, and who
always noticed and petted her more than he did Carrie. Accordingly,
the next time he came, and they were alone in the parlor, she broached
the subject, asking him what it meant.
Laughing loudly, the Captain drew her toward him, saying, "Why,
marrying rich, you little novice. For instance, if one of these days
you should be my little wife, I dare say your mother would think you
had made a brilliant match!" and the well-preserved gentleman of forty
glanced complacently at himself in the mirror thinking how probable it
was that his youthfulness would be unimpaired for at least ten years to
Anna laughed, for to her his words then conveyed no serious meaning,
but with more than her usual quickness she replied, that "she would as
soon marry her grandfather."
With Mrs. Livingstone the reader is partially acquainted. In her youth
she had been pretty, and now at thirty-eight she was not without
pretensions to beauty, notwithstanding her sallow complexion and sunken
eyes, Her hair, which was very abundant, was bright and glossy, and her
mouth, in which the dentist had done his best, would have been
handsome, had it not been for a certain draw at the corners, which gave
it a scornful and rather disagreeable expression. In her disposition
she was overbearing and tyrannical, fond of ruling, and deeming her
husband a monster of ingratitude if ever in any way he manifested a
spirit of rebellion. Didn't she marry him? and now they were married,
didn't her money support him? And wasn't it exceedingly amiable in her
always to speak of their children as _ours_! But as for the rest,
'twas _my_ house, _my_ servants, _my_ carriage, and _my_ horses. All
_mine_--"Mrs. John Livingstone's--Miss Matilda Richards that was!"
Occasionally, however, her husband's spirit was roused, and then, after
a series of tears, sick-headaches, and then spasms, "Miss Matilda
Richards that Was" was compelled to yield her face for many days
wearing the look of a much-injured, heart-broken woman. Still her
influence over him was great, else she had never so effectually
weakened every tie which bound him to his native home, making him
ashamed of his parents and of everything pertaining to them. When her
husband first wrote, to her that his father was dead and that he had
promised to take charge of his mother and 'Lena, she new into a violent
rage, which was increased ten-fold when she received his second letter,
wherein he announced his intention of bringing them home in spite of
her. Bursting into tears she declared "she'd leave the house before
she'd have it filled up with a lot of paupers. Who did John Nichols
think he was, and who did he think she was! Besides that, where was he
going to put them? for there wasn't a place for them that she knew of!"
"Why, mother," said Anna who was pleased with the prospect of a new
grandmother and cousin, "Why, mother, what a story. There's the two
big chambers and bedrooms, besides the one next to Carrie's and mine.
Oh, do put them in there. It'll be so nice to have grandma and cousin
'Lena so near me."
"Anna Livingstone!" returned the indignant lady, "Never let me hear you
say grandma and cousin again."
"But they be grandma and cousin," persisted Anna, while her mother
commenced lamenting the circumstance which had made them so, wishing,
as she had often done before, that she had never married John Nichols.
"I reckon you are not the only one that wishes so," slyly whispered
John Jr., who was a witness to her emotion.
Anna was naturally of an inquiring mind, and her mother's last remark
awoke within her a new and strange train of thought, causing her to
wonder whose little girl she would have been, her father's or mother's,
in case they had each married some one else! As there was no one whose
opinion Anna dared to ask, the question is undoubtedly to this day,
with her, unsolved.
The next morning when Mrs. Livingstone arose, her anger of the day
before was somewhat abated, and knowing from past experience that it
was useless to resist her husband when once he was determined, she
wisely concluded that as they were now probably on the road, it was
best to try to endure, for a time, at least, what could not well be
helped. And now arose the perplexing question, "What should she do
with them? where should she put them that they would be the most out of
the way? for she could never suffer them to be round when she had
company." The chamber of which Anna had spoken was out of the
question, for it was too nice, and besides that, it was reserved for
the children of her New Orleans friends, who nearly every summer came
up to visit her.
At the rear of the building was a long, low room, containing a
fireplace and two windows, which looked out upon the negro quarters and
the hemp fields beyond. This room, which in the summer was used for
storing feather-beds, blankets, and so forth, was plastered, but minus
either paper or paint. Still it was quite comfortable, "better than
they were accustomed to at home," Mrs. Livingstone said, and this she
decided to give them. Accordingly the negroes were set at work
scrubbing the floor, washing the windows, and scouring the sills, until
the room at least possessed the virtue of being clean. A faded carpet,
discarded as good for nothing, and over which the rats had long held
their nightly revels, was brought to light, shaken, mended, and nailed
down--then came a bedstead, which Mrs. Livingstone had designed as a
Christmas gift to one of the negroes, but which of course would do well
enough for her mother-in-law. Next followed an old wooden
rocking-chair, whose ancestry Anna had tried in vain to trace, and
which Carrie had often proposed burning. This, with two or three more
chairs of a later date, a small wardrobe, and a square table, completed
the furniture of the room, if we except the plain muslin curtains which
shaded the windows, destitute of blinds. Taking it by itself, the room
looked tolerably well, but when compared with the richly furnished
apartments around it, it seemed meager and poor indeed; "but if they
wanted anything better, they could get it themselves. They were
welcome to make any alterations they chose."
This mode of reasoning hardly satisfied Anna, and unknown to her mother
she took from her own chamber a handsome hearth-rug, and carrying it to
her grandmother's room, laid it before the fireplace. Coming
accidentally upon a roll of green paper, she, with the help of Corinda,
a black girl, made some shades for the windows, which faced the west,
rendering the room intolerably hot during the summer season. Then, at
the suggestion of Corinda, she looped back the muslin curtains with
some green ribbons, which she had intended using for her "dolly's
dress." The bare appearance of the table troubled her, but by
rummaging, she brought to light a cast-off spread, which, though soiled
and worn, was on one side quite handsome.
"Now, if we only had something for the mantel," said she; "it seems so
Corinda thought a moment, then rolling up the whites of her eyes,
replied, "Don't you mind them little pitchers" (meaning vases) "which
Master Atherton done gin you? They'd look mighty fine up thar, full of
sprigs and posies."
Without hesitating a moment Anna brought the vases, and as she did not
know the exact time when her grandmother would arrive, she determined
to fill them with fresh flowers every morning.
"There, it looks a heap better, don't it, Carrie?" said she to her
sister, who chanced to be passing the door and looked in.
"You must be smart," answered Carrie, "taking so much pains just for
them; and as I live, if you haven't got those elegant vases that
Captain Atherton gave you for a birthday present! I know mother won't
like it. I mean to tell her;" and away she ran with the important news.
"There, I told you so," said she, quickly returning. "She says you
carry them straight back and let the room alone."
Anna began to cry, saying "the vases were hers, and she should think
she might do what she pleased with them."
"What did you go and blab for, you great for shame, you?" exclaimed
John Jr., suddenly appearing in the doorway, at the same time giving
Carrie a push, which set her to crying, and brought Mrs. Livingstone to
the scene of action,
"Can't my vases stay in here? Nobody'll hurt 'em, and they'll look so
pretty," said Anna.
"Can't that hateful John behave, and let me alone?" said Carrie.
"And can't Carrie quit sticking her nose in other folks' business?"
chimed in John Jr.
"Oh Lordy, what a fuss," said Corinda, while poor Mrs. Livingstone,
half distracted, took refuge under one of her dreadful headaches, and
telling her children "to fight their own battles and let her alone,"
returned to her room.
"A body'd s'pose marster's kin warn't of no kind of count," said Aunt
Milly, the head cook, to a group of sables, who, in the kitchen, were
discussing the furniture of the "trump'ry room," as they were in the
habit of calling the chamber set apart for Mrs. Nichols. "Yes, they
would s'pose they warn't of no kind o' count, the way miss goes on,
ravin' and tarin' and puttin' 'em off with low-lived truck that we
black folks wouldn't begin to tache with the tongs. Massy knows ef my
ole mother warn't dead and gone to kingdom come, I should never think
o' sarvin' her so, and I don't set myself up to be nothin' but an old
nigger, and a black one at that. But Lor' that's the way with more'n
half the white folks. They jine the church, and then they think they
done got a title deed to one of them houses up in heaven (that nobody
ever built) sure enough. Goin' straight thar, as fast as a span of
race-horses can carry 'em. Ki! Won't they be disappointed, some on
'em, and Miss Matilda 'long the rest, when she drives up, hosses all a
reekin' sweat, and spects to walk straight into the best room, but is
told to go to the kitchen and turn hoe-cakes for us niggers, who are
eatin' at the fust table, with silver forks and napkins----?"
Here old Milly stopped to breathe, and her daughter Vine, who had
listened breathlessly to her mother's description of the "good time
coming," asked "when these things come to pass, if Miss Carrie wouldn't
have to swing the feathers over the table to keep off the flies,
instead of herself?"
"Yes, that she will, child," returned her mother; "Things is all gwine
to be changed in the wink of your eye. Miss Anna read that very tex'
to me last Sunday and I knew in a minit what it meant. Now thar's Miss
Anna, blessed lamb. She's one of 'em that'll wear her white gowns and
stay in t'other room, with her face shinin' like an ile lamp!"
While this interesting conversation was going on in the kitchen, John
Jr., in the parlor was teasing his mother for money, with which to go
up to Lexington the next day. "You may just as well give it to me
without any fuss," said he, "for if you don't, I'll get my bills at the
Phoenix charged. The old man is good, and they'll trust. But then a
feller feels more independent when he can pay down, and treat a friend,
if he likes; so hand over four or five Vs."
At first Mrs. Livingstone refused, but her head ached so hard and her
"nerves trembled so," that she did not feel equal to the task of
contending with John Jr., who was always sure in the end to have his
own way. Yielding at last to his importunities, she gave him fifteen
dollars, charging him to "keep out of bad company and be a good boy."
"Trust me for that," said he, and pulling the tail of Anna's pet
kitten, upsetting Carrie's work-box, poking a black baby's ribs with
his walking cane, and knocking down a cob-house, which "Thomas
Jefferson" had been all day building, he mounted his favorite
"Firelock," and together with a young negro, rode off.
"The Lord send us a little peace now," said Aunt Milly, tossing her
squalling baby up in the air, and telling Thomas Jefferson not to cry,
"for his young master was done gone off."
"And I hope to goodness he'll stay off a spell," she added, "for thar's
ole Sam to pay the whole time he's at home, and if ever thar was a
tickled critter in this world it's me, when he clar's out."
"I'm glad, too," said Anna, who had been sent to the kitchen to stop
the screaming, "and I wish he'd stay ever so long, for I don't take a
bit of comfort when he's at home."
"Great hateful! I wish he didn't live here," said Carrie, gathering up
her spools, thimble and scissors, while Mrs. Livingstone, feeling that
his absence had taken a load from her shoulders, settled herself upon
her silken lounge and tried to sleep.
Amid all this rejoicing at his departure, John Jr. put spurs to the
fleet Firelock, who soon carried him to Lexington, where, as we have
seen, he came unexpectedly upon his father, who, not daring to trust
him on horseback, lest he should play the truant, took him into the
stage with himself, leaving Firelock to the care of the negro.
"Oh, mother, get up quick--the stage has driven up at the gate, and I
reckon pa has come," said Anna, bursting into the room where her
mother, who was suffering from a headache, was still in bed.
Raising herself upon her elbow, and pushing aside the rich, heavy
curtains, Mrs. Livingstone looked out upon the mud-bespattered
vehicle, from which a leg, encased in a black and white stocking, was
just making its egress. "Oh, heavens!" said she, burying her face
again in the downy pillows. Woman's curiosity, however, soon
prevailed over all other feelings, and again looking out she obtained
a full view of her mother-in-law, who, having emerged from the coach,
was picking out her boxes, trunks, and so forth. When they were all
found, Mr. Livingstone ordered two negroes to carry them to the side
piazza, where they were soon mounted by three or four little darkies,
Thomas Jefferson among the rest.
"John, _John_" said Mrs. Nichols, "them niggers won't scent my
things, will they?"
"Don't talk, granny," whispered 'Lena, painfully conscious of the
curious eyes fixed upon them by the bevy of blacks, who had come out
to greet their master, and who with sidelong glances at each other,
were inspecting the new comers.
"Don't talk! why not?" said Mrs. Nichols, rather sharply. "This is a
free country I suppose." Then bethinking herself, she added quickly,
"Oh, I forgot, 'taint free _here_!"
After examining the satchel and finding that the night gown sleeve
was safe, Mrs. Nichols took up her line of march for the house,
herself carrying her umbrella and band-box, which she would not
intrust to the care of the negroes, "as like enough they'd break the
umberell, or squash her caps."
"The trumpery room is plenty good enough for 'em," thought Corinda,
retreating into the kitchen and cutting sundry flourishes in token of
The moment 'Lena came in sight, Mrs. Livingstone exclaimed, "Oh,
mercy, which is the oldest?" and truly, poor 'Lena did present a
Her bonnet, never very handsome or fashionable, had received an ugly
crook in front, which neither her grandmother or uncle had noticed,
and of which John Jr. would not tell her, thinking that the worse she
looked the more fun he would have! Her skirts were not very full,
and her dress hung straight around her, making her of the same
bigness from her head to her feet. Her shoes, which had been given
to her by one of the neighbors, were altogether too large, and it was
with considerable difficulty that she could keep them on, but then as
they were a present, Mrs. Nichols said "it was a pity not to get all
the good out of them she could."
In front of herself and grandmother, walked Mr. Livingstone, moody,
silent, and cross. Behind them was John Jr., mimicking first 'Lena's
gait and then his grandmother's. The negroes, convulsed with
laughter, darted hither and thither, running against and over each
other, and finally disappearing, some behind the house and some into
the kitchen, and all retaining a position from which they could have
a full view of the proceedings. On the piazza stood Anna and Carrie,
the one with her handkerchief stuffed in her mouth, and the other
with her mouth open, astounded at the unlooked-for spectacle.
"Oh, what shall I do, what shall I do?" groaned Mrs. Livingstone.
"Do? Get up and dress yourself, and come and see your new relations:
that's what I should do," answered John Jr., who, tired of mimicking,
had run forward, and now rushed unceremoniously into his mother's
sleeping-room, leaving the door open behind him.
"John Livingstone, what do you mean?" said she, "shut that door this
Feigning not to hear her, John Jr. ran back to the piazza, which he
reached just in time to hear the presentation of his sisters.
"This is Carrie, and this is Anna," said Mr. Livingstone, pointing to
each one as he pronounced her name.
Marching straight up to Carrie and extending her hand, Mrs. Nichols
exclaimed, "Now I want to know if this is Car'line. I'd no idee she
was so big. You pretty well, Car'line?"
Very haughtily Carrie touched the ends of her grandmother's fingers,
and with stately gravity replied that she was well.
Turning next to Anna, Mrs. Nichols continued, "And this is Anny.
Looks weakly 'pears to me, kind of blue around the eyes as though she
was fitty. Never have fits, do you, dear?"
"No, ma'am," answered Anna, struggling hard to keep from laughing
Here Mr. Livingstone inquired for his wife, and on being told that
she was sick, started for her room.
"Sick? Is your marm sick?" asked Mrs. Nichols of John Jr. "Wall, I
guess I'll go right in and sea if I can't do somethin' for her. I'm
tolerable good at nussin'."
Following her son, who did not observe her, she entered unannounced
into the presence of her elegant daughter-in-law, who, with a little
shriek, covered her head with the bed-clothes. Knowing that she
meant well, and never dreaming that she was intruding, Mrs. Nichols
walked up to the bedside, saying, "How de do, 'Tilda? I suppose you
know I'm your mother--come all the way from Massachusetts to live
with you. What is the matter? Do you take anything for your
A groan was Mrs. Livingstone's only answer.
"Little hystericky, I guess," suggested Mrs. Nichols, adding that
"settin' her feet in middlin' hot water is good for that."
"She is nervous, and the sight of strangers makes her worse. So I
reckon you'd better go out for the present," said Mr. Livingstone,
who really pitied his wife. Then calling Corinda, he bade her show
his mother to her room.
Corinda obeyed, and Mrs. Nichols followed her, asking her on the way
"what her surname was, how old she was, if she knew how to read, and
if she hadn't a good deal rather be free than to be a slave!" to
which Corinda replied, that "she didn't know what a surname meant,
that she didn't know how old she was, that she didn't know how to
read, and that she didn't know whether she'd like to be free or not,
but reckoned she shouldn't."
"A half-witted gal that," thought Mrs. Nichols, "and I guess 'Tilda
don't set much store by her." Then dropping into the wooden
rocking-chair and laying aside her bonnet, she for the first time
noticed that 'Lena was not with her, and asked Corinda to go for her.
Corinda complied, leaving the room just in time to stifle a laugh, as
she saw Mrs. Nichols stoop down to examine the hearth-rug, wondering
"how much it cost when 'twas new."
We left 'Lena standing on the steps of the piazza.
At a glance she had taken in the whole--had comprehended that there
was no affinity whatever between herself and the objects around her,
and a wild, intense longing filled her heart to be once more among
her native hills. She had witnessed the merriment of the blacks, the
scornful curl of Carrie's lip, the half-suppressed ridicule of Anna,
when they met her grandmother, and now uncertain of her own
reception, she stood before her cousins not knowing whether to
advance or run away. For a moment there was an awkward silence, and
then John Jr., bent on mischief, whispered to Carrie, "Look at that
pinch in her bonnet, and just see her shoes! Big as little
This was too much for Lena. She already disliked John Jr., and now,
flying into a violent passion, she drew off her shoes, and hurling
them at the young gentleman's head fled away, away, she knew not,
cared not whither, so that she got out of sight and hearing. Coming
at last to the arbor bridge across the brook in the garden, she
paused for breath, and throwing herself upon a seat, burst into a
flood of tears. For several minutes she sobbed so loudly that she
did not hear the sound of footsteps upon the graveled walk. Anna had
followed her, partly out of curiosity, and partly out of pity, the
latter of which preponderated when she saw how bitterly her cousin
was weeping. Going up to her she said, "Don t cry so, 'Lena. Look
up and talk. It's Anna, your cousin."
'Lena had not yet recovered from her angry fit, and thinking Anna
only came to tease her, and perhaps again ridicule her bonnet, she
tore the article, from her head, and bending it up double, threw it
into the stream, which carried it down to the fish-pond, where for
two or three hours it furnished amusement for some little negroes,
who, calling it a crab, fished for it with hook and line! For a
moment Anna stood watching the bonnet as it sailed along down the
stream, thinking it looked better there than on its owner's head, but
wondering why 'Lena had thrown it away. Then again addressing her
cousin, she asked why she had done so?
"It's a homely old thing, and I hate it," answered 'Lena, again
bursting into tears. "I hate everybody, and I wish I was dead, or
back in Massachusetts, I don't care which!"
With her impressions of the "Bay State," where her mother said folks
lived on "cold beans and codfish," Anna thought she should prefer the
first alternative, but she did not say so; and after a little she
tried again to comfort 'Lena, telling her "she liked her, or at least
she was going to like her a heap."
"No, you ain't," returned 'Lena. "You laughed at me and granny both.
I saw you do it, and you think I don't know anything, but I do. I've
been through Olney's geography, and Colburn's arithmetic twice!"
This was more than Anna could say. She had no scholarship of which
to boast; but she had a heart brimful of love, and in reply to
'Lena's accusation of having laughed at her, she replied, "I know I
laughed, for grandma looked so funny I couldn't help it. But I won't
any more. I pity you because your mother is dead, and you never had
any father, ma says."
This made 'Lena cry again, while Anna continued, "Pa'll buy you some
new clothes I reckon, and if he don't, I'll give you some of mine,
for I've got heaps, and they'll fit you I most know. Here's my
mark--" pointing to a cut upon the door-post. "Here's mine, and
Carrie's and brother's. Stand up and see if you don't measure like I
'Lena complied, and to Anna's great joy they were just of a height.
"I'm so glad," said she. "Now, come to my room and Corinda will fix
you up mighty nice before mother sees you."
Hand-in-hand the two girls started for the house, but had not gone
far when they heard some one calling, "Ho, Miss 'Lena, whar is you?
Ole miss done want you." At the same time Corinda made her
appearance round the corner of the piazza.
"Here, Cora," said Anna. "Come with me to my room; I want you."
With a broad grin Corinda followed her young mistress, while 'Lena,
never having been accustomed to any negro save the one with whom many
New England children are threatened when they cry, clung closer to
Anna's side, occasionally casting a timid glance toward the
dark-browed girl who followed them. In the upper hall they met with
Carrie, who in passing 'Lena held back her dress, as if fearing
contamination from a contact with her cousin's plainer garments.
Painfully alive to the slightest insult, 'Lena reddened, while Anna
said, "Never mind--that's just like Cad, but nobody cares for _her_."
Thus reassured 'Lena followed on, until they reached Anna's room,
which they were about to enter, when the shrill voice of Mrs. Nichols
fell upon their ears, calling, "'Leny, 'Leny, where upon airth is
"Let's go to her first," said 'Lena, and leading the way Anna soon
ushered her into her grandmother's room which, child as she was,
'Lena readily saw was far different from the handsome apartments of
which she had obtained a passing glance.
But Mrs. Nichols had not thought of this--and was doubtless better
satisfied with her present quarters than she would have been with the
best furnished chamber in the house. The moment her granddaughter
appeared, she exclaimed, "'Leny Rivers, where have you been? I was
worried to death, for fear you might be runnin' after some of them
paltry niggers. And now whilst I think on't, I charge you never to
go a nigh 'em; I'd no idee they were such half-naked, nasty critters."
This prohibition was a novelty to Anna, who spent many happy hours
with her sable-hued companions, never deeming herself the worse for
it. Her grandmother's first remark, however, struck her still more
forcibly, and she immediately asked, "Grandma, what did you call
'Lena, just now? 'Lena what?"
"I called her by her name, 'Lena Rivers. What should I call her?"
returned Mrs. Nichols.
"Why, I thought her name was 'Lena Nichols; ma said 'twas," answered
Mrs. Nichols was very sensitive to any slight cast upon 'Lena's
birth, and she rather tartly informed Anna, that "her mother didn't
know everything," adding that "'Lena's father was Mr. Rivers, and
there wasn't half so much reason why she should be called Nichols as
there was why Anna should, for that was her father's name, the one by
which he was baptized, the same day with Nancy Scovandyke, who's jest
his age, only he was born about a quarter past four in the morning,
and she not till some time in the afternoon!"
"But where is Mr. Rivers?" asked Anna more interested in him than in
the exact minute of her father's birth.
"The Lord only knows," returned Mrs. Nichols. "Little girls
shouldn't ask too many questions."
This silenced Anna, and satisfied her that there was some mystery
connected with 'Lena. The mention of Nancy Scovandyke reminded Mrs.
Nichols of the dishes which that lady had packed away, and anxious to
see if they were safe, she turned to 'Lena saying, "I guess we'll
have time before dinner to unpack my trunks, for I want to know how
the crockery stood the racket. Anny, you run down and tell your pa
to fetch 'em up here, that's a good girl."
In her eagerness to know what those weather-beaten boxes contained,
Anna forgot her scheme of dressing 'Lena, and ran down, not to call
her father, but the black boy, Adam. It took her a long time to find
him, and Mrs. Nichols, growing impatient, determined to go herself,
spite of 'Lena's entreaties that she would stay where she was.
Passing down the long stairway, and out upon the piazza, she espied a
negro girl on her hands and knees engaged in cleaning the steps with
a cloth. Instantly remembering her mop, she greatly lamented that
she had left it behind--"'twould come so handy now," thought she, but
there was no help for it.
Walking up to the girl, whose name she did not know, she said,
"Sissy, can you tell me where _John_ is?"
Quickly "Sissy's" ivories became visible, as she replied, "We hain't
got any such nigger as John."
With a silent invective upon negroes in general, and this one in
particular, Mrs. Nichols choked, stammered, and finally said, "I
didn't ask for a _nigger_; I want your master, _John_!"
Had the old lady been a Catholic, she would have crossed herself for
thus early breaking her promise to Nancy Scovandyke. As it was, she
mentally asked forgiveness, and as the colored girl "didn't know
where marster was," but "reckoned he had gone somewhar," she turned
aside, and seeking her son's room, again entered unannounced. Mrs.
Livingstone, who was up and dressed, frowned darkly upon her visitor.
But Mrs. Nichols did not heed it, and advancing forward, she said,
"Do you feel any better, 'Tilda? I'd keep kinder still to-day, and
not try to do much, for if you feel any consarned about the
housework, I'd just as lief see to't a little after dinner as not."
"I have all confidence in Milly's management, and seldom trouble
myself about the affairs of the kitchen," answered Mrs. Livingstone.
"Wall, then," returned her mother-in-law, nothing daunted, "Wall,
then, mebby you'd like to have me come in and set with you a while."
It would be impossible for us to depict Mrs. Livingstone's look of
surprise and anger at this proposition. Her face alternately flushed
and then grew pale, until at last she found voice to say, "I greatly
prefer being alone, madam. It annoys me excessively to have any one
"Considerable kind o' touchy," thought Mrs. Nichols, "but then the
poor critter is sick, and I shan't lay it up agin her."
Taking out her snuff-box, she offered it to her daughter, telling her
that "like enough 'twould cure her headache." Mrs. Livingstone's
first impulse was to strike it from her mother's hand, but knowing
how unladylike that would be, she restrained herself, and turning
away her head, replied, "Ugh! no! The very sight of it makes me
"How you do talk! Wall, I've seen folks that it sarved jest so; but
you'll get over it. Now there was Nancy Scovandyke--did John ever
say anything about her? Wall, she couldn't bear snuff till after her
disappointment--John told you, I suppose?"
"No, madam, my husband has never told me anything concerning his
eastern friends, neither do I wish to hear anything of them,"
returned Mrs. Livingstone, her patience on the point of giving out.
"Never told you nothin' about Nancy Scovandyke! If that don't beat
all! Why, he was----"
She was prevented from finishing the sentence, which would
undoubtedly have raised a domestic breeze, when Anna came to tell her
that the trunks were carried to her room.
"I'll come right up then," said she, adding, more to herself than any
one else, "If I ain't mistaken, I've got a little paper of saffron
somewhere, which I mean to steep for 'Tilda. Her skin looks desput
When Mr. Livingstone again entered his wife's room, he found her in a
collapsed state of anger and mortification.
"_John_ Nichols," said she, with a strong emphasis on the first word,
which sounded very much like _Jarn_, "do you mean to kill me by
bringing that vulgar, ignorant thing here, walking into my room
without knocking--calling me '_Tilda_, and prating about Nancy
John started. His wife knew nothing of his _affaire du coeur_ with
Miss Nancy, and for his own peace of mind 't was desirable that she
should not. Mentally resolving to give her a few hints, he
endeavored to conciliate his wife, by saying that he knew "his mother
was troublesome, but she must try not to notice her oddities."
"I wonder how I can help it, when she forces herself upon me
continually," returned his wife. "I must either deep the doors
locked, or live in constant terror."
"It's bad, I know," said he, smoothing her glossy hair, "but then,
she's old, you know. Have you seen 'Lena?"
"No, neither do I wish to, if she's at all like her grandmother,"
answered Mrs. Livingstone.
"She's handsome," suggested Mr. Livingstone.
"Pshaw! handsome!" repeated his wife, scornfully, while he replied,
"Yes, handsomer than either of our daughters, and with the same
advantages, I've no doubt she'd surpass them both."
"Those advantages, then, she shall never have," returned Mrs.
Livingstone, already jealous of a child she had only seen at a
Mr. Livingstone made no reply, but felt that he'd made a mistake in