Part 2 out of 7
praising 'Lena, in whom he began to feel a degree of interest for
which he could not account. He did not know that way down in the
depths of his heart, calloused over as it was by worldly selfishness,
there was yet a tender spot, a lingering memory of his only sister
whom 'Lena so strongly resembled. If left to himself, he would
undoubtedly have taken pride in seeing his niece improve, and as it
was, he determined that she should at home receive the same
instruction that his daughters did. Perhaps he might not send her
away to school. He didn't know how that would be--his wife held the
purse, and taking refuge behind that excuse, he for the present
dismissed the subject. (So much for marrying a _rich_ wife and
nothing else. This we throw in gratis!)
Meantime grandma had returned to her room, at the door of which she
found John Jr. and Carrie, both curious to know what was in those
boxes, one of which had burst open and been tied up with a rope.
"Come, children," said she, "don't stay out there--come in."
"We prefer remaining here," said Carrie, in a tone and manner so
nearly resembling her mother, that Mrs. Nichols could not refrain
from saying, "chip of the old block!"
"That's so, by cracky. You've hit her this time, granny," exclaimed
John Jr., snapping his fingers under Carrie's nose, which being
rather long, was frequently a subject of his ridicule.
"Let me be, John Livingstone," said Carrie, while 'Lena resolved
never again to use the word "granny," which she knew her cousin had
taken up on purpose to tease her.
"Come, 'Lena, catch hold and help me untie this rope, I b'lieve the
crockery's in here," said Mrs. Nichols to 'Lena, who soon opened the
chest, disclosing to view as motley a variety of articles as is often
Among the rest was the "blue set," a part of her "setting out," as
his grandmother told John Jr., at the same time dwelling at length
upon their great value. Mistaking Carrie's look of contempt for
envy, Mrs. Nichols chucked her under the chin, telling her "May be
there was something for her, if she was a good girl."
"Now, Cad, turn your nose up clear to the top of your head," said
John Jr., vastly enjoying his sister's vexation.
"Where does your marm keep her china? I want to put this with it,"
said Mrs. Nichols to Anna, who, uncertain what reply to make, looked
at Carrie to answer for her.
"I reckon mother don't want that old stuff stuck into her
china-closet," said Carrie, elevating her nose to a height wholly
satisfactory to John Jr., who unbuttoned one of his waistband buttons
to give himself room to laugh.
"Mortal sakes alive! I wonder if she don't," returned Mrs. Nichols,
beginning to get an inkling of Carrie's character, and the estimation
in which her valuables were held.
"Here's a nice little cupboard over the fireplace; I'd put them
here," said 'Lena.
"Yes," chimed in John Jr., imitating both his grandmother and cousin;
"yes, granny, put 'em there; the niggers are _awful critters_ to
steal, and like enough you'd 'lose 'em if they sot in with marm's!"
This argument prevailed. The dishes were put away in the cupboard,
'Lena thinking that with all his badness John Jr., was of some use
after all. At last, tired of looking on, Anna suggested to 'Lena,
who did not seem to be helping matters forward much, that the should
go and be dressed up as had been first proposed. Readily divining
her sister's intention, Carrie ran with it to her mother, who sent
back word that "'Lena must mind her own affairs, and let Anna's
This undeserved thrust made 'Lena cry, while Anna declared "her
mother never said any such thing," which Carrie understood as an
insinuation that she had told a falsehood. Accordingly a quarrel of
words ensued between the two sisters, which was finally quelled by
John Jr., who called to Carrie "to come down, as she'd got a letter
from _Durward Bellmont_."
Durward! How that name made 'Lena's heart leap! Was it _her_
Durward--the boy in the cars? She almost hoped not, for somehow the
idea of his writing to Carrie was not a pleasant one. At last
summoning courage, she asked Anna who he was, and was told that he
lived in Louisville with his stepfather, Mr. Graham, and that Carrie
about two months before had met him in Frankfort at Colonel
Douglass's, where she was in the habit of visiting. "Colonel
Douglass," continued Anna, "has got a right nice little girl whose
name is Nellie. Then there's Mabel Ross, a sort of cousin, who lives
with them part of the time. She's an orphan and a great heiress.
You mustn't tell anybody for the world, but I overheard ma say that
she wanted John to marry Mabel, she's so rich--but pshaw! he won't
for she's awful babyish and ugly looking. Captain Atherton is
related to Nellie, and during the holidays she and Mabel are coming
up to spend a week, and I'll bet Durward is coming too. Cad teased
him, and he said may be he would if he didn't go to college this
fall. I'll run down and see."
Soon returning, she brought the news that it was as she had
conjectured. Durward, who was now travelling, was not going to
college until the next fall and at Christmas he was coming to the
country with his cousin.
"Oh, I'm so glad," said Anna. "We'll have a time, for ma'll invite
them here, of course. Cad thinks a heap of Durward, and I want so
bad to see him. Don't you?"
'Lena made no direct reply, for much as she would like to see her
_compagnon du voyage_, she felt an unwillingness to meet him in the
presence of Carrie, who she knew would spare no pains to mortify her.
Soon forgetting Durward, Anna again alluded to her plan of dressing
'Lena, wishing "Cad would mind her own business." Then, as a new
idea entered her head, she brightened up, exclaiming, "I know what I
can do. I'll have Corinda curl your hair real pretty. You've got
beautiful hair. A heap nicer than my yellow flax."
'Lena offered no remonstrance, and Corinda, who came at the call of
her young mistress, immediately commenced brushing and curling the
bright, wavy hair which Anna had rightly called beautiful. While
this was going on, Grandma Nichols, who had always adhered to the
good old puritanical custom of dining exactly at twelve o'clock,
began to wonder why dinner was not forthcoming. She had breakfasted
in Versailles, but like many travelers, could not eat much at a
hotel, and now her stomach clamored loudly for food. Three times had
she walked back and forth before what she supposed was the kitchen,
and from which a savory smell of something was issuing, and at last
determining to stop and reconnoiter, she started for the door.
The northern reader at all acquainted with southern life, knows well
that a kitchen there and a kitchen here are two widely different
things--ours, particularly in the country, being frequently used as a
dining-room, while a southern lady would almost as soon think of
eating in the barn as in her cook-room. Like most other planters,
Mr. Livingstone's kitchen was separate and at some little distance
from the main building, causing grandma to wonder "how the poor
critters managed to carry victuals back and to when it was cold and
When Aunt Milly, who was up to her elbows in dough, saw her visitor
approaching, she exclaimed, "Lor'-a-mighty, if thar ain't ole miss
coming straight into this lookin' hole! Jeff, you quit that ar'
pokin' in dem ashes, and knock Lion out that kittle; does you har?
And you, Polly," speaking to a superannuated negress who was sitting
near the table, "you just shove that ar' piece of dough, I done save
to bake for you and me, under your char, whar she won't see it."
Polly complied, and by this time Mrs. Nichols was at the door,
surveying the premises, and thinking how differently she'd make
things look after a little.
"Does missus want anything?" asked Aunt Milly, and grandma replied,
"Yes, I want to know if 'tain't nigh about _noon_."
This is a term never used among the blacks, and rolling up her white
eyes, Aunt Milly answered, "You done got me now, sartin, for this
chile know nothin' what you mean more'n the deadest critter livin'."
As well as she could, Mrs. Nichols explained her meaning, and Aunt
Milly replied, "Oh, yes, yes, I know now. 'Is it most _dinner time?'
Yes--dinner'll be done ready in an hour. We never has it till two no
day, and when we has company not till three."
Confident that she should starve, Mrs. Nichols advanced a step or two
into the kitchen, whereupon Aunt Milly commenced making excuses,
saying, "she was gwine to clar up one of these days, and then if
Thomas Jefferson and Marquis De Lafayette didn't quit that litterin'
they'd cotch it"
Attracted by the clean appearance of Aunt Polly, who, not having to
work, prided herself upon always being neatly dressed, Mrs. Nichols
walked up to her, and, to use a vulgar expression, the two old ladies
were soon "hand-in-glove," Mrs. Nichols informing her of her loss,
and how sorry Nancy Scovandyke would feel when she heard of it, and
ending by giving her the full particulars of her husband's sickness
and death. In return Aunt Polly said that "she was born and bred
along with ole Marster Richards, Miss Matilda's father, and that she,
too, had buried a husband."
With a deep sigh, Mrs. Nichols was about, to commiserate her, when
Aunt Polly cut her short by saying, "'Twant of no kind o' count, as
she never relished him much."
"Some drunken critter, I warrant," thought Mrs. Nichols, at the same
time asking what his name was.
"Jeems," said Aunt Polly.
This was not definite enough for Mrs. Nichols, who asked for the
surname, "Jeems what?"
"Jeems Atherton, I reckon, bein' he 'longed to ole Marster Atherton,"
For a time Mrs. Nichols had forgotten her hunger but the habit of
sixty years was not so easily broken and she now hinted so strongly
of the emptiness of her stomach that Aunt Polly, emboldened by her
familiarity, said, "I never wait for the rest, but have my cup of tea
or coffee just when I feel like it, and if missus wouldn't mind
takin' a bite with a nigger, she's welcome."
"Say nothin' about it. We shall all be white in heaven."
"Dat am de trufe," muttered Milly, mentally assigning Mrs. Nichols a
more exalted occupation than that of turning hoe-cakes!
Two cups and saucers were forthwith produced, Milly acting as a
waiter for fear Aunt Polly would leave her seat and so disclose to
view the loaf of bread which had been hidden under the chair! Some
coffee was poured from the pot, which still stood on the stove, and
then the little negroes, amused with the novelty of the thing, ran
shouting and yelling that, "ole miss was eatin' in the kitchen 'long
with Lion, Aunt Polly and the other dogs!"
The coffee being drank, Mrs. Nichols returned to the house, thinking
"what sights of comfort she should take with _Mrs. Atherton_," whom
she pronounced to be "a likely, clever woman as ever was."
Scarcely had she reached her room when the dinner-bell rang, every
note falling like an ice-bolt on the heart of 'Lena, who, though
hungry like her grandmother, still greatly dreaded the dinner,
fearing her inability to acquit herself creditably. Corinda had
finished her hair, and Anna, looking over her wardrobe and coming
upon the black dress which her father had purchased for her, had
insisted upon 'Lena's wearing it. It was of rather more modern make
than any of her other dresses, and when her toilet was completed, she
looked uncommonly well. Still she trembled violently as Anna led her
to the dining-room.
Neither Mrs. Nichols nor Mrs. Livingstone had yet made their
appearance, but the latter soon came languidly in, wrapped in a
rose-colored shawl, which John Jr., said "she wore to give a delicate
tint to her yellow complexion." She was in the worst of humors,
having just been opening her husband's trunk, where she found the
numerous articles which had been stowed away by Nancy Scovandyke.
Very angrily she had ordered them removed from her sight, and at this
very moment the little negroes in the yard were playing with the
cracked bellows, calling them a "blubber," and filling them with
water to see it run out!
Except through the window, Mrs. Livingstone had not yet seen 'Lena,
and now dropping into her chair, she never raised her eyes until Anna
said, "Mother, mother, this is 'Lena. Look at her."
Thus importuned, Mrs. Livingstone looked up, and the frown with which
she was prepared to greet her niece softened somewhat, for 'Lena was
not a child to be looked upon and despised. Plain and humble as was
her dress, there was something in her fine, open face, which at once
interested and commanded respect, John Jr., had felt it; his father
had felt it; and his mother felt it too, but it awoke in her a
feeling of bitterness as she thought how the fair young girl before
her might in time rival her daughters. At a glance, she saw that
'Lena was beautiful, and that it was quite as much a beauty of
intellect as of feature and form.
"Yes," thought she, "husband was right when he said that, with the
same advantages, she'd soon outstrip her cousins--but it shall never
be--_never_," and the white teeth shut firmly together, as the cold,
proud woman bowed a welcome.
At this moment Mrs. Nichols appeared. Stimulated by the example of
'Lena, she, too, had changed her dress, and now in black bombazine,
white muslin cap, and shining silk apron, she presented so
respectable an appearance that her son's face instantly brightened.
"Come, mother, we are waiting for you," said he, as she stopped on
her way to ask Vine, the _fly girl_, "how she did, and if it wasn't
hard work to swing them feathers."
Not being very bright, Vine replied with a grim, "Dun know, miss."
Taking her seat next to her son, Mrs. Nichols said when offered a
plate of soup, "I don't often eat broth, besides that, I ain't much
hungry, as I've just been takin' a bite with _Miss Atherton_?"
"With whom?" asked Mr. Livingstone, John Jr., Carrie, and Anna, in
the same breath.
"With Miss Polly Atherton, that nice old colored lady in the
kitchen," said Mrs. Nichols.
The scowl on Mrs. Livingstone's face darkened visibly, while her
husband, thinking it time to speak, said, "It is my wish, mother,
that you keep away from the kitchen. It does the negroes no good to
be meddled with, and besides that, when you are hungry the servants
will take you something."
"Accustomed to eat in the kitchen, probably," muttered Carrie, with
all the air of a young lady of twenty.
"Hold on to your nose, Cad," whispered John Jr., thereby attracting
his sister's attention to himself.
By this time the soup was removed, and a fine large turkey appeared.
"What a noble great feller. Gobbler, ain't it?" asked Mrs. Nichols,
touching the turkey with the knife.
John Jr., roared, and was ordered from the table by his father, while
'Lena, who stepped on her grandmother's toes to keep her from
talking, was told by that lady "to keep her feet still." Along with
the desert came ice-cream, which Mrs. Nichols had never before
tasted, and now fancying that she was dreadfully burned, she quickly
deposited her first mouthful upon her plate.
"What's the matter, grandma? Can't you eat it?" asked Anna.
"Yes, I kin eat it, but I don't hanker arter it," answered her
grandmother, pushing the plate aside.
Dinner being over, Mrs. Nichols returned to her room, but soon
growing weary, she started out to view the premises. Coming suddenly
upon a group of young negroes, she discovered her bellows, the water
dripping from the nose, while a little farther on she espied 'Lena's
bonnet, which the negroes had at last succeeded in catching, and
which, wet as it was, now adorned the head of Thomas Jefferson! In a
trice the old lady's principles were forgotten, and she cuffed the
negroes with a right good will, hitting Jeff, the hardest, and, as a
matter of course, making him yell the loudest. Out came Aunt Milly,
scolding and muttering about "white folks tendin' to thar own
business," and reversing her decision with regard to Mrs. Nichols'
position in the next world. Cuff, the watch-dog, whose kennell was
close by, set up a tremendous howling, while John Jr., always on
hand, danced a jig to the sound of the direful music.
"For heaven's sake, husband, go out and see what's the matter," said
Mrs. Livingstone, slightly alarmed at the unusual noise.
John complied, and reached the spot just in time to catch a glimpse
of John Jr.'s heels as he gave the finishing touch to his exploit,
while Mrs. Nichols, highly incensed, marched from the field of battle
with the bonnet and bellows, thinking "if them niggers was only her'n
they'd catch it!"
It would be tiresome both to ourselves and our readers, were we to
enumerate the many mortifications which both Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone
were compelled to endure from their mother, who gradually came to
understand her true position in the family. One by one her ideas of
teaching them economy were given up, as was also all hopes of ever
being at all familiar with her daughter, whom, at her son's request,
she had ceased to call "'Tilda."
"Mebby you want me to say Miss Livingstone," said she, "but I shan't.
I'll call her Miss Nichols, or Matilda, just which she chooses."
Of course Mrs. Livingstone chose the latter, wincing, though, every
time she heard it. Dreading a scene which he knew was sure to follow
a disclosure of his engagement with Miss Nancy, Mr. Livingstone had
requested his mother to keep it from his wife, and she, appreciating
his motive, promised secrecy, lamenting the while the ill-fortune
which had prevented Nancy from being her daughter-in-law, and
dwelling frequently upon the comfort she should take were Nancy there
in Matilda's place. On the whole, however, she was tolerably
contented; the novelty of Kentucky life pleased her, and at last,
like most northern people, she fell in with the habits of those
around her. Still her Massachusetts friends were not forgotten, and
many a letter, wonderful for its composition and orthography, found
its way to Nancy Scovandyke, who wrote in return that "some time or
other she should surely visit Kentucky," asking further if the "big
bugs" didn't prefer eastern teachers for their children, and hinting
at her desire to engage in that capacity when she came south!
"Now, that's the very thing," exclaimed Mrs. Nichols, folding the
letter (directed wrong side up) and resuming her knitting. "Nancy's
larnin' is plenty good enough to teach Caroline and Anny, and I mean
to speak to John about it right away."
"I wouldn't do any such thing," said 'Lena, seeing at a glance how
such a proposal would be received.
"Why not?" asked Mrs. Nichols, and 'Lena replied, "I don't think
Nancy would suit Aunt Livingstone at all, and besides that, they've
engaged a teacher, a Mr. Everett, and expect him next week."
"You don't say so?" returned Mrs. Nichols. "I never hearn a word
on't. Where 'bouts is he from, and how much do they give him a week?"
The latter 'Lena knew nothing about, but she replied that "she
believed he was from Rockford, a village near Rochester, New York."
"Why, Nancy Scovandyke's sister lives there. I wouldn't wonder if he
"Very likely," returned Lena, catching her bonnet and hurrying off to
ride with Captain Atherton and Anna.
As we have once before observed, Anna was a great favorite with the
captain, who had petted her until John Jr. teased her unmercifully,
calling him her gray-haired lover, and the like. This made Anna
exceedingly sensitive, and now when the captain called for her to
ride, as he frequently did, she refused to go unless the invitation
was also extended to 'Lena, who in this way got many a pleasant ride
around the country. She was fast learning to like Kentucky, and
would have been very happy had her aunt and Carrie been a little more
gracious. But the former seldom spoke to her, and the latter only to
ridicule something which she said or did.
Many and amusing were the disputes between the two girls concerning
their peculiarities of speech, Carrie bidding 'Lena "quit her Yankee
habit of eternally _guessing_," and 'Lena retorting that "she would
when Carrie stopped her everlasting _reckoning_." To avoid the
remarks of the neighbors, who she knew were watching her narrowly,
Mrs. Livingstone had purchased 'Lena two or three dresses, which,
though greatly inferior to those worn by Carrie and Anna, were still
fashionably made, and so much improved 'Lena's looks, that her
manners improved, also, for what child does not appear to better
advantage when conscious of looking well? More than once had her
uncle's hand rested for a moment on her brown curls, while his
thoughts were traversing the past, and in fancy his fingers were
again straying among the silken locks now resting in the grave. It
would seem as if the mother from her coffin was pleading for her
child, for all the better nature of Mr. Livingstone was aroused; and
when he secured the services of Mr. Everett, who was highly
recommended both as a scholar and gentleman, he determined that 'Lena
should share the same advantages with his daughters. To this Mrs.
Livingstone made no serious objection, for as Mr. Everett would teach
in the house, it would not do to debar 'Lena from the privilege of
attending his school; and as the highest position to which she could
aspire was to be governess in some private family, she felt willing,
she said, that she should have a chance of acquiring the common
And now Mr. Everett was daily expected. Anna, who had no fondness
for books, greatly dreaded his arrival, thinking within herself how
many pranks she'd play off upon him, provided 'Lena would lend a
helping hand, which she much doubted. John Jr., too, who for a time,
at least, was to be placed under Mr. Everett's instruction, felt in
no wise eager for his arrival, fearing, as he told 'Lena that
"between the 'old man' and the tutor, he would be kept a little too
straight for a gentleman of his habits;" and it was with no
particular emotions of pleasure that he and Anna saw the stage stop
before the gate one pleasant morning toward the middle of November.
Running to one of the front windows, Carrie, 'Lena, and Anna watched
their new teacher, each after her own fashion commenting upon his
"Ugh," exclaimed Anna, "what a green, boyish looking thing! I reckon
nobody's going to be afraid of him."
"I say he's real handsome," said Carrie, who being thirteen years of
age, had already, in her own mind, practiced many a little coquetry
upon the stranger.
"I like him," was 'Lena's brief remark.
Mr. Everett was a pale, intellectual looking man, scarcely twenty
years of age, and appearing still younger so that Anna was not wholly
wrong when she called him boyish. Still there was in his large black
eye a firmness and decision which bespoke the man strong within him,
and which put to flight all of Anna's preconceived notions of
rebellion. With the utmost composure he returned Mrs. Livingstone's
greeting, and the proud lady half bit her lip with vexation as she
saw how little he seemed awed by her presence.
Malcolm Everett was not one to acknowledge superiority where there
was none, and though ever polite toward Mrs. Livingstone, there was
something in his manner which forbade her treating him as aught save
an equal. He was not to be trampled down, and for once in her life
Mrs. Livingstone had found a person who would neither cringe to her
nor flatter. The children were not presented to him until dinner
time, when, with the air of a young desperado, John Jr. marched into
the dining-room, eying, his teacher askance, calculating his
strength, and returning his greeting with a simple nod. Mr. Everett
scanned him from head to foot, and then turned to Carrie half smiling
at the great dignity which she assumed. With 'Lena and Anna he
seemed better pleased, holding their hands and smiling down upon them
through rows of teeth which Anna pronounced the whitest she had ever
Mr. Livingstone was not at home, and when his mother appeared, Mrs.
Livingstone did not think proper to introduce her. But if by this
omission she thought to keep the old lady silent, she was mistaken,
for the moment Mrs. Nichols was seated, she commenced with, "Your
name is Everett, I b'lieve?"
"Yes, ma'am," said he, bowing very gracefully toward her.
"Any kin to the governor that was?"
"No, ma'am, none whatever," and the white teeth became slightly
visible for a moment, but soon disappeared.
"You are from Rockford, 'Lena tells me?"
"Yes, ma'am. Have you friends there?"
"Yes--or that is, Nancy Scovandyke's sister, Betsy Scovandyke that
used to be, lives there. May be you know her. Her name is
Bacon--Betsy Bacon. She's a widder and keeps boarders."
"Ah," said he, the teeth this time becoming wholly visible, "I've
heard of Mrs. Bacon, but have not the honor of her acquaintance. You
are from the east, I perceive."
"Law, now! how did you know that!" asked Mrs. Nichols, while Mr.
Everett answered, "I _guessed_ at it," with a peculiar emphasis on
the word guessed, which led 'Lena to think he had used it purposely
and not from habit.
Mr. Everett possessed in a remarkable degree the faculty of making
those around him both respect and like him, and ere six weeks had
passed, he had won the love of all his pupils. Even John Jr. was
greatly improved, and Carrie seemed suddenly reawakened into a thirst
for knowledge, deeming no task too long, and no amount of study too
hard, if it won the commendation of her teacher. 'Lena, who
committed to memory with great ease, and who consequently did not
deserve so much credit for her always perfect lessons, seldom
received a word of praise, while poor Anna, notoriously lazy when
books were concerned, cried almost every day, because as she said,
"Mr. Everett didn't like her as he did the rest, else why did he look
at her so much, watching her all the while, and keeping her after
school to get her lessons over, when he knew how she hated them."
Once Mrs. Livingstone ventured to remonstrate, telling him that Anna
was very sensitive, and required altogether different treatment from
Carrie. "She thinks you dislike her," said she, "and while she
retains this impression, she will do nothing as far as learning is
concerned; so if you do not like her, try and make her think you do!"
There was a peculiar look in Mr. Everett's dark eyes as he answered,
"You may think it strange, Mrs. Livingstone, but of all my pupils I
love Anna the best! I know I find more fault with her, and am
perhaps more severe with her than with the rest, but it's because I
would make her what I wish her to be. Pardon me, madam, but Anna
does not possess the same amount of intellect with her cousin or
sister, but by proper culture she will make a fine, intelligent
Mrs. Livingstone hardly relished being told that one child was
inferior to the other, but she could not well help herself--Mr.
Everett would say what he pleased--and thus the conference ended.
From that time Mr. Everett was exceedingly kind to Anna, wiping away
the tears which invariably came when told that she must stay with him
in the school-room after the rest were gone; then, instead of seating
himself in rigid silence at a distance until her task was learned, he
would sit by her side, occasionally smoothing her long curls and
speaking encouragingly to her as she pored over some hard rule of
grammar, or puzzled her brains with some difficult problem in
Colburn. Erelong the result of all this became manifest. Anna grew
fonder of her books, more ready to learn, and--more willing to be
kept after school!
Ah, little did Mrs. Livingstone think what she was doing when she
bade young Malcolm Everett make her warm-hearted, impulsive daughter
_think_ he liked her!
"Mother, where's 'Lena's dress? Hasn't she got any?" asked Anna, one
morning, about two weeks before Christmas, as she bent over a
promiscuous pile of merinoes, delaines, and plaid silks, her own and
Carrie's dresses for the coming holidays. "Say, mother, didn't you
buy 'Lena any?"
Thus interrogated, Mrs. Livingstone replied, "I wonder if you think
I'm made of money! 'Lena is indebted to me now for more than she can
ever pay. As long as I give her a home and am at so much expense in
educating her, she of course can't expect me to dress her as I do
you. There's Carrie's brown delaine and your blue one, which I
intend to have made over for her, and she ought to be satisfied with
that, for they are much better than anything she had when she came
And the lady glanced toward the spot where 'Lena sat, admiring the
new things, in which she had no share, and longing to ask the
question which Anna had asked for her, and which had now been
answered. John Jr., who was present, and who knew that Mr. Everett
had been engaged to teach in the family long before it was known that
'Lena was coming, now said to his cousin, who arose to leave, "Yes,
'Lena, mother's a model of generosity, and you'll never be able to
repay her for her kindness in allowing you to wear the girls' old
duds, which would otherwise be given to the blacks, and in permitting
you to recite to Mr. Everett, who, of course, was hired on your
The slamming together of the door as 'Lena left the room brought the
young gentleman's remarks to a close, and wishing to escape the
lecture which he saw was preparing for him, he, too, made his exit.
Christmas was coming, and with it Durward Bellmont, and about his
coming Mrs. Livingstone felt some little anxiety. Always scheming,
and always looking ahead, she was expecting great results from this
visit. Durward was not only immensely wealthy, but was also
descended on his father's side from one of England's noblemen.
Altogether he was, she thought, a "decided catch," and though he was
now only sixteen, while Carrie was but thirteen, lifelong impressions
had been made at even an earlier period, and Mrs. Livingstone
resolved that her pretty daughter should at least have all the
advantages of dress with which to set off her charms. Concerning
Anna's appearance she cared less, for she had but little hope of her,
unless, indeed--but 'twas too soon to think of that--she would wait,
and perhaps in good time 't would all come round naturally and as a
matter of course. So she encouraged her daughter's intimacy with
Captain Atherton, who, until Malcolm Everett appeared, was in Anna's
estimation the best man living. Now, however, she made an exception
in favor of her teacher, "who," as she told the captain, "neither
wore false teeth, nor kept in his pocket a pair of specks, to be
slyly used when he fancied no one saw him."
Captain Atherton coughed, colored, laughed, and saying that "Mr.
Everett was a mash kind of a boy," swore eternal enmity toward him,
and under the mask of friendship--watched! Eleven years before, when
Anna was a baby, Mrs. Livingstone had playfully told the captain, who
was one day deploring his want of a wife, that if he would wait he
should have her daughter. To this he agreed, and the circumstance,
trivial as it was, made a more than ordinary impression upon his
mind; and though he as yet had no definite idea that the promise
would ever be fulfilled, the little girl was to him an object of
uncommon interest. Mrs. Livingstone knew this, and whenever Anna's
future prospects were the subject of her meditations, she generally
fell back upon that fact as an item not to be despised.
Now, however, her thoughts were turned into another and widely
different channel. Christmas week was to be spent by Durward
Bellmont partly at Captain Atherton's and partly at her own house,
and as Mrs. Livingstone was not ignorant of the effect a becoming
dress has upon a pretty face, she determined that Carrie should, at
least, have that advantage. Anna, too, was to fare like her sister,
while no thought was bestowed upon poor 'Lena's wardrobe, until her
husband, who accompanied her to Frankfort, suggested that a certain
pattern, which he fancied would be becoming to 'Lena should be
With an angry scowl, Mrs. Livingstone muttered something about
"spending so much money for other folks' young ones." Then
remembering the old delaines, and knowing by the tone of her
husband's voice that he was in earnest, she quickly rejoined, "Why,
'Lena's got two new dresses at home."
Never doubting his wife's word, Mr. Livingstone was satisfied, and
nothing more was said upon the subject. Business of importance made
it necessary for him to go for a few weeks to New Orleans, and he was
now on his way thither, his wife having accompanied him as far as
Frankfort, where he took the boat, while she returned home. When
'Lena left the room after learning that she had no part in the mass
of Christmas finery, she repaired to the arbor bridge, where she had
wept so bitterly on the first day of her arrival, and which was now
her favorite resort. For a time she sat watching the leaping waters,
swollen by the winter rains, and wondering if it were not possible
that they started at first from the pebbly spring which gushed so
cool and clear from the mountain-side near her old New England home.
This reminded her of where and what she was now--a dependent on the
bounty of those who wished her away, and who almost every day of her
life made her feel it so keenly, too. Not one among them loved her
except Anna, and would not her affection change as they grew older?
Then her thoughts took another direction.
Durward Bellmont was coming--but did she wish to see him? Could she
bear the sneering remarks which she knew Carrie would make concerning
herself? And how would he be affected by them? Would he ask her of
her father? and if so, what had she to say?
Many a time had she tried to penetrate the dark mystery of her birth,
but her grandmother was wholly non-committal. Once, too, when her
uncle seemed kinder than usual, she had ventured to ask him of her
father, and with a frown he had replied, that "the least she knew of
him the better!" Still 'Lena felt sure that he was a good man, and
that some time or other she would find him.
All day long the clouds had been threatening rain, which began to
fall soon after 'Lena entered the arbor, but so absorbed was she in
her own thoughts, that she did not observe it until her clothes were
perfectly dampened; then starting up, she repaired to the house. For
several days she had not been well, and this exposure brought on a
severe cold, which confined her to her room for nearly two weeks.
Meantime the dress-making process went on, Anna keeping 'Lena
constantly apprised of its progress, and occasionally wearing in some
article for her inspection. This reminded 'Lena of her own wardrobe,
and knowing that it would not be attended to while she was sick, she
made such haste to be well, that on Thursday at tea-time she took her
accustomed seat at the table. After supper she lingered awhile in
the parlor, hoping something would be said, but she waited in vain,
and was about leaving, when a few words spoken by Carrie in an
adjoining room caught her ear and arrested her attention.
They were--"And so 'Lena came down to-night. I dare say she thinks
you'll set Miss Simpson at work upon my old delaine."
"Perhaps so," returned Mrs. Livingstone, "but I don't see how Miss
Simpson can do it, unless you put off having that silk apron
"I shan't do any such thing," said Carrie, glad of an excuse to keep
'Lena out of the way. "What matter is it if she don't come down when
the company are here? I'd rather she wouldn't, for she's so green
and awkward, and Durward is so fastidious in such matters, that I'd
rather he wouldn't know she's a relative of ours! I know he'd tell
his mother, and they say she is very particular about his associates."
'Lena's first impulse was to defy her cousin to her face--to tell her
she had seen Durward Bellmont, and that he didn't laugh at her
either. But her next thought was calmer and more rational. Possibly
under Carrie's influence he might make fun of her, and resolving on
no condition whatever to make herself visible while he was in the
house, she returned to her room, and throwing herself upon the bed,
wept until she fell asleep.
"When is Miss Simpson going to fix 'Lena's dress?" asked Anna, as day
after day passed, and nothing was said of the brown delaine.
For an instant Miss Simpson's nimble fingers were still, as she
awaited the answer to a question which had occurred to her several
times. She was a kind-hearted, intelligent girl, find at a glance
had seen how matters stood. She, too, was an orphan, and her
sympathies were all enlisted in behalf of the neglected 'Lena. She
had heard from Anna of the brown delaine, and in her own mind she had
determined that it should be fitted with the utmost taste of which
she was capable.
Her speculations, however, were brought to a close by Mrs.
Livingstone's saying in reply to Anna, that "'Lena seemed so wholly
uninterested, and cared so little about seeing the company, she had
decided not to have the dress fixed until after Christmas week."
The fiery expression of two large, glittering eyes, which at that
moment peered in at the door, convinced Miss Simpson that her
employer had hardly told the truth, and she secretly determined that
'Lena should have the dress whether she would or not. Accordingly,
the next time she and Anna were alone, she asked for the delaine,
entrusting her secret to Anna, who, thinking no harm, promised to
keep it from her mother. But to get 'Lena fitted was a more
difficult matter. Her spirit was roused, and for a time she resisted
their combined efforts. At last, however, she yielded, and by
working late at night in her own room, Miss Simpson managed to
finished the dress, in which 'Lena really looked better than did
either of her cousins in their garments of far richer materials.
Still she was resolved not to go down, and Anna, fearing what her
mother might say, dared not urge her very strongly hoping, though,
that "something would turn up."
* * * * * *
Durward Bellmont, Nellie Douglass, and Mabel Ross had arrived at
Captain Atherton's. Mrs. Livingstone and her daughters had called
upon them, inviting them to spend a few days at Maple Grove, where
they were to meet some other young people "selected from the
wealthiest families in the neighborhood," Mrs. Livingstone said, at
the same time patting the sallow cheek of Mabel, whose reputed
hundred thousand she intended should one day increase the importance
of her own family.
The invitation was accepted--the day had arrived, the guests were
momentarily expected, and Carrie, before the long mirror, was
admiring herself, alternately frowning upon John Jr., who was
mimicking her "airs," and scolding Anna for fretting because 'Lena
could not be induced to join them. Finding that her niece was
resolved not to appear, Mrs. Livingstone, for looks' sake, had
changed her tactics, saying, "'Lena could come down if she chose--she
was sure there was nothing to prevent."
Knowing this, Anna had exhausted all her powers of eloquence upon her
cousin. But she still remained inexorable, greatly to the
astonishment of her grandmother who for several days had been
suffering from a rheumatic affection, notwithstanding which she
"meant to hobble down if possible, for" said she, "I want to see this
Durward Bellmont. Matilda says he's got _Noble_ blood in him. I
used to know a family of Nobles in Massachusetts, and I think like as
not he's some kin!"
Carrie, to whom this remark was made, communicated it to her mother,
who forthwith repaired to Mrs. Nichols' room, telling her "that 'twas
a child's party," and hinting pretty strongly that she was neither
wanted nor expected in the parlor, and would confer a great favor by
"Wall, wall," said Mrs. Nichols, who had learned to dread her
daughter's displeasure, "I'd as lief stay up here as not, but I do
want 'Lena to jine 'em. She's young and would enjoy it."
Without a word of answer Mrs. Livingstone walked away, leaving 'Lena
more determined than ever not to go down. When the evening at last
arrived, Anna insisted so strongly upon her wearing the delaine, for
fear of what might happen, that 'Lena consented, curling her hair
with great care, and feeling a momentary thrill of pride as she saw
how well she looked.
"When we get nicely to enjoying ourselves," said Anna, "you come down
and look through the glass door, for I do want you to see Durward,
he's so handsome--but there's the carriage--I must go;" and away ran
Anna down the stairs, while 'Lena flew to one of the front windows to
see the company as they rode up.
First came Captain Atherton's carriage, and in it the captain and his
maiden sister, together with a pale, sickly-looking girl, whom 'Lena
knew to be Mabel Ross. Behind them rode Durward Bellmont, and at his
side, on a spirited little pony was another girl, thirteen or
fourteen years of age, but in her long riding-dress looking older,
because taller. 'Lena readily guessed that this was Nellie Douglass,
and at a glance she recognized the Durward of the cars--grown
handsomer and taller since then, she thought. With a nimble bound he
leaped from his saddle, kissing his hand to Carrie, who with her
sunniest smile ran past him to welcome Nellie. A pang, not of
jealousy, but of an undefined something, shot through 'Lena's heart,
and dropping the heavy curtain, she turned away, while the tears
gathered thickly in her large brown eyes.
"Where's 'Lena?" asked Captain Atherton, of Anna, warming his red
fingers before the blazing grate, and looking round upon the group of
girls gathered near. Glancing at her mother, Anna replied, "She says
she don't want to come down."
"Bashful," returned the captain, while Nellie Douglass asked, "who
'Lena was," at the same time returning the _pinch_ which John Jr.
had slyly given her as a mode of showing his preference, for Nellie
_was_ his favorite.
Fearful of Anna's reply, Mrs. Livingstone answered, carelessly,
"She's the child of one of Mr. Livingstone's poor relations, and
we've taken her awhile out of charity."
At any other time John Jr. would doubtless have questioned his
mother's word, but now so engrossed was he with the merry, hoydenish
Nellie, that he scarcely heard her remark, or noticed the absence of
'Lena. With the exception of his cousin, Nellie was the only girl
whom John Jr. could endure--"the rest," he said, "were so stuck up
For Mabel Ross, he seemed to have a particular aversion. Not because
she was so very disagreeable, but because his mother continually
reminded him of what she hoped would one day be, "and this," he said,
"was enough to make a 'feller' hate a girl." So without considering
that Mabel was not to blame, he ridiculed her unmercifully, calling
her "a bundle of medicine," and making fun of her thin, sallow face,
which really appeared to great disadvantage when contrasted with
Nellie's bright eyes and round, rosy cheeks.
When the guests were all assembled, Carrie, not knowing whether
Durward Bellmont would relish plays, seated herself demurely upon the
sofa, prepared to act the dignified young lady, or any other
character she might think necessary.
"Get up, Cad," said John Jr. "Nobody's going to act like they were
at a funeral; get up, and let's play something."
As the rest seemed to be similarly inclined, Carrie arose, and
erelong the joyous shouts reached 'Lena, making her half wish that
she, too, was there. Remembering Anna's suggestion of looking
through the glass door she stole softly down the stairs, and
stationing herself behind the door, looked in on the scene. Mr.
Everett, usually so dignified, had joined in the game, claiming
"forfeits" from Anna more frequently than was considered at all
necessary by the captain, who for a time looked jealously on, and
then declaring himself as young as any of them, joined them with a
right good will.
"Blind man's buff," was next proposed, and 'Lena's heart leaped up,
for that was her favorite game. John Jr. was first blinded, but he
caught them so easily that all declared he could see, and loud were
the calls for Durward to take his place. This he willingly did, and
whether he could see or not, he suffered them to pass directly under
his hands, thus giving entire satisfaction. On account of the heat
of the rooms, Anna, on passing the glass door, threw it open, and the
next time Durward came round he marched directly into the hall,
seizing 'Lena, who was trying to hide.
Feeling her long curls, he exclaimed, "Anna, you are caught."
"No, I ain't Anna; let me go," said 'Lena, struggling to escape.
This brought all the girls to the spot, while Durward, snatching the
muffler from his eyes, looked down with astonishment upon the
trembling 'Lena, who would have escaped had she not been so securely
"Ain't you ashamed, 'Lena, to be peeking?" asked Carrie, while
Durward repeated--"'_Lena_! '_Lena_! I've seen her before in the
cars between Springfield and Albany; but how came she here?"
"She lives here--she's our cousin," said Anna, notwithstanding the
twitch given to her sleeve by Carrie, who did not care to have the
"Your cousin," said Durward, "and where's the old lady who was with
"The one she called _granny_?" asked John Jr., on purpose to rouse up
his fiery little cousin.
"No, I don't call her _granny_, neither--I've quit it," said 'Lena,
angrily, adding, as a sly hit at Kentucky talk, "she's up _stars_,
sick with the rheumatism."
"Good," said Durward, "but why are you not down here with us?"
"I didn't want to come," was her reply; and Durward, leading her into
the parlor, continued, "but now that you are here, you must stay."
"Pretty, isn't she," said Nellie, as the full blaze of the chandelier
fell upon 'Lena.
"Rath-er," was Carrie's hesitating reply.
She felt annoyed that 'Lena should be in the parlor, and provoked
that Durward should notice her in any way, and at the first
opportunity she told him "how much she both troubled and mortified
them, by her vulgarity and obstinacy," adding that "she had a most
violent temper." From Nellie she had learned that Durward
particularly disliked passionate girls, and for this reason she
strove to give him the impression that 'Lena was such an one. Once
or twice she fancied him half inclined to disbelieve her, as he saw
how readily 'Lena joined in their amusements, and how good-humoredly
she bore John Jr.'s teasing, and then she hoped something would occur
to prove her words true. Her wish was gratified.
The next day was dark and stormy, confining the young people to the
house. About ten o'clock the negro who had been to the post-office
returned, bringing letters for the family, among which was one for
'Lena, so curious in its shape and superscription, that even the
negro grinned as he handed it out. 'Lena was not then present, and
Carrie, taking the letter, exclaimed, "Now if this isn't the last
specimen from Yankeedom. Just listen,--" and she spelled out the
direction--"_To Mis HELL-ENY RIVERS, state of kentucky, county of
woodford, Dorsey post offis, care of Mis nichals_."
Unobserved by any one, 'Lena had entered the parlor in time to hear
every word, and when Carrie, chancing to espy her, held out the
letter, saying, "Here, _Helleny_, I _guess_ this came from down
east," she darted forward, and striking the letter from Carrie's
hands stamped upon it with her foot, declaring "she'd never open it
in the world," and saying "they might do what they pleased with it
for all of her."
"Read it--may we read it?" eagerly asked Carrie, delighted to see
'Lena doing such justice to her reputation.
"Yes, read it!" almost screamed 'Lena, and before any one could
interpose a word, Carrie had broken the seal and commenced reading,
announcing, first, that it came from "Joel Slocum!" It was as
"Dear Helleny, mebby you'll wonder when you see a letter from me, but
I'll be hanged if I can help 'ritin', I am so confounded lonesome now
you are gone, that I dun know nothing what to do with myself. So I
set on the great rock where the saxefax grows; and think, and think
till it seems 's ef my head would bust open. Wall, how do you git
along down amongst them heathenish Kentucks & niggers? I s'pose
there ain't no great difference between 'em, is there? When I git a
little more larnin', I b'lieve I'll come down there to keep school.
O, I forgot to tell you that our old line back cow has got a
calf--the prettiest little critter--Dad has gin her to me, and I call
her Helleny, I do, I swow! And when she capers round she makes me
think of the way you danced 'High putty Martin' the time you stuck a
sliver in your heel--"
Up to this point 'Lena had stood immovable, amid the loud shouts of
her companions, but the fire of a hundred volcanoes burned within and
flashed from her eyes. And now springing forward, she caught the
letter from Carrie's hand, and inflicting a long scratch upon her
forehead, fled from the room. Had not Durward Bellmont been present,
Carrie would have flown after her cousin, to avenge the insult, and
even now she was for a moment thrown off her guard, and starting
forward, exclaimed, "the tigress!"
Drawing his fine cambric handkerchief from his pocket, Durward gently
wiped the blood from her white brow, saying "Never mind. It is not a
"I wish 'twas deeper," muttered John Jr. "You'd no business to serve
her so mean."
An angry retort rose to Carrie's lips, but, just in time to prevent
its utterance, Durward also spoke, saying, "It was too bad to tease
her so, but we were all more or less to blame, and I'm not sure but
we ought to apologize."
Carrie felt that she would die, almost, before she'd apologize to
such as 'Lena, and still she thought it might be well enough to give
Durward the impression that she was doing, her best to make amends
for her fault. Accordingly, the next time her cousin appeared in the
parlor she was all smiles and affability, talking a great deal to
'Lena, who returned very short but civil answers, while her face wore
a look which Durward construed into defiance and hatred of everybody
"Too passionate," thought he, turning from her to Carrie, whose
voice, modulated to its softest tones, rang out clear and musical, as
she sported and laughed with her moody cousin, appearing the very
essence of sweetness and amiability!
Pity he could not have known how bitterly 'Lena had wept over her
hasty action--not because _he_ witnessed it, but because she knew it
was wrong! Pity he could not have read the tear-blotted note, which
she laid on Carrie's work-box, and in which was written, "I am sorry,
Carrie, that I hurt you so. I didn't know what I was about, but I
will try and not get so angry again."
Pity, too, that he did not see the look of contempt with which Carrie
perused this note; and when the two girls accidentally met in the
upper hall, and 'Lena laid her hand gently on Carrie's arm, it is a
thousand pities he was not present to see how fiercely she was
repulsed, Carrie exclaiming, "Get out of my sight! _I hate you_, and
so do all of them downstairs, Durward in particular."
Had he known all this he would have thought differently of 'Lena,
who, feeling that she was not wanted in the parlor, kept herself
entirely aloof, never again appearing during the remainder of his
stay. Once Durward asked for her, and half laughingly Carrie
replied, that "she had not yet recovered from her pouting fit."
Could he have known her real occupation, he might have changed his
mind again. The stormy weather had so increased Mrs. Nichols'
rheumatic complaint, that now, perfectly crippled, she lay as
helpless as a child, carefully nursed by 'Lena and old Aunt Polly,
who, spite of her own infirmities, had hobbled in to wait upon her
friend. Never but once did Mrs. Livingstone go near her mother's
sick-room--"the smell of herbs made her faint," she said! But to do
her justice, we must say that she gave Polly unqualified permission
to order anything she pleased for the invalid.
Toward the close of the third day, the company left. Nellie
Douglass, who really liked 'Lena, and wished to bid her good-bye,
whispered to John Jr., asking him to show her the way to his cousin's
room. No one except members of the family had ever been in Mrs.
Nichols' apartment, and for a moment John Jr. hesitated, knowing well
that Nellie could not fail to observe the contrast it presented to
the other richly-furnished chambers.
"They ought to be mortified--it'll serve 'em right," he thought, at
last, and motioning Nellie to fallow him, he silently led the way to
his grandmother's room, where their knock was answered by Aunt
Polly's gruff voice, which bade them "come in."
They obeyed, but Nellie started back when she saw how greatly
inferior was this room to the others around it. In an instant her
eye took in everything, and she readily comprehended the whole.
"It isn't my doings, by a jug-full!" whispered John Jr., himself
reddening as he noted the different articles of furniture which had
never before seemed so meager and poor.
On the humble bed, in a half-upright position, lay Mrs. Nichols,
white as the snowy cap-border which shaded her face. Behind her sat
'Lena, supporting her head, and when Nellie entered, she was
carefully pushing back the few gray locks which had fallen over the
invalid's forehead, her own bright curls mingling with them, and
resting, some on her neck, and some on her grandmother's shoulder. A
deep flush dyed her cheeks when she saw Nellie, who thought she had
never looked upon a sight more beautiful.
"I did not know your grandmother was ill," said she, coming forward
and gently touching the swollen hand which lay outside the
Mrs. Nichols was not too ill to talk, and forthwith she commenced a
history of her malady, beginning at the time she first had it when
'Lena's mother was a year and a day old, frequently quoting Nancy
Scovandyke, and highly entertaining Nellie, who listened until warned
by the sound of the carriage, as it came round to the door, that she
"We are going back to Uncle Atherton's," said she, "but I wanted to
bid you good-bye, and ask you to visit me in Frankfort with your
cousins. Will you do so?"
This was wholly unexpected to 'Lena, who, without replying, burst
info tears. Nellie hardly knew what to do. She seldom cried
herself--she did not like to see others cry--and still she did not
blame 'Lena, for she felt that she could not help it. At last,
taking her hand, she bade her farewell, asking if she should not
carry a good-bye to the others.
"Yes, to Mabel," said 'Lena.
"And not Durward?" asked Nellie.
With something of her old spirit 'Lena answered, "No, he hates
me--Carrie says so."
"Cad's a fool," muttered John Jr., while Nellie rejoined, "Durward
never hated anybody, and even if he did, he would not say so--I mean
to tell him;" and with another good-bye she was gone.
On the stairs she met Durward, who was looking for her, and asked
where she had been.
"To bid 'Lena good-bye; don't you want to go too?" said Nellie.
"Why, yes, if you are sure she won't scratch my eyes out," he
returned, gayly, following his cousin.
"I reckon I'd better tell 'Lena to come out into the hall--she may
not want you in there," said John Jr., and hastening forward he told
his cousin what was wanted.
Oh, how 'Lena longed to go, but pride, and the remembrance of
Carrie's words, prevented her, and coldly answering, "No, I don't
wish to see him," she turned away to hide the tears and pain which
those words had cost her.
This visit to Grandma Nichols' room was productive of some good, for
John Jr., did not fail of repeating to his mother the impression
which he saw was made on Nellie's mind, adding, that "though Durward
did not venture in, Nellie would of course tell him all about it.
And then," said he, "I wouldn't give much for his opinion of your
treatment of your mother."
Angry, because she felt the truth of what her son said, Mrs.
Livingstone demanded "what he'd have her do."
"Do?" he repeated, "give grandmother a decent room, or else fix that
one up, so it won't look like the old scratch had been having a
cotillon there. Paper and paint it, and make it look decent."
Upon this last piece of advice Mrs. Livingstone resolved to act, for
recently several vague rumors had reached her ear, touching her
neglect of her mother-in-law, and she began herself to think it just
possible that a little of her money would be well expended in adding
to the comfort of her husband's mother. Accordingly, as soon as Mrs.
Nichols was able to sit up, her room underwent a thorough renovation,
and though no great amount of money was expended upon it, it was
fitted up with so much taste that the poor old lady, whom John Jr.,
'Lena and Anna, had adroitly kept out of the way until her room was
finished, actually burst into tears when first ushered into her
light, airy apartment, in which everything looked so cheerful and
"'Tilda has now and then a good streak," said she, while Aunt Milly,
who had taken a great deal of interest in the repairing of the room,
felt inclined to change her favorite theory with regard to her
mistress' future condition.
FIVE YEARS LATER.
And in the fair city of elms we again open the scene. It was
commencement at Yale, and the crowd which filled the old Center
church were listening breathlessly to the tide of eloquence poured
forth by the young valedictorian.
Durward Bellmont, first in his studies, first in his class, and first
in the esteem of his fellow-students, had been unanimously chosen to
that post of honor, and as the gathered multitude hung upon his words
and gazed upon his manly beauty, they felt mat a better choice could
not well have been made. At the right of the platform sat a group of
ladies, friends, it would seem, of the speaker, for ever and anon his
eyes turned in that direction, and as if each glance incited him to
fresh efforts, his eloquence increased, until at last no sound save
that of his deep-toned voice was heard, so rapt was every one in the
words of the young orator. But when his speech was ended, there
arose deafening shouts of applause, while bouquets fell in perfect
showers at his feet. Among them was one smaller and more elegant
than the rest, and as if it were more precious, too, it was the first
which Durward took from the floor.
"See, Carrie, he gives you the preference," whispered one of the
young ladies on the right, and Carrie Livingstone for she it was,
felt a thrill of gratified pride, when she saw how carefully he
guarded the bouquet, which during all the exercises she had made her
especial care, calling attention to it in so many different ways that
hardly any one who saw it in Durward's possession, could fail of
knowing from what source it same.
But then everybody said they were engaged--so what did it matter?
Everybody but John Jr., who was John Jr. still, and who while openly
denying the engagement, teasingly hinted "that 'twas no fault of
For the last three years, Carrie, Nellie, Mabel, and Anna had been
inmates of the seminary in New Haven, and as they were now considered
sufficiently accomplished to enter at once upon all the gayeties of
fashionable life, John Jr. had come on "to see the elephant," as he
said, and to accompany them home. Carrie had fulfilled the promise
of her girlhood, and even her brother acknowledged that she was
handsome in spite of her _nose_, which like everybody's else, still
continued to be the most prominent feature of her face. She was
proud, too, as well as beautiful, and throughout the city she was
known as the "haughty southern belle," admired by some and disliked
by many. Among the students she was not half so popular as her
unpretending sister, whose laughing blue eyes and sunny brown hair
were often toasted, together with the classical brow and dignified
bearing of Nellie Douglass, who had lost some of the hoydenish
propensities of her girlhood, and who was now a graceful, elegant
creature just merging into nineteen--the pride of her widowed father,
and the idol still of John Jr., whose boyish preference had ripened
into a kind of love such as only he could feel.
With poor Mabel Ross it had fared worse, her plain face and dumpy
little figure never receiving the least attention except from Durward
Bellmont, who pitying her lonely condition, frequently left more
congenial society for the sake of entertaining her. Of any one else
Carrie would have been jealous, but feeling sure that Mabel had no
attraction save her wealth, and knowing that Durward did not care for
that, she occasionally suffered him to leave her side, always feeling
amply repaid by the evident reluctance with which he left her society
for that of Mabel's.
When ill-naturedly rallied by his companions upon his preference for
Carrie, Durward would sometimes laughingly refer them to the old
worn-out story of the fox and the grapes, for to scarcely any one
save himself did Carrie think it worth her while to be even gracious.
This conduct was entirely at variance with her natural disposition,
for she was fond of admiration, come from what source it might, and
she would never have been so cold and distant to all save Durward,
had she not once heard him say that "he heartily despised a _flirt_;
and that no young lady could at all interest him if he suspected her
of being a coquette."
This, then, was the secret of her reserve. She was resolved upon
winning Durward Bellmont, deeming no sacrifice too great if in the
end it secured the prize. It is true there was one sophomore, a
perfumed, brainless fop, from Rockford, N. Y., who, next to Durward,
was apparently most in favor, but the idea of her entertaining even a
shadow of a liking for Tom Lakin, was too ludicrous to be harbored
for a moment, so his attentions went for naught, public opinion
uniting in giving her to Mr. Bellmont.
With the lapse of years, Anna, too, had greatly improved. The
extreme delicacy of her figure was gone, and though her complexion
was as white and pure as marble, it denoted perfect health. With
John Jr. she was still the favorite sister, the one whom he loved the
best. "Carrie was too stiff and proud," he said, and though when he
met her in New Haven, after a year's absence, his greeting was kind
and brotherly, he soon turned from her to Anna and Nellie, utterly
neglecting Mabel, who turned away to her chamber to cry, because no
one cared for her.
Frequently had his mother reminded him of the importance of securing
a wealthy bride, always finishing her discourse by speaking of Mr.
Douglass' small income, and enlarging upon the immense wealth of
Mabel Ross, whose very name had become disagreeable to John Jr. At
one time his father had hoped he, too, would enter college, but the
young man derided the idea of his ever making a scholar, saying,
however, more in sport than in earnest, that "he was willing to enter
a store, or learn a _trade_, so that in case he was ever obliged to
earn his own living, he would have some means of doing it;" but to
this his mother would not listen. He was her "darling boy," and "his
hands, soft and white as those of a girl, should never become
hardened and embrowned by labor!" So, while his sisters were away at
school, he was at home, hunting, fishing, riding, teasing his
grandmother, tormenting the servants, and shocking his mother by
threatening to make love to his cousin 'Lena, to whom he was at once
a pest and a comfort, and who now claims a share of our attention.
When it was decided to send Carrie and Anna to New Haven, Mr.
Livingstone proposed that 'Lena should also accompany them, but this
plan Mrs. Livingstone opposed with all her force, declaring that
_her_ money should never be spent in educating the "beggarly
relatives" of her husband, who in this, as in numerous other matters,
was forced to yield the point. As Mr. Everett's services were now no
longer needed, he accepted the offer of a situation in the family of
General Fontaine, a high-bred, southern gentleman, whose plantation
was distant but half a mile from "Maple Grove;" and as he there
taught a regular school, having under his charge several of the
daughters of the neighboring planters, it was decided that 'Lena also
should continue under his instruction.
Thus while Carrie and Anna were going through the daily routine of a
fashionable boarding-school, 'Lena was storing her mind with useful
knowledge, and though her accomplishments were not quite so showy as
those of her cousins, they had in them the ring of the pure metal.
Although her charms were as yet but partially developed, she was a
creature of rare loveliness, and many who saw her for the first time,
marveled that aught so beautiful could be real. She had never seen
Durward Bellmont since that remarkable Christmas week, but many a
time had her cheeks flushed with a feeling which she could not
define, as she read Anna's accounts of the flattering attentions
which he paid to Carrie, who, when at home, still treated her with
haughty contempt or cool indifference.
But for this she did not care. She knew she was loved by Anna, and
liked by John Jr., and she hoped--nay, half believed--that she was
not wholly indifferent to her uncle, who, while he seldom made any
show of his affection, still in his heart admired and felt proud of
her. With his wife it was different. She hated 'Lena--hated her
because she was beautiful and talented, and because in her presence
Carrie and Anna were ever in the shade. Still her niece was too
general a favorite in the neighborhood to allow of open hostility at
home, and so the proud woman ground together her glittering
Among the many who admired 'Lena, there was no one who gave her such
full and unbounded homage as did her grandmother, whose life at Maple
Grove had been one of shadow, seldom mingled with sunshine.
Gradually had she learned the estimation in which she was held by her
son's wife, and she felt how bitter it was to eat the bread of
dependence. As far as she was able, 'Lena shielded her from the
sneers of her aunt, who thinking she had done all that was required
of her when she fixed their room, would for days and even weeks
appear utterly oblivious of their presence, or frown darkly whenever
chance threw them in her way. She had raised no objection to 'Lena's
continuing a pupil of Mr. Everett, who, she hoped, would not prove
indifferent to her charms, fancying that in this way she would sooner
be rid of one whom she feared as a rival of her daughters.
But she was mistaken; for much as Malcolm Everett might admire 'Lena,
another image than hers was enshrined in his heart, and most
carefully guarded was the little golden curl, cut in seeming sport
from the head it once adorned, and, now treasured as a sacred memento
of the past. Believing that it would be so because she wished it to
be so, Mrs. Livingstone had more than once whispered to her female
friends her surmises that Malcolm Everett would marry 'Lena, and at
the time of which we are speaking, it was pretty generally understood
that a strong liking, at least, if not an engagement, existed between
Old Captain Atherton, grown more smooth and portly, rubbed his fat
hands complacently, and while applying Twigg's Preparation to his
hair, congratulated himself that the only rival he had ever feared
was now out of his way. Thinking, too, that 'Lena had conferred a
great favor upon himself by taking Mr. Everett from off his mind,
became exceedingly polite to her, making her little presents and
frequently asking her to ride. Whenever these invitations were
accepted, they were sure to be followed by a ludicrous description to
Anna, who laughed merrily over her cousin's letters, declaring
herself half jealous of her "gray-haired lover," as she termed the
All such communications were eagerly seized by Carrie, and fully
discussed in the presence of Durward, who gradually received the
impression that 'Lena was a flirt, a species of womankind which he
held in great abhorrence. Just before he left New Haven, he received
a letter from his stepfather, requesting him to stop for a day or two
at Captain Atherton's, where he would join him, as he wished to look
at a country-seat near Mr. Livingstone's, which was now for sale.
This plan gave immense satisfaction to Carrie, and when her brother
proposed that Durward should stop at their father's instead of the
captain's, she seconded the invitation so warmly, that Durward
finally consented, and word was immediately sent to Mrs. Livingstone
to hold herself in readiness to receive Mr. Bellmont.
"Oh, I do hope your father will secure Woodlawn," said Carrie, as in
the parlor of the Burnett House, Cincinnati, they were discussing the
The other young ladies had gone out shopping, and John Jr., who was
present, and who felt just like teasing his sister, replied, "What do
you care? Mrs. Graham has no daughters, and she won't fancy such a
chit as you, so it must be Durward's society that you so much desire,
bit I can assure you that your nose will be broken when once he sees
Carrie turned toward the window to hide her wrath at this speech,
while Durward asked if "Miss Rivers were so very handsome?"
"_Handsome_!" repeated John. "That don't begin to express it. _Cad_
is what I call _handsome_, but 'Lena is beautiful, more beautiful,
most beautiful--now you have it superlatively. Such complexion--such
eyes--such hair--I'll be hanged if I haven't been more than half in
love with her myself."
"I really begin to tremble," said Durward, laughingly while Carrie
rejoined, "You've only to make the slightest advance, and your love
will be returned ten-fold, for 'Lena is very susceptible, and already
encourages several admirers."
"There, my fair sister, you are slightly mistaken," interrupted John
Jr., who was going on farther in his remarks, when Durward asked if
"she ever left any _marks_ of her affection," referring to the
scratch she had given Carrie; who, before her brother had time to
speak, replied that "the _will_ and the _claws_ remained the same,
though common decency kept them hidden when it was necessary."
"That's downright slander," said John Jr., determined now upon
defending his cousin, "'Lena has a high temper, I acknowledge, but
she tries hard to govern it, and for nearly two years I've not seen
her angry once, though she's had every provocation under heaven."
"She knows _when_ and _where_ to be amiable," retorted Carrie. "Any
one of her admirers would tell the same story with yourself."
At this juncture John Jr. was called for a moment from the room, and
Carrie, fearing she had said too much, immediately apologized to
Durward, saying, "it was not often that she allowed herself to speak
against her cousin, and that she should not have done so now, were
not John so much blinded, that her mother, knowing Lena's ambitious
nature, sometimes seriously feared the consequence. I know," said
she, "that John fancies Nellie, but 'Lena's influence over him is
Durward made no reply, and Carrie continued: "I'm always sorry when I
speak against 'Lena; she is my cousin, and I wouldn't prejudice any
one against her; so you must forget my unkind remarks, which would
never have been uttered in the presence of a stranger. She _is_
handsome and agreeable, and you must like her in spite of what I
"I cannot refuse when so fair a lady pleads her cause," was Durward's
gallant answer, and as the other young ladies then entered the room,
the conversation ceased.
Meanwhile 'Lena was very differently employed. Nearly a year had
elapsed since she had seen her cousins, and her heart bounded with
joy at the thought of meeting Anna, whom she dearly loved. Carrie
was to her an object of indifference, rather than dislike, and
ofttimes had she thought, "If she would only let me love her." But
it could not be, for there was no affinity between them. Carrie was
proud and overbearing--jealous of her high-spirited cousin, who, as
John Jr. had said, strove hard to subdue her temper, and who now
seldom resented Carrie's insults, except when they were leveled at
her aged grandmother.
As we have before stated, news' had been received at Maple Grove that
Durward would accompany her cousins home. Mr. Graham would, of
course, join him there, and accordingly, extensive preparations were
immediately commenced. An unusual degree of sickness was prevailing
among the female portion of Mrs. Livingstone's servants, and the very
day before the company was expected, Aunt Milly, the head cook was
taken suddenly ill. Coaxing, scolding, and threatening were alike
ineffectual. The old negress would not say she was well when she
wasn't, and as Hagar, the next in command, was also sick (_lazy_, as
her mistress called it,) Mrs. Livingstone was herself obliged to
superintend the cookery.
"Crosser than a bar," as the little darkies said, she flew back and
forth, from kitchen to pantry, her bunch of keys rattling, the
corners of her mouth drawn back, and her hands raised ready to strike
at anything that came in her way. As if there were a fatality
attending her movements, she was unfortunate in whatever she
undertook. The cake was burned black, the custard curdled, the
preserves were found to be working, the big preserve dish got broken,
a thunder shower soured the cream, and taking it all in all, she
really had trouble enough to disconcert the most experienced
housekeeper. Still, the few negroes able to assist, thought "she
needn't be so fetch-ed cross."
But cross she was, feeling more than once inclined to lay witchcraft
to the charge of old Milly, who comfortably ensconced in bed,
listened in dismay to the disastrous accounts brought her from time
to time from the kitchen, mentally congratulating herself the while
upon not being within hearing of her mistress' tongue. Once Mrs.
Nichols attempted to help, but she was repulsed so angrily that 'Lena
did not presume to offer her services until the day of their arrival,
when, without a word, she repaired to the chambers, which she swept
and dusted, arranging the furniture, and making everything ready for
the comfort of the travelers. Then descending to the parlors, she
went through the same process there, filled the vases with fresh
flowers, looped back the curtains, opened the piano, wheeled the sofa
a little to the right, the large chair a little to the left, and then
going to the dining-room, she set the table in the most perfect
order, doing all so quietly that her aunt knew nothing of it until it
was done. Jake the coachman, had gone down to Frankfort after them,
and as he was not expected to return until between three and four,
dinner was deferred until that hour.
From sunrise Mrs. Livingstone had worked industriously, until her
face and temper were at a boiling heat. The clock was on the point
of striking three, and she was bending over a roasting turkey, when
'Lena ventured to approach her, saying, "I have seen Aunt Milly baste
a turkey many a time, and I am sure I can do it as well as she."
"Well, what of it?" was the uncivil answer.
'Lena's temper choked her, but forcing it down, she replied: "Why, it
is almost three, and I thought perhaps you would want to cool and
dress yourself before they came. I can see to the dinner, I know I
can. Please let me try."
Somewhat mollified by her niece's kind manner, Mrs. Livingstone
resigned her post and repaired to her own room, while 'Lena,
confining her long curls to the top of her head and donning the wide
check-apron which her aunt had thrown aside, set herself at work with
a right good will.
"What dat ar you say?" exclaimed Aunt Milly, lifting her woolly head
from her pillow, and looking at the little colored girl, who had
brought to her the news that "young miss was in de kitchen." "What
dat ar you tellin'? Miss 'Leny pokin' 'mong de pots and kittles, and
dis ole nigger lazin' in bed jes like white folks. Long as 'twas ole
miss, I didn't seer. Good 'nough for her to roast, blister, and
bile; done get used to it, case she's got to in kingdom come, no
mistake--he!--he! But little Miss 'Leny, it's too bad to bake her
lamb's-wool hands and face, and all de quality comin': I'll hobble up
thar, if I can stand."
Suiting the action to the word she got out of bed, and crawling up to
the kitchen, insisted upon taking 'Lena's place, saying, "she could
sit in her chair and tell the rest what to do."
For a time 'Lena hesitated, the old woman seemed so faint and weak,
but the sound of wheels decided her. Springing to the sideboard in
the dining-room, she brought Aunt Milly a glass of wine, which
revived her so much that she now felt willing to leave her. By this
time the carriage was at the door, and to escape unobserved was now
her great object. But this she could not do, for as she was crossing
the hall, Anna espied her, and darting forward, seized her around the
neck, at the same time dragging her toward Carrie, who, with
Durward's eye upon her, _kissed_ her twice; then turning to him, she
said, "I suppose you do not need an introduction to Miss Rivers?"
Durward was almost guilty of the rudeness of staring at the
strangeness of 'Lena's appearance, for as nearly as she could, she
looked like a fright. Bending over hot stoves and boiling gravies is
not very beneficial to one's complexion, and 'Lena's cheeks, neck,
forehead, and nose were of a purplish red--her hair was tucked back
in a manner exceedingly unbecoming, while the broad check-apron,
which came nearly to her feet, tended in nowise to improve her
appearance. She felt it keenly, and after returning Durward's
salutation, she broke away before Anna or John, Jr., who were both
surprised at her looks, had time to ask a question.
Running up to her room, her first impulse was to cry, but knowing
that would disfigure her still more, she bathed her burning face and
neck, brushed out her curls, threw on a simple muslin dress, and
started for the parlor, of which Durward and Carrie were at that
moment the only occupants. As she was passing the outer door, she
observed upon one of the piazza pillars a half-blown rose, and for a
moment stopped to admire it. Durward, who sat in a corner, did not
see her, but Carrie did, and a malicious feeling prompted her to draw
out her companion, who she felt sure was disappointed in 'Lena's
face. They were speaking of a lady whom they saw at Frankfort, and
whom Carrie pronounced "perfectly beautiful," while Durward would
hardly admit that she was even good-looking.
"I am surprised at your taste," said Carrie, adding, as she noticed
the proximity of her cousin, "I think she resembles 'Lena, and of
course you'll acknowledge _she_ is beautiful."
"She _was_ beautiful five years ago, but she's greatly changed since
then," answered Durward, never suspecting the exquisite satisfaction
his words afforded Carrie, who replied, "You had better keep that
opinion to yourself, and not express it before Captain Atherton or
"Who takes my name in vain?" asked John Jr., himself appearing at a
"Oh, John," said Carrie, "we were just disputing about 'Lena.
Durward does not think her handsome."
"Durward be hanged!" answered John, making a feint of drawing from
his pocket a pistol which was not there. "What fault has he to find
"A little too rosy, that's all," said Durward, laughingly, while John
continued, "She _did_ look confounded red and dowdyish, for her. I
don't understand it myself."
Here the hem of the muslin dress on which Carrie's eye had all the
while been resting, disappeared, and as there was no longer an
incentive for ill-natured remarks, the amiable young lady adroitly
changed the conversation.
John Jr. also caught a glimpse of the retreating figure, and started
in pursuit, in the course of his search passing the kitchen, where he
was instantly hailed by Aunt Milly, who, while bemoaning her own
aches and pains, did not fail to tell him how "Miss 'Lena, like
aborned angel dropped right out of 'tarnity, had been in thar,
burning her skin to a fiery red, a-tryin' to get up a tip-top dinner."
"So ho!" thought the young man, "that explains it;" and turning on
his heel, he walked back to the house just as the last bell was
ringing for dinner.
On entering the dining-room, he found all the family assembled,
except 'Lena. She had excused herself on the plea of a severe
headache, and now in her own room was chiding herself for being so
much affected by a remark accidentally overheard. What did she care
if Durward did think her plain? He was nothing to her, and never
would be--and again she bathed her head, which really was aching
"And so 'Lena's got the headache," said John Jr. "Well, I don't
wonder, cooking all the dinner as she did."
"What do you mean?" asked Anna, while Mrs. Livingstone's angry frown
bade her son keep silence,
Filial obedience, however, was not one of John Jr.'s cardinal
virtues, and in a few words, he repeated what Aunt Milly had told
him, adding aside to Durward, "_This_ explains the extreme rosiness
which so much offended your lordship. When next you see her, you'll
change your mind."
Suddenly remembering that his grandmother had not been introduced, he
now presented her to Durward. The _Noble's_ blood had long been
forgotten, but grandma was never at a loss for a subject, and she
commenced talking notwithstanding Carrie's efforts to keep her still.
"Now I think on't, Car'line," said she at last, turning to her
granddaughter, "now I think on't, what made you propose to have my
dinner sent up to my room. I hain't et there but once this great
while, and that was the day General Fontaine's folks were here, and
Matilda thought I warn't able to come down."
Durward's half-concealed smile showed that he understood it all,
while John Jr., in his element when his grandmother was talking,
managed, to lead her on, until she reached her favorite theme--Nancy
Scovandyke. Here a look from her son silenced her, and as dinner was
just then over, Durward missed of hearing that remarkable lady's
Late in the afternoon, as the family were sitting upon the piazza,
'Lena joined them. Her headache had passed away, leaving her face a
shade whiter than usual. The flush was gone from her forehead and
nose, but mindful of Durward's remark, the roses deepened on her
cheek, which only increased her loveliness.
"I acknowledge that I was wrong--your cousin _is_ beautiful,"
whispered Durward to Carrie, who, mentally hating the beauty which
had never before struck her so forcibly, replied in her softest
tones, "I knew you would, and I hope you'll be equally ready to
forgive her for winning hearts only to break them, for with that face
how can she help it?"
"A handsome face is no excuse for coquetry," answered Durward;
"neither can I think Miss Rivers guilty of it. At all events, I mean
to venture a little nearer," and before Carrie could frame a
reasonable excuse for keeping him at her side, he had crossed ever
and taken a seat by 'Lena, with whom he was soon in the midst of an
animated conversation, his surprise each moment increasing at the
depth of intellect she displayed, for the beauty of her mind was
equal to that of her person. Had it not been for the remembrance of
Carrie's insinuations, his admiration would have been complete. But
anything like coquetry he heartily despised, and one great secret of
his liking for Carrie, was her evident freedom from that fault. As
yet he had seen nothing to condemn in 'Lena's conduct. Wholly
unaffected, she talked with him as she would have talked with any
stranger, and still there was in her manner a certain coldness for
which he could not account.
"Perhaps she thinks me not worth the winning," thought he, and in
spite of his principles, he erelong found himself exerting all his
powers to please and interest her.
About tea-time, Captain Atherton rode into the yard, and
simultaneously with his arrival, Mr. Everett came also. Immediately
remembering what he had heard, Durward, in his eagerness to watch
'Lena, failed to note the crimson flush on Anna's usually pale cheek,
as Malcolm bent over her with his low-spoken, tender words of
welcome, and when the phthisicky captain, claiming the privilege of
an old friend, kissed the blushing Anna, Durward in his blindness
attributed the scornful expression of 'Lena's face to a feeling of
unwillingness that any save herself should share the attentions even
of the captain! And in this impression he was erelong confirmed.
Drawing his chair up to Anna, Captain Atherton managed to keep
Malcolm at a distance, while he himself wholly monopolized the young
girl, who cast imploring glances toward her cousin, as if asking for
relief. Many a time, on similar occasions, had 'Lena claimed the
attention of the captain, for the sake of leaving Anna free to
converse with Malcolm, and now understanding what was wanted of her,
she nodded in token that she would come to the rescue. Just then,
Mrs. Livingstone, who had kept an eye upon her niece, drew near, and
as she seemed to want a seat; 'Lena instantly arose and offered hers,
going herself to the place where the captain was sitting. Erelong,
her lively sallies and the captain's loud laugh began to attract Mrs.
Livingstone's attention, and observing that Durward's eyes were
frequently drawn that way, she thought proper to make some remarks
concerning the impropriety of her niece's conduct.
"I do wish," said she, apparently speaking more to herself than to
Durward, "I do wish 'Lena would learn discretion, and let Captain
Atherton alone, when she knows how much her behavior annoys Mr.
"Is Mr. Everett anything to her!" asked Durward, half hoping that she
would not confirm what Carrie had before hinted.
"If he isn't he ought to be," answered Mrs. Livingstone, with an
ominous shake of the head. "Rumor says they are engaged, and though
when questioned she denies it, she gives people abundant reason to
think so, and yet every chance she gets, she flirts with Captain
Atherton, as you see her doing now."
"What can she or any other young girl possibly want of that old man?"
asked Durward, laughing at the very idea.
"He is _rich_. 'Lena is poor, proud, and ambitious--there lies the
secret," was Mrs. Livingstone's reply, and thinking she had said
enough for the present, she excused herself, while she went to give
orders concerning supper.
John Jr., and Carrie, too, had disappeared, and thus left to himself,
Durward had nothing to do but to watch 'Lena, who, as she saw
symptoms of desertion in the anxious glances which the captain cast
toward Anna, redoubled her exertions to keep him at her side, thus
confirming Durward in the belief that she really was what her aunt
and Carrie had represented her to be. "Poor, proud, and ambitious,"
rang in his ears, and as he mistook the mischievous look which 'Lena
frequently sent toward Anna and Malcolm, for a desire to see how the
latter was affected by her conduct, he thought "Fickle as fair," at
the same time congratulating himself that he had obtained an insight
into her real character, ere her exceeding beauty and agreeable
manners had made any particular impression upon him.
Knowing she had done nothing to offend him, and feeling piqued at his
indifference, 'Lena in turn treated him so coldly, that even Carrie
was satisfied with the phase which affairs had assumed, and that
night, in the privacy of her mother's dressing-room, expressed her
pleasure that matters were progressing so finely.
"You've no idea, mother," said she, "how much he detests anything
like coquetry. Nellie Douglass thinks it's a kind of monomania with
him, and I am inclined to believe it is so."
"In that case," answered Mrs. Livingstone, "it behooves you, in his
presence, to be very careful how you demean yourself toward other
"I haven't lived nineteen years for nothing," said Carrie, folding
her soft white hands complacently one over the other.
"Speaking of Nellie Douglass," continued Mrs. Livingstone, who had
long desired this interview with her daughter, "speaking of Nellie,
reminds me of your brother, who seems perfectly crazy about her."
"And what if he does ?" asked Carrie, her thoughts far more intent
upon Durward Bellmont than her brother. "Isn't Nellie good enough
"Yes, good enough, I admit," returned her mother, "but I think I can
find a far more suitable match--Mabel Ross, for instance. Her
fortune is said to be immense, while Mr. Douglass is worth little or
"When you bring about a union between John Livingstone Jr. and Mabel
Ross, I shall have full confidence in your powers to do anything,
even to the marrying of Anna and Grandfather Atherton," answered
Carrie, to whom her mother's schemes were no secret.
"And that, too, I'll effect, rather than see her thrown away upon a
low bred northerner, who shall never wed her--never;" and the haughty
woman paced up and down her room, devising numerous ways by which her
long cherished three-fold plan should be effected.
The next morning, Durward arose much earlier than was his usual
custom, and going out into the garden he came suddenly upon 'Lena.
"This," said he, "is a pleasure which I did not expect when I rather
unwillingly tore myself from my pillow."
All the coldness of the night before was gone, but 'Lena could not so
soon forget, and quite indifferently she answered, that "she learned
to rise early among the New England hills."
"An excellent practice, and one which more of our young ladies would
do well to imitate," returned Durward, at the same time speaking of
the beautifying effect which the morning air had upon her complexion.
'Lena reddened, for she recalled his words of yesterday concerning
her plainness, and somewhat sharply she replied, that "any
information regarding her personal appearance was wholly unnecessary,
as she knew very well how she looked."
Durward bit his lip, and resolving never to compliment her again,
walked on in silence at her side, while 'Lena, repenting of her hasty
words, and desirous of making amends, exerted herself to be
agreeable; and by the time the breakfast-bell rang, Durward mentally
pronounced her "a perfect mystery," which he would take delight in
MR. AND MRS. GRAHAM.
Breakfast had been some time over, when the roll of carriage wheels
and a loud ring at the door, announced the arrival of Mr. Graham,
who, true to his appointment with Durward, had come up to meet him,
accompanied by Mrs. Graham. This lady, who could boast of having
once been the bride of an English lord, to say nothing of belonging
to the "very first family of Virginia," was a sort of bugbear to Mrs.
Livingstone, who, haughty and overbearing to her equals, was
nevertheless cringing and cowardly in the presence of those whom she
considered her superiors. Never having seen Mrs. Graham, her ideas
concerning her were quite elevated, and now when she came
unexpectedly, it quite overcame her. Unfortunately, too, she was
this morning suffering from a nervous headache, the result of the
excitement and late hours of the night before, and on learning that
Mrs. Graham was in the parlor, she fell back in her rocking-chair,
and between a groan and a sigh, declared her utter inability to see
her at present, saying that Carrie must play the part of hostess
until such time as she felt composed enough to undertake it.
"Oh, I can't--I _shan't_--that ends it!" said Carrie, who, though a
good deal dressed on Durward's account, still felt anxious to give a
few more finishing touches to her toilet, and to see if her hair and
complexion were all right, ere she ventured into the august presence
ef her "mother-in-law elect," as she confidently considered Mrs.
"Anna must go, then," persisted Mrs. Livingstone, who knew full well
how useless it would be to press Carrie farther. "Anna must
go--where is she? Call her, 'Lena."
But Anna was away over the fields, enjoying with Mr. Everett a walk
which had been planned the night previous, and when 'Lena returned
with the intelligence that she was nowhere to be found, her aunt in
great distress exclaimed, "Mercy me! what will Mrs. Graham think--and
Mr. Livingstone, too, keeps running back and forth for somebody to
entertain her. What shall I do! I can't go in looking so yellow and
jaded as I now do!"
'Lena's first thought was to bring her aunt's powderball, as the
surest way of remedying the yellow skin, but knowing that such an act
would be deeply resented, she quickly repressed the idea, offering
instead to go herself to the parlor.
"_You_! What could _you_ say to her?" returned Mrs. Livingstone, to
whom the proposition was not altogether displeasing.
"I can at least answer her questions," returned 'Lena and after a
moment her aunt consented, wondering the while how 'Lena, in her
plain gingham wrapper and linen collar, could be willing to meet the
fashionable Mrs. Graham.
"But then," thought she, "she has so little sensibility, I don't
s'pose she cares! and why should she? Mrs. Graham will of course
look upon her as only a little above a servant"--and with this
complimentary reflection upon her niece, Mrs. Livingstone retired to
her dressing-room, while 'Lena, with a beating heart and slightly
heightened color, repaired to the parlor.
On a sofa by the window sat Mrs. Graham, and the moment 'Lena's eye
fell upon her, her fears vanished, while she could hardly repress a
smile at the idea of being afraid of _her_. She was a short, dumpy,
florid looking woman, showily, and as 'Lena thought, _overdressed_
for morning, as her person was covered with jewelry, which flashed
and sparkled with every movement. Her forehead was very low, and
marked by a scowl of discontent which was habitual, for with
everything to make her happy, Mrs. Graham was far from being so.
Exceedingly nervous and fidgety, she was apt to see only the darker
side, and when her husband and son, who were of exactly opposite
temperaments, strove to laugh her into good spirits, they generally
made the matter worse, as she usually reproached them with having no
feeling or sympathy for her.
Accustomed to a great deal of attention, she had fretted herself into
quite a fever at Mrs. Livingstone's apparent lack of courtesy in not
hastening to receive her, and when 'Lena's light step was heard in
the hall, she turned toward the door with a frown which seemed to ask
why she had not come sooner. Durward, who was present immediately
introduced his mother, at the same time admiring the extreme dignity
of 'Lena's manner as she received the lady's greeting, apologizing
for her aunt's non-appearance, saying "she was suffering from a
severe headache, and begged to be excused for an hour or so."
"Quite excusable," returned Mrs. Graham, at the same time saying
something in a low tone about it's not being her wish to stop there
so early, as she knew _she_ was not expected.
"But perfectly welcome, nevertheless," 'Lena hastened to say,
thinking that for the time being the reputation of her uncle's house
was resting upon her shoulders.
"I dare say," was Mrs. Graham's ungracious answer, and then her
little gray, deep-set eyes rested upon 'Lena, wondering if she were
"a governess or what?" and thinking it strange that she should seem
so perfectly self-possessed.
Insensibly, too, 'Lena's manner won upon her, for spite of her
fretfulness, Mrs. Graham at heart was a kindly disposed woman. Ill
health and long years of dissipation had helped to make her what she
was. Besides this, she was not quite happy in her domestic
relations, for though Mr. Graham possessed all the requisites of a
kind and affectionate husband, he could not remove from her mind the
belief that he liked others better then he did herself! 'Twas in
vain that he alternately laughed at and reasoned with her on the
subject. She was not to be convinced, and so poor Mr. Graham, who
was really exceedingly polite and affable to the ladies, was almost
constantly provoking the green-eyed monster by his attentions to some
one of the fair sex. In spite of his nightly "Caudle" lectures, he
_would_ transgress again and again, until his wife's patience was
exhausted, and now she affected to have given him up, turning for
comfort and affection toward Durward, who was her special delight,
"the very apple of her eye--he was so much like his father, Sir
Arthur, who during the whole year that she lived with him had never
once given her cause for jealousy."
Just before 'Lena entered the parlor Mr. Graham, had for a moment
stepped out with Mr. Livingstone, but soon returning, he, too, was
introduced to the young lady. It was strange, considering 'Lena's
uncommon beauty, that Mrs. Graham did not watch her husband's manner,
but for once in her life she felt no fears, and looking from the
window, she failed to note the sudden pallor which overspread his
face when Mr. Livingstone presented to him "Miss Rivers--my niece."
Mr. Graham was a tall, finely-formed man, with a broad, good-humored
face, whose expression instantly demanded respect from strangers,
while his pleasant, affable deportment universally won the friendship
of ail who knew him. And 'Lena was not an exception to the general
rule, for the moment his warm hand grasped hers and his kindly
beaming eye rested upon her, her heart went toward him as a friend,
while she wondered why he looked at her so long and earnestly, twice
repeating her name--"Miss Rivers--_Rivers_."
From the first, 'Lena had recognized him as the same gentleman whom
Durward had called father in the cars years ago, and when, as if to
apologize for his singular conduct, he asked if they had never met
before, she referred him to that time, saying "she thought it strange
that he should remember her."
"Old acquaintances--ah--indeed !" and little Mrs. Graham nodded and
fanned, while her round, florid face grew more florid, and her linen
cambric went up to her forehead as if trying to smooth out the scowl
which was of too long standing to be smoothed.
"Yes, my dear," said Mr. Graham, turning toward his wife, "I had
entirely forgotten the circumstance, but it seems I saw her in the
cars when we took our eastern tour six or seven years ago. You were
quite a little girl then"--turning to 'Lena.
"Only ten," was the reply, and Mrs. Graham, ashamed of herself and
anxious to make amends, softened considerable toward 'Lena, asking
"how long she had lived in Kentucky--where she used to live--and
where her mother was."
At this question, Mr. Graham, who was talking with Mr. Livingstone,
"My mother is dead," answered 'Lena.
"And your father?"
"Gone to Canada!" interrupted Durward, who had heard vague rumors of
'Lena's parentage, and who did not quite like his mother's being so
Mrs. Graham laughed; she always did at whatever Durward said; while
Mr. Graham replied to a remark made by Mr. Livingstone some time
before. Here John Jr. appeared, and after being formally introduced,
he seated himself by his cousin, addressing to her some trivial
remark, and calling her '_Lena_. It was well for Mr. Graham's after
peace that his wife was just then too much engrossed with Durward to
observe the effect which that name produced upon him.
Abruptly rising he turned toward Mr. Livingstone, saying, "You were
telling me about a fine species of cactus which you have in your
yard--suppose we go and see it."
The cactus having been duly examined, praised, and commented upon,
Mr. Graham casually remarked, "Your niece is a fine-looking
girl--'Lena, I think your son called her?"
"Yes, or _Helena_, which was her mother's name."
"And her mother was your sister, Helena Livingstone?"
"No, sir, Nichols. I changed my name to gratify a fancy of my wife,"
returned Mr. Livingstone, thinking it better to tell the truth at
Again Mr. Graham bent over the cactus, inspecting it minutely, and
keeping his face for a long time concealed from his friend, whose
thoughts, as was usually the case when his sister was mentioned, were
far back in the past. When at last Mr. Graham lifted his head there
were no traces of the stormy emotions which had shaken his very
heart-strings, and with a firm, composed step he walked back to the
parlor, where he found both Mrs. Livingstone and Carrie just paying
their respects to his lady.
Nothing could be more marked than the difference between Carrie's and
'Lena's manner toward Mrs. Graham. Even Durward noticed it, and
while he could not sufficiently admire the quiet self-possession of
the latter, who in her simple morning wrapper and linen collar had
met his mother on perfectly equal terms, he for the first time in his
life felt a kind of contempt (pity he called it,) for Carrie, who, in
an elegantly embroidered double-gown confined by a rich cord and
tassels, which almost swept the floor, treated his mother with a
fawning servility as disgusting to him as it was pleasing to the lady
in question. Accustomed to the utmost deference on account of her
wealth and her husband's station, Mrs. Graham had felt as if
something were withheld from her, when neither Mrs. Livingstone nor
her daughters rushed to receive and welcome her; but now all was
forgotten, for nothing could be more flattering than their
attentions. Both mother and daughter having the son in view, did
their best, and when at last Mrs. Graham asked to be shown to her
room, Carrie, instead of ringing for a servant, offered to conduct
her thither herself; whereupon Mrs. Graham laid her hand caressingly
upon her shoulders, calling her a "dear little pet," and asking
"where she stole those bright, naughty eyes!"
A smothered laugh from John Jr. and a certain low soft sound which
he was in the habit of producing when desirous of reminding his
sister of her _nose_, made the "bright, naughty eyes" flash so
angrily, that even Durward noticed it, and wondered if 'Lena's temper
had not been transferred to her cousin.
"That young girl--'Lena, I think you call her--is a relative of
yours," said Mrs. Graham to Carrie, as they were ascending the stairs.
"Ye-es, our cousin, I suppose," answered Carrie.
"She bears a very aristocratic name, that of Rivers--does she belong
to a Virginia family?"
Carrie looked mysterious and answered, "I never knew anything of her
father, and indeed, I reckon no one does"--then after a moment she
added, "Almost every family has some objectionable relative, with
which they could willingly dispense."
"Very true," returned Mrs. Graham, "What a pity we couldn't all have
been born in England. There, dear, you can leave me now."
Accordingly Carrie started for the parlor, meeting in the hall her