Part 4 out of 7
hand is, but don't take it away, for it cools my forehead.")
The icy hand was not withdrawn, and Mabel continued: "Yes, I think
him better suited to you, and when his mother told me that he loved
me, and that he would, undoubtedly, one day make me his wife, it was
almost too much for me to believe, but it makes me so happy--oh, so
"And he--he, too, told you that he loved you?" said Nellie, very low,
holding her breath for the answer.
"Oh, no--_he_ never told me in _words_. 'Twas his mother that told
me--he only _acted_!"
"And what did he do?" asked Nellie, smiling in spite of herself, at
the simplicity of Mabel, who, without any intention of exaggerating,
proceeded to tell what John Jr. had said and done, magnifying every
attention, until Nellie, blinded as she was by what his mother had
said, was convinced that, at all events, he was not true to herself.
To be sure, he had never told her he loved her in words; but in
actions he had said it many a time, and if he could do the same with
Mabel, he must be false either to one or the other. Always frank and
open-hearted herself, Nellie despised anything like deception in
others, and the high opinion she had once entertained for John Jr.,
was now greatly changed.
Still, reason as she would, Nellie could not forget so easily, and
the hour of midnight found her restless and wakeful. At length,
rising up and leaning upon her elbow, she looked down upon the face
of Mabel, who lay sleeping sweetly at her side. Many and bitter were
her thoughts, and as she looked upon her rival, marking her plain
features and sallow skin, an expression of scorn flitted for an
instant across her face.
"And _she_ is preferred to me!" said she. "Well, let it be so, and
God grant I may not hate her."
Erelong, better feelings came to her aid, and with her arms wound
round Mabel's neck, as if to ask forgiveness for her unkind thoughts,
she fell asleep.
MRS. LIVINGSTONE'S CALLS AND THEIR RESULT.
After leaving Mr. Douglass's, Mrs. Livingstone ordered her coachman
to drive her around to the house of Mrs. Atkins, where she was
frequently in the habit of stopping, partly as a matter of
convenience when visiting in town, and partly to learn the latest
news of the day, for Mrs. Atkins was an intolerable gossip. Without
belonging exactly to the higher circles, she still managed to keep up
a show of intimacy with them, possessing herself with their secrets,
and kindly intrusting them to the keeping of this and that "dear
From her, had Mrs. Livingstone learned to a dime the amount of Mr.
Douglass' property, and how he was obliged to economize in various
ways, in order to keep up the appearance of style. From her, too,
had she learned how often her son was in the habit of calling there,
and what rumor said concerning those calls, while Mrs. Atkins had
learned, in return, that the ambitious lady had other views for John,
and that anything which she, Mrs. Atkins, could do to further the
plans of her friend, would be gratefully received. On this occasion
she was at home, and of course delighted to meet Mrs. Livingstone.
"It is such an age since I've seen you, that I began to fear you were
offended at something," said she, as she led the way into a cozy
little sitting-room, where a cheerful wood fire was blazing on the
nicely painted hearth. "Do sit down and make yourself as comfortable
as you can, on such poor accommodations. I have just finished dinner
but will order some for you."
"No, no," exclaimed Mrs. Livingstone, "I dined at Mr.
"Ah, indeed," returned Mrs. Atkins, feeling a good deal relieved, for
to tell the truth, her larder, as was often the case, was rather
empty. "Dined at Mr. Douglass's! Of course, then, nothing which I
could offer you could be acceptable, after one of his sumptuous
meals. I suppose Nellie brought out all her mother's old silver, and
made quite a display. It's a wonder to me how they hold their heads
so high, and folks notice them as they do, for between you and me, I
shouldn't be surprised to hear of his failing any minute."
"Is it possible?" said Mrs. Livingstone.
"Why, yes," returned Mrs. Atkins. "There's nothing to prevent it,
they say, except a moneyed marriage on the part of Nellie, who seems
to be doing her best."
"Has she any particular one in view?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, and
Mrs. Atkins, aware of Mrs. Livingstone's aversion to the match,
replied, "Why, you know she tried to get your son----"
"But didn't succeed," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone.
"No, didn't succeed. You are right. Well, now it seems she's
spreading sail for a Mr. Wilbur, of Madison----"
Mrs. Livingstone's eyes sparkled eagerly, and, not to lose one word,
she drew her chair nearer to her friend, who proceeded; "He's a rich
bachelor--brother to Mary Wilbur, Nellie's most intimate friend.
You've heard of her?"
"Yes, yes," returned Mrs. Livingstone. "Hasn't Nellie been visiting
"Her or her brother," answered Mrs. Atkins. "Mary's health is poor,
and you know it's mighty convenient for Nellie to go there, under
pretense of staying with her,"
"Exactly," answered Mrs. Livingstone, with a satisfied smile, and
another hitch of her chair toward Mrs. Atkins, who, after a moment,
continued: "The brother came home with Nellie, stayed over Sunday,
rode out with her Monday, indorsed ever so many notes for her father,
so I reckon, and then went home. If that don't mean something, then
I'm mistaken"--and Mrs. Atkins rang for a glass of wine and a slice
After an hour's confidential talk, in which Mrs. Livingstone told of
Mabel's prospects, and Mrs. Atkins told how folks who were at Mr.
Graham's party praised 'Lena Rivers' beauty, and predicted a match
between her and Mr. Bellmont, the former rose to go; and calling upon
one or two others, and by dint of quizzing and hinting, getting them
to say "they shouldn't be surprised if Mr. Wilbur did like Nellie
Douglas," she started for home, exulting to think how everything
seemed working together for her good, and how, in the denouement,
nothing particular could be laid to her charge.
"I told Nellie no falsehood," thought she. "I did not say John loved
Mabel; I only said she loved him, leaving all else for her to infer.
And it has commenced operating, too. I could see it in the spots on
her face and neck, when I was talking. Nellie's a fine girl, though,
but too poor for the Livingstones;" and with this conclusion, she
told the coachman to drive faster, as she was in a hurry to reach
Arrived at Maple Grove, she found the whole family, grandma and all,
assembled in the parlor, and with them Durward Bellmont. His arm was
thrown carelessly across the back of 'Lena's chair, while he
occasionally bent forward to look at a book of prints which she was
examining. The sight of him determined her to wait a little ere she
retailed her precious bit of gossip to her son. He was Nellie's
cousin, and as such, would in all probability repeat to her what he
heard. However communicative John Jr. might be in other respects,
she knew he would never discuss his heart-troubles with any one, so,
upon second thought, she deemed it wiser to wait until they were
Durward and 'Lena, however, needed watching, and by a little
maneuvering, she managed to separate them, greatly to the
satisfaction of Carrie, who sat upon the sofa, one foot bent under
her, and the other impatiently tapping the carpet. From the moment
Durward took his seat by her cousin, she had appeared ill at ease,
and as he began to understand her better, he readily guessed that her
silent mood was owing chiefly to the attentions he paid to 'Lena, and
not to a nervous headache, as she said, when her grandmother,
inquiring the cause of her silence, remarked, that "she'd been
chipper enough until Mr. Bellmont came in."
But he did not care. He admired 'Lena, and John Jr. like, it made
but little difference with him who knew it. Carrie's freaks, which
he plainly saw, rather amused him than otherwise, but of Mrs.
Livingstone he had no suspicion whatever. Consequently, when she
sent 'Lena from the room on some trifling errand, herself
appropriating the vacated seat, he saw in it no particular design,
but in his usual pleasant way commenced talking with Carrie, who
brightened up so much that grandma asked "if her headache wasn't
When 'Lena returned to the parlor, Durward was proposing a surprise
visit to Nellie Douglass some time during the holidays. "We'll
invite Mr. Everett, and all go down. What do you say, girls?" said
he, turning toward Carrie and Anna, but meaning 'Lena quite as much
as either of them.
"Capital,' answered Anna, visions of a long ride with Malcolm
instantly passing before her mind.
"I should like it very much," said Carrie, visions of a ride with
Durward crossing her mind.
"And I too," said 'Lena, laying her hand on John Jr.'s shoulder, as
if he would of course be her escort.
Carrie's ill-nature had not all vanished, and now, in a slightly
insolent tone, she said, "How do you know you are included?"
'Lena was about to reply, when Durward, a little provoked at Carrie's
manner, prevented her by saying "Of course I meant Miss Rivers, and I
will now do myself the honor of asking her to ride with me, either on
horseback or in a carriage, just as she prefers."
In a very graceful manner 'Lena accepted the invitation saying that
"she always preferred riding on horse back, but as the pony which she
usually rode had recently been sold, she would be content to go in
any other way."
"Fleetfoot sold! what's that for?" asked Anna; and her mother
replied, "We've about forty horses on our hands now, and as Fleetfoot
was seldom used by any one except 'Lena, your father thought we
couldn't afford to keep him."
She did not dare tell the truth of the matter, and say that ever
since the morning when 'Lena rode to Woodlawn with Durward,
Fleetfoot's fate had been decreed. Repeatedly had she urged the sale
upon her husband, who, wearied with her importunity, at last
consented, selling him to a neighboring planter, who had taken him
away that very day.
"That's smart," said John Jr. looking at his father, who had not
spoken. "What is 'Lena going to ride, I should like to know."
'Lena pressed his arm to keep him still, but he would not heed her.
"Isn't there plenty of feed for Fleetfoot?"
"Certainly," answered his father, compelled now to speak; "plenty of
feed, but Fleetfoot was getting old and sometimes stumbled. Perhaps
we'll get 'Lena a better and younger horse."
This was said in a half timid way, which brought the tears to 'Lena's
eyes, for at the bottom of it all she saw her aunt, who sat looking
into the glowing grate, apparently oblivious to all that was passing
"That reminds me of Christmas gifts," said Durward, anxious to change
the conversation. "I wonder how many of us will get one?"
Ere there was any chance for an answer a servant appeared at the
door, asking Mrs. Livingstone for some medicine for old Aunt Polly,
the superannuated negress, who will be remembered as having nursed
Mrs. Nichols during her attack of rheumatism, and for whom grandma
had conceived a strong affection. For many days she had been very
ill, causing Mrs. Livingstone to wonder "what old niggers wanted to
live for, bothering everybody to death."
The large stock of abolitionism which Mrs. Nichols had brought with
her from Massachusetts was a little diminished by force of habit, but
the root was there still, in all its vigor, and since Aunt Polly's
illness she had been revolving in her mind the momentous question,
whether she would not be most guilty if Polly were suffered to die in
"I promised Nancy Scovandyke," said she, "that I'd have some on 'em
set free, but I'll be bound if 'taint harder work than I s'posed
Still Aunt Polly's freedom lay warm at grandma's heart and now when
she was mentioned together with "Christmas gifts," a bright idea
entered her mind,
"John," said she to her son, when Corinda had gone with the medicine,
"John, have you ever made me a Christmas present since I've been
"I believe not," was his answer.
"Wall," continued grandma, "bein's the fashion, I want you to give me
somethin' this Christmas, will you?"
"Certainly," said he, "what is it?"
Grandma replied that she would rather not tell him then--she would
wait until Christmas morning, which came the next Tuesday, and here
the conversation ended. Soon after, Durward took his leave, telling
'Lena he should call for her on Thursday.
"That's a plaguy smart feller," said grandma, as the door closed upon
him; "and I kinder think he's got a notion after 'Leny."
"Ridiculous!" muttered Mrs. Livingstone, while Carrie added, "Just
reverse it, and say she has a notion after him!"
"Shut up your head," growled John Jr. "You are only angry because he
asked her to accompany him, instead of yourself. I reckon he knows
what he's about."
"I reckon he does, too!" said Mrs. Livingstone, with a peculiar
smile, which nettled 'Lena more than any open attack would have done.
With the exception of his mother, John Jr. was the last to leave the
parlor, and when all the rest were gone, Mrs. Livingstone seized her
opportunity for telling him what she had heard. Taking a light from
the table, he was about retiring, when she said, "I learned some news
to-day which a little surprised me."
"Got it from Mother Atkins, I suppose," answered John, still
advancing toward the door.
"Partly from her, and partly from others," said his mother, adding,
as she saw him touch the door-knob, "It's about Nellie Douglass."
This was sufficient to arrest his attention, and turning about, he
asked, "What of her?"
"Why, nothing of any great consequence, as I know of," said Mrs.
Livingstone, "only people in Frankfort think she's going to be
"_I_ think so, too," was John's mental reply, while his verbal one
was, "Married! To whom?"
"Did you ever hear her speak of Mary Wilbur?"
"Yes, she's been staying with her ever since Mrs. Graham's party."
"Well, Mary it seems has a brother, a rich old bachelor, who they say
is very attentive to Nellie. He came home with her from Madison,
staying at her father's the rest of the week, and paying her
numberless attentions, which----"
"_I don't believe it_," interrupted John Jr., striking his fist upon
the table, to which he had returned.
"Neither did I, at first," said his mother, "but I heard it in so
many places that there must be something in it. And I'm sure it's a
good match. He is rich, and willing, they say, to help her father,
who is in danger of failing any moment."
Without knowing it, John Jr. was a little inclined to be jealous,
particularly of those whom he loved very much, and now suddenly
remembering to have heard Nellie speak in high terms of Robert
Wilbur, he began to feel uneasy, lest what his mother had said were
true. She saw her advantage, and followed it up until, in a fit of
anger, he rushed from the room and repaired to his own apartment,
where for a time he walked backward and forward, chafing like a caged
lion, and wishing all manner of evil upon Nellie, if she were indeed
false to him.
He was very excitable, and at last worked himself up to such a pitch,
that he determined upon starting at once for Frankfort, to demand of
Nellie if what he had heard were true! Upon cooler reflection,
however, he concluded not to make a "perfect fool of himself," and
plunging into bed, he fell asleep, as what man will not be his
trouble what it may.
The sunlight of a bright Christmas morning had hardly dawned upon the
earth, when from many a planter's home in the sunny south was heard
the joyful cry of "Christmas Gift," "Christmas Gift," as the negroes
ran over and against each other, hiding ofttimes, until some one came
within hailing distance, when their loud "Christmas Gift" would make
all echo again. On this occasion, every servant at Maple Grove was
remembered, for Anna and 'Lena had worked both early and late in
preparing some little present, and feeling amply compensated for
their trouble, when they saw how much happiness it gave. Mabel, too,
while she stayed, had lent a helping hand, and many a blessing was
that morning invoked upon her head from the hearts made glad by her
generous gifts. Carrie, when asked to join them, had turned
scornfully away, saying "she'd plenty to do, without working for
niggers; who could not appreciate it."
So all her leisure hours were spent in embroidering a fine cambric
handkerchief, intended as a present for Mrs. Graham, and which with a
delicate note was, the evening previous, sent to Woodlawn, with
instructions to have it placed next morning on Mrs. Graham's table.
Of course Mrs. Graham felt in duty bound to return the compliment,
and looking over her old jewelry, she selected a diamond ring which
she had formerly worn, but which was now too small for her fat chubby
fingers. This was immediately forwarded to Maple Grove, reaching
there just as the family were rising from the breakfast-table.
"Oh, isn't it beautiful--splendid--magnificent!" were Carrie's
exclamations, while she praised Mrs. Graham's generosity, secretly
wondering if "Durward did not have something to do with it."
On this point she was soon set right, for the young man himself
erelong appeared, and after bidding them all a "Merry Christmas,"
presented Anna with a package which, on being opened, proved to be a
large and complete copy of Shakspeare, elegantly bound, and bearing
upon its heavy golden clasp the words "Anna Livingstone, from
"This you will please accept from me," said he. "Mother, I believe,
has sent Carrie something, and if 'Lena will step to the door, she
will see her gift from father, who hopes it will give her as much
pleasure to accept it, as it does him to present it."
"What can it be?" thought Carrie, rising languidly from the sofa, and
following 'Lena and her sister to the side door, where stood one of
Mr. Graham's servants, holding a beautiful gray pony, all nicely
equipped for riding.
Never dreaming that this was intended for 'Lena, Carrie looked
vacantly around, saying, "Why, where is it? I don't see anything."
"Here," said Durward, taking the bridle from the negro's hand, and
playfully throwing it across 'Lena's neck, "Here it is--this pony,
which we call Vesta. Vesta, allow me to introduce you and your new
mistress, Miss 'Lena, to each other," and catching her up, as if she
had been a feather, he placed her in the saddle. Then, at a peculiar
whistle, the well-trained animal started off upon an easy gallop,
bearing its burden lightly around the yard, and back again to the
"Do you like her ?" he asked of 'Lena, extending his arms to lift her
For a moment 'Lena could not speak, her heart was so full. But at
last, forcing down her emotion, she replied, "Oh, very, very much;
but it isn't for me, I know--there must be some mistake. Mr. Graham
never intended it for me."
"Yes, he did," answered Durward. "He has intended it ever since the
morning when you and I rode to Woodlawn. A remark which your cousin
John made at the table, determined him upon him buying and training a
pony for you. So here it is, and as I have done my share toward
teaching her, you must grant me the favor of riding her to Frankfort
day after to-morrow."
"Thank you, thank you--you and Mr. Graham too--a thousand times,"
said 'Lena, winding her arms around the neck of the docile animal,
who did her best to return the caress, rubbing her face against
'Lena, and evincing her gentleness in various ways.
By this time Mr. Livingstone had joined them, and while he was
admiring the pony, Durward said to him, "I am commissioned by my
father to tell you that he will defray all the expense of keeping
"Don't mention such a thing again," hastily interposed Mr.
Livingstone. "I can keep fifty horses, if I choose, and nothing will
give me more pleasure than to take care of this one for 'Lena, who
deserves it if any one does."
"That's my Christmas gift from you, uncle, isn't it?" asked 'Lena,
the tears gushing from her shining, brown eyes. "And now please may
I return it?"
"Certainly," said he, and with a nimble spring she caught him around
the neck, imprinting upon his lips the first and only kiss she had
ever given him; then, amid blushes and tears, which came from a heart
full of happiness, she ran away upstairs followed by the envious eyes
of Carrie, who repaired to her mother's room, where she stated all
that had transpired--"How Mr. Graham had sent 'Lena a gray pony--how
she had presumed to accept it--and how, just to show off before Mr.
Bellmont, she had wound her arms around its neck, and then actually
Mrs. Livingstone was equally indignant with her daughter, wondering
if Mr. Graham had lost his reason, and reckoning his wife knew
nothing about Vesta! But fret as she would, there was no help for
it. Vesta belonged to 'Lena--Mr. Livingstone had given orders to
have it well-cared for--and worse than all the rest, 'Lena was to
accompany Durward to Frankfort. Something must be done to meet the
emergency, but what, Mrs. Livingstone didn't exactly know, and
finally concluded to wait until she saw Mrs. Graham.
Meantime grandma had claimed from her son her promised Christmas
gift, which was nothing less than "the freedom of old Aunt Polly."
"You won't refuse me, John, I know you won't," said she, laying her
bony hand on his. "Polly's arnt her freedom forty times over, even
s'posin' you'd a right to her in the fust place which I and Nancy
Scovandyke both doubt; so now set down like a man, make out her free
papers, and let me carry 'em to her right away."
Without a word Mr. Livingstone complied with his mother's request,
saying, as he handed her the paper, "It's not so much the fault of
the south as of the north that every black under heaven is not free."
Grandma looked aghast. Her son, born, brought up, and baptized in a
purely orthodox atmosphere, to hold such treasonable opinions in
opposition to everything he'd ever been taught in good old
Massachusetts! She was greatly shocked, but thinking she could not
do the subject justice, she said, "Wall, wall, it's of no use for you
and I to arger the pint, for I don't know nothin' what I want to say,
but if Nancy Scovandyke was here, she'd convince you quick, for she's
good larnin' as any of the gals nowadays."
So saying, she walked away to Polly's cabin. The old negress was
better to-day, and attired in the warm double-gown which Mabel had
purchased and 'Lena had made, she sat up in a large, comfortable
rocking-chair which John Jr. had given her at the commencement of her
illness, saying it was "his Christmas gift in advance." Going
straight up to her, grandma laid the paper in her lap, bidding her
"read it and thank the Lord."
"Bless missus' dear old heart," said Aunt Polly, "I can't read a
"Sure enough," answered Mrs. Nichols, and taking up the paper she
read it through, managing to make the old creature comprehend its
"Praise the Lord! praise Master John, and all the other apostles!"
exclaimed Aunt Polly, clasping together her black, wrinkled hands,
while tears of joy coursed their way down her cheeks. "The breath of
liberty is sweet--sweet as sugar," she continued, drawing long
inspirations as if to make up for lost time.
Mrs. Nichols looked on, silently thanking God for having made her an
humble instrument in contributing so much to another's happiness.
"Set down," said Aunt Polly, motioning toward a wooden bottomed
chair; "set down, and let's us talk over this great meracle, which
I've prayed and rastled for mighty nigh a hundred times, without
havin' an atom of faith that 'twould ever be."
So Mrs. Nichols sat down, and for nearly an hour the old ladies
talked, the one of her newly-found freedom, and the other of her
happiness in knowing that "'twasn't for nothin' she was turned out of
her old home and brought away over land and sea to Kentucky."
Thursday morning came, bright, sunshiny and beautiful, and at about
ten o'clock 'Lena, dressed and ready for her ride, came down to the
parlor, where she found John Jr. listlessly leaning upon the table
with his elbows, and drumming with his fingers.
"Come, cousin," said she, "why are you not ready?"
"Ready for what?" he answered, without raising his head.
"Why, ready for our visit," replied Lena, at the same time advancing
nearer, to see what ailed him.
"All the visit I make to-day won't hurt me, I reckon," said he;
pushing his hat a little more to one side and looking up at 'Lena,
who, in some surprise, asked what he meant.
"I mean what I say," was his ungracious answer; "I've no intention
whatever of going to Frankfort."
"Not going?" repeated 'Lena. "Why not? What will Carrie do?"
"Stick herself in with you and Durward, I suppose," said John Jr.,
just as Carrie entered the room, together with Mr. Bellmont, Malcolm,
"Not going?--of course then I must stay at home, too," said Carrie,
secretly pleased at her brother's decision.
"Why of course?" asked Durward, who, in the emergency, felt
constrained to offer his services to Carrie though he would greatly
have preferred 'Lena's company alone. "The road is wide enough for
three, and I am fully competent to take charge of two ladies. But
why don't you go?" turning to John Jr.
"Because I don't wish to. If it was anywhere in creation but there,
I'd go," answered the young man; hastily leaving the room to avoid
all further argument.
"He does it just to be hateful and annoy me," said Carrie, trying to
pout, but making a failure, for she had in reality much rather go
under Durward's escort than her brother's.
The horses were now announced as ready, and in a few moments the
little party were on their way, Carrie affecting so much fear of her
pony that Durward at last politely offered to lead him a while. This
would of course bring him close to her side, and after a little
well-feigned hesitation, she replied, "I am sorry to trouble you, but
if you would be so kind----"
'Lena saw through the ruse, and patting Vesta gently, rode on in
advance, greatly to the satisfaction of Carrie, and greatly to the
chagrin of Durward, who replied to his loquacious companion only in
monosyllables. Once, indeed, when she said something concerning
'Lena's evident desire to show off her horsemanship, he answered
rather coolly, that "he'd yet to discover in Miss Rivers the least
propensity for display of any kind."
"You've never lived with her," returned Carrie, and here the
conversation concerning 'Lena ceased.
Meantime, Nellie Douglass was engaged in answering a letter that
morning received from Mary Wilbur. A few years before, Mary had
spent some months in Mr. Douglass's family, conceiving a strong
affection for Nellie, whom she always called her sister, and with
whom she kept up a regular correspondence. Mary was an orphan,
living with her only brother Robert, who was a bachelor of thirty or
thirty-five. Once she had ventured to hope that Nellie would indeed
be to her a sister, but fate had decreed it otherwise, and her
brother was engaged to a lady whom he found a school-girl in
Montreal, and who was now at her own home in England. This was
well-known to Nellie, but she did not deem it a matter of sufficient
importance to discuss, so it was a secret in Frankfort, where Mr.
Wilbur's polite attentions to herself was a subject of considerable
remark. For a long time Mary had been out of health, and the family
physician at last said that nothing could save her except a sea
voyage, and as her brother was about going to Europe to consummate
his marriage, it was decided that she should accompany him. This she
was willing to do, provided Nellie Douglass would go too.
"It would be much pleasanter," she said, "having some female
companion besides her attendant, and then, too, Nellie had relatives
in England;" so she urged her to accompany them, offering to defray
all expenses for the pleasure of her society.
Since Nellie's earliest recollection, her fondest dreams had been of
England, her mother's birthplace; and now when so favorable an
opportunity for visiting it was presented, she felt strongly tempted
to say "Yes." Still, she would give Mary no encouragement until she
had seen her father and John Jr., the latter of whom would influence
her decision quite as much as the former. But John Jr. no longer
loved her--she was sure of that--and with her father's consent she
had half determined to go. Still she was undecided, until a letter
came from Mary, urging her to make up her mind without delay, as they
were to sail the 15th of January.
"Brother is so sensitive concerning his love affairs," wrote Mary,
"that whether you conclude to join us or not, you will please say
nothing about his intended marriage."
Nellie had seated herself to answer this letter, when a servant came
up, saying that "Marster Bellmont, all the Livingstones, and a heap
more were downstars, and had sent for her."
She was just writing, "I will go," when this announcement came, and
quickly suspending her pen, she thought, "He's come, at last. It may
all be a mistake. I'll wait." With a beating heart she descended to
the parlor, where she politely greeted Mr. Everett and Durward, and
then anxiously glanced around for the missing one. Mabel, who felt a
similar disappointment, ventured to inquire for him, in a low tone,
whereupon Carrie replied, loudly enough for Nellie to hear, "Oh, pray
don't speak of that bear. Why, you don't know how cross he's been
ever since--let me see--ever since you came away. He doesn't say a
civil word to anybody, and I really wish you'd come back before he
kills us all.'
"Did you invite him to come ?" said Nellie.
"To be sure we did," answered Carrie, "and he said, 'anywhere in
creation but there.'"
Nellie needed no further confirmation, and after conversing awhile
with her guests, she begged leave to be excused for a few moments,
while she finished a letter of importance, which must go out in the
next mail. Alone in her room, she wavered, but the remembrance of
the words, "anywhere in creation but there," decided her, and with a
firm hand she wrote to Mary that she would go. When the letter was
finished and sent to the office, Nellie returned to her visitors, who
began to rally her concerning the important letter which must be
"Now, coz," said Durward, pulling her down upon the sofa by his side,
"now, coz, I claim a right to know something about this letter. Was
it one of acceptance or rejection?"
"Acceptance, of course," answered Nellie, who, knowing no good reason
why her intended tour should be kept a secret, proceeded to speak of
it, telling how they were to visit Scotland, France, Switzerland, and
Italy, and almost forgetting, in her enthusiasm, how wretched the
thought of the journey made her.
"And Miss Wilbur's brother is to be your escort--he is unmarried, I
believe?" said Durward, looking steadily upon the carpet.
In a moment Nellie would have told of his engagement, and the object
of his going, but she remembered Mary's request in time, and the
blush which the almost committed mistake called to her cheek, was
construed by all into a confession that there was something between
her and Mr. Wilbur.
"That accounts for John's sudden churlishness," thought 'Lena,
wondering how Nellie could have deceived him so.
"Oh, I see it all," exclaimed Mabel. "I understand now what has made
Nellie so absent-minded and restless these many days. She was making
up her mind to become Mrs. Wilbur, while I fancied she was offended
"I don't know what you mean," answered Nellie, without smiling in the
least. "Mary Wilbur wishes me to accompany her to Europe, and I
intend doing so. Her brother is nothing to me, nor ever will be."
"Quite a probable story," thought Mr. Everett, without forming his
reflections into words.
Toward the middle of the afternoon, a violent ringing of the
door-bell, and a heavy tramp in the hall, announced some new arrival,
and Nellie was about opening the parlor door, when who should appear
but John Jr.! From his room he had watched the departure of the
party, one moment wishing he was with them, and the next declaring
he'd never go to Frankfort again so long as he lived! At length
inclination getting the ascendency of his reason, he mounted
Firelock, and rushing furiously down the 'pike, never once slackened
his speed until the city was in sight.
"I dare say she'll think me a fool," thought he, "tagging her round,
but she needn't worry. I only want to show her how little her pranks
With these thoughts he could not fail to meet Nellie otherwise than
coldly, while she received him with equal indifference, calling him
Mr. Livingstone, and asking if he were cold, with other questions,
such as any polite hostess would ask of her guest. But her
accustomed smile and usual frankness of manner were gone, and while
John Jr. felt it keenly, he strove under a mask of indifference, to
conceal his chagrin. Mabel seemed delighted to see him, and for want
of something better to do, he devoted himself to her, calling her
Meb, and teasing her about her "Indian locks," as he called her
straight, black hair. Could he have seen the bitter tears which
Nellie constantly forced back, as she moved carelessly among her
guests, far different would have been his conduct. But he only felt
that she had been untrue to him, and in his anger he was hardly
conscious of what he was doing.
So when Mabel said to him, "Nellie is going to Europe with Mr. Wilbur
and Mary," he replied, "Glad of it--hope she'll"--be drowned, he
thought--"have a good time," he said--and Nellie, who heard all,
never guessed how heavily the blow had fallen, or that the hand so
suddenly placed against his heart, was laid there to still the wild
throbbing which he feared she might hear.
When next he spoke, his voice was very calm, as he asked when she was
going, and how long she intended to be gone. "What! so soon?" said
he, when told that she sailed the 15th of January, and other than
that, not a word did he say to Nellie concerning her intended visit,
until just before they left for home. Then for a moment he stood
alone with her in the recess of a window. There was a film upon his
eyes as he looked upon her, and thought it might be for the last
time. There was anguish, too, in his heart, but it did not mingle in
the tones of his voice, which was natural, and, perhaps, indifferent,
as he said, "Why do you go to Europe, Nellie?"
Quickly, and with something of her olden look, she glanced up into
his face, but his eyes, which would not meet hers, lest they should
betray themselves, were resting upon Mabel, who, on a stool across
the room, was petting and caressing a kitten. 'Twas enough, and
carelessly Nellie answered, "Because I want to; what do you suppose?"
Without seeming to hear her answer, the young man walked away to
where Mabel sat, and commenced teasing her and her kitten, while
Nellie, maddened with herself, with him, with everybody,
precipitately left the room, and going to her chamber hastily, and
without a thought as to what she was doing, gathered together every
little token which John Jr. had given her, together with his notes
and letters, written in his own peculiar and scarcely legible hand.
Tying them in a bundle, she wrote with unflinching nerve, "Do thou
likewise," and then descending to the hall, laid it upon the
hat-stand, managing, as he was leaving, to place it unobserved in his
hand. Instinctively he knew what it was, glanced at the three words
written thereon, and in a cold, sneering voice, replied, "I will,
with pleasure." And thus they parted.
thought as to what she was doing, gathered together every little token
which John Jr. had given her, together with his notes and letters,
written in his own peculiar and scarcely legible hand. Tying them in a
bundle, she wrote with unflinching nerve, "Do thou likewise," and then
descending to the hall, laid it upon the hat-stand, managing, as he was
leaving, to place it unobserved in his hand. Instinctively he knew
what it was, glanced at the three words written thereon, and in a cold,
sneering voice, replied, "I will, with pleasure." And thus they parted.
"John, how would you like to take a trip to New York--the city, I
mean?" said Mr. Livingstone, to his son, one morning about two weeks
following the events narrated in the last chapter.
"Well enough--why do you ask?" answered John.
"Because," said his father, "I have to-day received a letter which
makes it necessary for one of us to be there the 15th, and as you are
fond of traveling, I had rather you would go. You had better start
John Jr. started from his chair. To-morrow she left her home--the 15th
she sailed. He might see her again, though at a distance, for she
should never know he followed her! Since that night in Frankfort he
had not looked upon her face, but he had kept his promise, returning to
her everything--everything except a withered rose-bud, which years
before, when but a boy, he had twined among the heavy braids of her
hair, and which she had given back to him, playfully fastening it in
the button-hole of his roundabout! How well he remembered that day.
She was a little romping girl, teasing him unmercifully about his _flat
feet_ and _big hands_, chiding him for his _negro slang_, as she termed
his favorite expressions, and with whatever else she did, weaving her
image into his heart's best and noblest affections, until he seemed to
live only for her, But now 'twas changed--terribly changed. She was no
longer "his Nellie," the Nellie of his boyhood's love; and with a
muttered curse and a tear, large, round, and hot, such as only John Jr.
could shed, he sent her back every memento of the past, all save that
rose-bud, with which he could not part, it seemed so like his early
hopes--withered and dead.
Nellie was alone, preparing for her journey, when the box containing
the treasures was handed her. Again and again she examined to see if
there were not one farewell word, but there was nothing save, "Here
endeth the first lesson!" followed by two exclamation points, which
John Jr. had dashed off at random. Every article seemed familiar to
her as she looked them over, and everything was there but one--she
missed the rose-bud--and she wondered at the omission for she knew he
had it in his possession. He had told her so not three months before.
Why, then, did he not return it? Was it a lingering affection for her
which prompted the detention? Perhaps so, and down in Nellie's heart
was one warm, bright spot, the memory of that bud, which grew green and
fresh again, as on the day when first it was torn from its parent stem.
When it was first known at Maple Grove, that Nellie was going to
Europe, Mrs. Livingstone, who saw in the future the full consummation
of her plans, proposed that Mabel should spend the period of Nellie's
absence with her. But to this Mr. Douglass would not consent.
"He could not part with both his daughters," he said, and Mabel decided
to remain, stipulating that 'Lena, of whom she was very fond, should
pass a portion of the time with her.
"All the time, if she chooses," said Mr. Douglass, who also liked
'Lena, while Nellie, who was present, immediately proposed that she
should take music lessons of Monsieur Du Pont, who had recently come to
the city, and who was said to be a superior teacher. "She is fond of
music," said she, "and has always wanted to learn, but that aunt of
hers never seemed willing; and this will be a good opportunity, for she
can use my piano all the time if she chooses."
"Capital!" exclaimed Mabel, generously thinking how she would pay the
bills, and how much she would assist 'Lena, for Mabel was an excellent
musician, singing and playing admirably.
When this plan was proposed to 'Lena, she objected, for two reasons.
The first, that she could not leave her grandmother, and second, that
much as she desired the lessons, she would not suffer Mabel to pay for
them, and she had no means of her own. On the first point she began to
waver, when Mrs. Nichols, who was in unusually good health, insisted
upon her going.
"It will do you a sight of good," said she, "and there's no kind of use
why you should stay hived up with me. I'd as lief be left alone as
not, and I shall take comfort thinkin' you're larnin' to play the
pianner, for I've allus wondered 'Tildy didn't set you at Car'line's.
So, go," the old lady continued, whispering in 'Lena's ear, "Go, and
mebby some day you'll be a music teacher, and take care of us both."
Still, 'Lena hesitated at receiving so much from Mabel, who, after a
moment's thought, exclaimed, "Why, I can teach you myself! I should
love to dearly. It will be something to occupy my mind; and my
instructors have frequently said that I was capable of teaching
advanced pupils, if I chose. You'll go now, I know"--and Mabel plead
her cause so well, that 'Lena finally consented, saying she should come
home once a week to see her grandmother.
"A grand arrangement, I must confess," said Carrie, when she heard of
it. "I should think she sponged enough from her connections, without
living on other folks, and poor ones, too, like Mr. Douglass."
"How ridiculous you talk," said John Jr., who was present. "You'd be
perfectly willing to spend a year at Mr. Graham's, or Mr. Douglass's
either, if he had a son whom you considered an eligible match. Then as
to his being so poor, that's one of Mother Atkins' yarns, and she knows
everybody's history, from Noah down to the present day. For 'Lena's
sake I am glad to have her go, though heaven knows what I shall do
Mrs. Livingstone, too, was secretly pleased, for she would thus be more
out of Durward's way, and the good lady was again becoming somewhat
suspicious. So when her husband objected, saying 'Lena could take
lessons at home if she liked, she quietly overruled him, giving many
good reasons why 'Lena should go, and finally saying that if Mrs.
Nichols was very lonely without her, she might spend her evenings in
the parlor when there was no company present! So it was decided that
'Lena should go, and highly pleased with the result of their call, Mr.
Douglass and Mabel returned to Frankfort.
At length the morning came when Nellie was to start on her journey.
Mr. Wilbur had arrived the night before, together with his sister,
whose marble cheek and lusterless eye even then foretold the lonely
grave which awaited her far away 'neath a foreign sky. Durward and Mr.
Douglass accompanied them as far as Cincinnati, where they took the
cars for Buffalo. Just before it rolled from the depot, a young man
closely muffled, who had been watching our party, sprang into a car
just in the rear of the one they had chosen, and taking the first
vacant seat, abandoned himself to his own thoughts, which must have
been very absorbing, as a violent shake was necessary, ere he heeded
the call of "Your ticket, sir."
Onward, onward flew the train, while faster and faster Nellie's tears
were dropping. They had gushed forth when she saw the quivering chin
and trembling lips of her gray-haired father, as he bade his only child
good-bye, and now that he was gone, she wept on, never heeding her
young friend, who strove in vain to call her attention to the fast
receding hills of Kentucky, which she--Mary--was leaving forever.
Other thoughts than those of her father mingled with Nellie's tears,
for she could not forget John Jr., nor the hope cherished to the last
that he would come to say farewell. But he did not. They had parted
in coldness, if not in anger, and she might never see him again.
"Come, cheer up, Miss Douglass; I cannot suffer you to be so sad," said
Mr. Wilbur, placing himself by Nellie, and thoughtlessly throwing his
arm across the back of the seat, while at the same time he bent
playfully forward to peep under her bonnet.
And Nellie did look up, smiling through her tears, but she did not
observe the flashing eyes which watched her through the window at the
rear of the car. Always restless and impatient of confinement, John
Jr. had come out for a moment upon the platform, ostensibly to take the
air, but really to see if it were possible to get a glimpse of Nellie.
She was sitting not far from the door, and he looked in, just in time
to witness Mr. Wilbur's action, which he of course construed just as
his jealousy dictated.
"Confounded fool!" thought he. "_I_ wouldn't hug Nellie in the cars in
good broad daylight, even if I was married to her!"
And returning to his seat; he wondered which was the silliest, "for
Nellie to run off with Mr. Wilbur, or for himself to run after her.
Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I reckon," said he; at the
same time wrapping himself in his shawl, he feigned sleep at every
station, for the sake of retaining his entire seat, and sometimes if
the crowd was great, going so far as to snore loudly!
And thus they proceeded onward, Nellie never suspecting the close
espionage kept upon her by John Jr., who once in the night, at a
crowded depot, passed so closely to her that he felt her warm breath on
his cheek. And when, on the morning of the 15th, she sailed, she
little thought who it was that followed her down to the water's edge,
standing on the last spot where she had stood, and watching with a
swelling heart the vessel which bore her away.
"I'm nothing better than a walking dead man, now," said he, as he,
retraced his steps back to his hotel. "Nellie's gone, and with her all
for which I lived, for she's the only girl except 'Lena who isn't a
libel on the sex--or, yes--there's Anna--does as well as she knows
how--and there's Mabel, a little simpleton, to be sure, but amiable and
good-natured, and on the whole, as smart as they'll average. 'Twas
kind in her, anyway, to offer to pay 'Lena's music bills."
And with these reflections, John Jr. sought out the men whom he had
come to see, transacted his business, and then started for home, where
he found his mother in unusually good spirits. Matters thus far had
succeeded even beyond her most sanguine expectations. Nellie was gone
to Europe, and the rest she fancied would be easy. 'Lena, too, was
gone, but the result of this was not what she had hoped. Durward had
been at Maple Grove but once since 'Lena left, while she had heard of
his being in Frankfort several times.
"Something must be done"--her favorite expression and in her difficulty
she determined to call upon Mrs. Graham, whom she had not seen since
Christmas. "It is quite time she knew about the gray pony, as well as
other matters," thought she, and ordering the carriage, she set out one
morning for Woodlawn, intending to spend the day if she found its
mistress amiably disposed, which was not always the case.
Mrs. Graham reclined upon a softly-cushioned sofa, her tasteful lace
morning-cap half falling from her head, and her rich cashmere gown
flowing open, so as to reveal the flounced cambric skirt which her
sewing-girl had sat up till midnight to finish. A pair of delicate
French slippers pinched rather than graced her fat feet, one of which
angrily beat the carpet, as if keeping time to its mistress' thoughts.
Nervous and uncomfortable was the lady of Woodlawn this morning, for she
had just passed through a little conjugal scene with her husband, whom
she had called a _brute_, lamenting the dispensation of Providence which
took from her "her beloved Sir Arthur, who always thought whatever she
said was right," and ending by throwing herself in the most theatrical
manner upon the sofa in the parlor, where, with both her blood and
temper at a boiling heat, she lay, when her waiting-maid, but recently
purchased, announced the approach of a carriage.
"Mercy," exclaimed the distressed lady, "whose is it? I hope no one
will ask for me."
"Reckon how it's Marster Livingstone's carriage, 'case thar's Tom on the
box," answered the girl, who had her own private reason for knowing Tom
at any distance.
"Mrs. Livingstone, I'll venture to say," groaned Mrs. Graham, burying
her lace cap and flaxen hair still farther in the silken cushions.
"Just because I stopped there a few days last summer, she thinks she
must run here every week; and there's no way of escaping her. Do shut
that blind; it lets in so much light. There, would you think I'd been
"Lor, no," returned the stupid servant, "Lor, no; I should sooner think
your eyes and face were swelled with _pisen_."
"The Lord help me," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, "you don't begin to know as
much as poor Charlotte did. She was a jewel, and I don't see anything
what she wanted to die for, just as I had got her well trained; but
that's all the thanks I ever get for my goodness. Now go quick, and
tell her I've got an excruciating headache."
"If you please, miss," said the girl, trying in vain to master the big
word, "if you please, give me somethin' shorter, 'case I done forgit
that ar, sartin'."
"Fool! Idiot!" exclaimed Mrs. Graham, hurling, for want of something
better, one of her satin slippers at the woolly head, which dodged out
of the door in time to avoid it.
"Is your mistress at home?" asked Mrs. Livingstone, and Martha,
uncertain what answer she was to make, replied, "Yes--no--I dun know,
'case she done driv me out afore I know'd whether she was at home or
"Martha, show the lady this way," called out Mrs. Graham, who was
listening. "Ah, Mrs. Livingstone, is it you. I'm glad to see you,"
said she, half rising and shading her swollen eyes with her hand, as if
the least effort were painful. "You must excuse my dishabille, for I am
suffering from a bad headache, and when Martha said some one had come, I
thought at first I could not see them, but you are always welcome. How
have you been this long time, and why have you neglected me so, when you
know how I must feel the change from Louisville, where I was constantly
in society, to this dreary neighborhood?" and the lady lay back upon the
sofa, exhausted with and astonished at her own eloquence.
Mrs. Livingstone was quite delighted with her friend's unusual
cordiality, and seating herself in the large easy-chair, began to make
herself very agreeable, offering to bathe Mrs. Graham's aching head,
which kind offer the lady declined, bethinking herself of sundry gray
hairs, which a close inspection would single out from among her flaxen
"Are your family all well?" she asked; to which Mrs. Livingstone replied
that they were, at the same time speaking of her extreme loneliness
since Mabel left them.
"Ah, you mean the little dark-eyed brunette, whom I saw with you at my
party. She was a nice-looking girl--showed that she came of a good
family. I think everything of that. I believe I'd rather Durward would
marry a poor aristocrat, than a wealthy plebeian--one whose family were
low and obscure."
Mrs. Livingstone wondered what she thought of her family, the
Livingstones. The Richards' blood she knew was good, but the Nichols'
was rather doubtful. Still, she would for once make the best of it, so
she hastened to say that few American ladies were so fortunate as Mrs.
Graham had been in marrying a noble man. "In this country we have no
nobility, you know," said she, "and any one who gets rich and into good
society, is classed with the first."
"Yes, I know," returned Mrs. Graham, "but in my mind there's a great
difference. Now, Mr. Graham's ancestors boast of the best blood of
South Carolina, while my family, everybody knows, was one of the first
in Virginia, so if Durward had been Mr. Graham's son instead of Sir
Arthur's, I should be just as proud of him, just as particular whom he
"Certainly," answered Mrs. Livingstone, a little piqued, for there was
something in Mrs. Graham's manner which annoyed her--"certainly--I
understand you. I neither married a nobleman, nor one of the best
bloods of South Carolina, and still I should not be willing for my son
to marry--let me see--well, say 'Lena Rivers."
"'Lena Rivers !" repeated Mrs. Graham--"why, I would not suffer Durward
to look at her, if I could help it. She's of a horridly low family on
both sides, as I am told."
This was a home thrust which Mrs. Livingstone could not endure quietly,
and as she had no wish to defend the royalty of a family which she
herself despised, she determined to avenge the insult by making her
companion as uncomfortable as possible. So she said, "Perhaps you are
not aware that your son's attentions to this same 'Lena Rivers, are
becoming somewhat marked."
"No, I was not aware of it," and the greenish-gray eyes fastened
inquiringly upon Mrs. Livingstone, who continued: "It is nevertheless
true, and as I can appreciate your feelings, I thought it might not be
out of place for me to warn you."
"Thank you," returned Mrs. Graham, now raising herself upon her elbow,
"Thank you---but do you know anything positive? What has Durward done?"
"'Lena is in Frankfort now, at Mr. Douglass's," answered Mrs.
Livingstone, "and your son is in the constant habit of visiting there;
besides that, he invited her to ride with him when they all went to
Frankfort--'Lena upon the gray pony which your husband gave her as a
Mrs. Livingstone had touched the right spot. 'Twas the first intimation
of Vesta which Mrs. Graham had received, and now sitting bolt upright,
she demanded what Mrs. Livingstone meant. "My husband give 'Lena Rivers
a pony! Harry Graham do such a thing! It can't be possible. There
must be some mistake."
"I think not," returned Mrs. Livingstone. "Your son came over with it,
saying 'it was a present from his father, who sent it, together with his
Back among her cushions tumbled Mrs. Graham, moaning, groaning, and
pronouncing herself wholly heart-broken. "I knew he was bad," said she,
"but I never dreamed it had come to this. And I might have known it,
too, for from the moment he first saw that girl, he has acted like a
crazy creature. Talks about her in his sleep--wants me to adopt
her--keeps his eyes on her every minute when he's where she is; and to
crown all, without consulting me, his lawful wife, he has made her a
present, which must have cost more than a hundred dollars! And she
accepted it--the vixen!"
"That's the worst feature in the case," said Mrs. Livingstone. "I have
always been suspicious of 'Lena, knowing what her mother was, but I must
confess I did not think her quite so presumptuous as to accept so costly
a present from a gentleman, and a married one, too. But she has a
peculiar way of making them think what she does is right, and neither my
husband nor John Jr. can see any impropriety in her keeping Vesta.
Carrie wouldn't have done such a thing."
"Indeed she wouldn't. She is too well-bred for that," said Mrs. Graham,
who had been completely won by Carrie's soft speeches and fawning manner.
This compliment to her daughter pleased Mrs. Livingstone, who
straightway proceeded to build Carrie up still higher, by pulling 'Lena
down. Accordingly, every little thing which she could remember, and
many which she could not, were told in an aggravated manner, until quite
a case was made out, and 'Lena would never have recognized herself in
the artful, designing creature which her aunt kindly pictured her to be.
"Of course," said she, "if you ever repeat this, you will not use my
name, for as she is my husband's niece it will not look well in me to be
proclaiming her vices, except in cases where I think it my duty."
Mrs. Graham was too much absorbed in her own reflections to make a
reply, and as Mrs. Livingstone saw that her company was hardly desired,
she soon arose to go, asking Mrs. Graham "why she did not oftener visit
When Mrs. Graham felt uncomfortable, she liked to make others so, too,
and to her friend's question she answered, "I may as well be plain as
not, and to tell you the truth, I should enjoy visiting you very much,
were it not for one thing. That mother of yours----"
"Of my husband's," interrupted Mrs. Livingstone and Mrs. Graham
continued just where she left off.
"Annoys me exceedingly, by eternally tracing in me a resemblance to some
down-east creature or other--what is her name--Sco--Sco--Scovandyke;
yes, that's it--Scovandyke. Of course it's not pleasant for me to be
told every time I meet your mother----"
"Mr. Livingstone's mother," again interrupted the lady.
"That I look like some of her acquaintances, for I contend that families
of high birth bear with them marks which cannot be mistaken."
"Certainly, certainly," said Mrs. Livingstone, adding, that "she was
herself continually annoyed by Mrs. Nichols's vulgarity, but her husband
insisted that she should come to the table, so what could she do?"
And mutually troubled, the one about her husband, and the other about
her husband's mother, the two amiable ladies parted.
Scarcely was Mrs. Livingstone gone when Mr. Graham entered the room,
finding his wife, who had heard his footsteps, in violent hysterics. He
had seen her so too often to be alarmed, and was about to pull the
bellrope, when she found voice to bid him desist, saying it was himself
who was killing her by inches, and that the sooner she was dead, the
better she supposed he would like it. "But, for my sake," she added, in
a kind of howl, between crying and scolding, "do try to behave yourself
during the short time I have to live, and not go to giving away ponies,
and mercy knows what."
Now, Mr. Graham was not conscious of having looked at a lady, except
through the window, for many days, and when his wife first attacked him,
he was at a great loss to understand; but as she proceeded it all became
plain, and on the whole, he felt glad that the worst was over. He would
not acknowledge, even to himself, that he was afraid of his wife, still
he had a little rather she would not always know what he did. He
supposed, as a matter of course, that she would, earlier or later, hear
of his present to 'Lena, and he well knew that such an event would
surely be followed by a storm, but after what had taken place between
them that morning, he did not expect so much feeling, for he had thought
her wrath nearly expended. But Mrs. Graham was capable of great
things--as she proved on this occasion, taunting her husband with his
preference for 'Lena, accusing him of loving her better than he did
herself, and asking him plainly, if it were not so.
"Say," she continued, stamping her foot (the one without a slipper),
"say--I will be answered. Don't you like 'Lena better than you do me?"
Mr. Graham was provoked beyond endurance, and to the twice repeated
question, he at length replied, "God knows I've far more reason to love
her than I have you." At the same moment he left the room, in time to
avoid a sight of the collapsed state into which his horrified wife who
did not expect such an answer, had fallen.
"Can I tell her? oh, dare I tell her?" he thought, as he wiped the drops
of perspiration from his brow, and groaned in the bitterness of his
spirit. Terribly was he expiating his fault, but at last he grew
calmer, and cowardice (for he was cowardly, else he had never been what
he was) whispered, "Wait yet awhile. Anything for domestic peace."
So the secret was buried still deeper in his bosom, he never thinking
how his conduct would in the end injure the young girl, dearer to him
far than his own life. While he sat thus alone in his room, and as his
wife lay upon her sofa, Durward entered the parlor and began
good-humoredly to rally his mother upon her wobegone face, asking what
was the matter now.
"Oh, you poor boy, you," she sobbed, "you'll soon have no mother to go
to, but you must attribute my death wholly to your stepfather, who alone
will be to blame for making you an orphan!"
Durward knew his mother well, and he thought he knew his father too, and
while he respected him, he blamed her for the unreasonable whims of
which he was becoming weary. He knew there had been a jar in the
morning, but he had supposed that settled, and now, when he found his
mother ten times worse than ever, he felt half vexed, and said, "Do be a
woman mother, and not give way to such fancies. I really wonder father
shows as much patience with you as he does, for you make our home very
unpleasant; and really," he continued, in a laughing tone, "if this goes
on much longer, I shall, in self-defense, get me a wife and horns of my
"And if report is true, that wife will be 'Lena Rivers," said Mrs.
Graham, in order to try him.
"Very likely--I can't tell what may be," was his answer; to which Mrs.
Graham replied, "that it would be extremely pleasant to marry a bride
with whom one's father was in love."
"How ridiculous!" Durward exclaimed. "As though my father cared aught
for 'Lena, except to admire her for her beauty and agreeable manners."
"But, he's acknowledged it. He's just told me, 'God knew he loved her
better than he did me.' What do you think of that?"
"Did Mr. Graham say that?" asked Durward, looking his mother directly in
"Yes he did, not fifteen minutes before you came in, and it's not a
secret either. Others know it and talk about it. Think of his giving
her that pony."
Durward was taken by surprise. Knowing none of the circumstances, he
felt deeply pained at his father's remark. He had always supposed he
liked 'Lena, and he was glad of it, too, but to love her more than his
own wife, was a different thing, and for the first time in his life
Durward distrusted his father. Still, 'Lena was not to blame; there was
comfort in that, and that very afternoon found him again at her side,
admiring her more and more, and learning each time he saw her to love
her better. And she--she dared not confess to herself how dear he was
to her--she dared not hope her affection was returned. She could not
think of the disappointment the future might bring, so she lived on the
present, waiting anxiously for his coming, and striving hard to do the
things which she thought would please him best.
True to her promise, Mabel had commenced giving her instructions upon
the piano, and they were in the midst of their first lesson, when who
should walk in, but Monsieur Du Pont, bowing, and saying "he had been
hired by von nice gentleman, to give Mademoiselle Rivers lessons in
'Lena immediately thought of her uncle, who had once proposed her
sharing in the instructions of her cousin, but who, as usual, was
overruled by his wife.
"'Twas my uncle, was it not?" she asked of Du Pont, who replied, "I
promised not to tell. He say, though, he connected with mademoiselle."
And 'Lena, thinking it was of course Mr. Livingstone, who, on his wife's
account, wished it a secret, readily consented to receive Du Pont as a
teacher in place of Mabel, who still expressed her willingness to assist
her whenever it was necessary. Naturally fond of music, 'Lena's
improvement was rapid, and when she found how gratified Durward
appeared, she redoubled her exertions, practicing always five, and
sometimes six hours a day.
A FATHER'S LOVE.
When it was known at Maple Grove that 'Lena was taking lessons of Du
Pont, it was naturally supposed that Mabel, as she had first
proposed, paid the bills.
"Mighty kind in her, and no mistake," said John Jr., throwing aside
the stump of a cigar which he had been smoking, and thinking to
himself that "Mabel was a nice girl, after all."
The next day, finding the time hang heavily upon his hands, he
suddenly wondered why he had never thought to call upon 'Lena. "To
be sure, I'll feel awfully to go where Nellie used to be, and know
she is not there, but it's lonesomer than a graveyard here, and I'm
bound to do something."
So saying, he mounted Firelock and started off, followed by no
regrets from his mother or sisters, for since Nellie went away he had
been intolerably cross and fault-finding. He found a servant in the
door, so he was saved the trouble of ringing, and entering
unannounced, walked noiselessly to the parlor-door, which was ajar.
'Lena, as usual, sat at the piano, wholly absorbed, while over her
bent Mabel, who was assisting her in the lesson, speaking
encouragingly, and patiently helping her through all the difficult
places. Mabel's health was improved since first we saw her, and
though she was still plain--ugly, many would say--there was something
pleasing in her face, and in the expression of her black, eyes, which
looked down so kindly upon 'Lena. John Jr. noticed it, and never
before had Mabel appeared to so good advantage to him as she did at
that moment, as he watched her through the open door.
At last the lesson was finished, and rising up, 'Lena said, "I know I
should never learn if it were not for you," at the same time winding
her arm about Mabel's neck and kissing her glowing cheek.
"Let me have a share of that," exclaimed John Jr., stepping forward
and clasping both the girls in his arms ere they were aware of his
With a gay laugh they shook him off, and 'Lena, leading him to the
sofa, sat down beside him, asking numerous questions about home and
her grandmother. John answered them all, and then, oh how he longed
to ask if there had come any tidings of the absent one; but he would
not--she had left him of her own accord, and he had sworn never to
inquire for her. So he sat gazing dreamily upon her piano, the chair
she used to occupy and the books she used to read, until 'Lena,
either divining his thoughts, or fancying he would wish to know,
said, "We've not heard from Nellie since she left us."
"You didn't expect to, so soon, I suppose," was John's indifferent
"Why, no, not unless they chanced to speak a ship. I wish they'd
taken a steamer instead of a sailing vessel," said 'Lena.
"I suppose Mr. Wilbur had an eye upon the long, cosy chats he could
have with Nellie, looking out upon the sea," was John's answer, while
Mabel quickly rejoined, that "he had chosen a sailing vessel solely
on Mary's account."
In the midst of their conversation, the door-bell rang; and a moment
after, Durward was ushered into the parlor. "He was in town on
business," he said, "and thought he would call."
Scarcely had he taken his seat, when again the door opened, this time
admitting Mr. Graham, who was returning from Louisville, and had also
found it convenient to call. Involuntarily Durward glanced toward
'Lena, but her face was as calm and unruffled as if the visitor had
been her uncle.
"All right there," thought he, and withdrawing his eyes from her, he
fixed them upon his father, who he fancied seemed somewhat
disconcerted when he saw him there. Mentally blaming himself for the
distrust which he felt rising within him, he still determined to
watch, and judge for himself how far his mother's suspicions were
correct. Taking up a book which lay near, he pretended to be
reading, while all the time his thoughts were elsewhere. It was
'Lena's lesson-day, and erelong Du Pont came in, appearing both
pleased and surprised when he saw Mr. Graham.
"I hope you don't expect me to expose my ignorance before all these
people," said 'Lena, as Du Pont motioned her to the stool.
"Suppose we adjourn to another room," said Mabel, leading the way and
followed by John Jr. only.
Durward at first thought of leaving also, and arose to do so, but on
observing that his father showed no intention of going, he resumed
his seat and book, poring over the latter as intently as if it had
not been wrong side up!
"Does monsieur incline to stay," asked Du Pont, as Mr. Graham took
his station at the end of the piano.
"Certainly," answered Mr. Graham, "unless Miss Rivers insists upon my
leaving, which I am sure she would not do if she knew how much
interest I take in her progress."
So, during the entire lesson, Mr. Graham stood there, his eyes fixed
upon 'Lena with a look which puzzled Durward, who from behind his
book was watching him. Admiration, affection, pity and remorse, all
seemed mingled in the expression of his face, and as Durward watched,
he felt that there was a something which he could not fathom.
"I never knew he was so fond of music," thought he--"I mean to put
him to the test."
Accordingly, when Du Pont was gone, he asked Mabel, who he knew was
an excellent pianist, to favor him with one of her very best
pieces--"something lively and new which will wake us up," said he.
Mabel would greatly have preferred remaining with John Jr., but she
was habitually polite, always playing when invited, and now taking
her seat at the piano, she brought out sounds far different from
those of a new performer. But Mr. Graham, if he heard it, did not
heed it, his eyes and ears being alone for 'Lena. Seating himself
near her, he commenced talking to her in an undertone, apparently
oblivious to everything else around him, and it was not until Durward
twice asked how he liked Mabel's playing, that he heard a note.
Then, starting up and going toward the instrument, he said, "Ah, yes,
that was a fine march, ('twas the 'Rainbow Schottish,' then new,)
please repeat it, or something just like it!"
Durward bit his lip, while Mabel, in perfect good humor, dashed off
into a spirited quickstep, receiving but little attention from Mr.
Graham, who seemed in a strange mood to-day, scribbling upon a piece
of white paper which lay upon the piano, and of which Durward managed
to get possession, finding thereon the name, "Helena Nichols," to
which was added that of "Rivers," the Nichols being crossed out. It
would seem as if both father and son were determined each to outstay
the other, for hour after hour went by and neither spoke of leaving,
although John Jr. had been gone some time. At last, as the sun was
setting, Durward arose to go, asking if his father contemplated
spending the night; "and if so," said he, with a meaning in his
manner, "where shall I tell my mother I left you?"
This roused Mr. Graham, who said he was only waiting for his son to
start, adding, that "he could not find it in his heart to tear him
away from two so agreeable ladies, for he well remembered the
weakness of his own youth."
"In your second youth, now, I fancy," thought Durward, watching him
as he bade 'Lena and Mabel goodbye, and not failing to see how much
longer he held the hand of the former than he did of the latter.
"Does she see as I do, or not?" thought he, as he took the hand his
father dropped, and looked earnestly into the clear, brown eyes,
which returned his inquiring glance with one open and innocent as a
"All right here," again thought Durward, slightly pressing the soft,
warm hand he held in his own, and smiling down upon her when he saw
how quickly that pressure brought the tell-tale blood to her cheek.
* * * * *
"Durward," said Mr. Graham, after they were out of the city, "I have
a request to make of you."
The answer was very short and it was several minutes ere Mr. Graham
"You know your mother as well as I do----"
Another silence, and Mr. Graham continued; "You know how groundlessly
jealous she is of me--and it may be just as well for her not to know
Here he paused, and Durward finished the sentence for him.
"Just as well for her not to know that you've spent the afternoon
with 'Lena Rivers; is that it?"
"That's it--yes--yes"--answered Mr. Graham, adding, ere Durward had
time to utter the angry words which he felt rising within him, "I
wish you'd marry 'Lena."
This was so sudden--so different from anything which Durward had
expected, that he was taken quite by surprise, and it was some little
time ere he answered,
"Perhaps I shall."
"I wish you would," continued Mr. Graham, "I'd willingly give every
dollar I'm worth for the privilege of calling her my daughter."
Durward was confounded, and knew not what to think. If his father
had an undue regard for 'Lena, why should he wish to see her the wife
of another, and that other his son? Was it his better and nobler
nature struggling to save her from evil, which prompted the wish?
Durward hoped so--he believed so; and the confidence which had so
recently been shaken was fully restored, when, by the light of the
hall lamp at home, he saw how white and almost ghostly was the face
which, ere they entered the drawing-room, turned imploringly upon
him, asking him "to be careful."
Mrs. Graham had been in a fit of the sulks ever since the morning of
Mrs. Livingstone's call, and now, though she had not seen her husband
for several days, she merely held out her hand, turning her head,
meantime, and replying to his questions in a low, quiet kind of a
much-injured-woman way, as provoking as it was uncalled for.
* * * * *
"Father's suggestion was a good one," thought Durward, when he had
retired to rest. "'Lena is too beautiful to be alone in the world.
I will propose to her at once, and she will thus be out of danger."
But what should he do with her? Should he bring her there to
Woodlawn, where scarcely a day passed without some domestic storm?
No, his home should be full of sunlight, of music and flowers, where
no angry word or darkening frown could ever find entrance; and thus
dreaming of a blissful future, when 'Lena should be his bride, he
In this chapter it may not be out of place to introduce an individual
who, though not a very important personage, is still in some degree
connected with our story. On the night when Durward and his father
were riding home from Frankfort, the family at Maple Grove, with the
exception of grandma, were as usual assembled in the parlor. John
Jr. had returned, and purposely telling his mother and Carrie whom he
had left with 'Lena, had succeeded in putting them both into an
uncomfortable humor, the latter secretly lamenting the mistake which
she had committed in suffering 'Lena to stay with Mabel. But it
could not be remedied now. There was no good reason for calling her
home, and the lady broke at least three cambric-needles in her
vigorous jerks at the handkerchief she was hemming.
A heavy tread upon the piazza, a loud ring of the bell, and Carrie
straightened up, thinking it might possibly be Durward, who had
called on his way home, but the voice was strange, and rather
impatiently she waited.
"Does Mr. John Livingstone live here?" asked the stranger of the
negro who answered the summons.
"Yes, sir," answered the servant, eyeing the new comer askance.
"And is old Miss Nichols and Helleny to hum?"
The negro grinned, answering in the affirmative, and asking the young
man to walk in.
"Wall, guess I will," said he, advancing a few steps toward the
parlor door. Then suddenly halting, he added, more to himself than
to the negro, "Darned if I don't go the hull figger, and send in my
card as they do to Boston."
So saying, he drew from his pocket an embossed card, and bending his
knee for a table, he wrote with sundry nourishes, "Mr. Joel Slocum,
Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts."
"There, hand that to your _boss_," said he, "and tell him I'm out in
the entry." At the same time he stepped before the hat-stand,
rubbing up his oily hair, and thinking "Mr. Joel Slocum would make an
"Who is it, Ben ?" whispered Carrie.
"Dunno, miss," said the negro, passing the card to his master, and
waiting in silence for his orders.
"Mr. Joel Slocum, Esq., Slocumville, Massachusetts," slowly read Mr.
Livingstone, wondering where he had heard that name before.
"Who?" simultaneously asked Carrie and Anna, while their mother
looked wonderingly up.
Instantly John Jr. remembered 'Lena's love-letter, and anticipating
fun, exclaimed, "Show him in, Ben--show him in."
While Ben is showing him in, we will introduce him more fully to our
readers, promising that the picture is not overdrawn, but such as we
saw it in our native state. Joel belonged to that extreme class of
Yankees with which we sometimes, though not often meet. Brought up
among the New England mountains, he was almost wholly ignorant of
what really belonged to good manners, fancying that he knew
everything, and sneering at those of his acquaintance who, being of a
more quiet turn of mind, were content to settle down in the home of
their fathers, caring little or nothing for the world without. But
as for him, "he was bound," he said, "to see the elephant, and if his
brothers were green enough to stay tied to their mother's apron
strings, they might do it, but he wouldn't. No, _sir_! he was going
to make something of himself."
To effect this, about two years before the time of which we are
speaking, he went to Boston to learn the art of daguerreotype-taking,
in which he really did seem to excel, returning home with some money,
a great deal of vanity, and a strong propensity to boast of what he
had seen. Recollections of 'Lena, his early, and, as he
sentimentally expressed it, "his undying, all-enduring" love, still
haunted him, and at last he determined upon a tour to Kentucky,
purchasing for the occasion a rather fantastic suit, consisting of
greenish pants, blue coat, red vest, and yellow neck-handkerchief.
These he laid carefully by in his trunk until he reached Lexington,
where he intended stopping for a time, hanging out a naming sign,
which announced his presence and capabilities.
After spending a few days in the city, endeavoring to impress its
inhabitants with a sense of his consequence, and mentally styling
them all "Know Nothings," be-cause they did not seem to be more
affected, he one afternoon donned his best suit, and started for Mr.
Livingstone's, thinking he should create a sensation there, for
wasn't he as good as anybody? Didn't he learn his trade in Boston,
the very center and source of all the _isms_ of the day, and ought
not Mr. Livingstone to feel proud of such a guest, and wouldn't 'Lena
stare when she saw him so much improved from what he was when they
picked _checkerberries_ together?
With this comfortable opinion of himself, it is not at all probable
that he felt any misgivings when Ben ushered him at once into the
presence of Mr. Livingstone's family, who stared at him in unfeigned
astonishment. Nothing daunted, he went through with the five changes
of a bow, which he had learned at a dancing-school, bringing himself
up finally in front of Mr. Livingstone, and exclaiming,
"How-dy-do?--Mr. Livingstone, I 's'pose, it comes more natural to say
cousin John, I've heard Miss Nichols and Aunt Nancy talk of you since
I was knee high, and seems as how you must be related. How is the
old lady, and Helleny, too? I don't see 'em here, though I thought,
at fust, this might be her," nodding to Anna.
Mr. Livingstone was confounded, while his wife had strong intentions
of ordering the intruder from the room, but John Jr. had no such
idea. He liked the fun, and now coming forward, said, "Mr. Slocum,
as your card indicates, allow me the pleasure of presenting you to my
mother--and sisters," at the same time ringing the bell, he ordered a
servant to go for his grandmother.
"Ah, ladies, how-dy-do? Hope you are well till we are better
acquainted," said Joel, bowing low, and shaking out the folds of his
red silk handkerchief, strongly perfumed with peppermint.
Mrs. Livingstone did not even nod, Carrie but slightly, while Anna
said, "Good-evening, Mr. Slocum."
Quickly observing Mrs. Livingstone's silence, Joel turned to John
Jr., saying, "Don't believe she heard you--deaf, mebby?"
John Jr. nodded, and at that moment grandma appeared, in a great
flurry to know who wanted to see her.
Instantly seizing her hand, Joel exclaimed, "Now Aunt Martha, if this
ain't good for sore eyes. How _do_ you do ?"
"Pretty well, pretty well," she returned, "but you've got the better
of me, for I don't know more'n the dead who you be."
"Now how you talk," said Joel. "If this don't beat all my fust
wife's relations. Why, I should have known you if I'd met you in a
porridge-pot. But then, I s'pose I've altered for the better since I
see you. Don't you remember Joel Slocum, that used to have kind of a
snickerin' notion after Helleny?"
"Why-ee, I guess I do," answered grandma, again seizing his hand.
"Where did you come from, and why didn't your Aunt Nancy come with
"'Tilda, this is Nancy Scovandyke's sister's boy. Caroline and Anny,
this is Joel; you've heard tell of him."
"I've been introduced, thank you," said Joel, taking a seat near
Carrie, who haughtily gathered up the ample folds of her dress, lest
it should be polluted.
"Bashful critter, but she'll get over it by the time she's seen as
much of the world as I have," soliloquized Joel; at the same time
thinking to make some advances, he hitched a little nearer, and
taking hold of a strip of embroidery on which she was engaged, he
said, "Now, du tell, if they've got to workin' with floss way down
here. Waste of time, I tell 'em, this makin' holes for the sake of
sewin' 'em up. But law!" he added, as he saw the deepening scowl on
Carrie's face, "wimmin may jest as well by putterin' about that as
anything else, for their time ain't nothin' moren' an old settin'
This speech called forth the first loud roar in which John Jr. had
indulged since Nellie went away, and now settling back in his chair,
he gave vent to his feelings in peals of laughter, in which Joel also
joined, thinking he'd said something smart. When at last he'd
finished laughing, he thought again of 'Lena, and turning to Mrs.
Livingstone, asked where she was, raising his voice to a high key on
account of her supposed deafness.
"Did you speak to me?" asked the lady, with a look which she meant
should annihilate him, and in a still louder tone Joel repeated his
question, asking Anna, aside, if her mother had ever tried
"McAllister's All-Healing Ointment," for her deafness, saying it had
"nighly cured his grandmother when she was several years older than
"Much obliged for your prescription, which, fortunately, I do not
need," said Mrs. Livingstone, angrily, while Joel thought, "how
strange it was that deaf people would always hear in the wrong time!"
"Mother don't seem inclined to answer your question concerning
'Lena," said John Jr., "so I will do it for her. She is in
Frankfort, taking music lessons. You used to know her, I believe."
"Lud, yes! I chased her once with a streaked snake, and if she
didn't put 'er through, then I'm no 'Judge. Takin' music lessons, is
she? I'd give a fo' pence to hear her play."
"Are you fond of music?" asked John Jr., in hopes of what followed.
"Wall, I wouldn't wonder much if I was," answered Joel, taking a
tuning-fork from his pocket and striking it upon the table. "I've
kep' singin' school one term, besides leadin' the Methodis' choir in
Slocumville: so I orto know a little somethin' about it."
"Perhaps you play, and if so, we'd like to hear you," continued John
Jr., in spite of the deprecating glance cast upon him by Carrie.
"Not such a dreadful sight," answered Joel, sauntering toward the
piano and drumming a part of "Auld Lang Syne." "Not such a dreadful
sight, but I guess these girls do. Come, girls, play us a jig, won't
"Go, Cad, it won't hurt you," whispered John, but Carrie was
immovable, and at last, Anna, who entered more into her brother's
spirit, took her seat at the instrument, asking what he would have.
"Oh, give us 'Money Musk,' 'Hail Columby,' 'Old Zip Coon,' or
anything to raise a feller's ideas."
Fortunately, Anna's forte lay in playing old music, which she
preferred to more modern pieces, and, Joel was soon beating time to
the lively strains of "Money Musk."
"Wall, I declare," said he, when it was ended, "I don't see but what
you Kentucky gals play most as well as they do to hum. I didn't
s'pose many on you ever seen a pianner. Come," turning to Carrie,
"less see what you can do. Mebby you'll beat her all holler," and he
offered his hand to Carrie, who rather petulantly said she "must be
"Oh, get out," he continued. "You needn't feel so bashful, for I
shan't criticise you very hard. I know how to feel fer new
"Have you been to supper, Mr. Slocum ?" asked Mr. Livingstone,
pitying Carrie, and wishing to put an end to the performance.
"No, I hain't, and I'm hungrier than a bear," answered Joel,
whereupon Mrs. Nichols, thinking he was her guest, arose, saying she
would see that he had some.
When both were gone to the dining-room, Mrs. Livingstone's wrath
"That's what comes of harboring your relatives," said she, looking
indignantly upon her husband, and adding that she hoped "the insolent
fellow did not intend staying all night, for if he did he couldn't."
"Do you propose turning him into the street?" asked Mr. Livingstone,
looking up from his paper.
"I don't propose anything, except that he won't stay in my house, and
you needn't ask him."
"I hardly think an invitation is necessary, for I presume he expects
to stay," returned Mr. Livingstone; while John Jr. rejoined, "Of
course he does, and if mother doesn't find him a room, I shall take
him in with me, besides going to Frankfort with him to-morrow."
This was enough, for Mrs. Livingstone would do almost anything rather
than have her son seen in the city with that specimen. Accordingly,
when the hour for retiring arrived, she ordered Corinda to show him
into the "east chamber," a room used for her common kind of visitors,
but which Joel pronounced "as neat as a fiddle."
The next morning he announced his intention of visiting Frankfort,
proposing to grandma that she should accompany him, and she was about
making up her mind to do so, when 'Lena and Mabel both appeared in
the yard. They had come out for a ride, they said, and finding the
morning so fine, had extended their excursion as far as Maple Grove,
sending their servant back to tell where they were going. With his
usual assurance, Joel advanced toward 'Lena, greeting her tenderly,
and whispering in her ear that "he found she was greatly improved as
well as himself," while 'Lena wondered in what the improvement
consisted. She had formerly known him as a great, overgrown,
good-natured boy, and now she saw him a "conceited gawky." Still, her
manner was friendly toward him, for he had come from her old home,
had breathed the air of her native hills, and she well remembered
how, years ago, he had with her planted and watered the flowers which
he told her were still growing at her mother's grave.
And yet there was something about her which puzzled Joel, who felt
that the difference between them was great. He was disappointed, and
the declaration which he had fully intended making was left until
another time, when, as he thought, "he shouldn't be so confounded shy
of her." His quarters, too, at Maple Grove were not the most
pleasant, for no one noticed him except grandma and John Jr., and
with the conviction that "the Kentuckians didn't know what politeness
meant," he ordered his horse after dinner, and started back to
Lexington, inviting all the family to call and "set for their
picters," saying that "seein' 'twas them, he'd take 'em for half
As he was leaving the piazza, he turned back, and drawing a large,
square case from his pocket, passed it to 'Lena, saying it was a
daguerreotype of her mountain home, which he had taken on purpose for
her, forgetting to give it to her until that minute. The look of joy
which lighted up 'Lena's face made Joel almost repent of not having
said to her what he intended to, but thinking he would wait till next
time, he started off, his heart considerably lightened by her warm
thanks for his thoughtfulness.
"Look, grandmother!--a picture of our old home. Isn't it natural?"
exclaimed Lena, as she ran back to the parlor.
Yes, it was natural, and the old lady's tears gushed forth the moment
she looked upon it. There was the well, the garden, the gate
partially open, the barn in the rear, now half fallen down, the
curtain of the west window rolled up as it was wont to be, while on
the doorstep, basking in the warm sunshine, lay a cat, which Mrs.
Nichols' declared was hers.
"John ought to see this," said she, wiping the tears from her eyes,
and turning towards the door, which at that moment opened, admitting
her son, together with Mr. Graham, who had accidentally called.
"Look here, John," said she, calling him to her side--"Do you
The deep flush which mounted to John's brow, showed that he did, and
his mother, passing it toward Mr. Graham, continued: "It is our old
home in Massachusetts. There's the room where John and Helleny both
were born, and where Helleny and her father died. Oh, it seems but
yesterday since she died, and they carried her out of this door, and
down the road, there--do you see?"
This question, was addressed to Mr. Graham, who, whether he saw or
not, made no answer, but walked to the window and looked out, upon
the prospect beyond, which for him had no attractions then. The
sight of that daguerreotype had stirred up many bitter memories, and
for some time he stood gazing vacantly through the window, and
thinking--who shall say of what? It would seem that the
daguerreotype possessed a strong fascination for him, for after it
had been duly examined and laid down, he took it in his hand,
inspecting it minutely, asking where it was taken, and if it would be
possible to procure a similar one.
"I have a fancy for such scenes," said he, "and would like to have
just such a picture. Mr. Slocum is stopping in Lexington, you say.
He can take one from this, I suppose. I mean to see him;" and with
his usual good-morning, he departed.
Two weeks from this time Durward again went down to Frankfort,
determining, if a favorable opportunity presented itself, to offer
'Lena his heart and fortune.
He found her alone, Mabel having gone out to spend the day. For a
time they conversed together on indifferent topics, each one of which
was entirely foreign from that which lay nearest Durward's heart. At
last the conversation turned upon Joel Slocum, of whose visit Durward
"I really think, 'Lena," said he, laughingly, "that you ought to
patronize the poor fellow, who has come all this distance for the
sake of seeing you. Suppose you have your daguerreotype taken for
me, will you?"
Durward was in earnest, but with a playful shake of her brown curls,
'Lena answered lightly, "Oh, no, no. I have never had my picture
taken in my life, and I shan't begin with Joel."
"Never had it taken!" repeated Durward, in some surprise.
"No, never," said 'Lena, and Durward continued drawing her nearer to
him, "It is time you had, then. So have it taken for me. I mean
what I say," he continued, as he met the glance of her merry eyes.
"There is nothing I should prize more than your miniature, except,
indeed the original, which you will not refuse me, when I ask it,
'Lena's mirth was all gone--she knew he was in earnest now. She felt
it in the pressure of his arm, which encircled her waist; she saw it
in his eye, and heard it in the tones of his voice. But what should
she say? Closer he drew her to his side; she felt his breath upon
her cheek; and an inaudible answer trembled on her lips, when
noiselessly through the door came _Mr. Graham_, starting when he saw
their position, and offering to withdraw if he was intruding. 'Lena
was surprised and excited, and springing up, she laid her hand upon
his arm as he was about to leave the room, bidding him stay and
saying he was always welcome there.
So he stayed, and with the first frown upon his brow which 'Lena had
ever seen, Durward left--left without receiving an answer to his
question, or even referring to it again, though 'Lena accompanied him
to the door, half dreading, yet hoping, he would repeat it. But he
did not, and wishing her much pleasure in his father's company, he
walked away, writing in his heart bitter things against _him_, not
her. On his way home he fell in with Du Pont, who, Frenchman-like,
had taken a little too much wine, and was very talkative.
"Vous just come from Mademoiselle Rivers," said he. "She be von fine
girl. What relation be she to Monsieur Graham?"
"None whatever. Why do you ask?"
"Because he pay her musique lessons and----"
Here Du Pont suddenly remembered his promise, so he kept back Mr.
Graham's assertion that he was a near relative, adding in its place,
that "he thought probable he related; but you no tell," said he, "for
Monsieur bid me keep secret and I forgot."
Here, having reached a cross-road, they parted, and again Durward
wrote down bitter things against his father, for what could be his
object in wishing it kept a secret that he was paying for 'Lena's
lessons, or why did he pay for them at all--and did 'Lena know it?
He thought not, and for a time longer was she blameless in his eyes.
On reaching home he found both the parlor and drawing-room deserted,
and upon inquiry learned that his mother was in her own room.
Something, he could hardly tell what, prompted him to knock for
admission, which being granted, he entered, finding her unusually
pale, with the trace of tears still upon her cheek. This of itself
was so common an occurrence, that he would hardly have observed it
had not there been about her a look of unfeigned distress which he
had seldom seen before.
"What's the matter, mother?" said he, advancing toward her; "What has
happened to trouble you?"
Without any reply, Mrs. Graham placed in his hand a richly-cased
daguerreotype, and laying her head upon the table, sobbed aloud. A
moment Durward stood transfixed to the spot, for on opening the case,
the fair, beautiful face of 'Lena Rivers looked smilingly out upon
"Where did you get this, mother?--how came you by it?" he asked, and
she answered, that in looking through her husband's private drawer,
the key of which she had accidentally found in his vest pocket, she
had come upon it, together with a curl of soft chestnut-brown hair
which she threw across Durward's finger, and from which he recoiled
as from a viper's touch.
For several minutes not a word was spoken by either, and then Mrs.
Graham, looking him in the face, said, "You recognize that
countenance, of course?"
"I do," he replied, in a voice husky with emotion, for Durward was
Twice had 'Lena asserted that never in her life had her daguerreotype
been taken, and yet he held it in his hands; there was no mistaking
it--the same broad, open brow--the same full, red lips--the same
smile--and more than all, the same clustering ringlets, though
arranged a little differently from what she usually wore them, the
hair on the picture being combed smoothly over the forehead, while
'Lena's was generally brushed up after the style of the prevailing
fashion. Had Durward examined minutely, he might have found other
points of difference, but he did not think of that. A look had
convinced him that 'twas 'Lena--his 'Lena, he had fondly hoped to
call her. But that was over now--she had deceived him--told him a
deliberate falsehood--refused him her daguerreotype and given it to
his father, whose secrecy concerning it indicated something wrong.
His faith was shaken, and yet for the sake of what she had been to
him, he would spare her good name. He could not bear to hear the
world breathe aught against her, for possibly she might be innocent;
but no, there was no mistaking the falsehood, and Durward groaned in
bitterness as he handed the picture to his mother, bidding her return
it where she found it. Mrs. Graham had never seen her son thus
moved, and obeying him, she placed her hand upon his arm, asking,
"why he was so affected--what she was to him?"
"Everything, everything," said he, laying his face upon the table.
"'Lena Rivers was all the world to me. I loved her as I shall never
And then, without withholding a thing, Durward told his mother
all--how he had that very morning gone to Frankfort with the
intention of offering 'Lena his hand--how he had partially done so,
when they were interrupted by the entrance of a visitor, he did not
"Thank heaven for your escape. I can bear your father's conduct, if
it is the means of saving you from her," exclaimed Mrs. Graham, while
her son continued: "And now, mother, I have a request to make of
you--a request which you must grant. I have loved 'Lena too well to
cease from loving her so soon. And though I can never again think to
make her my wife, I will not hear her name lightly spoken by the
world, who must never know what we do. Promise me, mother, to keep
secret whatever you may know against her."
"Do you think me bereft of my senses," asked Mrs. Graham petulantly,
"that I should wish to proclaim my affairs to every one?"
"No, no, mother," he answered, "but you are easily excited, and say
things you had better not. Mrs. Livingstone bears 'Lena no good
will, you know, and sometimes when she is speaking disparagingly of
her, you may be thrown off your guard, and tell what you know. But
this must not be. Promise me, mother, will you?"
Durward was very pale, and the drops of sweat stood thickly about his
mouth as he asked this of his mother who, mentally congratulating
herself upon her son's escape, promised what he asked, at the same
time repeating to him all that she heard from Mrs. Livingstone
concerning 'Lena, until Durward interrupted her with, "Stop, stop,