Part 2 out of 5
unceasing activity, and, above all, the constant intercourse with men
of the same pursuits and the same ambitions, that develop the greatest
energies and secure the highest successes."
[Footnote 1: _North American Review_, Oct., 1875.]
Professor Adams, it will be observed, is contrasting small colleges
with larger ones. We are not bound by his concessions in favor of the
former. And we may also take the liberty of advancing his comparison
a step by claiming for large cities, no less than for large colleges,
the superiority over small ones. Without intending disrespect, we may
even put the direct question, Would not your own university, for whose
advantages you are contending, be better off to-day had it been placed
in Detroit instead of Ann Arbor? Is there not something dwarfing
in the atmosphere of a small country town, where character is
undiversified and life uneventful? Were books the sole source of
knowledge, were the acquisition of ideas and principles the sole aim,
we could wish for our professors and students nothing better than
monotony of life. But success, whether in professional or
scholarly pursuits, depends largely upon temper and practical
judgment--qualities which are developed by contact with the busy
world. Whoever has had the experience, knows that life in large cities
is both stimulating and sobering. It enlarges one's range of ideas
and sympathies: it also keeps idiosyncrasies within proper bounds. The
individual does not lose his individuality, but rather intensifies
it: he loses only the exaggerated sense of his own importance. We must
regard it, then, as unfortunate that so many of our seats of learning
are out of the world, so to speak. Our professors would probably
do their work better--that is to say, with greater freshness of
spirit--and would exert a wider influence, were they thrown more in
the company of men of the world. In like manner, our colleges would
play a more direct part in the affairs of the country. The history of
the German universities suggests a lesson. Is it a mere accident that
the oldest and the youngest German universities are in large cities?
In the Middle Ages, before the political organization of the country
had fairly entered upon its morbid process of disintegration, we find
Vienna, Prague and Leipsic heading the list. Subsequently, each
petty duke and count, moved by the sense of his autonomy, sought
to establish a university of his own. The Reformation increased the
spirit of rivalry. Most of these second- and third-rate universities
have passed away or have been merged in others. The three youngest,
Berlin, Munich and Strasburg, are all in large cities, and are
all three the direct offspring of political and educational
reorganization. As Germany is now constituted, it would be impossible
to found a new university in a small town. Such places as Jena,
Erlangen, Greifswald, Rostock, Marburg and Giessen barely hold their
own against the strong movement in favor of concentration.
[Footnote 2: Heidelberg comes between Vienna and Leipsic, but
Heidelberg was then a much more important town than at present.]
The wholesome influence of large surroundings upon students is
perhaps even more marked than upon professors. History teaches us with
singular clearness that small towns are precisely the ones in which
student character is distorted out of all proportion. No better
example can be found than the University of Jena. From the time of its
foundation down to the present century the name of Jena stood for all
that was wild, absurd, and outrageous. In a village whose permanent
population did not exceed four thousand, students were crowded by
hundreds and thousands. To speak without exaggeration, they ruled
Philistia with a rod of iron, in defiance of law and order, and not
infrequently of decency itself. On this point we have an eye-witness
of unquestionable veracity. In 1798, Steffens, a young Dane brimful of
enthusiastic admiration for German learning, arrived in the course
of his travels at Jena. He gives the following account of his first
impressions of German student manners: "I looked out into the
neighborhood so strange to me, and a restless suspicion of what was
to come ran through my mind. Then we heard in I the distance a loud
shouting like the voices of a number of men, and nearer and nearer
they seemed to come. Lights had been brought shortly before, and,
as the uproar was close upon us, a servant burst in to warn us to
extinguish them. We asked with curiosity why, and what the shouting
mob wanted. We suspected, indeed, that it was students. The servant
told us that they were on their way to the house of Professor A----,
who was unpopular with them--I knew not why--to salute him with their
Pereat, or college damnation. The cry of some hundred students grew
plainer and plainer. 'Out with lights!' was called, and just then
we heard the panes of glass clatter when the warning was not quickly
enough complied with. I confess that this circumstance, occurring so
soon after my arrival, filled me with a kind of gloom. It was not such
things as this that had called me to Jena: these were not the voices
which I had wished and expected to hear, and my first night was a sad
[Footnote 3: _German Universities_. Translated by W.L. Gage.
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1874. Steffens little imagined at
the time that he was destined to become a German professor.]
Jena, be it said in her praise, is no longer what she was: her
students no longer break window-panes or perform the _Gaensemarsch_ or
elect their beer-duke of Lichtenhain. The great herd has scattered,
and the few who are left dwell with their professors in peace. But has
the spirit of brutality passed wholly away? Perhaps loving parents who
have placed their sons under the "protecting" influence of some quiet
country town believe so. It is almost a pity to disturb their
faith. Yet truth is uncompromising. Let us record and ponder the
fact--epithets are superfluous--that in the year of grace 1874, in
a small college town not one hundred miles distant from the City
of Brotherly Love, students supposed to be guided and restrained by
influences more distinctively "Christian" than any that ever mitigated
the barbarism of Jena, could become utterly lost to all recollection
of father and mother, brother and sister, could forget their own
manhood, could steal under cover of night to the house of an unpopular
professor and bombard the windows, to the peril of his wife and
mother, and of his child in the cradle.
Truly, we have been surfeited with mistaken praise of small colleges
and rural virtue. We have a right to demand that our colleges,
whatever they may undertake or omit, shall teach at least the
first lesson of life--manliness. This lesson is not best learned
by withdrawing one's self from the world, burying one's self in an
obscure and unrefined village, foregoing social intercourse with
amiable men and women, and wrapping one's self in a mantle of
traditional prejudice. President Porter, although a staunch defender
of the existing college system, concedes its weakness. He says (p.
168): "It is no paradox to say that the first essay of the student's
independence [i.e., the independence of college as contrasted with
school] is often an act of prostrate subserviency to the opinion of
the college community. This opinion he has little share in forming:
he does little else than yield himself to the sentiment which he finds
already formed.... It [this community] is eminently a law unto itself,
making and enforcing such laws as no other community would recognize
or understand--laws which are often strangely incongruous with the
usually received commandments of God and man.... No community is
swayed more completely by the force of public opinion. In none does
public opinion solidify itself into so compact and homogeneous a
force. Before its power the settled judgments of individual opinion
are often abandoned or overborne, the sacred associations of
childhood are relaxed, the plainest dictates of truth and honor are
misinterpreted or defied."
It may surprise us to find the author contending, only a few pages
farther on, for "the civilizing and culturing influences which spring
from college residence and college associations." The truth is that
the case has two sides to it. No friend of education could wish to
see student opinion or student sentiment banished wholly from student
life--to reduce study to a mere intellectual process without any trace
of _esprit de corps_. Some such spirit is not only good in itself, but
is natural and unavoidable. Three hundred or four hundred young men
cannot associate freely day by day for years in succession, pursuing
the same studies under the guidance of the same teachers, without
establishing a certain community of sentiment and action, from which
the student's intellectual efforts must derive a great share of
their nourishment. Yet, admitting the principle, we cannot justify or
palliate the excess to which it has been carried. We insist upon the
observance of certain limits, which no man, whether old or young,
learned or unlearned, is at liberty to transgress. And when these
limits are transgressed we have a right to regard the offenders as all
the more culpable because of their advantages. The circumstance that
they come of a "good stock," as it is called, and are pursuing liberal
studies, is only an aggravation of the offence. We expect youthful
extravagances, waste of time, neglect of opportunities, exaggerated
self-importance, a supercilious way of looking down upon the
outside world--these are all phases of growth, and are usually
short-lived--but we cannot tolerate any violation of the rights of
property, any overawing of individual conscience, any breach of public
order, any disregard of public decency. Such offences we must resent
and punish, not only for the sake of those injured, but in the best
interests of the offenders themselves. We cannot afford to let the
most promising class of our young men entertain even for the brief
period of four years false and pernicious views of the fundamental
principles of life. It is the duty of every community to suppress
error _en voie de fait_, wherever it may occur. And if it is our
duty to suppress, it is no less our duty to prevent. Common sense
and experience teach us that danger must arise from gathering large
numbers of young men in places too small to hold them in check. Are
we not at liberty to borrow an example from the history of President
Porter's own college? In the days when the president was a young
professor, Yale was a small college and New Haven was a small town.
The name of the college then was, to speak mildly, notorious. The Yale
of thirty or forty years ago seemed to personify everything that was
obnoxious and lawless in our college life: in no other place did the
conflict between "town" and "gown" assume such dimensions and lead to
such deplorable results. Yet the Yale of to-day, although the number
of students has trebled, will compare favorably with any college
or university. The students, without having lost a particle of true
manliness and independence, riot less and learn more: they show in
every way that they are better students and better citizens. Wherein,
then, lies the secret of the change? Evidently, in the circumstance
that the city has outgrown the college. New Haven is no longer an
insignificant town, but has become the seat of a large local trade and
the centre of heavy manufacturing and railroad interests. Like other
cities, it has established a paid fire department and a strong police
force for the protection of all its residents, the college included.
It is no longer overshadowed, much less over-awed, by the college. On
the contrary, the observation forces itself upon the visitor in New
Haven that the college, notwithstanding its numerous staff of able
professors, notwithstanding its great body of students, its libraries
and scientific collections, is far from playing the leading part in
municipal matters. It is only one among many factors. Life and its
relations are on an ampler scale: the wealth and refinement of the
permanent population are great, and are growing unceasingly. In a few
years more New Haven will be fairly within the vortex of New York.
This change, which has come about so gradually that those living in it
perhaps fail to perceive it readily, has affected the college in many
ways. It has made the life of the professors more agreeable, more
generous, so to speak, and it has toned down the student spirit
of caste. The young man who enters Yale feels, from the moment of
matriculation, that he is indeed in a large city, and must conform
to its regulations--that there are such beings as policemen and
magistrates, whom he cannot provoke with impunity. Even were this all,
it would be gain enough. But there is another gain of a far higher
nature. The student perceives that outside his college world lies a
larger world that he cannot overlook--a world whose society is worth
cultivating, whose opinions are backed by wealth and prestige. It does
not follow from this that he ceases to be a student. Companions and
study make him feel that he is leading a peculiar life, that he is a
member of an independent organization. But he does not feel--and this
is the main point--that he has retired from the world or that he can
set himself up against the world.
In this connection we have to be on our guard against the opposite
extreme--namely, the inference that the larger a city the better for
the college. The very largest cities are perhaps not favorable to
the growth of institutions of learning. Even in Germany, where the
university system rests upon a different basis and adapts itself more
readily to circumstances, the leading capitals, Berlin and Vienna, are
at a disadvantage. The expenses of living are so great as to deter all
but the wealthy or the very ambitious, and the pomp and pageantry
of court and nobility, the numerous _personnel_ of the several
departments of state, finance, war and justice throw the less
ostentatious votaries of science and letters into the shade.
Nevertheless, the universities of Berlin and Vienna can scarcely
be said to be threatened with permanent decline. The governments of
Prussia and Austria recognize the necessity of a great university in
a great capital to give tone to the administrative departments and to
resist the spread of the spirit of materialism. Besides, the resident
population of each of these cities is entitled to a university, and
would be sufficient of itself to support one. We may rest assured,
therefore, that the Prussian government will act in the future as
it has done in the past, by sparing no efforts to make the
Frederico-Gulielma the head of the Prussian system in fact as well as
in name. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the present hard times
and the unsettled state of society in Berlin tend to restrict the
number of students. The remarkable contrast presented in the sudden
growth of the Leipsic University shows how even matters of education
are influenced by social and economic laws. This Saxon city seems
marked out by Nature for a seat of learning. It combines almost all
attractions and advantages. It is accessible from every quarter, the
climate is good for North Germany, and the neighborhood is pleasant,
although anything but picturesque. The newer houses are well built,
rooms and board are not expensive. The inhabitants are wealthy and
highly cultured, the book-trade is enormous, and the banking-business
considerable. Yet trade does not move with the fever-heat of
speculation: the life of the city is quiet and regular. Amusements
of a high order are within the reach of every one. These minor
attractions, combined with the more important ones offered by the
university itself, will explain to us how it is that Leipsic has taken
the foremost rank. Students who are used to city ways, and who would
have chosen Berlin ten or twenty years ago, now come here because of
the cheapness of living. Others, tired of the monotony of the smaller
university towns, come to get a foretaste of the world that awaits
them after the completion of their studies. The temper of the
students is admirable. Rarely if ever do they betray any traces of the
hectoring spirit which still lingers at Heidelberg, for instance.
But for the display of corps-caps and cannon boots and an occasional
swagger in the street, one might pass an entire semester in Leipsic
without realizing that the city contains three thousand students.
Undoubtedly, the young men perceive, like their colleagues of Yale,
that their surroundings are too much for them.
Another prolific source of trouble is the class system. Whether this
system is to be maintained as it is, or to be modified, or to be
abandoned for another more in accordance with the needs of the age,
are questions which must be kept in abeyance. The answer will
depend upon the view which we take of higher education in the main.
Meanwhile, let us consider the system in its operations during the
past and at the present day. Here, as so often before, Germany affords
us a warning example of the dangers consequent upon the recognition
of class distinctions. The comparatively harmless practice of
_Deposition_--a burlesque student-initiation which sprang up in the
sixteenth century and obtained a quasi sanction from no less a
person than Luther--degenerated in the seventeenth century into
_Pennalisimus_. Newly-matriculated students, called Pennalists (the
modern term is _Fuechse_), were maltreated by the elder ones, the
Schorists, and were pillaged and forced to perform menial services
"such as a sensible master would hesitate to exact of his servant."
The Schorists considered themselves a licensed corporation. To give an
idea of their deportment, not merely toward the younger students, but
even toward the university itself, it will suffice to state that they
conducted their orgies at times in the public streets without fear
or shame. In 1660, during the student insurrection at Jena,
they assaulted and dispersed the Academic Senate in session. The
governmental rescripts of those days are taken up with accounts of the
evil and the means proposed for curing it. The matter was even brought
before the Imperial Diet. Pennalismus was not suppressed until the
close of the century, after the various governments had resorted to
the most stringent measures. Such excesses have, of course, never
been committed in America; yet we observe the same spirit of
insubordination to superiors and domination over inferiors betraying
itself in the New World. When we hear of "rushing," "hazing,"
"smoking-out" and the like, we must admit to ourselves that the animus
is the same, although the form be only ludicrous. And what shall we
say to performances such as the explosion of nitro-glycerine? Much may
be urged in extenuation of the offences of the German students in the
seventeenth century. Their sensibilities were blunted by the horrors
of a Thirty Years' War; they had been born and reared amid bloodshed
and rapine; some of them must have served in the campaigns of Baner,
Torstenson and Wrangel, where human life went for nothing, and honor
for less than nothing. Some of them, perhaps, could not name their
parents. They were waifs of the camp, their only education the crumbs
of knowledge picked up in the camp-school mentioned by Schiller in his
_Wallenstein_. Our students, on the contrary, are anxiously shielded
against temptation and are carefully trained for their work. Why,
then, should they be the only set of persons to disobey, as a set, the
rules of public order? The answer suggests itself: Because they have
acquired the habit of joint action without the sense of individual
[Footnote 4: The words of the decree of the Imperial Diet, 1654. See
Von Raumer, _Geschichte. der Pedagogik_, iv. 45.]
The advantages of the present system of instruction by classes are
not to be overlooked. Yet they are attended with one serious evil.
The members of a class, reciting day by day, term after term, upon the
same subjects, acquire the notion of a certain average of work. The
class, as a unit, has only so much to learn, and the professor is not
to exceed this maximum. Furthermore, each class gauges its work by
the work of its predecessors. The Sophomore class of this year, for
instance, is not willing to do more than the Sophomore class of last
year. To introduce more difficult text-books, or to increase the
number of hours, or to lengthen the lessons, is injustice. The notion
of unity extends itself to social relations. Each member considers
himself identified with his comrades. Tradition--everywhere a power,
and especially powerful in college--establishes nice distinctions. It
lays down the rule that one class shall not wear beaver hats or carry
canes--that another class shall steal the town-gates on a particular
night of the year or publish scurrilous pamphlets. Each member of the
class must do certain things or must refrain from them, not because
he wishes to, but because he is a member of the class. The strength of
this community of feeling and interests can be estimated only by one
who has experienced it. Were its operations confined to the relations
among students, they would be less formidable. We might perhaps
shrug our shoulders and leave the young men "to fight it out among
themselves." The case becomes quite different, however, when a class
arrays itself in opposition to its professor or to the entire faculty.
Then we see plainly the dangers of insubordination. The immature and
inexperienced set themselves above their elders: they arrogate to
themselves the right of deciding what they shall learn, how much they
shall learn, how they shall learn it. And, being a class, they
stand or fall as a class. They exhibit tenacity of purpose and an
unscrupulous use of improper means. Many a professor has learned to
his cost what it is to be defied by his class.
An example will be more instructive than vague generalities. About
seven years ago a gentleman was engaged by one of our colleges to take
charge of a new department until a permanent appointee might be found.
The resident faculty committed one blunder after another. It added the
new study outright without adjusting it to the previous studies. It
also fixed upon Saturday as the day for beginning. Thus, the students
were prejudiced against their new instructor before they had even seen
him. Besides, they regarded the innovation as an "interloper." The
victim to student rule may now tell his own story: "I took the 6 A.M.
train Saturday morning from the city. After breakfast I was directed
by the president to go to a certain room, unaccompanied, to meet the
Sophomore class. One hundred hyenas! My entrance was greeted with
groans, 'Ahas!' 'Hums!' I spent half an hour in the vain attempt to
explain the subject. Before I was half through I had made up my mind
to return to the city by the first train. On leaving the room I met
Professor ----, who comprehended the situation at a glance. He said
that he had been through it all himself--that it had taken him two
years to get control of his classes. I learned afterward that this is
the usual time allowed for such purpose. The president on meeting me,
said in his usual abrupt, nervous brogue, 'It's nothing against the
men, sir! It would be just the same if it were anybody else, sir!
(!!!). Just go on, sir.' I finally decided 'to go on, sir,' but I
hardly retain my self-respect when I remember how I submitted for
three months to a series of petty annoyances unworthy the lowest
_gamins_ of New York. Students purposely made mistakes to give others
an opportunity to groan. The Sophomore class was divided into two
sections after the third week. By dint of strict watching, which
so absorbed my attention that I could do little in the way of
instruction, I succeeded in obtaining tolerable order. Usually, a
painful silence was observed, every one knowing that there was a
hand-to-hand fight going on for the mastery. The Junior class could
not be divided because of other studies. Their recitations (?)
continued to be a bedlam, a pandemonium. I afterward learned that some
students, who already had some knowledge of the subject, remained
on purpose to create disturbance. One of them, a son of a trustee, I
caught blowing snuff through the room. It was a favorite trick of the
class to drop a bundle of snuff in the stove. Each one of the
fifteen recitations that I had with this class was spoiled by some
disturbance. On two occasions some of them stole the keys of the room
and locked me in with part of the class. Fortunately, I was able to
drive back the bolt. The president was less lucky. Twice he and his
entire class were obliged to climb down from the window by a ladder.
There is no use in multiplying words. The treatment to which I
was subjected was shameful. What made it even worse was, that the
authorities permitted such conduct toward one whom they had invited
to take the initiative in beginning a new study. It was a
perfectly-understood thing that I had accepted the temporary
appointment more to relieve the college than for my own benefit."
The writer of the above is now one of the leading professors in
another college. His name and reputation are among the best in the
land. He writes concerning his present position: "We have here two
hundred and fifty students, all told. The utmost courtesy prevails,
both in the recitation-room and in the streets. During the five years
that we have been in existence as a college I do not remember that a
single rude act has been committed toward any professor. I attribute
this to a variety of circumstances. We began with a small body
of students, who gave tone to the subsequent ones. We have no
dormitories. The college is in a city too large to be controlled by
students. Nothing could be pleasanter than the intercourse between
town and college. Not a gate has been carried off, no loud shouting is
heard. If there are night-revels, nobody ever hears of them. We have
no prizes, no honors, no marking system. We hold rigid examinations,
and watch the tendency to negligence if it shows itself."
One circumstance may lead us to take a more hopeful view of the
situation. The colleges--and consequently the classes--are growing
larger. At Yale and Harvard, for instance, the classes exceed two
hundred on entrance. It is clear that so large a body cannot cohere
very firmly. The sense of homogeneousness is lost. Furthermore, the
class is divided into sections and sub-sections. The occasions on
which the student can see his entire class together are becoming
comparatively few. The so-called elective studies will also help to
keep down the class spirit. In many colleges the curriculum is no
longer an inflexible routine. On reaching a certain standing the
student, although not entirely free to select his studies, has at
least an option. He may take German instead of Greek, French in place
of Latin, advanced mathematics or the natural sciences in place of
both. Whatever estimate we may set upon the intrinsic value of
such options, we can scarcely doubt their efficacy in the matter of
discipline. The class which branches out on different lines of study
has already ceased to be a class. The results of the system of free
selection established at the Cornell University are very instructive.
We find here three or four courses of study, now running parallel, now
overlapping one another, and outside of them the elective students who
follow partial courses or specialties. The university has scrupulously
refrained from the official use of the terms Senior, Junior, Sophomore
and Freshman, and arranges the students' names in the index in
alphabetical order. The sections in certain departments, especially in
the modern languages and history, are made up of students of all four
years. Even the courses themselves are not inflexible. The policy
of accepting _bona fide_ equivalents has been adopted, and has given
satisfaction to both teachers and pupils. There are probably not
twenty students in the university at this moment who have recited side
by side on exactly the same subjects and in the same order for three
years. Hence the absence of any strong class feeling. Although those
who have attended the university the same number of years may try hard
at times to convince themselves and others that they are a class in
the ordinary sense, they meet with little success. Individual freedom
of opinion and conduct is the rule, and such a thing as class coercion
is an impossibility. At one time it was argued by the adversaries of
the university that this laxity must result in lowering the standard
of scholarship. But recent events lead us to the opposite conclusion.
The Saratoga regatta last summer proved that the Cornell students are
not wanting in muscle, and the inter-collegiate contest of this winter
shows still more conclusively that they are not wanting in brains.
Cornell entered in four of the six contests, and won four prizes--one
second and three firsts. Two of these first prizes, be it observed,
far outrank the others as tests of scholarship--namely, those in Greek
and in mathematics. No shallow theory of luck will explain this sudden
and remarkable success. The older colleges will do well to inquire
into causes, and to ask themselves if their young rival is not
possessed of a new power--if sturdiness of character and independence
of thought are not more efficient than mere routine. After all, is it
surprising that the institution which is most liberal should attract
to itself the most progressive minds?
JAMES MORGAN HART.
I saw a garden-bed on which there grew,
Low down amid gay grass, a violet,
With flame of poppy flickering over it,
And many gaudy spikes and blossoms new,
Round which the wind with amorous whispers blew.
There came a maid, gold-haired and lithe and strong,
With limbs whereof the delicate perfumed flesh
Was like a babe's. She broke the flowering mesh
Of flaunting weeds, and plucked the modest bloom
To wear it on her bosom all day long.
So in pure breasts pure things find welcomest room,
And poppied epics, flushed with blood and wrong,
Are crushed to reach love's violets of song.
THE HOUSE THAT SUSAN BUILT.
Susan--Susan Summerhaze--was twenty-nine, and had never had a lover.
You smile. You people have a way of smiling at the mention of a maiden
lady who has never had a lover, as though there was a very good joke
in the matter. You ought to be ashamed to smile. You have a tear for
the girl at the grave of her lover, and for the bride of a month in
her widow's cap, and even for her who mourns a lover changed. But
in each of these cases the woman has had her romance: her spirit has
thrilled to enchanted music; there is a consecrated something in her
nature; a tender memory is hers for ever.
Nothing is so pathetic as the insignificant. Than a dead blank,
better a path marked by--well, anything, perhaps, except dishonor. The
colorless, commonplace life was especially dreary to my Susan, because
of a streak of romance--and a broad streak it was--that ran from end
to end of her nature.
It's another provoking way you people have of laughing at romantic
young women. Sentimental, you call them. I tell you it's the most
womanly thing in the world to be sentimental. A woman's affections
reaching out toward a man's heart is as much a part of Nature, and
just as pretty a thing in Nature, as the morning-glory--or let us take
the old and oft-used yet good illustration of the ivy and the
oak. When the woman's reaching affections attain the sought heart,
everybody cries out, "How sweet and tender and graceful!" But if they
miss of the hold, then there is derision. Here, as everywhere else,
there are cheers for success and no pity for failure.
Well, however you may receive it, the truth must be acknowledged: my
Susan was sentimental. She had had her longings and dreams, and an
abundance of those great vague heartaches which only sentimental
people can have. She had gone through with the whole--the sweet hopes,
the yearning expectancy, the vague anxiety, the brooding doubt, the
slow giving up--the reluctant acceptance of her fading life. Her
romance died hard. Very gradually, and with many a protest, the woman
of heartaches and sentiment glided into the practical and commonplace
maiden lady who served on all sorts of committees and watched with
At an early age, when she was barely sixteen, the suggestion had been
forced on Susan that it was her duty to spread her wings and leave
the paternal nest to earn her living. Of course she went to teaching.
That's what such people as Susan always do in like circumstances. At
first her earnings went into the family fund to buy bread for little
mouths that were not to blame for being hungry, and shoes for little
feet that did not know wherefore they had been set to travel life's
road. But after a while a portion of Susan's salary came to be
deposited in bank as her very own money, to have and to hold. She had
now reached the giving-up period of her life, when the heartaches were
dulling, and the nameless longings were being resolved into occasional
lookings back to the time when there had been hopes of deliverance
from the commonplace. Having tasted the sweets of being a capitalist,
Susan came in process of time to be eager at money-getting and at
money-saving and at speculating. The day arrived when my sentimental
Susan had United States bonds and railroad stocks, and owned a half
acre in city lots in a great, teeming, tempestuous State metropolis.
It was at this period in her affairs that Susan received a gift
of fifteen hundred dollars from her bachelor uncle Adolphus, "as a
token," so the letter of transmission read, "of my approval of your
industry and of your business ability and successes, and as a mark of
my gratitude for your kindness to me twenty-one years ago when I was
sick at your father's house. You were the only one of my brother's
children that showed me any consideration."
"Twenty-one years ago!" exclaimed Gertrude, Susan's younger sister,
when she had read the letter through. "Why, that was before I was
born! How in the world could I show him consideration? I wish to
goodness he'd come here now and get sick. I'd show him consideration:
I'd tend him like an own mother."
"Susie didn't tend him like an own mother," said Brother Tom, who was
two years younger than Susan. "I remember all about it. All she did
for him was to keep the flies off with an apple-tree limb, and she was
for ever letting it drop on his face."
"I recollect all about it," said Susan: "I pity myself now when I
remember how tired and sleepy I used to get. The room was always so
quiet--not a sound in it but the buzzing of the lazy flies and poor
uncle's hard breathing. I used to feel as though I were in prison or
all alone at a funeral."
"But self-abnegation has its reward, Susie," said Brother Tom, lifting
his eyebrows and shrugging his shoulders.
"Oh, I'm free to acknowledge that I performed the duties at that
bedside very reluctantly," Susan answered. "I had many a cry over my
hard fate. Indeed, I believe I always had to wash off the tear-stains
before going to the task. I can recall now just how the little
red-eyed girl looked standing before the glass with towel and brush.
But still, I did keep the flies off, and I did bring uncle fresh water
from the well, and perhaps I deserve a reward all the more because the
work was distasteful."
"Mother used to try to make me do it," said Brother Tom. "I remember
how I used to slip away from the table while she was pouring out
father's fourth cup of coffee, and put for the playground, to escape
that fly-brush. I wasn't a good boy, alas! or I might now be a happy
man with all my debts paid. I wish my mother had trounced me and made
me keep those flies off Uncle Adolphus."
Brother Tom was one of those people who are always trying to say and
look funny things. Sometimes he succeeded, and sometimes he didn't.
"Anyhow, I think it's a shame," Gertrude said, pouting--"downright
mean for Uncle Adolphus to give you all that money, and never give me
"Very likely." Susan replied dryly.
"Well, it is, Susie. You've got lots more money now than you know what
to do with: you don't need that money at all."
"No, you don't, Susie: you know you don't. You never go into society,
and you wear your dresses the same way all the time, just as Grandma
Summerhaze does. But I'm just making my _debut_"--and Gertrude flushed
and tossed her head with a pretty confusion, because she was conscious
of having made a sounding speech--"and I need lots of things, such as
the rest of the girls have."
"My dear Gertrude," began Brother Tom, "'beauty unadorned'--"
"Oh, do, pray, Tom, have mercy upon us!" Gertrude said testily.
"Unfortunately, I happen not to be a beauty, so I need some adorning.
Moreover, I don't admit that beauty can do without adorning. There's
Minnie Lathrop: she's a beauty, but she wouldn't improve herself by
leaving off flowers and ribbons and laces, and dressing herself like
a nun. Dear me! she does have the loveliest things! Mine are so shabby
beside them. I'm about the tag-end of our set, anyhow, in matters of
dress. I think, Susie, you might give me a hundred or two dollars."
"To waste in ribbons and bonnets?" asked business-woman Susan.
"Why, Susie, how you do talk! A body would think you had never worn a
ribbon, and that you'd gone bareheaded all the days of your life. But
you needn't talk: it's not so long ago but I can remember when you
were as fond of dress as any girl in the city. I remember how you used
to tease mamma for pretty things."
"Which I never got, even though I was earning them over and over."
Susan spoke half sadly, half bitterly.
"Well, you ought to have had nice things, Susie, when you were in
society," Gertrude insisted. "Girls can't get married if they're
shabby and old-fashioned."
"That's true," said Susan gravely.
"I think," continued her sister, "it's the meanest feeling, the
sheep-ish-est"--Gertrude syllabled the word to make sure of her hold
on it--"in this world to know that the gentlemen are ashamed to show
you attention. Now, I'm cleverer and better-looking than lots of girls
in our set--Delia Spaulding, for instance--but I don't have half the
attention she receives, just on account of her fixings and furbelows."
"And Miss Spaulding always manages to keep ahead in those
sublimities," said Brother Tom.
"Yes," assented Gertrude briskly. "No matter what on earth the rest
of us girls get, Delia Spaulding manages to have something to cast
us into the shade. It makes me so mad! Now, last week at Mrs.
Gildersleeve's, when I dressed for the party I thought I looked really
nice. I felt a complacency toward myself, as Margaret Pillsbury would
say. But when I got to the party, there was Delia Spaulding prinked
out with such lights and shades and lustres that I looked plain as
a Quaker in comparison with her--or with any of the other girls, for
that matter. Do you know, Susie, what the feeling is to be always
behind in dress?"
"Yes," Susan answered, a piteous shadow coming into her face as
memories of the heart-burning days were evoked, "but I am glad to have
done with all the vanity and heartache that comes of it."
"But yet, Susie, you ought to know how to feel for me."
"I do know how," Susan answered.
"Then why don't you help me across some of the heartache?"
"I might help you into a worse heartache by my meddling," Susan
"You don't want anybody to marry you because you dress well and are
stylish?" said Brother Tom, undertaking to explain Susan's meaning.
"I don't know that I want anybody to marry me for any reason,"
Gertrude flashed out, her cheeks flushing, "but I like to go, once in
a while, to young people's gatherings, and then I like to be dressed
so that gentlemen are not ashamed to be seen with me."
"A fellow ought to have pluck enough to stand up for the merit of a
young lady, no matter how she's dressed."
"Now, Tom, for pity's sake, don't talk heroics," said Gertrude. "I've
seen you at parties shying around the poorly-dressed girls and picking
out the pretty-plumaged birds. I know all about your heroism. I'm not
blaming you, you understand: I don't like to dance or promenade with
a gentleman not well dressed. Next to looking well yourself, you wish
your partner to look well. That's nature.--But what are you going to
do with your fifteen hundred dollars, anyhow, Susie?"
"I shall add something to it and build a house on one of my lots."
"'Pon my soul!" said Brother Tom, laughing.
"How perfectly absurd!" exclaimed Gertrude. "Suppose your house should
burn down as soon as it's finished, as the First Congregational church
"I'd get the insurance on it, as the Congregational church didn't."
"What in the world do you want with a house? Are you going to live in
it yourself? Are you going to get married?" asked Brother Tom.
"I have two objects in building the house," Susan explained. "One is
to secure a good investment for my money: the other is to exercise my
ingenuity in planning a model house."
"And in the mean time I am to keep on being Miss Nobody," Gertrude
said warmly, "and lose all the chances of fortune. I wouldn't have
believed, Susie, that you could be so hard-hearted;" and tears began
to gather in Miss Gertrude's pretty eyes. "It must be that you want an
old-maid sister for company," she added with some spite.'
Tom went out of the room whistling. He was apt to run if he perceived
a fight waxing. He had a soft place in his silly heart for his pretty
young sister. He wished Susan would do something for Gertrude:
he thought she might. He'd feel considerably more comfortable
in escorting Gertrude to parties if she ranked higher in the
dress-circle. He'd help her if he could, but he was already behind at
his tailor's and at Hunsaker's cigar-shop.
"I'm invited to Mrs. Alderson's next week," Gertrude continued, "and
I've nothing on earth to wear but that everlasting old white muslin
that I've worn five times hand-running."
"I heard you say that Amanda Stewart had worn one dress to all the
parties of this season," Susan remarked.
"Amanda Stewart can afford to wear one dress: her father's worth
millions, and everybody knows it. Everybody knows she can have a dozen
new dresses for every day of the year. But we poor folks have got
to give ocular demonstration of our ability to have new dresses, or
nobody will ever believe that we can. Everybody knows that I wear that
white muslin because I can't afford any other, I do wish I could have
a new dress for Mrs. Alderson's: it will be a dreadfully select party.
I've rung all the changes possible on that white muslin: I've worn
pink trimmings, and white trimmings, and blue trimmings, and I've worn
flowers; and now I'm at my wit's end."
"I wish I were able to advise you," Susan said.
"Advise me?" Gertrude exclaimed impatiently. "What good would advice
do? It takes money to get up changes in evening dresses."
"You poor little goose!" said Susan with a grave smile, "I suppose I
was once just as foolish. Well, here are twenty-five dollars you may
have. It is really all I can spare, for I mean to go at building my
"Susie, you're a duck!" cried the delighted Gertrude, eagerly taking
the bills. "I can get along nicely with twenty-five dollars for this
time, but, oh dear! the next time!"
But Susan did not heed her sister's foreboding cry. Getting pencil and
paper, she was soon engaged in sketching the ground-floor of a cottage
house. It was to cost about twenty-six hundred dollars. This was
years before the day of high prices, when a very cozy house could be
compassed for twenty-six hundred.
The following three weeks were very busy weeks for Susan, though all
she did was to work at the plan of her house. Her mother grumbled.
Brother Tom made his jokes, and Gertrude "feazed," to use her own
word. The neighbors came and went, and still Susan continued to
sit with drawing-tools at her desk, sketching plan after plan, and
rejecting one after another.
"I declare, Susie," said her sister, "I don't believe Christopher Wren
gave as much thought to the planning of St. Paul's as you have to that
cottage you're going to build. I believe in my heart you've made a
"Well," Susan retorted, "I don't suppose anybody's been hurt by them."
"You wouldn't say that if you had to clear up the library every
morning as I have to. Those sketches of yours are everywhere, lying
around loose. I have picked them up and picked them up, till they've
tired me out. 'Parlor, dining-room, kitchen, pantry:' I've read this
and read it, till it runs in my head all day, like 'rich man, poor
man, beggar-man, thief.' I've marked off the figures on all the
papering in this house into 'parlor, dining-room, kitchen, pantry."
"I don't see a mite of reason in Susan's being so particular about
that house," said the mother, "seein' she's going to rent it. Now, if
she was going to live in it herself, or any of the rest of the
family, it would be different, Anyway, these plans all look to me like
first-rate ones," she continued, glancing from one to another of half
a dozen under her spectacles--"plenty good enough for renting-houses.
Now, this one is right pretty, 'pears to me, and right handy.--What's
the reason this one won't do, Susan?"
"Why, mother, don't you see the fault?" Susan replied. "There's no way
of getting to the dining-room except through the kitchen."
"To be sure!" said the mother. "Of course that would never do, for,
of all things, I do despise to have folks stalking through my kitchen
when the pots and kittles are all in a muss, as they're always like to
be at meal-times. What ever did you draw it this way for, Susan?"
"Well, I didn't see how it was coming out till it was finished."
"To be sure! Well, now, what's the matter with this one?" and the
mother singled out another sketch. "This one seems to be about right."
"Why, yes, I think it's splendid," said Gertrude, leaning over her
mother's shoulder and studying the plan under consideration. "There's
the cellar-way opening from the pantry, and there's a movable slide
between dining-room and pantry, right over the sink.--Why, Susie, I
think this is wonderfully nice. Why don't you adopt this plan?"
"The objection to it is that the pantry has no window: it would be as
dark as a pocket. Don't you see there can't be a window?"
"So there can't," said Gertrude.
"That spoils the whole thing," said the mother. "If there's anything I
do despise, it's this thing of fumblin' 'round in a dark pantry; and,
before everything else, I want my mouldin'-board so I can see what
goes into my bread. Now, I never noticed about that window, and I
s'pose would never have minded about it till the house was built an'
I'd gone in to mix my bread. Then wouldn't I have been in a pretty
pickle? Clean beat! Well, I suppose there's something or other the
matter with all these plans?"
"Yes," said Susan, "they're all faulty."
"I don't see any fault in this one, Susie," said Gertrude.
"That one has the kitchen chimney in the pantry," Susan explained.
"Dear me! that would never do," said the mother. "Of all things, I
dote on a cool pantry. What with the baking and the laundry-work, that
chimney would keep the pantry all the while het up. It would be handy
for canned fruits and jellies in the winter, though--so many of ours
froze and bursted last winter."
"Now, this one," said Gertrude--"I'm sure this is all right, Susie. I
can't see anything wrong about this one."
"Why, don't you see? That kitchen hasn't a door in it except the
cellar-door," said Susan.
"Well, I declare!" Gertrude said. "What ridiculous plans you do make,
Susie! The idea of planning a kitchen without a door!"
"Why, that would never do, Susan," the mother objected. "Folks never
could take all the victuals and things down through the cellar."
"I warrant I could plan a house, and a model house, the first time,"
"Try it," replied Susan quietly.
"I know I can," Gertrude insisted, settling herself with paper and
"I believe I'll try my hand," said the mother. "I've housekept so long
I likely know what are the belongings of a handy house;" and she too
settled herself with paper and pencil and spectacles.
There was silence for a few minutes as the three drew lines and rubbed
Presently Brother Tom came in. "Well, for ever!" he exclaimed, with
the inevitable laugh. "What are you people all about? Have you all
gone house-mad? Are you, too, going to build a house, Gert?"
"No, I'm just helping Susie: she can't get any plan to suit her."
"Why don't you call on me, Susie? Let me have a pencil and a scrap of
paper: I can plan a house in the half of no time."
"Here," Susan answered, furnishing the required materials, and
enjoying, meanwhile, the thought of the discomfiture which, as she
felt sure, awaited these volunteer architects.
"Do see mother's plan!" laughed Gertrude after a while, peeping over
that lady's shoulder. "Her kitchen is large enough for a prosperous
livery-stable, and it has ten windows; and here's the parlor--nothing
but a goods-box; and she hasn't any way of gettin; to the second
"Put in an elevator," said Brother Tom.
This drew Gertrude's attention to Tom's sketch, so she went across,
and looked it over. Man-like, he had left out of his plan everything
in the way of a pantry or closet, though he had a handsome
smoking-room and a billiard-hall.
Not at all disconcerted by the criticisms of his plan, Tom proceeded
with wonderful contrivance to run a partition with his pencil
across one end of his roomy smoking apartment for pantry and ladies'
"That's just like a man," Gertrude said. "He'd have all the dishes and
all the ladies' dresses toted through the smoking-room."
"Well, see here," Tom said: "I can take closets off this bedroom;" and
the division-line was quickly run.
"And, pray, whose bedroom is that supposed to be?" Gertrude asked. "It
might answer for a retired bachelor who has nothing to store but an
extra shirt: it wouldn't do for a young lady with such hoops as they
wear these days. She couldn't squeeze in between the bed and washstand
to save her flounces. You ain't an architect, Tom: that's certain."
"Well, now, let's see your plan," challenged the gentleman; and he
began to read from Gertrude's paper: "'Parlor, sewing-room--' Now
that's extravagant, Gert. I think your women-folks might get along
without a special sewing-room. Why can't they sew in the dining-room?"
"That's handsome, and very gallant," answered Gertrude. "Your men can
have a billiard-room and a smoking-room, while my poor women can't
even have a comfortable place for darning the men's stockings and
sewing on their shirt-buttons. Oh, men are such selfish creatures!"
"Well, now," said Brother Tom, "I'll leave it to Susie if those
tenants of hers can afford to have a special sewing-room."
"And I'll leave it to Susie if--"
But Susan interrupted her: "You and Tom must settle your disputes
without my help. There, now! I think I have my plan decided upon at
last. After a hundred and one trials I believe I have a faultless
"Let's see it," said one and another, all gathering about the speaker.
Susan explained her plan. The only objection to it came from the
mother. She was afraid if things were made so dreadful handy the folks
would get to be lazy; and, anyhow, there wasn't any use in having
things so nice in a rented house: they'd get put out of kilter right
But Susan had set out to build a perfect house, and she was not to be
frightened from her object. So in process of time there were delivered
into the owner's hands the keys of the house that Susan had built.
Three lines in a morning paper inviting a tenant brought a throng of
applicants. Susan, like the generality of landlords, had her face
set against tenants with certain encumbrances, so a score or more of
applicants had been refused the house before the close of the first
Toward evening a gentleman called to see Miss Summerhaze, announcing
himself as Mr. Falconer. When Susan entered the parlor she found a
heavy-set, rather short man, who had bright gray eyes, a broad full
forehead, and was altogether a very good-looking person.
"I have called," he said immediately, "to inquire about the house you
have advertised for rent on North Jefferson street."
"I am ready to answer your inquiries," said Susan, like the
business-woman she was.
After the questions usual in such circumstances, by which Mr. Falconer
satisfied himself that the house would probably answer his purpose,
it became Susan's turn to satisfy herself that he was such a tenant as
she desired for her model house. "Before going to look at the house,"
she said, "I ought to ask you some questions, for I feel particular
about who goes into it."
Susan had occasion at a later day to remember the shade of uneasiness
that came into Mr. Falconer's face at this point. "I trust I shall be
able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction," he said.
"Do you keep dogs?" This is the first question Susan asked.
Mr. Falconer smiled, and looked as though he wondered what that had to
do with the matter.
"I ask," Susan hastened to explain, "because dogs often tear up the
"Well, no, I don't keep dogs," Mr. Falconer answered.
"Have you boys?"
Mr. Falconer smiled quietly, and replied, "No, I haven't any boys."
"Three or four rough boys will ruin a house in a few months," Susan
said in her justification. "Have you any children?--a large family?"
"What do people do who have large families and who must rent houses?"
Mr. Falconer asked.
"Why, go to people more anxious to rent than I am."
"No," said Mr. Falconer, returning to the question: "I am
unfortunately a bachelor."
"Do you propose keeping bachelor's hall?" Susan asked in quick
concern. "Excuse me, but I could not think of renting the house to a
bachelor or bachelors. It is a rare man who is a house-keeper. Things
would soon be at sixes and sevens with a set of men in the house."
"I do not wish to rent the house for myself, but for a friend."
"Well, I propose the same questions in reference to your friend that I
have asked concerning yourself."
"Well, then," Mr. Falconer replied, still smiling, "my friend does not
keep dogs; she has no boys; she has one little girl."
"Your friend is a lady--a widow?"
"No--yes, I mean to say."
"Do I understand that she is a widow?"
"Yes, of course."
There was a confusion in Mr. Falconer's manner that Susan remembered
"Can you give me references, Mr. Falconer?" and Susan looked him
straight in the eye.
"Well, yes. Mr. Hamilton of the Hamilton Block I know, and Mr.
Dorsheimer of the Metropolitan Hotel. I am also acquainted with Andrew
Richardson, banker, and with John Y. Martindale, M.C."
"Those references are sufficient," Susan said, her confidence
restored. "I will make inquiries, and if everything is right, as I
have no doubt it is, you can have the house if you should find that it
suits you. Will you go over now and look at it? It is scarcely a half
block from here."
"Yes, if you please: I should like the matter settled as soon as
So Susan put on her bonnet and brought a bunch of keys, and walked
away with Mr. Falconer to show the house which she had built. And a
proud woman was Susan as she did this, and a perfect right had Susan
to be a proud woman. She had, indeed, built a model house as far
as twenty-six hundred dollars could do this. That amount was never,
perhaps, put into brick and mortar in better shape. So Mr. Falconer
thought, and so he said very cordially.
"Oh," sighed our poor Susan when she was again at home, "how good it
seems to have such appreciation!"
Susan made inquiries of Mr. Hamilton of the Hamilton Block concerning
"Very nice man--very nice man, indeed!" Mr. Hamilton answered briskly:
"deals on the square, and always up to time."
So the papers were drawn up, and Mr. Falconer paid the first month's
"Here, Gertrude," Susan said, handing her sister a roll of bills:
"half the rent of my house I shall allow you. Make yourself as pretty
as you can with it."
"Oh, you blessed darling angel!" Gertrude cried in a transport.
"You're the best sister that ever lived, Susie: you really are. Make
myself pretty! I tell you I mean to shine like a star with this money.
Twenty dollars a month! Delia Spaulding spends five times as much, I
suppose. But never mind. I have an eye and I have fingers: I'll make
my money do wonders."
This Gertrude indeed did. She knew instinctively what colors and what
shapes would suit her form and face and harmonize with her general
wardrobe. So she wasted nothing in experiments or in articles to be
discarded because unbecoming or inharmonious. If Gertrude's toilets
were less expensive than Delia Spaulding's, they were more unique
and more picturesque. Indeed, there was not in her set a more
prettily-dressed girl than Gertrude, and scarcely a prettier girl. Her
society among the gentlemen was soon quoted at par, and then rose to a
Promptly on the first day of the second month Mr. Falconer called to
pay Susan's rent.
"How does your friend like the house?" she asked with a pardonable
desire to hear her house praised.
"Very much indeed. She says it is the most complete house of its kind
that she ever saw. Who was your architect, Miss Summerhaze? I
ask because the question has been asked of me by a gentleman who
contemplates building an inexpensive residence."
"I planned the house," Susan answered, a light coming into her face.
"Indeed! In all its details?"
"Yes, I planned everything."
"Have you studied architecture?"
"Not until I undertook to plan that house."
"That is your first effort? You never planned a house before?"
"You ought to turn builder: you ought to open an architect's office."
Susan laughed at the novel suggestion, for that was before the days
when women were showing their heads in all the walks of life.
"'Miss Summerhaze, Architect:' that would make a very unique card. It
would get abundant advertising free of expense, for everybody would
talk about it. There is no reason," continued Mr. Falconer, "why women
should not be architects: they have the taste, and they are the best
judges as to household conveniences--the only proper judges, indeed."
This has now a very commonplace sound, but for the period it was
fresh and original, and seemed so to Susan. Indeed, the idea was
fascinating: she thought Mr. Falconer a wonderfully bright and
"I wish there were other things women could do besides teaching and
taking in sewing," Susan said.
"Well, why don't you put yourself in the lead in this matter, Miss
Summerhaze? Somebody or bodies must step to the front. A revolution in
these matters is bound to come. Why shouldn't you become an architect?
Why shouldn't you go into a work for which you have evidently
remarkable talent? Why shouldn't you become a builder?"
"Well," said Susan, smiling, "there is no pressing call for me to earn
money. I have had my work-day, and have sufficient means to meet my
simple wants. Besides, I am not pining or rusting in idleness. The
management of my little means gives me employment. I happen to be
one of those exceptional women who 'want but little here below,'
especially in the way of ribbons and new bonnets. As you perceive, I
give myself little concern about matters of dress."
"And why shouldn't you give yourself concern about matters of dress,
Miss Summerhaze? Pardon me, but I think it your duty to look as well
as you can. You cannot do this without bestowing thought on matters of
"Why," said Susan, laughing, "what possible difference can it make to
anybody how I look?"
"It makes a difference to every person whom you encounter," Mr.
Falconer replied incisively.
"To you?" Susan challenged laughingly.
"Yes, a good deal of difference to me," the gentleman replied
promptly. "The sight of a woman artistically dressed affects me like
fine music or a fine painting."
"But have you no commendation for the woman who is independent enough
to rise above the vanities of fashion?" Susan asked with some warmth.
"Most certainly I have. I admire the woman who rises above vanities of
whatever nature. By all means throw the vanities of dress overboard,
but don't let sense and taste go with them. But I am making a lengthy
call: I had forgotten myself. Excuse me. Good-morning;" and Mr.
Falconer went out, and left Susan standing in the parlor just opposite
an oil-painting over the mantel.
She lifted her eyes to the picture. A simple little landscape it was,
where cows stood in a brook which wound in and out among drooping
willows. Susan always liked to look at this picture, because she knew
it was well painted. The cows had a look of quiet enjoyment in their
shapely figures. A coolness was painted in the brook and a soft
wind in the willow-branches. She stood there before it this morning
thinking how sweet it would be to move some man's soul as a fine
painting might move it. Then she sighed, and went to divide her
month's rent with her sister.
"Gertrude," she said, "do I look very old-fashioned?"
"Of course you do," said Gertrude. "You look fully as old-fashioned as
grandma does--more old-fashioned than mother does. I do wish, Susie,
you would dress better. You make me feel terribly sheepish sometimes.
You can afford to dress well."
"I have decided to get a new dress," said Susan. "What shall it be?
and how shall it be made? Something for the street."
"Oh, I know exactly what you ought to have," Gertrude said with
enthusiasm. "A dark-blue merino, a shade lighter than a navy, with
blue velvet bretelles. You would look superb in it, Susie: you'd be
made over new."
"I never looked superb in anything," said Susan with a smile through
which one saw a heartache.
"Because you never had pretty things to wear, Susie--because you never
dressed becomingly." The tears were actually in Gertrude's eyes, so
keen was her sympathy with any woman who didn't wear pretty things.
"Mayn't I go and select your dress this afternoon? Please let me: I
know the exact shade you ought to have."
Susan gave her consent, and away sailed Gertrude to the shops,
brimming with interest.
Through the enterprising management of this exuberant lady the new
blue dress soon arrived from the dressmaker's, bearing at its throat a
white favor in the shape of a good-sized bill. But then the dress was
handsome and stylish, and Susan when duly arrayed in it did indeed
seem made over.
"Susie, you look really handsome," Gertrude said when she had wound
her sister's abundant chestnut hair into a stylish coil, and had
arranged with artistic touches the inevitable laces and ribbons. "Just
come to the glass and look at yourself."
To the mirror went Susan--poor Susan who had always thought herself
plain--and there, sure enough, was a handsome face looking into hers,
growing momently handsomer with surprise and pleasure kindling in the
eye and spreading over cheek and brow.
Susan, be it understood, was by no means an ill-favored woman even in
her old-fashioned dress. She had a very good complexion, blue eyes,
large and dark and warm; and a mouth of some character, with mobile
lips and bright even teeth. But nobody had ever called her handsome
till to-day, neither had anybody called her plain. She had simply
passed unmarked. But what she had all along needed was somebody
to develop her resources, somebody to do just what had been done
to-day--to get her into a dress that would bring out her clear
complexion, that would harmonize with the shade of her earnest eyes;
to take her hair out of that hard twist at the back of the head, and
lay it tiara-like, a bright mass, above the brow; to substitute soft
lace for stiff, glazed linen, and a graceful knot of ribbon for
that rectangular piece of gold with a faded ambrotype in it called a
breastpin. And, too, she needed that walk she took in the crisp air to
bring the glow into her cheek; and then she needed that meeting with
Mr. Falconer, which chanced in that walk, to heighten the glow and to
brighten her already pleased eyes. The meeting took place at the door
of her house. It was an arrested, lingering look which he gave
her, and doubtless it was the character of this look, conscious and
significant, that deepened the glow in her face,
"I wonder if I affected him like a fine picture or a fine strain of
music?" Susan asked herself in passing him.
"Miss Summerhaze must be acting on the hint I gave her," thought
Mr. Falconer; and he went on with a little smile about his mouth. It
pleased him to think he had influenced her.
Thus it was that this man and this woman came to think of each other.
And now you are guessing that this thinking of each other advanced
into a warmer interest--that these two people fell in love if they
were not too far gone in years for such nonsense. Well for us all that
there are hearts that are never too old for the sweet nonsense--the
nonsense that is more sensible than half the philosophy of the sages.
Your guess is so good that I should feel chagrined if I were one of
those writers who delight in mysteries and in surprising the
reader. But my highest aim is to tell a straight-forward story, so
I acknowledge the guess correct, so far, at least, as my Susan is
concerned. I have said that the romance in her nature died hard; but
it never died at all. This man, this almost stranger, was rousing it
as warmth and light stir the sleeping asphodels of spring. The foolish
Susan came to think of Mr. Falconer whenever she made her toilet--to
thrill at every sight of him and at his lightest word. But this was
not till after many other meetings and interviews than those this
story has recorded. As Mr. Falconer was frequently at the house which
Susan built, and as this was less than a block removed from the one
she occupied, there naturally occurred many a chance meeting, when
some significant glance or word would send Susan's heart searching for
And these chance meetings were not all.
"Who was it that called, Susie?" Gertrude asked one evening when
her sister came up from a half-hour's interview with some one in the
"The gentleman who rents my house," Susan replied, her face turned
"What is he for ever coming here for?"
"He came to tell me that there were some screws loose in a
door-hinge," Susan answered.
"For pity's sake!" exclaimed Gertrude. "That's a great thing to come
bothering about! Why didn't he get a screw-driver and screw up the
"It's my place to keep the house in order," said Susan.
"The report of things out of order usually sets landlords in a feaze,
but you keep as serene as the moon with your tenant's complaints.
He's always finding something out of order, which seems strange,
considering that the house is brand-new."
Not many days after Gertrude had occasion to repeat her question to
Susan: "Who was it called?"
She received the reply she was expecting: "The man who rents my
"Indeed! What's the matter now? another screw loose?" Gertrude asked.
"He wanted to suggest an alteration in the pantry."
"Why, he's for ever wanting alterations made! I don't see how you can
be so patient with his criticisms: we all know you are house-proud.
I wouldn't listen to that man: he'll ruin your house with his
improvements. I don't know, anyhow, what he can mean by saying in
one breath that it is a perfect house, and in the next asking for an
"I'm sure I don't know," said Susan; and then her heart went into a
happy wondering as to what Mr. Falconer could mean.
"What is it this time?" Gertrude asked about three days after in
reference to "the man who rents my house," as described by Susan.
"Does he want another story put on your house?"
"No, he simply wanted to say that it would suit him to pay the rent
semi-monthly, instead of monthly," Susan answered somewhat warmly.
"And, pray, what's his notion for that?" Gertrude asked.
"I didn't inquire," replied Susan shortly, resenting the evident
criticism in her sister's tone.
But Susan did inquire why it was--inquired not of Mr. Falconer, but of
her own heart.
"I don't see any reason for his making two errands to do a thing that
could be done in one call. Instead of putting off pay-day, after the
manner of most men, he proposes to anticipate it. Well, perhaps you
and he understand it: I don't."
Why was this? Was it because it would double his visits to her? Was
Susan vain or foolish that she thus questioned herself?
It was perhaps a little singular that Mr. Falconer's name had never
passed between these two sisters; neither had Gertrude ever seen the
gentleman who made these frequent business-calls on Susan.
"The man who rents my house:" this reply told something--all that
Gertrude cared to know on the subject; whereas the reply, "Mr.
Falconer," would have conveyed no information. And because the name
had never been mentioned Susan was startled one morning after one
of Gertrude's fine parties. She was sitting at the window with a new
magazine while the young people talked over the party.
"I liked him so much," said Gertrude. "He says such bright, sensible
things: he's so original. Some men are good to dance, and some are
good to talk: he's good for both."
"I heard him when he asked for an introduction to you," said Brother
Tom. "He designated you as the young lady in the blonde dress: then he
said, 'Her dress is exquisite--just the color of golden hair. I never
saw a more beautiful toilette.'"
"Isn't that delightful?" cried Gertrude in a transport. "You precious
old Tom, to hear that! I'll give you a kiss for it."
"I wonder," said Brother Tom, recovering, "if he can be the same
Falconer I've heard the boys talk about?"
Susan had been hearing in an indolent way the talk between Tom and
Gertrude, but now her heart was bounding, and she was listening
"They tell about a Falconer who holds rather suspicious relations with
a handsome woman somewhere in the city. He rents a house for her where
she lives all alone, except that there's a baby and a servant-girl."
Alas for Susan! she knew but too well that this was her Mr. Falconer.
Tom continued: "The fellows have quizzed him about his lady, and have
tried to find out who she is, and how he's connected with her, but
he's close as a clam about the matter."
"Perhaps it's a widowed sister," Gertrude suggested.
"Then why doesn't he say so? and why doesn't he go there and live with
her, instead of boarding at a hotel? and why doesn't she ever go out
with him? They say she never goes out at all, but keeps hid away there
like a criminal."
"I'd like to know how the fellows, as you call them, could have
found all this out unless they employ spies?" Gertrude spoke testily,
feeling a strong inclination to stand up for the man who had paid
her a handsome compliment. "There probably are two Falconers. I know
there's nothing wrong about my Mr. Falconer, otherwise Mr. Richmond
wouldn't have introduced him to me."
"I wish I had thought to inquire if he's the man, but till this moment
I've not thought of that talk of the boys since I heard it. It takes
women to remember scandal and repeat it," said Brother Tom sagely.
"But I'll inquire about it, Gerty. Don't go to dreaming about Mr.
Falconer till I find out."
"Hold your tongue, you great _idjiot_!" said Gertrude, wrapping with
lazy grace a bright shawl about her and settling herself on a sofa
to nap off the party drowsiness. "Go on down town and find out," she
continued, her heavily-lashed lids dropping over the sleepy eyes: "go
So Tom went down town, Gertrude went to sleep, and Susan was left to
her thoughts. What had these thoughts been about all these weeks
that the question had never arisen as to the connection between Mr.
Falconer and the woman who occupied her house, "Who is she?" Now,
indeed, Susan asked the question with a burning at her heart. If she
was simply a friend or a sister, why this reticence and mystery
of which Tom had spoken? If she was his wife, why any reticence or
mystery? Besides, Mr. Falconer had said he was a bachelor.
Susan could contrive no answers to these questions that brought any
relief to her vexed heart. She had no courage to make inquiries of
others, lest the character of her interest might be discovered. Guilt
made her cowardly.
She was yet turning the matter over and over when Brother Tom
returned. She scanned his face with a keen scrutiny, eager to get at
what he had learned, yet not daring to ask a question.
When Tom had pinched Gertrude's drowsy ear into consciousness he
poured into it this unwelcome information: "I've found out that your
Mr. Falconer is the man. But who the lady is I have not been able to
discover. She is an inscrutable mystery--a good heroine for Wilkie
"Who told you?" Gertrude demanded in a challenging tone.
"Jack Sidmore: he knows your Mr. Falconer well. Why, Falconer's no
new man: he's an old resident here. He's of the firm of Falconer,
Trowbridge & Co., grain-dealers on Canal street. You know Phil
"I'm sure there's nothing wrong about Mr. Falconer, or he wouldn't
have been at Minnie Lathrop's party." said Gertrude resolutely.
"Well, Jack Sidmore knows the gentleman, and he says there is no doubt
he has suspicious relations with Miss or Madam The-Lord-knows-who. So,
you see, you're to drop Mr. Falconer like a hot potato--to give him
the cut direct."
"It would be a shame to if he's all right, and I feel certain he is,"
said Gertrude, still showing fight.
"Now, look here, Gert: don't be foolish. It won't do to compromise
yourself. Be advised by me: I'm your guardian angel, you know. You can
spare Mr. Falconer: your train will be long enough with him cut off."
"He's the most interesting acquaintance I've made this winter," said
"Don't you say so, Sue? Oughtn't Gertrude to cut him? You've heard
what we've been talking about, haven't you?"
"Please don't appeal to me," Susan managed to say without lifting her
eyes from the blurred page before her.
She had been more than once on the point of telling Gertrude and Tom
what she knew about Mr. Falconer--that it was her house he had
rented for his friend, etc. But everything about the matter was so
indefinite. She was fearful of exposing her unhappy heart, and she had
withal some vague hope of unsnarling the tangled skein when she should
find opportunity to think. So she allowed them to finish up their
discussion and to leave the room without a hint of the facts in her
When they had gone the set, statuesque features relaxed. A stricken
look settled like a shadow over them. You would have said, "It will
never depart: that face can never brighten again."
The thing in Susan's heart was not despair. There was the
suffering that comes from the blight of a sweet hope, from the rude
dispossession of a good long withheld. But overriding everything else
was humiliation--a feeling of degradation, such as some deed of shame
would engender. Her spirit was in the dust, for she knew now that she
had given her love unasked. Was not this enough, after all the years
of longing and dreary waiting and sickening commonplace? Could not
the Fates have let her off from this cup, so bitter to a proud woman's
lips? Why should she be delivered over to an unworthy love? Why should
they exact this uttermost farthing of anguish her heart could pay? But
is he unworthy? is this proved? asked the sweet voice of Hope. Then
the face which you were sure could never brighten, did brighten, but,
alas! so little; for there was another voice, a voice that dismayed:
"Why otherwise the silence, the mystery?" Persistently the question
was repeated, till Mrs. Summerhaze came in and asked Susan to do some
marketing for dinner.
"You look all fagged, anyway: the fresh air 'll be good for you."
So Susan put on her bonnet and went out, feeling there was nothing
could do her any good. She drew her veil down, the better to shut away
her suffering from people, and a little way from home turned into a
meat-market. She was in the centre of the shop before she discovered
Mr. Falconer a few yards away, his back turned to her. She
involuntarily caught at her veil to make sure it was closely drawn.
She held it securely down, and hurried away at random to the remotest
part of the shop, though her ear was all the while strained to hear
what Mr. Falconer was saying.
He was ordering sundry packages to be sent to No. 649 North Jefferson
street--Susan's house. In her remote corner, from behind her veil,
with eager eyes Susan looked at the face that to her had been so
noble, at the form which had seemed full of graceful strength. She
would have yielded up her life there to have had that face and form
now as it had been to her. He went out of the shop, and she went about
making her purchases in a dazed kind of way that caused the shopman
to stare. Then she wandered up the street past her home to 649 North
Jefferson street, to the house she had built with such abounding
pride and pleasure. How changed it now seemed! It had become a haunted
house--haunted by the ghosts of her faith and peace.
For three days Susan as much as possible kept away from the family,
and appeared very much engaged with Prescott's _Conquest of Peru_. But
at the breakfast-table on the third day she received a start. Gertrude
and Tom had been at a party the evening before. (They averaged some
four parties a week.) Tom looked surly and Gertrude defiant.
"Why, Tom, what's the matter with you?" the mother asked. "'Pears to
me I never did see you so pouty as you be this morning. What's gone
"Perhaps Gertrude can inform you," Tom answered severely.
Gertrude flushed with annoyance, but tossed her head.
"Why, what's happened, Gertrude?"
"Nothing for Tom to make such a fuss about. He's mad at me because I
won't insult a gentleman who is invited to the best houses, and who is
received by the most particular young ladies of my acquaintance."
"At any rate," retorted Tom, "I heard Jack Sidmore tell his sister
that she was not to recognize Mr. Falconer. I have warned Gertrude
that a great many people believe him to be a suspicious character, and
some know him to be such, so far as women are concerned, and yet last
night Gertrude accepted his company home."
"Hadn't you gone home with Delia Spaulding? Was I to come trapesing
home alone?" said Gertrude by way of justification.
"Now, Gert, be fair: didn't I tell you that I'd be back immediately?"
"Yes, but I knew something about the length of your 'immediatelies'
when Delia Spaulding was concerned."
"You might have had Phil Trowbridge as an escort."
"Phil Trowbridge! I hate him!" said Gertrude with such vehemence that
the very line which parted her hair was crimsoned.
"Well, what's that other man done?" asked the mother, who had not lost
her interest in the original question. "What do folks have against
"Why, he's rented a house and set up a woman in it, and nobody knows
who she is, and he won't let out a word about her. If she's an honest
wife or his sister or a reputable friend, why the deuce doesn't he
say so? Jack Sidmore says there isn't any doubt but that the woman
is Falconer's mistress, to speak in plain English. Hang it! Gertrude
can't take a hint."
"Falconer! Why, Susan, ain't that the name of the man who rented your
house?" cried the mother.
Susan felt all their eyes turned on her, and knew that she was
cornered. So she said "Yes," and raised her coffee-cup to her lips,
but set it down quickly, as she felt her hand trembling.
"And did he rent it for a _lady friend?_" Tom asked, putting a
significant stress on the last two words.
"He did," Susan answered.
"And is there living in your house, right here beside us, a mysterious
woman with a baby?" Gertrude asked eagerly.
"There's a woman living in my house, and she has a little girl," said
Susan on the defensive.
"And does Mr. Falconer visit her?"
"Perhaps so: I have no spies out."
"Why, Susie! how strange! You never told me a word about it. I never
dreamed that Mr. Falconer was the man who had rented your house, and
who has been running here so much," Gertrude said.
"Well, I'd get that woman out of my house as quick as ever I could if
I was you, Susan," said Mrs. Summerhaze. "Like as not the house will
get a bad name, so you'll have trouble renting it."
"I'm more concerned about Gertrude's name," Tom said.
Gertrude's eyes flashed daggers at Tom.
"Of course Gertrude mustn't keep company with Mr. Falconer," said the
mother. "Young girls can't be too particular who they 'sociate with."
Susan said nothing on the subject, though by far the most concerned
of the party on her sister's account. It was significant and alarming,
the warmth and persistence with which Gertrude defended Mr. Falconer.
It was evident that her interest was in some way enlisted. Was it
sympathy she felt, or was hers a generous stand against a possible
injustice? Whatever the feeling, there was danger in this young and
ardent girl becoming the partisan of an interesting man. Yet how could
she, the involved, bewildered Susan, dare warn Gertrude? How could
she ever do it? Would it not seem even to her own heart that she was
acting selfishly? How could she satisfy her own conscience that she
was not moved by jealousy? Besides, what could she say? Gertrude knew
all that she could tell her of Mr. Falconer and his relations--knew
everything except that she, Susan, had loved--and, alas! did yet love
unasked--this unworthy man.
Ought she, as her mother had advised, demand possession of her house?
She shrunk from striking at a man--above all, this man--whom so many
were assaulting. No. She would leave God to deal with him. Besides,
there might be nothing wrong. All might yet be explained, all might
yet be set to rights, all--unless, unless Gertrude--Oh, why should
there arise this new and terrible complication? Gertrude with her
youth and beauty and enthusiasm--why must she be drawn into the
For days, feverish, haunted days, Susan went over and over these
questions and speculations. In the mean time, Tom entered another
complaint against Gertrude. "She gave the greater part of last evening
to the fellow," he said.
"The party was stiff and stupid: Margaret Pillsbury's parties always
are--no dancing, no cards. Mr. Falconer was the only man there who
could say anything." This was Gertrude's defence, given with some
confusion, and with more of doggedness than defiance in her tone.
"I told you, Gertrude, you had ought to stop keeping company with Mr.
Falconer," said her mother.
"If she doesn't stop, she will force me to insult the gentleman," said
Brother Tom resolutely.
Gertrude looked at the speaker as though she would like to bite him
with all her might.
"Now, don't go to getting into a fuss," the mother said to Tom.
"Gertrude must stop, or else she'll have to stop going to parties and
stay to home."
Gertrude did not speak, but Susan, glancing up, saw a set look in the
young face that struck a terror to her heart. She believed that
she could interpret her sister's every look and mood--that she knew
Gertrude by heart.
"By their opposition they are only strengthening her interest:" this
was Susan's conclusion.
In the mean time, Mr. Falconer's next pay-day was approaching. With a
dreadful kind of fascination Susan counted the hours that must bring
the interview with him. She longed yet dreaded to meet him. Would he
look changed to her? would she seem changed to him? How should she
behave? how would he behave? Would she be able to maintain a calm
coldness, or would her conscious manner betray her mistrust, her
wounded heart? So great, at times, grew her dread of the meeting that
she was tempted to absent herself, and to ask her mother or Tom to see
Mr. Falconer and receive the rent-money. But she did not dare trust
either of these. Tom might take that opportunity of conveying
the insult with which he had threatened Mr. Falconer, while the
plain-spoken mother would be certain to forbid him Gertrude's society,
and probably give him notice to vacate Susan's house. No, she must
stay at home and abide the meeting; and, after all, what would she not
rather do and suffer than miss it?
But an interview with Mr. Falconer came sooner than Susan had
anticipated. It was in the early evening, immediately after tea, that
the servant brought her Mr. Falconer's card, on which was written, "An
emergency! May I see you immediately?"
Susan hid the card in her dress-pocket, and went wondering and
blundering down stairs and into the parlor.
Mr. Falconer rose and came quickly forward. His manner was nervous
and hurried; "I thank you for this prompt response to my appeal,
Miss Summerhaze. You can do a great kindness for me; and not for me
only--you can serve a woman who is in sore need of a friend."
Susan's heart was ready to leap from her bosom. Was she to be asked
to befriend this woman toward whom people's eyes were turning in
mistrust, and about whom their lips were whispering?
"May I depend on you?" Mr. Falconer asked.
"Go on," said Susan vaguely.
"But may I depend upon you? upon your secresy?"
"In all that is honest you may depend upon me," she replied.
"Briefly, then. The lady for whom I rented your house is my sister. I
could never tell you her story: it ought never to be told. But the
man she married betrayed all her trust, and made her life one long
nightmare of horrors. At length, in a drunken fury one wretched autumn
night, in the rain and sleet, he turned her and her baby into the
street at midnight, and bolted the doors against them. Then she
resolved to fly from him and be rid of him for ever. A train was about
leaving the depot, some three blocks distant. Without bonnet or shawl,
the damp ice in her hair and on her garments, she entered the car, the
only woman in it. She came to me. Thank God! she had me to come to!"
Mr. Falconer was crying; so was Susan.
"The beneficent law gives the child to the father," Mr. Falconer
continued. "The father is now in the city seeking the child. He has
his detectives at work, and I have mine. In his very camp there is a
man in my service. Fortunately, I out-money him. Now, my sister knows
of Patterson's being here. (The man's name is Patterson.) She has
grown pitifully nervous, and is full of apprehension. She is very
lonely. I must get her away from that house, and yet I must keep
her here with me: she has no one else to look to. I don't know, Miss
Summerhaze, why I should come to you for help when there are hundreds
of others here whom I have known so much longer. I am following an
He paused and looked at Susan, as if waiting for her reply. Happy
Susan! Eager, trembling, her face glowing with a tender enthusiasm, a
tearful ecstasy, feeling that it would be sweet to die in the service
of this man whom her thoughts had so wronged, she gave her answer: "I
am so glad you have come to me! Anything on earth I can do to aid you
I will do with all my heart--as for myself. Let your sister come here
if that will suit you."
It was what he wanted.
"I am sorry I have not made your sister's acquaintance: would it be
convenient for me to go with you this evening and get acquainted with
"Perfectly convenient, and I should be glad to have you go."
"I will bring my bonnet and shawl, and we will go at once."
"If you please."
Susan quickly crossed the parlor, but stopped at the door: "Perhaps
your sister would feel more secure and more at peace to come to us
right away--to-night. Sha'n't I bring her away to-night?"
"It would be a great mercy if you would do so, Miss Summerhaze," Mr.
Falconer replied with an earnest thankfulness in his voice.
"Then please wait a few minutes till I explain things a little to my
mother;" and with a quick, light step Susan hurried away.
Great were the surprise and interest awakened in the household by the
revelation she made in the next ten minutes.
"Have her come right along to-night, poor thing!" the mother said,
overflowing with sympathy.
Gertrude was triumphant. There was a warm glow on her cheek, and such
a happy light in her eyes as Susan afterward remembered with a pang.
"She had better have my room: it is so much more cheerful than the
guest-chamber," Gertrude said.
Even Brother Tom, though demonstrated to have been on the wrong side,
was pleased, for he was good-natured and generous in his light manner.
So Susan went back to Mr. Falconer, feeling that she had wings and
could soar to the heavens. And she was happier yet as she walked that
half block, her arm in his, feeling its warmth and strength. It is
all very well to speculate in stocks and to build houses, but for such
hearts as Susan's there is perhaps something better.
Too soon for one of them their brief walk was ended, and Susan sat in
the neat, plainly-furnished parlor waiting the return of Mr. Falconer,
who had gone to seek his sister. When at length the door opened, Susan
sat forgetful, her gaze intent on the rare face that appeared by
Mr. Falconer's side. It was not that the face was beautiful, though
perhaps it was, or had been. It was picturesque, made so in great
measure by a stricken look it had, and a strange still whiteness.
It was one of those haunting faces that will not let themselves be
forgotten--a face that solemnized, because it indexed the mortal agony
of a human soul.
"Miss Summerhaze, this is my sister, Mrs. Patterson." said Mr.
With a sweet cordiality of manner the lady held out her hand: "My
brother has often told me about you: I am very glad to make your
Susan was greatly interested. "And I am very glad too," she said,
a tremor in her voice. She wanted to run away and cry off the great
flood of sympathy that was choking her. "Dear lady, may I kiss
you?" she wanted to say. "Poor dear! she needs brooding." This Susan
thought, and she wished she dared put out her arms and draw the sad
face to her bosom, the sad heart against her own.
They talked over their plans, and then Mrs. Patterson and the little
girl went home with Susan.
During Mrs. Patterson's stay with the Summerhazes, Mr. Falconer made
frequent calls, though his movements were marked by great caution,
lest they might betray the pursued wife to her husband. These calls
were of a general character, designed for the household, and not
exclusively for Mrs. Patterson. And they were continued after the lady
had returned to No. 649. But they were to Susan tortures. They were
but opportunities for noting the interest between Mr. Falconer and
Gertrude. This was evident not alone to Susan, or she might have had
some chance of charging it to the invention of her jealousy. Tom and
Mrs. Summerhaze had both remarked it.
"He's well to do, Tom says, and stands respectable with the
business-men," the mother commented to Susan; "and Gertrude 'pears
fond of him, and he does of her; so I can't see any good reason why
they shouldn't marry if they want one another. Anyhow, it's better for
girls to marry and settle down and learn to housekeep--"
"Yes, yes," cried Susan's heart with pathetic impatience, "it's
"Instead of going to parties in thin shoes and cobweb frocks: I wonder
they don't all take the dipthery. And then they set up till morning.
I couldn't ever stand that: I'd be laid up with sick headache every
time. Besides, they eat them unhealthy oysters and Charlotte rooshes,
and such like: no wonder so many people get the dyspepsy. Yes, I think
Gertrude had better take Mr. Falconer if he wants her to. Ain't that
your mind about it, Susan?"
"She had better accept him if--if--they love each other." Then Susan
grew faint and soul-sick, and something in her heart seemed to die, as
though she had spoken the fatal words that made them each other's for
ever--that cut her loose from her sweet romance and sent her drifting
into the gloom.
That evening Mr. Falconer called. Susan said she was not well, and
kept her room. Gertrude had planned to go to the opera with Tom, but
she decided to remain at home. Long after Tom had gone out Susan in
her chamber above could hear from the parlor the murmur of voices--Mr.
Falconer's and Gertrude's. They were low and deep: the topic between
them was evidently no light one. While she listened her imagination
was busy concerning their subject, their attitudes, their looks, and
even their words. And every imagining was such a pain that she tried
to close her ear against their voices. Then she went to her mother's
room. Here, being forced to reply to commonplaces when all her thought
was strained to the parlor, she was soon driven back to her own
chamber. She turned the gas low and lay on a lounge, her face buried
in the cushion, abandoned to a wrecked feeling.
After a time she heard some one enter her room. She sat up, and saw
Gertrude standing beside her, the gas turned high. She wished her
sister would go away: she hated the sight of that beautiful, glad
face. She turned her eyes away from it, and then, ashamed to begrudge
the young thing her happiness, she lifted her stained lids, to
Gertrude's face and smiled all she possibly could. She tried in that
moment to feel glad that the disappointment and grief had come to
her instead of Gertrude. Her heart was inured to a hard lot, but
Gertrude's had always been sheltered. It would be a pity to have it
turned out into the cold: her own had long been used to chill and to
"Susie, won't you go with us sleigh-riding to-morrow evening?"
Gertrude asked. "Mr. Falconer and I have planned a sleighing-party for
to-morrow evening. They say the sleighing is perfectly superb."
"Is that what you've been doing?" Susan asked, feeling somehow that
there would be a relief in hearing that it was all.
"That's a part of what we've been doing." A rosy glow came into
Gertrude's cheek, and the old mean, jealous feeling came back into
Susan's heart. "Mr. Falconer wants you to go," said Gertrude.
"He does not," Susan returned in a fierce tone. She was forgetting
herself: her heart was giddy and blind with the sudden wave of
bitterness that came pouring over it. "He wants you: nobody wants me.
"Of course I'll go away if you want me to," Gertrude replied, pouting
and looking injured, but yet lingering at Susan's side. She had
come to tell something, and she didn't wish to be defrauded of the
pleasure. "I guess you're asleep yet, Susie. Wake up and look at
this;" and Gertrude held her beautiful white hand before Susan's eyes,
and pointed to a superb solitaire diamond that blazed like a star on
her finger. She sat down beside her sister. "I'm engaged, Susie, and
I came up here to ask your blessing, and you're so cross to me;" and
Gertrude put her head on Susan's shoulder and shed a few tears.
Susan could have cried out with frantic pain. "But," she thought,
"I knew it was coming. After all, I am glad to have the suspense
ended--to be brought to face the matter squarely."
In response to Gertrude's reproach Susan said in a low tone that was
almost a whisper, "I congratulate you: I think you are doing well."
"Of course I'm doing well," Gertrude said, lifting her head and
speaking with triumphant animation. "He's wealthy and handsome, and
half the girls in our set are dying for him. But we've been about the
same as engaged for months. But about two weeks ago we had an awful
quarrel, all about nothing. But we were both so spunky I don't believe
we ever would have made up in the wide world if it hadn't been for
Mr. Falconer. He just went back and forth between us until I agreed
to grant Phil an interview. So Phil came round to-night; and don't you
believe the conceited thing brought the ring along!"
Susan was listening with wide-opened, staring eyes, like one in a
trance. It wasn't Mr. Falconer, then; and who in the world was Phil?
Was she awake? Had she heard aright? Yes, there was the ring and there
was Gertrude, and she was still speaking: "I've already picked out my
bridesmaids, I'm going to have Nellie Trowbridge--Phil's sister, you
know--she's going to stand with Tom; and you're going to stand with
Mr. Falconer, because he's the senior partner in Phil's firm: and then
I'm going to have Delia Spaulding and Minnie Lathrop, because they'll
make a good exhibition, they're so stylish."
On and on Gertrude went, talking of white satin and tulle and lace and
bridal veils and receptions. And Susan sat and listened with a happy
light in her eyes, and now and then laughed a little glad laugh or
spoke some sweet word of sympathy.
At a late hour in the night Susan put her arms around her sister and
kissed the happy young face once, twice, three times, and said, in no
whisper now, "God bless you, dear!" Then Gertrude went away to happy
dreams, and left Susan to happy thoughts--at last.
No, not at last. The "at last" did not come till the next evening,
when by Mr. Falconer's side, warm and snug under the great wolf-robe,
Susan heard something. With the something there came at length to the
tired, hungry, waiting heart the thrill, the transport, the enchanted
music that makes this earth a changed world.
SARAH WINTER KELLOGG.
AFTER A YEAR.
Dear! since they laid thee underneath the snow
But one brief year with all its days hath past.
Methought its hurrying moments flew too fast:
I would have had them lingering, move more slow;
For of the past one happy thing I know,
That thou wert of it; but these swift days flee,
And bear me to a future void of thee.
Yet still I feel that ever as I go
I know thee better, and I love thee more.
As one withdraws from a tall mountain's base
To see its summit, bright, remote and high,
So hath my heart through distance learnt its lore,
The knowledge of thy soul's most secret grace--
Those silent heights that lose themselves in sky.
THE BERKSHIRE LADY.
_To the Editor of Lippincot's Magazine_:
SIR: There are few pleasanter ways of passing a desultory hour than
haphazard reading amongst old numbers of a good magazine. I say
advisedly "a desultory hour," for when it comes to more than that the
habit is apt to become demoralizing. And, excellent as many English
magazines are, I must own that for this particular purpose I give
the preference to our American cousins. It would not be easy to say
precisely why, but so it is. One feels lighter after them than one
does after the same time given to their English confreres. It may be
that there is more abandon, more tumbling in them--much more of that
borderland writing (if one may use the phrase) so good, as I think,
for magazine purposes, which you skim with a kind of titillating doubt
in your mind whether it is jest or earnest--whether you are to take
seriously, or the writer intended you to take seriously, what he
is telling you; and so you may drop into a sort of dreamy
_Alice-in-Wonderland_ state, prepared to accept whatever comes next in
a purely receptive condition, and without any desire to ask questions.
It was in such a frame of mind, and with considerable satisfaction,
that I found myself some time since sitting in a friend's house with
a spare corner of time on my hands, in a comfortable armchair, and a
number of old _Lippincotts_ on the table by my side, the odds and
ends of the collection of a young countrywoman of mine of literary and
Transatlantic tastes. I glanced through some half dozen numbers taken
up at hazard, recognizing here and there an old friend--for I have
been an on-and-off reader in these pages for years--and getting just
pleasantly pricked with a number of new ideas, as to which I felt no
responsibility--no need of ticketing or labeling or packing them--when
I came suddenly upon a paper which sharply roused me from my mood of
_laisser aller_. It was by your accomplished and amusing contributor
Lady Blanche Murphy, and the subject just such a one as one would wish
to happen on under the circumstances--Slains Castle, one of the oldest
and most romantic of the grim palace-keeps which are dotted over
Scotland, round which legends cluster so thick that there is not one
of their towers, scarcely a slender old mullioned window, which is not
specially connected with some stirring tale of love, war or crime. But
Slains stands pre-eminent among Scotch castles on other grounds, and
has an interest which the doings of the earls of Errol, its lords,
could never have won for it. The Wizard of the North has thrown his
spell over it, and, whether Sir Walter Scott intended it or not,
Slains is accepted now as the Elangowan Castle in _Guy Mannering_.
Now, with all these rich stores to work on, these exceeding many
flocks and herds of Northern legend and glamour, Lady Blanche should
surely have been content, and not have descended into the South of
England, upon a quiet country-house in Berkshire, to seize its one
ewe lamb and claim that the heroine of the story which I hope to tell
before I get to the end of my paper was none other than the termagant
Countess Mary, hereditary lord high constable of Scotland, and the
owner of Slains Castle at the beginning of last century.