Part 2 out of 4
[Illustration: THE REPOSE OF THE HOLY FAMILY. CANTARINI (ITALIAN: BORN
1612; DIED 1648).]
The next of these northern painters who can claim the first rank is he
who is in some respects the greatest of all from a painter's
standpoint, Rembrandt van Ryn. There is little of the primitive
Italian here, little of the painter who worships his Madonna through
the medium of his craft as some great lady, "empress of heaven and of
earth." Rembrandt's picture, lacking this mysticism, gains, however,
in humanity; and however far even from our modern point of view it may
be as a creation embodying the divine Motherhood, it throbs with
tenderness. The homely interior, the good mother, the almost pathetic
_abandon_ of the sleeping child--surely no painter ever wrought
better, nor, we may be sure, more devoutly!
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. P.A.J. DAGNAN-BOUVERET, A LIVING
Then the giant Peter Paul Rubens, with his facile brush, his acres of
canvas, covered with the virile arabesque by which he has transmitted
to us the record of a temperament so full of life that it needs no
great effort of imagination, before one of his crowded canvases, to
imagine the doughty Fleming back in our midst, and taking his place as
Jupiter upon his painted Olympus, reawakened to life. Yet, when he in
turn approaches this natal subject, his pagan brush touches the
canvas lightly, and all its deftness is given to the praise of Our
Lady and Our Lord. With him, as with the painters of all and differing
nationalities, both Mother and Child bear the strong impress of the
painter's surroundings. It is as though the miraculous birth had, by
some mysterious dispensation, taken place in each of the countries of
the world, the better to insure the comprehension of the message of
divine love to all peoples.
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. N. BARABINO, A LIVING ITALIAN
[Illustration: HOLY FAMILY. SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (FLEMISH: BORN 1599;
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. CARLO DOLCI (ITALIAN: BORN 1616; DIED
[Illustration: HOLY FAMILY. BONIFAZIO (ITALIAN: BORN 1494; DIED
With Van Dyck, a little later, the Child is a young patrician; the
quality of the painter's imagination, influenced by his frequentation
of the princes of the earth, making him conceive the young Christ as a
magnificent man-child, fit to be called later to the high places of
the world, a serene and noble leader.
Somewhat differently did the Italians of the great epoch of painting,
Raphael, Titian, Veronese, even Bellini, who was earlier, conceive
their subject. While both Mother and Child with them were merely what
painters call a "bit" of painting, directly founded on close study of
a living woman and child, there was always present a religious
feeling, different, but almost as intense as that of the primitive
Italian painters. Throughout the many Madonnas on which the fame of
Raphael is founded we feel that, through a certain variety of type,
the research was always the same--a desire to realize the maid-mother,
and to presage, in the lineaments of the child, his future character.
This sentiment, everywhere present, is approached reverently, and the
too short-lived painter in his work at least utters a constant prayer.
With Bellini, with Titian, and with Veronese the effort is not
dissimilar, though something of the sumptuosity of Venetian life has
crept in, and it is to a queen of earth as much as of heaven, and to a
prince of the church temporal, that their service is rendered.
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. N. BARABINO, A LIVING ITALIAN
In the Spanish pictures, particularly those of earlier date than any
Spanish picture reproduced here, we feel the strong impress of the
Church. In the picture by Alonso Cano there looks out from the eyes of
the Mother the sentiment of the cloistered nun; and though, with the
Murillos, we catch a glimpse of Spain outside of the Church, even with
him there is a sense of subjection from which the memories of the
Inquisition are not altogether absent.
[Illustration: LA VIERGE AU COUSSIN VERT--MADONNA OF THE GREEN
CUSHION. ANDREA DA SOLARIO (ITALIAN: BORN 1458; DIED 1530).]
[Illustration: LA VIERGE AUX CERISES--MADONNA OF THE CHERRIES.
ANNIBALE CARRACCI (ITALIAN: BORN 1560; DIED 1609).]
[Illustration: JESUS ASLEEP. L. DESCHAMPS, A LIVING FRENCH PAINTER.]
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. S.H. LYBAERT, A LIVING GERMAN
Our modern art has become so complex, the demands on the modern
painter are so different from those which the older masters met, that
our latter-day painting offers fewer examples of the Mother and Child.
Dagnan-Bouveret, in France, however, has treated the subject in such a
way as to show that there yet remains new presentations of the
world-old theme. To-day the painter has to retain the sentiment of his
subject through a network of technical difficulties, and the gracious
virginal figure which Monsieur Dagnan-Bouveret has painted does this
measurably well; while he has triumphed technically in painting a
figure in white, lit by reflected light filtered through a network of
green leaves. Another picture of the Virgin and Child, where the
outline of the Child is seen through the cloak by which his mother
shelters him, was exhibited not long ago in New York, and is
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. E. VAN HOVE, A LIVING FRENCH
[Illustration: THE HOLY NIGHT. F. ROEBER, A LIVING GERMAN PAINTER.]
[Illustration: MOTHER AND CHILD. ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE SIXTEENTH
CENTURY; ARTIST UNKNOWN.]
[Illustration: THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI. SPAGNOLETTO (SPANISH: BORN
1588; DIED 1656).]
[Illustration: THE MADONNA OF THE TEMPI FAMILY. RAPHAEL (ITALIAN: BORN
1483; DIED 1520).]
[Illustration: HOLY FAMILY. REMBRANDT (DUTCH: BORN 1607; DIED 1669).]
In Italy, sadly fallen from her former greatness in art, many painters
render their service to the Church and to their ancient faith, and
there are numerous pictures of the divine Mother and Child. The best
of these, however, are characterized by novel arrangement of the
figures rather than by any sentiment in keeping with theme--a
criticism applicable also to most the modern French examples. Modern
Germany gains in sentiment while losing decidedly in pictorial value,
and it is a question whether it is possible, in these times, to avoid
a mere repetition of what has already been so well done, and produce
more than a picture which, with pictorial and technical qualities, is
laboring in the messages of "peace on earth, good-will to men."
[Illustration: MADONNA, INFANT JESUS, AND ST. JOHN. VOUET (FRENCH:
BORN 1590; DIED 1649).]
[Illustration: LA VIERGE A LA GRAPPE--MADONNA OF THE GRAPES. PIERRE
MIGNARD (FRENCH: BORN 1610; DIED 1695).]
[Illustration: LA VIERGE AU LAPIN--MADONNA OF THE RABBIT. TITIAN
(ITALIAN: BORN 1477; DIED 1576).]
[Illustration: THE FOND MOTHER. GABRIEL GUAY, A LIVING FRENCH
[Illustration: ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS.
From a photograph by Mr. Benjamin Kimball, Boston.]
CHAPTERS FROM A LIFE.
BY ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS,
Author of "The Gates Ajar," "The Madonna of the Tubs," etc.
Has it not been said that once in a lifetime most of us succumb to the
particular situation against which we have cultivated the strongest
principles? If there be one such, among the possibilities to which a
truly civilized career is liable, more than another objectionable to
the writer of these words, the creation of autobiography has long been
Yet, for that offence, once criminal to my taste, I find myself hereby
about to become indictable; and do set my hand and seal, on this day
of the recall of my dearest literary oath, in this year of eminent
autobiographical examples, one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five.
"There is ----, who has written a charming series of personal
reminiscences, and ---- ----, and ----.
"You might meet your natural shrinking by allowing yourself to treat
especially of your literary life; including, of course, whatever went
to form and sustain it."
"I suppose I _might_," I sigh. The answer is faint; but the deed is
decreed. Shall I be sorry for it?
It is a gray day, on gray Cape Ann, as I write these words. The fog is
breathing over the downs. The outside steamers shriek from off the
Point, as they feel their way at live of noon, groping as though it
were dead of night, and stars and coast-lights all were smitten dark,
and every pilot were a stranger to his chart.
A stranger to my chart, I, doubtful, put about, and make the untried
At such a moment, one thinks wistfully of that fair, misty world which
is all one's own, yet on the outside of which one stands so humbly,
and so gently. One thinks of the unseen faces, of the unknown friends
who have read one's tales of other people's lives, and cared to read,
and told one so, and made one believe in their kindness, and affection
and fidelity for thirty years. And the hesitating heart calls out to
them: Will _you_ let me be sorry? Thirty years! It is a good while
that you and I have kept step together. Shall we miss it now? If _you_
will care to hear such chapters as may select themselves from the
story of the story-teller,--you have the oldest right to choose, and
I, the happy will to please you if I can.
* * * * *
The lives of the makers of books are very much like other people's in
most respects, but especially in this: that they are either rebels to,
or subjects of, their ancestry. The lives of some literary persons
begin a good while after they are born. Others begin a good while
Of this latter kind is mine.
It has sometimes occurred to me to find myself the possessor of a sort
of unholy envy of writers concerning whom our stout American phrase
says that they have "made themselves." What delight to be aware that
one has not only created one's work, but the worker! What elation in
the remembrance of the battle against a commercial, or a scientific,
or a worldly and superficial heredity; in the recollection of the tug
with habit and education, and the overthrow of impulses setting in
other directions than the chosen movement of one's own soul!
What pleasure in the proud knowledge that all one's success is one's
own doing, and the sum of it cast up to one's credit upon the long
ledger of life! To this exhilarating self-content I can lay no claim.
For whatever measure of what is called success has fallen to my lot, I
can ask no credit. I find myself in the chastened position of one
whose literary abilities all belong to one's ancestors.
It is humbling--I do not deny that it may be morally invigorating--to
feel that whatever is "worth mentioning" in my life is no affair of
mine, but falls under the beautiful and terrible law by which the dead
men and women whose blood bounds in our being control our destinies.
Yet, with the notable exception of my father, I have less than the
usual store of personal acquaintance with the "people who most
influenced me." Of my grandfather, Moses Stuart, I have but two
recollections; and these, taken together, may not be quite devoid of
interest, as showing how the law of selection works in the mind of an
I remember seeing the Professor of Sacred Literature come into his
dining-room one morning in his old house on Andover Hill which was
built for him, and marked the creation of his department in the early
days of the seminary history. He looked very tall and imposing. He had
a mug in his hand, and his face smiled like the silver of which it was
The mug was full of milk, and he handed it ceremoniously to the
year-old baby, his namesake and grandson, my first brother, whose
high-chair stood at the table.
Then, I remember--it must have been a little more than a year after
that--seeing the professor in his coffin in the front hall; that he
looked taller than he did before, but still imposing; that he had his
best coat on--the one, I think, in which he preached; and that he was
the first dead person I had ever seen.
Whenever the gray-headed men who knew him used to sit about, relating
anecdotes of him--as, how many commentaries he published, or how he
introduced the first German lexicon into this country (as if a girl in
short dresses would be absorbingly interested in her grandfather's
dictionaries!)--I saw the silver mug and the coffin.
Gradually the German lexicon in a hazy condition got melted in between
them. Sometimes the baby's mug sat upon the dictionary. Sometimes the
dictionary lay upon the coffin. Sometimes the baby spilled the milk
out of the mug upon the dictionary. But for my personal uses, the
Andover grandfather's memoirs began and ended with the mug and the
The other grandfather was not distinguished as a scholar; he was but
an orthodox minister of ability and originality, and with a vivacious
personal history. Of him I knew something. From his own lips came
thrilling stories of his connection with the underground railway of
slavery days; how he sent the sharpest carving-knife in the house,
concealed in a basket of food, to a hidden fugitive slave who had
vowed never to be taken alive, and whose master had come North in
search of him. It was a fine thing, that throbbing humanity, which
could in those days burst the reformer out of the evangelical husk,
and I learned my lesson from it. ("Where _did_ she get it?"
conservative friends used to wail, whenever I was seen to have tumbled
into the last new and unfashionable reform.)
From his own lips, too, I heard the accounts of that extraordinary
case of house-possession of which (like Wesley) this innocent and
unimaginative country minister, who had no more faith in "spooks" than
he had in Universalists, was made the astonished victim.
Night upon night I have crept gasping to bed, and shivered for hours
with my head under the clothes, after an evening spent in listening to
this authentic and fantastic family tale. How the candlesticks walked
out into the air from the mantelpiece, and back again; how the chairs
of skeptical visitors collected from all parts of the country to study
what one had hardly then begun to call the "phenomena" at the
parsonage at Stratford, Connecticut, hopped after the guests when they
crossed the room; how the dishes at the table leaped, and the silver
forks were bent by unseen hands, and cold turnips dropped from the
solid ceiling; and ghastly images were found, composed of
underclothing proved to have been locked at the time in drawers of
which the only key lay all the while in Dr. Phelps's pocket; and how
the mysterious agencies, purporting by alphabetical raps upon bed-head
or on table to be in torments of the nether world, being asked what
their host could do to relieve them, demanded a piece of squash pie.
From the old man's own calm hands, within a year or two of his death,
I received the legacy of the written journal of these phenomena, as
recorded by the victim from day to day, during the seven months that
this mysterious misfortune dwelt within his house.
It may be prudent to say, just here, that it will be quite useless to
make any further inquiries of me upon the subject, or to ask of me--a
request which has been repeated till I am fain to put an end to
it--for either loan or copy of these records for the benefit of either
personal or scientific curiosity. Both loaning and copying are now
impossible, and have been made so by family wishes which will be
sacredly respected. The phenomena themselves have long been too widely
known to be ignored, and I have no hesitation in making reference to
[Illustration: ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS, HER MOTHER, AND HER INFANT
BROTHER. AFTERWARDS PROFESSOR M. STUART PHELPS.]
Perhaps it is partly on account of the traditions respecting this bit
of family history that I am so often asked if I am a spiritualist. I
am sometimes tempted to reply in grammar comprehensible to the writers
of certain letters which I receive upon the subject:
"No; nor none of our folks!"
How the Connecticut parson on whom this mysterious infliction fell
ever came out of it _not_ a spiritualist, who can tell? That the
phenomena were facts, and facts explicable by no known natural law, he
was forced, like others in similar positions, to believe and admit.
That he should study the subject of spiritualism carefully from then
until the end of his life, was inevitable.
But, as nearly as I can make it out, on the whole, he liked his Bible
Things like these did not happen on Andover Hill; and my talks with
this very interesting grandfather gave me my first vivid sensation of
the possibilities of life.
With what thrills of hope and fear I listened for thumps on the head
of my bed, or watched anxiously to see my candlestick walk out into
But not a thump! Not a rap! Never a snap of the weakest proportions
(not explicable by natural laws) has, from that day to this, visited
my personal career. Not a candlestick ever walked an inch for me. I
have never been able to induce a chair to hop after me. No turnip has
consented to drop from the ceiling for me. Planchette, in her day,
wrote hundreds of lines for me, but never one that was of the
slightest possible significance to me, or to the universe at large.
Never did a medium tell me anything that ever came to pass; though one
of them once made a whole winter miserable by prophesying a death
which did not occur.
Being destitute of objections to belief in the usefulness of
spiritualistic mystery,--in fact, by temperament, perhaps inclining to
hope that such phenomena may be tamed and yoked, and made to work for
human happiness,--yet there seems to be something about me which these
agencies do not find congenial. Though I have gone longing for a sign,
no sign has been given me. Though I have been always ready to believe
all other people's mysteries, no inexplicable facts have honored my
The only personal prophecy ever strictly fulfilled in my life was--I
am not certain whether I ought to feel embarrassed in alluding to
it--made by a gipsy fortune-teller. She was young and pretty, the
seventh child of a seventh child, and she lived in a Massachusetts
shoe-town by the name of Lynn. And what was it? Oh, but you must
The grandfather to whom these marvels happened was not, as I say, a
literary man; yet even he did write a little book--a religious tale,
or tract, after the manner of his day and profession; and it took to
itself a circulation of two hundred thousand copies. I remember how
Mr. James T. Fields laughed when he heard of it--that merry laugh
peculiar to himself.
"You can't help it," the publisher said; "you come of a family of
One day I was at school with my brother,--a little, private school,
down by what were called the English dormitories in Andover.
I was eight years old. Some one came in and whispered to the teacher.
Her face turned very grave, and she came up to us quietly, and called
us out into the entry, and gently put on our things.
"You are to go home," she said; "your mother is dead." I took my
little brother's hand without a word, and we trudged off. I do not
think we spoke--I am sure we did not cry--on the way home. I remember
perfectly that we were very gayly dressed. Our mother liked bright,
almost barbaric colors on children. The little boy's coat was of red
broadcloth, and my cape of a canary yellow, dyed at home in white-oak
dye. The two colors flared before my eyes as we shuffled along and
crushed the crisp, dead leaves that were tossing in the autumn wind
all over Andover Hill.
When we got home they told us it was a mistake; she was not dead; and
we were sent back to school. But, in a few weeks after that, one day
we were told we need not go to school at all; the red and yellow coats
came off, and little black ones took their places. The new baby, in
his haggard father's arms, was baptized at his mother's funeral; and
we looked on, and wondered what it all meant, and what became of
children whose mother was obliged to go to heaven when she seemed so
necessary in Andover.
At eight years of age a child cannot be expected to know her mother
intimately, and it is hard for me always to distinguish between the
effect produced upon me by her literary success as I have since
understood it, and that left by her own truly extraordinary
personality upon the annals of the nursery.
[Illustration: PROFESSOR PHELPS'S HOUSE AT ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS, THE
HOUSE IN WHICH ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS WAS REARED.]
My mother, whose name I am proud to wear, was the eldest daughter of
Professor Stuart, and inherited his intellectuality. At the time of
her death she was at the first blossom of her very positive and
widely-promising success as a writer of the simple home stories which
took such a hold upon the popular heart. Her "Sunnyside" had already
reached a circulation of one hundred thousand copies, and she was
following it fast--too fast--by other books for which the critics and
the publishers clamored. Her last book and her last baby came
together, and killed her. She lived one of those rich and piteous
lives such as only gifted women know; torn by the civil war of the
dual nature which can be given to women only. It was as natural for
her daughter to write as to breathe; but it was impossible for her
daughter to forget that a woman of intellectual power could be the
most successful of mothers.
[Illustration: PROFESSOR AUSTIN PHELPS, FATHER OF ELIZABETH STUART
From an early photograph.]
"Everybody's mother is a remarkable woman," my father used to say when
he read overdrawn memoirs indited by devout children; and yet I have
sometimes felt as if even the generation that knows her not would feel
a certain degree of interest in the tact and power by which this
unusual woman achieved the difficult reconciliation between genius and
In our times and to our women such a problem is practical, indeed. One
need not possess genius to understand it now. A career is enough.
The author of "Sunnyside," "The Angel on the Right Shoulder," and
"Peep at Number Five," lived before women had careers and public
sympathy in them. Her nature was drawn against the grain of her times
and of her circumstances; and where our feet find easy walking, hers
were hedged. A child's memories go for something by way of tribute to
the achievement of one of those rare women of the elder time whose
gifts forced her out, but whose heart held her in.
I can remember no time when I did not understand that my mother must
write books because people would have and read them; but I cannot
remember one hour in which her children needed her and did not find
My first distinct vision of this kind of a mother gives her by the
nursery lamp, reading to us her own stories, written for ourselves,
never meant to go beyond that little public of two, and illustrated in
colored crayons by her own pencil. For her gift in this direction was
of an original quality, and had she not been a writer she must have
achieved something as an artist.
Perhaps it was to keep the standards up, and a little girl's filial
adoration down, that these readings ended with some classic--Wordsworth,
I remember most often--"We are Seven," or "Lucy Gray."
[Illustration: ELM ARCH, ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS.]
It is certain that I very early had the conviction that a mother was a
being of power and importance to the world; but that the world had no
business with her when we wanted her. In a word, she was a strong and
lovely symmetry--a woman whose heart had not enfeebled her head, but
whose head could never freeze her heart.
I hardly know which of those charming ways in which I learned to spell
the word motherhood impressed me most. All seemed to go on together
side by side and step by step. Now she sits correcting proof-sheets,
and now she is painting apostles for the baby's first Bible lesson.
Now she is writing her new book, and now she is dyeing things
canary-yellow in the white-oak dye--for the professor's salary is
small, and a crushing economy was in those days one of the conditions
of faculty life on Andover Hill. Now--for her practical ingenuity was
unlimited--she is whittling little wooden feet to stretch the
children's stockings on, to save them from shrinking; and now she is
reading to us from the old, red copy of Hazlitt's "British Poets," by
the register, upon a winter night. Now she is a popular writer,
incredulous of her first success, with her future flashing before her;
and now she is a tired, tender mother, crooning to a sick child, while
the MS. lies unprinted on the table, and the publishers are wishing
their professor's wife were a free woman, childless and solitary, able
to send copy as fast as it is wanted. The struggle killed her, but she
fought till she fell.
In these different days, when,
"Pealing, the clock of time
Has struck the Woman's Hour,"
[Illustration: THE REV. DR. E. PHELPS, GRANDFATHER OF ELIZABETH
I have sometimes been glad, as my time came to face the long question
which life puts to-day to all women who think and feel, and who care
for other women and are loyal to them, that I had those early visions
of my own to look upon.
When I was learning why the sun rose and the moon set, how the flowers
grew and the rain fell, that God and heaven and art and letters
existed, that it was intelligent to say one's prayers, and that
well-bred children never told a lie, I learned that a mother can be
strong and still be sweet, and sweet although she is strong; and that
she whom the world and her children both have need of, is of more
value to each, for this very reason.
I said it was impossible to be her daughter and not to write. Rather,
I should say, impossible to be _their_ daughter and not to have
something to say, and a pen to say it.
The comparatively recent close of my father's life has not left him
yet forgotten, and it can hardly be necessary for me to do more than
to refer to the name of Austin Phelps to recall to that part of our
public which knew and loved him the quality of his work.
"The Still Hour" is yet read, and there are enough who remember how
widely this book has been known and loved, and how marked was the
literary gift in all the professor's work.
It has fallen to me otherwise to say so much of my peculiar
indebtedness to my father, that I shall forbid myself, and spare my
reader, too much repetition of a loving credit which it would not be
possible altogether to omit from this chapter.
He who becomes father and mother in one to motherless children, bears
a burden which men shirk or stagger under; and there was not a
shirking cell in his brain or heart.
As I have elsewhere said: "There was hardly a chapter in my life of
which he was not in some sense, whether revealed or concealed, the
"If I am asked to sum in a few words the vivid points of his
influence, I find it as hard to give definite form to my indebtedness
to the Christian scholar whose daughter it is my honor to be, as to
specify the particulars in which one responds to sunshine or oxygen.
He was my climate. As soon as I began to think, I began to reverence
thought and study and the hard work of a man devoted to the high ends
of a scholar's life. His department was that of rhetoric, and his
appreciation of the uses and graces of language very early descended
like a mantle upon me. I learned to read and to love reading, not
because I was made to, but because I could not help it. It was the
atmosphere I breathed."
"Day after day the watchful girl observed the life of a student--its
scholarly tastes, its high ideals, its scorn of worldliness and paltry
aims or petty indulgences, and forever its magnificent habits of
"At sixteen, I remember, there came to me a distinct arousing or
awakening to the intellectual life. As I look back, I see it in a
flash-light. Most of the important phases or crises of our lives can
be traced to some one influence or event, and this one I connect
directly with the reading to me by my father of the writings of De
Quincey and the poems of Wordsworth. Every one who has ever heard him
preach or lecture remembers the rare quality of Professor Phelps's
voice. As a pulpit orator he was one of the few, and to hear him read
in his own study was an absorbing experience. To this day I cannot put
myself outside of certain pages of the laureate or the essayist. I do
not read; I listen. The great lines beginning:
"'Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears;'
the great passage which opens: 'Then like a chorus the passion
deepened,' and which rises to the aching cry: 'Everlasting
farewells!... Everlasting farewells!' ring in my ears as they left his
For my first effort to sail the sea of letters, it occurs to me that I
ought to say that my father's literary reputation cannot be held
I had reached (to take a step backwards in the story) the mature age
of thirteen. I was a little girl in low-necked gingham dresses, I
know, because I remember I had on one (of a purple shade, and
incredibly unbecoming to a half-grown, brunette girl) one evening when
my first gentleman caller came to see me.
I felt that the fact that he was my Sunday-school teacher detracted
from the importance of the occasion, but did not extinguish it.
It was perhaps half-past eight, and, obediently to law and gospel, I
had gone upstairs.
The actual troubles of life have never dulled my sense of
mortification at overhearing from my little room at the head of the
stairs, where I was struggling to get into that gingham gown and
present a tardy appearance, a voice distinctly excusing me on the
ground that it was past her usual bedtime, and she had gone to bed.
Whether the anguish of that occasion so far aged me that it had
anything to do with my first literary undertaking, I cannot say; but I
am sure about the low-necked gingham dress, and that it was during
this particular year that I determined to become an individual and
contribute to the "Youth's Companion."
I did so. My contribution was accepted and paid for by the appearance
in my father's post-office box of the paper for a year; and my
impression is that I wore high-necked dresses pretty soon thereafter,
and was allowed to sit up till nine o'clock. At any rate, these
memorable events are distinctly intertwined in my mind.
This was in the days when even the "Companion," that oldest and most
delightful of children's journals, printed things like these:
"_Why Julia B. loved the Country_.
"Julia B. loved the country because whenever she walked out she
could see God in the face of Nature."
I really think that the semi-column which I sent to that distinguished
paper was a tone or two above this. But I can remember nothing about
it, except that there was a sister who neglected her little brothers,
and hence defeated the first object of existence in a woman-child. It
was very proper, and very pious, and very much like what
well-brought-up little girls were taught to do, to be, to suffer, or
to write in those days. I have often intended to ask Mr. Ford if the
staff discovered any signs of literary promise in that funny little
At all events, my literary ambitions, with this solitary exercise,
came to a sudden suspension. I have no recollection of having written
or of having wanted to write anything more for a long time.
I was not in the least a precocious young person, and very much of a
tomboy into the bargain. I think I was far more likely to have been
found on the top of an apple-tree or walking the length of the
seminary fence than writing rhymes or reading "solid reading." I know
that I was once told by a queer old man in the street that little
girls should not walk fences, and that I stood still and looked at
him, transfixed with contempt. I do not think I vouchsafed him any
answer at all. But this must have been while I was still in the little
Perhaps this is the place, if anywhere, to mention the next experiment
at helping along the literature of my native land of which I have any
recollection. There was another little contribution--a pious little
contribution, like the first. Where it was written, or what it was
about, or where it was printed, it is impossible to remember; but I
know that it appeared in some extremely orthodox young people's
periodical--I think, one with a missionary predilection. The point of
interest I find to have been that I was paid for it.
With the exception of some private capital amassed by abstaining from
butter (a method of creating a fortune of whose wisdom, I must say, I
had the same doubts then that I have now), this was the first money I
had ever earned. The sum was two dollars and a half. It became my
immediate purpose not to squander this wealth. I had no spending money
in particular that I recall. Three cents a week was, I believe, for
years the limit of my personal income, and I am compelled to own that
this sum was not expended at book-stalls, or for the benefit of the
heathen who appealed to the generosity of professors' daughters
through the treasurer of the chapel Sunday-school; but went solidly
for cream cakes and apple turnovers alternately, one each week.
[Illustration: VIEW FROM THE WESTERN WINDOW OF THE STUDY IN PROFESSOR
AUSTIN PHELPS'S HOUSE, ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS.]
Two dollars and a half represented to me a standard of munificent
possession which it would be difficult to make most girls in their
first teens, and socially situated today as I was then, understand. To
waste this fortune in riotous living was impossible. From the hour
that I received that check for "two-fifty," cream cakes began to wear
a juvenile air, and turnovers seemed unworthy of my position in life.
I remember begging to be allowed to invest the sum "in pictures," and
that my father, gently diverting my selection from a frowsy and
popular "Hope" at whose memory I shudder even yet, induced me to find
that I preferred some excellent photographs of Thorwaldsen's "Night"
and "Morning," which he framed for me, and which hang in our rooms
It is impossible to forget the sense of dignity which marks the hour
when one becomes a wage-earner. The humorous side of it is the least
of it--or was in my case. I felt that I had suddenly acquired
value--to myself, to my family, and to the world.
Probably all people who write "for a living" would agree with me in
recalling the first check as the largest and most luxurious of life.
BY ROBERT BARR,
Author of "In the Midst of Alarms," "A Typewritten Letter," etc.
The monarch in the Arabian story had an ointment which, put upon his
right eye, enabled him to see through the walls of houses. If the
Arabian despot had passed along a narrow street leading into a main
thoroughfare of London one night, just before the clock struck twelve,
he would have beheld, in a dingy back room of a large building, a very
strange sight. He would have seen King Charles the First seated in
friendly converse with none other than Oliver Cromwell.
The room in which these two noted people sat had no carpet and but few
chairs. A shelf extended along one side of the apartment, and it was
covered with mugs containing paint and grease. Brushes were littered
about, and a wig lay in a corner. Two mirrors stood at each end of the
shelf, and beside them flared two gas jets protected by wire baskets.
Hanging from nails driven in the walls were coats, waistcoats, and
trousers of more modern cut than the costumes worn by the two men.
King Charles, with his pointed beard and his ruffles of lace, leaned
picturesquely back in his chair, which rested against the wall. He was
smoking a very black briar-root pipe, and perhaps his Majesty enjoyed
the weed all the more that there was just above his head, tacked to
the wall, a large placard containing the words, "No smoking allowed in
this room, or in any other part of the theatre."
Cromwell, in more sober garments, had an even jauntier attitude than
the king; for he sat astride the chair, with his chin resting on the
back of it, smoking a cigarette in a meerschaum holder.
"I'm too old, my boy," said the king, "and too fond of my comfort.
Besides, I have no longer any ambition. When an actor once realizes
that he will never be a Charles Kean or a Macready, then comes peace
and the enjoyment of life. Now, with you it is different; you are, if
I may say so in deep affection, young and foolish. Your project is a
most hair-brained scheme. You are throwing away all you have already
"Good gracious!" cried Cromwell, impatiently, "what have I won?"
"You have certainly won something," resumed the elder, calmly, "when a
person of your excitable nature can play so well the sombre, taciturn
character of Cromwell. You have mounted several rounds, and the whole
ladder lifts itself up before you. You have mastered several
languages, while I know but one, and that imperfectly. You have
studied the foreign drama, while I have not even read all the plays of
Shakespeare. I can do a hundred parts conventionally well. You will,
some day, do a great part as no other man on earth will do it, and
then fame will come to you. Now you propose recklessly to throw all
this away and go into the wilds of Africa."
"The particular ladder you offer to me," said Cromwell, "I have no
desire to climb; I am sick of the smell of the footlights and the
whole atmosphere of the theatre. I am tired of the unreality of the
life we lead. Why not be a hero, instead of mimicking one?"
"But, my dear boy," said the king, filling his pipe again, "look at
the practical side of things. It costs a fortune to fit out an African
expedition. Where are you to get the money?"
This question sounded more natural from the lips of the king than did
the answer from the lips of Cromwell.
"There has been too much force and too much expenditure about African
travel. I do not intend to cross the continent with arms and the
munitions of war. As you remarked a while ago, I know several European
languages, and if you will forgive what sounds like boasting, I may
say that I have a gift for picking up tongues. I have money enough to
fit myself out with some necessary scientific instruments, and to pay
my passage to the coast. Once there, I will win my way across the
continent through love and not through fear."
[Illustration: IT WAS A YEAR AFTER THE DISAPPEARANCE THAT A WAN LIVING
SKELETON STAGGERED OUT OF THE WILDERNESS IN AFRICA.]
"You will lose your head," said King Charles; "they don't understand
that sort of thing out there, and, besides, the idea is not original.
Didn't Livingstone try that tack?"
"Yes, but people have forgotten Livingstone and his methods. It is now
the explosive bullet and the elephant gun. I intend to learn the
language of the different native tribes I meet, and if a chief opposes
me, and will not allow me to pass through his territory, and if I find
I cannot win him over to my side by persuasive talk, then I will go
"And what is to be the outcome of it all?" cried Charles. "What is
"Fame, my boy, fame," cried Cromwell enthusiastically, flinging the
chair from under him and pacing the narrow room.
"If I can get from coast to coast without taking the life of a single
native, won't that be something greater to have done than all the
play-acting from now till doomsday?"
"I suppose it will," said the king gloomily; "but you must remember
you are the only friend I have, and I have reached an age when a man
does not pick up friends readily."
Cromwell stopped in his walk, and grasped the king by the arm. "And
are not you the only friend I have?" he said. "And why can you not
abandon this ghastly sham and come with me, as I asked you to at
first? How can you hesitate when you think of the glorious freedom of
the African forest, and compare it with this cribbed, and cabined, and
confined business we are now at?"
The king shook his head slowly, and knocked the ashes from his pipe.
He seemed to have some trouble in keeping it alight, probably because
of the prohibition on the wall.
"As I said before," replied the king, "I am too old. There are no
'pubs' in the African forest where a man can get a glass of beer when
he wants it. No, Ormond, African travel is not for me. If you are
resolved to go--go, and God bless you; I will stay at home and
carefully nurse your fame. I will from time to time drop appetizing
little paragraphs into the papers about your wanderings, and when you
are ready to come back to England, all England will be ready to listen
to you. You know how interest is worked up in the theatrical business
by judicious puffing in the papers, and I imagine African exploration
requires much the same treatment. If it were not for the press, my
boy, you could explore Africa till you were blind and nobody would
hear a word about it; so I will be your advance agent, and make ready
for your home coming."
At this point in the conversation between these two historical
characters, the janitor of the theatre put his head into the room and
reminded the celebrities that it was very late; whereupon both king
and commoner rose with some reluctance and washed themselves--the king
becoming, when he put on the ordinary dress of an Englishman, Mr.
James Spence, while Cromwell, after a similar transformation, became
Mr. Sidney Ormond; and thus, with nothing of royalty or dictatorship
about them, the two strolled up the narrow street into the main
thoroughfare, and entered their favorite midnight restaurant, where,
over a belated meal, they continued the discussion of the African
project, which Spence persisted in looking upon as one of the maddest
expeditions that had ever come to his knowledge. But the talk was
futile--as most talk is--and within a month from that time Ormond was
on the ocean, headed for Africa.
Another man took Ormond's place at the theatre, and Spence continued
to play his part, as the papers said, in his usual acceptable manner.
He heard from his friend, in due course, when he landed. Then at
intervals came one or two letters showing how he had surmounted the
unusual difficulties he had to contend with. After a long interval
came a letter from the interior of Africa, sent to the coast by
messenger. Although at the beginning of this letter Ormond said he had
but faint hope of reaching his destination, he nevertheless gave a
very complete account of his wanderings and his dealings with the
natives; and up to that point his journey seemed to be most
satisfactory. He enclosed several photographs, mostly very bad ones,
which he had managed to develop and print in the wilderness. One,
however, of himself was easily recognizable, and Spence had it copied
and enlarged, hanging the framed enlargement in whatever dressing-room
fate assigned to him, for Spence never had a long engagement at any
one theatre. He was a useful man who could take any part, but had no
specialty, and London was full of such.
For a long time he heard nothing from his friend; and the newspaper
men to whom Spence indefatigably furnished interesting items about the
lone explorer began to look upon Ormond as an African Mrs. Harris, and
the paragraphs, to Spence's deep regret, failed to appear. The
journalists, who were a flippant lot, used to accost Spence with,
"Well, Jimmy, how's your African friend?" and the more he tried to
convince them the less they believed in the peace-loving traveller.
At last there came a final letter from Africa, a letter that filled
the tender middle-aged heart of Spence with the deepest grief he had
ever known. It was written in a shaky hand, and the writer began by
saying that he knew neither the date nor his locality. He had been ill
and delirious with fever, and was now at last in his right mind, but
felt the grip of death upon him. The natives had told him that no one
ever recovered from the malady he had caught in the swamp, and his own
feelings led him to believe that his case was hopeless. The natives
had been very kind to him throughout, and his followers had promised
to bring his boxes to the coast. The boxes contained the collections
he had made and also his complete journal, which he had written up to
the day he became ill.
Ormond begged his friend to hand over his belongings to the
Geographical Society, and to arrange for the publication of his
journal, if possible. It might secure for him the fame he had died to
achieve, or it might not; but, he added, he left the whole conduct of
the affair unreservedly to his friend, on whom he bestowed that love
and confidence which a man gives to another man but once in his life,
and then when he is young. The tears were in Jimmy's eyes long before
he had finished the letter.
He turned to another letter he had received by the same mail as
Ormond's and which also bore the South African stamp upon it. Hoping
to find some news of his friend, he broke the seal, but it was merely
an intimation from the steamship company that half a dozen boxes
remained at the southern terminus of the line addressed to him; but,
they said, until they were assured the freight upon them to
Southampton would be paid, they would not be forwarded.
A day or two after, the London papers announced in large type,
"Mysterious Disappearance of an Actor." The well-known actor, Mr.
James Spence, had left the theatre in which he had been playing the
part of Joseph to a great actor's Richelieu, and had not since been
heard of. The janitor remembered him leaving that night, for he had
not returned his salutation, which was most unusual. His friends had
noticed that for a few days previous to his disappearance he had been
apparently in deep dejection, and fears were entertained. One
journalist said jestingly that probably Jimmy had gone to see what had
become of his African friend; but the joke, such as it was, was not
favorably received, for when a man is called Jimmy until late in life
it shows that people have an affection for him, and every one who knew
Spence was sorry that he had disappeared, and hoped that no evil had
It was a year after the disappearance that a wan living skeleton
staggered out of the wilderness in Africa, and blindly groped his way
to the coast, as a man might who had lived long in darkness, and found
the light too strong for his eyes. He managed to reach a port, and
there took steamer homeward-bound for Southampton. The sea-breezes
revived him somewhat, but it was evident to all the passengers that he
had passed through a desperate illness. It was just a toss-up whether
he could live until he saw England again. It was impossible to guess
at his age, so heavy a hand had disease laid upon him; and he did not
seem to care to make acquaintances, but kept much to himself, sitting
wrapped up in his chair, gazing with a tired-out look at the green
A young girl often sat in the chair beside him, ostensibly reading,
but more often glancing sympathetically at the wan figure beside her.
Frequently she seemed about to speak to him, but apparently hesitated
about doing so, for the man took no notice of his fellow-passengers.
At length, however, she mustered up courage to address him, and said:
"There is a good story in this magazine--perhaps you would like to
He turned his eyes from the sea, and rested them vacantly upon her
face for a moment. His dark mustache added to the pallor of his face,
but did not conceal the faint smile that came to his lips; he had
heard her but had not understood.
"What did you say?" he asked gently.
"I said there was a good story here entitled 'Author, Author!' and I
thought you might like to read it;" and the girl blushed very prettily
as she said this, for the man looked younger than he had before he
"I am not sure," said the man slowly, "that I have not forgotten how
to read. It is a long time since I have seen a book or a magazine.
Won't you tell me the story? I would much rather hear it from you than
make the attempt to read it myself in the magazine."
"Oh," she cried breathlessly, "I'm not sure that I could tell it--at
any rate, not as well as the author tells it; but I will read it to
you if you like."
The story was about a man who had written a play, and who thought, as
every playwright thinks, that it was a great addition to the drama,
and would bring him fame and fortune. He took this play to a London
manager, but heard nothing from it for a long time, and at last it was
returned to him. Then, on going to a first night at the theatre to see
a new tragedy which this manager called his own, he was amazed to see
his rejected play, with certain changes, produced upon the stage; and
when the cry arose for "Author, Author!" he rose in his place; but
illness and privation had done their work, and he died proclaiming
himself the author of the play.
"Ah," said the man when the reading was finished, "I cannot tell you
how much the story has interested me. I once was an actor myself, and
anything pertaining to the stage interests me, although it is years
since I saw a theatre. It must be hard luck to work for fame and then
be cheated out of it, as was the man in the tale; but I suppose it
sometimes happens--although, for the honesty of human nature, I hope
not very often."
"Did you act under your own name, or did you follow the fashion so
many of the profession adopt?" asked the girl, evidently interested
when he spoke of the theatre.
The young man laughed, for perhaps the first time on the voyage. "Oh,"
he answered, "I was not at all noted. I acted only in minor parts and
always under my own name, which, doubtless, you have never heard; it
is Sidney Ormond."
"What!" cried the girl in amazement, "not Sidney Ormond, the African
The young man turned his wan face and large, melancholy eyes upon his
"I am certainly Sidney Ormond, an African traveller, but I don't think
I deserve the '_the_,' you know. I don't imagine any one has heard of
me through my travelling any more than through my acting."
"The Sidney Ormond I mean," she said, "went through Africa without
firing a shot; his book, 'A Mission of Peace,' has been such a success
both in England and America. But of course you cannot be he, for I
remember that Sidney Ormond is now lecturing in England to tremendous
audiences all over the country. The Royal Geographical Society has
given him medals or degrees, or something of that sort--but I believe
it was Oxford that gave the degree. I am sorry I haven't his book with
me; it would be sure to interest you. But some one on board is almost
certain to have it, and I will try to get it for you. I gave mine to a
friend in Cape Town. What a funny thing it is that the two names
should be exactly the same!"
"It is very strange," said Ormond gloomily; and his eyes again sought
the horizon, and he seemed to relapse into his usual melancholy.
The girl left her seat, saying she would try to find the book, and
left him there meditating. When she came back after the lapse of half
an hour or so she found him sitting just as she had left him, with his
sad eyes on the sad sea. The girl had a volume in her hand. "There,"
she said, "I knew there would be a copy on board, but I am more
bewildered than ever; the frontispiece is an exact portrait of you,
only you are dressed differently and do not look"--the girl
hesitated--"so ill as when you came on board."
Ormond looked up at the girl with a smile, and said:
"You might say with truth, so ill as I look now."
"Oh, the voyage has done you good. You look ever so much better than
when you came on board."
"Yes, I think that is so," said Ormond, reaching for the volume she
held in her hand. He opened it at the frontispiece, and gazed long at
The girl sat down beside him, and watched his face, glancing from it
to the book.
"It seems to me," she said at last, "that the coincidence is becoming
more and more striking. Have you ever seen that portrait before?"
"Yes," said Ormond, slowly, "I recognize it as a portrait I took of
myself in the interior of Africa, which I sent to a very dear friend
of mine--in fact, the only friend I had in England. I think I wrote
him about getting together a book out of the materials I sent him, but
I am not sure. I was very ill at the time I wrote him my last letter.
I thought I was going to die, and told him so. I feel somewhat
bewildered, and don't quite understand it all."
"I understand it!" cried the girl, her face blazing with indignation.
"Your friend is a traitor. He is reaping the reward that should have
been yours, and so poses as the African traveller, the real Ormond.
You must put a stop to it when you reach England, and expose his
treachery to the whole country."
Ormond shook his head slowly and said:
"I cannot imagine Jimmy Spence a traitor. If it were only the book,
that could be, I think, easily explained, for I sent him all my notes
of travel and materials; but I cannot understand his taking of the
medals or degrees."
The girl made a quick gesture of impatience.
"Such things," she said, "cannot be explained. You must confront him,
and expose him."
"No," said Ormond, "I shall not confront him. I must think over the
matter deeply for a time. I am not quick at thinking, at least just
now, in the face of this difficulty. Every thing seemed plain and
simple before; but if Jimmy Spence has stepped into my shoes, he is
welcome to them. Ever since I came out of Africa, I seem to have lost
all ambition. Nothing appears to be worth while now."
"Oh!" cried the girl, "that is because you are in ill health. You will
be yourself again when you reach England. Don't let this worry you
now; there is plenty of time to think it all out before we arrive. I
am sorry I spoke about it, but you see I was taken by surprise when
you mentioned your name."
"I am very glad you spoke to me," said Ormond, in a more cheerful
voice. "The mere fact that you have spoken to me has encouraged me
wonderfully. I cannot tell how much this conversation has been to me.
I am a lone man, with only one friend in the world; I am afraid I must
add now, without even one friend in the world. I am grateful for your
interest in me, even though it was only compassion for a wreck, for a
derelict, floating about on the sea of life."
There were tears in the girl's eyes, and she did not speak for a
moment. Then she laid her hand softly on Ormond's arm, and said: "You
are not a wreck--far from it. You sit alone too much, and I am afraid
that what I have thoughtlessly said has added to your troubles." The
girl paused in her talk, but after a moment added: "Don't you think
you could walk the deck for a little?"
"I don't know about walking," said Ormond, with a little laugh; "but
I'll come with you if you don't mind an incumbrance."
He rose somewhat unsteadily, and she took his arm.
"You must look upon me as your physician," she said, cheerfully, "and
I shall insist that my orders are obeyed."
"I shall be delighted to be under your charge," said Ormond, "but may
I not know my physician's name?"
The girl blushed deeply as she realized that she had had such a long
conversation with one to whom she had never been introduced. She had
regarded him as an invalid who needed a few words of cheerful
encouragement; but as he stood up she saw that he was much younger
than his face and appearance had led her to suppose.
"My name is Mary Radford," she said.
"_Miss_ Mary Radford?" inquired Ormond.
"Miss Mary Radford."
That walk on the deck was the first of many, and it soon became
evident to Ormond that he was rapidly becoming his old self again. If
he had lost a friend in England he had certainly found another on
shipboard, to whom he was getting more and more attached as time went
on. The only point of disagreement between them was in regard to the
confronting of Jimmy Spence. Ormond was determined in his resolve not
to interfere with Jimmy and his ill-gotten fame.
As the voyage was nearing its end Ormond and Miss Radford stood
together, leaning over the rail, conversing quietly. They had become
very great friends indeed.
"But if you do not intend to expose this man," said Miss Radford,
"what then do you propose to do when you land? Are you going back to
the stage again?"
"I don't think so," replied Ormond. "I will try to get something to
do, and live quietly for awhile."
"Oh," answered the girl, "I have no patience with you."
"I am sorry for that, Mary," said Ormond, "for if I could have made a
living I intended to have asked you to be my wife."
"Oh!" cried the girl breathlessly, turning her head away.
"Do you think I would have any chance?" asked Ormond.
"Of making a living?" inquired the girl, after a moment's silence.
"No. I am sure of making a living, for I have always done so.
Therefore, answer my question: Mary, do you think I would have any
chance?" And he placed his hand softly over hers, which lay on the
The girl did not answer, but she did not withdraw her hand; she gazed
down at the bright green water with its tinge of foam.
"I suppose you know," she said at length, "that you have every chance,
and that you are merely pretending ignorance to make it easier for me,
because I have simply flung myself at your head ever since we began
"I am not pretending, Mary," he said. "What I feared was that your
interest was only that of a nurse in a somewhat backward patient. I
was afraid that I had your sympathy, but not your love. Perhaps that
was the case at first."
"Perhaps that was the case--at first--but it is far from being the
The young man made a motion to approach nearer to her, but the girl
drew away, whispering:
"There are other people besides ourselves on deck, remember."
"I don't believe it," said Ormond, gazing fondly at her. "I can see no
one but you. I believe we are floating alone on the ocean together and
that there is no one else in the wide world but our two selves. I
thought I went to Africa for fame, but I see I really went to find
you. What I sought seems poor compared to what I have found."
"Perhaps," said the girl, looking shyly at him, "fame is waiting as
anxiously for you to woo her as--as another person waited. Fame is a
shameless huzzy, you know."
The young man shook his head.
"No. Fame has jilted me once. I won't give her another chance."
So those who were twain sailed gently into Southampton docks resolved
to be one when the gods were willing.
Miss Mary Radford's people were there to meet her, and Ormond went up
to London alone, beginning his short railway journey with a return of
the melancholy that had oppressed him during the first part of his
long voyage. He felt once more alone in the world, now that the bright
presence of his sweetheart was missing, and he was saddened by the
thought that the telegram he had hoped to send to Jimmy Spence,
exultingly announcing his arrival, would never be sent. In a newspaper
he bought at the station he saw that the African traveller Sidney
Ormond was to be received by the mayor and corporation of a midland
town and presented with the freedom of the city. The traveller was to
lecture on his exploits in the town so honoring him, that day week.
Ormond put down the paper with a sigh, and turned his thoughts to the
girl from whom he had so lately parted. A true sweetheart is a
pleasanter subject for meditation than a false friend.
Mary also saw the announcement in the paper, and anger tightened her
lips and brought additional color to her cheeks. Seeing how adverse
her lover was to taking any action against his former friend, she had
ceased to urge him, but she had quietly made up her own mind to be
herself the goddess of the machine.
On the night the bogus African traveller was to lecture in the midland
town, Mary Radford was a unit in the very large audience that greeted
him. When he came on the platform she was so amazed at his personal
appearance that she cried out, but fortunately her exclamation was
lost in the applause that greeted the lecturer. The man was the exact
duplicate of her betrothed. She listened to the lecture in a daze; it
seemed to her that even the tones of the lecturer's voice were those
of her lover. She paid little heed to the matter of his discourse, but
allowed her mind to dwell more on the coming interview, wondering what
excuses the fraudulent traveller would make for his perfidy. When the
lecture was over, and the usual vote of thanks had been tendered and
accepted, Mary Radford still sat there while the rest of the audience
slowly filtered out of the large hall. She rose at last, nerving
herself for the coming meeting, and went to the side door, where she
told the man on duty that she wished to see the lecturer. The man said
that it was impossible for Mr. Ormond to see any one at that moment;
there was to be a big dinner, and he was to meet the mayor and
corporation; an address was to be presented, and so the lecturer had
said that he could see no one.
"Will you take a note to him if I write it?" asked the girl.
"I will send it in to him, but it's no use--he won't see you. He
refused to see even the reporters," said the doorkeeper, as if that
were final, and a man who would deny himself to the reporters would
not admit royalty itself.
Mary wrote on a slip of paper the words, "The affianced wife of the
real Sidney Ormond would like to see you for a few moments," and this
brief note was taken in to the lecturer.
The doorkeeper's faith in the consistency of public men was rudely
shaken a few minutes later, when the messenger returned with orders
that the lady was to be admitted at once.
When Mary entered the green-room of the lecture-hall she saw the
double of her lover standing near the fire, her note in his hand and a
look of incredulity on his face.
The girl barely entered the room, and, closing the door, stood with
her back against it. He was the first to speak.
"I thought Sidney had told me everything. I never knew he was
acquainted with a young lady, much less engaged to her."
"You admit, then, that you are not the true Sidney Ormond?"
"I admit it to you, of course, if you were to have been his wife."
"I am to be his wife, I hope."
"But Sidney, poor fellow, is dead--dead in the wilds of Africa."
"You will be shocked to learn that such is not the case, and that your
imposture must come to an end. Perhaps you counted on his friendship
for you, and thought that, even if he did return, he would not expose
you. In that you were quite right, but you did not count on me. Sidney
Ormond is at this moment in London, Mr. Spence."
Jimmy Spence, paying no attention to the accusations of the girl, gave
the war-whoop which had formerly been so effective in the second act
of "Pocahontas"--in which Jimmy had enacted the noble savage--and then
he danced a jig that had done service in "Colleen Bawn." While the
amazed girl watched these antics, Jimmy suddenly swooped down upon
her, caught her round the waist, and whirled her wildly around the
room. Setting her down in a corner, Jimmy became himself again, and
dabbing his heated brow with his handkerchief carefully, so as not to
disturb the make-up--
"Sidney in England again? That's too good news to be true. Say it
again, my girl; I can hardly believe it. Why didn't he come with you?
Is he ill?"
"He has been very ill."
"Ah, that's it, poor fellow! I knew nothing else would have kept him.
And then when he telegraphed to me at the old address on landing, of
course there was no reply, because, you see, I had disappeared. But
Sid wouldn't know anything about that, and so he must be wondering
what has become of me. I'll have a great story to tell him when we
meet, almost as good as his own African experiences. We'll go right up
to London to-night as soon as this confounded dinner is over. And what
is your name, my girl?"
"And you're engaged to old Sid, eh? Well! well! well! well! This is
great news. You mustn't mind my capers, Mary, my dear; you see, I'm
the only friend Sid has, and I'm old enough to be your father. I look
young now, but you wait till the paint comes off. Have you any money?
I mean to live on when you're married, because I know Sidney never had
"I haven't very much either," said Mary, with a sigh.
Jimmy jumped up and paced the room in great glee, laughing and
slapping his thigh.
"That's first rate," he cried. "Why, Mary, I've got over twenty
thousand pounds in the bank saved up for you two. The book and the
lectures, you know. I don't believe Sid himself could have done as
well, for he always was careless with money; he's often lent me the
last penny he had, and never kept any account of it. And I never
thought of paying it back either until he was gone, and then it
The messenger put his head into the room, and said the mayor and the
corporation were waiting.
"Oh, hang the mayor and the corporation," cried Jimmy; then, suddenly
recollecting himself, he added hastily: "No, don't do that. Just give
them Jimmy--I mean Sidney Ormond's compliments, and tell his Worship
that I have just had some very important news from Africa, but will be
with them directly."
When the messenger was gone Jimmy continued, in high feather: "What a
time we will have in London! We'll all three go to the old familiar
theatre. Yes, and, by Jove, we'll pay for our seats; _that_ will be a
novelty. Then we will have supper where Sid and I used to eat. Sidney
will talk, and you and I will listen; then I'll talk, and you and Sid
will listen. You see, my dear, I've been to Africa too. When I got
Sidney's letter saying he was dying, I just moped about and was of no
use to anybody. Then I made up my mind what to do. Sid had died for
fame, and it wasn't just he shouldn't get what he paid so dearly for.
I gathered together what money I could, and went to Africa steerage. I
found I couldn't do anything there about searching for Sid, so I
resolved to be his understudy and bring fame to him, if it was
possible. I sank my own identity, and made up as Sidney Ormond, took
his boxes, and sailed for Southampton. I have been his understudy ever
since; for, after all, I always had a hope he would come back some
day, and then everything would be ready for him to take the principal
role, and let the old understudy go back to the boards again, and
resume competing with the reputation of Macready. If Sid hadn't come
back in another year, I was going to take a lecturing trip in America;
and when that was done, I intended to set out in great state for
Africa, disappear into the forest as Sidney Ormond, wash the paint
off, and come out as Jimmy Spence. Then Sidney Ormond's fame would
have been secure, for they would be always sending out relief
expeditions after him, and not finding him, while I would be growing
old on the boards, and bragging what a great man my friend Sidney
There were tears in the girl's eyes as she rose and took Jimmy's hand.
"No man has ever been so true a friend to his friend as you have
been," she said.
"Oh, bless you, yes," cried Jimmy jauntily; "Sid would have done the
same for me. But he is luckier in having you than in having his
friend, although I don't deny I've been a good friend to him. Yes, my
dear, he is lucky in having a plucky girl like you. I missed that
somehow when I was young, having my head full of Macready nonsense,
and I missed being a Macready too. I've always been a sort of
understudy; so you see the part comes easy to me. Now I must be off to
that confounded mayor and corporation. I had almost forgotten them,
but I must keep up the character for Sidney's sake. But this is the
last act, my dear. To-morrow I'll turn over the part of explorer to
the real actor,--to the star."
THE HEROINE OF A FAMOUS SONG.
THE TRUE STORY OF "ANNIE LAURIE."
BY FRANK POPE HUMPHREY.
Most people suppose "Annie Laurie" to be a creation of the
songwriter's fancy, or perhaps some Scotch peasant girl, like Highland
Mary and most of the heroines of Robert Burns. In either case they are
Annie Laurie was "born in the purple," so to speak, at Maxwelton
House, in the beautiful glen of the Cairn--Glencairn. Her home was in
the heart of the most pastorally lovely of Scottish shires--that of
Dumfries. Her birth is thus set down by her father, in what is called
the "Barjorg MS.":
"At the pleasure of the Almighty God, my daughter Anna Laurie was
borne upon the 16th day of December 1682 years, about six o'clock in
the morning, and was baptized by Mr. George--minister of Glencairn,"
Her father was Sir Robert Laurie, first baronet, and her mother was
[Illustration: MAXWELTON HOUSE, ANNIE LAURIE'S BIRTHPLACE.]
Maxwelton House was originally the castle of the earls of Glencairn.
It was bought in 1611 by Stephen Laurie, the founder of the Laurie
family. Stephen was a Dumfries merchant. The castle was a turreted
building. In it Annie Laurie was born.
[Illustration: ANNIE LAURIE.
From a painting now preserved at Maxwelton House.]
This castle was partially burned in the last century, but not all of
it. The great tower is incorporated in the new house, and also a
considerable portion of the old walls was built in. The foundations
are those of the castle. The picture shows the double windows of the
tower. In places its walls are twelve feet thick. The lower room is
the "gun-room," and the little room above, that in the next story, is
always spoken of in the family as "Annie Laurie's room," or "boudoir."
This room of Annie's has been opened into the drawing-room by taking
down the wall, and it forms a charming alcove. Its stone ceiling shows
its great age.
In the dining-room, a fine, large apartment, we come again upon the
old walls, six feet thick, which gives very deep window recesses. In
this room hang the portraits of Annie Laurie and her husband,
Alexander Ferguson. They are half-lengths, life-size.
Annie's hair is dark brown, and she has full dark eyes--it is
difficult to say whether brown or deep hazel. I incline to the latter.
Whoever doctored the second verse of the original song--I heard it
credited to "Mrs. Grundy" by a grandnephew of Burns--whoever it was,
he had apparently no knowledge of this portrait, for you all know he
has given Annie a "dark _blue_ e'e."
[Illustration: Alexander Ferguson, Annie Laurie's husband. From a
painting now preserved at Maxwelton House.]
The nose is long and straight; the under lip full, as though "some bee
had stung it newly," like that of Suckling's bride. A true Scotch
face, of a type to be met any day in Edinburgh, or any other Scotch
town. She is in evening dress of white satin, and she wears no jewels
but the pearls in her hair.
Alexander Ferguson, the husband of Annie Laurie, has a handsome,
youthful face, with dark eyes and curling hair. His coat is brown, and
his waistcoat blue, embroidered with gold, and he wears abundant lace
in the charming old fashion.
It was at Maxwelton House, Annie's birthplace, that I came across the
missing link in the chain of evidence that fixes the authorship of the
song upon Douglas of Fingland. Fingland is in the parish of Dalry, in
the adjacent shire of Kirkcudbright, and Douglas was a somewhat near
neighbor of Annie.
The present proprietor of Maxwelton House is Sir Emilius Laurie,
formerly rector of St. John's, Paddington, when he was known as Sir
Emilius Bayley. He took the name of Laurie when he succeeded to the
family estates. Sir Emilius is a descendant of Sir Walter, third
baronet and brother of Annie.
Sir Emilius placed in my hands a letter of which he said I might make
what use I liked, and this letter contained the missing link. While
the song has been generally credited to Douglas of Fingland, it has
always been a matter of tradition rather than of ascertained fact.
But to the important letter.
It was written in 1889, by a friend, to Sir Emilius, and relates an
incident which took place in 1854. At that time the writer, whom we
will call Mr. B., was on a visit with his wife to some friends in
Yorkshire. Mrs. B. was a somewhat famous singer of ballads. A few
friends were invited to meet them one evening, and, after the ladies
had retired to the drawing-room, their hostess asked Mrs. B. to sing;
and she sang "Annie Laurie," in the modern revision, just as we all
Among the guests was a lady in her ninety-seventh year. She gave close
attention to the singing of the ballad, and when Mrs. B. had finished,
she spoke up: "Thank you, thank you very much! But _they're na the
words my grandfather wrote_." Then she repeated the first stanza as
she knew it.
The next day Mr. and Mrs. B. called upon her, and in the meantime she
had had the original first stanza written out, dictating it to a
grandniece. She had signed it with her own shaky hand. Not being
satisfied with the signature, she had signed it a second time.
She explained that her grandfather, Douglas of Fingland, was
desperately in love with Annie Laurie when he wrote the song. "But,"
she added, "he did na get her after a'."
She was not quite sure as to Annie's fate, she said. Some folks had
said she died unmarried, while some had said she married Ferguson of
Craigdarrock, and she rather thought _that_ was the truth.
Questioned as to the authenticity of the lines she had given, she
"Oh, _I_ mind them fine. I have remembered them a' my life. My father
often repeated them to me." And here is the stanza signed with her
"'Maxwelton's banks are bonnie,
They're a' clad owre wi' dew,
Where I an' Annie Laurie
Made up the bargain true.
Made up the bargain true,
Which ne'er forgot s'all be,
An' for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down an' dee.'
"I mind na mair.
[Signed] "Clark Douglas.
"August 30, 1854."
In the common version this stanza reads:
"Maxwelton's braes are bonnie
Where early fa's the dew,
And it's there that Annie Laurie
Gie'd me her promise true;
Gie'd me her promise true,
Which ne'er forgot will be,
An' for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down an' dee."
In the original song there were but two stanzas, and this is the
"She's backit like the peacock,
She's breistit like the swan,
She's jimp around the middle,
Her waist ye weel micht span--
Her waist ye weel micht span--
An' she has a rolling e'e,
An' for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down an' dee."
As I have said, the "rolling e'e" has been changed, and wrongly, into
one of "dark blue."
Who added the third stanza is not known; but no lover of the song
would willingly dispense with it:
"Like dew on the gowan lying
Is the fa' o' her fairy feet;
Like summer breezes sighing,
Her voice is low an' sweet--
Her voice is low an' sweet--
An' she's a' the world to me,
An' for bonnie Annie Laurie
I'd lay me down an' dee."
The music of the song is modern, and was composed by Lady John Scott,
aunt by marriage of the present Duke of Buccleuch. The composer was
only guessed at for many years, but somewhat recently she has
acknowledged the authorship.
Maxwelton House sits high upon its "braes." It is "harled" without and
painted white, and is built around three sides of a sunny court. Ivy
clambers thriftily about it. Over the entrance door of the tower, and
above a window in the opposite wing, are inserted two marriage stones;
the former that of Annie's father and mother, the latter of her
grandfather and grandmother. These marriage stones are about two feet
square. The initials of the bride and bridegroom, and the date of the
marriage, are cut upon them, together with the family coat of arms,
which bears, among other heraldic devices, two laurel leaves and the
motto, _Virtus semper viridis_. Below the grandfather's marriage stone
is cut in the lintel the following:
_Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it_.
Looking up the glen from Maxwelton, the chimneys of Craigdarrock House
It is distant about five miles, and Annie had not far to remove from
her father's house to that of her husband. She was twenty-eight at the
time of her marriage.
The Fergusons are a much older family, as families are reckoned, than
the Lauries. Fergusons of Craigdarrock were attached to the courts of
William the Lion and Alexander the II. (1214-1249).
Craigdarrock House stands near the foot of one of the three glens
whose waters unite to form the Cairn. The hills draw together here,
and give an air of seclusion to the house and grounds. The house,
large and substantial, lacks the picturesqueness of Maxwelton. It is
pale pink in tone with window-casings and copings of French gray. The
delicate cotoneaster vine clings to the stones of it. There are pretty
reaches of lawns and abundant shrubberies, and in one place
Craigdarrock Water has been diverted to form a lake, spanned in one
part by a high bridge. Sheep feed upon the hills topped with green
pastures, at the south, and shaggy Highland cattle in the meadows
below. A heavy wood overhangs to the north. There is plenty of fine
timber on the grounds, beeches, and great silver firs and, especially
to be named, ancient larches with knees and elbows like old oaks,
given to the proprietor by George II., when the larch was first
introduced into Scotland.
The present proprietor of Craigdarrock is Captain Robert Ferguson, of
the fourth generation in direct descent from Annie Laurie.
Religion has always been a burning question in Scotland, and about
Annie's time the flames raged with peculiar ferocity. Her father, Sir
Robert Laurie, was a bitter enemy of the Covenantry, and his name
finds a somewhat unenviable fame in mortuary verses of this sort cut
"Douglas of Stenhouse, _Laurie of Maxwelton_,
Caused Count Baillie give me martyrdom."
But the Fergusons were staunch Covenanters, and Annie, if we may judge
from her marriage with one of that party, must have favored
"compromise." Without doubt she must have worshipped with her husband
in the old parish kirk, which was burned about fifty years since. The
two end gables, ivy-shrouded, are still standing.
Against the east gable is the burial-ground of the Lauries, and
against the west that of the Fergusons. A ponderous monument marks the
grave of Annie's grandfather, cut with those hideous emblems which
former generations seemed to delight in. But the burial-place of the
Fergusons is singularly lacking in early monuments, and no stone marks
the place of Annie's rest. It is a sweet, secluded spot, and
Cock-Robin--it was September--was chanting his cheerful noonday song
over the sleepers when I was there.
At Craigdarrock House is kept Annie's will, a copy of which I give. As
a will, simply, it is of no special value. As Annie Laurie's, it will
be read with interest.
"I, Anna Laurie, spouse to Alexr. Fergusone of Craigdarrock.
Forasmuch as I considering it a devotie upon everie persone whyle
they are in health and sound judgement so to settle yr. worldly
affairs that yrby all animosities betwixt friend and relatives
may obviat and also for the singular love and respect I have for
the said Alex. Fergusone, in case he survive me I do heirby make
my letter will as follows:
"First, I recommend my soule to God, hopeing by the meritorious
righteousness of Jesus Christ to be saved; secondly, I recommend
my body to be decently and orderly interred; and in the third
plaice nominate and appoynt the sd. Alexr. Fergusone to be my
sole and only executor, Legator and universall intromettor with
my hail goods, gear, debts, and soams off money that shall
pertain and belong to me the tyme of my decease, or shall be dew
to me by bill, bond, or oyrway; with power to him to obtain
himself confirmed and decreed exr. to me and to do everie thing
for fixing and establishing the right off my spouse in his person
as law reqaires; in witness whereof their putts (written by John
Wilsone off Chapell in Dumfries) are subd. by me at Craigdarrock
the twenty eight day of Apryle Jajvij and eleven (1711) years,
before the witnesses the sd. John Wilsone and John Nicholsone his
"JO. WILSON, Witness.
"JOHN HOAT, Witness."
If our dates are correct, this will was written the year after her
marriage. And it is pleasant to see that she had such entire trust in
Alexander Ferguson. Evidently she cherished no lingering regrets for
Douglas of Fingland.
In following up the "fairy" footsteps of Annie Laurie I came upon
others wholly different, but of equal interest--those of Robert Burns.
At Craigdarrock House is kept "the whistle" of his poem of that name.
Burns tells the story of it in a note. It was brought into Scotland by
a doughty Dane in the train of Anne, queen of James VI. He had won it
in a drinking bout. It was a "challenge whistle," to use a modern
term. The man who gave the last whistle upon it, before tumbling under
the table dead drunk, won it.
After various vicissitudes, the whistle came into possession of Laurie
of Maxwelton, and then passed into the hands of a Riddell of the same
connection. Finally came the last drinking skirmish in which it was to
appear, and which is chronicled by Burns. This final drinking bout
took place October 16, 1790. The three champions were Sir Robert
Laurie of Maxwelton, Alexander Ferguson of Craigdarrock--an eminent
lawyer, and who must, I think, have been a grandson of Annie
Laurie--and Captain Riddell of Friar's Carse, antiquary and friend of
Burns. The contest took place at Friar's Carse, and Alexander Ferguson
gave the last faint whistle before going under the table, and won the
prize, which ever since has been kept at Craigdarrock.
The whistle is large, of dark brown wood, and is set in a silver cup
upon which is engraved the fact that it is "Burns's whistle," together
with the date of the contest. A silver chain is attached to it; but it
reposes on velvet, under glass. It is too precious to use.
A POINT OF KNUCKLIN' DOWN.
BY ELLA HIGGINSON,
Author of "The Takin' in of Old Mis' Lane" and other stories.
It was the day before Christmas--an Oregon Christmas. It had rained
mistily at dawn; but at ten o'clock the clouds had parted and moved
away reluctantly. There was a blue and dazzling sky overhead. The
rain-drops still sparkled on the windows and on the green grass, and
the last roses and chrysanthemums hung their beautiful heads heavily
beneath them; but there was to be no more rain. Oregon City's mighty
barometer--the Falls of the Willamette--was declaring to her people by
her softened roar that the morrow was to be fair.
Mrs. Orville Palmer was in the large kitchen making preparations for
the Christmas dinner. She was a picture of dainty loveliness in a
lavender gingham dress, made with a full skirt and a shirred waist and
big leg-o'-mutton sleeves. A white apron was tied neatly around her
Her husband came in, and paused to put his arm around her and kiss
her. She was stirring something on the stove, holding her dress aside
with one hand.
"It's goin' to be a fine Christmas, Emarine," he said, and sighed
unconsciously. There was a wistful and careworn look on his face.
"Beautiful!" said Emarine vivaciously. "Goin' down-town, Orville?"
"Yes." Want anything?"
"Why, the cranberries ain't come yet. I'm so uneasy about 'em. They'd
ought to 'a' b'en stooed long ago. I like 'em cooked down an' strained
to a jell. I don't see what ails them groc'rymen! Sh'u'd think they
c'u'd get around some time before doomsday! Then I want--here, you'd
best set it down." She took a pencil and a slip of paper from a shelf
over the table and gave them to him. "Now, let me see." She commenced
stirring again, with two little wrinkles between her brows. "A ha'f a
pound o' citron; a ha'f a pound o' candied peel; two pounds o'
cur'nts; two pounds o' raisins--git 'em stunned, Orville; a pound o'
sooet--make 'em give you some that ain't all strings! A box o'
Norther' Spy apples; a ha'f a dozen lemons; four-bits' worth o'
walnuts or a'monds, whichever's freshest; a pint o' Puget Sound
oysters fer the dressin', an' a bunch o' cel'ry. You stop by an' see
about the turkey, Orville; an' I wish you'd run in 's you go by
mother's, an' tell her to come up as soon as she can. She'd ought to
be here now."
Her husband smiled as he finished the list. "You're a wonderful
housekeeper, Emarine," he said.
Then his face grew grave. "Got a present for your mother yet,
"Oh, yes, long ago. I got 'er a black shawl down t' Charman's. She's
b'en wantin' one."
He shuffled his feet about a little. "Unh-hunh. Yuh--that is--I reckon
yuh ain't picked out any present fer--fer my mother, have yuh,
"No," she replied, with cold distinctness. "I ain't."
There was a silence. Emarine stirred briskly. The lines grew deeper
between her brows. Two red spots came into her cheeks. "I hope the
rain ain't spoilt the chrysyanthums," she said then, with an air of
ridding herself of a disagreeable subject.
Orville made no answer. He moved his feet again uneasily. Presently he
said: "I expect my mother needs a black shawl, too. Seemed to me her'n
looked kind o' rusty at church Sunday. Notice it, Emarine?"
"No," said Emarine.
"Seemed to me she was gittin' to look offul old. Emarine"--his voice
broke; he came a step nearer--"it'll be the first Christmas dinner I
ever eat without my mother."
She drew back and looked at him. He knew the look that flashed into
her eyes, and shrank from it.
"You don't have to eat this 'n' without 'er, Orville Parmer! You go
an' eat your dinner with your mother 'f you want! I can get along
alone. Are you goin' to order them things? If you ain't, just say so,
an' I'll go an' do 't myself!"
He put on his hat and went without a word.
Mrs. Palmer took the saucepan from the stove and set it on the hearth.
Then she sat down and leaned her cheek in the palm of her hand, and
looked steadily out the window. Her eyelids trembled closer together.
Her eyes held a far-sighted look. She saw a picture; but it was not
the picture of the blue reaches of sky, and the green valley cleft by
its silver-blue river. She saw a kitchen, shabby compared to her own,
scantily furnished, and in it an old, white-haired woman sitting down
to eat her Christmas dinner alone.
After a while she arose with an impatient sigh. "Well, I can't help
it!" she exclaimed. "If I knuckled down to her this time, I'd have to
do 't ag'in. She might just as well get ust to 't first as last. I
wish she hadn't got to lookin' so old an' pitiful, though, a-settin'
there in front o' us in church Sunday after Sunday. The cords stand
out in her neck like well-rope, an' her chin keeps a-quiv'rin' so! I
can see Orville a-watchin' her--"
The door opened suddenly and her mother entered. She was bristling
with curiosity. "Say, Emarine!" She lowered her voice, although there
was no one to hear. "Where d' you s'pose the undertaker's a-goin' up
by here? Have you hear of anybody--"
"No," said Emarine. "Did Orville stop by an' tell you to hurry up?"
"Yes. What's the matter of him? Is he sick?"
"Not as I know of. Why?"
"He looks so. Oh, I wonder if it's one o' the Peterson children where
the undertaker's a-goin'! They've all got the quinsy sore throat."
"How does he look? I don't see 's he looks so turrable."
"Why, Emarine Parmer! Ev'rybody in town says he looks _so_! I only
hope they don't know what ails him!"
"What _does_ ail him?" cried out Emarine, fiercely. "What are you
"Well, if you don't know what ails him, you'd ort to; so I'll tell
you. He's dyin' by inches ever sence you turned his mother out o'
Emarine turned white. Sheet lightning played in her eyes.
"Oh, you'd ought to talk about my turnin' her put!" she burst out,
furiously. "After you a-settin' here a-quar'l'n' with her in this very
kitchen, an' eggin' me on! Wa'n't she goin' to turn you out o' your
own daughter's home? Wa'n't that what I turned her out fer? I didn't
turn her out, anyhow! I only told Orville this house wa'n't big enough
fer his mother an' me, an' that neither o' us 'u'd knuckle down, so
he'd best take his choice. You'd ought to talk!"
"Well, if I egged you on, I'm sorry fer 't," said Mrs. Endey,
solemnly. "Ever sence that fit o' sickness I had a month ago, I've
feel kind o' old an' no account myself, as if I'd like to let all
holts go, an' jest rest. I don't spunk up like I ust to. No, he didn't
go to Peterson's--he's gawn right on. My land! I wonder 'f it ain't
old gran'ma Eliot: she had a bad spell--no, he didn't turn that
corner. I can't think where he's goin' to!"
She sat down with a sigh of defeat.
A smile glimmered palely across Emarine's face and was gone. "Maybe if
you'd go up in the antic you could see better," she suggested, dryly.
"Oh, Emarine, here comes old gran'ma Eliot herself! Run an' open the
door fer 'er. She's limpin' worse 'n usual."
Emarine flew to the door. Grandma Eliot was one of the few people she
loved. She was large and motherly. She wore a black dress and shawl
and a funny bonnet, with a frill of white lace around her brow.
Emarine's face softened when she kissed her. "I'm so glad to see you,"
she said, and her voice was tender.
Even Mrs. Endey's face underwent a change. Usually it wore a look of
doubt, if not of positive suspicion, but now it fairly beamed. She
shook hands cordially with the guest and led her to a comfortable
"I know your rheumatiz is worse," she said, cheerfully, "because
you're limpin' so. Oh, did you see the undertaker go up by here? We
can't think where he's goin' to. D' you happen to know?"
"No, I don't; an' I don't want to neither." Mrs. Eliot laughed
comfortably. "Mis' Endey, you don't ketch me foolin' with undertakers
till I have to." She sat down and removed her black cotton gloves.
"I'm gettin' to that age when I don't care much where undertakers go
to so long 's they let _me_ alone. Fixin' fer Christmas dinner,
"Yes, ma'am," said Emarine in her very gentlest tone. Her mother had
never said "dear" to her, and the sound of it on this old lady's lips
was sweet. "Won't you come an' take dinner with us?"
The old lady laughed merrily. "Oh, dearie me, dearie me! You don't
guess my son's folks could spare me now, do you? I spend ev'ry
Christmas there. They most carry me on two chips. My son's wife,
Sidonie, she nearly runs her feet off waitin' on me. She can't do
enough fer me. My, Mrs. Endey, you don't know what a comfort a
daughter-in-law is when you get old an' feeble!"
Emarine's face turned red. She went to the table and stood with her
back to the older women; but her mother's sharp eyes observed that her
ears grew scarlet.
"An' I never will," said Mrs. Endey, grimly.
"You've got a son-in-law, though, who's worth a whole townful of most
son-in-laws. He was such a good son, too; jest worshipped his mother;
couldn't bear her out o' his sight. He humored her high an' low.
That's jest the way Sidonie does with me. I'm gettin' cranky 's I get
older, an' sometimes I'm reel cross an' sassy to her; but she jest
laffs at me, an' then comes an' kisses me, an' I'm all right ag'in.
It's a blessin' right from God to have a daughter-in-law like that."
The knife in Emarine's hand slipped, and she uttered a little cry.
"Hurt you?" demanded her mother, sternly.
Emarine was silent, and did not turn.
"Cut you, Emarine? Why don't you answer me? Aigh?"
"A little," said Emarine. She went into the pantry, and presently
returned with a narrow strip of muslin which she wound around her
"Well, I never see! You never will learn any gumption! Why don't you
look what you're about? Now, go around Christmas with your finger all
"Oh, that'll be all right by to-morrow," said Mrs. Eliot, cheerfully.
"Won't it, Emarine? Never cry over spilt milk, Mrs. Endey; it makes a
body get wrinkles too fast. O' course Orville's mother's comin' to
take dinner with you, Emarine."
"Dear me!" exclaimed Emarine, in a sudden flutter. "I don't see why
them cranberries don't come! I told Orville to hurry 'em up. I'd best
make the floatin' island while I wait."
"I stopped at Orville's mother's as I come along, Emarine."
"How?" Emarine turned in a startled way from the table.
"I say I stopped at Orville's mother's as I come along."
"She well?" asked Mrs. Endey.
"No, she ain't; shakin' like she had the Saint Vitus dance. She's
failed harrable lately. She'd b'en cryin'; her eyes was all swelled
There was quite a silence. Then Mrs. Endey said, "What she b'en cryin'
"Why, when I asked her she jest laffed kind o' pitiful, an' said: 'Oh,
only my tom-foolishness, o' course.' Said she always got to thinkin'
about other Christmases. But I cheered her up. I told her what a good
time I always had at my son's, an' how Sidonie jest couldn't do enough
fer me. An' I told her to think what a nice time she'd have here 't
Mrs. Endey smiled. "What she say to that?"
"She didn't say much. I could see she was thankful, though, she had a
son's to go to. She said she pitied all poor wretches that had to set
out their Christmas alone. Poor old lady! she ain't got much spunk
left. She's all broke down. But I cheered her up some. Sech a
_wishful_ look took holt o' her when I pictchered her dinner over here
at Emarine's. I can't seem to forget it. Goodness! I must go. I'm on
my way to Sidonie's, an' she'll be comin' after me if I ain't on
When Mrs. Eliot had gone limping down the path, Mrs. Endey said: "You
got your front room red up, Emarine?"
"No; I ain't had time to red up anything."
"Well, I'll do it. Where's your duster at?"
"Behind the org'n. You can get out the wax cross again. Mis' Dillon
was here with all her childern, an' I had to hide up ev'rything. I
never see childern like her'n. She lets 'em handle things so!"
Mrs. Endey went into the "front room" and began to dust the organ. She
was something of a diplomat, and she wished to be alone for a few
minutes. "You have to manage Emarine by contrairies," she reflected.
It did not occur to her that this was a family trait. "I'm offul sorry
I ever egged her on to turnin' Orville's mother out o' doors, but
who'd 'a' thought it 'u'd break her down so? She ain't told a soul
either. I reckoned she'd talk somethin' offul about us, but she ain't
told a soul. She's kep' a stiff upper lip an' told folks she al'ays
expected to live alone when Orville got married. Emarine's all worked
up. I believe the Lord hisself must 'a' sent gran'ma Eliot here to
talk like an angel unawares. I bet she'd go an' ask Mis' Parmer over
here to dinner if she wa'n't afraid I'd laff at her fer knucklin'
down. I'll have to aggravate her.'
She finished dusting, and returned to the kitchen. "I wonder what
gran'ma Eliot 'u'd say if she knew you'd turned Orville's mother out,
There was no reply. Emarine was at the table making tarts. Her back
was to mother.
"I didn't mean what I said about bein' sorry I egged you on, Emarine.
I'm glad you turned her out. She'd _ort_ to be turned out."
Emarine dropped a quivering ruby of jelly into a golden ring of pastry
and laid it carefully on a plate.
"Gran'ma Eliot can go talkin' about her daughter-'n-law Sidonie all
she wants, Emarine. You keep a stiff upper lip."