Part 3 out of 4
Forever at her side, and yet forever lonely,
I shall unto the end have made life's journey, only
Daring to ask for naught, and having naught received.
Duty to God is duty to her; I think
God, who created her, will save her too
Some new way, by one miracle the more
Without me. Then, prayer may avail, perhaps.
"Mr. Langenau is coming down to-day," said Charlotte Benson in a
stage-whisper, as we took our places at the table, a week after this. "I
met him in the hall about an hour ago, looking like a ghost, and he told
me he was coming down to dinner."
"_Vraiment_," said Sophie, looking a little disconcerted. "Well, he
shall have Charley's place. Charley isn't coming."
"I hope he's in a better temper than that last day we saw him," said
"Poor fellow!" said Charlotte, "that was the day before the fever began.
It was coming on: that was the reason of it all, no doubt. He looks
ghastly enough now. You'll forgive all, the moment that you see him."
Charlotte had forgiven him herself, though she had never resumed the
role of Florence Nightingale. Since he had given up the library and
removed to his own room, he had been quite lost to all, and nobody
seemed to have gone near him, not even Sophie, who would have been glad
to forget that he existed, without doubt.
Richard's eyes were on me as Charlotte said "Hush!" and a step crossed
the hall in the pause that ensued. Kilian, sitting next me, began to
talk to me at that moment, the moment that Mr. Langenau entered the
room. And I think I answered quite coherently: though two sets of words
were going through my brain, the answer to his commonplace question, and
the words that Mr. Langenau had said that night, "Pauline, I shall never
look into your eyes again, I shall never touch your hand."
It seemed to me an even chance which sentence saw the day; but as the
walls did not fall down about me and no face looked amazement, I found I
must have answered Kilian's question with propriety.
There were many voices speaking at once; but there was such a ringing in
my ears, I could not distinguish who spoke, or what was said: for a
moment I was lost, if any one had taken advantage of it. But gradually
I regained my senses: one after another they each took up their guard
again: and I looked up. And met his eyes? No; but let mine rest upon his
face. And then I found I had not measured my temptation, and that there
was something to do besides defending myself from others' eyes. For
there was to defend myself from my own heart. The passion of pity and
tenderness that rushed over me as my eyes fell on his haggard face, so
strong and yet so wan, swept away for the moment the defences against
the public gaze. I could have fallen down at his feet before them all
and told him that I loved him.
A few moments more of the sound of commonplace words, and the repulsion
of every-day faces and expressions, swept me back into the circle of
conventionalities, and brought me under the force of that current that
keeps us from high tragedy.
All during the meal Mr. Langenau was grave and silent, speaking little
and then with effort. He had overrated his strength, perhaps, for he
went away before the end of the dinner, asking to be excused, in a tone
almost inaudible. After he had gone, a good many commentaries were
offered. Kilian seemed to express the sense of the assembly when he
said: "The man looks shockingly, and he's not out of the woods yet."
Sophie looked troubled: she had some compunctions for the neglect of the
last few days, perhaps.
"What does the Doctor say?" pursued her brother.
"Nothing, I suppose--for he hasn't been here for a week, almost."
"Well, then, you'd better send for him, if you don't want the fellow to
die on your hands. He's not fit to be out of bed, and you'll have
trouble if you don't look out."
"As if I hadn't had trouble," returned his sister, almost peevishly.
"Well, I beg your pardon, Sophie. But I fancied you and Miss Charlotte
were in charge; and I thought about ten days ago, your patient was in a
fair way to be killed with kindness, and it's a little of a surprise to
me to find he's being let alone so very systematically."
"Why, to tell you the truth," cried Charlotte Benson, "we were turned
out of office without much ceremony, one fine day after dinner. I am
quite willing to be forgiving; but I don't think you can ask me to put
myself in the way of being snubbed again to that extent."
"The ungrateful varlet! what did he complain of? Hadn't he been coddled
enough to please him? Did he want four or five more women dancing
attendance on him?"
"Oh, it was not want of attention he complained of. In fact," said
Charlotte, coloring, "It was that he didn't like quite so much, and
wanted to be allowed more liberty."
Kilian indulged in a good laugh, which wasn't quite fair, considering
"But the truth is," said Charlotte, uneasily, "that he was too ill, that
day, to be responsible for what he said. He was just coming down with
the fever, and, you know, people are always most unreasonable then."
"I'm very glad I never gave him a chance to dispense with me," said Mary
Leighton, with a view to making herself amiable in Kilian's eyes.
"I think he dispensed with you early in the season," said Charlotte,
sharply. "Oh, hast thou forgotten that walk that he took, upon your
invitation? Ah, Miss Leighton, his look was quite dramatic. I know you
never have forgiven him."
"I haven't the least idea what you are talking of," returned Mary
Leighton, with bewildered and child-like simplicity.
"Ah, then it was not as unique an occurrence as I hoped," said
Charlotte, viciously. "I imagined it would make more of an impression."
"Charlotte," interrupted Sophie, shocked at this open impoliteness, "I
hope you are forgiving enough to break it to him that he's got to see
the Doctor; for if he comes unexpectedly and goes up to his room, he
will be dramatic, and that is so unpleasant, as we know to our sorrow."
"Indeed, I shan't tell him," cried Charlotte, "you can take your life in
your hand, and try it if you please; but I cannot consent to risk
myself. There's Mary Leighton, she bears no malice. Perhaps she'll go
with you as support."
"Ha, ha!" cried Kilian. "Richard, you and I may be called on to bring up
the rear. There's the General's old sword in the hall, and I'll take the
Joe Manton from the shelf in the library."
"Richard looks as if he disapproved of us all very much," said Sophie,
and in truth Richard did look just so. He did not even answer these
suggestions, but began after a moment to talk to Henrietta on
It was on this afternoon that a new policy was inaugurated at R----. We
were taught to feel that we had been quite aggrieved by the dullness of
the past two weeks or more, and that we must be compensated by some
Richard was at the head of the movement--Richard with his sober cares
and weary look. But the incongruity struck no one; they were too glad to
be amused. Even Sophie brightened up. Charlotte was ready to throw her
energies into any active scheme, hospital or picnic, charity-school or
"To-morrow will be just the sort of day for it," said Richard, "cool and
fine. And half the pleasure of a picnic is not having time to get tired
of it beforehand."
"That's very true," said Charlotte; "but I don't see how we're going to
get everybody notified and everything in order for nine o'clock
"Nothing easier," said Kilian; "we'll go, directly after tea, to the De
Witts and Prentices, and send Thomas with a note to the Lowders. Sophie
has done her part in shorter time than that, very often; and I don't
believe we should be starved, if she only gave half an hour's notice to
What is heavier than pleasure-seeking in which one has no pleasure? I
shall never forget the misery of those plans and that bustle. I dared
not absent myself, and I could scarcely carry out my part for very
heavy-heartedness. It seemed to me that I could not bear it, if the hour
came, and I should have to drive away with all that merry party, and
leave poor Mr. Langenau for a long, long day alone.
I felt sure something would occur to release me: it could not be that I
should have to go. With the exaggeration of youth, it seemed to me an
impossibility that I could endure anything so grievous. How I hated all
the careless, thoughtless, happy household! Only Richard, enemy as he
was to my happiness, seemed endurable to me. For Richard was not
merry-making in his heart, and I was sure he was sorry for me all the
time he was trying to oppose me.
Mr. Langenau was again in the Doctor's care, who came that evening, and
who said to Richard, in my hearing, he must be kept quiet; he didn't
altogether like his symptoms.
Richard had his hands full, with great matters and small. Sophie had
washed hers of the invalid; there had been some sharpish words between
the sister and brother on the matter, I imagine, and the result was,
Richard was the only one who did or would do anything for his comfort
That day, after appearing at dinner, he came no more. I watched with
feverish anxiety every step, every sound; but he came not. I knew that
the Doctor's admonitions would not have much weight, nor yet Richard's
opinion. I had the feeling that if he would only speak to me, only look
at me once, it would ease that horrible oppression and pain which I was
suffering. The agony I was enduring was so intolerable, and its real
relief so impossible, like a child I caught at some fancied palliation,
and craved only that. What would one look, one word be--out of a
lifetime of silence and separation.
No matter: it was what I raged and died for, just one look, just one
word more. He had said he would never look into my eyes again: that
haunted me and made me superstitious. I would _make_ him look at me. I
would seize his hand and kneel before him, and tell him I should die if
he did not speak to me once more. Once more! Just once, out of years,
out of forever. I had thrown duty, conscience, thought to the winds. I
had but one fear--that we should be finally separated without that word
spoken, that look exchanged. I said to myself again and again, I shall
die, if I cannot speak to him again. Beyond that I did not look. What
better I should be after that speaking I did not care. I only longed and
looked for that as a relief from the insufferable agony of my fate. One
cannot take in infinite wretchedness: it is our nature to make dates and
periods to our sorrows in our imagination.
And so that horrid afternoon and evening passed, amid the racket and
babel of visitors and visiting. I followed almost blindly, and did as
the others did. The next morning dawned bright and cold. What a day for
summer! The sun was brilliant, but the wind came from over icebergs; it
seemed like "winter painted green."
We were to start at nine o'clock. I was ready early, waiting on the
piazza for the aid to fate that was to keep me from the punishment of
going. No human being had spoken his name that morning. How should I
know whether he were still so ill or no.
The hour for starting had arrived. Richard, who never kept long out of
sight of me, was busy loading the wagon that was to accompany us, with
baskets of things to eat, and with wines and fruits. Kilian was
engrossed in arranging the seats and cushions in the two carriages which
had just driven to the door.
Mary Leighton was fluttering about the flower-bed at the left of the
piazza, making herself lovely with geranium and roses. Sophie, in a
beautiful costume, was pacifying Charley, who had had a difference with
his uncle Kilian. Charlotte and Henrietta were busy in their small way
over a little basket of preserves; and two or three of the neighboring
gentlemen, who were to drive with us, were approaching the house by a
In a moment or two we should be ready to be off. What should I do? I was
frantic with the thought that he might be worse, he might go away. I
was to be absent such a length of time. I must--I would see him before
we went. What better moment than the present, when everybody was engaged
in this fretting, foolish picnic. I would run up-stairs--call to him
outside his door--make him speak to me.
With a guilty look around, I started up, stole through the group on the
piazza, and ran to the stairs. But alas, Richard had not failed to mark
my movements, and before my foot had touched the stair his voice
recalled me. I started with a guilty look, and trembled, but dared not
meet his eye.
"Pauline, are you going away? We are just ready start."
If I had had any presence of mind I should have made an excuse, and gone
to my own room for a moment, and taken my chance of getting to the floor
above; but I suppose he would have forestalled me. I could not command a
single word, but turned back and followed him. As we got into the
carriage, the voices and the laughing really seemed to madden me.
Driving away from the house, I never shall forget the sensation of
growing heaviness at my heart; it seemed to be turning into lead. I
glanced back at the closed windows of his room and wondered if he saw
us, and if he thought that I was happy.
The length of that day! The glare of that sun! The chill of that
unnatural wind! Every moment seemed to me an hour. I can remember with
such distinctness the whole day, each thing as it happened;
conversations which seemed so senseless, preparations which seemed so
endless. The taste of the things I tried to eat: the smell of the grass
on which we sat, and the pine-trees above our heads: the sound of fire
blazing under the teakettle, and the pained sensation of my eyes when
the smoke blew across into our faces: the hateful vibration of Mary
Leighton's laugh: all these things are unnaturally vivid to me at
I don't know what the condition of my brain must have been, to have
received such an exaggerated impression of unimportant things.
"What can I do for you, Miss Pauline?" said Kilian, throwing himself
down on the grass at my feet. I could not sit down for very impatience,
but was walking restlessly about, and was now standing for a moment by a
great tree under which the table had been spread. It was four o'clock,
and there was only vague talk of going home; the horses had not yet been
brought up, the baskets were not a quarter packed. Every one was
indolent, and a good deal tired; the gentlemen were smoking, and no one
seemed in a hurry.
When Kilian said, "What can I do for you. Miss Pauline?" I could not
help saying, "Take me home."
"Home!" cried Kilian. "Here is somebody talking about going home. Why,
Miss Pauline, I am just beginning to enjoy myself! only look, it is but
"Oh, let us stay and go home by moonlight," cried Mary Leighton, in a
"Would it not be heavenly!" said Henrietta.
"How about tea?" said Charlotte. "We shall be hungry before moonlight,
and there isn't anything left to eat."
"How material!" cried Kilian, who had eaten an enormous dinner.
"We shall all get cold," said Sophie, who loved to be comfortable, "and
the children are beginning to be very cross."
"Small blame to them," muttered a dissatisfied man in my ear, who had
singled me out as a companion in discontent, and had pursued me with his
contempt for pastoral entertainments, and for this entertainment
"Well, let the people that want to stay, stay; but let us go home," I
"That is so like you, Pauline," exclaimed Mary Leighton, in a voice that
stung me like nettles.
"It is very like common-sense," I said, "if that's like me."
"Well, it isn't particularly."
"Let dogs delight," said Kilian, "I have a compromise to offer. If we go
home by the bridge we pass the little Brink hotel, where they give
capital teas. We can stop there, rest, get tea, have a dance in the
'ball-room,' sixteen by twenty, and go home by moonlight, filling the
souls of Miss Leighton and Henrietta with bliss."
A chorus of ecstasy followed this; Sophie herself was satisfied with the
plan, and exulted in the prospect of washing her face, and lying down on
a bed for half an hour, though only at a little country inn. Even this
low form of civilized life was tempting, after seven hours spent in
communion with nature on hard rocks.
Great alacrity was shown in getting ready and in getting off. I could
not speak to any one, not even the dissatisfied man, but walked away by
myself and tried to let no one see what I was feeling. After all was
ready, I got into the carriage beside one of the Miss Lowders, and the
dissatisfied man sat opposite. He wore canvas shoes and a corduroy suit,
and sleeve-buttons and studs that were all bugs and bees. I think I
could make a drawing of the sleeve-button on the arm with which he held
the umbrella over us; there were five different forms of insect-life
represented on it, but I remember them all.
"I'm afraid you haven't enjoyed yourself very much," said Miss Lowder,
looking at me rather critically.
"I? why--no, perhaps not; I don't generally enjoy myself very much."
Somebody out on the front seat laughed very shrilly at this: of course
it was Mary Leighton, who was sitting beside Kilian, who drove. I felt I
would have liked to push her over among the horses, and drive on.
"Isn't her voice like a steel file?" I said with great simplicity to my
companions. The dissatisfied man, writhing uncomfortably on his seat,
four inches too narrow for any one but a child of six, assented
gloomily. Miss Lowder, who was twenty-eight years old and very well
bred, looked disapproving, and changed the subject. Not much more was
said after this. Miss Lowder had a neuralgic headache, developed by the
cold wind and an undigested dinner eaten irregularly. She was too polite
to mention her sufferings, but leaned back in the carriage and
My vis-a-vis was at last relieved by the declining sun from his task,
and so the umbrella-arm and its sleeve-button were removed from my range
We counted the mile-posts, and we looked sometimes at our watches, and
so the time wore away.
Kilian and Mary Leighton were chattering incessantly, and did not pay
much attention to us. Kilian drove pretty fast almost all the way, but
sometimes forgot himself when Mary was too seductive, and let the horses
creep along like snails.
"There's our little tavern," cried Kilian at last, starting up the
"Oh, I'm so sorry," murmured Mary Leighton, "we have had such a lovely
My vis-a-vis groaned and looked at me as this observation reached us. I
laughed a little hysterically: I was so glad to be at the half-way
house--and Mary Leighton's words were so absurd. When we got out of the
carriage, the dissatisfied man stretched his long English limbs out, and
lighting his cigar, began silently to pace the bricks in front of
Kilian took us into the little parlor (we were the first to arrive), and
committed us to the care of a thin, tired-looking woman, and then went
to see to the comfort of his horses.
The tired woman, who looked as if she never had sat down since she grew
up, took us to some rooms, where we were to rest till tea was ready. The
rooms had been shut up all day, and the sun had been beating on them:
they smelled of paint and dust and ill-brushed carpets. The water in the
pitchers was warm and not very clear: the towels were very small and
thin, the beds were hard, and the pillows very small, like the towels:
they felt soft and warm and limp, like sick kittens. We threw open the
windows and aired the rooms, and washed our faces and hands: and Miss
Lowder lay down on the bed and put her head on a pile of four of the
little pillows collected from the different rooms. Mary Leighton spent
the time in re-arranging her hair, and I walked up and down the hall,
too impatient to rest myself in any way.
By-and-by the others came, and then there was a hubbub and a clatter,
and poor Miss Lowder's head was overlooked in the melee; for these were
all the rooms the house afforded for the entertainment of wayfarers, and
as there were nine ladies in our party, it is not difficult to imagine
the confusion that ensued.
Benny and Charley also came to have their hair arranged, and it devolved
on Charlotte and me to do it, as their mamma had thrown herself
exhausted on one of the beds, and with the bolsters doubled up under her
head, was trying to get some rest.
It was fully half-past seven before the tea-bell rang. I seized Benny's
hand, and we were the first on the ground. I don't know how I thought
this would be useful in hurrying matters, for Benny's tea and mine were
very soon taken, and were very insignificant fractions of the
There were kerosene lamps on the table, and everything was served in the
plainest manner, but the cooking was really good, and it was evident
that the tired woman had been on her feet all her life to some purpose.
Almost every one was hungry, and the contrast to the cold meats, and the
hard rocks, and the disjointed apparatus of the noonday meal, was very
Richard had put me between himself and Benny, and he watched my
undiminished supper with disapprobation: but I do not believe he ate
much more himself. He put everything that he thought I might like,
before me, silently: and I think the tired woman (who was waitress as
well as cook), must have groaned over the frequent changing of my plate.
"Do not take any more of that," he said, as I put out my hand for
another cup of coffee.
"Well, what shall I take?" I exclaimed peevishly. But indeed I did not
mean to be peevish, nor did I know quite what I said, I was so
miserable. Richard sighed as he turned away and answered some question
of Sophie; who was quite revived.
Charlotte and Henrietta each had an admirer, one of the Lowders, and a
young Frenchman who had come with the Lowders.
It had evidently been a very happy day with all the young ladies from
the house. After tea the gentlemen must smoke, and after the smoking
there was to be dancing. The preparations for the dancing created a good
deal of amusement and consumed a great deal of time. Kilian and young
Lowder went a mile and a half to get a man to play for them. When he
came, he had to be instructed as to the style of music to be furnished,
and the rasping and scraping of that miserable instrument put me beside
myself with nervousness. Then the "ball-room" had to be aired and
lighted; then the negro's music was found to be incompatible with modern
movements; even a waltz was proved impossible, and nobody would consent
to remember a quadrille but Richard. So they had to fall back upon
Virginia reels, and everybody was made to dance.
The dissatisfied man was at my side when the order was given. He turned
to me languidly, and offered me his hand.
"No," I exclaimed, biting my lips with impatience, and added, "You will
excuse me, won't you?"
He said, with grave philosophy, "I really think it will seem shorter
than if we were looking on."
I accepted this wise counsel, and went to dance with him. And what a
dance it was! The blinking kerosene lamps at the sides of the room, the
asparagus boughs overhead, the grinning negro on the little platform by
the door: the amused faces looking in at the open windows: the romping,
well-dressed, pretty women: the handsome men who were trying to act like
clowns: the noise of laughing and the calling out of the figures: all
this, I am sure, I never shall forget. And, strange to say, I somewhat
enjoyed it after all. The coffee had stimulated me: the music was merry:
I was reckless, and my companions were full of glee. Even the _ennuye_
skipped up and down the room like a school-boy: I never shall forget
Richard's happy and relieved expression, when I laughed aloud at
somebody's amusing blunder.
Then came the reaction, when the dancing was over, and we were getting
ready to go home. It was a good deal after ten o'clock, and the night
was cold. There were not quite shawls enough, no preparations having
been made for staying out after dark. Richard went up to Sophie (I was
standing out by the steps to be ready the moment the carriages should
come), and I heard him negotiating with her for a shawl for me. She was
quite impatient and peremptory, though _sotto voce_. The children needed
both her extra ones, and there was an end of it.
I did not care at all, and feeling warm with dancing, did not dread what
I had not yet felt. I pulled my light cloak around me, and only longed
for the carriage to arrive. But after we had started and were about
forty rods from the door, quite out of the light of the little tavern,
just within a grove of locust-trees (the moon was under clouds),
Richard's voice called out to Kilian to stop, and coming up to the side
of the carriage, said, "Put this around you, Pauline, you haven't got
enough." He put something around my shoulders which felt very warm and
comfortable: I believe I said, Thank you, though I am not at all sure,
and Kilian drove on rapidly.
By-and-by, when I began to feel a little chilly, I drew it together
round my throat: the air was like November, and, August though it was,
there was a white frost that night. I was frightened when I found what I
had about my shoulders. It was Richard's coat. I called to Kilian to
stop a moment, I wanted to speak to Richard. But when we stopped, the
carriage in which he was to drive was just behind us--and some one in it
said, Richard had walked. He had not come back after he ran out to speak
to us--must have struck across the fields and gone ahead. And Richard
walked home, five miles, that night! the only way to save himself from
the deadly chill of the keen air, without his coat.
When we drove into the gate, at home, I stooped eagerly forward to get a
sight of the house through the trees. There was a light burning in the
room over mine: that was all I wanted to know, and with a sigh of relief
I sank back.
When we went into the hall, I remembered to hang Richard's coat upon a
rack there, and then ran to my room. I could not get any news of Mr.
Langenau, and could not hear how the day had gone with him: could only
take the hope that the sight of the little lamp conveyed.
I SHALL HAVE SEEN HIM.
Go on, go on:
Thou canst not speak too much; I have deserved
All tongues to talk their bitterest.
Of course, the night was entirely sleepless after such, a day. I was
over-tired, and the coffee would have been fatal to rest in any case. I
tossed about restlessly till three o'clock, and then fell into a
The sun was shining into the room, and I heard the voices of people on
the lawn when I awoke. When I went down, after a hurried and nervous
half-hour of dressing, I found the morning, apparently, half gone, and
the breakfast-table cleared.
Mary Leighton, with a croquet mallet in her hand, was following Kilian
through the hall to get a drink of water. She made a great outcry at me
and my appearance.
"What a headache you must have," she cried. "But ah! think what you've
missed, dear! The tutor has been down at breakfast, or rather at the
breakfast-table, for he didn't eat a thing. He is a, little paler than
he was at dinner day before yesterday--and he's gone up-stairs; and
we've voted that we hope he'll stay there, for he depresses us just to
look at him."
And then, with an unmeaning laugh, she tripped on after Kilian to get
that drink of water, which was nothing but a ticket for a moment's
_tete-a-tete_ away from the croquet party. Richard had seen me by this
time, and came in and asked how I felt, and rang the bell in the
dining-room, and ordered my breakfast brought. He did not exactly stay
and watch it, but he came in and out of the dining-room enough times to
see that I had everything that was dainty and nice (and to see, alas!
that I could not eat it); for that piece of news from Mary Leighton had
levelled me with the ground again.
That I had missed seeing him was too cruel, and that he looked so ill;
how could I bear it?
After my breakfast was taken away, I went into the hall, and sat down on
the sofa between the parlor doors. Pretty soon the people came in from
the croquet ground, talking fiercely about a game in which Kilian and
Mary had been cheating. Charlotte Benson was quite angry, and Charley,
who had played with her, was enraged. I thought they were such, fools
to care, and Richard looked as if he thought they were all silly
children. The day was warm and close, such a contrast to the day before.
The sudden cold had broken down into a sultry August atmosphere. The
sun, which had been bright an hour ago, was becoming obscured, and the
sky was grayish. Every one felt languid. We were all sitting about the
hall, idly, when a servant brought a note. It was an invitation; that
roused them all--and for to-day. There was no time to lose.
The Lowders had sent to ask us all to a croquet party there at four
"What an hour!" cried Sophie, who was tired; "I should think they might
have let us get rested from the picnic."
But Charlotte and Henrietta were so much charmed at the prospect of
seeing so soon the Frenchman and the young devoted Lowder, that they
listened to no criticism on the hour or day.
"How nice!" they said, "we shall get there a little before five--play
for a couple of hours--then have tea on the lawn, perhaps--a little
dance, and home by moonlight." It was a ravishing prospect for their
unemployed imaginations, and they left no time in rendering
For myself, I had taken a firm resolve. I would never repeat the misery
of yesterday; nothing should persuade me to go with them, but I would
manage it so that I should be free from every one, even Richard.
Croquet parties are great occasions for pretty costumes; all this was
talked over. What should I wear? Oh, my gray grenadine, with the violet
trimmings, and a gray hat with violet velvet and feather.
"You have everything so perfect for that suit," said Mary Leighton, in a
tone of envy. "Cravat and parasol and gloves of just the shade
"And gray boots," I said. "It _is_ a pretty suit." No one but Sophie had
such expensive clothes as I, but I cannot say at that moment they made
me very happy. I was only thinking how improbable that the gray suit
would come out of the box that day, unless I should be obliged to dress
to mislead the others till the last.
The carriages (for we filled two), were to be at the door at four
o'clock punctually. The Lowders were five miles away: the whole thing
was so talked about and planned about, that when dinner was over, I felt
we had had a croquet party, and quite a long one at that.
Mr. Langenau did not come to dinner; Sophie sent a servant to his room
after we were at table, to ask him if he would come down, or have his
dinner sent to him; but the servant came back, saying he did not want
any dinner, with his compliments to Mrs. Hollenbeck.
"_A la bonne heure_" cried Kilian. "A skeleton always interferes with my
appetite at a feast."
"It is the only thing, then, that does, isn't it?" asked Charlotte, who
seemed to have a pick at him always.
"No, not the only thing. There is one other--just one other."
"And, for the sake of science, what is that?"
"A woman with a sharp tongue, Miss Charlotte.--Sophie, I don't think
much of these last soups. Your famous cook's degenerating, take
And so on, while Charlotte colored, and was silent through the meal. She
knew her tongue was sharp; she knew that she was self-willed and was not
humble. But she had not taken herself in hand, religiously; to take
one's self in hand morally, or on grounds of expediency, never amounts
to much; and such taking in hand was all that Charlotte had as yet
attempted. In a little passion of self-reproach and mortification, she
occasionally lopped off ugly shoots; but the root was still vigorous and
lusty, and only grew the better for its petty pruning. Richard looked
very much displeased at his brother's rudeness, and tried to make up
for it by great kindness and attention.
About this time I had become aware of what were Sophie's plans for
Richard. In case he must marry (to be cured of me), he was to marry
Charlotte, who was so capable, so sensible, of so good family, so much
indebted to Sophie, and so decidedly averse to living in the country.
Sophie saw herself still mistress here, with, to be sure, a shortened
income, and Richard and his wife spending a few weeks with her in the
summer. I do not know how far Charlotte entered into these plans.
Probably not at all, consciously; but I became aware that, as a little
girl, Richard had been her hero; and he did not seem to have been
displaced by any one entirely yet. But I took a very faint interest in
all this. I should have cared, probably, if I had seen Richard devoted
to her. He seemed to belong to me, and I should have resented any
interference with my rights. But I did not dread any. I knew, though I
took little pleasure in the knowledge, that he loved me with all his
good and manly heart; and it never seemed a possibility that he
The simple selfishness of young women in these matters is appalling.
Richard was mine by right of conquest, and I owed him no gratitude for
the service of his life. That other was the lord who had the right
inalienable over me. I bent myself in the dust before him. I would have
taken shame itself as an honor from his hands. I thought of him day and
night. I filled my soul with passionate admiration for his good deeds,
his ill deeds, his all. And the other was as the ground beneath my feet,
of which I seldom thought.
Richard met me at the foot of the stairs, after dinner, as I was going
"Pauline, will you go in the carriage with Charlotte and Sophie? I am
going to drive."
"Oh, it doesn't make any difference," I answered, with confusion.
"Anywhere you choose."
I think he had misgivings about my going from that moment; to allay
which, I called out something about my costume to Sophie as I went up to
my room. The day was growing duller, and stiller, and grayer. I sat by
the window and watched the leaden river. It was like an afternoon in
September, before the chill of the autumn has come. Not a leaf moved
upon the trees, not a cloud crept over the sky. It was all one dim,
gray, gloomy stillness overhead. I wondered if they would have rain.
_They_, not I, for I was going to stay at home, and before they came
back I should have seen him. I said that over and over to myself with
bated breath, and cheeks that burned like flame. Every step that passed
my door made me start guiltily. Once, when some one knocked, I pulled
out my gray dress, and flung it on the bed, before I answered.
It was approaching four o'clock. I undressed myself rapidly, put on a
dressing-sack, and threw myself upon the bed. What should I say when
they came for me? They could not _make_ me go. I felt very brave. At
last the carriages drove up to the door. I crept to the window to see if
any one was ready. While I was watching through the half-closed blinds,
some one crossed the piazza. My heart gave a great leap, and then every
pulse stood still. It was Mr. Langenau. His step was slower than it used
to be, and, I thought, a little faltering. He crossed the road, and took
the path that led through the grove and garden to the river. He had a
book under his arm; he must be going to the boat-house to sit there and
read. My heart gave such an ecstasy of life to my veins at the thought,
that for a moment I felt sick and faint, as I drew back from the window.
I threw myself on the bed as some one knocked. It was a servant to tell
me they were ready. I sent word to Mrs. Hollenbeck that I was not well,
and should not be able to go with them. Then I lay still and waited in
much trepidation for the second knock. I heard in a few moments the
rustle of Sophie's dress outside. She was not pleased at all. She could
scarcely be polite. But then everything looked very plausible. There lay
my dress upon the bed, as if I had begun to dress, and I was pale and
trembling, and I am sure must have looked ill enough to have convinced
her that I spoke the truth.
She made some feeble offer to stay and take care of me. "Oh, pray
don't," I cried, too eagerly, I am afraid. And then she said her maid
should come and stay with me, for the children were going with them, and
there would be nothing for her to do. I stammered thanks, and then she
went away. I did not dare to move till after I had heard both carriages
drive off, and all voices die away in the distance.
Bettina came to the door, and was sent away with thanks. Then I began to
dress myself with very trembling hands. This was new work to me, this
horrible deception. But all remorse for that, was swallowed up in the
one engrossing thought and desire which had usurped my soul for the days
It was a full half-hour before I was ready, my hands shook so
unaccountably, and I could scarcely find the things I wanted to put on.
When I went to the door I could hardly turn the key, I felt so weak,
and I stood in the passage many minutes before I dared go on. If any
one had appeared or spoken to me, I am quite sure I should have fainted,
my nerves were in such a shaken state.
Were Death so unlike Sleep,
Caught this way? Death's to fear from flame, or steel,
Or poison doubtless; but from water--feel!
I met no one in the hall or on the piazza. The house was silent and
deserted: one of the maids was closing the parlor windows. She did not
look at me with any surprise, for she had not probably heard that I
Once in the open air I felt stronger. I took the river-path, and walked
quickly, feeling freed from a nightmare: and my mind was filled with one
thought. "In a few moments I shall be beside him, I shall make him look
at me, he cannot help but touch my hand." I did not think of past or
future, only of the greedy, passionate present. My infatuation was at
its height. I cannot imagine a passion more absorbing, more unresisted,
and more dangerous. I passed quickly through the garden without even
noticing the flowers that brushed against my dress.
As I reached the grove I thought for one instant of the morning that he
had met me here, just where the paths intersected. At that moment I
heard a step; and full of that hope, with a quick thrill, I glanced in
the direction of the sound. There, not ten yards from me, coming from
the opposite direction, was Richard. I felt a shock of disappointment,
then fear, then anger. What right had he to dog me so? He looked at me
without surprise, but as if his heart was full of bitterness and sorrow.
He approached, and turned as if to walk with me.
"I want to be alone," I said angrily, moving away from him.
"No, Pauline," he answered with a sigh, as he turned from me, "you do
not want to be alone."
Full of shame and anger, and jarred with the shock and fear, I went on
more slowly. The wood was so silent--the river through the trees lay so
still and leaden. If it had not been for the fire burning in my heart, I
could have thought the world was dead.
There was not a sound but my own steps; should I soon meet him, would he
be sitting in his old seat by the boat-house door, or would he be
wandering along the dead, still river-bank? What should I say to him? O!
he would speak. If he saw me he would have to speak.
I soon forgot that I had met Richard, that I had been angry; and again
I had but this one thought.
The pine cones were slippery under my feet. I held by the old trees as I
went down the bank, step by step. I had to turn and pass a clump of
trees before I reached the boat-house door.
I was there! With a beating heart I stepped up on the threshold. There
were two doors, one that opened on the path, one that opened on the
river. The house was empty. I had a little sinking pang of
disappointment, but I passed on to the door looking out on the river. By
this door was a seat, empty, but on this lay a book and a straw hat. I
could feel the hot blushes cover my face, my neck, as I caught sight of
these. I stooped down, feeling guilty, and took up the book. It was a
book which he had read daily to me in our lesson-hours. It had his name
on the blank page, and was full of his pencil-marks. I meant to ask him
to give me this book; I would rather have it than anything the world
held, when I should be parted from him. _When!_ I sat down on the seat
beside the door, with the book lying in my lap, the straw hat on the
bench. I longed to take it in my hands--to wreathe it with the clematis
that grew about the door, as I had done one foolish, happy afternoon,
not three weeks ago. But with a strange inconsistency, I dared not
touch it; my face grew hot with blushes as I thought of it.
How should I meet him? Now that the moment I had longed for had arrived,
I wondered that I had dared to long for it. I felt that if I heard his
step, I should fly and hide myself from him. The recollection of that
last interview in the library--which I had lived over and over, nights
and days, incessantly, since then, came back with fresh force, fresh
vehemence. But no step approached me, all was silent; it began to
impress me strangely, and I looked about me. I don't know at what moment
it was, my eye fell upon the trace of footsteps on the bank, and then on
the mark of the boat dragged along the sand; a little below the
boat-house it had been pushed off into the water.
I started to my feet, and ran down to the water's edge (at the
boat-house the trees had been in the way of my seeing the river any
I stood still, the water lapping faintly on the sand at my feet; it was
hardly a sound. I looked out on the unruffled lead-colored river: there,
about quarter of a mile from the bank, the boat was lying: empty
--motionless. The oars were floating a few rods from her, drifting
slowly, slowly, down the stream.
The sight seemed to turn my warm blood and blushes into ice: even
before I had a distinct impression of what I feared, I was benumbed. But
it did not take many moments for the truth, or a dread of it, to
reach my brain.
I covered my eyes with my hands, then sprang up the bank and called
My voice was like a madwoman's, and it must have sounded far on that
still air. In less than a moment Richard came hurrying with great
strides down the path. I sprang to him, and caught his arm and dragged
him to the water's edge.
"Look," I whispered--pointing to the hat and book--and then out to the
boat. I read his face in terror. It grew slowly, deadly white.
"My God!" he said in a tone of awe. Then shaking me from him, sprang up
the bank, and his voice was something fearful as he shouted, as he
ran, for help.
There were men laboring, two or three fields off. I don't know how long
it took them to get to him, nor how long to get a boat out on the water,
nor what boat it was. I know they had ropes and poles, and that they
were talking in eager, hurried voices, as they passed me.
I sat on the steps that led down the bank, clinging to the low railing
with my hands: I had sunk down because my strength had given way all at
once, and I felt as if everything were rocking and surging under me.
Sometimes everything was black before me, and then again I could see
plainly the wide expanse of the river, the wide expanse of the gray sky,
and between them--the empty, motionless boat, and the floating oars
beyond upon the tide.
The voices of the men, and the splashing of the water, when at last they
were launched and pulling away from shore, made a ringing, frightful
noise in my head. I watched till I saw them reach the boat--till I saw
one of them get over in it. Then while they groped about with ropes and
poles, and lashed their boats together, and leaned over and gazed down
into the water, I watched in a strange, benumbed state.
But, by-and-by, there were some exclamations--a stir, and effort of
strength. I saw them pulling in the ropes with combined movement. I saw
them leaning over the side of the boat, nearest the shore, and together
trying to lift something heavy over into it. I saw the water dripping as
they raised it--and then I think I must have swooned. For I knew nothing
further till I heard Richard's voice, and, raising my head, saw him
leaping from the boat upon the bank. The other boat was further out, and
was approaching slowly. I stood up as he came to me, and held by
"I want you to go up to the house," he said, gently, "there can be no
good in your staying here."
"I will stay," I cried, everything coming back to me. "I will--will see
"There is no hope, Pauline," he said, in a quick voice, for the boat was
very near the bank, "or very little--and you must not stay. Everything
shall be done that can be done. I will do all. But you must not stay."
"I will," I said, frantically, trying to burst past him. He caught my
arms and turned me toward the boat-house, and led me through it, out
into the path that went up to the grove.
"Go home," he said, in a voice I never shall forget. "You shall not make
a spectacle for these men. I have promised you I will do all. Mind you
obey me strictly, and go up to your room and wait there till I come."
I don't know how I got there. I believe Bettina found me at the entrance
to the garden, and helped me to the house, and put me on my bed.
An hour passed--perhaps more--and such an hour! (for I was not for a
moment unconscious, after this, only deadly faint and weak), and then
Richard came. The door was a little open, and he pushed it back and
came in, and stood beside the bed.
I suppose the sight of me, so broken and spoiled by suffering, overcame
him, for he stooped down suddenly, and kissed me, and then did not speak
for a moment.
At last he said, in a voice not quite steady, "I didn't mean to be hard
on you, Pauline. But you know I had to do it."
"And there isn't any--any--" I gasped for the words, and could hardly
"No, none, Pauline," he said, keeping my hand in his. "The doctors have
just gone away. It was all no use."
"Tell me about it," I whispered.
"About what?" he said, looking troubled.
"About how it happened."
"Nobody can tell," he answered, averting his face. "We can only
conjecture about some things. Don't try to think about it. Try to rest."
"How does he look?" I whispered, clinging to his hand.
"Just the same as ever; more quiet, perhaps," he answered, looking
I gave a sort of gasp, but did not cry. I think he was frightened, for
he said, uneasily, "Let me call Bettina; she can give you
something--she can sit beside you."
I shook my head, and said, faintly, "Don't let her come."
"I have sent for Sophie," he said, soothingly. "She will soon be here,
and will know what to do for you."
"Keep her out of this room," I cried, half raising myself, and then
falling back from sudden faintness. "Don't let her come _near_ me," I
panted, after a moment, "nor any of them, but, most of all, Sophie;
remember--don't let her even look at me;" and with moaning, I turned my
face down on the pillow. I had taken in about a thousandth fraction of
my great calamity by that time. Every moment was giving to me some
additional possession of it.
Some one at that instant called Richard, in that subdued tone that
people use about a house in which there is one dead.
"I have got to go," he said, uneasily. I still kept hold of his hand.
"But I will come back before very long; and I will tell Bettina to bring
a chair and sit outside your door, and not let any one come in."
"That will do," I said, letting go his hand, "only I don't want my door
I felt as if the separation were not so entire, so tremendous, while I
could hear what was going on below, and know that no door was shut
between us--no door! Bettina, in a moment more, had taken up her station
in the passage-way outside.
I heard people coming and going quietly through the hall below. I heard
doors softly shut and opened.
I knew, by some intuition, that _he_ was lying in the library. They
moved furniture with a smothered sound; and when I heard two or three
men sent off on messages by Richard, even the horses' hoofs seemed to be
muffled as they struck the ground. This was the effect of the coming in
of death into busy, household life. I had never been under the roof with
About dusk a servant came to the door, with a tray of tea and something
to eat, that Mr. Richard had sent her with.
"No," I said, "don't leave it here."
But, in a few moments, Richard himself brought it back. I can well
imagine how anxious and unhappy he felt. He had, perhaps, never before
had charge of any one ill or in trouble, and this was a strange
"You must eat something, Pauline," he said. "I want you to. Sit up, and
take this tea."
I was not inclined to dispute his will, but raised my head, and drank
the tea, and ate a few mouthfuls of the biscuit. But that made me too
ill, and I put the plate away from me.
"I am very sorry," I said, meekly, "but I can't eat it. I feel as if it
He seemed touched with my submissiveness, and, giving Bettina the tray,
stood looking down at me as if he did not know how to say something that
was in his mind. Suddenly my ear, always quick, now exaggeratedly so,
caught sound of carriage-wheels. I started up and cried, "They are
coming," and hid my face in my hands.
"Don't be troubled," he said, "you shall not be disturbed."
"Oh, Richard," I exclaimed, as he was going away, after another
undecided movement as if to speak, "you know what I want."
"Yes, I know," he said, in a low voice.
"And now they're come, I cannot. They will see him, and I cannot."
"Be patient. I will arrange for you to go. Don't, don't, Pauline."
For I was in a sort of spasm, though no tears came, and my sobs were
more like the gasps of a person being suffocated, than like one
"If you will only be quiet, I will take you down, after a few hours,
when they are all gone to their rooms. Pauline, you'll kill me; don't do
so--Pauline, they'll hear you. Try not to do so; that's right--lie down
and try to quiet yourself, poor child. I can't bear to go away; but
there is Sophie on the stairs."
He had scarcely time to reach the hall before Sophie burst upon him with
almost a shriek.
"What is this horrible affair, Richard? What a terrible disgrace and
scandal! we never shall get over it. Will it get in the papers, do you
think? I am so ill--I have been in such a state since the news came.
Such a drive home as this has been! Oh, Richard, tell me all about it
quickly. Where is Pauline? how does she bear it?" making for my door.
Richard put out his hand and stopped her. I had sprung up from the bed,
and stood, trembling violently, at the further extremity of the room. I
do not know what I meant to do if she came in, for I was almost beside
myself at that moment.
She was persistent, angry, agitated. How well I knew the curiosity that
made her so intent to gain admission to me. It was not so much that I
dreaded being a spectacle, as the horror and hatred I felt at being
approached by her coldness and hypocrisy, while I was so sore and
wounded. I was hardly responsible; I don't think I could have borne the
touch of her hand.
But Richard saved me, and sent her away angry. I crept back to the bed,
and lay down on it again. I heard the others whispering as they passed
through the hall. Mary Leighton was crying; Charlotte was silent. I
don't think I heard her voice at all.
After a long while I heard them go down, and go into the dining-room.
They spoke in very subdued tones, and there was only the slightest
movement of china and silver, to indicate that a meal was going on. But
this seemed to give me a more frantic sense of change than anything
else. I flung myself across the bed, and another of those dreadful,
tearless spasms seized me. Everything--all life--was going on just the
same; even in this very house they were eating and drinking as they ate
and drank before--the very people who had talked with him this day; the
very table at which he had sat this morning. Oh! they were so heartless
and selfish: every one was; life itself was. I did not know where to
turn for comfort. I had a feeling of dreading every one, of shrinking
away from every one.
"Oh!" I said to myself, "if Richard is with them at the table, I never
want to see him again."
But Richard was not with them. In a moment or two he came to the door,
only to ask me if I wanted anything, and to say he would come back
There was a question which I longed so frantically to ask him, but
which I dared not; my life seemed to hang on the answer. _When were they
going to take him away?_ I had heard something about trains and
carriages, and I had a wild dread that it was soon to be.
I went to the door and called Richard back, and made him understand what
I wanted to know. He looked troubled, and said in a low tone,
"At four o'clock we go from here to meet the earliest train. I have
telegraphed his friends, and have had an answer. I am going down myself,
and it is all arranged in the best way, I think. Go and lie down now,
Pauline; I will come and take you down soon as the house is quiet."
Richard went away unconscious of the stab his news had given me. I had
not counted on anything so sudden as this parting. While he was in the
house, while I was again to look upon his face, the end had not come;
there was a sort of hope, though only a hope of suffering, something to
look forward to, before black monotony began its endless day.
BESIDE HIM ONCE AGAIN.
There are blind ways provided, the foredone
Heart-weary player in this pageant world
Drops out by, letting the main masque defile
By the conspicuous portal.
What is this world? What asken men to have?
Now with his love--now in his cold grave--
Alone, withouten any companie!
The tall old clock, which stood by the dining-room door, had struck two,
and been silent many minutes, before Richard came to me. I had spent
those dreadful hours in feverish restlessness: my room seemed
suffocating to me. I had walked about, had put away my trinkets, I had
changed my dress, and put on a white one which I had worn in the
morning, and had tried to braid my hair.
The quieting of the house, it seemed, would never come. It was twelve
o'clock before any one came up-stairs. I heard one door after another
shut, and then sat waiting and wondering why Richard did not come, till
the moments seemed to grow to centuries. At last I heard him at the
door, and I went toward it trembling, and followed him into the hall. He
carried a light, for up-stairs it was all dark, and when we reached the
stairway, he took my hand to lead me. I was trembling very much; the
hall below was dimly lit by a large lamp which had been turned low. Our
steps on the bare staircase made so much noise, though we tried to move
so silently. It was weird and awful. I clung to Richard's hand in
silence. He led me across the hall, and stopped before the library-door.
He let go my hand, and taking a key from his pocket, put it in the lock,
turned it slowly, then opened the door a little way, and motioned me
Like one in a trance, I obeyed him, and went in alone. He shut the door
noiselessly, and left me with the dead.
That was the great, the immense hour of my life. No vicissitude, no
calamity of this mortal state, no experience that may be to come, can
ever have the force, the magnitude of this. All feelings, but a child's
feelings, were comparatively new to me, and here, at one moment, I had
put into my hand the plummet that sounded hell; anguish, remorse,
fear--a woman's heart in hopeless pain. For I will not believe that any
child, that any woman, had ever loved more absolutely, more
passionately, than I had loved the man who lay there dead before me. But
I cannot talk about what I felt in those moments; all that concerns what
I write is the external.
The--coffin was in the middle of the room, where the table ordinarily
stood--where my chair had been that night, when he told me his story.
Surely if I sinned, in thought, in word, _that_ night, I paid its full
atonement, _this_. Candles stood on a small table at the head of where
he lay, and many flowers were about the room. The smell of
verbena-leaves filled the air: a branch of them was in a vase that some
one had put beside his coffin. The fresh, cool night-air came in from
the large window, open at the top.
His face was, as Richard said, much as in life, only quieter. I do not
know what length of time Richard left me there, but at last, I was
recalled to the present, by his hand upon my shoulder, and his voice in
a whisper, "Come with me now, Pauline."
I rose to my feet, hardly understanding what he said, but resisted when
I did understand him.
"Come with me," he said, gently, "You shall come back again and say
good-bye. Only come out into the hall and stay awhile with me; it is not
good for you to be here so long."
He took my hand and led me out, shutting the door noiselessly. He took
me across the hall, and into the parlor, where there was no light,
except what came in from the hall. There was a sofa opposite the door,
and to that he led me, standing himself before me, with his perplexed
and careworn face. I was very silent for some time: all that awful time
in the library, I had never made a sound: but suddenly, some thought
came that reached the source of my tears, and I burst into a passion of
weeping. I am not sure what it was: I think, perhaps, the sight of the
piano, and the recollection of that magnificent voice that would never
be heard again, Whatever it was, I bless it, for I think it saved my
brain. I threw myself down upon the sofa, and clung to Richard's hand,
and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed.
Poor fellow! my tears seemed to shake him terribly. Once he turned away,
and drew his hand across his brow, as if it were a little more than he
could bear. But some men, like many women, are born to sacrifice.
He tried to comfort and soothe me with broken words. But what was there
"Oh, Richard," I cried, "What does it all mean? why am I so punished?
was it so very wicked to have loved him after I knew all? Was all this
allowed to come because I did that? Answer me, tell me; tell me what
"No, Pauline, I don't think that was it. Don't talk about it now. Try to
be quiet. You are not fit to think about it now."
"But, Richard, what else can it mean? I know, I know that it is the
truth. God wouldn't have sent such a punishment upon me if he hadn't
seen my sin."
"It's more likely He sent it to--" and then he paused.
I know now he meant, it was more likely He had sent it to save me from
the sins of others; but he had the holy charity not to say it.
"Oh," I cried, passionately, "When all the sin was mine, that he should
have had to die: when he never came near me, never looked at me: when he
would rather die than break his word to me. That night in the library,
after he had told me all, he said, 'I will never look into your eyes
again, I will never touch your hand;' and though we were in the same
room together after that, and in the same house all this time, and
though he knew I loved him so--he never looked at me, he never turned
his eyes upon me; and I--I was willing to sin for him--to die for him. I
would have followed him to the ends of the earth, not twelve hours ago."
"Hush, Pauline," said Richard huskily, "you don't know what you're
saying--you are a child."
"No, I'm not a child--after to-day, after to-night--I am not a
child--and I know too well what I say--too well--too well. Richard, you
don't know what has been in my heart. That night, he held me in his arms
and kissed me--when he said good-bye. Then I was innocent, for I was
dazed by grief and had not come to my senses, after what he told me. But
to-day I said--_to-day_--to have his arms around me once again--to have
him kiss me once again as he kissed me then--I would go away from all I
ever had been taught of right and duty, and would be satisfied."
"Then, thank God for what has come," said Richard, hoarsely, wiping from
his forehead the great drops that had broken out upon it.
"No!" I cried with a fresh burst of weeping. "No, I cannot thank God,
for I want him back again. _I want him_. I had rather die than be
separated from him. I cannot thank God for taking him away from me. Oh,
Richard, what shall I do? I loved him, loved him so. Don't look so
stern; don't turn away from me. You used to love me. Could you thank God
for taking me away from you, out of your arms, warm, and strong, and
living, and making me cold, and dumb, and stiff, like _that_?"
"Yes, Pauline, if it had been to save us both from sin."
"You don't know what love is, if you say that."
"I know what sin is, better than you do, maybe. Listen, Pauline. I've
loved you ever since I saw you; men don't often love better than I have
loved you; but I'd rather drag you, to-night, to that black river there,
and hold you down with my own hands till the breath left your body, than
see you turn into a sinful woman, and lead the life of shame you tell me
you had it in your heart to lead, to-day."
"Is it so very awful?" I whispered with a shiver, my own emotion stilled
before his. "I only loved him!"
"Forget you ever did," he said, rising, and pacing up and down the room.
I put my hands before my face, and felt as if I were alone in the world
with sin. If this unspoken, passionate, sweet thought, that I had
harbored, were so full of danger as to force God to blast me with such
punishment, as to drive this tender, generous, loving man to wish me
dead, what must be the blackness of the sin from which I had been saved,
if I were saved? If there were, indeed, anything but shocks of woe and
punishment, and deadly despair and darkness, in this strange world in
which I found myself. There was a silence. I rose to my feet. I don't
know what I meant to do or where to go; my only impulse was to hide
myself from the eyes of my companion, and to go away from him, as I had
hidden myself from all others, since I was smitten with this
"Forgive me, Pauline," he said, coming to my side. "It is the second
time I have been harsh with you this dreadful day. This is what comes of
selfishness. I hope you will forget what I have said."
I still turned to go away, feeling afraid of him and ashamed before him.
He put out his hand to stop me.
"Pauline, remember, I have been sorely tried. I would do anything to
comfort you. I haven't another wish in my heart but to be of use
"Oh, Richard," I cried, bursting into tears afresh, and hiding my eyes,
"if you give me up and drive me away from you, I am all alone. There
isn't another human being that I love or that cares for me. Dear
Richard, do be good to me; do be sorry for me."
"I am sorry for you, Pauline; you know that."
"And you will take care of me?" I cried, stretching out my arms toward
him, with a sudden overwhelming sense of my loneliness and destitution.
"Yes, Pauline, to the end of my life or of yours; as if you were my
sister or almost my child."
"Dear Richard," I whispered, as I buried my face on his arm, "if it were
not for you I should not live through this dreadful time. I hope I shall
die soon; as soon as I am better. But till I do die, I hope you will be
good to me, and love me." And I pressed his hand against my cheek and
lips, like the poor, frantic, grief-bewildered child that I was.
At this moment there came a sound of movement in the stables: I heard
one of the heavy doors thrown open, and a man leading a horse across the
stable-floor. (The windows were open and the night was very still.)
Richard started, and looked uneasily at his watch, stepping to the door
to get the light.
"How late is it?" I faltered.
"Half-past three," he said, turning his eyes away, as if he could not
bear the sight of my face. I do not like to remember the dreadful
moments that followed this: the misery that I put upon Richard by my
passionate, ungoverned grief. I threw myself upon the floor, I clung to
his knees, I prayed him to delay the hour of going--another hour,
another day. I said all the wild and frantic things that were in my
heart, as he closed the library-door and led me to my room.
"Try to say your prayers, Pauline," was all he could answer me.
I did try to say them, as I knelt by the window, and saw in the dull,
gray dawn, those two carriages drive slowly from the door.
Richard went away alone. Kilian indeed came down-stairs just as he was
Sophie had awakened, and called him into her room for a few moments.
Then he came down, and I saw him get into the carriage alone, and motion
the man to drive on, after that other--which stood waiting a few rods
He, full of modesty and truth,
Loved much, hoped little, and desired nought.
Fresh grief can occupy itself
With its own recent smart;
It feeds itself on outward things,
And not on its own heart.
A thing which surprises me very much in looking over those days of
suffering, is, that during that day a frightful irritability is the
emotion that I most remember--an irritability of feeling, not of
expression: for I lay quite still upon the bed all day, and only
answered, briefly and simply, the questions of Sophie and the maid.
I could not sleep: it was many hours since I had slept: but nothing
seemed further from possibility than sleeping. The lightest sound
enraged my nerves: the approach of any one made me frantic. I lay with
my hands crushed together, and my teeth against each other, whenever
Sophie entered the room.
She tried to be sympathetic and kind: but she was not much encouraged.
Toward afternoon, she left me a good deal alone. "I wonder how people
feel when they are going mad," I said, getting up and putting cold water
on my head. I was so engaged with the strange sensations that pursued
me, that I did not dwell upon my trouble.
"Is this the way you feel when you are going to die? or what happens if
you never go to sleep?" My body was so young and healthy, that it was
making a good fight.
Just at dusk, Richard returned. In a little while, about half an hour,
Sophie came and told me Richard would like to see me in her little
The day of panic and horror was over, and proprieties must begin their
sway. I felt I hated Sophie for making me go out of my own room, but I
pulled a shawl over my shoulders and followed her across the hall into
her little room. There Richard was waiting for me. He gave me a chair,
and then said, "You needn't wait, Sophie," and sat down beside me.
Sophie went away half angry, and Richard looked at me uneasily.
"I thought you'd want to see me," he said.
"Yes," I answered; "I wish you'd tell me everything," but in so
commonplace a voice, I know that he was startled.
"You do not feel well, do you? Maybe we'd better not talk about it now."
"Oh, yes. You might as well tell me all to-night."
"Well, everything is done. The two persons to whom I telegraphed met me
at the station. There was very little delay. I went with them to the
"I am very glad of that. I thought perhaps you wouldn't go. Was there a
clergyman, or don't they have a clergyman when--when--"
"There was a clergyman," said Richard, briefly.
"I hope you'll take me there some time," I said dreamily. "Should you
know where to go--exactly?"
"Exactly," he answered. "But, Pauline, I am afraid you havn't rested at
all to-day. Have you slept?"
"No; and I wish I could; my head feels so strangely--light, you
know--and as if I couldn't think."
"Haven't you seen the Doctor?"
"No--and that's what I want to say. I _won't_ have the Doctor here; and
I want you to take me home to-morrow morning, early, I have put a good
many of my clothes into my trunk, and Bettina will help me with the
rest to-night. Isn't there any train before the five o'clock?"
"No," said Richard, uneasily. "Pauline, I think you'd better not arrange
to go away to-morrow."
"If you don't take me out of this house I shall go mad. I have been
thinking about it all day, and I know I shall."
Richard was silent for a moment, then, with the wise instinct of
affection, wonderful in man, and in a man who had had no experience in
dealing with diseased or suffering minds, he acquiesced in my plan to
go; told me that we would take the earliest train, and interested me in
thoughts about my packing. About nine o'clock he came to my room-door,
and I heard some one with him. It was the Doctor.
I turned upon Richard a fierce look, and said, very quietly, he might go
away, for I would not see the Doctor. After that, they tried me with
Sophie, but with less success; and, finally, Richard came back alone,
with a glass in his hand.
"Take this, Pauline, it will make you sleep."
I wanted to sleep very much, so I took it.
Bettina had finished my packing, and had laid my travelling dress and
hat upon a chair.
"Shall Bettina come and sleep on the floor, by your bed?" asked Richard,
"No, I would not have her for the world."
"Maybe you might not wake in time," said Richard, warily.
That was very true: so I let Bettina come. Richard gave her some
instructions at the door, and she came in and arranged things for the
night, and lay down on a mattress at the foot of my bed.
The sedative which the Doctor sent did not work very well. I had very
little sleep, and that full of such hideous, freezing dreams, that every
time I woke, I found Bettina standing by my bed, looking at me with
alarm. I had been screaming and moaning, she said, The screaming and
moaning and sleeping (such as it was), were all over in about two hours,
and then I had the rest of the night to endure, with the same strange,
light feeling in my head--the restlessness not much, but
I was very glad that Bettina was in the room, for though she was sleepy,
and always a little stupid, she was human, and I was a coward, both in
the matter of loneliness and of suffering. I made her sit by me, and
take hold of my hand, and I asked her several times if she had ever been
with any one that died, or that--I did not quite dare to ask her about
My questions seemed to trouble her. She crossed herself, and shuddered,
and said, No, she had never been with any one that died, and she prayed
the good God never to let her be.
"You'll have to be with one person that dies, Bettina. That's yourself.
You know it's got to come. We've all got to go out at that gate," and I
moaned, and turned my face away.
"Let me call Mr. Richard," said Bettina, very much afraid. I would have
given all the world to have seen Richard then; but I knew it was
impossible, and I said, No, it would soon be morning.
Long before morning, I heard Richard up and walking about the house. We
were to leave the house at half-past four. By four, all the trunks, and
shawls, and packages, were strapped and ready, and I was sitting
dressed, and waiting by the window.
Bettina liked very much better to pack trunks, and put rooms in order,
than to sit still and hold a person's hot hands, in the middle of the
night, and have dreadful questions asked her; and she had been very
active and efficient. Soon Richard called her to come down and take my
breakfast up to me. I could not eat it, and it was taken away. Then the
carriage came, and the wagon to take the baggage. Finally, Richard came,
and told me it was time to start, if I were ready.
Sophie came into the room in a wrapper, looking very dutiful and
patient, and said all that was dutiful and civil. But I suppose I was a
fiery trial to her, and she wished, no doubt, that she had never seen
me, or better, that Richard never had. All this I felt, through her
decently framed good-bye, but I did not care at all; to be out of her
sight as soon as possible, was all that I requested.
When we went down in the hall, Richard looked anxiously at me, but I did
not feel as if I had ever been there before; I really had no feeling. I
said good-bye to Bettina, who was the only servant that I saw, and
Richard put me into the carriage. When, we drove away, I did not even
look back. As we passed out of the gate, I said to him, "What day of the
month is it to-day?"
"It is the first of September," he returned.
"And when did I come here?" I asked.
"Early in June, was it not?" he said. "You know I was not here."
"Then it is not three months," and I leaned back wearily in the
carriage, and was silent.
Before we reached the city, Richard had good reason to think that I was
very ill. He made me as comfortable as he could, poor fellow! but I was
so restless, I could not keep in one position two minutes at a time.
Several times I turned to him and said, "It is suffocating in this car;
cannot the window be put up?" and when it was put up, I would seem to
feel no relief, and in a few moments, perhaps, would be shaking with a
nervous chill. It must have been a miserable journey, as I remember it.
Once I said to Richard, after some useless trouble I had put him to, "I
am very sorry, Richard, I don't know how to help it, I feel so
Richard tried to answer, but his voice was husky, and he bent his head
down to arrange the bundle of shawls beneath my feet. I knew that there
were tears in his eyes, and that that was the reason that he did not
speak. It made me strangely, momentarily grateful.
"How strange that you should be so good," I said dreamily, "when Sophie
is so hateful, and Kilian is so trifling. I think your mother must have
been a good woman."
I had never talked about Richard's mother before, never even thought
whether he had had one or not, in my supreme and light-hearted
selfishness. But the mind, at such a point as I was then, makes strange
plunges out of its own orbit.
"And she died when you were little?"
"Yes, when I was scarcely twelve years old."
"A woman ought to be very good when it makes so much difference to her
children. Richard, did my uncle ever tell you anything about my
mother--what sort of a woman she was, and whether I am like her?"
"He never said a great deal to me about it," Richard answered, not
looking at me as he talked. "He thinks you are like her, very
strikingly, I believe."
"Think! I haven't even a scrap of a picture of her, and no one has ever
talked to me about her. All I have are some old yellow letters to my
father, written before I was born. I think she loved my father very
much. The noise of these cars makes me feel so strangely. Can't we go
into the one behind? I am sure it cannot be so bad."
"This is the best car on the train, Pauline. I know the noise is very
bad, but try to bear it for a little while. We shall soon be there." And
so on, through the weary journey.
At one station Richard got out, and I saw him speaking to several men. I
believe he was hoping to find a doctor, for he was thoroughly
Before we reached the city I was past being frightened for myself, for I
was suffering too much to think of what might be the result of my
condition. When we left the cars, and Richard put me in a carriage, the
motion of the carriage and its jarring over the stones were almost
unendurable. Richard was too anxious now to say much to me. The
expression of relief on his face as we reached Varick-street was
unspeakable. He hurried up the steps and rang the bell, then came back
for me, and half carried me up the steps.
The door was opened by Ann Coddle, who was thrown into a helpless state
of amazement by seeing me, not knowing why in this condition I did come,
or why I came at all. She shrieked, and ejaculated, and backed almost
down the basement stairs. Richard sternly told her she was acting like a
fool, and ordered her to show him where Miss Pauline's room was, that he
might take her to it.
"But her room isn't ready," ejaculated Ann, coming to herself, which was
a wretched thing to come to, as poor Richard found.
"Not ready? well, make it ready, then. Go before me and open the
windows, and I will put her on the sofa till you have the bed ready
"The sofa--oh, Mr. Richard, it's all full of her dear clothes that have
come up from the wash."
"Well, then, take them off--idiot--and do as you are told."
"Oh, Miss Pauline--oh, my poor, dear lamb. Oh, I'm all in a flutter; I
don't know what to do. I'd better call the cook."
"Well, call the cook, then," said Richard, groaning, "only tell her to
All this time Richard was supporting me up the stairs. As we reached the
top, Richard called out, "Tell Peter I want him at once, to take a
message for me."
Ann was watching our progress up the stairs, with groans and
ejaculations, forgetting that she was to call the cook. At the mention
of Peter she exclaimed,
"He's laid up with the rheumatism, Mr. Richard. Oh, whatever shall we
When we reached the middle of the second pair of stairs, I was almost
helpless; Richard took me in his arms, and carried me.
"Is it this door, Pauline dear?" he said, opening the first he came to.
I should think the room had not been opened since I went away, it was so
warm and close.
Richard carried me to the sofa, and scattered the _lingerie_ far and
wide as he laid me down upon it, and went to open the windows. Then he
went to the bell and pulled it violently. In a few moments the cook came
up (accompanied by Ann). She was a huge, unwieldy woman, but she had
some intelligence, and knew better than to whimper.
"Miss Pauline is ill," he said, "and I want you to stay by her, and not
leave her for a moment, till I come back. Make that woman get the room
in order instantly, and keep everything as quiet as you can." To me: "I
am going to bring a doctor, and I shall be back in a few moments. Do not
worry, they will take good care of you."
When I heard Richard shut the carriage-door and drive away rapidly, I
felt as if I were abandoned, and by the time he returned with the
Doctor, I was in a state that warranted them in supposing me
unconscious, tossing and moaning, and uttering inarticulate words.
The Doctor stood beside me, and talked about me to Richard with as much
freedom as if I had been a corpse.
"I may as well be frank with you," he said, after a few moments of
examination. "I apprehend great trouble from the brain. How long has she
been in this condition?"
"She has been unlike herself since yesterday; as soon as I saw her, at
seven o'clock last night, I noticed she was looking badly. She answered
me in an abstracted, odd way, and was unlike herself, as I have said.
But she had been under much excitement for some time."
"Tell me, if you please, all about it; and how long she has been under
"She has been often agitated, and quite overstrained in feeling for some
time. Three weeks ago I thought her looking badly. Two days ago she had
a frightful shock--a suicide--which she was the first to discover. Since
then I do not think that she has slept."
"Ah! poor young lady. She has had a terrible experience, and is paying
for it. Now for what we can do for her. In the first place, who takes
care of her?" with a look about the room.
"You may well ask. I have just brought her home, and find here, the
man-servant ill, one woman too old and inactive to perform much service,
and another to whom I would not trust her for a moment. I must ask
_you_, who shall I get to take care of her?"
"You have no friend, no one to whom you could send in such a case? One
of life and death,--I hope you understand?"
"None," answered Richard, with a groan. "There is not a person in the
city to whom I could send for help. All my family--all our friends, are
away. Is there no one that can be got for money--any money? no nurse
that you could recommend?"
"I have a list of twenty. Yesterday I sent to every one, for a dangerous
case of hemorrhage, and could not find one disengaged. It may be
to-morrow night before you get on the track of one that is at liberty,
if you hunt the city over. And this girl is in need of instant care; her
life hangs on it, you must see."
"In God's name, then," said Richard, with a groan, pacing up and down
the room, "what am I to do?"
"In _His_ name, if you come, to that," said the Doctor, who was a good
sort of man, notwithstanding his professional cool ways, "there is a
sisterhood, that I am told offer to do things like this. I never sent to
them, for I only heard of it a short time ago; but if you have no
objection to crosses, and caps, and ritualistic nonsense in its highest
flower, I have no doubt, that they will let you have a sister, and that
she'll do good service here."
"The direction," said Richard, too eager to be civil. "How am I to get
The Doctor pulled over a pocket-case of loose papers, and at last found
one, which he handed his companion.
"I give you three quarters of an hour to get back," he said. "I will
stay here till then, at all events. Do not waste any time--nor spare any
eloquence," he added to himself, as Richard hurried from the room.
Yes! it is well for us: from these alarms,
Like children scared, we fly into thine arms;
And pressing sorrows put our pride to rout
With a swift faith which has not time to doubt.
Learn by a mortal yearning to ascend
Towards a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven---
That self might be annulled; her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.
The next thing that I recall, is rousing from slumber, or something
related to slumber, and seeing a tall woman in the dress of a sister,
standing by my bed. It was night, and there was a lamp upon a table
near. The unusual dress, and the unfamiliarity of her whole appearance,
made me start and stare at her, half raising myself in the bed.
"Why did you come here?" I said. "Who sent for you?"
"I came because you were sick and suffering, and I was sent in the Name
----" and bending her head slightly, she said a Name too sacred for
I gave a great sigh of relief, and sank back on my pillow. Her answer
satisfied me, for I was not able to reason. I let her hold my hand; and
all through that dark and troubled time submitted to her will, and
desired her presence, and was soothed by her voice and touch.
Sister Madeline was not at all the ideal sister, being tall and dark,
and with nothing peculiarly devotional or pensive in her cast of
feature. Her face was a fine, earnest one. Her movements were full of
energy and decision, though not quick or sharp. The whole impression
left was that of one by nature far from humility, tenderness, devotion;
but, by the force of a magnificent faith, made passionately humble,
devout from the very heart, more than humanly compassionate and tender.
I never felt toward her as if she were "born so"--but as if she were
rescued from the world by some great effort or experience; as if it were
all "made ground," reclaimed from nature by infinite patience and
incessant labor. She lived the life of an angel upon the earth. I never
saw her, by look, by word, or tone, transgress the least of the
commandments, so wonderful was the curb she held over all her human
feelings. Nor was this perfection attained by a sudden and grand
sacrifice; the consecration of herself to the religious life was not the
"single step 'twixt earth and heaven," but it was attained by daily and
hourly study--by the practice of a hundred self-denials--by the most
accurate science of spiritual progress.
Doubtless, saints can be made in other ways, but this is one way they
can be made, starting with a sincere intention to serve God. At least,
so I believe, from knowing Sister Madeline.
She made a great change in my life, and I owe her a great deal. It is
not strange I feel enthusiasm for her. I cannot bear to think what my
coming back to life would have been without her.
Of the alarming nature of my illness, I only know that there were
several days when Richard never left the house, but waited, hour after
hour, in the library below, for the news of my condition, and when even
Uncle Leonard came home in the middle of the day, and walked about the
house, silent and unapproachable.
One night--how well I remember it! I had been convalescent, I do not
know how long; I had passed the childish state of interest in my
_bouilli_, and fretfulness about my _peignoir_; my mind had begun to
regain its ordinary power, and with the first efforts of memory and
thought had come fearful depression and despondency. I was so weak,
physically, that I could not fight against this in the least. Sister
Madeline came to my bedside, and found me in an agony of weeping. It was
not an easy matter to gain my confidence, for I thought she knew nothing
of me, and I was not equal to the mental effort of explaining myself;
she was only associated with my illness. But at last she made me
understand that she was not ignorant of a great deal that troubled me.
"Who has told you?" I said, my heart hardening itself against Richard,
who could have spoken of my trouble to a stranger.
"You, yourself," she answered me.
"I have raved?" I said.
"And who has heard me?"
"No one else. I sent every one else from the room whenever your delirium
This made me grateful toward her; and I longed for sympathy. I threw my
arms about her and wept bitterly.
"Then you know that I can never cry enough," I said.
"I do not know that," she answered. After a vain attempt to soothe me
with general words of comfort, she said, with much wisdom, "Tell me
exactly what thought gives you the most pain, now, at this moment."
"The thought of his dreadful act, and that by it he has lost his soul."
"We know with Whom all things are possible," she said, "and we do not
know what cloud may have been over his reason at that moment. Would it
comfort you to pray for him?"
"Ought I?" I asked, raising my head.
"I do not know any reason that you ought not," she returned. "Shall I
say some prayers for him now?"
I grasped her hand: she took a little book from her pocket, and knelt
down beside me, holding my hand in hers. Oh, the mercy, the relief of
those prayers! They may not have done him any good, but they did me. The
hopeless grief that was killing me, I "wept it from my heart" that hour.
"Promise me one thing," I whispered as she rose, "that you will read
that prayer, every hour during the day, to-morrow, by my bed, whether I
am sleeping or awake."
"I promise," she said, and I am sure she kept her word, that day and
many others after it.
During my convalescence, which was slow, I had no other person near me,
and wanted none. Uncle Leonard came in once a day, and spent a few
minutes, much to his discomfort and my disadvantage. Richard I had not
seen at all, and dreaded very much to meet. Ann Coddle fretted me, and
was very little in the room.
Over these days there is a sort of peace. I was entering upon so much
that was new and elevating, under the guidance of Sister Madeline, and
was so entirely influenced by her, that I was brought out of my trouble
wonderfully. Not out of it, of course, but from under its crushing
weight. I know that I am rather easily influenced, and only too ready to
follow those who have won my love. Therefore, I am in every way thankful
that I came at such a time under the influence of a mind like that of
But the time was approaching for her to go away. I was well enough to do
without her, and she had other duties. The sick-room peace and
indulgence were over, and I must take up the burden of every-day life
again. I was very unhappy, and felt as if I were without stay
"To whom am I to go when I am in doubt?" I said; "you will be so far
"That is what I want to arrange: the next time you are able to go out, I
want to take you to some one who can direct you much better than I."
"A priest?" I asked. "Tell me one thing: will he give me absolution?"
"I suppose he will, if he finds that you desire it."
"What would be the use of going to him for anything else?" I said. "It
is the only thing that can give me any comfort."
"All people do not feel so, Pauline."
"But you feel so, dear Sister Madeline, do you not? You can understand
how I am burdened, and how I long to have the bands undone?"
"Yes, Pauline, I can understand."
I am not inclined to give much weight to my own opinions, and as for my
feelings, I know they were, then, those of a child, and in many ways
will always be. I can only say what comforted me, and what I longed for.
There had always been great force to me, in the Scripture that says,
"Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever
sins ye retain, they are retained," even before I felt the burden of
I had once seen the ordination of a priest, and I suppose that added to
the weight of the words ever after in my mind. I never had any doubt of
the power then conferred, and I no sooner felt the guilt and stain of
sin upon my soul, than I yearned to hear the pardon spoken, that Heaven
offered to the penitent. I had been tangibly smitten; I longed to be
Whatever shame and pain there was about laying bare my soul before
another, I gladly embraced it, as one poor means at my command of
showing to Him whom I had offended, that my repentance was actual, that
I stopped at no humiliation.
It may very well be that these feelings would find no place in larger,
grander, more self-reliant natures; that what healed my soul would only
wound another. I am not prepared to think that one remedy is cure for
all diseases, but I know what cured mine. I bless God for "the soothing
hand that Love on Conscience laid." I mark that hour as the beginning of
a fresh and favored life; the dawning of a hope that has not yet
lost its power
The haughty brow, to curb the unchastened eye,
And shape to deeds of good each wavering aim."
THE HOUR OF DAWN.
Slowly light came, the thinnest dawn,
Not sunshine, to my night;
A new, more spiritual thing,
An advent of pure light.
All grief has its limits, all chastenings their pause;
Thy love and our weakness are sorrow's two laws.
The winter that followed seemed very long and uneventful. After Sister
Madeline went away, my days settled themselves into the routine in which
they continued to revolve for many months. I was as lonely as formerly,
save for the companionship of well-chosen books, and for the direction
of another mind, which I felt to be the truest support and guidance. I
was taught to bend to my uncle's wishes, and to give up constant
church-going, and visiting among the poor, which would have been such a
resource and occupation to me. And so my life, outwardly, was very
little changed from former years--years that I had found almost
insupportable, without any sorrow; and yet, strange to say, I was
My hours were full of little duties, little rules. (I suppose my heart
was in them, or I should have found them irksome.) Above all, I was not
permitted to brood over the past: I was taught to feel that every
thought of it indulged, was a sin, and to be accounted for as such: I
could only remember the one for whom I mourned, on my knees, in my
prayers. This checked, as nothing else could have done, the morbid
tendency of grief, in a lonely, unoccupied, undisciplined mind. I was
thoroughly obedient, and bent myself with all simplicity to follow the
instructions given me. Sometimes they seemed very irrelevant and
useless, but I never rebelled against any, even one that seemed as hard
to flesh and blood as this. And I have, sooner or later, seen the wisdom
of them all, as I have worked out the problem of my correction.
Obedient as I was, though, and simple as the routine of my life
continued, sometimes there came crises that were beyond my strength.
I can remember one; it was a furious storm--a day that nailed one in the
house. There was something in the rage without that disturbed me; I
wandered about the house, and found myself unable to settle to any task.
Some one to speak to! Oh, it was so dreary to be alone. I went into my
uncle's room where there were many books. Among those that were there I
found one in French, (I have no idea how it came there, I am sure my
uncle had never read it.) I carelessly turned it over, and finally
became absorbed in it. I came upon this passage:
Quel plus noir abime d'angoisse y a-t-il an monde que le
coeur d'un suicide? Quand le malheur d'un homme est du a
quelque circonstance de sa vie, on pent esperer de l'en voir
delivrer par un changement qui pent survenir dans sa
position. Mais lorsque ce malheur a sa source en lui; quand
c'est l'ame elle-meme qui est le tourment de l'ame; la vie
elle-meme qui est le fardeau de la vie; que faire, que de
reconnaitre en gemissant qu'il n'y a rien a faire--rien,
selon le monde; et qu'un tel homme, plus a plaindre que ce
prisonnier que l'histoire nous peint dans les angoisses de la
faim, se repaissant de sa propre chair, est reduit a devorer
la substance meme de son ame dans les horreurs de son
desespoir. Et qu'imagine-t-il done pour echapper a lui-meme,
comme a son plus cruel ennemi? Je ne dis pas: 'Ou ira-t-il
loin de l'esprit de Dieu? ou fuira-t-il loin de sa face?' Je
demande, ou ira-t-il loin de son propre esprit? ou fuira-t-il
loin de sa propre face? Ou descendra-t-il qu'il ne s'y suive
lui-meme; ou se cachera-t-il qu'il ne s'y trouve encore?
Insense, dont la folie egale la misere, quand tu te seras
tue, on dira: 'Il est mort;' mais ce sont les autres qui le
diront; ce ne sera pas toi-meme. Tu seras mort pour ton
pays, mort pour ta ville, mort pour ta famille; mais pour
toi-meme, pour ce qui pense en toi, helas! pour ce qui
souffre en toi, tu vivras toujours.
Et comment ne sens-tu pas, que pour cesser d'etre malheureux,
ce n'est pas ta place qu'il faut changer, c'est ton coeur.
Que tu disparaisses sous les flots, qu'un plomb meurtrier
brise ta tete, ou qu'un poison subtil glace tes veines; quoi
que tu fasses, et ou que tu ailles, tu n'y peux aller qu'avec