Part 2 out of 2
"Is she? Well, Mr. George Keane is a very good fellow," said Tom in a
tone which would have infinitely amused that gentleman had he heard
it; "but he isn't half good enough for her.--O Lucy, hasn't this been
"Yes," answered Lucy, and she turned full eyes up to the quiet sky.
"I think papa and mamma must see us, and be glad we have been happy."
"I feel so too," answered Tom with the sudden beautiful earnestness
which had often come to him of late.--"Kiss me, Lucy; there are only
you and I."
She put her arm about his neck, and kissed him as he wished; then the
two went very soberly into the house.
ON THE LAKE.
On the first morning of November the summit of the Peak was draped in
white, and a slight sprinkling of snow sparkled on the plain. Frost
was hard enough to freeze the duck-pond and the horse-trough. Winter
had begun. It was very cold; Lucy shivered over her dressing every
morning in her little attic chamber, and had just to work to get
warm, as Aunt Hepsy permitted no sitting over the stove. Tom had to
turn out of doors at six every morning, and feed a score of cattle
before breakfast, and woe betide him if the work was not done up to
Uncle Josh's mark. Uncle Josh had a vocabulary of his own, from which
he selected many an epithet to bestow on Tom! Sometimes yet the quick
temper would fly up, and there would be a war of words; but the lad's
strong striving was beginning to bear its fruit, and he found it
daily easier to keep hold of the bridle, as Miss Goldthwaite termed
it. Keziah had been dismissed also, and Lucy's burden was sometimes
more than she could bear. Miss Hepsy refused to see what others
saw--that the girl was overwrought; and her feelings had been blunted
so long, that only a very sharp shock would bring them into use
again. And the time had not come yet. For more highly favoured young
folks than Tom and Lucy Hurst, these frosty days brought innumerable
enjoyments in their train--skating and sleighing by daylight and
moonlight, evening parties, and all sorts of frolics. There were gay
times at the Red House, especially when in Christmas week Mr. Robert
Keane came home, bringing with him two school-boy cousins from
Philadelphia. Miss Alice Keane called at Thankful Rest on her pony,
one morning, to ask Tom and Lucy to a Christmas-eve gathering. The
invitation was curtly declined by Miss Hepsy, and she was dismissed
with such scant courtesy that she departed very indignant indeed.
"What a woman that is at Thankful Rest," she said to Miss Goldthwaite
when she called at the parsonage. "I almost forgot myself, Carrie,
and nearly gave her a few rude words. I am truly sorry for those poor
"Well you may be," answered Carrie with a sigh, knowing better than
Alice what their life was.
Only one half-holiday was vouchsafed to them at Miss Goldthwaite's
earnest entreaty, and they took tea at the parsonage, after which the
party went up to the Red House pond to see the skating there. They
were very warmly welcomed--Minnie, especially, being quite overjoyed
to see Lucy again.
"Do you skate, Tom?" asked Miss Keane, coming up breathless after a
long run down the lake.
"Yes, Miss Keane. But I have no skates; they were left at home--in
Newhaven, I mean."
"Here, Minnie, my pet, run to the house and bring out a couple of
pairs. You will find them in George's room, I think; and tell Robert
_I_ want him on the lake."
Minnie ran off obediently. Pretty soon Mr. George Keane and the two
cousins appeared round the bend, and Miss Keane introduced the latter
to Tom. They did not take long to become acquainted, and were soon
talking quite familiarly. They stood waiting till Minnie returned,
her brother with her, carrying the skates. He was a tall, slight
young man, rather like Miss Keane; and his face looked a trifle stern
at first, as hers did, but that wore off when you got to know him.
"This is Tom Hurst I told you of, Robert," said Miss Keane; and Tom
shook hands with him reverentially, remembering he was the great
painter all America was talking of.
"I'm glad to see you," said Mr. Robert Keane frankly. "Let us get on
our skates, and you and I shall take a run together. I haven't been
on the ice this season."
Tom sat down and quickly put on his skates, and the pair set off,
keeping close together. Miss Keane turned to Mr. Goldthwaite with a
smile. "Robert is interested already. I want him to do something for
Tom, and I think he will."
"He will not regret it," answered Mr. Goldthwaite. "They are all off
now but we two, Miss Keane; come, we must not be behind."
"My sister tells me you would like to be a painter, Tom," said Mr.
Robert Keane, when they had gone a hundred yards in silence.
"Yes, sir," answered Tom, wishing to say a great deal more, but
unable to utter more than two words.
"What would you say to go back to Philadelphia, and let me look after
"O Mr. Keane!" Tom stood still on the ice and lifted incredulous eyes
to his companion's face. There was a smile there, but the eyes were
"I see you would like it. Don't stand; we can talk while we go. Well,
my boy, there is a great deal of hard work, patient plodding,
uninteresting study to be gone through, and as many failures and
tumbles as days in the year, before you reach even the first step of
the ladder. Do you think you could go through it?"
"I would go through anything, Mr. Keane, and toil for twenty years,
if need be, only to be allowed to work at it. Do you know, it is life
to me even to think of it."
Robert Keane glanced curiously at the lad. His face was kindling with
emotion, and his eyes shone like stars.
"All right, my boy; you're the right stuff, I see. Leave it with me;
I'll fix it right enough. And you'll go to Philadelphia as sure as my
name's Keane. No need to thank me. Let your future success be my
reward, if I need any. Let us try a race back; you're a splendid
They turned, and sped along the ice at lightning speed, and Tom came
in a dozen yards in front at the farther side.
"Ahead of me," laughed Mr. Keane. "Is that an omen of the future,
Miss Goldthwaite noted the boy's flushed, happy face and bright eyes,
and concluded Mr. Robert Keane must have wrought the change. She
turned to remark upon it to Alice, when a hand touched her arm, and
Tom's voice said eagerly, "Will you skate with me, Miss Goldthwaite?
I want to speak to you." She nodded smilingly and gave him her hand.
"O Miss Goldthwaite," said Tom in a great burst of happiness, "Mr.
Robert Keane says he will take me to Philadelphia with him, and help
me to be a painter."
"I guessed he would," said Carrie. "I am very glad of it, Tom. Do you
remember what I said about this joy coming in God's good time?"
"I have not forgotten, Miss Goldthwaite."
She stopped on the ice, and laid her slim hand a moment on his
shoulder. "My soldier will remember his Captain still, I hope, in
those happier days, and work for Him with double energy because they
The moonlight showed trembling drops in the boy's earnest eyes as he
answered reverently--"I will never forget how good He has been to me,
Miss Goldthwaite, when I so little deserved it."
"That is right, my boy; I am not afraid of you," she said heartily.
"Here we are round the bend. How lovely that moonlight shines through
these gloomy pines. Let us go right to the end before we turn."
They set off again along the smooth sheet of ice, and as they neared
the farther end of the lake Miss Goldthwaite turned aside to explore
an opening between the trees. A moment more and Tom heard a crash,
followed by a faint scream. He looked round, to see the edge of Miss
Goldthwaite's fur cloak disappearing through a huge fissure in the
ice! He had presence of mind to utter one wild, despairing cry, which
re-echoed far off in the lonely pine wood, and then he plunged after
her and caught her dress. Superhuman strength seemed to come to him
in that moment of desperate peril, and he managed to keep, hold of
her with one hand, and with the other cling to the broken edge of
ice. It seemed hours before the ring of skates and the sound of
voices announced help at hand, and his numbed fingers relaxed their
hold of the ice just as Robert Keane and his brother's strong arms
bent down to rescue them. He still had hold of Miss Goldthwaite, and
two minutes sufficed to extricate them both. They were unconscious,
and Carrie's sweet face was so deathly white that a mighty fear took
hold of all present. Alice Keane knelt down and laid her hand to her
heart. "Thank God," she uttered tremulously, and it was fervently
re-echoed by every lip. They were borne to the Red House with great
speed, and restoratives being applied, both rallied in a very short
time. Miss Goldthwaite's first question was for Tom, as his had been
for her; and she whispered to them faintly that he had saved her life
at the risk of his own. When Tom looked round, after a while, it was
to find the judge and Mr. George Keane standing by his bed.
"God bless you, my lad," said the old man huskily. "You have saved
our pretty flower. All Pendlepoint will thank you for this."
And Mr. George bent over him, his honest gray eyes dim with tears. "I
owe my wife's life to you, Tom, my boy. As long as I live I shall
never forget this."
A message was despatched to Thankful Rest reporting the accident, and
saying the children would remain till next day, at least, at the Red
House. Mr. Goldthwaite also remained. His words of thanks to Tom were
few: he was too deeply moved to speak, but Tom was quick to
understand. Next morning Miss Goldthwaite was able to appear at the
breakfast table, looking a little paler than usual, but apparently
not much the worse of her ducking. Dr. Gair forbade Tom to get up
till noon, so Carrie herself took up his breakfast-tray. He looked
surprised and greatly relieved to see her, and tried to make light of
what he had done.
"It is nothing," he said. "I would gladly do fifty times more for
"We are bound more closely together now," she said. "I owe my life to
you." And bending over him she kissed him, and slipped away, leaving
him very happy indeed.
In the evening he came down to the drawing-room, where he was treated
as a hero. Everybody made so much of him that he began to feel
uncomfortable, and took refuge at last with Mr. Robert Keane, who
good-naturedly showed him the sketch-book he had filled in Europe,
and explained everything to him, as if he found pleasure in it. And
he did find pleasure, for Tom was an enthusiastic listener.
No inquiry had come from Thankful Rest, which had astonished Mrs.
Keane very much. She thought they would be sure to feel anxious about
Tom's recovery. She did not know Joshua Strong and his sister. The
following morning Dr. Gair said Tom might go home as soon as he
liked; so Miss Alice drove him and Lucy to Thankful Rest in the
course of the forenoon. Miss Hepsy was plucking chickens for the
market, and tossed up her head when her nephew and niece appeared
"I wonder you'd come back at all after livin' so long among gentle
folk. It'll be a long time, I reckon, afore ye get the chance to jump
through the ice after Miss Goldthwaite or any other miss.--Here,
Lucy, get off yer hat, and lend a hand wi' them chickens.--You'll
find plenty wood in the shed, boy, waitin' to be chopped, if yer
uncle hain't anything else for ye to do. Off ye go."
The contrast between the happy circle they had left and their own
home was so painful that Lucy's tears fell fast as she went to do her
aunt's bidding. And Tom departed to the wood-shed with a very
downcast and rebellious heart.
On the afternoon of the following day Mr. Goldthwaite came to
Thankful Rest, accompanied by Mr. Robert Keane. Lucy opened the door
to them; and seeing a stranger with the parson, her aunt shouted to
her to show them into the sitting-room. It was a chill and gloomy
place, though painfully clean and tidy--utterly destitute of comfort.
Lucy shut the door upon them, and went back to tell her aunt that the
stranger was Mr. Robert Keane.
"What's their business here, I'd like to know?" she said as she
whisked off her white apron and smoothed her hair beneath her cap.
Lucy knew, but discreetly held her peace. Miss Hepsy stalked across
the passage and into the sitting-room, her looks asking as plainly as
any words what they wanted.
"This is Mr. Robert Keane, Miss Strong," said the minister. "He wants
to see you and your brother, I think, on a little business."
Miss Hepsy elevated her eyebrows, and shook hands with Mr. Keane in
"Josh is in the barn. I s'pose I'd better send for him," she said.
And Mr. Keane answered courteously--"If you please."
She opened the door and called to Lucy to run to the barn for her
"Yes, Aunt Hepsy," answered Lucy, her sweet, clear tones contrasting
strongly with her aunt's unpleasant voice.
"Miss Goldthwaite's all right again, eh?" she asked, sitting down
near the door.
"I am thankful to say my sister is none the worse of her adventure,"
answered Mr. Goldthwaite. "But for Tom's bravery the consequences
might have been more serious."
"H'm, I told him it would be a precious long time afore he got on the
ice again to be laid up, botherin' strange folks, an' I guess I'll
keep my word."
"You must not be so hard on him, Miss Strong," said the minister. "He
is a very fine lad, and tries very hard to please you, I know."
Aunt Hepsy remained silent.
"What a pretty place you have, Miss Strong," said Mr. Keane's
pleasant, well-modulated voice. "The Peak shows splendidly from this
"The place aren't no great thing, sir," said Miss Hepsy.--"Here's
Josh." She opened the door, and Uncle Josh appeared on the threshold
in his working garb, grimy and dust-stained, as he had come from
repairing the mill. He pulled his hair to the minister, and bowed
awkwardly to Mr. Keane.
"Sit down, Josh," said Miss Hepsy, but Josh preferred to stand. There
was just a moment's constrained silence.
"I have called to see you, Mr. Strong," said Robert Keane, plunging
into the subject without further delay, "about your nephew Tom. He is
very anxious to become a painter, I find. Would you have any
objections to me putting him in the way of life to which his desire
and talent point him?"
"Has the ungrateful little brat been carrying his grumbling among you
folks?" said Miss Hepsy wrathfully.
"Be quiet, Hepsy," said Joshua Strong very imperatively.
"I don't quite understand you, sir," he said to Mr. Keane. "I can't
afford to send the boy anywhere to learn anything, if ye mean that.
He'll never do no good on a farm, for sartin; but he kin work for his
livin' here, an' that's all I kin do for 'im."
"I am a painter myself," said Mr. Keane, guessing they were unaware
of the fact, and now wishing to state his intentions as briefly and
plainly as possible; "and from what I have seen of your nephew I
believe his talent for art to be very great indeed. What I mean is
this: give him up to me; I will take him back to Philadelphia, and
take entire care of his training. It will not cost you a farthing,
Mr. Strong. Do you understand?"
"We're poor folks, but we don't take charity even for Hetty's
children," said Miss Hepsy pointedly. "We've never been offered it
Mr. Keane might have waxed angry at the impertinent remark. He was
only inwardly amused. "It is not charity, Miss Strong," he said
good-humouredly. "I expect Tom will be able to repay anything he may
cost me. I hope you will not stand in the lad's way. He is a born
artist, and will never do good in any other sphere.--Come, Mr.
Strong, say yes, and let us shake hands over the bargain."
It was proof of the rare delicacy of Robert Keane's nature that he
put the matter in the light of a favour to himself. Mr. Goldthwaite
admired and honoured his friend at that moment more than he had ever
Aunt Hepsy preserved a rigid and unbending silence.
Uncle Josh stood twirling his thumbs reflectively. It was to cost him
nothing, not a farthing; and he would be rid of the bother the
hot-headed youngster was to him. But for his sister he would have
granted a ready assent.
"Wal, Hepsy?" he said in an inquiring tone.
"You're the master, Josh, I reckon. Do as ye please. It's all one to
me;" and to their amazement she flounced out of the room and banged
the door behind her.
"I'm much obleeged to you, Mr. Keane," said Josh, finding his tongue
in a marvellously short time. "I've no objections. As I said afore,
he's an idle, peart young 'un; no good at farm work. I hope yell be
able to make a better job o' him than I've done."
"I am not afraid," said Mr. Robert Keane. "And I am obliged to you
for granting my request. Can I see Tom?"
"I reckon you may," said Uncle Josh slowly. "Wal, I'll be off to that
plaguy mill. Good-day to you.--My respects to Miss Goldthwaite,
parson." Once more Uncle Josh pulled his forelock, and shambled out
of the room.
"It doesn't cause them much concern anyway," said Mr. Keane when the
door closed. "They are a bright pair; I should be afraid of that
woman myself. How that mite of a girl stands it I don't know."
Before Mr. Goldthwaite had time to answer, the door opened, and a
very eager, excited-looking boy appeared on the threshold.
"Well, Tom, my boy," said Mr. Keane, holding out his hand, "the
bargain's sealed. You belong to me now."
"Has Uncle Josh--has Aunt Hepsy said I might?" he said breathlessly.
"Oh, it is too good to be true!"
"True enough," said Mr. Keane, laughing at the lad's manner.--"Please
assure him of it, Mr. Goldthwaite."
Mr. Goldthwaite laid his hand on the lad's shoulder, and bent his
grave eyes on his beaming face. "I congratulate you," he said
heartily. "And I hope that by-and-by all Pendlepoint will be proud of
the name of Tom Hurst."
Tom drew his hand across his eyes. "I can't help it, sir," he said
apologetically. "But if you knew how much I've wished for this and
dreamed of it.--Oh, I feel I can never be grateful enough to you, Mr.
"Nonsense," said Mr. Keane. "Well, we must be going. Show us the way
out, will you, Tom? Your aunt has deserted us. I don't leave for a
fortnight yet. I shall see you again in a day or two."
Aunt Hepsy, however, had not altogether forgotten the duties of
hospitality, and now reappeared and asked them to stay to tea. Her
face had cleared a little, and she seemed to regret her previous
rudeness. Her invitation, however, was courteously declined.
"You're here, I see, Tom," she said severely. "Well, I hope you're
properly grateful to Mr. Keane for doing so much for you. An' I hope
ye'll mend yer ways, an' be a better boy than ye've been."
"I am very grateful, Aunt Hepsy," said Tom very quietly. "And I will
try to be what you say."
Something in his face and eyes touched even Aunt Hepsy, and it came
upon her very suddenly to wonder if she had not treated him a little
unjustly. "He's a biddable cretur, too," she said to Mr. Keane. "An'
p'raps he'll take more kindly to your kind o' life than ours. I don't
think much o' them useless ways o' livin' myself, but there's
"Some day perhaps, Miss Strong, when Tom comes back a great man,"
laughed Mr. Keane, as he shook hands with her and Tom, "you'll admit
you've changed your mind. If you do I'll come along and have a good
laugh at you."
A smile actually appeared on Miss Hepsy's face. "He's a real
pleasant-spoken gentleman, Mr. Robert Keane," said Aunt Hepsy, as she
shut the door.--"Well, Tom, I hope ye'll get yer fill o' paintin'
Tom's eyes beamed, but he made no verbal reply. Lucy followed him to
the door as he passed out to the barn again.
"O Tom, I am so glad," she whispered joyfully; and Tom answered by
tossing his cap in the air and trying to bound up after it.
"Glad? I don't know whether I'm on my head or my heels, Lucy," he
said. "It's the happiest day of my life."
Lucy kept the smile upon her face, not wishing to damp his joy, but
her heart was very sore. For what did Tom's departure mean for her?
It meant parting from all she had on earth; it meant a life of utter
loneliness and lovelessness, save for the dear outside friends she
could see so seldom. It was Lucy's nature ever to unselfishly bury
her own troubles and try to join in the happiness of others.
"A fortnight only," she said to herself as she went back to her work.
"What will become of me?"
The days sped fleetly for her, but slowly for Tom, who was eager to
be gone. Mr. Robert Keane paid frequent visits to Thankful Rest, and
all arrangements were satisfactorily made. Lucy went about, saying
little, and preserving her sweet serenity to the last. She busied
herself with Tom's small wardrobe, adding a touch here and there to
make it complete; and wept bitter tears over her work, as many
another sister has done before and since. It was not till the last
night that a thought of her came to cloud Tom's sky. They were
sitting together at the stove in the fading twilight, Lucy's face
very grave and sad.
"I say Lucy, though," Tom said, "how awfully lonely it will be for
you when I'm gone. Why, whatever will you _do_?"
"Think of you, and look for your letters," she said, her lips
quivering. "You will not forget me altogether, Tom?"
A pang of remorse shot through Tom's heart. He came to her side and
threw one arm round her, remembering how his mother's last charge had
been to take care of Lucy, and how poorly he had done it after all.
Lucy had taken care of him instead.
"Lucy, I'm a perfectly horrid boy," he said in a queer, quick way.
"Don't you hate me?"
"Hate you? O Tom, I've nobody but you."
Her sunny head drooped a moment against his arm, and her tears fell
without restraint. "I didn't mean to, Tom," she said at last, looking
up with a faint smile, "but I couldn't help it. I feel dreadful to
think of you going away."
"When I'm a man, Lucy," he said manfully, "what a perfectly stunning
little home you and I shall have together. It won't be so long--why,
"Only about ten or twelve years," said Lucy, able to laugh now. "I
shall be gray-haired long before that time."
"You! why, you'll be the same as you are at fifty. You are like
mamma; she never grew any older-looking. You must write often, mind,
Lucy, and tell me all about everything and everybody."
Lucy promised, and, feeling very sad again, rose to light the lamp in
case she should break down. Aunt Hepsy was wonderfully kind that
night--she could be kind sometimes if she liked--and, altogether, the
evening passed pleasantly. Tom went to bed early, as they were to
start by the morning train. Lucy followed almost immediately. About
half-an-hour afterwards Aunt Hepsy went upstairs to put a forgotten
article into Tom's trunk, and was arrested by sounds in Lucy's room.
The door was a little ajar, and Aunt Hepsy peered in. Lucy was
undressed and sitting at the window, her arms on the dressing-table,
and her whole frame shaking with sobs. Once or twice Aunt Hepsy heard
the word "Mamma." The passion of grief and longing in the girl's
voice made something come into Aunt Hepsy's throat, and she slipped
"I don't feel easy in my mind, Josh," she said when she re-entered
the kitchen. "I'm feared we've been rayther hard on Hetty's children.
She never did us any harm."
"Did I say she did, Hepsy?" asked Uncle Josh, serenely puffing away
at his pipe. "You was allus the worst at her and at the children. Ye
put upon that Lucy in a perfectly awful way."
"Shut up," said Miss Hepsy in a tone which admitted of no further
remark, and the subject dropped.
There was a great bustle in the morning, and before Lucy had time to
think about anything Tom had kissed her for the last time, and the
waggon drove away. He waved his handkerchief to her till they were
out of sight; and then she went back to the house sad and pale and
"I guess you needn't fly round much to-day, Lucy," said Aunt Hepsy
with unusual thoughtfulness. "Ye don't look very spry, and feel down
a bit. Never mind, he ain't away for ever."
"Thank you, Aunt Hepsy," said Lucy gently. "I'd rather work, if you
please. It takes up my mind better. Let me wash these dishes."
Aunt Hepsy surmised the tears were kept for the loneliness of her own
chamber. She was right. Only to her mother's God did Lucy Hurst pour
out all her grief, and from Him sought the help and comfort none can
give so well as He.
The unusual softening of heart and manner visible in Aunt Hepsy at
the time of Tom's departure disappeared before the lapse of many
days. You see, she had gone on in the old, sour, cross-grained way so
long, she felt most at home in it. She did not _feel_ unkindly
towards gentle, patient Lucy; but her manner was so ungracious, and
her words so sharp, you will not wonder that Lucy could not read
beneath the surface. She was very quiet, very sober, and very
listless; striving, too, to do her duties as well as aforetime, but
lacking physical strength. Tom's letters, frequent and full of hope
and happiness, were the chief solace of the girl's lonely life. Mr.
and Miss Goldthwaite came sometimes yet to Thankful Rest; but these
were family visits, and Lucy had few opportunities of quiet talk with
her friends. Many invitations had come from the Red House, but to
each and all Aunt Hepsy returned a peremptory refusal.
"I'm not going to have her learn to fly round for ever at folks'
houses. She has plenty to do at home, and she'll do it, you take my
word for it. Tell Judge Keane's folks I'm mighty obliged to them, but
Lucy can't come. Let that be an end of it." So she said to Miss
Goldthwaite one day; and she carried the message, slightly modified,
to Mrs. Keane. So the days and weeks slipped away, till Winter had to
hide his diminished head before the harbingers of Spring. In the
closing days of March the ice broke up on the river, and all nature
seemed to spring to life again. Green blades and tiny blossoms began
to peep above ground, and the birds sang their songs of gladness on
the budding boughs. It was a busy time at Thankful Rest, both indoors
and out. In the first week of April began that awful revolution, Miss
Hepsy Strong's spring-cleaning. It was her boast that she could
accomplish in one week what other housewives could accomplish only in
three. For every half-idle hour Lucy had enjoyed during the winter
she had to atone now; for Aunt Hepsy kept her sweeping, and scouring,
and dusting, and trotting upstairs and down, till the girl's strength
almost failed her. She did not complain, however, and Aunt Hepsy was
too much absorbed to see that her powers were overtaxed. The cleaning
was triumphantly concluded on Saturday night, and Lucy crept away
early to bed, but was unable to sleep from fatigue. She came
downstairs next morning so wan and white that Aunt Hepsy feared she
was going to turn sick on her hands. But Lucy said she was well
enough, and would go to church as usual. Thinking she looked really
ill, Miss Goldthwaite came round to the porch after the service.
"Lucy, what is it, child? your face is quite white. Do you feel well
Lucy smiled a little, and slipping her hand through Miss
Goldthwaite's arm, walked with her down the path.
"This has been cleaning week," she said in explanation, "and I have
had more to do than usual. I daresay I'll be all right now."
But Miss Goldthwaite did not feel satisfied, and said so to her
brother at the tea-table that night.
"I'm going up to Thankful Rest, Frank, to tell Miss Hepsy to be
careful of Lucy. It is time somebody told her; she grows so thin,
and, I notice, eats nothing."
Mr. Goldthwaite's anxiety exceeded his sister's, if that were
possible, but he said very little. Accordingly, next afternoon Miss
Goldthwaite betook herself to Thankful Rest. Finding the garden gate
locked, she went round by the back, and in the yard encountered Lucy
bending under the weight of two pails of water. She set them down on
beholding Miss Goldthwaite; and Carrie noticed that her hand was
pressed to her side, and that her breath came very fast.
"You are not fit to carry these, Lucy," said she very gravely. "Is
there nobody but you?"
"I have been washing some curtains and things to-day, Miss
Goldthwaite, and Aunt Hepsy thinks the water from the spring in the
low meadow better for rinsing them in."
"Does she?" said Miss Goldthwaite, and her sweet lips closed together
more sternly than Lucy had ever seen them do before.
Lucy passed into the wash-house with her pails, and Miss Goldthwaite
went into the house without knocking. Miss Hepsy was making
buckwheats, and greeted her visitor pleasantly enough. She sat down
in the window, turned her eyes on Miss Hepsy's face, and said
"I'm going to say something which will likely vex you, Miss Hepsy,
but I can't help it. I've been wanting to say it this long time."
Miss Hepsy did not look surprised, or even curious, she only said
"It wouldn't be the first time you've vexed me, Miss Goldthwaite, by
a long chalk."
"It's about Lucy, Miss Hepsy," continued Miss Goldthwaite. "Can't you
see she's hardly fit to do a hand's turn at work? I met her out there
carrying a load she was no more fit to carry than that kitten."
"Ain't she?" inquired Miss Hepsy quite unmoved. "What else?"
"There she is; I see her through the door. Look at her, and _see_ if
she is well. If she doesn't get rest and that speedily, she'll go
into a decline, as sure as I sit here. I had a sister," said Carrie
with a half sob, "who died of decline, and she looked exactly as Lucy
Miss Hepsy walked from the dresser to the stove and back again before
she spoke. "When did you find out, Miss Goldthwaite, that Hepsy
Strong could not mind her own affairs and her own folks?"
It was said in Miss Hepsy's most disagreeable manner, which was very
disagreeable indeed; but Miss Goldthwaite did not intend to be
disconcerted so soon.
"You have a kind heart, I know, Miss Hepsy, though you show it so
seldom. You must know Lucy's value by this time, and if you haven't
learned to love her, I don't know what you are made of. Be gentle
with her, Miss Hepsy; she is very young--and she has no mother."
Miss Hepsy's temper was up, and she heard the gentle pleading
"Ye've meddled a good deal wi' me, Miss Goldthwaite," she said
slowly, "and I've never told ye to mind yer own business before, but
I tell ye now. An' though ye are the parson's sister, ye say things I
can't stand. Ye'd better be goin'; an' ye needn't come to Thankful
Rest again till ye can let me an' my concerns alone."
Miss Goldthwaite rose at once, not angry, only grieved and
"Good-bye, then, Miss Hepsy. It was only my love for Lucy made me
speak. I'm sorry I've offended you. She is a dear, good girl. Some
day, perhaps, you will be sorry you did not listen to my words," she
said, and went away.
Not many words, good or bad, did Aunt Hepsy speak in the house that
night. Lucy, busy with her mending, wondered what had passed that
afternoon that Miss Goldthwaite's stay had been so brief. Aunt
Hepsy's eyes rested keenly on Lucy's pale, sweet face more than once,
and she was forced to admit that it was paler and thinner and more
worn-looking than it need be. But she hardened her heart, and refused
to obey its more kindly promptings. A few more days went by. Lucy
grew weaker, and flagged in her work; and Aunt Hepsy watched her, and
_would not_ be the first to take needful steps. On Sunday morning
Lucy did not come downstairs at the usual time, and even the
clattering of breakfast dishes failed to bring her. At length Aunt
Hepsy went upstairs. Lucy was still in bed.
"Are you sick, child?" said Aunt Hepsy in a strange quick voice.
Lucy answered very feebly,--"I'm afraid I'm goin' to be, Aunt Hepsy.
I tried to get up, but I couldn't; and I haven't slept any all
"Where do you feel ill?"
"All over," said the girl wearily. "I've felt so for a long time, but
I tried to go about. Are you angry because I'm going to be sick, Aunt
Hepsy? It'll be a bother to you; but perhaps I'm going to mamma."
"Do you want to kill me outright, Lucy?" said her aunt; and even in
her weakness Lucy opened her eyes wide in surprise. "If you speak
about goin' to yer ma again," she said, "ye will kill me. Ye've got
to lie there an' get better as fast as you like. I'll send for Dr.
Gair, an' nurse ye night and day."
Aunt Hepsy could have said a great deal more, but a something in her
throat prevented her. She went downstairs immediately, and despatched
the boy for Dr. Gair. During his absence, she endeavoured to induce
Lucy to take some breakfast, but in vain.
"I'm real sick, Aunt Hepsy," she said. "Just let me lie still. I
don't want anything but just to be quiet."
Within the hour Dr. Gair came to Thankful Rest, for Miss Hepsy's
message had been urgent. He was an old man, blunt-mannered, but truly
tenderhearted, and a great favourite in the township. He had not been
once at Thankful Rest since Deacon Strong's death, for neither the
brother nor sister had ever had a day's illness in their lives. He
made his examination of Lucy in a few minutes, and Miss Hepsy watched
with a sinking heart how very grave his face was when he turned to
her. He had few questions to ask, and these Lucy answered as simply
as she could.
"Am I going to be very sick, Dr. Gair?" said Lucy.
"Yes, my dear; but please God, we may pull you through," said the old
man softly. "In the meantime I can't do much; I'll look in again in
Miss Hepsy followed him in silence down the stairs, and he drew on
his gloves in the lobby without speaking.
"This is a case of gross neglect, Miss Strong," he said at length.
"The girl's delicate frame is thoroughly exhausted by over-fatigue
and want of attention."
"Tell me something I don't know, Dr. Gair," said she sharply.
"And if she recovers, of which I am more than doubtful," he continued
sternly, "it is to be hoped you will turn over a new leaf in your
treatment of her. I am a plain man, Miss Strong, not given to gilding
a bitter pill. If your niece dies, you may take home the blame to
yourself. Good morning."
"I know all that, my good man, better than you can tell me," said
Aunt Hepsy grimly. "You do your best to bring her round, an' I won't
forget it. I've been a wicked woman, Dr. Gair, an' I s'pose the
Lord's goin' to punish me now; an' he couldn't have chosen a surer
way than by sending sickness to Lucy. Good morning."
Aunt Hepsy shut the door, and went into the kitchen. There Joshua sat
anxiously awaiting the doctor's verdict.
"There ain't much hope, Josh," she said briefly.
"Ain't there, Hepsy? It's a bad job for the little 'un."
"An' for more than her, I reckon," returned his sister shortly. "I've
lived one and forty years at Thankful Rest, Josh, an' I never felt as
I do this day. I'd a mighty deal rather be sick myself than see the
child's white face. If she gets round, I'll be a better woman, with
the Lord's help. How He's borne with me so long's a marvel I can't
comprehend. One and forty years, Josh Strong, and Lucy jes' fifteen.
She's done a deal more good in one day o' her life than you or me
ever did in all ours. The Lord forgive us, Josh, an' help us to make
a better use o' what's left. Jes' step down to Pendlepoint, will ye,
an' ask the parson an' his sister up. I guess Lucy'd be pleased to
see 'em. One an' forty years, dear, dear; an' Lucy jes' fifteen."
Aunt Hepsy went out wiping her eyes, and stole upstairs again to
LUCY FINDS THE KEY.
For several days a great shadow lay on Thankful Rest while Lucy
hovered between life and death. Everything human care and skill could
suggest was done, and the issue was in God's hands. Miss Goldthwaite
had come up to Thankful Rest on Sunday, and had stayed, because Lucy
seemed to be happier when she was by. Callers were innumerable, and a
messenger came from the Red House every morning asking a bulletin.
What Aunt Hepsy suffered during those days I do not suppose anybody
ever guessed. It was her way to hide her feelings always, but she
would sit or stand looking at the sick girl with eyes which ought to
have brought her back to health. Uncle Josh was in and out fifty
times a day, and things outside were allowed to manage themselves;
all interest centred in the little attic chamber and its suffering
occupant. She lay in a kind of stupor most part of the day, only
moaning at times with the pain Dr. Gair was powerless to relieve. She
grew perceptibly weaker, and they feared to leave her a moment, lest
she should slip away while they were gone. So the days went by till
Sunday came round again. Dr. Gair came early that morning, and
looked, if possible, graver than usual.
"If she lives till evening," he said to the anxious watchers, "she
will recover, but I cannot give you much hope. Administer this
medicine every two hours; it is all I can do. I will be back before
In after years Aunt Hepsy was wont to say that Sunday was the longest
day she had ever spent in her life. I think others felt so too.
Slowly the hours went round. Even into the darkened room the spring
sunshine would peep, and the twittering of the birds in the orchard
broke the oppressive stillness. At four o'clock the doctor came
again. Save for the almost imperceptible breathing, Lucy lay so pale
and still that they almost thought her dead. At sunset she moved
uneasily, and with a great sigh lifted her heavy lids and looked
round the room. A sob burst from Aunt Hepsy's lips, and Carrie
Goldthwaite's tears fell fast, for Dr. Gair's face said she was
saved. Her lips moved, and he bent down to catch the faintly murmured
"Have I been sick a long time? I am going to get well now."
The doctor nodded and smiled. "God has been very good to you--to us
all--my child," he said. "He has heard the prayers of those who love
Carrie came to the bedside then, and bending over her, kissed her
once with streaming eyes. Aunt Hepsy moved to the window and drew up
the blind, and the red glow of the setting sun crept into the room,
and lay bright and beautiful on Lucy's face.
"I am glad to see the sun again," said Lucy wearily. "I seem to have
been sick so long. May I go to sleep now, Dr. Gair?"
"Yes; and sleep a week if you like," he said cheerily.--"Rest and
care now, Miss Strong, is all she needs to bring her round."
Aunt Hepsy made no reply whatever. She stood still in the window, her
face softened into a strange, thankful tenderness, and her heart
lifting itself up in gratitude to God, and in many an earnest
resolution for the future. She followed Dr. Gair downstairs, as she
had done that day a week before, and as he passed out caught his hand
in a grip of iron. "I'm a woman of few words, Dr. Gair," she said
abruptly, "but I won't forget what you've done for me an' mine."
"God first, Miss Strong," said the doctor gravely; and then he added
with an odd little smile, "Lucy's lines will be in pleasant places
now, I fancy?"
"If they ain't, I'll know the reason why," said she grimly. "Good
Lucy's sleep that night was calm and refreshing, and when Dr. Gair
came again in the morning he expressed himself pleased with her
condition. Miss Goldthwaite brought up a breakfast tray with a cup of
weak tea and a piece of toast, of which Lucy was able to eat a little
bit. She had fifty questions to ask; but remembering Dr. Gair's
peremptory orders, Carrie placed a finger on her lips and shook her
head. There would be plenty of time to talk by-and-by, for
convalescence would be a tedious business; in the meantime there was
absolute need of perfect rest. Miss Goldthwaite brought her sewing,
and sat down in the window seat, humming a scrap of song, the outcome
of the gladness of her heart. Lucy lay still in a state of dreamy
happiness, listening to the twittering of the birds mingling with
Carrie's song, and watching the gay April sunbeams dancing among her
golden curls. By-and-by Aunt Hepsy came up, and Lucy looked at her
curiously. She seemed to dimly remember that during the days of the
past week a face like Aunt Hepsy's had bent over her in love and
tenderness, and a voice like hers, only infinitely softer and
gentler, had spoken broken words of grief and prayer at her bedside.
Aunt Hepsy, just yet, did not meet Lucy's wondering eyes, nor speak
any words to her at all. She moved softly about the room, putting
things to rights deftly and silently; but Lucy was sure there was
something different about her.
Immediately after the early dinner, seeing Lucy so much better, Miss
Goldthwaite bethought herself of her neglected household at
Pendlepoint, and said she would go home, promising to come again
to-morrow. Her eyes were full of tears as she bent over to bid Lucy
good-bye, and she whispered tenderly,--
"My darling, what a load I shall lift from anxious hearts at
Pendlepoint to-night. You don't know how dear you are to us all."
Lucy smiled a little in a happy way; to her heart evidences of love
were very precious. She was left alone for nearly a couple of hours,
while Aunt Hepsy washed up dishes and set things right downstairs she
fell into a light doze, and when she awoke, it was to find Aunt Hepsy
sitting by her side with her knitting.
"Have I been sleeping, Aunt Hepsy?" she said. "You don't know how
well I feel. I could almost get up, I think."
Aunt Hepsy laughed a little tremulous laugh.
"In about a month or so, I guess, you'll begin to think about getting
up," she said; and again something in Aunt Hepsy's face set Lucy
wondering _what_ was different about her. There was a short silence,
then Aunt Hepsy laid down her knitting, and took both Lucy's thin
hands in her firm clasp. "Lucy, do you think ye can ever forgive yer
old aunt?" she said suddenly and quickly. "I've been a cross,
hardhearted old fool, an' the Lord's been better to me than I dared
to hope for. He's heard my prayers, Lucy, an' he knows how hard I
mean to try and make up for the past. If ye'll say ye forgive me, and
try to care a little for me, ye'll maybe find Thankful Rest a
pleasanter place than ye think it now."
"O Aunt Hepsy, don't say any more," pleaded Lucy, her eyes growing
dim. "I'm so glad I've been sick, because you've learned to love me a
So the barrier was broken down, and in the ensuing days these two
became very dear to each other; and Lucy grew to understand Aunt
Hepsy, and to see how much good there lay beneath her grim exterior.
The door of Aunt Hepsy's heart had long been locked, and like other
unused things, had grown rusty on its hinges. But Lucy had found the
key, and entered triumphantly at last.
A GREAT CHANGE.
You will be wondering what Tom had been about during his sister's
illness; but he was still in ignorance of it, his friends thinking it
best to wait till the crisis was past. It fell to Aunt Hepsy's lot to
send the news, and her letter was such a curiosity in its way that I
cannot do better than set it down just as it was.
"THANKFUL REST, _April 18th, 18--_.
"MY DEAR NEPHEW,--I daresay you'll wonder to hear from me, an' will
maybe feel skeered; so, to relieve you, I may as well say at once
that Lucy's been sick, very sick, but she's getting round nicely now,
thank the Lord. She is in bed yet, and I'm writing this beside her.
She sends her love, and says she'll write to-morrow. I guess I'll let
her do it in about a month. I want to ask you to forgive me for being
so hard on you when you lived here. I hope you don't bear your old
aunt any grudge. Lucy, God bless her, won't hear me abuse myself, so
it's a relief to do it to you, though you are a boy. I keep that
picter you drew of me that I slapped you for, an' I'll look at it
when I feel my pesky temper gettin' up. I suppose ye'll be so took up
with your paintin' ye couldn't never think of coming back to Thankful
Rest. It wouldn't be good for you, if you're getting on any way with
Mr. Robert Keane. But you'll come right away in summer, an' see what
a different place Lucy has made of Thankful Rest, an' how precious
she is to your uncle an' me. I guess she's one of the Lord's
messengers, sent to do what all the preachin' in the world couldn't.
I reckon I'll finish up. It has took me an hour to write this, I'm so
slow with the pen. Give my respects to Mr. Robert Keane; and when he
comes to Thankful Rest in summer, maybe he'll get a better welcome
than he got before. So no more at present. From your affectionate
That letter reached Boston Avenue in the evening, when Tom was poring
over a book of instructions for young artists. He was in his own
sanctum, which Mr. Keane had given him when he came--a tiny apartment
next the artist's studio, and commanding from its window the finest
view in Philadelphia. Tom seized the letter from the servant's hand.
He had written twice to Lucy, and was anxiously wondering at her
delay in answering, for Lucy had always been a faithful and punctual
You would have laughed had you seen the varying expressions on Tom's
face as he read Aunt Hepsy's epistle;--concern at first to hear Lucy
was ill; relief to find her recovering; and, last of all, mute,
dumfoundered amazement at Aunt Hepsy.
Mr. Keane opened his studio by-and-by and looked out.
"Well, Tom, news from Lucy at last, my boy?" he asked.
"No, sir," said Tom soberly, yet with an odd twinkle in his eye; and
then he held out the open letter, saying simply, "Read that, Mr.
Mr. Keane smiled too as he read. "Lucy has conquered, as I thought
she would," he said. "See, Tom, what an influence a meek, gentle,
loving spirit like Lucy's has in the world. You and I with our fiery
tempers sink into nothingness beside her."
"You, Mr. Keane!" echoed Tom in amazement. "I don't think you have a
temper at all."
"Haven't I?" The artist's smile grew sad. "There was a boy once who
was expelled from three schools for impertinence and insubordination,
and put his parents to the expense of keeping a tutor for him at
home. That tutor, Tom, was a man of splendid talents, which his
delicate health forbade him to exercise as he desired. His pupil
killed him, Tom; the worry and anxiety lest he should not come up to
the parents' expectation, combined with what he had to bear from the
boy himself, broke his health down, and he died. That boy was _me_."
Tom sat wondering, while Mr. Keane, walking to and fro, continued
slowly--"I went to see him when he was dying, in his poor lodging: he
was very poor, you must understand, but nobody durst offer him
anything, lest he should feel hurt or insulted. As long as I live,
Tom, I shall never forget that night. I saw then clearly how wicked I
had been, and how what I thought manly independence befitting my
station was only the cowardice of a spirit as far beneath his as
earth is beneath heaven. That was a lesson I never forgot; and since
that night I have tried, with God's help, to use the legacy he left
"What was it?" asked Tom breathlessly.
Mr. Keane lifted Lucy's Bible from the side-table, and turning over
the pages held it out to Tom, his finger pointing to the place.
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."
"Tom," said Mr. Keane one morning a few days later, "I believe you
are going to Pendlepoint tomorrow?"
"What?" Tom nearly bounded off his chair. The longing to go home to
Lucy for a day or two had well-nigh overcome him since Aunt Hepsy's
letter came; but he had tried to stifle it, and had applied himself
with double energy to his studies.
"If you don't wish to go, of course I have no more to say," began Mr.
Keane; but Tom interrupted him--
"O sir, you don't mean me to go home for good and all, I hope; have I
disappointed you? I have tried so hard, sir."
"Stop, stop!" cried Mr. Keane. "Wait till I hint at such a thing. You
have surpassed my expectations, my boy. I thought you would like to
see your sister, but if I am mistaken--"
"I do want to go, sir; I would give the world almost to see
"The expense, sir," Tom ventured to say, encouraged by his kind
friend's manner. "It is a long journey, and I have cost you so much
"Nonsense; I am a rich man, Tom. But for all that I expect you to pay
me back some day. You and I will have a great reckoning by-and-by."
There was a moment's silence.
"How did you know I wanted to go home, Mr. Keane?" said Tom
"I have eyes, my boy," was all Mr. Keane answered, saying nothing of
a note he had received from his sister, which ran thus:--
"RED HOUSE, _April 27th_.
"DEAR ROBERT,--Send Tom to Thankful Rest for a few days. Lucy will
get well twice as fast after she sees him.--Your affectionate sister,
Next morning saw a very happy boy take his place in the train, which
would land him at Pendlepoint in the evening. It was a long, tiresome
journey, especially to an impatient being like Tom. But it came to an
end, as all things pleasant or unpleasant must, and he found himself
at the little old-fashioned depot towards seven o'clock at night.
There was no one to meet him, of course, because no one, not even
Miss Keane, expected him so soon. He ran all the way to the
parsonage, and knocked at the door, only to find Abbie in sole
"The parson he be down town, Master Tom," she said, "and Miss Carrie
she be at Thankful Rest. I guess she's there most days till night."
Tom thanked her and ran off again across the bridge and through the
meadow, not even pausing to look at the cattle, nor to see that Sally
was enjoying an unwonted holiday, and a dainty bite at the tender
young grass, which the mild weather had brought forward very fast. He
paused just a moment outside the orchard fence, and looked at the
house, not a little surprised to feel how glad he was to see it
again, and how dear it was to him after all. Then he pushed open the
gate, went up the path and over the garden fence, and saw Uncle Josh
digging the potato patch.
"Halloo, Uncle Josh!" he shouted, feeling quite jovial and free
towards him; and Uncle Josh started up and let his spade fall from
"Marcy, younker, whar did ye come from?" was all he could utter. But,
no longer the surly man that he had been, he held out his hand to
him, and looked more than pleased to see him.
"I came from Philadelphia to see Lucy," answered Tom soberly. "How is
"Oh, gettin' along fast; she's in the far parlour these two days,
able to sit up till 'most night. I guess she won't be sot up to see
ye--oh no, not at all."
There was a twinkle in Uncle Josh's eye, a thing Tom had never seen
before. Surely there _was_ a change at Thankful Rest.
"I'll go in now," said Tom; and he went away round to the back door.
Keziah was making something at the stove, and nearly upset the
saucepan in her amazement. Tom nodded to her, and went off to the far
parlour. The door was ajar and he peeped in. Was _that_ the far
parlour? No, it could not be. There were white curtains at the
window, flowers everywhere. A sparkling fire in the high brass grate;
a low, restful rocking-chair at the hearth; and a couch he did not
remember to have seen before, but it looked as if it had been made
for ease and comfort. And on the couch lay Lucy, the fire-light
dancing on her face: it was pale and thin, but happy-looking, he
She heard a noise at the door, and said, without looking round, "Are
you dressed already, Miss Carrie? How fast you have been!"
There was no answer; then Lucy looked round and gave a great cry. And
Tom ran in and knelt down beside her, and gathered her shawl and all
in his arms, and they held each other very close; and for a long time
there was nothing said.
"How did you come?" asked Lucy at last, her face radiant with joy.
"By train. Mr. Keane sent me. Are you glad, Lucy?"
"Glad?" Lucy had no words wherewith to express her gladness, but it
was evident enough.
Just then footsteps sounded on the stair, and Miss Hepsy came into
the room followed by Miss Goldthwaite.
She looked scared a moment, but when Tom rose and came to her
saying--"I came to see Lucy, Aunt Hepsy, and to thank you for being
so good to her,"--she just sat down in the rocking-chair and sobbed
like a child. Here was a state of matters! and Tom did not know just
then whether to laugh or to cry. But Miss Carrie diverted him by
asking questions about his journey, and by-and-by Miss Hepsy rose and
said she'd get supper.
"An' ye'll jist bide, Miss Goldthwaite, an' we'll all have it here
with Lucy.--Dear, dear, this is a great night. Who'd 'a thought to
see you, Tom, all the way from Philadelphia?"
"You look pretty comfortable, Lucy," said Tom jokingly. "I wouldn't
mind being sick myself, to be codled up like this."
Lucy smiled, but her eyes grew dim.
"I can't speak about it, Tom," she said. "Aunt Hepsy is too good to
me; she reminds me of mamma sometimes.--Isn't she kind, Miss Carrie?"
Miss Carrie nodded, her sweet face full of satisfaction. Evidently
the new state of affairs was after her own heart.
By-and-by the table was set, and they all gathered round it, and Tom
had a real Thankful Rest supper.
There was not much said; but Tom saw how Aunt Hepsy watched and
tended Lucy; and how Uncle Josh, too, had grown gentle even in his
roughness; and, above all, he saw how beautiful was Lucy's face in
its perfect happiness and content.
"You don't eat, Lucy, my pet," said Aunt Hepsy anxiously.
"I can't, auntie; I am so happy, it's no use;" and Lucy covered her
face with her hands and fairly sobbed.
Then Tom rose to his feet, and gave vent to a cheer which would have
done honour to an Englishman.
"Bless me, boy, ye'll bring the house down," said Aunt Hepsy, but not
looking at all displeased.
"Can't help it, Aunt Hepsy; it's surplus steam; must let it off, or I
can't answer for the consequences." And he cheered again and again,
till Keziah ran to see what was the matter. She went back to the
kitchen saying to herself, "When I see an' hear that here, I feel
like believin', Deacon Frost, that the world's comin' to an end."
Not the world exactly, Keziah, only the old, hard, miserable days
have come to an end for ever, and a new era has begun at Thankful
Tom stayed a week at home--_home_ it truly was to both Lucy and him
now, and he left it with regret. But the work he loved and had chosen
called him away, and knowing Lucy would be tenderly cared for, he
went back to Philadelphia, carrying a much lighter heart than when he
first entered it three months before. The summer would be a busy one
for him; and as the months sped he proved the truth of Mr. Keane's
words, that it was only through much hard, plodding, uninteresting
work, that he could ever hope to place his foot on the first step of
the ladder. But he had a kind hand and an encouraging word always
ready to help him on, and was happy in his apprenticeship.
Thanks to Aunt Hepsy's careful nursing, midsummer saw Lucy fully
restored to health again. She had an easy and happy time of it now.
There was no more trotting up and down, no more bending under heavy
loads--it was only very light work her hands were permitted to do;
and she would laugh and tell Aunt Hepsy she was making a fine lady of
"You do what you're bid, an' say nothin', my dear," was always Aunt
Hepsy's answer, with oh, what a difference in look and tone.
There was no restriction to her visiting now. She would spend days at
the Red House, in company with her friend Minnie; who, in her turn,
would come to Thankful Rest, and keep the house alive with her gay
So the summer sped, harvest was ingathered again, and one sunny
evening in September, Miss Goldthwaite came up to Thankful Rest on
special business. Rumours were afloat that the parsonage was soon to
lose Miss Carrie, but they had not yet been confirmed.
Miss Hepsy was in the garden, and gave the parson's sister a warm
"Is Lucy indoors?" Carrie asked, after they had chatted a moment.
"Yes; I heard her singing a minute ago," answered Aunt Hepsy. "Jes'
go in and look for her, Miss Goldthwaite; I'll be in by-and-by."
"Perhaps I had better talk to you first, Miss Hepsy, as you have the
power to grant or refuse what I want."
"I don't often say no to ye, Miss Carrie," said Aunt Hepsy with a dry
"I know it; but this is a very serious request--in fact, I am afraid
to make it."
"Out with it. I can but say no any way."
Miss Goldthwaite leaned on her parasol, and looked at Aunt Hepsy,
smiling, and blushing slightly too.
"Perhaps you know I'm going to be married soon, Miss Hepsy?"
"I hear the folks sayin' so; but I paid no heed, guessin' ye'd come
an' tell us afore it took place. Is't to be immediately?"
"At Christmas. But I'm going home to New York in three weeks."
"To get ready," nodded Miss Hepsy. "Well?"
"Can't you guess what I want, Miss Hepsy?"
Miss Hepsy stood a moment in wondering silence, and then said very
slowly, "I guess it'll be Lucy ye want."
"Yes; I want her to go home with me, and remain till after my
marriage. Frank will bring her back when he comes. Now it's out.
Order me off the premises now, Miss Hepsy; I know you feel like it."
"This is September," said Aunt Hepsy very slowly; "October, November,
December, January--perhaps nigh half a year. Well, Miss Goldthwaite,
excuse me sayin' it, but the Lord'll need to help your husband; he'll
not be able to help hisself, that's certain. Ye'd move the Peak, as
I've said afore."
"Am I to take that as your permission, Miss Hepsy?"
"Hev ye spoke to Lucy?"
"Not yet; you had to be asked first. If you had said no, I should not
have thought of mentioning it to Lucy at all."
"If Lucy wants to go, I'm willin'; but it'll be a queer house without
"Thank you, Miss Hepsy," said Carrie, and bent forward and kissed
her. "I think you will not regret it. It will soon pass, and will do
Lucy a world of good. She is growing up, you know, and wants to see
"P'raps you're right," said Aunt Hepsy. "Yes, go in now, Miss
Goldthwaite; I want to think a bit."
Carrie went in, and kneeling down on the hearth beside Lucy, said
abruptly, "I am going to be married at Christmas, Lucy, and want you
for my bridesmaid. I am going home to New York in three weeks, and
your aunt says I may take you with me. Will you come?"
Lucy's face flushed with pleasure, but she said quickly,--
"You are very kind, Carrie. I should like it dearly. But would it be
right to leave my uncle and aunt?"
"If they say you may, Lucy. I have thought it well over before I
mentioned it at all; and I'm sure you would enjoy yourself."
"I know that. May I have a day or two to think of it, Carrie?"
"As many as you like, so that you only come, dear. Now, I'm going
off; I haven't a minute to spare.--By-the-by, Alice and Minnie will
likely be at papa's, too, all December, so that is another
inducement. Goodbye." She stooped and kissed Lucy, and ran out of the
Pretty soon Aunt Hepsy came in, looking very grave and sad. She took
up her knitting, and for a bit neither spoke.
"Three months is a long time, Aunt Hepsy," said Lucy at last.
Aunt Hepsy never spoke.
Then Lucy rose and came to her, and laid her arm about her neck. "You
don't want me to go, auntie, I know you don't."
"Go away; I didn't say I didn't," said Aunt Hepsy in her gruffest
"Auntie, if you will only tell me you would rather I stayed, I won't
"Don't ask questions, child. I guess I'd never live through them
three months. As well go away for ever almost."
"Then I won't go," said Lucy stoutly. "I'd dearly like to be at
Carrie's wedding; but I can't leave you, auntie, for so long." And
from that decision no persuasion could induce Lucy to depart--she was
firm as a rock; but Aunt Hepsy made a little private arrangement of
her own, which was to be kept a profound secret from the bride-elect.
Judge Keane travelled to New York the day before Christmas with a
young lady under his care; and when the pair were ushered into Dr.
Goldthwaite's drawing-room, the bride-elect saw, peeping out from
among the rich furs which Aunt Hepsy had provided for her darling, a
face she loved very dearly, and which could belong to nobody in the
world but Lucy Hurst.
They were all together in the long drawing-room, waiting only the
coming of the bride, ere the solemn ceremony could be performed.
There was a large company, for the Goldthwaites had a wide circle of
acquaintance. Conspicuous among them were the friends we know
best--all the Keanes (save the invalid mother, who thought and prayed
for them at home), and Tom and Lucy Hurst. It had been a surprise to
Lucy to find him at New York. She had not expected to see him again
till the summer-time. She looked very fair and sweet in her delicate
white dress, but was utterly unconscious of the admiration she was
creating; and of the close observation of a pair of dark earnest
eyes, which had been the first gleam of comfort to her when her
By-and-by, old white-haired Dr. Goldthwaite came in with Carrie on
his arm, and they took their places silently; and in a very few
minutes Frank had uttered the irrevocable words, and the wedding was
over. Then Mr. and Mrs. George Keane received abundant
congratulations, and they adjourned to partake of breakfast. In the
hall stood a quantity of baggage labelled "Mrs. Keane," which seemed
very formidable, but was not much after all, considering the
travellers were going to Europe. Yes; the young pair were to have a
six months' tour before settling down at Pendlepoint, and some felt
as if Carrie were going away for ever. She looked very grave and sad;
and when she came down ready to go, broke down utterly bidding her
"Now then, this will never do," said Judge Keane, with that comical
smile of his. "George, get your wife into the carriage, or we shall
have her rueing she ever promised to follow you."
Carrie smiled through her tears, and shook her finger at the judge.
Then, as she turned to go, a light touch fell upon her arm, and a low
voice whispered tremulously,--
"May God bless you all your life, Mrs. Keane."
It was Lucy, her great eyes shining with unspeakable love and
"Never Mrs. Keane to you, Lucy, my pet," she whispered back. "Carrie
always, and always. Write to me."
Then she was hurried out to the carriage, forgetting in the
excitement of the moment that she possessed no address to give. The
door closed upon them, the coachman sprang to the box, and the next
moment they were gone. They had embarked together on the sea of life,
and the voyage bade fair to be a happy and prosperous one.
"I don't like weddings," said Judge Keane discontentedly. "They are
miserable, heart-breaking things at the best."
"Time was when you did not think so, judge," said the doctor, with a
twinkle in his eye.--"Eh, little one?"
It was Lucy whom the doctor addressed, and she answered timidly, "It
is very sad to give away those we love, as you have done to-day,
"Wait till somebody wants to take you away, my lady," laughed the
judge. "There'll be an earthquake at Thankful Rest."
"I never heard any one speak as you do, Judge Keane," said Lucy, with
a dignity which dumfoundered Tom; and she moved away and sat down by
Mrs. Goldthwaite, and began to talk to her about Carrie.
"What makes you look so sober, Tom Hurst?" queried Minnie Keane's
voice at his elbow a few minutes later.
"Shall I tell you, Minnie?"
"You must," was the calm reply.
"It seems to me, then," he said very slowly, "that Lucy is growing
up, and I don't like it. Do you?"
"I don't mind. Everybody grows up and marries, and goes to Europe,
and dies after a bit; that's about what life amounts to--not much, is
Tom laughed, he couldn't help it; but after a bit he answered
gravely, "I am afraid to grow up myself, Minnie."
"Because a man has so much responsibility, so much to do for God: I
don't think it will be very easy."
"Oh, I do!" answered Minnie. "Just do all you can, with all your
might; that's what mamma says, and it's the easiest way."
"So it is," said Tom. "I shan't forget that, Minnie."
And neither he did.
FIVE YEARS AFTER.
Again it was sweet spring-time at Thankful Rest. The garden was gay
with tender leaves and blossoms, and the orchard white with bloom.
There the birds made sweet melody as of yore; and, as of yore, the
sunny river brawled and whispered and played as it hurried through
the meadow to the sea.
At five o'clock in the afternoon Aunt Hepsy was in the kitchen, busy
as usual; her hands knew no idleness. Two teacups and a plate of cake
stood on the table, the remnants of the early tea she and Lucy had
taken a little while before. Presently a light step sounded in the
lobby, and Lucy came in dressed for walking. Five years make a great
change; for she had grown from a slight, diminutive girl, to a tall,
lithe, graceful young lady, just on the verge of womanhood.
"Ye look like a picter, by all the world," said Aunt Hepsy, pausing
to admire her; and Lucy's answer was a silvery laugh, so full of
perfect happiness and content, that a silent bird on the window ledge
caught the infection and burst into song.
"I'm going to the post-office to see if there's a letter from Tom,
Aunt Hepsy," she said; "and then to Dovecot, to see Mrs. George
Keane. I'll be back sure before dark."
"Ye'd better," said Aunt Hepsy, with something of her ancient
grimness. "The house ain't worth livin' in when ye're out."
Lucy came close to Aunt Hepsy, and laying her gloved hands on her
shoulders, bent tender, beaming eyes on her face. "It makes me so
thankful, auntie, to think you miss me, and are glad when I come
back. I don't suppose there's a happier girl anywhere than I am."
"Nor a happier pair than ye make yer uncle an' me," said Aunt Hepsy
softly. "Off ye go, ye waste my time like anything; time was when I'd
make ye fly round considerable if ye'd ventured."
Lucy laughed, and went her way, turning aside as she went through the
paddock for a pleasant word with Uncle Josh ploughing in the low
meadow. He stopped his team to watch the pretty girlish figure out of
sight. Crossing the bridge she met Ebenezer going with a letter to
Thankful Rest. It was for her, and in Tom's handwriting. There was no
need for her to go down to the town, and she turned in the direction
of the Dovecot, which was the name of the pretty home occupied by
George Keane and his wife. It was midway between the Red House and
the parsonage, and fifteen minutes' leisurely walking brought her to
it. Miss Goldthwaite had been married four years past, and had one
little son, the joy and torment of her life. He was in bed, however,
when Lucy called, so there was a chance of a moment's quiet talk.
"I have had a letter from Tom to-night, Carrie," she said when the
first greetings were over. "His picture has sold for five hundred
"O Lucy, I am so glad. Such a success for a young artist! How proud
Robert will be of his pupil."
Lucy's eyes beamed her pride, though she said very little.
"Frank is here," said Mrs. Keane after a moment. "He is out somewhere
with George; let us find them, and communicate the good news. What
will Aunt Hepsy say?"
They rose and went out into the sweet spring twilight and found Mr.
Goldthwaite and Mr. George Keane in the garden at the back. There
were warm congratulations from both, and an hour slipped away in
discussing the artist, his work and prospects, till Lucy remembered
her promise to Aunt Hepsy, and said that she must be going. Mr.
Goldthwaite would return too, he said, as it was growing late. His
sister fancied Lucy's company was an inducement to him to leave so
early, but she discreetly held her peace.
It was almost dark, though the lamp was not lit at Thankful Rest,
when Lucy reached home.
"You've kept your time," said Aunt Hepsy well pleased. "Did ye come
"No, Aunt Hepsy," answered Lucy very low, and the semi-darkness hid
her face. "Mr. Goldthwaite was at Dovecot, and walked home with me."
"Mrs. Keane's folks all well?" asked Aunt Hepsy, suspecting nothing.
"Yes; and O Aunt Hepsy, I have a letter from Tom: his picture in the
exhibition has sold for five hundred dollars."
Aunt Hepsy uplifted her hands in mute amazement.
"Marcy on us," she exclaimed at last. "What a power o' money for a
picter! Is't true, Lucy?"
"Yes, quite true; and he has got such praise for it," said Lucy
joyfully. "Aren't you proud of him, Aunt Hepsy?"
"I guess I am," said Aunt Hepsy. "Five hundred dollars! Dear, dear!
What will Josh say to this? Does he say anything about coming home
"I'll read you the letter when the lamp's lighted, auntie," said
"Well, light it, there's a good child; it's 'most time anyway. I've
been idle a good half-hour."
But Lucy did not seem in any hurry. She hovered about in an odd,
restless kind of way, and finally came behind Aunt Hepsy's chair, and
folded her hands on her shoulder.
"What is it, child?" said Aunt Hepsy wonderingly. "Summat you have to
tell me, I reckon. Anything in Tom's letter ye haven't told me?"
"No, Aunt Hepsy," and Lucy's voice fell very low now. "I want to tell
you--I have promised to be Mr. Goldthwaite's wife."
"Bless me, Lucy, 'tain't true?" cried Aunt Hepsy, starting up; and
seeing in Lucy's downcast face confirmation of her words, she sank
back to her chair, and for the first and only time in her life Aunt
Hepsy went off into hysterics.
In the tender gloaming of an August evening Tom and Lucy Hurst stood
together within the porch at Thankful Rest. They had been at
Pendlepoint visiting old friends, and, after walking slowly home,
lingered here talking of old times, and loath to leave the soft
beauty of the summer night. A tall, broad-shouldered, handsome fellow
was Tom Hurst now, towering a head above his sister, who stood very
close to him, her head leaning against his shoulder.
"Do you remember what a pair of miserable little creatures stood just
here five years ago, Lucy?" he said half laughingly, half earnestly.
"Yes," said Lucy softly. "What a difference between then and now."
There was a moment's silence. Tom's eyes watched the stars peeping
out one by one in the opal sky, his heart full of the happiness of
the present and all the hope and promise of the future.
Presently Aunt Hepsy, ever watchful for Lucy now, called to them to
come in, for the dews were falling.
"Tom, has not God cast our lines in pleasant places, and given us a
goodly heritage?" said Lucy softly as they turned to obey the
"Ay," answered Tom, his voice softening also. "May He help us to be
truly grateful for His goodness all our lives, Lucy."