Part 2 out of 5
"How industrious! What a rebuke to me!"
"I don't see, mamma, how we could be doing less; I've only an audience of
one, and she is wasting her time."
"Well, carissima, it is settled. It's off for a year."
"The reception? Why so?"
"Your father cannot arrange it. He has too much on hand this season, and
may be away."
"There, McDonald, we've got a reprieve," and Evelyn gave a sigh of
The Scotch woman smiled, and only said, "Then I shall have time to finish
Evelyn jumped up, threw herself into her mother's lap, and began to
smooth her hair and pet her. "I'm awfully glad. I'd ever so much rather
stay in than come out. Yes, dear little mother."
"Yes." And the girl pulled her mother from her chair, and made her stand
up to measure. "See, McDonald, almost an inch taller than mamma, and
when I do my hair on top!"
"And see, mamma"--the girl was pirouetting on the floor--" I can do those
steps you do. Isn't it Spanish?"
"Rather Spanish-American, I guess. This is the way."
Evelyn clapped her hands. "Isn't that lovely!"
"You are only a little brownie, after all." Her mother was holding her
at arm's--length and studying her critically, wondering if she would ever
The girl was slender, but not tall. Her figure had her mother's grace,
but not its suggestion of yielding suppleness. She was an undoubted
brunette--complexion olive, hair very dark, almost black except in the
sunlight, and low on her forehead-chin a little strong, and nose piquant
to say the least of it. Certainly features not regular nor classic. The
mouth, larger than her mother's, had full lips, the upper one short, and
admirable curves, strong in repose, but fascinating when she smiled. A
face not handsome, but interesting. And the eyes made you hesitate to
say she was not handsome, for they were large, of a dark hazel and
changeable, eyes that flashed with merriment, or fell into sadness under
the long eyelashes; and it would not be safe to say that they could not
blaze with indignation. Not a face to go wild about, but when you felt
her character through it, a face very winning in its dark virgin purity.
"I do wonder where she came from? "Mrs. Mavick was saying to herself, as
she threw herself upon a couch in her own room and took up the latest
Celia Howard had been, in a way, Philip's inspiration ever since the days
when they quarreled and made up on the banks of the Deer field. And a
fortunate thing for him it was that in his callow years there was a woman
in whom he could confide. Her sympathy was everything, even if her
advice was not always followed. In the years of student life and
preparation they had not often met, but they were constant and
painstaking correspondents. It was to her that he gave the running
chronicle of his life, and poured out his heart and aspirations.
Unconsciously he was going to school to a woman, perhaps the most
important part of his education. For, though in this way he might never
hope to understand woman, he was getting most valuable knowledge of
As a guide, Philip was not long in discovering that Celia was somewhat
uncertain. She kept before him a very high ideal; she expected him to be
distinguished and successful, but, her means varied from time to time.
Now she would have him take one path and now another. And Philip learned
to read in this varying advice the changes in her own experience. There
was a time when she hoped he would be a great scholar: there was no
position so noble as that of a university professor or president. Then
she turned short round and extolled the business life: get money, get a
position, and then you can study, write books, do anything you like and
be independent. Then came a time--this was her last year in college--
when science seemed the only thing. That was really a benefit to
mankind: create something, push discovery, dispel ignorance.
"Why, Phil, if you could get people to understand about ventilation, the
necessity of pure air, you would deserve a monument. And, besides--this
is an appeal to your lower nature--science is now the thing that pays."
Theology she never considered; that was just now too uncertain in its
direction. Law she had finally approved; it was still respectable; it
was a very good waiting-ground for many opportunities, and it did not
absolutely bar him from literature, for which she perceived he had a
Philip wondered if Celia was not thinking of the law for herself.
She had tried teaching, she had devoted herself for a time to work in a
College Settlement, she had learned stenography, she had talked of
learning telegraphy, she had been interested in women's clubs, in a civic
club, in the political education of women, and was now a professor of
economics in a girl's college.
It finally dawned upon Philip, who was plodding along, man fashion, in
one of the old ruts, feeling his way, like a true American, into the
career that best suited him, that Celia might be a type of the awakened
American woman, who does not know exactly what she wants.
To be sure, she wants everything. She has recently come into an open
place, and she is distracted by the many opportunities. She has no
sooner taken up one than she sees another that seems better, or more
important in the development of her sex, and she flies to that.
But nothing, long, seems the best thing. Perhaps men are in the way,
monopolizing all the best things. Celia had never made a suggestion of
this kind, but Philip thought she was typical of the women who push
individualism so far as never to take a dual view of life.
"I have just been," Celia wrote in one of her letters, when she was an
active club woman, "out West to a convention of the Federation of Women's
Clubs. Such a striking collection of noble, independent women!
Handsome, lots of them, and dressed--oh, my friend, dress is still a part
of it! So different from a man's convention! Cranks? Yes, a few left
over. It was a fine, inspiring meeting. But, honestly, I could not
exactly make out what they were federating about, and what they were
going to do when they got federated. It sort of came over me,
I am such a weak sister, that there is such a lot of work done in this
world with no object except the doing of it."
A more recent letter:--"Do you remember Aunt Hepsy, who used to keep the
little thread-and-needle and candy shop in Rivervale? Such a dear,
sweet, contented old soul! Always a smile and a good word for every
customer. I can see her now, picking out the biggest piece of candy in
the dish that she could afford to give for a little fellow's cent. It
never came over me until lately how much good that old woman did in the
world. I remember what a comfort it was to go and talk with her. Well,
I am getting into a frame of mind to want to be an Aunt Hepsy. There is
so much sawdust in everything--No, I'm not low-spirited. I'm just
philosophical--I've a mind to write a life of Aunt Hepsy, and let the
world see what a real useful life is."
And here is a passage from the latest:--"What an interesting story your
friend--I hope he isn't you friend, for I don't half like him--has made
out of that Mavick girl! If I were the girl's mother I should want to
roast him over the coals. Is there any truth in it?
"Of course I read it, as everybody did and read the crawl out, and looked
for more. So it is partly our fault, but what a shame it is, the
invasion of family life! Do tell me, if you happen to see her--the girl
--driving in the Park or anywhere--of course you never will--what she
looks like. I should like to see an unsophisticated millionaire-ess!
But it is an awfully interesting problem, invented or not I'm pretty deep
in psychology these days, and I'd give anything to come in contact with
that girl. You would just see a woman, and you wouldn't know. I'd see a
soul. Dear me, if I'd only had the chance of that Scotch woman! Don't
you see, if we could only get to really know one mind and soul, we should
know it all. I mean scientifically. I know what you are thinking, that
all women have that chance. What you think is impertinent--to the
Indeed, the story of Evelyn interested everybody. It was taken up
seriously in the country regions. It absorbed New York gossip for two
days, and then another topic took possession of the mercurial city; but
it was the sort of event to take possession of the country mind. New
York millionaires get more than their share of attention in the country
press at all times, but this romance became the subject of household talk
and church and sewing-circle gossip, and all the women were eager for
more details, and speculated endlessly about the possible character and
career of the girl.
Alice wrote Philip from Rivervale that her aunt Patience was very much
excited by it. "'The poor thing,' she said, 'always to have somebody
poking round, seeing every blessed thing you do or don't do; it would
drive me crazy. There is that comfort in not having anything much--you
have yourself. You tell Philip that I hope he doesn't go there often.
I've no objection to his being kind to the poor thing when they meet, and
doing neighborly things, but I do hope he won't get mixed up with that
set.' It is very amusing," Alice continued, "to hear Patience
soliloquize about it and construct the whole drama.
"But you cannot say, Philip, that you are not warned (!) and you know that
Patience is almost a prophet in the way she has of putting things
together. Celia was here recently looking after the little house that
has been rented ever since the death of her mother. I never saw her look
so well and handsome, and yet there was a sort of air about her as if she
had been in public a good deal and was quite capable of taking care of
herself. But she was that way when she was little.
"I think she is a good friend of yours. Well, Phil, if you do ever happen
to see that Evelyn in the opera, or anywhere, tell me how she looks and
what she has on--if you can."
The story had not specially interested Philip, except as it was connected
with Brad's newspaper prospects, but letters, like those referred to,
received from time to time, began to arouse a personal interest. Of
course merely a psychological interest, though the talk here and there at
dinner-tables stimulated his desire, at least, to see the subject of
them. But in this respect he was to be gratified, in the usual way
things desired happen in life--that is, by taking pains to bring them
When Mr. Brad came back from his vacation his manner had somewhat
changed. He had the air of a person who stands on firm ground.
He felt that he was a personage. He betrayed this in a certain
deliberation of speech, as if any remark from him now might be important.
In a way he felt himself related to public affairs.
In short, he had exchanged the curiosity of the reporter for the
omniscience of the editor. And for a time Philip was restrained from
intruding the subject of the Mavick sensation. However, one day after
dinner he ventured:
"I see, Mr. Brad, that your hit still attracts attention." Mr. Brad
looked inquiringly blank.
I mean about the millionaire heiress. It has excited a wide interest."
"Ah, that! Yes, it gave me a chance," replied Brad, who was thinking
only of himself.
"I've had several letters about it from the country."
"Yes? Well, I suppose," said Brad, modestly, "that a little country
notoriety doesn't hurt a person."
Philip did not tell his interlocutor that, so far as he knew, nobody in
the country had ever heard the name of Olin Brad, or knew there was such
a person in existence. But he went on:
"Certainly. And, besides, there is a great curiosity to know about the
girl. Did you ever see her?"
"Only in public. I don't know Mavick personally, and for reasons," and
Mr. Brad laughed in a superior manner. "It's easy enough to see her."
"Watch out for a Wagner night, and go to the opera. You'll see where
Mavick's box is in the bill. She is pretty sure to be there, and her
mother. There is nothing special about her; but her mother is still a
very fascinating woman, I can tell you. You'll find her sure on a
'Carmen' night, but not so sure of the girl."
On this suggestion Philip promptly acted. The extra expense of an
orchestra seat he put down to his duty to keep his family informed of
anything that interested them in the city. It was a "Siegfried" night,
and a full house. To describe it all would be very interesting to Alice.
The Mavick box was empty until the overture was half through. Then
appeared a gentleman who looked as if he were performing a public duty,
a lady who looked as if she were receiving a public welcome, and seated
between them a dark, slender girl, who looked as if she did not see the
public at all, but only the orchestra.
Behind them, in the shadow, a middle-aged woman in plainer attire.
It must be the Scotch governess. Mrs. Mavick had her eyes
everywhere about the house, and was graciously bowing to her friends.
Mr. Mavick coolly and unsympathetically regarded the house, quite
conscious of it, but as if he were a little bored. You could not see him
without being aware that he was thinking of other things, probably of
far-reaching schemes. People always used to say of Mavick, when he was
young and a clerk in a Washington bureau, that he looked omniscient. At
least the imagination of spectators invested him with a golden hue, and
regarded him through the roseate atmosphere that surrounds a many-
millioned man. The girl had her eyes always on the orchestra, and was
waiting for the opening of the world that lay behind the drop-curtain.
Philip noticed that all the evening Mrs. Mavick paid very little
attention to the stage, except when the rest of the house was so dark
that she could distinguish little in it.
Fortunately for Philip, in his character of country reporter, the Mavick
box was near the stage, and he could very well see what was going on in
it, without wholly distracting his attention from Wagner's sometimes very
dimly illuminated creation.
There are faces and figures that compel universal attention and
admiration. Commonly there is one woman in a theatre at whom all glances
are leveled. It is a mystery why one face makes only an individual
appeal, and an appeal much stronger than that of one universally admired.
The house certainly concerned itself very little about the shy and dark
heiress in the Mavick box, having with regard to her only a moment's
curiosity. But the face instantly took hold of Philip. He found it more
interesting to read the play in her face than on the stage. He seemed
instantly to have established a chain of personal sympathy with her. So
intense was his regard that it seemed as if she must, if there is
anything in the telepathic theory of the interchange of feeling, have
been conscious of it. That she was, however, unconscious of any
influence reaching her except from the stage was perfectly evident. She
was absorbed in the drama, even when the drama was almost lost in
darkness, and only an occasional grunting ejaculation gave evidence that
there was at least animal life responsive to the continual pleading,
suggesting, inspiring strains of the orchestra. In the semi-gloom and
groping of the under-world, it would seem that the girl felt that
mystery of life which the instruments were trying to interpret.
At any rate, Philip could see that she was rapt away into that other
world of the past, to a practical unconsciousness of her immediate
surroundings. Was it the music or the poetic idea that held her?
Perhaps only the latter, for it is Wagner's gift to reach by his
creations those who have little technical knowledge of music. At any
rate, she was absorbed, and so perfectly was the progress of the drama
repeated in her face that Philip, always with the help of the orchestra,
could trace it there.
But presently something more was evident to this sympathetic student of
her face. She was not merely discovering the poet's world, she was
finding out herself. As the drama unfolded, Philip was more interested
in this phase than in the observation of her enjoyment and appreciation.
To see her eyes sparkle and her cheeks glow with enthusiasm during the
sword-song was one thing, but it was quite another when Siegfried began
his idyl, that nature and bird song of the awakening of the whole being
to the passion of love. Then it was that Evelyn's face had a look of
surprise, of pain, of profound disturbance; it was suffused with blushes,
coming and going in passionate emotion; the eyes no longer blazed, but
were softened in a melting tenderness of sympathy, and her whole person
seemed to be carried into the stream of the great life passion. When it
ceased she sank back in her seat, and blushed still more, as if in fear
that some one had discovered her secret.
Afterwards, when Philip had an opportunity of knowing Evelyn Mavick, and
knowing her very well, and to some extent having her confidence, he used
to say to himself that he had little to learn--the soul of the woman was
perfectly revealed to him that night of "Siegfried."
As the curtain went down, Mrs. Mavick, whose attention had not been
specially given to the artists before, was clapping her hands in a great
state of excitement.
"Why don't you applaud, child?"
"Oh, mother," was all the girl could say, with heaving breast and
All winter long that face seemed to get between Philip and his work. It
was an inspiration to his pen when it ran in the way of literature, but a
distinct damage to progress in his profession. He had seen Evelyn again,
more than once, at the opera, and twice been excited by a passing glimpse
of her on a crisp, sunny afternoon in the Mavick carriage in the Park-
always the same bright, eager face. So vividly personal was the
influence upon him that it seemed impossible that she should not be aware
of it--impossible that she could not know there was such a person in the
world as Philip Burnett.
Fortunately youth can create its own world. Between the secluded
daughter of millions and the law clerk was a great gulf, but this did not
prevent Evelyn's face, and, in moments of vanity, Evelyn herself, from
belonging to Philip's world. He would have denied--we have a habit of
lying to ourselves quite as much as to others--that he ever dreamed of
possessing her, but nevertheless she entered into his thoughts and his
future in a very curious way. If he saw himself a successful lawyer, her
image appeared beside him. If his story should gain the public
attention, and his occasional essays come to be talked of, it was
Evelyn's interest and approval that he caught himself thinking about.
And he had a conviction that she was one to be much more interested in
him as a man of letters than as a lawyer. This might be true. In
Philip's story, which was very slowly maturing, the heroine fell in love
with a young man simply for himself, and regardless of the fact that he
was poor and had his career to make. But he knew that if his novel ever
got published the critics would call it a romance, and not a transcript
of real life. Had not women ceased to be romantic and ceased to indulge
in vagaries of affection?
Was it that Philip was too irresolute to cut either law or literature,
and go in, single-minded, for a fortune of some kind, and a place?
Or was it merely that he had confidence in the winning character of his
own qualities and was biding his time? If it was a question of making
himself acceptable to a woman--say a woman like Evelyn--was it not
belittling to his own nature to plan to win her by what he could make
rather than by what he was?
Probably the vision he had of Evelyn counted for very little in his
halting decision. "Why don't you put her into a novel?" asked Mr. Brad
one evening. The suggestion was a shock. Philip conveyed the idea
pretty plainly that he hadn't got so low as that yet. "Ah, you fellows
think you must make your own material. You are higher-toned than old
Dante." The fact was that Philip was not really halting. Every day he
was less and less in love with the law as it was practiced, and, courting
reputation, he would much rather be a great author than a great lawyer.
But he kept such thoughts to himself. He had inherited a very good stock
of common-sense. Apparently he devoted himself to his office work, and
about the occupation of his leisure hours no one was in his confidence
except Celia, and now and then, when he got something into print, Alice.
Professedly Celia was his critic, but really she was the necessary
appreciator, for probably most writers would come to a standstill if
there was no sympathetic soul to whom they could communicate, while they
were fresh, the teeming fancies of their brains.
The winter wore along without any incident worth recording, but still
fruitful for the future, as Philip fondly hoped. And one day chance
threw in his way another sensation. Late in the afternoon of a spring
day he was sent from the office to Mavick's house with a bundle of papers
to be examined and signed.
"You will be pretty sure to find him," said Mr. Sharp, "at home about
six. Wait till you do see him. The papers must be signed and go to
Washington by the night mail."
Mr. Mavick was in his study, and received Philip very civilly, as the
messenger of his lawyers, and was soon busy in examining the documents,
flinging now and then a short question to Philip, who sat at the table
Suddenly there was a tap at the door, and, not waiting for a summons, a
young girl entered, and stopped after a couple of steps.
"Oh, I didn't know--"
"What is it, dear?" said Mr. Mavick, looking up a moment, and then down
at the papers.
"Why, about the coachman's baby. I thought perhaps--" She had a paper in
her hand, and advanced towards the table, and then stopped, seeing that
her father was not alone.
Philip rose involuntarily. Mr. Mavick looked up quickly. "Yes,
presently. I've just now got a little business with Mr. Burnett."
It was not an introduction. But for an instant the eyes of the young
people met. It seemed to Philip that it was a recognition. Certainly
the full, sweet eyes were bent on him for the second she stood there,
before turning away and leaving the room. And she looked just as true
and sweet as Philip dreamed she would look at home. He sat in a kind of
maze for the quarter of an hour while Mavick was affixing his signature
and giving some directions. He heard all the directions, and carried
away the papers, but he also carried away something else unknown to the
broker. After all, he found himself reflecting, as he walked down the
avenue, the practice of the law has its good moments!
What was there in this trivial incident that so magnified it in Philip's
mind, day after day? Was it that he began to feel that he had
established a personal relation with Evelyn because she had seen him?
Nothing had really happened. Perhaps she had not heard his name, perhaps
she did not carry the faintest image of him out of the room with her.
Philip had read in romances of love at first sight, and he had personal
experience of it. Commonly, in romances, the woman gives no sign of it,
does not admit it to herself, denies it in her words and in her conduct,
and never owns it until the final surrender. "When was the first moment
you began to love me, dear?" "Why, the first moment, that day; didn't
you know it then?" This we are led to believe is common experience with
the shy and secretive sex. It is enough, in a thousand reported cases,
that he passed her window on horseback, and happened to look her way.
But with such a look! The mischief was done. But this foundation was
too slight for Philip to build such a hope on.
Looking back, we like to trace great results to insignificant, momentary
incidents--a glance, a word, that turned the current of a life. There
was a definite moment when the thought came to Alexander that he would
conquer the world! Probably there was no such moment. The great
Alexander was restless, and at no initial instant did he conceive his
scheme of conquest. Nor was it one event that set him in motion. We
confound events with causes. It happened on such a day. Yes, but it
might have happened on another. But if Philip had not been sent on that
errand to Mavick probably Evelyn would never have met him. What nonsense
this is, and what an unheroic character it makes Philip! Is it
supposable that, with such a romance as he had developed about the girl,
he would not some time have come near her, even if she had been locked up
with all the bars and bolts of a safety deposit?
The incident of this momentary meeting was, however, of great
consequence. There is no such feeder of love as the imagination.
And fortunate it was for Philip that his romance was left to grow in the
wonder-working process of his own mind. At first there had been merely a
curiosity in regard to a person whose history and education had been
peculiar. Then the sight of her had raised a strange tumult in his
breast, and his fancy began to play about her image, seen only at a
distance and not many times, until his imagination built up a being of
surpassing loveliness, and endowed with all the attractions that the
poets in all ages have given to the sex that inspires them. But this
sort of creation in the mind becomes vague, and related to literature
only, unless it is sustained by some reality. Even Petrarch must
occasionally see Laura at the church door, and dwell upon the veiled
dreamer that passed and perhaps paused a moment to regard him with sad
eyes. Philip, no doubt, nursed a genuine passion, which grew into an
exquisite ideal in the brooding of a poetic mind, but it might in time
have evaporated into thin air, remaining only as an emotional and
educational experience. But this moment in Mr. Mavick's library had
given a solid body to his imaginations, and a more definite turn to his
thought of her.
If, in some ordinary social chance, Philip had encountered the heiress,
without this previous wonderworking of his imagination in regard to her,
the probability is that he would have seen nothing especially to
distinguish her from the other girls of her age and newness in social
experience. Certainly the thought that she was the possessor of
uncounted millions would have been, on his side, an insuperable barrier
to any advance. But the imagination works wonders truly, and Philip saw
the woman and not the heiress. She had become now a distinct
personality; to be desired above all things on earth, and that he should
see her again he had no doubt.
This thought filled his mind, and even when he was not conscious of it
gave a sort of color to life, refined his perceptions, and gave him
almost sensuous delight in the masterpieces of poetry which had formerly
appealed only to his intellectual appreciation of beauty.
He had not yet come to a desire to share his secret with any confidant,
but preferred to be much alone and muse on it, creating a world which was
without evil, without doubt, undisturbed by criticism. In this so real
dream it was the daily office work that seemed unreal, and the company
and gossip of his club a kind of vain show. He began to frequent the
picture-galleries, where there was at least an attempt to express
sentiment, and to take long walks to the confines of the city-confines
fringed with all the tender suggestions of the opening spring. Even the
monotonous streets which he walked were illumined in his eyes, glorified
by the fullness of life and achievement. "Yes," he said again and again,
as he stood on the Heights, in view of the river, the green wall of
Jersey and the great metropolis spread away to the ocean gate, "it is a
beautiful city! And the critics say it is commonplace and vulgar." Dear
dreamer, it is a beautiful city, and for one reason and another a million
of people who have homes there think so. But take out of it one person,
and it would have for you no more interest than any other huge assembly
of ugly houses. How, in a lover's eyes, the woman can transfigure a
city, a landscape, a country!
Celia had come up to town for the spring exhibitions, and was lodging at
the Woman's Club. Naturally Philip saw much of her, indeed gave her all
his time that the office did not demand. Her company was always for him
a keen delight, an excitement, and in its way a rest. For though she
always criticised, she did not nag, and just because she made no demands,
nor laid any claims on him, nor ever reproached him for want of devotion,
her society was delightful and never dull. They dined together at the
Woman's Club, they experimented on the theatres, they visited the
galleries and the picture-shops, they took little excursions into the
suburbs and came back impressed with the general cheapness and
shabbiness, and they talked--talked about all they saw, all they had
read, and something of what they thought. What was wanting to make this
charming camaraderie perfect? Only one thing.
It may have occurred to Philip that Celia had not sufficient respect for
his opinions; she regarded them simply as opinions, not as his.
One afternoon, in the Metropolitan Picture-Gallery, Philip had been
expressing enthusiasm for some paintings that Celia thought more
sentimental than artistic, and this reminded her that he was getting into
a general way of admiring everything.
"You didn't use, Philip, to care so much for pictures."
"Oh, I've been seeing more."
"But you don't say you like that? Look at the drawing."
"Well, it tells the story."
"A story is nothing; it's the way it's told. This is not well told."
"It pleases me. Look at that girl."
"Yes, she is domestic. I admit that. But I'm not sure I do not prefer
an impressionistic girl, whom you can't half see, to such a thorough
bread-and-butter miss as this."
"Which would you rather live with?"
"I'm not obliged to live with either. In fact, I'd rather live with
myself. If it's art, I want art; if it's cooking and sewing, I want
cooking and sewing. If the artist knew enough, he'd paint a woman
instead of a cook."
"Then you don't care for real life?"
"Real life! There is no such thing. You are demonstrating that. You
transform this uninteresting piece of domesticity into an ideal woman,
ennobling her surroundings. She doesn't do it. She is level with them."
"It would be a dreary world if we didn't idealize things."
"So it would. And that is what I complain of in such 'art' as this. I
don't know what has got into you, Phil. I never saw you so exuberant.
You are pleased with everything. Have you had a rise in the office?
Have you finished your novel?"
"Neither. No rise. No novel. But Tweedle is getting friendly. Threw
an extra job in my way the other day. Do you think I'd better offer my
novel, when it is done, to Tweedle?"
"Well, one of our clients is one of the great publishing firms, and
Tweedle often dines with the publisher."
"For shame, Phil!"
Philip laughed. "At any rate, that is no meaner than a suggestion of
Brad's. He says if I will just weave into it a lot of line scenery, and
set my people traveling on the great trunk, stopping off now and then at
an attractive branch, the interested railroads would gladly print it and
scatter it all over the country."
"No doubt," said Celia, sinking down upon a convenient seat. "I begin to
feel as if there were no protection for anything. And, Phil, that great
monster of a Mavick, who is eating up the country, isn't he a client
"Occasionally only. A man like Mavick has his own lawyers and judges."
"Did you ever see him?"
"And that daughter of his, about whom such a fuss was made, I suppose you
never met her?"
"Oh, as I wrote you, at the opera; saw her in her box."
"Oh, she's rather a little thing; rather dark, I told you that; seems
devoted to music."
"And you didn't tell what she wore."
"Why, what they all wear. Something light and rather fluffy."
"Just like a man. Is she pretty?"
"Ye-e-s; has that effect. You'd notice her eyes." If Philip had been
frank he would have answered,
"I don't know. She's simply adorable," and Celia would have understood
all about it.
"And probably doesn't know anything. Yes, highly educated? I heard
that. But I'm getting tired of 'highly educated'; I see so many of them.
I've been making them now for years. Perhaps I'm one of them. And where
am I? Don't interrupt. I tell you it is a relief to come across a
sweet, womanly ignoramus. What church does she go to?"
"That Mavick girl."
"St. Thomas', I believe."
"That's good--that's devotional. I suppose you go there too, being
brought up a Congregationalist?"
"At vespers, sometimes. But, Celia, what is the matter with you?
I thought you didn't care--didn't care to belong to anything?"
"I? I belong to everything. Didn't I write you reams about my studies
in psychology? I've come to one conclusion. There are only two persons
in the world who stand on a solid foundation, the Roman Catholic and the
Agnostic. The Roman Catholic knows everything, the Agnostic doesn't know
Philip was never certain when the girl was bantering him; nor, when she
was in earnest, how long she would remain in that mind and mood. So he
"The truth is, Celia, that you know too much to be either. You are what
they call emancipated."
"Emancipated!" And Celia sat up energetically, as if she were now really
interested in the conversation. "Become the slave of myself instead of
the slave of somebody else! That's the most hateful thing to be,
emancipated. I never knew a woman who said she was emancipated who
wasn't in some ridiculous folly or another. Now, Phil, I'm going to tell
you something. I can tell you. You know I've been striving to have a
career, to get out of myself somehow, and have a career for myself.
Well, today--mind, I don't say tomorrow"--(and there was a queer little
smile on her lips)--"I think I will just try to be good to people and
things in general, in a human way."
"And give up education?"
"No, no. I get my living by education, just as you do, or hope to do, by
law or by letters; it's all the same. But wait. I haven't finished what
I was going to say. The more I go into psychology, trying to find out
about my mind and mind generally, the more mysterious everything is. Do
you know, Phil, that I'm getting into the supernatural? You can't help
running into it. For me, I am not side-tracked by any of the nonsense
about magnetism and telepathy and mind-reading and other psychic
imponderabilities. Isn't it queer that the further we go into science
the deeper we go into mystery?
"Now, don't be shocked, I mean it reverently, just as an illustration. Do
you think any one knows really anything more about the operation in the
world of electricity than he does about the operation of the Holy Ghost?
And yet people talk about science as if it were something they had made
"No, I've talked enough. We are in this world and not in some other, and
I have to make my living. Let's go into the other room and see the old
masters. They, at least, knew how to paint--to paint passion and
character; some of them could paint soul. And then, Phil, I shall be
hungry. Talking about the mind always makes me hungry."
Philip was always welcome at his uncle's house in Rivervale. It was, of
course, his home during his college life, and since then he was always
expected for his yearly holiday. The women of the house made much of
him, waited on him, deferred to him, petted him, with a flattering
mingling of tenderness to a little boy and the respect due to a man who
had gone into the world. Even Mr. Maitland condescended to a sort of
equality in engaging Philip in conversation about the state of the
country and the prospects of business in New York.
It was July. When Philip went to sleep at night--he was in the front
chamber reserved for guests--the loud murmur of the Deerfield was in his
ears, like a current bearing him away into sweet sleep and dreams in a
land of pleasant adventures. Only in youth come such dreams. Later on
the sophisticated mind, left to its own guidance in the night, wanders
amid the complexities of life, calling up in confusion scenes long
forgotten or repented of, images only registered by a sub-conscious
process, dreams to perplex, irritate, and excite.
In the morning the same continuous murmur seemed to awake him into a
peaceful world. Through the open window came in the scents of summer,
the freshness of a new day. How sweet and light was the air! It was
indeed the height of summer. The corn, not yet tasseled, stood in green
flexible ranks, moved by the early breeze. In the river-meadows haying
had just begun. Fields of timothy and clover, yellowing to ripeness,
took on a fresh bloom from the dew, and there was an odor of new-mown
grass from the sections where the scythes had been. He heard the call of
the crow from the hill, the melody of the bobolink along the meadow-
brook; indeed, the birds of all sorts were astir, skimming along the
ground or rising to the sky, keeping watch especially over the garden and
the fruit-trees, carrying food to their nests, or teaching their young
broods to fly and to chirp the songs of summer. And from the woodshed
the shrill note of the scythe under the action of the grindstone. No
such vivid realization of summer as that.
Philip stole out the unused front door without disturbing the family.
Whither? Where would a boy be likely to go the first thing? To the
barn, the great cavernous barn, its huge doors now wide open, the stalls
vacant, the mows empty, the sunlight sifting in through the high shadowy
spaces. How much his life had been in that barn! How he had stifled and
scrambled mowing hay in those lofts! On the floor he had hulled heaps of
corn, thrashed oats with a flail--a noble occupation--and many a rainy
day had played there with girls and boys who could not now exactly
describe the games or well recall what exciting fun they were. There
were the racks where he put the fodder for cattle and horses, and there
was the cutting-machine for the hay and straw and for slicing the frozen
turnips on cold winter mornings.
In the barn-yard were the hens, just as usual, walking with measured
step, scratching and picking in the muck, darting suddenly to one side
with an elevated wing, clucking, chattering, jabbering endlessly about
nothing. They did not seem to mind him as he stood in the open door.
But the rooster, in his oriental iridescent plumage, jumped upon a fence-
post and crowed defiantly, in warning that this was his preserve. They
seemed like the same hens, yet Philip knew they were all strangers; all
the hens and flaunting roosters he knew had long ago gone to
Thanksgiving. The hen is, or should be, an annual. It is never made a
pet. It forms no attachments. Man is no better acquainted with the hen,
as a being, than he was when the first chicken was hatched. Its business
is to live a brief chicken life, lay, and be eaten. And this reminded
Philip that his real occupation was hunting hens' eggs. And this he did,
in the mows, in the stalls, under the floor-planks, in every hidden nook.
The hen's instinct is to be orderly, and have a secluded nest of her own,
and bring up a family. But in such a communistic body it is a wise hen
who knows her own chicken. Nobody denies to the hen maternal instincts
or domestic proclivities, but what an ill example is a hen community!
And then Philip climbed up the hill, through the old grass-plot and the
orchard, to the rocks and the forest edge, and the great view.
It had more meaning to him than when he was a boy, and it was more
beautiful. In a certain peaceful charm, he had seen nothing anywhere in
the world like it. Partly this was because his boyish impressions,
the first fresh impressions of the visible world, came back to him; but
surely it was very beautiful. More experienced travelers than Philip
felt its unique charm.
When he descended, Alice was waiting to breakfast with him. Mrs.
Maitland declared, with an approving smile on her placid, aging face,
that he was the same good-for-nothing boy. But Alice said, as she sat
down to the little table with Philip, "It is different, mother, with us
city folks." They were in the middle room, and the windows opened to the
west upon the river-meadows and the wooded hills beyond, and through one
a tall rose-bush was trying to thrust its fragrant bloom.
What a dainty breakfast! Alice flushed with pleasure. It was so good of
him to come to them. Had he slept well? Did it seem like home at all?
Philip's face showed that it was home without the need of saying so.
Such coffee-yes, a real aroma of the berry! Just a little more, would he
have? And as Alice raised the silver pitcher, there was a deep dimple in
her sweet cheek. How happy she was! And then the butter, so fresh and
cool, and the delicious eggs--by the way, he had left a hatful in the
kitchen as he came in. Alice explained that she did not make the eggs.
And then there was the journey, the heat in the city, the grateful sight
of the Deerfield, the splendid morning, the old barn, the watering-
trough, the view from the hill everything just as it used to be.
"Dear Phil, it is so nice to have you here," and there were tears in
Alice's eyes, she was so happy.
After breakfast Philip strolled down the country road through the
village. How familiar was every step of the way!--the old houses jutting
out at the turns in the road; the glimpse of the river beyond the little
meadow where Captain Rice was killed; the spring under the ledge over
which the snap-dragon grew; the dilapidated ranks of fence smothered in
vines and fireweeds; the cottages, with flower-pots in front; the stores,
with low verandas ornamented with boxes and barrels; the academy in its
green on the hill; the old bridge over which the circus elephant dared
not walk; the new and the old churches, with rival steeples; and, not
familiar, the new inn.
And he knew everybody, young and old, at doorways, in the fields or
gardens, and had for every one a hail and a greeting. How he enjoyed it
all, and his self-consciousness added to his pleasure, as he swung along
in his well-fitting city clothes, broad-shouldered and erect--it is
astonishing how much a tailor can do for a man who responds to his
efforts. It is a pleasure to come across such a hero as this in real
life, and not have to invent him, as the saying is, out of the whole
cloth. Philip enjoyed the world, and he enjoyed himself, because it was
not quite his old self, the farmer's boy going on an errand. There must
be knowledge all along the street that he was in the great law office of
Hunt, Sharp & Tweedle. And, besides, Philip's name must be known to all
the readers of magazines in the town as a writer, a name in more than one
list of "contributors." That was fame. Translated, however, into
country comprehension it was something like this, if he could have heard
the comments after he had passed by:
"Yes, that's Phil Burnett, sure enough; but I'd hardly know him; spruced
up mightily. I wonder what he's at?"
"I heard he was down in New York trying to law it. I heard he's been
writin' some for newspapers. Accordin' to his looks, must pay a durn
sight better'n farmin'."
"Well, I always said that boy wa'n't no skeezics."
Almost the first question Philip asked Alice on his return was about the
new inn, the Peacock Inn.
"There seemed a good deal of stir about it as I passed."
"Why, I forgot to tell you about it. It's the great excitement.
Rivervale is getting known. The Mavicks are there. I hear they've taken
pretty much the whole of it."
"Yes, the New York Mavicks, that you wrote us about, that were in the
"How long have they been there?"
"A week. There is Mrs. Mavick and her daughter, and the governess, and
two maids, and a young fellow in uniform--yes, livery--and a coachman in
the same, and a stableful of horses and carriages. It upset the village
like a circus. And they say there's a French chef in white cap and
apron, who comes to the side-door and jabbers to the small boys like
"How did it come about?"
"Naturally, I guess; a city family wanting a quiet place for summer in
the country. But you will laugh. Patience first discovered it. One
day, sitting at the window, she saw a two-horse buggy driven by the
landlord of the Peacock, and a gentleman by his side. 'Well, I wonder
who that is-city man certainly. And wherever is he going? May be a
railroad man. But there is nothing the matter with the railroad.
Shouldn't wonder if he is going to see the tunnel. If it was just that,
the landlord wouldn't drive him; he'd send a man. And they keep stopping
and pointing and looking round. No, it isn't the railroad, it's scenery.
And what can a man like that want with scenery?
"He does look like a railroad man. It may be tunnel, but it isn't all
tunnel. When the team came back in the afternoon, Patience was again at
the window; she had heard meantime from Jabez that a city man was
stopping at the Peacock. There he goes, and looking round more than
ever. They've stopped by the bridge and the landlord is pointing out.
It's not tunnel, it's scenery. I tell you, he is a city boarder.
Not that he cares about scenery; it's for his family. City families are
always trying to find a grand new place, and he has heard of Rivervale
and the Peacock Inn. Maybe the tunnel had something to do with it."
"Why, it's like second sight."
"No, Patience says it's just judgment. And she generally hits it.
At any rate, the family is here."
The explanation of their being there--it seemed to Philip providential--
was very simple. Mr. Mavick had plans about the Hoosac Tunnel that
required him to look at it. Mrs. Mavick took advantage of this to
commission him to look at a little inn in a retired village of which she
had heard, and to report on scenery and climate. Warm days and cool
nights and simplicity was her idea. Mavick reported that the place
seemed made for the family.
Evelyn was not yet out, but she was very nearly out, and after the late
notoriety Mrs. Mavick dreaded the regular Newport season. And, in the
mood of the moment, she was tired of the Newport palace. She always said
that she liked simplicity--a common failing among people who are not
compelled to observe it. Perhaps she thought she was really fond of
rural life and country ways. As she herself said,
"If you have a summer cottage at Newport or Lenox, it is necessary to go
off somewhere and rest." And then it would be good for Evelyn to live
out-of-doors and see the real country, and, as for herself, as she looked
in the mirror, "I shall drink milk and go to bed early. Henderson used
to say that a month in New Hampshire made another woman of me."
Oh, to find a spot where we could be undisturbed, alone and unknown.
That was the program. But Carmen simply could not be anywhere content if
she were unnoticed. It was not so easy to give up daily luxury, and
habits of ease at the expense of attendants, or the ostentation which had
become a second nature. Therefore the "establishment" went along with
her to Rivervale, and the shy, modest little woman, who had dropped down
into the country simplicity that she so dearly loved, greatly enjoyed the
sensation that her coming produced. It needed no effort on her part to
produce the sensation. The carriage, and coachman and footman in livery,
would have been sufficient; and then the idea of one family being rich
enough to take the whole hotel!
The liveries, the foreign cook in his queer cap and apron, and all the
goings-on at the Peacock were the inexhaustible topic of talk in every
farmhouse for ten miles around. Rivervale was a self-respecting town,
and principled against luxury and self-indulgence, and judged with a just
and severe judgment the world of fashion and of the grasping, wicked
millionaires. And now this world with all its vain show had plumped down
in the midst of them. Those who had traveled and seen the ostentation of
cities smiled a superior smile at the curiosity and wonder exhibited, but
even those who had never seen the like were cautious about letting their
surprise appear. Especially in the presence of fashion and wealth would
the independent American citizen straighten his backbone, reassuring
himself that he was as good as anybody. To be sure, people flew to
windows when the elegant equipage dashed by, and everybody found frequent
occasion to drive or walk past the Peacock Inn. It was only the novelty
of it, in a place that rather lacked novelties.
And yet there prevailed in the community a vague sense that millions were
there, and a curious expectation of some individual benefit from them.
All the young berry-pickers were unusually active, and poured berries
into the kitchen door of the inn. There was not a housewife who was not
a little more anxious about the product of her churning; not a farmer who
did not think that perhaps cord-wood would rise, that there would be a
better demand for garden "sass," and more market for chickens, and who
did not regard with more interest his promising colt. When he drove to
the village his rig was less shabby and slovenly in appearance. The
young fellows who prided themselves upon a neat buggy and a fast horse
made their turnouts shine, and dashed past the inn with a self-conscious
air. Even the stores began to "slick up" and arrange their miscellaneous
notions more attractively, and one of them boldly put in a window a
placard, "Latest New York Style." When the family went to the
Congregational church on Sunday not the slightest notice was taken of
them--though every woman could have told to the last detail what the
ladies wore--but some of the worshipers were for the first time a little
nervous about the performance of the choir, and the deacons heard the
sermon chiefly with reference to what a city visitor would think of it.
Mrs. Mavick was quite equal to the situation. In the church she was
devout, in the village she was affable and friendly. She made
acquaintances right and left, and took a simple interest in everybody and
everything. She was on easy terms with the landlord, who declared,
"There is a woman with no nonsense in her." She chatted with the farmers
who stopped at the inn door, she bought things at the stores that she did
not want, and she speedily discovered Aunt Hepsy, and loved to sit with
her in the little shop and pick up the traditions and the gossip of the
neighborhood. And she did not confine her angelic visits to the village.
On one pretense and another she made her way into every farmhouse that
took her fancy, penetrated the kitchens and dairies, and got, as she told
McDonald, into the inner life of the people.
She must see the grave of Captain Moses Rice. And on this legitimate
errand she one day carried her fluttering attractiveness and patchouly
into the Maitland house. Mrs. Maitland was civil, but no more. Alice
was civil but reserved--a great many people, she said, came to see the
graves in the old orchard. But Mrs. Mavick was not a bit abashed. She
expressed herself delighted with everything. It was such a rest, such a
perfectly lovely country, and everybody was so hospitable! And Aunt
Hepsy had so interested her in the history of the region! But it was
difficult to get her talk responded to.
However, when Miss Patience came in she made better headway. She had
heard so much of Miss Maitland's apartments. She herself was interested
in decorations. She had tried to do something in her New York home. But
there were so many ideas and theories, and it was so hard to be natural
and artificial at the same time. She had no doubt she could get some new
ideas from Miss Maitland. Would it be asking too much to see her
apartments? She really felt like a stranger nowhere in Rivervale.
Patience was only too delighted, and took her into her museum of natural
history, art, religion, and vegetation.
"She might have gone to the grave-yard without coming into the house,"
"Oh, well," said her mother, "I think she is very amusing. You shouldn't
be so exclusive, Alice."
"Mother, I do believe she paints."
With Patience, Mrs. Mavick felt on surer ground.
"How curious, how very curious and delightful it is! Such knowledge of
nature, such art in arrangement."
"Oh, I just put them up," said Patience, "as I thought they ought by
rights to be put up."
"That's it. And you have combined everything here. You have given me an
idea. In our house we have a Japan room, and an Indian room, and a
Chinese room, and an Otaheite, and I don't know what--Egyptian, Greek,
and not one American, not a really American. That is, according to
American ideas, for you have everything in these two rooms. I shall
write to Mr. Mavick." (Mr. Mavick never received the letter.)
When she came away it was with a profusion of thanks, and repeated
invitations to drop in at the inn. Alice accompanied her to the first
stone that marked the threshold of the side door, and was bowing her
away, when Mr. Philip swung over the fence by the wood-shed, with a shot-
gun on his shoulder, and swinging in his left hand a gray squirrel by its
bushy tail, and was immediately in front of the group.
"Ah!" involuntarily from Mrs. Mavick. An introduction was inevitable.
"My cousin, Mr. Burnett, Mrs. Mavick." Philip raised his cap and bowed.
"A hunter, I see."
"Hardly, madam. In vacations I like to walk in the woods with a gun."
"Then you are not--"
"No," said Philip, smiling, "unfortunately I cannot do this all the
"You are of the city, then?"
"With the firm of Hunt, Sharp & Tweedle."
"Ah, my husband knows them, I believe."
"I have seen Mr. Mavick," and Philip bowed again.
Mrs. Mavick had an eye for a fine young fellow--she never denied that
--and Philip's manly figure and easy air were not lost on her. Presently
"We are here for a good part of the summer. Mr. Mavick's business keeps
him in the city and we have to poke about a good deal alone. Now, Miss
Alice, I am so glad I have met your cousin. Perhaps he will show us some
of the interesting places and the beauties of the country he knows so
well." And she looked sideways at Philip.
"Yes, he knows the country," said Alice, without committing herself.
"I am sure I shall be delighted to do what I can for you whenever you
need my services," said Philip, who had reasons for wishing to know the
Mavicks which Alice did not share.
"That's so good of you! Excursions, picnics oh, we will arrange.
You must come and help me arrange. And I hope," with a smile to Alice,
"you can persuade your cousin to join us sometimes."
Alice bowed, they all bowed, and Mrs. Mavick said au revoir, and went
swinging her parasol down the driveway. Then she turned and called back,
"This is the first long walk I have taken." And then she said to
herself, "Rather stiff, except the young man and the queer old maid. But
what a pretty girl the younger must have been ten years ago! These
Mrs. Mavick thought herself fortunate in finding, in the social
wilderness of Rivervale, such a presentable young gentleman as Philip.
She had persuaded herself that she greatly enjoyed her simple intercourse
with the inhabitants, and she would have said that she was in deep
sympathy with their lives. No doubt in New York she would relate her
summer adventures as something very amusing, but for the moment this
adaptable woman seemed to herself in a very ingenuous, receptive, and
sympathetic state of mind. Still, there was a limit to the entertaining
power of Aunt Hepsy, which was perceived when she began to repeat her
annals of the neighborhood, and to bring forward again and again the
little nuggets of wisdom which she had evolved in the small circle of her
experience. And similarly Mrs. Mavick became aware that there was a
monotony in the ideas brought forward by the farmers and the farmers'
wives, whether in the kitchen or the best room, which she lighted up by
her gracious presence, that it was possible to be tired of the most
interesting "peculiarities" when once their novelty was exhausted, and
that so-called "characters" in the country fail to satisfy the
requirements of intimate or long companionship. Their world is too
The fact that Philip was a native of the place, and so belonged to a
world that was remote from her own, made her free to seek his aid in
making the summer pass agreeably without incurring any risk of social
obligations. Besides, when she had seen more of him, she experienced a
good deal of pleasure in his company. His foreign travel, his reading,
his life in the city, offered many points of mutual interest, and it was
a relief to her to get out of the narrow range of topics in the
provincial thought, and to have her allusions understood. Philip, on his
part, was not slow to see this, or to perceive that in the higher
intellectual ranges, the serious topics which occupied the attention of
the few cultivated people in the neighborhood, Mrs. Mavick had little
interest or understanding, though there was nothing she did not profess
an interest in when occasion required. Philip was not of a suspicious
nature, and it may not have occurred to him that Mrs. Mavick was simply
amusing herself, as she would do with any agreeable man, young or old,
who fell in her way, and would continue to do so if she reached the age
On the contrary, it never seemed to occur to Mrs. Mavick, who was
generally suspicious, that Philip was making himself agreeable to the
mother of Evelyn. In her thought Evelyn was still a child, in leading-
strings, and would be till she was formally launched, and the social gulf
between the great heiress and the law clerk and poor writer was simply
impassable. All of which goes to show that the most astute women are not
always the wisest.
To one person in Rivervale the coming of Mrs. Mavick and her train of
worldliness was unwelcome. It disturbed the peaceful simplicity of the
village, and it was likely to cloud her pleasure in Philip's visit. She
felt that Mrs. Mavick was taking him away from the sweet serenity of
their life, and that in everything she said or did there was an element
of unrest and excitement. She was careful, however, not to show any of
this apprehension to Philip; she showed it only by an increased
affectionate interest in him and his concerns, and in trying to make the
old home more dear to him. Mrs. Mavick was loud in her praise of Alice
to her cousin, and sought to win her confidence, but she was, after all,
a little shy of her, and probably would have characterized her to a city
friend as a sort of virgin in the Bible.
It so happened that day after day went by without giving Philip anything
more than passing glimpses of Evelyn, when she was driving with her
mother or her governess. Yet Rivervale never seemed so ravishingly
beautiful to all his senses. Surely it was possessed by a spirit of
romance and poetry, which he had never perceived before, and he wasted a
good deal of time in gazing on the river, on the gracious meadows, on the
graceful contours of the hills. When he was a lad, in the tree-top,
there had been something stimulating and almost heroic in the scene,
which awakened his ambition. Now it was the idyllic beauty that took
possession of him, transformed as it was by the presence of a woman,
that supreme interpreter of nature to a youth. And yet scarcely a
woman--rather a vision of a girl, impressible still to all the influences
of such a scene and to the most delicate suggestions of unfolding life.
Probably he did not analyze this feeling, but it was Evelyn he was
thinking of when he admired the landscape, breathed with exhilaration the
fresh air, and watched the white clouds sail along the blue vault; and he
knew that if she were suddenly to leave the valley all the light would go
out of it and the scene would be flat to his eyes and torturing to his
Mrs. Mavick he encountered continually in the village. He had taken many
little strolls with her to this or that pretty point of view, they had
exchanged reminiscences of foreign travel, and had dipped a little into
current popular books, so that they had come to be on easy, friendly
terms. Philip's courtesy and deference, and a certain wit and humor of
suggestion applied to ordinary things, put him more and more on a good
footing with her, so much so that she declared to McDonald that really
young Burnett was a genuine "find" in the country.
It seems a pity that the important events in our lives are so
commonplace. Philip's meeting with Evelyn, so long thought of and
dramatized in his mind, was not in the least as he had imagined it. When
one morning he went to the Peacock Inn at the summons of Mrs. Mavick, in
order to lay out a plan of campaign, he found Evelyn and her governess
seated on the veranda, with their books. It was Evelyn who rose first
and came forward, without, so far as Philip could see, the least
embarrassment of recognition.
"Mr. Burnett? Mamma will be here in a moment. This is our friend, Miss
The girl's morning costume was very simple, and in her short walking-
skirt she seemed younger even than in the city. She spoke and moved--
Philip noticed that--without the least self-consciousness, and she had a
way of looking her interlocutor frankly in the eyes, or, as Philip
expressed it, "flashing" upon him.
Philip bowed to the governess, and, still standing and waving his hand
towards the river, hoped they liked Rivervale, and then added:
"I see you can read in the country."
"We pretend to," said Evelyn, who had resumed her seat and indicated a
chair for Philip, "but the singing of that river, and the bobolinks in
the meadow, and the light on the hills are almost too much for us. Don't
you think, McDonald, it is like Scotland?"
"It would be," the governess replied, "if it rained when it didn't mist,
and there were moors and heather, and--"
"Oh, I didn't mean all that, but a feeling like that, sweet and retired
and sort of lonesome?"
"Perhaps Miss McDonald means," said Philip, "that there isn't much to
feel here except what you see."
Miss McDonald looked sharply around at Philip and remarked: "Yes, that's
just it. It is very lovely, like almost any outdoors, if you will give
yourself up to it. You remember, Evelyn, how fascinating the Arizona
desert was? But there was a romantic addition to the colored desolation
because the Spaniards and the Jesuits had been there. Now this place
lacks traditions, legends, romance. You have to bring your romance with
"And that is the reason you read here?"
"One reason. Especially romances. This charming scenery and the summer
sounds of running water and birds make a nice accompaniment to the
"But mamma says," Evelyn interrupted, "there is plenty of legend here,
and tradition and flavor, Indians and early settlers, and even Aunt
"Well, I confess they don't appeal to me. And as for Indians, Parkman's
descriptions of those savages made me squirm. And I don't believe there
was much more romance about the early settlers than about their
descendants. Isn't it true, Mr. Burnett, that you must have a human
element to make any country interesting?"
Philip glanced at Evelyn, whose bright face was kindled with interest in
the discussion, and thought, "Good heavens! if there is not human
interest here, I don't know where to look for it," but he only said:
"And why don't you writers do something about it? It is literature that
does it, either in Scotland or Judea."
"Well," said Philip, stoutly, "they are doing something. I could name
half a dozen localities, even sections of country, that travelers visit
with curiosity just because authors have thrown that glamour over them.
But it is hard to create something out of nothing. It needs time."
"And genius," Miss McDonald interjected.
"Of course, but it took time to transform a Highland sheep-stealer into a
Miss McDonald laughed. "That is true. Take a modern instance. Suppose
Evangeline had lived in this valley! Or some simple Gretchen about whose
simple story all the world is in sympathy!"
"Or," thought Philip, "some Evelyn." But he replied, looking at Evelyn,
"I believe that any American community usually resents being made the
scene of a romance, especially if it is localized by any approach to
"Isn't that the fault mostly of the writer, who vulgarizes his material?"
"The realists say no. They say that people dislike to see themselves as
"Very likely," said Miss McDonald; "no one sees himself as others see
him, and probably the poet who expressed the desire to do so was simply
attitudinizing.--[Robert Burns: "Oh! wha gift the Giftie gie us; to see
o'rselves as others see us. D.W.]--By the way, Mr. Burnett, you know
there is one place of sentiment, religious to be sure, not far from here.
I hope we can go some day to see the home of the 'Mountain Miller.'"
"Yes, I know the place. It is beyond the river, up that steep road
running into the sky, in the next adjoining hill town. I doubt if you
find any one there who lays it much to heart. But you can see the mill."
"What is the Mountain Miller?" asked Evelyn.
"A tract that, when I was a girl," answered Miss McDonald, "used to be
bound up with 'The Dairyman's Daughter' and 'The Shepherd of Salisbury
Plain.' It was the first thing that interested me in New England."
"Well," said Philip, "it isn't much. Just a tract. But it was written
by Parson Halleck, a great minister and a sort of Pope in this region for
fifty years. It is, so far as I know, the only thing of his that
This tractarian movement was interrupted by the arrival of Mrs. Mavick.
"Good-morning, Mr. Burnett. I've been down to see Jenkins about his
picnic wagon. Carries six, besides the driver and my man, and the
hampers. So, you see, Miss Alice will have to go. We couldn't go
rattling along half empty. I'll go up and see her this afternoon.
So, that's settled. Now about the time and place. You are the director.
Let's sit down and plan it out. It looks like good weather for a week."
"Miss McDonald says she wants to see the Mountain Miller," said Philip,
with a smile.
"What's that? A monument like your Pulpit Rock?"
"No, a tract about a miller."
"Ah, something religious. I never heard of it. Well, perhaps we had
better begin with something secular, and work round to that."
So an excursion was arranged for the next day. And as Philip walked
home, thinking how brilliant Evelyn had been in their little talk,
he began to dramatize the excursion.
All excursions are much alike, exhilarating in the outset, rarely up to
expectation in the object, wearisome in the return; but, nevertheless,
delightful in the memory, especially if attended with some hardship or
slight disaster. To be free, in the open air, and for a day
unconventional and irresponsible, is the sufficient justification of a
country picnic; but its common attraction is in the opportunity for
bringing young persons of the opposite sex into natural and unrestrained
relations. To Philip it was the first time in his life that a picnic had
ever seemed a defensible means of getting rid of a day.
The two persons to whom this excursion was most novel and exciting were
Evelyn and the elder maiden, Alice, who sat together and speedily
developed a sympathy with each other in the enjoyment of the country, and
in a similar poetic temperament, very shy on the part of Alice and very
frank on the part of Evelyn. The whole wild scene along the river was
quite as novel to Alice as to the city girl, because, although she was
familiar with every mile of it and had driven through it a hundred times,
she had never in all her life before, of purpose, gone to see it. No
doubt she had felt its wildness and beauty, but now for the first time
she looked at it as scenery, as she might have looked at a picture in a
gallery. And in the contagion of Evelyn's outspoken enthusiasm she was
no longer afraid to give timid expression to the latent poetry in her own
soul. And daring to express this, she seemed to herself for the first
time to realize vividly the nobility and grace of the landscape. And yet
there was a difference in the appreciation of the two. More widely read
and traveled, Evelyn's imagination took a wider range of comparison and
of admiration, she was appealed to by the large features and the
grandiose effects; while Alice noted more the tenderer aspects, the
wayside flowers and bushes, the exotic-looking plants, which she longed
to domesticate in what might be called the Sunday garden on the terraces
in front of her house. For it is in these little cultivated places by
the door-step, places of dreaming in the summer hours after meeting and
at sunset, that the New England maiden experiences something of that
tender religious sentiment which was not much fed in the barrenness of
the Congregational meeting-house.
The Pulpit Rock, in the rough pasture land of Zoar, was reached by a
somewhat tedious climb from the lonely farmhouse, in a sheltered nook,
through straggling woods and gray pastures. It was a vast exposed
surface rising at a slight angle out of the grass and undergrowth. Along
the upper side was a thin line of bushes, and, pushing these aside, the
observer was always startled at the unexpected scene--as it were the
raising of a curtain upon another world. He stood upon the edge of a
sheer precipice of a thousand feet, and looked down upon a green
amphitheatre through the bottom of which the brawling river, an amber
thread in the summer foliage, seemed trying to get an outlet from this
wilderness cul de sac. From the edge of this precipice the first impulse
was to start back in surprise and dread, but presently the observer
became reassured of its stability, and became fascinated by the lonesome
wildness of the scene.
"Why is it called Pulpit Rock?" asked Mrs. Mavick; "I see no pulpit."
"I suppose," said Philip, "the name was naturally suggested to a
religious community, whose poetic images are mainly Biblical, and who
thought it an advantageous place for a preacher to stand, looking down
upon a vast congregation in the amphitheatre."
"So it is," exclaimed Evelyn. "I can see John the Baptist standing here
now, and hear his voice crying in the wilderness."
"Very likely," said Mrs. Mavick, persisting in her doubt, "of course in
Zoar. Anywhere else in the world it would be called the Lover's Leap."
"That is odd," said Alice; "there was a party of college girls came here
two years ago and made up a story about it which was printed, how an
Indian maiden pursued by a white man ran up this hill as if she had been
a deer, disappeared from his sight through these bushes, and took the
fatal leap. They called it the Indian Maiden's Rock. But it didn't
take. It will always be Pulpit Rock."
"So you see, Miss McDonald," said Philip, "that writers cannot graft
legends on the old stock."
"That depends upon the writer," returned the Scotch woman, shortly. "I
didn't see the schoolgirl's essay."
When the luncheon was disposed of, with the usual adaptation to nomadic
conditions, and the usual merriment and freedom of personal comment, and
the wit that seems so brilliant in the open air and so flat in print,
Mrs. Mavick declared that she was tired by the long climb and the unusual
"Perhaps it is the Pulpit," she said, "but I am sleepy; and if you young
people will amuse yourselves, I will take a nap under that tree."
Presently, also, Alice and the governess withdrew to the edge of the
precipice, and Evelyn and Philip were left to the burden of entertaining
each other. It might have been an embarrassing situation but for the
fact that all the rest of the party were in sight, that the girl had not
the least self-consciousness, having had no experience to teach her that
there was anything to be timid about in one situation more than in
another, and that Philip was so absolutely content to be near Evelyn
and hear her voice that there was room for nothing else in his thought.
But rather to his surprise, Evelyn made no talk about the situation
or the day, but began at once with something in her mind, a directness
of mental operation that he found was characteristic of her.
"It seems to me, Mr. Burnett, that there is something of what Miss
McDonald regards as the lack of legend and romance in this region in our
"I fancy everybody feels that who travels much elsewhere. You mean life
seems a little thin, as the critics say?"
"Yes, lacks color and background. But, you see, I have no experience.
Perhaps it's owing to Miss McDonald. I cannot get the plaids and tartans
and Jacobins and castles and what-not out of my head. Our landscapes are
"But don't you think we are putting history and association into them
"Yes, I know, but that takes a long time. I mean now. Take this lovely
valley and region, how easily it could be made romantic."
"Not so very easy, I fancy."
"Well, I was thinking about it last night." And then, as if she saw a
clear connection between this and what she was going to say, "Miss
McDonald says, Mr. Burnett, that you are a writer."
"I? Why, I'm, I'm--a lawyer."
"Of course, that's business. That reminds me of what papa said once:
'It's lucky there is so much law, or half the world, including the
lawyers, wouldn't have anything to do, trying to get around it and evade
it.' And you won't mind my repeating it--I was a mite of a girl--I said,
'Isn't that rather sophistical, papa?' And mamma put me down'--It seems
to me, child, you are using pretty big words.'"
They both laughed. But suddenly Evelyn added:
"Why don't you do it?"
"Write a story about it--what Miss McDonald calls 'invest the region with
The appeal was very direct, and it was enforced by those wonderful eyes
that seemed to Philip to discern his powers, as he felt them, and his
ambitions, and to express absolute confidence in him. His vanity was
touched in its most susceptible spot. Here seemed to be a woman, nay, a
soul, who understood him, understood him even better than Celia, the
lifelong confidante. It is a fatal moment for men and women, that in
which they feel the subtle flattery of being understood by one of the
opposite sex. Philip's estimation of himself rose 'pari passu' with his
recognition of the discernment and intellectual quality of the frank and
fascinating girl who seemed to believe in him. But he restrained himself
and only asked, after a moment of apparent reflection upon the general
"Well, Miss Mavick, you have been here some time. Have you discovered
any material for such use?"
"Why, perhaps not, and I might not know what to do with it if I had. But
perhaps you don't mean what I mean. I mean something fitting the
setting. Not the domestic novel. Miss McDonald says we are vulgarized
in all our ideals by so much domesticity. She says that Jennie Deans
would have been just an ordinary, commonplace girl but for Walter Scott."
"Then you want a romance?"
"No. I don't know exactly what I do want. But I know it when I see it."
And Evelyn looked down and appeared to be studying her delicate little
hands, interlacing her taper, ivory fingers--but Philip knew she did not
see them--and then looked up in his face again and said:
"I'll tell you. This morning as we came up I was talking all the way
with your cousin. It took some time to break the ice, but gradually she
began to say things, half stories, half poetic, not out of books; things
that, if said with assurance, in the city would be called wit. And then
I began to see her emotional side, her pure imagination, such a
refinement of appreciation and justice--I think there is an immovable
basis of justice in her nature--and charity, and I think she'd be heroic,
with all her gentleness, if occasion offered."
"I see," said Philip, rather lightly, "that you improved your time in
finding out what a rare creature Alice is. But," and this more gravely,
"it would surprise her that you have found it out."
"I believe you. I fancy she has not the least idea what her qualities
are, or her capacities of doing or of suffering, and the world will never
know--that is the point-unless some genius comes along and reveals them."
"Why, through a tragedy, a drama, a story, in which she acts out her
whole self. Some act it out in society. She never will. Such sweetness
and strength and passion--yes, I have no doubt, passion under all the
reserve! I feel it but I cannot describe it; I haven't imagination to
make you see what I feel."
"You come very near it," said Philip, with a smile. And after a moment
the girl broke out again:
"Materials! You writers go searching all round for materials, just as
painters do, fit for your genius."
"But don't you know that the hardest thing to do is the obvious, the
thing close to you?"
"I dare say. But you won't mind? It is just an illustration. I went
the other day with mother to Alice's house. She was so sort of distant
and reserved that I couldn't know her in the least as I know her now.
And there was the rigid Puritan, her father, representing the Old
Testament; and her placid mother, with all the spirit of the New
Testament; and then that dear old maiden aunt, representing I don't know
what, maybe a blind attempt through nature and art to escape out of
Puritanism; and the typical old frame farmhouse--why, here is material
for the sweetest, most pathetic idyl. Yes, the Story of Alice. In
another generation people would come long distances to see the valley
where Alice lived, and her spirit would pervade it."
There could be but one end to such a burst of enthusiasm, and both
laughed and felt a relief in a merriment that was, after all,
sympathetic. But Evelyn was a persistent creature, and presently she
turned to Philip, again with those appealing eyes.
"Now, why don't you do it?"
Philip hesitated a moment and betrayed some embarrassment under the
questioning of the truthful eyes.
"I've a good mind to tell you. I have--I am writing something."
"Not that exactly. I couldn't, don't you see, betray and use my own
relatives in that way."
"Yes, I see that."
"It isn't much. I cannot tell how it will come out. I tell you--I don't
mean that I have any right to ask you to keep it as a secret of mine, but
it is this way: If a writer gives away his imagination, his idea, before
it is fixed in form on paper, he seems to let the air of all the world
upon it and it disappears, and isn't quite his as it was before to grow
in his own mind."
"I can understand that," Evelyn replied.
"Well--" and Philip found himself launched. It is so easy to talk about
one's self to a sympathetic listener. He told Evelyn a little about his
life, and how the valley used to seem to him as a boy, and how it seemed
now that he had had experience of other places and people, and how his
studies and reading had enabled him to see things in their proper
relations, and how, finally, gradually the idea for a story in this
setting had developed in his mind. And then he sketched in outline
the story as he had developed it, and left the misty outlines of its
possibilities to the imagination.
The girl listened with absorbing interest, and looked the approval which
she did not put in words. Perhaps she knew that a bud will never come to
flower if you pull it in pieces. When Philip had finished he had a
momentary regret for this burst of confidence, which he had never given
to any one else. But in the light of Evelyn's quick approval and
understanding, it was only momentary. Perhaps neither of them thought
what a dangerous game this is, for two young souls to thus unbosom
themselves to each other.
A call from Mrs. Mavick brought them to their feet. It was time to go.
Evelyn simply said:
"I think the valley, Mr. Burnett, looks a little different already."
As they drove home along the murmuring river through the golden sunset,
the party were mostly silent. Only Mrs. Mavick and Philip, who sat
together, kept up a lively chatter, lively because Philip was elated with
the event of the day, and because the nap under the beech-tree in the
open air had brightened the wits of one of the cleverest women Philip had
If the valley did seem different to Evelyn, probably she did not think so
far as to own to herself whether this was owing to the outline of the
story, which ran in her mind, or to the presence of the young author.
Alice and Philip were set down at the farmhouse, and the company parted
with mutual enthusiasm over the success of the excursion.
"She is a much more interesting girl than I thought," Alice admitted.
"Not a bit fashionable."
"And she likes you."
"Yes, your ears would have burned."
"Well, I am glad, for I think she is sincere."
"And I can tell you another thing. I had a long talk while you were
taking your siesta. She takes an abstract view of things, judging the
right and wrong of them, without reference to conventionalities or the
practical obstacles to carrying out her ideas, as if she had been
educated by reading and not by society. It is very interesting."
"Philip," and Alice laid her hand on his shoulder, "don't let it be too
When Philip said that Evelyn was educated in the world of literature and
not in the conflicts of life he had hit the key-note of her condition at
the moment she was coming into the world and would have to act for
herself. The more he saw of her the more was he impressed with the fact
that her discrimination, it might almost be called divination, and her
judgment were based upon the best and most vital products of the human
mind. A selection had evidently been made for her, until she had
acquired the taste, or the habit rather, of choosing only the best for
herself. Very little of the trash of literature, or the ignoble--that is
to say, the ignoble view of life-- had come into her mind. Consequently
she judged the world as she came to know it by high standards. And her
mind was singularly pure and free from vulgar images.
It might be supposed that this sort of education would have its
disadvantages. The word is firmly fixed in the idea that both for its
pleasure and profit it is necessary to know good and evil. Ignorance of
the evil in the world is, however, not to be predicated of those who are
familiar only with the great masterpieces of literature, for if they are
masterpieces, little or great, they exhibit human nature in all its
aspects. And, further than this, it ought to be demonstrable, a priori,
that a mind fed on the best and not confused by the weak and diluted, or
corrupted by images of the essentially vulgar and vile, would be morally
healthy and best fitted to cope with the social problems of life. The
Testaments reveal about everything that is known about human nature, but
such is their clear, high spirit, and their quality, that no one ever
traced mental degeneration or low taste in literature, or want of
virility in judgment, to familiarity with them. On the contrary, the
most vigorous intellects have acknowledged their supreme indebtedness to
It is not likely that Philip made any such elaborate analysis of the girl
with whom he was in love, or attempted, except by a general reference to
the method of her training, to account for the purity of her mind and her
vigorous discernment. He was in love with her more subtle and hidden
personality, with the girl just becoming a woman, with the mysterious sex
that is the inspiration of most of the poetry and a good part of the
heroism in the world. And he would have been in love with her, let her
education have been what it might. He was in love before he heard her
speak. And whatever she would say was bound to have a quality of
interest and attraction that could be exercised by no other lips. It
might be argued--a priori again, for the world is bound to go on in its
own way--that there would be fewer marriages if the illusion of the sex
did not suffice for the time to hide intellectual poverty, and, what is
worse, ignobleness of disposition.
It was doubtless fortunate for this particular lovemaking, though it did
not seem so to Philip, that it was very much obstructed by lack of
opportunities, and that it was not impaired in its lustre by too much
familiarity. In truth, Philip would have said that he saw very little of
Evelyn, because he never saw her absolutely alone. To be sure he was
much in her presence, a welcome member of the group that liked to idle on
the veranda of the inn, and in the frequent excursions, in which Philip
seemed to be the companion of Mrs. Mavick rather than of her daughter.
But she was never absent from his thought, his imagination was wholly
captive to her image, and the passion grew in these hours of absence
until she became an indispensable associate in all that he was or could
ever hope to be. Alice, who discerned very clearly Mrs. Mavick and her
ambition, was troubled by Philip's absorption and the cruel
disappointment in store for him. To her he was still the little boy, and
all her tenderness for him was stirred to shield him from the suffering
But what could she do? Philip liked to talk about Evelyn, to dwell upon
her peculiarities and qualities, to hear her praised; to this extent he
was confidential with his cousin, but never in regard to his own feeling.
That was a secret concerning which he was at once too humble and too
confident to share with any other. None knew better than he the absurd
presumption of aspiring to the hand of such a great heiress, and yet he
nursed the vanity that no other man could ever appreciate and love her as
Alice was still more distracted and in sympathy with Philip's evident
aspirations by her own love for Evelyn and her growing admiration for the
girl's character. It so happened that mutual sympathy--who can say how
it was related to Philip?--had drawn them much together, and chance had
given them many opportunities for knowing each other. Alice had so far
come out of her shell, and broken the reserve of her life, as to make
frequent visits at the inn, and Mrs. Mavick and Evelyn found it the most
natural and agreeable stroll by the river-side to the farmhouse,
where naturally, while the mother amused herself with the original
eccentricities of Patience, her daughter grew into an intimacy with
As for the feelings of Evelyn in these days--her first experience of
something like freedom in the world--the historian has only universal
experience to guide him. In her heart was working the consciousness that
she had been singled out as worthy to share the confidence of a man in
his most secret ambitions and aspirations, in the dreams of youth which
seemed to her so noble. For these aspirations and dreams concerned the
world in which she had lived most and felt most.
If Philip had talked to her as he had to Celia about his plans for
success in life she would have been less interested. But there was
nothing to warn her personally in these unworldly confessions. Nor did
Philip ever seem to ask anything of her except sympathy in his ideas.
And then there was the friendship of Alice, which could not but influence
the girl. In the shelter of that the intercourse of the summer took on
natural relations. For some natures there is no nurture of love like the
security of family protection, under cover of which there is so little to
excite the alarm of a timid maiden.
It was fortunate for Philip that Miss McDonald took a liking to him.
They were thrown much together. They were both good walkers, and liked
to climb the hills and explore the wild mountain streams. Philip would
have confessed that he was fond of nature, and fancied there was a sort
of superiority in his attitude towards it to that of his companion, who
was merely interested in plants-just a botanist. This attitude, which
she perceived, amused Miss McDonald.
"If you American students," she said one day when they were seated on a
fallen tree in the forest, and she was expatiating on a rare plant she
had found, "paid no more attention to the classics than to the world you
live in, few of you would get a degree."
"Oh, some fellows go in for that sort of thing," Philip replied.
"But I have noticed that all English women have some sort of fad--plants,
shells, birds, something special."
"Fad!" exclaimed the Scotchwoman. "Yes, I suppose it is, if reading is a
fad. It is one way of finding out about things. You admire what the
Americans call scenery; we, since you provoke me to say it, love nature--
I mean its individual, almost personal manifestations. Every plant has a
distinct character of its own. I saw the other day an American landscape
picture with a wild, uncultivated foreground. There was not a botanical
thing in it. The man who painted it didn't know a sweetbrier from a
"Just a confused mass of rubbish. It was as if an animal painter should
compose a group and you could not tell whether it was made up of sheep or
rabbits or dogs or foxes or griffins."
"So you want things picked out like a photograph?"
"I beg your pardon, I want nature. You cannot give character to a bit of
ground in a landscape unless you know the characters of its details. A
man is no more fit to paint a landscape than a cage of monkeys, unless he
knows the language of the nature he is dealing with down to the alphabet.
The Japanese know it so well that they are not bothered with minutia, but
give you character."
"And you think that science is an aid to art?"
"Yes, if there is genius to transform it into art. You must know the
intimate habits of anything you paint or write about. You cannot even
caricature without that. They talk now about Dickens being just a
caricaturist. He couldn't have been that if he hadn't known the things
he caricatured. That is the reason there is so little good caricature."
"Isn't your idea of painting rather anatomical?" Philip ventured to ask.
"Do you think that if Raphael had known nothing of anatomy the world
would have accepted his Sistine Madonna for the woman she is?" was the
"I see it is interesting," said Philip, shifting his ground again, "but
what is the real good of all these botanical names and classifications?"
Miss McDonald gave a weary sigh. "Well, you must put things in order.
You studied philology in Germany? The chief end of that is to trace the
development, migration, civilization of the human race. To trace the
distribution of plants is another way to find out about the race. But
let that go. Don't you think that I get more pleasure in looking at all
the growing things we see, as we sit here, than you do in seeing them and
knowing as little about them as you pretend to?"
Philip said that he could not analyze the degree of pleasure in such
things, but he seemed to take his ignorance very lightly. What
interested him in all this talk was that, in discovering the mind of the
governess, he was getting nearer to the mind of her pupil. And finally
he asked (and Miss McDonald smiled, for she knew what this conversation,
like all others with him, must ultimately come to):
"Does the Mavick family also take to botany?"
"Oh yes. Mrs. Mavick is intimate with all the florists in New York. And
Miss Evelyn, when I take home these specimens, will analyze them and tell
all about them. She is very sharp about such things. You must have
noticed that she likes to be accurate?"
"But she is fond of poetry."
"Yes, of poetry that she understands. She has not much of the emotional
vagueness of many young girls."
All this was very delightful for Philip, and for a long time, on one
pretext or another, he kept the conversation revolving about this point.
He fancied he was very deep in doing this. To his interlocutor he was,
however, very transparent. And the young man would have been surprised
and flattered if he had known how much her indulgence of him in this talk
was due to her genuine liking for him.
When they returned to the inn, Mrs. Mavick began to rally Philip about
his feminine taste in woodsy things. He would gladly have thrown botany
or anything else overboard to win the good opinion of Evelyn's mother,
but botany now had a real significance and a new meaning for him.
Therefore he put in a defense, by saying:
"Botany, in the hands of Miss McDonald, cannot be called very feminine;
it is a good deal more difficult to understand and master than law."
"Maybe that's the reason," said Mrs. Mavick, "why so many more girls are
eager to study law now than botany."
"Law?" cried Evelyn; "and to practice?"
"Certainly. Don't you think that a bright, clever woman, especially if
she were pretty, would have an advantage with judge and jury?"
"Not if judge and jury were women," Miss McDonald interposed.
"And you remember Portia?" Mrs. Mavick continued.
"Portia," said Evelyn; "yes, but that is poetry; and, McDonald, wasn't it
a kind of catch? How beautifully she talked about mercy, but she turned
the sharp edge of it towards the Jew. I didn't like that."
"Yes," Miss McDonald replied, "it was a kind of trick, a poet's law.
What do you say, Mr. Burnett?"
"Why," said Philip, hesitating, "usually it is understood when a man buys
or wins anything that the appurtenances necessary to give him full
possession go with it. Only in this case another law against the Jew was
understood. It was very clever, nothing short of woman's wit."
"Are there any women in your firm, Mr. Burnett?" asked Mrs. Mavick.
"Not yet, but I think there are plenty of lawyers who would be willing to
take Portia for a partner."
"Make her what you call a consulting partner. That is just the way with
you men--as soon as you see women succeeding in doing anything
independently, you head them off by matrimony."
"Not against their wills," said the governess, with some decision.
"Oh, the poor things are easily hypnotized. And I'm glad they are. The
funniest thing is to hear the Woman's Rights women talk of it as a state
of subjection," and Mrs. Mavick laughed out of her deep experience.
"Rights, what's that?" asked Evelyn.
"Well, child, your education has been neglected. Thank McDonald for
"Don't you know, Evelyn," the governess explained, "that we have always
said that women had a right to have any employment, or do anything they
were fitted to do?"
"Oh, that, of course; I thought everybody said that. That is natural.
But I mean all this fuss. I guess I don't understand what you all are
talking about." And her bright face broke out of its look of perplexity
into a smile.
"Why, poor thing," said her mother, "you belong to the down-trodden sex.
Only you haven't found it out."
"But, mamma," and the girl seemed to be turning the thing over in her
mind, as was her wont with any new proposition, "there seem to be in
history a good many women who never found it out either."
"It is not so now. I tell you we are all in a wretched condition."
"You look it, mamma," replied Evelyn, who perfectly understood when her
mother was chaffing.
"But I think I don't care so much for the lawyers," Mrs. Mavick
continued, with more air of conviction; "what I can't stand are the
doctors, the female doctors. I'd rather have a female priest about me
than a female doctor."
This was not altogether banter, for there had been times in Carmen's
career when the externals of the Roman Church attracted her, and she
wished she had an impersonal confidant, to whom she could confess--well,
not everything-and get absolution. And she could make a kind of
confidant of a sympathetic doctor. But she went on:
"To have a sharp woman prying into all my conditions and affairs! No,
I thank you. Don't you think so, McDonald?"
"They do say," the governess admitted, "that women doctors haven't as
much consideration for women's whims as men." And, after a moment, she
"But, for all that, women ought to understand about women better than men
can, and be the best doctors for them."
"So it seems to me," said Evelyn, appealing to her mother. "Don't you
remember that day you took me down to the infirmary in which you are
interested, and how nice it was, nobody but women for doctors and nurses
and all that? Would you put that in charge of men?"
"Oh, you child!" cried Mrs. Mavick, turning to her daughter and patting
her on the head. "Of course there are exceptions. But I'm not going to
be one of the exceptions. Ah, well, I suppose I am quite behind the age;
but the conduct of my own sex does get on my nerves sometimes."
Evelyn was silent. She was often so when discussions arose. They were
apt to plunge her into deep thought. To those who knew her history,
guarded from close contact with anything but the world of ideas, it was
very interesting to watch her mental attitude as she was day by day
emerging into a knowledge of the actual world and encountering its
crosscurrents. To Philip, who was getting a good idea of what her
education had been, an understanding promoted by his knowledge of the
character and attainments of her governess, her mental processes, it may
be safely said, opened a new world of thought. Not that mental processes
made much difference to a man in his condition, still, they had the
effect of setting her personality still further apart from that of other
women. One day when they happened to be tete-a-tete in one of their
frequent excursions--a rare occasion--Evelyn had said:
"How strange it is that so many things that are self-evident nobody seems
to see, and that there are so many things that are right that can't be
"That is the way the world is made," Philip had replied. She was
frequently coming out with the sort of ideas and questions that are often
proposed by bright children, whose thinking processes are not only fresh
but undisturbed by the sophistries or concessions that experience has
woven into the thinking of our race. "Perhaps it hasn't your faith in
"Faith? I wonder. Do you mean that people do not dare go ahead and do
"Well, partly. You see, everybody is hedged in by circumstances."
"Yes. I do begin to see circumstances. I suppose I'm a sort of a goose
--in the abstract, as you say." And Evelyn laughed. It was the
spontaneous, contagious laugh of a child. "You know that Miss McDonald
says I'm nothing but a little idealist."
"Did you deny it?"
"Oh, no. I said, so were the Apostles, all save one--he was a realist."
It was Philip's turn to laugh at this new definition, and upon this the
talk had drifted into the commonplaces of the summer situation and about
Rivervale and its people. Philip regretted that his vacation would so
soon be over, and that he must say good-by to all this repose and beauty,
and to the intercourse that had been so delightful to him.
"But you will write," Evelyn exclaimed.
Philip was startled.
"Yes, your novel."
"Oh, I suppose so," without any enthusiasm.
"You must. I keep thinking of it. What a pleasure it must be to create
a real drama of life."
So this day on the veranda of the inn when Philip spoke of his hateful
departure next day, and there was a little chorus of protest, Evelyn was
silent; but her silence was of more significance to him than the
protests, for he knew her thoughts were on the work he had promised to go
"It is too bad," Mrs. Mavick exclaimed; "we shall be like a lot of sheep
without a shepherd."
"That we shall," the governess joined in. "At any rate, you must make us
out a memorandum of what is to be seen and done and how to do it."
"Yes," said Philip, gayly, "I'll write tonight a complete guide to
"We are awfully obliged to you for what you have done." Mrs. Mavick was
no doubt sincere in this. And she added, "Well, we shall all be back in
the city before long."
It was a natural thing to say, and Philip understood that there was no
invitation in it, more than that of the most conventional acquaintance.
For Mrs. Mavick the chapter was closed.
There were the most cordial hand-shakings and good-bys, and Philip said
good-by as lightly as anybody. But as he walked along the road he knew,
or thought he was sure, that the thoughts of one of the party were going
along with him into his future, and the peaceful scene, the murmuring
river, the cat-birds and the blackbirds calling in the meadow, and the
spirit of self-confident youth in him said not good-by, but au revoir.
Of course Philip wrote to Celia about his vacation intimacy with the
Mavicks. It was no news to her that the Mavicks were spending the summer
there; all the world knew that, and society wondered what whim of
Carmen's had taken her out of the regular summer occupations and immured
her in the country. Not that it gave much thought to her, but, when her
name was mentioned, society resented the closing of the Newport house and
the loss of her vivacity in the autumn at Lenox. She is such a hand to
set things going, don't you know? Mr. Mavick never made a flying visit