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The Fortunes of Oliver Horn by F. Hopkinson Smith

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Prepared By: Duncan Harrod - DuncanHarrod@excite.com


by F. Hopkinson Smith






Kennedy Square, in the late fifties, was a place of
birds and trees and flowers; of rude stone benches,
sagging arbors smothered in vines, and cool dirt-paths
bordered by sweet-smelling box. Giant magnolias
filled the air with their fragrance, and climbing roses
played hide and seek among the railings of the rotting
fence. Along the shaded walks laughing boys and
girls romped all day, with hoop and ball, attended
by old black mammies in white aprons and gayly colored
bandannas; while in the more secluded corners,
sheltered by protecting shrubs, happy lovers sat and
talked, tired wayfarers rested with hats off, and staid
old gentlemen read by the hour, their noses in their

Outside of all this color, perfume, and old-time
charm, outside the grass-line and the rickety wooden
fence that framed them in, ran an uneven pavement
splashed with cool shadows and stained with green
mould. Here, in summer, the watermelon-man
stopped his cart; and here, in winter, upon its broken
bricks, old Moses unhooked his bucket of oysters and
ceased for a moment his droning call.

On the shady side of the square, and half-hidden
in ivy, was a Noah's Ark church, topped by a quaint
belfry holding a bell that had not rung for years, and
faced by a clock-dial all weather-stains and cracks,
around which travelled a single rusty hand. In its
shadow to the right lay the home of the Archdeacon,
a stately mansion with Corinthian columns reaching
to the roof and surrounded by a spacious garden
filled with damask roses and bushes of sweet syringa.
To the left crouched a row of dingy houses built of
brick, their iron balconies hung in flowering vines,
the windows glistening with panes of wavy glass purpled
by age.

On the sunny side of the square, opposite the
church, were more houses, high and low; one all garden,
filled with broken-nosed statues hiding behind
still more magnolias, and another all veranda and
honeysuckle, big rocking-chairs and swinging hammocks;
and still others with porticos curtained by
white jasmine or Virginia creeper.

Half-way down this stretch of sunshine--and what
a lovely stretch it was--there had stood for years
a venerable mansion with high chimneys, sloping roof,
and quaint dormer-windows, shaded by a tall sycamore
that spread its branches far across the street.
Two white marble steps guarded by old-fashioned iron
railings led up to the front door, which bore on its
face a silver-plated knocker, inscribed in letters of
black with the name Of its owner--"Richard Horn."
All three, the door, the white marble steps, and the
silver-plated knocker--not to forget the round silver
knobs ornamenting the newel posts of the railings--
were kept as bright as the rest of the family plate by
that most loyal of servants, old Malachi, who daily
soused the steps with soap and water, and then brought
to a phenomenal polish the knocker, bell-pull, and
knobs by means of fuller's-earth, turpentine, hard
breathing, and the vigorous use of a buckskin rag.

If this weazened-faced, bald-headed old darky, resplendent
in white shirt-sleeves, green baize apron, and
never-ceasing smile of welcome, happened to be engaged
in this cleansing and polishing process--and it
occurred every morning--and saw any friend of his
master approaching, he would begin removing his pail
and brushes and throwing wide the white door before
the visitor reached the house, would there await his
coming, bent double in profound salutation. Indeed,
whenever Malachi had charge of the front steps he
seldom stood upright, so constantly was he occupied--
by reason of his master's large acquaintance--in either
crooking his back in the beginning of a bow, or
straightening it up in the ending of one.

To one and all inquiries for Mr. Horn his answer
during the morning hours was invariably the same:

"Yes, sah, Marse Richard's in his li'l room wrastlin'
wid his machine, I reckon. He's in dar now, sah--"
this with another low bow, and then slowly recovering
his perpendicular with eyes fixed on the retreating
figure, so as to be sure there was no further need
of his services, he would resume his work, drenching
the steps again with soap-suds or rubbing away on the
door-plate or door-pull, stopping every other moment
to blow his breath on the polished surface.

When, however, someone asked for young Oliver,
the inventor's only son, the reply was by no means
so definite, although the smile was a trifle broader and
the bow, if anything, a little more profound.

"Marse Oliver, did you say, sah? Dat's a difficult
question, sah. Fo' Gawd I ain't seen him since breakfas'.
You might look into Jedge Ellicott's office if
you is gwine downtown, whar dey do say he's studyin'
law, an' if he ain't dar--an' I reckon he ain't--den
you might drap in on Mister Crocker, whar Marse
Oliver's paintin' dem pictures; an' if he ain't dar,
den fo-sho he's wid some o' do young ladies, but which
one de Lawd only knows. Marse Oliver's like the
rabbit, sah--he don't leab no tracks," and Malachi
would hold his sides in a chuckle of so suffocating a
nature that it would have developed into apoplexy in
a less wrinkled and emaciated person.

Inside of the front door of this venerable mansion
ran a wide hall bare of everything but a solid mahogany
hat-rack and table with glass mirror and heavy
haircloth settee, over which, suspended from the ceiling,
hung a curious eight-sided lantern, its wick replaced
with a modern gas-burner. Above were the
bedrooms, reached by a curved staircase guarded by
spindling mahogany bannisters with slender hand-rail
--a staircase so pure in style and of so distinguished
an air that only maidens in gowns and slippers should
have tripped down its steps, and only cavaliers in silk
stockings and perukes have waited below for their

Level with the bare hall, opened two highly polished
mahogany doors, which led respectively into the
drawing-room and library, their windows draped in
red damask and their walls covered with family portraits.
All about these rooms stood sofas studded with
brass nails, big easy-chairs upholstered in damask, and
small tables piled high with magazines and papers.
Here and there, between the windows, towered a bookcase
crammed with well-bound volumes reaching clear
to the ceiling. In the centre of each room was a broad
mantel sheltering an open fireplace, and on cold days
--and there were some pretty cold days about Kennedy
Square--two roaring wood-fires dispensed comfort,
the welcoming blaze of each reflected in the shining
brass fire-irons and fenders.

Adjoining the library was the dining-room with its
well-rubbed mahogany table, straight-backed chairs,
and old sideboard laden with family silver, besides a
much-coveted mahogany cellaret containing some of
that very rare Madeira for which the host was famous.
Here were more easy-chairs and more portraits--one
of Major Horn, who fell at Yorktown, in cocked hat
and epaulets, and two others in mob-caps and ruffles
--both ancient grandmothers of long ago.

The "li'l room ob Marse Richard," to which in the
morning Malachi directed all his master's visitors, was
in an old-fashioned one-story out-house, with a sloping
roof, that nestled under the shade of a big tulip-
tree in the back yard--a cool, damp, brick-paved old
yard, shut in between high walls mantled with ivy
and Virginia creeper and capped by rows of broken
bottles sunk in mortar. This out-building had once
served as servants' quarters, and it still had the open
fireplace and broad hearth before which many a black
mammy had toasted the toes of her pickaninnies, as
well as the trap-door in the ceiling leading to the loft
where they had slept. Two windows which peered out
from under bushy eyebrows of tangled honeysuckle
gave the only light; a green-painted wooden door,
which swung level with the moist bricks, the only entrance.

It was at this green-painted wooden door that you
would have had to knock to find the man of all others
about Kennedy Square most beloved, and the man
of all others least understood--Richard Horn, the
distinguished inventor.

Perhaps at the first rap he would have been too
absorbed to hear you. He would have been bending
over his carpenter-bench--his deep, thoughtful eyes
fixed on a drawing spread out before him, the shavings
pushed back to give him room, a pair of compasses
held between his fingers. Or he might have
been raking the coals of his forge--set up in the same
fireplace that had warmed the toes of the pickaninnies,
his long red calico working-gown, which clung
about his spare body, tucked between his knees to
keep it from the blaze. Or he might have been stirring
a pot of glue--a wooden model in his hand--
or hammering away on some bit of hot iron, the
brown paper cap that hid his sparse gray locks pushed
down over his broad forehead to protect it from the

When, however, his ear had caught the tap of your
knuckles and he had thrown wide the green door, what
a welcome would have awaited you! How warm the
grasp of his fine old hand; how cordial his greeting.

"Disturb me, my dear sir," he would have said
in answer to your apologies, "that's what I was put
in the world for. I love to be disturbed. Please do
it every day. Come in! Come in! It's delightful to
get hold of your hand."

If you were his friend, and most men who knew
him were, he would have slipped his arm through
your own, and after a brief moment you would have
found yourself poring over a detailed plan, his arm
still in yours, while he showed you the outline of some
pin, or lever, needed to perfect the most marvellous
of all discoveries of modern times--his new galvanic

If it were your first visit, and he had touched in
you some sympathetic chord, he would have uncovered
a nondescript combination of glass jars, horse-shoe
magnets, and copper wires which lay in a curious
shaped box beneath one of the windows, and in a voice
trembling with emotion as he spoke, he would have
explained to you the value of this or that lever, and
its necessary relation to this new invention of his
which was so soon to revolutionize the motive power
of the world. Or he would perhaps have talked to
you as he did to me, of his theories and beliefs
and of what he felt sure the future would bring

"The days of steam-power are already numbered.
I may not live to see it, but you will. This new force
is almost within my grasp. I know people laugh, but
so they have always done. All inventors who have
benefited mankind have first been received with ridicule.
I can expect no better treatment. But I have
no fear of the result. The steady destruction of our
forests and the eating up of our coal-fields must throw
us back on chemistry for our working power. There
is only one solution of this problem--it lies in the
employment of a force which this machine will compel
to our uses. I have not perfected the apparatus
yet, as you see, but it is only a question of time. To-
morrow, perhaps, or next week, or next year--but it
will surely come. See what Charles Bright and this
Mr. Cyrus Field are accomplishing. If it astonishes
you to realize that we will soon talk to each other
across the ocean, why should the supplanting of steam
by a new energy seem so extraordinary? The problems
which they have worked out along the lines of
electricity, I am trying to work out along the lines
of galvanism. Both will ultimately benefit the
human race.

And while he talked you would have listened with
your eyes and ears wide open, and your heart too, and
believed every word he said, no matter how practical
you might have been or how unwilling at first to be

On another day perhaps you might have chanced
to knock at his door when some serious complication
had vexed him--a day when the cogs and pulleys
upon which he had depended for certain demonstration
had become so tangled up in his busy brain that
he had thoughts for nothing else. Then, had he
pushed pack his green door to receive you, his greeting
might have been as cordial and his welcome as
hearty, but before long you would have found his
eyes gazing into vacancy, or he would have stopped
half-way in an answer to your question, his thoughts
far away. Had you loved him you would then have
closed the green door behind you and left him alone.
Had you remained you would, perhaps, have seen him
spring from his seat and pick up from his work-bench
some unfinished fragment. This he would have
plunged into the smouldering embers of his forge and,
entirely forgetful of your presence, would have seized
the handle of the bellows, his eyes intent on the
blaze, his lips muttering broken sentences. At these
moments, as he would peer into the curling smoke,
one thin hand upraised, the long calico gown wrinkling
about his spare body, the paper cap on his head,
he would have looked like some alchemist of old, or
weird necromancer weaving a mystic spell. Sometimes,
as you watched his face, with the glow of the
coals lighting up his earnest eyes, there would have
flashed across his troubled features, as heat lightning
illumines a cloud, some sudden brightness from within
followed by a quick smile of triumph. The rebellious
fragment had been mastered. For the hundredth
time the great motor was a success!

And yet, had this very pin or crank or cog, on
which he had set such store, refused the next hour
or day or week to do its work, no trace of his
disappointment would have been found in his face or
speech. His faith was always supreme; his belief
in his ideals unshaken. If the pin or crank would
not answer, the lever or pulley would. It was the
"adjustment" that was at fault, not the principle.
And so the dear old man would work on, week after
week, only to abandon his results again, and with
equal cheerfulness and enthusiasm to begin upon another
appliance totally unlike any other he had tried
before. "It was only a mile-stone," he would say;
"every one that I pass brings me so much nearer the

If you had been only a stranger--some savant,
for instance, who wanted a problem in mechanics
solved, or a professor, blinded by the dazzling light of
the almost daily discoveries of the time, in search of
mental ammunition to fire back at curious students
daily bombarding you with puzzling questions; or
had you been a thrifty capitalist, holding back a first
payment until an expert like Richard Horn had
passed upon the merits of some new labor-saving device
of the day; had you been any one of these, and
you might very easily have been, for such persons
came almost daily to see him, the inventor would not
only have listened to your wants, no matter how absorbed
he might have been in his own work, but he
would not have allowed you to leave him until he
was sure that your mind was at rest.

Had you, however, been neither friend nor client,
but some unbeliever fresh from the gossip of the Club,
where many of the habitues not only laughed at the
inventor's predictions for the future, but often lost
their tempers in discussing his revolutionary ideas; or
had you, in a spirit of temerity, entered his room
armed with arguments for his overthrow, nothing that
your good-breeding or the lack of it would have permitted
you to have said could have ruffled his gentle
spirit. With the tact of a man of wide experience
among men, he would have turned the talk into another
channel--music, perhaps, or some topic of the
day--and all with such exquisite grace that you
would have forgotten the subject you came to discuss
until you found yourself outside the yard and half-
way across Kennedy Square before realizing that the
inventor had made no reply to your attacks.

But whoever you might have been, whether the
friend of years, the anxious client, or the trifling
unbeliever, and whatever the purpose of your visit,
whether to shake his hand again for the very delight
of touching it, to seek advice, or to combat his theories,
you would have carried away the impression of a man
whose like you had never met before--a man who
spoke in a low, gentle voice, and yet, with an authority
that compelled attention; enthusiastic over the
things he loved, silent over those that pained him;
a scholar of wide learning, yet skilled in the use of
tools that obeyed him as readily as nimble fingers do
a hand; a philosopher eminently sane on most of the
accepted theories of the day and yet equally insistent
in his support of many of the supposed sophistries and
so-called "fanaticisms of the hour"; an old-time aristocrat
holding fast to the class distinctions of his ancestors
and yet glorying in the dignity of personal
labor; a patriot loyal to the traditions of his State
and yet so opposed to the bondage of men and women
that he had freed his own slaves the day his father's
will was read; a cavalier reverencing a woman as
sweetheart, wife, and mother, and yet longing for the
time to come when she, too, could make a career, then
denied her, coequal in its dignity with that of the man
beside her.

A composite personality of strange contradictions;
of pronounced accomplishments and yet of equally
pronounced failures. And yet, withal, a man so gracious
in speech, so courtly in bearing, so helpful in
counsel, so rational, human, and lovable, that agree
with him or not, as you pleased, his vision would have
lingered with you for days.

When night came the inventor would rake the coals
from the forge, and laying aside his paper cap and
calico gown, close the green door of his shop, cross the
brick pavement of the back yard, and ascend the
stairs with the spindling bannisters to his dressing
room. Here Malachi would have laid out the black
swallow-tail coat with the high velvet collar, trousers
to match, double-breasted waistcoat with gilt buttons,
and fluffy cravat of white silk.

Then, while his master was dressing, the old servant
would slip down-stairs and begin arranging the
several rooms for the evening's guests--for there were
always guests at night. The red damask curtains
would be drawn close, the hearth swept clean, and
fresh logs thrown on the andirons. The lamp in the
library would be lighted, and his master's great easy-
chair wheeled close to a low table piled high with
papers and magazines, his big-eyed reading-glasses
within reach of his hand. The paper would be unfolded,
aired at the snapping blaze, and hung over
the arm of the chair. These duties attended to, the
old servant, with a last satisfied glance about the
room, would betake himself to the foot of the stair-
case, there to await his master's coming, glancing
overhead at every sound, and ready to conduct him to
his chair by the fire.

When Richard, his toilet completed, appeared at
the top of the stairs, Malachi would stand until his
master had reached the bottom step, wheel about,
and, with head up, gravely and noiselessly precede
him into the drawing-room--the only time he ever
dared to walk before him--and with a wave of the
hand and the air of a prince presenting one of his
palaces, would say--"Yo' char's all ready, Marse
Richard; bright fire burnin'." Adding, with a low,
sweeping bow, now that the ceremony was over--
"Hope yo're feelin' fine dis evenin', sah."

He had said it hundreds of times in the course of
the year, but always with a salutation that was a
special tribute, and always with the same low bow,
as he gravely pulled out the chair, puffing up the
back cushion, his wrinkled hands resting on it until
Richard had taken his seat. Then, with equal gravity,
he would hand his master the evening paper and
the big-bowed spectacles, and would stand gravely
by until Richard had dismissed him with a gentle
"Thank you, Malachi; that will do." And Malachi,
with the serene, uplifted face as of one who had
served in a temple, would tiptoe out to his pantry.

It had gone on for years--this waiting for Richard
at the foot of the staircase. Malachi had never
missed a night when his master was at home. It was
not his duty--not a part of the established regime
of the old house. No other family servant about Kennedy
Square performed a like service for master or
mistress. It was not even a custom of the times.

It was only one of "Malachi's ways," Richard
would say, with a gentle smile quivering about his

"I do dat 'cause it's Marse Richard--dat's all,"
Malachi would answer, drawing himself up with the
dignity of a chamberlain serving a king, when someone
had the audacity to question him--a liberty he
always resented.

They had been boys together--these two. They
had fished and hunted and robbed birds' nests and
gone swimming with each other. They had fought
for each other, and been whipped for each other many
and many a time in the old plantation-days. Night
after night in the years that followed they had sat
by each other when one or the other was ill.

And now that each was an old man the mutual service
was still continued.

"How are you getting on now, Malachi--better?
Ah, that's good--" and the master's thin white hand
would be laid on the black wrinkled head with a
soothing touch.

"Allus feels better, Marse Richard, when I kin
git hold ob yo' han', sah--" Malachi would answer.

Not his slave, remember. Not so many pounds of
human flesh and bone and brains condemned to his
service for life; for Malachi was free to come and
go and had been so privileged since the day the old
Horn estate had been settled twenty years before,
when Richard had given him his freedom with the
other slaves that fell to his lot; not that kind of a
servitor at all, but his comrade, his chum, his friend;
the one man, black as he was, in all the world who
in laying down his life for him would but have
counted it as gain.

Just before tea Mrs. Horn, with a thin gossamer
shawl about her shoulders, would come down from
her bedroom above and join her husband. Then
young Oliver himself would come bounding in, always
a little late, but always with his face aglow and
always bubbling over with laughter, until Malachi,
now that the last member of the family was at home,
would throw open the mahogany doors, and high tea
would be served in the dining-room on the well-
rubbed, unclothed mahogany table, the plates, forks,
and saucers under Malachi's manipulations touching
the polished wood as noiselessly as soap-bubbles.

Tea served and over, Malachi would light the candies
in the big, cut-glass chandelier in the front parlor
--the especial pride of the hostess, it having hung
in her father's house in Virginia.

After this he would retire once more to his pantry,
this time to make ready for some special function to
follow; for every evening at the Horn mansion had
its separate festivity. On Mondays small whist-tables
that unfolded or let down or evolved from half-moons
into circles, their tops covered with green cloth, were
pulled out or moved around so as to form the centres
of cosey groups. Some extra sticks of hickory would
be brought in and piled on the andirons, and the huge
library-table, always covered with the magazines of
the day--Littell's, Westminster, Blackwood's, and the
Scientific Review, would be pushed back against the
wall to make room.

On Wednesdays there would be a dinner at six
o'clock, served without pretence or culinary assistance
from the pastry-cook outside--even the ices were prepared
at home. To these dinners any distinguished
strangers who were passing through the city were
sure to be invited. Malachi in his time had served
many famous men--Charles Dickens, Ole Bull,
Macready, and once the great Mr. Thackeray himself
with a second glass of "that pale sherry, if you
please," and at the great man's request, too. An
appreciation which, in the case of Mr. Thackeray, had
helped to mollify Malachi's righteous wrath over the
immortal novelist's ignorance of Southern dishes:

"Dat fat gemman wid de gold specs dat dey do
say is so mighty great, ain't eat nuffin yet but soup
an' a li'l mite o' 'tater," he said to Aunt Hannah on
one of his trips to the kitchen as dinner went on.
"He let dat tar'pin an' dem ducks go by him same
as dey was pizen. But I lay he knows 'bout dat ole
yaller sherry," and Malachi chuckled. "He keeps a'
retchin' fur dat decanter as if he was 'feared somebody'd
git it fust."

On Fridays there would invariably be a musicale--
generally a quartette, with a few connoisseurs to
listen and to criticise. Then the piano would be
drawn out from its corner and the lid propped up,
so that Max Unger of the "Harmonie" could find
a place for his 'cello behind it, and there still be room
for the inventor with his violin--a violin with a tradition,
for Ole Bull had once played on it and in that
same room, too, and had said it had the soul of a Cremona
--which was quite true when Richard Horn
touched its strings.

On all the other nights of the week Mrs. Horn
was at home to all who came. Some gentle old lady
from across the Square, perhaps, in lace caps and ribbons,
with a work-basket filled with fancy crewels, and
whose big son came at nine o'clock to take her home;
or Oliver's young friends, boys and girls; or old Doctor
Wallace, full of the day's gossip; or Miss Lavinia
Clendenning, with news of the latest Assembly; or
Nathan Gill with his flute.

But then it was Nathan always, whatever the occasion.
From the time Malachi unlocked the front
doors in the morning until he bolted them for the
night, Nathan came and went. The brick pavements
were worn smooth, the neighbors said, between the
flute-player's humble lodgings in a side street and
the Horn house, so many trips a day did the old man
make. People smiled at him as he hurried along,
his head bent forward, his long pen-wiper cloak reaching
to his heels, a wide-brimmed Quaker hat crowning
his head.

And always, whenever the night or whatever the
function or whoever the guests, a particular side-table
was sure to be moved in from Malachi's pantry and
covered with a snow-white cloth which played an important
part in the evening's entertainment. This
cloth was never empty. Upon its damask surface
were laid a pile of India-blue plates and a silver basket
of cake, besides a collection of low glass tumblers with
little handles, designed to hold various brews of Malachi's
own concoctions, which he alone of all the denizens
of Kennedy Square could compound, and the
secret of which unhappily has perished with him.

And what wondrous aromas, too!

You may not believe it, but I assure you, on the
honor of a Virginian, that for every one of these different
nights in the old house on Kennedy Square
there were special savory odors emanating from these
brews, which settled at once and beyond question the
precise function of the evening, and all before you
could hand your hat to Malachi. If, for instance, as
the front door was opened the aroma was one of hot
coffee and the dry smell of fresh wafer-biscuit mingled
with those of a certain brand of sherry, then it
was always to be plain whist in the parlor, with perhaps
only Colonel Clayton and Miss Clendenning or
some one of the old ladies of the neighborhood, to hold
hands in a rubber. If the fumes of apple-toddy mingled
with the fragrance of toasted apples were wafted
your way, you might be sure that Max Unger, and
perhaps Bobbinette, second violin, and Nathan--whatever
the function it was always Nathan, it must be
remembered--and a few kindred spirits who loved
good music were expected; and at the appointed hour
Malachi, his hands encased in white cotton gloves,
would enter with a flourish, and would graciously beg
leave to pass, the huge bowl held high above his
head filled to the brim with smoking apple-toddy, the
little pippins browned to a turn floating on its top.

If the occasion was one of great distinction, one that
fell on Christmas or on New Year's, or which celebrated
some important family gathering, the pungent
odor of eggnog would have greeted you even before
you could have slipped off your gum-shoes in the hall,
or hung your coat on the mahogany rack. This seductive
concoction--the most potent of all Malachi's
beverages--was always served from a green and gold
Chinese bowl, and drunk not from the customary low
tumblers, but from special Spode cups, and was, I
must confess, productive of a head--for I myself was
once tempted to drink a bumper of it at this most
delightful of houses with young Oliver, many years
ago, it is true, but I have never forgotten it--productive
of an ACHING head, I think I said, that felt
as big in the morning as the Canton bowl in which
the mixture had been brewed.

Or, if none of these functions or festivals were
taking place, and only one or two old cronies had
dropped in on their way from the Club, and had
drawn up their chairs close to the dining-room table,
and you had happened to be hanging up your hat
in the hall at that moment, you would have been
conscious of an aroma as delicate in flavor as that
wafted across summer seas from far-off tropic isles;
of pomegranates, if you will, ripening by crumbling
walls; of purple grapes drinking in the sun; of pine
and hemlock; of sweet spices and the scent of roses.
or any other combination of delightful things which
your excited imagination might suggest.

You would have known then just what had taken
place; how, when the gentlemen were seated, Malachi
in his undress blue coat and brass buttons had
approached his master noiselessly from behind, and
with a gravity that befitted the occasion had bent low
his head, his hands behind his back, his head turned
on one side, and in a hushed voice had asked this most
portentous question:

"Which Madeira, Marse Richard?"

The only answer would have been a lifting of the
eyebrow and an imperceptible nod of his master's head
in the direction of the mahogany cellaret.

Malachi understood.

It was the Tiernan of '29.

And that worthy "Keeper of the Privy Seal and
Key," pausing for an instant with his brown jug of
a head bent before the cellaret, as a Mohammedan
bends his head before a wall facing Mecca, had there-
upon unlocked its secret chambers and had produced
a low, deeply cut decanter topped by a wondrous glass
stopper. This he had placed, with conscious importance,
on a small table before the two or three devotees
gathered together in its honor, and the host,
removing the stopper, had filled the slender glasses
with a vintage that had twice rounded the Cape--
a wine of such rare lineage and flavor that those who
had the honor of its acquaintance always spoke of it
as one of the most precious possessions of the town--
a wine, too, of so delicate an aroma that those within
the charmed circle invariably lifted the thin glasses
and dreamily inhaled its perfume before they granted
their palates a drop.

Ah, those marvellous, unforgettable aromas that
come to me out of the long ago with all the reminders
they bring of clink of glass and touch of elbow, of
happy boys and girls and sweet old faces. it is forty
years since they greeted my nostrils in the cool, bare,
uncurtained hall of the old house in Kennedy Square,
but they are still fresh in my memory. Sometimes
it is the fragrance of newly made gingerbread, or the
scent of creamy custard with just a suspicion of
peach-kernels; sometimes it is the scent of fresh
strawberries--strawberries that meant the spring, not
the hot-house or Bermuda--and sometimes it is the
smell of roasted oysters or succulent canvas-backs!
Forty years ago--and yet even to-day the perfume of
a roasted apple never greets me but I stand once more
in the old-fashioned room listening to the sound of
Nathan's flute; I see again the stately, silver-haired,
high-bred mistress of the mansion with her kindly
greeting, as she moves among her guests; I catch the
figure of that old darkey with his brown, bald head
and the little tufts of gray wool fringing its sides, as
he shuffles along in his blue coat and baggy white
waistcoat and much-too-big gloves, and I hear the
very tones of his voice as he pushes his seductive tray
before me and whispers, confidentially:

"Take a li'l ob de apple, sah; dat's whar de real
'spression oh de toddy is."



It was one of those Friday evenings, then, when
the smell of roast apples steeping in hot toddy came
wafting out the portals of Malachi's pantry--a smell
of such convincing pungency that even the most infrequent
of frequenters having once inhaled it, would
have known at the first whiff that some musical function
was in order. The night was to be one of unusual

Nathan Gill and Max linger were expected, and
Miss Lavinia Clendenning, completing with Richard
a quartette for 'cello, flute, piano, and violin, for
which Unger had arranged Beethoven's Overture to

Nathan, of course, arrived first. On ordinary occasions
another of those quaint ceremonies for which the
house was famous would always take place when the
old flute-player entered the drawing-room--a ceremony
which brought a smile to the lips of those who
had watched it for years, and which to this day brings
one to those who recall it. Nathan, with a look of
quizzical anxiety on his pinched face, would tiptoe
cautiously into the room, peering about to make sure
of Richard's presence, his thin, almost transparent
fingers outspread before him to show Richard that
they were empty. Richard would step forward and,
with a tone of assumed solicitude in his voice, would

"Don't tell me, Nathan, that you have forgotten
your flute?" and Nathan, pausing for a moment,
would suddenly break into a smile, and with a queer
little note of surprise in his throat, and a twinkle in
his eye, would make answer by slowly drawing from
his coat-tail pocket the three unjointed pieces, holding
them up with an air of triumph and slowly putting
them together. Then these two old "Merry-Andrews"
would lock arms and stroll into the library,
laughing like school-boys.

To-night, however, as Nathan had been specially
invited to play, this little ceremony was omitted. On
entering the hall the musician gave his long, black,
pen-wiper cloak and his hat to Malachi, and supporting
himself by his delicate fingers laid flat on the
hall-table, extended first one thin leg, and then the
other, while that obsequious darky unbuttoned his
gaiters. His feet free, he straightened himself up,
pulled the precious flute from his coat-tail pocket and
carefully joined the parts. This done, he gave a look
into the hall-mirror, puffed out his scarf, combed
his straight white hair forward over his ears with
his fingers, and at Malachi's announcement glided
through the open doorway to Mrs. Horn's chair, the
flute in his hand held straight out as an orator would
have held his roll.

The hostess, who had been sitting by the fire, her
white gossamer shawl about her spare shoulders, rose
from her high-backed chair and, laying aside her
knitting-needles and wools, greeted the musician with
as much cordiality--and it must be confessed with
as much ceremony--as if she had not seen him a
dozen times that week. One of the charms of the
Horn mansion lay in these delightful blendings of
affection and formality.

"Am I a little early?" he asked with as much
surprise as if he were not as certain to be early
when music was concerned as he was to be late in
everything else. "Yes, my dear madam--I see that
I am early, unless Miss Lavinia is late."

"You never could be too early, Nathan. Lavinia
will be here in a moment," she answered, with a
smile, resuming her seat.

"I'm glad that I'm ahead of her for once," he
replied, laughing. Then, turning to the inventor,
who had come forward from where he had been
studying the new score, he laid his hand affectionately
on Richard's shoulder, as a boy would have
done, and added: "How do you like Unger's new
arrangement?--I've been thinking of nothing else
all day."

"Capital! Capital!" answered Richard, slipping
his arm into Nathan's, and drawing him closer to the
piano. "See how he has treated this adagio phrase,"
and he followed the line with his finger, humming
the tune to Nathan. "The modulation, you see, is
from E Major to A Major, and the flute sustains the
melody, the effect is so peculiarly soft and the whole
so bright with passages of sunshine all through it
--oh, you will love it."

While these two white-haired enthusiasts with
their heads together were studying the score, beating
time with their hands, after the manner of experts
to whom all the curious jumble of dots and
lines that plague so many of us are as plain as print,
Malachi was receiving Miss Clendenning in the hall.
Indeed, he had answered her knock as Nathan was
passing into the drawing-room.

The new arrival bent her neck until Malachi had
relieved her of the long hooded cloak, gave a quick
stamp with her little feet as she shook out her balloon
skirts, and settled herself on the hall-settee
while Malachi unwound the white worsted "nubia"
from her aristocratic throat. This done, she, too,
held a short consultation with the hall-mirror, carefully
dusting, with her tiny handkerchief, the little
pats of powder still left on her cheeks, and with her
jewelled fingers smoothing the soft hair parted over
her forehead, and tightening meanwhile the side-
combs that kept in place the clusters of short curls
which framed her face. Then, with head erect and a
gracious recognition of the old servant's ministrations,
she floated past Malachi, bent double in her

"Oh, I heard you, Nathan," she laughed, waving
her fan toward him as she entered the room. "I'm
not one minute late. Did you ever hear such impudence,
Sallie, and all because he reached your door
one minute before me," she added, stooping to kiss
Mrs. Horn. Punctuality was one of the cardinal
virtues of this most distinguished, prim, precise, and
most lovable of old maids. "You are really getting
to be dreadful, Mr. Nathan Gill, and so puffed up
--isn't he, Richard?" As she spoke she turned
abruptly and faced both gentlemen. Then, with one
of her rippling laughs--a laugh that Richard always
said reminded him of the notes of a bird--she caught
her skirts in her fingers, made the most sweeping of
courtesies and held out her hands to the two gentlemen
who were crossing the room to meet her.

Richard, with the bow of a Cavalier, kissed the
one offered him as gallantly as if she had been a
duchess, telling her he had the rarest treat in store
for her as soon as Unger came, and Nathan with
mock devotion held the other between his two palms,
and said that to be scolded by Miss Clendenning was
infinitely better than being praised by anybody else.
These pleasantries over, the two old gallants returned
to the piano to wait for Max Unger and to study
again the crumpled pages of the score which lay
under the soft light of the candles.

The room relapsed once more into its wonted quiet,
broken only by the whispered talk of well-bred people
careful not to disturb each other. Mrs. Horn
had begun to knit again. Miss Clendenning stood
facing the fire, one foot resting on the fender.

This wee foot of the little lady was the delight
and admiration of all the girls about Kennedy
Square, and of many others across the seas, too--
men and women for that matter. To-night it was
encased in a black satin slipper and in a white spider-
web stocking, about which were crossed two narrow
black ribbons tied in a bow around the ankle--such
a charming little slipper peeping out from petticoats
all bescalloped and belaced! Everything in fact
about this dainty old maid, with her trim figure filling
out her soft white fichu, still had that subtlety of
charm which had played havoc with more than one
heart in her day. Only Sallie Horn, who had all the
dear woman's secrets, knew where those little feet
had stepped and what hopes they had crushed. Only
Sallie Horn, too, knew why the delicate finger was
still bare of a plain gold ring. The world never
thought it had made any difference to Miss Lavinia,
but then the world had never peeped under the lower
lid of Miss Clendenning's heart.

Suddenly the hushed quiet of the room was broken
by a loud knock at the front door, or rather by a
series of knocks, so quick and sharp that Malachi
started from his pantry on the run.

"That must be Max," said Richard. "Now, Lavinia,
we will move the piano, so as to give you more

Mrs. Horn pushed back her chair, rose to her feet,
and stood waiting to receive the noted 'cellist, without
whom not a note could be sounded, and Miss
Clendenning took her foot from the fender and
dropped her skirts.

But it was not Max!

Not wheezy, perspiring old Max Unger after all,
walking into the room mopping his face with one
hand and with the other lugging his big 'cello, embalmed
in a green baize bag--he would never let
Malachi touch it--not Max at all, but a fresh, rosy-
cheeked young fellow of twenty-two, who came
bounding in with a laugh, tossing his hat to Malachi
--a well-knit, muscular young fellow, with a mouth
full of white teeth and a broad brow projecting over
two steel-blue eyes that were snapping with fun.

With his coming the quiet of the place departed
and a certain breezy atmosphere permeated the room
as if a gust of cool wind had followed him. With
him, too, came a hearty, whole-souled joyousness--
a joyousness of so sparkling and so radiant a kind
that it seemed as if all the sunshine he had breathed
for twenty years in Kennedy Square had somehow
been stored away in his boyish veins.

"Oh, here you are, you dear Miss Lavinia," he
cried out, his breath half gone from his dash across
the Square. "How did you get here first?"

"On my two feet, you stupid Oliver," cried Miss
Lavinia, shaking her curls at him. "Did you think
somebody carried me?"

"No, I didn't; but that wouldn't be much to
carry, Miss Midget." His pet name for her. "But
which way did you come? I looked up and down
every path and--"

"And went all the way round by Sue Clayton's
to find me, didn't you? Oh, you can't throw dust
in the Midget's eyes, you young rascal!" and she
stretched up her two dainty hands; drew his face
toward her, and kissed him on the lips.

"There--" and she patted his cheek-- "now tell
me all about it, you dear Ollie. What did you
want to see me for?" she added with one of those
quick divinations that made her so helpful a confidante.
Then, in a lowered voice-- "What has Sue

"Nothing--not one thing. She isn't bothering
her head about me. I only stopped there to leave a
book, and--"

Mrs. Horn, with laughing, inquiring eyes, looked
up from her chair at Miss Clendenning, and made a
little doubting sound with her lips. Black-eyed Sue
Clayton, with her curls down her back, home from
boarding-school for the Easter holidays, was Oliver's
latest flame. His mother loved to tease him about
his love-affairs; and always liked him to have a new
one. She could see farther into his heart she thought
when the face of some sweet girl lay mirrored in its

Oliver heard the doubting sound his mother made,
and, reaching over her chair, flung his arms about
her neck and kissed her as if she had been a girl.

"Now, don't you laugh, you dear old motherkins,"
he cried, drawing her nearer to him until her face
touched his. "Sue don't care a thing about me, and
I did promise her the book, and I ran every step of
the way to give it to her--didn't I, Uncle Nat?" he
added, gayly, hoping to divert the topic. "You were
behind the sun-dial when I passed--don't you remember?"
He shrank a little from the badinage.

The old musician heard the question, but only
waved his flute behind him in answer. He did not
even lift his head from beside Richard's at the score.

Oliver waited an instant, and getting no further
reply, released his hold about his mother's neck, now
that he had kissed her into silence, and turned to Miss
Clendenning again.

"Come, Miss Lavinia--come into the library. I've
something very important to talk to you about.
Really, now; no nonsense about it! You've plenty
of time--old Max won't be here for an hour, he's always
late, isn't he, mother?"

Miss Clendenning turned quietly, lifted her eyes
in a martyr-like way toward Mrs. Horn, who shook
her head playfully in answer, and with Oliver's arm
about her entered the library. She could never refuse
any one of the young people when they came
to her with their secrets--most important and never-
to-be-postponed secrets, of course, that could hardly
wait the telling. Her little tea-room across the
Square, with its red damask curtains, its shiny brass
andirons, easy-chairs and lounges, was really more
of a confessional than a boudoir. Many a sorrow had
been drowned in the cups of tea that she had served
with her own hand in egg-shell Spode cups, and many
a young girl and youth who had entered its cosey
interior with heavy hearts had left it with the sunshine
of a new hope breaking through their tears.
But then everybody knew the bigness of Miss Clendenning's
sympathies. It was one of the things for
which they loved her.

She, of course, knew what the boy wanted now.
If it were not to talk about Sue Clayton it was sure
to be about some one of the other girls. The young
people thought of nothing else but their love-affairs,
and talked of nothing else, and the old people loved
to live their youth over again in listening. It was
one of the traditional customs of Kennedy Square.

Miss Clendenning settled herself in a corner of the
carved haircloth sofa, touched her side-combs with
her finger to see that they were in place, tucked a
red cushion behind her back, crossed her two little
feet on a low stool, the two toes peeping out like
the heads of two mice, and taking Oliver's hand in
hers said, in her sweet, coaxing voice:

"Now, you dear boy, it is Sue, isn't it?"


"Not Sue? Who then?"

"Mr. Crocker."

"What Mr. Crocker?" She arched her eyebrows
and looked at him in surprise. The name came as
a shock. She knew of Mr. Crocker, of course, but she
wanted Oliver to describe him. Surely, she thought,
with a sudden sense of alarm, the boy has not fallen
in love with the daughter of that shabby old man.

"Why, the landscape-painter--the one father
knows. I have been taking drawing lessons of him
and he says I've got a lot of talent and that all I
want is practice. He says that if I begin now and
draw from the cast three or four hours a day that by
the end of the year I can begin in color; and then
I can go to New York and study, and then to Paris."

The little lady scrutinized him from under her
eyelids. The boy's enthusiasm always delighted her;
she would often forget what he was talking about,
so interested was she in following his gestures as
he spoke.

"And what then?"

"Why then I can be a painter, of course. Isn't
that a great deal better than sitting every day in
Judge Ellicott's dingy office reading law-books? I
hate the law!"

"And you love Mr. Crocker?"

"Yes, don't you?"

"I don't know him, Ollie. Tell me what he is

"Well, he isn't young any more. He's about
father's age, but he's a splendid old man, and he's so
poor! Nobody buys his pictures, nor appreciates him,
and, just think, he has to paint portraits and dogs
and anything he can get to do. Don't you think
that's a shame? Nobody goes to see him but father
and Uncle Nat and one or two others. They don't
seem to think him a gentleman." He was putting
the case so as to enlist all her sympathies at once.

"He has a daughter, hasn't he?" She was
probing him quietly and without haste. Time
enough for her sympathies to work when she got at
the facts.

"Yes, but I don't like her very much, for I don't
think she's very good to him." Miss Clendenning
smothered a little sigh of relief; there was no danger;
thank Heaven, in that direction! What, then, could
he want, she thought to herself.

"And he's so different from anybody I ever met,"
Oliver continued. "He doesn't talk about horses
and duck-shooting and politics, or music or cards like
everyone you meet, except Daddy, but he talks about
pictures and artists and great men. Just think, he
was a young student in Dusseldorf for two years, and
then he shouldered a knapsack and tramped all
through Switzerland, painting as he went, and often
paying for his lodgings with his sketches. Then he
was in Paris for ever so long, and now he is here,

"Where you tell me he is painting dogs for a
living," interrupted Miss Clendenning. "Do you
think, you young scapegrace, that this would be better
than being a lawyer like Judge Ellicott?" and
she turned upon him with one of her quick outbursts
of mock indignation.

"But I'm not going to paint dogs," he replied,
with some impatience. "I am going to paint women,
like the Sir Peter Lely that Uncle John Tilghman
has. Oh, she's a beauty! I took Mr. Crocker to see
her the other day. It had just been brought in from
the country, you know. You should have heard him
go on. He says there's nobody who can paint a portrait
like it nowadays. He raved about her. You
know it is Uncle John Tilghman's grandmother when
she was a girl." His voice suddenly dropped to a
more serious tone as he imparted this last bit of

Miss Clendenning knew whose grandmother it was,
and knew and loved every tone in the canvas. It
had hung in the Tilghman Manor-House for years
and was one of its most precious treasures, but she
did not intend to stop and discuss it now.

"Mr. Crocker wants me to copy it just as soon
as I draw a little better. Uncle John will let me,
I know."

Miss Clendenning tapped her foot in a noiseless
tattoo upon the stool, and for a time looked off into
space. She wanted to draw him out, to know from
what depth this particular enthusiasm had sprung.
She was accustomed to his exuberance of spirits, it
was one of the many things she loved him for. If
this new craze were but an idle fancy, and he had
had many of them, it would wear itself out, and the
longer they talked about it the better. If, however,
it sprang from an inborn taste, and was the first
indication of a hitherto undeveloped talent forcing itself
to the surface, the situation was one demanding
the greatest caution. Twigs like Oliver bent at the
wrong time might never straighten out again.

"And why did you come to me about this, Ollie;
why don't you talk to your father?"

"I have. He doesn't object. He says that Mr.
Crocker is one of the rare men of the time, and that
only inexperience among the people here prevents
him from being appreciated. That's what he goes
to see him for. It isn't father that worries me, it's
mother. I know just whet she'll say. She's got her
heart set on my studying law, and she won't listen
to anything else. I wouldn't object to the law if I
cared for it, but I don't. That's what makes it come
so hard."

"And you want me to speak to your mother?"

"Yes, of course. That's just what I DO want you
to do. Nobody can help me but you," he cried with
that coaxing manner which would have seemed
effeminate until one looked at his well-built, muscular
body and the firm lines about his mouth. "You
tell her of all the painters you knew in London when
you lived there, and of what they do and how they
are looked up to, and that some of them are gentlemen
and not idlers and loafers. Mother will listen
to you, I know, and maybe then when I tell her it
won't be such a shock to her. Do you know it is
incomprehensible to me, all this contempt for people
who don't do just the same things that their grandfathers
did. And how do I know, too, that they are
right about it all? It seems to me that when a man
is born a gentleman and is a gentleman he can follow
any occupation he pleases. Instead of his trade making
him respectable he should make IT so." He spoke
with a virility she had never suspected in him before,
this boy whom she had held in her arms as a baby
and who was still only the child to her.

"But, Ollie," she interrupted, in some surprise,
"you must never forget that you are your father's
son. No one is absolutely independent in this world;
everyone has his family to consider." She was becoming
not only interested now, but anxious. Mr.
Crocker had evidently been teaching the boy something
besides the way to use his pencil. Such democratic
ideas were rare in Kennedy Square.

"Yes, I know what you mean." He had sprung
from his seat now and was standing over her, she
looking up into his face. "You mean that it is all
right for me to go into old Mr. Wardell's counting-
house because he sells coffee by the cargo, but that
I can't take a situation in Griggson's grocery here on
the corner because he sells coffee by the pound. You
mean, too, that it is possible for a man to be a professor
or president of a college and still be a gentleman,
but if he teaches in the public school he is
done for. You mean, too, that I could saw off a
patient's leg and still be invited to Uncle Tilghman's
house to dinner, but that if I pulled out one of his
teeth I could only eat in his kitchen."

Miss Clendenning threw back her head and laughed
until the combs in her side-curls needed refastening,
but she did not interrupt him.

"I can't get this sort of thing into my head and
I never will. And father doesn't believe in it any
more than I do, and I don't think that mother would
if it wasn't for a lot of old people who live around
this square and who talk of nothing all day but their
relations and think there's nobody worth knowing
but themselves. Now, you've GOT to talk to mother;
I won't take no for an answer," and he threw himself
down beside her again. "Come, dear Midget,
hold up your right hand and promise me now, before
I let you go," he pleaded in his wheedling
way that made him so lovable to his intimates,
catching her two hands in his and holding them

Of course she promised. Had she ever refused
him anything? And Oliver, a boy again, now that
his confessions were made, kissed her joyously on
both cheeks and instantly forgetting his troubles as
his habit was when prospects of relief had opened,
he launched out into an account of a wonderful adventure
Mr. Crocker once had in an old town in
Italy, where he was locked up over-night in a convent
by mistake; and how he had slept on his knapsack
in the chapel, and what the magistrate had said
to him the next day, and how he had to paint a portrait
of that suspicious officer to prove he was a
painter and a man of the best intentions. In his
enthusiasm he not only acted the scene, but he imitated
the gesture and dialect of the several parties to
the escapade so perfectly that the little lady, in her
delight over the story, quite forgot her anxiety and
even the musicale itself, and only remembered the
quartette when Malachi, bowing obsequiously before
her, said:

"Dey's a-waitin' for you, Miss Lavinia. Mister
Unger done come and Marse Richard say he can't
wait a minute."

When she and Oliver entered the drawing-room
the 'cellist was the centre of the group. He was
stripping off the green baize cover from his instrument
and at the same time was apologizing, in his
broken English, for being so late. Richard was interrupting
him with enthusiastic outbursts over the
new score which still lay under the wax candles lighting
the piano, and which he and Nathan, while waiting
for the musician, had been silently practising in
sundry bobs of their heads and rhythmic beatings of
their hands.

"My dear Max," Richard continued, with a hand
on the musician's shoulder, patting him in appreciation
as he spoke, "we will forgive you anything.
You have so exactly suited to the 'cello the opening
theme. And the flute passages!--they are exquisitely
introduced. We will let Miss Clendenning decide
when she hears it--" and he turned Unger's head in
the direction of the advancing lady. "Here she
comes now; you, of course, know the fine quality
of Miss Clendenning's ear."

Herr Unger placed his five fat fingers over his
waist-baud, bowed as low to Miss Lavinia as his great
girth would permit, and said:

"Ah, yes, I know. Miss Clendenning not only
haf de ear she haf de life in de end of de finger. De
piano make de sound like de bird when she touch

The little lady thanked him in her sweetest voice,
made a courtesy, and extended her hand to Max, who
kissed it with much solemnity, and Richard, putting
his arm around the 'cellist's fat shoulders, conducted
him across the room, whereupon Nathan, with the
assumed air of an old beau, offered his crooked elbow
to Miss Clendenning as an apology for having reached
the house before her. Then, seating her at the piano
with a great flourish, he waved his hand to Oliver,
who had drawn up a chair beside his mother, and with
a laugh, cried:

"Here, you young love; come and turn the leaves
for Miss Lavinia. It may keep you from running
over other people in the dark, even if they are accused
of hiding behind sun-dials."

With the beginning of the overture Mrs. Horn laid
down her work, and drawing her white gossamer
shawl about her shoulders gave herself up to the enjoyment
of the music. The overture was one of her
favorites--one she and Richard had often played
together as a duet in their younger days.

Leaning back in her easy-chair with half-closed
eyes, her clear-cut features in silhouette against the
glow of the fire, her soft gray curls nestling in the
filmy lace that fell about her temples, she expressed,
in every line of her face and figure, that air of graceful
repose which only comes to those highly favored
women who have all their lives been nurtured in a
home of loving hands, tender voices, and noiseless
servants--lives of never-ending affection without
care or sorrow.

And yet had you, even as she sat there, studied
carefully this central figure of the Horn mansion
--this practical, outspoken, gentle-voiced, tender
wife and mother, tenacious of her opinions, yet big
enough and courageous enough to acknowledge her
mistakes; this woman, wise in counsel, sympathetic
in sorrow, joyous with the young, restful with the
old, you would have discovered certain lines about
her white forehead which advancing years alone
could not have accounted for.

These lines seemed all the deeper to-night. Only
a few hours before, Richard had come to her, while
Malachi was arranging his clothes, with the joyful
news of a new device which he had developed during
the day for his motor. He could hardly wait to
tell her, he had said. The news was anything but
joyful to her. She knew what it meant--she knew
what sums had been wasted on the other devices, involving
losses which at this time they could so little
afford. She was glad, therefore, to free her mind
for the moment from these anxieties; glad to sit
alone and drink in the melodies that the quartette
set free.

As she sat listening, beating time noiselessly with
her thin, upraised hand, her head resting quietly, a
clear, silvery note--clear as a bird's--leaped from
Nathan's flute, soared higher and higher, trembled
like a lark poised in air, and died away in tones of
such exquisite sweetness that she turned her head in
delight toward the group about the piano, fixing her
gaze on Nathan. The old man's eyes were riveted on
the score, his figure bent forward in the intensity of
his absorption, his whole face illumined with the
ecstasy that possessed him. Then she looked at
Richard, standing. with his back to her, his violin
tucked under his chin, his body swaying in rhythm
with the music. Unger sat next to him, his instrument
between his knees, his stolid, shiny face unruffled
by the glorious harmonies of Beethoven.

Then her glance rested on Oliver. He was hanging
over the piano whispering in Miss Clendenning's.
ear, his face breaking into smiles at her playful chidings.
If the pathos of the melody had reached him
he showed no sign of its effects.

Instantly there welled up in her heart a sudden
gush of tenderness--one of those quick outbursts
that often overwhelm a mother when her eyes rest
on a son whose heart is her own--an outburst all the
more intensified by the melody that thrilled her.
Why should her heart have been troubled? Here
was her strong hope! Here was her chief reliance!
Here the hope of the future. How could she doubt
or suffer when this promise of the coming day was
before her in all the beauty and strength of his young

With the echoes of Nathan's flute still vibrating
in her, and with her mind filled with the delight of
these fresh hopes, she suddenly recalled the anxious
look on her boy's face as he led Miss Clendenning
into the library--a new look--one she had never
seen before. Still under the quickening spell of the
music she began to exaggerate its cause. What had
troubled him? Why had he told Lavinia, and not
her? Was there anything serious?--something he
had kept from her to save her pain?

From this moment her mind became absorbed in
her boy. With restless, impatient fingers she began
thrumming on the arm of her chair. Oliver would
tell her, she knew, before many hours, but she could
not wait--she wanted to know at once.

With the ending of the first part of the overture,
and before the two gentlemen had laid down their
instruments to grasp Unger's hands, she called to
Miss Clendenning, who sat at the piano alone, Oliver
having slipped away unobserved.

Miss Clendenning raised her eyes in answer.
"Come over and sit by me, dear, while the gentlemen

Miss Clendenning picked up her white silk mits
and fan lying beside the candles, and moved toward
the fireplace. Malachi saw her coming--he was always
in the room during the interludes--and with
an alacrity common to him when the distinguished
little lady was present, drew up a low chair beside
his mistress and stood behind it until she took her
seat. Miss Clendenning smoothed out her skirt and
settled herself with the movement of a pigeon filling
her nest. Then she laid her mits in her lap and
fanned herself softly.

"Well, Sallie, what is it? Did you ever hear
Nathan play so well!" she asked, at last.

"What did Oliver want, my dear?" replied Mrs.
Horn, ignoring her question. "Is there anything
worrying him, or is Sue at the bottom of it!"

The little woman smiled quizzically. "No, Sallie
--not Sue--not this time. That little rattle-brain's
affections will only last the week out. Nothing very
important--that is, nothing urgent. We were talking
about the Tilghman portraits and the Lely
that Cousin John has brought into town from Claymore
Manor, and what people should and should not
do to earn their living, and what professions were
respectable. I thought one thing and Ollie thought
another. Now, what profession of all others would
you choose for a young man starting out in life?"

"What has he been telling you, Lavinia? Does
he want to leave Judge Ellicott's office?" Mrs. Horn
asked, quietly, She always went straight to the root
of any matter.

"Just answer my question, Sallie."

"I'd rather he'd be a lawyer, of course; why?"

"Suppose he won't, or can't?"

"Is that what he told you, Lavinia, on the sofa?"
She was leaning forward, her cheek on her hand, her
eyes fixed on the blazing logs.

"He told me a great many things, half of them
boy's talk. Now answer my question; suppose he
couldn't study law because his heart wasn't in it,
what then?"

"I know, Lavinia, what you mean." There was
an anxious tone now in the mother's voice. "And
Oliver talked to you about this?" As she spoke she
settled back in her chair and a slight sigh escaped

"Don't ask me, Sallie, for I'm not going to tell
you. I want to know for myself what you think, so
that I can help the boy."

Mrs. Horn turned her head and looked toward
Richard. She had suspected as much from some hints
that Judge Ellicott had dropped when she had asked
him about Oliver's progress. "He is still holding
down his chair, Madam." She thought at the time
that it was one of the Judge's witticisms, but she saw
now that it had a deeper meaning. After some moments
she said, fixing her eyes on Miss Clendenning:

"Well, now, Lavinia, tell me what YOU think. I
should like your opinion. What would you wish
to do with him if he were your son?"

Miss Lavinia smiled and her eyes half-closed. For
a brief moment there came to her the picture of
what such a blessing would have been. Her son!
No! It was always somebody else's son or daughter
to whom her sympathy must go.

"Well, Sallie," she answered--she was leaning
over now, her hands in her lap, apparently with lowered
eyelids, but really watching Mrs. Horn's, face
from the corner of her eye--"I don't think we can
make a clergyman out of him, do you?" Mrs. Horn
frowned, but she did not interrupt. "No, we cannot
make a parson out of him. I meant, my love,
something in surplices, not in camp-meetings, of
course. Think of those lovely pink cheeks in a high
collar and Bishop's sleeves, wouldn't he be too sweet
for anything?" and she laughed one of her little cooing
laughs. "Nor a doctor," she continued, with
a slight interrogation in her tone, "nor a shopkeeper,
nor a painter"--and she shot a quick glance
from under her arching eyebrows at her companion
--but Mrs. Horn's face gave no sign--"nor a musician.
Why not a musician, Sallie, he sings like an
angel, you know?" She was planting her shafts all
about the target, her eyes following the flight of each

Mrs. Horn raised her head and laid her hand
firmly on Miss Clendenning's wrist.

"We won't have him a shopkeeper, Lavinia," she
said with some positiveness, "nor a barber, nor a
painter, nor a cook, nor a dentist. We'll try and
keep him a gentleman, my dear, whatever happens.
As for his being a musician, I think you will agree
with me, that music is only possible as an accomplishment,
never when it is a profession. Look at that
dear old man over there"--and she pointed to Nathan,
who was bending forward running over on his
flute some passages from the score, his white hair
covering his coat-collar behind--"so absolutely unfitted
for this world as he is, so purposeless, so hopelessly
inert. He breathes his whole soul into that
flute and yet--"

"And a good deal comes out of it sometimes, my
dear--to-night, for instance," laughed Miss Lavinia.
"Did you catch those bird-like notes?"

"Yes, and they thrilled me through and through,
but sweet as they are they haven't helped him make
a career."

At this moment Richard called to Unger, who had
been sitting on the sofa in the library, "cooling off,"
he said, as he mopped his head with a red handkerchief,
one of Malachi's cups in his hand.

Miss Lavinia caught sight of the 'cellist's advancing
figure and rose from her seat. "I must go now,"
she said, "they want to play it again." She moved
a step forward, gave a glance at her side-curls in the
oval mirror over the mantel, stopped hesitatingly,
and then bending over Mrs. Horn said, thoughtfully,
her hand on her companion's shoulder, "Sallie, don't
try to make water run uphill. If Ollie belonged to
me I'd let him follow his tastes, whatever they were.
You'll spoil the shape of his instep if you keep him
wearing Chinese shoes," and she floated over to join
the group of musicians.

Mrs. Horn again settled herself in her chair. She
understood now the look on Oliver's face. She was
right then; something was really worrying him. The
talk with Miss Lavinia had greatly disturbed her--.
so much so that she could not listen to the music.
Again her eyes rested on Oliver, who had come in
and joined the group at the piano, all out of breath
with his second run across the Square--this time to
tell Sue of Miss Clendenning's promise. He was
never happy unless he was sharing what was on his
mind with another, and if there was a girl within
reach he was sure to pour it into her willing ears.

Mrs. Horn looked at him with a pang about her
heart. From which side of the house had come this
fickleness, this instability and love of change in
Oliver's character? she asked herself--a new interest
every day--all the traditions of his forefathers
violated. How could she overcome it in him? how
make him more practical? Years before, when she
had thought him proud, she had sent him to market
and had made him carry home the basket on his arm,
facing the boys who laughed at him. He had never
forgotten the lesson; he was neither proud nor lazy
any more. But what could she do in a situation like

Harassed by these doubts her eyes wandered over
Oliver's slender, well-knit muscular figure as he stood
whispering to Miss Clendenning. She noticed the
fine, glossy hair brushed from the face and worn long
in the neck, curling behind the ears. She noted
every movement of his body: the graceful way in
which he talked with his hands, using his fingers to
accentuate his words, and the way in which he
shrugged his shoulders--the shrug of a Frenchman,
although not a drop of their blood could be found in
his veins--and in the quick lifting of the hand and
the sidelong glance of the eye, all so characteristic
of Richard when some new thought or theory reached
his brain for the first time. Gradually and unconsciously
she began to compare each feature of Oliver's
face with that of the father who stood beside him:
the alert blue, eyes; overhanging brow and soft silkiness
of the hair--identically the name, even the way
it lay in the neck. And again she looked at Richard,
drawing the bow as if in a dream.

Instantly a thought entered her mind that drove
the blood from her cheeks. These vacillations of
her husband's! This turning from one thing to another
--first the law, then these inventions that never
lead anywhere, and now Oliver beginning in the
same way, almost in the same steps! Could these
traits be handed down to the children? Would Oliver
be like Richard in----

Instinctively she stopped short before the disloyal
thought could form itself in her brain, straightened
herself in her chair, and closed her lips tight.

The music ceased; Nathan laid his flute on the
piano; Unger rose. from his seat, and Richard turned
to talk to Miss Clendenning. But she was unmindful
of it all--she still sat in her chair, her eyes searching
the blazing logs, her hands in her lap.

Only Malachi with his silver tray recalled her to



If in the long summer days Kennedy Square was
haunted by the idle and the weary, in the cool summer
nights its dimly lighted paths were alive with
the tread of flying feet, and its shadowy benches gay
with the music of laughter and merry greetings.

With the going down of the sun, the sidewalks were
sprinkled, and the whole street about the Square
watered from curb to curb, to cool its sun-baked
cobbles. The doors and windows of all the houses
were thrown wide to welcome the fresh night-air,
laden with the perfume of magnolia, jasmine, and
sweet-smelling box. Easy-chairs and cushions were
brought out and placed on the clean steps of the
porches, and the wide piazzas covered with squares of
china-matting to make ready for the guests of the

These guests would begin to gather as soon as the
twilight settled; the young girls in their pretty muslin
frocks and ribbons, the young men in white duck
suits and straw hats. They thronged the cool, well-
swept paths, chattered in bunches under the big
trees, or settled like birds on the stone seats and
benches. Every few minutes some new group, fresh
from their tea-tables, would emerge from one of the
houses, poise like a flock of pigeons on the top step,
listen to the guiding sound of the distant laughter,
and then swoop down in mad frolic, settling in the
midst of the main covey, under the big sycamores
until roused at the signal of some male bird in a
straw hat, or in answer to the call of some bare-headed
songstress from across the Square, the whole covey
would dash out one of the rickety gates, only to alight
again on the stone steps of a neighbor's porch, where
their chatter and pipings would last far into the night.

It was extraordinary how, from year to year, these
young birds and even the old ones remembered the
best perches about the Square. On Colonel Clayton's
ample portico--big enough to shelter half a
dozen covies behind its honeysuckles--both young
and old would settle side by side; the younger bevy
hovering about the Judge's blue-eyed daughter--a
bird so blithe and of so free a wing, that the flock
always followed wherever she alighted. On Judge
Bowman's wide veranda only a few old cocks from
the club could be found, and not infrequently, some
rare birds from out of town perched about a table
alive with the clink of glass and rattle of crushed ice,
while next the church, on old Mrs. Pancoast's portico,
with its tall Corinthian columns--Mr. Pancoast
was the archdeacon of the Noah's ark church--one
or two old grandmothers and a grave old owl of a
family doctor were sure to fill the rocking-chairs.
As for Richard Horn's marble steps they were never
free from stray young couples who flew in to rest on
Malachi's chairs and cushions. Sometimes only one
bird and her mate would be tucked away in the
shadow of the doorway; sometimes only an old pair,
like Mrs. Horn and Richard, would occupy its corners.

These porticoes and stone door-steps were really
the open-air drawing-rooms of Kennedy Square in
the soft summer nights. Here ices were served and
cool drinks--sherbets for the young and juleps and
sherry cobblers for the old. At the Horn house, on
great occasions, as when some big melon that had lain
for days on the cool cellar floor was cut (it was worth
a day's journey to see Malachi cut a melon), the
guests would not only crowd the steps, but all the hall
and half up the slender staircase, where they would
sit with plates in their laps, the young men serving
their respective sweethearts.

This open-air night-life had gone on since Kennedy
Square began; each door-step had its habitues
and each veranda its traditions. There was but one
single porch, in fact, facing its stately trees whereon
no flocks of birds, old or young, ever alighted, and
that belonged to Peter Skimmerton--the meanest
man in town--who in a fit of parsimony over candles,
so the girls said, had bared his porch of every protesting
vine and had placed opposite his door-step a
glaring street gas-lamp---a monstrous and never-to-
be-forgotten affront.

And yet, free and easy as the life was, no stranger
sat himself down on any one of these porches until
his pedigree had been thoroughly investigated, no
matter how large might be his bank-account nor how
ambitious his soarings. No premeditated discourtesy
ever initialed this exclusiveness and none was ever
intended. Kennedy Square did not know the blood
of the stranger--that was all--and not knowing it
they could not trust him. And it would have been altogether
useless for him to try to disguise his antecedents
--especially if he came from their own State--
or any State south of it. His record could be as
easily reached and could be as clearly read as a title-
deed. Even the servants knew. Often they acted as
Clerks of the Rolls.

"Dat Mister Jawlins, did you ask 'bout?" Malachi
would say. "Why you know whar he comes f'om.
He's one o' dem Anne Rundle Jawlinses. He do look
mighty peart an' dey do say he's mighty rich, but
he can't fool Malachi. I knowed his gran'pa," and
that wise and politic darky, with the honor of the
house before his eyes, would shake his head knowingly
and with such an ominous look, that had you
not known the only crime of the poor grandfather to
have been a marriage with his overseer's daughter--
a very worthy woman, by the way--instead of with
some lady of quality, you would have supposed he
had added the sin of murder to the crime of low
birth. On the other hand, had you asked Malachi
about some young aristocrat who had forgotten to
count his toddies the night before, that Defender of
the Faith would have replied:

"Lawd bress ye! Co'se dese young gemmens like
to frolic--an' dey do git dat way sometimes--tain't
nuthin'. Dem Dorseys was allers like dat--" the
very tones of his voice carrying such convictions of
the young man's respectability that you would have
felt safe in keeping a place at your table for the
delinquent, despite your knowledge of his habits.

This general intimacy between the young people,
and this absolute faith of their elders in the quality
of family blood, was one of the reasons why every
man about Kennedy Square was to be trusted with
every other man's sister, and why every mother gave
the latch-key to every other mother's son, and why
it made no difference whether the young people came
home early or late, so that they all came home when
the others did. If there were love-making--and of
course there was love-making--it was of the old-
fashioned, boy-and-girl kind, with keepsakes and
pledges and long walks in the afternoons and whispered
secrets at the merry-makings. Never anything
else. Woe betide the swain who forgot himself ever
so slightly--there was no night-key for him after
that, nor would any of the girls on any front steps
in town ever look his way again when he passed--
and to their credit be it said, few of the young
men either. From that day on the offender became
a pariah. He had committed the unpardonable

As for these young men, this life with the girls
was all the life they knew. There were fishing parties,
of course, at the "Falls" when the gudgeons
were biting, and picnics in the woods; and there were
oyster roasts in winter, and watermelon parties in
summer--but the girls must he present, too. For in
those simple days there were no special clubs with
easy-chairs and convenient little tables loaded with
drinkables and smokables--none for the young Olivers,
and certainly none for the women. There was,
to be sure, in every Southern city an old mausoleum
of a club--sometimes two--each more desolate than
the other--haunted by gouty old parties and bonvivants;
but the young men never passed through
their doors except on some call of urgency. When
a man was old enough to be admitted to the club
there was no young damosel on Malachi's steps, or
any other steps, who would care a rap about him.
HIS day was done.

For these were the days in which the woman ruled
in court and home---championed by loyal retainers
who strove hourly to do her bidding. Even the gray-
haired men would tell you over their wine of some
rare woman whom they had known in their youth,
and who was still their standard of all that was gentle
and gracious, and for whom they would claim a
charm of manner and stately comeliness that--"my
dear sir, not only illumined her drawing-room but
conferred distinction on the commonwealth."

"Mrs. Tilghman's mother, were you talking
about?" Colonel Clayton or Richard Horn, or some
other old resident would ask. "I remember her perfectly.
We have rarely had a more adorable woman,
sir. She was a vision of beauty, and the pride of
our State for years."

Should some shadow have settled upon any one of
these homes--some shadow of drunkenness, or love of
play, or shattered brain, or worse--the woman bore
the sorrow in gentleness and patience and still loved
on and suffered and loved and suffered again, hoping
against hope. But no dry briefs were ever permitted
to play a part, dividing heart and hearth.
Kennedy Square would have looked askance had such
things been suggested or even mentioned in its presence,
and the dames would have lowered their voices
in discussing them. Even the men would have passed
with unlifted hats either party to such shame.

Because of this loyalty to womankind and this
reverence for the home--a reverence which began
with the mother-love and radiated to every sister
they knew--no woman of quality ever earned her
own bread while there was an able-bodied man of
her blood above ground to earn it for her. Nor
could there be any disgrace so lasting, even to the
third and fourth generation, as the stigma an outraged
community would place upon the renegade who
refused her aid and comfort. An unprogressive,
quixotic life if you will--a life without growth and
dominant personalities and lofty responsibilities and
God-given rights--but oh! the sweet mothers that it
gave us, and the wholesomeness, the cleanliness, the
loyalty of it all.

With the coming of summer, then, each white marble
step of the Horn mansion, under Malachi's care,
shone like a china plate.

"Can't hab dese yere young ladies spile dere
clean frocks on Malachi's steps--no, sah," he would
say; "Marse Oliver'd r'ar an' pitch tur'ble."

There were especial reasons this year for these
extra touches of rag and brush. Malachi knew "de
signs" too well to be deceived. Pretty Sue Clayton,
with her soft eyes and the mass of ringlets that
framed her face, had now completely taken possession
of Oliver's heart, and the old servant already
had been appointed chief of the postal service--two
letters a day sometimes with all the verbal messages
in between.

This love-affair, which had begun in the winter,
was not yet of so serious a nature as to cause distress
or unhappiness to either one of their respective
houses, nor had it reached a point where suicide or
an elopement were all that was left. It was, in truth,
but a few months old, and so far the banns had not
been published. Within the last week Miss Sue
had been persuaded "to wait for him--" that was
all. She had not, it is true, burdened her gay young
heart with the number of years of her patience. She
and Oliver were sweethearts--that was enough for
them both. As proof of it, was she not wearing about
her neck at the very moment a chain which he had
fashioned for her out of cherry-stones; and had she
not given him in return one of those same ringlets,
and had she not tied it with a blue ribbon herself?
And above all--and what could be more conclusive--
had she not taken her hair down to do it, and let
him select the very tress that pleased him best?--and
was not this curl, at that very moment, concealed in
a pill-box and safely hidden in his unlocked bureau-
drawer, where his mother saw it with a smile the last
time she put away his linen? This love-affair--as
were the love-affairs of all the other young people--
was common gossip around Kennedy Square. Had
there been any doubts about it, it would only have
been necessary to ask any old Malachi, or Hannah;
or Juno. They could have given every detail of the
affair, descanting upon all its joys and its sorrows.

Sweet girls of the days gone by, what crimes some
of you have to answer for! At least one of you must
remember how my own thumb was cut into slits over
these same cherry-stones, and why the ends of your
ringlets were tucked away in a miniature box in my
drawer, with the pressed flowers and signet-ring, and
the rest of it. And you could--if you would--recall
a waiting promise made to me years and years ago.
And the wedding! Surely you have not forgotten
that. I was there, you remember--but not as the

On one particular evening in June--an evening
that marked an important stage in the development
of Oliver's fortunes--the front porch, owing to Malachi's
attentions, was in spotless condition--steps,
knocker, and round silver knobs.

Sue and Oliver sat on the top step; they had stolen
across from the Clayton porch on some pretended
errand. Sue's chin was in her hand, and Oliver sat
beside her pouring out his heart as he had never
done before. He had realized long ago that she
could never understand his wanting to be a painter
as Miss Clendenning had done, and so he had never
referred to it since the night of the musicale, when
he had raced across the Square to tell her of his talk
with the little lady. Sue, as he remembered afterward,
had listened abstractedly. She would have
preferred at the time his running in to talk about
herself rather than about his queer ambitions. She
was no more interested now.

"Ollie, what does your father say about all this?"
she finally asked in a perfunctory way. "Would he
be willing for you to be a painter?" It bored her
to listen to Oliver's enthusiastic talk about light and
shade, and color and perspective, and what Mr.
Crocker had said and what Mr. Crocker was doing,
and what Mr. Crocker's last portrait was like. She
was sure that nobody else around Kennedy Square
talked of such things or had such curious ambitions.
They shocked her as much as Oliver's wearing some
outlandish clothes would have done--making him
conspicuous and, perhaps, an object of ridicule.

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