Part 5 out of 9
While he stood undecided whether to break
through her reserve and join her, he saw Mrs. Mulligan
come out of the basement, stop a passing stage,
and, helping Margaret in, take the seat beside her.
"I am glad she does not go out alone," he said to
himself and turned away.
BELOW MOOSE HILLOCK
It was not long before the bare rooms of the
Academy School--owing to the political situation,
which necessitated the exercise of economies in
every direction--began to suffer.
One night the students found the gas turned out
and a small card tacked on the door of the outer hall.
SCHOOL CLOSED FOR WANT OF
FUNDS. WILL PERHAPS BE
OPENED IN THE AUTUMN.
Signs of like character were not unusual in the history
of the school. The wonder was, considering the
vicissitudes through which the Academy had passed,
that it was opened at all. From the institution's earlier
beginnings in the old house on Bond Street, to
its flight from the loft close to Grace Church and
then to the abandoned building opposite the old hotel
near Washington Square, where Amos Cobb always
stayed when he came to New York, and so on down
to its own home on Broadway, its history had been
one long struggle for recognition and support.
This announcement, bitter enough as it was to
Oliver, was followed by another even more startling,
when he reached the office next day, and Mr. Slade
called him into his private room.
"Mr. Horn," said his employer, motioning Oliver
to a seat and drawing his chair close beside him so
that he could lay his hand upon the young man's
knee, "I am very sorry to tell you that after the first
of June we shall be obliged to lay you off. It is not
because we are dissatisfied with your services, for you
have been a faithful clerk, and we all like you and
wish you could stay, but the fact is if this repudiation
goes on we will all be ruined. I am not going
to discharge you; I'm only going to give you a holiday
for a few months. Then, if the war-scare blows
over we want you back again. I appreciate that this
has come as suddenly upon you as it has upon us, and
I hope you will not feel offended when, in addition
to your salary, I hand you the firm's check for an
extra amount. You must not look upon it as a gift,
for you have earned every cent of it."
These two calamities were duly reported in a ten-
page letter to his mother by our young hero, sitting
alone, as he wrote, up in his sky-parlor, crooning over
his dismal coke fire. "Was he, then, to begin over
again the weary tramping of the streets?" he said to
himself. "And the future! What did that hold in
store for him? Would the time ever come when he
could follow the bent of his tastes? He was getting
on so well--even Miss Grant had said so--and it had
not interfered with his work at the store, either. The
check in his pocket proved that."
His mother's answer made his heart bound with
"Take Mr. Slade at his word. He is your friend
and means what he says. Find a place for the summer
where you can live cheaply and where the little
money which you now have will pay your way. In
the fall you can return to your work. Don't think of
coming home, much as I should like to put my arms
around you. I cannot spare the money to bring you
here now, as I have just paid the interest on the mortgage.
Moreover, the whole of Kennedy Square is
upset and our house seems to be the centre of disturbance.
Your father's views on slavery are well
known, and he is already being looked upon with disfavor
by some of our neighbors. At the club the
other night he and Judge Bowman had some words
which were very distressing to me. Mr. Cobb was
present, and was the only one who took your father's
part. Your father, as you may imagine, is very anxious
over the political situation, but I cannot think
our people are going to fight and kill each other, as
Colonel Clayton predicts they will before another
year has passed."
Oliver's heart bounded like a loosened balloon as
he laid down his mother's letter and began pacing the
room. Neither the political outlook, nor club discussions,
nor even his mother's hopes and fears, concerned
him. It was the sudden loosening of all his
bonds that thrilled him. Four months to do as he
pleased in; the dreadful mortgage out of the way for
six months; his mother willing, and he with money
enough in his pocket to pay his way without calling
upon her for a penny! Was there ever such luck!
All care rolled from his shoulders--even the desire
to see his mother and Sue and those whom he loved
at home was forgotten in the rosy prospect before
The next day he told Mr. Slade of his plans, and
read him part of his mother's letter.
"Very sensible woman, your mother," his employer
answered, with his bluff heartiness. "Just
the thing for you to do; and I've got the very spot.
Go to Ezra Pollard's. He lives up in the mountains
at a little place called East Branch, on the
edge of a wilderness. I fish there every spring, and
I'll give you a letter to him."
Long before his day of departure came he had
dusted out his old hair trunk--there were other and
more modern trunks to be had, but Oliver loved this
one because it had been his father's--gathered his
painting materials together -- his easel, brushes,
leather case, and old slouch hat that he wore to fish
in at home--and spent his time counting the days
and hours when he could leave the world behind him
and, as he wrote Fred, "begin to live."
He was not alone in this planning for a summer
exodus. The other students had indeed all cut their
tether-strings and disappeared long before his own
freedom came. Jack Bedford had gone to the coast
to live with a fisherman and paint the surf, and Fred
was with his people away up near the lakes. As for
the lithographers, sign-painters, and beginners, they
were spending their evenings somewhere else than in
the old room under the shaded gas-jets. Even Margaret,
so Mother Mulligan told him, was up "wid her
"And she was that broken-hearted," she added,
"whin they shut up the school--bad cess to 'em!
Oh, ye would a-nigh kilt yerself wid grief to a-seen
her, poor darlint."
"Where is her home?" asked Oliver, ignoring the
tribute to his sympathetic tendencies. He had no
reason for asking, except that she had been the only
woman among them, and he accordingly felt that a
certain courtesy was due her even in her absence.
"I've bothered me head loose tryin' to remimber,
but for the soul o' me, I can't. It's cold enough up
there, I know, to freeze ye solid, for Miss Margaret
had wan o' her ears nipped last time she was home."
And so one fine morning in June, with Oliver
bursting with happiness, the hair trunk and the
leather case and sketching umbrella were thrown out
at a New England way-station in the gray dawn from
a train in which Oliver had spent the night curled up
on one of the seats.
Just as he had expected, the old coach that was
to carry him was waiting beside the platform. There
was a rush for top seats, and Oliver got the one beside
the driver, and the trunk and traps were stored
in the boot under the driver's seat--it was a very
small trunk and took up but little room--and Marvin
cracked his whip and away everybody went, the dogs
barking behind and the women waving their aprons
from the porches of the low houses facing the road.
And it was a happy young fellow who filled his
lungs with the fresh air of the morning and held on
to the iron rail of the top seat as they bumped over
the "Thank ye marms," and who asked the driver
innumerable questions which it was part of the noted
whip's duty and always his pleasure to answer. The
squirrels darted across the road as if to get a look at
the enthusiast and then ran for their lives to escape
the wheels; and the crows heard the rumble and rose
in a body from the sparse cornfields for a closer view;
and the big trees arched over his head, cooling the air
and casting big shadows, and even the sun kept peeping
over the edge of the hills from behind some jutting
rock or clump of pines or hemlock as if bent on
lighting up his face so that everybody could see how
happy he was.
As the day wore on and the coach rattled over the
big open bridge that spanned the rushing mountain-
stream, Oliver's eye caught, far up the vista, the little
dent in the line of blue that stood low against the sky.
The driver said this was the Notch and that the big
hump to the right was Moose Hillock, and that Ezra's
cabin nestled at its feet and was watered by the rushing
stream, only it was a tiny little brook away up
there that anybody could step over.
"'Tain't bigger'n yer body where it starts out fresh
up in them mountings," the driver said, touching his
leaders behind their ears with the lash of his whip.
"Runs clean round Ezra's, and's jest as chuckfull
o' trout, be gosh, as a hive is o' bees."
And the swing and the freedom of it all! No office-
hours to keep; no boxes to nail up and roll out--nothing
but sweetness and cool draughts of fresh mountain-air,
and big trees that he wanted to get down
and hug; and jolly laughing brooks that ran out to
meet him and called to him as he trotted along, or
as the horses did, which was the same thing, he being
part of the team.
And the day! Had there ever been such another?
And the sky, too, filled with soft white clouds that
sailed away over his head--the little ones far in
advance and already crowding up the Notch, which
was getting nearer every hour.
And Marvin the driver--what a character he was
and how quaint his speech. And the cabins by the
road, with their trim fences and winter's wood piled
up so neatly under the sheds--all so different from
any which he had seen at the South and all so charming
Never had he been so happy!
And why not? Twenty-three and in perfect
health, without a care, and for the first time in all
his life doing what he wanted most to do, with
opportunities opening every hour for doing what he
believed he could do best.
Oh, for some planet where such young saplings can
grow without hinderance from the ignorant and the
unsympathetic; where they can reach out for the sun
on all sides and stretch their long arms skyward;
where each vine can grow as it would in all the luxuriance
of its nature, free from the pruning-knife
of criticism and the straitlaced trellis of
conventionality--a planet on which the Puritan with his
creeds, customs, fads, issues, and dogmas, and the
Cavalier with his traditions and time-honored notions
never sat foot. Where every round peg fits a round hole,
and men toil with a will and with unclouded brows
because their hearts find work for their hands and
each day's task is a joy.
If the road and the country on each side of it, and
the giant trees, now that they neared the mountains,
and the deep ravines and busy, hurrying brooks had
each inspired some exclamation of joy from Oliver,
the first view of Ezra's cabin filled him so full of
uncontrollable delight that he could hardly keep his
seat long enough for Marvin to rein in his horses
and get down and swing back the gate that opened
into the pasture surrounding the house.
"Got a boarder for ye, Ezra," Marvin called to
Oliver's prospective host, who had come down to
meet the stage and get his empty butter-pails. Then,
in a lower tone: "Sezs he's a painter chap, and that
Mr. Slade sent him up. He's goin' to bunk in with
ye all summer, he sezs. Seems like a knowin', happy
kind er young feller."
They were pulling the pails from the rear boot,
each one tied up in a wheat-sack, with a card marked
"Ezra Pollard" sewed on the outside to distinguish
it from the property of other East Branch settlers
up and down the road.
Oliver had slipped from his seat and was tugging
at his hair trunk. He did not know that the long,
thin, slab-sided old fellow in a slouch hat, hickory
shirt crossed by one suspender, and heavy cowhide
boots was his prospective landlord. He supposed him
to be the hired man, and that he would find Mr. Pollard
waiting for him in the little sitting-room with
the windows full of geraniums that looked so inviting
"Marve sez you're lookin' fur me. Come along.
Glad ter see ye."
"Are you Mr. Pollard?" His surprise not only
marked the tones of his voice but the expression of
"No, jes' Ezry Pollard, that's all. Hope Mr.
Slade's up and hearty?"
Mr. Slade was never so "up and hearty" as was
Oliver that next morning.
Up with the sun he was, and hearty as a young
buck out of a bed of mountain-moss.
"Time to be movin', ain't it?" came Ezra Pollard's
voice, shouting up the unpainted staircase,
"Hank's drawed a bucket out here at the well for ye
to wash in. Needn't worry about no towel. Samanthy's
got one fur ye, but ye kin bring yer comb."
At the sound of Ezra's voice Oliver sprang from
the coarse straw mattress--it had been as eider-down
to his stage-jolted body--pushed open the wooden
blind and peered out. The sun was peeping over the
edge of the Notch and looking with wide eyes into the
saucer-shaped valley in which the cabin stood. The
fogs which at twilight had stolen down to the meadows
and had made a night of it, now startled into life
by the warm rays of the sun, were gathering up their
skirts of shredded mist and tiptoeing back up the
hill-side, looking over their shoulders as they fled.
The fresh smell of the new corn watered by the
night dew and the scent of pine and balsam from the
woods about him, filled the morning air. Songs of
birds were all about, a robin on a fence-post and two
larks high in air, singing as they flew.
Below him, bounding from rock to rock, ran the
brook, laughing in the sunlight and tossing the spray
high in the air in a mad frolic. Across this swirling
line of silver lay a sparse meadow strewn with rock,
plotted with squares of last year's crops--potatoes,
string-beans, and cabbages, and now combed into
straight green lines of early buckwheat and turnips.
Beyond this a ragged pasture, fenced with blackened
stumps, from which came the tinkle of cow-bells, and
farther on the grim, silent forest--miles and miles of
forest seamed by a single road leading to Moose Hillock
and the great Stone Face.
Oliver slipped into his clothes; ran down the stairs
and out into the fresh morning air. As he walked
toward the well his eyes caught sight of Hank's
bucket tilted on one edge of the well-curb, over which
hung the big sweep, its lower end loaded with stone.
On the platform stood a wooden bench sloppy
with the drippings of the water-soaked pail. This
bench held a tin basin and half a bar of rosin soap.
Beside it was a single post sprouting hickory prongs,
on which were hung as many cleanly scoured milk-
pails glittering in the sun. On this post Hank had
nailed a three-cornered piece of looking-glass--Hank
had a sweetheart in the village below--a necessity
and useful luxury, he told Oliver afterward, "in
slickin' yerself up fer meals."
Once out in the sunshine Oliver, with the instinct
of the painter suddenly roused, looked about him.
He found that the cabin which had delighted him so in
the glow of the afternoon, was even more enchanting
in the light of the morning. To the plain, every-day,
practical man it was but a long box with a door in the
middle of each side, front and back--one opening
into a sitting-room, which again opened into a bedroom
in which Ezra and his wife slept, with the windows
choked with geraniums, their red cheeks pressed
against the small panes, and the other opening into
a kitchen, connecting with a pantry and a long,
rambling woodshed. To our young Raphael the
simple cabin, from its homely sagging door to its
broken-backed roof, covered with rotting shingles,
was nothing less than an enchanted palace.
He remembered the shingles. He had reached up
in the night and touched them with his hands. He
remembered, too, the fragrance they gave out--a
hot, dry, spicy smell. He remembered also the dried
apples spread out on a board beside his bed, and the
broken spinning-wheel, and the wasp's nest. He was
sure, too, there were many other fascinating relics
stored away in this old attic. But for the sputtering
tallow-candle, which the night before was nearly
burnt out, he would have examined everything else
about him before he went to sleep.
Then his eye fell on the woodshed and the huge
pile of chips that Hank's axe had made in supplying
Samanthy's stove, and the rickety, clay-plastered
buggy and buckboard that had never known water
since the day of their birth. And the two muskrat
skins nailed to the outside planking--spoils of the
mill-dam, a mile below.
Yes; he could paint here!
With a thrill of delight surging through him he
rolled up his sleeves, tilted the bucket, filled the
basin with ice-cold water which Hank had drawn for
him, a courtesy only shown a stranger guest, and
plunging in his hands and face, dashed the water over
his head. Samanthy, meanwhile, in sunbonnet and
straight-up-and-down calico dress, had come out with
the towel--half a salt-sack, washed and rewashed to
phenomenal softness (an ideal towel is a salt-sack to
those who know). Then came the rubbing until his
flesh was aglow, and the parting of the wet hair with
the help of Hank's glass, and with a toss of a stray
lock back from his forehead Oliver went in to breakfast.
It fills me with envy when I think of that first toilet
of Oliver's! I too have had just such morning dips
--one in Como, with the great cypresses standing
black against the glow of an Italian dawn; another
in the Lido at sunrise, my gondolier circling about me
as I swam; still a third in Stamboul, with the long
slants of light piercing the gloom of the stone dome
above me--but oh, the smell of the pines and the
great sweep of openness, with the mountains looking
down and the sun laughing, and the sparkle and
joyousness of it all! Ah, what a lucky dog was this
And the days that followed! Each one a delight--
each one happier than the one before. The sun
seemed to soak into his blood; the strength of the
great hemlocks with their giant uplifted arms seemed
to have found its way to his muscles. He grew
stronger, more supple. He could follow Hank all
day now, tramping the brook or scaling the sides of
Bald Face, its cheeks scarred with thunderbolts.
And with this joyous life there came a light into his
eyes, a tone in his voice, a spring and buoyancy in
his step that brought him back to the days when he
ran across Kennedy Square and had no care for the
day nor thought for the morrow. Before the week
was out he had covered half a dozen canvases with
pictures of the house as he saw it that first morning,
bathed in the sunshine; of the brook; the sweep of
the Notch, and two or three individual trees that he
had fallen in love with--a ragged birch in particular
--a tramp of a birch with its toes out of its shoes and
its bark coat in tatters.
Before the second week had arrived he had sought
the main stage-road and had begun work on a big
hemlock that stood sentinel over a turn in the highway.
There was a school-house in the distance and
a log-bridge under which the brook plunged. Here
he settled himself for serious work.
He was so engrossed that he had not noticed the
school-children who had come up noiselessly from
behind and were looking in wonder at his drawings.
Presently a child, who in her eagerness had touched
his shoulder, broke the stillness in apology.
"Say, Mister, there's a lady comes to school every
day. She's a painter too, and drawed Sissy
Oliver glanced at the speaker and the group about
her; wished them all good-morning and squeezed a
fresh tube on his palette. He was too much absorbed
in his work for prolonged talk. The child, emboldened
by his cheery greeting, began again, the others
crowding closer. "She drawed the bridge too, and
me and Jennie Waters was sitting on the rail--she's
Oliver looked up, smiling.
"What's her name?"
"I don't know. Teacher calls her Miss Margaret,
but there's more to it. She comes every
Oliver bent over his easel, drew out a line brush
from the sheaf in his hand, caught up a bit of yellow
ochre from his palette and touched up the shadow of
the birch. "All the women painters must be Margarets,"
he said to himself. Then he fell to wondering
what had become of her since the school closed.
He had always felt uncomfortable over the night
when he had defended "the red-headed girl in
blue gingham," as she was called by the students.
She had placed him in the wrong by misunderstanding
his reasons for serving her. The students
had always looked upon him after that as a quarrelsome
person, when he was only trying to protect
a woman from insult. He could not find it in his
heart to blame her, but he wished that it had not happened.
As these thoughts filled his mind he became
so absorbed that the children's good-by failed to
reach his ear.
That day Hank had brought him his luncheon--
two ears of hot corn in a tin bucket, four doughnuts
and an apple--the corn in the bottom of the bucket
and the doughnuts and apple on top. He could have
walked home for his midday meal, for he was within
sound of Samanthy's dinner-horn, but he liked it better
Leaving his easel standing in the road, he had
waved his hand in good-by to Hank, picked up the
bucket and had crept under the shadow of the bridge
to eat his luncheon. He had finished the corn,
thrown the cobs to the fish, and was beginning on the
doughnuts, when a step on the planking above him
caused him to look up. A girl in a tam-o'-shanter
cap was leaning over the rail. The sun was behind
her, throwing her face into shadow--so blinding a
light that Oliver only caught the nimbus of fluffy hair
that framed the dark spot of her head. Then came
a voice that sent a thrill of surprise through him.
"Why, Mr. Horn! Who would have thought of
meeting you here?"
Oliver was on his feet in an instant--a half-eaten
doughnut in one hand, his slouch hat in the other.
With this he was shading his eyes against the glare of
the sun. He was still ignorant of who had spoken to
"I beg your pardon, I--WHY, Miss Grant!" The
words burst from his lips as if they had been fired
from a gun. "You here!"
"Yes, I live only twenty miles away, and I come
here every year. Where are you staying?"
"Why, that's the next clearing from mine. I'm
at old Mrs. Taft's. Oh, please don't leave your
Oliver had bounded up the bank to a place beside
"How good it is to find you here. I am so glad."
He WAS glad; he meant every word of it. "Mrs.
Mulligan said you lived up in the woods, but I had no
idea it was in these mountains. Have you had your
"No, not yet," and Margaret held up a basket.
"Look!" and she raised the lid. "Elderberry pie,
two pieces of cake--"
"Good! and I have three doughnuts and an apple.
I swallowed every grain of my hot corn like a greedy
Jack Horner, or you should have half of it. Come
down under the bridge, it's so cool there," and he
caught her hand to help her down the bank.
She followed him willingly. She had seen him
greet Fred, and Jack Bedford, and even the gentle
Professor with just such outbursts of affection, and
she knew there was nothing especially personal to
her in it all. It was only his way of saying he was
glad to see her.
Oliver laid the basket and tin can on a flat stone
that the spring freshets had scoured clean; spread
his brown corduroy jacket on the pebbly beach beside
it, and with a laugh and the mock gesture of a courtier,
conducted her to the head of his improvised table.
Margaret laughed and returned the bow, stepping
backward with the sweep of a great lady, and settled
herself beside him. In a moment she was on her
knees bending over the brook, her hands in the water,
the tam-o'-shanter beside her. She must wash her
hands, she said--"there was a whole lot of chrome
yellow on her fingers"--and she held them up with a
laugh for Oliver's inspection. Oliver watched her
while she dried and bathed her shapely hands,
smoothed the hair from her temples and tightened
the coil at the back of her head which held all this
flood of gold in check, then he threw himself
down beside her, waiting until she should serve the
As he told her of his trip up the valley and the
effect it made upon him, and how he had never
dreamed of anything so beautiful, and how good the
Pollards were; and what he had painted and what
he expected to paint; talking all the time with his
thumb circling about as if it was a bit of charcoal and
the air it swept through but a sheet of Whatman's
best, her critical eye roamed over his figure and costume.
She had caught in her first swift, comprehensive
glance from over the bridge-rail, the loose jacket
and broad-brimmed planter's hat, around which, with
his love of color, Oliver had twisted a spray of
nasturtium blossoms and leaves culled from the garden-
patch that morning; but now that he was closer, she
saw the color in his cheeks and noticed, with a suppressed
smile, the slight mustache curling at the ends,
a new feature since the school had closed. She followed
too the curves of the broad chest and the
muscles outlined through his shirt. She had never
thought him so strong and graceful, nor so handsome.
(The smile came to the surface now--an approving,
admiring smile.) It was the mountain-climbing, no
doubt, she said to herself, and the open-air life that
had wrought the change.
With a laugh and toss of her head she unpacked
her own basket and laid her contribution to the feast
on the flat rock--the pie on a green dock-leaf, which
she reached over and pulled from the water's edge,
and the cake on the pink napkin--the only sign of
city luxury in her outlay. Oliver's eye meanwhile
wandered over her figure and costume--a costume
he had never seen before on any living woman, certainly
not any woman around Kennedy Square.
The cloth skirt came to her ankles, which were covered
with yarn stockings, and her feet were encased
in shoes that gave him the shivers, the soles being
as thick as his own and the leather as tough. (Sue
Clayton would have died with laughter had she seen
those shoes.) Her blouse was of gray flannel, belted
to the waist by a cotton saddle-girth--white and red
--and as broad as her hand. The tam-o'-shanter was
coarse and rough, evidently home-made, and not at
all like McFudd's, which was as soft as the back of
a kitten and without a seam.
Then his eyes sought her face. He noticed how
brown she was--and how ruddy and healthy. How
red the lips--red as mountain-berries, and back of
them big white teeth--white as peeled almonds. He
caught the line of the shoulders and the round of the
full arm and tapering wrist, and the small, well-
shaped hand. "Queer clothes," he said to himself
--"but the girl inside is all right."
Sitting under the shadow of the old bridge on the
main highway, each weighed and balanced the other,
even as they talked aloud of the Academy School,
and the pupils, and the dear old Professor whom they
both loved. They discussed the prospect of its doors
being opened the next winter. They talked of Mrs.
Mulligan, and the old Italian who sold peanuts,
and whose head Margaret had painted; and of Jack
Bedford and Fred Stone--the dearest fellow in the
world--and last year's pictures--especially Church's
"Niagara," the sensation of the year, and Whittredge's
"Mountain Brook," and every other subject
their two busy brains could rake and scrape up except
--and this subject, strange to say, was the only one
really engrossing their two minds--the overturning
of Mr. Judson's body on the art-school floor, and the
upsetting of Miss Grant's mind for days thereafter.
Once Oliver had unintentionally neared the danger-
line by mentioning the lithographer's name, but Margaret
had suddenly become interested in the movements
of a chipmunk that had crept down for the
crumbs of their luncheon, and with a woman's wit
had raised her finger to her lips to command silence
lest he should be frightened off.
They painted no more that afternoon. When the
shadows began to fall in the valley they started up
the road, picking up Oliver's easel and trap--both
had stood unmolested and would have done so all
summer with perfect safety--and Oliver walked with
Margaret as far as the bars that led into Taft's
pasture. There they bade each other good-night,
Margaret promising to be ready in the morning with
her big easel and a fresh canvas, which Oliver was
to carry, when they would both go sketching together
and make a long blessed summer day of it.
That night Oliver's upraised, restless hands felt
the shingles over his head more than once before he
could get to sleep. He had not thought he could be
any happier--but he was. Margaret's unexpected
appearance had restored to him that something which
the old life at home had always yielded. He was
never really happy without the companionship of a
woman, and this he had not had since leaving Kennedy
Square. Those he had met on rare occasions
in New York were either too conventional or selfconscious,
or they seemed to be offended at his familiar
Southern ways. This one was so sensible and
companionable, and so appreciative and sympathetic.
He felt he could say anything to her and she would
know what he meant. Perhaps, too, by and by she
would understand just why he had upset a man who
had been rude to her.
Margaret lay awake, too--not long--not more
than five minutes, perhaps. Long enough, however,
to wish she was not so sunburnt, and that she had
brought her other dress and a pair of gloves and a
hat instead of this rough mountain-suit. Long
enough, too, to recall Oliver's standing beside her on
the bridge with his big hat sweeping the ground, the
color mounting to his cheeks, and that joyous look
in his eyes.
"Was he really glad to see me," she said to herself,
as she dropped off into dreamland, "or is it his way
with all the women he meets? I wonder, too, if he
protects them all?"
And so ended a day that always rang out in Oliver's
memory with a note of its own.
These dreams under the shingles! What would
life be without them?
UNDER A BARK SLANT
The weeks that followed were rare ones for
Margaret and Oliver.
They painted all day and every day.
The little school-children posed for them, and so
did the prim school-mistress, a girl of eighteen in
spectacles with hair cut short in the neck. And old
Jonathan Gordon, the fisherman, posed, too, with
a string of trout in one hand and a long pole cut
from a sapling in the other. And once our two
young comrades painted the mill-dam and the mill--
Oliver doing the first and Margaret the last; and
Baker, the miller, caught them at it, and insisted
in all sincerity that some of the money which the
pictures brought must come to him, if the report were
true that painters did get money for pictures. "It's
my mill, ain't it?--and I ain't give no permission to
take no part of it away. Hev I?"
They climbed the ravines, Margaret carrying the
luncheon and Oliver the sketch-traps; they built fires
of birch-bark and roasted potatoes, or made tea in
the little earthen pot that Mrs. Taft loaned her. Or
they waited for the stage in the early morning, and
went half a dozen miles down the valley to paint some
waterfall Oliver had seen the day he drove up with
Marvin, or a particular glimpse of Moose Hillock
from the covered bridge, or various shady nooks and
sunlit vistas that remained fastened in Oliver's mind,
and the memory of which made him unhappy until
Margaret could enjoy them, too.
The fact that he and a woman whom he had known
but a little while were roaming the woods together,
quite as a brother and sister might have done, never
occurred to him. If it had it would have made no
difference, nor could he have understood why any
barrier should have been put up between them. He
had been taking care of girls in that same way all his
life. Every woman was a sister to him so far as his
reverent protection over her went. The traditions
of Kennedy Square had taught him this.
As the joyous weeks flew by, even the slight reserve
which had marked their earlier intercourse began
to wear off. It was "Oliver" and "Margaret"
now, and even "Ollie" and "Madge" when they
forgot themselves and each other in their work.
To Margaret this free and happy life together
seemed natural enough. She had decided on the
day of their first meeting that Oliver's interest in
her was due wholly to his love of companionship, and
not because of any special liking he might feel for
her. Had she not seen him quite as cordial and as
friendly to the men he knew? Satisfied on this point,
Oliver began to take the place of a brother, or cousin,
or some friend of her youth who loved another
woman, perhaps, and was, therefore, safe against all
contingencies, while she gave herself up to the enjoyment
of that rare luxury--the rarest that comes
to a woman--daily association with a man who could
be big and strong and sympathetic, and yet ask nothing
in return for what she gave him but her companionship
In the joy of this new intercourse, and with his
habit of trusting implicitly everyone whom he loved
--man, woman, or child--Oliver, long before the
first month was over, had emptied his heart to Margaret
as completely as he had ever done to Miss Clendenning.
He had told her of Sue and of Miss Lavinia's
boudoir, and of Mr. Crocker and his pictures;
and of his poor father's struggles and his dear
mother's determination to send him from home--not
about the mortgage, that was his mother's secret, not
his own--and of the great receptions given by his
Uncle Tilghman, and of all the other wonderful doings
in Kennedy Square.
She had listened at first in astonishment, and then
with impatience. Many of the things that seemed
so important to him were valueless in her more practical
eyes. Instead of a regime which ennobled
those who enjoyed its privileges, she saw only a slavish
devotion to worn-out traditions, and a clannish
provincialism which proved to her all the more
clearly the narrow-mindedness of the people who
sustained and defended them. So far as she could
judge, the qualities that she deemed necessary in the
make-up of a robust life, instinct with purpose and
accomplishment, seemed to be entirely lacking in
Kennedy Square formulas. She saw, too, with a certain
undefined pain, that Oliver's mind had been
greatly warped by these influences. Mrs. Horn's
domination over him, strange to say, greatly disturbed
her; why, she could not tell. "She must be
a proud, aristocratic woman," she had said to herself
after one of Oliver's outbursts of enthusiasm over
his mother; "wedded to patrician customs and with
no consideration for anyone outside of her class."
And yet none of these doubts and criticisms made
the summer days less enjoyable.
One bright, beautiful morning when the sky was
a turquoise, the air a breath of heaven, and the
brooks could be heard laughing clear out on the main
road, Oliver and Margaret, who had been separated
for some days while she paid a visit to her family at
home, started to find a camp that Hank had built
the winter before as a refuge while he was hunting
deer. They had reached a point in the forest where
two paths met, when Margaret's quick ear caught the
sound of a human voice, and she stopped to
"Quick--" she cried--"get behind these spruces,
or he will see us and stop singing. It's old Mr. Burton.
He is such a dear! He spends his summers
here. I often meet him and he always bows to me
so politely, although he doesn't know me."
A man of sixty--bare-headed, dressed in a gray
suit, with his collar and coat over his arm and hands
filled with wild-flowers, was passing leisurely along,
singing at the top of his voice. Once he stopped, and,
bending over, picked a bunch of mountain-berries
which he tucked into a buttonhole of his flannel shirt,
just before disappearing in a turn of the path.
Oliver looked after him for a moment. He had
caught the look of sweet serenity on the idler's face,
and the air of joyousness that seemed to linger behind
him like a perfume, and it filled him with delight.
"There, Margaret! that's what I call a happy man.
I'll wager you he has never done anything all his life
but that which he loved to do--just lives out here and
throws his heart wide open for every beautiful thing
that can crowd into it. That's the kind of a man I
want to be. Oh! I'm so glad I saw him."
Margaret was silent. She was walking ahead, her
staff in her hand; the fallen trunks and heavy under-
brush making it difficult for them to walk abreast.
"Do you think that he never had to work, to be
able to enjoy himself as he does?" she asked over
her shoulder, with a toss of her head.
"Perhaps--but he loved what he was doing."
"No, he didn't--he hated it--hated it all his life."
The tone carried a touch of defiance that was new to
Oliver. He stepped quickly after her, with a sudden
desire to look into her face. Ten minutes, at least,
had passed during which he had seen only the back
of her head.
Margaret heard his step behind her and quickened
her own. Something was disturbing the joyousness
of our young Diana this lovely summer morning.
"What did the old fellow do for a living, Margaret?"
Oliver called, still trying to keep up with
Margaret's springing step.
"Sold lard and provisions, and over the counter,
too," she answered, with a note almost of exultation
in her voice (she was thinking of Mrs. Horn and
Kennedy Square). "Mrs. Taft knows him and
used to send him her bacon. He retired rich
some years ago, and now he can sing all day if
he wants to."
It was Oliver's turn to be silent. The tones of
Margaret's voice had hurt him. For some minutes
he made no reply. Then wheeling suddenly he
sprang over a moss-covered trunk that blocked her
path, stepped in front of her, and laid his hand on her
"Not offended, Margaret, are you?" he asked,
looking earnestly into her eyes.
"No--what nonsense! Of course not. Why do
"Well, somehow you spoke as if you were."
"No, I didn't; I only said how dear Mr. Burton
was, and he IS. How silly you are! Come--we will
be late for the camp."
They both walked on in silence, now, he ahead
this time, brushing aside the thick undergrowth that
blocked the path.
The exultant tones in her voice which had hurt
her companion, and which had escaped her unconsciously,
still rang in her own ears. She felt ashamed
of the outburst now as she watched him cutting the
branches ahead of her, and thought how gentle and
tender he had always been to her and how watchful
over her comfort. She wondered at the cause of her
frequent discontent. Then, like an evil spirit that
would not down, there arose in her mind, as she
walked on, the picture she had formed of Kennedy
Square. She thought of his mother's imperious nature
absorbing all the love of his heart and inspiring
and guiding his every action and emotion; of the
unpractical father--a dreamer and an enthusiast, the
worst possible example he could have; of the false
standards and class distinctions which had warped his
early life and which were still dominating him. With
an abrupt gesture of impatience she stood still in the
path and looked down upon the ground. An angry
flush suffused her face.
"What a stupid fool you are, Margaret Grant,"
she burst out impatiently. "What are Kennedy
Square and the whole Horn family to you?"
Oliver's halloo brought her to consciousness.
"Here's that slant, Margaret--oh, such a lovely
spot! Hurry up."
"The slant" had been built between two great
trees and stood on a little mound of earth surrounded
by beds of velvety green moss--huge green winding
sheets, under which lay the bodies of many giant
pines and hemlocks. The shelter was made of bark
and bedded down with boughs of sweet-balsam. Outside,
on a birch sapling, supported by two forked
sticks, hung a rusty kettle. Beneath the rude spit,
half-hidden by the growth of the summer, lay the
embers of the abandoned camp-fires that had warmed
and comforted Hank and his companions the preceding
Oliver raked the charred embers from under the
tangled vines that hid them, while Margaret peeled
the bark from a silver-birch for kindling. Soon a
curl of blue smoke mounted heavenward, hung suspended
over the tree-tops, and then drifted away in
scarfs of silver haze dimming the forms of the giant
Our young enthusiast watched the Diaz of a wood
interior turn slowly into a Corot, and with a cry of
delight was about to unstrap his own and Margaret's
sketching-kits, when the sun was suddenly blotted
out by a heavy cloud, and the quick gloom of a
mountain-storm chilling the sunlit vista to a dull
slate gray settled over the forest. Oliver walked
over to the brook for a better view of the sky, and
came back bounding over the moss-covered logs as
he ran. There was not a moment to lose if they
would escape being drenched to the skin.
The outlook was really serious. Old Bald Face
had not only lost his smile--a marvelously happy
one with the early sun upon his wrinkled countenance
--but he had put on his judgment-cap of gray
clouds and had begun to thunder out his disapproval
of everything about him. Moose Hillock evidently
heard the challenge, for he was answering back in
the murky darkness. Soon a cold, raw wind, which
had been asleep in the hills for weeks, awoke with
a snarl and started down the gorge. Then the little
leaves began to quiver, the big trees to groan, in their
anxiety not knowing what the will of the wind would
be, and the merry little waves that had chased each
other all the morning over the sunny shallows of the
brook, grew ashy pale as they looked up into the angry
face of the Storm-God, and fled shivering to the
Oliver whipped out his knife, stripped the heavy
outer bark from a white birch, and before the dashing
rain could catch up with the wind, had repaired
the slant so as to make it water-tight--Hank had
taught him this--then he started another great fire
in front of the slant and threw fresh balsam boughs
on the bed that had rested Hank's tired limbs, and
he and Margaret crept in and were secure.
The equanimity of Margaret's temper, temporarily
disturbed by her vivid misconception of Kennedy
Square, was restored. The dry shelter, the warm
fire, the sense of escape from the elements, all filled
her heart with gladness. Never since the day she
met him on the bridge had she been so happy.
Again, as when Oliver championed her in the old
Academy school-room, there stole over her a vague
sense of pleasure in being protected.
"Isn't it jolly!" she said as she sat hunched up
beside him. "I'm as dry as a bone, not a drop on
Oliver was even more buoyant. There was something
irresistibly cosey and comfortable in the shelter
which he had provided for her--something of
warmth and companionship and rest. But more intensely
enjoyable than all was the thought that he
was taking care of a woman for the first time in his
life, as it seemed to him. And in a house of his own
making, and in a place, too, of his own choosing,
surrounded by the big trees that he loved. He had
even outwitted the elements--the wind and the rain
and the chill--in her defence. Old Moose Hillock
could bellow now and White Face roar, and the wind
and rain vent their wrath, but Margaret, close beside
him, would still be warm and dry and safe.
By this time she had hung her tam-o'-shanter and
jacket on a nail that she had found in the bark over
her head, and was arranging her hair.
"It's just like life, Oliver, isn't it?" she said, as
she tightened the coil in her neck. "All we want,
after all, is a place to get into out of the storm and
wet, not a big place, either."
"What kind of a place?" He was on his knees
digging a little trench with his knife, piling up the
moist earth in miniature embankments, so that the
dripping from the roof would not spatter this Princess
of his whom he had saved from the tempest
"Oh, any kind of a place if you have people you're
fond of. I'd love a real studio somewhere, and a few
things hung about--some old Delft and one or two
bits of stuff--and somebody to take care of me."
Oliver shifted his pipe in his mouth and looked
up. Would she, with all her independence, really
like to have someone take care of her? He had
seen no evidence of it.
"Who?" he asked. He had never heard her
mention anybody's name--but then she had not told
He had dropped his eyes again, finishing the drain
and flattening the boughs under her, to make the
seat the easier.
"Oh, some old woman, perhaps, like dear old Mrs.
Mulligan." There was no coquetry in her tone.
She was speaking truthfully out of her heart.
"Anything more?" Oliver's voice had lost its
buoyancy now. The pipe was upside down, the
ashes falling on his shirt.
"Yes--lots of portraits to paint."
"And a medal at the Salon?" asked Oliver, brushing
off the waste of his pipe from his coat-sleeve.
"Yes, I don't mind, if my pictures deserve it," and
she looked at him quizzically, while a sudden flash
of humor lightened up her face. "What would you
want, Mr. Happy-go-lucky, if you had your wish?"
"I, Madge, dear?" he exclaimed, with a sudden
outburst of tenderness, raising his body erect and
looking earnestly into her eyes, which were now
within a hand's breadth of his own. She winced a
little, but it did not offend her, nor did she move an
inch. "Oh, I don't know what I want. What I
want, I suppose, is what I shall never have, little
She wasn't his little girl, or anybody else's, she
thought to herself--she was firmly convinced of that
fact. It was only one of his terms of endearment.
He had them for everybody--even for Hank and
for Mrs. Taft--whom he called "Taffy," and who
loved to hear him say it, and she old enough to be
his grandmother! She stole a look into his face.
There was a cloud over it, a slight knitting of the
brows, and a pained expression about the mouth
that were new to her.
"I'd like to be a painter," he continued, "but
mother would never consent." As be spoke, he
sank back from her slowly, his knees still bent
under him. Then be added, with a sigh, "She
wouldn't think it respectable. Anything but a
painter, she says."
Margaret looked out through the forest and
watched a woodpecker at work on the dry side of
a hollow trunk, the side protected from the driving
"And you would give up your career because she
wants it? How do you know she's right about it?
And who's to suffer if she's wrong? Be a painter,
Oliver, if you want to! Your mother can't coddle
you up forever! No mother should. Do what you
can do best, and to please yourself, not somebody
else," and then she laughed lightly as if to break the
force of her words.
Oliver looked at her in indignation that anyone--
even Margaret--should speak so of his mother.
It was the first time in all his life that he had heard
her name mentioned without the profound reverence
it deserved. Then a sense of the injustice of her
words took possession of him, as the solemn compact
he had made with his mother not to be a burden
on her while the mortgage was unpaid, rose in
his mind. This thought and Margaret's laugh softened
any hurt her words had given him, although
the lesson that they were intended to teach lingered
in his memory for many days thereafter.
"You would not talk that way, Madge, if you
knew my dear mother," he said, quietly. "There is
nothing in her life she loves better than me. She
doesn't want me to be a painter because--" He
stopped, fearing she might not understand his
"Go on--why not?" The laugh had faded out
of her voice now, and a tone almost of defiance had
taken its place.
"She says it is not the profession of a gentleman,"
he answered, sadly. "I do not agree with
her, but she thinks so, and nothing can shake her."
"If those are her opinions, I wonder what she
would think of ME?" There was a slight irritation in
her voice--somehow she always became irritable
when Oliver spoke of his mother. She was ashamed
of it, but it was true.
All his anger was gone now. Whatever opinion
the world might have on any number of things there
could be but one opinion of Madge. "She would
LOVE you, little girl," he burst out as he laid his hand
on her arm--the first time he had ever touched her
with any show of affection. "You'd make her love
you. She never saw anybody like you before, and
she never will. That you are an artist wouldn't
make any difference. It's not the same with you.
You're a woman."
The girl's eyes again sought the woodpecker. It
was stabbing away with all its might, driving its
beak far into the yielding bark. It seemed in some
way to represent her own mood. After a moment's
thought she said thoughtfully as she rested her head
on the edge of the slant:
"Ollie, what is a gentleman?" She knew, she
thought, but she wanted him to define it.
"My father is one," he said, positively, "--and
so is yours," and he looked inquiringly into her face.
"That depends on your standard. I don't know
your father, but I do mine, and from what you have
told me about yours I think they are about as different
as two men can be. Answer my question--what
is a gentleman?" She was leaning over a little, and
tucking a chip under her toes to keep the water away
from her shoes. Her eyes sought his again.
"A gentleman, Madge--why, you know what a
gentleman is. He is a man well born, well educated,
and well bred. That's the standard at home
--at least, that's my mother's. Father's standard is
the same, only he puts it in a different way. He
says a gentleman is a man who tolerates other people's
mistakes and who sympathizes with other people's
"Anything else?" She was searching his face
now. There were some things she wanted to settle
in her own mind.
"I don't think of anything else, Madge, dear--do
you?" He was really dismissing the question. His
thoughts were on something else--the way her hair
curled from under her worsted cap and the way her
pink ears nestled close to her head, especially the
little indents at each corner of her mouth. He liked
"And so according to your mother's and father's
ideas, and those of all your aristocratic people at
home, Hank here could not be a gentleman if he
The idea was new to Oliver. He had become conscious
now. What had gotten into Margaret to-day!
"Hank?--no, certainly not. How could he?"
"By BEING a gentleman, Mr. Aristocrat. Not in
clothes, mind you--nor money, nor furniture, nor
wines, nor carriages, but in HEART. Think a moment,
Ollie," and her eyes snapped. "Hank finds a robin
that has tumbled out of its nest, and spends half a day
putting it back. Hank follows you up the brook and
sees you try to throw a fly into a pool, and he knows
just how awkwardly you do it, for he's the best fisherman
in the woods--and yet you never see a smile
cross his face, nor does he ever speak of it behind
your back--not even to me. Hank walks across
Moose Hillock to find old Jonathan Gordon to tell
him he has some big trout in Loon Pond, so that
the old man can have the fun of catching them and
selling them afterward to the new hotel in the Notch.
He has walked twenty-four miles when he gets back.
Do these things make Hank a gentleman, or not?"
"Then you don't believe in Sir Walter Raleigh,
Miss Democrat, simply because he was a lord?"
"Yes--but I always thought he wore his old cloak
that day on purpose, so he could be made an earl."
And a ripple of laughter escaped her lips.
Oliver laughed too, sprang to his feet, and held
out his hands so as to lift her up. None of these
fine-drawn distinctions really interested him--certainly
not on this day, when he was so happy. Why,
he wondered, should she want to discuss theories and
beliefs and creeds, with the beautiful forest all about
and the sky breaking overhead?
"Well, you've walked over mine many a time, Miss
Queen Elizabeth, and you haven't decorated me yet,
nor made me an earl nor anything else for it, and
I'm not going to forgive you either," and he
rose to his feet. "Look! Madge, look!" he cried,
and sprang out into the path, pointing to the sunshine
bursting through the trees--the storm had
passed as suddenly as it had come. "Isn't it glorious!
Come here quick! Don't wait a minute. I
should try to get that with Naples yellow and a little
chrome--what do you think?" he asked when she
stood beside him, half closing his eyes, to get the
effect the better.
Margaret looked at him curiously for a moment.
She did not answer. "I cannot fasten his mind on
anything in which I am interested," she said to herself,
with a sigh, "nor shall I ever overcome these
prejudices which seem to be part of his very life."
She paused a moment and an expression of pain
passed over her face.
"Pale cadmium would be better," she said, quietly,
with a touch of indifference in her tone, and led
the way out of the forest to the main road.
MRS. TAFT'S FRONT PORCH
The autumn fires were being kindled on the mountains
--fires of maple, oak, and birch. Along the
leaf-strewn roads the sumach blazed scarlet, and
over the rude stone fences blood-red lines of fire
followed the trend of leaf and vine. Golden pumpkins
lay in the furrows of the corn; showers of apples
carpeted the grass of the orchards; the crows
in straight lines, and the busy squirrels worked
from dawn till dark.
Over all settled the requiem haze of the dead
summer, blurring the Notch and softening Moose
Hillock to a film of gray against the pale sky.
It had been a summer of very great sweetness and
charm--the happiest of Oliver's life. He had found
that he could do fairly well the things that he liked
to do best; that the technical difficulties that had
confronted him when he began to paint were being
surmounted as the weeks went by, and that the thing
that had always been a pain to him had now become
a pleasure--pain, because, try as he might, the quality
of the result was always below his hopes; a pleasure,
because some bit of bark, perhaps, or glint of
light on moss-covered rock, or tender vista had at
last stood out on his canvas with every tone of color
Only a painter can understand what all this meant
to Oliver; only an out-of-door painter, really. The
"studio-man" who reproduces an old study which
years before has inspired him, or who evolves a
composition from his inner consciousness, has no such
thrills over his work. He may, perhaps, have other
sensations, but they will lack the spontaneous outburst
of enthusiasm over the old sketch.
And how glorious are the memories!
The victorious painter has been weeks over these
same trees that have baffled him; he has painted them
on gray days and sunny days; in the morning, at
noon, and in the gloaming. He has loved their
texture and the thousand little lights and darks; the
sparkle of the black, green, or gray moss, and the
delicate tones that played up and down their stalwart
trunks. He has toiled in the heat of the day,
his nerves on edge, and sometimes great drops of
sweat on his troubled forehead. Now and then he
has sprung from his seat for a farther-away look at
his sketch. With a sigh and a heart bowed down
(oh, how desolate are these hours!) he has noted how
wooden and commonplace and mean and despicable
his work was--what an insult he has cast upon the
beautiful yellow birch, this outdoor, motionless, old
model that has stood so patiently before him, posing
all day without moving; its big arms above its head
its leaves and branches stock-still to make it all the
easier for him.
Suddenly in all this depression, an inspiration has
entered his dull brain--he will use burnt umber in
stead of Vandyke brown for the bark! or light
chrome and indigo instead of yellow ochre and black
for the green!
Presto! Ah, that's like it! Another pat, and
another, and still one more!
How quickly now the canvas loses its pasty mediocrity.
How soon the paint and the brush-marks
and the niggly little touches fade away and the THING
ITSELF comes out and says "How do you do?" and
that it is so glad to see him, and that it has been
lurking behind these colors all day, trying to make
his acquaintance, and he would have none of it.
What good friends he and the sketch have become
now; how proud he is of it, and of possessing it and
of CREATING it! Then little quivery-quavers go creeping
up and down his spine and away out to his fingertips;
and he KNOWS that he has something really GOOD.
He carries it home in his hand, oh, so carefully (he
strapped its predecessor on his back yesterday without
caring), and a dozen times he stops to look at
its dear face, propping it against a stump for a better
light, just to see if he had not been mistaken after
all. He can hardly wait until it is dark enough to
see how it looks by gas-light, or candle-light, or
kerosene, or whatever else he may have in his quarters.
Years after, the dear old thing is still hanging on his
studio wall. He has never sold it nor given it away.
He could not--it was too valuable, too constantly
giving him good advice and showing him what the
thing WAS. Not what he thought it was, or hoped it
was, or would like it to be, but what it WAS.
Yes, there may be triumphs that come to men
digging away on the dull highway of life--triumphs
in business; in politics; in discovery; in law; medicine,
and science. To each and every profession and
pursuit there must come, and does come, a time when
a rush of uncontrollable feeling surges through the
victor's soul, crowning long hours of work, but they
are as dry ashes to a thirsty man compared to the
boundless ecstasy a painter feels when, with a becaked
palette, some half-dried tubes of color, and a
few worn-out, ragged brushes, he compels a six-by-
nine canvas to glow with life and truth.
All this Oliver knew and felt. The work of the
summer, attended at first with a certain sense of
disappointment, had, during the last few weeks of sojourn,
as his touch grew surer, not only become a
positive pleasure to him, but had produced an exaltation
that had kept our young gentleman walking
on clouds most of the time, his head in the blue
Margaret's nice sense of color and correct eye had
hastened this result. She could grasp at the first
glance the masses of light and shade, giving each its
proper value in the composition. She and Oliver.
really studied out their compositions together before
either one set a palette, a most desirable practice, by
the way, not only for tyros, but for Academicians.
This relying upon Margaret's judgment had become
a habit with Oliver. He not only consulted
her about his canvases, but about everything else that
concerned him. He had never formulated in his
mind what this kind of companionship meant to him
(we never do when we are in the midst of it), nor
had he ever considered what would become of him
when the summer was over, and the dream would
end, and they each would return to the customary
dulness of life; a life where there would be no blue
ether nor clouds, nor vanishing points, nor values,
nor tones, nor anything else that had made their
heaven of a summer so happy.
They had both lived in this paradise for weeks
without once bringing themselves to believe it could
ever end (why do not such episodes last forever?)
when Oliver awoke one morning to the fact that
the fatal day of their separation would be upon him
in a week's time or less. Margaret, with her more
practical mind, had seen farther ahead than Oliver,
and her laugh, in consequence, had been less spontaneous
of late, and her interest in her work and in
Oliver's less intense. She was overpowered by another
sensation; she had been thinking of the day,
now so near, when the old stage would drive up to
Mrs. Taft's pasture-gate, and her small trunk and
trap would be carried down on Hank's back and tumbled
in, and she would go back alone to duty and the
prosaic life of a New England village.
Neither of them supposed that it was anything else
but the grief of parting that afflicted them, until there
came a memorable autumn night--a night that sometimes
comes to the blessed!--when the moon swam
in the wide sky, breasting the soft white clouds, and
when Oliver and Margaret sat together on the porch
of Mrs. Taft's cottage--he on the steps at her feet,
she leaning against the railing, the moonlight full
upon her face.
They had been there since sunset. They had
known all day what was in each other's mind, but
they had avoided discussing it. Now they must
"You go to-morrow, Madge?" Oliver asked. He
knew she did. He spoke as if announcing a fact.
The shrill cry of a loon, like the cry of a child in
pain, sifted down the ravine from the lake above
and died away among the pines soughing in the night-
wind. Oliver paused for a moment to listen, and
"I don't want you to go. I don't know what I
am going to do without you, Madge," he said with
a long indrawn sigh.
"You are coming to us at Brookfield, you know,
on your way back to New York. That is some
thing." She glanced at him with a slightly anxious
look in her eyes, as if waiting for his answer to
He rose from his seat and began pacing the gravel.
Now and then he would stop, flick a pebble from its
bed with his foot, and walk on. She heard the sound
of his steps, but she did not look at him, even when
he stopped abruptly in front of her.
"Yes, I know, but--that will only make it worse."
He was leaning over her now, one foot on the steps.
"It tears me all to pieces when I think this is our
last night. We've had such a good time all summer.
You don't want to go home, do you?"
"No--I'd rather stay." The words came slowly,
as if it gave her pain to utter them.
"Well--stay, then," he answered with some animation.
"What difference does a few days makes?
Let us have another week. We haven't been over
to Bog Eddy yet; please stay, Madge."
"No, I must go, Ollie."
"But we'll be so happy, little girl."
"Life is not only being happy, Ollie. It's very
real sometimes. It is to me--" and a faint sigh
"Well, but why make it real to-morrow? Let us
make it real next week, not now."
"It would be just as hard for you next week.
Why postpone it?" She was looking at him now,
watching his face closely.
Her answer seemed to hurt him. With an impatient
gesture he straightened himself, turned as if
to resume his walk, and then, pushing away the end
of her skirt, sat down beside her.
"I don't understand your theories, Madge, and
I'm not going to discuss them. I don't want to talk
of any such things; I'm too unhappy to-night. When
I look ahead and think that if the Academy should
not open, you wouldn't come back at all, and that I
might not see you for months, I'm all broken
up. What am I going to do without you, Madge?"
His voice was quivering, and a note of pain ran
"Oh, you will have your work--you'll do just
what you did before I came up." She was holding
herself in by main strength; why, she could not tell
--fighting an almost irresistible impulse to hide her
face on his breast and cry.
"What good will that do me when you are gone?"
he burst out, with a quick toss of his head and a
certain bitterness in his tone.
"Well, but you were very happy before you saw
Again the cry of the loon came down the ravine.
He turned and with one of his quick, impatient
gestures that she knew so well, put his hand on her
"Stop, Madge, stop! Don't talk that way. I
can't stand it. Look at me!" The pain had become
unbearable now. "You've got to listen. I
can't keep it back, and I won't. I never met anybody
that I loved as I do you. I didn't think so at
first. I never thought I could think so, but it's true.
You are not my sweetheart nor my friend, nor my
companion, nor anything else that ever came into
my life. You are my very breath, my soul, my being.
I never want you to leave me. I should never
have another happy day if I thought this was to end
our life. I laid awake half the night trying to
straighten it out, and I can't, and there's no
straightening it out and never will be unless you love me.
Oh, Madge! Madge! Don't turn away from me.
Let me be part of you--part of everything you do
--and are--and will be."
He caught her hand in his warm palm and laid his
cheek upon it. Still holding it fast he raised his
head, laid his other hand upon her hair, smoothing
it softly, and looked long and earnestly into her
eyes as if searching for something hidden in their
depths. Then, in a voice of infinite tenderness, he
"Madge, darling! Tell me true--could you ever
She sat still, her eyes fixed on his, her hand
nestling in his grasp. Then slowly and carefully,
one at a time, she loosened with her other hand the
fingers that lay upon her hair, held them for an
instant in her own, bent her head and touched them
with her lips.
SOME DAYS AT BROOKFIELD FARM
Brookfield village lay in a great wide meadow
through which strayed one of Moose Hillock's lost
brooks--a brook tired out with leaping from bowlder
to bowlder and taking headers into deep pools, and
plunging down between narrow walls of rock. Here
in the meadow it caught its breath and rested,
idling along, stopping to bathe a clump of willows;
whispering to the shallows; laughing gently with
another brook that had locked arms with it, the
two gossiping together under their breath as they
floated on through the tall grasses fringing the
banks, or circled about the lily-pads growing in the
eddies. In the middle of the meadow, just where
two white ribbons of roads crossed, was a clump of
trees pierced by a church-spire. Outside of this bower
of green--a darker green than the velvet meadow-
grass about it--glistened the roofs and windows of
the village houses.
All this Oliver saw, at a distance, from the top of
As he drew nearer and entered the main street,
the clump of trees became giant elms, their interlaced
branches making shaded cloisters of the village
streets. The buildings now became more distinct;
first a tavern with a swinging sign, and across the
open common a quaint church with a white tower.
At the end of the avenue of trees, under the biggest
of the elms, stood an old-fashioned farmhouse,
its garden-gate opening on the highway, and its broad
acres--one hundred or more--reaching to the line
of the vagabond brook.
This was Margaret's home.
The stage stopped; the hair-trunk and sketch-trap
were hauled out of the dust-begrimed boot and deposited
on the sidewalk at the foot of the giant elm.
Oliver swung back the gate and walked up the path
in the direction of the low-roofed porch, upon which
lay a dog, which raised its head and at the first click
of the latch came bounding toward him, barking with
"Needn't be afraid, she won't hurt you!" shouted
a gray-haired man in his shirt-sleeves, who had risen
from his seat on the porch and who was now walking
down the garden-path. "Get out, Juno! I guess
you're the young man that's been painting with our
Margaret up in the Gorge. She's been expecting
you all morning. Little dusty, warn't it?"
Oliver's face brightened up. This must be Margaret's
"Mr. Grant, I suppose?"
"Yes, that's what they call me--Silas Grant. Let
me take your bag. My son John will be here in a
minute, and will help you in with your trunk.
Needn't worry, it's all right where it is. Folks are
middling honest about here," he added, with a dry
laugh, and his hand closed on his guest's--a cold
limp, dead-fish sort of a hand, Oliver thought.
Oliver said he was sure of it, and that he hoped
Miss Margaret was well, and the old man said she
was, "Thank you," and Oliver surrendered the bag
--it was his sketch-trap--and the two walked toward
the house. During the mutual greetings the dog
sniffed at Oliver's knees and looked up into his face.
"And I suppose this is Juno," our hero said, stopping
to pat her head. "Good dog--you don't remember
me?" It seemed easier somehow to converse
with Juno than with her master. The dog
wagged her tail, but gave no indications of
uncontrollable joy at meeting her rescuer again.
"Oh, you've seen her? She's Margaret's dog, you
"Yes, I know, but she's forgotten me. I saw her
before I ever knew--your daughter." It was a narrow
escape, but he saved himself in time. " Blessed
old dog," he said to himself, and patted her again.
By the time he had reached the porch-steps he had
made, unconsciously to himself, a mental inventory
of his host's special features: tall, sparsely built, with
stooping shoulders and long arms, the big hands full
of cold knuckles with rough finger-tips (Oliver found
that out when his own warm fingers closed over
them); thin face, with high cheek-bones showing
above his closely-cropped beard and whiskers; gray
eyes--steady, steel-gray eyes, hooded by white eyebrows
stuck on like two tufts of cotton-wool; nose
big and strong; square jaw hanging on a hinge that
opened and shut with each sentence, the upper part
of the face remaining motionless as a mask. Oliver
remembered having once seen a toy ogre with a jaw
and face that worked in the same way. He had
caught, too, the bend of his thin legs, the hump of
the high shoulders, and saw the brown skin of the
neck showing through the close-cut white hair. Suddenly
a feeling of repugnance amounting almost to
a shrinking dislike of the man took possession of him
--it is just such trifles that turn the scales of likes
and dislikes for all of us. "Could this really be
Margaret's father?" he said to himself. Through
whose veins, then, had all her charm and loveliness
come? Certainly not from this cold man without
grace of speech or polish of manner.
This feeling of repugnance had come with a flash,
and in a flash it was gone. On the top step of the
low piazza stood a young girl in white, a rose in her
hair, her arm around a silver-haired old lady in
gray silk, With a broad white handkerchief crossed
over her bosom.
Oliver's hat was off in an instant.
Margaret came down one step to greet him and
held out both her hands. "Oh, we are so glad to
welcome you!" Then turning to her companion
she said: "Mother, this is Mr. Horn, who has been
so good to me all summer."
The old lady--she was very deaf--cupped one
hand behind her ear, and with a gracious smile extended
the other to Oliver.
"I am so pleased you came, sir, and I want to
thank you for being so kind to our daughter. Her
brother John could not go with her, and husband
and I are most too old to leave home now." The
voice was as sweet and. musical as a child's, not the
high-keyed, strained tone of most deaf people. When
they all stood on the porch level Margaret touched
"Speak slowly and distinctly, Ollie," she whispered,
"then mother can hear you."
Oliver smiled in assent, took the old lady's thin
fingers, and with a cordiality the more pronounced
because of a certain guilty sense he had for his feeling
of repugnance to her father, said:
"Oh, but think what a delight it was for me to be
with her. Every day we painted together, and you
can't imagine how much she taught me; you know
there is nobody in the Academy class who draws as
well as your daughter." A light broke in Margaret's
eyes at this, but she let him go on. "She has told
you, of course, of all the good times we have had
while we were at work" (Margaret had, but not all
of them). "It is I who should thank YOU, not only
for letting Miss Margaret stay so long, but for wanting
me to come to you here in your beautiful home.
It is my first visit to this--but you are standing, I
beg your pardon," and he looked about for a chair.
There was only one chair on the porch--it was
under Silas Grant.
"No, don't disturb yourself, Mr. Horn; I prefer
standing," Mrs. Grant answered, with a deprecatory
gesture as if to detain Oliver. No one in Brookfield
ever intruded on Silas Grant's rights to his chair, not
even his wife.
Silas heard, but he did not move; he had performed
his duty as host; it was the women-folk's turn now
to be pleasant. What he wanted was to be let alone.
All this was in his face, as he sat hunched up between
the arms of the splint rocker.
Despite the old lady's protest, Oliver made a step
toward the seated man. His impulse was to suggest
to his host that the lady whom he had honored
by making his wife was at the moment standing on
her two little feet while the lord of the manor was
quietly reposing upon the only chair on the piazza,
a fact doubtless forgotten by his Imperial Highness.
Mr. Grant had read at a glance the workings of
the young man's mind, and knew exactly what Oliver
wanted, but he did not move. Something in the
bend of Oliver's back as he bowed to his wife had
irritated him. He had rarely met Southerners of
Oliver's class--never one so young--and was unfamiliar
with their ways. This one, he thought, had
evidently copied the airs of a dancing-master; the
wave of Oliver's hand--it was Richard's in reality,
as were all the boy's gestures--and the fine speech
he had just made to his wife, proved it. Instantly
the instinctive doubt of the Puritan questioning the
sincerity of whatever is gracious or spontaneous, was
roused in Silas's mind. From that moment he became
suspicious of the boy's genuineness.
The old lady, however, was still gazing into the
boy's face, unconscious of what either her husband
or her guest was thinking.
"I am so glad you like our mountains, Mr. Horn,"
she continued. "Mr. Lowell wrote his beautiful
lines, 'What is so Rare as a Day in June,' in our village,
and Mr. Longfellow never lets a summer pass
without spending a week with us. And you had a
comfortable ride down the mountains, and were the
"Oh, too beautiful for words!" It was Margaret
this time, not the scenery; he could not take his
eyes from her, as he caught the beauty of her throat
against the soft white of her dress, and the exquisite
tint of the October rose in contrast with the autumnal
browns of her hair. Never had he dreamed she
could be so lovely. He could not believe for one
moment that she was the Margaret he had known;
any one of the Margarets, in fact. Certainly not
that one of the Academy school in blue gingham
with her drawing-board in her lap, alone, self-poised,
and unapproachable, among a group of art-students;
or that other one in a rough mountain-skirt, stout-
shoes, and a tam-o'-shanter, the gay and fearless
companion, the comrade, the co-worker. This Margaret
was a vision in white, with arms bare to the elbow
--oh, such beautiful arms! and the grace and poise of
a duchess--a Margaret to be reverenced as well as
loved--a woman to bend low to.
During this episode, in which Silas sat studying
the various expressions that flitted across Oliver's
face, Mr. Grant shifted uneasily in his chair. At
last his jaws closed with a snap, while the two tufts
of cotton-wool, drawn together by a frown, deeper
than any which had yet crossed his face, made a
straight line of white. Oliver's enthusiastic outburst
and the gesture which accompanied it had removed
Silas Grant's last doubt. His mind was now made up.
The young fellow, however, rattled on, oblivious
now of everything about him but the joy of Margaret's
"The view from the bend of the road was especially
fine--" he burst forth again, his eyes still on
hers. "You remember, Miss Margaret, your telling
me to look out for it?" (he couldn't stand another
minute of this unless she joined in the talk).
"In my own part of the State we have no great
mountains nor any lovely brooks full of trout. And
the quantity of deer that are killed every winter
about here quite astonishes me. Why, Mr. Pollard's
son Hank, so he told me, shot fourteen last
winter, and there were over one hundred killed
around Moose Hillock. You see, our coast is flat, and
many of the farms in my section run down to the
water. We have, it is true, a good deal of game, but
nothing like what you have here," and he shrugged
his shoulders, and laughed lightly as if in apology for
referring to such things in view of all the wealth of
the mountains about him.
"What kind of game have you got?" asked Mr.
Grant, twisting his head and looking at Oliver from
under the straight line of cotton-wool.
Oliver turned his head toward the speaker. "Oh,
wild geese, and canvas-back ducks and--"
"And negroes?" There was a harsh note in
Silas's voice which sounded like a saw when it
clogs in a knot, but Oliver did not notice it. He
was too happy to notice anything but the girl beside
"Oh, yes, plenty of them," and he threw back his
head, laughing this time until every tooth flashed
"You hunt them, too, don't you? With dogs,
most of the time, I hear." There was no mistaking
the bitterness in his voice now.
The boy's face sobered in an instant. He felt as
if someone had shot at him from behind a tree.
"Not that I ever saw, sir," he answered, quickly,
straightening himself, a peculiar light in his eyes.
"We love ours."
"Love 'em? Well, you don't treat 'em as if you
Margaret saw the cloud on Oliver's face and made
a step toward her father.
"Mr. Horn lives in the city, father, and never
sees such things."
"Well, if he does he knows all about it. You
own negroes, don't you?" The voice was louder;
the manner a trifle more insistent. Oliver could
hardly keep his temper. Only Margaret's anxious
face held him in check.
"No; not now, sir--my father freed all of his."
The tones were thin and cold. Margaret had never
heard any such sound before from those laughing
Silas Grant was leaning forward out of his chair.
The iron jaw was doing the talking now.
"Where are these negroes?" he persisted.
"Two of them are living with us, sir. They are
in my father's house now."
"Rather shiftless kind of help, I guess. You've
got to watch 'em all the time, I hear. Steal everything
they get their hands on, don't they?" This
was said with a dry, hard laugh that was meant to
be conciliatory--as if he expected Oliver to agree
with him now that he had had his say.
Oliver turned quickly toward his host's chair. For
a moment he was so stunned and hurt that he could
hardly trust himself to speak. He looked up and
saw the expression of pain on Margaret's face, and
instantly remembered where he was and who was
"Our house-servants, Mr. Grant, are part of our
home," he said, in a low, determined voice, without
a trace of anger. "Old Malachi, who was my father's
body-servant, and who is now our butler, is
as much beloved by everyone as if he were one of
the family. For myself, I can never remember the
time when I did not love Malachi."
Before her father could answer, Margaret had her
hand on Oliver's shoulder.
"Don't tell all your good stories to father now,"
she said, with a grateful smile. "Wait until after
dinner, when we can all hear them. Come, Mr.
Horn, I know you want to get the dust out of your
eyes." Then in an aside, "Don't mind him, Ollie.
It's only father's way, and he's the dearest father
in the world when you understand him," and she
pressed his arm meaningly as they walked to the
Before they reached the threshold the gate swung
to with a click, and a young man with a scythe slung
over his shoulder strode up the path. He was in the
garb of a farm-hand; trousers tucked into his boots,
shirt open at the throat, and head covered by a
coarse straw hat. This shaded a good-natured, sun-
burnt face, lighted by two bright blue eyes.
"Oh, here comes my brother John," Margaret
cried. "Hurry up, John--here's Mr. Horn."
The young man quickened his pace, stopped long
enough to hang the scythe on the porch-rail, lifted
his hat from his head, and, running up the short
flight of steps, held out his hand cordially to Oliver,
who advanced to meet him.