Part 6 out of 9
"Glad to see you, Mr. Horn. Madge has told us
all about you. Excuse my rig--we are short of men
on the farm, and I took hold. I'm glad of the
chance, for I get precious little exercise since I left
college. You came from East Branch by morning
stage, I suppose? Oh, is that your trunk dumped
out in the road? What a duffer I was not to know.
Wait a minute--I'll bring it in," and he sprang down
"No, let me," cried Oliver, running after him.
He had not thought of his trunk since he had helped
stow it in the boot outside Ezra Pollard's gate--but
then he had been on his way to Margaret's!
"No, you won't. Stay where you are--don't let
him come, Madge."
The two young men raced down the path, Juno
scampering after them. John, who could outrun
any man at Dartmouth, vaulted over the fence and
had hold of the brass handle before Oliver could
open the gate.
"Fair-play!" cried Oliver, and they each grasped
a handle--either one could have held it out at arm's
length with one hand--and brought it up the garden-
path, puffing away in pantomime as if it weighed a
ton, and into the house. There they deposited it in
the bedroom that was to be Oliver's during the two
days of his visit at Brookfield Farm, Margaret clapping
her hands in high glee, and her mother holding
back the door for them to pass in.
Silas Grant watched the young fellows until they
disappeared inside the door, lifted himself slowly
from his seat by his long arms, stretched himself,
with a yawn, to his full height, and said aloud to
himself as he pushed his chair back against the wall:
"His father's got a negro for body-servant, has
he, and a negro for butler--just like 'em. They all
want somebody to wait on 'em."
At dinner Oliver sat on Mrs. Grant's right--her
best ear, she said--Margaret next, and John opposite.
The father was at the foot, in charge of the carving-
During the pauses in the talk Oliver's eyes wandered
around the room, falling on the queer paper
lining the walls--hunting-scenes, with red-coated
fox-hunters leaping five-barred gates; on the side-
board covered with silver, but bare of a decanter--
only a pitcher filled with cider which Hopeful Prime,
the servant, a woman of forty in spectacles, and who
took part in the conversation, brought from the cellar;
and finally on a family portrait that hung above
the fireplace. A portrait was always a loadstone to
Mrs. Grant had been watching his glance.
"That's Mr. Grant's great-uncle--old Governor
Shaw," she said, with a pleased smile; "and the next
one to it is Margaret's great-grandmother This
one--" and she turned partly in her chair and
pointed to a face Oliver thought he had seen before,
where, he couldn't remember--"is John Quincy
Adams. He was my father's most intimate friend,"
and a triumphant expression overspread her face.
Oliver smiled, too, inwardly, to himself. The
talk, to his great surprise, reminded him of Kennedy
Square. Family portraits were an inexhaustible
topic of conversation in most of its homes. He
had never thought before that people at the North
had any ancestors--none they were very proud of.
John looked up and winked. "Great scheme
naming me after his Royal Highness," he said, in an
undertone. "Sure road to the White House; they
thought I'd make a good third."
Mrs. Grant went on, not having heard a word of
John's aside: "This table you're eating from, once
belonged to Mr. Adams. He gave it to my father,
who often spent a week at a time with him in the
"And I wish he was there now," interrupted Silas
from the foot of the table. "He'd straighten out
this snarl we're drifting into. Looks to me as if
there would be some powder burnt before this thing
is over. What do your people say about it?" and
he nodded at Oliver. He had served the turkey, and
was now sharpening the carver for the boiled ham,
trying the edge with his thumb, as Shylock did.
"I haven't been at home for some time, sir," replied
Oliver, in a courteous tone--he intended to be
polite to the end--"and so I cannot say. My father's
letters, seem to be very anxious, but mother
doesn't think there'll be any trouble; at least she
said so in her last letter."
Silas looked up from under the tufts of cotton-
wool. Were the mothers running the politics of the
South, he wondered?
"And there's another thing you folks might as
well remember. We're not going to let you break
up the Union, and we're not going to pay you for
your slaves, either," and he plunged the fork into
the ham that the spectacled waitress had laid before
him and rose in his chair, the knife poised in his
hand to carve it the better.
"Mr. Horn hasn't got any slaves to sell, father--
didn't you hear him say so? His father freed his,"
laughed Margaret. Her father's positiveness never
really worried her. She rather liked it at times. It
was only because she had read in Oliver's face the
impression her father was making upon him that she
essayed to soften the force of his remarks.
"I heard him, Margaret, I heard him. Glad of
it--but he's the only man from his parts that I ever
heard who did. The others won't give 'em up so
easy. They hung John Brown for trying to help
the negroes free themselves, don't forget that."
Oliver looked up and knitted his brows. Silas saw
it. "I'm not meaning any offence to you, young
man," he said quickly, waving the knife toward
Oliver. "I'm taking this question on broad grounds.
If I had my way I'd teach those slave-drivers--" and
he buried the knife in the yielding ham, "that--"
"They did just right to hang him," interrupted
John. "Brown was a fanatic, and ought to have
stayed at home. No one is stronger than the law.
That's where old Ossawatomie Brown made a mistake."
Everybody was entitled to express his or her
opinion in this house except the dear old mother.
Margaret's fearless independence of manner and
thought had been nurtured in fertile soil.
Mrs. Grant had been vainly trying to get the drift
of the conversation, her hand behind her ear.
"Parson Brown, did you say, John? He married
us, sir," and she turned to Oliver. "He lived
here over forty years. The church that you passed
was where he preached."
John laughed, and so did Silas, at the old lady's
mistake, but Oliver only became the more attentive
to his hostess. He was profoundly grateful to the
reverend gentleman for coming out of his grave at
this opportune moment and diverting the talk into
other channels. Why did they want to bother him
with all this talk about slavery and the South, when
he was so happy he could hardly stay in his skin? It
set his teeth on edge--he wished that the dinner
were over and everybody down at the bottom of the
sea but Margaret; he had come to see his sweetheart
--not to talk slavery.
"Yes, I saw the church," and for the rest of the
dinner, Oliver was entertained with the details in the
life of the Rev. Leonidas Brown, including his manner
of preaching; the crowds who would go to hear
him; the number converted under the good man's
ministrations; to all of which Oliver listened with a
closeness of attention that would have surprised those
who knew him unless they had discovered that his
elbow had found Margaret's during the recital, and
that the biography of every member of Brown's
congregation might have been added to that of the
beloved pastor without wearying him in the slightest
When the nuts were served--Silas broke his with
his fingers--his host made one more effort to draw
Oliver into a discussion, but Margaret stopped it by
"Where shall Mr. Horn smoke, mother?" She
wanted Oliver to herself--the family had had him
"Why, does he want to SMOKE?" she answered,
with some consternation.
"Yes, of course he does. All painters smoke."
"Well, I don't know; let me see." The old lady
hesitated as if seeking the choice between two evils.
"I suppose in the sitting-room. No--the library
would be better."
"Oh, I won't smoke at all if your mother does
not like it," Oliver protested, springing from his
"Oh, yes, you will," interrupted John. "I never
smoke, and father don't, but I know how good a pipe
tastes. Let's go into the library."
Margaret gave Oliver the big chair and sat beside
him. It was a small room, the walls almost hidden
with books; the windows filled with flowering plants.
There was a long table piled up with magazines and
pamphlets, and an open fireplace, the wall above the
mantel covered with framed pictures of weeping-
willows worked out with hair of dead relatives, and
the mantel itself with faded daguerreotypes propped
apart like half-opened clam-shells.
Mr. Grant on leaving the dining-room walked
slowly to the window without looking to the right
or left, dropped into a chair and gazed out through
the leaves of a geranium. The meal was over.
Now he wanted rest and quiet. When Mrs. Grant
entered the library and saw the wavy lines of tobacco-
smoke that were drifting lazily about the room she
stopped, evidently annoyed and uneasy. No such
sacrilege of her library had taken place for years;
not since her Uncle Reuben had come home from
China. The waves of smoke must have caught the
expression on her face, for she had hardly reached
Oliver's chair before they began stealing along the
ceiling in long, slanting lines until they reached
the doorway, when with a sudden swoop, as if frightened,
and without once looking back, they escaped
into the hall.
The dear lady laid her hand on Oliver's shoulder,
bent over him in a tender, motherly way, and
"Do you think it does you any good?"
"I don't know that it does."
"Why should you do it, then?"
"But I won't if you'd rather I'd not." Oliver
sprang to his feet, took his pipe from his mouth, and
was about to cross the room to knock the ashes from
it into the fireplace when Margaret laid her hand on
"No, don't stop. Mother is very foolish about
some things--smoking is one of them."
"But I can't smoke, darling," he said, in an undertone,
"if your mother objects." The mother law
was paramount, to say nothing of the courtesy required
of him. Then he added, with a meaning look
in his eyes--"Can't we get away some place where
we can talk?" Deaf mothers are a blessing sometimes.
Margaret pressed his hand--her fingers were still
closed over the one holding the pipe.
"In a moment, Ollie," and she rose and went into
the adjoining room.
Mrs. Grant went to her husband's side, and in
her gentle mission of peace put her arm around his
neck, patting his shoulder and talking to him in
a low tone, her two yellow-white curls streaming
down over the collar of his coat. Silas slipped his
hand over his wife's and for an instant caressed it
tenderly with his cold, bony fingers. Then seeing
Oliver's eyes turning his way he drew in his shoulders
with a quick movement and looked askance at
his guest. Any public show of affection was against
Silas's creed and code. If people wanted to hug
each other, better do it upstairs, he would say, not
where everybody was looking on, certainly not this
young man, who was enough of a mollycoddle
John, now that Margaret had gone, moved over
from the lounge and took her seat, and the two
young men launched out into a discussion of flies and
worms and fish-bait, and whether frog's legs were
better than minnows in fishing for pickerel, and what
was the best-sized shot for woodcock and Jack-snipe.
Oliver told of the ducking-blinds, of the Chesapeake,
and of how the men sat in wooden boxes sunk to the
water's edge, with the decoy ducks about them, and
shot the flocks as they flew over. And John told of
a hunting trip he had made with two East Branch
guides, and how they went loaded for deer and came
back with a bear and two cubs. And so congenial
did they find each other's society that before Margaret
returned to the room--she had gone into her
studio to light the lamp under the tea-kettle--the two
young fellows had discovered that they were both
very good fellows indeed, especially Oliver and
especially John, and Oliver had half promised to come
up in the winter and go into camp with John, and
John met him more than half-way with a promise
to accept Oliver's invitation for a week's visit in
Kennedy Square the next time he went home, if that
happy event ever took place, when they would both
go down to Carroll's Island for a crack at a canvas-
This had gone on for ten minutes or more--ten
minutes is an absurdly long period of time under
certain circumstances--when Margaret's voice was
heard in the doorway:
"Come, John, you and Mr. Horn have talked long
enough; I want to show him my studio if you'll spare
him a moment."
John knew when to spare and when not to--oh,
a very intelligent brother was John! He did not
follow and talk for another hour of what a good time
he would have duck-shooting, and of what togs he
ought to carry--spoiling everything; nor did he send
his mother in to help Margaret entertain their guest.
None of these stupid things did John do. He said
he would go down to the post-office if Oliver didn't
mind, and would see him at supper, and Margaret
said that that was a very clever idea, as nobody had
gone for the mail that day, and there were sure to
be letters, and not to forget to ask for hers. Awfully
sensible brother was John. Why aren't there
more like him?
Entering Margaret's studio was like going back to
Moose Hillock. There were sketches of the interior
of the school-house, and of the children, and of the
teacher who had taught the year before. There was
Mrs. Taft sitting on that very porch, peeling potatoes,
with a tin pan in her lap--would they ever forget
that porch and the moonlight and the song of the
tree-toads, and the cry of the loon? There was Hank
in corduroys, with an axe over his shoulder; and
Hank in a broad straw hat and no shoes, with a
fishing-pole in one hand; and Hank chopping wood;
the chips littering the ground. There was Ezra Pollard
sitting in his buckboard with a buffalo-robe
tucked about him, and Samanthy by his side. And
best of all, and in the most prominent place, too,
there was the original drawing of the Milo--the one
she was finishing when Oliver upset Judson, and
which, strange to say, was the only Academy drawing
which Margaret had framed--besides scores and
scores of sketches of people and things and places
that she had made in years gone by.
The room itself was part of an old portico which
had been walled up. It had a fireplace at one end,
holding a Franklin stove, and a skylight overhead,
the light softened by green shades. Here she kept
her own books ranged on shelves over the mantel;
and in the niches and corners and odd spaces a few
rare prints and proofs--two Guido Renis and a Leonardo,
both by Raphael Morghen. Against the wall
was an old. clothes-press with brass handles, its
drawers filled with sketches, as well as a lounge covered
with chintz and heaped up with cushions. The door
between the studio and library had been taken off,
and was now replaced by a heavy red curtain. Margaret
had held it aside for Oliver to enter, and it had
dropped back by its own weight, shutting them both
I don't know what happened when that heavy
red curtain swung into place, and mother, father,
sea, sky, sun, moon, stars, and the planets, with
all that in them is, were shut out for a too brief
And if I did know I would not tell.
We go through life, and we have all sorts of sensations.
We hunger and are fed. We are thirsty,
and reach an oasis. We are homeless, and find shelter.
We are ill, and again walk the streets. We
dig and delve and strain every nerve and tissue, and
the triumph comes at last, and with it often riches
and honor. All these things send shivers of delight
through us, and for the moment we spread our wings
and soar heavenward. But when we take in our
arms the girl we love, and hold close her fresh, sweet
face, with its trusting eyes, and feel her warm breath
on our cheeks, and the yielding figure next our heart,
knowing all the time how mean and good-for-nothing
and how entirely unworthy of even tying her shoe-
strings we are, we experience a something compared
with which all our former flights heavenward are but
the flutterings of bats in a cave.
And the blessed John did not come back until
black, dark night!--not until it was so dark that you
couldn't see your hand before you or the girl beside
you, which is nearer the truth; not until the stout
woman in spectacles with the conversational habit,
had brought in a lard-oil lamp with a big globe,
which she set down on Margaret's table among her
books and papers. And when John did come, and
poked his twice-blessed head between the curtains, it
was not to sit down inside and talk until supper-times
but to say that it was getting cold outside and that
they ought to have a fire if they intended to sit in the
studio after supper. (Oh, what a trump of a brother!)
And if they didn't mind he'd send Hopeful right
away with some chips to start it. All of which Miss
Hopeful Prime accomplished, talking all the time to
Margaret as she piled up the logs, and not forgetting
a final word to Oliver as she left the room, to
the effect that she "guessed it, must be kind o'
comfortin' to set by a fire"--such luxuries, of course,
to her thinking, being unknown in his tropical land,
where the blacks went naked and the children lay
about in the sun munching watermelons and
What an afternoon it had been! They had talked
of the woods and their life under the trees; of the
sketches they made and how they could improve
them, and would; of the coming winter and the
prospect of the school being opened and what it
meant to them if it did, and how much more if it did
not, and she be compelled to remain in Brookfield
with Oliver away all winter in New York, and of a
thousand and one other things that lay nearest their
hearts and with which neither you nor I have anything
It was good, Margaret thought, to talk to him in
this way, and see the quick response in his eyes and
feel how true and helpful he was.
She had dreaded his coming--dreaded the contrasts
which she knew his presence among them
would reveal. She knew how punctiliously polite
he was, and how brusque and positive was her father.
She realized, too, how outspoken and bluff was John,
and how unaccustomed both he and her dear deaf
mother were to the ways of the outside world. What
would Oliver think of them? What effect would
her home life have on their future? she kept saying
Not that she was ashamed of her people, certainly
not of her father, who really occupied a higher position
than any of his neighbors. He was not only
a deacon in the church and chairman of the School
Board, but he had been twice sent to the Legislature,
and at one time had been widely discussed as a fitting
candidate for Governor. Nobody in Brookfield
thought the less of him because of his peculiarities
--many of his neighbors liked him the better for his
brusqueness; they believed in a man who had the
courage of his convictions and who spoke out, no
matter whose toes he trod on.
Nor could she be ashamed of her brother John--
so kind to everybody; so brave and generous, and
such a good brother. Only she wished that he had
some of Oliver's courtesy, and that he would take
off his hat when a lady spoke to him in the road, and
keep it off till she bade him replace it, and observe
a few of the other amenities; but even with all his
defects of manner--all of which she had never before
noticed--he was still her own dear brother John,
and she loved him dearly.
And as for her mother--that most gentle and gracious
of women--that one person in the house who
was considerate of everybody's feelings and tolerant
of everybody's impatience! What could Oliver find
in her except what was adorable? As she thought
of her mother, a triumphant smile crossed her face.
"That's the one member of the Grant family," she
said to herself, "whom my fine gentleman must admit
is the equal of any one of his top-lofty kinsfolk
in Kennedy Square or anywhere else." Which outburst
the scribe must admit to himself was but another
proof of the fact that no such thing as true
democracy exists the world over.
None of these thoughts had ever crossed her mind
up to the time she met Oliver on the bridge that first
sunny morning. He had never discussed the subject
of any difference between their two families, nor
had he ever criticised the personality of anyone she
knew. He had only BEEN HIMSELF. The change in
her views had come gradually and unconsciously to
her as the happy weeks flew by. Before she knew it
she had realized from his talk, from his gestures, even
from the way he sat down or got up, or handled his
knife and fork, or left the room or entered it, that
some of her early teachings had led her astray, and
that there might be something else in life worth having
outside of the four cardinal virtues--economy,
industry, pluck, and plain-speaking. And if there
were--and she was quite certain of it now--would
Oliver find them at Brookfield Farm? This was
really the basis of her disquietude; the kernel of the
nut which she was trying to crack.
If any of these shortcomings on the part of his
entertainers had been apparent to Oliver, or if he
had ever drawn any such deductions, or noted
any such contrasts, judged by the Kennedy
Square code, no word of disappointment had passed
Some things, it is true, during his visit at the farm,
had deeply impressed him, but they were not those
that Margaret feared. He had thought of them that
first night when going over the events of the day as
they passed in review before him. One personality
and one incident had made so profound an impression
upon him that he could not get to sleep for an
hour thinking about them. It was the stalwart figure
of John Grant in his broad-brimmed straw hat
and heavy boots striding up the garden-path with his
scythe over his shoulder. This apparition, try as he
might, would not down at his bidding.
"Think of that young fellow," he kept repeating
to himself. "The eldest son and heir to the estate
no doubt, a college-bred man and a most charming
gentleman, working like a common laborer in his
father's field. And proud of it, too--and would do
it again and talk about it. And yet I was so ashamed
of working with my hands that I had to run away
from home for fear the boys would laugh at me.
Margaret heard the whole story from Oliver's lips
the next morning with many adornments, and with
any amount of good resolutions for the future. She
listened quietly and held his hand the closer, her eyes
dancing in triumph, the color mounting to her cheeks,
but she made no reply.
Neither did she return the confidence and tell Oliver
how she wished her father could see some things
in as clear a light, and be more gentle and less
opinionated. She was too proud for that.
And so the days, crowded thick with emotions,
The evening of their first one came and passed,
with its half-hours when neither spoke a word and
when both trembled all over for the very joy of living;
and the morning of the second arrived, bringing
with it a happiness she had never known before,
and then the morning of the third--and the last day.
They had kept their secret even from John. Oliver
wanted to inform her father at once of his attachment,
telling her it was not right for him to
accept the hospitality of her parents unless they
understood the whole situation, but she begged him to
wait, and he had yielded to her wishes.
They had all discussed him at their pleasure.
"Nice chap that young Horn," John had said to
her the night before. "We had three or four of
'em in my class, one from Georgia and two from
Alabama. They'd fight in a minute, but they'd make
up just as quick. This one's the best of the lot."
He spoke as if they had all belonged to another race
--denizens of Borneo or Madagascar or the islands
of the Pacific.
"I have sent my love to his mother, my dear,"
Mrs. Grant had confided to her early that same morning.
"I am sure he has a good mother. He is so
kind and polite to me, he never lets me remember
that I am deaf when I talk to him," and she looked
about her in her simple, patient way.
"Yes--perhaps so," said Silas, sitting hunched up
in his chair. "Seems sort of skippy-like to me.
Something of a Dandy Jim, I should say. Good
enough to make men painters of, I guess." Artists
in those days had few friends North or South.
None of these criticisms affected Margaret. She
didn't care what they thought of him. She knew
his heart, and so would they in time.
When Oliver had said all his public good-byes to
the rest of the family--the good-byes with which we
have nothing to do had been given and taken in the
studio with the curtains drawn--he joined Margaret
at the gate.
They were standing in the road now, under the
giant elm, waiting for the stage. She stood close
beside him, touching his arm with her own, mournfully
counting the minutes before the stage would
come, her eyes up the road. All the light and loveliness
of the summers all the joy and gladness of life,
would go out of her heart when the door of the lumbering
vehicle closed on Oliver.
LIVE COALS FROM MISS CLENDENNING'S WOOD-FIRE
His good-byes said, one absorbing thought now
filled Oliver's mind--to reach Kennedy Square on
the wings of the wind and there to pour into the ears
of his mother and Miss Lavinia, and of anyone else
who would listen, the whys and wherefores of his love
for Margaret, with such additional description of her
personal charms, qualities, and talents as would bring
about, in the shortest possible time, the most amicable
of relations between Kennedy Square and Brookfield
Farm. He was determined that his mother
should know her at once. He knew how strong her
prejudices were and what her traditions would cause
her to think of a woman who led the life that Margaret
did, but these things did not deter him. A new
love now filled his heart--another and a different
kind of love from the one he bore his mother. One
that belonged to him; one that was his own and affected
his life and soul and career. He was prepared
to fight even harder for this desire of his soul
than for his art.
There being no air-ships available for immediate
charter, nor big balloons waiting for passengers, with
sand-bags ready for instant unloading, nor any
underground pneumatic tubes into which he could be
pumped and with a puff landed on his own doorstep
in Kennedy Square, the impatient lover was obliged
to content himself with the back seat of the country
stage and a night ride in the train down the valley.
Then came a delay of a week in New York waiting
for the return of Mr. Slade to the city--"whom
you must by all means see before coming home," so
his mother's letter ran. This delay was made bearable
by Waller, Bowdoin, and old Professor Cummings
who went into spasms of delight over the boys'
sketches. Waller especially predicted a sure future
for him if he would have the grit to throw overboard
every other thing he was doing and "stick it out and
starve it out" until he pulled through and became
Mr. Slade, while welcoming him with both hands,
was not so cheering. The financial and political
situations were no better, he said. They had really
become more alarming every day. The repudiation
of Northern accounts by Southern merchants had
ceased--at least some of Morton, Slade & Co.'s customers
had redeemed their obligations and had forwarded
them their overdue remittances, tiding them
over for a time--but no one could say what was in
store for any firm whose business lay largely in the
Southern States. He would, however, make his
word good. Oliver's situation was still open, and he
could again occupy his desk as soon as he returned
from Kennedy Square. The length of his service
depended entirely on whether the country would go
to war or whether its difficulties could be satisfactorily
settled in the next Congress.
But none of these things--none of the more depressing
ones--dulled for an instant the purpose or
chilled the enthusiasm of our young lover. Wars,
pestilence, financial panics and even social tidal-
waves might overwhelm the land and yet not one
drop of the topmost edge of the flood could wet the
tips of his high-stepping toes: Margaret was his; he
trod an enchanted realm.
An enthusiasm of equal intensity, but of quite a
different kind, had taken possession of the Horn
mansion as the hour of Oliver's arrival approached,
as anyone would have noticed who happened to be
inside its hospitable walls. Something out of the
common was about to happen. There was an unusual
restlessness in Malachi totally at variance with his
grave and dignified demeanor. His perturbation was
so great that he even forgot the time-honored custom
of wheeling his master's chair into position and
the equally time-honored salutation of "yo' chair's
all ready, Marse Richard." It was noticed, too, that
he could not keep out of the hall. Richard had to
speak to him twice and Mrs. Horn had lifted her
head in astonishment when that hitherto attentive
darky handed her Richard's spectacles instead of her
own. Or he would start to enter the dining-room,
his hands laden with plates, or the library, his arms
filled with logs to replenish the fire, and then stop
suddenly and listen with one foot raised, standing
like an old dog locating a partridge. So nervous did
he become as the twilight deepened, and he began
to set the table for supper, that he dropped a cup,
smashing it into atoms, a thing that had not happened
to him before in twenty years--one of the
blue and gilt--priceless heirlooms in the family,
and only used when a distinguished guest was expected.
At another time he would have dropped the
whole tray with everything upon it, had not Aunt
Hannah saved it in time. How she came to be in
the pantry with her two eyes on the front door, when
her place was in the kitchen with both of them on the
pots and kettles, no one could tell. Everything
seemed to be at sixes and sevens in the old house
And the other members of the household inside
the drawing-room seemed just as restless. Richard,
who had raked the coals of his forge, closed the green
door of his workshop, and had dressed himself an
hour earlier than usual, much to Malachi's delight,
became so restless that he got up from his easy-chair
half a dozen times and roamed aimlessly about the
room, stopping to pick up a book, reading a line and
laying it down again. Mrs. horn dropped so many
stitches that she gave up in despair, and said she
believed she would not knit.
Malachi heard him first.
"Dat's him--dat's Marse Ollie," he cried. "I
know dat knock. Here he is, Mistis. Here he is!"
He sprang forward, threw wide the door and had him
by the hand before the others could reach him.
"Fo' Gawd, Marse Ollie, ain't ol' Malachi glad ter
git his han's on yer once mo'!"
It was unseemly and absurd how the old man behaved!
And the others were not far behind.
"My boy," exclaimed Mrs. Horn, as she held him
close to her breast. There are few words spoken
in times like this.
Richard waited behind her until that imperceptible
moment of silence had passed--the moment a mother
gets her arms around the son she loves. Then when
the sigh of restful relief that always follows had
spent itself, and she had kissed him with his cheek
held fast to hers, Oliver loosened his hold and threw
his arms about his father's neck, patting him between
his shoulder-blades as he kissed him.
"Dear old dad! Oh, but it's good to get home!
And Aunt Hannah, you there?" and he extended
his hand while his other arm was still around his
"Yas, Marse Oilie, dat's me; dat's ol' Hannah,"
and she stepped closer and grasped his outstretched
hand, smoothing it as she spoke. "Lord, Marse
Ollie, but ain't you filled out? You is de probable
son, sho', honey, come home to yo' people."
But Oliver was not through with Malachi. He
must take both of his hands this time and look into
his eyes. It was all he could do to keep from hugging
him. It would not have been the first time.
"Been well, Mallie?"
Of course he had been; he saw it in his face. It
was only to say something to which the old darky
could reply to--to keep in touch with him--to know
that he was speaking to this same old Malachi whom
he had so dearly loved.
"Middlin' po'ly, yas--middlin' po'ly, suh."
Malachi had not the slightest idea what he was
talking about. He had not been sick a minute since
Oliver left. His heart was too near bursting with
pride at his appearance and joy over his return for
his mind to work intelligently.
"Dem Yankees ain't sp'iled ye; no, dey ain't.
Gor-a-mighty, ain't Malachi glad." Tears were
standing in his eyes now. There was no one but
Richard he loved better than Oliver.
No fatted calf was spitted and roasted this night
on Aunt Hannah's swinging crane for this "probable
son," but there was corn-pone in plenty and a
chafing dish of terrapin--Malachi would not let
Aunt Hannah touch it; he knew just how much Madeira
to put in; Hannah always "drowned" it, he
would say. And there was sally-lunn and Maryland
biscuit; here, at last, Aunt Hannah was supreme--
her elbows told the story. And last of all there was
a great dish of escalloped oysters cooked in fossil
scallop shells thousands of years old, that Malachi
had himself dug out of the marl-banks at Yorktown
when he was a boy, and which had been used in the
Horn family almost as many times as they were
years old. Oh, for a revival of this extinct conchological
comfort! But no! It is just as well not to
recall even the memories of this toothsome dish.
There are no more fossils, neither at Yorktown nor
anywhere else, and no substitute in china, tin, or
copper will be of the slightest use in giving their
Supper served and over, with Oliver jumping up
half a dozen times to kiss his mother and plumping
himself down again to begin on another relay of pone
or terrapin or oysters, much to Malachi's delight
("He do eat," he reported to Aunt Hannah. "I tell
ye. He's bearin' very heavy on dem scallops. Dat's
de third shell.")--the doors were opened with a
flourish, and the three, preceded by Malachi, entered
the drawing-room in time to welcome the neighbors.
Nathan, who was already inside sitting by the fire,
his long, thin legs stretched out, his bunchy white
hair, parted in the middle, falling to his collar's edge,
sprang up and shook Oliver's hand heartily. He
had charged Malachi, when he admitted him, to keep
his presence secret. He wanted them to have Oliver
all to themselves.
Miss Clendenning entered a moment later with
both hands held out. She would not stop in the hall
to unwind her nubia or take off her little fur boots,
but motioned Oliver to her knees after she had kissed
him joyously on both cheeks, and held out those two
absurd little feet for his ministrations, while Mrs.
Horn removed her nubia and cloak.
The rat-a-tat at the door was now constant. Judge
Bowman and old Dr. Wallace and four or five of the
young men, with the young girls, entered, all with
expressions of delight at Oliver's return home, and
later, with the air of a Lord High Mayor, Colonel
John Clayton, of Pongateague, with Sue on his arm.
Clayton was always a picture when he entered a room.
He stood six feet and an inch, his gray hair brushed
straight back, his goatee curling like a fish-hook at
its end. "Handsome Jack Clayton" was still handsome
After the Colonel had grasped Oliver's hand in
his warmest manner, Sue laid all of her ten fingers in
his. It was as good as a play to watch the little
witch's face as she stood for a moment and looked
Oliver over. She had not written to him for months.
She had had half a dozen beaus since his departure,
but she claimed him all the same as part of her spoils.
His slight mustache seemed to amuse her immensely.
"Are you glad to see me, Ollie?" she asked, looking
archly at him from under her lashes.
Of course he was glad--for a minute--not much
longer. How young she is, he thought, how provincial.
As she rattled on he noticed the mass of
ringlets about her face and the way her head was
set on her shoulders. Her neck, he saw, was much
shorter than Margaret's, and a little out of drawing.
Nor was there anything of that fearless look or toss
of the head like a surprised deer, which made Margaret
so distinguished. Oliver had arrived at that
stage in his affection when he compared all women
All this time Sue was reading his mind. Trust a
young girl for that when she is searching a former
lover's eyes for what lies behind them. She was evidently
nettled at what she found and had begun by
saying "she supposed the Yankee girls had quite
captured his heart," when the Colonel interrupted
her by asking Oliver whether the Northern men
really thought they could coerce the South into giving
up their most treasured possessions.
He had been nursing his wrath all day over a fresh
attack made on the South by some Northern paper,
and Oliver was just the person to vent it upon--not
that he did not love the lad, but because he was fresh
from the despised district.
"I don't think they want to, sir. They are opposed
to slavery and so are a good many of us. You
have a wrong idea of the life at the North, Colonel.
You have never been North, I believe?"
"No, my dear Oliver, and I never intend to. If
ever I go it will be with a musket. They have had
it all their own way lately with their Harriet Stowes,
William Lloyd Garrisons, and John Browns; it is
our turn now."
"Who do you want to run through the body,
Clayton?" asked Richard, joining the group and laying
his hands affectionately on the Colonel's shoulders.
"Anybody and everybody, Richard, who says we
are not free people to do as we please."
"And is anybody really saying so?"
"Yes; you see it every day in every Northern editorial
--another to-day--a most villainous attack
which you must read. These Puritans have been at
it for years. This psalm-singing crew have always
hated us. Now, while they are preaching meekness
and lowliness and the rights of our fellow-men--black
ones they mean--they are getting ready to wad their
guns with their hymn-books. It's all a piece of their
"But why should they hate us, Clayton?" asked
Richard in a half-humorous tone. He had no spirit
of contention in him to-night, not with Oliver beside
"Because we Cavaliers are made of different stuff;
that's why! All this talk about slavery is nonsense.
These Nutmeg fellows approved of slavery as long
as they could make a dollar out of the traffic, and
then, as soon as they found out that they had given
us a commercial club with which to beat out their
brains, and that we were really dominating the nation,
they raised this hue and cry about the downtrodden
negro and American freedom and the Stars
and Stripes and a lot of such tomfoolery. Do you
know any gentleman who beats his negroes? Do
you beat Malachi? Do I beat my Sam, whom I have
brought up from a boy and who would lay down his
life any day for me? I tell you, Richard, it is nothing
but a fight for financial and political mastery.
They're afraid of us; they've been so for years. They
cried 'Wolf' when the fugitive slave law was passed
and they've kept it up ever since."
"No, I don't believe it," exclaimed Richard, with
a positive tone in his voice "and neither do you,
Clayton. It's largely a question of sentiment. They
don't believe one man should hold another in bondage."
"That's where you are wrong. They don't care
a fippenny bit about the negro. If they ever succeed
in their infernal purpose and abolish slavery,
and set the negro adrift, mark my words, they won't
live with him, and they won't let him come North
and work alongside of their own people. They'll
throw him back on us after they have made a beggar
and a criminal of him. Only a Southerner understands
the negro, and only a Southerner can care
for him. See what we have done for them! Every
slave that landed on our shores we have changed
from a savage into a man. They forget this."
Judge Bowman joined in the discussion--so did
Dr. Wallace. The Judge, in his usual ponderous
way, laid down the law, both State and National--
the Doctor, who always took the opposite side in any
argument, asking him rather pointed questions as
to the rights of the Government to control the several
States as a unit.
Richard held his peace. He felt that this was not
the night of all others to discuss politics, and he was
at a loss to understand the Colonel's want of
selfrestraint. He could not agree with men like Clayton.
He felt that the utterance of such inflammatory
speeches only added fuel to the smouldering
flame. If the ugly jets of threatening smoke that
were creeping out everywhere because of the friction
between the two sections were in danger of
bursting into flame, the first duty of a patriot,
according to his creed, was to stand by with pails of
water, not with kegs of gunpowder. So, while Clayton's
outspoken tirade still filled the room, he with
his usual tact did all he could to soften the effect of
his words. Then again, he did not want Oliver's
Malachi's entrance with his tray, just as the subject
was getting beyond control, put a stop to the
discussion. The learned group of disputants with
the other guests quickly separated into little coteries,
the older men taking their seats about an opened
card-table, on which Malachi had previously deposited
several thin glasses and a pair of decanters, the
ladies sitting together, and the younger people
laughing away in a corner, where Oliver joined
Richard and Nathan, now that the danger was
averted (they were both natural born peace-makers),
stepped across the room to assist in entertaining Miss
Clendenning. The little lady had not moved from
the chair in which she sat when Oliver relieved her
of her fur boots. She rarely did move when once
she had chosen a place for herself in a drawing-room.
She was the kind of woman who could sit in one
place and still be surrounded--by half-moons of
adorers if she sat against the wall, by full moons if
she sat in the open. She had learned the art when
"If Clayton would go among these people, my
dear Lavinia," said Richard, in a deprecating tone,
drawing up a chair and seating himself, beside her,
"he would find them very different from what he
thinks. Some of the most delightful men I have
ever met have come from the States north of us.
You know that to be so."
"That depends, Richard, on how far North you
go," Miss Clendenning answered, spreading her fan
as she spoke, looking in between the sticks as if
searching for specimens. "In Philadelphia I find
some very delightful houses, quite like our own. In
New York--well, I rarely go to New York. The
journey is a tiresome one and the hotels abominable.
They are too busy there to be comfortable, and I do
not like noisy, restless people. They give me a
"Oliver has met some charming people, he tells
me," said Richard. "Mr. Slade took him into his
own home and treated him quite like a son."
"Of course he did; why not?" Miss Clendenning
was erect now, her eyes snapping with roguish
indignation. "Anybody would be glad to take Oliver
into their home, especially when they have two
marriageable daughters. Oliver's bow as he enters a
room is a passport to any society in the world, my
dear Richard. My Lord Chesterfield Clayton has
no better manners nor any sweeter smile than our
own Lorenzo. Watch Oliver now as he talks to
Richard had been watching him; he had hardly
taken his eyes from him. Every time he looked at
him his heart swelled the more with pride.
"And you think, Lavinia, Mr. Slade invited him
because of his manners?" He was sure of it. He
only wanted her to confirm it.
"Of course. What else?" and she cut her eye
at him knowingly. "How many of the other clerks
did he invite? Not one. I wanted to find out and
I made Ollie write me. They are queer people,
these Northerners. They affect to despise good
blood and good breeding and good manners. That's
all fol-de-rol--they love it. They are eternally
talking of equality--equality; one man as GOOD as
another. When they say that one man is as GOOD
as another, Richard, they mean that THEY are as good,
never the other poor fellow."
"Now, my dear Lavinia, stop a moment," laughed
the inventor in protest. "You do not mean to say
there are really no gentlemen north of us?"
"Plenty of gentlemen, Richard, but few thoroughbreds.
There is a distinction, you know."
"Which do you value most?"
"Oh, the thoroughbred. A gentleman might
some time offend you by telling you the truth about
yourself or your friends. The thoroughbred, never,"
and she lifted her hands in mock horror.
"And he could be a rogue and yet his manners
would save him?"
"Quite true, dear Richard, quite true. The most
charming man I ever met except your dear self"--
and she smiled graciously and lowered her voice as if
what she was about to tell was in the strictest
confidence--"was a shrivelled-up old prince who once
called on my father and myself in Vienna. He was
as ugly as a crab, and walked with a limp. There
had been some words over a card-table, he told me,
and the other man fired first. I was a young girl
then, but I have never forgotten him to this day.
Indeed, my dear Nathan," and she turned to the old
musician and laid her wee hand confidingly on his
knee, "but for the fact that the princess was a most
estimable woman and still alive, I might have been
--well, I really forget what I might have been, for
I do not remember his name, but it was something
most fascinating in five or six syllables. Now all
that man ever did to make that unaccountable impression
upon me was just to pick up my handkerchief.
Oh, Nathan, it really gives me a little quiver
to this day! I never watch Oliver bow but I think
of my prince. Now I have never found that kind
of quality, grace, bearing, presence--whatever you
may choose to call it--in the Puritan. He has not
time to learn it. He despises such subtle courtesies.
They smack of the cavalier and the court to him.
He is content with a nod of the head and a hurried
handshake. So are his neighbors. They would
grow suspicious of each other's honesty if they did
more. Tut, tut, my dear Richard! My prince's
grooms greeted each other in that way."
Richard and Nathan laughed heartily. "And you
only find the manners of the ante-chamber and the
throne-room South?" asked the inventor.
"Um--not always. It used to be so in my day
and yours, but we are retrograding. It is unpardonable
in our case because we have known better. But
up there" (and she pointed in the direction of the
North Star) "they never did know better; that's
some excuse for them."
"Ah, you incorrigible woman, you must not talk
so. You have not seen them all. Many of the men
who do me the honor to come to my workroom are
most delightful persons. Only last week there came
one of the most interesting scientists that I have met
"Of course, of course, I have not a doubt of it, my
dear Richard, but I am talking of men, my friend,
not dried mummies."
Again Richard laughed. One of his greatest
pleasures was to draw Miss Clendenning out on topics
of this class. He knew she did not believe one-
half that she said. It was the way she parried his
thrusts that delighted him.
"Well, then, take Mr. Winthrop Pierce Lawrence.
No more charming gentleman ever entered my house.
You were in London at the time or you would certainly
have dined with him here. Mr. Lawrence is
not only distinguished as a statesman and a brilliant
scholar, but his manners are perfect."
Miss Clendenning turned her head and looked at
Richard under her eyelashes. "Where did you say
he was from?"
"Boston?" A rippling, gurgling laugh floated
through the room.
"Yes, Boston. Why do you laugh?"
"Bostonians, my dear Richard, have habits and
customs, never manners. It is impossible that they
should. They are seldom underbred, mind you,
they are always overbred, and, strange to say, without
the slightest sense of humor, for they are all
brought up on serious isms and solemn fads. The
excitement we have gone through over this outrageous
book of this Mrs. Stowe's and all this woman
movement is but a part of their training. How is it
possible for people who believe in such dreadful persons
as this Miss Susan Anthony and that Miss--
something-or-other--I forget her name--to know
what the word 'home' really means and what graces
should adorn it? They could never understand my
ugly prince, and he?--well, he would be too polite to
tell them what he thought of them. No, my dear
Richard, they don't know; they never will know, and
they never will be any better."
Oliver had crossed the room and had reached her
"Who will never be any better, you dear Midget?"
"You, you dear boy, because you could not.
Come and sit by me where I can get my hand on
you. If I had my way you would never be out of
reach of my five fingers."
Oliver brought up a stool and sat at her feet.
"Your Aunt Lavinia, Ollie," said Richard, rising
to his feet (this relationship was of the same character
as that of Uncle Nathan Gill), "seems to think
our manners are retrograding."
"Not yours?" protested Oliver, with a laugh, as
he turned quickly toward Miss Clendenning.
"No, you sweetheart, nor yours," answered Miss
Clendenning, with a sudden burst of affection.
"Come, now, you have lived nearly two years among
these dreadful Yankees--what do you think of
"What could I think of people who have been so
kind to me? Fred Stone has been like a brother,
and so has everybody else."
Mrs. Horn had joined the group and sat listening.
"But their manners, my son," she asked. "Do
you see no difference between them and--and--and
your father's, for instance?" and she motioned
toward Richard who was now moving across the room
to speak to other guests.
"Dad is himself and you are yourself and I am
myself," replied Oliver with some positiveness.
"When people are kind I never stop to think how
they do it."
"Lovely," Miss Clendenning whispered to Nathan.
"Spoken like a thoroughbred. Yes, he is
BETTER than my ugly prince. He would always have
remembered how they did it."
"And you see no difference either in the ladies?"
continued Mrs. Horn, with increasing interest in her
tones. "Are the young girls as sweet and engaging?"
She had seen Margaret's name rather often
in his letters and wondered what impression she had
made upon him. Oliver's eyes flashed and the color
mounted to his cheeks. Miss Clendenning saw it
and bent forward a little closer to get his answer.
"Well, you see, mother, I do not know a great
many, I am so shut up. Miss Grant, whom I wrote
you about, is--well, you must see her. She is not
the kind of girl that you can describe very well--
she really is not the kind of girl that you can describe
at all. We have been together all summer, and I
stopped at her father's house for a few days when I
came down from the mountains. They live in the
most beautiful valley you ever saw."
Miss Clendenning was watching him closely. She
caught a look that his mother had missed.
"Is she pretty, Ollie?" asked Miss Lavinia.
"She is better than pretty. You would not say
the Milo was pretty, would you? There is too much
in her for prettiness."
"And are the others like her?" The little lady
was only feeling about, trying to put her finger on
the pulse of his heart.
"No; there is nobody like her. Nobody I have
Miss Clendenning was sure now.
Malachi's second entrance--this time with the
great china bowl held above his head--again interrupted
the general talk.
Since the memory of man no such apple-toddy had
ever been brewed!
Even Colonel Clayton, when he tasted it, looked
over his glass and nodded approvingly at its creator
--a recognition of genius which that happy darky
acknowledged by a slight bend of his back, anything
else being out of the question by reason of the size
of the bowl he was carrying and the presence of his
master and of his master's guests.
This deposited on a side table, another bowl filled
with Olio--a most surprising and never-to-be-forgotten
salad of chicken and celery and any number of
other toothsome things--was placed beside it, together
with a plate of moonshines and one of Maryland
Then came some music, in which Oliver sang and
Miss Clendenning played his accompaniments--the
old plantation melodies, not the new songs--and next
the "wrappings up" in the hall, the host and hostess
and the whole party moving out of the drawing-
room in a body. Here Nathan, with great gallantry,
insisted on getting down on his stiff marrow-bones
to put on Miss Clendenning's boots, while the young
men and Oliver tied on the girls' hoods, amid "good-
byes" and "so glads" that he could come home if
only for a day, and that he had not forgotten them,
Oliver's last words being whispered in Miss Clendenning's
ear informing her that he would come over
in the morning and see her about a matter of the
greatest importance. And so the door was shut on
the last guest.
When the hall was empty Oliver kissed his father
good-night, and, slipping his arm around his mother's
waist, as he had always done when a boy, the
two went slowly upstairs to his little room. He
could not wait a minute longer. He must unburden
his heart about Margaret. This was what he had
come for. If his mother had only seen her it would
be so much easier, be said to himself as he pushed
open his bedroom door.
"You are greatly improved, my son," she said,
with a tone of pride in her voice. "I see the change
already." She had lighted the candle and the two
were seated on the bed, his arm still around her.
"Oh, in everything. The boy is gone out of you.
You are more reposeful; more self-reliant. I like
your modesty too." She could tell him of his faults,
she could also tell him of his virtues.
"And the summer has done you good," she continued.
"I felt sure it would. Mr. Slade has been
a steadfast friend of yours from the beginning. Tell
me now about your new friends. This Miss Grant
--is she not the same girl you wrote me about, some
mouths ago--the one who drew with you at the art
school? Do you like her people?" This thought
was uppermost in her mind--had been in fact ever
since she first saw Margaret's name in his letters.
"Her mother is lovely and she has got a brother
--a Dartmouth man--who is a fine fellow. I liked
him from the first moment I saw him;" Oliver answered
simply, wondering how he would begin.
"Is her father living?"
"What kind of a man is he?"
"Well--of course, he is not like our people. He
is a--well--he always says just what be thinks, you
know. But he is a man of character and position."
He was speaking for Margaret now. "They have
more family portraits than we have." This was said
in a tone that was meant to carry weight.
"And people of education?"
"Oh, I should certainly say so. It is nothing but
books all over the house. Really, he has more books
than Dad." This statement was to strengthen the
one regarding the family ancestors--both telling
arguments about Kennedy Square.
"And this girl--is she a lady?"
The question somehow put to flight all his mental
manoeuvres. "She is more than a lady, mother.
She is the dearest--" He stopped, hesitated for an
instant, and slipping his arm around his mother's
neck drew her close to him. Then, in a torrent of
words--his cheeks against hers--the whole story
came out. He was a boy again now; that quality
in him that would last all his life. She listened with
her eyes on the floor, her heart torn with varying.
emotions. She was disturbed, but not alarmed.
One phase of the situation stood out clearly in her
practical mind--his poverty and the impossibility of
any immediate marriage. Before that obstacle could
be removed she felt sure his natural vacillation
regarding women would save him. He would forget
her as he had Sue.
"And you say her brother works in the fields and
that her father and mother permitted this girl to
leave home and sit night after night with you young
men with no other protection than that of a common
Irishwoman?" There was a tone of censure now
in her voice that roused a slight antagonism in Oliver.
"Why not? What could harm her? There was
no other place for her to go where she could learn
Mrs. Horn kept still for a moment, looking on the
floor. Oliver sat watching her face.
"And your family, my son," she protested with
a certain patient disapproval in her tones. "Do
they count for nothing? I, of course, would love
anybody you would make your wife, but you have
others about you. No man has a right to marry beneath
him. Do not be in a hurry over this matter.
Come home for your wife when you are ready to
marry. Give yourself time to compare this girl,
who seems to have fascinated you, with--Sue, for
instance, or any of the others you have been brought
Oliver shrugged his shoulders at the mention of
Sue's name. He had compared her.
"You would not talk this way, dearie; if you could
see her," he replied in a hopeless way as if the
futility of making his mother understand was now
becoming apparent to him. "She is different from
anyone you ever met--she is so strong, so fine--
such a woman in all that the word means. Not something
you fondle and make love to, remember, but
a woman more like a Madonna that you worship, or
a Greek goddess that you might fear. As to the
family part of it, I am getting tired of it all, mother.
What good is Grandfather Horn or anybody else to
me? I have got to dig my way out just as they did.
Just as dear old Dad is doing. If he succeeds in his
work who will help him but himself? There have
been times when I used to love to remember him
sitting by his reading-lamp or with his violin tucked
under his chin, and I was proud to think he was my
father. Do you know what sets my blood on fire
now? It is when I think of him standing over his
forge and blowing his bellows, his hands black with
coal. I understand many things, dearie, that I knew
nothing about when I left home. You used to tell
me yourself that everybody had to work, and you
sent me away to do it. I looked upon it then as a
degradation. I see it differently now. I have
worked with all my might all summer, and I have
brought back a whole lot of sketches that the boys
like. Now I am going to work again with Mr. Slade.
I do not like his work, and I do love mine, but I am
going to stick to his all the same. I have got something
to work for now," and his face brightened.
"I am going to win!"
She did not interrupt him. It was better he
should unburden his heart. She was satisfied with
his record; if he went wrong she only was to blame.
But he was not going wrong; nor was there anything
to worry about--not even his art--not so long
as he kept his place with Mr. Slade and only took it
up as a relaxation from more weighty cares. It was
only the girl that caused her a moment's thought.
She saw too, through all his outburst, a certain
independence and a fearlessness and a certain fixedness
of purpose that sent an exultant thrill through
her even when her heart was burdened with the
thought of this new danger that threatened him.
She had sent him away for the fault of instability,
and he had overcome it. Should she not now hold
fast, as she had before, and save him the second time
from this girl who was beneath him in station and
who would drag him down to her level, and so perhaps
"We will not talk any more about it to-night, my
son," she said, in tender tones, leaning forward and
kissing him on the cheek--it was through his affections
that she controlled him. "You should be
tired out with your day's journey and ought to rest.
Take my advice--do not ask her to be your wife yet.
Think about it a little and see some other women
before you make up your mind."
A delicious tremor passed through Oliver. He
HAD asked her, and she HAD promised! He remembered
just the very day, the hour, the minute. That
was the bliss of it all! But this he did not tell his
mother. He would not hurt her any further now.
Some other day he would tell her; when she could
see Madge and judge for herself. No, not to-night,
and so with the secret untold he kissed her and led
her to her room.
And yet strange to say it was the one only thing
in all his life that he had kept from her.
Ah! these mothers! who make lovers of their only
sons, dominating their lives! How bitter must be
the hours when they realize that another's arms are
opening for them!
And these boys--what misgivings come; what
doubts. How the old walls, impregnable from childhood,
begin to crumble! How little now the dear
mother knows--she so wise but a few moons since.
How this new love steps in front of the old love and
claims every part of the boy as its very own.
Faithful to her promise, Miss Clendenning waited
the next morning for Oliver in her little boudoir
that opened out of the library. A bright fire blazed
and crackled, sending its beams dancing over the
room and lighting up the red curtains that hung
behind her writing-desk, its top covered with opened
letters--her morning's mail: many bore foreign
postmarks, and not a few were emblazoned with rampant
crests sunk in little dabs of colored wax. She
wore a morning gown of soft white flannel belted in
at the waist. Covering her head and wound loosely
about her throat was a fluff of transparent silk, half-
concealing the two nests of little gray and brown
knots impaled on hair-pins. These were the chrysalides
of those gay butterfly side-curls which framed
her sweet face at night and to which she never gave
wing until after luncheon, no matter who called.
The silk scarf that covered them this morning was
in recognition of Oliver's sex.
She had finished her breakfast and was leaning forward
in her rocking-chair, her elbows on her knees,
her tiny feet resting on the fender. She was watching
the fire-fairies at work building up their wonderful
palaces of molten gold studded with opals and
rubies. The little lady must have been in deep
thought, for she did not know Oliver had entered
until she felt his arm on her shoulder.
"Ah, you dear fellow. No, not there; sit right
here on this cricket by my side. Stop, do not say
a word. I have been studying it all out in these
coals. I know all about it--it is about the mountain
girl, this--what do you call her?"
"Nonsense! What do YOU call her?"
"Ah, that's something like it. And you love
"And she loves you?"
"And you have told her so?"
"Whew!" Miss Clendenning caught her breath
and gave a little gasp. "Well, upon my word!
You don't seem to have lost any time, my young
Romeo. What does her father say?"
"He doesn't know anything about it."
"Does anybody except you two babes in the
"Yes, her mother."
"And yours? You told her last night. I knew
"Not everything; but she is all upset."
"Of course she is. So am I. Now tell me--is
she a LADY?"
"She is the dearest, sweetest girl you--"
"Come now, come now, answer me. They are all
the dearest and sweetest things in the world. What
I want to know is, is she a lady?"
"True now, Ollie--honest?"
"Yes, in every sense of the word. A woman you
would love and be proud of the moment you saw
Miss Clendenning took his face in her hands and
looked down into his eyes. "I believe you. Now
what do you want me to do?"
"I want her to come down here so everybody can
see her. If I had a sister she could invite her, and
it would be all right, and maybe then her mother
would let her come."
"And you want me to play the sister and have
her come here?"
Oliver's fingers closed tight over Miss Clendenning's
hand. "Oh, Midget, if you only would, that
would fix everything. Mother would understand
then why I love her, and Madge could go back and
tell her people about us. Her father is very bitter
against everybody at the South. They would feel
differently if Madge could stay a week with us."
"Why won't her father bring her?"
"He never leaves home. He would not even take
her to the mountains, fifteen miles away. She could
never paint as she does if she had relied upon him.
Mother and Mr. Grant are both alike in their hatred
of art as a fitting profession for anybody, and I tell
you that they are both wrong."
Miss Clendenning looked up in surprise. She had
never seen the boy take a stand of this kind against
one of his mother's opinions. Oliver saw the expression
on the little lady's face and kept on, his
cheeks flushed and a set look about his eyes.
"Yes, wrong. I have never believed mother could
be wrong in anything before, and when she wanted
me to give up painting I did so because I thought
she knew best. But I know she's not right about
Madge, and if she is wrong about her, how do I
know she was not wrong about my working with Mr.
Margaret's words that day in the bark slant were
now ringing in his ears. He had never forgotten
them--"Your mother cannot coddle you up forever."
Miss Clendenning held her peace. She was not
astonished at the revolt in the boy's mind. She had
seen for months past in his letters that Oliver's
individuality was asserting itself. It was the new girl
whom he was defending--the woman he loved. This
had given him strength. She knew something of
what he felt, and she knew what blind obedience had
done for her. With a half-smothered sigh, she
reached over Oliver's head, dipped a quill pen in her
inkstand, and at Oliver's dictation, wrote Margaret's
"I will invite her at once," she said.
Long after Oliver had gone Miss Clendenning sat
looking into the fire. The palaces of rose and amber
that the busy fingers of the fire fairies had built up
in the white heat of their enthusiasm were in ruins.
The light had gone out. Only gray ashes remained,
with here and there a dead cinder.
Miss Clendenning rose from her chair, stood a
moment in deep thought, and said, aloud:
"If she loves him, she shall have him. There shall
be no more desolate firesides if I can help it."
Early the next morning, she mailed by the first post
a letter so dainty in form and so delicate in color
that only a turtle-dove should have carried it to
Brookfleld Farm, and have dropped it into Margaret's
hand. This billet-doux began by inviting Miss
Margaret Grant of Brookfield Farm to pass a week
with Miss Lavinia Clendenning, of Kennedy Square,
she, Miss Lavinia, desiring to know the better one
who had so charmed and delighted "our dear Oliver,"
and ended with "Please say to your good
mother, that I am twice your age, and will take as
much care of you as if you were my own daughter.
I feel assured she will waive all ceremony when she
thinks of how warm a greeting awaits you."
Margaret looked at the post-mark, and then at the
little oval of violet wax bearing the crest of the
Clendennings--granted in the time of Queen Elizabeth
for distinguished services to the Throne--and after
she had read it to her mother, and had shown the seal
to her father, who had put on his glasses, scanned it
closely, and tossed it back to her with a dry laugh,
and after she had talked it all over with John, who
said it was certainly very kind of the woman, and
that Oliver's people were evidently "nobs," but, of
course, Madge couldn't go, not knowing any of them,
Margaret took a sheet of plain white paper from her
desk, thanked Miss Clendenning for her kind thought
of her, and declined the honor in a firm, round hand.
This she closed with a red wafer, and then, with a
little bridling of her head and a determined look in
her face, she laid the letter on the gate-post, ready for
the early stage in the morning.
This missive was duly received by Miss Clendenning,
and read at once to Mrs. Horn, who raised
her eyebrows and pursed her lips in deep thought.
After some moments she looked over her glasses at
Miss Lavinia and said:
"I must say, Lavinia, I am very greatly astonished.
Won't come? She has done perfectly right. I think
all the better of her for it. Really, there may be
something in the girl after all. Let me look at her
handwriting again--writes like a woman of some
force. Won't come? What do you think, Lavinia?"
"Merely a question of grandmothers, my dear;
she seems to have had one, too," answered the little
old maid, with a quizzical smile in her eye, as she
folded the letter and slipped it in her pocket.
THE LAST HOURS OF A CIVILIZATION
Margaret's decision saddened Oliver's last days at
home, and he returned to New York with none of
his former buoyancy. Here other troubles began to
multiply. Before the autumn was gone, Morton,
Slade & Co., unable longer to make headway against
the financial difficulties that beset them, went to the
wall, involving many of their fellow-merchants. Oliver
lost his situation, in consequence, and was forced
to support himself during the long dreary winter by
making lithographic drawings for Bianchi, at prices
that barely paid his board. His loneliness in the garret
room became more intense, Fred being much away
and the occupants of the other rooms being either
strangers to him or so uncongenial that he would not
make their acquaintance.
To his own troubles were added other anxieties.
The political outlook had become even more gloomy
than the financial. The roar of Sumter's guns had
reverberated throughout the land, and men of all minds
were holding their breath and listening, with ears
to the ground, for the sound of the next shot. Even
Margaret's letters were full of foreboding. "Father
is more bitter against the South than ever," she
wrote. "He says if he had ten sons each should
shoulder a musket. We must wait, Ollie dear. I
can only talk to mother about you. Father won't
listen, and I never mention your name before him.
Not because it is you, Ollie, but because you represent
a class whom he hates. Dear John would listen,
but he is still in Boston. Even his fellow-classmen
want to fight, he says. I fear all this will hurt my
work, and keep me from painting."
These letters of Margaret's, sad as they were, were
his greatest and sometimes his only comfort. She
knew his ups and downs and they must have no
secrets from each other. From his mother, however,
he kept all records of his privations during these
troublous months. Neither his father nor his dear
mother must deprive themselves for his benefit.
During these dreary days he often longed for Kennedy
Square and for those whom he loved, but it was
not until one warm spring day, when the grass was
struggling into life, and the twigs on the scraggy trees
in Union Square were growing pink and green with
impatient buds and leaves that he had his wish.
Then a startling telegram summoned him. It read as
"Father ill. Come at once.
Instinctively Oliver felt in his pockets for his
purse. There was just money enough to take him to
Kennedy Square and back.
His mother met him at the door.
"It was only a fainting turn, my son," were her
first words. "I am sorry I sent for you. Your
father is himself again, so Dr. Wallace says. He has
been working too hard lately--sometimes far into the
night. I could have stopped you from coming; but,
somehow, I wanted you--" and she held him close in
her arms, and laid her cheek against his. "I get so
lonely, my boy, and feel so helpless sometimes."
The weak and strong were changing places. She
felt the man in him now.
Nathan was in the library. He and Malachi had
been taking turns at Richard's bedside. Malachi had
not closed his eyes all night. Nathan came out into
the hall when he heard Oliver's voice, and put his
hand on his shoulder.
"We had a great scare, Ollie," he said, "but he's
all right again, thank God! He's asleep now--better
not wake him." Then he put on his coat and went
Malachi shook his head. "Sumpin's de matter wid
him, an' dis ain't de las' ob it. Drapped jes' like a
shote when he's hit, Marse Oliver," he said, in a low
whisper, as if afraid of disturbing his master on the
floor above. "I was a-layin' out his clo'es an' he
called quick like, 'Malachi! Malachi!' an' when I got
dar, he was lyin' on de flo' wid his head on de mat.
I ain't nebber seen Marse Richard do like dat
befo'--" The old servant trembled as he spoke. He
evidently did not share Nathan's hopeful views.
Neither did Dr. Wallace, although he did not say so
Their fears, however, were not realized. Richard
not only revived, but by the end of the week be was
in the drawing-room again, Malachi, in accordance
with the time-honored custom, wheeling out his chair,
puffing up the cushions, and, with a wave of the hand
and a sweeping bow, saying:
"Yo' ch'ar's all ready, Marse Richard. Hope
you'se feelin' fine dis evenin', sah!"
The following day he was in his "li'l' room," Oliver
helping him. It was the lifting of the heavy
plate of the motor that had hurt Richard, so Nathan
told him; not the same motor which Oliver remembered;
another, much larger and built on different
lines. The inventor now used twenty-four cells
instead of ten, and the magnets had been wrapped
with finer wire.
These days in the shop were delightful to Oliver.
His father no longer treated him as an inexperienced
youth, but as his equal. "I hope you will agree with
me, my son," he would say; or, "What do you think
of the idea of using a 'cam' here instead of a lever?"
or, "I wish you would find the last issue of the Review,
and tell me what you think of that article of Latrobe's.
He puts the case very clearly, it seems to
me," etc. And Oliver would bend his head in attention
and try to follow his father's lead, wishing all the
time that he could really be of use to the man he revered
beyond all others, and so lighten some of the
burdens that were weighing him down.
And none the less joyful were the hours spent with
his mother. All the old-time affection, the devotion
of a lover-son, were lavished upon her. And she was
so supremely happy in it all. Now that Richard had
recovered, there was no other cloud on her horizon,
not even that of the dreaded mortgage which owing
to some payments made Richard by a company using
one of his patents had been extended and its interest
paid for two years in advance in deference to her
urgent request. All anxiety as to the Northern girl
had happily passed out of her mind. If Oliver intended
marrying Miss Grant he would have told her,
she knew. Then again, he was so much stronger and
wiser now--so much more thoughtful than he had
been--so much more able to keep his head in matters
of this kind.
As his position was different with his father in
the "li'l' room" and with his mother in the stillness
of her chamber--for often they talked there together
until far into the night--so were his relations altered
with his old friends and neighbors in the drawing-
room. While the young men and girls filled the
house as had always been their custom, the older men,
as well, now paid their respects to Richard Horn's
"One of our own kind," Judge Bowman said to
Richard. "Does you credit, Horn--a son to be
Even Amos Cobb came to look him over, a courtesy
which pleased Richard who greatly admired the Vermonter,
and who had not hesitated to express his
good opinion of him on more than one occasion before
his own and Cobb's friends.
"A man of force, gentlemen," Richard had said,
of great kindness of heart and with a wide range
of vision. One who has the clearest ideas of what
makes for the good of his country; a man too, not
ashamed of his opinions and with ample courage to
defend them. He deserves our unqualified respect,
not our criticism."
When Cobb heard of Richard's outspoken defence
of him he at once called on the inventor at his workshop
--a thing he had not done for mouths, and asked
to see the motor, and that same night astonished the
circles about the club tables, by remarking, in a tone
of voice loud enough for everybody to hear: "We
have all been wrong about Horn. He has got hold
of something that will one day knock steam higher
than Gilderoy's kite." A friendship was thus established
between the two which had become closer
every day--the friendship of a clearer understanding;
one which was unbroken during the rest of their
It was quite natural, therefore, that Amos Cobb
should be among Oliver's earliest callers. He must
have been pleased with his inspection, for he took occasion
at the club to say to Colonel Clayton, in his
quick, crisp way:
"Dropped in at Horn's last night. His boy's over
from New York. Looks like a different man since
he quit fooling round here a couple of years ago.
Clean cut a young fellow as I've seen for many a day.
Got a look out of his eyes like his mother's. Level-
headed woman, his mother--no better anywhere. If
all the young bloods South had Oliver Horn's ideas
we might pull through this crisis."
To which my Lord Chesterfield of Kennedy Square
merely replied only with a nod of the head and a
drawing together of the eyebrows. He found it difficult
to tolerate the Vermonter in these days with his
continued tirades against "The epidemic of insanity
sweeping over the South," as Cobb would invariably
The scribe now reaches a night in Oliver's career
fraught with such momentous consequences that he
would be glad to leave its story untold:
An unforgettable night indeed, both for those
who were assembled there, and for him who is the
chronicler. He would fain lay down his pen to recall
again the charm and the sweetness and the old-
time flavor of that drawing-room: the soft lights of
the candles; the perfume of the lilacs coming in
through the half-open windows; the merry laugh
of the joyous girl running through the Square to
be ushered by Malachi a moment later into the
presence of her hostess, there to make her courtesied
obeisance before she joined a group of young
people around one of the red damask-covered sofas.
And then Richard, dear Richard, with his white hair
and his gracious speech, and Miss Clendenning with
her manners of foreign courts, and the sweet-voiced
hostess of the mansion moving about among her
guests; her guests who were her neighbors and her
friends; whose children were like her own, and
whose joys and sorrows were hers--guests, neighbors,
friends many of whom after this fatal night
were to be as enemies never to assemble again with
the old-time harmony and love.
Malachi had brewed the punch; the little squat
glasses were set out beside the Canton china bowl,
for it was the night of the weekly musical and an
unusually brilliant company had assembled in honor
of Oliver's arrival and of Richard's recovery.
The inventor was to play his own interpretations
of Handel's Largo, a favorite selection of Ole Bull,
and one which the inventor and the great virtuoso
had played together some years before.
Miss Clendenning had taken her place at the
piano, Nathan standing beside her to turn the
leaves of the accompaniment.
Richard had picked up his violin, tucked it under
his chin, poised the bow, and that peculiar hush which
always precedes the sounding of the first notes on
evenings of this kind had already fallen upon the
room, when there came a loud rap at the front door
that startled everyone and the next instant Colonel
Clayton burst in, his cheeks flaming, his hat still on