Part 6 out of 7
made rigid that smiling face--her soft voice was hushed for ever--and the
cold snow was resting on their bosoms in the little churchyard miles away.
Truly the contrast between now and then was extremely saddening, and the
child bowed his head upon the seat, and sobbed in bitter grief.
"What is the matter?" asked Mr. Balch; "not crying again, I hope. I
thought you were going to be a man, and that we were not to have any more
tears. Come!" continued he, patting him encouragingly on the back, "cheer
up! You are going to a delightful place, where you will find a number of
agreeable playmates, and have a deal of fun, and enjoy yourself amazingly."
"But it won't be _home_," replied Clarence.
"True," replied Mr. Balch, a little touched, "it won't seem so at first;
but you'll soon like it, I'll guarantee that."
Clarence was not permitted to indulge his grief to any great extent, for
Mr. Balch soon succeeded in interesting him in the various objects that
they passed on the way.
On the evening of the next day they arrived at their destination, and
Clarence alighted from the cars, cold, fatigued, and spiritless. There had
been a heavy fall of snow a few days previous, and the town of Sudbury,
which was built upon the hill-side, shone white and sparkling in the clear
It was the first time that Clarence had ever seen the ground covered with
snow, and he could not restrain his admiration at the novel spectacle it
presented to him. "Oh, look!--oh, do look! Mr. Balch," he exclaimed, "how
beautifully white it looks; it seems as if the town was built of salt."
It was indeed a pretty sight. Near them stood a clump of fantastic-shaped
trees, their gnarled limbs covered with snow, and brilliant with the
countless icicles that glistened like precious stones in the bright light
that was reflected upon them from the windows of the station. A little
farther on, between them and the town, flowed a small stream, the waters of
which were dimpling and sparkling in the moonlight. Beside its banks arose
stately cotton-mills, and from their many windows hundreds of lights were
shining. Behind them, tier above tier, were the houses of the town; and
crowning the hill was the academy, with its great dome gleaming on its top
like a silver cap upon a mountain of snow. The merry sleigh-bells and the
crisp tramp of the horses upon the frozen ground were all calculated to
make a striking impression on one beholding such a scene for the first
Clarence followed Mr. Balch into the sleigh, delighted and bewildered with
the surrounding objects. The driver whipped up his horses, they clattered
over the bridge, dashed swiftly through the town, and in a very short
period arrived at the dwelling of Mr. Eustis.
The horses had scarcely stopped, when the door flew open, and a stream of
light from the hall shone down the pathway to the gate. Mr. Eustis came out
on the step to welcome them. After greeting Mr. Balch warmly, he took
Clarence by the hand, and led him into the room where his sister was
"Here is our little friend," said he to her, as she arose and approached
them; "try and get him warm, Ada--his hands are like ice."
Miss Ada Bell welcomed Clarence in the most affectionate manner, assisted
him to remove his coat, unfastened his woollen neck-tie, and smoothed down
his glossy black hair; then, warming a napkin, she wrapped it round his
benumbed hands, and held them in her own until the circulation was restored
and they were supple and comfortable again.
Miss Ada Bell appeared to be about thirty-five. She had good regular
features, hazel eyes, and long chestnut curls: a mouth with the sweetest
expression, and a voice so winning and affectionate in its tone that it
went straight to the hearts of all that listened to its music.
"Had you a pleasant journey?" she asked.
"It was rather cold," answered Clarence, "and I am not accustomed to frosty
"And did you leave all your friends well?" she continued, as she chafed his
"Quite well, I thank you," he replied.
"I hear you have a little sister; were you not sorry to leave her behind?"
This question called up the tearful face of little Em and her last embrace.
He could not answer; he only raised his mournful dark eyes to the face of
Miss Ada, and as he looked at her they grew moist, and a tear sparkled on
his long lashes. Miss Ada felt that she had touched a tender chord, so she
stooped down and kissed his forehead, remarking, "You have a good face,
Clarence, and no doubt an equally good heart; we shall get on charmingly
together, I know." Those kind words won the orphan's heart, and from that
day forth. Clarence loved her. Tea was soon brought upon the table, and
they all earnestly engaged in the discussion of the various refreshments
that Miss Ada's well-stocked larder afforded. Everything was so fresh and
nicely flavoured that both the travellers ate very heartily; then, being
much fatigued with their two days' journey, they seized an early
opportunity to retire.
* * * * *
Here we leave Clarence for many years; the boy will have become a man ere
we re-introduce him, and, till then, we bid him adieu.
Charlie seeks Employment.
Charlie had been at borne some weeks, comparatively idle; at least he so
considered himself, as the little he did in the way of collecting rents and
looking up small accounts for Mr. Walters he regarded as next to nothing,
it not occupying half his time. A part of each day he spent in attendance
on his father, who seemed better satisfied with his ministrations than with
those of his wife and daughters. This proved to be very fortunate for all
parties, as it enabled the girls to concentrate their attention on their
sewing--of which they had a vast deal on hand.
One day, when Esther and Charlie were walking out together, the latter
remarked: "Ess, I wish I could find some regular and profitable employment,
or was apprenticed to some good trade that would enable me to assist mother
a little; I'd even go to service if I could do no better--anything but
being idle whilst you are all so hard at work. It makes me feel very
"I would be very glad if you could procure some suitable employment. I
don't wish you to go to service again, that is out of the question. Of whom
have you made inquiry respecting a situation."
"Oh, of lots of people; they can tell me of any number of families who are
in want of a footman, but no one appears to know of a 'person who is
willing to receive a black boy as an apprentice to a respectable calling.
It's too provoking; I really think, Ess, that the majority of white folks
imagine that we are only fit for servants, and incapable of being rendered
useful in any other capacity. If that terrible misfortune had not befallen
father, I should have learned his trade."
"Ah!" sighed Esther, "but for that we should all have been happier. But,
Charlie," she added, "how do you know that you cannot obtain any other
employment than that of a servant? Have you ever applied personally to any
"No, Esther, I haven't; but you know as well as I that white masters won't
receive coloured apprentices."
"I think a great deal of that is taken for granted," rejoined Esther, "try
some one yourself."
"I only wish I knew of any one to try," responded Charlie, "I'd hazard the
experiment at any rate."
"Look over the newspaper in the morning," advised Esther; "there are always
a great many wants advertised--amongst them you may perhaps find something
"Well, I will Ess--now then we won't talk about that any more--pray tell
me, if I'm not too inquisitive, what do you purpose buying with your
money--a wedding-dress, eh?" he asked, with a merry twinkle in his eye.
Esther blushed and sighed, as she answered: "No, Charlie, that is all over
for the present. I told him yesterday I could not think of marrying now,
whilst we are all so unsettled. It grieved me to do it, Charlie, but I felt
that it was my duty. Cad and I are going to add our savings to mother's;
that, combined with what we shall receive for father's tools, good-will,
&c, will be sufficient to furnish another house; and as soon as we can
succeed in that, we will leave Mr. Walters, as it is embarrassing to remain
under present circumstances."
"And what is to become of little Em?--she surely won't remain alone with
"Mr. Walters has proposed that when we procure a house she shall come and
board with us. He wants us to take one of his houses, and offers some
fabulous sum for the child's board, which it would be unreasonable in us to
take. Dear, good man, he is always complaining that we are too proud, and
won't let him assist us when he might. If we find a suitable house I shall
be delighted to have her. I love the child for her mother's sake and her
"I wonder if they will ever send her away, as they did Clarence?" asked
"I do not know," she rejoined. "Mr. Balch told me that he should not insist
upon it if the child was unwilling."
The next day Charlie purchased all the morning papers he could obtain, and
sat down to look over the list of wants. There were hungry people in want
of professed cooks; divers demands for chamber-maids, black or white;
special inquiries for waiters and footmen, in which the same disregard of
colour was observable; advertisements for partners in all sorts of
businesses, and for journeymen in every department of mechanical
operations; then there were milliners wanted, sempstresses, and even
theatrical assistants, but nowhere in the long columns could he discover:
"Wanted, a boy." Charlie searched them over and over, but the stubborn fact
stared him in the face--there evidently were no boys wanted; and he at
length concluded that he either belonged to a very useless class, or that
there was an unaccountable prejudice existing in the city against the
Charlie folded up the papers with a despairing sigh, and walked to the
post-office to mail a letter to Mrs. Bird that he had written the previous
evening. Having noticed a number of young men examining some written
notices that were posted up, he joined the group, and finding it was a list
of wants he eagerly read them over.
To his great delight he found there was one individual at least, who
thought boys could be rendered useful to society, and who had written as
follows: "Wanted, a youth of about thirteen years of age who writes a good
hand, and is willing to make himself useful in an office.--Address, Box No.
"I'm their man!" said Charlie to himself, as he finished perusing it--"I'm
just the person. I'll go home and write to them immediately;" and
accordingly he hastened back to the house, sat down, and wrote a reply to
the advertisement. He then privately showed it to Esther, who praised the
writing and composition, and pronounced the whole very neatly done.
Charlie then walked down to the post-office to deposit his precious reply;
and after dropping it into the brass mouth of the mail-box, he gazed in
after it, and saw it glide slowly down into the abyss below.
How many more had stopped that day to add their contributions to the mass
which Charlie's letter now joined? Merchants on the brink of ruin had
deposited missives whose answer would make or break them; others had
dropped upon the swelling heap tidings that would make poor men rich--rich
men richer; maidens came with delicately written notes, perfumed and
gilt-edged, eloquent with love--and cast them amidst invoices and bills of
lading. Letters of condolence and notes of congratulation jostled each
other as they slid down the brass throat; widowed mothers' tender epistles
to wandering sons; the letters of fond wives to absent husbands; erring
daughters' last appeals to outraged parents; offers of marriage;
invitations to funerals; hope and despair; joy and sorrow; misfortune and
success--had glided in one almost unbroken stream down that ever-distended
and insatiable brass throat.
Charlie gave one more look at the opening, then sauntered homeward,
building by the way houses of fabulous dimensions, with the income he
anticipated from the situation if he succeeded in procuring it. Throughout
the next day he was in a state of feverish anxiety and expectation, and
Mrs. Ellis two or three times inquired the meaning of the mysterious
whisperings and glances that were exchanged between him and Esther. The day
wore away, and yet no answer--the next came and passed, still no
communication; and Charlie had given up in despair, when he was agreeably
surprised by the following:----
"Messrs. Twining, Western, and Twining will be much obliged to Charles
Ellis, if he will call at their office, 567, Water-street, to-morrow
morning at eleven o'clock, as they would like to communicate further with
him respecting a situation in their establishment."
Charlie flew up stairs to Esther's room, and rushing in precipitately,
exclaimed, "Oh! Ess--I've got it, I've got it--see here," he shouted,
waving the note over his head; "Hurrah! Hurrah! Just read it, Ess, only
just read it!"
"How can I, Charlie?" said she, with a smile, "if you hold it in your hand
and dance about in that frantic style--give it me. There now--keep quiet a
moment, and let me read it." After perusing it attentively, Esther added,
"Don't be too sanguine, Charlie. You see by the tenor of the note that the
situation is not promised you; they only wish to see you respecting it. You
may not secure it, after all--some obstacle may arise of which we are not
at present aware."
"Go on, old raven--croak away!" said Charlie, giving her at the same time a
"There's many a slip between the cup and the lip," she added.
"Oh, Ess!" he rejoined, "don't throw cold water on a fellow in that
style--don't harbour so many doubts. Do you think they would take the
trouble to write if they did not intend to give me the situation? Go away,
old raven," concluded he, kissing her, "and don't let us have any more
Charlie was bounding from the room, when he was stopped by his sister, who
begged him not to say anything to their mother respecting it, but wait
until they knew the issue of the interview; and, if he secured the
situation, it would be a very agreeable surprise to her.
We will now visit, in company with the reader, the spacious offices of
Messrs. Twining, Western, and Twining, where we shall find Mr. Western
about consigning to the waste-paper basket a large pile of letters. This
gentleman was very fashionably dressed, of dark complexion, with the
languid air and drawling intonation of a Southerner.
At an adjoining desk sat an elderly sharp-faced gentleman, who was looking
over his spectacles at the movements of his partner. "What a mass of
letters you are about to destroy," he remarked.
Mr. Western took from his month the cigar he was smoking, and after puffing
from between his lips a thin wreath of smoke, replied: "Some of the most
atwocious scwawls that man ever attempted to pewuse,--weplies to the
advertisement. Out of the whole lot there wasn't more than a dozen amongst
them that were weally pwesentable. Here is one wemawkably well witten: I
have desiwed the witer to call this morning at eleven. I hope he will make
as favouwable an impwession as his witing has done. It is now almost
eleven--I pwesume he will be here soon."
Scarcely had Mr. Western finished speaking, ere the door opened, and Esther
entered, followed by Charlie. Both the gentlemen rose, and Mr. Twining
offered her a chair.
Esther accepted the proffered seat, threw up her veil, and said, in a
slightly embarrassed tone, "My brother here, took the liberty of replying
to an advertisement of yours, and you were kind enough to request him to
call at eleven to-day."
"We sent a note to _your_ brother?" said Mr. Twining, in a tone of
"Yes, sir, and here it is," said she, extending it to him.
Mr. Twining glanced over it, and remarked, "This is your writing, Western;"
then taking Charlie's letter from the desk of Mr. Western, he asked, in a
doubting tone, "Is this your own writing and composition?"
"My own writing and composing," answered Charlie.
"And it is vewy cweditable to you, indeed," said Mr. Western.
Both the gentlemen looked at the note again, then at Charlie, then at
Esther, and lastly at each other; but neither seemed able to say anything,
and evident embarrassment existed on both sides.
"And so you thought you would twy for the situation," at last remarked Mr.
Western to Charlie.
"Yes, sir," he answered. "I was and am very anxious to obtain some
employment." "Have you a father?" asked Mr. Twining.
"Yes, sir; but he was badly injured by the mob last summer, and will never
be able to work again."
"That's a pity," said Western, sympathisingly; "and what have you been
"Nothing very recently. I broke my arm last spring, and was obliged to go
into the country for my health. I have not long returned."
"Do your pawents keep house?"
"Not at present. We are staying with a friend. Our house was burned down by
This conversation recalled so vividly their past trials, that Esther's eyes
grew watery, and she dropped her veil to conceal a tear that was trembling
on the lid.
"How vewy unfortunate!" said Mr. Western, sympathisingly; "vewy twying,
indeed!" then burying his chin in his hand, he sat silently regarding them
for a moment or two.
"Have you come to any decision about taking him?" Esther at last ventured
to ask of Mr. Twining.
"Taking him!--oh, dear me, I had almost forgot. Charles, let me see you
write something--here, take this seat."
Charlie sat down as directed, and dashed off a few lines, which he handed
to Mr. Twining, who looked at it over and over; then rising, he beckoned to
his partner to follow him into an adjoining room.
"Well, what do you say?" asked Western, after they had closed the door
behind them. "Don't you think we had better engage him?"
"Engage _him_!" exclaimed Twining--"why, you surprise me, Western--the
thing's absurd; engage a coloured boy as under clerk! I never heard of such
"I have often," drawled Western; "there are the gweatest number of them in
"Ah, but New Orleans is a different place; such a thing never occurred in
"Well, let us cweate a pwecedent, then. The boy wites wemarkably well, and
will, no doubt, suit us exactly. It will be a chawity to take him. We need
not care what others say--evewybody knows who we are and what we are?"
"No, Western; I know the North better than you do; it wouldn't answer at
all here. We cannot take the boy--it is impossible; it would create a
rumpus amongst the clerks, who would all feel dreadfully insulted by our
placing a nigger child on an equality with them. I assure you the thing is
out of the question."
"Well, I must say you Northern people are perfectly incompwehensible. You
pay taxes to have niggers educated, and made fit for such places--and then
won't let them fill them when they are pwepared to do so. I shall leave
you, then, to tell them we can't take him. I'm doosed sowwy for it--I like
Whilst Mr. Western and his partner were discussing in one room, Charlie and
Esther were awaiting with some anxiety their decision in the other.
"I think they are going to take me," said Charlie; "you saw how struck they
appeared to be with the writing."
"They admired it, I know, my dear; but don't be too sanguine."
"I feel _sure_ they are going to take me," repeated he with a hopeful
Esther made no reply, and they remained in silence until Mr. Twining
returned to the room.
After two or three preparatory ahems, he said to Esther; "I should like to
take your brother very much; but you see, in consequence of there being so
much excitement just now, relative to Abolitionism and kindred subjects,
that my partner and myself--that is, I and Mr. Western--think--or rather
feel--that just now it would be rather awkward for us to receive him. We
should like to take him; but his _colour_, miss--his complexion is a
_fatal_ objection. It grieves me to be obliged to tell you this; but I
think, under the circumstances, it would be most prudent for us to decline
to receive him. We are _very_ sorry--but our clerks are all young men, and
have a great deal of prejudice, and I am sure he would be neither
comfortable nor happy with them. If I can serve you in any other way--"
"There is nothing that you can do that I am aware of," said Esther, rising;
"I thank you, and am sorry that we have occupied so much of your time."
"Oh, don't mention it," said Mr. Twining, evidently happy to get rid of
them; and, opening the door, he bowed them out of the office.
The two departed sadly, and they walked on for some distance in silence. At
last Esther pressed his hand, and, in a choking voice, exclaimed, "Charlie,
my dear boy, I'd give my life if it would change your complexion--if it
would make you white! Poor fellow! your battle of life will be a hard one
"I know it, Ess; but I shouldn't care to be white if I knew I would not
have a dear old Ess like you for a sister," he answered, pressing her hand
affectionately. "I don't intend to be conquered," he continued; "I'll fight
it out to the last--this won't discourage me. I'll keep on trying," said
he, determinedly--"if one won't, perhaps another will."
For two or three days Charlie could hear of nothing that would be at all
suitable for him. At last, one morning he saw an advertisement for a youth
to learn the engraver's business--one who had some knowledge of drawing
preferred; to apply at Thomas Blatchford's, bank-note engraver. "Thomas
Blatchford," repeated Mr. Walters, as Charlie read it over--"why that is
_the_ Mr. Blatchford, the Abolitionist. I think you have some chance there
most decidedly--I would advise you to take those sketches of yours and
apply at once."
Charlie ran upstairs, and selecting the best-executed of his drawings, put
them in a neat portfolio, and, without saying anything to Esther or his
mother, hastened away to Mr. Blatchford's. He was shown into a room where a
gentleman was sitting at a table examining some engraved plates. "Is this
Mr. Blatchford's?" asked Charlie.
"That is my name, my little man--do you want to see me," he kindly
"Yes, sir. You advertised for a boy to learn the engraving business, I
"Well; and what then?"
"I have come to apply for the situation."
"_You--you_ apply?" said he, in a tone of surprise.
"Yes, sir," faltered Charlie; "Mr. Walters recommended me to do so."
"Ah, you know Mr. Walters, then," he rejoined.
"Yes, sir; he is a great friend of my father's--we are living with him at
"What have you in your portfolio, there?" enquired Mr. Blatchford. Charlie
spread before him the sketches he had made during the summer, and also some
ornamental designs suitable for the title-pages of books. "Why, these are
excellently well done," exclaimed he, after examining them attentively;
"who taught you?"
Charlie hereupon briefly related his acquaintance with the artist, and his
efforts to obtain employment, and their results, besides many other
circumstances connected with himself and family. Mr. Blatchford became
deeply interested, and, at the end of a long conversation, delighted
Charlie by informing him that if he and his mother could agree as to terms
he should be glad to receive him as an apprentice.
Charlie could scarcely believe the evidence of his own ears, and leaving
his portfolio on the table was hastening away.
"Stop! stop!" cried Mr. Blatchford, with a smile; "you have not heard all I
wish to say. I would be much obliged to your mother if she would call at my
house this evening, and then we can settle the matter definitely."
Charlie seemed to tread on air as he walked home. Flying up to Esther--his
usual confidant--be related to her the whole affair, and gave at great
length his conversation with Mr. Blatchford.
"That looks something like," said she; "I am delighted with the prospect
that is opening to you. Let us go and tell mother,"--and, accordingly, off
they both started, to carry the agreeable intelligence to Mrs. Ellis.
That, evening Charlie, his mother, and Mr. Walters went to the house of Mr.
Blatchford. They were most, kindly received, and all the arrangements made
for Charlie's apprenticeship. He was to remain one month on trial; and if,
at the end of that period, all parties were satisfied, he was to be
Charlie looked forward impatiently to the following Monday, on which day he
was to commence his apprenticeship. In the intervening time he held daily
conferences with Kinch, as he felt their intimacy would receive a slight
check after he entered upon his new pursuit.
"Look here, old fellow," said Charlie; "it won't do for you to be lounging
on the door-steps of the office, nor be whistling for me under the windows.
Mr. Blatchford spoke particularly against my having playmates around in
work hours; evenings I shall always be at home, and then you can come and
see me as often as you like."
Since his visit to Warmouth, Charlie had been much more particular
respecting his personal appearance, dressed neater, and was much more
careful of his clothes. He had also given up marbles, and tried to persuade
Kinch to do the same.
"I'd cut marbles, Kinch," said he to him one evening, when they were
walking together, "if I were you; it makes one such a fright--covers one
with chalk-marks and dirt from head to foot. And another thing, Kinch; you
have an abundance of good clothes--do wear them, and try and look more like
"Dear me!" said Kinch, rolling up the white of his eyes--"just listen how
we are going on! Hadn't I better get an eye-glass and pair of light kid
"Oh, Kinch!" said Charlie, gravely, "I'm not joking--I mean what I say. You
don't know how far rough looks and an untidy person go against one. I do
wish you would try and keep yourself decent." "Well, there then--I will,"
answered Kinch. "But, Charlie, I'm afraid, with your travelling and one
thing or other, you will forget your old playmate by-and-by, and get above
Charlie's eyes moistened; and, with a boy's impulsiveness, he threw his arm
over Kinch's shoulder, and exclaimed with emphasis, "Never, old fellow,
never--not as long as my name is Charlie Ellis! You mustn't be hurt at what
I said, Kinch--I think more of these things than I used to--I see the
importance of them. I find that any one who wants to get on must be
particular in little things as well great, and I must try and be a man
now--for you know things don't glide on as smoothly with us as they used. I
often think of our fun in the old house--ah, perhaps we'll have good times
in another of our own yet!"--and with this Charlie and his friend separated
for the night.
Clouds and Sunshine.
The important Monday at length arrived, and Charlie hastened to the office
of Mr. Blatchford, which he reached before the hour for commencing labour.
He found some dozen or more journeymen assembled in the work-room; and
noticed that upon his entrance there was an interchange of significant
glances, and once or twice he overheard the whisper of "nigger."
Mr. Blatchford was engaged in discussing some business matter with a
gentleman, and did not observe the agitation that Charlie's entrance had
occasioned. The conversation having terminated, the gentleman took up the
morning paper, and Mr. Blatchford, noticing Charlie, said, "Ah! you have
come, and in good time, too. Wheeler," he continued, turning to one of the
workmen, "I want you to take this boy under your especial charge: give him
a seat at your window, and overlook his work."
At this there was a general uprising of the workmen, who commenced throwing
off their caps and aprons. "What is all this for?" asked Mr. Blatchford in
astonishment--"why this commotion?"
"We won't work with niggers!" cried one; "No nigger apprentices!" cried
another; and "No niggers--no niggers!" was echoed from all parts of the
"Silence!" cried Mr. Blatchford, stamping violently--"silence, every one of
you!" As soon as partial order was restored, he turned to Wheeler, and
demanded, "What is the occasion of all this tumult--what does it mean?"
"Why, sir, it means just this: the men and boys discovered that you
intended to take a nigger apprentice, and have made up their minds if you
do they will quit in a body."
"It cannot be possible," exclaimed the employer, "that any man or boy in my
establishment has room in his heart for such narrow contemptible
prejudices. Can it be that you have entered into a conspiracy to deprive an
inoffensive child of an opportunity of earning his bread in a respectable
manner? Come, let me persuade you--the boy is well-behaved and educated!"
"Damn his behaviour and education!" responded a burly fellow; "let him be a
barber or shoe-black--that is all niggers are good for. If he comes, we
go--that's so, ain't it, boys?"
There was a general response of approval to this appeal; and Mr.
Blatchford, seeing the utter uselessness of further parleying, left the
room, followed by Charlie and the gentleman with whom he had been
Mr. Blatchford was placed in a most disagreeable position by this revolt on
the part of his workmen; he had just received large orders from some new
banks which were commencing operations, and a general disruption of his
establishment at that moment would have ruined him. To accede to his
workmen's demands he must do violence to his own conscience; but he dared
not sacrifice his business and bring ruin on himself and family, even
though he was right.
"What would you do, Burrell?" he asked of the gentleman who had followed
"There is no question as to what you must do. You mustn't ruin yourself for
the sake of your principles. You will have to abandon the lad; the other
alternative is not to be thought of for a moment."
"Well, Charles, you see how it is," said Mr. Blatchford, reluctantly.
Charlie had been standing intently regarding the conversation that
concerned him so deeply. His face was pale and his lips quivering with
"I'd like to keep you, my boy, but you see how I'm situated, I must either
give up you or my business; the latter I cannot afford to do." With a great
effort Charlie repressed his tears, and bidding them good morning in a
choking voice, hastened from the room.
"It's an infernal shame!" said Mr. Blatchford, indignantly; "and I shall
think meanly of myself for ever for submitting to it; but I can't help
myself, and must make the best of it."
Charlie walked downstairs with lingering steps, and took the direction of
home. "All because I'm coloured," said he, bitterly, to himself--"all
because I'm coloured! What will mother and Esther say? How it will distress
them--they've so built upon it! I wish," said he, sadly, "that I was dead!"
No longer able to repress the tears that were welling up, he walked towards
the window of a print-store, where he pretended to be deeply interested in
some pictures whilst he stealthily wiped his eyes. Every time he turned to
leave the window, there came a fresh flood of tears; and at last he was
obliged to give way entirely, and sobbed as if his heart would break.
He was thus standing when he felt a hand laid familiarly on his shoulder,
and, on turning round, he beheld the gentleman he had left in Mr.
Blatchford's office. "Come, my little man," said he, "don't take it so much
to heart. Cheer up--you may find some other person willing to employ you.
Come, walk on with me--where do you live?" Charlie dried his eyes and gave
him his address as they walked on up the street together.
Mr. Burrell talked encouragingly, and quite succeeded in soothing him ere
they separated. "I shall keep a look out for you," said he, kindly; "and if
I hear of anything likely to suit you, I shall let you know."
Charlie thanked him and sauntered slowly home. When he arrived, and they
saw his agitated looks, and his eyes swollen from the effect of recent
tears, there was a general inquiry of "What has happened? Why are you home
so early; are you sick?"
Charlie hereupon related all that had transpired at the office--his great
disappointment and the occasion of it--to the intense indignation and grief
of his mother and sisters. "I wish there were no white folks," said
Caddy, wrathfully; "they are all, I believe, a complete set of villains and
everything else that is bad."
"Don't be so sweeping in your remarks, pray don't, Caddy," interposed
Esther; "you have just heard what Charlie said of Mr. Blatchford--his heart
is kindly disposed, at any rate; you see he is trammelled by others."
"Oh! well, I don't like any of them--I hate them all!" she continued
bitterly, driving her needle at the same time into the cloth she was
sewing, as if it was a white person she had in her lap and she was sticking
pins in him. "Don't cry, Charlie," she added; "the old white wretches, they
shouldn't get a tear out of me for fifty trades!" But Charlie could not be
comforted; he buried his head in his mother's lap, and wept over his
disappointment until he made himself sick.
That day, after Mr. Burrell had finished his dinner, he remarked to his
wife, "I saw something this morning, my dear, that made a deep impression
on me. I haven't been able to get it out of my head for any length of time
since; it touched me deeply, I assure you."
"Why, what could it have been? Pray tell me what it was."
Thereupon, he gave his wife a graphic account of the events that had
transpired at Blatchford's in the morning; and in conclusion, said, "Now,
you know, my dear, that no one would call _me_ an _Abolitionist_; and I
suppose I have some little prejudice, as well as others, against coloured
people; but I had no idea that sensible men would have carried it to that
extent, to set themselves up, as they did, in opposition to a little boy
anxious to earn his bread by learning a useful trade."
Mrs. Burrell was a young woman of about twenty-two, with a round
good-natured face and plump comfortable-looking figure; she had a heart
overflowing with kindness, and was naturally much affected by what he
related. "I declare it's perfectly outrageous," exclaimed she, indignantly;
"and I wonder at Blatchford for submitting to it. I wouldn't allow myself
to be dictated to in that manner--and he such an Abolitionist too! Had I
been him, I should have stuck to my principles at any risk. Poor little
fellow! I so wonder at Blatchford; I really don't think he has acted
"Not so fast, my little woman, if you please--that is the way with almost
all of you, you let your hearts run away with your heads. You are unjust to
Blatchford; he could not help himself, he was completely in their power. It
is almost impossible at present to procure workmen in our business, and he
is under contract to finish a large amount of work within a specified time;
and if he should fail to fulfil his agreement it would subject him to
immense loss--in fact, it would entirely ruin him. You are aware, my dear,
that I am thoroughly acquainted with the state of his affairs; he is
greatly in debt from unfortunate speculations, and a false step just now
would overset him completely; he could not have done otherwise than he has,
and do justice to himself and his family. I felt that he could not; and in
fact advised him to act as he did."
"Now, George Burrell, you didn't," said she, reproachfully.
"Yes I did, my dear, because I thought of his family; I really believe
though, had I encouraged him, he would have made the sacrifice."
"And what became of the boy?"
"Oh; poor lad, he seemed very much cut down by it--I was quite touched by
his grief. When I came out, I found him standing by a shop window crying
bitterly. I tried to pacify him, and told him I would endeavour to obtain a
situation for him somewhere--and I shall."
"Has he parents?" asked Mrs. Burrell.
"Yes; and, by the way, don't you remember whilst the mob was raging last
summer, we read an account of a man running to the roof of a house to
escape from the rioters? You remember they chopped his hands off and threw
"Oh, yes, dear, I recollect; don't--don't mention it," said she, with a
shudder of horror. "I remember it perfectly."
"Well, this little fellow is his son," continued Mr. Burrell.
"Indeed! and what has become of his father--did he die?"
"No, he partially recovered, but is helpless, and almost an idiot. I never
saw a child, apparently so anxious to get work; he talked more like a man
with a family dependent upon him for support, than a youth. I tell you
what, I became quite interested in him; he was very communicative, and told
me all their circumstances; their house was destroyed by the mob, and they
are at present residing with a friend."
Just then the cry of a child was heard in the adjoining room, and Mrs.
Burrell rushed precipitately away, and soon returned with a fat,
healthy-looking boy in her arms, which, after kissing, she placed in her
husband's lap. He was their first-born and only child, and, as a matter of
course, a great pet, and regarded by them as a most wonderful boy; in
consequence, papa sat quite still, and permitted him to pull the studs out
of his shirt, untie his cravat, rumple his hair, and take all those little
liberties to which babies are notoriously addicted.
Mrs. Burrell sat down on a stool at her husband's feet, and gazed at him
and the child in silence for some time.
"What's the matter, Jane; what has made you so grave?"
"I was trying to imagine, Burrell, how I should feel if you, I, and baby
were coloured; I was trying to place myself in such a situation. Now we
know that our boy, if he is honest and upright--is blest with great talent
or genius--may aspire to any station in society that he wishes to obtain.
How different it would be if he were coloured!--there would be nothing
bright in the prospective for him. We could hardly promise him a living at
any respectable calling. I think, George, we treat coloured people with
great injustice, don't you?"
Mr. Burrell hemmed and ha'd at this direct query, and answered, "Well, we
don't act exactly right toward them, I must confess."
Mrs. Burrell rose, and took the vacant knee of her husband, and toying with
the baby, said, "Now, George Burrell, I want to ask a favour of you. Why
can't _you_ take this boy ?" "I take him! why, my dear, I don't want an
"Yes, but you must _make_ a want. You said he was a bright boy, and
sketched well. Why, I should think that he's just what you ought to have.
There is no one at your office that would oppose it. Cummings and Dalton
were with your father before you, they would never object to anything
reasonable that you proposed. Come, dear! do now make the trial--won't
Mr. Burrell was a tender-hearted, yielding sort of an individual; and what
was more, his wife was fully aware of it; and like a young witch as she
was, she put on her sweetest looks, and begged so imploringly, that he was
almost conquered. But when she took up the baby, and made him put his
chubby arms round his father's neck, and say "pese pop-pop," he was
completely vanquished, and surrendered at discretion.
"I'll see what can be done," said he, at last.
"And will you do it afterwards?" she asked, archly.
"Yes, I will, dear, I assure you," he rejoined.
"Then I know it will be done," said she, confidently; "and none of us will
be the worse off for it, I am sure."
After leaving home, Mr. Burrell went immediately to the office of Mr.
Blatchford; and after having procured Charlie's portfolio, he started in
the direction of his own establishment. He did not by any means carry on so
extensive a business as Mr. Blatchford, and employed only two elderly men
as journeymen. After he had sat down to work, one of them remarked, "Tucker
has been here, and wants some rough cuts executed for a new book. I told
him I did not think you would engage to do them; that you had given up that
description of work."
"I think we lose a great deal, Cummings, by being obliged to give up those
jobs," rejoined Mr. Burrell.
"Why don't you take an apprentice then," he suggested; "it's just the kind
of work for them to learn upon."
"Well I've been thinking of that," replied he, rising and producing the
drawings from Charlie's portfolio. "Look here," said he, "what do you
think of these as the work of a lad of twelve or fourteen, who has never
had more than half a dozen lessons?"
"I should say they were remarkably well done," responded Cummings.
"Shouldn't you say so, Dalton?" The party addressed took the sketches, and
examined them thoroughly, and gave an approving opinion of their merits.
"Well," said Mr. Burrell, "the boy that executed those is in want of a
situation, and I should like to take him; but I thought I would consult you
both about it first. I met with him under very singular circumstances, and
I'll tell you all about it." And forthwith he repeated to them the
occurrences of the morning, dwelling upon the most affecting parts, and
concluding by putting the question to them direct, as to whether they had
any objections to his taking him.
"Why no, none in the world," readily answered Cummings. "Laws me! colour is
nothing after all; and black fingers can handle a graver as well as white
ones, I expect."
"I thought it best to ask you, to avoid any after difficulty. You have both
been in the establishment so long, that I felt that you ought to be
"You needn't have taken that trouble," said Dalton. "You might have known
that anything done by your father's son, would be satisfactory to us. I
never had anything to do with coloured people, and haven't anything against
them; and as long as you are contented I am."
"Well, we all have our little prejudices against various things; and as I
did not know how you both would feel, I thought I wouldn't take any decided
steps without consulting you; but now I shall consider it settled, and will
let the lad know that I will take him."
In the evening, he hastened home at an earlier hour than usual, and
delighted his wife by saying--"I have succeeded to a charm, my dear--there
wasn't the very slightest objection. I'm going to take the boy, if he
wishes to come." "Oh, I'm delighted," cried she, clapping her hands. "Cry
hurrah for papa!" said she to the baby; "cry hurrah for papa!"
The scion of the house of Burrell gave vent to some scarcely intelligible
sounds, that resembled "Hoo-rogler pop-pop!" which his mother averred was
astonishingly plain, and deserving of a kiss; and, snatching him up, she
gave him two or three hearty ones, and then planted him in his father's lap
"My dear," said her husband, "I thought, as you proposed my taking this
youth, you might like to have the pleasure of acquainting him with his good
fortune. After tea, if you are disposed, we will go down there; the walk
will do you good."
"Oh, George Burrell," said she, her face radiant with pleasure, "you are
certainly trying to outdo yourself. I have been languishing all day for a
walk! What a charming husband you are! I really ought to do something for
you. Ah, I know what--I'll indulge you; you may smoke all the way there and
back. I'll even go so far as to light the cigars for you myself."
"That is a boon," rejoined her husband with a smile; "really 'virtue
rewarded,' I declare."
Tea over, the baby kissed and put to bed, Mrs. Burrell tied on the most
bewitching of bonnets, and donning her new fur-trimmed cloak, declared
herself ready for the walk; and off they started. Mr. Burrell puffed away
luxuriously as they walked along, stopping now and then at her command, to
look into such shop-windows as contained articles adapted to the use of
infants, from india-rubber rings and ivory rattles, to baby coats and
At length they arrived at the door of Mr. Walters, and on, looking up at
the house, he exclaimed, "This is 257, but it can't be the place; surely
coloured people don't live in as fine an establishment as this." Then,
running up the steps, he examined the plate upon the door. "The name
corresponds with the address given me," said he; "I'll ring. Is there a
lad living here by the name of Charles Ellis?" he asked of the servant who
opened the door.
"Yes, sir," was the reply. "Will you walk in?"
When they were ushered into the drawing-room, Mr. Burrell said,--"Be kind
enough to say that a gentleman wishes to see him."
The girl departed, closing the door behind her, leaving them staring about
the room. "How elegantly it is furnished!" said she. "I hadn't an idea that
there were any coloured people living in such style."
"Some of them are very rich," remarked her husband.
"But you said this boy was poor."
"So he is. I understand they are staying with the owner of this house."
Whilst they were thus conversing the door opened, and Esther entered. "I am
sorry," said she, "that my brother has retired. He has a very severe
head-ache, and was unable to remain up longer. His mother is out: I am his
sister, and shall be most happy to receive any communication for him."
"I regret to hear of his indisposition," replied Mr. Burrell; "I hope it is
not consequent upon his disappointment this morning?"
"I fear it is. Poor fellow! he took it very much to heart. It was a
disappointment to us all. We were congratulating ourselves on having
secured him an eligible situation."
"I assure you the disappointment is not all on one side; he is a very
promising boy, and the loss of his prospective services annoying. Nothing
but stern necessity caused the result."
"Oh, we entirely acquit you, Mr. Blatchford, of all blame in the matter. We
are confident that what happened was not occasioned by any indisposition on
your part to fulfil your agreement."
"My dear," interrupted Mrs. Burrell, "she thinks you are Mr. Blatchford."
"And are you not?" asked Esther, with some surprise.
"Oh, no; I'm an intimate friend of his, and was present this morning when
the affair happened." "Oh, indeed," responded Esther.
"Yes; and he came home and related it all to me,--the whole affair,"
interrupted Mrs. Burrell. "I was dreadfully provoked; I assure you, I
sympathized with him very much. I became deeply interested in the whole
affair; I was looking at my little boy,--for I have a little boy," said
she, with matronly dignity,--"and I thought, suppose it was my little boy
being treated so, how should I like it? So bringing the matter home to
myself in that way made me feel all the more strongly about it; and I just
told George Burrell he must take him, as he is an engraver; and I and the
baby gave him no rest until he consented to do so. He will take him on the
same terms offered by Mr. Blatchford; and then we came down to tell you;
and--and," said she, quite out of breath, "that is all about it."
Esther took the little woman's plump hand in both her own, and, for a
moment, seemed incapable of even thanking her. At last she said, in a husky
voice, "You can't think what a relief this is to us. My brother has taken
his disappointment so much to heart--I can't tell you how much I thank you.
God will reward you for your sympathy and kindness. You must excuse me,"
she continued, as her voice faltered; "we have latterly been so
unaccustomed to receive such sympathy and kindness from persons of your
complexion, that this has quite overcome me."
"Oh, now, don't! I'm sure it's no more than our duty, and I'm as much
pleased as you can possibly be--it has given me heartfelt gratification, I
Esther repeated her thanks, and followed them to the door, where she shook
hands with Mrs. Burrell, who gave her a pressing invitation to come and see
"How easy it is, George Burrell," said the happy little woman, "to make the
hearts of others as light as our own-mine feels like a feather," she added,
as she skipped along, clinging to his arm. "What a nice, lady-like girl his
sister is--is her brother as handsome as she ?"
"Not quite," he answered; "still, he is very good-looking, I'll bring him
home with me to-morrow at dinner, and then you can see him."
Chatting merrily, they soon arrived at home. Mrs. Burrell ran straightway
upstairs to look at that "blessed baby;" she found him sleeping soundly,
and looking as comfortable and happy as it is possible for a sleeping baby
to look--so she bestowed upon him a perfect avalanche of kisses, and
retired to her own peaceful pillow.
And now, having thus satisfactorily arranged for our young friend Charlie,
we will leave him for a few years engaged in his new pursuits.
Many Years After.
Old Father Time is a stealthy worker. In youth we are scarcely able to
appreciate his efforts, and oftentimes think him an exceedingly slow and
limping old fellow. When we ripen into maturity, and are fighting our own
way through the battle of life, we deem him swift enough of foot, and
sometimes rather hurried; but when old age comes on, and death and the
grave are foretold by trembling limbs and snowy locks, we wonder that our
course has been so swiftly run, and chide old Time for a somewhat hasty and
The reader must imagine that many years have passed away since the events
narrated in the preceding chapters transpired, and permit us to
re-introduce the characters formerly presented, without any attempt to
describe how that long period has been occupied.
First of all, let us resume our acquaintance with Mr. Stevens. To effect
this, we must pay that gentleman a visit at his luxurious mansion in Fifth
Avenue, the most fashionable street of New York--the place where the upper
ten thousand of that vast, bustling city most do congregate. As he is an
old acquaintance (we won't say friend), we will disregard ceremony, and
walk boldly into the library where that gentleman is sitting.
He is changed--yes, sadly changed. Time has been hard at work with him,
and, dissatisfied with what his unaided agency could produce, has called in
conscience to his aid, and their united efforts have left their marks upon
him. He looks old--aye, very old. The bald spot on his head has extended
its limits until there is only a fringe of thin white hair above the ears.
There are deep wrinkles upon his forehead; and the eyes, half obscured by
the bushy grey eyebrows, are bloodshot and sunken; the jaws hollow and
spectral, and his lower lip drooping and flaccid. He lifts his hand to pour
out another glass of liquor from the decanter at his side, when his
daughter lays her hand upon it, and looks appealingly in his face.
She has grown to be a tall, elegant woman, slightly thin, and with a
careworn and fatigued expression of countenance. There is, however, the
same sweetness in her clear blue eyes, and as she moves her head, her fair
flaxen curls float about her face as dreamily and deliciously as ever they
did of yore. She is still in black, wearing mourning for her mother, who
not many months before had been laid in a quiet nook on the estate at
"Pray, papa, don't drink any more," said she, persuasively--"it makes you
nervous, and will bring on one of those frightful attacks again."
"Let me alone," he remonstrated harshly--"let me alone, and take your hand
off the glass; the doctor has forbidden laudanum, so I will have brandy
instead--take off your hand and let me drink, I say."
Lizzie still kept her hand upon the decanter, and continued gently: "No,
no, dear pa--you promised me you would only drink two glasses, and you have
already taken three--it is exceedingly injurious. The doctor insisted upon
it that you should decrease the quantity--and you are adding to it
"Devil take the doctor!" exclaimed he roughly, endeavouring to disengage
her hold--"give me the liquor, I say."
His daughter did not appear the least alarmed at this violence of manner,
nor suffer her grasp upon the neck of the decanter to be relaxed; but all
the while spoke soothing words to the angry old man, and endeavoured to
persuade him to relinquish his intention of drinking any more.
"You don't respect your old father," he cried, in a whining tone--"you
take advantage of my helplessness, all of you--you ill-treat me and deny me
the very comforts of life! I'll tell--I'll tell the doctor," he continued,
as his voice subsided into an almost inaudible tone, and he sank back into
the chair in a state of semi-stupor.
Removing the liquor from his reach, his daughter rang the bell, and then
walked towards the door of the room.
"Who procured that liquor for my father?" she asked of the servant who
"I did, miss," answered the man, hesitatingly.
"Let this be the last time you do such a thing," she rejoined, eyeing him
sternly, "unless you wish to be discharged. I thought you all fully
understood that on no consideration was my father to have liquor, unless by
the physician's or my order--it aggravates his disease and neutralizes all
the doctor's efforts--and, unless you wish to be immediately discharged,
never repeat the same offence. Now, procure some assistance--it is time my
father was prepared for bed."
The man bowed and left the apartment; but soon returned, saying there was a
person in the hall who had forced his way into the house, and who
positively refused to stir until he saw Mr. Stevens.
"He has been here two or three times," added the man, "and he is very rough
"This is most singular conduct," exclaimed Miss Stevens. "Did he give his
"Yes, miss; he calls himself McCloskey."
At the utterance of this well-known name, Mr. Stevens raised his head, and
stared at the speaker with a look of stupid fright, and inquired, "Who
here--what name is that?--speak louder--what name?"
"McCloskey," answered the man, in a louder tone.
"What! he--_he_!" cried Mr. Stevens, with a terrified look. "Where--where
is he?" he continued, endeavouring to rise--"where is he?"
"Stop, pa," interposed his daughter, alarmed at his appearance and manner.
"Do stop--let me go," "No--no!" said the old man wildly, seizing her by
the dress to detain her--"_you_ must not go--that would never do! He might
tell her," he muttered to himself--"No, no--I'll go!"--and thus speaking,
he made another ineffectual attempt to reach the door.
"Dear father! do let me go!" she repeated, imploringly. "You are incapable
of seeing any one--let me inquire what he wants!" she added, endeavouring
to loose his hold upon her dress.
"No--you shall not!" he replied, clutching her dress still tighter, and
endeavouring to draw her towards him.
"Oh, father!" she asked distractedly, "what can this mean? Here," said she,
addressing the servant, who stood gazing in silent wonder on this singular
scene, "help my father into his chair again, and then tell this strange man
to wait awhile."
The exhausted man, having been placed in his chair, motioned to his
daughter to close the door behind the servant, who had just retired.
"He wants money," said he, in a whisper--"he wants money! He'll make
beggars of us all--and yet I'll have to give him some. Quick! give me my
cheque-book--let me give him something before he has a chance to talk to
any one--quick! quick!"
The distracted girl wrung her hands with grief at what she imagined was a
return of her father's malady, and exclaimed, "Oh! if George only would
remain at home--it is too much for me to have the care of father whilst he
is in such a state." Then pretending to be in search of the cheque-book,
she turned over the pamphlets and papers upon his desk, that she might gain
time, and think how it was best to proceed.
Whilst she was thus hesitating, the door of the room was suddenly opened,
and a shabbily dressed man, bearing a strong odour of rum about him, forced
his way into the apartment, saying, "I will see him. D----n it, I don't
care haporth how sick he is--let me go, or by the powers I'll murther some
of yes." The old man's face was almost blanched with terror when he heard
the voice and saw the abrupt entry of the intruder. He sprang from the
chair with a great effort, and then, unable to sustain himself, sunk
fainting on the floor.
"Oh, you have killed my father--you have killed my father! Who are you, and
what do you want, that you dare thrust yourself upon him in this manner?"
said she, stooping to assist in raising him; "cannot you see he is entirely
unfit for any business?"
Mr. Stevens was replaced in his chair, and water thrown in his face to
facilitate his recovery.
Meanwhile, McCloskey had poured himself out a glass of brandy and water,
which he stood sipping as coolly as if everything in the apartment was in a
state of the most perfect composure. The singular terror of her father, and
the boldness and assurance of the intruder, were to Miss Stevens something
inexplicable--she stood looking from one to the other, as though seeking an
explanation, and on observing symptoms of a return to consciousness on the
part of her parent, she turned to McCloskey, and said, appealingly: "You
see how your presence has agitated my father. Pray let me conjure you--go.
Be your errand what it may, I promise you it shall have the earliest
attention. Or," said she, "tell me what it is; perhaps I can see to it--I
attend a great deal to father's business. Pray tell me!"
"No, no!" exclaimed the old man, who had caught the last few words of his
daughter. "No, no--not a syllable! Here, I'm well--I'm well enough. I'll
attend to you. There, there--that will do," he continued, addressing the
servant; "leave the room. And you," he added, turning to his daughter, "do
you go too. I am much better now, and can talk to him. Go! go!" he cried,
impatiently, as he saw evidences of a disposition to linger, on her part;
"if I want you I'll ring. Go!--this person won't stay long."
"Not if I get what I came for, miss," said McCloskey, insolently;
"otherwise, there is no knowing how long I may stay." With a look of
apprehension, Lizzie quitted the room, and the murderer and his accomplice
were alone together.
Mr. Stevens reached across the table, drew the liquor towards him, and
recklessly pouring out a large quantity, drained the glass to the
bottom--this seemed to nerve him up and give him courage, for he turned to
McCloskey and said, with a much bolder air than he had yet shown in
addressing him, "So, you're back again, villain! are you? I thought and
hoped you were dead;" and he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes
as if to shut out some horrid spectre.
"I've been divilish near it, squire, but Providence has preserved me, ye
see--jist to be a comfort to ye in yer old age. I've been shipwrecked,
blown up in steamboats, and I've had favers and choleray and the divil
alone knows what--but I've been marcifully presarved to ye, and hope ye'll
see a good dale of me this many years to come."
Mr. Stevens glared at him fiercely for a few seconds, and then rejoined,
"You promised me solemnly, five years ago, that you would never trouble me
again, and I gave you money enough to have kept you in comfort--ay,
luxury--for the remainder of your life. Where is it all now?"
"That's more than I can tell you, squire. I only know how it comes. I don't
trouble myself how it goes--that's your look out. If ye are anxious on that
score you'd better hire a bookkeeper for me--he shall send yer honour a
quarterly account, and then it won't come on ye so sudden when it's all out
"Insolent!" muttered Mr. Stevens.
McCloskey gave Mr. Stevens an impudent look, but beyond that took no
farther notice of his remark, but proceeded with the utmost coolness to
pour out another glass of brandy--after which he drew his chair closer to
the grate, and placed his dirty feet upon the mantelpiece in close
proximity to an alabaster clock.
"You make yourself very much at home," said Stevens, indignantly.
"Why shouldn't I?" answered his tormentor, in a tone of the most perfect
good humour. "Why shouldn't I--in the house of an ould acquaintance and
particular friend--just the place to feel at home, eh, Stevens?" then
folding his arms and tilting back his chair, he asked, coolly: "You haven't
a cigar, have ye?"
"No," replied Stevens, surlily; "and if I had, you should not have it. Your
insolence is unbearable; you appear," continued he, with some show of
dignity, "to have forgotten who I am, and who you are."
"Ye're mistaken there, squire. Divil a bit have I. I'm McCloskey, and you
are Slippery George--an animal that's known over the 'varsal world as a
Philadelphia lawyer--a man that's chated his hundreds, and if he lives long
enough, he'll chate as many more, savin' his friend Mr. McCloskey, and him
he'll not be afther chating, because he won't be able to get a chance,
although he'd like to if he could--divil a doubt of that."
"It's false--I never tried to cheat you," rejoined Stevens, courageously,
for the liquor was beginning to have a very inspiriting effect. "It's a
lie--I paid you all I agreed upon, and more besides; but you are like a
leech--never satisfied. You have had from me altogether nearly twenty
thousand dollars, and you'll not get much more--now, mind I tell you."
"The divil I won't," rejoined he, angrily; "that is yet to be seen. How
would you like to make yer appearance at court some fine morning, on the
charge of murther, eh?" Mr. Stevens gave a perceptible shudder, and looked
round, whereupon McCloskey said, with a malevolent grin, "Ye see I don't
stick at words, squire; I call things by their names."
"So I perceive," answered Stevens. "You were not so bold once."
"Ha, ha!" laughed McCloskey. "I know _that_ as well as you--then _I_ was
under the thumb--that was before we were sailing in the one boat; now ye
see, squire, the boot is on the other leg." Mr. Stevens remained quiet
for a few moments, whilst his ragged visitor continued to leisurely sip his
brandy and contemplate the soles of his boots as they were reflected in the
mirror above--they were a sorry pair of boots, and looked as if there would
soon be a general outbreak of his toes--so thin and dilapidated did the
"Look at thim boots, and me suit ginerally, and see if your conscience
won't accuse ye of ingratitude to the man who made yer fortune--or rather
lets ye keep it, now ye have it. Isn't it a shame now for me, the best
friend you've got in the world, to be tramping the streets widdout a penny
in his pocket, and ye livin' in clover, with gold pieces as plenty as
blackberries. It don't look right, squire, and mustn't go on any longer."
"What do you want--whatever will satisfy you?" asked Stevens. "If I give
you ever so much now, what guarantee have I that you'll not return in a
month or so, and want as much more?"
"I'll pledge ye me honour," said McCloskey, grandly.
"Your honour!" rejoined Stevens, "that is no security."
"Security or no security," said McCloskey, impatiently, "you'll have to
give me the money--it's not a bit of use now this disputin, bekase ye see
I'm bound to have it, and ye are wise enough to know ye'd better give it to
me. What if ye have give me thousands upon thousands," continued he, his
former good-humoured expression entirely vanishing; "it's nothing more than
you ought to do for keeping yer secrets for ye--and as long as ye have
money, ye may expect to share it with me: so make me out a good heavy
cheque, and say no more about it."
"What do you call a heavy cheque?" asked Stevens, in a despairing tone.
"Five or six thousand," coolly answered his visitor.
"Five or six thousand!" echoed Mr. Stevens, "it is impossible."
"It had better not be," said McCloskey, looking angry; "it had better not
be--I'm determined not to be leading a beggar's life, and you to be a
rolling in wealth."
"I can't give it, and won't give it--if it must come to that," answered
Stevens, desperately. "It is you that have the fortune--I am only your
banker at this rate. I can't give it to you--I haven't got that much
"You must find it then, and pretty quick at that," said McCloskey. "I'm not
to be fooled with--I came here for money, and I must and will have it."
"I am willing to do what is reasonable," rejoined Mr. Stevens, in a more
subdued tone. "You talk of thousands as most men do of hundreds. I really
haven't got it."
"Oh, bother such stuff as that," interrupted McCloskey, incredulously. "I
don't believe a word of it--I've asked them that know, and every one says
you've made a mint of money by speculation--that since ye sold out in the
South and came here to live, there's no end to the money ye've made; so you
see it don't do to be making a poor mouth to me. I've come here for a check
for five thousand dollars, and shan't go away without it," concluded he, in
a loud and threatening tone.
During this conversation, Lizzie Stevens had been standing at the door,
momentarily expecting a recall to the apartment. She heard the low rumble
of their voices, but could not distinguish words. At length, hearing
McCloskey's raised to a higher key, she could no longer restrain her
impatience, and gently opening the door, looked into the room. Both their
faces were turned in the opposite direction, so that neither noticed the
gentle intrusion of Lizzie, who, fearing to leave her father longer alone,
ventured into the apartment.
"You need not stand looking at me in that threatening manner. You may do as
you please--go tell what you like; but remember, when I fall, so do you; I
have not forgotten that affair in Philadelphia from which I saved
you--don't place me in a situation that will compel me to recur to it to
your disadvantage." "Ah, don't trouble yerself about that, squire; I
don't--that is entirely off my mind; for now Whitticar is dead, where is
"Whitticar dead!" repeated Stevens.
"Yes; and what's more, he's buried--so he's safe enough, squire; and I
shouldn't be at all surprised if you'd be glad to have me gone too."
"I would to God you had been, before I put myself in your power."
"'Twas your own hastiness. When it came to the pinch, I wasn't equal to the
job, so ye couldn't wait for another time, but out with yer pistol, and
does it yerself." The wretched man shuddered and covered his face, as
McCloskey coolly recounted his murder of Mr. Garie, every word of which was
too true to be denied.
"And haven't I suffered," said he, shaking his bald head mournfully;
"haven't I suffered--look at my grey hairs and half-palsied frame, decrepit
before I'm old--sinking into the tomb with a weight of guilt and sin upon
me that will crush me down to the lowest depth of hell. Think you," he
continued, "that because I am surrounded with all that money can buy, that
I am happy, or ever shall be, with this secret gnawing at my heart; every
piece of gold I count out, I see his hands outstretched over it, and hear
him whisper 'Mine!' He gives me no peace night or day; he is always by me;
I have no rest. And you must come, adding to my torture, and striving to
tear from me that for which I bartered conscience, peace, soul, everything
that would make life desirable. If there is mercy in you, leave me with
what I give you, and come back no more. Life has so little to offer, that
rather than bear this continued torment and apprehension I daily suffer, I
will cut my throat, and then _your_ game is over."
Lizzie Stevens stood rooted to the spot whilst her father made the
confession that was wrung from him by the agony of the moment.
"Well, well!" said McCloskey, somewhat startled and alarmed at Stevens's
threat of self-destruction--"well, I'll come down a thousand--make it
"That I'll do," answered the old man, tremblingly; and reaching over, he
drew towards him the cheque-book. After writing the order for the sum, he
was placing it in the hand of McCloskey, when, hearing a faint moan, he
looked towards the door, and saw his daughter fall fainting to the ground.
The Thorn rankles.
We left the quiet town of Sudbury snow-clad and sparkling in all the glory
of a frosty moonlight night; we now return to it, and discover it decked
out in its bravest summer garniture. A short distance above the hill upon
which it is built, the water of the river that glides along its base may be
seen springing over the low dam that obstructs its passage, sparkling,
glistening, dancing in the sunlight, as it falls splashing on the stones
below; and then, as though subdued by the fall and crash, it comes
murmuring on, stopping now and then to whirl and eddy round some rock or
protruding stump, and at last glides gently under the arch of the bridge,
seemingly to pause beneath its shadow and ponder upon its recent tumble
from the heights above. Seated here and there upon the bridge are groups of
boys, rod in hand, endeavouring, with the most delicious-looking and
persuasive of baits, to inveigle finny innocents from the cool depths
The windows of the mills are all thrown open, and now and then the voices
of some operatives, singing at their work, steal forth in company with the
whir and hum of the spindles, and mingle with the splash of the waterfall;
and the united voices of nature, industry, and man, harmonize their
swelling tones, or go floating upward on the soft July air. The houses upon
the hill-side seem to be endeavouring to extricate themselves from bowers
of full-leafed trees; and with their white fronts, relieved by the light
green blinds, look cool and inviting in the distance. High above them all,
as though looking down in pride upon the rest, stands the Academy, ennobled
in the course of years by the addition of extensive wings and a row of
stately pillars. On the whole, the town looked charmingly peaceful and
attractive, and appeared just the quiet nook that a weary worker in cities
would select as a place of retirement after a busy round of toils or
There were little knots of idlers gathered about the railroad station, as
there always is in quiet towns--not that they expect any one; but that the
arrival and departure of the train is one of the events of the day, and
those who have nothing else particular to accomplish feel constrained to be
on hand to witness it. Every now and then one of them would look down the
line and wonder why the cars were not in sight.
Amongst those seemingly the most impatient was Miss Ada Bell, who looked
but little older than when she won the heart of the orphan Clarence, years
before, by that kind kiss upon his childish brow. It was hers still--she
bound it to her by long years of affectionate care, almost equalling in its
sacrificing tenderness that which a mother would have bestowed upon her
only child. Clarence, her adopted son, had written to her, that he was
wretched, heart-sore, and ill, and longed to come to her, his almost
mother, for sympathy, advice, and comfort: so she, with yearning heart, was
there to meet him.
At last the faint scream of the steam-whistle was heard, and soon the
lumbering locomotive came puffing and snorting on its iron path, dashing on
as though it could never stop, and making the surrounding hills echo with
the unearthly scream of its startling whistle, and arousing to desperation
every dog in the quiet little town. At last it stopped, and stood giving
short and impatient snorts and hisses, whilst the passengers were
Clarence stepped languidly out, and was soon in the embrace of Miss Ada.
"My dear boy, how thin and pale you look!" she exclaimed; "come, get into
the carriage; never mind your baggage, George will look after that; your
hands are hot--very hot, you must be feverish."
"Yes, Aunt Ada," for so he had insisted on his calling her "I am ill--sick
in heart, mind, and everything. Cut up the horses," said he, with slight
impatience of manner; "let us get home quickly. When I get in the old
parlour, and let you bathe my head as you used to, I am sure I shall feel
better. I am almost exhausted from fatigue and heat."
"Very well then, dear, don't talk now," she replied, not in the least
noticing his impatience of manner; "when you are rested, and have had your
tea, will be time enough."
They were soon in the old house, and Clarence looked round with a smile of
pleasure on the room where he had spent so many happy hours. Good Aunt Ada
would not let him talk, but compelled him to remain quiet until he had
rested himself, and eaten his evening meal.
He had altered considerably in the lapse of years, there was but little
left to remind one of the slight, melancholy-looking boy, that once stood a
heavy-hearted little stranger in the same room, in days gone by. His face
was without a particle of red to relieve its uniform paleness; his eyes,
large, dark, and languishing, were half hidden by unusually long lashes;
his forehead broad, and surmounted with clustering raven hair; a glossy
moustache covered his lip, and softened down its fulness; on the whole, he
was strikingly handsome, and none would pass him without a second look.
Tea over, Miss Ada insisted that he should lie down upon the sofa again,
whilst she, sat by and bathed his head. "Have you seen your sister lately?"
"No, Aunt Ada," he answered, hesitatingly, whilst a look of annoyance
darkened his face for a moment; "I have not been to visit her since last
fall--almost a year."
"Oh! Clarence, how can you remain so long away?" said she, reproachfully.
"Well, I can't go there with any comfort or pleasure," he answered,
apologetically; "I can't go there; each year as I visit the place, their
ways seem more strange and irksome to me. Whilst enjoying her company, I
must of course come in familiar contact with those by whom she is
surrounded. Sustaining the position that I do--passing as I am for a white
man--I am obliged to be very circumspect, and have often been compelled to
give her pain by avoiding many of her dearest friends when I have
encountered them in public places, because of their complexion. I feel mean
and cowardly whilst I'm doing it; but it is necessary--I can't be white and
coloured at the same time; the two don't mingle, and I must consequently be
one or the other. My education, habits, and ideas, all unfit me for
associating with the latter; and I live in constant dread that something
may occur to bring me out with the former. I don't avoid coloured people,
because I esteem them my inferiors in refinement, education, or
intelligence; but because they are subjected to degradations that I shall
be compelled to share by too freely associating with them."
"It is a pity," continued he, with a sigh, "that I was not suffered to grow
up with them, then I should have learnt to bear their burthens, and in the
course of time might have walked over my path of life, bearing the load
almost unconsciously. Now it would crush me, I know. It was a great mistake
to place me in my present false position," concluded he, bitterly; "it has
cursed me. Only a day ago I had a letter from Em, reproaching me for my
coldness; yet, God help me! What am I to do!"
Miss Ada looked at him sorrowfully, and continued smoothing down his hair,
and inundating his temples with Cologne; at last she ventured to inquire,
"How do matters progress with you and Miss Bates? Clary, you have lost your
"Too true," he replied, hurriedly; "and what is more--little Birdie (I call
her little Birdie) has lost hers too. Aunt Ada, we are engaged!"
"With her parents' consent?" she asked.
"Yes, with her parents' consent; we are to be married in the coming
"Then they know _all_, of course--they know you are coloured?" observed
"They know all!" cried he, starting up. "_Who_ said they did--_who_ told
them?--tell me that, I say! Who has _dared_ to tell them I am a coloured
"Hush, Clarence, hush!" replied she, attempting to soothe him. "I do not
know that any one has informed them; I only inferred so from your saying
you were engaged. I thought _you_ had informed them yourself. Don't you
remember you wrote that you should?--and I took it for granted that you
"Oh! yes, yes; so I did! I fully intended to, but found myself too great a
coward. _I dare not_--I cannot risk losing her. I am fearful that if she
knew it she would throw me off for ever."
"Perhaps not, Clarence--if she loves you as she should; and even if she
did, would it not be better that she should know it now, than have it
discovered afterwards, and you both be rendered miserable for life."
"No, no, Aunt Ada--I cannot tell her! It must remain a secret until after
our marriage; then, if they find it out, it will be to their interest to
smooth the matter over, and keep quiet about it."
"Clary, Clary--that is _not_ honourable!"
"I know it--but how can I help it? Once or twice I thought of telling her,
but my heart always failed me at the critical moment. It would kill me to
lose her. Oh! I love her, Aunt Ada," said he, passionately--"love her with
all the energy and strength of my father's race, and all the doating
tenderness of my mother's. I could have told her long ago, before my love
had grown to its present towering strength, but craft set a seal upon my
lips, and bid me be silent until her heart was fully mine, and then nothing
could part us; yet now even, when sure of her affections, the dread that
her love would not stand the test, compels me to shrink more than ever from
"But, Clarence, you are not acting generously; I know your conscience does
not approve your actions."
"Don't I know that?" he answered, almost fiercely; "yet I dare not tell--I
must shut this secret in my bosom, where it gnaws, gnaws, gnaws, until it
has almost eaten my heart away. Oh, I've thought of that, time and again;
it has kept me awake night after night, it haunts me at all hours; it is
breaking down my health and strength--wearing my very life out of me; no
escaped galley-slave ever felt more than I do, or lived in more constant
fear of detection: and yet I must nourish this tormenting secret, and keep
it growing in my breast until it has crowded out every honourable and manly
feeling; and then, perhaps, after all my sufferings and sacrifice of
candour and truth, out it will come at last, when I least expect or think
Aunt Ada could not help weeping, and exclaimed, commiseratingly, "My poor,
poor boy," as he strode up and down the room.
"The whole family, except her, seem to have the deepest contempt for
coloured people; they are constantly making them a subject of bitter jests;
they appear to have no more feeling or regard for them than if they were
brutes--and I," continued he, "I, miserable, contemptible, false-hearted
knave, as I am, I--I--yes, I join them in their heartless jests, and wonder
all the while my mother does not rise from her grave and _curse_ me as I
"Oh! Clarence, Clarence, my dear child!" cried the terrified Aunt Ada, "you
talk deliriously; you have brooded over this until it has almost made you
crazy. Come here--sit down." And seizing him by the arm, she drew him on
the sofa beside her, and began to bathe his hot head with the Cologne
"Let me walk, Aunt Ada," said he after a few moments,--"let me walk, I feel
better whilst I am moving; I can't bear to be quiet." And forthwith he
commenced striding up and down the room again with nervous and hurried
steps. After a few moments he burst out again----
"It seems as if fresh annoyances and complications beset me every day. Em
writes me that she is engaged. I was in hopes, that, after I had married, I
could persuade her to come and live with me, and so gradually break off her
connection with, coloured people; but that hope is extinguished now: she
is engaged to a coloured man."
Aunt Ada could see no remedy for this new difficulty, and could only say,
"I thought something of the kind would occur when I was last at home, and
spoke to her on the subject, but she evaded giving me any definite answer;
I think she was afraid to tell me--she has written, asking my consent."
"And will you give it?" asked Aunt Ada.
"It will matter but little if I don't; Em has a will of her own, and I have
no means of coercing her; besides, I have no reasonable objection to urge:
it would be folly in me to oppose it, simply because he is a coloured
man--for, what am I myself? The only difference is, that his identity with
coloured people is no secret, and he is not ashamed of it; whilst I conceal
my origin, and live in constant dread that some one may find it out." When
Clarence had finished, he continued to walk up and down the room, looking
very careworn and gloomy.
Miss Bell remained on the sofa, thoughtfully regarding him. At last, she
rose up and took his hand in hers, as she used to when he was a boy, and
walking beside him, said, "The more I reflect upon it, the more necessary I
regard it that you should tell this girl and her parents your real position
before you marry her. Throw away concealment, make a clean breast of it!
you may not be rejected when they find her heart is so deeply interested.
If you marry her with this secret hanging over you, it will embitter your
life, make you reserved, suspicious, and consequently ill-tempered, and
destroy all your domestic happiness. Let me persuade you, tell them ere it
be too late. Suppose it reached them through some other source, what would
they then think of you?"
"Who else would tell them? Who else knows it? You, you," said he
suspiciously--"_you_ would not betray me! I thought you loved me, Aunt
"Clarence, my dear boy," she rejoined, apparently hurt by his hasty and
accusing tone, "you _will_ mistake me--I have no such intention. If they
are never to learn it except through _me_, your secret is perfectly safe.
Yet I must tell you that I feel and think that the true way to promote her
happiness and your own, is for you to disclose to them your real position,
and throw yourself upon their generosity for the result."
Clarence pondered for a long time over Miss Bell's advice, which she again
and again repeated, placing it each time before him in a stronger light,
until, at last, she extracted from him a promise that he would do it. "I
know you are right, Aunt Ada," said he; "I am convinced of that--it is a
question of courage with me. I know it would be more honourable for me to
tell her now. I'll try to do it--I will make an effort, and summon up the
courage necessary--God be my helper!"
"That's a dear boy!" she exclaimed, kissing him affectionately; "I know you
will feel happier when it is all over; and even if she should break her
engagement, you will be infinitely better off than if it was fulfilled and
your secret subsequently discovered. Come, now," she concluded, "I am going
to exert my old authority, and send you to bed; tomorrow, perhaps, you may
see this in a more hopeful light."
Two days after this, Clarence was again in New York, amid the heat and dust
of that crowded, bustling city. Soon, after his arrival, he dressed
himself, and started for the mansion of Mr. Bates, trembling as he went,
for the result of the communication he was about to make.
Once on the way he paused, for the thought had occurred to him that he
would write to them; then reproaching himself for his weakness and
timidity, he started on again with renewed determination.
"I'll see her myself," he soliloquized. "I'll tell little Birdie all, and
know my fate from her own lips. If I must give her up, I'll know the worst
When Clarence was admitted, he would not permit himself to be announced,
but walked tiptoe upstairs and gently opening the drawing-room door,
entered the room. Standing by the piano, turning over the leaves of some
music, and merrily humming an air, was a young girl of extremely _petite_
and delicate form. Her complexion was strikingly fair; and the rich curls
of dark auburn that fell in clusters on her shoulders, made it still more
dazzling by the contrast presented. Her eyes were grey, inclining to black;
her features small, and not over-remarkable for their symmetry, yet by no
means disproportionate. There was the sweetest of dimples on her small
round chin, and her throat white and clear as the finest marble. The
expression of her face was extremely childlike; she seemed more like a
schoolgirl than a young woman of eighteen on the eve of marriage. There was
something deliriously airy and fairylike in her motions, and as she
slightly moved her feet in time to the music she was humming, her thin blue
dress floated about her, and undulated in harmony with her graceful
After gazing at her for a few moments, Clarence called gently, "Little
Birdie." She gave a timid joyous little cry of surprise and pleasure, and
fluttered into his arms.
"Oh, Clary, love, how you startled me! I did not dream there was any one in
the room. It was so naughty in you," said she, childishly, as he pushed
back the curls from her face and kissed her. "When did you arrive?"
"Only an hour ago," he answered.
"And you came here at once? Ah, that was so lover-like and kind," she
"You look like a sylph to-night, Anne," said he, as she danced about him.
"Ah," he continued, after regarding her for a few seconds with a look of
intense admiration, "you want to rivet my chains the tighter,--you look
most bewitching. Why are you so much dressed to-night?--jewels, sash, and
satin slippers," he continued; "are you going out?"
"No, Clary," she answered. "I was to have gone to the theatre; but just at
the last moment I decided not to. A singular desire to stay at home came
over me suddenly. I had an instinctive feeling that I should lose some
greater enjoyment if I went; so I remained at home; and here, love, are
you. But what is the matter? you look sad and weary."
"I am a little fatigued," said he, seating himself and holding her hand in
his: "a little weary; but that will soon wear off; and as for the sadness,"
concluded he, with a forced smile, "that _must_ depart now that I am with
you, Little Birdie."
"I feel relieved that you have returned safe and well," said she, looking
up into his face from her seat beside him; "for, Clary, love, I had such a
frightful dream, such a singular dream about you. I have endeavoured to
shake it out of my foolish little head; but it won't go, Clary,--I can't
get rid of it. It occurred after you left us at Saratoga. Oh, it was
nothing though," said she, laughing and shaking her curls,--"nothing; and
now you are safely returned, I shall not think of it again. Tell me what
you have seen since you went away; and how is that dear Aunt Ada of yours
you talk so much about?"
"Oh, she is quite well," answered he; "but tell, Anne, tell me about that
dream. What was it, Birdie?--come tell me."
"I don't care to," she answered, with a slight shudder,--"I don't want to,
"Yes, yes,--do, sweet," importuned he; "I want to hear it."
"Then if I must," said she, "I will. I dreamed that you and I were walking
on a road together, and 'twas such a beautiful road, with flowers and
fruit, and lovely cottages on either side. I thought you held my hand; I
felt it just as plain as I clasp yours now. Presently a rough ugly man
overtook us, and bid you let me go; and that you refused, and held me all
the tighter. Then he gave you a diabolical look, and touched you on the
face, and you broke out in loathsome black spots, and screamed in such
agony and frightened me so, that I awoke all in a shiver of terror, and did
not get over it all the next day."
Clarence clutched her hand tighter as she finished, so tight indeed, that
she gave a little scream of pain and looked frightened at him. "What is the
matter?" she inquired; "your hand is like ice, and you are paler than ever.
You haven't let that trifling dream affect you so? It is nothing."
"I am superstitious in regard to dreams," said Clarence, wiping the
perspiration from his forehead. "Go," he asked, faintly, "play me an air,
love,--something quick and lively to dispel this. I wish you had not told
"But you begged me to," said she, pouting, as she took her seat at the
"How ominous," muttered he,--"became covered with black spots; that is a
foreshadowing. How can I tell her," he thought. "It seems like wilfully
destroying my own happiness." And he sat struggling with himself to obtain
the necessary courage to fulfil the purpose of his visit, and became so
deeply engrossed with his own reflections as to scarcely even hear the
sound of the instrument.
"It is too bad," she cried, as she ceased playing: "here I have performed
some of your favourite airs, and that too without eliciting a word of
commendation. You are inexpressibly dull to-night; nothing seems to enliven
you. What is the matter?"
"Oh," rejoined he, abstractedly, "am I? I was not aware of it."
"Yes, you are," said Little Birdie, pettishly; "nothing seems to engage
your attention." And, skipping off to the table, she took up the newspaper,
and exclaimed,--"Let me read you something very curious."
"No, no, Anne dear," interrupted he; "sit here by me. I want to say
something serious to you--something of moment to us both."
"Then it's something very grave and dull, I know," she remarked; "for that
is the way people always begin. Now I don't want to hear anything serious
to-night; I want to be merry. You _look_ serious enough; and if you begin
to talk seriously you'll be perfectly unbearable. So you must hear what I
am going to read to you first." And the little tyrant put her finger on his
lip, and looked so bewitching, that he could not refuse her. And the
important secret hung on his lips, but was not spoken.
"Listen," said she, spreading out the paper before her and running her tiny
finger down the column. "Ah, I have it," she exclaimed at last, and
"'We learn from unimpeachable authority that the Hon. ---- ----, who
represents a district of our city in the State legislature, was yesterday
united to the Quateroon daughter of the late Gustave Almont. She is said to
be possessed of a large fortune, inherited from her father; and they
purpose going to France to reside,--a sensible determination; as, after
such a _mesalliance_, the honourable gentleman can no longer expect to
retain his former social position in our midst.--_New Orleans Watchman_.'"
"Isn't it singular," she remarked, "that a man in his position should make
such a choice?"
"He loved her, no doubt," suggested Clarence; "and she was almost white."
"How could he love her?" asked she, wonderingly. "Love a coloured woman! I
cannot conceive it possible," said she, with a look of disgust; "there is
something strange and unnatural about it."
"No, no," he rejoined, hurriedly, "it was love, Anne,--pure love; it is not
impossible. I--I--" "am coloured," he would have said; but he paused and
looked full in her lovely face. He could not tell her,--the words slunk
back into his coward heart unspoken.
She stared at him in wonder and perplexity, and exclaimed,--"Dear Clarence,
how strangely you act! I am afraid you are not well. Your brow is hot,"
said she, laying her hand on his forehead; "you have been travelling too
much for your strength."
"It is not that," he replied. "I feel a sense of suffocation, as if all the
blood was rushing to my throat. Let me get the air." And he rose and walked
to the window. Anne hastened and brought him a glass of water, of which he
drank a little, and then declared himself better.
After this, he stood for a long time with her clasped in his arms; then
giving her one or two passionate kisses, he strained her closer to him and
abruptly left the house, leaving Little Birdie startled and alarmed by his
Dear Old Ess again.
Let us visit once more the room from which Mr. Walters and his friends made
so brave a defence. There is but little in its present appearance to remind
one of that eventful night,--no reminiscences of that desperate attack,
save the bullet-hole in the ceiling, which Mr. Walters declares shall
remain unfilled as an evidence of the marked attention he has received at
the hands of his fellow-citizens.
There are several noticeable additions to the furniture of the apartment;
amongst them an elegantly-carved work-stand, upon which some unfinished
articles of children's apparel are lying; a capacious rocking-chair, and
Then opposite to the portrait of Toussaint is suspended another picture,
which no doubt holds a higher position in the regard of the owner of the
mansion than the African warrior aforesaid. It is a likeness of the lady
who is sitting at the window,--Mrs. Esther Walters, _nee_ Ellis. The brown
baby in the picture is the little girl at her side,--the elder sister of
the other brown baby who is doing its best to pull from its mother's lap
the doll's dress upon which she is sewing. Yes, that is "dear old Ess," as
Charlie calls her yet, though why he will persist in applying the adjective
we are at a loss to determine.
Esther looks anything but old--a trifle matronly, we admit--but old we
emphatically say she is not; her hair is parted plainly, and the tiniest of
all tiny caps sits at the back of her head, looking as if it felt it had no
business on such raven black hair, and ought to be ignominiously dragged
off without one word of apology. The face and form are much more round and
full, and the old placid expression has been undisturbed in the lapse of
The complexion of the two children was a sort of compromise between the
complexions of their parents--chubby-faced, chestnut-coloured,
curly-headed, rollicking little pests, who would never be quiet, and whose
little black buttons of eyes were always peering into something, and whose
little plugs of fingers would, in spite of every precaution to prevent, be
diving into mother's work-box, and various other highly inconvenient and
"There!" said Esther, putting the last stitch into a doll she had been
manufacturing; "now, take sister, and go away and play." But little sister,
it appeared, did not wish to be taken, and she made the best of her way
off, holding on by the chairs, and tottering over the great gulfs between
them, until she succeeded in reaching the music-stand, where she paused for
a while before beginning to destroy the music. Just at this critical
juncture a young lady entered the room, and held up her hands in horror,
and baby hastened off as fast as her toddling limbs could carry her, and
buried her face in her mother's lap in great consternation.
Emily Garie made two or three slight feints of an endeavour to catch her,
and then sat down by the little one's mother, and gave a deep sigh.
"Have you answered your brother's letter?" asked Esther.
"Yes, I have," she replied; "here it is,"--and she laid the letter in
Esther's lap. Baby made a desperate effort to obtain it, but suffered a
signal defeat, and her mother opened it, and read--
"DEAR BROTHER,--I read your chilling letter with deep
sorrow. I cannot say that it surprised me; it is what I have
anticipated during the many months that I have been silent
on the subject of my marriage. Yet, when I read it, I could
not but feel a pang to which heretofore I have been a stranger.
Clarence, you know I love you, and should not make the
sacrifice you demand a test of my regard. True, I cannot say
(and most heartily I regret it) that there exists between us the
same extravagant fondness we cherished as children--but
that is no fault of mine. Did you not return to me, each
year, colder and colder--more distant and unbrotherly--until
you drove back to their source the gushing streams of
a sister's love that flowed so strongly towards you? You ask
me to resign Charles Ellis and come to you. What can you
offer me in exchange for his true, manly affection?--to what
purpose drive from my heart a love that has been my only
solace, only consolation, for your waning regard! We have
grown up together--he has been warm and kind, when you
were cold and indifferent--and now that he claims the reward
of long years of tender regard, and my own heart is conscious
that he deserves it, you would step between us, and forbid
me yield the recompense that it will be my pride and delight
to bestow. It grieves me to write it; yet I must, Clary--for
between brother and sister there is no need of concealments;
and particularly at such a time should everything be open,
clear, explicit. Do not think I wish to reproach you. What
you are, Clarence, your false position and unfortunate education
have made you. I write it with pain--your demand
seems extremely selfish. I fear it is not of _me_ but of _yourself_
you are thinking, when you ask me to sever, at once and for
ever, my connection with a people who, you say, can only
degrade me. Yet how much happier am I, sharing their
degradation, than you appear to be! Is it regard for me
that induces the desire that I should share the life of constant
dread that I cannot but feel you endure--or do you fear that
my present connections will interfere with your own plans for
"Even did I grant it was my happiness alone you had in
view, my objections would be equally strong. I could not
forego the claims of early friendship, and estrange myself
from those who have endeared themselves to me by long
years of care--nor pass coldly and unrecognizingly by playmates
and acquaintances, because their complexions were a few
shades darker than my own. This I could never do--to me
it seems ungrateful: yet I would not reproach you because
you can--for the circumstances by which you have been surrounded
have conspired to produce that result--and I presume
you regard such conduct as necessary to sustain you in your
present position. From the tenor of your letter I should
judge that you entertained some fear that I might compromise
you with your future bride, and intimate that _my_ choice may
deprive you of _yours_. Surely that need not be. _She_ need not
even know of my existence. Do not entertain a fear that I,
or my future husband, will ever interfere with your happiness
by thrusting ourselves upon you, or endanger your social
position by proclaiming our relationship. Our paths lie so
widely apart that they need never cross. You walk on the
side of the oppressor--I, thank God, am with the oppressed.
"I am happy--more happy, I am sure, than you could
make me, even by surrounding me with the glittering lights
that shine upon your path, and which, alas! may one day go
suddenly out, and leave you wearily groping in the darkness.
I trust, dear brother, my words may not prove a prophecy;
yet, should they be, trust me, Clarence, you may come back
again, and a sister's heart will receive you none the less
warmly that you selfishly desired her to sacrifice the happiness
of a lifetime to you. I shall marry Charles Ellis. I ask
you to come and see us united--I shall not reproach you if
you do not; yet I shall feel strange without a single relative
to kiss or bless me in that most eventful hour of a woman's
life. God bless you, Clary! I trust your union may be as
happy as I anticipate my own will be--and, if it is not, it will
not be because it has lacked the earnest prayers of your
neglected but still loving sister."
"Esther, I thought I was too cold in that--tell me, do you think so?"
"No, dear, not at all; I think it a most affectionate reply to a cold,
"Oh, I'm glad to hear you say that. I can trust better to your tenderness
of others' feelings than to my own heart. I felt strongly, Esther, and was
fearful that it might be too harsh or reproachful. I was anxious lest my
feelings should be too strikingly displayed; yet it was better to be
explicit--don't you think so?"
"Undoubtedly," answered Esther; and handing back the letter, she took up
baby, and seated herself in the rocking-chair.
Now baby had a prejudice against caps, inveterate and unconquerable; and
grandmamma, nurse, and Esther were compelled to bear the brunt of her
antipathies. We have before said that Esther's cap _looked_ as though it
felt itself in an inappropriate position--that it had got on the head of
the wrong individual--and baby, no doubt in deference to the cap's
feelings, tore it off, and threw it in the half-open piano, from whence it
was extricated with great detriment to the delicate lace.
Emily took a seat near the window, and drawing her work-table towards her,
raised the lid. This presenting another opening for baby, she slid down
from her mother's lap, and hastened towards her. She just arrived in time
to see it safely closed, and toddled back to her mother, as happy as if she
had succeeded in running riot over its contents, and scattering them all
over the floor.
Emily kept looking down the street, as though in anxious expectation of
somebody; and whilst she stood there, there was an opportunity of observing
how little she had changed in the length of years. She is little Em
magnified, with a trifle less of the child in her face. Her hair has a
slight kink, is a little more wavy than is customary in persons of entire
white blood; but in no other way is her extraction perceptible, only the
initiated, searching for evidences of African blood, would at all notice
this slight peculiarity.
Her expectation was no doubt about to be gratified, for a smile broke over
her face, as she left the window and skipped downstairs; when she
re-entered, she was accompanied by her intended husband. There was great
commotion amongst the little folk in consequence of this new arrival. Baby
kicked, and screamed out "Unker Char," and went almost frantic because her
dress became entangled in the buckle of her mamma's belt, and her sister
received a kiss before she could be extricated.
Charlie is greatly altered--he is tall, remarkably athletic, with a large,
handsomely-shaped head, covered with close-cut, woolly hair; high forehead,
heavy eyebrows, large nose, and a mouth of ordinary size, filled with
beautifully white teeth, which he displays at almost every word he speaks;
chin broad, and the whole expression of his face thoughtful and commanding,
yet replete with good humour. No one would call him handsome, yet there was
something decidedly attractive in his general appearance. No one would
recognize him as the Charlie of old, whose escapades had so destroyed the
comfort and harmony of Mrs. Thomas's establishment; and only once, when he
held up the baby, and threatened to let her tear the paper ornaments from
the chandelier, was there a twinkle of the Charlie of old looking out of
"How are mother and father to-day?" asked Esther.