Part 7 out of 7
"Oh, both well. I left them only a few minutes ago at the dinner table. I
had to hurry off to go to the office."
"So I perceive," observed Esther, archly, "and of course, coming here,
which is four squares out of your way, will get you there much sooner."
Emily blushed, and said, smilingly, Esther was "a very impertinent person;"
and in this opinion Charlie fully concurred. They then walked to the
window, where they stood, saying, no doubt, to each other those little
tender things which are so profoundly interesting to lovers, and so
exceedingly stupid to every one else. Baby, in high glee, was seated on
Charlie's shoulder, where she could clutch both hands in his hair and pull
until the tears almost started from his eyes.
"Emily and you have been talking a long while, and I presume you have fully
decided on what day you are both to be rescued from your misery, and when I
am to have the exquisite satisfaction of having my house completely turned
upside down for your mutual benefit," said Esther. "I trust it will be as
soon as possible, as we cannot rationally expect that either of you will be
bearable until it is all over, and you find yourselves ordinary mortals
again. Come now, out with it. When is it to be?"
"I say next week," cried Charlie.
"Next week, indeed," hastily rejoined Emily. "I could not think of such a
"So abrupt," repeated Charlie, with a laugh. "Why, haven't I been courting
you ever since I wore roundabouts, and hasn't everybody been expecting us
to be married every week within the last two years. Fie, Em, it's anything
Emily blushed still deeper, and looked out of the window, down the street
and up the street, but did not find anything in the prospect at either side
that at all assisted her to come to a decision, so she only became more
confused and stared the harder; at last she ventured to suggest that day
"This day two months--outrageous!" said Charlie. "Come here, dear old Ess,
and help me to convince this deluded girl of the preposterous manner in
which she is conducting herself."
"I must join her side if you _will_ bring me into the discussion. I think
she is right, Charlie--there is so much to be done: the house to procure
and furnish, and numberless other things that you hasty and absurd men know
By dint of strong persuasion from Charlie, Emily finally consented to abate
two weeks of the time, and they decided that a family council should be
held that evening at Mrs. Ellis's, when the whole arrangements should be
A note was accordingly despatched by Esther to her mother--that she,
accompanied by Emily and the children, would come to them early in the
afternoon, and that the gentlemen would join them in the evening at
tea-time. Caddy was, of course, completely upset by the intelligence; for,
notwithstanding that she and the maid-of-all-work lived in an almost
perpetual state of house-cleaning, nothing appeared to her to be in order,
and worse than all, there was nothing to eat.
"Nothing to eat!" exclaimed Mrs. Ellis. "Why, my dear child, there are all
manner of preserves, plenty of fresh peaches to cut and sugar down, and a
large pound-cake in the house, and any quantity of bread can be purchased
at the baker's."
"Bread--plain bread!" rejoined Caddy, indignantly, quite astonished at her
mother's modest idea of a tea--and a company-tea at that. "Do you think,
mother, I'd set Mr. Walters down to plain bread, when we always have hot
rolls and short-cake at their house? It is not to be thought of for a
moment: they must have some kind of hot cake, be the consequences what they
Caddy bustled herself about, and hurried up the maid-of-all-work in an
astonishing manner, and before the company arrived had everything prepared,
and looked as trim and neat herself as if she had never touched a
rolling-pin, and did not know what an oven was used for.
Behold them all assembled. Mrs. Ellis at the head of the table with a
grandchild on each side of her, and her cap-strings pinned upon the side
next to baby. Esther sits opposite her husband, who is grown a little grey,
but otherwise is not in the least altered; next to her is her father,
almost buried in a large easy-chair, where he sits shaking his head from
time to time, and smiling vacantly at the children; then come Emily and
Charlie at the foot, and at his other hand Caddy and Kinch--Kinch the
invincible--Kinch the dirty--Kinch the mischievous, now metamorphosed into
a full-blown dandy, with faultless linen, elegant vest, and fashionably-cut
coat. Oh, Kinch, what a change--from the most shabby and careless of all
boys to a consummate exquisite, with heavy gold watch and eye-glass, and
who has been known to dress regularly twice a day!
There was a mighty pouring out of tea at Mrs. Ellis's end of the table,
and baby of course had to be served first with some milk and bread. Between
her and the cat intimate relations seemed to exist, for by their united
efforts the first cap was soon disposed of, and baby was clamouring for the
second before the elder portions of the family had been once served round
Charlie and Emily ate little and whispered a great deal; but Kinch, the
voracity of whose appetite had not at all diminished in the length of
years, makes up for their abstinence by devouring the delicious round
short-cakes with astonishing rapidity. He did not pretend to make more than
two bites to a cake, and they slipped away down his throat as if it was a
railroad tunnel and they were a train of cars behind time.
Caddy felt constrained to get up every few moments to look after something,
and to assure herself by personal inspection that the reserved supplies in
the kitchen were not likely to be exhausted. Esther occupied herself in
attending upon her helpless father, and fed him as tenderly and carefully
as if he was one of her babies.
"I left you ladies in council. What was decided?" said Charlie, "don't be
at all bashful as regards speaking before Kinch, for he is in the secret
and has been these two months. Kinch is to be groomsman, and has had three
tailors at work on his suit for a fortnight past. He told me this morning
that if you did not hurry matters up, his wedding coat would be a week out
of fashion before he should get a chance to wear it."
"How delightful--Kinch to be groomsman," said Esther, "that is very kind in
you, Kinch, to assist us to get Charlie off our hands."
"And who is to be bridesmaid?" asked Walters.
"Oh, Caddy of course--I couldn't have any one but Caddy," blushingly
"That is capital," cried Charlie, giving Kinch a facetious poke, "just the
thing, isn't it, Kinch--it will get her accustomed to these matters. You
remember what you told me this morning, eh, old boy?" he concluded, archly.
Kinch tried to blush, but being very dark-complexioned, his efforts in
that direction were not at all apparent, so he evidenced his confusion by
cramming a whole short-cake into his mouth, and almost caused a stoppage in
the tunnel; Caddy became excessively red in the face, and was sure they
wanted more cakes.
But Mr. Walters was equally confident they did not, and put his back
against the door and stood there, whilst Mrs. Ellis gravely informed them
that she soon expected to be her own housekeeper, for that she had detected
Caddy and Kinch in a furniture establishment, pricing a chest of drawers
and a wash-stand; and that Kinch had unblushingly told her they had for
some time been engaged to be married, but somehow or other had forgotten to
mention it to her.
This caused a general shout of laughter around the table, in which baby
tumultuously joined, and rattled her spoon against the tea-urn until she
almost deafened them.
This noise frightened Mr. Ellis, who cried, "There they come! there they
come!" and cowered down in his great chair, and looked so exceedingly
terrified, that the noise was hushed instantly, and tears sprang into the
eyes of dear old Ess, who rose and stood by him, and laid his withered face
upon her soft warm bosom, smoothed down the thin grey hair, and held him
close to her throbbing tender heart, until the wild light vanished from his
bleared and sunken eyes, and the vacant childish smile came back on his
thin, wan face again, when she said, "Pray don't laugh so very loud, it
alarms father; he is composed now, pray don't startle him so again."
This sobered them down a little, and they quietly recommenced discussing
the matrimonial arrangements; but they were all in such capital spirits
that an occasional hearty and good-humoured laugh could not be suppressed.
Mr. Walters acted in his usual handsome manner, and facetiously collaring
Charlie, took him into a corner and informed him that he had an empty house
that be wished him to occupy, and that if he ever whispered the word rent,
or offered him any money before he was worth twenty thousand dollars, he
should believe that he wanted to pick a quarrel with him, and should refer
him to a friend, and then pistols and coffee would be the inevitable
Then it came out that Caddy and Kinch had been, courting for some time, if
not with Mrs. Ellis's verbal consent, with at least no objection from that
good lady; for Master Kinch, besides being an exceedingly good-natured
fellow, was very snug in his boots, and had a good many thousand dollars at
his disposal, bequeathed him by his father.
The fates had conspired to make that old gentleman rich. He owned a number
of lots on the outskirts of the city, on which he had been paying taxes a
number of years, and he awoke one fine morning to find them worth a large
sum of money. The city council having determined to cut a street just
beside them, and the property all around being in the hands of wealthy and
fashionable people, his own proved to be exceedingly valuable.
It was a sad day for the old man, as Kinch and his mother insisted that he
should give up business, which he did most reluctantly, and Kinch had to be
incessantly on the watch thereafter, to prevent him from hiring cellars,
and sequestering their old clothes to set up in business again. They were
both gone now, and Kinch was his own master, with a well-secured income of
a thousand dollars a-year, with a prospect of a large increase.
They talked matters over fully, and settled all their arrangements before
the time for parting, and then, finding the baby had scrambled into Mrs.
Ellis's lap and gone fast asleep, and that it was long after ten o'clock,
each departed, taking their several ways for home.
The Fatal Discovery.
There is great bustle and confusion in the house of Mr. Bates.
Mantua-makers and milliners are coming in at unearthly hours, and
consultations of deep importance are being duly held with maiden aunts and
the young ladies who are to officiate as bridesmaids at the approaching
ceremony. There are daily excursions to drapers' establishments, and
jewellers, and, in fact, so much to be done and thought of, that little
Birdie is in constant confusion, and her dear little curly head is almost
turned topsy-turvy. Twenty times in each day is she called upstairs to
where the sempstresses are at work, to have something tried on or fitted.
Poor little Birdie! she declares she never can stand it: she did not dream
that to be married she would have been subjected to such a world of
trouble, or she would never have consented,--_never_!
And then Clarence, too, comes in every morning, and remains half the day,
teasing her to play, to talk, or sing. Inconsiderate Clarence! when she has
so much on her mind; and when at last he goes, and she begins to felicitate
herself that she is rid of him, back he comes again in the evening, and
repeats the same annoyance. O, naughty, tiresome, Clarence! how can you
plague little Birdie so? Perhaps you think she doesn't dislike it; you may
be right, very likely she doesn't.
She sometimes wonders why he grows paler and thinner each day, and his
nervous and sometimes distracted manner teases her dreadfully; but she
supposes all lovers act thus, and expects they cannot help it--and then
little Birdie takes a sly peep in the glass, and does not so much wonder
Yet if she sometimes deems his manner startling and odd, what would she say
if she knew that, night after night, when he left her side, he wandered for
long hours through the cold and dreary streets, and then went to his hotel,
where he paced his room until almost day?
Ah, little Birdie, a smile will visit his pale face when you chirp tenderly
to him, and a faint tinge comes upon his cheek when you lay your soft tiny
hand upon it; yet all the while there is that desperate secret lying next
his heart, and, like a vampire, sucking away, drop by drop, happiness and
Not so with little Birdie; she is happy--oh, _so_ happy: she rises with a
song upon her lips, and is chirping in the sunshine she herself creates,
the live-long day. Flowers of innocence bloom and flourish in her peaceful
lithesome heart. Poor, poor, little Birdie! those flowers are destined to
wither soon, and the sunlight fade from thy happy face for ever.
One morning, Clarence, little Birdie, and her intended bridesmaid, Miss
Ellstowe, were chatting together, when a card was handed to the latter,
who, on looking at it, exclaimed, "Oh, dear me! an old beau of mine; show
him up," and scampering off to the mirror, she gave a hasty glance, to see
that every curl was in its effective position.
"Who is it?" asked little Birdie, all alive with curiosity; "do say who it
"Hush!" whispered Miss Ellstowe, "here he comes, my dear; he is very
rich--a great catch; are my curls all right?"
Scarcely had she asked the question, and before an answer could be
returned, the servant announced Mr. George Stevens, and the gentleman
walked into the room.
Start not, reader, it is not the old man we left bent over the prostrate
form of his unconscious daughter, but George Stevens, junior, the son and
heir of the old man aforesaid. The heart of Clarence almost ceased to beat
at the sound of that well-known name, and had not both the ladies been so
engrossed in observing the new-comer, they must have noticed the deep flush
that suffused his face, and the deathly pallor that succeeded it.
Mr. Stevens was presented to Miss Bates, and Miss Ellstowe turned to
present him to Clarence. "Mr. Garie--Mr. Stevens," said she. Clarence
"Pardon me, I did not catch the name," said the former, politely.
"Mr. Clarence Garie," she repeated, more distinctly.
George Stevens bowed, and then sitting down opposite Clarence, eyed him for
a few moments intently. "I think we have met before," said he at last, in a
cold, contemptuous tone, not unmingled with surprise, "have we not?"
Clarence endeavoured to answer, but could not; he was, for a moment,
incapable of speech; a slight gurgling noise was heard in his throat, as he
"We were neighbours at one time, I think," added George Stevens.
"We were," faintly ejaculated Clarence.
"It is a great surprise to me to meet _you_ here," pursued George Stevens.
"The surprise is mutual, I assure you, sir," rejoined Clarence, coldly, and
with slightly agitated manner.
Hereupon ensued an embarrassing pause in the conversation, during which the
ladies could not avoid observing the livid hue of Clarence's face. There
was a perfect tumult raging in his breast; he knew that now his
long-treasured secret would be brought out; this was to be the end of his
struggle to preserve it--to be exposed at last, when on the brink of
consummating his happiness. As he sat there, looking at George Stevens, he
became a murderer in his heart; and if an invisible dagger could have been
placed in his hands, he would have driven it to the hilt in his breast, and
stilled for ever the tongue that was destined to betray him.
But it was too late; one glance at the contemptuous, malignant face of the
son of his father's murderer, told him his fate was sealed--that it was
now too late to avert exposure. He grew faint, dizzy, ill,--and rising,
declared hurriedly he must go, staggered towards the door, and fell upon
the carpet, with a slight stream of blood spirting from his mouth.
Little Birdie screamed, and ran to raise him; George Stevens and Miss
Ellstowe gave their assistance, and by their united efforts he was placed
upon the sofa. Little Birdie wiped the bloody foam from his mouth with her
tiny lace handkerchief, bathed his head, and held cold water to his lips;
but consciousness was long returning, and they thought he was dying.
Poor torn heart! pity it was thy beatings were not stilled then for ever.
It was not thy fate; long, long months of grief and despair were yet to
come before the end approached and day again broke upon thee.
Just at this crisis Mr. Bates came in, and was greatly shocked and alarmed
by Clarence's deathly appearance. As he returned to consciousness he looked
wildly about him, and clasping little Birdie's hand in his, gazed at her
with a tender imploring countenance: yet it was a despairing look--such a
one as a shipwrecked seaman gives when, in sight of land, he slowly relaxes
his hold upon the sustaining spar that he has no longer the strength to
clutch, and sinks for ever beneath the waters.
A physician was brought in, who declared he had ruptured a minor
blood-vessel, and would not let him utter a whisper, and, assisted by Mr.
Bates, placed him in his carriage, and the three were driven as swiftly as
possible to the hotel where Clarence was staying. Little Birdie retired to
her room in great affliction, followed by Miss Ellstowe, and George Stevens
was left in the room alone.
"What can the fellow have been doing here?" he soliloquised; "on intimate
terms too, apparently; it is very singular; I will wait Miss Ellstowe's
return, and ask an explanation."
When Miss Ellstowe re-entered the room, he immediately inquired, "What was
that Mr. Garie doing here? He seems on an exceedingly intimate footing,
and your friend apparently takes a wonderful interest in him."
"Of course she does; that is her _fiance_."
"_Impossible_!" rejoined he, with an air of astonishment.
"Impossible!--why so? I assure you he is. They are to be married in a few
weeks. I am here to officiate as bridesmaid."
"Phew!" whistled George Stevens; and then, after pausing a moment, he
asked, "Do you know anything about this Mr. Garie--anything, I mean,
respecting his family?"
"Why, no--that is, nothing very definite, more than that he is an orphan,
and a gentleman of education and independent means."
"Humph!" ejaculated George Stevens, significantly.
"Humph!" repeated Miss Ellstowe, "what do you mean? Do you know anything
beyond that? One might suppose you did, from your significant looks and
"Yes, I _do_ know something about this Mr. Garie," he replied, after a
short silence. "But tell me what kind of people are these you are
visiting--Abolitionists, or anything of that sort?"
"How absurd, Mr. Stevens, to ask such a question; of course they are not,"
said she, indignantly; "do you suppose I should be here if they were? But
why do you ask--is this Mr. Garie one?"
"No, my friend," answered her visitor; "_I wish that was all_."
"That was all!--how strangely you talk--you alarm me," continued she, with
considerable agitation. "If you know anything that will injure the
happiness of my friend--anything respecting Mr. Garie that she or her
father should know--make no secret of it, but disclose it to me at once.
Anne is my dearest friend, and I, of course, must be interested in anything
that concerns her happiness. Tell me, what is it you know?"
"It is nothing, I assure you, that it will give me any pleasure to tell,"
answered he. "Do speak out, Mr. Stevens. Is there any stain on his
character, or that of his family? Did he ever do anything dishonourable?"
"_I wish that was all_," coolly repeated George Stevens. "I am afraid he is
a villain, and has been imposing himself upon this family for what he is
"Good Heavens! Mr. Stevens, how is he a villain or impostor?"
"You all suppose him to be a white man, do you not?" he asked.
"Of course we do," she promptly answered.
"Then you are all grievously mistaken, for he is not. Did you not notice
how he changed colour, how agitated he became, when I was presented? It was
because he knew that his exposure was at hand. I know him well--in fact, he
is the illegitimate son of a deceased relative of mine, by a mulatto
"It cannot be possible," exclaimed Miss Ellstowe, with a wild stare of
astonishment. "Are you sure of it?"
"Sure of it! of course I am. I should indeed be a rash man to make such a
terrible charge unless perfectly able to substantiate it. I have played
with him frequently when a child, and my father made a very liberal
provision for this young man and his sister, after the death of their
father, who lost his life through imprudently living with this woman in
Philadelphia, and consequently getting himself mixed up with these
"Can this be true?" asked Miss Ellstowe, incredulously.
"I assure you it is. We had quite lost sight of them for a few years back,
and I little supposed we should meet under such circumstances. I fear I
shall be the cause of great discomfort, but I am sure in the end I shall be
thanked. I could not, with any sense of honour or propriety, permit such a
thing as this marriage to be consummated, without at least warning your
friends of the real position of this fellow. I trust, Miss Ellstowe, you
will inform them of what I have told you." "How can I? Oh, Mr. Stevens!"
said she, in a tone of deep distress, "this will be a terrible blow--it
will almost kill Anne. No, no; the task must not devolve on me--I cannot
tell them. Poor little thing! it will break her heart, I am afraid."
"Oh, but you must, Miss Ellstowe; it would seem very impertinent in me--a
stranger--to meddle in such a matter; and, besides, they may be aware of
it, and not thank me for my interference."
"No, I assure you they are not; I am confident they have not the most
distant idea of such a thing--they would undoubtedly regard it as an act of
kindness on your part. I shall insist upon your remaining until the return
of Mr. Bates, when I shall beg you to repeat to him what you have already
revealed to me."
"As you insist upon it, I suppose I must," repeated he, after some
reflection; "but I must say I do not like the office of informer,"
concluded he, with assumed reluctance.
"I am sorry to impose it upon you; yet, rest assured, they will thank you.
Excuse me for a few moments--I will go and see how Anne is."
Miss Ellstowe returned, after a short interval, with the information that
little Birdie was much more composed, and would, no doubt, soon recover
from her fright.
"To receive a worse blow," observed George Stevens. "I pity the poor little
thing--only to think of the disgrace of being engaged to a nigger. It is
fortunate for them that they will make the discovery ere it be too late.
Heavens! only think what the consequences might have been had she married
this fellow, and his peculiar position became known to them afterwards! She
would have been completely 'done for.'"
Thus conversing respecting Clarence, they awaited the return of Mr. Bates.
After the lapse of a couple of hours he entered the drawing-room. Mr.
Stevens was presented to him by Miss Ellstowe, as a particular friend of
herself and family. "I believe you were here when I came in before; I
regret I was obliged to leave so abruptly," courteously spoke Mr. Bates,
whilst bowing to his new acquaintance; "the sudden and alarming illness of
my young friend will, I trust, be a sufficient apology."
"How is he now?" asked Miss Ellstowe.
"Better--much better," answered he, cheerfully; "but very wild and
distracted in his manner--alarmingly so, in fact. He clung to my hand, and
wrung it when we parted, and bid me good bye again and again, as if it was
for the last time. Poor fellow! he is frightened at that hemorrhage, and is
afraid it will be fatal; but there is not any danger, he only requires to
be kept quiet--he will soon come round again, no doubt. I shall have to ask
you to excuse me again," said he, in conclusion; "I must go and see my
Mr. Bates was rising to depart, when George Stevens gave Miss Ellstowe a
significant look, who said, in a hesitating tone, "Mr. Bates, one moment
before you go. My friend, Mr. Stevens, has a communication to make to you
respecting Mr. Garie, which will, I fear, cause you, as it already has me,
"Indeed!" rejoined Mr. Bates, in a tone of surprise; "What is it? Nothing
that reflects upon his character, I hope."
"I do not know how my information will influence your conduct towards him,
for I do not know what your sentiments may be respecting such persons. I
know society in general do not receive them, and my surprise was very great
to find him here."
"I do not understand you; what do you mean?" demanded Mr. Bates, in a tone
of perplexity; "has he ever committed any crime?"
"HE IS A COLOURED MAN," answered George Stevens, briefly. Mr. Bates became
almost purple, and gasped for breath; then, after staring at his informant
for a few seconds incredulously, repeated the words "Coloured man," in a
dreamy manner, as if in doubt whether he had really heard them.
"Yes, coloured man," said George Stevens, confidently; "it grieves me to
be the medium of such disagreeable intelligence; and I assure you I only
undertook the office upon the representation of Miss Ellstowe, that you
were not aware of the fact, and would regard my communication as an act of
"It--it _can't_ be," exclaimed Mr. Bates, with the air of a man determined
not to be convinced of a disagreeable truth; "it cannot be possible."
Hereupon George Stevens related to him what he had recently told Miss
Ellstowe respecting the parentage and position of Clarence. During the
narration, the old man became almost frantic with rage and sorrow, bursting
forth once or twice with the most violent exclamations; and when George
Stevens concluded, he rose and said, in a husky voice--
"I'll kill him, the infernal hypocrite! Oh! the impostor to come to my
house in this nefarious manner, and steal the affections of my
daughter--the devilish villain! a bastard! a contemptible black-hearted
nigger. Oh, my child--my child! it will break your heart when you know what
deep disgrace has come upon you. I'll go to him," added he, his face
flushed, and his white hair almost erect with rage; "I'll murder
him--there's not a man in the city will blame me for it," and he grasped
his cane as though he would go at once, and inflict summary vengeance upon
"Stop, sir, don't be rash," exclaimed George Stevens; "I would not screen
this fellow from the effects of your just and very natural indignation--he
is abundantly worthy of the severest punishment you can bestow; but if you
go in your present excited state, you might be tempted to do something
which would make this whole affair public, and injure, thereby, your
daughter's future. You'll pardon me, I trust, and not think me presuming
upon my short acquaintance in making the suggestion."
Mr. Bates looked about him bewilderedly for a short time, and then replied,
"No, no, you need not apologize, you are right--I thank you; I myself
should have known better. But my poor child! what will become of her?" and
in an agony of sorrow he resumed his seat, and buried his face in his
George Stevens prepared to take his departure, but Mr. Bates pressed him to
remain. "In a little while," said he, "I shall be more composed, and then I
wish you to go with me to this worthless scoundrel. I must see him at once,
and warn him what the consequences will be should he dare approach my child
again. Don't fear me," he added, as he saw George Stevens hesitated to
remain; "that whirlwind of passion is over now. I promise you I shall do
nothing unworthy of myself or my child."
It was not long before they departed together for the hotel at which
Clarence was staying. When they entered his room, they found him in his
bed, with the miniature of little Birdie in his hands. When he observed the
dark scowl on the face of Mr. Bates, and saw by whom he was accompanied, he
knew his secret was discovered; he saw it written on their faces. He
trembled like a leaf, and his heart seemed like a lump of ice in his bosom.
Mr. Bates was about to speak, when Clarence held up his hand in the
attitude of one endeavouring to ward off a blow, and whispered hoarsely--
"Don't tell me--not yet--a little longer! I see you know all. I see my
sentence written on your face! Let me dream a little longer ere you speak
the words that must for ever part me and little Birdie. I know you have
come to separate us--but don't tell me yet; for when you do," said he, in
an agonized tone, "it will kill me!"
"I wish to God it would!" rejoined Mr. Bates. "I wish you had died long
ago; then you would have never come beneath my roof to destroy its peace
for ever. You have acted basely, palming yourself upon us--counterfeit as
you were! and taking in exchange her true love and my honest, honourable
Clarence attempted to speak, but Mr. Bates glared at him, and
continued--"There are laws to punish thieves and counterfeits--but such as
you may go unchastised, except by the abhorrence of all honourable men. Had
you been unaware of your origin, and had the revelation of this gentleman
been as new to you as to me, you would have deserved sympathy; but you have
been acting a lie, claiming a position in society to which you knew you had
no right, and deserve execration and contempt. Did I treat you as my
feelings dictated, you would understand what is meant by the weight of a
father's anger; but I do not wish the world to know that my daughter has
been wasting her affections upon a worthless nigger; that is all that
protects you! Now, hear me," he added, fiercely,--"if ever you presume to
darken my door again, or attempt to approach my daughter, I will shoot you,
as sure as you sit there before me!"
"And serve you perfectly right!" observed George Stevens.
"Silence, sir!" rejoined Clarence, sternly. "How dare you interfere? He may
say what he likes--reproach me as he pleases--_he_ is _her_ father--I have
no other reply; but if you dare again to utter a word, I'll--" and Clarence
paused and looked about him as if in search of something with which to
Feeble-looking as he was, there was an air of determination about him which
commanded acquiescence, and George Stevens did not venture upon another
observation during the interview.
"I want my daughter's letters--every line she ever wrote to you; get them
at once--I want them now," said Mr. Bates, imperatively.
"I cannot give them to you immediately, they are not accessible at present.
Does she want them?" he asked, feebly--"has she desired to have them back?"
"Never mind that!" said the old man, sternly; "no evasions. Give me the
"To-morrow I will send them," said Clarence. "I will read them all over
once again," thought he.
"I cannot believe you," said Mr. Bates.
"I promise you upon my honour I will send them tomorrow!"
"_A nigger's honour!_" rejoined Mr. Bates, with a contemptuous sneer.
"Yes, sir--a nigger's honour!" repeated Clarence, the colour mounting to
his pale cheeks. "A few drops of negro blood in a man's reins do not
entirely deprive him of noble sentiments. 'Tis true my past concealment
does not argue in my favour.--I concealed that which was no fault of my
own, but what the injustice of society has made a crime."
"I am not here for discussion; and I suppose I must trust to your
_honour_," interrupted Mr. Bates, with a sneer. "But remember, if the
letters are not forthcoming to-morrow I shall be here again, and then,"
concluded he in a threatening tone, "my visit will not be as harmless as
this has been!"
After they had gone, Clarence rose and walked feebly to his desk, which,
with great effort and risk, he removed to the bed-side; then taking from it
little Birdie's letters, he began their perusal.
Ay! read them again--and yet again; pore over their contents--dwell on
those passages replete with tenderness, until every word is stamped upon
thy breaking heart--linger by them as the weary traveller amid Sahara's
sand pauses by some sparkling fountain in a shady oasis, tasting of its
pure waters ere he launches forth again upon the arid waste beyond. This is
the last green spot upon thy way to death; beyond whose grim portals, let
us believe, thou and thy "little Birdie" may meet again.
"Murder will out."
The city clocks had just tolled out the hour of twelve, the last omnibus
had rumbled by, and the silence without was broken only at rare intervals
when some belated citizen passed by with hurried footsteps towards his
home. All was still in the house of Mr. Stevens--so quiet, that the ticking
of the large clock in the hall could be distinctly heard at the top of the
stairway, breaking the solemn stillness of the night with its monotonous
"click, click--click, click!"
In a richly furnished chamber overlooking the street a dim light was
burning; so dimly, in fact, that the emaciated form of Mr. Stevens was
scarcely discernible amidst the pillows and covering of the bed on which he
was lying. Above him a brass head of curious workmanship held in its
clenched teeth the canopy that overshadowed the bed; and as the light
occasionally flickered and brightened, the curiously carved face seemed to
light up with a sort of sardonic grin; and the grating of the
curtain-rings, as the sick man tossed from side to side in his bed, would
have suggested the idea that the odd supporter of the canopy was gnashing
his brazen teeth at him.
On the wall, immediately opposite the light, hung a portrait of Mrs.
Stevens; not the sharp, hard face we once introduced to the reader, but a
smoother, softer countenance--yet a worn and melancholy one in its
expression. It looked as if the waves of grief had beaten upon it for a
long succession of years, until they had tempered down its harsher
peculiarities, giving a subdued appearance to the whole countenance.
"There is twelve o'clock--give me my drops again, Lizzie," he remarked,
faintly. At the sound of his voice Lizzie emerged from behind the curtains,
and essayed to pour into a glass the proper quantity of medicine. She was
twice obliged to pour back into the phial what she had just emptied forth,
as the trembling of her hands caused her each time to drop too much; at
last, having succeeded in getting the exact number of drops, she handed him
the glass, the contents of which he eagerly drank.
"There!" said he, "thank you; now, perhaps, I may sleep. I have not slept
for two nights--such has been my anxiety about that man; nor you either, my
child--I have kept you awake also. You can sleep, though, without drops.
To-morrow, when you are prepared to start, wake me, if I am asleep, and let
me speak to you before you go. Remember, Lizzie, frighten him if you can!
Tell him, I am ill myself--that I can't survive this continued worriment
and annoyance. Tell him, moreover, I am not made of gold, and will not be
always giving. I don't believe he is sick--dying--do you?" he asked,
looking into her face, as though he did not anticipate an affirmative
"No, father, I don't think he is really ill; I imagine it is another
subterfuge to extract money. Don't distress yourself unnecessarily; perhaps
I may have some influence with him--I had before, you know!"
"Yes, yes, dear, you managed him very well that time--very well," said he,
stroking down her hair affectionately. "I--I--my child, I could never have
told you of that dreadful secret; but when I found that you knew it all, my
heart experienced a sensible relief. It was a selfish pleasure, I know; yet
it eased me to share my secret; the burden is not half so heavy now."
"Father, would not your mind be easier still, if you could be persuaded to
make restitution to his children? This wealth is valueless to us both. You
can never ask forgiveness for the sin whilst you cling thus tenaciously to
"Tut, tut--no more of that!" said he, impatiently; "I cannot do it without
betraying myself. If I gave it back to them, what would become of you and
George, and how am I to stop the clamours of that cormorant? No, no! it is
useless to talk of it--I cannot do it!"
"There would be still enough left for George, after restoring them their
own, and you might give this man my share of what is left. I would rather
work day and night," said she, determinedly, "than ever touch a penny of
the money thus accumulated."
"I've thought all that over, long ago, but I dare not do it--it might cause
inquiries to be made that might result to my disadvantage. No, I cannot do
that; sit down, and let us be quiet now."
Mr. Stevens lay back upon his pillow, and for a moment seemed to doze; then
starting up again suddenly, he asked, "Have you told George about it? Have
you ever confided anything to him?"
"No, papa," answered she soothingly, "not a breath; I've been secret as the
"That's right!" rejoined he--"that is right! I love George, but not as I do
you. He only comes to me when he wants money. He is not like you,
darling--you take care of and nurse your poor old father. Has he come in
"Not yet; he never gets home until almost morning, and is then often
The old man shook his head, and muttered, "The sins of the fathers
shall--what is that? Did you hear that noise?--hush!"
Lizzie stood quietly by him for a short while, and then walked on tiptoe to
the door--"It is George," said she, after peering into the gloom of their
entry; "he has admitted him self with his night-key."
The shuffling sound of footsteps was now quite audible upon the stairway,
and soon the bloated face of Mr. Stevens's hopeful son was seen at the
chamber door. In society and places where this young gentleman desired to
maintain a respectable character he could be as well behaved, as choice in
his language, and as courteous as anybody; but at home, where he was well
known, and where he did not care to place himself under any restraint, he
was a very different individual.
"Let me in, Liz," said he, in a thick voice; "I want the old man to fork
over some money--I'm cleaned out."
"No, no--go to bed, George," she answered, coaxingly, "and talk to him
about it in the morning."
"I'm coming in _now_," said he, determinedly; "and besides, I want to tell
you something about that nigger Garie."
"Tell us in the morning," persisted Lizzy.
"No--I'm going to tell you now," rejoined he, forcing his way into the
room--"it's too good to keep till morning. Pick up that wick, let a fellow
see if you are all alive!"
Lizzie raised the wick of the lamp in accordance with his desire, and then
sat down with an expression of annoyance and vexation on her countenance.
George threw himself into an easy chair, and began, "I saw that white
nigger Garie to-night, he was in company with a gentleman, at that--the
assurance of that fellow is perfectly incomprehensible. He was drinking at
the bar of the hotel; and as it is no secret why he and Miss Bates parted,
I enlightened the company on the subject of his antecedents. He threatened
to challenge me! Ho! ho!--fight with a nigger--that is too good a joke!"
And laughing heartily, the young ruffian leant back in his chair. "I want
some money to-morrow, dad," continued he. "I say, old gentleman, wasn't it
a lucky go that darkey's father was put out of the way so nicely,
eh?--We've been living in clover ever since--haven't we?"
"How dare you address me-in that disrespectful manner? Go out of the room,
sir!" exclaimed Mr. Stevens, with a disturbed countenance.
"Come, George, go to bed," urged his sister wearily. "Let father sleep--it
is after twelve o'clock. I am going to wake the nurse, and then retire
George rose stupidly from his chair, and followed his sister from the room.
On the stairway he grasped her arm rudely, and said, "I don't understand
how it is that you and the old man are so cursed thick all of a sudden. You
are thick as two thieves, always whispering and talking together. Act fair,
Liz--don't persuade him to leave you all the money. If you do, we'll
quarrel--that's flat. Don't try and cozen him out of my share as well as
your own--you hear!"
"Oh, George!" rejoined she reproachfully--"I never had such an idea."
"Then what are you so much together for? Why is there so much whispering
and writing, and going off on journeys all alone? What does it all mean,
"It means nothing at all, George. You are not yourself to-night," said she
evasively; "you had better go to bed."
"It is _you_ that are not yourself," he retorted. "What makes you look so
pale and worried--and why do you and the old man start if the door cracks,
as if the devil was after you? What is the meaning of that?" asked he with
a drunken leer. "You had better look out," concluded he; "I'm watching you
both, and will find out all your secrets by-and-by."
"Learn all our secrets! Ah, my brother!" thought she, as he disappeared
into his room, "you need not desire to have their fearful weight upon you,
or you will soon grow as anxious, thin, and pale as I am."
The next day at noon Lizzie started on her journey, after a short
conference with her father.
Night had settled upon her native city, when she was driven through its
straight and seemingly interminable thoroughfares. The long straight rows
of lamps, the snowy steps, the scrupulously clean streets, the signs over
the stores, were like the faces of old acquaintances, and at any other time
would have caused agreeable recollections; but the object of her visit
pre-occupied her mind, to the exclusion of any other and more pleasant
She ordered the coachman to take her to an obscure hotel, and, after having
engaged a room, she left her baggage and started in search of the residence
She drew her veil down over her face very closely, and walked quickly
through the familiar streets, until she arrived at the place indicated in
his letter. It was a small, mean tenement, in a by street, in which there
were but one or two other houses. The shutters were closed from the upper
story to the lowest, and the whole place wore an uninhabited appearance.
After knocking several times, she was about to give up in despair, when she
discovered through the glass above the door the faint glimmer of a light,
and shortly after a female voice demanded from the inside, "Who is there?"
"Does Mr. McCloskey live here?" asked Lizzie.
Hearing a voice not more formidable than her own, the person within
partially opened the door; and, whilst shading with one hand the candle she
held in the other, gazed out upon the speaker.
"Does Mr. McCloskey live here?" repeated Lizzie.
"Yes, he does," answered the woman, in a weak voice; "but he's got the
"Has the what?" inquired Lizzie, who did not exactly understand her.
"Got the typers--got the fever, you know."
"The typhus fever!" said Lizzie, with a start; "then he is really sick."
"Really sick!" repeated the woman--"really sick! Well, I should think he
was! Why, he's been a raving and swearing awful for days; he stormed and
screamed so loud that the neighbours complained. Law! they had to even
shave his head."
"Is he any better?" asked Lizzie, with a sinking heart. "Can I see him?"
"'Praps you can, if you go to the hospital to-morrow; but whether you'll
find him living or dead is more than I can say. I couldn't keep him here--I
wasn't able to stand him. I've had the fever myself--he took it from me.
You must come in," continued the woman, "if you want to talk--I'm afraid of
catching cold, and can't stand at the door. Maybe you're afraid of the
fever," she further observed, as she saw Lizzie hesitate on the door-step.
"Oh, no, I'm not afraid of that," answered Lizzie quickly--"I am not in the
"Come in, then," reiterated the woman, "and I'll tell you all about it."
The woman looked harmless enough, and Lizzie hesitated no longer, but
followed her through the entry into a decently furnished room. Setting the
candlestick upon the mantelpiece, she offered her visitor a chair, and then
"He came home this last time in an awful state. Before he left some one
sent him a load of money, and he did nothing but drink and gamble whilst it
lasted. I used to tell him that he ought to take care of his money, and
he'd snap his fingers and laugh. He used to say that he owned the goose
that laid the golden eggs, and could have money whenever he wanted it.
Well, as I was a saying, he went; and when he came back he had an awful
attack of _delirium tremens_, and then he took the typers. Oh, laws mercy!"
continued she, holding up her bony hands, "how that critter raved! He
talked about killing people."
"He did!" interrupted Lizzie, with a gesture of alarm, and laying her hand
upon her heart, which beat fearfully--"did he mention any name?"
The woman did not stop to answer this question, but proceeded as if she had
not been interrupted. "He was always going on about two orphans and a will,
and he used to curse and swear awfully about being obliged to keep
something hid. It was dreadful to listen to--it would almost make your hair
stand on end to hear him."
"And he never mentioned names?" said Lizzie inquiringly.
"No, that was so strange; he never mentioned no names--_never_. He used to
rave a great deal about two orphans and a will, and he would ransack the
bed, and pull up the sheets, and look under the pillows, as if he thought
it was there. Oh, he acted very strange, but never mentioned no names. I
used to think he had something in his trunk, he was so very special about
it. He was better the day they took him off; and the trunk went with
him--he would have it; but since then he's had a dreadful relapse, and
there's no knowin' whether he is alive or dead."
"I must go to the hospital," said Lizzie, rising from her seat, and greatly
relieved to learn that nothing of importance had fallen from McCloskey
during his delirium. "I shall go there as quickly as I can," she observed,
walking to the door.
"You'll not see him to-night if you do," rejoined the woman. "Are you a
"Oh, no," answered Lizzie; "my father is an acquaintance of his. I learned
that he was ill, and came to inquire after him."
Had the woman not been very indifferent or unobservant, she would have
noticed the striking difference between the manner and appearance of Lizzie
Stevens and the class who generally came to see McCloskey. She did not,
however, appear to observe it, nor did she manifest any curiosity greater
than that evidenced by her inquiring if he was a relative.
Lizzie walked with a lonely feeling through the quiet streets until she
arrived at the porter's lodge of the hospital. She pulled the bell with
trembling hands, and the door was opened by the little bald-headed man
whose loquacity was once (the reader will remember) so painful to Mrs.
Ellis. There was no perceptible change in his appearance, and he manifestly
took as warm an interest in frightful accidents as ever. "What is it--what
is it?" he asked eagerly, as Lizzie's pale face became visible in the
bright light that shone from the inner office. "Do you want a stretcher?"
The rapidity with which he asked these questions, and his eager manner,
quite startled her, and she was for a moment unable to tell her errand.
"Speak up, girl--speak up! Do you want a stretcher--is it burnt or run
over. Can't you speak, eh?"
It now flashed upon Lizzie that the venerable janitor was labouring under
the impression that she had come to make application for the admission of a
patient, and she quickly answered--
"Oh, no; it is nothing of the kind, I am glad to say."
"Glad to say," muttered the old man, the eager, expectant look disappearing
from his face, giving place to one of disappointment--"glad to say; why
there hasn't been an accident to-day, and here you've gone and rung the
bell, and brought me here to the door for nothing. What do you want then?"
"I wish to inquire after a person who is here."
"What's his number?" gruffly inquired he.
"That I cannot tell," answered she; "his name is McCloskey."
"I don't know anything about him. Couldn't tell who he is unless I go all
over the books to-night. We don't know people by their names here; come in
the morning--ten o'clock, and don't never ring that bell again," concluded
he, sharply, "unless you want a stretcher: ringing the bell, and no
accident;" and grumbling at being disturbed for nothing, he abruptly closed
the door in Lizzie's face.
Anxious and discomfited, she wandered back to her hotel; and after drinking
a weak cup of tea, locked her room-door, and retired to bed. There she lay,
tossing from side to side--she could not sleep--her anxiety respecting her
father's safety; her fears, lest in the delirium of fever McCloskey should
discover their secret, kept her awake far into the night, and the city
clocks struck two ere she fell asleep.
When she awoke in the morning the sun was shining brightly into her room;
for a few moments she could not realize where she was; but the events of
the past night soon came freshly to her; looking at her watch, she
remembered that she was to go to the hospital at ten, and it was already
half-past nine; her wakefulness the previous night having caused her to
sleep much later than her usual hour.
Dressing herself in haste, she hurried down to breakfast; and after having
eaten a slight meal, ordered a carriage, and drove to the hospital.
The janitor was in his accustomed seat, and nodded smilingly to her as she
entered. He beckoned her to him, and whispered, "I inquired about him.
McCloskey, fever-ward, No. 21, died this morning at two o'clock and forty
"Dead!" echoed Lizzie, with a start of horror.
"Yes, dead," repeated he, with a complacent look; "any relation of
yours--want an order for the body?"
Lizzie was so astounded by this intelligence, that she could not reply; and
the old man continued mysteriously. "Came to before he died--wish he
hadn't--put me to a deal of trouble--sent for a magistrate--then for a
minister--had something on his mind--couldn't die without telling it, you
know; then there was oaths, depositions--so much trouble. Are you his
relation--want an order for the body?"
"Oaths! magistrate!--a confession no doubt," thought Lizzie; her limbs
trembled; she was so overcome with terror that she could scarcely stand;
clinging to the railing of the desk by which she was standing for support,
she asked, hesitatingly, "He had something to confess then?"
The janitor looked at her for a few moments attentively, and seemed to
notice for the first time her ladylike appearance and manners; a sort of
reserve crept over him at the conclusion of his scrutiny, for he made no
answer to her question, but simply asked, with more formality than before,
"Are you a relation--do you want an order for the body?"
Ere Lizzie could answer his question, a man, plainly dressed, with keen
grey eyes that seemed to look restlessly about in every corner of the room,
came and stood beside the janitor. He looked at Lizzie from the bow on the
top of her bonnet to the shoes on her feet; it was not a stare, it was more
a hasty glance--and yet she could not help feeling that he knew every item
of her dress, and could have described her exactly.
"Are you a relative of this person," he asked, in a clear sharp voice,
whilst his keen eyes seemed to be piercing her through in search of the
"No, sir," she answered, faintly.
"A friend then, I presume," continued he, respectfully.
"An acquaintance," returned she. The man paused for a few moments, then
taking out his watch, looked at the time, and hastened from the office.
This man possessed Lizzie with a singular feeling of dread--why she could
not determine; yet, after he was gone, she imagined those cold grey eyes
were resting on her, and bidding the old janitor, who had grown reserved so
suddenly, good morning, she sprang into her carriage as fast as her
trembling limbs could carry her, and ordered the coachman to drive back to
"Father must fly!" soliloquized she; "the alarm will, no doubt, lend him
energy. I've heard of people who have not been able to leave their rooms
for months becoming suddenly strong under the influence of terror. We must
be off to some place of concealment until we can learn whether he is
compromised by that wretched man's confession."
Lizzie quickly paid her bill, packed her trunk, and started for the station
in hopes of catching the mid-day train for New York.
The driver did not spare his horses, but at her request drove them at their
utmost speed--but in vain. She arrived there only time enough to see the
train move away; and there, standing on the platform, looking at her with a
sort of triumphant satisfaction, was the man with the keen grey eyes.
"Stop! stop!" cried she.
"Too late, miss," said a bystander, sympathizingly; "just too late--no
other train for three hours."
"Three hours!" said Lizzie, despairingly; "three hours! Yet I must be
patient--there is no remedy," and she endeavoured to banish her fears and
occupy herself in reading the advertisements that were posted up about the
station. It was of no avail, that keen-looking man with his piercing grey
eyes haunted her; and she could not avoid associating him in her thoughts
with her father and McCloskey. What was he doing on the train, and why did
he regard her with that look of triumphant satisfaction.
Those were to her the three longest hours of her life. Wearily and
impatiently she paced up and down the long saloon, watching the hands of
the clock as they appeared to almost creep over the dial-plate. Twenty
times during those three hours did she compare the clock with her watch,
and found they moved on unvaryingly together.
At last the hour for the departure of the train arrived; and seated in the
car, she was soon flying at express speed on the way towards her home. "How
much sooner does the other train arrive than we?" she asked of the
"Two hours and a half, miss," replied he, courteously; "we gain a half-hour
"A half-hour--that is something gained," thought she; "I may reach my
father before that man. Can he be what I suspect?"
On they went--thirty--forty--fifty miles an hour, yet she thought it slow.
Dashing by villages, through meadows, over bridges,--rattling, screaming,
puffing, on their way to the city of New York. In due time they arrived at
the ferry, and after crossing the river were in the city itself. Lizzie
took the first carriage that came to hand, and was soon going briskly
through the streets towards her father's house. The nearer she approached
it, the greater grew her fears; a horrible presentiment that something
awful had occurred, grew stronger and stronger as she drew nearer home. She
tried to brave it off--resist it--crush it--but it came back upon her each
time with redoubled force.
On she went, nearer and nearer every moment, until at last she was in the
avenue itself. She gazed eagerly from the carriage, and thought she
observed one or two persons run across the street opposite her father's
house. It could not be!--she looked again--yes, there was a group beneath
his window. "Faster! faster!" she cried frantically; "faster if you can."
The door was at last reached; she sprang from the carriage and pressed
through the little knot of people who were gathered on the pavement. Alas!
her presentiments were correct. There, lying on the pavement, was the
mangled form of her father, who had desperately sprung from the balcony
above, to escape arrest from the man with the keen grey eyes, who, with the
warrant in his hand, stood contemplating the lifeless body.
"Father! father!" cried Lizzie, in an anguished voice; "father, speak
once!" Too late! too late! the spirit had passed away--the murderer had
rushed before a higher tribunal--a mightier Judge--into the presence of One
who tempers justice with mercy.
The night that Lizzie Stevens arrived in Philadelphia was the one decided
upon for the marriage of Emily Garie and Charles Ellis; and whilst she was
wandering so lonely through the streets of one part of the city, a scene of
mirth and gaiety was transpiring in another, some of the actors in which
would be made more happy by events that would be productive of great sorrow
Throughout that day bustle and confusion had reigned supreme in the house
of Mr. Walters. Caddy, who had been there since the break of day, had taken
the domestic reins entirely from the hands of the mistress of the mansion,
and usurped command herself. Quiet Esther was well satisfied to yield her
full control of the domestic arrangements for the festivities, and Caddy
was nothing loath to assume them.
She entered upon the discharge of her self-imposed duties with such ardour
as to leave no doubt upon the minds of the parties most interested but that
they would be thoroughly performed, and with an alacrity too that
positively appalled quiet Esther's easy-going servants.
Great doubts had been expressed as to whether Caddy could successfully
sustain the combined characters of _chef de cuisine_ and bridesmaid, and a
failure had been prophesied. She therefore felt it incumbent upon her to
prove these prognostications unfounded, and demonstrate the practicability
of the undertaking. On the whole, she went to work with energy, and seemed
determined to establish the fact that her abilities were greatly
underrated, and that a woman could accomplish more than one thing at a
time when she set about it.
The feelings of all such persons about the establishment of Mr. Walters as
were "constitutionally tired" received that day divers serious shocks at
the hands of Miss Caddy--who seemed endowed with a singular faculty which
enabled her to discover just what people did not want to do, and of setting
them at it immediately.
For instance, Jane, the fat girl, hated going upstairs excessively. Caddy
employed her in bringing down glass and china from a third-story pantry;
and, moreover, only permitted her to bring a small quantity at a time,
which rendered a number of trips strictly necessary, to the great
aggravation and serious discomfort of the fat girl in question.
On the other hand, Julia, the slim chambermaid, who would have been
delighted with such employment, and who would have undoubtedly refreshed
herself on each excursion upstairs with a lengthened gaze from the window,
was condemned to the polishing of silver and dusting of plates and glass in
an obscure back pantry, which contained but one window, and that commanding
a prospect of a dead wall.
Miss Caddy felt in duty bound to inspect each cake, look over the wine, and
(to the great discomfiture of the waiter) decant it herself, not liking to
expose him to any unnecessary temptation. She felt, too, all the more
inclined to assume the office of butler from the fact that, at a previous
party of her sister's, she had detected this same gentleman with a bottle
of the best sherry at his mouth, whilst he held his head thrown back in a
most surprising manner, with a view, no doubt, of contemplating the ceiling
more effectually from that position.
Before night such was the increasing demand for help in the kitchen that
Caddy even kidnapped the nurse, and locked the brown baby and her sister in
the bath-room, where there was no window in their reach, nor any other
means at hand from which the slightest injury could result to them. Here
they were supplied with a tub half filled with water, and spent the time
most delightfully in making boats of their shoes, and lading them with
small pieces of soap, which they bit off from the cake for the occasion;
then, coasting along to the small towns on the borders of the tub, they
disposed of their cargoes to imaginary customers to immense advantage.
Walters had declared the house uninhabitable, and had gone out for the day.
Esther and Emily busied themselves in arranging the flowers in the
drawing-room and hall, and hanging amidst the plants on the balcony little
stained glass lamps; all of which Caddy thought very well in its way, but
which she was quite confident would be noticed much less by the guests than
the supper--in which supposition she was undoubtedly correct.
Kinch also lounged in two or three times during the day, to seek
consolation at the hands of Esther and Emily. He was in deep distress of
mind--in great perturbation. His tailor had promised to send home a vest
the evening previous and had not fulfilled his agreement. After his first
visit Kinch entered the house in the most stealthy manner, for fear of
being encountered by Caddy; who, having met him in the hall during the
morning, posted him off for twenty pounds of sugar, a ball of twine, and a
stone jar, despite his declaration of pre-engagements, haste, and limited
knowledge of the articles in question.
Whilst Lizzie Stevens was tremblingly ringing the bell at the lodge of the
hospital, busy hands were also pulling at that of Mr. Walters's dwelling.
Carriage after carriage rolled up, and deposited their loads of gay
company, who skipped nimbly over the carpet that was laid down from the
door to the curbstone. Through the wide hall and up the stairway, flowers
of various kinds mingled their fragrance and loaded the air with their rich
perfume; and expressions of delight burst from the lips of the guests as
they passed up the brilliantly-lighted stairway and thronged the spacious
drawing-rooms. There were but few whites amongst them, and they
particular friends. There was Mrs. Bird, who had travelled from Warmouth to
be present at the ceremony; Mr. Balch, the friend and legal adviser of the
bride's father; Father Banks, who was to tie the happy knot; and there,
too, was Mrs. Burrell, and that baby, now grown to a promising lad, and who
would come to the wedding because Charlie had sent him a regular invitation
written like that sent his parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Ellis were of course there,--the latter arrayed in a rich new
silk made up expressly for the occasion--and the former almost hidden in
his large easy chair. The poor old gentleman scarcely seemed able to
comprehend the affair, and apparently laboured under the impression that it
was another mob, and looked a little terrified at times when the laughter
or conversation grew louder than usual.
The hour for the ceremony was fast approaching, and Esther left the
assembled guests and went up into Emily Garie's room to assist the young
ladies in preparing the bride. They all besought her to be calm, not to
agitate herself upon any consideration; and then bustled about her, and
flurried themselves in the most ridiculous manner, with a view, no doubt,
of tranquillizing her feelings more effectually.
"Little Em," soon to be Mrs. Ellis, was busily engaged in dressing; the
toilet-table was covered with lighted candles, and all the gas-burners in
the room were in full blaze, bringing everything out in bold relief.
"We are having quite an illumination; the glare almost blinds me," said
Emily. "Put out some of the candles."
"No, no, my dear," rejoined one of the young ladies engaged in dressing
her; "we cannot sacrifice a candle. We don't need them to discern your
charms, Em; only to enable us to discover how to deck them to the best
advantage. How sweet you look!"
Emily gazed into the mirror; and from the blush that suffused her face and
the look of complacency that followed, it was quite evident that she shared
her friend's opinion. She did, indeed, look charming. There was a deeper
colour than usual on her cheeks, and her eyes were illumined with a soft,
tender light. Her wavy brown hair was parted smoothly on the front, and
gathered into a cluster of curls at the back. Around her neck glistened a
string of pearls, a present from Mr. Winston, who had just returned from
South America. The pure white silk fitted to a nicety, and the tiny satin
slippers seemed as if they were made upon her feet, and never intended to
come off again. Her costume was complete, with the exception of the veil
and wreath, and Esther opened the box that she supposed contained them, for
the purpose of arranging them on the bride.
"Where have you put the veil, my dear?" she asked, after raising the lid of
the box, and discovering that they were not there.
"In the box, are they not?" answered one of the young ladies.
"No, they are not there," continued Esther, as she turned over the various
articles with which the tables were strewed. All in vain; the veil and
wreath could be nowhere discovered.
"Are you sure it came home?" asked one.
"Of course," replied another; "I had it in my hand an hour ago."
Then a thorough search was commenced, all the drawers ransacked, and
everything turned over again and again; and just when they were about to
abandon the search in despair, one of the party returned from the adjoining
room, dragging along the brown baby, who had the veil wrapped about her
chubby shoulders as a scarf, and the wreath ornamenting her round curly
head. Even good-natured Esther was a little ruffled at this daring act of
baby's, and hastily divested that young lady of her borrowed adornments,
amidst the laughter of the group.
Poor baby was quite astonished at the precipitate manner in which she was
deprived of her finery, and was for a few moments quite overpowered by her
loss; but, perceiving a drawer open in the toilet-table, she dried her
eyes, and turned her attention in that direction, and in tossing its
contents upon the floor amply solaced herself for the deprivation she had
"Caddy is a famous chief bridesmaid--hasn't been here to give the least
assistance," observed Esther; "she is not even dressed herself. I will
ring, and ask where she can be--in the kitchen or supper-room I've no
doubt. Where is Miss Ellis?" she asked of the servant who came in answer
"Downstairs, mem--the boy that brought the ice-cream kicked over a candy
ornament, and Miss Ellis was very busy a shaking of him when I came up."
"Do beg her to stop," rejoined Esther, with a laugh, "and tell her I say
she can shake him in the morning--we are waiting for her to dress now; and
also tell Mr. De Younge to come here to the door--I want him."
Kinch soon made his appearance, in accordance with Esther's request, and
fairly dazzled her with his costume. His blue coat was brazen with buttons,
and his white cravat tied with choking exactness; spotless vest, black
pants, and such patent leathers as you could have seen your face in with
"How fine you look, Kinch," said Esther admiringly.
"Yes," he answered; "the new vest came home--how do you like it?"
"Oh, admirable! But, Kinch, can't you go down, and implore Caddy to come up
and dress--time is slipping away very fast?"
"Oh, I daren't," answered Kinch, with a look of alarm--"I don't dare to go
down now that I'm dressed. She'll want me to carry something up to the
supper-room if I do--a pile of dishes, or something of the kind. I'd like
to oblige you, Mrs. Walters, but it's worth my new suit to do it."
Under these circumstances, Kinch was excused; and a deputation, headed by
Mr. Walters, was sent into the lower regions to wait upon Caddy, who
prevailed upon her to come up and dress, which she did, being all the
while very red in the face, and highly indignant at being sent for so
"Good gracious!" she exclaimed, "what a pucker you are all in!"
"Why, Caddy, it's time to be," replied Esther--"it wants eight minutes of
"And that is just three minutes more than I should want for dressing if I
was going to be married myself," rejoined she; and hastening away, she
returned in an incredibly short time, all prepared for the ceremony.
Charlie was very handsomely got up for the occasion. Emily, Esther,
Caddy--in fact, all of them--agreed that he never looked better in his
life. "That is owing to me--all my doings," said Kinch exultingly. "He
wanted to order his suit of old Forbes, who hasn't looked at a
fashion-plate for the last ten years, and I wouldn't let him. I took him to
my man, and see what he has made of him--turned him out looking like a
bridegroom, instead of an old man of fifty! It's all owing to me," said the
delighted Kinch, who skipped about the entry until he upset a vase of
flowers that stood on a bracket behind him; whereupon Caddy ran and brought
a towel, and made him take off his white gloves and wipe up the water, in
spite of his protestations that the shape of his pantaloons would not bear
the strain of stooping.
At last the hour arrived, and the bridal party descended to the
drawing-room in appropriate order, and stood up before Father Banks. The
ceremony was soon over, and Emily was clasped in Mrs. Ellis's arms, who
called her "daughter," and kissed her cheek with such warm affection that
she no longer felt herself an orphan, and paid back with tears and embraces
the endearments that were lavished upon her by her new relatives.
Father Banks took an early opportunity to give them each some good advice,
and managed to draw them apart for that purpose. He told them how imperfect
and faulty were all mankind--that married life was not all _couleur de
rose_--that the trials and cares incident to matrimony fully equalled its
pleasures; and besought them to bear with each other patiently, to be
charitable to each other's faults--and a reasonable share of earthly
happiness must be the result.
Then came the supper. Oh! such a supper!--such quantities of nice things as
money and skill alone can bring together. There were turkeys innocent of a
bone, into which you might plunge your knife to the very hilt without
coming in contact with a splinter--turkeys from which cunning cooks had
extracted every bone leaving the meat alone behind, with the skin not
perceptibly broken. How brown and tempting they looked, their capacious
bosoms giving rich promise of high-seasoned dressing within, and looking
larger by comparison with the tiny reed-birds beside them, which lay cosily
on the golden toast, looking as much as to say, "If you want something to
remember for ever, come and give me a bite!"
Then there were dishes of stewed terrapin, into which the initiated dipped
at once, and to which they for some time gave their undivided attention,
oblivious, apparently, of the fact that there was a dish of chicken-salad
close beside them.
Then there were oysters in every variety--silver dishes containing them
stewed, their fragrant macey odour wafting itself upward, and causing
watery sensations about the mouth. Waiters were constantly rushing into the
room, bringing dishes of them fried so richly brown, so smoking hot, that
no man with a heart in his bosom could possibly refuse them. Then there
were glass dishes of them pickled, with little black spots of allspice
floating on the pearly liquid that contained them. And lastly, oysters
broiled, whose delicious flavour exceeds my powers of description--these,
with ham and tongue, were the solid comforts. There were other things,
however, to which one could turn when the appetite grew more dainty; there
were jellies, blancmange, chocolate cream, biscuit glace, peach ice,
vanilla ice, orange-water ice, brandy peaches, preserved strawberries and
pines; not to say a word of towers of candy, bonbons, kisses, champagne,
Rhine wine, sparkling Catawba, liquors, and a man in the corner making
sherry cobblers of wondrous flavour, under the especial supervision of
Kinch; on the whole, it was an American supper, got up regardless of
expense--and whoever has been to such an entertainment knows very well what
an American supper is.
What a merry happy party it was--how they all seemed to enjoy
themselves--and how they all laughed, when the bride essayed to cut the
cake, and could not get the knife through the icing--and how the young
girls put pieces away privately, that they might place them under their
pillows to dream upon! What a happy time they had!
Father Banks enjoyed himself amazingly; he eat quantities of stewed
terrapin, and declared it the best he ever tasted. He talked gravely to the
old people--cheerfully and amusingly to the young; and was, in fact, having
a most delightful time--when a servant whispered to him that there was a
person in the entry who wished to see him immediately.
"Oh dear!" he exclaimed to Mr. Balch, "I was just congratulating myself
that I should have one uninterrupted evening, and you see the
result--called off at this late hour."
Father Banks followed the servant from the room, and inquired of the
messenger what was wanted.
"You must come to the hospital immediately, sir; the man with the
typhus-fever--you saw him yesterday--he's dying; he says he must see
you--that he has something important to confess. I'm to go for a magistrate
"Ah!" said Father Banks, "you need go no further, Alderman Balch is
here--he is quite competent to receive his depositions."
"I'm heartily glad of it," replied the man, "it will save me another hunt.
I had a hard time finding you. I've been to your house and two or three
other places, and was at last sent here. I'll go back and report that you
are coming and will bring a magistrate with you."
"Very good," rejoined Father Banks, "do so. I will be there immediately."
Hastening back to the supper room, he discovered Mr. Balch in the act of
helping himself to a brandy peach, and apprised him of the demand for his
"Now, Banks," said he, good-humouredly, "that is outrageous. Why did you
not let him go for some one else? It is too bad to drag me away just when
the fun is about to commence." There was no alternative, however, and Mr.
Balch prepared to follow the minister to the bedside of McCloskey.
When they arrived at the hospital, they found him fast sinking--the livid
colour of his face, the sunken glassy eyes, the white lips, and the blue
tint that surrounded the eyes and mouth told at once the fearful story.
Death had come. He was in full possession of his faculties, and told them
all. How Stevens had saved him from the gallows--and how he agreed to
murder Mr. Garie--of his failure when the time of action arrived, and how,
in consequence, Stevens had committed the deed, and how he had paid him
time after time to keep his secret.
"In my trunk there," said he, in a dying whisper,--"in my trunk is the
will. I found it that night amongst his papers. I kept it to get money out
of his children with when old Stevens was gone. Here," continued he,
handing his key from beneath the pillow, "open my trunk and get it."
Mr. Balch eagerly unlocked the trunk, and there, sure enough, lay the
long-sought-for and important document.
"I knew it would be found at last. I always told Walters so; and now," said
he, exultingly, "see my predictions are verified."
McCloskey seemed anxious to atone for the past by making an ample
confession. He told them all he knew of Mr. Stevens's present
circumstances--how his property was situated, and every detail necessary
for their guidance. Then his confession was sworn to and witnessed; and the
dying man addressed himself to the affairs of the next world, and
endeavoured to banish entirely from his mind all thoughts of this.
After a life passed in the exercise of every Christian virtue--after a
lengthened journey over its narrow stony pathway, whereon temptations have
been met and triumphed over--where we have struggled with difficulties, and
borne afflictions without murmur or complaint, cheering on the weary we
have found sinking by the wayside, comforting and assisting the fallen,
endeavouring humbly and faithfully to do our duty to God and humanity--even
after a life thus passed, when we at last lie down to die the most faithful
and best may well shrink and tremble when they approach the gloomy portals
of death. At such an hour memory, more active than every other faculty,
drags all the good and evil from the past and sets them in distinct array
before us. Then we discover how greatly the latter exceeds the former in
our lives, and how little of our Father's work we have accomplished after
all our toils and struggles. 'Tis then the most devoted servant of our
common Master feels compelled to cry, "Mercy! O my Father!--for justice I
dare not ask."
If thus the Christian passes away--what terror must fill the breast of one
whose whole life has been a constant warfare upon the laws of God and man?
How approaches he the bar of that awful Judge, whose commands he has set at
nought, and whose power he has so often contemned? With a fainting heart,
and tongue powerless to crave the mercy his crimes cannot deserve!
McCloskey struggled long with death--died fearfully hard. The phantoms of
his victims seemed to haunt him in his dying hour, interposing between him
and God; and with distorted face, clenched hands, and gnashing teeth, he
passed away to his long account.
From the bedside of the corpse Mr. Balch went--late as it was--to the
office of the chief of police. There he learned, to his great satisfaction,
that the governor was in town; and at an early hour the next morning he
procured a requisition for the arrest of Mr. Stevens, which he put into the
hands of the man with the keen grey eyes for the purpose of securing the
criminal; and with the result of his efforts the reader is already
And the last.
With such celerity did Mr. Balch work in behalf of his wards, that he soon
had everything in train for the recovery of the property.
At first George Stevens was inclined to oppose the execution of the will,
but he was finally prevailed upon by his advisers to make no difficulty
respecting it, and quietly resign what he must inevitably sooner or later
relinquish. Lizzie Stevens, on the contrary, seemed rather glad that an
opportunity was afforded to do justice to her old playmates, and won the
good opinion of all parties by her gentleness and evident anxiety to atone
for the wrong done them by her father. Even after the demands of the
executors of Mr. Garie were fully satisfied, such had been the thrift of
her father that there still remained a comfortable support for her and her
To poor Clarence this accession of fortune brought no new pleasure; he
already had sufficient for his modest wants; and now that his greatest hope
in life had been blighted, this addition of wealth became to him rather a
burden than a pleasure.
He was now completely excluded from the society in which he had so long
been accustomed to move; the secret of his birth had become widely known,
and he was avoided by his former friends and sneered at as a "nigger." His
large fortune kept some two or three whites about him, but he knew they
were leeches seeking to bleed his purse, and he wisely avoided their
He was very wretched and lonely: he felt ashamed to seek the society of
coloured men now that the whites despised and rejected him, so he lived
apart from both classes of society, and grew moody and misanthropic.
Mr. Balch endeavoured to persuade him to go abroad--to visit Europe: he
would not. He did not confess it, but the truth was, he could not tear
himself away from the city where little Birdie dwelt, where he now and then
could catch a glimpse of her to solace him in his loneliness. He was
growing paler and more fragile-looking each day, and the doctor at last
frankly told him that, if he desired to live, he must seek some warmer
climate for the winter.
Reluctantly Clarence obeyed; in the fall he left New York, and during the
cold months wandered through the West India islands. For a while his health
improved, but when the novelty produced by change of scene began to decline
he grew worse again, and brooded more deeply than ever over his bitter
disappointment, and consequently derived but little benefit from the
change; the spirit was too much broken for the body to mend--his heart was
too sore to beat healthily or happily.
He wrote often now to Emily and her husband, and seemed desirous to atone
for his past neglect. Emily had written to him first; she had learned of
his disappointment, and gave him a sister's sympathy in his loneliness and
The chilly month of March had scarcely passed away when they received a
letter from him informing them of his intention to return. He wrote, "I am
no better, and my physician says that a longer residence here will not
benefit me in the least--that I came _too late_. I cough, cough, cough,
incessantly, and each day become more feeble. I am coming home, Emmy;
coming home, I fear, to die. I am but a ghost of my former self. I write
you this that you may not be alarmed when you see me. It is too late now to
repine, but, oh! Em, if my lot had only been cast with yours--had we never
been separated--I might have been to-day as happy as you are."
It was a clear bright morning when Charlie stepped into a boat to be
conveyed to the ship in which Clarence had returned to New York: she had
arrived the evening previous, and had not yet come up to the dock. The air
came up the bay fresh and invigorating from the sea beyond, and the water
sparkled as it dripped from the oars, which, with monotonous regularity,
broke the almost unruffled surface of the bay. Some of the ship's sails
were shaken out to dry in the morning sun, and the cordage hung loosely and
carelessly from the masts and yards. A few sailors lounged idly about the
deck, and leaned over the side to watch the boat as it approached. With
their aid it was soon secured alongside, and Charlie clambered up the
ladder, and stood upon the deck of the vessel. On inquiring for Clarence,
he was shown into the cabin, where he found him extended on a sofa.
He raised himself as he saw Charlie approach, and, extending his hand,
exclaimed,--"How kind! I did not expect you until we reached the shore."
For a moment, Charlie could not speak. The shock caused by Clarence's
altered appearance was too great,--the change was terrible. When he had
last seen him, he was vigorous-looking, erect, and healthful; now he was
bent and emaciated to a frightful extent. The veins on his temples were
clearly discernible; the muscles of his throat seemed like great cords; his
cheeks were hollow, his sunken eyes were glassy bright and surrounded with
a dark rim, and his breathing was short and evidently painful. Charlie held
his thin fleshless hand in his own, and gazed in his face with an anguished
"I look badly,--don't I Charlie?" said he, with assumed indifference;
"worse than you expected, eh?"
Charlie hesitated a little, and then answered,--"Rather bad; but it is
owing to your sea-sickness, I suppose; that has probably reduced you
considerably; then this close cabin must be most unfavourable to your
health. Ah, wait until we get you home, we shall soon have you better."
"Home!" repeated Clarence,--"home! How delightful that word sounds! I feel
it is going _home_ to go to you and Em." And he leant back and repeated the
word "home," and paused afterward, as one touches some favourite note upon
an instrument, and then silently listens to its vibrations. "How is Em?" he
asked at length.
"Oh, well--very well," replied Charlie. "She has been busy as a bee ever
since she received your last letter; such a charming room as she has
prepared for you!"
"Ah, Charlie," rejoined Clarence, mournfully, "I shall not live long to
enjoy it, I fear."
"Nonsense!" interrupted Charlie, hopefully; "don't be so desponding, Clary:
here is spring again,--everything is thriving and bursting into new life.
You, too, will catch the spirit of the season, and grow in health and
strength again. Why, my dear fellow," continued he, cheerfully, "you can't
help getting better when we once get hold of you. Mother's gruels, Doctor
Burdett's prescriptions, and Em's nursing, would lift a man out of his
coffin. Come, now, don't let us hear anything more about dying."
Clarence pressed his hand and looked at him affectionately, as though he
appreciated his efforts to cheer him and felt thankful for them; but he
only shook his head and smiled mournfully.
"Let me help your man to get you up. When once you get ashore you'll feel
better, I've no doubt. We are not going to an hotel, but to the house of a
friend who has kindly offered to make you comfortable until you are able to
With the assistance of Charlie and the servant, Clarence was gradually
prepared to go ashore. He was exceedingly weak, could scarcely totter
across the deck; and it was with some difficulty that they at last
succeeded in placing him safely in the boat. After they landed, a carriage
was soon procured, and in a short time thereafter Clarence was comfortably
established in the house of Charlie's friend.
Their hostess, a dear old motherly creature, declared that she knew exactly
what Clarence needed; and concocted such delicious broths, made such
strengthening gruels, that Clarence could not avoid eating, and in a day
or two he declared himself better than he had been for a month, and felt
quite equal to the journey to Philadelphia.
The last night of their stay in New York was unusually warm; and Clarence
informed Charlie he wished to go out for a walk. "I wish to go a long
distance,--don't think me foolish when I tell you where. I want to look at
the house where little Birdie lives. It may be for the last time. I have a
presentiment that I shall see her if I go,--I am sure I shall," added he,
positively, as though he felt a conviction that his desire would be
"I would not, Clary," remonstrated Charlie. "Your health won't permit the
exertion; it is a long distance, too, you say; and, moreover, don't you
think, my dear fellow, that it is far more prudent to endeavour, if
possible, to banish her from your mind entirely. Don't permit yourself to
think about her, if you can help it. You know she is unattainable by you,
and you should make an effort to conquer your attachment."
"It is too late--too late now, Charlie," he replied, mournfully. "I shall
continue to love her as I do now until I draw my last breath. I know it is
hopeless--I know she can never be more to me than she already is; but I
cannot help loving her. Let us go; I may see her once again. Ah, Charlie,
you cannot even dream what inexpressible pleasure the merest glimpse of her
affords me! Come, let us go."
Charlie would not permit him to attempt to walk; and they procured a
carriage, in which they rode to within a short distance of the house. The
mansion of Mr. Bates appeared quite gloomy as they approached it. The
blinds were down, and no lights visible in any part of the house.
"I am afraid they are out of town," remarked Charlie, when Clarence pointed
out the house; "everything looks so dull about it. Let us cross over to the
other pavement." And they walked over to the other side of the street, and
gazed upward at the house.
"Let us sit down here," suggested Clarence,--"here, on this broad stone;
it is quite dark now, and no one will observe us."
"No, no!" remonstrated Charlie; "the stone is too damp and cold."
"Is it?" said Clarence vacantly. And taking out his handkerchief, he spread
it out, and, in spite of Charlie's dissuasions, sat down upon it.
"Charlie," said he, after gazing at the house a long time in silence, "I
have often come here and remained half the night looking at her windows.
People have passed by and stared at me as though they thought me crazy; I
was half crazy then, I think. One night I remember I came and sat here for
hours; far in the night I saw her come to the window, throw up the
casement, and look out. That was in the summer, before I went away, you
know. There she stood in the moonlight, gazing upward at the sky, so pale,
so calm and holy-looking, in her pure white dress, that I should not have
thought it strange if the heavens had opened, and angels descended and
borne her away with them on their wings." And Clarence closed his eyes as
he concluded, to call back upon the mirror of his mind the image of little
Birdie as she appeared that night.
They waited a long while, during which there was no evidence exhibited that
there was any one in the house. At last, just as they were about to move
away, they descried the glimmer of a light in the room which Clarence
declared to be her room. His frame trembled with expectation, and he walked
to and fro opposite the house with an apparent strength that surprised his
companion. At length the light disappeared again, and with it Clarence's
"Now then we must go," said Charlie, "it is useless for you to expose
yourself in this manner. I insist upon your coming home."
Reluctantly Clarence permitted himself to be led across the street again.
As they were leaving the pavement, he turned to look back again, and,
uttering a cry of surprise and joy, he startled Charlie by clutching his
arm. "Look! look!" he cried, "there she is--my little Birdie." Charlie
looked up at the window almost immediately above them, and observed a
slight pale girl, who was gazing up the street in an opposite direction.
"Little Birdie--little Birdie," whispered Clarence, tenderly. She did not
look toward them, but after standing there a few seconds, moved from
between the curtains and disappeared.
"Thank God for that!" exclaimed Clarence, passionately, "I knew--I knew I
should see her. _I knew it_," repeated he, exultingly; and then, overcome
with joy, he bowed his head upon Charlie's shoulder and wept like a child.
"Don't think me foolish, Charlie," apologized he, "I cannot help it. I will
go home now. Oh, brother, I feel so much happier." And with a step less
faint and trembling, he walked back to the carriage.
The following evening he was at home, but so enfeebled with the exertions
of the last two days, as to be obliged to take to his bed immediately after
his arrival. His sister greeted him affectionately, threw her arms about
his neck and kissed him tenderly; years of coldness and estrangement were
forgotten in that moment, and they were once more to each other as they
were before they parted.
Emily tried to appear as though she did not notice the great change in his
appearance, and talked cheerfully and encouragingly in his presence; but
she wept bitterly, when alone, over the final separation which she foresaw
was not far distant.
The nest day Doctor Burdett called, and his grave manner and apparent
disinclination to encourage any hope, confirmed the hopeless impression
they already entertained.
Aunt Ada came from Sudbury at Emily's request; she knew her presence would
give pleasure to Clarence, she accordingly wrote her to come, and she and
Emily nursed by turns the failing sufferer.
Esther and her husband, Mrs. Ellis and Caddy, and even Kinch, were
unremitting in their attentions, and did all in their power to amuse and
comfort him. Day by day he faded perceptibly, grew more and more feeble,
until at last Doctor Burdett began to number days instead of weeks as his
term of life. Clarence anticipated death with calmness--did not repine or
murmur. Father Banks was often with him cheering him with hopes of a
happier future beyond the grave.
One day he sent for his sister and desired her to write a letter for him.
"Em," said he, "I am failing fast; these fiery spots on my cheek, this
scorching in my palms, these hard-drawn, difficult breaths, warn me that
the time is very near. Don't weep, Em!" continued he, kissing her--"there,
don't weep--I shall be better off--happier--I am sure! Don't weep now--I
want you to write to little Birdie for me. I have tried, but my hand
trembles so that I cannot write legibly--I gave it up. Sit down beside me
here, and write; here is the pen." Emily dried her eyes, and mechanically
sat down to write as he desired. Motioning to him that she was ready, he
"My Dear Little Birdie,--I once resolved never to write to you again, and
partially promised your father that I would not; then I did not dream that
I should be so soon compelled to break my resolution. Little Birdie, I am
dying! My physician informs me that I have but a few more days to live. I
have been trying to break away from earth's affairs and fix my thoughts on
other and better things. I have given up all but you, and feel that I
cannot relinquish you until I see you once again. Do not refuse me, little
Birdie! Show this to your father--he must consent to a request made by one
on the brink of the grave."
"There, that will do; let me read it over," said he, extending his hand for
the note. "Yes, I will sign it now--then do you add our address. Send it
now, Emily--send it in time for to-night's mail."
"Clary, do you think she will come?" inquired his sister.
"Yes," replied he, confidently; "I am sure she will if the note reaches
her." Emily said no more, but sealed and directed the note, which she
immediately despatched to the post-office; and on the following day it
reached little Birdie.
From the time when the secret of Clarence's birth had been discovered,
until the day she had received his note, she never mentioned his name. At
the demand of her father she produced his letters, miniature, and even the
little presents he had given her from time to time, and laid them down
before him without a murmur; after this, even when he cursed and denounced
him, she only left the room, never uttering a word in his defence. She
moved about like one who had received a stunning blow--she was dull, cold,
apathetic. She would smile vacantly when her father smoothed her hair or
kissed her cheek; but she never laughed, or sang and played, as in days
gone by; she would recline for hours on the sofa in her room gazing
vacantly in the air, and taking apparently no interest in anything about
her. She bent her head when she walked, complained of coldness about her
temples, and kept her hand constantly upon her heart.
Doctors were at last consulted; they pronounced her physically well, and
thought that time would restore her wonted animation; but month after month
she grew more dull and silent, until her father feared she would become
idiotic, and grew hopeless and unhappy about her. For a week before the
receipt of the note from Clarence, she had been particularly apathetic and
indifferent, but it seemed to rouse her into life again. She started up
after reading it, and rushed wildly through the hall into her father's
"See here!" exclaimed she, grasping his arm--"see there--I knew it! I've
felt day after day that it was coming to that! You separated us, and now he
is dying--dying!" cried she. "Read it--read it!"
Her father took the note, and after perusing it laid it on the table, and
said coldly, "Well--"
"Well!" repeated she, with agitation--"Oh, father, it is not well! Father!"
said she, hurriedly, "you bid me give him up--told me he was
unworthy--pointed out to me fully and clearly why we could not marry: I
was convinced we could not, for I knew you would never let it be. Yet I
have never ceased to love him. I cannot control my heart, but I could my
voice, and never since that day have I spoken his name. I gave him up--not
that I would not have gladly married, knowing what he was--because you
desired it--because I saw either your heart must break or mine. I let mine
go to please you, and have suffered uncomplainingly, and will so suffer
until the end; but I _must_ see him once again. It will be a pleasure to
him to see me once again in his dying hour, and I _must_ go. If you love
me," continued she, pleadingly, as her father made a gesture of dissent,
"let us go. You see he is dying--begs you from the brink of the grave. Let
me go, only to say good bye to him, and then, perhaps," concluded she,
pressing her hand upon her heart, "I shall be better here."
Her father had not the heart to make any objection, and the next day they
started for Philadelphia. They despatched a note to Clarence, saying they
had arrived, which Emily received, and after opening it, went to gently
break its contents to her brother.
"You must prepare yourself for visitors, Clary," said she, "no doubt some
of our friends will call to-day, the weather is so very delightful."
"Do you know who is coming?" he inquired.
"Yes, dear," she answered, seating herself beside him, "I have received a
note stating that a particular friend will call to-day--one that you desire
"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it is little Birdie, is it not?"
"Yes," she replied, "they have arrived in town, and will be here to-day."
"Did not I tell you so?" said he, triumphantly. "I knew she would come. I
knew it," continued he, joyfully. "Let me get up--I am strong enough--she
is come--O! she has come."
Clarence insisted on being dressed with extraordinary care. His long
fierce-looking beard was trimmed carefully, and he looked much better than
he had done for weeks; he was wonderfully stronger, walked across the room,
and chatted over his breakfast with unusual animation.
At noon they came, and were shown into the drawing-room, where Emily
received them. Mr. Bates bowed politely, and expressed a hope that Mr.
Garie was better. Emily held out her hand to little Birdie, who clasped it
in both her own, and said, inquiringly: "You are his sister?"
"Yes," answered Emily. "You, I should have known from Clarence's
description--you are his little Birdie?"
She did not reply--her lip quivered, and she pressed Emily's hand and
kissed her. "He is impatient to see you," resumed Emily, "and if you are so
disposed, we will go up immediately."
"I will remain here," observed Mr. Bates, "unless Mr. Garie particularly
desires to see me. My daughter will accompany you."
Emily took the hand of little Birdie in her own, and they walked together
up the stairway. "You must not be frightened at his appearance," she
remarked, tearfully, "he is greatly changed."
Little Birdie only shook her head--her heart seemed too full for
speech--and she stepped on a little faster, keeping her hand pressed on her
breast all the while.
When they reached the door, Emily was about to open it, but her companion
stopped her, by saying: "Wait a moment--stop! How my heart beats--it almost
suffocates me." They paused for a few moments to permit little Birdie to
recover from her agitation, then throwing open the door they advanced into
"Clarence!" said his sister. He did not answer; he was looking down into
the garden. She approached nearer, and gently laying her hand on his
shoulder, said, "Here is your little Birdie, Clarence." He neither moved
"Clarence!" cried she, louder. No answer. She touched his face--it was
warm. "He's fainted!" exclaimed she; and, ringing the bell violently, she
screamed for help. Her husband and the nurse rushed into the room; then
came Aunt Ada and Mr. Bates. They bathed his temples, held strong salts to
his nostrils--still he did not revive. Finally, the nurse opened his bosom
and placed her hand upon his heart. _It was still--quite still_: Clarence
At first they could not believe it. "Let me speak to him," exclaimed little
Birdie, distractedly; "he will hear my voice, and answer. Clarence!
Clarence!" she cried. All in vain--all in vain. Clarence was dead!
They gently bore her away. That dull, cold look came back again upon her
face, and left it never more in life. She walked about mournfully for a few
years, pressing her hand upon her heart; and then passed away to join her
lover, where distinctions in race or colour are unknown, and where the
prejudices of earth cannot mar their happiness.
Our tale is now soon finished. They buried Clarence beside his parents;
coloured people followed him to his last home, and wept over his grave. Of
all the many whites that he had known, Aunt Ada and Mr. Balch were the only
ones that mingled their tears with those who listened to the solemn words
of Father Banks, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
We, too, Clarence, cast a tear upon thy tomb--poor victim of prejudice to
thy colour! and deem thee better off resting upon thy cold pillow of earth,
than battling with that malignant sentiment that persecuted thee, and has
crushed energy, hope, and life from many stronger hearts.
* * * * *
Aunt Ada Bell remained for a short time with Emily, and then returned to
Sudbury, where, during the remainder of her life, she never omitted an
opportunity of doing a kindness to a coloured person; and when the
increasing liberality of sentiment opened a way for the admission of
coloured pupils to the famous schools of Sudbury, they could always procure
board at her house, and Aunt Ada was a friend and mother to them.
Walters and dear old Ess reared a fine family; and the brown baby and her
sister took numberless premiums at school, to the infinite delight of their
parents. They also had a boy, whom they named "Charlie;" he inherited his
uncle's passionate fondness for marbles, which fondness, it has been
ascertained, is fostered by his uncle, who, 'tis said, furnishes the sinews
of war when there is a dearth in the treasury of Master Walters.
Kinch and Caddy were finally united, after various difficulties raised by
the latter, who found it almost impossible to procure a house in such a
state of order as would warrant her entering upon the blissful state of
matrimony. When it was all over, Kinch professed to his acquaintances
generally to be living in a perfect state of bliss; but he privately
intimated to Charlie that if Caddy would permit him to come in at the front
door, and not condemn him to go through the alley, whenever there happened
to be a shower--and would let him smoke where he liked--he would be much
more contented. When last heard from they had a little Caddy, the very
image of its mother--a wonderful little girl, who, instead of buying candy
and cake with her sixpences, as other children did, gravely invested them
in miniature wash-boards and dust-brushes, and was saving up her money to
purchase a tiny stove with a full set of cooking utensils. Caddy declares
her a child worth having.
Charles and Emily took a voyage to Europe for the health of the latter, and
returned after a two years' tour to settle permanently in his native city.
They were unremitting in their attention to father and mother Ellis, who
lived to good old age, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.