Part 7 out of 7
be printed in 12mo, on paper of good quality, from new types, etc.,
etc., and for every copy thereof printed the author to receive, etc.,
Master Gridley sat as in a trance, reading this letter over and over,
to know if it could be really so. So it really was. His book had
disappeared from the market long ago, as the elm seeds that carpet
the ground and never germinate disappear. At last it had got a
certain value as a curiosity for book-hunters. Some one of them,
keener-eyed than the rest, had seen that there was a meaning and
virtue in this unsuccessful book, for which there was a new audience
educated since it had tried to breathe before its time. Out of this
had grown at last the publisher's proposal. It was too much: his
heart swelled with joy, and his eyes filled with tears.
How could he resist the temptation? He took down his own particular
copy of the book, which was yet to do him honor as its parent, and
began reading. As his eye fell on one paragraph after another, he
nodded approval of this sentiment or opinion, he shook his head as if
questioning whether this other were not to be modified or left out,
he condemned a third as being no longer true for him as when it was
written, and he sanctioned a fourth with his hearty approval. The
reader may like a few specimens from this early edition, now a
rarity. He shall have them, with Master Gridley's verbal comments.
The book, as its name implied, contained "Thoughts" rather than
consecutive trains of reasoning or continuous disquisitions. What he
read and remarked upon were a few of the more pointed statements
which stood out in the chapters he was turning over. The worth of
the book must not be judged by these almost random specimens.
"THE BEST THOUGHT, LIKE THE MOST PERFECT DIGESTION, IS DONE
UNCONSCIOUSLY.--Develop that.--Ideas at compound interest in the
mind.--Be aye sticking in an idea,--while you're sleeping it'll be
growing. Seed of a thought to-day,--flower to-morrow--next week--ten
years from now, etc.--Article by and by for the....
"CAN THE INFINITE BE SUPPOSED TO SHIFT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE
ULTIMATE DESTINY OF ANY CREATED THING TO THE FINITE? OUR THEOLOGIANS
PRETEND THAT IT CAN. I DOUBT.--Heretical. Stet.
"PROTESTANTISM MEANS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. BUT IT IS AFRAID OF ITS
OWN LOGIC.--Stet. No logical resting-place short of None of your
"THE SUPREME SELF-INDULGENCE IS TO SURRENDER THE WILL TO A SPIRITUAL
DIRECTOR.--Protestantism gave up a great luxury.--Did it though?
"ASIATIC MODES OF THOUGHT AND SPEECH DO NOT EXPRESS THE 'RELATIONS IN
WHICH THE AMERICAN FEELS HIM SELF TO STAND TO HIS SUPERIORS IN THIS
OR ANY OTHER SPHERE OF BEING. REPUBLICANISM MUST HAVE ITS OWN
RELIGIOUS PHRASEOLOGY, WHICH IS NOT THAT BORROWED FROM ORIENTAL
"IDOLS AND DOGMAS IN PLACE OF CHARACTER; PILLS AND THEORIES IN PLACE
OF WHOLESOME LIVING. SEE THE HISTORIES OF THEOLOGY AND MEDICINE
"'OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.' DO YOU MEAN TO SAY JEAN CHAUVIN,
'HEAVEN LIES ABOUT US IN OUR INFANCY'?
"WHY DO YOU COMPLAIN OF YOUR ORGANIZATION? YOUR SOUL WAS IN A HURRY,
AND MADE A RUSH FOR A BODY. THERE ARE PATIENT SPIRITS THAT HAVE
WAITED FROM ETERNITY, AND NEVER FOUND PARENTS FIT TO BE BORN OF.
--How do you know anything about all that? Dele.
"WHAT SWEET, SMOOTH VOICES THE NEGROES HAVE! A HUNDRED GENERATIONS
FED ON BANANAS.--COMPARE THEM WITH OUR APPLE-EATING WHITE FOLKS!--It
won't do. Bananas came from the West Indies.
"TO TELL A MAN'S TEMPERAMENT BY HIS HANDWRITING. SEE IF THE DOTS OF
HIS I'S RUN AHEAD OR NOT, AND IF THEY DO, HOW FAR.--I have tried
"MARRYING INTO SOME FAMILIES IS THE NEXT THING TO BEING CANONIZED.
--Not so true now as twenty or thirty years ago. As many bladders,
but more pins.
"FISH AND DANDIES ONLY KEEP ON ICE.--Who will take? Explain in note
how all warmth approaching blood heat spoils fops and flounders.
"FLYING IS A LOST ART AMONG MEN AND REPTILES. BATS FLY, AND MEN
OUGHT TO. TRY A LIGHT TURBINE. RISE A MILE STRAIGHT, FALL HALF A
MILE SLANTING,--RISE HALF A MILE STRAIGHT, FALL HALF A MILE SLANTING,
AND SO ON. OR SLANT UP AND SLANT DOWN.--Poh! You ain't such a fool
as to think that is new,--are you?
"Put in my telegraph project. Central station. Cables with
insulated wires running to it from different quarters of the city.
These form the centripetal system. From central station, wires to
all the livery stables, messenger stands, provision shops, etc., etc.
These form the centrifugal system. Any house may have a wire in the
nearest cable at small cost.
"DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AFTER THE CONTINENTS HAVE GONE UNDER,
AND COME UP AGAIN, AND DRIED, AND BRED NEW RACES? HAVE YOUR NAME
STAMPED ON ALL YOUR PLATES AND CUPS AND SAUCERS. NOTHING OF YOU OR
YOURS WILL LAST LIKE THOSE. I NEVER SIT DOWN AT MY TABLE WITHOUT
LOOKING AT THE CHINA SERVICE, AND SAYING, 'HERE ARE MY MONUMENTS.
THAT BUTTER-DISH IS MY URN. THIS SOUP-PLATE IS MY MEMORIAL TABLET.'
NO NEED OF A SKELETON AT MY BANQUETS! I FEED FROM MY TOMBSTONE AND
READ MY EPITAPH AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERY TEACUP.--Good."
He fell into a revery as he finished reading this last sentence. He
thought of the dim and dread future,--all the changes that it would
bring to him, to all the living, to the face of the globe, to the
order of earthly things. He saw men of a new race, alien to all that
had ever lived, excavating with strange, vast engines the old
ocean-bed now become habitable land. And as the great scoops turned
out the earth they had fetched up from the unexplored depths, a relic
of a former simple civilization revealed the fact that here a tribe
of human beings had lived and perished.--Only the coffee-cup he had
in his hand half an hour ago.--Where would he be then? and Mrs.
Hopkins, and Gifted, and Susan, and everybody? and President
Buchanan? and the Boston State-House? and Broadway?--O Lord, Lord,
Lord! And the sun perceptibly smaller, according to the astronomers,
and the earth cooled down a number of degrees, and inconceivable arts
practised by men of a type yet undreamed of, and all the fighting
creeds merged in one great universal
A knock at his door interrupted his revery. Miss Susan Posey
informed him that a gentleman was waiting below who wished to see
"Show him up to my study, Susan Posey, if you please," said Master
Mr. Penhallow presented himself at Mr. Gridley's door with a
countenance expressive of a very high state of excitement.
"You have heard the news, Mr. Gridley, I suppose?"
"What news, Mr. Penhallow?"
"First, that my partner has left very unexpectedly to enlist in a
regiment just forming. Second, that the great land case is decided
in favor of the heirs of the late Malachi Withers."
"Your partner must have known about it yesterday?"
"He did, even before I knew it. He thought himself possessed of a
very important document, as you know, of which he has made, or means
to make, some use. You are aware of the artifice I employed to
prevent any possible evil consequences from any action of his.
I have the genuine document, of course. I wish you to go over with
me to The Poplars, and I should be glad to have good old Father
Pemberton go with us; for it is a serious matter, and will be a great
surprise to more than one of the family."
They walked together to the old house, where the old clergyman had
lived for more than half a century. He was used to being neglected
by the people who ran after his younger colleague; and the attention
paid him in asking him to be present on an important occasion, as he
understood this to be, pleased him greatly. He smoothed his long
white locks, and called a grand-daughter to help make him look fitly
for such an occasion, and, being at last got into his grandest Sunday
aspect, took his faithful staff, and set out with the two gentlemen
for The Poplars. On the way, Mr. Penhallow explained to him the
occasion of their visit, and the general character of the facts he
had to announce. He wished the venerable minister to prepare Miss
Silence Withers for a revelation which would materially change her
future prospects. He thought it might be well, also, if he would say
a few words to Myrtle Hazard, for whom a new life, with new and
untried temptations, was about to open. His business was, as a
lawyer, to make known to these parties the facts just come to his own
knowledge affecting their interests. He had asked Mr. Gridley to go
with him, as having intimate relations with one of the parties
referred to, and as having been the principal agent in securing to
that party the advantages which were to accrue to her from the new
turn of events. "You are a second parent to her, Mr. Gridley," he
said. "Your vigilance, your shrewdness, and your-spectacles have
saved her. I hope she knows the full extent of her obligations to
you, and that she will always look to you for counsel in all her
needs. She will want a wise friend, for she is to begin the world
What had happened, when she saw the three grave gentlemen at the door
early in the forenoon, Mistress Kitty Fagan could not guess.
Something relating to Miss Myrtle, no doubt: she wasn't goin' to be
married right off to Mr. Clement,--was she,--and no church, nor cake,
nor anything? The gentlemen were shown into the parlor. "Ask Miss
Withers to go into the library, Kitty," said Master Gridley.
"Dr. Pemberton wishes to speak with her." The good old man was
prepared for a scene with Miss Silence. He announced to her, in a
kind and delicate way, that she must make up her mind to the
disappointment of certain expectations which she had long
entertained, and which, as her lawyer, Mr. Penhallow, had come to
inform her and others, were to be finally relinquished from this
To his great surprise, Miss Silence received this communication
almost cheerfully. It seemed more like a relief to her than anything
else. Her one dread in this world was her "responsibility "; and the
thought that she might have to account for ten talents hereafter,
instead of one, had often of late been a positive distress to her.
There was also in her mind a secret disgust at the thought of the
hungry creatures who would swarm round her if she should ever be in a
position to bestow patronage. This had grown upon her as the habits
of lonely life gave her more and more of that fastidious dislike to
males in general, as such, which is not rare in maidens who have seen
the roses of more summers than politeness cares to mention.
Father Pemberton then asked if he could see Miss Myrtle Hazard a few
moments in the library before they went into the parlor, where they
were to meet Mr. Penhallow and Mr. Gridley, for the purpose of
receiving the lawyer's communication.
What change was this which Myrtle had undergone since love had
touched her heart, and her visions of worldly enjoyment had faded
before the thought of sharing and ennobling the life of one who was
worthy of her best affections,--of living for another, and of finding
her own noblest self in that divine office of woman? She had laid
aside the bracelet which she had so long worn as a kind of charm as
well as an ornament. One would have said her features had lost
something of that look of imperious beauty which had added to her
resemblance to the dead woman whose glowing portrait hung upon her
wall. And if it could be that, after so many generations, the blood
of her who had died for her faith could show in her descendants
veins, and the soul of that elect lady of her race look out from her
far-removed offspring's dark eyes, such a transfusion of the martyr's
life and spiritual being might well seem to manifest itself in Myrtle
The large-hearted old man forgot his scholastic theory of human
nature as he looked upon her face. He thought he saw in her the
dawning of that grace which some are born with; which some, like
Myrtle, only reach through many trials and dangers; which some seem
to show for a while and then lose; which too many never reach while
they wear the robes of earth, but which speaks of the kingdom of
heaven already begun in the heart of a child of earth. He told her
simply the story of the occurrences which had brought them together
in the old house, with the message the lawyer was to deliver to its
inmates. He wished to prepare her for what might have been too
sudden a surprise.
But Myrtle was not wholly unprepared for some such revelation. There
was little danger that any such announcement would throw her mind
from its balance after the inward conflict through which she had been
passing. For her lover had left her almost as soon as he had told
her the story of his passion, and the relation in which he stood to
her. He, too, had gone to answer his country's call to her children,
not driven away by crime and shame and despair, but quitting all--his
new-born happiness, the art in which he was an enthusiast, his
prospects of success and honor--to obey the higher command of duty.
War was to him, as to so many of the noble youth who went forth, only
organized barbarism, hateful but for the sacred cause which alone
redeemed it from the curse that blasted the first murderer. God only
knew the sacrifice such young men as he made.
How brief Myrtle's dream had been! She almost doubted, at some
moments, whether she would not awake from it, as from her other
visions, and find it all unreal. There was no need of fearing any
undue excitement of her mind after the alternations of feeling she
had just experienced. Nothing seemed of much moment to her which
could come from without,--her real world was within, and the light of
its day and the breath of its life came from her love, made holy by
the self-forgetfulness on both sides which was born with it.
Only one member of the household was in danger of finding the
excitement more than she could bear. Miss Cynthia knew that all
Murray Bradshaw's plans, in which he had taken care that she should
have a personal interest, had utterly failed. What he had done with
the means of revenge in his power,--if, indeed, they were still in
his power,--she did not know. She only knew that there had been a
terrible scene, and that he had gone, leaving it uncertain whether he
would ever return. It was with fear and trembling that she heard the
summons which went forth, that the whole family should meet in the
parlor to listen to a statement from Mr. Penhallow. They all
gathered as requested, and sat round the room, with the exception of
Mistress Kitty Fagan, who knew her place too well to be sittin' down
with the likes o' them, and stood with attentive ears in the doorway.
Mr. Penhallow then read from a printed paper the decision of the
Supreme Court in the land case so long pending, where the estate of
the late Malachi Withers was the claimant, against certain parties
pretending to hold under an ancient grant. The decision was in favor
of the estate.
"This gives a great property to the heirs," Mr. Penhallow remarked,
"and the question as to who these heirs are has to be opened. For
the will under which Silence Withers, sister of the deceased, has
inherited is dated some years previous to the decease, and it was not
very strange that a will of later date should be discovered. Such a
will has been discovered. It is the instrument I have here."
Myrtle Hazard opened her eyes very widely, for the paper Mr.
Penlallow held looked exactly like that which Murray Bradshaw had
burned, and, what was curious, had some spots on it just like some
she had noticed on that.
"This will," Mr. Penhallow said, "signed by witnesses dead or absent
from this place, makes a disposition of the testator's property in
some respects similar to that of the previous one, but with a single
change, which proves to be of very great importance."
Mr. Penhallow proceeded to read the will. The important change in
the disposition of the property was this: in case the land claim was
decided in favor of the estate, then, in addition to the small
provision made for Myrtle Hazard, the property so coming to the
estate should all go to her. There was no question about the
genuineness and the legal sufficiency of this instrument. Its date
was not very long after the preceding one, at a period when, as was
well known, he had almost given up the hope of gaining his case,
and when the property was of little value compared to that which it
had at present.
A long silence followed this reading. Then, to the surprise of all,
Miss Silence Withers rose, and went to Myrtle Hazard, and wished her
joy with every appearance of sincerity. She was relieved of a great
responsibility. Myrtle was young and could bear it better. She
hoped that her young relative would live long to enjoy the blessings
Providence had bestowed upon her, and to use them for the good of the
community, and especially the promotion of the education of deserving
youth. If some fitting person could be found to advise Myrtle, whose
affairs would require much care, it would be a great relief to her.
They all went up to Myrtle and congratulated her on her change of
fortune. Even Cynthia Badlam got out a phrase or two which passed
muster in the midst of the general excitement. As for Kitty Fagan,
she could not say a word, but caught Myrtle's hand and kissed it as
if it belonged to her own saint; and then, suddenly applying her
apron to her eyes, retreated from a scene which was too much for her,
in a state of complete mental beatitude and total bodily
Then Silence asked the old minister to make a prayer, and he
stretched his hands up to Heaven, and called down all the blessings
of Providence upon all the household, and especially upon this young
handmaiden, who was to be tried with prosperity, and would need all
aid from above to keep her from its dangers.
Then Mr. Penhallow asked Myrtle if she had any choice as to the
friend who should have charge of her affairs. Myrtle turned to
Master Byles Gridley, and said, "You have been my friend and
protector so far, will you continue to be so hereafter?"
Master Gridley tried very hard to begin a few words of thanks to her
for her preference, but finding his voice a little uncertain,
contented himself with pressing her hand and saying, "Most willingly,
my dear daughter!"
The same day the great news of Myrtle Hazard's accession to fortune
came out, the secret was told that she had promised herself in
marriage to Mr. Clement Lindsay. But her friends hardly knew how to
congratulate her on this last event. Her lover was gone, to risk his
life, not improbably to lose it, or to come home a wreck, crippled by
wounds, or worn out with disease.
Some of them wondered to see her so cheerful in such a moment of
trial. They could not know how the manly strength of Clement's
determination had nerved her for womanly endurance. They had not
learned that a great cause makes great souls, or reveals them to
themselves,--a lesson taught by so many noble examples in the times
that followed. Myrtle's only desire seemed to be to labor in some
way to help the soldiers and their families. She appeared to have
forgotten everything for this duty; she had no time for regrets, if
she were disposed to indulge them, and she hardly asked a question as
to the extent of the fortune which had fallen to her.
The next number of the "Banner and Oracle" contained two
announcements which she read with some interest when her attention
was called to them. They were as follows:
"A fair and accomplished daughter of this village comes, by the late
decision of the Supreme Court, into possession of a property
estimated at a million of dollars or more. It consists of a large
tract of land purchased many years ago by the late Malachi Withers,
now become of immense value by the growth of a city in its
neighborhood, the opening of mines, etc., etc. It is rumored that
the lovely and highly educated heiress has formed a connection
looking towards matrimony with a certain distinguished artist."
"Our distinguished young townsman, William Murray Bradshaw, Esq., has
been among the first to respond to the call of the country for
champions to defend her from traitors. We understand that he has
obtained a captaincy in the _th regiment, about to march to the
threatened seat of war. May victory perch on his banners!"
The two lovers, parted by their own self-sacrificing choice in the
very hour that promised to bring them so much happiness, labored for
the common cause during all the terrible years of warfare, one in the
camp and the field, the other in the not less needful work which the
good women carried on at home, or wherever their services were
needed. Clement--now Captain Lindsay--returned at the end of his
first campaign charged with a special office. Some months later,
after one of the great battles, he was sent home wounded. He wore
the leaf on his shoulder which entitled him to be called Major
Lindsay. He recovered from his wound only too rapidly, for Myrtle
had visited him daily in the military hospital where he had resided
for treatment; and it was bitter parting. The telegraph wires were
thrilling almost hourly with messages of death, and the long pine
boxes came by almost every train,--no need of asking what they held.
Once more he came, detailed on special duty, and this time with the
eagle on his shoulder,--he was Colonel Lindsay. The lovers could not
part again of their own free will. Some adventurous women had
followed their husbands to the camp, and Myrtle looked as if she
could play the part of the Maid of Saragossa on occasion. So Clement
asked her if she would return with him as his wife; and Myrtle
answered, with as much willingness to submit as a maiden might fairly
show under such circumstances, that she would do his bidding.
Thereupon, with the shortest possible legal notice, Father Pemberton
was sent for, and the ceremony was performed in the presence of a few
witnesses in the large parlor at The Poplars, which was adorned with
flowers, and hung round with all the portraits of the dead members of
the family, summoned as witnesses to the celebration. One witness
looked on with unmoved features, yet Myrtle thought there was a more
heavenly smile on her faded lips than she had ever seen before
beaming from the canvas,--it was Ann Holyoake, the martyr to her
faith, the guardian spirit of Myrtle's visions, who seemed to breathe
a holier benediction than any words--even those of the good old
Father Pemberton himself--could convey.
They went back together to the camp. From that period until the end
of the war, Myrtle passed her time between the life of the tent and
that of the hospital. In the offices of mercy which she performed
for the sick and the wounded and the dying, the dross of her nature
seemed to be burned away. The conflict of mingled lives in her blood
had ceased. No lawless impulses usurped the place of that serene
resolve which had grown strong by every exercise of its high
prerogative. If she had been called now to die for any worthy cause,
her race would have been ennobled by a second martyr, true to the
blood of her who died under the cruel Queen.
Many sad sights she saw in the great hospital where she passed some
months at intervals,--one never to be forgotten. An officer was
brought into the ward where she was in attendance. "Shot through the
lungs,--pretty nearly gone."
She went softly to his bedside. He was breathing with great
difficulty; his face was almost convulsed with the effort, but she
recognized him in a moment; it was Murray Bradshaw,--Captain
Bradshaw, as she knew by the bars on his coat flung upon the bed
where he had just been laid.
She addressed him by name, tenderly as if he had been a dear brother;
she saw on his face that hers were to be the last kind words he would
He turned his glazing eyes upon her. "Who are you?" he said in a
"An old friend," she answered; "you knew me as Myrtle Hazard."
He started. "You by my bedside! You caring for me!--for me, that
burned the title to your fortune to ashes before your eyes! You
can't forgive that,--I won't believe it! Don't you hate me, dying as
Myrtle was used to maintaining a perfect calmness of voice and
countenance, and she held her feelings firmly down. "I have nothing
to forgive you, Mr. Bradshaw. You may have meant to do me wrong, but
Providence raised up a protector for me. The paper you burned was
not the original,--it was a copy substituted for it--"
"And did the old man outwit me after all?" he cried out, rising
suddenly in bed, and clasping his hands behind his head to give him a
few more gasps of breath. "I knew he was cunning, but I thought I
was his match. It must have been Byles Gridley,--nobody else. And
so the old man beat me after all, and saved you from ruin! Thank God
that it came out so! Thank God! I can die now. Give me your hand,
She took his hand, and held it until it gently loosed its hold, and
he ceased to breathe. Myrtle's creed was a simple one, with more of
trust and love in it than of systematized articles of belief. She
cherished the fond hope that these last words of one who had erred so
miserably were a token of some blessed change which the influences of
the better world might carry onward until he should have outgrown the
sins and the weaknesses of his earthly career.
Soon after this she rejoined her husband in the camp. From time to
time they received stray copies of the "Banner and Oracle," which, to
Myrtle especially, were full of interest, even to the last
advertisement. A few paragraphs may be reproduced here which relate
to persons who have figured in this narrative.
"TEMPLE OF HYMEN.
"Married, on the 6th instant, Fordyce Hurlbut, M. D., to Olive, only
daughter of the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth. The editor of this paper
returns his acknowledgments for a bountiful slice of the wedding-
cake. May their shadows never be less!"
Not many weeks after this appeared the following:
"Died in this place, on the 28th instant, the venerable Lemuel
Hurlbut, M. D., at the great age of XCVI years.
"'With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding.'"
Myrtle recalled his kind care of her in her illness, and paid the
tribute of a sigh to his memory,--there was nothing in a death like
his to call for any aching regret.
The usual routine of small occurrences was duly recorded in the
village paper for some weeks longer, when she was startled and
shocked by receiving a number containing the following paragraph:
"It is known to our readers that the steeple of the old meeting-house
was struck by lightning about a month ago. The frame of the building
was a good deal jarred by the shock, but no danger was apprehended
from the injury it had received. On Sunday last the congregation
came together as usual. The Rev. Mr. Stoker was alone m the pulpit,
the Rev. Doctor Pemberton having been detained by slight
indisposition. The sermon was from the text, "The wolf also shall
dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid."
(Isaiah xi. 6.) The pastor described the millennium as--the reign of
love and peace, in eloquent and impressive language. He was in the
midst of the prayer which follows the sermon, and had jest put up a
petition that the spirit of affection and faith and trust might grow
up and prevail among the flock of which he was the shepherd, more
especially those dear lambs whom he gathered with his arm, and
carried in his bosom, when the old sounding-board, which had hung
safely for nearly a century,--loosened, no doubt by the bolt which
had fallen on the church,--broke from its fastenings, and fell with a
loud crash upon the pulpit, crushing the Rev. Mr. Stoker under its
ruins. The scene that followed beggars description. Cries and
shrieks resounded through the horse. Two or three young women
fainted entirely away. Mr. Penhallow, Deacon Rumrill, Gifted
Hopkins, Esq., and others, came forward immediately, and after much
effort succeeded in removing the wreck of the sounding-board, and
extricating their unfortunate pastor. He was not fatally injured, it
is hoped; but, sad to relate, he received such a violent blow upon
the spine of the back, that palsy of the lower extremities is like to
ensue. He is at present lying entirely helpless. Every attention is
paid to him by his affectionately devoted family."
Myrtle had hardly got over the pain which the reading of this
unfortunate occurrence gave her, when her eyes were gladdened by the
following pleasing piece of intelligence, contained in a subsequent
number of the village paper:
"The Reverend Doctor Pemberton performed the impressive rite of
baptism upon the first-born child of our distinguished townsman,
Gifted Hopkins, Esq., the Bard of Oxbow Village, and Mrs. Susan P.
Hopkins, his amiable and respected lady. The babe conducted himself
with singular propriety on this occasion. He received the Christian
name of Byron Tennyson Browning. May be prove worthy of his name and
The end of the war came at last, and found Colonel Lindsay among its
unharmed survivors. He returned with Myrtle to her native village,
and they established themselves, at the request of Miss Silence
Withers, in the old family mansion. Miss Cynthia, to whom Myrtle
made a generous allowance, had gone to live in a town not many miles
distant, where she had a kind of home on sufferance, as well as at
The Poplars. This was a convenience just then, because Nurse Byloe
was invited to stay with them for a month or two; and one nurse and
two single women under the same roof keep each other in a stew all
the time, as the old dame somewhat sharply remarked.
Master Byles Gridley had been appointed Myrtle's legal protector,
and, with the assistance of Mr. Penhallow, had brought the property
she inherited into a more manageable and productive form; so that,
when Clement began his fine studio behind the old mansion, he felt
that at least he could pursue his art, or arts, if he chose to give
himself to sculpture, without that dreadful hag, Necessity, standing
by him to pinch the features of all his ideals, and give them
something of her own likeness.
Silence Withers was more cheerful now that she had got rid of her
responsibility. She embellished her spare person a little more than
in former years. These young people looked so happy! Love was not
so unendurable, perhaps, after all. No woman need despair,--
especially if she has a house over her, and a snug little property.
A worthy man, a former missionary, of the best principles, but of a
slightly jocose and good-humored habit, thought that he could piece
his widowed years with the not insignificant, fraction of life left
to Miss Silence, to their mutual advantage. He came to the village,
therefore, where Father Pemberton was very glad to have him supply
the pulpit in the place of his unfortunate disabled colleague. The
courtship soon began, and was brisk enough; for the good man knew
there was no time to lose at his period of life,--or hers either, for
that matter. It was a rather odd specimen of love-making; for he was
constantly trying to subdue his features to a gravity which they were
not used to, and she was as constantly endeavoring to be as lively as
possible, with the innocent desire of pleasing her light-hearted
"Vieille fille fait jeune mariee." Silence was ten years younger as
a bride than she had seemed as a lone woman. One would have said she
had got out of the coach next to the hearse, and got into one some
half a dozen behind it,--where there is often good and reasonably
cheerful conversation going on about the virtues of the deceased, the
probable amount of his property, or the little slips he may have
committed, and where occasionally a subdued pleasantry at his expense
sets the four waistcoats shaking that were lifting with sighs a half-
hour ago in the house of mourning. But Miss Silence, that was,
thought that two families, with all the possible complications which
time might bring, would be better in separate establishments. She
therefore proposed selling The Poplars to Myrtle and her husband, and
removing to a house in the village, which would be large enough for
them, at least for the present. So the young folks bought the old
house, and paid a mighty good price for it; and enlarged it, and
beautified and glorified it, and one fine morning went together down
to the Widow Hopkins's, whose residence seemed in danger of being a
little crowded,--for Gifted lived there with his Susan,--and what had
happened might happen again,--and gave Master Byles Gridley a formal
and most persuasively worded invitation to come up and make his home
with them at The Poplars.
Now Master Gridley has been betrayed into palpable and undisguised
weakness at least once in the presence of this assembly, who are
looking upon him almost for the last time before they part from him,
and see his face no more. Let us not inquire too curiously, then,
how he received this kind proposition. It is enough, that, when he
found that a new study had been built on purpose for him, and a
sleeping-room attached to it so that he could live there without
disturbing anybody if he chose, he consented to remove there for a
while, and that he was there established amidst great rejoicing.
Cynthia Badlam had fallen of late into poor health. She found at
last that she was going; and as she had a little property of her
own,--as almost all poor relations have, only there is not enough of
it,--she was much exercised in her mind as to the final arrangements
to be made respecting its disposition. The Rev. Dr. Pemberton was
one day surprised by a message, that she wished to have an interview
with him. He rode over to the town in which she was residing, and
there had a long conversation with her upon this matter. When this
was settled, her mind seemed too be more at ease. She died with a
comfortable assurance that she was going to a better world, and with
a bitter conviction that it would be hard to find one that would
offer her a worse lot than being a poor relation in this.
Her little property was left to Rev. Eliphalet Pemberton and Jacob
Penhallow, Esq., to be by them employed for such charitable purposes
as they should elect, educational or other. Father Pemberton
preached an admirable funeral sermon, in which he praised her
virtues, known to this people among whom she had long lived, and
especially that crowning act by which she devoted all she had to
purposes of charity-and benevolence.
The old clergyman seemed to have renewed his youth since the
misfortune of his colleague had incapacitated him from labor. He
generally preached in the forenoon now, and to the great acceptance
of the people,--for the truth was that the honest minister who had
married Miss Silence was not young enough or good-looking enough to
be an object of personal attentions like the Rev. Joseph Bellamy
Stoker, and the old minister appeared to great advantage contrasted
with him in the pulpit. Poor Mr. Stoker was now helpless, faithfully
and tenderly waited upon by his own wife, who had regained her health
and strength,--in no small measure, perhaps, from the great need of
sympathy and active aid which her unfortunate husband now
experienced. It was an astonishment to herself when she found that
she who had so long been served was able to serve another. Some who
knew his errors thought his accident was a judgment; but others
believed that it was only a mercy in disguise,--it snatched him
roughly from his sin, but it opened his heart to gratitude towards
her whom his neglect could not alienate, and through gratitude to
repentance and better thoughts. Bathsheba had long ago promised
herself to Cyprian Eveleth; and, as he was about to become the rector
of a parish in the next town, the marriage was soon to take place.
How beautifully serene Master Byles Gridley's face was growing!
Clement loved to study its grand lines, which had so much strength
and fine humanity blended in them. He was so fascinated by their
noble expression that he sometimes seemed to forget himself, and
looked at him more like an artist taking his portrait than like an
admiring friend. He maintained that Master Gridley had a bigger bump
of benevolence and as large a one of cautiousness as the two people
most famous for the size of these organs on the phrenological chart
he showed him, and proved it, or nearly proved it, by careful
measurements of his head. Master Gridley laughed, and read him a
passage on the pseudo-sciences out of his book.
The disposal of Miss Cynthia's bequest was much discussed in the
village. Some wished the trustees would use it to lay the
foundations of a public library. Others thought it should be applied
for the relief of the families of soldiers who had fallen in the war.
Still another set would take it to build a monument to the memory of
those heroes. The trustees listened with the greatest candor to all
these gratuitous hints. It was, however, suggested, in a well-
written anonymous article which appeared in the village paper, that
it was desirable to follow the general lead of the testator's
apparent preference. The trustees were at liberty to do as they saw
fit; but, other things being equal, same educational object should be
If there were any orphan children in the place, it would seem to be
very proper to devote the moderate sum bequeathed to educating them.
The trustees recognized the justice of this suggestion. Why not
apply it to the instruction and maintenance of those two pretty and
promising children, virtually orphans, whom the charitable Mrs.
Hopkins had cared for so long without any recompense, and at a cost
which would soon become beyond her means? The good people of the
neighborhood accepted this as the best solution of the difficulty.
It was agreed upon at length by the trustees, that the Cynthia Badlam
Fund for Educational Purposes should be applied for the benefit of
the two foundlings, known as Isosceles and Helminthia Hopkins.
Master Bytes Gridley was greatly exercised about the two
"preposterous names," as he called them, which in a moment of
eccentric impulse he had given to these children of nature. He
ventured to hint as much to Mrs. Hopkins. The good dame was vastly
surprised. She thought they was about as pooty names as anybody had
had given 'em in the village. And they was so handy, spoke short,
Sossy and Minthy,--she never should know how to call 'em anything
"But my dear Mrs. Hopkins," Master Gridley urged, "if you knew the
meaning they have to the ears of scholars, you would see that I did
very wrong to apply such absurd names to my little fellow-creatures,
and that I am bound to rectify my error. More than that, my dear
madam, I mean to consult you as to the new names; and if we can fix
upon proper and pleasing ones, it is my intention to leave a pretty
legacy in my will to these interesting children."
"Mr. Gridley," said Mrs. Hopkins, "you're the best man I ever see, or
ever shall see, . . . except my poor dear Ammi . . . . I 'll
do jest as you say about that, or about anything else in all this
"Well, then, Mrs. Hopkins, what shall be the boy's name?"
"Byles Gridley Hopkins!" she answered instantly.
"Good Lord!" said Mr. Gridley, "think a minute, my dear madam. I
will not say one word,--only think a minute, and mention some name
that will not suggest quite so many winks and whispers."
She did think something less than a minute, and then said aloud,
"Abraham Lincoln Hopkins."
"Fifteen thousand children have been so christened during the past
year, on a moderate computation."
"Do think of some name yourself, Mr. Gridley; I shall like anything
that you like. To think of those dear babes having a fund--if that's
the right name--on purpose for 'em, and a promise of a legacy, I hope
they won't get that till they're a hundred year old!"
"What if we change Isosceles to Theodore, Mrs. Hopkins? That means
the gift of God, and the child has been a gift from Heaven, rather
than a burden."
Mrs. Hopkins seized her apron, and held it to her eyes. She was
weeping. "Theodore!" she said, "Theodore! My little brother's name,
that I buried when I was only eleven year old. Drownded. The
dearest little child that ever you see. I have got his little mug
with Theodore on it now. Kep' o' purpose. Our little Sossy shall
have it. Theodore P. Hopkins,--sha'n't it be, Mr. Gridley?"
"Well, if you say so; but why that P., Mrs. Hopkins? Theodore
Parker, is it?"
"Doesn't P. stand for Pemberton, and isn't Father Pemberton the best
man in the world--next to you, Mr. Gridley?"
"Well, well, Mrs. Hopkins, let it be so, if you are suited, I am.
Now about Helminthia; there can't be any doubt about what we ought to
call her,--surely the friend of orphans should be remembered in
naming one of the objects of her charity."
"Cynthia Badlam Fund Hopkins," said the good woman triumphantly,--"is
that what you mean?"
"Suppose we leave out one of the names,--four are too many. I think
the general opinion will be that Hehninthia should unite the names of
her two benefactresses,--Cynthia Badlam Hopkins."
"Why, law! Mr. Gridley, is n't that nice?--Minthy and Cynthy,--there
ain't but one letter of difference! Poor Cynthy would be pleased if
she could know that one of our babes was to be called after her. She
was dreadful fond of children."
On one of the sweetest Sundays that ever made Oxbow Village lovely,
the Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Pembertan was summoned to officiate at three
most interesting ceremonies,--a wedding and two christenings, one of
the latter a double one.
The first was celebrated at the house of the Rev. Mr. Stoker, between
the Rev. Cyprian Eveleth and Bathsheba, daughter of the first-named
clergyman. He could not be present on account of his great
infirmity, but the door of his chamber was left open that he might
hear the marriage service performed. The old, white-haired minister,
assisted, as the papers said, by the bridegroom's father, conducted
the ceremony according to the Episcopal form. When he came to those
solemn words in which the husband promises fidelity to the wife so
long as they both shall live, the nurse, who was watching, near the
poor father, saw him bury his face in his pillow, and heard him
murmur the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
The christenings were both to take place at the same service, in the
old meeting-house. Colonel Clement Lindsay and Myrtle his wife came
in, and stout Nurse Byloe bore their sturdy infant in her arms. A
slip of paper was handed to the Reverend Doctor on which these words
were written:--"The name is Charles Hazard."
The solemn and touching rite was then performed; and Nurse Byloe
disappeared with the child, its forehead glistening with the dew of
Then, hand in hand, like the babes in the wood, marched up the
broad aisle--marshalled by Mrs. Hopkins in front, and Mrs. Gifted
Hopkins bringing up the rear--the two children hitherto known as
Isosceles and Helminthia. They had been well schooled, and, as the
mysterious and to them incomprehensible ceremony was enacted,
maintained the most stoical aspect of tranquillity. In Mrs.
Hopkins's words, "They looked like picters, and behaved like angels."
That evening, Sunday evening as it was, there was a quiet meeting of
some few friends at The Poplars. It was such a great occasion that
the Sabbatical rules, never strict about Sunday evening,--which was,
strictly speaking, secular time,--were relaxed. Father Pemberton was
there, and Master Byles Gridley, of course, and the Rev. Ambrose
Eveleth, with his son and his daughter-in-law, Bathsheba, and her
mother, now in comfortable health, aunt Silence and her husband,
Doctor Hurlbut and his wife (Olive Eveleth that was), Jacob
Penhallow, Esq., Mrs. Hopkins, her son and his wife (Susan Posey that
was), the senior deacon of the old church (the admirer of the great
Scott), the Editor-in-chief of the "Banner and Oracle," and in the
background Nurse Byloe and the privileged servant, Mistress Kitty
Fagan, with a few others whose names we need not mention.
The evening was made pleasant with sacred music, and the fatigues of
two long services repaired by such simple refections as would not
turn the holy day into a day of labor. A large paper copy of the new
edition of Byles Gridley's remarkable work was lying on the table.
He never looked so happy,--could anything fill his cup fuller? In
the course of the evening Clement spoke of the many trials through
which they had passed in common with vast numbers of their
countrymen, and some of those peculiar dangers which Myrtle had had
to encounter in the course of a life more eventful, and attended with
more risks, perhaps, than most of them imagined. But Myrtle, he
said, had always been specially cared for. He wished them to look
upon the semblance of that protecting spirit who had been faithful to
her in her gravest hours of trial and danger. If they would follow
him into one of the lesser apartments up stairs they would have an
opportunity to do so.
Myrtle wondered a little, but followed with the rest. They all
ascended to the little projecting chamber, through the window of
which her scarlet jacket caught the eyes of the boys paddling about
on the river in those early days when Cyprian Eveleth gave it the
name of the Fire-hang-bird's Nest.
The light fell softly but clearly on the dim and faded canvas from
which looked the saintly features of the martyred woman, whose
continued presence with her descendants was the old family legend.
But underneath it Myrtle was surprised to see a small table with some
closely covered object upon it. It was a mysterious arrangement,
made without any knowledge on her part.
"Now, then, Kitty!" Mr. Lindsay said.
Kitty Fagan, who had evidently been taught her part, stepped forward,
and removed the cloth which concealed the unknown object. It was a
lifelike marble bust of Master Byles Gridley.
"And this is what you have been working at so long,--is it, Clement?"
"Which is the image of your protector, Myrtle?", he answered,
Myrtle Hazard Lindsay walked up to the bust and kissed its marble
forehead, saying, "This is the face of my Guardian Angel."