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The Minister's Charge by William D. Howells

Part 7 out of 7

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merried and living in Wyoming Territory too?"

"No," said Lemuel quietly. "She's not married. She's in Boston."

"Indeed! Then it _was_ her I see in the Garden to-day, S'tira!
She b'en back long, Mr. Barker?"

"About a month, I think," said Lemuel.

"Quite a spell! _You_ seen her, Mr. Barker?"

"Yes, quite often."

"I want to know! She still paintin' Roman boys, Mr. Barker? Didn't
seem to make any great out at it last winter! But practice makes
perfect, they say. I s'pose _you_ seen her in the Garden, too?"

"I usually see her at home," said Lemuel. "_You_ probably
receive your friends on the benches in the Garden, but young ladies
prefer to have them call at their residences." He astonished himself
by this brutality, he who was all gentleness with Miss Carver.

"Very well, Mr. Barker! That's all right. That's all I wanted to
know. Never mind about where I meet my friends. Wherever it is,
they're _gentlemen_; and they ain't generally goin' with three
or four girls 't the same time."

"No, one like you would be enough," retorted Lemuel.

Statira sat cowering away from the quarrel, and making little
ineffectual starts as if to stay it. Heretofore their enmity had
been covert, if not tacit, in her presence.

Lemuel saw her wavering, and the wish to show 'Manda his superior
power triumphed over every other interest and impulse in him. He got
upon his feet. "There is no use in this sort of thing going on any
longer. I came here because I thought I was wanted. If it's a
mistake, it's easy enough to mend it, and it's easy not to make it
again. I wish you good evening."

Statira sprang from the lounge, and flung her arms around his neck.
"No, no! You sha'n't go! You mustn't go, Lem! I know your all right,
and I won't have you talked to so! I ain't a bit jealous, Lem;
indeed I ain't. I know you wouldn't fool with me, any more than I
would with you; and that's what I tell 'Manda Grier, I'll leave it
to her if I don't. I don't care who you go with, and I hain't, never
since that first time. I know you ain't goin' to do anything
underhanded. Don't go, Lem; oh, _don't_ go!"

He was pulling towards the door; her trust, her fond generosity
drove him more than 'Manda Grier's cutting tongue: that hurt his
pride, his vanity, but this pierced his soul; he had only a blind,
stupid will to escape from it.

Statira was crying; she began to cough; she released his neck from
her clasp, and reeled backward to the lounge, where she would have
fallen, if 'Manda Grier had not caught her. The paroxysm grew more
violent; a bright stream of blood sprang from her lips.

"Run! Run for the doctor! Quick, Lemuel! Oh, quick!" implored 'Manda
Grier, forgetting all enmity in her terror.

Statira's arms wavered towards him, as if to keep him, but he turned
and ran from the house, cowed and conscience-stricken by the sight
of that blood, as if he had shed it.

He did not expect to see Statira alive when he came back with the
doctor whom he found at the next apothecary's. She was lying on the
lounge, white as death, but breathing quietly, and her eyes sought
him with an eagerness that turned to a look of tender gratitude at
the look they found in his.

The doctor bent over her for her pulse and her respiration; then
when he turned to examine the crimson handkerchief which 'Manda
Grier showed him, Lemuel dropped on his knees beside her and put his
face down to hers.

With her lips against his cheek she made, "Don't go!"

And he whispered, "No, I'll not leave you now!"

The doctor looked round with the handkerchief still in his hand, as
if doubting whether to order him away from her. Then he mutely
questioned 'Manda Grier with a glance which her glance answered. He
shrugged his shoulders, with a puzzled sigh. An expression of pity
crossed his face which he hardened into one of purely professional
interest, and he went on questioning 'Manda Grier in a low tone.

Statira had slipped her hand into Lemuel's, and she held it fast, as
if in that clasp she were holding on to her chance of life.


Sewell returned to town for the last time in the third week of
September, bringing his family with him.

This was before the greater part of his oddly assorted congregation
had thought of leaving the country, either the rich cottagers whose
family tradition or liberal opinions kept them in his church, or the
boarding and camping elements who were uniting a love of cheapness
with a love of nature in their prolonged sojourn among the woods and
fields. Certain families, perhaps half of his parish in all, were
returning because the schools were opening, and they must put their
children into them; and it was both to minister to the spiritual
needs of these and to get his own children back to their studies
that the minister was at home so early.

It was, as I have hinted already, a difficult and laborious season
with him; he himself was always a little rusty in his vocation after
his summer's outing, and felt weakened rather than strengthened by
his rest. The domestic machine started reluctantly; there was a new
cook to be got in, and Mrs. Sewell had to fight a battle with
herself, in which she invited him to share, before she could settle
down for the winter to the cares of housekeeping. The wide skies,
the dim mountain slopes, the long, delicious drives, the fresh
mornings, the sweet, silvery afternoons of their idle country life,
haunted their nerves and enfeebled their wills.

One evening in the first days of this moral disability, while Sewell
sat at his desk trying to get himself together for a sermon,
Barker's name was brought up to him.

"Really," said his wife, who had transmitted it from the maid, "I
think it's time you protected yourself, David. You can't let this go
on for ever. He has been in Boston nearly two years now; he has
regular employment, where if there's anything in him at all, he
ought to prosper and improve without coming to you every other
night. What _can_ he want now?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said the minister, leaning back in his
chair, and passing his hand wearily over his forehead.

"Then send down and excuse yourself. Tell him you're busy, and ask
him to come another time!"

"Ah, you know I can't do that, my dear."

"Very well, then; I will go down and see him. You sha'n't be

"Would you, my dear? That would be very kind of you! Do get me off
some way; tell him I'm coming to see him very soon." He went
stupidly back to his writing, without looking to see whether his
wife had meant all she said; and after a moment's hesitation she
descended in fulfilment of her promise; or, perhaps rather it was a

She met Lemuel not unkindly, for she was a kind-hearted woman; but
she placed duty before charity even, and she could not help making
him feel that she was there in the discharge of a duty. She
explained that Mr. Sewell was very unusually busy that evening, and
had sent her in his place, and hoped soon to see him. She bade
Lemuel sit down, and he obeyed, answering all the questions as to
the summer and his occupations and health, and his mother's health,
which she put to him in proof of her interest in him; in further
evidence of it, she gave him an account of the Sewell family's
doings since they last met. He did not stay long, and she returned
slowly and pensively to her husband.

"Well?" he asked, without looking round.

"Well; it's all right," she answered, with rather a deep breath. "He
didn't seem to have come for anything in particular; I told him that
if he wished specially to speak with you, you would come down."

Sewell went on with his writing, and after a moment his wife said,
"But you must go and see him very soon, David; you must go to-


"He looks wretchedly, though he says he's very well. It made my
heart ache. He looks perfectly wan and haggard. I wish," she burst
out, "I wish I had let you go down and see him!"

"Why--why, what was the matter?" asked Sewell, turning about now.
"Did you think he had something on his mind?"

"No, but he looked fairly sick. Oh, I wish he had never come into
our lives!"

"I'm afraid he hasn't got much good from us," sighed the minister.
"But I'll go round and look him up in the morning. His trouble will
keep overnight, if it's a real trouble. There's that comfort, at
least. And now, do go away, my dear, and leave me to my writing."

Mrs. Sewell looked at him, but turned and left him, apparently
reserving whatever sermon she might have in her mind till he should
have finished his.

The next morning he went to inquire for Lemuel at Mr. Corey's. The
man was sending him away from the door with the fact merely that
Lemuel was not then in the house, when the voice of Mr. Corey
descending the stairs called from within: "Is that you, Sewell?
Don't go away! Come in!"

The old gentleman took him into the library and confessed in a bit
of new slang, which he said was delightful, that he was all balled
up by Lemuel's leaving him, and asked Sewell what he supposed it

"Left you? Meant?" echoed Sewell.

When they got at each other it was understood that Lemuel, the day
before, had given up his employment with Mr. Corey, expressing a fit
sense of all his kindness and a fit regret at leaving him, but
alleging no reasons for his course; and that this was the first that
Sewell knew of the affair.

"It must have been that which he came to see me about last night,"
he said, with a sort of anticipative remorse. "Mrs. Sewell saw him--
I was busy."

"Well! Get him to come back, Sewell," said Mr. Corey, with his
whimsical imperiousness; "I can't get on without him. All my moral
and intellectual being has stopped like a watch."

Sewell went to the boarding-house where Lemuel took his meals, but
found that he no longer came there, and had left no other address.
He knew nowhere else to ask, and he went home to a day of latent
trouble of mind, which whenever it came to the light defined itself
as helpless question and self-reproach in regard to Barker.

That evening as he sat at tea, the maid came with the announcement
that there was a person in the reception-room who would not send in
any name, but wished to see Mr. Sewell, and would wait.

Sewell threw down his napkin, and said, "I'll bring him in to tea."

Mrs. Sewell did not resist; she bade the girl lay another plate.

Sewell was so sure of finding Lemuel in the reception-room, that he
recoiled in dismay from the girlish figure that turned timidly from
the window to meet him with a face thickly veiled. He was vexed,
too; here, he knew from the mystery put on, was one of those cases
of feminine trouble, real or unreal, which he most disliked to
meddle with.

"Will you sit down?" he said, as kindly as he could, and the girl

"I thought they would let me wait. I didn't mean to interrupt you,"
she began, in a voice singularly gentle and unaffected.

"Oh, no matter!" cried Sewell. "I'm very glad to see you,"

"I thought you could help me. I'm in great trouble--doubt--"

The voice was almost childlike in its appealing innocence. Sewell
sat down opposite the girl and bent sympathetically forward. "Well?"

She waited a moment. Then, "I don't know how to begin," she said
hoarsely, and stopped again.

Sewell was touched. He forgot Lemuel; he forgot everything but the
heartache which he divined before him, and his Christ-derived
office, his holy privilege, of helping any in want of comfort or
guidance. "Perhaps," he said, in his loveliest way,--the way that
had won his wife's heart, and that still provoked her severest
criticism for its insincerity; it was so purely impersonal,--
"perhaps that isn't necessary, if you mean beginning at the
beginning. If you've any trouble that you think I can advise you in,
perhaps it's better for both of us that I shouldn't know very much
of it."

"Yes?" murmured the girl questioningly.

"I mean that if you tell me much, you will go away feeling that you
have somehow parted with yourself, that you're no longer in your own
keeping, but in mine; and you know that in everything our help must
really come from within our own free consciences."

"Yes," said the girl again, from behind the veil which completely
hid her face. She now hesitated a long time. She put her
handkerchief under her veil; and at last she said: "I know what you
mean." Her voice quivered pathetically; she tried to control it.
"Perhaps," she whispered huskily, after another interval, "I can put
it in the form of a question."

"That would be best," said Sewell.

She hesitated; the tears fell down upon her hands behind her veil;
she no longer wiped them. "It's because I've often--heard you;
because I know you will tell me what's true and right--"

"Your own heart must do that," said the minister, "but I will gladly
help you all I can."

She did not heed him now, but continued as if rapt quite away from

"If there was some one--something--if there was something that it
would be right for you to do--to have, if there was no one else; but
if there were some else that had a right first--" She broke off and
asked abruptly, "Don't you think it is always right to prefer
another--the interest of another to your own?"

Sewell could not help smiling. "There is only one thing for us to do
when we are in any doubt or perplexity," he said cheerily, "and that
is the unselfish thing."

"Yes," she gasped; she seemed to be speaking to herself. "I saw it,
I knew it! Even if it kills us, we must do it! Nothing ought to
weigh against it! Oh, I thank you!"

Sewell was puzzled. He felt dimly that she was thanking him for
anguish and despair. "I'm afraid that I don't quite understand you."

"I thought I told you," she answered, with a certain reproach, and a
fall of courage in view of the fresh effort she must make. It was
some moments before she could say, "If you knew that some one--some
one who was--everything to you--and that you knew--believed--"

At fifty it is hard to be serious about these things, and it was
well for the girl that she was no longer conscious of Sewell's mood.

"--Cared for you; and if you knew that before he had cared for you
there had been some else--some else that he was as much to as he was
to you, and that couldn't give him up, what--should you--"

Sewell fetched a long sigh of relief; he had been afraid of a much
darker problem than this. He almost smiled.

"My dear child,"--she seemed but a child there before the mature man
with her poor little love-trouble, so intricate and hopeless to her,
so simple and easy to him--"that depends upon a great many

He could feel through her veil the surprise with which she turned to
him: "You said, whenever we are in doubt, we must act unselfishly."

"Yes, I said that. But you must first be sure what is really

"I _know_ what is selfish in this case," said the girl with a
sublimity which, if foolish, was still sublimity. "She is sick--it
will kill her to lose him--You have said what I expected, and I
thank you, thank you, _thank_ you! And I will do it! Oh, don't
fear now but I shall; I _have_ done it! No matter," she went on
in her exaltation, "no matter how much we care for each other, now!"

"No," said Sewell decidedly. "That doesn't follow. I have thought of
such things; there was such a case within my experience once,"--he
could not help alleging this case, in which he had long triumphed,--
"and I have always felt that I did right in advising against a
romantic notion of self-sacrifice in such matters. You may commit a
greater wrong in that than in an act of apparent self-interest. You
have not put the case fully before me, and it isn't necessary that
you should, but if you contemplate any rash sacrifice, I warn you
against it."

"You said that we ought to act unselfishly."

"Yes, but you must beware of the refined selfishness which shrinks
from righteous self-assertion because it is painful. You must make
sure of your real motive; you must consider whether your sacrifice
is not going to do more harm than good. But why do you come to me
with your trouble? Why don't you go to your father--your mother?"

"I have none."


She had risen and pushed by him to the outer door, though he tried
to keep her. "Don't be rash," he urged. "I advise you to take time
to think of this--"

She did not answer; she seemed now only to wish to escape, as if in
terror of him.

She pulled open the door, and was gone.

Sewell went back to his tea, bewildered, confounded.

"What's the matter? Why didn't he come in to tea with you?" asked
his wife.



"What Barker?"

"David, what _is_ the matter?"

Sewell started from his daze, and glanced at his children: "I'll
tell you by and by, Lucy."


A month passed, and Sewell heard nothing of Lemuel. His charge,
always elusive and evanescent, had now completely vanished, and he
could find no trace of him. Mr. Corey suggested advertising.
Bellingham said, why not put it in the hands of a detective? He said
he had never helped work anything up with a detective; he rather
thought he should like to do it. Sewell thought of writing to
Barker's mother at Willoughby Pastures, but he postponed it; perhaps
it would alarm her if Barker were not there; Sewell had many other
cares and duties; Lemuel became more and more a good intention of
the indefinite future. After all, he had always shown the ability to
take care of himself, and except that he had mysteriously
disappeared there was no reason for anxiety about him.

One night his name came up at a moment when Sewell was least
prepared by interest or expectation to see him. He smiled to himself
in running downstairs, at the reflection that he never seemed quite
ready for Barker. But it was a relief to have him turn up again;
there was no question of that, and Sewell showed him a face of
welcome that dropped at sight of him. He scarcely new the gaunt,
careworn face or the shabby figure before him, in place of the
handsome, well-dressed young fellow whom he had come to greet. There
seemed a sort of reversion in Barker's whole presence to the time
when Sewell first found him in that room; and in whatever trouble he
now was, the effect was that of his original rustic constraint.

Trouble there was of some kind, Sewell could see at a glance, and
his kind heart prompted him to take Lemuel's hand between both of
his. "Why, my dear boy!" he began; but he stopped and made Lemuel
sit down, waited for him to speak, without further question or

"Mr. Sewell," the young man said abruptly, "you told me once you--
that you sometimes had money put into your hands that you could

"Yes," replied Sewell, with eager cordiality.

"Could I borrow about seventy-five dollars of you?"

"Why, certainly, Barker!" Sewell had not so much of what he called
his flying-charity fund by him, but he instantly resolved to advance
the difference out of his own pocket.

"It's to get me an outfit for horse-car conductor," said Lemuel. "I
can have the place if I can get the outfit."

"Horse-car conductor!" reverberated Sewell. "What in the world for?"

"It's work I can do," answered Lemuel briefly, but not resentfully.

"But there are so many other things--better--fitter--more
profitable! Why did you leave Mr. Corey? I assure you that you have
been a great loss to him--in every way. You don't know how much he
valued you, personally. He will be only too glad to have you come

"I can't go back," said Lemuel. "I'm going to get married."

"Married!" cried Sewell in consternation.

"My--the lady that I'm going to marry--has been sick, ever since the
first of October, and I haven't had a chance to look up any kind of
work. But she's better now; and I've heard of this place I can get.
I don't like to trouble you; but--everything's gone--I've got my
mother down here helping take care of her; and I must do something.
I don't know just when I can pay you back; but I'll do it sometime."

"Oh, I'm sure of that," said Sewell, from the abyss of hopeless
conjecture into which these facts had plunged him; his wandering
fancy was dominated by the presence of Lemuel's mother with her
bloomers in Boston. "I--I hope there's nothing serious the trouble
with your--the lady?" he said, rubbing away with his hand the smile
that came to his lips in spite of him.

"It's lung trouble," said Lemuel quietly.

"Oh!" responded Sewell. "Well! Well!" He shook himself together, and
wondered what had become of the impulse he had felt to scold Barker
for the idea of getting married. But such a course now seemed not
only far beyond his province,--he heard himself saying that to Mrs.
Sewell in self-defence when she should censure him for not doing
it,--but utterly useless in view of the further complications.
"Well! This is great news you tell me--a great surprise. You're--
you're going to take an important step--You--you--Of course, of
course! You must have a great many demands upon you, under the
circumstances. Yes, yes! And I'm very glad you came to me. If your
mind is quite made up about----"

"Yes, I've thought it over," said Lemuel. "The lady has had to work
all her life, and she--she isn't used to what I thought--what I
intended--any other kind of people; and it's better for us both that
I should get some kind of work that won't take me away from her too
much----" He dropped his head, and Sewell with a flash of
intelligence felt a thrill of compassionate admiration for the poor,
foolish, generous creature, for so Lemuel complexly appeared to him.

Again he forbore question or comment.

"Well--well! we must look you up, Mrs. Sewell and I. We must come to
see your--the lady." He found himself falling helplessly into
Lemuel's way of describing her. "Just write me your address here,"--
he put a scrap of paper before Lemuel on the davenport,--"and I'll
go and get you the money."

He brought it back in an envelope which held a very little more than
Lemuel had asked for--Sewell had not dared to add much--and Lemuel
put it in his pocket.

He tried to say something; he could only make a husky noise in his

"Good night!" said Sewell pressing his hand with both of his again,
at the door. "We shall come very soon."

"Married!" said Mrs. Sewell, when he returned to her; and then she
suffered a silence to ensue, in which it seemed to Sewell that his
inculpation was visibly accumulating mountains vast and high.
"_What did you say_?"

"Nothing," he answered almost gaily; the case was so far beyond
despair. "What should _you_ have said?"


Lemuel got a conductor's overcoat and cap at half-price from a man
who had been discharged, and put by the money saved to return to
Sewell when he should come. He entered upon his duties the next
morning, under the instruction of an old conductor, who said,
"Hain't I seen you som'ere's before?" and he worked all day, taking
money and tickets, registering fares, helping ladies on and off the
car, and monotonously journeying back and forth over his route. He
went on duty at six o'clock in the morning, after an early breakfast
that 'Manda Grier and his mother got him, for Statira was not strong
enough yet to do much, and he was to be relieved at eight. At
nightfall, after two half-hour respites for dinner and tea, he was
so tired that he could scarcely stand.

"Well, how do you like it, as fur's you've gone?" asked the
instructing conductor, in whom Lemuel had recognised an old
acquaintance. "Sweet life, ain't it? There! That switch hain't
worked again! Jump off, young man, and put your shoulder to the

The car had failed to take the right-hand turn where the line
divided; it had to be pushed back, and while the driver tugged and
swore under his breath at his horses, Lemuel set himself to push the

"'S no use!" said the driver finally. "I got to hitch 'em on at the
other end, and pull her back."

He uncoupled the team from the front of the car, and swung round
with it. Lemuel felt something strike him, on the leg, and he fell
down. He scrambled to his feet again, but his left leg doubled under
him; it went through his mind that one of the horses must have
lashed out and broken it; then everything seemed to stop.

The world began again for him in the apothecary's shop where he had
been carried, and from which he was put into an ambulance, by a
policeman. It stopped again, as he whirled away; it renewed itself
in anguish, and ceased in bliss as he fainted from the pain or came

They lifted him up some steps, at last, and carried him into a high,
bright room, where there were two or three cots, and a long glass
case full of surgical instruments. They laid him on a cot, and some
one swiftly and skilfully undressed him. A surgeon had come in, and
now he examined Lemuel's leg. He looked once or twice at his face.

"This is a pretty bad job, I can't tell how bad till you have had
the ether. Will you leave it with me?"

"Yes. But do the best you can for me."

"You may be sure I will."

Lemuel believed that they meant to cut off his leg. He knew that he
had a right to refuse and to take the consequences, but he would
not; he had no right to choose death, when he had others to live

He woke deathly sick at first, and found himself lying in bed, one
of the two rows in a long room, where there were some quiet women in
neat caps and seersucker dresses going about, with bowls of food and
bottles of medicine.

Lemuel still felt his leg, and the pain in it, but he had heard how
mutilated men felt their lost limbs all their lives, and he was
afraid to make sure by the touch of his hand.

A nurse who saw his eyes open came to him. He turned them upon her,
but he could not speak. She must have understood. "The doctor thinks
he can save your leg for you; but it's a bad fracture. You must be
careful to keep very still."

He fell asleep; and life began again for him, in the midst of
suffering and death. He saw every day broken and mangled men, drunk
with ether, brought up as he had been, and laid in beds; he saw the
priest of the religion to which most of the poor and lowly still
belong, go and come among the cots, and stand by the pillows where
the sick feebly followed him in the mystical gestures which he made
on his brow and breast; he learned to know the use of the white
linen screen which was drawn about a bed to hide the passing of a
soul; he became familiar with the helpless sympathy, the despair of
the friends who came to visit the sick and dying.

He had not lacked for more attention and interest from his own than
the rules of the hospital allowed. His mother and 'Manda Grier came
first, and then Statira when they would let her. She thought it hard
that she was not suffered to do the least thing for him; she wished
to take him away to their own rooms, where she could nurse him twice
as well. At first she cried whenever she saw him, and lamented over
him, so that the head nurse was obliged to explain to her that she
disturbed the patients, and could not come any more unless she
controlled herself. She promised, and kept her word; she sat quietly
by his pillow and held his hand, when she came, except when she put
up her own to hide the cough which she could not always restrain.
The nurse told her that, of course, she was not accountable for the
cough, but she had better try to check it. Statira brought troches
with her, and held them in her mouth for this purpose.

Lemuel's family was taken care of in this time of disaster. The
newspapers had made his accident promptly known; and not only
Sewell, but Miss Vane and Mrs. Corey had come to see if they could
be of any use.

One day a young girl brought a bouquet of flowers and set it by
Lemuel's bed, when he seemed asleep. He suddenly opened his eyes,
and saw Sybil Vane for the first time since their quarrel.

She put her finger to her lip, and smiled with the air of a lady
benefactress; then, with a few words of official sympathy, she
encouraged him to get well, and flitted to the next bed, where she
bestowed a jacqueminot rosebud on a Chinaman dying of cancer.

Sewell came often to see him, at first in the teeth of his mother's
obvious hostility, but with her greater and greater relenting.
Nothing seemed gloomier than the outlook for Lemuel, but Sewell had
lived too long not to know that the gloom of an outlook has nothing
to do with a man's real future. It was impossible, of course, for
Lemuel to go back to Mr. Corey's now with a sick wife, who would
need so much of his care. Besides, he did not think it desirable on
other accounts. He recurred to what Lemuel had said about getting
work that should not take him too far away from the kind of people
his betrothed was used to, and he felt a pity and respect for the
boy whom life had already taught this wisdom, this resignation. He
could see that before his last calamity had come upon him, Barker
was trying to adjust his ambition to his next duty, or rather to
subordinate it; and the conviction that he was right gave Sewell
courage to think that he would yet somehow succeed. It also gave him
courage to resist, on Barker's behalf, the generous importunities of
some who would have befriended him. Mr. Corey and Charles Bellingham
drove up to the hospital one day, to see Lemuel; and when Sewell met
them the same evening, they were full of enthusiasm. Corey said that
the effect of the hospital, with its wards branching from the
classistic building in the centre, was delightfully Italian; it was
like St. Peter's on a small scale, and he had no idea how
interesting the South End was; it was quite a bit of foreign travel
to go up there. Bellingham had explored the hospital throughout; he
said he had found it the thing to do--it was a thing for everybody
to do; he was astonished that he had never done it before. They
united in praising Barker, and they asked what could be done for
him. Corey was strenuous for his coming back to him; at any rate
they must find something for him. Bellingham favoured the notion of
doing something for his education; a fellow like that could come to
almost anything.

Sewell shook his head. "All that's impossible, now. With that girl----"

"Oh, confound her!" cried Bellingham.

"I was rather disappointed at not seeing his mother," said Corey. "I
had counted a good deal, I find, upon Mrs. Barker's bloomers."

"With a girl like that for his wife," pursued Sewell, "the
conditions are all changed. He must cleave to her in mind as well as
body, and he must seek the kind of life that will unite them more
and more, not less and less. In fact, he was instinctively doing so
when this accident happened. That's what marriage means."

"Oh, not always," suggested Corey.

"He must go back to Willoughby Pastures," Sewell concluded, "to his

"Oh, come now!" said Bellingham, with disgust.

"If that sort of thing is to go on," said Corey, "what is to become
of the ancestry of the future _elite_ of Boston? I counted upon
Barker to found one of our first families. Besides, any Irishman
could take his farm and do better with it. The farm would be meat to
the Irishman, and poison to Barker, now that he's once tasted town."

"Yes, I know all that," said Sewell sadly. "I once thought the
greatest possible good I could do Barker, after getting him to
Boston, was to get him back to Willoughby Pastures; but if that was
ever true, the time is past. Now, it merely seems the only thing
possible. When he gets well, he will still have an invalid wife on
his hands; he must provide her a home; she could have helped him
once, and would have done so, I've no doubt; but now she must be
taken care of."

"Look here!" said Bellingham. "What's the reason these things can't
be managed as they are in the novels? In any well-regulated romance
that cough of hers would run into quick consumption and carry
Barker's fiancee off in six weeks; and then he could resume his
career of usefulness and prosperity here, don't you know. He could
marry some one else, and found that family that Corey wants."

They all laughed, Sewell ruefully.

"As it is," said Corey, "I suppose she'll go on having hemorrhages
to a good old age, and outlive him, after being a clog and burden to
him all his life. Poor devil! What in the world possesses him to
want to marry her? But I suppose the usual thing."

This gave Sewell greater discomfort than the question of Lemuel's
material future. He said listlessly, "Oh, I suppose so," but he was
far from thinking precisely that. He had seen Lemuel and the young
girl together a great deal, and a painful misgiving had grown up in
his mind. It seemed to him that while he had seen no want of
patience and kindness towards her in Lemuel, he had not seen the
return of her fondness, which, silly as it was in some of its
manifestations, he thought he should be glad of in him. Yet he was
not sure. Barker was always so self-contained that he might very
well feel more love for her than he showed; and, after all, Sewell
rather weakly asked himself, was the love so absolutely necessary?

When he repeated this question in his wife's presence, she told him
she was astonished at him.

"You know that it is _vitally_ necessary! It's all the more
necessary, if he's so superior to her, as you say. I can't think
what's become of your principles, my dear!"

"I do, you've got them," said Sewell.

"I really believe I have," said his wife, with that full conviction
of righteousness which her sex alone can feel. "I have always heard
you say that marriage without love was not only sinful in itself,
but the beginning of sorrow. Why do you think now that it makes no

"I suppose I was trying to adapt myself to circumstances," answered
Sewell, frankly at least. "Let's hope that my facts are as wrong as
my conclusions. I'm not sure of either. I suppose, if I saw him
idolising so slight and light a person as she seems to be, I should
be more disheartened about his future than I am now. If he
overvalued her, it would only drag him lower down."

"Oh, his future! Drag him down! Why don't you think of her, going up
there to that dismal wilderness, to spend her days in toil and
poverty, with a half-crazy mother-in-law, and a rheumatic brother-
in-law, in such a looking hovel?" Mrs. Sewell did not group these
disadvantages conventionally, but they were effective. "You have
allowed your feelings about that baffling creature to blind you to
everything else, David. Why should you care so much for his future,
and nothing for hers? Is that so very bright?"

"I don't think that either is dazzling," sighed the minister. Yet
Barker's grew a little lighter as he familiarised himself with it,
or rather with Barker. He found that he had a plan for getting a
teacher's place in the Academy, if they reopened it at Willoughby
Pastures, as they talked of doing, under the impulse of such a
course in one of the neighbouring towns, and that he was going home,
in fancy at least, with purposes of enlightenment and elevation
which would go far to console him under such measure of
disappointment as they must bring. Sewell hinted to Barker that he
must not be too confident of remodelling Willoughby Pastures upon
the pattern of Boston.

"Oh no; I don't expect that," said Lemuel. "What I mean is that I
shall always try to remember myself what I've learnt here--from the
kind of men I've seen, and the things that I know people are all the
time doing for others. I told you once that they haven't got any
idea of that in the country. I don't expect to preach it into them;
they wouldn't like it if I did; and they'd make fun of it; but if I
could try to _live_ it?"

"Yes," said Sewell, touched by this young enthusiasm.

"I don't know as I can all the time," said Lemuel. "But it seems to
me that that's what I've learnt here, if I've learnt anything. I
think the world's a good deal better than I used to."

"Do you indeed, my dear boy?" asked Sewell, greatly interested.
"It's a pretty well-meaning world--I hope it is."

"Yes, that's what I mean," said Lemuel. "I presume it ain't
perfect--isn't, I should say," and Sewell smiled. "Mr. Corey was always
correcting me on that. But if I were to do nothing but pass along
the good that's been done me since I came here, I should be kept
busy the rest of my life."

Sewell knew that this emotion was largely the physical optimism of
convalescence; but he could not refuse the comfort it gave him to
find Barker in such a mood, and he did not conceive it his duty to
discourage it. Lofty ideals, if not indulged at the expense of lowly
realities, he had never found hurtful to any; and it was certainly
better for Barker to think too well than too ill of Boston, if it
furnished him incentives to unselfish living. He could think of
enough things in the city to warrant a different judgment, but if
Barker's lesson from his experience there was this, Sewell was not
the person to weaken its force with him. He said, with a smile of
reserved comment, "Well, perhaps you'll be coming back to us, some

"I don't look forward to that," said Lemuel soberly; and then his
face took a sterner cast, as if from the force of his resolution.
"The first thing I've got to do after I've made a home for her is to
get Statira away from the town where she can have some better air,
and see if she can't get her health back. It'll be time enough to
talk of Boston again when she's fit to live here."

The minister's sympathetic spirit sank again. But his final parting
with Barker was not unhopeful. Lemuel consented to accept from him a
small loan, to the compass of which he reduced the eager bounty of
Miss Vane and Mr. Corey, representing that more would be a burden
and an offence to Barker. Statira and his mother came with him to
take leave of the Sewells.

They dismounted from the horse-car at the minister's door; and he
saw, with sensibility, the two women helping Lemuel off; he walked
with a cane, and they went carefully on either side of him. Sewell
hastened to meet them at the door himself, and he was so much
interested in the spectacle of this mutual affection that he failed
at first to observe that Mrs. Barker wore the skirts of occidental
civilisation instead of the bloomers which he had identified her

"She _says_ she's goin' to put 'em on again as soon as she gets
back to Willoughby," the younger woman explained to Mrs. Sewell in
an aside, while the minister was engaged with Lemuel and his mother.
"But I tell her as long as it ain't the fashion in Boston, I guess
she hadn't better, he-e-e-re." Statira had got on her genteel
prolongation of her last syllables again. "I guess I shall get along
with her. She's kind of queer when you first get acquainted; but
she's _real_ good-_heart_-e-e-d." She was herself very prettily dressed,
and though she looked thin, and at times gave a deep, dismal cough,
she was so bright and gay that it was impossible not to feel hopeful
about her. She became very confidential with Mrs. Sewell, whom she
apparently brevetted Lemuel's best friend, and obliged to a greater
show of interest in him than she had ever felt. She told her the whole
history of her love affair, and of how much 'Manda Grier had done
to help it on at first, and then how she had wanted her to break off
with Lemuel. "But," she concluded, "I think we're goin' to get along
real nice together. I don't know as we shall live all in the same
_hou_-ou-se; I guess it'll be the best thing for Lem and I if we
can board till we get some little of our health back; I'm more scared
for him than what I am for my-_se_-e-lf. I don't presume but
what we shall both miss the city some; but he might be out of a job
all winter in town; I shouldn't want he should go back on them _ca_-a-rs.
Most I hate is leavin' 'Manda Grier, she is the one that I've roomed
with ever since I first came to Boston; but Lem and her don't get on
very well; they hain't really either of 'em _got_ anything against
each other now, but they don't _like_ very _we_-e-ll; and,
of course, I got to have the friends that he wants me to have, and
that's what 'Manda Grier says, _to_-o-o; and so it's just as
well we're goin' to be where they won't _cla_-a-sh."

She talked to Mrs. Sewell in a low voice; but she kept her eyes upon
Lemuel all the time; and when Sewell took him and his mother the
length of the front drawing-room away, she was quite distraught, and
answered at random till he came back.

Sewell did not know what to think. Would this dependence warm her
betrothed to greater tenderness than he now showed, or would its
excess disgust him? He was not afraid that Lemuel would ever be
unkind to her; but he knew that in marriage kindness was not enough.
He looked at Lemuel, serious, thoughtful, refined in his beauty by
suffering; and then his eye wandered to Statira's delicate
prettiness, so sweet, so full of amiable cheerfulness, so undeniably
light and silly. What chiefly comforted him was the fact of an ally
whom the young thing had apparently found in Lemuel's mother.
Whether that grim personage's ignorant pride in her son had been
satisfied with a girl of Statira's style and fashion, and proven
capableness in housekeeping, or whether some fancy for butterfly
prettiness lurking in the fastnesses of the old woman's rugged
nature had been snared by the gay face and dancing eyes, it was
apparent that she at least was in love with Statira. She allowed
herself to be poked about and rearranged as to her shawl and the
narrow-brimmed youthful hat which she wore on the peak of her skull,
and she softened to something like a smile at the touch of Statira's
quick hands.

They had all come rather early to make their parting visit at the
Sewells, for the Barkers were going to take the two o'clock train
for Willoughby Pastures, while Statira was to remain in Boston till
he could make a home for her. Lemuel promised to write, as soon as
he should be settled, and tell Sewell about his life and his work;
and Sewell, beyond earshot of his wife, told him he might certainly
count upon seeing them at Willoughby in the course of the next
summer. They all shook hands several times. Lemuel's mother gave her
hand from under the fringe of her shawl, standing bolt upright at
arm's-length off, and Sewell said it felt like a collection of corn-


"Well?" said Sewell's wife, when they were gone.

"Well," he responded; and after a moment he said, "There's this
comfort about it which we don't always have in such cases: there
doesn't seem to be anybody else. It would be indefinitely worse if
there were."

"Why, of course. What in the world are you thinking about?"

"About that foolish girl who came to me with her miserable love-
trouble. I declare, I can't get rid of it. I feel morally certain
that she went away from me and dismissed the poor fellow who was
looking to her love to save him."

"At the cost of some other poor creature who'd trusted and believed
in him till his silly fancy changed? I hope for the credit of women
that she did. But you may be morally certain she did nothing of the
kind. Girls don't give up all their hopes in life so easily as that.
She might think she would do it, because she had read of such
things, and thought it was fine, but when it came to the pinch, she

"I hope not. If she did she would commit a great error, a criminal

"Well, you needn't be afraid. Look at Mrs. Tom Corey. And that was
her own sister!"

"That was different. Corey had never thought of her sister, much
less made love to her, or promised to marry her. Besides, Mrs. Corey
had her father and mother to advise her, and support her in behaving
sensibly. And this poor creature had nothing but her own novel fed
fancies, and her crazy conscience. She thought that because she
inflicted suffering upon herself she was acting unselfishly. Really
the fakirs of India and the Penitentes of New Mexico are more
harmless; for they don't hurt any one else. If she has forced some
poor fellow into a marriage like this of Barker's she's committed a
deadly sin. She'd better driven him to suicide, than condemned him
to live a lie to the end of his days. No doubt she regarded it as a
momentary act of expiation. That's the way her romances taught her
to look at loveless marriage--as something spectacular, transitory,
instead of the enduring, degrading squalor that it is!"

"What in the world are you talking about, David? I should think
_you_ were a novelist yourself, by the wild way you go on! You
have no proof whatever that Barker isn't happily engaged. I'm sure
he's got a much better girl than he deserves, and one that's fully
his equal. She's only too fond of that dry stick. Such a girl as the
one you described,--like that mysterious visitor of yours,--what
possible relation could she have with him? She was a lady!"

"Yes, yes! Of course, it's absurd. But everybody seems to be tangled
up with everybody else. My dear, will you give me a cup of tea? I
think I'll go to writing at once."

Before she left her husband to order his tea Mrs. Sewell asked, "And
do you think you have got through with him now?"

"I have just begun with him," replied Sewell.

His mind, naturally enough in connection with Lemuel, was running
upon his friend Evans, and the subject they had once talked of in
that room. It was primarily in thinking of him that he begun to
write his sermon on Complicity, which made a great impression at the
time, and had a more lasting effect as enlarged from the newspaper
reports, and reprinted in pamphlet form. His evolution from the
text, "Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them," of a
complete philosophy of life, was humorously treated by some of his
critics as a phase of Darwinism, but upon the whole the sermon met
with great favour. It not only strengthened Sewell's hold upon the
affections of his own congregation, but carried his name beyond
Boston, and made him the topic of editorials in the Sunday editions
of leading newspapers as far off as Chicago. It struck one of those
popular moods of intelligent sympathy when the failure of a large
class of underpaid and worthy workers to assert their right to a
living wage against a powerful monopoly had sent a thrill of
respectful pity through every generous heart in the country; and it
was largely supposed that Sewell's sermon referred indirectly to the
telegraphers' strike. Those who were aware of his habit of seeking
to produce a personal rather than a general effect, of his belief
that you can have a righteous public only by the slow process of
having righteous men and women, knew that he meant something much
nearer home to each of his hearers when he preached the old Christ-
humanity to them, and enforced again the lessons that no one for
good or for evil, for sorrow or joy, for sickness or health, stood
apart from his fellows, but each was bound to the highest and the
lowest by ties that centred in the hand of God. No man, he said,
sinned or suffered to himself alone; his error and his pain darkened
and afflicted men who never heard of his name. If a community was
corrupt, if an age was immoral, it was not because of the vicious,
but the virtuous who fancied themselves indifferent spectators. It
was not the tyrant who oppressed, it was the wickedness that had
made him possible. The gospel--Christ--God, so far as men had
imagined him,--was but a lesson, a type, a witness from everlasting
to everlasting of the spiritual unity of man. As we grew in grace,
in humanity, in civilisation, our recognition of this truth would be
transfigured from a duty to a privilege, a joy, a heavenly rapture.
Many men might go through life harmlessly without realising this,
perhaps, but sterilely; only those who had had the care of others
laid upon them, lived usefully, fruitfully. Let no one shrink from
such a burden, or seek to rid himself of it. Rather let him bind it
fast upon his neck, and rejoice in it. The wretched, the foolish,
the ignorant whom we found at every turn, were something more; they
were the messengers of God, sent to tell his secret to any that
would hear it. Happy he in whose ears their cry for help was a
perpetual voice, for that man, whatever his creed, knew God and
could never forget him. In his responsibility for his weaker
brethren he was Godlike, for God was but the impersonation of loving
responsibility, of infinite and never-ceasing care for us all.

When Sewell came down from his pulpit, many people came up to speak
to him of his sermon. Some of the women's faces showed the traces of
tears, and each person had made its application to himself. There
were two or three who had heard between the words. Old Bromfield
Corey, who was coming a good deal more to church since his eyes
began to fail him, because it was a change and a sort of relief from
being read to, said--

"I didn't know that they had translated it Barker in the revised
version. Well, you must let me know how he's getting on, Sewell, and
give me a chance at the revelation, too, if he ever gets troublesome
to you again."

Miss Vane was standing at the door with his wife when Sewell came
out. She took his hand and pressed it.

"Do you think I threw away my chance?" she demanded. She had her
veil down, and at first Sewell thought it was laughter that shook
her voice, but it was not that.

He did not know quite what to say, but he did say, "He was sent to

As they walked off alone, his wife said--

"Well, David, I hope you haven't preached away all your truth and

"I know what you mean, my dear," answered Sewell humbly. He added,
"You shall remind me if I seem likely to forget." But he concluded
seriously, "If I thought I could never do anything more for Barker,
I should be very unhappy; I should take it as a sign that I had been
recreant to my charge."


The minister heard directly from Barker two or three times during
the winter, and as often through Statira, who came to see Mrs.
Sewell. Barker had not got the place he had hoped for at once, but
he had got a school in the country a little way off, and he was
doing something; and he expected to do better.

The winter proved a very severe one. "I guess it's just as well I
stayed in town," said Statira, the last time she came, with a
resignation which Mrs. Sewell, fond of the ideal in others as most
ladies are, did not like. "'Manda Grier says 'twould killed me up
there; and I d' know but what it would. I done so well here, since
the cold weather set in that 'Manda Grier she thinks I hadn't better
get married right away; well, not till it comes summer, anyway. I
tell her I guess she don't want I should get married at all, after
all she done to help it along first off. Her and Mr. Barker don't
seem to get along very well."

Now that Statira felt a little better acquainted with Mrs. Sewell,
she dropped the genteel elongation of her final syllables, and used
such vernacular forms of speech as came first to her. The name of
'Manda Grier seemed to come in at every fourth word with her, and
she tired Mrs. Sewell with visits which she appeared unable to bring
to a close of herself.

A long relief from them ended in an alarm for her health with Mrs.
Sewell, who went to find her. She found her still better than
before, and Statira frankly accounted for her absence by saying that
'Manda thought she had better not come any more till Mrs. Sewell
returned some of her calls. She laughed, and then she said--

"I don't know as you'd found me here if you'd come much later.
'Manda Grier don't want I should be here in the east winds, now it's
coming spring so soon; and she's heard of a chance at a box factory
in Philadelphia. She wants I should go there with her, and I don't
know but what it _would_ be about the best thing."

Mrs. Sewell could not deny the good sense of the plan, though she
was sensible of liking Statira less and less for it.

The girl continued: "Lem--Mr. Barker, I _should_ say--wants I
should come up _there_, out the east winds. But 'Manda Grier
she's opposed to it: she thinks I'd ought to have more of a mild
climate, and he better come down there and get a school if he wants
me too," Statira broke into an impartial little titter. "I'm sure I
don't know which of 'em 'll win the day!"

Mrs. Sewell's report of this speech brought a radiant smile of
relief to Sewell's face. "Ah, well, then! That settles it! I feel
perfectly sure that 'Manda Grier will win the day. That poor, sick,
flimsy little Statira is completely under 'Manda Grier's thumb, and
will do just what she says, now that there's no direct appeal from
her will to Barker's; they will never be married. Don't you see that
it was 'Manda Grier's romance in the beginning, and that when she
came to distrust, to dislike Barker, she came to dislike her romance
too--to hate it?"

"Well, don't _you_ romance him, David," said Mrs. Sewell, only
conditionally accepting his theory.

Yet it may be offered to the reader as founded in probability and
human nature. In fact, he may be assured here that the marriage
which eventually took place was not that of Lemuel with Statira;
though how the union, which was not only happiness for those it
joined, but whatever is worthier and better in life than happiness,
came about, it is aside from the purpose of this story to tell, and
must be left for some future inquiry.


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