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“Maiden name? Let me see. Why–oh, no–oh, yes–Cleveland, Mary Cleveland.”

“Mary Cleveland, of Boston; married Hamilton Leithe, about nineteen years ago. I used to know the lady. And this is her daughter! And Mary Cleveland is dead!–Help yourself, Haymaker. I never take more than one course at this hour of the day.”

“But you must let me introduce you, you know,” mumbled Haymaker, through his succotash.

“I hardly know,” said Drayton, rubbing his mustache. “Pardon me if I leave you,” he added, looking at his watch. “It is later than I thought.”

Nothing more was seen of Drayton for the rest of that day. But the next morning, as Mary Leithe sat on the Bowlder Rock, with a book on her lap, and her eyes on the bathers, and her thoughts elsewhere, she heard a light, leisurely tread behind her, and a gentlemanly, effective figure made its appearance, carrying a malacca walking-stick, and a small telescope in a leather case slung over the shoulder.

“Good-morning, Miss Leithe,” said this personage, in a quiet and pleasant voice. “I knew your mother before you were born, and I can not feel like a stranger toward her daughter. My name is Ambrose Drayton. You look something like your mother, I think.”

“I think I remember mamma’s having spoken of you,” said Mary Leithe, looking up a little shyly, but with a smile that was the most winning of her many winning manifestations. Her upper lip, short, but somewhat fuller than the lower one, was always alive with delicate movements; the corners of her mouth were blunt, the teeth small; and the smile was such as Psyche’s might have been when Cupid waked her with a kiss.

“It was here I first met your mother,” continued Drayton, taking his place beside her. “We often sat together on this very rock. I was a young fellow then, scarcely older than you, and very full of romance and enthusiasm. Your mother–“. He paused a moment, looking at his companion with a grave smile in his eyes. “If I had been as dear to her as she was to me,” he went on, “you would have been our daughter.”

Mary looked out upon the bathers, and upon the azure bay, and into her own virgin heart. “Are you married, too?” she asked at length.

“I was cut out for an old bachelor, and I have been true to my destiny,” was his reply. “Besides, I’ve lived abroad till a month or two ago, and good Americans don’t marry foreign wives.”

“I should like to go abroad,” said Mary Leithe.

“It is the privilege of Americans,” said Drayton. “Other people are born abroad, and never know the delight of real travel. But, after all, America is best. The life of the world culminates here. We are the prow of the vessel; there may be more comfort amidships, but we are the first to touch the unknown seas. And the foremost men of all nations are foremost only in so far as they are at heart American; that is to say, America is, at present, even more an idea and a principle than it is a country. The nation has perhaps not yet risen to the height of its opportunities. So you have never crossed the Atlantic?”

“No; my father never wanted to go; and after he died, mamma could not.”

“Well, our American Emerson says, you know, that, as the good of travel respects only the mind, we need not depend for it on railways and steamboats.”

“It seems to me, if we never moved ourselves, our minds would never really move either.”

“Where would you most care to go?”

“To Rome, and Jerusalem, and Egypt, and London.”

“Why?”

“They seem like parts of my mind that I shall never know unless I visit them.”

“Is there no part of the world that answers to your heart?”

“Oh, the beautiful parts everywhere, I suppose.”

“I can well believe it,” said Drayton, but with so much simplicity and straightforwardness that Mary Leithe’s cheeks scarcely changed color. “And there is beauty enough here,” he added, after a pause.

“Yes; I have always liked this place,” said she, “though the cottages seem a pity.”

“You knew the old farm-house, then?”

“Oh, yes; I used to play in the farm-yard when I was a little girl. After my father died, Mamma used to come here every year. And my aunt has a cottage here now. You haven’t met my aunt, Mr. Drayton?”

“I wished to know you first. But now I want to know her, and to become one of the family. There is no one left, I find, who belongs to me. What would you think of me for a bachelor uncle?”

“I would like it very much,” said Mary, with a smile.

“Then let us begin,” returned Drayton.

Several days passed away very pleasantly. Never was there a bachelor uncle so charming, as Haymaker would have said, as Drayton. The kind of life in the midst of which he found himself was altogether novel and delightful to him. In some aspects it was like enjoying for the first time a part of his existence which he should have enjoyed in youth, but had missed; and in many ways he doubtless enjoyed it more now than he would have done then, for he brought it to a maturity of experience which had taught him the inestimable value of simple things; a quiet nobility of character and clearness of knowledge that enabled him to perceive and follow the right course in small things as in great; a serene yet cordial temperament that rendered him the cheerfulest and most trustworthy of companions; a generous and masculine disposition, as able to direct as to comply; and years which could sympathize impartially with youth and age, and supply something which each lacked. He, meanwhile, sometimes seemed to himself to be walking in a dream. The region in which he was living, changed, yet so familiar, the thought of being once more, after so many years of homeless wandering, in his own land and among his own countrymen, and the companionship of Mary Leithe, like, yet so unlike, the Mary Cleveland he had known and loved, possessing in reality all the tenderness and lovely virginal sweetness that he had imagined in the other, with a warmth of heart that rejuvenated his own, and a depth and freshness of mind answering to the wisdom that he had drawn from experience, and rendering her, though in her different and feminine sphere, his equal–all these things made Drayton feel as if he would either awake and find them the phantasmagoria of a beautiful dream, or as if the past time were the dream, and this the reality. Certainly, in this ardent, penetrating light of the present, the past looked vaporous and dim, like a range of mountains scaled long ago and vanishing on the horizon.

And was this all? Doubtless it was, at first. It was natural that Drayton should regard with peculiar tenderness the daughter of the woman he had loved. She was an orphan, and poor; he was alone in the world, with no one dependent upon him, and with wealth which could find no better use than to afford this girl the opportunities and the enjoyments which she else must lack. His anticipations in returning to America had been somewhat cold and vague. It was his native land; but abstract patriotism is, after all, rather chilly diet for a human being to feed his heart upon. The unexpected apparition of Mary Leithe had provided just that vividness and particularity that were wanting. Insensibly Drayton bestowed upon her all the essence of the love of country which he had cherished untainted throughout his long exile. It was so much easier and simpler a thing to know and appreciate her than to do as much for the United States and their fifty million inhabitants, national, political, and social, that it is no wonder if Drayton, as a modest and sane gentleman, preferred to make the former the symbol of the latter–of all, at least, that was good and lovable therein. At the same time, so clear-headed a man could scarcely have failed to be aware that his affection for Mary Leithe was not actually dependent upon the fact of her being an emblem. Upon what, then, was it dependent? Upon her being the daughter of Mary Cleveland? It was true that he had loved Mary Cleveland; but she had deliberately jilted him to marry a wealthier man, and was therefore connected with and responsible for the most painful as well as the most pleasurable episode of his early life. Mary Leithe bore some personal resemblance to her mother; but had she been as like her in character and disposition as she was in figure and feature, would Drayton, knowing what he knew, have felt drawn toward her? A man does not remain for twenty years under the influence of an unreasonable and mistaken passion. Drayton certainly had not, although his disappointment had kept him a bachelor all his life, and altered the whole course of his existence. But when we have once embarked upon a certain career, we continue in it long after the motive which started us has been forgotten. No; Drayton’s regard for Mary Leithe must stand on its own basis, independent of all other considerations.

What, in the next place, was the nature of this regard? Was it merely avuncular, or something different? Drayton assured himself that it was the former. He was a man of the world, and had done with passions. The idea of his falling in love made him smile in a deprecatory manner. That the object of such love should be a girl eighteen years his junior rendered the suggestion yet more irrational. She was lustrous with lovable qualities, which he genially recognized and appreciated; nay, he might love her, but the love would be a quasi-paternal one, not the love that demands absolute possession and brooks no rivalry. His attitude was contemplative and beneficent, not selfish and exclusive. His greatest pleasure would be to see her married to some one worthy of her. Meantime he might devote himself to her freely and without fear.

And yet, once again, was he not the dupe of himself and of a convention? Was his the mood in which an uncle studies his niece, or even a father his daughter? How often during the day was she absent from his thoughts, or from his dreams at night? What else gave him so much happiness as to please her, and what would he not do to give her pleasure? Why was he dissatisfied and aimless when not in her presence? Why so full-orbed and complete when she was near? He was eighteen years the elder, but there was in her a fullness of nature, a balanced development, which went far toward annulling the discrepancy. Moreover, though she was young, he was not old, and surely he had the knowledge, the resources, and the will to make her life happy. There would be, he fancied, a certain poetical justice in such an issue. It would illustrate the slow, seemingly severe, but really tender wisdom of Providence. Out of the very ashes of his dead hopes would arise this gracious flower of promise. She would afford him scope for the employment of all those riches, moral and material, which life had brought him; she would be his reward for having lived honorably and purely for purity’s and honor’s sake. But why multiply reasons? There was justification enough; and true love knows nothing of justification. He loved her, then; and now, did she love him? This was the real problem–the mystery of a maiden’s heart, which all Solomon’s wisdom and Bacon’s logic fail to elucidate. Drayton did what he could. Once he came to her with the news that he must be absent from an excursion which they had planned, and he saw genuine disappointment darken her sweet face, and her slender figure seem to droop. This was well as far as it went, but beyond that it proved nothing. Another time he gave her a curious little shell which he had picked up while they were rambling together along the beach, and some time afterward he accidently noticed that she was wearing it by a ribbon round her neck. This seemed better. Again, on a night when there was a social gathering at the hotel, he entered the room and sat apart at one of the windows, and as long as he remained there he felt that her gaze was upon him, and twice or thrice when he raised his eyes they were met by hers, and she smiled; and afterward, when he was speaking near her, he noticed that she disregarded what her companion of the moment was saying to her, and listened only to him. Was not all this encouragement? Nevertheless, whenever, presuming upon this, he hazarded less ambiguous demonstrations, she seemed to shrink back and appear strange and troubled. This behavior perplexed him; he doubted the evidence that had given him hope; feared that he was a fool; that she divined his love, and pitied him, and would have him, if at all, only out of pity. Thereupon he took himself sternly to task, and resolved to give her up.

It was a transparent July afternoon, with white and gray clouds drifting across a clear blue sky, and a southwesterly breeze roughening the dark waves and showing their white shoulders. Mary Leithe and Drayton came slowly along the rocks, he assisting her to climb or descend the more rugged places, and occasionally pausing with her to watch the white canvas of a yacht shiver in the breeze as she went about, or to question whether yonder flash amid the waves, where the gulls were hovering and dipping, were a bluefish breaking water. At length they reached a little nook in the seaward face, which, by often resorting to it, they had in a manner made their own. It was a small shelf in the rock, spacious enough for two to sit in at ease, with a back to lean against, and at one side a bit of level ledge which served as a stand or table. Before them was the sea, which, at high-water mark, rose to within three yards of their feet; while from the shoreward side they were concealed by the ascending wall of sandstone. Drayton had brought a cushion with him, which he arranged in Mary’s seat; and when they had established themselves, he took a volume of Emerson’s poems from his pocket and laid it on the rock beside him.

“Are you comfortable?” he asked.

“Yes; I wish it would be always like this–the weather, and the sun, and the time–so that we might stay here forever.”

“Forever is the least useful word in human language,” observed Drayton. “In the perspective of time, a few hours, or days, or years, seem alike inconsiderable.”

“But it is not the same to our hearts, which live forever,” she returned.

“The life of the heart is love,” said Drayton.

“And that lasts forever,” said Mary Leithe.

“True love lasts, but the object changes,” was his reply.

“It seems to change sometimes,” said she.

“But I think it is only our perception that is misled. We think we have found what we love; but afterward, perhaps, we find it was not in the person we supposed, but in some other. Then we love it in him; not because our heart has changed, but just because it has not.”

“Has that been your experience?” Drayton asked, with a smile.

“Oh, I was speaking generally,” she said, looking down.

“It may be the truth; but if so, it is a perilous thing to be loved.”

“Perilous?”

“Why, yes. How can the lover be sure that he really is what his mistress takes him for? After all, a man has and is nothing in himself. His life, his love, his goodness, such as they are, flow into him from his Creator, in such measure as he is capable or desirous of receiving them. And he may receive more at one time than at another. How shall he know when he may lose the talismanic virtue that won her love–even supposing he ever possessed it?”

“I don’t know how to argue,” said Mary Leithe; “I can only feel when a thing is true or not–or when I think it is–and say what I feel.”

“Well, I am wise enough to trust the truth of your feeling before any argument.”

This assertion somewhat disconcerted Mary Leithe, who never liked to be confronted with her own shadow, so to speak. However, she seemed resolved on this occasion to give fuller utterance than usual to what was in her mind; so, after a pause, she continued, “It is not only how much we are capable of receiving from God, but the peculiar way in which each one of us shows what is in him, that makes the difference in people. It is not the talisman so much as the manner of using it that wins a girl’s love. And she may think one manner good until she comes to know that another is better.”

“And, later, that another is better still?”

“You trust my feeling less than you thought, you see,” said Mary, blushing, and with a tremor of her lips.

“Perhaps I am afraid of trusting it too much,” Drayton replied, fixing his eyes upon her. Then he went on, with a changed tone and manner: “This metaphysical discussion of ours reminds me of one of Emerson’s poems, whose book, by-the-by, I brought with me. Have you ever read them?”

“Very few of them,” said Mary; “I don’t seem to belong to them.”

“Not many people can eat them raw, I imagine,” rejoined Drayton, laughing. “They must be masticated by the mind before they can nourish the heart, and some of them–However, the one I am thinking of is very beautiful, take it how you will. It is called, ‘Give all to Love.’ Do you know it!”

Mary shook her head.

“Then listen to it,” said Drayton, and he read the poem to her. “What do you think of it?” he asked when he had ended.

“It is very short,” said Mary, “and it is certainly beautiful; but I don’t understand some parts of it, and I don’t think I like some other parts.”

“It is a true poem,” returned Drayton; “it has a body and a soul; the body is beautiful, but the soul is more beautiful still; and where the body seems incomplete, the soul is most nearly perfect. Be loyal, it says, to the highest good you know; follow it through all difficulties and dangers; make it the core of your heart and the life of your soul; and yet, be free of it! For the hour may always be at hand when that good that you have lived for and lived in must be given up. And then– what says the poet?

“‘Though thou loved her as thyself,
As a self of purer clay,
Though her parting dims the day,
Stealing grace from all alive,
Heartily know,
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.'”

There was something ominous in Drayton’s tone, quiet and pleasant though it sounded to the ear, and Mary could not speak; she knew that he would speak again, and that his words would bring the issue finally before her.

He shut the book and put it in his pocket. For some time he remained silent, gazing eastward across the waves, which came from afar to break against the rock at their feet. A small white pyramidal object stood up against the horizon verge, and upon this Drayton’s attention appeared to be concentrated.

“If you should ever decide to come,” he said at length, “and want the services of a courier who knows the ground well, I shall be at your disposal.”

“Come where?” she said, falteringly.

“Eastward. To Europe.”

“You will go with me?”

“Hardly that. But I shall be there to receive you.”

“You are going back?”

“In a month, or thereabouts.”

“Oh, Mr. Drayton! Why?”

“Well, for several reasons. My coming here was an experiment. It might have succeeded, but it was made too late. I am too old for this young country. I love it, but I can be of no service to it. On the contrary, so far as I was anything, I should be in the way. It does not need me, and I have been an exile so long as to have lost my right to inflict myself upon it. Yet I am glad to have been here; the little time that I have been here has recompensed me for all the sorrows of my life, and I shall never forget an hour of it as long as I live.”

“Are you quite sure that your country does not want you–need you?”

“I should not like my assurance to be made more sure.”

“How can you know? Who has told you? Whom have you asked?”

“There are some questions which it is not wise to put; questions whose answers may seem ungracious to give, and are sad to hear.”

“But the answer might not seem so. And how can it be given until you ask it?”

Drayton turned and looked at her. His face was losing its resolute composure, and there was a glow in his eyes and in his cheeks that called up an answering warmth in her own.

“Do you know where my country is?” he demanded, almost sternly.

“It is where you are loved and wanted most, is it not?” she said, breathlessly.

“Do not deceive yourself–nor me!” exclaimed Drayton, putting out his hand toward her, and half rising from the rock. “There is only one thing more to say.”

A sea-gull flew close by them, and swept on, and in a moment was far away, and lost to sight. So in our lives does happiness come so near us as almost to brush our cheeks with its wings, and then pass on, and become as unattainable as the stars. As Mary Leithe was about to speak, a shadow cast from above fell across her face and figure. She seemed to feel a sort of chill from it, warm though the day was; and without moving her eyes from Drayton’s face to see whence the shadow came, her expression underwent a subtle and sudden change, losing the fervor of a moment before, and becoming relaxed and dismayed. But after a moment Drayton looked up, and immediately rose to his feet, exclaiming, “Frank Redmond!”

On the rock just above them stood a young man, dark of complexion, with eager eyes, and a figure athletic and strong. As Drayton spoke his name, his countenance assumed an expression half-way between pleased surprise and jealous suspicion. Meanwhile Mary Leithe had covered her face with her hands.

“I’m sure I’d no idea you were here, Mr. Drayton,” said the young man. “I was looking for Mary Leithe. Is that she?”

Mary uncovered her face, and rose to her feet languidly. She did not as yet look toward Redmond, but she said in a low voice, “How do you do, Frank? You–came so suddenly!”

“I didn’t stop to think–that I might interrupt you,” said he, drawing back a little and lifting his head.

Drayton had been observing the two intently, breathing constrainedly the while, and grasping a jutting point of rock with his hand as he stood. He now said, in a genial and matter-of-fact voice, “Well, Master Frank, I shall have an account to settle with you when you and my niece have got through your first greetings.”

“Mary your niece!” cried Redmond, bewildered.

“My niece by courtesy; her mother was a dear friend of mine before Mary was born. And now it appears that she is the young lady, the dearest and loveliest ever heard of, about whom you used to rhapsodize to me in Dresden! Why didn’t you tell me her name? By Jove, you young rogue, I’ve a good mind to refuse my consent to the match! What if I had married her off to some other young fellow, and you been left in the lurch! However, luckily for you, I haven’t been able thus far to find any one who in my opinion–How do you do, Frank? You–came so suddenly!”

“I didn’t stop to think–that I might interrupt you,” said he, drawing back a little and lifting his head.

Drayton had been observing the two intently, breathing constrainedly the while, and grasping a jutting point of rock with his hand as he stood. He now said, in a genial and matter-of-fact voice, “Well, Master Frank, I shall have an account to settle with you when you and my niece have got through your first greetings.”

“Mary your niece!” cried Redmond, bewildered.

“My niece by courtesy; her mother was a dear friend of mine before Mary was born. And now it appears that she is the young lady, the dearest and loveliest ever heard of, about whom you used to rhapsodize to me in Dresden! Why didn’t you tell me her name? By Jove, you young rogue, I’ve a good mind to refuse my consent to the match! What if I had married her off to some other young fellow, and you been left in the lurch! However, luckily for you, I haven’t been able thus far to find any one who in my opinion would suit her better. Come down here and shake hands, Frank, and then I’ll leave you to make your excuses to Miss Leithe. And the next time you come back to her after a year’s absence, don’t frighten her heart into her mouth by springing out on her like a jack-in-the-box. Send a bunch of flowers or a signet-ring to tell her you are coming, or you may get a cooler reception than you’d like!”

“Ah! Ambrose Drayton,” he sighed to himself as he clambered down the rocks alone, and sauntered along the shore, “there is no fool like an old fool. Where were your eyes that you couldn’t have seen what was the matter? Her heart was fighting against itself all the time, poor child! And you, selfish brute, bringing to bear on her all your antiquated charms and fascinations–Heaven save the mark!–and bullying her into the belief that you could make her happy! Thank God, Ambrose Drayton, that your awakening did not come too late. A minute more would have made her and you miserable for life–and Redmond too, confound him! And yet they might have told me; one of them might have told me, surely. Even at my age it is hard to remember one’s own insignificance. And I did love her! God knows how I loved her! I hope he loves her as much; but how can he help it! And she–she won’t remember long! An old fellow who made believe he was her uncle, and made rather a fool of himself; went back to Europe, and never been heard of since. Ah, me!”

“Where did you get acquainted with Mr. Drayton, Frank?”

“At Dresden. It was during the vacation at Freiberg last winter, and I had come over to Dresden to have a good time. We stayed at the same hotel. We played a game of billiards together, and he chatted with me about America, and asked me about my mining studies at Freiberg; and I thought him about the best fellow I’d ever met. But I didn’t know then –I hadn’t any conception what a splendid fellow he really was. If ever I hear anybody talking of their ideal of a gentleman, I shall ask them if they ever met Ambrose Drayton.”

“What did he do?”

“Well, the story isn’t much to my credit; if it hadn’t been for him, you might never have heard of me again; and it will serve me right to confess the whole thing to you. It’s about a–woman.”

“What sort of a woman?”

“She called herself a countess; but there’s no telling what she really was. I only know she got me into a fearful scrape, and if it hadn’t been for Mr. Drayton–“

“Did you do anything wrong, Frank?”

“No; upon my honor as a gentleman! If I had, Mary, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Mary looked at him with a sad face. “Of course I believe you, Frank,” she said. “But I think I would rather not hear any more about it.”

“Well, I’ll only tell you what Mr. Drayton did. I told him all about it –how it began, and how it went on, and all; and how I was engaged to a girl in America–I didn’t tell him your name; and I wasn’t sure, then, whether you’d ever marry me, after all; because, you know, you had been awfully angry with me before I went away, because I wanted to study in Europe instead of staying at home. But, you see, I’ve got my diploma, and that’ll give me a better start than I ever should have had if I’d only studied here. However–what was I saying? Oh! so he said he would find out about the countess, and talk to her himself. And how he managed I don’t know; and he gave me a tremendous hauling over the coals for having been such an idiot; but it seems that instead of being a poor injured, deceived creature, with a broken heart, and all that sort of thing, she was a regular adventuress–an old hand at it, and had got lots of money out of other fellows for fear she would make a row. But Mr. Drayton had an interview with her. I was there, and I never shall forget it if I live to a hundred. You never saw anybody so quiet, so courteous, so resolute, and so immitigably stern as he was. And yet he seemed to be stern only against the wrong she was trying to do, and to be feeling kindness and compassion for her all the time. She tried everything she knew, but it wasn’t a bit of use, and at last she broke down and cried, and carried on like a child. Then Mr. Drayton took her out of the room, and I don’t know what happened, but I’ve always suspected that he sent her off with money enough in her pocket to become an honest woman with if she chose to; but he never would admit it to me. He came back to me after a while, and told me to have nothing more to do with any woman, good or bad except the woman I meant to marry, and I promised him I wouldn’t, and I kept my promise. But we have him to thank for our happiness, Mary.”

Tears came silently into Mary’s eyes; she said nothing, but sat with her hands clasped around one knee, gazing seaward.

“You don’t seem very happy, though,” pursued Redmond, after a pause; “and you acted so oddly when I first found you and Mr. Drayton together–I almost thought–well, I didn’t know what to think. You do love me, don’t you?”

For a few moments Mary Leithe sat quite motionless, save for a slight tremor of the nerves that pervaded her whole body; and then, all at once, she melted into sobs. Redmond could not imagine what was the matter with her; but he put his arms round her, and after a little hesitation or resistance, the girl hid her face upon his shoulder, and wept for the secret that she would never tell.

But Mary Leithe’s nature was not a stubborn one, and easily adapted itself to the influences with which she was most closely in contact. When she and Redmond presented themselves at Aunt Corwin’s cottage that evening her tears were dried, and only a tender dimness of the eyes and a droop of her sweet mouth betrayed that she had shed any.

“Mr. Drayton wanted to be remembered to you, Mary,” observed Aunt Corwin, shortly before going to bed. She had been floating colored sea- weeds on paper all the time since supper, and had scarcely spoken a dozen words.

“Has he gone?” Mary asked.

“Who? Oh, yes; he had a telegram, I believe. His trunks were to follow him. He said he would write. I liked that man. He was not like Mr. Haymaker; he was a gentleman. He took an interest in my collections, and gave me several nice specimens. Your mother was a fool not to have married him. I wish you could have married him yourself. But it was not to be expected that he would care for a child like you, even if your head were not turned by that Frank Redmond. How soon shall you let him marry you?”

“Whenever he likes,” answered Mary Leithe, turning away.

As a matter of fact, they were married the following winter. A week before the ceremony a letter arrived for Mary from New York, addressed in a legal hand. It contained an intimation that, in accordance with the instructions of their client, Mr. Ambrose Drayton, the undersigned had placed to her account the sum of fifty thousand dollars as a preliminary bequest, it being the intention of Mr. Drayton to make her his heir. There was an inclosure from Drayton himself, which Mary, after a moment’s hesitation, placed in her lover’s hand, and bade him break the seal.

It contained only a few lines, wishing happiness to the bride and bridegroom, and hoping they all might meet in Europe, should the wedding trip extend so far. “And as for you, my dear niece,” continued the writer, “whenever you think of me remember that little poem of Emerson’s that we read on the rocks the last time I saw you. The longer I live the more of truth do I find in it, especially in the last verse:

“‘Heartily know,
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive!'”

“What does that mean?” demanded Redmond, looking up from the letter.

“We can not know except by experience,” answered Mary Leithe.

“SET NOT THY FOOT ON GRAVES.”

_New York_, _April 29th_.–Last night I came upon this passage in my old author: “Friend, take it sadly home to thee–Age and Youthe are strangers still. Youthe, being ignorant of the wisdome of Age, which is Experience, but wise with its own wisdome, which is of the unshackeled Soule, or Intuition, is great in Enterprise, but slack in Achievement. Holding itself equal to all attempts and conditions, and to be heir, not of its own spanne of yeares and compasse of Faculties only, but of all time and all Human Nature–such, I saye, being its illusion (if, indeede, it be illusion, and not in some sorte a Truth), it still underrateth the value of Opportunitie, and, in the vain beleefe that the City of its Expectation is paved with Golde and walled with Precious Stones, letteth slip betwixt its fingers those diamondes and treasures which ironical Fate offereth it…. But see nowe what the case is when this youthe becometh in yeares. For nowe he can nowise understand what defecte of Judgmente (or effecte of insanitie rather) did leade him so to despise and, as it were, reject those Giftes and golden chaunces which come but once to mortal men. Experience (that saturnine Pedagogue) hath taught him what manner of man he is, and that, farre from enjoying that Deceptive Seeminge or mirage of Freedome which would persuade him that he may run hither and thither as the whim prompteth over the face of the Earthe–yea, take the wings of the morninge and winnowe his aerie way to the Pleiadies– he must e’en plod heavilie and with paine along that single and narrowe Path whereto the limitations of his personal nature and profession confine him–happy if he arrive with muche diligence and faire credit at the ende thereof, and falle not ignobly by the way. Neverthelesse– for so great is the infatuation of man, who, although he acquireth all other knowledge, yet arriveth not at the knowledge of Himself–if to the Sage of Experience he proffered once again the gauds and prizes of youthe, which he hath ever since regretted and longed for–what doeth he in his wisdome? Verilie, so longe as the matter remaineth _in nubibis_, as the Latins say, or in the Region of the Imagination, as oure speeche hath it, he will beleeve, yea, take his oathe, that he still is master of all those capacities and energies whiche, in his youthe, would have prompted and enabled him to profit by this desired occurrence. Yet shall it appeare (if the thinge be brought still further to the teste, and, from an Imagination or Dreame, become an actual Realitie), that he will shrinke from and decline that which he did erste so ardently sigh for and covet. And the reason of this is as follows, to-wit: That Habit or Custome hath brought him more to love and affect those very ways and conditions of life, yea, those inconveniences and deficiencies which he useth to deplore and abhorre, than that Crown of Golde or Jewel of Happiness whose withholding he hath all his life lamented. Hence we may learne, that what is past, is dead, and that though thoughts be free, nature is ever captive, and loveth her chaine.”

This is too lugubrious and cynical not to have some truth in it; but I am unwilling to believe that more than half of it is true. The author himself was evidently an old man, and therefore a prejudiced judge; and he did not make allowances for the range and variety of temperament. Age is not a matter of years, and scarcely of experience. The only really old persons are the selfish ones. The man whose thoughts, actions, and affections center upon himself, soon acquires a fixity and crustiness which (if to be old is to be “strange to youth”) is old as nothing else is. But the man who makes the welfare and happiness of others his happiness, is as young at threescore as he was at twenty, and perhaps even younger, for he has had no time to grow old.

_April 30th_.–The Courtneys are in town! This is, I believe, her first visit to America since he married her. At all events, I have not seen or heard of her in all these seven years. I wonder … I was going to write, I wonder whether she remembers me. Of course she remembers me, in a sort of way. I am tied up somewhere among her bundle of recollections, and occasionally, in an idle moment, her eye falls upon me, and moves her, perhaps, to smile or to sigh. For my own part, in thinking over our old days, I find I forget her less than I had supposed. Probably she has been more or less consciously in my mind throughout. In the same way, one has always latent within him the knowledge that he must die; but it does not follow that he is continually musing on the thought of death. As with death, so with this old love of mine. What a difference, if we had married! She was a very lovely girl–at least, I thought so then. Very likely I should not think her so now. My taste and knowledge have developed; a different order of things interests me. It may not be an altogether pleasant thing to confess; but, knowing myself as I now do, I have often thanked my stars that I am a bachelor.

Doubtless she is even more changed than I am. A woman changes more than a man in seven years, and a married woman especially must change a great deal from twenty-two to twenty-nine. Think of Ethel Leigh being in her thirtieth year! and the mother of four or five children, perhaps. Well, for the matter of that, think of the romantic and ambitious young Claude Campbell being an old bachelor of forty! I have married Art instead of Ethel, and she, instead of being Mrs. Campbell, is Mrs. Courtney.

It was a surprising thing–her marrying him so suddenly. But, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I have never quite made up my mind that Ethel was really fickle. She did it out of pique, or pride, or impulse, or whatever it is that sways women in such cases. She was angry, or indignant–how like fire and ice at once she was when she was angry!–and she was resolved to show me that she could do without me. She would not listen to my explanations; and I was always awkward and stiff about making explanations. Besides, it was not an easy matter to explain, especially to a girl like her. With a married woman or a widow it would have been a simple thing enough. But Ethel Leigh, the minister’s daughter–innocent, ignorant, passionate–she would tolerate nothing short of a public disavowal and discontinuance of my relations with Mrs. Murray, and that, of course, I could not consent to, though heaven knows (and so must Ethel, by this time) that Mrs. Murray was nothing to me save as she was the wife of my friend, during whose enforced absence I was bound to look after her, to some extent. It was not my fault that poor Mrs. Murray was a fool. But such are the trumpery seeds from which tragedies grow. Not that ours was a tragedy, exactly: Ethel married her English admirer, and I became a somewhat distinguished artist, that is all. I wonder whether she has been happy! Likely enough; she was born to be wealthy; Englishmen make good husbands sometimes, and her London life must have been a brilliant one…. I have been looking at my old photograph of her–the one she gave me the morning after we were engaged. Tall, slender, dark, with level brows, and the bearing of a Diana. She certainly was handsome, and I shall not run the risk of spoiling this fine memory by calling on her. Even if she have not deteriorated, she can scarcely have improved. Nay, even were she the same now as then, I should not find her so, because of the change in myself. Why should I blink the truth? Experience, culture, and the sober second thought of middle age have carried me far beyond the point where I could any longer be in sympathy with this crude, thin-skinned, impulsive girl. And then–four or five children! Decidedly, I will give her a wide berth. And Courtney himself, with his big beard, small brain, and obtrusive laugh! I shall step across to California for a few months.

_May 1st_.–Called this morning on Ethel Leigh–Mrs. Deighton Courtney, that is to say. She is not so much changed, but she has certainly improved. When I say she has not changed much, I refer to her physical appearance. Her features are scarcely altered; her figure is a little fuller and more compact; in her bearing there is a certain quiet composure and self-possession–the air of a woman who has seen the world, has received admiration, and is familiar with the graceful little arts of social intercourse. In short, she has acquired a high external polish; and that is precisely what she most needed. Evidently, too, there is an increased mental refinement corresponding to the outward manner. She has mellowed, sweetened–whether deepened or not I should hesitate to affirm. But I am quite sure that I find her more charming to talk with, more supple in intercourse, more fascinating, in a word, than formerly. We chatted discursively and rather volubly for more than an hour; yet we did not touch on anything very serious or profound. They are staying at the Brevoort House. Courtney himself, by- the-by, is still in Boston (they landed there), where business will detain him a few days. Ethel goes on a house-hunting expedition to- morrow, and I am going with her; for New York has altered out of her recollection during these seven years. They are to remain here three years, perhaps longer. Courtney is to establish and oversee an American branch of his English business.

They have only one child–a pretty little thing: Susie and I became great friends.

Mrs. Courtney opened the door of the private sitting-room in which I was awaiting her, and came in–beautifully! She has learned how to do that since I knew her. My own long residence in Paris has made me more critical than I used to be in such matters; but I do not remember having met any woman in society with manners more nearly perfect than Mrs. Courtney’s. Ethel Leigh used to be, upon occasion, painfully abrupt and disconcerting; and her movements and attitudes, though there was abundant native grace in them, were often careless and unconventional. Of course, I do not forget that niceties of deportment, without sound qualities of mind and heart to back them, are of trifling value; but the two kinds of attraction are by no means incompatible with each other. Mrs. Courtney smiles often. Ethel Leigh used to smile rarely, although, when the smile did come, it was irresistibly winning; there was in it exquisite significance and tenderness. It is a beautiful smile still, but that charm of rarity (if it be a charm) is lacking. It is a conventional smile more than a spontaneous or a happy one; indeed, it led me to surmise that she had perhaps not been very happy since we last met, and had learned to use this smile as a sort of veil. Not that I suppose for a moment that Courtney has ill-treated her. I never could see anything in the man beyond a superficial comeliness, a talent for business, and an affable temper; but ho was not in any sense a bad fellow. Besides, he was over head and ears in love with her; and Ethel would be sure to have the upper hand of a nature like his. No, her unhappiness, if she be unhappy, would be due to no such cause, she and her husband are no doubt on good terms with each other. But–suppose she has discovered that he fell short of what she demanded in a husband; that she overmatched him; that, in order to make their life smooth, she must descend to him? I imagine it may be something of that kind. Poor Mrs. Courtney!

She addressed me as “Mr. Campbell,” and I dare say she was right. Women best know how to meet these situations. To have called me “Claude” would have placed us in a false position, by ignoring the changes that have taken place. It is wise to respect these barriers; they are conventional, but, rightly considered, they are more of an assistance than of an obstacle to freedom of intercourse. I asked her how she liked England. She smiled and said, “It was my business to like England; still, I am glad to see America once more.”

“You will entertain a great deal, I presume–that sort of thing?”

“We shall hope to make friends with people–and to meet old friends. It is such a pleasant surprise to find you here. I heard you were settled in Paris.”

“So I was, for several years; the Parisians said nice things about my pictures. But one may weary even of Paris. I returned here two years ago, and am now as much of a fixture in New York as if I’d never left it.”

“But not a permanent fixture. Shall we never see you in London?”

“My present probabilities lie rather in the direction of California. I want to make some studies of the scenery and the atmosphere. Besides, I am getting too old to think of another European residence.”

“No one gets old after thirty–especially no bachelor!” she answered, with a smile. “But if you were ever to feel old, the society of London would rejuvenate you.”

“It has certainly done you no harm. But you have the happiness to be married.”

She looked at me pleasantly and said, “Yes, I make a good Englishwoman.” That sounded like an evasion, but the expression of her face was not evasive. In the old days she would probably have flushed up and said something cutting.

“You must see my little girl,” she said, after a while.

The child was called, and presently came in. She resembles her mother, and has a vivacity scarcely characteristic of English children. I am not constitutionally a worshiper of children, but I liked Susie. She put her arms round her mother’s arm, and gazed at me with wide-eyed scrutiny.”

“This is Mr. Campbell,” said mamma.

“My name is Susan Courtney,” said the little thing. “We are going to stay in New York three years. Hot here–this is only an hotel–we are going to have a house. How do you do? This is my dolly.”

I saluted dolly, and thereby inspired its parent with confidence: she put her hand in mine, and gave me her smooth little cheek to kiss. “You are not like papa,” she then observed.

I smiled conciliatingly, being uncertain whether it were prudent to follow this lead; but Mrs. Courtney asked, “In what way different, dear?”

“Papa has a beard,” replied Susie.

The incident rather struck me; it seemed to indicate that Mrs. Courtney was under no apprehension that the child would say anything embarrassing about the father. Having learned so much, I ventured farther.

“Do you love papa or mamma best?” I inquired.

“I am with mamma most,” she answered, after meditation, “but when papa comes, I like him.”

This was non-committal. She continued, “Papa is coming here day after to-morrow. To-morrow, mamma and I are going to find a house.”

“Your husband leaves all that to you?” I said, turning to Mrs. Courtney.

“Mr. Courtney never knows or cares what sort of a place he lives in. It took me some little time to get used to that. I wanted everything to be just in a certain way. They used to laugh at me, and say I was more English than he.”

“Now that you are both here, you must both be American.”

“He doesn’t enjoy America much. Of course, it is very different from London. An Englishman can not be expected to care for American ways and American quickness, and–“

“American people?” I put in, laughingly.

“Don’t undress dolly here,” she said to Susie. “It isn’t time yet to put her to bed, and she might catch cold.”

Was this another evasion? The serene face betrayed nothing, but she had left unanswered the question that aimed at discovering how she and her husband stood toward each other. After all, however, no answer could have told me more than her no answer did–supposing it to have been intentional. I soon afterward took my leave, after having arranged to call to-morrow and accompany her and Susie on their house-hunting expedition. Upon the whole, I don’t think I am sorry to have renewed my acquaintance with her. She is more delightful–as an acquaintance–than when I knew her formerly. Should I have fallen in love with her had I met her for the first time as she is now? Yes, and no! In the old days there was something about her that commanded me–that fascinated my youthful imagination. Perhaps it was only the freshness, the ignorance, the timidity of young maidenhood–that mystery of possibilities of a nature that has not yet met the world and received its impress for good or evil. It is this which captivates in youth; and this, of course, Mrs. Courtney has lost. But every quality that might captivate mature manhood is hers, and, were I likely to think of marriage now, and were she marriageable, she is the type of woman I would choose. Yet I do not quite relish the perception that my present feminine ideal (whether it be lower or higher) is not the former one. But,–frankly, would I marry her if I could? I hardly know: I have got out of the habit of regarding marriage as among my possibilities; many avenues of happiness that once were open to me are now closed against me. Put it, that I have lost a faculty–that I am now able to enjoy only in imagination a phase of existence that, formerly, I could have enjoyed in fact. This bit of self-analysis may be erroneous; but I would not like to run the risk of proving it so! Am I not well enough off as I am? My health is fair, my mind active, my reputation secure, my finances prosperous. The things that I can dream must surely be better than anything that could happen. I can picture, for example, a state of matrimonial felicity which no marriage of mine could realize. Besides, I can, whenever I choose, see Mrs. Courtney herself, talk with her, and enjoy her as a reasonable and congenial friend, apart from the danger and disappointment that might result from a closer connection. I think I have chosen the wiser part, or, rather, the wiser part has been thrust upon me. That I shall never be wildly happy is, at least, security that I shall never be profoundly miserable. I shall simply be comfortable. Is this sour grapes? Am I, if not counting, then discounting my eggs before they are hatched? To such questions a practical–a materialized–answer would be the only conclusive one. Were Mrs. Courtney ready to drop into my mouth, I should either open my mouth, or else I should shut it, and either act would be conclusive. But, so far from being ready to drop into my mouth, she is immovably and (to all appearances) contentedly fixed where she is. I suppose I am insinuating that appearances are deceptive; that she may be unhappy with her husband, and desire to leave him. Well, there is no technical evidence in support of such an hypothesis; but, again, in a matter of this kind, it is not so much the technical as the indirect evidence that tells–the cadences of the voice, the breathing, the silences, the atmosphere. There is no denying that I did somehow acquire a vague impression that Courtney is not so large a figure in his wife’s eyes as he might be. I may have been biased by my previous conception of his character, or I may have misinterpreted the impalpable, indescribable signs that I remarked in her. But, once more, how do I know that her not caring for him would postulate her caring for me? Why should she care for either of us? Our old romance is to her as the memory of something read in a book, and it is powerless to make her heart beat one throb the faster. Were Courtney to die to-morrow, would his widow expect me to marry her? Not she! She would settle down here quietly, educate her daughter, and think better of her departed husband with every year that passed, and less of repeating the experiment that made her his! I may be prone to romantic and elaborate speculations, but I am not exactly a fool. I do not delude myself with the idea that Mrs. Courtney is, at this moment, following my example by recording her impressions of me at her own writing-desk, and asking herself whether–if such and such a thing were to happen–such another would be apt to follow. No; she has put Susie to bed, and is by this time asleep herself, after having read through the “Post,” or “Bazar,” or the last new novel, as her predilection may be. It is after midnight; since she has not followed my example, I will follow hers; it is much the more sensible of the two.

_May 2d_.–What a woman she is! and, in a different sense, what a man I am! How little does a man know or suspect himself until he is brought to the proof! How serenely and securely I philosophized and laid down the law yesterday! and to-day, how strange to contrast the event with my prognostication of it! And yet, again, how little has happened that might not be told in such a way as to appear nothing! It was the latent meaning, the spirit, the touch of look and tone. Her husband may have reached New York by this time; they may be together at this moment; he will find no perceptible change in her–perceptible to him! He will be told that I have been her escort during the day, and that I was polite and serviceable, and that a house has been selected. What more is there to tell? Nothing–that he could hear or understand! and yet–everything! He will say, “Yes, I recollect Campbell; nice fellow; have him to dine with us one of these days.” But I shall never sit at their table; I shall never see her again; I can not! I shall start for California next week. Meanwhile I will write down the history of one day, for it is well to have these things set visibly before one –to grasp the nettle, as it were. Nothing is so formidable as it appears when we shrink from defining it to ourselves.

I drove to the hotel in my brougham at eleven o’clock, as we had previously arranged. She was ready and waiting for me, and little Susie was with her. Ethel was charmingly dressed, and there was a soft look in her eyes as she turned them on me–a look that seemed to say, “I remember the past; it is pleasant to see you, so pleasant as to be sad!” Susie came to me as if I were an old friend, and I lifted the child from the floor and kissed her twice.

“Why did you give me two kisses?” she demanded, as I put her down. “Papa always gives me only one kiss.”

“Papa has mamma as well as you to kiss; but I have no one; I am an old bachelor.”

“When you have known mamma longer, will you kiss her too?”

“Old bachelors kiss nobody but little girls,” I replied, laughing.

“We went down to the brougham, and after we were seated and on our way,” Ethel said, “Already I feel so much at home in New York, it almost startles me. I fancied I should have forgotten old associations–should have grown out of sympathy with them; but I seem only to have learned to appreciate them more. Our memory for some things is better than we would believe.”

“There are two memories in us,” I remarked; “the memory of the heart and the memory of the head. The former never is lost, though the other may be. But I had not supposed that you cared very deeply for the American period of your life.”

“England is very agreeable,” she said, rather hastily. She turned her head and looked out of the window; but after a pause she added, as if to herself, “but I am an American!”

“There is, no doubt, a deep-rooted and substantial repose in English life such as is scarcely to be found elsewhere,” I said; “but, for all that, I have often thought that the best part of domestic happiness could exist nowhere but here. Here a man may marry the woman he loves, and their affection for each other will be made stronger by the hardships they may have to pass through. After all, when we come to the end of our lives, it is not the business we have done, nor the social distinction we have enjoyed–it is the love we have given and received that we are glad of.”

“Mamma,” inquired Susie, “does Mr. Campbell love you?”

We both of us looked at the child and laughed a little. “Mr. Campbell is an old friend,” said Ethel. After a few moments she blushed. She held in her hand some house-agents’ orders to view houses, and these she now began to examine. “Is this Madison Avenue place likely to be a good one?” she asked me.

“It is conveniently situated and comfortable; but I should think it might be too large for a family of three. Perhaps, though, you don’t like a close fit?”

“I don’t like empty rooms, though I prefer such rooms as there are to be large. But it doesn’t make much difference. Mr. Courtney moves about a good deal, and he is as happy in a hotel as anywhere. These American hotels are luxurious and splendid, but they are not home-like to me.”

“I remember you used to dislike being among a crowd of people you didn’t know.”

“Yes, and I haven’t yet learned to be sociable in that way. A friend is more company for me than a score of acquaintances. Dear me! I’m afraid New York will spoil me–for England!”

“Perhaps Mr. Courtney may be cured of England by New York.”

She smiled and said, “Perhaps! He accommodates himself to things more easily than I do, but I think one needs to be born in America to know how to love it.”

Under the veil of discussing America and things in general, we were talking of ourselves, awakening reminiscences of the past, and discovering, with a pleasure we did not venture to acknowledge, that– allowing for the events and the years that had come between–we were as much in accord as when we were young lovers. Yes, as much, and perhaps even more. For surely, if one grows in the right way, the sphere of knowledge and sympathy must enlarge, and thereby the various points of contact between two minds and hearts must be multiplied. Ethel and I, during these seven years, had traveled our round of daily life on different sides of the earth; but the miles of sea and land which had physically separated us had been powerless to estrange our spirits. Nothing is more strange, in this mysterious complexity of impressions and events that we call human existence, than the fact that two beings, entirely cut off from all natural means of association and communion, may yet, unknown to each other, be breathing the same spiritual air and learning the same moral and intellectual lessons. Like two seeds of the same species, planted, the one in American soil, the other in English, Ethel and I had selected, by some instinct of the soul, the same elements from our different surroundings; so that now, when we met once more, we found a close and harmonious resemblance between the leaves and blossoms of our experience. What can be more touching and delightful than such a discovery? Or what more sad than to know that it came too late for us to profit by it?

Oh, Ethel, how easy it is to take the little step that separates light from darkness, happiness from misery! Remembering that we live but once, and that the worthy enjoyments of life are so limited in number and so hard to get, it seems unjust and monstrous that one little hour of jealousy or misunderstanding should wreck the fair prospects of months and years. Why is mischief so much readier to our hand than good?

We got out at a house near the Park. I assisted Ethel to alight, and, as her hand rested on mine, the thought crossed my mind–How sweet if this were our own home that we are about to enter!–and I glanced at her face to see whether a like thought had visited her. She maintained a subdued demeanor, with an expression about the mouth and eyes of a peculiar timid gentleness, and, as it were, a sort of mental leaning upon me for support and protection. She felt, it may be, a little fear of herself, at finding herself–in more senses than one–so near to me; and, woman-like, she depended upon me to protect her against the very peril of which I was the occasion. No higher or more delicate compliment can be paid by a woman to a man; and I resolved that I would do what in me lay to deserve it. But such resolutions are the hardest in the world to keep, because the circumstance or the impulse of the moment is continually in wait to betray you. Ethel was more fascinating and lovely in this mood than in any other I had hitherto seen her in; and the misgiving, from which I could not free myself, that the man whom Fate had made her husband did not appreciate or properly cherish the gift bestowed upon him, made me warm toward her more than ever. I could scarcely have believed that such blood could flow in the sober veins of my middle age; but love knows nothing of time or age!

“I do not like this house,” Susie declared, when we had been admitted by the care-taker. “It has no carpets, nor chairs, nor pictures; and the floor is dirty; and the walls are not pretty!”

“I suppose one can have these houses decorated and furnished at short notice?” Ethel asked me.

“It would not take long. There are several firms that make it their specialty.”

“I have always wanted to live in a house where the colors and forms were to my taste. I don’t know whether you remember that you used to think I had some taste in such matters. Mr. Courtney, of course, doesn’t care much about art, and he didn’t encourage me to carry out my ideas. A business man can not be an artist, you know.”

“You yourself would have become an artist if–” I began; but I was approaching dangerous ground, and I stopped. “This dining-room might be done in Indian red,” I remarked–“the woodwork, that is to say. The walls would be a warm salmon color, which contrasts well with the cold blue of the china, which it is the fashion to have about nowadays. As for the furniture, antique dark oak is as safe as anything, don’t you think so?”

“I should like all that,” said she, moving a little nearer me, and letting her eyes wander about the room with a pleased expression, until at length they met my own. “If you could only design our decoration for us, I’m sure it would be perfect; at least, I should be satisfied. Well, and how should we… how ought the drawing-room to be done?”

“There is a shade of yellow that is very agreeable for drawing-rooms, and it goes very well with the dull peacock-blue which is in vogue now. Then you could get one of those bloomy Morris friezes. There is some very graceful Chippendale to be picked up in various places. And no such good furniture is made nowadays. But I am advising you too much from the artist’s point of view.”

“Oh, I can get other sort of advice when I want it.” She looked at me with a smile; our glances met more often now than at first. “But it seems to me,” she went on, “that the way the house is built docs not suit the way we want to decorate it. Let us look at a smaller one. I should think ten rooms would be quite enough. And it would be nice to have a corner house, would it not?”

“If the question were only of our agreement, there would probably not be much difficulty,” I said, in a tone which I tried to make merely courteous, but which may have revealed something more than courtesy beneath it.

In coming down-stairs she gathered her dress in her right hand and put her left in my arm; and then, in a flash, the picture came before me of the last time we had gone arm-in-arm together down-stairs. It was at her father’s house, and she was speaking to me of that unlucky Mrs. Murray; we had our quarrel that evening in the drawing-room, and it was never made up. From then till now, what a gulf! and yet those years would have been but a bridge to pass over, save for the one barrier that was insurmountable between us.

“What has become of that Mrs. Murray whom you used to know?” she asked, as we reached the foot of the stairs. She relinquished my arm as she spoke, and faced me.

I felt the blood come to my face. “Mrs. Murray was in my thoughts at the same moment–and perhaps by the same train of associations.” I answered, “I don’t know where she is now; I lost sight of her years ago–soon after you were married, in fact. Why do you ask?”

“You had not forgotten her, then?”

“I had every reason to forget her, except the one reason for which I have remembered her–and you know what that is! Have you mistrusted me all this time?”

“Oh, no–no! I don’t think I really mistrusted you at all; and long ago I admitted to myself that you had acted unselfishly and honorably. But I was angry at the time; you know, sometimes a girl will be angry, even when there is no good reason for it. I have long wished for an opportunity to tell you this, for my own sake, you know, as well as for yours.”

“I hardly know whether I am most glad or sorry to hear this,” I said, as we moved toward the door. “If you had only been able to say it, or to think it, before … there would have been a great difference!”

“The worst of mistakes is, they are so seldom set right at the time, or in the way they ought to be. Come, Susie, we are going away now. Susie, do you most like to be American or English?”

“English,” replied Susie, without hesitation.

Her mother turned to me and said in a low tone:

“I love her, whichever she is.”

I understood what she meant. Susie was the symbol of that inevitable element in our lives which seems to evolve itself without reference to our desires or efforts; but which, nevertheless, when we have recognized that it is inevitable, we learn (if we are wise) to accept and even to love. Save for the estrangement between Ethel and myself, Susie would never have existed; yet there she was, a beautiful child, who had as good a right to be as either of us; and her mother loved her, and, as it were, bade me love her also. I took the little maiden by the hand and said, “You are right, Susie; the Americans are the children of the English, and can not expect to be so wise and comfortable as they. But you must remember that the Americans have a future before them, and we are not enemies any more. Will you be friends with me, and let me call you my little girl?”

“I shouldn’t mind being your little girl, if I could still have the same mamma,” was Susie’s reply. “Papa is away a great deal, and you could be papa, you know, until he came back.”

I made some laughing answer; but, in fact, Susie’s frank analysis of the situation poignantly kindled an imagination which stood in no need of stimulus. Ah, if this were the Golden Age, when love never went astray, how happy we might be! But it is not the Golden Age–far from it! Meanwhile, I think I can assert, with a clear conscience, that no dishonorable purpose possessed me. I loved Ethel too profoundly to wish to do her wrong. Yet I may have wished–I did wish–that a kindly Providence might have seen fit to remove the disabilities that controlled us. If a wish could have removed Courtney painlessly to another world, I think I should have wished it. There was something exquisitely touching in Ethel’s appearance and manner. She is as pure as any woman that ever lived; but she is a woman! and I felt that, for this day, I had a man’s power over her. Occasionally I was conscious that her eyes were resting on my face; when I addressed her, her aspect softened and brightened; she fell into little moods of preoccupation from which she would emerge with a sigh; in many ways she betrayed, without knowing it, the secret that neither of us would mention. I do not mean to imply that she expected me to mention it. A pure woman does not realize the dangers of the world; and that very fact is itself her strongest security against them. But, had I spoken, she would have responded. It was a temptation which I could hardly have believed I could have resisted as I did; but such a woman calls out all that is best and noblest in a man; and, at the time, I was better than I am!

When we were in the brougham again, I said, “If you will allow me, I will drive you to a house I have seen, which belongs to a man with whom I am slightly acquainted. He is on the point of leaving it, but his furniture is still in it, and, as he is himself an artist and a man of taste, it will be worth your while to look at it. He is rather deaf, but that is all the better; we can express our opinions without disturbing him. Perhaps you might arrange to take house and furniture as they stand.”

“Whatever you advise, I shall like to do,” Ethel answered.

We presently arrived at the house, which was situated in the upper part of the town, a little to the west of Fifth Avenue. It was a comely gabled edifice of red brick, with square bay-windows and a roomy porch. The occupant, Maler, a German, happened to be at home; and on my sending in my card, we were admitted at once, and he came to greet us in the hall in his usual hearty, headlong fashion.

“My good Campbell,” he exclaimed, in his blundering English, “very delighted to see you. Ah, dis will be madame, and de little maid! So you are married since some time–I have not know it! Your servant, Madame Campbell. I know–all de artists know–your husband: we wish we could paint how he can–but it is impossible! Ha, ha, ha! not so! Now, I am very pleased you shall see dis house. May I beg de honor of accompany you? First you shall see de studio; dat I call de stomach of de house, eh? because it is most important of all de places, and make de rest of de places live. See, I make dat window be put in–you find no better light in New York. Den you see, here we have de alcove, where Madame Campbell shall sit and make her sewing, while de husband do his work on de easel. How you like dat portiere? I design him myself–oh, yes, I do all here; you keep them if you like; I go to Germany, perhaps not come back after some years, so I leave dem, not so? Now I show you my little chamber of the piano. See, I make an arched ceiling–groined arch, eh?–and I gild him; so I get pretty light and pretty sound, not? Ah! madame, I have not de happiness to be married, but I make my house so, dat if I get me a wife, she find all ready; but no wife come, so I give him over to Herr Campbell and you. Now we mount up-stairs to de bed-rooms, eh?”

In this way he went over the entire house with us. His loud, jolly voice, his resounding laugh, his bustling manner, his heedless, boy- like self-confidence, and his deafness, made it impossible to get in a word of explanation, and, after a few efforts, I gave up the attempt.

“Let him suppose what he likes,” I said aside to Ethel, “it can make no difference; he is going away, and you will never see him again. After all these years, it can do no great harm for us to play at being Mr. and Mrs. Campbell for an hour!”

“It is a very beautiful house,” she said, tacitly accepting what I had proposed. “It is such a house as I have always dreamed of living in. I shall not care to look at any others. Will you tell him that we–that I will take it just as it stands. You have made this a very pleasant day for me–a very happy day,” she added, in a lower tone. “Every room here will be associated with you. You will come here often and see me, will you not? Perhaps, after all, you might use the studio to paint my–or Susie’s portrait in.”

“I shall inflict myself upon you very often, I have no doubt,” was all I ventured to reply. I could not tell her, at that moment, that we must never see each other again. She–after the manner of women–probably supposes that a man’s strength is limitless; that he may do with himself and make of himself what he chooses; and she supposes that I could visit her and converse with her day after day, and yet keep my thoughts and my acts within such bounds as would enable me to take Courtney honestly by the hand. But I know too well my own weakness, and I shall leave her while yet I have power to do so. Tomorrow–or soon–I will write to her one last letter, telling her why I go.

Sudden and strange indeed has been this passionate episode in a life which, methought, had done with passion. It has lasted hardly so many hours as I have lived years; and yet, were I to live on into the next century, it would never cease to influence me in all I think and do. I can not solve to my satisfaction this problem–why two lives should be wasted as ours have been. Courtney could have been happy with another wife, or with no wife at all, perhaps; but, for Ethel and me, there could be no happiness save in each other. But were she free to-day, the separation that has already existed–long though it has been–would only serve to render our future union more blissful and complete. We have learned, by sad experience, the value of a love like ours, and we should know how to give it its fullest and widest expression. But oh! what a blank and chilly road lies before us now!

I drove her back to her hotel; we hardly spoke all the way; my heart was too full, and hers also, I think; though she did not know, as I did, that it was our last interview. It must be our last! Heaven help me to keep that resolution!

Susie was not at all impressed by the pathos of the situation; she babbled all the time, and thus, at all events, afforded us an excuse for our silence. At parting, one incident occurred that may as well be recorded. I had shaken hands with Ethel, speaking a few words of farewell, and allowing her to infer that we might meet again on the morrow; then I turned to Susie, and gave her the kiss which I would have given the world to have had the right to press on her mother’s lips. Ethel saw, and, I think, understood. She stooped quickly down, and laid her mouth where mine had been. Through the innocent medium of the child, our hearts met; and then I saw her no more.

_May 3d_.–Of course, it may not be true, probably it is not; mistakes are so easily made in the first moments of such horror and confusion; the dead come to life, and the living die. Or, at the worst, he may be only wounded or disabled. At all events, I decline to believe, save upon certain evidence, that the poor fellow has actually been killed. Were it to turn out so, I should feel almost like a murderer; for was not I writing, in this very journal, and perhaps at the very moment the accident occurred, that if my wish could send him to another world, I would not spare him?

_Later_.–I have read all the accounts in the newspapers this morning, and all agree in putting Courtney’s name among the killed. There can be no doubt about it any longer; he is dead. When the collision occurred, the car in which he vas riding was thrown across the track, and the other train crashed through it. Judging by the condition of the body when discovered, death must have been nearly instantaneous. Poor Courtney! My conscience is not at ease. Of course, I am not really responsible; that is only imagination. But I begin to suspect that my imagination has been playing me more than one trick lately.

And now, with this new state of affairs so suddenly and terribly brought about, what is to be done? I am as yet scarcely in a condition to reflect calmly; but a voice within me seems to say that something else besides my conscience has been awakened by Courtney’s death. Can it be that imagination, dallying with what it took for impossibilities, could so far mislead a man? Well, I shall start at once for the scene of the disaster, and relieve the poor fellow’s widow of whatever pain I can. Ethel Courtney a widow! Ah, Ethel! Death sheds a ghastly light upon the idle vagaries of the human heart.

_May 15th_.–_Denver_, _Colorado_.–Magnificent weather and scenery; very different from my own mental scenery and mood at this moment. I am sorely out of spirits; and no wonder, after the reckless and insane emotion of the first days of this month. One pays for such indulgences at my age.

I have been re-reading the foregoing pages of this journal. Was I a fool or a coward, or was I merely intoxicated for eight-and-forty hours? At all events, Courtney’s tragic end sobered me, and put what I had been doing in a true light. I am glad my insanity was not permitted to proceed farther than it did; but I have quite enough to reproach myself with as it is. So far as I hare been able to explain the matter to myself, my prime error lay in attributing, in a world subject to constant change, too much permanence to a given state of affairs. The fact that Ethel was the wife of another man seemed to me so fixed and unalterable that I allowed my imagination to play with the picture of what might happen if that unalterable fact were altered. Secure in this fallacy, I worked myself up to the pitch of believing that I was actually and passionately in love with a woman whose inaccessibility was, after all, her most winning attraction. Moreover, by writing down, in this journal, the events and words of the hours we spent together, I confirmed myself in my false persuasion, and probably imported into the record of what we said and did an amount of color and hidden significance that never, as I am now convinced, belonged to it in reality. Deluded by the notion that I was playing with a fancy, I was suddenly aroused to find myself imbrued in facts. The whole episode has profoundly humiliated me, and degraded me in my own esteem.

But I am not at the bottom of the mystery yet. Was I not in love with Ethel? Surely I was, if love be anything. Then why did I not ask her to marry me? Would she have refused me? No. That last look she gave me from under her black veil, when I told her I was going away…. Ah, no, she would not have refused me. Then why did I hesitate? Was not such a marriage precisely what I have always longed for? During all these seven years have I not been bewailing my bachelorhood, and wishing for an Ethel to cheer my solitary fireside with her gracious presence, to be interested in my work and hopes, to interest me in her wifely and maternal ways and aspirations? And when at last all these things were offered me, why did I shrink back and reject them?

Honestly, I can not explain it. Perhaps, if I had never loved her before, I might have loved her this time enough to unite my fate with hers. Or, perhaps–for I may as well speak plainly, since I am speaking to myself–perhaps, by force of habit, I had grown to love, better than love itself, those self-same forlorn conditions and dreary solitudes which I was continually lamenting and praying to be delivered from. What a dismal solution of the problem this would be were it the true one! It amounts to saying that I prefer an empty room, a silent hearth, an old pair of slippers, and a dressing-gown to the love and companionship of a refined and beautiful woman!–that I love even my own discomforts more than the comfort she would give me! It sounds absurd, scandalous, impossible; and yet, if it be not the literal truth, I know not what the truth is. It is amazing that an educated and intelligent man can live to be forty years old and still have come to no better an understanding of himself than I had. Verily, as my old author said, thought is free, but nature is captive, and loveth her chain. Yes, my old author was right.

MY FRIEND PATON.

Mathew Morriss, my father, was a cotton merchant in Liverpool twenty- five years ago–a steady, laborious, clear-headed man, very affectionate and genial in his private intercourse. He was wealthy, and we lived in a sumptuous house in the upper part of the city. This was when I was about ten years old. My father was twice married; I was the child of the first wife, who died when I was very young; my stepmother came five years later. She was the elder of two sisters, both beautiful women. The sister often came to visit us. I remember I liked her better than I liked my stepmother; in fact, I regarded her with that sort of romantic attachment that often is developed in lads of my age. She had golden brown hair and a remarkably sweet voice, and she sang and played in a manner that transported me with delight; for I was already devoted to music. She was of a gentle yet impulsive temperament, easily moved to smiles and tears; she seemed to me the perfection of womankind, and I made no secret of my determination to marry her when I grew up. She used to caress me, and look at me in a dreamy way, and tell me I was the nicest and handsomest boy in the world. “And as soon as you are a year older than I am, John,” she would say, “you shall marry me, if you like.”

Another frequent visitor at our house at this time was not nearly so much a favorite of mine. This was a German, Adolf Körner by name, who had been a clerk in my father’s concern for a number of years, and had just been admitted junior partner. My father placed every confidence in him, and often declared that he had the best idea of business he had ever met with. This may very likely have been the fact; but to me he appeared simply a tall, grave, taciturn man, of cold manners, speaking with a slight German accent, which I disliked. I suppose he was about thirty-seven years of age, but I always thought of him as older than my father, who was fifty. Another and more valid reason for my disliking Körner was that he was in the habit of paying a great deal of attention to my ladylove, Miss Juliet Tretherne. I used to upbraid Juliet about encouraging his advances, and I expressed my opinion of him in the plainest language, at which she would smile in a preoccupied wav, and would sometimes draw me to her and kiss me on the forehead. Once she said, “Mr. Körner is a very noble gentleman; you must not dislike him.” This had the effect of making me hate him all the more.

One day I noticed an unusual commotion in the house, and Juliet came down-stairs attired in a lovely white dress, with a long veil, and fragrant flowers in her hair. She got into a carriage with my father and stepmother, and drove away. I did not understand what it meant, and no one told me. After they were gone I went into the drawing-room, and, greatly to my surprise, saw there a long table covered with a white cloth and laid out with a profusion of good things to eat and drink in sparkling dishes and decanters. In the middle of the table was a great cake covered with white frosting; the butler was arranging some flowers round it.

“What is that cake for, Curtis?” I asked.

“For the bride, to be sure,” said Curtis, without looking up.

“The bride! who is she?” I demanded in astonishment.

“Your aunt Juliet, to be sure!” said Curtis, composedly, stepping back and contemplating his floral arrangement with his head on one side.

I asked no more, but betook myself with all speed to my room, locked the door, flung myself on the bed, and cried to heartbreaking with grief, indignation, and mortification. After a very long time some one tried the door, and a voice–the voice of Juliet–called to me. I made no answer. She began to plead with me; I resisted as long as I could, but finally my affection got the better of my resentment, and I arose and opened the door, hiding my tear-stained face behind my arm. Juliet caught me in her arms and kissed me; tears were running down her own cheeks. How lovely she looked! My heart melted, and I was just on the point of forgiving her when the voice of Körner became audible from below, calling out “Mrs. Körner!” I tore myself away from her, and cried passionately, “You don’t love me! you love him! go to him!” She looked at me for a moment with a pained expression; then she put her hand in the pocket of her dress and drew out something done up in white paper. “See what I have brought you, you unkind boy,” said she. “What is it?” I demanded. “A piece of my wedding-cake,” she replied. “Give it me!” said I. She put it in my hand; I ran forward to the head of the stairs, which Körner was just ascending, dashed the cake in his face, and then rushed back to my own room, whence neither threats nor coaxing availed to draw me forth for the rest of the day.

I never saw Juliet again. She and her husband departed on their wedding-trip that afternoon; it was to take them as far as Germany, for Körner said that he wished to visit his father and mother, who were still alive, before settling down permanently in Liverpool. Whether they really did so was never discovered. But, about a fortnight later, a dreadful fact came to light. Körner–the grave and reticent Körner, whom everybody trusted and thought so highly of–was a thief, and he had gone off with more than half my father’s property in his pocket. The blow almost destroyed my father, and my stepmother, too, for that matter, for at first it seemed as though Juliet must have been privy to the crime. This, however, turned out not to have been the case. Her fate must have been all the more terrible on that account; but no news of either of them ever came back to us, and my father would never take any measures to bring Körner to justice. It was several months before he recovered from the shock sufficiently to take up business again; and then the American Civil War came and completed his ruin. He died, a poor and broken-down man, a year later. My stepmother, who was really an admirable woman, realized whatever property remained to us, took a small house, and sent me to an excellent school, where I was educated for Cambridge. Meanwhile I had been devoting all possible time to music; for I had determined to become a composer, and I was looking forward, after taking my degree, to completing my musical education abroad; but my mother’s health was precarious, and, when the time came, she found herself unequal to making the journey, and the change of habits and surroundings that it implied. We lived very quietly in Liverpool for three or four years; then she died, and, after I had settled our affairs, I found myself in possession of a small income and alone in the world. Without loss of time I set out for the Continent.

I went to a German city, where the best musical training was to be had, and made my arrangements to pass several years there. At the banker’s, when I went to provide for the regular receipt of my remittances, I met a young American, by name Paton Jeffries. He was from New England, and, I think, a native of the State of Connecticut; his father, he told me, was a distinguished inventor, who had made and lost a considerable fortune in devising a means of promoting sleep by electricity. Paton was studying to be an architect, which, he said, was the coming profession in his country; and it was evident, on a short acquaintance, that he was a fellow of unusual talents–one of those men of whom you say that, come what may, they are always sure to fall on their feet. For my part, I have certainly never met with so active and versatile a spirit. He was a year or so older than I, rather tall than short, lightly but strongly built, with a keen, smiling, subtle face, a finely-developed forehead, light wavy hair, and gray eyes, very penetrating and bright. There was a pleasing kind of eagerness and volubility in his manner of talking, and a slight imperfection, not amounting to a lisp, in his utterance, which imparted a naive charm to his speech. He used expressive and rapid gestures with his hands and arms, and there was a magnetism, a fascination, about the whole man that strongly impressed me. I was at that period much more susceptible of impressions, and prone to yield to them, than I am now. Paton’s rattling vivacity, his knowledge of the world, his entertaining talk and stories, his curiosity, enterprise, and audacity, took me by storm; he was my opposite in temperament and character, and it seemed to me that he had most of the advantages on his side. Nevertheless, he professed, and I still believe he felt, a great liking for me, and we speedily came to an agreement to seek a lodging together. On the second day of our search, we found just what we wanted.

It was an old house, on the outskirts of the town, standing by itself, with a small garden behind it. It had formerly been occupied by an Austrian baron, and it was probably not less than two hundred years old. The baron’s family had died out, or been dispersed, and now the venerable edifice was let, in the German fashion, in separate floors or _étages_, communicating with a central staircase. Some alterations rendered necessary by this modification had been made, but substantially the house was unchanged. Our apartment comprised four or five rooms on the left of the landing and at the top of the house, which consisted of three stories. The chief room was the parlor, which looked down through a square bow-window on the street. This room was of irregular shape, one end being narrower than the other, and nearly fitting the space at this end was a kind of projecting shelf or mantelpiece (only, of course, there was no fireplace under it, open fireplaces being unknown in Germany), upon which rested an old cracked looking-glass, made in two compartments, the frame of which, black with age and fly-spots, was fastened against the wall. The shelf was supported by two pilasters; but the object of the whole structure was a mystery; so far as appeared, it served no purpose but to support the looking-glass, which might just as well have been suspended from a nail in the wall. Paton, I remember, betrayed a great deal of curiosity about it; and since the consideration of the problem was more in his line of business than in mine, I left it to him. At the opposite end of the room stood a tall earthenware stove. The walls were wainscoted five feet up from the dark polished floor, and were hung with several smoky old paintings, of no great artistic value. The chairs and tables were plain, but very heavy and solid, and of a dark hue like the room. The window was nearly as wide as it was high, and opened laterally from the center on hinges. The other rooms were of the same general appearance, but smaller. We both liked the place, and soon made ourselves very comfortable in it. I hired a piano, and had it conveyed upstairs to the parlor; while Paton disposed his architectural paraphernalia on and in the massive writing-table near the window. Our cooking and other household duties were done for us by the wife of the _portier_, the official corresponding to the French _concierge_, who, in all German houses, attends at the common door, and who, in this case, lived in a couple of musty little closets opening into the lower hall, and eked out his official salary by cobbling shoes. He was an odd, grotesque humorist, of most ungainly exterior, black haired and bearded, with a squint, a squab nose, and a short but very powerful figure. Dirty he was beyond belief, and he was abominably fragrant of vile tobacco. For my part, I could not endure this fellow; but Paton, who had much more of what he called human nature in him than I had, established friendly relations with him at once, and reported that he found him very amusing. It was characteristic of Paton that, though he knew much less about the German language than I did, he could understand and make himself understood in it much better; and, when we were in company, it was always he who did the talking.

It would never have occurred to me to wonder, much less to inquire, who might be the occupants of the other _étages_; but Paton was more enterprising, and before we had been settled three days in our new quarters, he had gathered from his friend the portier, and from other sources, all the obtainable information on the subject. The information was of no particular interest, however, except as regarded the persons who dwelt on the floor immediately below us. They were two–an old man and a young woman, supposed to be his daughter. They had been living here several years–from before the time, indeed, that the portier had occupied his present position. In all these years the old man was known to have been out of his room only twice. He was certainly an eccentric person, and was said to be a miser and extremely wealthy. The portier further averred that his property–except such small portion of it as was invested and on the income of which he lived–was realized in the form of diamonds and other precious stones, which, for greater security, he always carried, waking or sleeping, in a small leathern bag, fastened round his neck by a fine steel chain. His daughter was scarcely less a mystery than he, for, though she went out as often as twice or thrice a week, she was always closely veiled, and her figure was so disguised by the long cloak she wore that it was impossible to say whether she were graceful or deformed, beautiful or ugly. The balance of belief, however, was against her being attractive in any respect. The name by which the old miser was known was Kragendorf; but, as the portier sagaciously remarked, there was no knowing, in such cases, whether the name a man bore was his own or somebody’s else.

This Kragendorf mystery was another source of apparently inexhaustible interest to Paton, who was fertile in suggestions as to how it might be explained or penetrated. I believe he and the portier talked it over at great length, but, so far as I am aware, without arriving at any solution. I took little heed of the matter, being now fully absorbed in my studies; and it is to be hoped that Herr Kragendorf was not of a nervous temperament, otherwise he must have inveighed profanely against the constant piano-practice that went on over his head. I also had a violin, on which I flattered myself I could perform with a good deal of expression, and by and by, in the long, still evenings–it was November, but the temperature was still mild–I got into the habit of strolling along the less frequented streets, with my violin under my shoulder, drawing from it whatever music my heart desired. Occasionally I would pause at some convenient spot, lean against a wall, and give myself up to improvisation. At such times a little cluster of auditors would gradually collect in front of me, listening for the most part silently, or occasionally giving vent to low grunts and interjections of approval. One evening, I remember, a young woman joined the group, though keeping somewhat in the background; she listened intently, and after a time gradually turned her face toward me, unconsciously as it were; and the light of a street-lamp at a little distance revealed a countenance youthful, pale, sad, and exquisitely beautiful. It impressed me as with a vague reminiscence of something I had seen or imagined–some pictured face, perhaps, caught in a glance and never to be identified. Her eyes finally met mine; I stopped playing. She started, gave me an alarmed look, and, gliding swiftly away, disappeared. I could not forget this incident; it haunted me strangely and persistently. Many a time thereafter I revisited the same spot, and drew together other audiences, but the delicate girl with the dark-blue eyes and the tender, sensitive mouth, was never again among them.

It was at this epoch, I think, that the inexhaustible Paton made a discovery. From my point of view it was not a discovery of any moment; but, as usual, he took interest in it enough for both of us. It appeared that, in attempting to doctor the crack in the old looking- glass, a large piece of the plate had got loose, and come away in his hands; and in the space behind he had detected a paper, carefully folded and tied up with a piece of faded ribbon. Paton was never in the habit of hampering himself with fine-drawn scruples, and he had no hesitation in opening the folded paper and spreading it out on the table. Judging from the glance I gave it, it seemed to be a confused and abstruse mixture of irregular geometrical figures and cramped German chirography. But Paton set to work upon it with as much concentration as if it had been a recipe for the Philosopher’s Stone; he reproduced the lines and angles on fresh paper, and labored over the writing with a magnifying-glass and a dictionary. At times he would mutter indistinctly to himself, lift his eyebrows, nod or shake his head, bite his lips, and rub his forehead, and anon fall to work again with fresh vigor. At last he leaned back in his chair, thumped his hand on the table, and laughed.

“Got it!” he exclaimed. “Say, John, old boy, I’ve got it! and it’s the most curious old thing ever you saw in your life!”

“Something in analytical geometry, isn’t it?” said I, turning round on my piano-stool.

“Analytical pudding’s end! It’s a plan of a house, my boy, and, what’s more, of this very house we’re in! That’s a find, and no mistake! These are the descriptions and explanations–these bits of writing. It’s a perfect labyrinth of Crete! Udolpho was nothing to it!”

“Well, I suppose it isn’t of much value except as a curiosity?”

“Don’t be too sure of that, John, my boy! Who knows but there’s a treasure concealed somewhere in this house? or a skeleton in a secret chamber! This old paper may make our fortune yet!”

“The treasure wouldn’t belong to us if we found it; and, besides, we can’t make explorations beyond our own premises, and we know what’s in them already.”

“Do we? Did we know what was behind the looking-glass? Did you never hear of sliding panels, and private passages, and concealed staircases? Where’s your imagination, man? But you don’t need imagination–here it is in black and white!”

As he spoke, he pointed to a part of the plan; but, as I was stooping to examine it, he seemed to change his mind.

“No matter,” he exclaimed, suddenly folding up the paper and rising from his chair. “You’re not an architect, and you can’t be expected to go in for these things. No; there’s no practical use in it, of course. But secret passages were always a hobby of mine. Well, what are you going to do this evening? Come over to the café and have a game of billiards!”

“No; I shall go to bed early to-night.”

“You sleep too much,” said Paton. “Everybody does, if my father, instead of inventing a way of promoting sleep, had invented a way of doing without it, he’d have been the richest man in America to-day. However, do as you like. I sha’n’t be back till late.”

He put on his hat and sallied forth with a cigar in his mouth. Paton was of rather a convivial turn; he liked to have a good time, as he called it; and, indeed, he seemed to think that the chief end of man was to get money enough to have a good time continually, a sort of good eternity. His head was strong, and he could stand a great deal of liquor; and I have seen him sip and savor a glass of raw brandy or whisky as another man would a glass of Madeira. In this, and the other phases of his life about town, I had no participation, being constitutionally as well as by training averse therefrom; and he, on the other hand, would never have listened to my sage advice to modify his loose habits. Our companionship was apart from these things; and, as I have said, I found in him a good deal that I could sympathize with, without approaching the moralities.

That night, after I had been for some time asleep, I awoke and found myself listening to a scratching and shoving noise that seemed quite unaccountable. By-and-by it made me uneasy. I got up and went toward the parlor, from which the noise proceeded. On reaching the doorway, I saw Paton on his knees before one of the pilasters in the narrow end of the room; a candle was on the floor beside him, and he was busily at work at something, though what it was I could not make out. The creak of the threshold under my foot caused him to look round. He started violently, and sprang to his feet.

“Oh! it’s you, is it?” he said, after a moment. “Great Scott! how you scared me! I was–I dropped a bit of money hereabouts, and I was scraping about to find it. No matter–it wasn’t much! Sorry I disturbed you, old boy.” And, laughing, he picked up his candle and went into his own room.

From this time there was a change vaguely perceptible in our mutual relations; we chatted together less than before, and did not see so much of each other. Paton was apt to be out when I was at home, and generally sat up after I was abed. He seemed to be busy about something–something connected with his profession, I judged; but, contrary to his former custom, he made no attempt to interest me in it. To tell the truth, I had begun to realize that our different tastes and pursuits must lead us further and further apart, and that our separation could be only a question of time. Paton was a materialist, and inclined to challenge all the laws and convictions that mankind has instituted and adopted; there was no limit to his radicalism. For example, on coming in one day, I found him with a curious antique poniard in his hands, which he had probably bought in some old curiosity shop. At first I fancied he meant to conceal it; but, if so, he changed his mind.

“What do you think of that?” he said, holding it out to me. “There’s a solution of continuity for you! Mind you don’t prick yourself! It’s poisoned up to the hilt!”

“What do you want of such a thing?” I asked.

“Well, killing began with Cain, and isn’t likely to go out of fashion in our day. I might find it convenient to give one of my friends–you, for instance–a reminder of his mortality some time. You’ll say murder is immoral. Bless you, man, we never could do without it! No man dies before his time, and some one dies every day that some one else may live.”

This was said in a jocose way, and, of course, Paton did not mean it. But it affected me unpleasantly nevertheless.

As I was washing my hands in my room, I happened to look out of my window, which commanded a view of the garden at the back of the house. It was an hour after sunset, and the garden was nearly dark; but I caught a movement of something below, and, looking more closely, I recognized the ugly figure of the portier. He seemed to be tying something to the end of a long slender pole, like a gigantic fishing- rod; and presently he advanced beneath my window, and raised the pole as high as it would go against the wall of the house. The point he touched was the sill of the window below mine–probably that of the bedroom of Herr Kragendorf. At this juncture the portier seemed to be startled at something–possibly he saw me at my window; at all events, he lowered his pole and disappeared in the house.

The next day Paton made an announcement that took me by surprise. He said he had made up his mind to quit Germany, and that very shortly. He mentioned having received letters from home, and declared he had got, or should soon have got, all he wanted out of this country. “I’m going to stop paying money for instruction,” he said, “and begin to earn it by work. I shall stay another week, but then I’m off. Too slow here for me! I want to be in the midst of things, using my time.”

I did not attempt to dissuade him; in fact, my first feeling was rather one of relief; and this Paton, with his quick preceptions, was probably aware of.

“Own up, old boy!” he said, laughing; “you’ll be able to endure my absence. And yet you needn’t think of me as worse than anybody else. If everybody were musicians and moralists, it would be nice, no doubt; but one might get tired of it in time, and then what would you do? You must give the scamps and adventurers their innings, after all! They may not do much good, but they give the other fellows occupation. I was born without my leave being asked, and I may act as suits me without asking anybody’s leave.”

This was said on a certain bright morning after our first fall of snow; the tiled roofs of the houses were whitened with it, it cushioned the window-sills, and spread a sparkling blankness over the garden. In the streets it was already melting, and people were slipping and splashing on the wet and glistening pavements. After gazing out at this scene for a while, in a mood of unwonted thoughtfulness, Paton yawned, stretched himself, and declared his intention of taking a stroll before dinner. Accordingly he lit a cigar and went forth. I watched him go down the street and turn the corner.

An hour afterward, just when dinner was on the table, I heard an unusual noise and shuffling on the stairs, and a heavy knock on the door. I opened it, and saw four men bearing on a pallet the form of my friend Paton. A police officer accompanied them. They brought Paton in, and laid him on his bed. The officer told me briefly what had happened, gave me certain directions, and, saying that a surgeon would arrive immediately, he departed with the four men tramping behind him.

Paton had slipped in going across the street, and a tramway car had run over him. He was not dead, though almost speechless; but his injuries were such that it was impossible that he should recover. He kept his eyes upon me; they were as bright as ever, though his face was deadly pale. He seemed to be trying to read my thoughts–to find out my feeling about him, and my opinion of his condition. I was terribly shocked and grieved, and my face no doubt showed it. By-and-by I saw his lips move, and bent down to listen.

“Confounded nuisance!” he whispered faintly in my car. “It’s all right, though; I’m not going to die this time. I’ve got something to do, and I’m going to do it–devil take me if I don’t!”

He was unable to say more, and soon after the surgeon came in. He made an examination, and it was evident that he had no hope. His shrug of the shoulders was not lost upon Paton, who frowned, and made a defiant movement of the lip. But presently he said to me, still in the same whisper, “John, if that old fool should be right–he won’t be, but in case of accidents–you must take charge of my things–the papers, and all. I’ll make you heir of my expectations! Write out a declaration to that effect: I can sign my name; and he’ll be witness.”

I did as he directed, and having explained to the surgeon the nature of the document, I put the pen in Paton’s hand; but was obliged to guide his hand with my own in order to make an intelligible signature. The surgeon signed below, and Paton seemed satisfied. He closed his eyes; his sufferings appeared to be very slight. But, even while I was looking at him, a change came over his face–a deadly change. His eyes opened; they were no longer bright, but sunken and dull. He gave me a dusky look–whether of rage, of fear, or of entreaty, I could not tell. His lips parted, and a voice made itself audible; not like his own voice, but husky and discordant. “I’m going,” it said. “But look out for me…. Do it yourself!”

“Der Herr ist todt” (the man is dead), said the surgeon the next minute.

It was true. Paton had gone out of this life at an hour’s warning. What purpose or desire his last words indicated, there was nothing to show. He was dead; and yet I could hardly believe that it was so. He had been so much alive; so full of schemes and enterprises. Nothing now was left but that crushed and haggard figure, stiffening on the bed; nothing, at least, that mortal senses could take cognizance of. It was a strange thought.

Paton’s funeral took place a few days afterward. I returned from the graveyard weary in body and mind. At the door of the house stood the portier, who nodded to me, and said,

“A very sad thing to happen, worthy sir; but so it is in the world. Of all the occupants of this house, one would have said the one least likely to be dead to-day was Herr Jeffries. Heh! if I had been the good Providence, I would have made away with the old gentleman of the _étage_ below, who is of no use to anybody.”

This, for lack of a better, was Paton’s funeral oration. I climbed the three flights of stairs and let myself into our apartment–mine exclusively now. The place was terribly lonely; much more so than if Paton had been alive anywhere in the world. But he was dead; and, if his own philosophy were true, he was annihilated. But it was not true! How distinct and minute was my recollection of him–his look, his gestures, the tones of his voice. I could almost see him before me; my memory of him dead seemed clearer than when he was alive. In that invisible world of the mind was he not living still, and perhaps not far away.

I sat down at the table where he had been wont to work, and unlocked the drawers in which he kept his papers. These, or some of them, I took out and spread before me. But I found it impossible, as yet, to concentrate my attention upon them; I pushed back my chair, and, rising, went to the piano. Here I remained for perhaps a couple of hours, striking the vague chords that echo wandering thoughts. I was trying to banish this haunting image of Paton from my mind, and at length I partly succeeded.

All at once, however, the impression of him (as I may call it) came back with a force and vividness that startled me. I stopped playing, and sat for a minute perfectly still. I felt that Paton was in the room; that if I looked round I should see him. I however restrained myself from looking round with all the strength of my will–wherefore I know not. What I felt was not fear, but the conviction that I was on the brink of a fearful and unprecedented experience–an experience that would not leave me as it found me. This strange struggle with myself taxed all my powers; the sweat started out on my forehead. At last the moment came when I could struggle no longer. I laid my hand on the keyboard, and pushed myself round on the stool. There was a momentary dazzle before my eyes, and after that I saw plainly. My hand, striking the keys, had produced a jarring discord; and while this was yet tingling in my ears, Paton, who was sitting in his old place at the table, with his back toward me, faced about in his chair, and his eyes met mine. I thought he smiled.

My excitement was past, and was succeeded by a dead calm. I examined him critically. His appearance was much the same as when in life; nay, he was even more like himself than before. The subtle or crafty expression which had always been discernible in his features was now intensified, and there was something wild and covertly fierce in the shining of his gray eyes, something that his smile was unable to disguise. What was human and genial in my former friend had passed away, and what remained was evil–the kind of evil that I now perceived to have been at the base of his nature. It was a revelation of character terrible in its naked completeness. I knew at a glance that Paton must always have been a far more wicked man that I had ever imagined; and in his present state all the remains of goodness had been stripped away, and nothing but wickedness was left.

I felt impelled, by an impulse for which I could not account, to approach the table and examine the papers once more; and now it entered into my mind to perceive a certain method and meaning in them that had been hidden from me before. It was as though I were looking at them through Paton’s intelligence, and with his memory. He had in some way ceased to be visible to me; but I became aware that he wished me to sit down in his chair, and I did so. Under his guidance, and in obedience to a will that seemed to be my own, and yet was in direct opposition to my real will, I began a systematic study of the papers. Paton, meanwhile, remained close to me, though I could no longer see him; but I felt the gaze of his fierce, shining eyes, and his crafty, evil smile. I soon obtained a tolerable insight into what the papers meant, and what was the scheme in which Paton had been so much absorbed at the time of his death, and which he had been so loath to abandon.

It was a wicked and cruel scheme, worked out to the smallest particular. But, though I understood its hideousness intellectually, it aroused in mo no corresponding emotion; my sensitiveness to right arid wrong seemed stupefied or inoperative. I could say, “This is wicked,” but I could not awaken in myself a horror of committing the wickedness; and, moreover, I knew that, if the influence Paton was able to exercise over me continued, I must in due time commit it.

Presently I became aware, or, to speak more accurately, I seemed to remember, that there was something in Paton’s room which it was