Stories by American Authors, Volume 1 by Various

This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1884
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

Produced by Stan Goodman, Amy Petri and PG Distributed Proofreaders



Stories by American Authors VOLUME I







[Illustration: BRANDER MATTHEWS]

Stories by American Authors VOLUME I



Come, now, there may as well be an end of this! Every time I meet your eyes squarely I detect the question just slipping out of them. If you had spoken it, or even boldly looked it; if you had shown in your motions the least sign of a fussy or fidgety concern on my account; if this were not the evening of my birthday, and you the only friend who remembered it; if confession were not good for the soul, though harder than sin to some people, of whom I am one,–well, if all reasons were not at this instant converged into a focus, and burning me rather violently in that region where the seat of emotion is supposed to lie, I should keep my trouble to myself.

Yes, I have fifty times had it on my mind to tell you the whole story. But who can be certain that his best friend will not smile–or, what is worse, cherish a kind of charitable pity ever afterwards–when the external forms of a very serious kind of passion seem trivial, fantastic, foolish? And the worst of all is that the heroic part which I imagined I was playing proves to have been almost the reverse. The only comfort which I can find in my humiliation is that I am capable of feeling it. There isn’t a bit of a paradox in this, as you will see; but I only mention it, now, to prepare you for, maybe, a little morbid sensitiveness of my moral nerves.

The documents are all in this portfolio, under my elbow. I had just read them again completely through, when you were announced. You may examine them as you like, afterwards: for the present, fill your glass, take another Cabana, and keep silent until my “ghastly tale” has reached its most lamentable conclusion.

The beginning of it was at Wampsocket Springs three years ago last summer. I suppose most unmarried men who have reached, or passed, the age of thirty–and I was then thirty-three–experience a milder return of their adolescent warmth, a kind of fainter second spring, since the first has not fulfilled its promise. Of course, I wasn’t clearly conscious of this at the time: who is? But I had had my youthful passion and my tragic disappointment, as you know: I had looked far enough into what Thackeray used to call the cryptic mysteries, to save me from the Scylla of dissipation, and yet preserved enough of natural nature to keep me out of the Pharisaic Charybdis. My devotion to my legal studies had already brought me a mild distinction; the paternal legacy was a good nest-egg for the incubation of wealth,–in short, I was a fair, respectable “party,” desirable to the humbler mammas, and not to be despised by the haughty exclusives.

The fashionable hotel at the Springs holds three hundred, and it was packed. I had meant to lounge there for a fortnight and then finish my holidays at Long Branch; but eighty, at least, out of the three hundred, were young and moved lightly in muslin. With my years and experience I felt so safe, that to walk, talk, or dance with them became simply a luxury, such as I had never–at least so freely–possessed before. My name and standing, known to some families, were agreeably exaggerated to the others, and I enjoyed that supreme satisfaction which a man always feels when he discovers or imagines that he is popular in society. There is a kind of premonitory apology implied in my saying this, I am aware. You must remember that I am culprit and culprit’s counsel at the same time.

You have never been at Wampsocket? Well, the hills sweep around in a crescent on the northern side and four or five radiating glens descending from them unite just above the village. The central one leading to a waterfall (called “Minnehehe” by the irreverent young people, because there is so little of it), is the fashionable drive and promenade; but the second ravine on the left, steep, crooked, and cumbered with bowlders which have tumbled from somewhere and lodged in the most extraordinary groupings, became my favorite walk of a morning. There was a footpath in it, well-trodden at first, but gradually fading out as it became more like a ladder than a path, and I soon discovered that no other city feet than mine were likely to scale a certain rough slope which seemed the end of the ravine. With the aid of the tough laurel-stems I climbed to the top, passed through a cleft as narrow as a doorway, and presently found myself in a little upper dell, as wild and sweet and strange as one of the pictures that haunt us on the brink of sleep.

There was a pond–no, rather a bowl–of water in the centre; hardly twenty yards across, yet the sky in it was so pure and far down that the circle of rocks and summer foliage inclosing it seemed like a little planetary ring, floating off alone through space. I can’t explain the charm of the spot, nor the selfishness which instantly suggested that I should keep the discovery to myself. Ten years earlier, I should have looked around for some fair spirit to be my “minister,” but now–

One forenoon–I think it was the third or fourth time I had visited the place–I was startled to find the dint of a heel in the earth, half-way up the slope. There had been rain during the night, and the earth was still moist and soft It was the mark of a woman’s boot, only to be distinguished from that of a walking-stick by its semicircular form. A little higher, I found the outline of a foot, not so small as to awake an ecstasy, but with a suggestion of lightness, elasticity, and grace. If hands were thrust through holes in a boardfence, and nothing of the attached bodies seen, I can easily imagine that some would attract and others repel us: with footprints the impression is weaker, of course, but we cannot escape it. I am not sure whether I wanted to find the unknown wearer of the boot within my precious personal solitude; I was afraid I should see her, while passing through the rocky crevice, and yet was disappointed when I found no one.

But on the flat, warm rock overhanging the tarn–my special throne–lay some withering wild-flowers, and a book! I looked up and down, right and left: there was not the slightest sign of another human life than mine. Then I lay down for a quarter of an hour, and listened; there were only the noises of bird and squirrel, as before. At last I took up the book, the flat breadth of which suggested only sketches. There were, indeed, some tolerable studies of rocks and trees on the first pages; a few not very striking caricatures, which seemed to have been commenced as portraits, but recalled no faces I knew; then a number of fragmentary notes, written in pencil. I found no name, from first to last; only, under the sketches, a monogram so complicated and laborious that the initials could hardly be discovered unless one already knew them.

The writing was a woman’s, but it had surely taken its character from certain features of her own: it was clear, firm, individual. It had nothing of that air of general debility which usually marks the manuscript of young ladies, yet its firmness was far removed from the stiff, conventional slope which all Englishwomen seem to acquire in youth and retain through life. I don’t see how any man in my situation could have helped reading a few lines–if only for the sake of restoring lost property. But I was drawn on, and on, and finished by reading all: thence, since no further harm could be done, I re-read, pondering over certain passages until they stayed with me. Here they are, as I set them down, that evening, on the back of a legal blank:

“It makes a great deal of difference whether we wear social forms as bracelets or handcuffs.”

“Can we not still be wholly our independent selves, even while doing, in the main, as others do? I know two who are so; but they are married.”

“The men who admire these bold, dashing young girls treat them like weaker copies of themselves. And yet they boast of what they call ‘experience!'”

“I wonder if any one felt the exquisite beauty of the noon as I did, to-day? A faint appreciation of sunsets and storms is taught us in youth, and kept alive by novels and flirtations; but the broad, imperial splendor of this summer noon!–and myself standing alone in it–yes, utterly alone!”

“The men I seek _must_ exist: where are they? How make an acquaintance, when one obsequiously bows himself away, as I advance? The fault is surely not all on my side.”

There was much more, intimate enough to inspire me with a keen interest in the writer, yet not sufficiently so to make my perusal a painful indiscretion. I yielded to the impulse of the moment, took out my pencil, and wrote a dozen lines on one of the blank pages. They ran something in this wise:

“IGNOTUS IGNOTAE!–You have bestowed without intending it, and I have taken without your knowledge. Do not regret the accident which has enriched another. This concealed idyl of the hills was mine, as I supposed, but I acknowledge your equal right to it. Shall we share the possession, or will you banish me?”

There was a frank advance, tempered by a proper caution, I fancied, in the words I wrote. It was evident that she was unmarried, but outside of that certainty there lay a vast range of possibilities, some of them alarming enough. However, if any nearer acquaintance should arise out of the incident, the next step must be taken by her. Was I one of the men she sought? I almost imagined so–certainly hoped so.

I laid the book on the rock, as I had found it, bestowed another keen scrutiny on the lonely landscape, and then descended the ravine. That evening, I went early to the ladies’ parlor, chatted more than usual with the various damsels whom I knew, and watched with a new interest those whom I knew not. My mind, involuntarily, had already created a picture of the unknown. She might be twenty-five, I thought: a reflective habit of mind would hardly be developed before that age. Tall and stately, of course; distinctly proud in her bearing, and somewhat reserved in her manners. Why she should have large dark eyes, with long dark lashes, I could not tell; but so I seemed to see her. Quite forgetting that I was (or had meant to be) _Ignotus_, I found myself staring rather significantly at one or the other of the young ladies, in whom I discovered some slight general resemblance to the imaginary character. My fancies, I must confess, played strange pranks with me. They had been kept in a coop so many years, that now, when I suddenly turned them loose, their rickety attempts at flight quite bewildered me.

No! there was no use in expecting a sudden discovery. I went to the glen betimes, next morning: the book was gone, and so were the faded flowers, but some of the latter were scattered over the top of another rock, a few yards from mine. Ha! this means that I am not to withdraw, I said to myself: she makes room for me! But how to surprise her?–for by this time I was fully resolved to make her acquaintance, even though she might turn out to be forty, scraggy, and sandy-haired.

I knew no other way so likely as that of visiting the glen at all times of the day. I even went so far as to write a line of greeting, with a regret that our visits had not yet coincided, and laid it under a stone on the top of _her_ rock. The note disappeared, but there was no answer in its place. Then I suddenly remembered her fondness for the noon hours, at which time she was “utterly alone.” The hotel _table d’hote_ was at one o’clock, her family, doubtless, dined later, in their own rooms. Why, this gave me, at least, her place in society! The question of age, to be sure, remained unsettled; but all else was safe.

The next day I took a late and large breakfast and sacrificed my dinner. Before noon the guests had all straggled back to the hotel from glen and grove and lane, so bright and hot was the sunshine. Indeed, I could hardly have supported the reverberation of heat from the sides of the ravine, but for a fixed belief that I should be successful. While crossing the narrow meadow upon which it opened, I caught a glimpse of something white among the thickets higher up. A moment later, it had vanished, and I quickened my pace, feeling the beginning of an absurd nervous excitement in my limbs. At the next turn, there it was again! but only for another moment. I paused, exulting, and wiped my drenched forehead. “She cannot escape me!” I murmured between the deep draughts of cooler air I inhaled in the shadow of a rock.

A few hundred steps more brought me to the foot of the steep ascent, where I had counted on overtaking her. I was too late for that, but the dry, baked soil had surely been crumbled and dislodged, here and there, by a rapid foot. I followed, in reckless haste, snatching at the laurel-branches right and left, and paying little heed to my footing. About one third of the way up I slipped, fell, caught a bush which snapped at the root, slid, whirled over, and before I fairly knew what had happened, I was lying doubled up at the bottom of the slope.

I rose, made two steps forward, and then sat down with a groan of pain; my left ankle was badly sprained, in addition to various minor scratches and bruises. There was a revulsion of feeling, of course,–instant, complete, and hideous. I fairly hated the Unknown. “Fool that I was!” I exclaimed, in the theatrical manner, dashing the palm of my hand softly against my brow: “lured to this by the fair traitress! But, no!–not fair: she shows the artfulness of faded, desperate spinsterhood; she is all compact of enamel, ‘liquid bloom of youth,’ and hair-dye!”

There was a fierce comfort in this thought, but it couldn’t help me out of the scrape. I dared not sit still, lest a sun-stroke should be added, and there was no resource but to hop or crawl down the rugged path, in the hope of finding a forked sapling from which I could extemporize a crutch. With endless pain and trouble I reached a thicket, and was feebly working on a branch with my penknife, when the sound of a heavy footstep surprised me.

A brown harvest-hand, in straw hat and shirtsleeves, presently appeared. He grinned when he saw me, and the thick snub of his nose would have seemed like a sneer at any other time.

“Are you the gentleman that got hurt?” he asked. “Is it pretty tolerable bad?”

“Who said I was hurt?” I cried in astonishment.

“One of your town-women fro them hotel–I reckon she was. I was binding oats, in the field over the ridge; but I haven’t lost no time in comin’ here.”

While I was stupidly staring at this announcement, he whipped out a big clasp knife, and in a few minutes fashioned me a practicable crutch. Then, taking me by the other arm, he set me in motion toward the village.

Grateful as I was for the man’s help, he aggravated me by his ignorance. When I asked if he knew the lady, he answered: “It’s more’n likely _you_ know her better.” But where did she come from? Down from the hill, he guessed, but it might ha’ been up the road. How did she look? was she old or young? what was the color of her eyes? of her hair? There, now, I was too much for him. When a woman kept one o’ them speckled veils over her face, turned her head away and held her parasol between, how were you to know her from Adam? I declare to you, I couldn’t arrive at one positive particular. Even when he affirmed that she was tall, he added, the next instant: “Now I come to think on it, she stepped mighty quick; so I guess she must ha’ been short.”

By the time we reached the hotel, I was in a state of fever; opiates and lotions had their will of me for the rest of the day. I was glad to escape the worry of questions, and the conventional sympathy expressed in inflections of the voice which are meant to soothe, and only exasperate. The next morning, as I lay upon my sofa, restful, patient, and properly cheerful, the waiter entered with a bouquet of wild flowers.

“Who sent them?” I asked.

“I found them outside your door, sir. Maybe there’s a card; yes, here’s a bit o’ paper.”

I opened the twisted slip he handed me, and read: “From your dell–and mine.” I took the flowers; among them were two or three rare and beautiful varieties, which I had only found in that one spot. Fool, again! I noiselessly kissed, while pretending to smell them, had them placed on a stand within reach, and fell into a state of quiet and agreeable contemplation.

Tell me, yourself, whether any male human being is ever too old for sentiment, provided that it strikes him at the right time and in the right way! What did that bunch of wild flowers betoken? Knowledge, first; then, sympathy; and finally, encouragement, at least. Of course she had seen my accident, from above; of course she had sent the harvest laborer to aid me home. It was quite natural she should imagine some special romantic interest in the lonely dell, on my part, and the gift took additional value from her conjecture.

Four days afterward there was a hop in the large dining-room of the hotel. Early in the morning a fresh bouquet had been left at my door. I was tired of my enforced idleness, eager to discover the fair unknown (she was again fair, to my fancy!), and I determined to go down, believing that a cane and a crimson velvet slipper on the left foot would provoke a glance of sympathy from certain eyes, and thus enable me to detect them.

The fact was, the sympathy was much too general and effusive. Everybody, it seemed, came to me with kindly greetings; seats were vacated at my approach, even fat Mrs. Huxter insisting on my taking her warm place, at the head of the room. But Bob Leroy–you know him–as gallant a gentleman as ever lived, put me down at the right point, and kept me there. He only meant to divert me, yet gave me the only place where I could quietly inspect all the younger ladies, as dance or supper brought them near.

One of the dances was an old-fashioned cotillon, and one of the figures, the “coquette,” brought every one, in turn, before me. I received a pleasant word or two from those whom I knew, and a long, kind, silent glance from Miss May Danvers. Where had been my eyes? She was tall, stately, twenty-five, had large dark eyes, and long dark lashes! Again the changes of the dance brought her near me; I threw (or strove to throw) unutterable meanings into my eyes, and cast them upon hers. She seemed startled, looked suddenly away, looked back to me, and–blushed. I knew her for what is called “a nice girl”–that is, tolerably frank, gently feminine, and not dangerously intelligent. Was it possible that I had overlooked so much character and intellect?

As the cotillon closed, she was again in my neighborhood, and her partner led her in my direction. I was rising painfully from my chair, when Bob Leroy pushed me down again, whisked another seat from somewhere, planted it at my side, and there she was!

She knew who was her neighbor, I plainly saw; but instead of turning toward me, she began to fan herself in a nervous way and to fidget with the buttons of her gloves. I grew impatient.

“Miss Danvers!” I said, at last.

“Oh!” was all her answer, as she looked at me for a moment. “Where are your thoughts?” I asked.

Then she turned, with wide, astonished eyes, coloring softly up to the roots of her hair. My heart gave a sudden leap.

“How can you tell, if I cannot?” she asked.

“May I guess?”

She made a slight inclination of the head, saying nothing. I was then quite sure.

“The second ravine, to the left of the main drive?”

This time she actually started; her color became deeper, and a leaf of the ivory fan snapped between her fingers.

“Let there be no more a secret!” I exclaimed. “Your flowers have brought me your messages; I knew I should find you”–

Full of certainty, I was speaking in a low, impassioned voice. She cut me short by rising from her seat; I felt that she was both angry and alarmed. Fisher, of Philadelphia, jostling right and left in his haste, made his way toward her. She fairly snatched his arm, clung to it with a warmth I had never seen expressed in a ball-room, and began to whisper in his ear. It was not five minutes before he came to me, alone, with a very stern face, bent down, and said:

“If you have discovered our secret, you will keep silent. You are certainly a gentleman.”

I bowed coldly and savagely. There was a draft from the open window; my ankle became suddenly weary and painful, and I went to bed. Can you believe that I didn’t guess, immediately, what it all meant? In a vague way, I fancied that I had been premature in my attempt to drop our mutual incognito, and that Fisher, a rival lover, was jealous of me. This was rather flattering than otherwise; but when I limped down to the ladies’ parlor, the next day, no Miss Danvers was to be seen. I did not venture to ask for her; it might seem importunate, and a woman of so much hidden capacity was evidently not to be wooed in the ordinary way.

So another night passed by; and then, with the morning, came a letter which made me feel, at the same instant, like a fool and a hero. It had been dropped in the Wampsocket post-office, was legibly addressed to me, and delivered with some other letters which had arrived by the night mail. Here it is; listen!

“NOTO IGNOTA!–Haste is not a gift of the gods, and you have been impatient, with the usual result, I was almost prepared for this, and thus am not wholly disappointed. In a day or two more you will discover your mistake, which, so far as I can learn, has done no particular harm. If you wish to find _me_, there is only one way to seek me; should I tell you what it is, I should run the risk of losing you,–that is, I should preclude the manifestation of a certain quality which I hope to find in the man who may–or, rather, must–be my friend. This sounds enigmatical, yet you have read enough of my nature, as written in these random notes in my sketch-book, to guess, at least, how much I require. Only this let me add: mere guessing is useless.

“Being unknown, I can write freely. If you find me, I shall be justified; if not, I shall hardly need to blush, even to myself, over a futile experiment.

“It is possible for me to learn enough of your life, henceforth, to direct my relation toward you. This may be the end; if so, I shall know it soon. I shall also know whether you continue to seek me. Trusting in your honor as a man, I must ask you to trust in mine, as a woman.”

* * * * *

I _did_ discover my mistake, as the Unknown promised. There had been a secret betrothal between Fisher and Miss Danvers; and singularly enough, the momentous question and answer had been given in the very ravine leading to my upper dell! The two meant to keep the matter to themselves, but therein, it seems, I thwarted them; there was a little opposition on the part of their respective families, but all was amicably settled before I left Wampsocket.

The letter made a very deep impression upon me. What was the one way to find her? What could it be but the triumph that follows ambitious toil–the manifestation of all my best qualities, as a man? Be she old or young, plain or beautiful, I reflected, hers is surely a nature worth knowing, and its candid intelligence conceals no hazards for me. I have sought her rashly, blundered, betrayed that I set her lower, in my thoughts, than her actual self: let me now adopt the opposite course, seek her openly no longer, go back to my tasks, and, following my own aims vigorously and cheerfully, restore that respect which she seemed to be on the point of losing. For, consciously or not, she had communicated to me a doubt, implied in the very expression of her own strength and pride. She had meant to address me as an equal, yet, despite herself, took a stand a little above that which she accorded to me.

I came back to New York earlier than usual, worked steadily at my profession and with increasing success, and began to accept opportunities (which I had previously declined) of making myself personally known to the great, impressible, fickle, tyrannical public. One or two of my speeches in the hall of the Cooper Institute, on various occasions–as you may perhaps remember–gave me a good headway with the party, and were the chief cause of my nomination for the State office which I still hold. (There, on the table, lies a resignation, written to-day, but not yet signed. We’ll talk of it afterwards.)

Several months passed by, and no further letter reached me. I gave up much of my time to society, moved familiarly in more than one province of the kingdom here, and vastly extended my acquaintance, especially among the women; but not one of them betrayed the mysterious something or other–really I can’t explain precisely what it was!–which I was looking for. In fact, the more I endeavored quietly to study the sex, the more confused I became.

At last I was subjected to the usual onslaught from the strong-minded. A small but formidable committee entered my office one morning and demanded a categorical declaration of my principles. What my views on the subject were, I knew very well; they were clear and decided; and yet, I hesitated to declare them! It wasn’t a temptation of Saint Anthony–that is, turned the other way–and the belligerent attitude of the dames did not alarm me in the least; but _she!_ What was _her_ position? How could I best please her? It flashed upon my mind, while Mrs. —- was making her formal speech, that I had taken no step for months without a vague, secret reference to _her_. So, I strove to be courteous, friendly, and agreeably non-committal; begged for further documents, and promised to reply by letter, in a few days.

I was hardly surprised to find the well-known hand on the envelope of a letter, shortly afterwards. I held it for a minute in my palm, with an absurd hope that I might sympathetically feel its character, before breaking the seal. Then I read it with a great sense of relief.

“I have never assumed to guide a man, except toward the full exercise of his powers. It is not opinion in action, but opinion in a state of idleness or indifference, which repels me. I am deeply glad that you have gained so much since you left the country. If, in shaping your course, you have thought of me, I will frankly say that, _to that extent_, you have drawn nearer. Am I mistaken in conjecturing that you wish to know my relation to the movement concerning which you were recently interrogated? In this, as in other instances which may come, I must beg you to consider me only as a spectator. The more my own views may seem likely to sway your action, the less I shall be inclined to declare them. If you find this cold or unwomanly, remember that it is not easy!”

Yes! I felt that I had certainly drawn much nearer to her. And from this time on, her imaginary face and form became other than they were. She was twenty-eight–three years older; a very little above the middle height, but not tall; serene, rather than stately, in her movements; with a calm, almost grave face, relieved by the sweetness of the full, firm lips; and finally eyes of pure, limpid gray, such as we fancy belonged to the Venus of Milo. I found her, thus, much more attractive than with the dark eyes and lashes–but she did not make her appearance in the circles which I frequented.

Another year slipped away. As an official personage, my importance increased, but I was careful not to exaggerate it to myself. Many have wondered (perhaps you among the rest) at my success, seeing that I possess no remarkable abilities. If I have any secret, it is simply this–doing faithfully, with all my might, whatever I undertake. Nine tenths of our politicians become inflated and careless, after the first few years, and are easily forgotten when they once lose place. I am a little surprised, now, that I had so much patience with the Unknown. I was too important, at least, to be played with; too mature to be subjected to a longer test; too earnest, as I had proved, to be doubted, or thrown aside without a further explanation.

Growing tired, at last, of silent waiting, I bethought me of advertising. A carefully-written “Personal,” in which _Ignotus_ informed _Ignota_ of the necessity of his communicating with her, appeared simultaneously in the Tribune, Herald, World, and Times. I renewed the advertisement as the time expired without an answer, and I think it was about the end of the third week before one came, through the post, as before.

Ah, yes! I had forgotten. See! my advertisement is pasted on the note, as a heading or motto for the manuscript lines. I don’t know why the printed slip should give me a particular feeling of humiliation as I look at it, but such is the fact. What she wrote is all I need read to you:

“I could not, at first, be certain that this was meant for me. If I were to explain to you why I have not written for so long a time, I might give you one of the few clews which I insist on keeping in my own hands. In your public capacity, you have been (so far as a woman may judge) upright, independent, wholly manly: in your relations with other men I learn nothing of you that is not honorable: toward women you are kind, chivalrous, no doubt, overflowing with the _usual_ social refinements, but–Here, again, I run hard upon the absolute necessity of silence. The way to me, if you care to traverse it, is so simple, so very simple! Yet, after what I have written, I cannot even wave my hand in the direction of it, without certain self-contempt. When I feel free to tell you, we shall draw apart and remain unknown forever.

“You desire to write? I do not prohibit it. I have heretofore made no arrangement for hearing from you, in turn, because I could not discover that any advantage would accrue from it. But it seems only fair, I confess, and you dare not think me capricious. So, three days hence, at six o’clock in the evening, a trusty messenger of mine will call at your door. If you have anything to give her for me, the act of giving it must be the sign of a compact on your part, that you will allow her to leave immediately, unquestioned and unfollowed.”

You look puzzled, I see: you don’t catch the real drift of her words? Well–that’s a melancholy encouragement. Neither did I, at the time: it was plain that I had disappointed her in some way, and my intercourse with, or manner toward, women, had something to do with it. In vain I ran over as much of my later social life as I could recall. There had been no special attention, nothing to mislead a susceptible heart; on the other side, certainly no rudeness, no want of “chivalrous” (she used the word!) respect and attention. What, in the name of all the gods, was the matter?

In spite of all my efforts to grow clearer, I was obliged to write my letter in a rather muddled state of mind. I had _so_ much to say! sixteen folio pages, I was sure, would only suffice for an introduction to the case; yet, when the creamy vellum lay before me and the moist pen drew my fingers toward it, I sat stock dumb for half an hour. I wrote, finally, in a half-desperate mood, without regard to coherency or logic. Here’s a rough draft of a part of the letter, and a single passage from it will be enough:

“I can conceive of no simpler way to you than the knowledge of your name and address. I have drawn airy images of you, but they do not become incarnate, and I am not sure that I should recognize you in the brief moment of passing. Your nature is not of those which are instantly legible. As an abstract power, it has wrought in my life and it continually moves my heart with desires which are unsatisfactory because so vague and ignorant. Let me offer you, personally, my gratitude, my earnest friendship: you would laugh if I were _now_ to offer more.”

Stay! here is another fragment, more reckless in tone:

“I want to find the woman whom I can love–who can love me. But this is a masquerade where the features are hidden, the voice disguised, even the hands grotesquely gloved. Come! I will venture more than I ever thought was possible to me. You shall know my deepest nature as I myself seem to know it. Then, give me the commonest chance of learning yours, through an intercourse which shall leave both free, should we not feel the closing of the inevitable bond!”

After I had written that, the pages filled rapidly. When the appointed hour arrived, a bulky epistle, in a strong linen envelope, sealed with five wax seals, was waiting on my table. Precisely at six there was an announcement: the door opened, and a little outside, in the shadow, I saw an old woman, in a threadbare dress of rusty black.

“Come in!” I said.

“The letter!” answered a husky voice. She stretched out a bony hand, without moving a step.

“It is for a lady–very important business,” said I, taking up the letter; “are you sure that there is no mistake?”

She drew her hand under the shawl, turned without a word, and moved toward the hall door.

“Stop!” I cried; “I beg a thousand pardons! Take it–take it! You are the right messenger!”

She clutched it, and was instantly gone.

Several days passed, and I gradually became so nervous and uneasy that I was on the point of inserting another “Personal” in the daily papers, when the answer arrived. It was brief and mysterious; you shall hear the whole of it.

“I thank you. Your letter is a sacred confidence which I pray you never to regret. Your nature is sound and good. You ask no more than is reasonable, and I have no real right to refuse. In the one respect which I have hinted, _I_ may have been unskilful or too narrowly cautious: I must have the certainty of this. Therefore, as a generous favor, give me six months more! At the end of that time I will write to you again. Have patience with these brief lines: another word might be a word too much.”

You notice the change in her tone? The letter gave me the strongest impression of a new, warm, almost anxious interest on her part. My fancies, as first at Wampsocket, began to play all sorts of singular pranks: sometimes she was rich and of an old family, sometimes moderately poor and obscure, but always the same calm, reposeful face and clear gray eyes. I ceased looking for her in society, quite sure that I should not find her, and nursed a wild expectation of suddenly meeting her, face to face, in the most unlikely places and under startling circumstances. However, the end of it all was patience–patience for six months.

There’s not much more to tell; but this last letter is hard for me to read. It came punctually, to a day. I knew it would, and at the last I began to dread the time, as if a heavy note were falling due, and I had no funds to meet it. My head was in a whirl when I broke the seal. The fact in it stared at me blankly, at once, but it was a long time before the words and sentences became intelligible.

“The stipulated time has come, and our hidden romance is at an end. Had I taken this resolution a year ago, it would have saved me many vain hopes, and you, perhaps, a little uncertainty. Forgive me, first, if you can, and then hear the explanation!

“You wished for a personal interview: _you have had, not one, but many_. We have met, in society, talked face to face, discussed the weather, the opera, toilettes, Queechy, Aurora Floyd, Long Branch and Newport, and exchanged a weary amount of fashionable gossip; and you never guessed that I was governed by any deeper interest! I have purposely uttered ridiculous platitudes, and you were as smilingly courteous as if you enjoyed them: I have let fall remarks whose hollowness and selfishness could not have escaped you, and have waited in vain for a word of sharp, honest, manly reproof. Your manner to me was unexceptionable, as it was to all other women: but there lies the source of my disappointment, of–yes–of my sorrow!

“You appreciate, I cannot doubt, the qualities in woman which men value in one another–culture, independence of thought, a high and earnest apprehension of life; but you know not how to seek
them. It is not true that a mature and unperverted woman is flattered by receiving only the general obsequiousness which most men give to the whole sex. In the man who contradicts and strives with her, she discovers a truer interest, a nobler respect. The empty-headed, spindle-shanked youths who dance admirably, understand something of billiards, much less of horses, and still less of navigation, soon grow inexpressibly wearisome to us; but the men who adopt their social courtesy, never seeking to arouse, uplift, instruct us, are a bitter disappointment.

“What would have been the end, had you really found me? Certainly a sincere, satisfying friendship. No mysterious magnetic force has drawn you to me or held you near me, nor has my experiment inspired me with an interest which cannot be given up without a personal pang. I am grieved, for the sake of all men and all women. Yet, understand me! I mean no slightest reproach. I esteem and honor you for what you
are. Farewell!”

There. Nothing could be kinder in tone, nothing more humiliating in substance. I was sore and offended for a few days; but I soon began to see, and ever more and more clearly, that she was wholly right. I was sure, also, that any further attempt to correspond with her would be vain. It all comes of taking society just as we find it, and supposing that conventional courtesy is the only safe ground on which men and women can meet.

The fact is–there’s no use in hiding it from myself (and I see, by your face, that the letter cuts into your own conscience)–she is a free, courageous, independent character, and–I am not.

But who _was_ she?





_Paragraph from the “Illustrated London News,” published under the head of “Obituary of Eminent Persons” in the issue of January 4th, 1879:_


Sir William Beauvoir, Bart., whose lamented death has just occurred at Brighton, on December 28th, was the head and representative of the junior branch of the very ancient and honourable family of Beauvoir, and was the only son of the late General Sir William Beauvoir, Bart., by his wife Anne, daughter of Colonel Doyle, of Chelsworth Cottage, Suffolk. He was born in 1805, and was educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was M.P. for Lancashire from 1837 to 1847, and was appointed a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber in 1843. Sir William married, in 1826, Henrietta Georgiana, fourth daughter of the Right Honourable Adolphus Liddell, Q.C., by whom he had two sons, William Beauvoir and Oliver Liddell Beauvoir. The latter was with his lamented parent when he died. Of the former nothing has been heard for nearly thirty years, about which time he left England suddenly for America. It is supposed that he went to California, shortly after the discovery of gold. Much forgotten gossip will now in all probability be revived, for the will of the lamented baronet has been proved, on the 2d inst., and the personalty sworn under L70,000. The two sons are appointed executors. The estate in Lancashire is left to the elder, and the rest is divided equally between the brothers. The doubt as to the career of Sir William’s eldest son must now of course be cleared up.

This family of Beauvoirs is of Norman descent and of great antiquity. This is the younger branch, founded in the last century by Sir William Beauvoir, Bart., who was Chief Justice of the Canadas, whence he was granted the punning arms and motto now borne by his descendants–a beaver sable rampant on a field gules; motto, “Damno.”



_Promises to pay, put forth by William Beauvoir, junior, at various times in 1848:_

April 10th, 1848.
William Beauvoir, junr.


_The same_.

April 22d, 1848.
William Beauvoir, junr.


_The same._

May 10th, 1848.
William Beauvoir, junr.


_Extract from the “Sunday Satirist,” a journal of high-life, published in London, May 13th, 1848:_

Are not our hereditary lawmakers and the members of our old families the guardians of the honour of this realm? One would not think so to see the reckless gait at which some of them go down the road to ruin. The D—-e of D—-m and the E—-l of B—-n and L—-d Y—-g,–are not these pretty guardians of a nation’s name? _Quis custodiet?_ etc. Guardians, forsooth, _parce qu’ils se sont donnes la peine de naitre_! Some of the gentry make the running as well as their betters. Young W—-m B—-r, son of old Sir W—-m B—-r, late M.P. for L—-e, is truly a model young man. He comes of a good old county family–his mother was a daughter of the Right Honourable A—-s L—-l, and he himself is old enough to know better. But we hear of his escapades night after night, and day after day. He bets all day and he plays all night, and poor tired nature has to make the best of it. And his poor worn purse gets the worst of it. He has duns by the score. His I.O.U.’s are held by every Jew in the city. He is not content with a little gentlemanlike game of whist or _ecarte_, but he must needs revive for his especial use and behoof the dangerous and well-nigh forgotten _pharaoh_. As luck would have it, he had lost as much at this game of brute chance as ever he would at any game of skill. His judgment of horseflesh is no better than his luck at cards. He came a cropper over the “Two Thousand Guineas.” The victory of the favorite cost him to the tune of over six thousand pounds. We learn that he hopes to recoup himself on the Derby, by backing Shylock for nearly nine thousand pounds; one bet was twelve hundred guineas.

And this is the sort of man who may be chosen at any time by force of family interest to make laws for the toiling millions of Great Britain!


_Extract from “Bell’s Life” of May 19th, 1848:_


WEDNESDAY.–This day, like its predecessor, opened with a cloudless sky, and the throng which crowded the avenues leading to the grand scene of attraction was, as we have elsewhere remarked, incalculable.

* * * * *


The Derby Stakes of 50 sovs. each, h. ft. for three year-olds; colts, 8 st. 7 lb., fillies, 8 st. 2 lb.; the second to receive 100 sovs., and the winner to pay 100 sovs. towards police, etc.; mile and a half on the new Derby course; 215 subs.

Lord Clifden’s b.c. _Surplice_, by Touchstone………. 1 Mr. Bowe’s b.c. _Springy Jack_, by Hetman………….. 2 Mr. B. Green’s br.c. _Shylock_, by Simoon………….. 3 Mr. Payne’s b.c. _Glendower_, by Slane…………… o Mr. J.P. Day’s b.c. _Nil Desperandum_, by Venison…… o

* * * * *


_Paragraph of Shipping Intelligence from the “Liverpool Courier” of June 21st, 1848:_

The bark _Euterpe_, Captain Riding, belonging to the Transatlantic Clipper Line of Messrs. Judkins & Cooke, left the Mersey yesterday afternoon, bound for New York. She took out the usual complement of steerage passengers. The first officer’s cabin is occupied by Professor Titus Peebles, M.R.C.S., M.R.G.S., lately instructor in metallurgy at the University of Edinburgh, and Mr. William Beauvoir. Professor Peebles, we are informed, has an important scientific mission in the States, and will not return for six months.


_Paragraph from the “N.Y. Herald” of September 9th, 1848:_

While we well know that the record of vice and dissipation can never be pleasing to the refined tastes of the cultivated denizens of the only morally pure metropolis on the face of the earth, yet it may be of interest to those who enjoy the fascinating study of human folly and frailty to “point a moral or adorn a tale” from the events transpiring in our very midst. Such as these will view with alarm the sad example afforded the youth of our city by the dissolute career of a young lump of aristocratic affectation and patrician profligacy, recently arrived in this city. This young _gentleman’s_ (save the mark!) name is Lord William F. Beauvoir, the latest scion of a venerable and wealthy English family. We print the full name of this beautiful exemplar of “haughty Albion,” although he first appeared among our citizens under the alias of Beaver, by which name he is now generally known, although recorded on the books of the Astor House by the name which our enterprise first gives to the public. Lord Beauvoir’s career since his arrival here has been one of unexampled extravagance and mad immorality. His days and nights have been passed in the gilded palaces of the fickle goddess, Fortune, in Thomas Street and College Place, where he has squandered fabulous sums, by some stated to amount to over L78,000 sterling. It is satisfactory to know that retribution has at last overtaken him. His enormous income has been exhausted to the ultimate farthing, and at latest accounts he had quit the city, leaving behind him, it is shrewdly suspected, a large hotel bill, though no such admission can be extorted from his last landlord, who is evidently a sycophantic adulator of British “aristocracy.”


_Certificate of deposit, vulgarly known as a pawn-ticket, issued by one Simpson to William Beauvoir, December 2d, 1848:_

=John Simpson,
Loan Office,
36 Bowery,
New York.=

_Dec. 2nd, 1848_,

_One Gold Hunting-case Watch and_ Dolls. Cts.

_Chain 150 00_

_William Beauvoir_

Not accountable in case of fire, damage, moth, robbery, breakage, &c. 25% per ann. Good for 1 year only.


_Letter from the late John Phoenix, found among the posthumous papers of the late John P. Squibob, and promptly published in the “San Diego Herald”:_


MY DEAR SQUIB:–I imagine your pathetic inquiry as to my whereabouts–pathetic, not to say hypothetic–for I am now where I cannot hear the dulcet strains of your voice. I am on board ship. I am half seas over. I am bound for California by way of the Isthmus. I am going for the gold, my boy, the gold. In the mean time I am lying around loose on the deck of this magnificent vessel, the _Mercy G. Tarbox,_ of Nantucket, bred by _Noah’s Ark_ out of _Pilot-boat,_ dam by _Mudscow_ out of _Raging Canawl._ The _Mercy G. Tarbox_ is one of the best boats of Nantucket, and Captain Clearstarch is one of the best captains all along shore–although, friend Squibob, I feel sure that you
are about to observe that a captain with a name like that would give any one the blues. But don’t do it, Squib! Spare me this once.

But as a matter of fact this ultramarine joke of yours is about east. It was blue on the _Mercy G.–_mighty blue, too. And it needed the inspiring hope of the gold I was soon to pick up in nuggets to stiffen my back-bone to a respectable degree of rigidity. I was about ready to wilt. But I discovered two Englishmen on board, and now I get along all right. We have formed a little temperance society–just we three, you know–to see if we cannot, by a course of sampling and severe study, discover which of the captain’s liquors is most dangerous, so that we can take the pledge not to touch it. One of them is a chemist or a metallurgist, or something scientific. The other is a gentleman.

The chemist or metallurgist or something scientific is Professor Titus Peebles, who is going out to prospect for gold. He feels sure that his professional training will give him the inside track in the gulches and gold mines. He is a smart chap. He invented the celebrated “William Riley Baking Powder”–bound to rise up every time.

And here I must tell you a little circumstance. As I was coming down to the dock in New York, to go aboard the _Mercy G.,_ a small boy was walloping a boy still smaller; so I made peace, and walloped them both. And then they both began heaving rocks at me–one of which I caught dexterously in the dexter hand. Yesterday, as I was pacing the deck with the professor, I put my hand in my pocket and found this stone. So I asked the professor what it was.

He looked at it and said it was gneiss.

“Is it?” said I. “Well, if a small but energetic youth had taken you on the back of the head with it, you would not think it so nice!”

And then, O Squib, he set out to explain that he meant “gneiss,” not “nice!” The ignorance of these English about a joke is really wonderful. It is easy to see that they have never been brought up on them. But perhaps there was some excuse for the professor that day, for he was the president _pro tem._ of our projected temperance society, and as such he head been making a quantitative and qualitative analysis of another kind of quartz.

So much for the chemist or metallurgist or something scientific. The gentleman and I get on better. His name is Beaver, which he persists in spelling Beauvoir. Ridiculous, isn’t it? How easy it is to see that the English have never had the advantage of a good common-school education–so few of them can spell. Here’s a man don’t know how to spell his own name. And this shows how the race over there on the little island is degenerating. It was not so in other days. Shakspere, for instance, not only knew how to spell his own name, but–and this is another proof of his superiority to his contemporaries–he could spell it in half a dozen different ways.

This Beaver is a clever fellow, and we get on first rate together. He is going to California for gold–like the rest of us. But I think he has had his share–and spent it. At any rate he has not much now. I have been teaching him poker, and I am afraid he won’t have any soon. I have an idea he has been going pretty fast–and mostly down hill. But he has his good points. He is a gentleman all through, as you can see. Yes, friend Squibob, even you could see right through him. We are all going to California together, and I wonder which one of the three will turn up trumps first–Beaver, or the chemist, metallurgist or something scientific, or

Yours respectfully, JOHN PHOENIX.

P.S. You think this a stupid letter, perhaps, and not interesting. Just reflect on my surroundings. Besides, the interest will accumulate a good while before you get the missive. And I don’t know how you ever are to get it, for there is no post-office near here, and on the Isthmus the mails are as uncertain as the females are everywhere. (I am informed that there is no postage on old jokes–so I let that stand.)


_Extract from the “Bone Gulch Palladium,” June 3d, 1850:_

Our readers may remember how frequently we have declared our firm belief in the future unexampled prosperity of Bone Gulch. We saw it in the immediate future the metropolis of the Pacific Slope, as it was intended by nature to be. We pointed out repeatedly that a time would come when Bone Gulch would be an emporium of the arts and sciences and of the best society, even more than it is now. We foresaw the time when the best men from the old cities of the East would come flocking to us, passing with contempt the puny settlement of Deadhorse. But even we did not so soon see that members of the aristocracy of the effete monarchies of despotic Europe would acknowledge the undeniable advantages of Bone Gulch, and come here to stay permanently and forever. Within the past week we have received here Hon. William Beaver, one of the first men of Great Britain and Ireland, a statesman, an orator, a soldier and an extensive traveller. He has come to Bone Gulch as the best spot on the face of the everlasting universe. It is needless to say that our prominent citizens have received him with great cordiality. Bone Gulch is not like Deadhorse. We know a gentleman when we see one.

Hon. Mr. Beaver is one of nature’s noblemen; he is also related to the Royal Family of England. He is a second cousin of the Queen, and boards at the Tower of London with her when at home. We are informed that he has frequently taken the Prince of Wales out for a ride in his baby-wagon.

We take great pleasure in congratulating Bone Gulch on its latest acquisition. And we know Hon. Mr. Beaver is sure to get along all right here under the best climate in the world and with the noblest men the sun ever shone on.


_Extract from the Dead Horse “Gazette and Courier of Civilization” of August 26th, 1850:_


Bonegulch sits in sackcloth and ashes and cools her mammoth cheek in the breezes of Colorado canyon. The self-styled Emporium of the West has lost her British darling, Beaver Bill, the big swell who was first cousin to the Marquis of Buckingham and own grandmother to the Emperor of China, the man with the biled shirt and low-necked shoes. This curled darling of the Bonegulch aristocrat-worshippers passed through Deadhorse yesterday, clean bust. Those who remember how the four-fingered editor of the Bonegulch “Palladium” pricked up his ears and lifted up his falsetto crow when this lovely specimen of the British snob first honored him by striking him for a $ will appreciate the point of the joke.

It is said that the “Palladium” is going to come out, when it makes its next semi-occasional appearance, in full mourning, with turned rules. For this festive occasion we offer Brother B. the use of our late retired Spanish font, which we have discarded for the new and elegant dress in which we appear to-day, and to which we have elsewhere called the attention of our readers. It will be a change for the “Palladium’s” eleven unhappy readers, who are getting very tired of the old type cast for the Concha Mission in 1811, which tries to make up for its lack of w’s by a plentiful superfluity of greaser u’s. How are you, Brother Biles?

“We don’t know a gent when we see him.” Oh no(?)!


_Paragraph from “Police Court Notes,” in the “New Centreville [late Dead Horse] Evening Gazette” January 2d, 1858:_


William Beaver, better known ten years ago as “Beaver Bill,” is now a quiet and prosperous agriculturalist in the Steal Valley. He was, however, a pioneer in the 1849 movement, and a vivid memory of this fact at times moves him to quit his bucolic labors and come in town for a real old-fashioned tare. He arrived in New Centreville during Christmas week; and got married suddenly, but not unexpectedly, yesterday morning. His friends took it upon themselves to celebrate the joyful occasion, rare in the experience of at least one of the parties, by getting very high on Irish Ike’s whiskey and serenading the newly-married couple with fish-horns, horse-fiddles, and other improvised musical instruments. Six of the participators in this epithalamial serenade, namely, Jose Tanco, Hiram Scuttles, John P. Jones, Hermann Bumgardner, Jean Durant (“Frenchy”), and Bernard McGinnis (“Big Barney”), were taken in tow by the police force, assisted by citizens, and locked up over night, to cool their generous enthusiasm in the gloomy dungeons of Justice Skinner’s calaboose. This morning all were discharged with a reprimand, except Big Barney and Jose Tanco, who, being still drunk, were allotted ten days in default of $10. The bridal pair left this noon for the bridegroom’s ranch.


_Extract from “The New York Herald” for June 23d, 1861:_









CHICAGO, June 22, 1861.

Great uneasiness exists all along the Indian frontier. Nearly all the regular troops have been withdrawn from the West for service in the South. With the return of the warm weather it seems certain that the red skins will take advantage of the opportunity thus offered, and inaugurate a bitter and vindictive fight against the whites. Rumors come from the agencies that the Indians are leaving in numbers. A feverish excitement among them has been easily to be detected. Their ponies are now in good condition, and forage can soon be had in abundance on the prairie, if it is not already. Everything points toward a sudden and startling outbreak of hostilities.


ST. PAUL, June 22, 1861.

The Sioux near here are all in a ferment. Experienced Indian fighters say the signs of a speedy going on the war-path are not to be mistaken. No one can tell how soon the whole frontier may be in a bloody blaze. The women and children are rapidly coming in from all exposed settlements. Nothing overt as yet has transpired, but that the Indians will collide very soon with the settlers is certain. All the troops have been withdrawn. In our defenceless state there is no knowing how many lives may be lost before the regiments of volunteers now organizing can take the field.






BLACK WING AGENCY, June 22, 1861.

The Indians made a sudden and unexpected attack on the town of Coyote Hill, forty miles from here, last night, and did much damage before the surprised settlers rallied and drove them off. The red skins met with heavy losses. Among the whites killed are a man named William Beaver, sometimes called Beaver Bill, and his wife. Their child, a beautiful little girl of two, was carried off by the red rascals. A party has been made up to pursue them. Owing to their taking their wounded with them, the trail is very distinct.


_Letter from Mrs. Edgar Saville, in San Francisco, to Mr. Edgar Saville, in Chicago:_


Monster Variety and Dramatic Combination.


Stage Manager.

_No dates filled except with first-class houses.

Hall owners will please consider silence a polite negative._

SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, 1863.

MY DEAR OLD MAN!–Here we are in our second week at Frisco and you will be glad to know playing to steadily increasing biz, having signed for two weeks more, certain. I didn’t like to mention it when I wrote you last, but things were very queer after we left Denver, and “Treasury” was a mockery till we got to Bluefoot
Springs, which is a mining town, where we showed in the hotel dining-room. Then there was a strike just before the curtain went up. The house was mostly miners in red shirts and very exacting. The sinews were forthcoming very quick my dear, and after that the ghost walked quite regular. So now everything is bright, and you wont have to worry if Chicago doesn’t do the right thing by you.

I don’t find this engagement half as disagreeable as I expected. Of course it aint so very nice travelling in a combination with variety talent but they keep to themselves and we regular professionals make a _happy family_ that Barnum would not be ashamed of and quite separate and comfortable. We don’t associate with any of them only with The Unique Mulligans wife, because he beats her. So when he is on a regular she sleeps with me.

And talking of liquor dear old man, if you knew how glad and proud I was to see you writing so straight and steady and beautiful in your three last letters. O, Im sure my darling if the boys thought of the little wife out on the road they wouldnt plague you so with the Enemy. Tell Harry Atkinson this from me, he has a good kind heart but he is the worst of your friends. Every night when I am dressing I think of you at Chicago, and pray you may never again go on the way you did that terrible night at Rochester. Tell me dear, did you look handsome in Horatio? You ought to have had Laertes instead of that duffing Merivale.

And now I have the queerest thing to tell you. Jardine is going in for Indians and has secured six very ugly ones. I mean real Indians, not professional. They are hostile Comanshies or something who have just laid down their arms. They had an insurrection in the first year of the War, when the troops went East, and they killed all the settlers and ranches and destroyed the canyons somewhere out in Nevada, and when they were brought here they had a wee little kid with them only four or five years old, but _so sweet._ They stole her and killed her parents and brought her up for their own in the cunningest little moccasins. She could not speak a word of English except her own name which is Nina. She has blue eyes and all her second teeth. The ladies here made a great fuss about her and sent her flowers and worsted afgans, but they did not do anything else for her and left her to us.

O dear old man you must let me have her! You never refused me a thing yet and she is so like our Avonia Marie that my heart almost breaks when she puts her arms around my neck–_she calls me mamma already._ I want to have her with us when we get the little farm–and it must be near, that little farm of ours–we have waited for it so long–and something tells me my own old faker will make his hit soon and be great. You cant tell how I have loved it and hoped for it and how real every foot of that farm is to me. And though I can never see my own darling’s face among the roses it will make me so happy to see this poor dead mothers pet get red and rosy in the country air. And till the farm comes we shall always have enough for her, without your ever having to black up again as you did for me the winter I was sick my own poor boy!

Write me yes–you will be glad when you see her. And now love and regards to Mrs. Barry and all friends. Tell the Worst of Managers that he knows where to find his leading juvenile for next season. Think how funny it would be for us to play together next year–we havent done it since ’57–the third year we were married. That was my first season higher than walking–and now I’m quite an old woman–most thirty dear!

Write me soon a letter like that last one–and send a kiss to Nina–_our Nina._

Your own girl,


P.S. He has not worried me since.

[Illustration: Nina drew this herself she says it is a horse so that you can get here soon.]



_Letter from Messrs. Throstlethwaite, Throstlethwaite and Dick, Solicitors, Lincoln’s Inn, London, England, to Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, 76 Broadway, New York, U.S.A._

January 8, 1879.


GENTLEMEN: On the death of our late client, Sir William Beauvoir, Bart., and after the reading of the deceased gentleman’s will, drawn up nearly forty years ago by our Mr. Dick, we were requested by Oliver Beauvoir, Esq., the second son of the late Sir William, to assist him in discovering and communicating with his elder brother, the present Sir William Beauvoir, of whose domicile we have little or no information.

After a consultation between Mr. Oliver Beauvoir and our Mr. Dick, it was seen that the sole knowledge in our possession amounted substantially to this: Thirty years ago the elder son of the late baronet, after indulging in dissipation in every possible form, much to the sorrow of his respected parent, who frequently expressed as much to our Mr. Dick, disappeared, leaving behind him bills and debts of all descriptions, which we, under instructions from Sir William, examined, audited and paid. Sir William Beauvoir would allow no search to be made for his erring son and would listen to no mention of his name. Current gossip declared that he had gone to New York, where he probably arrived about midsummer, 1848. Mr. Oliver Beauvoir thinks that he crossed to the States in company with a distinguished scientific gentleman, Professor Titus Peebles. Within a year after his departure news came that he had gone to California with Professor Peebles; this was about the time gold was discovered in the States. That the present Sir William Beauvoir did about this time actually arrive on the Pacific Coast in company with the distinguished scientific man above mentioned, we have every reason to believe: we have even direct evidence on the subject. A former junior clerk who had left us at about the same period as the disappearance of the elder son of our late client, accosted our Mr. Dick when the latter was in Paris last summer, and informed him (our Mr. Dick) that he (the former junior clerk) was now a resident of Nevada and a member of Congress for that county, and in the course of conversation he mentioned that he had seen Professor Peebles and the son of our late client in San Francisco, nearly thirty years ago. Other information we have none. It ought not to be difficult to discover Professor Peebles, whose scientific attainments have doubtless ere this been duly recognized by the U.S. government. As our late client leaves the valuable family estate in Lancashire to his elder son and divides the remainder equally between his two sons, you will readily see why we invoke your assistance in discovering the present domicile of the late baronet’s elder son, or in default thereof, in placing in our hands such proof of his death as may be necessary to establish that lamentable fact in our probate court.

We have the honour to remain, as ever, your most humble and obedient servants,


P.S. Our late client’s grandson, Mr. William Beauvoir, the only child of Oliver Beauvoir, Esq., is now in the States, in Chicago or Nebraska or somewhere in the West. We shall be pleased if you can keep him informed as to the progress of your investigations. Our Mr. Dick has requested Mr. Oliver Beauvoir to give his son your address, and to suggest his calling on you as he passes through New York on his way home.

T.T.& D.


_Letter from Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer, New York, to Messrs. Pixley and Sutton, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, 98 California Street, San Francisco, California._

Law Offices of Hitchcock & Van Rensselaer, 70 Broadway, New York,
P.O. Box 4078.

Jan. 22, 1879.


GENTLEMEN: We have just received from our London correspondents, Messrs. Throstlethwaite, Throstlethwaite and Dick, of Lincoln’s Inn, London, the letter, a copy of which is herewith enclosed, to which we invite your attention. We request that you will do all in your power to aid us in the search for the missing Englishman. From the letter of Messrs. Throstlethwaite, Throstlethwaite and Dick, it seems extremely probable, not to say certain, that Mr. Beauvoir arrived in your city about 1849, in company with a distinguished English scientist, Professor Titus Peebles, whose professional attainments were such that he is probably well known, if not in California, at least in some other of the mining States. The first thing to be done, therefore, it seems to us, is to ascertain the whereabouts of the professor, and to interview him at once. It may be that he has no knowledge of the present domicile of Mr. William Beauvoir–in which case we shall rely on you to take such steps as, in your judgment, will best conduce to a satisfactory solution of the mystery. In any event, please look up Professor Peebles, and interview him at once.

Pray keep us fully informed by telegraph of your movements. Yr obt serv’ts,



_Telegram from Messrs. Pixley and Sutton, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, 98 California Street, San Francisco, California, to Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, 76 Broadway, New York._


Tite Peebles well known frisco not professor keeps faro bank.

PIXLEY & SUTTON. (D.H. 919.)


_Telegram from Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer to Messrs. Pixley and Sutton, in answer to the preceding._

NEW YORK, Jan. 30.

Must be mistake Titus Peebles distinguished scientist.



_Telegram from Messrs. Pixley and Sutton to Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer. in reply to the preceding._


No mistake distinguished faro banker suspected skin game shall we interview

PIXLEY & SUTTON. (D.H. 919.)


_Telegram from Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer to Messrs. Pixley and Sutton, in reply to the preceding._

NEW YORK, Jan. 30.

Must be mistake interview anyway



_Telegram from Messrs. Pixley and Sutton to Messrs. Hitchcock and Van Rensselaer, in reply to the preceding._


Peebles out of town have written him

PIXLEY & SUTTON. (D.H. 919.)


_Letter from Tite W. Peebles, delegate to the California Constitutional Convention, Sacramento, to Messrs. Pixley and Sutton, 98 California Street, San Francisco, California._

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 2, ’79.

San Francisco.

GENTLEMEN: Your favor of the 31st ult., forwarded me from San Francisco, has been duly
rec’d, and contents thereof noted.

My time is at present so fully occupied by my duties as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention that I can only jot down a brief report of my recollections on this head. When I return to S.F., I shall be happy to give you any further information that may be in my possession.

The person concerning whom you inquire was my fellow passenger on my first voyage to this State on board the _Mercy G. Tarbox_, in the latter part of the year. He was then known as Mr. William Beauvoir. I was acquainted with his history, of which the details escape me at this writing. He was a countryman of mine; a member of an important county family–Devonian, I believe–and had left England on account of large gambling debts, of which he confided to me the exact figure. I believe they totted up something like L14,500.

I had at no time a very intimate acquaintance with Mr. Beauvoir; during our sojourn on the _Tarbox_, he was the chosen associate of a depraved and vicious character named Phoenix. I am not averse from saying that I was then a member of a profession rather different to my present one, being, in fact, professor of metallurgy, and I saw much less, at that period, of Mr. B. than I probably should now.

Directly we landed at S.F., the object of your inquiries set out for the gold region, without adequate preparation, like so many others did at that time, and, I heard, fared very ill.

I encountered him some six months later; I have forgotten precisely in what locality, though I have a faint impression that his then habitat was some canon or ravine, deriving its name from certain osseous deposits. Here he had engaged in the business of gold-mining, without, perhaps, sufficient grounds for any confident hope of ultimate success. I have his I.O.U. for the amount of my fee for assaying several specimens from his claim, said specimens being all iron pyrites.

This is all I am able to call to mind at present in the matter of Mr. Beauvoir. I trust his subsequent career was of a nature better calculated to be satisfactory to himself; but his mineralogical knowledge was but superficial; and his character was sadly deformed by a fatal taste for low associates.

I remain, gentlemen, your very humble and obd’t servant, TITUS W. PEEBLES.


MY DEAR PIX: If you don’t feel inclined to pony up that little sum you are out on the bay gelding, drop down to my place when I get back and I’ll give you another chance for your life at the pasteboards. Constitution going through.

Yours, TITE.



_Extract from the New Centreville [late Dead Horse] “Gazette and Courier of Civilization,” December 20th, 1878:_

“Miss Nina Saville appeared last night at the Mendocino Grand Opera House, in her unrivalled specialty of _Winona the Child of the Prairies;_ supported by Tompkins and Frobisher’s Grand Stellar Constellation. Although Miss Saville has long been known as one of the most promising of California’s younger tragediennes, we feel safe in saying that the impression she produced upon the large and cultured audience gathered to greet her last night stamped her as one of the greatest and most phenomenal geniuses of our own or other times. Her marvellous beauty of form and feature, added to her wonderful artistic power, and her perfect mastery of the difficult science of clog-dancing, won her an immediate place in the hearts of our citizens, and confirmed the belief that California need no longer look to Europe or Chicago for dramatic talent of the highest order. The sylph-like beauty, the harmonious and ever-varying grace, the vivacity and the power of the young artist who made her maiden effort among us last night, prove conclusively that the virgin soil of California teems with yet undiscovered fires of genius. The drama of _Winona, the Child of the Prairies,_ is a pure, refined, and thoroughly absorbing entertainment, and has been pronounced by the entire press of the country equal to if not superior to the fascinating _Lady of Lyons_. It introduces all the favorites of the company in new and original characters, and with its original music, which is a prominent feature, has already received over 200 representations in the principal cities in the country. It abounds in effective situations, striking tableaux, and a most quaint and original concert entitled ‘The Mule Fling,’ which alone is worth the price of admission. As this is its first presentation in this city, the theatre will no doubt be crowded, and seats should be secured early in the day. The drama will be preceded by that prince of humorists, Mr. Billy Barker, in his humorous sketches and pictures from life.”

We quote the above from our esteemed contemporary, the Mendocino _Gazette_, at the request of Mr. Zeke Kilburn, Miss Saville’s advance agent, who has still further appealed to us, not only on the ground of our common humanity, but as the only appreciative and thoroughly informed critics on the Pacific Slope to “endorse” this rather vivid expression of opinion. Nothing will give us greater pleasure. Allowing for the habitual enthusiasm of our northern neighbor, and for the well-known chaste aridity of Mendocino in respect of female beauty, we have no doubt that Miss Nina Saville is all that the fancy, peculiarly opulent and active even for an advance agent, of Mr. Kilburn has painted her, and is quite such a vision of youth, beauty, and artistic phenomenality as will make the stars of Paris and Illinois pale their ineffectual fires.

Miss Saville will appear in her “unrivalled specialty” at Hanks’s New Centreville Opera House, to-morrow night, as may be gathered, in a general way, from an advertisement in another column.

We should not omit to mention that Mr. Zeke Kilburn, Miss Saville’s advance agent, is a gentleman of imposing presence, elegant manners, and complete knowledge of his business. This information may be relied upon as at least authentic, having been derived from Mr. Kilburn himself, to which we can add, as our own contribution, the statement that Mr. Kilburn is a gentleman of marked liberality in his ideas of spirituous refreshments, and of equal originality in his conception of the uses, objects and personal susceptibilities of the journalistic profession.


_Local Item from the “New Centreville Standard,” December 20th, 1878:_

Hon. William Beauvoir has registered at the United States Hotel. Mr. Beauvoir is a young English gentleman of great wealth, now engaged in investigating the gigantic resources of this great country. We welcome him to New Centreville.


_Programme of the performance given in the Centreville Theatre, Dec. 21st, 1878:_


A. Jackson Hanks…………………Sole Proprietor and Manager.


Supporting California’s favorite daughter, the young American Tragedienne,


Who will appear in Her Unrivalled Specialty,

“Winona, the Child of the Prairie.”


Will be presented, with the following phenomenal cast, the accepted American Drama,


WINONA……………………………………………. Miss FLORA MacMADISON………………………………. BIDDY FLAHERTY……………………………………. OLD AUNT DINAH (with Song, “Don’t Get Weary”)………….Miss NINA SALLY HOSKINS……………………………………… SAVILLE (With the old-time melody, “Bobbin’ Around.”) POOR JOE (with Song)……………………………….. FRAULINE LINA BOOBENSTEIN…………………………… (With stammering song, “I yoost landet.”) SIR EDMOND BENNETT (specially engaged)…………….E.C. GRAINGER WALTON TRAVERS…………………………………..G.W. PARSONS GIPSY JOE…………………………………………..M. ISAACS ‘ANNIBAL ‘ORACE ‘IGGINS…………………………..BILLY BARKER TOMMY TIPPER……………………………….Miss MAMIE SMITH PETE, the Man on the Dock…………………………..SI HANCOCK Mrs. MALONE, the Old Woman in the Little House…. Mrs. K.Y. BOOTH ROBERT BENNETT (aged five)………………….Little ANNIE WATSON

Act I.–The Old Home. Act II.–Alone in the World. Act III.–The Frozen Gulf: THE GREAT ICEBERG SENSATION. Act IV.–Wedding Bells.

“Winona, the Child of the Prairie,” will be preceded by


In which the great BILLY BARKER will appear in one of his most outrageously funny bits.

New Scenery………………….by………………..Q.Z. Slocum

Music by Professor Kiddoo’s Silver Bugle Brass Band and Philharmonic Orchestra.

Chickway’s Grand Piano, lent by Schmidt, 2 Opera House Block.


Pop Williams, the only legitimate Bill-Poster in New Centreville.

(New Centreville Standard Print.)


_Extract from the New Centreville [late Dead Horse] “Gazette and Courier of Civilization,” Dec. 24th, 1878:_

A little while ago, in noting the arrival of Miss Nina Saville of the New Centreville Opera House we quoted rather extensively from our esteemed contemporary, the Mendocino _Times_ and commented upon the quotation. Shortly afterwards, it may also be remembered, we made a very direct and decided apology for the sceptical levity which inspired those remarks, and expressed our hearty sympathy with the honest, if somewhat effusive, enthusiasm with which the dramatic critic of Mendocino greeted the sweet and dainty little girl who threw over the dull, weary old business of the stage “sensation” the charm of a fresh and childlike beauty and originality, as rare and delicate as those strange, unreasonable little glimmers of spring sunsets that now and then light up for a brief moment the dull skies of winter evenings, and seem to have strayed into ungrateful January out of sheer pity for the sad earth.

Mendocino noticed the facts that form the basis of the above meteorological simile, and we believe we gave Mendocino full credit for it at the time. We refer to the matter at this date only because in our remarks of a few days ago we had occasion to mention the fact of the existence of Mr. Zeke Kilburn, an advance agent, who called upon us at the time, to endeavor to induce us, by means apparently calculated more closely for the latitude of Mendocino, to extend to Miss Saville, before her appearance, the critical approbation which we gladly extended after. This little item of interest we alluded to at the time, and furthermore intimated, with some vagueness, that there existed in Kilburn’s character a certain misdirected zeal combined with a too keen artistic appreciation, are apt to be rather dangerous stock-in trade for an advance agent.

It was twenty seven minutes past two o’clock yesterday afternoon. The chaste white mystery of Shigo Mountain was already taking on a faint, almost imperceptible, hint of pink, like the warm cheek of a girl who hears a voice and anticipates a blush. Yet the rays of the afternoon sun rested with undiminished radiance on the empty pork-barrel in front of McMullin’s shebang. A small and vagrant infant, whose associations with empty barrels were doubtless hitherto connected solely with dreams of saccharine dissipation, approached the bunghole with precocious caution, and retired with celerity and a certain acquisition of experience. An unattached goat, a martyr to the radical theory of personal investigation, followed in the footsteps of infantile humanity, retired with even greater promptitude, and was fain to stay its stomach on a presumably empty rend-rock can, afterward going into seclusion behind McMullin’s horse-shed, before the diuretic effect of tin flavored with blasting-powder could be observed by the attentive eye of science.

Mr. Kilburn emerged from the hostlery without Mr. McMullin. Mr. Kilburn, as we have before stated at his own request, is a gentleman of imposing presence. It is well that we made this statement when we did, for it is hard to judge of the imposing quality in a gentleman’s presence when that gentleman is suspended from the arm of another gentleman by the collar of the first gentleman’s coat. The gentleman in the rear of Mr. Kilburn was Mr. William Beauvoir, a young Englishman in a check suit. Mr. Beauvoir is not avowedly a man of imposing presence; he wears a seal ring, and he is generally a scion of an effete oligarchy, but he has, since his introduction into this community, behaved himself, to use the adjectivial adverb of Mr. McMullin, _white_, and he has a very remarkable biceps. These qualities may hereafter enhance his popularity in New Centreville.

Mr. Beauvoir’s movements, at twenty-seven minutes past two yesterday afternoon, were few and simple. He doubled Mr. Kilburn up, after the fashion of an ordinary jack-knife, and placed him in the barrel, wedge-extremity first, remarking, as he did so, “She is, is she?” He then rammed Mr. Kilburn carefully home, and put the cover on.

We learn to-day that Mr. Kilburn has resumed his professional duties on the road.


_Account of the same event from the New Centreville “Standard” December 24th, 1878:_

It seems strange that even the holy influences which radiate from this joyous season cannot keep some men from getting into unseemly wrangles. It was only yesterday that our local saw a street row here in the quiet avenues of our peaceful city–a street row recalling the riotous scenes which took place here before Dead Horse experienced a change of heart and became New Centreville. Our local succeeded in gathering all the particulars of the affray, and the following statement is reliable. It seems that Mr. Kilburn, the gentlemanly and affable advance agent of the Nina Saville Dramatic Company, now performing at Andy Hanks’ Opera House to big houses, was brutally assaulted by a ruffianly young Englishman, named Beauvoir, for no cause whatever. We say for no cause, as it is obvious that Mr. Kilburn, as the agent of the troupe, could have said nothing against Miss Saville which an outsider, not to say a foreigner like Mr. Beauvoir, had any call to resent. Mr. Kilburn is a gentleman unaccustomed to rough-and-tumble encounters, while his adversary has doubtless associated more with pugilists than gentlemen–at least any one would think so from his actions yesterday. Beauvoir hustled Mr. Kilburn out of Mr. McMullin’s, where the unprovoked assault began, and violently shook him across the new plank sidewalk. The person by the name of Clark, whom Judge Jones for some reason now permits to edit the moribund but once respectable _Gazette_, caught the eye of the congenial Beauvoir, and, true to the ungentlemanly instincts of his base nature, pointed to a barrel in the street. The brutal Englishman took the hint and thrust Mr. Kilburn forcibly into the barrel, leaving the vicinity before Mr. Kilburn, emerging from his close quarters, had fully recovered. What the ruffianly Beauvoir’s motive may have been for this wanton assault it is impossible to say; but it is obvious to all why this fellow Clark sought to injure Mr. Kilburn, a gentleman whose many good qualities he of course fails to appreciate. Mr. Kilburn, recognizing the acknowledged merits of our job-office, had given us the contract for all the printing he needed in New Centreville.


_Advertisement from the New York “Clipper” Dec. 21st, 1878:_


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Company will assemble for rehearsal, at Emerson’s Opera House, San Francisco, on Wednesday, Dec 27th, 12 M sharp. Band at 11. J.B. WINSTON EDWIN R. MACK–Managers. Emerson’s Opera House, San Francisco, Dec. 10th, 1878. Protean Artist wanted. Would like to hear from Nina Saville. 12-11.


_Letter from Nina Saville to William Beauvoir._

NEW CENTREVILLE, December 26, 1878.

My Dear Mr. Beauvoir–I was very sorry to receive your letter of yesterday–_very_ sorry–because there can be only one answer that I can make–and you might well have spared me the pain of saying the word–No. You ask me if I love you. If I did–do you think it would be true love in me to tell you so, when I know what it would cost you? Oh indeed you must never marry _me_! In your own country you would never have heard of me–never seen me–surely never written me such a letter to tell me that you love me and want to marry me. It is not that I am ashamed of my business or of the folks around me, or ashamed that I am only the charity child of two poor players, who lived and died working for the bread for their mouths and mine. I am proud of them–yes, proud of what they did and suffered for one poorer than themselves–a little foundling out of an Indian camp. But I know the difference between you and me. You are a great man at home–you have never told me how great–but I know your father is a rich lord, and I suppose you are. It is not that I think _you_ care for that, or think less of me because I was born different from you. I know how good–how kind–how _respectful_ you have always been to me–_my lord_–and I shall never forget it–for a girl in my position knows well enough how you might have been otherwise. Oh believe me–_my true friend_–I am never going to forget all you have done for me–and how good it has been to have you near me–a man so different from most others. I don’t mean only the kind things you have done–the books and the thoughts and the ways you have taught me to enjoy–and all the trouble you have taken to make me something better than the stupid little girl I was when you found me–but a great deal more than that–the consideration you have had for me and for what I hold best in the world. I had never met a _gentleman_ before–and now the first one I meet–he is my _friend_. That is a great deal.

Only think of it! You have been following me around now for three months, and I have been weak enough to allow it. I am going to do the right thing now. You may think it hard in me _if you really mean what you say,_ but even if everything else were right, I would not marry you–because of your rank. I do not know how things are at your home–but something tells me it would be wrong and that your family would have a right to hate you and never forgive you. Professionals cannot go in your society. And that is even if I loved you–and I do not love you–I do not love you–_I do not love you_–now I have written it you will believe it.

So now it is ended–I am going back to the line I was first in–variety–and with a new name. So you can never find me–I entreat you–I beg of you–not to look for me. If you only put your mind to it–you will find it so easy to forget me–for I will not do you the wrong to think that you did not mean what you wrote in your letter or