The Voice by Margaret Deland

THE VOICE by MARGARET DELAND CHAPTER I “Dr. Lavendar,” said William King, “some time when Goliath is doing his 2.40 on a plank road, don’t you want to pull him up at that house on the Perryville pike where the Grays used to live, and make a call? An old fellow called Roberts has taken
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  • 1912
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“Dr. Lavendar,” said William
King, “some time when Goliath
is doing his 2.40 on a plank road, don’t you want to pull him up at that house
on the Perryville pike where the Grays used to live, and make a call? An old
fellow called Roberts has taken it; he is a–“

“Teach your grandmother,” said
Dr. Lavendar; “he is an Irvingite. He comes from Lower Ripple, down on the
Ohio, and he has a daughter, Philippa.”

“Oh,” said Dr. King, “you know ’em,
do you?”

“Know them? Of course I know
them! Do you think you are the only man who tries to enlarge his business?
But I was not successful in my efforts. The old gentleman doesn’t go to any
church; and the young lady inclines to the Perryville meeting-house–the parson there is a nice boy.”

“She is an attractive young creature,” said the doctor, smiling at some pleasant memory; “the kind of girl a man would
like to have for a daughter. But did you ever know such an old-fashioned
little thing!”

“Well, she’s like the girls I knew when I was the age of the Perryville parson,
so I suppose you’d call her old-fashioned,” Dr. Lavendar said. “There
aren’t many such girls nowadays;
sweet-tempered and sensible and with some fun in ’em.”

“Why don’t you say ‘good,’ too?”
William King inquired.

“Unnecessary,” Dr. Lavendar said,
scratching Danny’s ear; “anybody who is amiable, sensible, and humorous is
good. Can’t help it.”

“The father is good,” William King
said, “but he is certainly not sensible. He’s an old donkey, with his TONGUES
and his VOICE!”

Dr. Lavendar’s face sobered. “No,”
he said, “he may be an Irvingite, but he isn’t a donkey.”

“What on earth is an Irvingite,
anyhow?” William asked.

Dr. Lavendar looked at him, pityingly: “William, you are so ridiculously
young! Well, I suppose you can’t help it. My boy, about the time you were
born, there was a man in London–
some folks called him a saint, and some folks called him a fool; it’s a way folks have had ever since our Lord came into
this world. His name was Irving, and he started a new sect.” (Dr. Lavendar was
as open-minded as it is possible for one of his Church to be, but even he said
“sect” when it came to outsiders.)

“He started this new sect, which believed that the Holy Ghost would
speak again by human lips, just as
on the Day of Pentecost. Well, there was ‘speaking’ in his congregation;
sort of outbursts of exhortation, you know. Mostly unintelligible. I
remember Dr. Alexander said it was
‘gibberish’; he heard some of it when he was in London. It may have been
‘gibberish,’ but nobody can doubt
Irving’s sincerity in thinking it was the Voice of God. When he couldn’t
understand it, he just called it an ‘unknown tongue.’ Of course he was
considered a heretic. He was put out of his Church. He died soon after, poor

“Doesn’t Mr. Roberts’s everlasting
arguing about it tire you out?” William asked.

“Oh no,” Dr. Lavendar said, cheerfully; “when he talks too long I just
shut my eyes; he never notices it!
He’s a gentle old soul. When I answer back–once in a while I really have to
speak up for the Protestant Episcopal Church–I feel as if I had kicked Danny.” William King grinned. Then he got
up and, drawing his coat-tails forward, stood with his back to the jug of lilacs in Dr. Lavendar’s fireplace. “Oh, well,
of course it’s all bosh,” he said, and yawned; “I was on a case till four
o’clock this morning,” he apologized.

“William,” said Dr. Lavendar,
admiringly, “what an advantage you
fellows have over us poor parsons!
Everything a medical man doesn’t understand is ‘bosh’! Now, we can’t classify things as easily as that.”

“Well, I don’t care,” William said,
doggedly; “from my point of view–“

“From your point of view,” said Dr.
Lavendar, “St. Paul was an epileptic, because he heard a Voice?”

“If you really want to know what I

“I don’t,” Dr. Lavendar said; “I
want you to know what I think. Mr.
Roberts hasn’t heard any Voice, yet; he is only listening for it. William,
listening for the Voice of God isn’t necessarily a sign of poor health; and
provided a man doesn’t set himself up to think he is the only person his
Heavenly Father is willing to speak to, listening won’t do him any harm. As
for Henry Roberts, he is a humble old man. An example to me, William! I
am pretty arrogant once in a while. I have to be, with such men as you in
my congregation. No; the real trouble in that household is that girl of his. It isn’t right for a young thing to live in such an atmosphere.”

William agreed sleepily. “Pretty
creature. Wish I had a daughter just like her,” he said, and took himself off to make up for a broken night’s rest.
But Dr. Lavendar and Danny still sat in front of the lilac-filled fireplace, and thought of old Henry Roberts listening
for the Voice of God, and of his Philippa. The father and daughter had lately
taken a house on a road that wandered over the hills between elderberry-bushes and under sycamores, from Old Chester
to Perryville. They were about
half-way between the two little towns, and they did not seem to belong to
either. Perryville’s small manufacturing bustle repelled the silent old man
whom Dr. Lavendar called an “Irvingite”; and Old Chester’s dignity and dull
aloofness repelled young Philippa.
The result was that the Robertses and their one woman servant, Hannah, had
been living on the Perryville pike for some months before anybody in either
village was quite aware of their existence. Then one day in May, Dr. Lavendar’s
sagging old buggy pulled up at
their gate, and the old minister
called over the garden wall to Philippa: “Won’t you give me some of your apple

That was the beginning of Old Chester’s knowledge of the Roberts family.
A little later Perryville came to know them, too: the Rev. John Fenn, pastor
of the Perryville Presbyterian Church, got off his big, raw-boned Kentucky
horse at the same little white gate in the brick wall at which Goliath had
stopped, and walked solemnly–not
noticing the apple blossoms–up to the porch. Henry Roberts was sitting there
in the hot twilight, with a curious listening look in his face–a look of
waiting expectation; it was so marked, that the caller involuntarily glanced over his shoulder to see if any other visitor was approaching; but there was nothing to
be seen in the dusk but the roan nibbling at the hitching-post. Mr. Fenn said
that he had called to inquire whether Mr. Roberts was a regular attendant
at any place of worship. To which the old man replied gently that every place
was a place of worship, and his own house was the House of God.
John Fenn was honestly dismayed at
such sentiments–dismayed, and a little indignant; and yet, somehow, the
self-confidence of the old man daunted him. It made him feel very young, and there
is nothing so daunting to Youth as to feel young. Therefore he said, venerably, that he hoped Mr. Roberts realized
that it was possible to deceive oneself in such matters. “It is a dangerous
thing to neglect the means of grace,” he said.

“Surely it is,” said Henry Roberts,
meekly; after which there was nothing for the caller to do but offer the Irvingite a copy of the _American Messenger_
and take his departure. He was so
genuinely concerned about Mr. Roberts’s “danger,” that he did not notice Philippa sitting on a stool at her father’s side. But Philippa noticed him.

So, after their kind, did these two
shepherds of souls endeavor to establish a relationship with Henry and
Philippa Roberts. And they were
equally successful. Philippa gave her apple blossoms to the old minister,–and went to Mr. Fenn’s church the very
next Sunday. Henry Roberts accepted the tracts with a simple belief in the
kindly purpose of the young minister, and stayed away from both churches.
But both father and daughter were
pleased by the clerical attentions:

“I love Dr. Lavendar,” Philippa
said to her father.

“I am obliged to Mr. Fenn,” her
father said to Philippa. “The youth,” he added, “cares for my soul. I am
obliged to any one who cares for my soul.”

He was, indeed, as Dr. Lavendar said, a man of humble mind; and yet with
his humbleness was a serene certainty of belief as to his soul’s welfare that
would have been impossible to John
Fenn, who measured every man’s chance of salvation by his own theological
yardstick, or even to Dr. Lavendar, who thought salvation unmeasurable.
But then neither of these two ministers had had Henry Roberts’s experience.
It was very far back, that experience; it happened before Philippa was born;
and when they came to live between the two villages Philippa was twenty-four
years old….

It was in the thirties that young
Roberts, a tanner in Lower Ripple,
went to England to collect a small
bequest left him by a relative. The sense of distance, the long weeks at sea in a sailing-vessel, the new country and the new people, all impressed themselves upon a very sensitive mind, a
mind which, even without such emotional preparation, was ready to respond to
any deeply emotional appeal. Then
came the appeal. It was that new
gospel of the Tongues, which, in those days, astounded and thrilled all London
from the lips of Edward Irving–fanatic, saint, and martyr!–the man who, having
prayed that God would speak again
in prophecy, would not deny the power of prayer by refusing to believe that his prayer was answered, even though the
prophecy was unintelligible. And later, when the passionate cadences of the
spirit were in English, and were found to be only trite or foolish words,
repeated and repeated in a wailing chant by some sincere, hysterical woman, he
still believed that a new day of Pentecost had dawned upon a sinful world! “For,”
said he, “when I asked for bread, would God give me a stone?”

Henry Roberts went to hear the
great preacher and forgot his haste to receive his little legacy so that he
might hurry back to the tanyard.
Irving’s eloquence entranced him, and it alone would have held him longer than
the time he had allowed himself for absence from the tannery. But it
happened that he was present on that Lord’s Day when, with a solemn and
dreadful sound, the Tongues first spoke in that dingy Chapel in Regent Square,
and no man who heard that Sound
ever forgot it! The mystical youth from America was shaken to his very soul.
He stayed on in London for nearly a year, immersing himself in those tides
of emotion which swept saner minds
than his from the somewhat dry land of ordinary human experience. That
no personal revelation was made to
him, that the searing benediction of the Tongues had not touched his own awed,
uplifted brow, made no difference: he believed!–and prayed God to help
any lingering unbelief that might be holding him back from deeper knowledges. To the end of his days he was
Edward Irving’s follower; and when
he went back to America it was as a missionary of the new sect, that
called itself by the sounding title of The Catholic Apostolic Church.
In Lower Ripple he preached to any
who would listen to him the doctrine of the new Pentecost. At first curiosity brought him hearers; his story of
the Voice, dramatic and mysterious, was listened to in doubting silence;
then disapproved of–so hotly disapproved of that he was sessioned and read
out of Church.

But in those days in western Pennsylvania, mere living was too engrossing a matter
for much thought of “tongues” and
“voices”; it was easier, when a man talked of dreams and visions, not to
argue with him, but to say that he
was “crazy.” So by and by Henry
Roberts’s heresy was forgotten and his religion merely smiled at. Certainly
it struck no roots outside his own
heart. Even his family did not share his belief. When he married, as he did
when he was nearly fifty, his wife was impatient with his Faith–indeed, fearful of it, and with persistent, nagging
reasonableness urged his return to
the respectable paths of Presbyterianism. To his pain, when his girl, his
Philippa, grew up she shrank from
the emotion of his creed; she and her mother went to the brick church under
the locust-trees of Lower Ripple; and when her mother died Philippa went
there alone, for Henry Roberts, not being permitted to bear witness in the
Church, did so out of it, by sitting at home on the Sabbath day, in a bare
upper chamber, waiting for the
manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It never came. The Tongues never spoke. Yet
still, while the years passed, he waited, listening–listening–listening; a
kindly, simple old man with mystical brown eyes, believing meekly in his
own unworth to hear again that Sound from Heaven, as of a rushing, mighty
wind, that had filled the London Chapel, bowing human souls before it as a great
wind bows the standing corn!

It was late in the sixties that Henry Roberts brought this faith and his Philippa to the stone house on the Perryville
pike, where, after some months
had passed, they were discovered by the old and the young ministers. The
two clergymen met once or twice in
their calls upon the new-comer, and each acquired an opinion of the other:
John Fenn said to himself that the old minister was a good man, if he was an
Episcopalian; and Dr. Lavendar said to William King that he hoped there
would be a match between the “theolog” and Philippa.

“The child ought to be married and
have a dozen children,” he said;
“although Fenn’s little sister will do to begin on–she needs mothering badly
enough. Yes, Miss Philly ought to be making smearkase and apple-butter for
that pale and excellent young man.
He intimated that I was a follower of the Scarlet Woman because I wore a

“Now look here! I draw the line
at that sort of talk,” the doctor said; “he can lay down the law to me, all he
wants to; but when it comes to
instructing you–“

“Oh, well, he’s young,” Dr. Lavendar
soothed him; “you can’t expect
him not to know everything at his age.”

“He’s a squirt,” said William. In
those days in Old Chester middle age was apt to sum up its opinion of youth
in this expressive word.

“We were all squirts once,” said Dr.
Lavendar, “and very nice boys we were, too–at least I was. Yes, I hope the
youngster will see what a sweet creature old Roberts’s Philippa is.”

She was a sweet creature; but as
William King said, she was amusingly old-fashioned. The Old Chester girl of
those days, who seems (to look back upon her in these days) so medieval,
was modern compared to Philippa! But there was nothing mystical about her;
she was just modest and full of pleasant silences and soft gaieties and simple,
startling truth-telling. At first,
when they came to live near Perryville, she used, when the weather was fine, to
walk over the grassy road, under the brown and white branches of the sycamores, into Old Chester, to Dr. Lavendar’s
church. “I like to come to your
church,” she told him, “because you don’t preach quite such long sermons as
Mr. Fenn does.” But when it rained
or was very hot she chose the shorter walk and sat under John Fenn, looking
up at his pale, ascetic face, lighted from within by his young certainties
concerning the old ignorances of people like Dr. Lavendar–life and death and
eternity. Of Dr. Lavendar’s one certainty, Love, he was deeply ignorant, this
honest boy, who was so concerned for Philippa’s father’s soul! But Philippa
did not listen much to his certainties; she coaxed his little sister into her pew, and sat with the child cuddled up against
her, watching her turn over the leaves of the hymn-book or trying to braid the
fringe of Miss Philly’s black silk mantilla into little pigtails. Sometimes Miss
Philly would look up at the careworn young face in the pulpit and think how
holy Mary’s brother was, and how
learned–and how shabby; for he had only a housekeeper, Mrs. Semple, to
take care of him and Mary. Not but
what he might have had somebody
besides Mrs. Semple! Philippa, for all her innocence, could not help being
aware that he might have had–almost anybody! For others of Philly’s sex
watched the rapt face there in the pulpit. When Philippa thought of that,
a slow blush used to creep up to her very temples. She saw him oftener in
the pulpit than out of it, because
when he came to call on her father
she was apt not to be present.
At first he came very frequently to see the Irvingite, because he felt it his duty to “deal” with him; but he made
so little impression that he foresaw the time when it would be necessary to
say that Ephraim was joined to his
idols. But though it might be right to “let him alone,” he could not stop
calling at Henry Roberts’s house; “for,” he reminded himself, “the believing
daughter may sanctify the unbelieving father!” He said this once to Dr.
Lavendar, when his roan and old Goliath met in a narrow lane and paused
to let their masters exchange a word or two.

“But do you know what the believing
daughter believes?” said Dr. Lavendar. He wiped his forehead with his red bandanna, for it was a hot day; then he put
his old straw hat very far back on his head and looked at the young man with a
twinkle in his eye, which, considering the seriousness of their conversation,
was discomfiting; but, after all, as John Fenn reminded himself, Dr. Lavendar was very old, and so might be
forgiven if his mind was lacking in seriousness. As for his question of
what the daughter believed:
“I think–I hope,” said the young
minister, “that she is sound. She comes to my church quite regularly.”
“But she comes to my church quite
irregularly,” Dr. Lavendar warned
him; and there was another of those disconcerting twinkles.

The boy looked at him with honest,
solemn eyes. “I still believe that she is sound,” he said, earnestly.

Dr. Lavendar blew his nose with a flourish of the red bandanna. “Well, perhaps
she is, perhaps she is,” he said, gravely. But the reassurance of that “perhaps”
did not make for John Fenn’s peace of mind; he could not help asking himself
whether Miss Philippa WAS a “believing daughter.” She did not, he was sure,
share her father’s heresies, but
perhaps she was indifferent to them? which would be a grievous thing!
And certainly, as the old minister had declared, she did go “irregularly” to the Episcopal Church. John Fenn wished
that he was sure of Miss Philippa’s state of mind; and at last he said to
himself that it was his duty to find out about it, so, with his little sister beside him, he started on a round of pastoral
calls. He found Miss Philly sitting in the sunshine on the lowest step of the
front porch–and it seemed to Mary
that there was a good deal of delay in getting at the serious business of play; “for brother talks so much,” she
complained. But “brother” went on
talking. He told Miss Philippa that he understood she went sometimes to Old
Chester to church?

“Sometimes,” she said.
“I do not mean,” he said, hesitatingly, “to speak uncharitably, but we all
know that Episcopacy is the handmaid of Papistry.”

“Do we?” Philly asked, with grave

“Yes,” said Mr. Fenn. “But even
if Dr. Lavendar’s teachings are
defective,”–Mary plucked at his sleeve, and sighed loudly; “(no, Mary!)–
even if his teachings are defective, he is a good man according to his lights;
I am sure of that. Still, do you think it well to attend a place of worship
when you cannot follow the pastor’s teachings?”

“I love him. And I don’t listen to
what he says,” she excused herself.

“But you should listen to what
ministers say,” the shocked young man pro- tested–“at least to ministers of the
right faith. But you should not go to church because you love ministers.”

Philippa’s face flamed. “I do not
love–most of them.”

Mary, leaning against the girl’s knee, looked up anxiously into her face. “Do
you love brother?” she said.

They were a pretty pair, the child and the girl, sitting there on the porch with the sunshine sifting down through the
lacy leaves of the two big locusts on either side of the door. Philippa wore
a pink and green palm-leaf chintz; it had six ruffles around the skirt and
was gathered very full about her slender waist; her lips were red, and her
cheeks and even her neck were delicately flushed; her red-brown hair was
blowing all about her temples; Mary had put an arm around her and
was cuddling against her. Yes, even Mary’s brother would have thought
the two young things a pretty sight had there been nothing more serious
to think of. But John Fenn’s
thoughts were so very serious that even Mary’s question caused him no
embarrassment; he merely said, stiffly, that he would like to see Miss Philippa
alone. “You may wait here, Mary,”
he told his little sister, who frowned and sighed and went out to the gate
to pull a handful of grass for the roan.

Philippa led her caller to her rarely used parlor, and sat down to listen in
silent pallor to his exhortations. She made no explanations for not coming
to his church regularly; she offered no excuse of filial tenderness for her
indifference to her father’s mistaken beliefs; she looked down at her hands, clasped
tightly in her lap, then out of the window at the big roan biting at the hitching-post or standing very still to let Mary rub
his silky nose. But John Fenn looked only at Philippa. Of her father’s heresies he would not, he said, do more than
remind her that the wiles of the devil against her soul might present them-selves through her natural affections;
but in regard to her failure to wait upon the means of grace he spoke
without mercy, for, he said, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

“Are you my friend?” Philly asked,
lifting her gray eyes suddenly.

Mr. Fenn was greatly confused; the
text-books of the Western Seminary had not supplied him with the answer to
such a question. He explained, hurriedly, that he was the friend of all
who wished for salvation.

“I do not especially wish for it,”
Philippa said, very low.

For a moment John Fenn was silent
with horror. “That one so young
should be so hardened!” he thought; aloud, he bade her remember hell fire.
He spoke with that sad and simple
acceptance of the fact with which, even less than fifty years ago, men humbled
themselves before the mystery which they had themselves created, of divine
injustice. She must know, he said,
his voice trembling with sincerity, that those who slighted the offers of
grace were cast into outer darkness?

Philly said, softly, “Maybe.”

“‘Maybe?’ Alas, it is, certainly!
Oh, why, WHY do you absent yourself from the house of God?” he said,
holding out entreating hands. Philippa made no reply. “Let us pray!”
said the young man; and they knelt
down side by side in the shadowy
parlor. John Fenn lifted his harsh, melancholy face, gazing upward
passionately, while he wrestled for her salvation; Philly, looking downward,
tracing with a trembling finger the pattern of the beadwork on the ottoman
before which she knelt, listened with an inward shiver of dismay and ecstasy.
But when they rose to their feet she had nothing to say. He, too, was
silent. He went away quite exhausted by his struggle with this impassive,
unresisting creature.

He hardly spoke to Mary all the way
home. “A hardened sinner,” he was
thinking. “Poor, lovely creature! So young and so lost!” Under Mary’s
incessant chatter, her tugs at the end of the reins, her little bursts of joy at the sight of a bird or a roadside flower, he was thinking, with a strange new pain–a pain no other sinner had ever roused in
him–of the girl he had left. He
knew that his arguments had not
moved her. “I believe,” he thought, the color rising in his face, “that
she dislikes me! She says she loves Dr. Lavendar; yes, she must dislike me.
Is my manner too severe? Perhaps
my appearance is unattractive.” He
looked down at his coat uneasily.

As for Philly, left to herself, she
picked up a bit of sewing, and her face, at first pale, grew slowly pink. “He
only likes sinners,” she thought; “and, oh, I am not a sinner!”


After that on Sabbath mornings
Philippa sat with her father, in
the silent upper chamber. At first
Henry Roberts, listening–listening– for the Voice, thought, rapturously,
that at the eleventh hour he was to win a soul–the most precious soul in his world!–to his faith. But when, after a
while, he questioned her, he saw that this was not so; she stayed away
from other churches, but not because she cared for his church. This troubled
him, for the faith he had outgrown was better than no faith.

“Do you have doubts concerning the
soundness of either of the ministers–the old man or the young man?” he asked her, looking at her with mild, anxious eyes.

“Oh no, sir,” Philly said, smiling.

“Do you dislike them–the young
man or the old man?”

“Oh no, father. I love–one of

“Then why not go to his church?
Either minister can give you the seeds of salvation; one not less than the
other. Why not sit under either ministry?” “I don’t know,” Philippa said, faintly.
And indeed she did not know why
she absented herself. She only knew two things: that the young man seemed
to disapprove of the old man; and when she saw the young man in the pulpit,
impersonal and holy, she suffered.
Therefore she would not go to hear
either man.

When Dr. Lavendar came to call upon
her father, he used to glance at Philippa sometimes over his spectacles while
Henry Roberts was arguing about prophecies; but he never asked her why she
stayed away from church; instead, he talked to her about John Fenn, and he
seemed pleased when he heard that the young man was doing his duty in
making pastoral calls. “And I–I,
unworthy as I was!” Henry Roberts
would say, “I heard the Voice, speaking through a sister’s lips; and it said: Oh, sinner! for what, for what, what can
separate, separate, from the love… Oh, nothing. Oh, nothing. Oh, nothing.”
He would stare at Dr. Lavendar
with parted lips. “I HEARD IT,” he would say, in a whisper.

And Dr. Lavendar, bending his head
gravely, would be silent for a respectful moment, and then he would look at
Philippa. “You are teaching Fenn’s
sister to sew?” he would say. “Very nice! Very nice!”

Philly saw a good deal of the sister
that summer; the young minister,
recognizing Miss Philippa’s fondness for Mary, and remembering a text as to the
leading of a child, took pains to bring the little girl to Henry Roberts’s door once or twice a week; and as August burned
away into September Philippa’s pleasure in her was like a soft wind blowing
on the embers of her heart and kindling a flame for which she knew no name.
She thought constantly of Mary, and had many small anxieties about her–
her dress, her manners, her health; she even took the child into Old Chester
one day to get William King to pull a little loose white tooth. Philly shook
very much during the operation and
mingled her tears with Mary’s in that empty and bleeding moment that follows
the loss of a tooth. She was so
passionately tender with the little girl that the doctor told Dr. Lavendar that
his match-making scheme seemed likely to prosper–“she’s so fond of the sister, you should have heard her sympathize
with the little thing!–that I think she will smile on the brother,” he said.

“I’m afraid the brother hasn’t cut his wisdom teeth yet,” Dr. Lavendar said,
doubtfully; “if he had, you might pull them, and she could sympathize with
him; then it would all arrange itself. Well, he’s a nice boy, a nice boy;–
and he won’t know so much when he gets a little older.”

It was on the way home from Dr.
King’s that Philippa’s feeling of
responsibility about Mary brought her a sudden temptation. They were walking
hand in hand along the road. The
leaves on the mottled branches of the sycamores were thinning now, and the
sunshine fell warm upon the two young things, who were still a little shaken
from the frightful experience of
tooth-pulling. The doctor had put the small white tooth in a box and gravely presented it to Mary, and now, as they
walked along, she stopped sometimes to examine it and say, proudly, how she
had “bleeded and bleeded!”

“Will you tell brother the doctor
said I behaved better than the circus lion when his tooth was pulled?”

“Indeed I will, Mary!”

“An’ he said he’d rather pull my
tooth than a lion’s tooth?”

“Of course I’ll tell him.”

“Miss Philly, shall I dream of my
tooth, do you suppose?”

Philippa laughed and said she didn’t

“I hope I will; it means something
nice. I forget what, now.”

“Dreams don’t mean anything,

“Oh yes, they do!” the child assured
her, skipping along with one arm round the girl’s slender waist. “Mrs. Semple
has a dream-book, and she reads it to me every day, an’ she reads me what
my dreams mean. Sometimes I haven’t any dreams,” Mary admitted, regretfully, “but she reads all the same.
Did you ever dream about a black ox walking on its back legs? I never did.
I don’t want to. It means trouble.”

“Goosey!” said Miss Philippa.

“If you dream of the moon,” Mary
went on, happily, “it means you are going to have a beau who’ll love you.”

“Little girls mustn’t talk about love,” Philippa said, gravely; but the color
came suddenly into her face. To dream of the moon means–Why! but only
the night before she had dreamed that she had been walking in the fields and
had seen the moon rise over shocks of corn that stood against the sky like the plumed heads of Indian warriors! “Such
things are foolish, Mary,” Miss Philly said, her cheeks very pink. And while
Mary chattered on about Mrs. Semple’s book Philippa was silent, remembering
how yellow the great flat disk of the moon had been in her dream; how it
pushed up from behind the black edge of the world, and how, suddenly, the
misty stubble-field was flooded with its strange light:–“you are going to have
a beau!”

Philippa wished she might see the
book, just to know what sort of things were read to Mary. “It isn’t right to
read them to the child,” she thought; “it’s a foolish book, Mary,” she said,
aloud. “I never saw such a book.”

“I’ll bring it the next time I come,” Mary promised.

“Oh no, no,” Philly said, a little
breathlessly; “it’s a wrong book. I couldn’t read such a book, except–
except to tell you how foolish and wrong it is.”

Mary was not concerned with her
friend’s reasons; but she remembered to bring the ragged old book with her
the very next time her brother dropped her at Mr. Roberts’s gate to spend
an hour with Miss Philippa. There
had to be a few formal words between the preacher and the sinner before
Mary had entire possession of her
playmate, but when her brother drove away, promising to call for her later
in the afternoon, she became so
engrossed in the important task of
picking hollyhock seeds that she quite forgot the dream-book. The air was hazy
with autumn, and full of the scent of fallen leaves and dew-drenched grass
and of the fresh tan-bark on the garden paths. On the other side of the road
was a corn-field, where the corn stood in great shocks. Philly looked over at
it, and drew a quick breath,–her dream!

“Did you bring that foolish book?”
she said.

Mary, slapping her pocket, laughed
loudly. “I ‘most forgot! Yes, ma’am; I got it. I’ll show what it says about
the black ox–“

“No; you needn’t,” Miss Philly said;
“you pick some more seeds for me, and I’ll–just look at it.” She touched the
stained old book with shrinking fingertips; the moldering leather cover and the
odor of soiled and thumb-marked leaves offended her. The first page was folded
over, and when she spread it out, the yellowing paper cracked along its ancient creases; it was a map, with the signs
of the Zodiac; in the middle was a
single verse:

Mortal! Wouldst thou scan aright
Dreams and visions of the night?
Wouldst thou future secrets learn And the fate of dreams discern?
Wouldst thou ope the Curtain dark And thy future fortune mark?
Try the mystic page, and read
What the vision has decreed.

Philly, holding her red lip between
her teeth, turned the pages:



“MOON.” (Philippa shivered.) “A
She shut the book sharply, then
opened it again. Such books sometimes told (so foolishly!) of charms which
would bring love. She looked furtively at Mary; but the child, pulling down
a great hollyhock to pick the fuzzy yellow disks, was not noticing Miss
Philly’s interest in the “foolish book.” Philippa turned over the pages. Yes;
the charms were there!…

Instructions for making dumb-cake,
OF WHEATEN FLOUR–” That was no use; there were too many females as it

Not that. A holy man does not
“wish” for a woman.

blood suddenly ran tingling in Philly’s veins. “LET A YOUNG MAID PICK OF
ROSEMARY TWO ROOTS; OF MONK’S-HOOD–” A line had been drawn through this
last word, and another word written above it; but the ink was so faded,
the page so woolly and thin with
use, that it was impossible to decipher the correction; perhaps it was
“mother-wort,” an herb Philly did not know; or it might be “mandrake”? It looked
as much like one as the other, the writing was so blurred and dim. “It is
best to take what the book says,” Philly said, simply; “besides, I haven’t those
other things in the garden, and I have monk’s-hood and rosemary–if I should
want to do it, just for fun.”


“There is no harm in it,” said Philly.


“Somebody making herb tea and
stealing my business?” said William King, in his kindly voice; he had
called to see old Hannah, who had
been laid up for a day or two, and he stopped at the kitchen door to look
in. Henry Roberts, coming from the
sitting-room to join him, asked his question, too:

“What is this smell of herbs, Philippa? Are you making a drink for Hannah?”
“Oh no, father,” Philly said, briefly, her face very pink.

William King sniffed and laughed.
“Ah, I see you don’t give away your secrets to a rival,” he said; and added, pleasantly, “but don’t give your tea
to Hannah without telling me what
it is.”

Miss Philippa said, dutifully, “Oh no, sir.” But she did not tell him what
the “tea” was, and certainly she offered none of it to old Hannah. All that day
there was a shy joyousness about her, with sudden soft blushes, and once or
twice a little half-frightened laugh; there was a puzzled look, too, in her face,
as if she was not quite sure just what she was going to do, or rather, how she
was going to do it. And, of course, that was the difficulty. How could she
“add the philter to the drink of one who loved her not”?

Yet it came about simply enough.
John Fenn had lately felt it borne in upon him that it was time to make another effort to deal with Henry Roberts;
perhaps, he reasoned, to show concern about the father’s soul might touch the
daughter’s hardened heart. It was when he reached this conclusion that he
committed the extravagance of buying a new coat. So it happened that that
very afternoon, while the house was still pungent with the scent of steeping herbs, he came to Henry Roberts’s
door, and knocked solemnly, as befitted his errand; (but as he heard her
step in the hall he passed an anxious hand over a lapel of the new
coat). Her father, she said, was not at home; would Mr. Fenn come in
and wait for him? Mr. Fenn said he
would. And as he always tried, poor boy! to be instant in season and out of
season, he took the opportunity, while he waited for her father and she brought him a glass of wine and a piece of cake, to reprove her again for absence from
church. But she was so meek that he found it hard to inflict those “faithful wounds” which should prove his friendship for her soul; she sat before him
on the slippery horsehair sofa in the parlor, her hands locked tightly
together in her lap, her eyes downcast, her voice very low and trembling. She
admitted her backslidings: she acknowledged her errors; but as for coming to
church–she shook her head:

“Please, I won’t come to church

“You mean you will come, some-

“Yes; sometime.”

“Behold, NOW is the accepted time!”

“I will come… afterwards.”

“After what?” he insisted.

“After–” she said, and paused.
Then suddenly lifted bold, guileless eyes: “After you stop caring for my

John Fenn caught his breath. Something, he did not know what, seemed to
jar him rudely from that pure desire for her salvation; he said, stumblingly, that he would ALWAYS care for her soul!– “for–for any one’s soul.” And was
she quite well? His voice broke with tenderness. She must be careful to
avoid the chill of these autumnal
afternoons; “you are pale,” he said, passionately–“don’t–oh, don’t be so
pale!” It occurred to him that if she waited for him “not to care” for her
salvation, she might die in her sins; die before coming to the gate of heaven, which he was so anxious to open to her!

Philippa did not see his agitation;
she was not looking at him. She only said, softly, “Perhaps you will stay to

He answered quickly that he would
be pleased to do so. In the simplicity of his saintly egotism it occurred to
him that the religious pleasure of
entertaining him might be a means of grace to her. When she left him in the dusk
of the chilly room to go and see to the supper, he fell into silent prayer
for the soul that did not desire his care.

Henry Roberts, summoned by his
daughter to entertain the guest until supper was ready, found him sitting in
the darkness of the parlor; the old man was full of hospitable apologies for his Philippa’s forgetfulness; “she did not
remember the lamp!” he lamented; and making his way through the twilight of
the room, he took off the prism-hung shade of the tall astral lamp on the
center-table, and fumbled for a match to light the charred and sticky wick; there were very few occasions in this plain
household when it was worth while to light the best lamp! This was one of
them, for in those days the office
dignified the man to a degree that is hardly understood now. But Henry Roberts’s
concern was not entirely a matter of social propriety; it was a desire to
propitiate this young man who was
living in certain errors of belief, so that he would be in a friendly attitude of
mind and open to the arguments which were always burning on the lips of
Edward Irving’s follower. He did not mean to begin them until they were at
supper; so he and John Fenn sat in
silence waiting Philippa’s summons to the dining-room. Neither of them had
any small talk; Mr. Roberts was making sure that he could trust his memory
to repeat those wailing cadences of the Voice, and John Fenn, still shaken by
something he could not understand that had been hidden in what he understood
too well–a sinner’s indifference to grace– was trying to get back to his serene,
impersonal arrogance.

As for Philippa, she was frightened
at her temerity in having invited the minister to a Hannahless supper; her
flutter of questions as to “what” and “how” brought the old woman from her
bed, in spite of the girl’s half-hearted protests that she “mustn’t think of
getting up! Just tell me what to do,” she implored, “I can manage. We are
going to have–TEA!”

“We always have tea,” Hannah said,
sourly; yet she was not really sour, for, like William King and Dr. Lavendar,
Hannah had discerned possibilities in the Rev. John Fenn’s pastoral visits.
“Get your Sunday-go-to-meeting dress on,” she commanded, hunching a shawl
over a rheumatic shoulder and motioning the girl out of the kitchen.

Philippa, remorseful and breathless,
ran quickly up to her room to put on her best frock, smooth her shining hair
down in two loops over her ears, and pin her one adornment, a flat gold
brooch, on the bosom of her dress. She lifted her candle and looked at herself
in the black depths of the little swinging glass on her high bureau, and her
face fell into sudden wistful lines. “Oh, I do not look wicked,” she thought, despairingly.

John Fenn, glancing at her across the supper-table, had some such thought
himself; how strange that one who was so perverted in belief should not betray perversion in her countenance. “On
the contrary, her face is pleasing,” he said, simply. He feared, noticing the
brooch, that she was vain, as well as indifferent to her privileges; he wondered if she had observed his new coat.

Philippa’s vanity did not, at any
rate, give her much courage; she scarcely spoke, except to ask him whether he
took cream and sugar in his tea. When she handed his cup to him, she said,
very low, “Will you taste it, and see if it is right?”

He was so conscious of the tremor
of her voice and hand that he made
haste to reassure her, sipping his tea with much politeness of manner; as he
did so, she said, suddenly, and with compelling loudness, “Is it–agreeable?”

John Fenn, startled, looked at her
over the rim of his cup. “Very; very indeed,” he said, quickly. But he
instantly drank some water. “It is, perhaps, a little strong,” he said, blinking.
Then, having qualified his politeness for conscience’ sake, he drank all the bitter tea for human kindness’ sake–for
evidently Miss Philippa had taken pains to give him what he might like. After
that she did not speak, but her face grew very rosy while she sat in silence
listening to her father and their guest. Henry Roberts forgot to eat, in the passion of his theological arguments, but as
supper proceeded he found his antagonist less alert than usual; the minister
defended his own doctrines instead of attacking those of his host; he even
admitted, a little listlessly, that if the Power fell upon him, if he himself spoke in a strange tongue, then perhaps he
would believe–“that is, if I could be sure I was not out of my mind at the
time,” he qualified, dully. Philippa took no part in the discussion; it would not have been thought becoming in
her to do so; but indeed, she hardly heard what the two men were saying.
She helped old Hannah carry away
the dishes, and then sat down by the table and drew the lamp near her
so that she could sew; she sat there smiling a little, dimpling even, and
looking down at her seam; she did not notice that John Fenn was being worsted, or that once he failed altogether to
reply, and sat in unprotesting silence under Henry Roberts’s rapt remembrances. A curious blackness had settled
under his eyes, and twice he passed his hand across his lips.

“They are numb,” he said, in surprised apology to his host. A moment
later he shivered violently, beads of sweat burst out on his forehead, and
the color swept from his face. He
started up, staring wildly about him; he tried to speak, but his words
stumbled into incoherent babbling.
It was all so sudden, his rising,
then falling back into his chair, then slipping sidewise and crumpling up
upon the floor, all the while stammering unmeaning words–that Henry Roberts
sat looking at him in dumb amazement. It was Philippa who cried out
and ran forward to help him, then
stopped midway, her hands clutched
together at her throat, her eyes dilating with a horror that seemed to paralyze
her so that she was unable to move to his assistance. The shocked silence of
the moment was broken by Fenn’s
voice, trailing on and on, in totally unintelligible words.

Henry Roberts, staring open-mouthed,
suddenly spoke: “The VOICE!” he said. But Philippa, as though she were
breaking some invisible bond that held her, groaning even with the effort of
it, said, in a whisper: “No. Not that. He is dying. Don’t you see? That’s
what it is. He is dying.”

Her father, shocked from his ecstasy, ran to John Fenn’s side, trying to lift
him and calling upon him to say what was the matter.

“He is going to die,” said Philippa,

Henry Roberts, aghast, calling loudly to old Hannah, ran to the kitchen and
brought back a great bowl of hot water. “Drink it!” he said. “Drink it, I tell
ye! I believe you’re poisoned!”

And while he and Hannah bent over
the unconscious young man, Philippa seemed to come out of her trance;
slowly, with upraised hands, and head bent upon her breast, she stepped backward, backward, out of the room, out
of the house. On the doorstep, in the darkness, she paused and listened for
several minutes to certain dreadful sounds in the house. Then, suddenly,
a passion of purpose swept the daze of horror away.

“HE SHALL NOT DIE,” she said.
She flung her skirt across her arm
that her feet might not be hampered, and fled down the road toward Old
Chester. It was very dark. At first her eyes, still blurred with the lamplight, could not distinguish the footpath,
and she stumbled over the grassy
border into the wheel-ruts; then, feeling the loose dust under her feet, she ran
and ran and ran. The blood began to sing in her ears; once her throat seemed to close so that she could not breathe,
and for a moment she had to walk,– but her hands, holding up her skirts,
trembled with terror at the delay.
The road was very dark under the
sycamore-trees; twice she tripped and fell into the brambles at one side or
against a gravelly bank on the other. But stumbling somehow to her feet,
again she ran and ran and ran. The
night was very still; she could hear her breath tearing her throat; once she felt something hot and salty in her mouth;
it was then she had to stop and walk for a little space–she must walk
or fall down! And she could not
fall down, no! no! no! he would die if she fell down! Once a figure loomed
up in the haze, and she caught the
glimmer of an inquisitive eye. “Say,” a man’s voice said, “where are you
bound for?” There was something in
the tone that gave her a stab of fright; for a minute or two her feet seemed to
fly, and she heard a laugh behind her in the darkness: “What’s your hurry?”
the voice called after her. And still she ran. But she was saying to herself
that she must STOP; she must stand still just for a moment. “Oh, just for
a minute?” her body whimperingly
entreated; she would not listen to it! She must not listen, even though her heart
burst with the strain. But her body had its way, and she fell into a walk,
although she was not aware of it. In a gasping whisper she was saying, over
and over: “Doctor, hurry; he’ll die; hurry; I killed him.” She tried to be
silent, but her lips moved mechanically. “Doctor, hurry; he’ll–Oh, I MUSTN’T
talk!” she told herself, “it takes my breath”–but still her lips moved. She
began to run, heavily. “I can’t talk –if–I–run–” It was then that she
saw a glimmer of light and knew that she was almost in Old Chester. Very
likely she would have fallen if she had not seen that far-off window just
when she did.

At William King’s house she dropped
against the door, her fingers still clinging to the bell. She was past speaking when the doctor lifted her and carried
her into the office. “No; don’t try to tell me what it is,” he said; “I’ll put
Jinny into the buggy, and we’ll get back in a jiffy. I understand; Hannah
is worse.”

“Not… Hannah–“

“Your father?” he said, picking up
his medicine-case.

“Not father; Mr.–Fenn–“

As the doctor hurried out to the
stable to hitch up he bade his wife put certain remedies into his bag,–“and
look after that child,” he called over his shoulder to his efficient Martha. She
was so efficient that when he had brought Jinny and the buggy to the door, Philly was able to gasp out that Mr. Fenn was sick. “Dying.”

“Don’t try to talk,” he said again,
as he helped her into the buggy. But after a while she was able to tell him,

“I wanted him to love me.” William
King was silent. “I used a charm. It was wicked.”

“Come, come; not wicked,” said the
doctor; “a little foolish, perhaps. A new frock, and a rose in your hair,
and a smile at another man, would be enough of a charm, my dear.”

Philippa shook her head. “It was
not enough. I wore my best frock, and I went to Dr. Lavendar’s church–“

“Good gracious!” said William King.

“They were not enough. So I used
a charm. I made a drink–“

“Ah!” said the doctor, frowning.
“What was in the drink, Miss Philly?”

“Perhaps it was not the right herb,”
she said; “it may have been ‘mother-wort’; but the book said ‘monk’s-hood,’
and I–“

William King reached for his whip and cut Jinny across the flanks. “ACONITE!”
he said under his breath, while Jinny leaped forward in shocked astonishment.

“Will he live?” said Philippa.
Dr. King, flecking Jinny again, and letting his reins hang over the dashboard, could not help putting a comforting
arm around her. “I hope so,”
he said; “I hope so!” After all, there was no use telling the child that probably by this time her lover was either
dead or getting better. “It’s his own fault,” William King thought, angrily.
“Why in thunder didn’t he fall in love like a man, instead of making the child
resort to–G’on, Jinny! G’on!”
He still had the whip in his hand
when they drew up at the gate.


When Philippa Roberts had fled
out into the night for help, her
father and old Hannah were too alarmed to notice her absence. They went hurrying back and forth with this remedy
and that. Again and again they were ready to give up; once Henry Roberts
said, “He is gone!” and once Hannah began to cry, and said, “Poor lad,
poor boy!” Yet each made one more
effort, their shadows looming gigantic against the walls or stretching
across the ceiling, bending and sinking as they knelt beside the poor young
man, who by that time was beyond
speech. So the struggle went on. But little by little life began to gain. John Fenn’s eyes opened. Then he smiled.
Then he said something-they could
not hear what.

“Bless the Lord!” said Henry Roberts.

“He’s asking for Philly,” said old
Hannah. By the time the doctor and
Philippa reached the house the shadow of death had lifted.

“It must have been poison,” Mr.
Roberts told the doctor. “When he
gets over it he will tell us what it was.”

“I don’t believe he will,” said William King; he was holding Fenn’s wrist between his firm fingers, and then he
turned up a fluttering eyelid and looked at the still dulled eye.

Philippa, kneeling on the other side
of John Fenn, said loudly: “I will tell HIM–and perhaps God will forgive

The doctor, glancing up at her, said: “No, you won’t–anyhow at present.
Take that child up-stairs, Hannah,” he commanded, “and put her to bed.
She ran all the way to Old Chester to get me,” he explained to Henry Roberts.

Before he left the house that night he sat for a few minutes at Philippa’s bedside. “My dear little girl,” he said, in
his kind, sensible voice, “the best thing to do is to forget it. It was a foolish
thing to do–that charm business; but happily no harm is done. Now say
nothing about it, and never do it again.”

Philippa turned her shuddering face
away. “Do it again? OH!”

As William King went home he apologized to Jinny for that cut across her
flanks by hanging the reins on the overhead hook, and letting her plod along
at her own pleasure. He was saying
to himself that he hoped he had done right to tell the child to hold her tongue. “It was just tomfoolery,” he argued;
“there was no sin about it, so
confession wouldn’t do her any good; on the contrary, it would hurt a girl’s
self-respect to have a man know she had tried to catch him. But what a
donkey he was not to see…. Oh yes; I’m sure I’m right,” said William King.
“I wonder how Dr. Lavendar would
look at it?”

Philippa, at any rate, was satisfied
with his advice. Perhaps the story of what she had done might have broken
from her pale lips had her father asked any questions; but Henry Roberts had
retreated into troubled silence. There had been one wonderful moment when
he thought that at last his faith
was to be justified and by the
unbeliever himself! and he had cried out, with a passion deferred for more than
thirty years: “The VOICE!” But behold, the voice, babbling and meaningless, was nothing but sickness. No one could
guess what the shock of that
disappointment was. He was not able even to speak of it. So Philippa was asked
no awkward questions, and her
self-knowledge burned deep into her heart.

In the next few days, while the minister was slowly recovering in the great
four-poster in Henry Roberts’s guest-room, she listened to Hannah’s speculations
as to the cause of his attack, and
expressed no opinion. She was dumb
when John Fenn tried to tell her how grateful he was to her for that terrible run through the darkness for his sake.

“You should not be grateful,” she
said, at last, in a whisper.

But he was grateful; and, furthermore, he was very happy in those days
of slow recovery. The fact was that that night, when he had been so near
death, he had heard Philippa, in his first dim moments of returning consciousness,
stammering out those distracted
words: “Perhaps God will forgive me.” To John Fenn those words meant the
crowning of all his efforts: she had repented!

“Truly,” he said, lying very white
and feeble on his pillow and looking into Philly’s face when she brought
him his gruel, “truly,

“He moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform!”

The “mysterious way” was the befalling of that terrible illness in Henry
Roberts’s house, so that Philippa should be impressed by it. “If my affliction
has been blessed to any one else, I am glad to have suffered it,” he said.

Philippa silently put a spoonful of
gruel between his lips; he swallowed it as quickly as he could.
“I heard you call upon God for
forgiveness; the Lord is merciful and gracious!”

Philly said, very low, “Yes; oh YES.” So John Fenn thanked God and took
his gruel, and thought it was very good. He thought, also, that Miss Philippa was very good to be so good to him. In
those next few days, before he was strong enough to be moved back to his own
house, he thought more of her goodness and less of her salvation. It was then
that he had his great moment, his
revealing moment! All of a sudden, at the touch of Life, his honest artificiality had dropped from him, and he knew
that he had never before known anything worth knowing! He knew he
was in love. He knew it when he
realized that he was not in the least troubled about her soul. “That is
what she meant!” he thought; “she
wanted me to care for her, before I cared for her soul.” He was so simple
in his acceptance of the revelation that she loved him, that when he went to
ask her to be his wife the blow of her reply almost knocked him back into his
ministerial affectations:


When John Fenn got home that evening
he went into his study and shut
the door. Mary came and pounded on it, but he only said, in a muffled voice:

“No, Mary. Not now. Go away.”

He was praying for resignation to what he told himself was the will of God.
“The Lord is unwilling that my thoughts should be diverted from His service by
my own personal happiness.” Then he tried to put his thoughts on that service by deciding upon a text for his next
sermon. But the texts which suggested themselves were not steadying to his
bewildered mind:

“LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” (“I certainly
thought she loved me.”)

“MARVEL NOT, MY BRETHREN, IF THE WORLD HATE YOU.” (“I am, perhaps, personally
unattractive to her; and yet I wonder why?”) He was not a conceited man; but,
like all his sex, he really did “marvel” a little at the lack of feminine
appreciation. He marveled so much that a week later he took Mary and walked out to Mr. Roberts’s house. This time
Mary, to her disgust, was left with Miss Philly’s father, while her brother
and Miss Philly walked in the frosted garden. Later, when that walk was
over, and the little sister trudged along at John Fenn’s side in the direction of
Perryville, she was very fretful because he would not talk to her. He was
occupied, poor boy, in trying again not to “marvel,” and to be submissive to the divine will.

After that, for several months, he
refused Mary’s plea to be taken to visit Miss Philly. He had, he told himself,
“submitted”; but submission left him very melancholy and solemn, and also
a little resentful; indeed, he was so low in his mind, that once he threw out a
bitter hint to Dr. Lavendar,–who, according to his wont, put two and two together.

“Men in our profession, sir,” said
John Fenn, “must not expect personal happiness.”

“Well,” said Dr. Lavendar,
meditatively, “perhaps if we don’t expect it, the surprise of getting it makes it
all the better. I expected it; but I’ve exceeded my expectations!”

“But you are not married,” the
young man said, impulsively.

Dr. Lavendar’s face changed; “I hope
you will marry, Fenn,” he said, quietly. At which John Fenn said, “I am married
to my profession; that is enough
for any minister.”

“You’ll find your profession a mighty poor housekeeper,” said Dr. Lavendar.

It was shortly after this that Mr.
Fenn and his big roan broke through the snow-drifts and made their way to
Henry Roberts’s house. “I must speak to you alone, sir,” he said to the Irvingite, who, seeing him approaching, had
hastened to open the door for him and draw him in out of the cold sunshine.

What the caller had to say was brief
and to the point: Why was his daughter so unkind? John Fenn did not feel now
that the world–which meant Philippa –hated him. He felt–he could not
help feeling–that she did not even dislike him; “on the contrary….” So
what reason had she for refusing him? But old Mr. Roberts shook his head.
“A young female does not have ‘reasons,'” he said. But he was sorry for
the youth, and he roused himself from his abstraction long enough to question
his girl:

“He is a worthy young man, my
Philippa. Why do you dislike him?”

“I do not dislike him.”

“Then why –?” her father pro-

But Philly was silent.

Even Hannah came to the rescue:

“You’ll get a crooked stick at the
end, if you don’t look out!”

Philly laughed; then her face fell.
“I sha’n’t have any stick, ever!”

And Hannah, in her concern, confided
her forebodings about the stick
to Dr. King.

“I wonder,” William said to himself,
uneasily, “if I was wise to tell that child to hold her tongue? Perhaps they might
have straightened it out between ’em before this, if she had told him and
been done with it. I’ve a great mind to ask Dr. Lavendar.”

He did ask him; at first with proper
precautions not to betray a patient’s confidence, but, at a word from Dr.
Lavendar, tumbling into truthfulness.

“You are talking about young Philippa Roberts?” Dr. Lavendar announced,
calmly, when William was half-way
through his story of concealed identities.

“How did you guess it?” the doctor
said, astonished; “oh, well, yes, I am. I guess there’s no harm telling you–“
“Not the slightest,” said Dr. Lavendar, “especially as I knew it already
from the young man–I mean, I knew
she wouldn’t have him. But I didn’t know why until your story dovetailed
with his. William, the thing has
festered in her! The lancet ought to have been used the next day. I believe she’d
have been married by this time if she’d spoken out, then and there.”

William King was much chagrined.
“I thought, being a girl, you know, her pride, her self-respect–“

“Oh yes; the lancet hurts,” Dr.
Lavendar admitted; “but it’s better than–well, I don’t know the terms
of your trade, Willy-but I guess you know what I mean?”

“I guess I do,” said William King,
thoughtfully. “Do you suppose it’s
too late now?”

“It will be more of an operation,”
Dr. Lavendar conceded.

“Could I tell him?” William said,
after a while.

“I don’t see why not,” Dr. Lavendar

“I suppose I’d have to ask her permission?”

“Nonsense!” said Dr. Lavendar.

That talk between the physician of
the soul and the physician of the body happened on the very night when John
Fenn, in his study in Perryville, with Mary dozing on his knee, threw over,
once and for all, what he had called “submission” and made up his mind to
get his girl! The very next morning he girded himself and walked forth upon
the Pike toward Henry Roberts’s house. He did not take Mary with him,–but
not because he meant to urge salvation on Miss Philly! As it happened, Dr.
King, too, set out upon the Perryville road that morning, remarking to Jinny
that if he had had his wits about him that night in November, she would
have been saved the trip on this May morning. The trip was easy enough;
William had found a medical pamphlet among his mail, and he was reading it,
with the reins hanging from the crook of his elbow. It was owing to this
method of driving that John Fenn
reached the Roberts house before Jinny passed it, so she went all the way to
Perryville, and then had to turn round to follow on his track.

“Brother went to see Miss Philly,
and he wouldn’t take me,” Mary
complained to William King, when he drew up at the minister’s door; and the
doctor was sympathetic to the extent of five cents for candy comfort.

But when Jinny reached the Roberts
gate Dr. King saw John Fenn down in the garden with Philippa. “Ho-ho!”
said William. “I guess I’ll wait and see if he works out his own salvation.”
He hitched Jinny, and went in to find Philippa’s father, and to him he freed
his mind. The two men sat on the
porch looking down over the tops
of the lilac-bushes into the garden, where they could just see the heads of
the two young, unhappy people.

“It’s nonsense, you know,” said
William King, “that Philly doesn’t
take that boy. He’s head over heels in love with her.”

“She is not attached to him in any
such manner,” Henry Roberts said;
“I wonder a little at it, myself. He is a good youth.”

The doctor looked at him wonderingly; it occurred to him that if he had
a daughter he would understand her
better than Philly’s father understood her. “I think the child cares for him,”
he said; then, hesitatingly, he referred to John Fenn’s sickness. “I suppose
you know about it?” he said.

Philly’s father bent his head; he
knew, he thought, only too well; no divine revelation in a disordered digestion!

“Don’t you think,” William King
said, smiling, “you might try to make her feel that she is wrong not to accept him, now that the charm has worked,
so to speak?”

“The charm?” the old man repeated,

“I thought you understood,” the
doctor said, frowning; then, after a minute’s hesitation, he told him the

Henry Roberts stared at him, shocked
and silent; his girl, his Philippa, to have done such a thing! “So great a
sin–my little Philly!” he said, faintly. He was pale with distress.

“My dear sir,” Dr. King protested,
impatiently, “don’t talk about SIN
in connection with that child. I wish I’d held my tongue!”

Henry Roberts was silent. Philippa’s
share in John Fenn’s mysterious
illness removed it still further from that revelation, waited for during all these
years with such passionate patience. He paid no attention to William King’s
reassurances; and his silence was so silencing that by and by the doctor
stopped talking and looked down into the garden again. He observed that
those two heads had not drawn any
nearer together. It was not John Fenn’s fault….

“There can be no good reason,” he
was saying to Philippa. “If it is a bad reason, I will overcome it! Tell me why?”

She put her hand up to her lips and

“Come,” he said; “it is my due,
Philippa. I WILL know!”

Philippa shook her head. He took
her other hand and stroked it, as one might stroke a child’s hand to comfort
and encourage it.

“You must tell me, beloved,” he said. Philippa looked at him with scared
eyes; then, suddenly pulling her hands from his and turning away, she covered
her face and burst into uncontrollable sobbing. He, confounded and frightened,
followed her and tried to soothe

“Never mind, Philly, never mind!
if you don’t want to tell me–“

“I do want to tell you. I will tell
you! You will despise me. But I will tell you. I DID A WICKED DEED. It was
this very plant-here, where we stand, monk’s-hood! It was poison. I didn’t
know–oh, I didn’t know. The book
said monk’s-hood–it was a mistake. But I did a wicked deed. I tried to
kill you–“

She swayed as she spoke, and then
seemed to sink down and down, until she lay, a forlorn little heap, at his
feet. For one dreadful moment he
thought she had lost her senses. He tried to lift her, saying, with agitation:

“Philly! We will not speak of it–“

“I murdered you,” she whispered.
“I put the charm into your tea, to make you… love me. You didn’t die.
But it was murder. I meant–I meant no harm–“

He understood. He lifted her up
and held her in his arms. Up on the porch William King saw that the two
heads were close together!

“Why!” the young man said. “Why–
but Philly! You loved me!”

“What difference does that make?”
she said, heavily.

“It makes much difference to me,”
he answered; he put his hand on her soft hair and tried to press her head down again on his shoulder. But she drew away.

“No; no.”

“But–” he began. She interrupted

“Listen,” she said; and then, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes breaking
into a sob, she told him the story of that November night. He could hardly
hear it through.

“Love, you loved me! You will
marry me.”

“No; I am a wicked girl–a–a–an
immodest girl–“

“My beloved, you meant no wrong–“
He paused, seeing that she was not

Her father and the doctor were coming down the garden path; William
King, beaming with satisfaction at the proximity of those two heads, had summoned Henry Roberts to “come along
and give ’em your blessing!”

But as he reached them, standing now
apart, the doctor’s smile faded–evidently something had happened. John
Fenn, tense with distress, called to him with frowning command: “Doctor! Tell
her, for heaven’s sake, tell her that it was nothing–that charm! Tell her she
did no wrong.”

“No one can do that,” Henry Roberts
said; “it was a sin.”

“Now, look here–” Dr. King began.

“It was a sin to try to move by foolish arts the will of God.”

Philippa turned to the young man,
standing quivering beside her. “You see?” she said.

“No! No, I don’t see–or if I do,
never mind.”

Just for a moment her face cleared.
(Yes, truly, he was not thinking of her soul now!) But the gleam faded. “Oh,
father, I am a great sinner,” she

“No, you’re not!” William King said.

“Yes, my Philippa, you are,” Henry
Roberts agreed, solemnly.

The lover made a despairing gesture:
“Doctor King! tell her ‘no!’ ‘no!'”

“Yes,” her father went on, “it was
a sin. Therefore, Philippa, SIN NO MORE. Did you pray that this young man’s
love might be given to you?”

Philippa said, in a whisper, “Yes.”

“And it was given to you?”


“Philippa, was it the foolish weed
that moved him to love?” She was
silent. “My child, my Philly, it was your Saviour who moved the heart of
this youth, because you asked Him.
Will you do such despite to your Lord as to reject the gift he has given in
answer to your prayer?” Philippa, with parted lips, was listening intently: “The gift He had given!”

Dr. King dared not speak. John
Fenn looked at him, and then at Philippa, and trembled. Except for the
sound of a bird stirring in its nest overhead in the branches, a sunny stillness
brooded over the garden. Then,
suddenly, the stillness was shattered by a strange sound–a loud, cadenced
chant, full of rhythmical repetitions. The three who heard it thrilled from
head to foot; Henry Roberts did not seem to hear it: it came from his own

“Oh, Philippa! Oh, Philippa! I do
require–I do require that you accept your Saviour’s gift. Add not sin to
sin. Oh, add not sin to sin by making prayer of no avail! Behold, He has
set before thee an open door. Oh, let no man shut it. Oh, let no man shut

The last word fell into a low, wailing note. No one spoke. The bird rustled
in the leaves above them; a butterfly wavered slowly down to settle on a
purple flag in the sunshine. Philly’s eyes filled with blessed tears. She
stretched out her arms to her father and smiled. But it was John Fenn who
caught those slender, trembling arms against his breast; and, looking over
at the old man, he said, softly,

… “and I,” said William King,
telling the story that night to Dr. Lavendar–“I just wanted to say ‘the
voice of COMMON SENSE!'”

“My dear William,” said the old man,
gently, “the most beautiful thing in the world is the knowledge that comes
to you, when you get to be as old
as I am, that they are the same