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A Modern Cinderella by Louisa May Alcott

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conviction that her appearance was highly creditable;
and her dismay can be imagined, when she
beheld that young lady placidly devouring a great
cup of brown-bread and milk before the eyes of the
assembled multitude. The poor lady choked
in her coffee, and between her gasps whispered
irefully behind her napkin,--

"For Heaven's sake, Dora, put away that
mess! The Ellenboroughs are directly opposite,
watching everything you do. Eat that omelet, or
anything respectable, unless you want me to die of

Debby dropped her spoon, and, hastily helping
herself from the dish her aunt pushed toward her,
consumed the leathery compound with as much
grace as she could assume, though unable to
repress a laugh at Aunt Pen's disturbed countenance.
There was a slight lull in the clatter, and the blithe
sound caused several heads to turn toward the
quarter whence it came, for it was as unexpected
and pleasant a sound as a bobolink's song in a cage
of shrill-voiced canaries.

"She's a jolly little thing and powerful pretty,
so deuse take me if I don't make up to the old lady
and find out who the girl is. I've been introduced
to Mrs. Carroll at our house: but I suppose she
won't remember me till I remind her."

The "deuse" declining to accept of his repeated
offers (probably because there was still too
much honor and honesty in the boy,) young
Leavenworth sought out Mrs. Carroll on the
Piazza, as she and Debby were strolling there an
hour later.

"Joe Leavenworth, my dear, from one of our
first families,--very wealthy,--fine match,--pray,
be civil,--smooth your hair, hold back your shoulders,
and put down your parasol," murmured
Aunt Pen, as the gentleman approached with as
much pleasure in his countenance as it was consistent
with manly dignity to express upon meeting
two of the inferior race.

"My niece, Miss Dora Wilder. This is her
first season at the beach, and we must endeavor to
make it pleasant for her, or she will be getting
homesick and running away to mamma," said Aunt Pen,
in her society-tone, after she had returned his
greeting, and perpetrated a polite fiction,
by declaring that she remembered him perfectly,
for he was the image of his father.

Mr. Leavenworth brought the heels of his varnished
boots together with a click, and executed the latest
bow imported, then stuck his glass in his eye and stared
till it fell out, (the glass, not the eye,) upon which
he fell into step with them, remarking,--

"I shall be most happy to show the lions: they
are deused tame ones, so you needn't be alarmed.
Miss Wilder."

Debby was good-natured enough to laugh; and,
elated with that success, he proceeded to pour
forth his stores of wit and learning in true collegian
style, quite unconscious that the "jolly little thing"
was looking him through and through with the
smiling eyes that were producing such pleasurable
sensations under the mosaic studs. They strolled
toward the beach, and, meeting an old acquaintance,
Aunt Pen fell behind, and beamed upon the
young pair as if her prophetic eye even at this early
stage beheld them walking altarward in a proper
state of blond white vest and bridal awkwardness.

"Can you skip a stone, Mr. Leavenworth?
asked Debby, possessed with a mischievous desire
to shock the piece of elegance at her side.

"Eh? what's that? " he inquired, with his
head on one side, like an inquisitive robin.

Debby repeated her question, and illustrated it
by sending a stone skimming over the water in the
most scientific manner. Mr. Joe was painfully
aware that this was not at all "the thing," that his
sisters never did so, and that Seguin would laugh
confoundedly, if he caught him at it; but Debby
looked so irresistibly fresh and pretty under her
rose-lined parasol that he was moved to confess
that he had done such a thing, and to sacrifice his
gloves by poking in the sand, that he might indulge
in a like unfashionable pastime.

"You'll be at the hop to-night, I hope, Miss
Wilder," he observed, introducing a topic suited
to a young lady's mental capacity.

"Yes, indeed; for dancing is one of the joys of
my life, next to husking and making hay"; and
Debby polked a few steps along the beach, much
to the edification of a pair of old gentlemen,
serenely taking their first constitutional."

"Making what? " cried Mr. Joe, poking after

"Hay; ah, that is the pleasantest fun in the
world,--and better exercise, my mother says, for
soul and body, than dancing till dawn in crowded
rooms, with everything in a state of unnatural
excitement. If one wants real merriment, let him go
into a new-mown field, where all the air is full of
summer odors, where wild-flowers nod along the
walls, where blackbirds make finer music than any
band, and sun and wind and cheery voices do their
part, while windrows rise, and great loads go
rumbling through the lanes with merry brown faces
atop. Yes, much as I like dancing, it is not to be
compared with that; for in the one case we shut
out the lovely world, and in the other we become
a part of it, till by its magic labor turns to poetry,
and we harvest something better than dried buttercups
and grass."

As she spoke, Debby looked up, expecting to
meet a glance of disapproval; but something in the
simple earnestness of her manner had recalled
certain boyish pleasures as innocent as they were
hearty, which now contrasted very favorably with
the later pastimes in which fast horses, and that
lower class of animals, fast men, bore so large a
part. Mr. Joe thoughtfully punched five holes in
the sand, and for a moment Debby liked the expression
of his face; then the old listlessness returned,
and, looking up, he said, with an air of
ennui that was half sad, half ludicrous, in one so
young and so generously endowed with youth,
health, and the good gifts of this life,--

"I used to fancy that sort of thing years ago,
but I'm afraid I should find it a little slow now,
though you describe it in such an inviting manner
that I would be tempted to try it, if a hay-cock
came in my way; for, upon my life, it's deused
heavy work loafing about at these watering-places
all summer. Between ourselves, there's a deal of
humbug about this kind of life, as you will find,
when you've tried it as long as I have."

"Yes, I begin to think so already; but perhaps
you can give me a few friendly words of warning
from the stones of your experience, that I may be
spared the pain of saying what so many look,--
'Grandma, the world is hollow; my doll is stuffed
with sawdust; and I should 'like to go into a
convent, if you please.'"

Debby's eyes were dancing with merriment;
but they were demurely down-cast, and her voice
was perfectly serious.

The milk of human kindness had been slightly
curdled for Mr. Joe by sundry college-tribulations;
and having been "suspended," he very naturally
vibrated between the inborn jollity of his
temperament and the bitterness occasioned by his wrongs.

He had lost at billiards the night before, had been
hurried at breakfast, had mislaid his cigar-case,
and splashed his boots; consequently the darker
mood prevailed that morning, and when his counsel
was asked, he gave it like one who bad known
the heaviest trials of this "Piljin Projiss of a

"There's no justice in the world, no chance
for us young people to enjoy ourselves, without
some penalty to pay, some drawback to worry us
like these confounded 'all-rounders.' Even here,
where all seems free and easy, there's no end of
gossips and spies who tattle and watch till you feel
as if you lived in a lantern. 'Every one for himself,
and the Devil take the hindmost'; that's the
principle they go on, and you have to keep your
wits about you in the most exhausting manner, or
you are done for before you know it. I've seen a
good deal of this sort of thing, and hope you'll get
on better than some do, when it's known that you
are the rich Mrs. Carroll's niece; though you don't
need that fact to enhance your charms,--upon my
life, you don't."

Debby laughed behind her parasol at this burst
of candor; but her independent nature prompted
her to make a fair beginning, in spite of Aunt
Pen's polite fictions and well-meant plans.

" Thank you for your warning, but I don't
apprehend much annoyance of that kind," she said,
demurely. "Do you know, I think, if young
ladies were truthfully labelled when they went into
society, it would be a charming fashion, and save a
world of trouble? Something in this style:--
'Arabella Marabout, aged nineteen, fortune
$100,000, temper warranted'; 'Laura Eau-de-Cologne,
aged twenty-eight, fortune $30,000,
temper slightly damaged'; Deborah Wilder,
aged eighteen, fortune, one pair of hands, one head,
indifferently well filled, one heart, (not in the
market,) temper decided, and no expectations.'
There, you see, that would do away with much of
the humbug you lament, and we poor souls would
know at once whether we were sought for our fortunes
or ourselves, and that would be so comfortable!"

Mr. Leavenworth turned away, with a convicted sort
of expression, as she spoke, and, making
a spyglass of his hand, seemed to be watching
something out at sea with absorbing interest. He
had been guilty of a strong desire to discover
whether Debby was an heiress, but had not expected
to be so entirely satisfied on that important
subject, and was dimly conscious that a keen eye
had seen his anxiety, and a quick wit devised a
means of setting it at rest forever. Somewhat
disconcerted, he suddenly changed the conversation,
and, like many another distressed creature, took to
the water, saying briskly,--

"By-the-by, Miss Wilder, as I've engaged to
do the honors, shall I have the pleasure of bathing
with you when the fun begins? As you are fond
of hay-making, I suppose you intend to pay your
respects to the old gentleman with the three-
pronged pitchfork?"

"Yes, Aunt Pen means to put me through a course
of salt water, and any instructions in the art
of navigation will be gratefully received; for I
never saw the ocean before, and labor under a
firm conviction, that, once in, I never shall come
out again till I am brought, like Mr. Mantilini, a
'damp, moist, unpleasant body.'"

As Debby spoke, Mrs. Carroll hove in sight,
coming down before the wind with all sails set, and
signals of distress visible long before she dropped
anchor and came along-side. The devoted woman
had been strolling slowly for the girl's sake, though
oppressed with a mournful certainty that her most
prominent feature was fast becoming a fine copper-
color; yet she had sustained herself like a Spartan
matron, till it suddenly occurred to her that her
charge might be suffering a like

Into something rich and strange."

Her fears, however, were groundless, for Debby
met her without a freckle, looking all the better
for her walk; and though her feet were wet with
chasing the waves, and her pretty gown the worse
for salt water, Aunt Pen never chid her for the
destruction of her raiment, nor uttered a warning
word against an unladylike exuberance of spirits,
but replied to her inquiry most graciously,--

"Certainly, my love, we shall bathe at eleven,
and there will be just time to get Victorine and our
dresses; so run on to the house, and I will join you
as soon as I have finished what I am saying to
Mrs. Earl,"--then added, in a stage-aside, as she
put a fallen lock off the girl's forehead, "You are
doing beautifully! He is evidently struck; make
yourself interesting, and don't burn your nose, I
beg of you."

Debby's bright face clouded over, and she
wakked on with so much stateliness that her escort
wondered " what the deuse the old lady had done
to her," and exerted himself to the utmost to recall
her merry mood, but with indifferent success.

"Now I begin to feel more like myself, for this
is getting back to first principles, though I fancy I
look like the little old woman who fell asleep on
the king's highway and woke up with abbreviated
drapery; and you look funnier still, Aunt Pen,"
said Debby, as she tied on her pagoda-hat, and
followed Mrs. Carroll, who walked out of her
dressing-room an animated bale of blue cloth
surmounted by a gigantic sun-bonnet.

Mr. Leavenworth was in waiting, and so like a
blond-headed lobster in his scarlet suit that Debby
could hardly keep her countenance as they joined
the groups of bathers gathering along the breezy

For an hour each day the actors and actresses
who played their different roles at the ----- Hotel
with such precision and success put off their masks
and dared to be themselves. The ocean wrought
the change, for it took old and young into its arms,
and for a little while they played like children in
their mother's lap. No falsehood could withstand
its rough sincerity; for the waves washed paint and
powder from worn faces, and left a fresh bloom
there. No ailment could entirely resist its vigorous
cure; for every wind brought healing on its wings,
endowing many a meagre life with another year
of health. No gloomy spirit could refuse to listen
to its lullaby, and the spray baptized it with the
subtile benediction of a cheerier mood. No rank
held place there; for the democratic sea toppled
down the greatest statesman in the land, and
dashed over the bald pate of a millionnaire with
the same white-crested wave that stranded a poor
parson on the beach and filled a fierce reformer's
mouth with brine. No fashion ruled, but that
which is as old as Eden,--the beautiful fashion of
simplicity. Belles dropped their affectations with
their hoops, and ran about the shore blithe-hearted
girls again. Young men forgot their vices and
their follies, and were not ashamed of the real
courage, strength, and skill they had tried to leave
behind them with their boyish plays. Old men
gathered shells with the little Cupids dancing on
the sand, and were better for that innocent
companionship; and young mothers never looked so
beautiful as when they rocked their babies on the
bosom of the sea.

Debby vaguely felt this charm, and, yielding
to it, splashed and sang like any beach-bird, while
Aunt Pen bobbed placidly up and down in a
retired corner, and Mr. Leavenworth swam to and
fro, expressing his firm belief in mermaids, sirens,
and the rest of the aquatic sisterhood, whose warbling
no manly ear can resist.

" Miss Wilder, you must learn to swim. I've
taught quantities of young ladies, and shall be
delighted to launch the 'Dora,' if you'll accept me
as a pilot. Stop a bit; I'll get a life-preserver
and leaving Debby to flirt with the waves, the scarlet
youth departed like a flame of fire.

A dismal shriek interrupted his pupil's play, and
looking up, she saw her aunt beckoning wildly with
one hand, while she was groping in the water with
the other. Debby ran to her, alarmed at her
tragic expression, and Mrs. Carroll, drawing the
girl's face into the privacy of her big bonnet,
whispered one awful word, adding, distractedly,--

"Dive for them! oh, dive for them! I shall be
perfectly helpless, if they are lost!"

"I can't dive, Aunt Pen; but there is a man,
let us ask him," said Debby, as a black head
appeared to windward.

But Mrs. Carroll's "nerves" had received a
shock, and, gathering up her dripping garments,
she fled precipitately along the shore and vanished
into her dressing-room.

Debby's keen sense of the ludicrous got the better
of her respect, and peal after peal of laughter
broke from her lips, till a splash behind her put an
end to her merriment, and, turning, she found that
this friend in need was her acquaintance of the day
before. The gentleman seemed pausing for permission
to approach, with much the appearance of a sagacious
Newfoundland, wistful and wet.

"Oh, I'm very glad it's you, Sir!" was Debby's
cordial greeting, as she shook a drop off the end of
her nose, and nodded, smiling.

The new-comer immediately beamed upon her
like an amiable Triton, saying, as they turned

"Our first interview opened with a laugh on my
side, and our second with one on yours. I accept
the fact as a good omen. Your friend seemed in
trouble; allow me to atone for my past misdemeanors
by offering my services now. But first let me introduce
myself; and as I believe in the fitness of things, let
me present you with an appropriate card"; and, stooping,
the young man wrote "Frank Evan" on the hard sand at
Debby's feet.

The girl liked his manner, and, entering into the
spirit of the thing, swept as grand a curtsy as her
limited drapery would allow saying, merrily,-
"I am Debby Wilder, or Dora, as aunt prefers
to call me; and instead of laughing, I ought to be
four feet under water, looking for something we
have lost; but I can't dive, and my distress is
dreadful, as you see."

"What have you lost? I will look for it, and
bring it back in spite of the kelpies, if it is a human
possibility," replied Mr. Evan, pushing his wet
locks out of his eyes, and regarding the ocean with
a determined aspect.

Debby leaned toward him, whispering with
solemn countenance,--

"It is a set of teeth, Sir."

Mr. Evan was more a man of deeds than words,
therefore he disappeared at once with a mighty
splash, and after repeated divings and much
laughter appeared bearing the chief ornament of Mrs.
Penelope Carroll's comely countenance. Debby
looked very pretty and grateful as she returned her
thanks, and Mr. Evan was guilty of a secret wish
that all the worthy lady's features were at the
bottom of the sea, that he might have the satisfaction
of restoring them to her attractive niece;
but curbing this unnatural desire, he bowed, saying,

"Tell your aunt, if you please, that this little
accident will remain a dead secret, so far as I am
concerned, and I am very glad to have been of
service at such a critical moment."

Whereupon Mr. Evan marched again into the
briny deep, and Debby trotted away to her aunt,
whom she found a clammy heap of blue flannel
and despair. Mrs. Carroll's temper was ruffled,
and though she joyfully rattled in her teeth, she
said, somewhat testily, when Debby's story was

"Now that man will have a sort of claim on us,
and we must be civil, whoever he is. Dear! dear!
I wish it had been Joe Leavenworth instead.
Evan,--I don't remember any of our first families
with connections of that name, and I dislike to be
under obligations to a person of that sort, for
there's no knowing how far he may presume; so,
pray, be careful, Dora."

"I think you are very ungrateful, Aunt Pen;
and if Mr. Evan should happen to be poor, it does
not become me to turn up my nose at him, for I'm
nothing but a make-believe myself just now. I
don't wish to go down upon my knees to him, but
I do intend to be as kind to him as I should to that
conceited Leavenworth boy; yes, kinder even; for
poor people value such things more, as I know very

Mrs. Carroll instantly recovered her temper,
changed the subject, and privately resolved to
confine her prejudices to her own bosom, as they
seerned to have an aggravating effect upon the
youthful person whom she had set her heart on
disposing of to the best advantage.

Debby took her swimming-lesson with much
success, and would have achieved her dinner with
composure, if white-aproned gentlemen had not
effectually taken away her appetite by whisking
bills-of-fare into her hands, and awaiting her orders
with a fatherly interest, which induced them to
congregate mysterious dishes before her, and
blandly rectify her frequent mistakes. She survived
the ordeal, however, and at four p.m. went to drive
with "that Leavenworth boy" in the finest turnout
----- could produce. Aunt Pen then came off guard,
and with a sigh of satisfaction subsided into a peaceful
doze, still murmuring, even in her sleep,-

"Propinquity, my love, propinquity works

"Aunt Pen, are you a modest woman?" asked
the young cruisader against established absurdities,
as she came into the presence-chamber that evening
ready for the hop.

"Bless the child, what does she mean? " cried
Mrs. Carroll, with a start that twitched her
back-hair out of Victorine's hands.

"Would you like to have a daughter of yours
go to a party looking as I look?" continued her
niece, spreading her airy dress, and standing
very erect before her astonished relative.

"Why, of course I should, and be proud to own
such a charming creature," regarding the slender
white shape with much approbation,--adding,
with a smile, as she met the girl's eye,--

"Ah, I see the difficulty, now; you are disturbed
because there is not a bit of lace over
these pretty shoulders of yours. Now don't be
absurd, Dora; the dress is perfectly proper, or
Madame Tiphany never would have sent it home.
It is the fashion, child; and many a girl with such
a figure would go twice as decolletee, and think
nothing of it, I assure you."

Debby shook her head with an energy that set
the pink heather-bells a-tremble in her hair, and
her color deepened beautifully as she said, with
reproachful eyes,--

"Aunt Pen, I think there is a better fashion
in every young girl's heart than any Madame
Tiphany can teach. I am very grateful for all
you have done for me, but I cannot go into public
in such an undress as this; my mother would never
allow it, and father never forgive it. Please don't
ask me to, for indeed I cannot do it even for you."

Debby looked so pathetic that both mistress
and maid broke into a laugh which somewhat
reassured the young lady, who allowed her
determined features to relax into a smile,
as she said,--

"Now, Aunt Pen, you want me to look pretty
and be a credit to you; but how would you like to
see my face the color of those geraniums all the

"Why, Dora, you are out of your mind to ask
such a thing, when you know it's the desire of
my life to keep your color down and make you
look more delicate," said her aunt, alarmed at the
fearful prospect of a peony-faced protegee.

Well, I should be anything but that, if I wore
this gown in its present waistless condition; so here
is a remedy which will prevent such a calamity
and ease my mind."

As she spoke, Debby tied on her little blonde
fichu with a gesture which left nothing more to be

Victorine scolded, and clasped her hands; but
Mrs. Carroll, fearing to push her authority too far,
made a virtue of necessity, saying, resignedly,--

"Have your own way, Dora, but in return
oblige me by being agreeable to such persons as I
may introduce to you; and some day, when I ask
a favor, remember how much I hope to do for you,
and grant it cheerfully."

"Indeed I will, Aunt Pen, if it is anything I
can do without disobeying mother's 'notions' as
you call them. Ask me to wear an orange-colored
gown, or dance with the plainest, poorest man in
the room, and I'll do it; for there never was a
kinder aunt than mine in all the world," cried
Debby, eager to atone for her seeming wilfulness,
and really grateful for her escape from what seemed
to her benighted mind a very imminent peril.

Like a clover-blossom in a vase of camellias little
Debby looked that night among the dashing or
languid women who surrounded her; for she possessed
the charm they had lost,--the freshness of
her youth. Innocent gayety sat smiling in her eyes,
healthful roses bloomed upon her cheek, and
maiden modesty crowned her like a garland. She
was the creature that she seemed, and, yielding to
the influence of the hour, danced to the music of
her own blithe heart. Many felt the spell whose
secret they had lost the power to divine, and
watched the girlish figure as if it were a symbol
of their early aspirations dawning freshly from the
dimness of their past. More than one old man
thought again of some little maid whose love made
his boyish days a pleasant memory to him now.
More than one smiling fop felt the emptiness of his
smooth speech, when the truthful eyes looked up
into his own; and more than one pale woman
sighed regretfully with herself, "I, too, was a
happy-hearted creature once!"

"That Mr. Evan does not seem very anxious
to claim our acquaintance, after all, and I think
better of him on that account. Has he spoken to
you to-night, Dora?" asked Mrs. Carroll, as
Debby dropped down beside her after a "splendid

"No, ma'am, he only bowed. You see some
people are not so presuming as other people
thought they were; for we are not the most
attractive beings on the planet; therefore a gentleman
can be polite and then forget us without breaking
any of the Ten Commandments. Don't be offended
with him yet, for he may prove to be some
great creature with a finer pedigree than any of
your first families.' Mr. Leavenworth, as you
know everybody, perhaps you can relieve Aunt
Pen's mind, by telling her something about the
tall, brown man standing behind the lady with
salmon-colored hair."

Mr. Joe, who was fanning the top of Debby's
head with the best intentions in life, took a survey,
and answered readily,--

"Why, that's Frank Evan. I know him, and
a deused good fellow he is,--though he don't
belong to our set, you know."

"Indeed! pray, tell us something about him,
Mr. Leavenworth. We met in the cars, and he
did us a favor or two. Who and what is the
man?" asked Mrs. Carroll, relenting at once
toward a person who was favorably spoken of by
one who did belong to her "set."

"Well, let me see," began Mr. Joe, whose
narrative powers were not great." He is a
bookkeeper in my Uncle Josh Loring's importing
concern, and a powerful smart man, they say. There's
some kind of clever story about his father's leaving
a load of debts, and Frank's working a deused
number of years till they were paid. Good of him,
wasn't it? Then, just as he was going to take
things easier and enjoy life a bit, his mother died,
and that rather knocked him up, you see. He fell
sick, and came to grief generally, Uncle Josh said;
so he was ordered off to get righted, and here he
is, looking like a tombstone. I've a regard for
Frank, for he took care of me through the smallpox
a year ago, and I don't forget things of that
sort; so, if you wish to be introduced, Mrs. Carroll,
I'll trot him out with pleasure, and make a proud
man of him."

Mrs. Carroll glanced at Debby, and as that
young lady was regarding Mr. Joe with a friendly
aspect, owing to the warmth of his words, she
graciously assented, and the youth departed on his
errand. Mr. Evan went through the ceremony
with a calmness wonderful to behold, considering
the position of one lady and the charms of the
other, and soon glided into the conversation with
the ease of a most accomplished courtier.

"Now I must tear myself away, for I'm engaged
to that stout Miss Bandoline for this dance.
She's a friend of my sisLer's, and I must do the
civil, you know; powerful slow work it is, too, but
I pity the poor soul,--upon my life, I do;" and
Mr. Joe assumed the air of a martyr.

Debby looked up with a wicked smile in her
eyes, as she said,--

"Ah, that sounds very amiable here; but in five
minutes you'll be murmuring in Miss Bandoline's
earm--'I've been pining to come to you this half
hour, but I was obliged to take out that Miss
Wilder, you see--countrified little thing enough,
but not bad-looking, and has a rich aunt; so I've
done my duty to her, but deuse take me if I can
stand it any longer."

Mr. Evan joined in Debby's merriment; but
Mr. Joe was so appalled at the sudden attack that
he could only stammer a remonstrance and beat a
hasty retreat, wondering how on earth she came
to know that his favorite style of making himself
agreeable to one young lady was by decrying

"Dora, my love, that is very rude, and 'Deuse'
is not a proper expression for a woman's lips.
Pray, restrain your lively tongue, for strangers may
not understand that it is nothing but the sprightliness
of your disposition which sometimes runs away with you."

"It was only a quotation, and I thought you
would admire anything Mr. Leavenworth said,
Aunt Pen," replied Debby, demurely.

Mrs. Carroll trod on her foot, and abruptly
changed the conversation, by saying, with an
appearance of deep interest,--

"Mr. Evan, you are doubtless connected with
the Malcoms of Georgia; for they, I believe, are
descended from the ancient Evans of Scotland.
They are a very wealthy and aristocratic family,
and I remember seeing their coat-of-arms once:
three bannocks and a thistle."

Mr. Evan had been standing before them with
a composure which impressed Mrs. Carroll with a
belief in his gentle blood, for she remembered her
own fussy, plebeian husband, whose fortune had
never been able to purchase him the manners of a
gentleman. Mr. Evan only grew a little more
erect, as he replied, with an untroubled mien,--

"I cannot claim relationship with the Malcoms
of Georgia or the Evans of Scotland, I believe,
Madam. My father was a farmer, my grandfather
a blacksmith, and beyond that my ancestors
may have been street-sweepers, for anything I
know; but whatever they were, I fancy they were
honest men, for that has always been our boast,
though, like President Jackson's, our coat-of-arms
is nothing but 'a pair of shirt-sleeves.'"

From Debby's eyes there shot a bright glance
of admiration for the young man who could look
two comely women in the face and serenely own
that he was poor. Mrs. Carroll tried to appear at
ease, and, gliding out of personalities, expatiated
on the comfort of "living in a land where fame
and fortune were attainable by all who chose to
earn them," and the contempt she felt for those
"who had no sympathy with the humbler classes,
no interest in the welfare of the race," and many
more moral reflections as new and original as the
Multiplication-Table or the Westminster Catechism.
To all of which Mr. Evan listened with
polite deference, though there was something in
the keen intelligence of his eye that made Debby
blush for shallow Aunt Pen, and rejoice when the
good lady got out of her depth and seized upon a
new subject as a drowning mariner would a hen-coop.

"Dora, Mr. Ellenborough is coming this way;
you have danced with him but once, and he is a
very desirable partner; so, pray, accept, if he asks
you," said Mrs. Carroll, watching a far-off individual
who seemed steering his zigzag course toward them.

"I never intend to dance with Mr. Ellenborough
again, so please don't urge me, Aunt Pen; "
and Debby knit her brows with a somewhat irate

"My love, you astonish me! He is a most agreeable
and accomplished young man,--spent three years in
Paris, moves in the first circles, and is considered
an ornament to fashionable society.

"What can be your objection, Dora?" cried Mrs.
Carroll, looking as alarmed as if her niece had
suddenly announced her belief in the Koran.

"One of his accomplishments consists in drinking
champagne till he is not a 'desirable partner'
for any young lady with a prejudice in favor of
decency. His moving in 'circles' is just what I
complain of; and if he is an ornament, I prefer
my society undecorated. Aunt Pen, I cannot
make the nice distinctions you would have me,
and a sot in broadcloth is as odious as one in rags.
Forgive me, but I cannot dance with that silver-
labelled decanter again."

Debby was a genuine little piece of womanhood;
and though she tried to speak lightly, her
color deepened, as she remembered looks that had
wounded her like insults, and her indignant eyes
silenced the excuses rising to her aunt's lips. Mrs.
Carroll began to rue the hour she ever undertook
the guidance of Sister Deborah's headstrong child,
and for an instant heartily wished she had left her
to bloom unseen in the shadow of the parsonage;
but she concealed her annoyance, still hoping to
overcome the girl's absurd resolve, by saying,

"As you please, dear; but if you refuse Mr.
Ellenborough, you will be obliged to sit through
the dance, which is your favorite, you know."

Debby's countenance fell, for she had forgotten
that, and the Lancers was to her the crowning
rapture of the night. She paused a moment, and
Aunt Pen brightened; but Debby made her little
sacrifice to principle as heroically as many a greater
one had been made, and, with a wistful look down
the long room, answered steadily, though her foot
kept time to the first strains as she spoke,--

"Then I will sit, Aunt Pen; for that is preferable
to staggering about the room with a partner
who has no idea of the laws of gravitation."

"Shall I have the honor of averting either calamity?"
said Mr. Evan, coming to the rescue with
a devotion beautiful to see; for dancing was nearly
a lost art with him, and the Lancers to a novice is
equal to a second Labyrinth of Crete.

"Oh, thank you!" cried Debby, tumbling fan,
bouquet, and handkerchief into Mrs. Carroll's lap,
with a look of relief that repaid him fourfold for
the trials he was about to undergo. They went
merrily away together, leaving Aunt Pen to wish
that it was according to the laws of etiquette to
rap officious gentlemen over the knuckles, when
they introduce their fingers into private pies
without permission from the chief cook. How the
dance went Debby hardly knew, for the conversation
fell upon books, and in the interest of her
favorite theme she found even the "grand square"
an impertinent interruption, while her own deficiences
became almost as great as her partner's;
yet, when the music ended with a flourish, and her
last curtsy was successfully achieved, she longed
to begin all over again, and secretly regretted that
she was engaged four deep.

"How do you like our new acquaintance, Dora?" asked
Aunt Pen, following Joe Leavenworth with her eye,
as the "yellow-haired laddie" whirled by with the
ponderous Miss Flora.

"Very much; and I'm glad we met as we did,
for it makes things free and easy, and that is so
agreeable in this ceremonious place," replied
Debby, looking in quite an opposite direction.

"Well, I'm delighted to hear you say so, dear,
for I was afraid you had taken a dislike to him,
and he is really a very charming young man, just
the sort of person to make a pleasant companion
for a few weeks. These little friendships are part
of the summer's amusement, and do no harm; so
smile away. Dora, and enjoy yourself while you

"Yes, Aunt, I certainly will, and all the more
because I have found a sensible soul to talk to.
Do you know, he is very witty and well informed,
though he says he never had much time for self-
cultivation? But I think trouble makes people
wise, and he seems to have had a good deal,
though he leaves it for others to tell of. I am
glad you are willing I should know him, for I
shall enjoy talking about my pet heroes with him
as a relief from the silly chatter I must keep up
most of the time."

Mrs. Carroll was a woman of one idea; and
though a slightly puzzled expression appeared in
her face, she listened approvingly, and answered,
with a gracious smile,--

"Of course, I should not object to your knowing
such a person, my love; but I'd no idea Joe
Leavenworth was a literary man, or had known
much trouble, except his father's death and his
sister Clementina's runaway-marriage with her

Debby opened her brown eyes very wide, and
hastily picked at the down on her fan, but had
no time to correct her aunt's mistake, for the real
subject of her commendations appeared at that
moment, and Mrs. Caroll was immediately absorbed
in the consumption of a large pink ice.

"That girl is what I call a surprise-party, now,"
remarked Mr. Joe confidentially to his cigar, as
he pulled off his coat and stuck his feet up in the
privacy of his own apartment. "She looks as mild
as strawberries and cream till you come to the
complimentary, then she turns on a fellow with
that deused satirical look of hers, and makes him
feel like a fool. I'll try the moral dodge to-morrow
and see what effect that will have; for she is
mighty taking, and I must amuse myself somehow,
you know."

"How many years will it take to change that
fresh-hearted little girl into a fashionable belle,
I wonder?" thought Frank Evan, as he climbed
the four flights that led to his "sky-parlor."

"What a curious world this is!" mused
Debby, with her nightcap in her hand. "The
right seems odd and rude, the wrong respectable
and easy, and this sort of life a merry-go-round,
with no higher aim than pleasure. Well, I have
made my Declaration of Independence, and Aunt
Pen must be ready for a Revolution if she taxes
me too heavily."

As she leaned her hot cheek on her arm,
Debby's eye fell on the quaint little cap made
by the motherly hands that never were tired of
working for her. She touched it tenderly, and
love's simple magic swept the gathering shadows
from her face, and left it clear again, as her
thoughts flew home like birds into the shelter of
their nest.

"Good night, mother! I'll face temptation steadily.
I'll try to take life cheerily, and do nothing that
shall make your dear face a reproach, when it looks
into my own again."

Then Debby said her prayers like any pious
child, and lay down to dream of pulling
buttercups with Baby Bess, and singing in the
twilight on her father's knee.

The history of Debby's first day might serve
as a sample of most that followed, as week after
week went by with varying pleasures and increasing
interest to more than one young debutante.

Mrs. Carroll did her best, but Debby was too
simple for a belle, too honest for a flirt, too
independent for a fine lady; she would be nothing
but her sturdy little self, open as daylight, gay as
a lark, and blunt as any Puritan. Poor Aunt
Pen was in despair, till she observed that the girl
often "took" with the very peculiarities which
she was lamenting; this somewhat consoled her,
and she tried to make the best of the pretty bit
of homespun which would not and could not become
velvet or brocade. Seguin, Ellenborough,
& Co. looked with lordly scorn upon her, as a
worm blind to their attractions. Miss MacRimsy
and her "set" quizzed her unmercifully behind
her back, after being worsted in several passages
of arms; and more than one successful mamma
condoled with Aunt Pen upon the terribly defective
education of her charge, till that stout matron
could have found it in her heart to tweak off their
caps and walk on them, like the irascible Betsey

But Debby had a circle of admirers who loved
her with a sincerity few summer queens could
boast; for they were real friends, won by gentle
arts, and retained by the gracious sweetness of her
nature. Moon-faced babies crowed and clapped
their chubby hands when she passed by their
wicker-thrones; story-loving children clustered
round her knee, and never were denied; pale invalids
found wild-flowers on their pillows; and
forlorn papas forgot the state of the moneymarket
when she sang for them the homely airs their
daughters had no time to learn. Certain plain
young ladies poured their woes into her friendly
ear, and were comforted; several smart Sophomores
fell into a state of chronic stammer, blush,
and adoration, when she took a motherly interest
in their affairs; and a melancholy old Frenchman
blessed her with the enthusiasm of his nation, because
she put a posy in the button-hole of his
rusty coat, and never failed to smile and bow as
he passed by. Yet Debby was no Edgworth heroine
preternaturally prudent, wise, and untemptable;
she had a fine crop of piques, vanities, and
dislikes growing up under this new style of cultivation.
She loved admiration, enjoyed her purple
and fine linen, hid new-born envy, disappointed
hope, and wounded pride behind a smiling face,
and often thought with a sigh of the humdrum
duties that awaited her at home. But under the
airs and graces Aunt Pen cherished with such
sedulous care, under the flounces and furbelows
Victorine daily adjusted with groans, under the
polish which she acquired with feminine ease, the
girl's heart still beat steadfast and strong, and
conscience kept watch and ward that no traitor should
enter in to surprise the citadel which mother-love
had tried to garrison so well.

In pursuance of his sage resolve, Mr. Joe tried
the "moral dodge," as he elegantly expressed it,
and, failing in that, followed it up with the tragic,
religious, negligent, and devoted ditto; but acting
was not his forte, so Debby routed him in all; and
at last, when he was at his wit's end for an idea,
she suggested one, and completed her victory by
saying pleasantly,--

"You took me behind the curtain too soon, and
now the paste-diamonds and cotton-velvet don't
impose upon me a bit. Just be your natural self,
and we shall get on nicely, Mr. Leavenworth."

The novelty of the proposal struck his fancy,
and after a few relapses it was carried into effect
and thenceforth, with Debby, he became the
simple, good-humored lad Nature designed him
to be, and, as a proof of it, soon fell very sincerely
in love.

Frank Evan, seated in the parquet of society,
surveyed the dress-circle with much the same
expression that Debby had seen during Aunt Pen's
oration; but he soon neglected that amusement
to watch several actors in the drama going on
before his eyes, while a strong desire to perform a
part therein slowly took possession of his mind.

Debby always had a look of welcome when he
came, always treated him with the kindness of a
generous woman who has had an opportunity to
forgive, and always watched the serious, solitary
man with a great compassion for his loss, a growing
admiration for his upright life. More than
once the beach-birds saw two figures pacing the
sands at sunrise with the peace of early day upon
their faces and the light of a kindred mood shining
in their eyes. More than once the friendly ocean
made a third in the pleasant conversation, and its
low undertone came and went between the mellow
bass and silvery treble of the human voices
with a melody that lent another charm to interviews
which soon grew wondrous sweet to man
and maid. Aunt Pen seldom saw the twain together,
seldom spoke of Evan; and Debby held
her peace, for, when she planned to make her
innocent confessions, she found that what seemed
much to her was nothing to another ear and
scarcely worth the telling; so, unconscious as yet
whither the green path led, she went on her way,
leading two lives, one rich and earnest, hoarded
deep within herself, the other frivolous and gay
for all the world to criticize. But those venerable
spinsters, the Fates, took the matter into their own
hands, and soon got the better of those short-sighted
matrons, Mesdames Grundy and Carroll;
for, long before they knew it, Frank and Debby
had begun to read together a book greater than
Dickens ever wrote, and when they had come to
the fairest part of the sweet story Adam first told
Eve, they looked for the name upon the title-page,
and found that it was "Love."

Fight weeks came and went,--eight wonderfully
happy weeks to Debby and her friend; for
"propinquity" had worked more wonders than poor
Mrs. Carroll knew, as the only one she saw or guessed
was the utter captivation of Joe Leavenworth.
He had become "himself" to such an extent that a
change of identity would have been a relief; for
the object of his adoration showed no
signs of relenting, and he began to fear, that, as
Debby said, her heart was "not in the market."
She was always friendly, but never made those
interesting betrayals of regard which are so
encouraging to youthful gentlemen "who fain would
climb, yet fear to fall." She never blushed when
he pressed her hand, never fainted or grew pale
when he appeared with a smashed trotting-wagon
and black eye, and actually slept through a
serenade that would have won any other woman's
soul out of her body with its despairing quavers.
Matters were getting desperate; for horses lost
their charms, "flowing bowls" palled upon his
lips, ruffled shirt-bosoms no longer delighted him,
and hops possessed no soothing power to allay
the anguish of his mind. Mr. Seguin, after
unavailing ridicule and pity, took compassion on
him, and from his large experience suggested a
remedy, just as he was departing for a more
congenial sphere.

"Now don't be an idiot, Joe, but, if you want
to keep your hand in and go through a regular
chapter of flirtation, just right about face, and
devote yourself to some one else. Nothing like
jealousy to teach womankind their own minds,
and a touch of it will bring little Wilder round in
a jiffy. Try it, my boy, and good luck to you!"
--with which Christian advice Mr. Seguin slapped
his pupil on the shoulder, and disappeared, like
a modern Mephistopheles, in a cloud of cigar-smoke.

"I'm glad he's gone, for in my present state of
mind he's not up to my mark at all. I'll try his
plan, though, and flirt with Clara West; she's
engaged, so it won't damage her affections; her
lover isn't here, so it won't disturb his; and, by
Jove! I must do something, for I can't stand this

Debby was infinitely relieved by this new move,
and infinitely amused as she guessed the motive
that prompted it; but the more contented she
seemed, the more violently Mr. Joe flirted with her
rival, till at last weak-minded Miss Clara began to
think her absent George the most undesirable of
lovers, and to mourn that she ever said "Yes"
to a merchant's clerk, when she might have said it
to a merchant's son. Aunt Pen watched and approved
this stratagem, hoped for the best results,
and believed the day won when Debby grew pale
and silent, and followed with her eyes the young
couple who were playing battledoor and shuttle-cock
with each other's hearts, as if she took some
interest in the game. But Aunt Pen clashed
her cymbals too soon; for Debby's trouble had a
better source than jealousy, and in the silence of
the sleepless nights that stole her bloom she was
taking counsel of her own full heart, and resolving
to serve another woman as she would herself be
served in a like peril, though etiquette was outraged
and the customs of polite society turned upside down.

"Look, Aunt Pen! what lovely shells and moss
I've got! Such a splendid scramble over the rocks
as I've had with Mrs. Duncan's boys! It seemed
so like home to run and sing with a troop of
topsy-turvy children that it did me good; and I wish you
had all been there to see." cried Debby, running
into the drawing-room, one day, where Mrs. Carroll
and a circle of ladies sat enjoying a dish of
highly flavored scandal, as they exercised their
eyesight over fancy-work.

"My dear Dora, spare my nerves; and if you
have any regard for the proprieties of life, don't go
romping in the sun with a parcel of noisy boys. If
you could see what an object you are, I think you
would try to imitate Miss Clara, who is always a
model of elegant repose."

Miss West primmed up her lips, and settled a
fold in her ninth flounce, as Mrs. Carroll spoke,
while the whole group fixed their eyes with
dignified disapproval on the invader of their refined
society. Debby had come like a fresh wind into
a sultry room; but no one welcomed the healthful
visitant, no one saw a pleasant picture in the
bright-faced girl with windtossed hair and rustic
hat heaped with moss and many-tinted shells; they
only saw that her gown was wet, her gloves forgotten,
and her scarf trailing at her waist in a manner no
well-bred lady could approve. The sunshine faded out
of Debby's face, and there was a touch of bitterness
in her tone, as she glanced at the circle of fashion-plates,
saying with an earnestness which caused Miss West to
open her pale eyes to their widest extent,--

"Aunt Pen, don't freeze me yet,--don't take
away my faith in simple things, but let me be a
child a little longer,--let me play and sing and keep
my spirit blithe among the dandelions and the
robins while I can; for trouble comes soon enough,
and all my life will be the richer and the better for
a happy youth."

Mrs. Carroll had nothing at hand to offer in
reply to this appeal, and four ladies dropped their
work to stare; but Frank Evan looked in from
the piazza, saying, as he beckoned like a boy,--

"I'll play with you, Miss Dora; come and make
sand pies upon the shore. Please let her, Mrs.
Carroll; we'll be very good, and not wet our
pinafores or feet."

Without waiting for permission, Debby poured
her treasures into the lap of a certain lame Freddy,
and went away to a kind of play she had never
known before. Quiet as a chidden child, she
walked beside her companion, who looked down
at the little figure, longing to take it on his knee
and call the sunshine back again. That he dared
not do; but accident, the lover's friend, performed
the work, and did him a good turn beside. The
old Frenchman was slowly approaching, when a
frolicsome wind whisked off his hat and sent it
skimming along the beach. In spite of her late
lecture, away went Debby, and caught the truant
chapeau just as a wave was hurrying up to claim
it. This restored her cheerfulness, and when she
returned, she was herself again.

"A thousand thanks; but does Mademoiselle
remember the forfeit I might demand to add to the
favor she has already done me?" asked the gallant
old gentleman, as Debby took the hat off
her own head, and presented it with a martial

"Ah, I had forgotten that; but you may claim
[text missing in original copy]
do something more to give you pleasure;" and
Debby looked up into the withered face which
had grown familiar to her, with kind eyes, full
of pity and respect.

Her manner touched the old man very much;
he bent his gray head before her, saying,

"My child, I am not good enough to salute
these blooming checks; but I shall pray the Virgin
to reward you for the compassion you bestow on
the poor exile, and I shall keep your memory very
green through all my life."

He kissed her hand, as if it were a queen's,
and went on his way, thinking of the little daughter
whose death left him childless in a foreign land.

Debby softly began to sing, "Oh, come unto
the yellow sands! " but stopped in the middle of
a line, to say,--

"Shall I tell you why I did what Aunt Pen
would call a very unladylike and improper thing,
Mr. Evans? "

"If you will be so kind;" and her companion
looked delighted at the confidence about to be
reposed in him.

"Somewhere across this great wide sea I hope
I have a brother," Debby said, with softened voice
and a wistful look into the dim horizon." Five
years ago he left us, and we have never heard
from him since, except to know that he landed
safely in Australia. People tell us he is dead; but
I believe he will yet come home; and so I love to
help and pity any man who needs it, rich or poor,
young or old, hoping that as I do by them some
tender-hearted woman far away will do by Brother

As Debby spoke, across Frank Evan's face
there passed the look that seldom comes but once
to any young man's countenance; for suddenly
the moment dawned when love asserted its supremacy,
and putting pride, doubt, and fear underneath
its feet, ruled the strong heart royally and bent it
to its will. Debby's thoughts had floated across
the sea; but they came swiftly back when her
companion spoke again, steadily and slow, but
with a subtile change in tone and manner which
arrested them at once.

"Miss Dora, if you should meet a man who
had known a laborious youth, a solitary manhood,
who had no sweet domestic ties to make home
beautiful and keep his nature warm, who longed
most ardently to be so blessed, and made it the aim
of his life to grow more worthy the good gift,
should it ever come,--if you should learn that you
possessed the power to make this fellow-creature's
happiness, could you find it in your gentle heart
to take compassion on him for the love of 'Brother

Debby was silent, wondering why heart and
nerves and brain were stirred by such a sudden
thrill, why she dared not look up, and why, when
she desired so much to speak, she could only
answer, in a voice that sounded strange to her own

"I cannot tell."

Still, steadily and slow, with strong emotion
deepening and softening his voice, the lover at her
side went on,--

"Will you ask yourself this question in some quiet
hour? For such a man has lived in the sunshine of
your presence for eight happy weeks, and
now, when his holiday is done, he finds that the
old solitude will be more sorrowful than ever,
unless he can discover whether his summer dream
will change into a beautiful reality. Miss Dora,
I have very little to offer you; a faithful heart to
cherish you, a strong arm to work for you, an
honest name to give into your keeping,--these are
all; but if they have any worth in your eyes, they
are most truly yours forever."

Debby was steadying her voice to reply, when
a troop of bathers came shouting down the bank,
and she took flight into her dressing-room, there
to sit staring at the wall, till the advent of Aunt
Pen forced her to resume the business of the hour
by assuming her aquatic attire and stealing shyly
down into the surf.

Frank Evan, still pacing in the footprints they
had lately made, watched the lithe figure tripping
to and fro, and, as he looked, murmured to himself
the last line of a ballad Debby sometimes sang,--

"Dance light! for my heart it lies under your feet, love!"

Presently a great wave swept Debby up, and
stranded her very near him, much to her confusion
and his satisfaction. Shaking the spray out of her
eyes, she was hurrying away, when Frank said,--

"You will trip, Miss Dora; let me tie these
strings for you;" and, suiting the action to the
word, he knelt down and began to fasten the cords
of her bathing shoe.

Debby stood Looking down at the tall head bent
before her, with a curious sense of wonder that a
look from her could make a strong man flush and
pale, as he had done; and she was trying to concoct
some friendly speech, when Frank, still fumbling
at the knots, said, very earnestly and low,--

"Forgive me, if I am selfish in pressing for an
answer; but I must go to-morrow, and a single
word will change my whole future for the better
or the worse. Won't you speak it, Dora?"

If they had been alone, Debby would have put
her arms about his neck, and said it with all her
heart; but she had a presentiment that she should
cry, if her love found vent; and here forty pairs
of eyes were on them, and salt water seemed
superfluous. Besides, Debby had not breathed the air
of coquetry so long without a touch of the infection;
and the love of power, that lies dormant in
the meekest woman's breast, suddenly awoke and
tempted her.

"If you catch me before I reach that rock,
perhaps I will say 'Yes,'" was her unexpected
answer; and before her lover caught her meaning,
she was floating leisurely away.

Frank was not in bathing-costume, and Debby
never dreamed that he would take her at her
word; but she did not know the man she had to
deal with; for, taking no second thought, he flung
hat and coat away, and dashed into the sea. This
gave a serious aspect to Debby's foolish jest. A
feeling of dismay seized her, when she saw a
resolute face dividing the waves behind her, and
thought of the rash challenge she had given; but
she had a spirit of her own, and had profited well
by Mr. Joe's instructions: so she drew a long
breath, and swam as if for life, instead of love.
Evan was incumbered by his clothing, and Debby
had much the start of him; but, like a second
Leander, he hoped to win his Hero, and, lending
every muscle to the work, gained rapidly upon
the little hat which was his beacon through the
foam. Debby heard the deep breathing drawing
nearer and nearer, as her pursuer's strong arms
cleft the water and sent it rippling past her lips,
something like terror took possession of her; for
the strength seemed going out of her limbs, and
the rock appeared to recede before her; but the
unconquerable blood of the Pilgrims was in her
veins, and "Nil desperandum" her motto; so,
setting her teeth, she muttered, defiantly,--

"I'll not be beaten, if I go to the bottom!"

A great splashing arose, and when Evan recovered
the use of his eyes, the pagoda-hat had
taken a sudden turn, and seemed making for the
farthest point of the goal. "I am sure of her
now," thought Frank; and, like a gallant seagod,
he bore down upon his prize, clutching it with a
shout of triumph. But the hat was empty, and like
a mocking echo came Debby's laugh, as she
climbed, exhausted, to a cranny in the rock.

"A very neat thing, by Jove! Deuse take me
if you a'n't 'an honor to your teacher, and a terror
to the foe,' Miss Wilder," cried Mr. Joe, as he
came up from a solitary cruise and dropped anchor
at her side. "Here, bring along the hat, Evan;
I'm going to crown the victor with apropriate
what-d'ye-call-'ems," he continued, pulling a handful
of sea-weed that looked like well-boiled greens.

Frank came up, smiling; but his lips were white,
and in his eye a look Debby could not meet; so,
being full of remorse, she naturally assumed an air
of gayety, and began to sing the merriest air she
knew, merely because she longed to throw herself
upon the stones and cry violently.

"It was 'most as exciting as a regatta, and you
pulled well, Evan; but you had too much ballast
aboard, and Miss Wilder ran up false colors just
in time to save her ship. What was the wager?"
asked the lively Joseph, complacently surveying
his marine millinery, which would have scandalized
a fashionable mermaid.

"Only a trifle," answered Debby, knotting up
her braids with a revengeful jerk.

"It's taken the wind out of your sails, I fancy,
Evan, for you look immensely Byronic with the
starch minus in your collar and your hair in a
poetic toss. Come, I'll try a race with you; and
Miss Wilder will dance all the evening with the
winner. Bless the man, what's he doing down
there? Burying sunfish, hey?"

Frank had been sitting below them on a narrow
strip of sand, absently piling up a little mound
that bore some likeness to a grave. As his
companion spoke, he looked at it, and a sudden flush
of feeling swept across his face, as he replied,--

"No, only a dead hope."

"Deuse take it, yes, a good many of that sort
of craft founder in these waters, as I know to my
sorrow;" and, sighing tragically. Mr. Joe turned
to help Debby from her perch, but she had glided
silently into the sea, and was gone.

For the next four hours the poor girl suffered
the sharpest pain she had ever known; for now
she clearly saw the strait her folly had betrayed
her into. Frank Evan was a proud man, and
would not ask her love again, believing she had
tacitly refused it; and how could she tell him that
she had trifled with the heart she wholly loved and
longed to make her own? She could not confide
in Aunt Pen, for that worldly lady would have
no sympathy to bestow. She longed for her
mother; but there was no time to write, for Frank
was going on the morrow, --might even then be
gone; and as this fear came over her, she covered
up her face and wished that she were dead. Poor
Debby! her last mistake was sadder than her first,
and she was reaping a bitter harvest from her summer's
sowing. She sat and thought till her cheeks
burned and her temples throbbed; but she dared
not ease her pain with tears. The gong sounded
like a Judgment-Day trump of doom, and she
trembled at the idea of confronting many eyes with
such a telltale face; but she could not stay behind,
for Aunt Pen must know the cause. She tried to
play her hard part well; but wherever she looked,
some fresh anxiety appeared, as if every fault and
folly of those months had blossomed suddenly
within the hour. She saw Frank Evan more
sombre and more solitary than when she met him
first, and cried regretfully within herself, "How
could I so forget the truth I owed him? -- She
saw Clara West watching with eager eyes for the
coming of young Leavenworth, and sighed, -- "This
is the fruit of my wicked vanity!" She saw Aunt
Pen regarded her with an anxious face, and longed
to say, "Forgive me, for I have not been sincere!"
At last, as her trouble grew, she resolved to go
away and have a quiet "think,"--a remedy which
had served her in many a lesser perplexity; so,
stealing out, she went to a grove of cedars usually
deserted at that hour. But in ten minutes Joe
Leavenworth appeared at the door of the summer
house, and, looking in, said, with a well-acted
start of pleasure and surprise,--

"Beg pardon, I thought there was no one here,
My dear Miss Wilder, you look contemplative;
but I fancy it wouldn't do to ask the subject of
your meditations, would it?"

He paused with such an evident intention of
remaining that Debby resolved to make use of the
moment, and ease her conscience of one care that
burdened it; therefore she answered his question
with her usual directness,--

"My meditations were partly about you."

Mr. Joe was guilty of the weakness of blushing
violently and looking immensely gratified; but
his rapture was of short duration, for Debby went
on very earnestly,--

"I believe I am going to do what you may
consider a very impertinent thing; but I would
rather be unmannerly than unjust to others or
untrue to my own sense of right. Mr. Leavenworth,
if you were an older man, I should not dare to say
this to you; but I have brothers of my own, and,
remembering how many unkind things they do for
want of thought, I venture to remind you that a
woman's heart is a perilous plaything, and too tender
to be used for a selfish purpose or an hour's
pleasure. I know this kind of amusement is not
considered wrong; but it is wrong, and I cannot
shut my eyes to the fact, or sit silent while another
woman is allowed to deceive herself and wound
the heart that trusts her. Oh, if you love your
own sisters, be generous, be just, and do not
destroy that poor girl's happiness, but go away
before your sport becomes a bitter pain to her!"

Joe Leavenworth had stood staring at Debby
with a troubled countenance, feeling as if all the
misdemeanors of his life were about to be paraded
before him; but, as he listened to her plea, the
womanly spirit that prompted it appealed more
loudly than her words, and in his really generous
heart he felt regret for what had never seemed
a fault before. Shallow as he was, nature was
stronger than education, and he admired and
accepted what many a wiser, worldlier man would
have resented with anger or contempt. He loved
Debby with all his little might; he meant to tell
her so, and graciously present his fortune and
himself for her acceptance; but now, when the
moment came, the well-turned speech he had prepared
vanished from his memory, and with the
better eloquence of feeling he blundered out his
passion like a very boy.

"Miss Dora, I never meant to make trouble between
Clara and her lover; upon my soul, I didn't,
and wish Seguin had not put the notion into my
head, since it has given you pain. I only tried to
pique you into showing some regret, when I
neglected you; but you didn't, and then I got
desperate and didn't care what became of any one.
Oh, Dora, if you knew how much I loved you, I
am sure you'd forgive it, and let me prove my
repentance by giving up everything that you dislike.
I mean what I say; upon my life I do; and I'll
keep my word, if you will only let me hope."

If Debby had wanted a proof of her love for
Frank Evan, she might have found it in the fact
that she had words enough at her command now,
and no difficulty in being sisterly pitiful toward
her second suitor.

"Please get up," she said; for Mr. Joe, feeling
very humble and very earnest, had gone down
upon his knees, and sat there entirely regardless
of his personal apearance.

He obeyed; and Debby stood looking up at
him with her kindest aspect, as she said, more
tenderly than she had ever spoken to him before,--

"Thank you for the affection you offer me, but
I cannot accept it, for I have nothing to give you
in return but the friendliest regard, the most sincere
good-will. I know you will forgive me, and do
for your own sake the good things you would have
done for mine, that I may add to my esteem a real
respect for one who has been very kind to me."

"I'll try,--indeed, I will, Miss Dora, though
it will be powerful hard without yourself for a
help and a reward."

Poor Joe choked a little, but called up an
unexpected manliness, and added, stoutly,--

"Don't think I shall be offended at your speaking
so or saying 'No' to me,--not a bit; it's all
right, and I'm much obliged to you. I might have
known you couldn't care for such a fellow as I am,
and don't blame you, for nobody in the world
is good enough for you. I'll go away at once,
I'll try to keep my promise, and I hope you'll be
very happy all your life."

He shook Debby's bands heartily, and hurried
down the steps, but at the bottom paused and
looked back. Debby stood upon the threshold
with sunshine dancing on her winsome face, and
kind words trembling on her lips; for the moment
it seemed impossible to part, and, with an
impetuous gesture, he cried to her,--

"Oh, Dora, let me stay and try to win you!
for everything is possible to love, and I never
knew how dear you were to me till now!"

There were sudden tears in the young man's
eyes, the flush of a genuine emotion on his cheek,
the tremor of an ardent longing in his voice, and,
for the first time, a very true affection strengthened
his whole countenance. Debby's heart was full of
penitence; she had given so much pain to more than
one that she longed to atone for it--longed to do
some very friendly thing, and soothe some trouble
such as she herself had known. She looked into
the eager face uplifted to her own and thought
of Will, then stooped and touched her lover's
forehead with the lips that softly whispered, "No."

If she had cared for him, she never would
have done it; poor Joe knew that, and murmuring
an incoherent "Thank you!" he rushed away,
feeling very much as he remembered to have felt
when his baby sister died and he wept his grief
away upon his mother's neck. He began his
preparations for departure at once, in a burst of
virtuous energy quite refreshing to behold, thinking
within himself, as he flung his cigar-case into the
grate, kicked a billiard-ball into a corner, and
suppressed his favorite allusion to the Devil,--

"This is a new sort of thing to me, but I can
bear it, and upon my life I think I feel the better
for it already."

And so he did; for though he was no Augustine
to turn in an hour from worldly hopes and climb
to sainthood through long years of inward strife,
yet in aftertimes no one knew how many false
steps had been saved, how many small sins repented
of, through the power of the memory that
far away a generous woman waited to respect him,
and in his secret soul he owned that one of the best
moments of his life was that in which little Debby
Wilder whispered "No," and kissed him.

As he passed from sight, the girl leaned her
head upon her hand, thinking sorrowfully to herself,--

"What right had I to censure him, when my
own actions are so far from true? I have done a
wicked thing, and as an honest girl I should undo
it, if I can. I have broken through the rules of a
false propriety for Clara's sake; can I not do as
much for Frank's? I will. I'll find him, if I
search the house,--and tell him all, though I never
dare to look him in the face again, and Aunt Pen
sends me home to-morrow."

Full of zeal and courage, Debby caught up her
hat and ran down the steps, but, as she saw Frank
Evan coming up the path, a sudden panic fell
upon her, and she could only stand mutely waiting
his approach.

It is asserted that Love is blind; and on the
strength of that popular delusion novel heroes and
heroines go blundering through three volumes of
despair with the plain truth directly under their
absurd noses: but in real life this theory is not
supported; for to a living man the countenance of a
loving woman is more eloquent than any language,
more trustworthy than a world of proverbs, more
beautiful than the sweetest love-lay ever sung.

Frank looked at Debby, and "all her heart
stood up in her eyes," as she stretched her hands
to him, though her lips only whispered very

"Forgive me, and let me say the 'Yes' I
should have said so long ago."

Had she required any assurance of her lover's
truth, or any reward for her own, she would have
found it in the change that dawned so swiftly in
his face, smoothing the lines upon his forehead,
lighting the gloom of his eye, stirring his firm lips
with a sudden tremor, and making his touch as soft
as it was strong. For a moment both stood very
still, while Debby's tears streamed down like
summer rain; then Frank drew her into the green
shadow of the grove, and its peace soothed her
like a mother's voice, till she looked up smiling
with a shy delight her glance had never known
before. The slant sunbeams dropped a benediction
on their heads, the robins peeped, and the
cedars whispered, but no rumor of what further
passed ever went beyond the precincts of the
wood; for such hours are sacred, and Nature
guards the first blossoms of a human love as
tenderly as she nurses May-flowers underneath
the leaves.

Mrs. Carroll had retired to her bed with a
nervous headache, leaving Debby to the watch
and ward of friendly Mrs. Earle, who performed
her office finely by letting her charge entirely alone.
In her dreams Aunt Pen was just imbibing a copious
draught of champagne at the wedding-breakfast of
her niece, "Mrs. Joseph Leavenworth,"
when she was roused by the bride elect, who
passed through the room with a lamp and a shawl
in her hand.

"What time is it, and where are you going,
dear?" she asked, dozily wondering if the carriage
for the wedding-tour was at the door so soon.

"It's only nine, and I am going for a sail, Aunt

As Debby spoke, the light flashed full into her
face, and a sudden thought into Mrs. Carroll's
mind. She rose up from her pillow, looking as
stately in her night-cap as Maria Theresa is said
to have done in like unassuming head-gear.

"Something has happened, Dora! What have
you done? What have you said? I insist upon
knowing immediately," she demanded, with somewhat
startling brevity.

"I have said 'No' to Mr. Leavenworth and 'Yes' to
Mr. Evan; and I should like to go home to-morrow,
if you please," was the equally concise reply.

Mrs. Carroll fell flat in her bed, and lay
there stiff and rigid as Morlena Kenwigs. Debby
gently drew the curtains, and stole away leaving
Aunt Pen's wrath to effervesce before morning.

The moon was hanging luminous and large on
the horizon's edge, sending shafts of light before
her till the melancholy ocean seemed to smile, and
along that shining pathway happy Debby and her
lover floated into that new world where all things
seem divine.


Doctor Franck came in as I sat sewing up the
rents in an old shirt, that Tom might go tidily to his
grave. New shirts were needed for the living, and
there was no wife or mother to "dress him handsome
when he went to meet the Lord," as one
woman said, describing the fine funeral she had
pinched herself to give her son.

"Miss Dane, I'm in a quandary," began the
Doctor, with that expression of countenance which
says as plainly as words, "I want to ask a favor,
but I wish you'd save me the trouble."

"Can I help you out of it?

"Faith! I don't like to propose it. but you
certainly can, if you please."

"Then give it a name, I beg."

"You see a Reb has just been brought in crazy
with typhoid; a bad case every way; a drunken,
rascally little captain somebody took the trouble
to capture, but whom nobody wants to take the
trouble to cure. The wards are full, the ladies
worked to death, and willing to be for our own
boys, but rather slow to risk their lives for a Reb.
Now you've had the fever, you like queer patients,
your mate will see to your ward for a while, and I
will find you a good attendant. The fellow won't
last long, I fancy; but he can't die without some
sort of care, you know. I've put him in the fourth
story of the west wing, away from the rest. It is
airy, quiet, and comfortable there. I'm on that
ward, and will do my best for you in every way.
Now, then, will you go?"

"Of course I will, out of perversity, if not common
charity; for some of these people think that
because I'm an abolitionist I am also a heathen,
and I should rather like to show them, that, though
I cannot quite love my enemies, I am willing to
take care of them."

"Very good; I thought you'd go; and speaking
of abolition reminds me that you can have a contraband
for servant, if you like. It is that fine
mulatto fellow who was found burying his Rebel
master after the fight, and, being badly cut over
the head, our boys brought him along. Will you
have him?"

"By all means,--for I'll stand to my guns on
that point, as on the other; these black boys are
far more faithful and handy than some of the white
scamps given me to serve, instead of being served
by. But is this man well enough?"

"Yes, for that sort of work, and I think you'll
like him. He must have been a handsome fellow
before he got his face slashed; not much darker
than myself; his master's son, I dare say, and the
white blood makes him rather high and haughty
about some things. He was in a bad way when
he came in, but vowed he'd die in the street rather
than turn in with the black fellows below; so I
put him up in the west wing, to be out of the way,
and he's seen to the captain all the morning.
When can you go up?"

"As soon as Tom is laid out, Skinner moved,
Haywood washed, Marble dressed, Charley
rubbed, Downs taken up, Upham laid down, and
the whole forty fed."

We both laughed, though the Doctor was on
his way to the dead-house and I held a shroud on
my lap. But in a hospital one learns that cheerfulness
is one's salvation; for, in an atmosphere of
suffering and death, heaviness of heart would soon
paralyze usefulness of hand, if the blessed gift of
smiles had been denied us.

In an hour I took possession of my new charge,
finding a dissipated-looking boy of nineteen or
twenty raving in the solitary little room, with no
one near him but the contraband in the room adjoining.
Feeling decidedly more interest in the
black man than in the white, yet remembering the
Doctor's hint of his being "high and haughty," I
glanced furtively at him as I scattered chloride of
lime about the room to purify the air, and settled
matters to suit myself. I had seen many contrabands,
but never one so attractive as this. All
colored men are called "boys," even if their heads
are white; this boy was five-and-twenty at least,
strong-limbed and manly, and had the look of one
who never had been cowed by abuse or worn with
oppressive labor. He sat on his bed doing nothing;
no book, no pipe, no pen or paper anywhere
appeared, yet anything less indolent or listless than
his attitude and expression I never saw. Erect he
sat with a hand on either knee, and eyes fixed on
the bare wall opposite, so rapt in some absorbing
thought as to be unconscious of my presence,
though the door stood wide open and my movements
were by no means noiseless. His face was
half averted, but I instantly approved the Doctor's
taste, for the profile which I saw possessed all the
attributes of comeliness belonging to his mixed race.
He was more quadroon than mulatto, with Saxon
features, Spanish complexion darkened by exposure,
color in lips and cheek, waving hair, and
an eye full of the passionate melancholy which in
such men always seems to utter a mute protest
against the broken law that doomed them at their
birth. What could he be thinking of? The sick
boy cursed and raved, I rustled to and fro, steps
passed the door, bells rang, and the steady rumble
of army-wagons came up from the street, still he
never stirred. I had seen colored people in what
they call "the black sulks," when, for days, they
neither smiled nor spoke, and scarcely ate. But
this was something more than that; for the man
was not dully brooding over some small grievance,--
he seemed to see an all-absorbing fact or fancy
recorded on the wall, which was a blank to me.
I wondered if it were some deep wrong or sorrow,
kept alive by memory and impotent regret; if he
mourned for the dead master to whom he had been
faithful to the end; or if the liberty now his were
robbed of half its sweetness by the knowledge that
some one near and dear to him still languished in
the hell from which he had escaped. My heart
quite warmed to him at that idea; I wanted to
know and comfort him; and, following the impulse
of the moment, I went in and touched him on the

In an instant the man vanished and the slave
appeared. Freedom was too new a boon to have
wrought its blessed changes yet, and as he started
up, with his hand at his temple and an obsequious
"Yes, Ma'am," any romance that had gathered
round him fled away, leaving the saddest of all
sad facts in living guise before me. Not only did
the manhood seem to die out of him, but the comeliness
that first attracted me; for, as he turned, I
saw the ghastly wound that had laid open cheek
and forehead. Being partly healed, it was no
longer bandaged, but held together with strips of
that transparent plaster which I never see without
a shiver and swift recollections of scenes with
which it is associated in my mind. Part of his
black hair had been shorn away, and one eye was
nearly closed; pain so distorted, and the cruel
sabre-cut so marred that portion of his face, that,
when I saw it, I felt as if a fine medal had been
suddenly reversed, showing me a far more striking
type of human suffering and wrong than Michel
Angelo's bronze prisoner. By one of those inexplicable
processes that often teach us how little we
understand ourselves, my purpose was suddenly
changed, and though I went in to offer comfort as
a friend, I merely gave an order as a mistress.

"Will you open these windows? this man needs
more air."

He obeyed at once, and, as he slowly urged up
the unruly sash, the handsome profile was again
turned toward me, and again I was possessed by
my first impression so strongly that I involuntarily

"Thank you, Sir."

Perhaps it was fancy, but I thought that in the
look of mingled surprise and something like
reproach which be gave me there was also a trace of
grateful pleasure. But he said, in that tone of
spiritless humility these poor souls learn so

"I ain't a white man, Ma'am, I'm a contraband."

"Yes, I know it; but a contraband is a free
man, and I heartily congratulate you."

He liked that; his face shone, he squared his
shoulders, lifted his head, and looked me full in
the eye with a brisk--

"Thank ye, Ma'am; anything more to do fer

"Doctor Franck thought you would help me
with this man, as there are many patients and few
nurses or attendants. Have you had the fever?"

"No, Ma'am."

"They should have thought of that when they
put him here; wounds and fevers should not be
together. I'll try to get you moved."

He laughed a sudden laugh,--if he had been a
white man, I should have called it scornful; as he
was a few shades darker than myself, I suppose it
must be considered an insolent, or at least an
unmannerly one.

"It don't matter, Ma'am. I'd rather be up
here with the fever than down with those niggers;
and there ain't no other place fer me."

Poor fellow! that was true. No ward in all
the hospital would take him in to lie side by side
with the most miserable white wreck there. Like
the bat in Aesop's fable, he belonged to neither
race; and the pride of one, the helplessness of the
other, kept him hovering alone in the twilight a
great sin has brought to overshadow the whole

"You shall stay, then; for I would far rather
have you than any lazy Jack. But are you well
and strong enough?"

"I guess I'll do, Ma'am."

He spoke with a passive sort of acquiescence,--
as if it did not much matter, if he were not able,
and no one would particularly rejoice, if he

"Yes, I think you will. By what name shall
I call you?"

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