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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 2, Issue 10, August, 1858 by Various

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but Margaret's, were no illusion, and----what more can I tell?

"From the moment of receiving those letters, Margaret's energies were
roused, and she had begun to regain her health. There is no such
potent medicine as hope and love. It had saved her, and it saved
me. My recovery was sure and speedy. The happiness which had seemed
too great, too dear to be ever possible, was now mine. She was with me
again, all my own! Only the convalescent, who feels the glow of love
quicken the pure pulses of returning health, knows what perfect bliss

"As soon as I was strong enough to travel, we set out for Italy, the
faithful Joseph accompanying us. We enjoyed Florence, its palaces and
galleries of art, the quaint old churches, about which the religious
sentiment of ages seems to hang like an atmosphere, the morning and
evening clamor of musical bells, the Arno, and the olive-crowned
Tuscan hills,--all so delightful to the senses and the soul. After
Florence, Naples, with its beautiful, dangerous, volcanic environs,
where the ancients aptly located their heaven and hell, and where a
luxurious, passionate people absorbs into its blood the spirit of the
soil, and the fire and languor of the clime. From Naples to Rome,
where we saw St Peter's, that bubble on the surface of the globe,
which the next earthquake may burst, the Vatican, with its marvels of
statuary, the ruined temples of the old gods and heroes, the Campagna,
the Pope, and--Flora. We had but a glimpse of her. It was one night,
at the Colosseum. We had been musing about that vast and solemn pile
by the moonlight, which silvered it over with indescribable beauty,
and at last, accompanied by our guides, bearing torches, we ascended
through dark and broken passages to the upper benches of the
amphitheatre. As we were passing along one side, we saw picturesquely
moving through the shadows of the opposite walls, with the immense
arena between, the red-flaring torches and half-illuminated figures of
another party of visitors. I don't know whether it was instinct, or
acuteness of vision, that suggested Flora; but, with a sudden leap of
the heart, I felt that she was there. We descended, and passed out
under the dark arches of the stupendous ruin. The other visitors
walked a little in advance of us,--two of the number lingering behind
their companions; and certain words of tenderness and passion we
heard, which strangely brought to my mind those nights on the

"'What is the matter with you?' said Margaret, looking in my face.

"'Hush!' I whispered,--'there--that woman--is Flora!'

"She clung to me,--I drew her closer, as we paused; and the happy
couple went on, over the ancient Forum, by the silent columns of the
ruined temples, and disappeared from sight upon the summit of the
Capitoline Hill.

"A few months later, we heard of the marriage of Flora to an English
baronet; she is now _my Lady_, and I must do her the justice to
say that I never knew a woman better fitted to bear that title. As
for Margaret,--if you will return with me to my home on the Hudson,
after we have finished our hunt after those Western lands, you shall
see her, together with the loveliest pair of children that ever made
two proud parents happy.

"And here," added Westwood, "we have arrived at the end of our day's
journey; we have had the Romance of the Glove, and now--let's have
some supper."

TO ----.



Well thought! Who would not rather hear
The songs to Love and Friendship sung,
Than those which move the stranger's tongue
And feed his unselected ear?

Our social joys are more than fame;
Life withers in the public look:
Why mount the pillory of a book,
Or barter comfort for a name?

Who in a house of glass would dwell,
With curious eyes at every pane?
To ring him in and out again
Who wants the public crier's bell?

To see the angel in one's way,
Who wants to play the ass's part,
Bear on his back the wizard Art,
And in his service speak or bray?

And who his manly locks would shave
And quench the eyes of common sense,
To share the noisy recompense
That mocked the shorn and blinded slave?

The heart has needs beyond the head,
And, starving in the plenitude
Of strange gifts, craves its common food,
Our human nature's daily bread.

We are but men: no gods are we
To sit in mid-heaven, cold and bleak,
Each separate, on his painful peak,
Thin-cloaked in self-complacency!

Better his lot whose axe is swung
In Wartburg woods, or that poor girl's
Who by the Ilm her spindle whirls
And sings the songs that Luther sung,

Than his, who, old and cold and vain,
At Weimar sat, a demigod,
And bowed with Jove's imperial nod
His votaries in and out again!

Ply, Vanity, thy winged feet!
Ambition, hew thy rocky stair!
Who envies him who feeds on air
The icy splendors of his seat?

I see your Alps above me cut
The dark, cold sky,--and dim and lone
I see ye sitting, stone on stone,
With human senses dulled and shut.

I could not reach you, if I would,
Nor sit among your cloudy shapes;
And (spare the fable of the Grapes
And Fox) I would not, if I could.

Keep to your lofty pedestals!
The safer plain below I choose:
Who never wins can rarely lose,
Who never climbs as rarely falls

Let such as love the eagle's scream
Divide with him his home of ice:
For me shall gentler notes suffice,--
The valley-song of bird and stream,

The pastoral bleat, the drone of bees,
The flail-beat chiming far away,
The cattle-low at shut of day,
The voice of God in leaf and breeze!

Then lend thy hand, my wiser friend,
And help me to the vales below,
(In truth, I have not far to go,)
Where sweet with flowers the fields extend.


Those persons enjoy the most happiness, if possessed of a benevolent
heart and favored by ordinary circumstances of fortune, who have
acquired by habit and education the power of deriving pleasure from
objects that lie immediately around them. But these common sources of
happiness are opened to those only who are endowed with genius, or who
have received a certain kind of intellectual training. The more
ordinary the mental and moral organization and culture of the
individual, the more far-fetched and dear-bought must be his
enjoyments. Nature has given us in full development only those
appetites which are necessary to our physical well-being. She has
left our moral appetites and capacities in the germ, to be developed
by education and circumstances. Hence those agreeable sensations that
come chiefly from the exercise of the imagination, which may be called
the pleasures of sentiment, are available only to persons of a
peculiar refinement of mind. The ignorant and rude may be dazzled and
delighted by physical beauty, and charmed by loud and stirring sounds;
but those more simple melodies and less attractive colors and forms
that appeal to the mind for their principal effect act more powerfully
upon individuals of superior culture.

In proportion as we have been trained to be agreeably affected by the
outward forms of Nature, and the sounds that proceed from the animate
and inanimate world, are we capable of being made happy without
resorting to expensive and vulgar recreations. It ought, therefore, to
be one of the chief points in the education of youth, while teaching
them the still more important offices of humanity, to cultivate and
enliven their susceptibility to the charms of natural objects. Then
would the aspects of Nature, continually changing with the progress of
the seasons and the sounds that enliven their march, satisfy, in a
great measure, that craving for agreeable sensations which leads
mankind away from humble and healthful pursuits to those of a more
artificial and exciting life. The value of such pleasures consists not
so much in their cheapness as in their favorable moral influences,
which improve the heart, while they lead the mind to observations that
pleasantly exercise and develope, without tasking its powers. The
quiet emotions, half musical and half poetical, which are awakened by
listening to the songs of birds, belong to this class of refined

But the music of birds, though agreeable to all, conveys positive and
durable pleasure only to those who have learned to associate with
their notes, in connection with the scenes of Nature, a thousand
interesting and romantic images. To many persons of this character it
affords more delight than the most brilliant music of the opera or the
concert. In vain, therefore, will it be said, as an objection, that
the notes of birds have no charm, save that which is derived from
association, and that, considered as music, they do not equal that of
the most simple reed or flageolet. It is sufficient to remark, that
the most delightful influences of Nature proceed from those sights and
sounds that appeal to the imagination and affections through the
medium of slight and almost insensible impressions made upon the eye
and the ear. At the moment when these physical impressions exceed a
certain mean, the spell is broken, and the enjoyment becomes sensual,
not intellectual. How soon, indeed, would the songs of birds lose
their effect, if they were loud and brilliant, like a band of
instruments! It is their simplicity that gives them their charm.

As a further illustration of this point, it may be remarked that
simple melodies have among all people exercised a greater power over
the imagination than louder and more complicated music. Nature employs
a very small amount of physical sensation to create an intellectual
passion, and when an excess is used a diminished effect is produced. I
am persuaded that the effect of a great part of our sacred music is
lost by an excess of harmony and a too great volume of sound. On the
same principle, a loud crash of thunder deafens and terrifies; but its
low and distant rumbling produces an agreeable emotion of sublimity.

The songs of birds are as intimately allied with poetry as with
music. The lark has been aptly denominated a "feathered lyric" by one
of the English poets; and the analogy becomes apparent when we
consider how much the song of a bird resembles a lyrical ballad in its
influence on the mind. Though it utters no words, how plainly it
suggests a long train of agreeable images of love, beauty, friendship,
and home! When a young person has suffered any severe wound of the
affections, he seldom fails, if endowed with a sensitive mind, to
listen to the birds as sharers in his affliction. Through them the
deities of the groves seem to offer him their consolation. By
indulging this habit of making companionship with the objects of
Nature, all pleasing sights and sounds gradually become certain
anodynes for his sorrow; and those who have this mental alembic for
turning grief into a poetic melancholy can seldom be reduced to a
state of absolute despondency. Poetry, or rather the poetic sentiment,
exalts all our pleasures and soothes all our afflictions by some
illusive charm, whether it be turned into the channel of religion or
romance. Without this reflection of light from the imagination, what
is the passion of love? and what is our love of beauty and of sweet
sounds, but a mere gravitation?

The voice of every singing-bird has its associations in the minds of
all susceptible persons who were born and nurtured within the
precincts of its untutored minstrelsy. The music of birds is
modulated in pleasant unison with all the chords of affection and
imagination, filling the soul with a lively consciousness of happiness
and beauty, and soothing it with romantic visions of memory,--of love,
when it was an ethereal sentiment of adoration and not a passion, and
of friendship, when it was a passion and not an expedience,--of dear
and simple adventures, and of comrades who had part in them,--of
dappled mornings, and serene and glowing sunsets,--of sequestered
nooks and mossy seats in the old wood,--of paths by the riverside, and
flowers that smiled a bright welcome to our rambling,--of lingering
departures from home, and of old by-ways, overshadowed by trees and
hedged with roses and viburnums, that spread their shade and their
perfume around our path to gladden our return. By this pleasant
instrumentality has Nature provided for the happiness of those who
have learned to be delighted with the survey of her works, and with
the sound of those voices which she has appointed to communicate to
the human soul the joys of her inferior creation.

The singing-birds, with reference to their songs, may be divided into
four classes. First, the Rapid Singers, whose song is uninterrupted,
of considerable length, and uttered with fervor, and in apparent
ecstasy. Second, the Moderate Singers, whose notes are slowly
modulated, but without pauses or rests between their different
strains. Third, the Interrupted Singers, who seldom modulate their
notes with rapidity, and make decided pauses between their several
strains, of which there are in general from five to eight or
nine. Fourth, the Warblers, whose notes consist of only one or two
strains, not combined into a song.

The canary, among foreign birds, and the linnet and bobolink, among
American birds, are familiar examples of the first class; the common
robin and the veery of the second; the wood-thrush, the cat-bird, and
the mocking-bird, of the third; and the blue-bird, the pewee, and the
purple martin, of the fourth class. It may be added, that some birds
are nearly periodical in their habits of singing, preferring the
morning and evening, and occasional periods in other parts of the day,
while others sing almost indifferently at all hours. The greater
number of species, however, are more tuneful in the early morning than
at any other hour.

June, in this part of the world, is the most vocal month of the
year. Many of our principal songsters do not arrive until near the
middle of May; and all, whether they come early or late, continue in
song throughout the month of June. The bobolink, which is one of the
first to become silent, continues vocal until the second week in
July. So nearly simultaneous is the discontinuance of the songs of
this species, that it might seem as if their silence were
preconcerted, and that by a vote they had, on a certain day, adjourned
over to another year. If an unusually genial day occurs about the
seventh of July, we may hear multitudes of them singing merrily on
that occasion. Should this time be followed by two or three
successive days of chilly and rainy weather, their tunefulness is so
generally brought to a close during this period, that we may not hear
another musical note from a single individual after the seventh. The
songs of birds are discontinued as soon as their amorous dalliances
and the care of their offspring have ceased. Hence those birds that
raise but one brood of young during the season, like the bobolink, are
the first to become silent.

No one of the New England birds is an autumnal warbler; though the
song-sparrow often greets the fine mornings in October with his lays,
and the shore-lark, after spending the summer in Labrador and about
the shores of Hudson's Bay, is sometimes heard in autumn, soaring and
singing at the dawn of day, while on his passage to the South. The
bobolink, the veery, or Wilson's thrush, the red thrush, and the
golden robin, are silent after the middle of July; the wood-thrush,
the cat-bird, and the common robin, not until a month later; but the
song-sparrow alone continues to sing throughout the summer. The
tuneful season of the year, in New England, embraces a period of about
four months, from the middle of April to the middle of August.

There are certain times of the day, as well as certain seasons of the
year, when the birds are most musical. The grand concert of the
feathered tribe takes place during the hour between dawn and sunrise.
During the remainder of the day they sing less in concert, though many
species are very musical at noonday, and seem, like the nocturnal
birds, to prefer the hour when others are silent At sunset there is an
apparent attempt to unite once more in chorus, but this is far from
being so loud or so general as in the morning. The little birds which
I have classed in the fourth division are a very important
accompaniment to the anthem of dawn, their notes, though short,
serving agreeably to fill up the pauses made by the other
musicians. Thus, the hair-bird (_Fringilla Socialis_) has a sharp
and trilling note, without any modulation, and not at all melodious,
when heard alone; but in the morning it is the chief harmonizer of the
whole chorus, and serves, more than any other voice, to give unity and
symphony to the multitude of miscellaneous parts.

There are not many birds whose notes could be accurately described
upon the gamut. The nearest approach we can make to accuracy is to
give some general idea of their time and modulation. Their musical
intervals can be distinguished but with difficulty, on account of the
rapidity of their utterance. I have often attempted to transcribe some
of their notes upon the musical scale, but I am persuaded that such
sketches can be only approximations to literal correctness. As
different individuals of the same species sing very differently, the
notes, as transcribed from the song of one individual, will never
exactly represent the song of another. If we listen attentively,
however, to a number of songs, we shall detect in all of them a
_theme_, as it is termed by musicians, of which the different
individuals of the species warble their respective variations. Every
song is, technically speaking, a _fantasia_ constructed upon this
theme, from which none of the species ever departs.

It is very generally believed that the singing-birds are confined to
temperate latitudes, and that the tropical birds have not the gift of
song. That this is an error is apparent from the testimony of
travellers, who speak of the birds in the Sandwich Islands and New
Zealand as singing delightfully, and some fine songsters are
occasionally imported in cages from tropical climates. The origin of
this notion may be explained in several ways. It is worthy of notice
that within the tropics the singing season of different species of
birds does not occur at the same time. One species may be musical in
the spring, another in summer, and others in autumn and winter. When
one species, therefore, has begun to sing, another has ceased, so
that, at whatever time of the year the traveller stops, he hears but
few birds engaged in song.

In the temperate latitudes, on the contrary, as soon as the birds
arrive, they commence building their nests, and become musical at the
same time. If a stranger from a tropical climate should arrive in this
country in the spring, and remain here during the months of May and
June, he would hear more birds singing together than he ever heard at
once in his own clime; but were he to arrive about the middle of July,
when the greater number of our birds have discontinued their songs, he
would probably, if he knew the reputation of the Northern birds,
marvel a little at their silence. If there are as many birds singing
at one time during the whole year, in the hot climates, as we hear in
this country in the latter half of summer, the greater average would
appear to be on the side of the former.

It may also be remarked, that the singing-birds of the tropics are not
so well known as those of temperate latitudes which are inhabited by
civilized men. The savages and barbarians, who are the principal
inhabitants of hot countries, are seldom observant of the habits or
the voices of the singing-birds. A musician of the feathered race, as
well as a harpist or violinist, must have an appreciating audience, or
his powers can never be made known to the world. But even with the
same audience, the tropical singing-birds would probably be less
esteemed than songsters of equal merit in the temperate latitudes;
for, amid the stridulous and deafening sounds made by the insects in
warm climates, the notes of birds would be scarcely audible.

We are still inclined to believe, however, that there is a larger
proportion of musical birds in the temperate than in the torrid zone,
because in the former region there are more of those species that
build low and live among the grass and shrubbery, and it is well known
that the singing-birds are mostly of the latter description. In warm
climates the vegetation consists chiefly of trees and tall vines,
forming together an umbrageous canopy overhead, with but a scanty
undergrowth. In temperate latitudes the shrubbery predominates,
especially in the most northerly parts. Moreover, the grasses that
furnish by their seeds a great proportion of the food of the smaller
birds are almost entirely wanting in the torrid zone.

The birds that live in trees are remarkable for their brilliant
plumage; those that live upon the ground and in the shrubbery are
plainly dressed. This is a provision of Nature for their protection,
as the ground-birds must have a predominance of tints that resemble
the general hues of the surface of the earth. I do not know a single
brightly-plumed bird that nestles upon the ground, unless the bobolink
may be considered an exception. They are almost invariably colored
like sparrows. The birds that inhabit the trees, on the other hand,
need less of this protection, though the females are commonly of an
olive or greenish yellow, which harmonizes with the general hue of the
foliage, and screens them from observation, while sitting upon the
nest. The male, on the contrary, who seldom sits upon the nest,
requires a plumage that will render him conspicuous to the female and
to the young, after they have left their nest. It is remarkable, that
Nature, in all cases in which she has created a difference in the
plumage of the male and female, has used the hues of their plumage
only for the protection of the mother and the young, for whose
advantage she has dressed the male parent in colors that must somewhat
endanger his own safety.

The color of the plumage of birds seems to bear less relation to their
powers of song than to their habitats; and as the birds that live in
trees are commonly less tuneful, they are more brilliantly arrayed.
The bird employs his song in wooing his mate, as well as in
entertaining her after she is wedded; and it is not unlikely that
Nature may have compensated those which are deficient in song by
giving them a superior beauty of plumage. As the offices of courtship
devolve entirely upon the males, it is the more necessary that they
should be possessed of conspicuous attractions; but as the task of
sitting upon the nest devolves upon the female, she requires more of
that protection which arises from the conformity of her plumage with
the general hue of the objects that surround her nest. While she is
sitting, the plain hues of her dress protect her from observation; but
when she leaves her nest to seek her companion, she is enabled by his
brilliant colors the more easily to discover him. The male is diligent
in providing for the wants of the offspring, and hence it is important
that his dress should render him conspicuous. When the young birds
have left the nest, upon seeing the flash of his plumage, they
immediately utter their call, and by this note, which might not
otherwise be sounded at the right moment, he detects them and supplies
them with food. Should a bird of prey suddenly come into their
neighborhood, he overlooks the plainly-dressed mother and off-spring,
and gives chase to the male parent, who not only escapes, but at the
same time diverts the attention of the foe from his defenceless

But the birds that build low, either upon the ground or among the
shrubbery, are exposed to a greater number and variety of
enemies. Hence it becomes necessary that the males as well as the
females should have that protection which is afforded by sobriety of
color. Not being made conspicuous by their plumage, they are endowed
with the gift of song, that they may make known their presence to
their mate and their young by their voice. I have often thought that
the song of the bird was designed by Nature for the benefit of the
young, no less than for the entertainment of his mate. The sounds
uttered by birds on account of their young always precede the period
of incubation. The common hen begins to cluck several days before she
begins to sit upon her eggs. In like manner the male singing-bird
commences his song when the pair are making ready to build their
nest. While his mate is sitting, his song reminds her of his presence,
and inspires her with a feeling of security and content, during the
period of her confinement. As soon as the young are hatched, they
begin to learn his voice and grow accustomed to it, and when they fly
from the nest they are prevented by the sound of it from wandering and
getting bewildered. If they happen to fly beyond certain bounds, the
song of the male parent warns them of their distance, and causes them
to turn and draw near the place from which it seems to issue. Thus the
song of the male bird, always uttered within a certain circumference,
of which the nest is the centre, becomes a kind of sentinel voice, to
keep the young birds within prudent limits.

It is not easy to explain why a larger proportion of the birds that
occupy trees should be destitute of song, except on the supposition
that in such elevated situations the young are more easily guided by
sight than by hearing. Still there are many songsters which are
dressed in brilliant plumage, and of these we have some examples among
our native birds. These, however, are evident exceptions to the
general fact, and we may trace a plain analogy in this respect between
birds and insects. The musical insects are, we believe, invariably
destitute of brilliant plumage. Butterflies and moths do not sing; the
music of insects comes chiefly from the plainly-dressed locust and
grasshopper tribes.



We were happy children, Alice and I, when, on Alice's sixteenth
birthday, we persuaded our father, the most indulgent parent in
Cincinnati, that there was no need of our going to school any longer;
not that our education was finished,--we did not even put up such a
preposterous plea as that,--but because Mrs. C. did not intend to send
Laura, and we did not believe any of our set of girls would go back
after the holidays.

There is no being so facile as an American father, especially where
his daughters are concerned; and our dear father was no exception to
the general rule. So our school education was finished. For the
rest, for the real education of our minds and hearts, we took care of

How could it be otherwise? Our father, a leading merchant in
Cincinnati, spent his days in his counting-room, and his evenings
buried in his newspapers or in his business calculations, on the
absorbing nature of which we had learned to build with such certainty,
that, when his consent was necessary to some scheme of pleasure, we
preferred our requests with such a nice adjustment of time, that the
answer generally was, "January 3d,--two thousand bales,--yes, my
dear,--and twelve are sixteen,--yes, Alice, don't bother me, child!"
and, armed with that unconscious assent, we sought our mother.

"Papa says that we may go. Do you think, mamma, that Miss D. can have
our dresses in time?"

Our dear mother, most faithful and indefatigable in her care for our
bodily wants, what time had she for aught else? With feeble health,
with poor servants, with a large house crowded with fine furniture,
and with the claims of a numerous calling and party-giving
acquaintance,--claims which both my father and herself imagined his
business and her social position made imperative,--what could she do
more than to see that our innumerable white skirts were properly
tucked, embroidered, washed, and starched, that our party dresses were
equal to those which Mrs. C. and Mrs. D. provided for their girls, and
that our bonnets were fashionable enough for Fourth Street? Could she
find time for anything more? Yes,--on our bodily ailments she always
found time to bestow motherly care, watchfulness, and sympathy; of our
mental ills she knew nothing.

So we cared for ourselves, Alice and I, through those merry,
thoughtless two years that followed,--merry (not happy) in our
Fourth-Street promenades, our Saturday-afternoon assignations at the
dancing-school rooms, our parties and picnics; and merry still, but
thoughtless always, in our eager search for excitement in the novels,
whose perusal was our only literary enjoyment.

Somehow we woke up,--somehow we groped our way out of our
frivolity. First came weariness, then impatience, and last a
passing-away of all things old and a putting-on of things new.

I remember well the day when Alice first spoke out her unrest. My
pretty Alice! I see her now, as she flung herself across the foot of
the bed, and, her chin on her hand, watched me combing and parting my
hair. I see again those soft, dark brown eyes, so deep in their liquid
beauty that you lost yourself gazing down into them; again I see
falling around her that wealth of auburn hair of the true Titian
color, the smooth, low forehead, and the ripe, red lips, whose
mobility lent such varying expression to her face.

At that moment the eyes drooped and the lips trembled with weariness.

"Must we go to that tiresome party, Kate? We have been to three this
week; they are all alike."

I looked at her. "Are you in earnest? will you stay at home? I know I
shall be tired to death; but what will Laura C. say? what will all
the girls think?"

Alice raised herself on her elbow. "Kate, I don't believe it is any
matter what they think. Do we really care for any of them, except to
wish them well? and we can wish them well without being with them all
the time. Do you know, Kate, I have been tired to death of all this
for these three months? It was very well at first, when we first left
school; parties were pleasant enough then, but now"--and Alice sprang
from the bed and seated herself in a low chair at my feet, as, glowing
and eager, she went on, her face lighting with her rapid
speech,--"Kate, I have thought it over and over again, this tiresome,
useless life; it wears me out, and I mean to change it. You know we
may do just we please; neither papa nor mamma will care. I shall stay
at home."

"But what will people say?" I put in, feebly.

Alice's eyes flashed. "You know, Kate, I don't care for 'people,' as
you call them. I only know that I am utterly weary of this petty
visiting and gossiping, this round of parties, concerts, and lectures,
where we meet the same faces. There is no harm in it that I know of,
but it is simply so stupid. If we met new people, it would be
something; but the same girls, the same beaux."

"And George W. and Henry B., what will they do for partners to-night?
what will become of them?"

Alice put up her lip. "They will console themselves with Laura C. and
those Kentucky girls from Louisville. For my part, I shall put on my
walking-dress, and go over the river to spend the evening with Uncle
John, and, what is more, I shall ask mamma to let me stay two or three
days." And, suiting the action to the word, she began to dress

"You will surely never go without me, Alice?"

"You will never stay behind, if I do go, Kate," said she, looking back
at me laughingly. "But make haste, I shall gain mamma over in five
minutes; and we must be quick, if we are to reach Uncle John's before

Uncle John,--even now that long years have passed, so long that it
seems to me as if I had gone into another state of existence, as if I
were not the same person as in those times,--even now the thought of
him makes my heart beat quick and the blood thrill more rapidly
through my veins. He was the delight of my childhood; far better, he
was the comfort and support of my after years. Even as a child, I
knew, knew by some intuitive perception, that Uncle John was not
happy. How soon I learned that he was a disappointed man I cannot
tell; but long before I grew up into womanhood I was conscious that he
had made some mistake in life, that some cloud hung over him. I never
asked, I never talked on the subject, even to Alice; there was always
an understanding between us that we should be silent about that which
each of us felt with all the certainty of knowledge.

But if Uncle John was unhappy himself, who was there that he did not
make happy? No one who came near him,--from his nieces whom he petted
and spoiled, down to the little negroes who rolled, unrebuked, over
the grass before his window in summer, or woke him on a Christmas
morning with their shrill "Christmas gift, Massa John!" Not that Uncle
John was a busybody, troubling himself about many things, and seeking
out occasions for obtruding his kindnesses. He lived so secluded a
life in the old family-house on the outskirts of Newport, (we were a
Kentucky family,) as to raise the gossiping curiosity of all new
residents, and to call forth the explanatory remark from the old
settlers, that the Delanos were all queer people, but John Delano was
the queerest of them all.

So Uncle John spent his time between his library and his garden, while
Old Aunt Molly took upon herself the cares of the household, and kept
the pantry always in a condition to welcome the guests, to whom, with
Kentucky hospitality, Uncle John's house was always open. Courteous he
was as the finest gentleman of olden times, and sincerely glad to see
his friends, but I have thought sometimes that he was equally glad to
have them go away. While they were with him he gave them the truest
welcome, leaving garden and books to devote himself to their
entertainment; but I have detected a look of relief on his face as he
shut the gate upon them and sought the shelter of his own little
study, that sanctum which even we children were not allowed to enter
except on special occasions, on a quiet winter evening, or, perhaps,
on as quiet a summer morning.

Uncle John had not always lived in the old house. We knew, that, after
Grandpapa's death, it had been shut up,--for my father's business
engagements would not allow my mother to reside in it, and Uncle John
had been for years among the Indians in the far Northwest. We had
heard of him sometimes, but we had never seen him, we hardly realized
that he was a living person, till one day he suddenly appeared among
us, rough-looking and uncouth in his hunter's dress, with his heavy
beard and his long hair, bringing with him his multifarious
assortment, so charming to our eyes, of buffalo-robes and elk-horns,
wolf-skins and Indian moccasins.

He staid with us that winter, and very merry and happy he seemed to us
at first;--looking back upon it now, I should call it, not happiness,
but excitement;--but as the winter passed on, even we children saw
that all was not right with him. He gradually withdrew himself from
the constant whirl of society in our house, and, by the spring, had
settled himself in the old home at Newport, adding to his old
furniture only his books, which he had been all winter collecting, and
the primitive _in_conveniences of his own room, which his rough
Western life had rendered indispensable to him. His study presented a
singular mixture of civilization and barbarism, and its very
peculiarities made it a delight to Alice and me. There were a few rare
engravings on the walls, hung between enormous antlers which supported
rough-looking rifles and uncouth hunting-shirts,--cases of elegantly
bound and valuable books, half hidden by heavy buffalo-robes marked
all over with strange-looking hieroglyphics which told the Indian
_coups_,--study-chairs of the most elaborate manufacture, with
levers and screws to incline them to any, the idlest, inclination,
over the backs of which hung white wolf-skins, mounted, claws and all,
with brilliant red cloth,--and in the corner, on the pretty Brussels
carpet, the prettiest that mamma could find at Shellito's, lay the bag
of Indian weed (Uncle John scorned tobacco) with which he filled his
pipe every evening, and the moccasins which he always wore when at

In vain did Alice and I spend our eyesight in embroidering slippers
for him; our Christmas gifts were received with a kiss or a stroke of
the head, and then put into Aunt Molly's hands to be taken care of,
while he still wore the rough moccasins, made far up among the
Blackfoot Indians, which he laughingly declared were warmer, cooler,
softer, and stronger than any slippers or boots that civilized
shoemaker ever turned off his last.

Quiet as it was at the old house, it had always been a source of
happiness to us to be allowed to make a visit to Uncle John. There,
if that were possible, we did more as we pleased than even at home;
there were not even the conventionalities of society to restrain us;
we were in the country, comparatively. And who like Uncle John knew
what real country pleasures were? who like him could provide for every
contingency? who was so full of expedients in those happy gypsying
expeditions which we would entice him into, and which sometimes lasted
for days, nay, weeks? He would mount Alice and myself on two of his
sure-footed little Indian ponies, with which his trader friends always
kept him supplied; and throwing a pair of saddle-bags, filled with
what he called our woman's traps, over his own, he would start with us
for a trip across the country for miles, stopping at the farm-houses
at night, laughing us out of our conventional notions about the
conveniences of lodging, and so forth,--and camping out during the
day, making what we called a continuous picnic. And then the stories
he would tell us of his adventures among the Blackfeet,--of his
trading expeditions,--his being taken prisoner by the Sioux,--his life
in the forts,--till Alice would creep nearer to him in her nervous
excitement, as if to be sure that he was really with her, and then beg
him to go on and tell us something more. Once I asked him how he
happened to go out among the Indians. His face darkened,--"My little
Kate, you must not ask questions,"--and as I turned to Alice, her eyes
were full of tears. She had been looking at him while I spoke, and she
told me afterwards that something about Uncle John's lips made her
cry, they quivered so, and were set afterwards so tight. We never
asked him that question again.

But the ferry-boat, "The Belle of Newport," has neared the landing
while I have been introducing Uncle John, and the soft summer twilight
saw us wending our way through the town towards the Kentucky hills,
whose rounded outlines were still bright with the evening red. Just
on the rise of the nearest was the Old House,--for it went with us by
no other name,--and at the garden-gate stood Uncle John, his face
brightening as he saw us, while behind him a row of eager faces showed
their wide-stretched mouths and white teeth.

"Come to spend two or three days, Alice?" said Uncle John, that
evening, as we sat with shaded lamp in the study, his moccasined feet
resting on the window-seat, while he sank into the depths of his
leather-covered Spanish chair. "Why, what has become of the parties
that Aunt Molly heard about in your kitchen on her way to market
yesterday? Where are all our handsome young students that were coming
home for the holidays? Remember, I'll have none of them following you
over here, and disarranging my books by way of showing off their

Alice laughed. "Not a soul knows where we are, Uncle John, except
mamma, and she promised not to tell. Laura C. has a party to-night,
and she will be provoked enough at our running away; but the truth
is,----well, Uncle John, I am tired of parties; indeed, I am tired of
our way of living, and--and Kate and I thought we would come and ask
you what we ought to do about it."

Uncle John puckered up his face with a comical expression, and then,
looking out of the window, whistled the Indian buffalo-call.

Alice sprung up. "Don't whistle that provoking thing, Uncle John!
Indeed, I am thoroughly in earnest,--parties are so tiresome,--all
exactly alike; we always see the same people, or the same sort of
people. There is nothing about them worth having, except the dancing;
and even that is not as good as a scamper over the hills with you and
the ponies. You know we have been going to parties for these two
years; we have seen so much of society, no wonder we are tired of it."

"Sit down, Alice," said Uncle John; "you do look really in earnest, so
I suppose you must not be whistled at. And you have come all the way
over here this evening to get me to solve Life's problem for you? My
dear, I cannot work it out for myself. You are 'tired of society'?
Why, little one, you have not seen society yet. Suppose I could put
you down to-night in the midst of some European court,--could show you
men whose courage, wit, or learning had made them world-famous,--women
whose beauty, grace, and cultivation brought those world-famous men to
their side, and who held them there by the fascination that
high-breeding knows how to use. Should you talk of sameness then?"

Alice's eyes sparkled for a moment, then she said,--

"Yes, I should tire even of that, after a while, glorious as it would
be at first."

"Have you reached such sublime heights of philosophy already? Then,
perhaps, I shall not seem to be talking nonsense, when I tell you that
there is nothing in the world of which you would not tire after the
first joy of possession was over, no position which would not seem
monotonous. You do not believe me? Of course not. We all buy our own
experience in life; on one of two rocks we split: either we do not
want a thing after we have got it, or we do not get it till we no
longer want it. Some of us suffer shipwreck both ways. But, Alice, you
must find that out for yourself."

"Can we not profit by each other's mistakes, Uncle?"

"No, child. To what purpose should I show you the breakers where my
vessel struck? Do you suppose you will steer exactly in my path? But
what soberness is this? you are not among breakers yet; you are simply
'tired of living';" and Uncle John's smile was too genial to be called

"Tired of not living, I think," replied Alice,--"tired of doing
nothing, of having nothing to do. The girls, Laura and the rest of
them, find so much excitement in what seems to me so stupid!"

"You are not exactly like 'Laura and the rest of them,' I fancy, my
dear, and what suits them is rather too tame for you. But what do you
propose to do with yourself now that you are beginning to live?"

"Now you are laughing at me, Uncle, and you will laugh more when I
tell you that I mean to study and to make Kate study with me."

"Poor Kate!--if you should fancy swimming, shooting, or any other
unheard-of pursuit, Kate would be obliged to swim and shoot with
you. But I will not laugh any more. Study, if you will, Alice; you
will learn fast enough, and, in this age of fast-advancing
civilization, when the chances of eligible matrimony for young ladies
in your station are yearly becoming less and less,--oh, you need not
put up your lip and peep into my bachelor's shaving-glass!--let me
tell you that a literary taste is a recourse not to be despised. Of
course you will study now to astonish me, or to surprise your young
friends, or for some other equally wise reason; but the time may come
when literature will be its own exceeding great reward."

"Uncle, answer me one thing,--are you as happy here in your quiet
study as you were in your exciting life among the Indians? Do you not
tire of this everyday sameness?"

"Close questioning, Alice, but I will answer you truly. Other things
being equal, I confess to you that the Indian life was the more
monotonous of the two. I look back now on my twenty years of savage
life and see nothing to vary its dreary sameness; the dangers were
always alike, the excitements always the same, and the rest was a dead
blank. The whole twenty years might be comprised in four words,--we
fought, we hunted, we eat, we slept. No, there is no monotony like
that,--no life so stupid as that of the savage, with his low wants and
his narrow hopes and fears. My life here among my books, which seems
to you so tame, is excitement itself compared with that. Your
stupidest party is full of life, intelligence, wit, when put beside an
Indian powwow. There is but one charm in that wandering life,
Alice,--the free intercourse with Nature; _that_ never tires; but
then you must remember that to enjoy it you must be cultivated up to
it. There needs all the teaching of civilization, nay, the education
of life, to enjoy Nature truly. These quiet hills, these beech
forests, are more to me now than Niagara was at eighteen; and Niagara
itself, which raises the poet above the earth, falls tame on the mind
of the savage. Believe one who knows,--the man of civilization who
goes back to the savage state throws away his life; his very mind
becomes, like the dyer's hand, 'subdued to what it works in.'

"But I am going out of your depth again, girls," continued he, looking
at our wondering, half-puzzled faces. "Let it go, Alice; Life is a
problem too hard for you to solve as yet; perhaps it will solve
itself. Meantime, we will brighten ourselves up to-morrow by a good
scamper over the hills, and, the next day, if your fancy for study
still holds, we will plan out some hard work, and I will show you what
real study is. Now go to bed; but see first that Aunt Molly has her
sandwiches and gingerbread ready for the morning."


Uncle John was well qualified to show us what real study was, for in
his early youth he had read hard and long to fit himself for a
literary life. What had changed his course and driven him to the far
West we did not know, but since his return he had brought the
perseverance and judgment of middle life to the studies of his youth,
and in his last ten years of leisure had made himself that rarest of
things among Americans, a scholar, one worthy of the name.

Under his guidance our studies took life, and Alice threw herself into
them with all the energy of her nature. In vain papa pished and
pshawed, and mamma grieved, and begged John not to spoil the girls by
making bookworms of them; in vain "Laura C. and the rest of them"
entreated us to join this picnic or show ourselves at that party; in
vain the young men professed themselves afraid of us, and the girls
tossed their heads and called us blue-stockings. Alice's answer to all
was, "I like studying; it is a great deal more entertaining than going
to parties; Uncle John's study is pleasanter than Mrs. C.'s parlor,
and a ride on his little Winnebago better fun than dancing." And so
the years went on. We were not out of society,--that could not be in
our house,--but our associates changed; young men of a higher standing
frequented the house; we knew intimately the cultivated women, to
whom, before, we had simply bowed at parties; and mamma and papa grew
quite satisfied.

Not so Alice; the spirit of unrest was on her again, but this tine it
was not because of the weariness of life, but that she was oppressed
by the fulness of her own happiness. She had waked up to life in
waking up to love, and had poured out on Herbert B. the whole wealth
of her heart. There was everything in her engagement to satisfy her
friends, everything to gratify papa and mamma; and if I sometimes
thought Herbert's too feeble a nature to guide hers, or if Uncle John
sometimes talked with or listened to him as if he were measuring his
depth and then went away with an anxious expression of face, who shall
say how much of selfishness influenced us both? for was he not to take
from us the pet and pride of our lives?

They were to be married in a few weeks, on Alice's twentieth birthday,
and then leave for New York, where Herbert was connected in business
with his father.

It was on a gloomy December afternoon that Alice came running up to
our room, where I was reading my Italian lesson, and exclaimed,--

"Quick, Kate! put away those stupid books, and let us go over to Uncle
John's for the night."

"Where is Herbert?"

"Herbert? Nonsense! I have sent him off with orders not to look for me
again till to-morrow, and to-night I mean to pretend that there is no
Herbert in the world. Perhaps this will be my last talk with Uncle

We walked quickly through the streets, shrouded in the dark
winter-afternoon atmosphere heavy with coal-smoke, the houses on each
side dripping with the fog-drops and looking dirty and cheerless with
the black streaks running from the corners of each window, like tears
down the face of some chimney-sweep or coal-boy, till, reaching the
foot of Ludlow Street, we stood ankle-deep in mud, waiting for the
little steamer, which still ploughed its way through the dark,
sullen-looking water thick with the red mud which the late rise had
brought down, and with here and there heavy pieces of ice floating by.

"Uncle John will never expect us to-night, Alice."

"I cannot help it,--I must go; for I shall never be satisfied without
one good talk with him before I leave, and Herbert will never spare me
another evening. Besides, Uncle John will be only too glad to see us
in this suicidal weather, as he will call it." And she sprang upon the
boat, laughing at my woebegone face.

"You are glad to see us here, Uncle John,--glad we came in spite of
the fog, and sleet, and ice, and Kate's long face. How anybody can
have a long face because of the weather, I cannot understand,--or,
indeed, why there should be long faces at all in the world, when
everything is so gloriously full of life."

"How many years is it, Alice,--three, I think,--since you were tired
of living, found life so wearisome?"

"Yes, just about three years since Kate and I ran away from Laura C.'s
party and came over here to ask you to help us out of our stupidity. I
remember it all,--how you puzzled me by telling me that every position
in life had its sameness. Ah, Uncle John, you forgot one thing when
you told me that nothing satisfied us in this world." And Alice looked
up from her little stool, where she sat before the fire at Uncle
John's feet, with the flush of deep feeling coloring her cheeks and
the dewy light of happiness in her eyes.

"And that one thing, Alice?"

"You are lying in wait for my answer, to give it that smile that I
hate,--it is so unbelieving and so sad; I will not have you wear it on
your face to-night, Uncle John. You cannot, if I speak my whole heart
out. And why should I not, before you and Kate,--Kate, who is like my
other self, and you, dear Uncle John, who, ever since the time we were
talking about, have been so much to me? Do you know, I never told
anybody before? but all you said that night never left me. I thought
of it so much! Was it true that life was so dissatisfying? You who had
tried so thoroughly, who had gone through such a life of adventure,
had seemed to me really to live, was all as flat and unprofitable to
you as one of our tiresome parties or morning calls? And something in
my own heart told me it was true, something that haunted me all
through my greatest enjoyments, through my studies that I took up
then, and which have been to me, oh, Uncle John, so much more than
ever I expected they would be! Yes, through all that I believed you,
believed you till now, believed you till I knew Herbert"

"And has Herbert told you better?"

"Uncle John, you do not know how the whole of life is glorified for
me,--glorified by his love. I do not deserve it; all I can do is to
return it ten-fold; but this I know, that, while I keep it, there can
be nothing tame or dull,--life, everything, is gilded by my own

"And if you lose it?"

The flush on her face fell. "I should be miserable!--I should not--no,
I could not live any longer!"

"Alice," said Uncle John, his face losing its half-mocking smile with
which he had been watching her eager countenance, "Alice, did you know
that I had been married?"

We started. "Married? No. How was it, and when?"

"It is no matter now, my girls. Some time I may tell you about it. I
should not have spoken of it now, but that I know my little Alice
would not believe a word I am going to tell her, if she thought she
was listening to an old bachelor's croakings. Now I can speak with
authority. You think you could not live without Herbert's love? My
dear, we can live without a great many things that we fancy
indispensable. Nor is it so very easy to die. There comes many a time
in life when it would seem quite according to the fitness of things,
just the proper ending to the romance, to lie down and die; but,
unfortunately, or rather fortunately, dying is a thing that we cannot
do so just in the nick of time; and indeed"--and Uncle John's face
assumed its strange smile, which seemed to take you, as it were,
suddenly behind the scenes, to show you the wrong side of the
tapestry,--"and indeed," he continued, "when I look back on the times
in my life that I should have died, when it was fitting and proper to
die, when I felt that dying would be such a trump card to play, if
only I could manage it, I must say that I am glad now that it was
beyond my power to arrange things according to the melodramatic
rules. As it is, I am alive now. I shake my fist at all the ghosts of
my departed tragedies and say, 'I am worth two of you. I am alive. I
have all the chances of the future in my favor.'"

Here he caught sight of Alice's wide-opened eyes, and his smile
changed into his own genial laugh, as he kissed her forehead and went

"That was a little aside, Alice, made to my other self, my
metaphysical man,--not meant at all for my audience. I was meditating
a lecture on the causes of conjugal happiness, but I seem to have
stumbled upon a knot in the very first unwinding of the thread of my

"I'll listen to the lecture, Uncle, though I see but one simple and
all-sufficient cause for my happiness."

"That Herbert loves you, ha? Know, my pretty neophyte, that happiness,
married happiness especially, does not come from being loved, but from
loving. What says our Coleridge?

"'For still the source, not fountain, gives
The daily food on which Love lives.'

"And he is right, although you shake your curls. In most marriages, in
all that are not matters of convenience, one party has a stronger
heart, will, character, than the other. And that one loves the most
from the very necessity of his nature, and, loving most, is the
happier. The other falls, after a while, into a passive state, becomes
the mere recipient of love, and finds his or her happiness in
something else, or perhaps does not find it at all."

"Neither side would satisfy me, Uncle John; I hardly know which fate
would be the more terrible. Do you think I would accept such a
compromise in exchange for all I am living and feeling now? I would
rather be miserable at once than so half-happy."

"But, my darling, Colin and Chloe cannot spend their whole lives
singing madrigals and stringing daisies. It is not in human nature to
support, for any length of time, such superhuman bliss. The time will
come when Colin will find no more rhymes to 'dove,' and when Chloe
will tire of hearing the same one. It is possible that Herbert will
some time tire of reading Shelley to you,--nay, it is even possible
that the time may come when you will tire of hearing him; it is of
that time I would talk. The present is as perfectly satisfactory to me
as to you and Herbert, though not exactly in the same degree."

"Well, Uncle, what is your advice to Chloe disillusioned,--if you
insist that such a thing must be?"

"Simply this, my own dear little child," answered Uncle John, and his
voice took almost a solemn tone in its deep tenderness,--"when that
time comes, as come it must, do not worry your husband with idle
regrets for the past; remember that the husband is not the lover;
remember that your sex love through your imagination, and look always
for that clothing and refining of passion with sentiment, which, with
us, belong only to the poetry and chivalry of youthful ardor. We may
love you as well afterward,--nay, we may love you a great deal
better,--but we cannot take the trouble of telling you so every day;
we expect you to believe it once for all; and you,--you like to hear
it over and over again, and, not hearing it, you begin to fancy it no
longer true, and fall to trying experiments on your happiness. A fatal
error this, Alice. There is nothing that men so often enjoy as the
simply being let alone; but not one woman in a hundred can be made to
believe in such a strange enjoyment. Then the wife becomes
_exigeante_ and impatient, and the husband, after fruitless
attempts to find out what he has done, never suspecting that the real
trouble is what he has left undone, finds her unreasonable, and begins
to harden himself to griefs which he classes, like Miss Edgeworth,
under the head of 'Sorrows of my Lord Plumcake.'"

"Miserable fate of the nobler sex, Uncle,--disturbed, even in the
sublime heights of philosophical self-possession, by the follies and
unreasonablenesses of the weaker vessel! I suppose you allow men to
live out their natures unrebuked, while women must live down theirs?"

"Not I, Alice,--but I am by nature a special pleader, and, just now, I
am engaged on Herbert's side of the case. Fee me well, my darling, by
a kiss or a merry look, and bring Herbert up to judgment, and I will
tell him home truths too."

"Let me hear your argument for the other side, most subtile of
reasoners, and I may, perhaps, be able to repeat them at second-hand,
when occasion calls for them."

"Don't think of it, my dear! Second-hand arguments are like
second-hand coffee,--the aroma and the strength have disappeared,
never to be brought back again. But if the husband were really here,
and the wife had paid well for properly-administered advice, I should
say to him, 'Do not fancy that you have done everything for your wife
when you have given her house, servants, and clothes; she really wants
a little attention now and then. Try to turn your thoughts away from
your more important affairs long enough to notice the pretty
morning-wrapper or the well-fitting evening-dress which has cost her
some thought for your sake; do not let a change in the furniture or a
new ornament in the parlor go unnoticed till the bill comes in. And
while, of course, you claim from her the most ready sympathy in all
your interests and enthusiasms, give her, once in a great while, say
every year or so, a little genuine interest in the housekeeping trials
or dressmaker grievances that meet her at every turn.

"Moreover, I would recommend to you, should your wife happen to have
some literary or artistic tastes, not to ignore them entirely because
they do not pay so well as your counting-room accounts do, and are not
so entertaining to you as billiards. I would even indulge her by
sacrificing a whole evening to her, once in a while, even to the
detriment of your own business or pleasure. Depend upon it, it will
pay in the end."

"Now, Uncle, like Rosalind, you have simply misused your whole sex in
your special pleadings, both for and against. If Herbert were here, I
would appeal to him to know if the time can ever come when what I do
can be uninteresting to him. But I know, for myself, that such a thing
cannot be. You are not talking from your own experience, Uncle?"
added she, suddenly looking up in his face.

"My dear Alice, were it possible, should it ever seem likely, that my
experience might benefit you, how readily I would lay it open before
you! But those who have lived their lives are like the prophets of
old,--their words are believed only when they are fulfilled. The
meaning of life is never understood till it is past. Like Moses on the
rock, our faces are covered when the Lord passes by, and we see only
his back. But look behind you, my darling!"

Alice turned suddenly and her face lighted up into the full beauty of
happiness as she saw Herbert standing in the doorway.

"I hope you have room for me, Mr. Delano," said he, advancing, "for
here I am, weather-bound, as well as Miss Alice and Kate. There is a
drizzling rain falling out-of-doors, and your Kentucky roads are fast
growing impassable for walkers."

Uncle John put into words the question that Alice's eyes had been
asking so eagerly.

"Where did you stumble from, my dear fellow,--and at this time of
night, too?"

"Why, I could not find any one at home on Fourth Street, so I took the
last ferry-boat and came over, on a venture, to try the Kentucky
hospitality, of which we New-Yorkers hear so much; and my stumbling
walk through the mud made me so unpresentable, that I found the way
round the house to Aunt Molly's premises, and left the tracks of my
muddy boots all over her white kitchen, till she, in despair, provided
me with a pair of your moccasins, and, shod in these shoes of silence,
I came quietly in upon you. I do hope you are all glad to see me," he
added, sitting down on the low seat that Alice had left, and looking
up in her face as she stood by her uncle.

Alice shook her head with a pretty assumption of displeasure, as she
said, "I told you I did not want to see you till to-morrow." But
hardly half an hour had elapsed before she and Herbert had wandered
off into the parlor, and Uncle John and I were left to watch them
through the open door.

"If he were not so impulsive," said Uncle John, abruptly,--"if he were
not so full of fancies! Kate, you are a wise and discreet little lady,
and we understand each other. Did I say too much?"

Just then Alice looked back.

"Chloe is the one who sings madrigals to-night, Uncle; she is going to
read Colin a lesson"; and, sitting down at the piano, she let her
hands run over the keys and burst out joyously into that variation of
Raleigh's pretty pastoral song,--

"Shepherd, what's Love? I prithee tell."
"It is a fountain and a well,
Where pleasure and repentance dwell;
And this is Love, as I've heard tell:
Repentance, repentance, repentance!"


Five years have passed since Alice sat at Uncle John's feet and
listened to his words that gave lessons of wisdom while they seemed
only to amuse; and now she sits again on the low stool, looking up in
his face, while I stand behind him and look down on her, marking the
changes that those years have wrought. She has come back to us, our
own Alice still,--but how different from the impetuous, impulsive girl
who left us five years ago! Her face has lost its early freshness,
though it seems to me lovelier than before, in its matured, womanly
expression; but her eyes, which used to be lifted so eagerly, to
glance so rapidly in their varying expression, are now hidden by their
lashes even when she is talking earnestly; her lips have lost their
mobility, and have even something stern in their fixedness; whilst her
hair, brought down smoothly over her forehead and twisted firmly in
the low knot behind, and her close-fitting widow's dress add to the
sobriety and almost matronliness of her appearance.

For Alice is a widow now, and has come back to us in her bereavement.
We have known but little of her real self for some years, so guarded
have been her letters; and not until the whole terrible truth burst
upon us, did we do more than suspect that her married life had not
brought the happiness she anticipated. She is talking freely now she
is at home again among her own people.

"I have sometimes thought, Uncle John, that all you said to me, the
last night I spent here, had some meaning deeper than met the ear. Had
you second sight? Did you foresee the future? Or was there that in
the present which foreshadowed it to you?"

"I am no prophet, Alice. I spoke only from what I knew of life, and
from my knowledge of your character and Herbert's. But I am yet to
know how my words have been fulfilled."

"It makes no difference now," said she, slowly, and with a touching
weariness. "And yet," she added, rousing herself, "it would make all
the difference in the world to me, if I could see clearly where it was
that I was to blame. Certainly I must have done wrong; such
wretchedness could not have come otherwise."

Uncle John drew her hand within his, while he answered calmly,--"It is
very probable you have done wrong, my darling; who of us are wise and
prudent, loving and forbearing, as we should be?"

"You think so? How glad I am to hear you say so! Yes, I can see it
now; I can see how I did that very thing against which you warned
me. First came the time when Herbert forgot to admire everything which
I did and said, and I--I tried little pouting ways, that I did not
feel. Then they were so successful, that I carried them too far, and
Herbert did not pet me out of them. Then I grew anxious and began to
guess at that truth which was only too clear to me at last, that he
did not love me as I loved him. Next,--oh, Uncle John, how much I was
to blame!--I watched every word and look, gave meanings to things that
had none, asked explanations where Herbert had none to give, and
fairly put him under such restraint that he could neither look nor act
himself. He fretted under it,--who would not?--and then began the
thousand excuses for being away from home, business engagements,
club-meetings, some country-customers of the firm, who must be taken
to the theatre, and, at last, no excuse at all but want of time. I
knew then that his love for me had never been more than a passing
fancy, and, woman-like, I grew proud, shut my heart up from him,
buried myself in my books. I never studied before as I did then, Uncle
John, for I studied to get away from myself, and, looking back, I
wonder even now at what I accomplished. Yes, you were right, books are
fast friends,--and mine would have brought me their own exceeding
great reward, had not my spirit been so bitter.

"It was then that mamma was so sick and I came home. Did you think me
wonderfully calm, Kate? I think somebody said I showed astonishing
self-control; but, in truth, I was frightened at myself,--I had no
feeling about anything, Mamma's sickness seemed something entirely
removed from me, something which concerned me not in the least. I was
calm because I felt nothing. I wondered then and wonder now that you
did not find me out, for I knew how unlike I was to my former
self. Then mamma got well, and I was not glad; I went back to New
York, and felt no sorrow at parting with you all.

"But when I got back, oh, Uncle John, I was too late!--too late to do
right, even had I wished it! I don't know,--I made good resolutions on
my way back: Heaven knows if I should have had strength to put them in
practice. But it was all over; not only had I lost Herbert, but he had
lost himself. The first time I saw him he was not himself,--I might as
well say it,--he was drunk.

"There is no need of going through the rest, Uncle,--you will not ask
it. I think I did everything I could;--I threw away my books; I
devoted myself to making his home pleasant to him; never, no, never,
in my girlish days, did I take half the pains to please him that I did
now to win him from himself. I read to him, I sang to him, I filled
the house with people that I knew were to his taste, I dressed for
him, I let myself be admired by others that he might feel proud of me,
might think me more worthy of admiration,--but all to no
purpose. Sometimes I hoped, but more often I despaired; his fall
seemed to me fearfully rapid, though now the three years seem to have
been interminable. At last I had no hope but that of concealing the
truth from you all. You thought me churlish, Kate, in my answer to
your proposal to spend last winter with me? My darling, I dared not
have you in my house. But it is over now. I knew how that last
horrible attack would end when I sent for papa. He had gone through
two before that, and the doctor told me the third would be fatal. Poor
Herbert!--Uncle John, can I ever forgive myself?"

Alice looked up with dry and burning eyes into Uncle John's face, over
which the tears were streaming.

"My child, it is right that you should blame yourself. What sorrow do
we meet in life that we do not in part bring upon ourselves? Who is
there of us who is not wise after time? which of us has not made some
fatal mistake?"

I felt half indignant that Uncle John did not tell her how much more
to blame, how weak, how reckless Herbert had been; but the calmer
expression which came over Alice's countenance showed me that he was
right, that he best knew her heart. She could not now be just to
herself; she was happier in being unjust.

We were still and silent for a long time. The light wood-fire on the
hearth crackled and burned to ashes, but it had done its office in
tempering the chill of the autumn evening, and through the half-open
door stole the 'sweet decaying smell' of the fallen leaves, while the
hush of an Indian-summer night seemed to calm our very hearts with its

Uncle John spoke at last. His voice was very gentle and subdued as he

"I told you once, Alice, that my life should be opened to you, if ever
its errors could be either warning or consolation to you. But who am
I, to judge what beacon-lights we may hold out to each other? There is
as much egotism, sometimes, in silence as in the free speech which
asks for sympathy. Perhaps I have been too proud to lay open my
follies before you and my little Kate."

Alice looked up, with a touch of her old eagerness, as Uncle John went

"It was long before you were born, my dear, that, for some college
peccadilloes,--it is so long ago that I have almost forgotten now what
they were,--I was suspended (rusticated we called it) for a term, and
advised by the grave and dignified president to spend my time in
repenting and in keeping up with my class. I had no mind to come
home; I had no wish, by my presence, to keep the memory of my
misdemeanors before my father's mind for six months; so I asked and
gained leave to spend the summer in a little town in Western
Massachusetts, where, as I said, I should have nothing to tempt me
from my studies. I had heard from a classmate what famous shooting and
fishing were to be found there, and I knew something of the beauty of
Berkshire scenery; but I honorably intended to study well and
faithfully, taking only the moderate amount of recreation necessary
for my health.

"I went, and soon established myself in a quiet farm-house with my
books, gun, and fishing-rod, and had passed there a whole month with
an approving conscience and tolerable success both in studies and
sport, when the farmer announced one morning, that, as he had one
boarder, he might as well take another, and that a New York lady had
been inquiring of his neighbor Johnson, when he was in the city last
week, for some farm-house where they would be willing to take her
cheap for the summer. She could have the best room, and he didn't
suppose she'd be in anybody's way, so he had told Johnson that she
might come, if she would put up with their country fare.

"She came the next week. She was a widow, some thirty years old, ten
years older than I was. I did not think her pretty,--perhaps
_piquante_, but that was all. In my first fastidiousness, I
thought her hardly lady-like, and laughed at her evident attempts to
attract my notice,--at her little vanities and affectations. But I do
not know; we were always together; I saw no other woman but the
farmer's wife. There were the mountain walks, the trees, the flowers,
the moonlight; she talked so well upon them all! In short, you do not
know, no young girl can know, the influence which a woman in middle
life, if she has anything in her, has over a young man; and she,--she
had shrewdness and a certain talent, and, I think now, knew what she
was doing,--at any rate, I fell madly in love. I knew my father would
never consent to my marrying then; I knew I was ruining my prospects
by doing so; but that very knowledge only made me more eager to secure

"She was entirely independent of control, being left a widow with some
little property, and threw no obstacles in my way. We were married
there, in that little village, and for a few weeks I lived in a fool's

"I could not tell you--indeed, I would not tell you, if I could--how
by degrees I found out what I had done,--that I had flung away my
heart on a woman who married me simply to secure herself the position
in society which her own imprudence had lost; how, when she found I
had nothing to offer her but a home in my father's house, entirely
dependent upon him, she accused me of having deceived her for the sake
of her own miserable pittance; how she made herself the common talk of
Newport by her dissipation, her extravagance, her affectations; how
her love of excitement led her into such undisguised flirtations,
under the name of friendships, with almost every man she met, that her
imprudences, to call them by no harsher name, made my father insist,
that, for my mother's sake, I should seek another home.

"I did so, but it was only to go through a repetition of similar
scenes, of daring follies on her part, and reproaches on mine. At
last, desperate, I induced my father to settle on her what would have
been my share of his property on condition that she should return to
New York,--while I, crushed down, mortified, and ashamed to look my
friends in the face, and sick of the wrongs and follies of civilized
life, grasped eagerly at an opportunity to join a fur-trading party,
and buried myself alive in the wilds of the Northwest.

"I had no object in going there but to escape from my wife and from
myself; but, once there, the charm of that free life took possession
of me; adventure followed adventure; opportunities opened to me, and I
grew to be an influential person, and made myself a home among the
Indians. It is a wild life that the Indian traders live up in that
far-away country, and many a reckless deed is done there which public
opinion would frown upon here. I am afraid I was no better than my
companions; I lived my life and drew from it whatever enjoyment it
would bring; but, at least, I did not brutalize myself as some of them
did; for that I may thank the refining influence of my early
education. Meantime, I was almost lost to my family and, indeed, I
hardly regretted it, for nothing would have brought me back while my
wife lived, and, if I were not to be with my friends, why eat my heart
out with longings for them? So, for nearly twenty years, I lived the
life of adventure, danger, and privation, that draws its only charm
from its independence.

"At last came a letter from your mother. It found its way to me from
fort to fort, brought up part of the way with the letters to the
troops stationed at our upper forts, then carried by the Indian
runners to the trading-posts of the fur-companies till it reached me
in the depths of the Rocky Mountains. My wife was dead,--she had died
suddenly; my property, all that she had not squandered, (and it was so
tied up by my father's forethought that she could only throw away a
part of it,) was my own again; my sister longed to see me, and
promised me a welcome to her house and heart. I grew restless from
that moment, and, converting into money the not inconsiderable wealth
with which I had surrounded myself in the shape of furs, horses,
buffalo-robes, and so forth, I came down to the States again to begin
life anew, a man of forty-five, my head whitened, and my features
marked before their time from the life of exposure which I had
led. Alice, I, too, was too late. I had dropped out of the tide of
life and progress in my twenty years' seclusion, and, struggle as I
might, I could not retrieve the time lost. The present age knew not of
me,--I had lost my place in it; the thoughts, feelings, habits, of all
around were strange to me; I had been pushed out of the line of march,
and never could I fall into step again. In society, in business, in
domestic life, it was all the same. Trial after trial taught me, at
last, the truth; and when I had learned not only to believe it, but to
accept it, I came home to my father's house, now mine, and made myself
friends of my books,--those faithful ones who were as true to me as if
I had never deserted them. They have brought me content, if not
happiness; and you, Alice, you and Kate, you have filled fully an old
man's heart."

Alice's tears were dropping fast on Uncle John's hand as she said,--

"I will be more to you henceforward than ever before. I have nothing
else to live for now. Kate is the home child; but I--I will stay with
you, and you shall teach me, too, to be contented,--to find my
happiness, as you do, in making the happiness of all around."

Uncle John passed his other hand over her hair,--

"You shall stay with me for the present, my darling,--perhaps as long
as I live. But life is not over for you, Alice. You have youth,--you
have years in store. For you it is not _too late_."


On that yon pines which crown the steep
Their fires might ne'er surrender!
Oh that yon fervid knoll might keep,
While lasts the world, its splendor!

Pale poplars on the wind that lean,
And in the sunset shiver,
Oh that your golden stems might screen
For aye yon glassy river!

That yon white bird on homeward wing
Soft-sliding without motion,
And now in blue air vanishing
Like snow-flake lost in ocean,

Beyond our sight might never flee,
Yet onward still be flying;
And all the dying day might be
Immortal in its dying!

Pellucid thus in golden trance,
Thus mute in expectation,
What waits the Earth? Deliverance?
Ah, no! Transfiguration!

She dreams of that New Earth divine,
Conceived of seed immortal:
She sings, "Not mine the holier shrine,
But mine the cloudy portal!"



Early the next morning we started on our return up the Penobscot, my
companion wishing to go about twenty-five miles above the Moosehead
carry to a camp near the junction of the two forks, and look for moose
there. Our host allowed us something for the quarter of the moose
which we had brought, and which he was glad to get. Two explorers from
Chamberlain Lake started at the same time that we did. Red flannel
shirts should be worn in the woods, if only for the fine contrast
which this color makes with the evergreens and the water. Thus I
thought when I saw the forms of the explorers in their birch, poling
up the rapids before us, far off against the forest. It is the
surveyor's color also, most distinctly seen under all circumstances.
We stopped to dine at Ragmuff, as before. My companion it was who
wandered up the stream to look for moose this time, while Joe went to
sleep on the bank, so that we felt sure of him; and I improved the
opportunity to botanize and bathe. Soon after starting again, while
Joe was gone back in the canoe for the frying-pan, which had been
left, we picked a couple of quarts of tree-cranberries for a sauce.

I was surprised by Joe's asking me how far it was to the Moosehorn. He
was pretty well acquainted with this stream, but he had noticed that I
was curious about distances, and had several maps. He, and Indians
generally, with whom I have talked, are not able to describe
dimensions or distances in our measures with any accuracy. He could
tell, perhaps, at what time we should arrive, but not how far it
was. We saw a few wood-ducks, sheldrakes, and black ducks, but they
were not so numerous there at that season as on our river at home. We
scared the same family of wood-ducks before us, going and returning.
We also heard the note of one fish-hawk, somewhat like that of a
pigeon-woodpecker, and soon after saw him perched near the top of a
dead white-pine against the island where we had first camped, while a
company of peetweets were twittering and teetering about over the
carcass of a moose on a low sandy spit just beneath. We drove the
fish-hawk from perch to perch, each time eliciting a scream or
whistle, for many miles before us. Our course being up-stream, we were
obliged to work much harder than before, and had frequent use for a
pole. Sometimes all three of us paddled together, standing up, small
and heavily laden as the canoe was. About six miles from Moosehead, we
began to see the mountains east of the north end of the lake, and at
four o'clock we reached the carry.

The Indians were still encamped here. There were three, including the
St. Francis Indian who had come in the steamer with us. One of the
others was called Sabattis. Joe and the St. Francis Indian were
plainly clear Indian, the other two apparently mixed Indian and white;
but the difference was confined to their features and complexions, for
all that I could see. We here cooked the tongue of the moose for
supper,--having left the nose, which is esteemed the choicest part, at
Chesuncook, boiling, it being a good deal of trouble to prepare it. We
also stewed our tree-cranberries, (_Viburnum opulus_,) sweetening
them with sugar. The lumberers sometimes cook them with
molasses. They were used in Arnold's expedition. This sauce was very
grateful to us who had been confined to hard bread, pork, and
moose-meat, and, notwithstanding their seeds, we all three pronounced
them equal to the common cranberry; but perhaps some allowance is to
be made for our forest appetites. It would be worth the while to
cultivate them, both for beauty and for food. I afterward saw them in
a garden in Bangor. Joe said that they were called _ebeemenar_.

While we were getting supper, Joe commenced curing the moose-hide, on
which I had sat a good part of the voyage, he having already cut most
of the hair off with his knife at the Caucomgomoc. He set up two
stout forked poles on the bank, seven or eight feet high, and as much
asunder east and west, and having cut slits eight or ten inches long,
and the same distance apart, close to the edge, on the sides of the
hide, he threaded poles through them, and then, placing one of the
poles on the forked stakes, tied the other down tightly at the
bottom. The two ends also were tied with cedar bark, their usual
string, to the upright poles, through small holes at short intervals.
The hide, thus stretched, and slanted a little to the north, to expose
its flesh side to the sun, measured, in the extreme, eight feet long
by six high. Where any flesh still adhered, Joe boldly scored it with
his knife to lay it open to the sun. It now appeared somewhat spotted
and injured by the duck shot. You may see the old frames on which
hides have been stretched at many camping-places in these woods.

For some reason or other, the going to the forks of the Penobscot was
given up, and we decided to stop here, my companion intending to hunt
down the stream at night. The Indians invited us to lodge with them,
but my companion inclined to go to the log-camp on the carry. This
camp was close and dirty, and had an ill smell, and I preferred to
accept the Indians' offer, if we did not make a camp for ourselves;
for, though they were dirty, too, they were more in the open air, and
were much more agreeable, and even refined company, than the
lumberers. The most interesting question entertained at the
lumberers' camp was, which man could "handle" any other on the carry;
and, for the most part, they possessed no qualities which you could
not lay hands on. So we went to the Indians' camp or wigwam.

It was rather windy, and therefore Joe concluded to hunt after
midnight, if the wind went down, which the other Indians thought it
would not do, because it was from the south. The two mixed bloods,
however, went off up the river for moose at dark, before we arrived at
their camp. This Indian camp was a slight, patched-up affair, which
had stood there several weeks, built shed-fashion, open to the fire on
the west. If the wind changed, they could turn it round. It was
formed by two forked stakes and a cross-bar, with rafters slanted from
this to the ground. The covering was partly an old sail, partly
birch-bark, quite imperfect, but securely tied on, and coming down to
the ground on the sides. A large log was rolled up at the back side
for a headboard, and two or three moose-hides were spread on the
ground with the hair up. Various articles of their wardrobe were
tucked around the sides and corners, or under the roof. They were
smoking moose-meat on just such a crate as is represented by With in
De Bry's "Collectio Peregrinationum," published in 1588, and which the
natives of Brazil called _boucan_, (whence buccaneer,) on which
were frequently shown pieces of human flesh drying along with the
rest. It was erected in front of the camp over the usual large fire,
in the form of an oblong square. Two stout forked stakes, four or five
feet apart and five feet high, were driven into the ground at each
end, and then two poles ten feet long were stretched across over the
fire, and smaller ones laid transversely on these a foot apart. On the
last hung large, thin slices of moose-meat smoking and drying, a space
being left open over the centre of the fire. There was the whole
heart, black as a thirty-two pound ball, hanging at one corner. They
said, that it took three or four days to cure this meat, and it would
keep a year or more. Refuse pieces lay about on the ground in
different stages of decay, and some pieces also in the fire, half
buried and sizzling in the ashes, as black and dirty as an old
shoe. These last I at first thought were thrown away, but afterwards
found that they were being cooked. Also a tremendous rib-piece was
roasting before the fire, being impaled on an upright stake forced in
and out between the ribs. There was a moose-hide stretched and curing
on poles like ours, and quite a pile of cured skins close by. They had
killed twenty-two moose within two months, but, as they could use but
very little of the meat, they left the carcasses on the
ground. Altogether it was about as savage a sight as was ever
witnessed, and I was carried back at once three hundred years. There
were many torches of birch-bark, shaped like straight tin horns, lying
ready for use on a stump outside.

For fear of dirt, we spread our blankets over their hides, so as not
to touch them anywhere. The St. Francis Indian and Joe alone were
there at first, and we lay on our backs talking with them till
midnight. They were very sociable, and, when they did not talk with
us, kept up a steady chatting in their own language. We heard a small
bird just after dark, which, Joe said, sang at a certain hour in the
night,--at ten o'clock, he believed. We also heard the hylodes and
tree-toads, and the lumberers singing in their camp a quarter of a
mile off. I told them that I had seen pictured in old books pieces of
human flesh drying on these crates; whereupon they repeated some
tradition about the Mohawks eating human flesh, what parts they
preferred, etc., and also of a battle with the Mohawks near Moosehead,
in which many of the latter were killed; but I found that they knew
but little of the history of their race, and could be entertained by
stories about their ancestors as readily as any way. At first I was
nearly roasted out, for I lay against one side of the camp, and felt
the heat reflected not only from the birch-bark above, but from the
side; and again I remembered the sufferings of the Jesuit
missionaries, and what extremes of heat and cold the Indians were said
to endure. I struggled long between my desire to remain and talk with
them, and my impulse to rush out and stretch myself on the cool grass;
and when I was about to take the last step, Joe, hearing my murmurs,
or else being uncomfortable himself, got up and partially dispersed
the fire. I suppose that that is Indian manners,--to defend yourself.

While lying there listening to the Indians, I amused myself with
trying to guess at their subject by their gestures, or some proper
name introduced. There can be no more startling evidence of their
being a distinct and comparatively aboriginal race, than to hear this
unaltered Indian language, which the white man cannot speak nor
understand. We may suspect change and deterioration in almost every
other particular, but the language which is so wholly unintelligible
to us. It took me by surprise, though I had found so many arrow-heads,
and convinced me that the Indian was not the invention of historians
and poets. It was a purely wild and primitive American sound, as much
as the barking of a _chickaree_, and I could not understand a
syllable of it; but Paugus, had he been there, would have understood
it. These Abenakis gossiped, laughed, and jested, in the language in
which Eliot's Indian Bible is written, the language which has been
spoken in New England who shall say how long? These were the sounds
that issued from the wigwams of this country before Columbus was born;
they have not yet died away; and, with remarkably few exceptions, the
language of their forefathers is still copious enough for them. I felt
that I stood, or rather lay, as near to the primitive man of America,
that night, as any of its discoverers ever did.

In the midst of their conversation, Joe suddenly appealed to me to
know how long Moosehead Lake was.

Meanwhile, as we lay there, Joe was making and trying his horn, to be
ready for hunting after midnight. The St. Francis Indian also amused
himself with sounding it, or rather calling through it; for the sound
is made with the voice, and not by blowing through the horn. The
latter appeared to be a speculator in moose-hides. He bought my
companion's for two dollars and a quarter, green. Joe said that it
was worth two and a half at Oldtown. Its chief use is for moccasins.
One or two of these Indians wore them. I was told, that, by a recent
law of Maine, foreigners are not allowed to kill moose there at any
season; white Americans can kill them only at a particular season, but
the Indians of Maine at all seasons. The St. Francis Indian
accordingly asked my companion for a _wighiggin_, or bill, to
show, since he was a foreigner. He lived near Sorel. I found that he
could write his name very well, _Tahmunt Swasen_. One Ellis, an
old white man of Guilford, a town through which we passed, not far
from the south end of Moosehead, was the most celebrated moose-hunter
of those parts. Indians and whites spoke with equal respect of
him. Tahmunt said, that there were more moose here than in the
Adirondack country in New York, where he had hunted; that three years
before there were a great many about, and there were a great many now
in the woods, but they did not come out to the water. It was of no use
to hunt them at midnight,--they would not come out then. I asked
Sabattis, after he came home, if the moose never attacked him. He
answered, that you must not fire many times so as to mad him. "I fire
once and hit him in the right place, and in the morning I find him. He
won't go far. But if you keep firing, you mad him. I fired once five
bullets, every one through the heart, and he did not mind 'em at all;
it only made him more mad." I asked him if they did not hunt them with
dogs. He said, that they did so in winter, but never in the summer,
for then it was of no use; they would run right off straight and
swiftly a hundred miles.

Another Indian said, that the moose, once scared, would run all day. A
dog will hang to their lips, and be carried along till he is swung
against a tree and drops off. They cannot run on a "glaze," though
they can run in snow four feet deep; but the caribou can run on
ice. They commonly find two or three moose together. They cover
themselves with water, all but their noses, to escape flies. He had
the horns of what he called "the black moose that goes in low lands."
These spread three or four feet. The "red moose" was another kind,
"running on mountains," and had horns which spread six feet. Such were
his distinctions. Both can move their horns. The broad flat blades are
covered with hair, and are so soft, when the animal is alive, that you
can run a knife through them. They regard it as a good or bad sign, if
the horns turn this way or that. His caribou horns had been gnawed by
mice in his wigwam, but he thought that the horns neither of the moose
nor of the caribou were ever gnawed while the creature was alive, as
some have asserted. An Indian, whom I met after this at Oldtown, who
had carried about a bear and other animals of Maine to exhibit, told
me that thirty years ago there were not so many moose in Maine as now;
also, that the moose were very easily tamed, and would come back when
once fed, and so would deer, but not caribou. The Indians of this
neighborhood are about as familiar with the moose as we are with the
ox, having associated with them for so many generations. Father
Rasles, in his Dictionary of the Abenaki Language, gives not only a
word for the male moose, (_aianbe_) and another for the female,
(_herar_,) but for the bone which is in the middle of the heart
of the moose (!), and for his left hind-leg.

There were none of the small deer up there; they are more common about
the settlements. One ran into the city of Bangor two years before, and
jumped through a window of costly plate glass, and then into a mirror,
where it thought it recognized one of its kind, and out again, and so
on, leaping over the heads of the crowd, until it was captured. This
the inhabitants speak of as the deer that went a-shopping. The
last-mentioned Indian spoke of the _lunxus_ or Indian devil,
(which I take to be the cougar, and not the _Gulo luscus_,) as
the only animal in Maine which man need fear; it would follow a man,
and did not mind a fire. He also said, that beavers were getting to be
pretty numerous again, where we went, but their skins brought so
little now that it was not profitable to hunt them.

I had put the ears of our moose, which were ten inches long, to dry
along with the moose-meat over the fire, wishing to preserve them; but
Sabattis told me that I must skin and cure them, else the hair would
all come off. He observed, that they made tobacco-pouches of the skins
of their ears, putting the two together inside to inside. I asked him
how he got fire; and he produced a little cylindrical box of
friction-matches. He also had flints and steel, and some punk, which
was not dry; I think it was from the yellow birch. "But suppose you
upset, and all these and your powder get wet." "Then," said he, "we
wait till we get to where there is some fire." I produced from my
pocket a little vial, containing matches, stoppled water-tight, and
told him, that, though we were upset, we should still have some dry
matches; at which he stared without saying a word.

We lay awake thus a long while talking, and they gave us the meaning
of many Indian names of lakes and streams in the vicinity,--especially
Tahmunt. I asked the Indian name of Moosehead Lake. Joe answered,
_Sebamook_; Tahmunt pronounced it _Sebemook_. When I asked
what it meant, they answered, Moosehead Lake. At length, getting my
meaning, they alternately repeated the word over to themselves, as a
philologist might,--_Sebamook_,--_Sebamook_,--now and then
comparing notes in Indian; for there was a slight difference in their
dialects; and finally Tahmunt said, "Ugh! I know,"--and he rose up
partly on the moose-hide,--"like as here is a place, and there is a
place," pointing to different parts of the hide, "and you take water
from there and fill this, and it stays here; that is _Sebamook_."
I understood him to mean that it was a reservoir of water which did
not run away, the river coming in on one side and passing out again
near the same place, leaving a permanent bay. Another Indian said,
that it meant Large-Bay Lake, and that _Sebago_ and _Sebec_,
the names of other lakes, were kindred words, meaning large open
water. Joe said that _Seboois_ meant Little River. I observed
their inability, often described, to convey an abstract idea. Having
got the idea, though indistinctly, they groped about in vain for words
with which to express it. Tahmunt thought that the whites called it
Moosehead Lake, because Mount Kineo, which commands it, is shaped like
a moose's head, and that Moose River was so called "because the
mountain points right across the lake to its mouth." John Josselyn,
writing about 1673, says, "Twelve miles from Casco Bay, and passable
for men and horses, is a lake, called by the Indians Sebug. On the
brink thereof, at one end, is the famous rock, shaped like a moose
deer or helk, diaphanous, and called the Moose Rock." He appears to
have confounded Sebamook with Sebago, which is nearer, but has no
"diaphanous" rock on its shore.

I give more of their definitions, for what they are worth,--partly
_because_ they differ sometimes from the commonly received ones. They
never analyzed these words before. After long deliberation and
repeating of the word, for it gave much trouble, Tahmunt said that
_Chesuncook_ meant a place where many streams emptied in (?), and he
enumerated them,--Penobscot, Umbazookskus, Cusabesex, Red Brook,
etc.--"_Caucomgomoc_,--what does that mean?" "What are those
large white birds?" he asked. "Gulls," said I. "Ugh! Gull
Lake."--_Pammadumcook_, Joe thought, meant the Lake with Gravelly
Bottom or Bed.--_Kenduskeag_, Tahmunt concluded at last, after asking
if birches went up it, for he said that he was not much acquainted
with it, meant something like this: "You go up Penobscot till you come
to _Kenduskeag_, and you go by, you don't turn up there. That is
_Kenduskeag_." (?) Another Indian, however, who knew the river better,
told us afterward that it meant Little Eel River.--_Mattawamkeag_ was
a place where two rivers meet. (?)--_Penobscot_ was Rocky River. One
writer says, that this was "originally the name of only a section of
the main channel, from the head of the tide-water to a short distance
above Oldtown."

A very intelligent Indian, whom we afterward met, son-in-law of
Neptune, gave us also these other definitions:--_Umbazookskus_, Meadow
Stream; _Millinoket_, Place of Islands; _Aboljacarmegus_, Smooth-Ledge
Falls (and Dead-Water); _Aboljacarmeguscook_, the stream emptying in;
(the last was the word he gave when I asked about _Aboljacknagesic_,
which he did not recognize;) _Mattahumkeag_, Sand-Creek Pond;
_Piscataquis_, Branch of a River.

I asked our hosts what _Musketaquid_, the Indian name of Concord,
Mass., meant; but they changed it to _Musketicook_, and repeated
that, and Tahmunt said that it meant Dead Stream, which is probably
true. _Cook_ appears to mean stream, and perhaps _quid_
signifies the place or ground. When I asked the meaning of the names
of two of our hills, they answered that they were another language. As
Tahmunt said that he traded at Quebec, my companion inquired the
meaning of the word _Quebec_, about which there has been so much
question. He did not know, but began to conjecture. He asked what
those great ships were called that carried soldiers. "Men-of-war," we
answered. "Well," he said, "when the English ships came up the river,
they could not go any further, it was so narrow there; they must go
back,--go-back,--that's Que-bec." I mention this to show the value of
his authority in the other cases.

Late at night the other two Indians came home from moose-hunting, not
having been successful, aroused the fire again, lighted their pipes,
smoked awhile, took something strong to drink, and ate some
moose-meat, and, finding what room they could, lay down on the
moose-hides; and thus we passed the night, two white men and four
Indians, side by side.

When I awoke in the morning the weather was drizzling. One of the
Indians was lying outside, rolled in his blanket, on the opposite side
of the fire, for want of room. Joe had neglected to awake my
companion, and he had done no hunting that night. Tahmunt was making a
cross-bar for his canoe with a singularly shaped knife, such as I have
since seen other Indians using. The blade was thin, about three
quarters of an inch wide, and eight or nine inches long, but curved
out of its plane into a hook, which he said made it more convenient to
shave with. As the Indians very far north and northwest use the same
kind of knife, I suspect that it was made according to an aboriginal
pattern, though some white artisans may use a similar one. The Indians
baked a loaf of flour bread in a spider on its edge before the fire
for their breakfast; and while my companion was making tea, I caught a
dozen sizable fishes in the Penobscot, two kinds of sucker and one
trout. After we had breakfasted by ourselves, one of our bedfellows,
who had also breakfasted, came along, and, being invited, took a cup
of tea, and finally, taking up the common platter, licked it
clean. But he was nothing to a white fellow, a lumberer, who was
continually stuffing himself with the Indians' moose-meat, and was the
butt of his companions accordingly. He seems to have thought that it
was a feast "to eat all." It is commonly said that the white man
finally surpasses the Indian on his own ground, and it was proved true
in this case. I cannot swear to his employment during the hours of
darkness, but I saw him at it again as soon as it was light, though he
came a quarter of a mile to his work.

The rain prevented our continuing any longer in the woods; so giving
some of our provisions and utensils to the Indians, we took leave of
them. This being the steamer's day, I set out for the lake at once. At
the carry-man's camp I saw many little birds, brownish and yellowish,
with some white tail-feathers, hopping on the wood-pile, in company
with the slate-colored snow-bird, (_Fringilla hiemalis_,) but
more familiar than they. The lumberers said that they came round their
camps, and they gave them a vulgar name. Their simple and lively note,
which was heard in all the woods, was very familiar to me, though I
had never before chanced to see the bird while uttering it, and it
interested me not a little, because I had had many a vain chase in a
spring-morning in the direction of that sound, in order to identify
the bird. On the 28th of the next month, (October,) I saw in my yard,
in a drizzling day, many of the same kind of birds flitting about amid
the weeds, and uttering a faint _chip_ merely. There was one
full-plumaged Yellow-crowned Warbler (_Sylvia coronata_) among
them, and I saw that the others were the young birds of that
season. They had followed me from Moosehead and the North. I have
since frequently seen the full-plumaged ones while uttering that note
in the spring.

I walked over the carry alone and waited at the head of the lake. An
eagle, or some other large bird, flew screaming away from its perch by
the shore at my approach. For an hour after I reached the shore there
was not a human being to be seen, and I had all that wide prospect to
myself. I thought that I heard the sound of the steamer before she
came in sight on the open lake. I noticed at the landing, when the
steamer came in, one of our bedfellows, who had been a-moose-hunting
the night before, now very sprucely dressed in a clean white shirt and
fine black pants, a true Indian dandy, who had evidently come over the
carry to show himself to any arrivers on the north shore of Moosehead
Lake, just as New York dandies take a turn up Broadway and stand on
the steps of a hotel.

Midway the lake we took on board two manly-looking middle-aged men,
with their _bateau_, who had been exploring for six weeks as far
as the Canada line, and had let their beards grow. They had the skin
of a beaver, which they had recently caught, stretched on an oval
hoop, though the fur was not good at that season. I talked with one of
them, telling him that I had come all this distance partly to see
where the white-pine, the Eastern stuff of which our houses are built,
grew, but that on this and a previous excursion into another part of
Maine I had found it a scarce tree; and I asked him where I must look
for it. With a smile, he answered, that he could hardly tell
me. However, he said that he had found enough to employ two teams the
next winter in a place where there was thought to be none left. What
was considered a "tip-top" tree now was not looked at twenty years
ago, when he first went into the business; but they succeeded very
well now with what was considered quite inferior timber then. The
explorer used to cut into a tree higher and higher up, to see if it
was false-hearted, and if there was a rotten heart as big as his arm,
he let it alone; but now they cut such a tree, and sawed it all around
the rot, and it made the very best of boards, for in such a case they
were never shaky.

One connected with lumbering operations at Bangor told me that the
largest pine belonging to his firm, cut the previous winter, "scaled"
in the woods four thousand five hundred feet, and was worth ninety
dollars in the log at the Bangor boom in Oldtown. They cut a road
three and a half miles long for this tree alone. He thought that the
principal locality for the white-pine that came down the Penobscot now
was at the head of the East Branch and the Allegash, about Webster
Stream and Eagle and Chamberlain Lakes. Much timber has been stolen
from the public lands. (Pray, what kind of forest-warden is the Public
itself?) I heard of one man who, having discovered some particularly
fine trees just within the boundaries of the public lands, and not
daring to employ an accomplice, cut them down, and by means of block
and tackle, without cattle, tumbled them into a stream, and so
succeeded in getting off with them without the least assistance.
Surely, stealing pine-trees in this way is not so mean as robbing

We reached Monson that night, and the next day rode to Bangor, all the
way in the rain again, varying our route a little. Some of the taverns
on this road, which were particularly dirty, were plainly in a
transition state from the camp to the house.

* * * * *

The next forenoon we went to Oldtown. One slender old Indian on the
Oldtown shore, who recognized my companion, was full of mirth and
gestures, like a Frenchman. A Catholic priest crossed to the island in
the same _bateau_ with us. The Indian houses are framed, mostly of one
story, and in rows one behind another, at the south end of the island,
with a few scattered ones. I counted about forty, not including the
church and what my companion called the council-house. The last, which
I suppose is their town-house, was regularly framed and shingled like
the rest. There were several of two stories, quite neat, with
front-yards inclosed, and one at least had green blinds. Here and
there were moose-hides stretched and drying about them. There were no
cart-paths, nor tracks of horses, but foot-paths; very little land
cultivated, but an abundance of weeds, indigenous and naturalized;
more introduced weeds than useful vegetables, as the Indian is said to
cultivate the vices rather than the virtues of the white man. Yet
this village was cleaner than I expected, far cleaner than such Irish
villages as I have seen. The children were not particularly ragged nor
dirty. The little boys met us with bow in hand and arrow on string,
and cried, "Put up a cent." Verily, the Indian has but a feeble hold
on his bow now; but the curiosity of the white man is insatiable, and
from the first he has been eager to witness this forest
accomplishment. That elastic piece of wood with its feathered dart, so
sure to be unstrung by contact with civilization, will serve for the
type, the coat-of-arms of the savage. Alas for the Hunter Race! the
white man has driven off their game, and substituted a cent in its
place. I saw an Indian woman washing at the water's edge. She stood on
a rock, and, after dipping the clothes in the stream, laid them on the
rock, and beat them with a short club. In the grave-yard, which was
crowded with graves, and overrun with weeds, I noticed an inscription
in Indian, painted on a wooden grave-board. There was a large wooden
cross on the island.

Since my companion knew him, we called on Governor Neptune, who
lived in a little "ten-footer," one of the humblest of them
all. Personalities are allowable in speaking of public men, therefore
I will give the particulars of our visit. He was a-bed. When we
entered the room, which was one half of the house, he was sitting on
the side of the bed. There was a clock hanging in one corner. He had
on a black frock-coat, and black pants, much worn, white cotton shirt,
socks, a red silk handkerchief about his neck, and a straw hat. His
black hair was only slightly grayed. He had very broad cheeks, and his
features were decidedly and refreshingly different from those of any
of the upstart Native American party whom I have seen. He was no
darker than many old white men. He told me that he was eighty-nine;
but he was going a-moose-hunting that fall, as he had been the
previous one. Probably his companions did the hunting. We saw various
squaws dodging about. One sat on the bed by his side and helped him
out with his stories. They were remarkably corpulent, with smooth,
round faces, apparently full of good-humor. Certainly our much-abused
climate had not dried up their adipose substance. While we were
there,--for we stayed a good while,--one went over to Oldtown,
returned and cut out a dress, which she had bought, on another bed in
the room. The Governor said, that "he could remember when the moose
were much larger; that they did not use to be in the woods, but came
out of the water, as all deer did. Moose was whale once. Away down
Merrimack way, a whale came ashore in a shallow bay. Sea went out and
left him, and he came up on land a moose. What made them know he was a
whale was, that at first, before he began to run in bushes, he had no
bowels inside, but"----and then the squaw who sat on the bed by his
side, as the Governor's aid, and had been putting in a word now and
then and confirming the story, asked me what we called that soft thing
we find along the sea-shore. "Jelly-fish," I suggested. "Yes," said
he, "no bowels, but jelly-fish."

There may be some truth in what he said about the moose growing larger
formerly; for the quaint John Josselyn, a physician who spent many
years in this very district of Maine in the seventeenth century, says,
that the tips of their horns "are sometimes found to be two fathoms
asunder,"--and he is particular to tell us that a fathom is six
feet,--"and [they are] in height, from the toe of the forefoot to the

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