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The Heart's Highway by Mary E. Wilkins

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The Heart's Highway

A Romance of Virginia in the Seventeeth Century


Mary E. Wilkins



The Heart's Highway


In 1682, when I was thirty years of age and Mistress Mary Cavendish
just turned of eighteen, she and I together one Sabbath morning in
the month of April were riding to meeting in Jamestown. We were all
alone except for the troop of black slaves straggling in the rear,
blurring the road curiously with their black faces. It seldom
happened that we rode in such wise, for Mistress Catherine
Cavendish, the elder sister of Mistress Mary, and Madam Cavendish,
her grandmother, usually rode with us--Madam Judith Cavendish,
though more than seventy, sitting a horse as well as her
granddaughters, and looking, when viewed from the back, as young as
they, and being in that respect, as well as others, a wonder to the
countryside. But it happened to-day that Madam Cavendish had a touch
of the rheumatics, that being an ailment to which the swampy estate
of the country rendered those of advanced years somewhat liable, and
had remained at home on her plantation of Drake Hill (so named in
honour of the great Sir Francis Drake, though he was long past the
value of all such earthly honours). Catherine, who was a most
devoted granddaughter, had remained with her--although, I
suspected, with some hesitation at allowing her young sister to go
alone, except for me, the slaves being accounted no more company
than our shadows. Mistress Catherine Cavendish had looked at me
after a fashion which I was at no loss to understand when I had
stood aside to allow Mistress Mary to precede me in passing the
door, but she had no cause for the look, nor for the apprehension
which gave rise to it. By reason of bearing always my burthen upon
my own back, I was even more mindful of it than others were who had
only the sight of it, whereas I had the sore weight and the evil
aspect in my inmost soul. But it was to be borne easily enough by
virtue of that natural resolution of a man which can make but a
featherweight of the sorest ills if it be but put in the balance
against them. I was tutor to Mistress Mary Cavendish, and I had
sailed from England to Virginia under circumstances of disgrace;
being, indeed, a convict.

I knew exceeding well what was my befitting deportment when I set
out that Sabbath morning with Mistress Mary Cavendish, and not only
upon that Sabbath morning but at all other times; still I can well
understand that my appearance may have belied me, since when I
looked in a glass I would often wonder at the sight of my own face,
which seemed younger than my years, and was strangely free from any
recording lines of experiences which might have been esteemed bitter
by any one who had not the pride of bearing them. When my black
eyes, which had a bold daring in them, looked forth at me from the
glass, and my lips smiled with a gay confidence at me, I could not
but surmise that my whole face was as a mask worn unwittingly over a
grave spirit. But since a man must be judged largely by his outward
guise and I had that of a gay young blade, I need not have taken it
amiss if Catherine Cavendish had that look in her eyes when I set
forth with her young sister alone save for those dark people which
some folk believed to have no souls.

I rode a pace behind Mary Cavendish, and never glanced her way, not
needing to do so in order to see her, for I seemed to see her with a
superior sort of vision compounded partly of memory and partly of
imagination. Of the latter I had, not to boast, though it may
perchance be naught to boast of, being simply a kind of higher
folly, a somewhat large allowance from my childhood. But that was
not to be wondered at, whether it were to my credit or otherwise,
since it was inherited from ancestors of much nobler fame and
worthier parts than I, one of whom, though not in the direct line,
the great Edward Maria Wingfield, the president of the first council
of the Dominion of Virginia, having written a book which was held to
be notable. This imagination for the setting forth and adorning of
all common things and happenings, and my woman's name of Maria, my
whole name being Harry Maria Wingfield, through my ancestor having
been a favourite of a great queen, and so called for her honour,
were all my inheritance at that date, all the estates belonging to
the family having become the property of my younger brother John.

But when I speak of my possessing an imagination which could gild
all the common things of life, I meant not to include Mistress Mary
Cavendish therein, for she needed not such gilding, being one of the
most uncommon things in the earth, as uncommon as a great diamond
which is rumoured to have been seen by travellers in far India. My
imagination when directed toward her was exercised only with the
comparing and combining of various and especial beauties of
different times and circumstances, when she was attired this way or
that way, or was grave or gay, or sweetly helpless and clinging or
full of daring. When, riding near her, I did not look at her, she
seemed all of these in one, and I was conscious of such a great
dazzle forcing my averted eyes, that I seemed to be riding behind a

I knew full well, though, as I said before, not studying the matter,
just how Mistress Mary Cavendish sat her horse, which was a noble
thoroughbred from England, though the one which I rode was a nobler,
she having herself selected him for my use. The horse which she
rode, Merry Roger, did not belie his name, for he was full of
prances and tosses of his fine head, and prickings of his dainty
pointed ears, but Mistress Mary sat him as lightly and truly and
unswervingly as a blossom sits a dancing bough.

That morning Mistress Mary glowed and glittered and flamed in
gorgeous apparel, until she seemed to fairly overreach all the
innocent young flowery beauties of the spring with one rich trill of
colour, like a high note of a bird above a wide chorus of others.
Mistress Mary that morning wore a tabby petticoat of a crimson
colour, and a crimson satin bodice shining over her arms and
shoulders like the plumage of a bird, and down her back streamed her
curls, shining like gold under her gauze love-hood. I knew well how
she had sat up late the night before fashioning that hood from one
which her friend Cicely Hyde's grandmother had sent her from
England, and I knew, the first pages of a young maid being easy to
spell out, that she wondered if I, though only her tutor, approved
her in it, but I gave no sign. The love-hood was made of such thin
and precious stuff that the gold of her head showed through.

Mistress Mary wore a mask of black velvet to screen her face from
the sun, and only her sweet forehead and her great blue eyes and the
rose-leaf tip of her chin showed.

All that low, swampy country was lush and green that April morning,
with patches of grass gleaming like emeralds in the wetness of
sunken places and unexpected pools of marsh water gleaming out of
the distances like sapphires. The blossoms thrust out toward us from
every hand like insistent arms of beauty. There was a frequent bush
by the wayside full of a most beautiful pink-horned flower, so
exceeding sweet that it harmed the worth of its own sweetness, and
its cups seemed fairly dripping with honey and were gummed together
with it. There were patches of a flower of a most brilliant and
wonderful blue colour, and spreads as of cloth of gold from cowslips
over the lowlands. The road was miry in places, and then I would
fall behind her farther still that the water and red mud splashing
from beneath my horse's hoofs might not reach her. Then, finally,
after I had done thus some few times, she reined in her Merry Roger,
and looked over her shoulder with a flash of her blue eyes which
compelled mine.

"Why do you ride so far away, Master Wingfield?" said she.

I lifted my hat and bent so low in my saddle that the feather on it
grazed the red mud.

"Because I fear to splash your fine tabby petticoat, Madam," I

"I care not for my fine petticoat," said she in a petulant way, like
that of a spoiled child who is forbidden sweets and the moon, and
questions love in consequence, yet still there was some little fear
and hesitation in her tone. Mistress Mary was a most docile pupil,
seeming to have great respect for my years and my learning, and was
as gentle under my hand as was her Merry Roger under hers, and yet
with the same sort of gentleness, which is as the pupil and not as
the master decides, and let the pull of the other will be felt.

I answered not, yet kept at my distance, but at the next miry place
she held in Merry Roger until I was forced to come up, and then she
spoke again, and as she spoke a mock-bird was singing somewhere over
on the bank of the river.

"Did you ever hear a sweeter bird's song than that, Master
Wingfield?" said she, and I answered that it was very sweet, as
indeed it was.

"What do you think the bird is mocking, Master Wingfield?" said she,
and then I answered like a fool, for the man who meets sweetness
with his own bitterness and keeps it not locked in his own soul is a

"I know not," said I, "but he may be mocking the hope of the spring,
and he may be mocking the hope in the heart of man. The song seems
too sweet for a mock of any bird which has no thought beyond this
year's nest."

I spoke thus as I would not now, when I have learned that the soul
of man, like the moon, hath a face which he should keep ever turned
toward the Unseen, and Mistress Mary's blue eyes, as helpless of
comprehension as a flower, looked in mine.

"But there will be another spring, Master Wingfield," said she
somewhat timidly, and then she added, and I knew that she was
blushing under her mask at her own tenderness, "and sometimes the
hopes of the heart come true."

She rode on with her head bent as one who considers deeply, but I,
knowing her well, knew that the mood would soon pass, as it did.
Suddenly she tossed her head and flung out her curls to the breeze,
and swung Merry Roger's bridle-rein, and was away at a gallop and I
after her, measuring the ground with wide paces on my tall
thoroughbred. In this fashion we soon left the plodding blacks so
far behind that they became a part of the distance-shadows. Then,
all at once, Mistress Mary swerved off from the main road and was
riding down the track leading to the plantation-wharf, whence all
the tobacco was shipped for England and all the merchandise imported
for household use unladen. There the way was very wet and the mire
was splashed high upon Mistress Mary's fine tabby skirt, but she
rode on at a reckless pace, and I also, much at a loss to know what
had come to her, yet not venturing, or rather, perhaps, deigning to
inquire. And then I saw what she had doubtless seen before, the
masts of a ship rising straightly among the trees with that
stiffness and straightness of dead wood, which is beyond that of
live, unless, indeed, in a storm at sea, when the wind can so
inspirit it, that I have seen a mast of pine possessed by all the
rage of yielding of its hundred years on the spur of a mountain.

When I saw the mast I knew that the ship belonging to Madam
Cavendish, which was called "The Golden Horn," and had upon the bow
the likeness of a gilt-horn, running over with fruit and flowers,
had arrived. It was by this ship that Madam Cavendish sent the
tobacco raised upon the plantation of Drake Hill to England.

But even then I knew not what had so stirred Mistress Mary that she
had left her sober churchward road upon the Sabbath day, and judged
that it must be the desire to see "The Golden Horn" fresh from her
voyage, nor did I dream what she purposed doing.

Toward the end of the rolling road the wetness increased; there were
little pools left from the recedence of the salt tide, and the wild
breath of it was in our faces. Then we heard voices singing together
in a sailor-song which had a refrain not quite suited to the day,
according to common opinions, having a refrain about a lad who
sailed away on bounding billow and left poor Jane to wear the
willow; but what's a lass's tears of brine to the Spanish Main and a
flask of wine?

As we came up to the ship lying in her dock, we saw sailors on deck
grouped around a cask of that same wine which they had taken the
freedom to broach, in order to celebrate their safe arrival in port,
though it was none of theirs. The sight aroused my anger, but Mary
Cavendish did not seem to see any occasion for wrath. She sat her
prancing horse, her head up, and her curls streaming like a flag of
gold, and there was a blue flash in her eyes, of which I knew the
meaning. The blood of her great ancestor, the sea king, Thomas
Cavendish, who was second only to Sir Francis Drake, was astir
within her. She sat there with the salt sea wind in her nostrils,
and her hair flung upon it like a pennant of victory, and looked at
the ship wet with the ocean surges, the sails stiff with the rime of
salt, and the group of English sailors on the deck, and those old
ancestral instincts which constitute the memory of the blood awoke.
She was in that instant as she sat there almost as truly that ardent
Suffolkshire lad, Thomas Cavendish, ready to ride to the death the
white plungers of the sea, and send the Spanish Armada to the
bottom, as Mary Cavendish of Drake Hill, the fairest maid of her
time in the Colony of Virginia.

Then as suddenly that mood left her, as she sat there, the sailors
having risen, and standing staring with shamefaced respect, and
covertly wiping with the hairy backs of hands their mouths red with
wine. But the captain, one Calvin Tabor, stood before them with more
assurance, as if he had some warrant for allowing such license among
his men; he himself seemed not to have been drinking. Mistress Mary
regarded them, holding in Merry Roger with her firm little hand,
with the calm grace of a queen, although she was so young, and all
the wild fire was gone from her blue eyes. All this time, I being as
close to her side as might be, in case of any rudeness of the men,
though that was not likely, they being a picked crew of Suffolkshire
men, and having as yet not tasted more wine than would make them
unquestioning of strange happenings, and render them readily
acquiescent to all counter currents of fate.

They had ceased their song and stood with heavy eyes sheepishly
averted in their honest red English faces, but Captain Calvin Tabor
spoke, bowing low, yet, as I said before, with assured eyes.

"I have the honour to salute you, Mistress," he spoke with a grace
somewhat beyond his calling. He was a young man, as fair as a
Dutchman and a giant in stature. He bore himself also curiously for
one of his calling, bowing as steadily as a cavalier, with no
trembling of the knees when he recovered, and carrying his right arm
as if it would grasp sword rather than cutlass if the need arose.

"God be praised! I see that you have brought 'The Golden Horn'
safely to port," said Mistress Mary with a stately sweetness that
covered to me, who knew her voice and its every note so well, an
exultant ring.

"Yes, praised be God, Mistress Cavendish," answered Captain Tabor,
"and with fine head winds to swell the sails and no pirates."

"And is my new scarlet cloak safe?" cried Mistress Mary, "and my
tabby petticoats and my blue brocade bodice, and my stockings and my
satin shoes, and laces?"

Mistress Mary spoke with that sweetness of maiden vanity which calls
for tender leniency and admiration from a man instead of contempt.
And it may easily chance that he may be as filled with vain delight
as she, and picture to himself as plainly her appearance in those
new fallalls.

I wondered somewhat at the length of the list, as not only Mistress
Mary's wardrobe, but those of her grandmother and sister and many of
the household supplies, had to be purchased with the proceeds of the
tobacco, and that brought but scanty returns of late years, owing to
the Navigation Act, which many esteemed a most unjust measure, and
scrupled not to say so, being secure in the New World, where
disloyalty against kings could flourish without so much danger of
the daring tongue silenced at Tyburn.

It had been a hard task for many planters to purchase the
necessaries of life with the profits of their tobacco crop, since
the trade with the Netherlands was prohibited by His Most Gracious
Majesty, King Charles II, for the supply being limited to the
English market, had so exceeded the demand that it brought but a
beggarly price per pound. Therefore, I wondered, knowing that many
of those articles of women's attire mentioned by Mistress Mary were
of great value, and brought great sums in London, and knowing, too,
that the maid, though innocently fond of such things, to which she
had, moreover, the natural right of youth and beauty such as hers,
which should have all the silks and jewels of earth, and no
questioning, for its adorning, was not given to selfish
appropriation for her own needs, but rather considered those of
others first. However, Mistress Mary had some property in her own
right, she being the daughter of a second wife, who had died
possessed of a small plantation called Laurel Creek, which was a
mile distant from Drake Hill, farther inland, having no ship dock
and employing this. Mistress Mary might have sent some of her own
tobacco crop to England wherewith to purchase finery for herself.
Still I wondered, and I wondered still more when Mistress Mary,
albeit the Lord's Day, and the penalty for such labour being even
for them of high degree not light, should propose, as she did, that
the goods be then and there unladen. Then I ventured to address her,
riding close to her side, that the captain and the sailors should
not hear, and think that I held her in slight respect and treated
her like a child, since I presumed to call her to account for aught
she chose to do.

"Madam," said I as low as might be, "do you remember the day?"

"And wherefore should I not?" asked she with a toss of her gold
locks and a pout of her red lips which was childishness and
wilfulness itself, but there went along with it a glance of her eyes
which puzzled me, for suddenly a sterner and older spirit of resolve
seemed to look out of them into mine. "Think you I am in my dotage,
Master Wingfield, that I remember not the day?" said she, "and think
you that I am going deaf that I hear not the church bells?"

"If we miss the service for the unlading of the goods, and it be
discovered, it may go amiss with us," said I.

"Are you then afraid, Master Wingfield?" asked she with a glance of
scorn, and a blush of shame at her own words, for she knew that they
were false.

I felt the blood rush to my face, and I reined back my horse, and
said no more.

"I pray you have the goods that you know of unladen at once, Captain
Tabor," said she, and she made a motion that would have been a stamp
had she stood.

Calvin Tabor laughed, and cast a glance of merry malice at me, and
bowed low as he replied:

"The goods shall be unladen within the hour, Mistress," said he,
"and if you and the gentleman would rather not tarry to see them for
fear of discovery--"

"We shall remain," said Mistress Mary, interrupting peremptorily.

"Then," said Captain Calvin Tabor with altogether too much of
freedom as I judged, "in case you be brought to account for the work
upon the Sabbath, 'The Golden Horn' hath wings for such a wind as
prevails to-day as will outspeed all pursuers, even should they
borrow wings of the cherubim in the churchyard."

I was glad that Mistress Mary did not, for all her youthfulness of
temper, laugh in return, but answered him with a grave dignity as if
she herself felt that he had exceeded his privilege.

"I pray you order the goods unladen at once, Captain Tabor," she
repeated. Then the captain coloured, for he was quick-witted to
scent a rebuff, though he laughed again in his dare-devil fashion as
he turned to the sailors and shouted out the order, and straightway
the sailors so swarmed hither and thither upon the deck that they
seemed five times as many as before, and then we heard the hatches
flung back with claps like guns.

We sat there and waited, and the bell over in Jamestown rang and the
long notes died away with sweet echoes as if from distant heights.
All around us the rank, woody growth was full of murmurs and
movements of life, and perfumes from unseen blossoms disturbed one's
thoughts with sweet insistence at every gust of wind, and always one
heard the lapping of the sea-water through all its countless ways,
for well it loves this country of Virginia and steals upon it, like
a lover who will not be gainsaid, through meadows and thick woods
and coarse swamps, until it is hard sometimes to say, when the tide
be in, whether it be land or sea, and we who dwell therein might
well account ourselves in a Venice of the New World.

I waited and listened while the sailors unloaded the goods with many
a shout and repeated loud commands from the captain, and Mistress
Mary kept her eyes turned away from my face and watched persistently
the unlading, and had seemingly no more thought of me than of one of
the swamp trees for some time. Then all at once she turned toward
me, though still her eyes evaded mine.

"Why do you not go to church, Master Wingfield?" said she in a
sweet, sharp voice.

"I go when you go, Madam," said I.

"You have no need to wait for me," said she. "I prefer that you
should not wait for me."

I made no reply, but reined in my horse, which was somewhat restive
with his head in a cloud of early flies.

"Do you not hear me, Master Wingfield?" said she. "Why do you not
proceed to church and leave me to follow when I am ready?"

She had never spoken to me in such manner before, and she dared not
look at me as she spoke.

"I go when you go, Madam," said I again.

Then, suddenly, with an impulse half of mischief and half of anger,
she lashed out with her riding whip at my restive horse, and he
sprang, and I had much ado to keep him from bolting. He danced to
all the trees and bushes, and she had to pull Merry Roger sharply to
one side, but finally I got the mastery of him, and rode close to
her again.

"Madam," said I, "I forbid you to do that again," and as I spoke I
saw her little fingers twitch on her whip, but she dared not raise
it. She laughed as a child will who knows she is at fault and is
scared by her consciousness of guilt and would conceal it by a
bravado of merriment; then she said in the sweetest, wheedling tone
that I had ever heard from her, and I had known her from her

"But, Master Wingfield, 'tis broad daylight and there are no Indians
hereabouts, and if there were, here are all these English sailors
and Captain Tabor. Why need you stay? Indeed, I shall be quite
safe--and hear, that must be the last stroke of the bell?"

But I was not to be moved by wheedling. I repeated again that I
should remain where she was. Then she, grown suddenly stern again,
withdrew a little from me, and made no further efforts to get rid of
me, but sat still watching the unlading with a gravity which gave me
a vague uneasiness. I began to have a feeling that here was more
than appeared on the surface, and my suspicion grew as I watched the
sailors lift those boxes which were supposed to contain Mistress
Mary's finery. In the first place there were enough of them to
contain the wardrobe of a lady in waiting, in the second place they
were of curious shape for such purposes, in the third place 'twas
all those lusty English sailors could do to lift them.

"They be the heaviest furbelows that ever maiden wore," I thought as
I watched them strain at the cases, both hauling and pulling, with
many men to the ends to get them through the hatch, then ease them
to the deck, with regard to the nipping of fingers. I noted, too, an
order given somewhat privately by Captain Tabor to put out the
pipes, and noted that not one man but had stowed his away.

There was a bridle-path leading through the woods to Laurel Creek,
and by that way to my consternation Mistress Mary ordered the
sailors to carry the cases. 'Twas two miles inland, and I marvelled
much to hear her, for even should nearly all the crew go, the load
would be a grievous one, it seemed to me. But to my mind Captain
Calvin Tabor behaved as if the order was one which he expected,
neither did the sailors grumble, but straightway loaded themselves
with the case raised upon a species of hurdles which must have been
provided for the purpose, and proceeded down the bridle-path,
singing to keep up their hearts another song even more at odds with
the day than the first. The captain marched at the head of the
sailors, and Mistress Mary and I followed slowly through the narrow
aisle of green. I rode ahead, and often pulled my horse to one side,
pressing his body hard against the trees that I might hold back a
branch which would have caught her headgear. All the way we never
spoke. When we reached Laurel Creek, Mistress Mary drew the key from
her pocket, which showed to me that the visit had been planned
should the ship have arrived. She unlocked the door, and the
sailors, no longer singing, for they were well-nigh spent by the
journey under the heavy burdens, deposited the cases in the great
room. Laurel Creek had belonged to Mistress Mary's maternal
grandfather, Colonel Edmond Lane, and had not been inhabited this
many a year, not since Mary was a baby in arms. The old furniture
still stood in the accustomed places, looking desolate with that
peculiar desolateness of lifeless things which have been associated
with man. The house at Laurel Creek was a fine mansion, finer than
Drake Hill, and the hall made me think of England. Great oak chests
stood against the walls, hung with rusting swords and armour and
empty powder-horns. A carven seat was beside the cold hearth, and in
a corner was a tall spinning-wheel, and the carven stair led in a
spiral ascent of mystery to the shadows above.

When the cases were all deposited in the great room, Mistress Mary
held a short conference apart with Captain Calvin Tabor, and I saw
some gold pass from her hand to his. Then she thanked him and the
sailors for their trouble very prettily in that way she had which
would have made every one as willing to die for her as to carry
heavy weights. Then we all filed out from the house, and Mistress
Mary locked the door, and bade good-bye to Captain Tabor; then he
and his men took again the bridle-path back to the ship, and she and
I proceeded churchward on the highway.

When we were once alone together I spurred my horse up to hers and
caught her bridle and rode alongside and spoke to her as if all the
past were naught, and I with the rights to which I had been born. It
had come to that pass with me in those days that all the pride I had
left was that of humility, but even that I was ready to give up for
her if necessary.

"Tell me, Madam," said I, "what was in those cases?"

"Have I not told you?" said she, and I knew that she whitened under
her mask.

"There is more than woman's finery in those cases, which weigh like
lead," said I. "What do they contain?"

Mistress Mary had, after all, little of the feminine power of
subterfuge in her. If she tried it, it was, as in this case, too
transparent. Straight to the point she went with perfect frankness
of daring and rebellion as a boy might.

"It requires not much wit, methinks, Master Wingfield, to see that,"
said she. Then she laughed. "Lord, how the poor sailor-men toiled to
lift my gauzes and feathers and ribbons!" said she. Then her blue
eyes looked at me through her mask with indescribable daring and

"Well, and what will you do?" said she. "You are a gentleman in
spite--you are a gentleman, you cannot betray me to my hurt, and
you cannot command me like a child, for I am a child no longer, and
I will not tell you what those cases contain."

"You shall tell me," said I.

"Make me if you can," said she.

"Tell me what those cases contain," said I.

Then she collapsed all at once as only the citadel of a woman's will
can do through some inner weakness.

"Guns and powder and shot and partizans," said she. Then she added,
like one who would fain readjust herself upon the heights of her own
resolution by a good excuse for having fallen. "Fie, why should I
not have told you, Master Wingfield? You cannot betray me, for you
are a gentleman, and I am not a child."

"Why have you had guns and ammunition brought from England?" I
asked; but in the shock of the discovery I had loosened my grasp of
her bridle and she was off, and in a minute we were in Jamestown,
and could not disturb the Sabbath quiet by talk or ride too fast.

We were a good hour and a half late, but there was to my mind enough
of preaching yet for my soul's good, for I thought not much of
Parson Downs nor his sermons, but I dreaded for Mistress Mary that
which might come from her tardiness and her Sabbath-breaking, if
that were discovered. I dismounted, and assisted Mistress Mary to
the horse block, and off came her black velvet mask, and she clapped
a pretty hand to her hair and shook her skirts and wiped off a mud
splash. Then up the aisle she went, and I after her and all the
people staring.

I can see that church as well to-day as if I were this moment there.
Heavily sweet with honey and almond scent it was, as well as sweet
herbs and musk, which the ladies had on their handkerchiefs, for it
was like a bower with flowers. Great pink boughs arched overhead,
and the altar was as white as snow with blossoms. Up the aisle she
flashed, and none but Mary Cavendish could have made that little
journey under the eyes of the governor in his pew and the governor's
lady and all the burgesses, and the churchwarden half starting up as
if to exercise his authority, and the parson swelling with a vast
expanse of sable robes over the Book, with no abashedness and yet no
boldness nor unmaidenly forwardness. There was an innocent gayety on
her face like a child's, and an entire confidence in good will and
loving charity for her tardiness which disarmed all. She looked out
from that gauze love-hood of hers as she came up the aisle, and the
governor, who had a harsh face enough ordinarily, beamed mildly
indulgent. His lady eyed her with a sort of pleasant and reminiscent
wonder, though she was a haughty dame. The churchwarden settled
back, and as for Parson Downs, his great, red face curved in a
smile, and his eyes twinkled under their heavy overhang of florid
brow, and then he declaimed in a hoarser and louder shout than ever
to cover the fact of his wandering attention. And young Sir Humphrey
Hyde, sitting between his mother, Lady Betty, and his sister,
Cicely, turned as pale as death when he saw her enter, and kept so,
with frequent covert glances at her from time to time, and I saw
him, and knew that he knew about Mistress Mary's furbelow boxes.


My profession has been that of a tutor, and it thus befell that I
was under the necessity of learning as much as I was able, and even
going out of my way to seek those lessons at which all the pages of
life are open for us, and even, as it were, turning over wayside
stones, and looking under wayside weeds in the search for them; and
it scarcely ever chanced that I did not get some slight savour of
knowledge therefrom, though I was far enough from the full solution
of the problems. And through these lessons I seemed to gain some
increase of wisdom not only of the matters of which the lessons
themselves treated, such as the courses of the stars and planets,
the roots of herbs, and Latin verbs and algebraic quantities, and
evil and good, but of their bearing upon the human heart. That I
have ever held to be the most important knowledge of all, and the
only reason for the setting of those lessons which must pass like
all things mortal, and can only live in so far as they have turned
that part of the scholar, which has hold of immortality, this or
that way.

I know not how it may be with other men, but of one branch of
knowledge, which pertains directly to the human heart, and, when it
be what its name indicates, to its eternal life, I gained no insight
whatever from my books and my lessons, nor from my observance of its
workings in those around me, and that was the passion of love. Of
that I truly could learn naught except by turning my reflections
toward my own heart.

And I know not how this also may be with other men, but love with me
had a beginning, though not an end and never shall have, and a
completeness of growth which makes it visible to my thought like the
shape of an angel. I have loved not in one way, but in every way
which the heart of man could conceive. There is no tone of love
which the heart holds for the striking which I have not heard like a
bell through my furthermost silences. I can truly say that when I
rode to church with Mary Cavendish that morning in April, though I
loved in my whole life her and her alone, and was a most solitary
man as far as friends and kinsfolk went, yet not one in the whole
Kingdom of Virginia had fuller knowledge of love in all its shades
of meaning than I. For I had loved Mary Cavendish like a father and
like a lover, like a friend and a brother, like a slave and like a
master, and such love I had for her that I could see her good beyond
her pain, and would have had the courage to bear her pain, though
God knows her every pain was my twenty. And it had been thus with me
near sixteen years, since I was fourteen and she was a little maid
of two, and I lived neighbour to her in Suffolkshire. I can see
myself at fourteen and laugh at the picture. All of us have our
phases of comedy, our seasons when we are out of perspective and
approach the grotesque and furnish our own jesters for our after

At fourteen I was as ungainly a lad, with as helpless a sprawl of
legs and arms and as staring and shamefaced a surprise at my
suddenly realised height of growth, when jostled by a girl or a
younger lad, and utter discomfiture before an unexpected deepness of
tone when essaying a polite response to an inquiry of his elders, as
was ever seen in England. And I remember that I bore myself with a
wary outlook for affronts to my newly fledging dignity, and
concealed all that was stirring in me to new life, whether of
nobility or natural emotion, as if it were a dire shame, and
whenever I had it in my heart to be tender, was so brusque that I
seemed to have been provided by nature with an armour of roughness
like a hedgehog. But, perhaps, I had some small excuse for this,
though, after all, it is a question in my mind as to what excuse
there may be for any man outside the motives of his own deeds, and I
care not to dwell unduly, even to my own consideration, upon those
disadvantages of life which may come to a man without his cognisance
and are to be borne like any fortune of war. But I had a mother who
had small affection for me, and that was not so unnatural nor so
much to her discredit as it may sound, since she, poor thing, had
been forced into a marriage with my father when she was long in love
with her cousin. Then my father having died at sea the year after I
was born, and her cousin, who was a younger son, having come into
the estates through the deaths of both his brothers of small-pox in
one week, she married her first love in less than six months, and no
discredit to her, for women are weak when they love, and she had
doubtless been sorely tried. They told me that my poor father was a
true man and gallant soldier, and my old nurse used to talk to me of
him, and I used to go by myself to think of him, and my eyes would
get red when I was but a little boy with reflecting upon my mother
with her new husband and her beautiful little boy, my brother John,
a year younger than I, and how my own poor father was forgotten. But
there was no discredit to my mother, who was only a weak and gentle
woman and was tasting happiness after disappointment and sorrow, in
being borne so far out by the tide of it that she lost sight, as it
were, of her old shores. My mind was never against my mother for her
lack of love for me. But it is not hard to be lenient toward a lack
of love toward one's self, especially remembering, as I do, myself,
and my fine, ruddy-faced, loud-voiced stepfather and my brother

A woman, by reason of her great tenderness of heart which makes her
suffer overmuch for those she loves, has not the strength to bear
the pain of loving more than one or two so entirely, and my mother's
whole heart was fixed with an anxious strain of loving care upon my
stepfather and my brother. I have seen her sit hours by a window as
pale as a statue while my stepfather was away, for those were
troublous times in England, and he in the thick of it. When I was a
lad of six or thereabouts they were bringing the king back to his
own, and some of the loyal ones were in danger of losing their heads
along his proposed line of march. And I have known her to hang whole
nights over my brother's bed if he had but a tickling in the throat;
and what could one poor woman do more?

She was as slender as a reed in this marshy country of Virginia, and
her voice was a sweet whisper, like the voice of one in a wind, and
she had a curious gracefulness of leaning toward one she loved when
in his presence, as if, whether she would or no, her heart of
affection swayed her body toward him. Always, in thinking of my
mother, I see her leaning with that true line of love toward my
stepfather or my brother John, her fair hair drooping over her
delicate cheeks, her blue eyes wistful with the longing to give more
and more for their happiness. My brother John looked like my mother,
being, in fact, almost feminine in his appearance, though not in his
character. He had the same fair face, perhaps more clearly and less
softly cut, and the same long, silky wave of fair hair, but the
expression of his eyes was different, and in character he was
different. As for me, I was like my poor father, so like that, as I
grew older, I seemed his very double, as my old nurse used to tell
me. Perhaps that may have accounted for the quick glance, which
seemed almost of fear, which my mother used to give me sometimes
when I entered a room where she sat at her embroidery-work. My
mother dearly loved fine embroideries and laces, and in thinking of
her I can no more separate her from them than I can a flower from
its scalloped setting of petals.

I used to slink away as soon as possible when my mother turned her
startled blue eyes upon me in such wise, that she might regain her
peace, and sometimes I used to send my brother John to her on some
errand, if I could manage it, knowing that he could soon drive me
from her mind. One learns early such little tricks with women; they
are such tender things, and it stirs one's heart to impatience to
see them troubled. However, I will not deny that I may have been at
times disturbed with some bitterness and jealousy at the sight of my
brother and my stepfather having that which I naturally craved, for
the heart of a little lad is a hungry thing for love, and has pangs
of nature which will not be stilled, though they are to be borne
like all else of pain on earth. But after I saw Mary Cavendish all
that passed, for I got, through loving so entirely, such knowledge
of love in others that I saw that the excuse of love, for its
weaknesses and its own crimes even, is such as to pass
understanding. Looking at my mother caressing my brother instead of
myself, I entered so fully into her own spirit of tenderness that I
no longer rebelled nor wondered. The knowledge of the weakness of
one's own heart goes far to set one at rights with all others.

When I first saw Mary Cavendish she was, as I said before, a little
baby maid of two and I a loutish lad of fourteen, and I was going
through the park of Cavendish Hall, which lay next ours, one morning
in May, when all the hedges were white and pink, and the blue was
full of wings and songs. Cavendish Hall had been vacant, save for a
caretaker, that many a day. Francis Cavendish, the owner, had been
for years in India, but he had lately died, and now the younger
brother, Geoffry, Mary's father, had come home from America to take
possession of the estate, and he brought with him his daughter
Catherine by a former marriage, a maid a year older than I; his
second wife, a delicate lady scarce more than a girl, and his little
daughter Mary.

And they had left to come thither two fine estates in
Virginia--namely these two: Laurel Creek, which was Mary's
mother's in her own right, and Drake Hill; and the second wife had
come with some misgiving and attended by a whole troop of black
slaves, which made all our country fall agog at once with awe and
ridicule and admiration. I was myself full of interest in this
unwonted folk, and prone to linger about the park for a sight, and
maybe a chance word with them, having ever from a child had a desire
to look farther into that which has been hitherto unknown, whether
it be in books or in the world at large. My lessons had been learned
that morning, as was easily done, for I was accounted quick in
learning, though no more so than others, did they put themselves to
it with the same wish to have it over. My tutor also was not one to
linger unduly at the task of teaching, since he was given to
rambling about by himself with a book under one arm and a fish-pole
over shoulder; a scholar of gentle, melancholy moving through the
world, with such frequent pauses of abstraction that I used often to
wonder if he rightfully knew himself whither he was bound.

But my mother was fond of him and so was my brother John, and as for
my stepfather, Col. John Chelmsford, he had too weighty matters upon
his mind, matters which pertained to Church and State and life and
death, to think much about tutors. I myself was not averse to Master
Snowdon, though he was to my mind, which was ever fain to seize
knowledge as a man and a soldier should, by the forelock instead of
dallying, too mild and deprecatory, thereby, perhaps, letting the
best of her elude him. Still Master Snowdon was accounted, and was,
a learned man, though scarcely knowing what he knew and easily
shaken by any bout of even my boyish argument, until, I think, he
was in some terror of me, and like one set free when he had heard my
last page construed, and was off with his fish-pole and his book to
the green side of some quiet pool. So I, with my book-lesson done,
but my mind still athirst for more knowledge, and, maybe, curious,
for all thirst is not for the noblest ends, crawled through a gap in
the snowy May hedge, and was slinking across the park of Cavendish
Hall with long, loose-jointed lopes like a stray puppy, and maybe
with some sense of being where I should not, though I could not have
rightly told why, since there were no warnings up against
trespassers, and I had no designs upon any hare nor deer.

Be that as it may, I was going along in such fashion through the
greenness of the park, so deep with rich lights and shadows on it
that May morning that it seemed like plunging thought-high in a
green sea, when suddenly I stopped and my heart leapt, for there sat
in the grass before me, clutching some of it with a tiny hand like a
pink pearl, the sweetest little maid that ever this world held. All
in white she was, and of a stuff so thin that her baby curves of
innocence showed through it, and the little smock slipped low down
over her rosy shoulders, and her little toes curled pink in the
green of the grass, for she had no shoes on, having run away, before
she was dressed, by some oversight of her black nurse, and down from
her head, over all her tiny body, hiding all save the merest glimmer
of the loveliness of her face, fell the most wonderful shower of
gold locks that ever a baby of only two years old possessed. She sat
there with the sunlight glancing on her through a rift in the trees,
all in a web of gold, floating and flying on the May wind, and for a
minute, I, being well instructed in such lore, thought she was no
mortal child, but something more, as she was indeed, but in another

I stood there, and looked and looked, and she still pulled up tiny
handfuls of the green grass, and never turned nor knew me near, when
suddenly there burst with a speed like a storm, and a storm indeed
it was of brute life, with loud stamps of a very fury of sound which
shook the earth as with a mighty tread of thunder, out of a thicker
part of the wood, a great black stallion on a morning gallop with
all the freedom of the spring and youth firing his blood, and one
step more and his iron hoofs would have crushed the child. But I was
first. I flung myself upon her and threw her like a feather to one
side, and that was the last I knew for a while. When I knew myself
again there was a mighty pain in my shoulder, which seemed to be the
centre of my whole existence by reason of it, and there was the feel
of baby kisses on my lips. The courage of her blood was in that tiny
maid. She had no thought of flight nor tears, though she knew not
but that black thunderbolt would return, and she knew not what my
ghastly silence meant. She had crept close to me, though she might
well have been bruised, such a tender thing she was, by the rough
fling I had given her, and was trying to kiss me awake as she did
her father. And I, rude boy, all unversed in grace and tenderness,
and hitherto all unsought of love, felt her soft lips on mine, and,
looking, saw that baby face all clouded about with gold, and I loved
her forever.

I knew not how to talk to a little petted treasure of life like
that, and I dared not speak, but I looked at her, and she seemed not
to be afraid, but laughed with a merriment of triumph at seeing me
awake, and something she said in the sweetest tongue of the world,
which I yet made poor shift to understand, for her baby speech,
besides its incompleteness, had also a long-drawn sweetness like the
slow trickle of honey, which she had caught from those black people
which she had about her since her birth.

I had great ado to move, though my shoulder was not disjointed, only
sorely bruised, but finally I was on my feet again, though standing
rather weakly, and with an ear alert for the return of that wild,
careering brute, and the little maid was close at my side, with one
rosy set of fingers clinging around two of my rough brown ones with
that sweet tenacity of a baby grasp which can hold the strongest
thing on earth.

And she kept on jabbering with that slow murmur of sweetness, and I
stood looking down at her, catching my breath with the pain in my
shoulder, though it was out of my thoughts with this new love of
her, and then came my father, Col. John Chelmsford, and Capt.
Geoffry Cavendish, walking through the park in deep converse, and
came upon us, and stopped and stared, as well they might.

Capt. Geoffry Cavendish was a gaunt man with the hectic colour of a
fever, which he had caught in the new country, still in the hollows
of his cheeks. He was quite young, with sudden alertnesses of
glances in bright black eyes like the new colours in jewels when the
light shifts. His daughter has the same, though her eyes are blue.
Moreover, through having been in the royal navy before he got a
wound which incapacitated him from further service, and was indeed
in time the cause of his death, he had acquired a swift suppleness
of silent movement, which his daughter has inherited also.

When he came upon us he stared for but one second, then came that
black flash into his eyes, and out curved an arm, and the little
maid was on her father's shoulder, and he was questioning me with
something of mistrust. I was a gentleman born and bred, but my
clothes sat but roughly and indifferently on me, partly through lack
of oversight and partly from that rude tumble I had gotten. Indeed,
my breeches and my coat were something torn by it. Then, too, I had
doubtless a look of ghastliness and astonishment that might well
have awaked suspicion, and Capt. Geoffry Cavendish had never spoken
with me in the short time since his return. "Who may you be?" he
asked, and his voice hesitated between hostility and friendliness,
and my stepfather answered for me with a slight forward thrust of
his shoulders which might have indicated shame, or impatience, or
both. "'Tis Master Harry Maria Wingfield," answered he; then in the
same breath, "How came you here, sir?"

I answered, seeing no reason why I should not, though I felt my
voice shake, being still unsteady with the pain, and told the truth,
that I had come thither to see if, perchance, I could get a glimpse
of some of the black folk. At that Captain Cavendish laughed
good-humouredly, being used to the excitement his black troop caused
and amused at it, and called out merrily that I was about to be
gratified, and indeed at that moment came running, with fat lunges,
as it were, of tremulous speed, a great black woman in pursuit of
the little maid, and heaved her high to her dark wave of bosom with
hoarse chuckles and cooings of love and delight and white rollings
of terrified eyes at her master if, perchance, he might be wroth at
her carelessness.

He only laughed, and brushed his dark beard against the tender roses
of the little maid as he gave her up, but my stepfather, who, though
not ill-natured, often conceived the necessity of ill-nature, was
not so easily satisfied. He stood looking sternly at my white face
and my weak yielding of body at the bend of the knees, and suddenly
he caught me heavily by my bruised shoulder. "What means all this,
sirrah?" he cried out, but then I sank away before him, for the pain
was greater than I could bear.

When I came to myself my waistcoat was off, and both men looking at
my shoulder, which the horse's hoof must have barely grazed, though
no more, or I should have been in a worse plight. Still the shoulder
was a sorry sight enough, and the great black woman with the little
fair baby in her arms stood aloof looking at it with ready tears,
and the baby herself made round eyes like stars, though she knew not
half what it meant. I felt the hot red of shame go over me at my
weakness at a little pain, after the first shock was over, and I
presumably steeled to bear it like a man, and I struggled to my
feet, pulling my waistcoat together and looking, I will venture,
much like a sulky and ill-conditioned lad.

"What means that hurt on your shoulder, Harry?" asked my
stepfather, Col. John Chelmsford, and his voice was kind enough
then. "I would not have laid such a heavy hand on thy shoulder had I
known of it," he added. My stepfather had never aught against me
that I wot of, having simply naught for me, and a man cannot in
justice be held to account for the limitations of his affections,
especially toward a rival's son. He spoke with all kindness, and his
great ruddy face had a heavy gleam of pity for my hurt, but I
answered not one word. "How came it so, Harry?" he asked again with
growing wonder at my silence, but I would not reply.

Then Captain Cavendish also addressed me. "You need have no fear,
however you came by the hurt, my lad," he said, and I verily believe
he thought I had somehow caught the hurt while poaching on his
preserves. I stood before them quite still, with my knees stiff
enough now, and I think the colour came back in my face by reason of
the resistance of my spirit.

"Harry, how got you that wound on your shoulder? Answer me, sir,"
said Colonel Chelmsford, his voice gathering wrath anew. But I
remained silent. I do not, to this day, know why, except that to
tell of any service rendered has always seemed to me to attaint the
honour of the teller, and how much more when it was a service toward
that little maid! So I kept my silence.

Then my stepfather's face blazed high, and his mouth straightened
and widened, and his grasp tightened on a riding-whip which he
carried, for he had left his horse grazing a few yards away. "How
came you by it, sir?" he demanded, and his voice was thick. Then,
when I would not reply, he raised the whip, and swung it over my
shoulders, but I caught it with my sound arm ere it fell, and at the
same time the little maid, Mary Cavendish, set up a piteous wail of
fear in her nurse's arms.

"I pray you, sir, do not frighten her," I said, "but wait till she
be gone." And then I waved the black woman to carry her away, and
with my lame arm. When she had fled with the child's soft wail
floating back, I turned to my stepfather, Col. John Chelmsford, and
he, holding fiercely to the whip which I relinquished, still eyed me
with doubt.

"Harry, why will you not tell?" he said, but I shook my head,
waiting for him to strike, for I was but a boy, and it had been so
before, and perhaps more justly.

"Let the lad go, Chelmsford," cried Captain Cavendish. "I'll warrant
he has done no harm." But my stepfather would not heed him.

"Answer me, Harry," said he. Then, when I would not, down came the
riding-whip, but only thrice, and not hard. "Now go you home," said
my stepfather, "and show your mother the hurt, however you came by
it, and have her put some of the cooling lotion on a linen cloth to
it." Then he and Captain Cavendish went their ways, and I went
toward home, creeping through the gap in the May hedge. But I did
not go far, having no mind to show my hurt, though I knew well that
my mother, being a woman and soft toward all wounds, would make much
of it, and maybe of me on its account. But I was not of a mind to
purchase affection by complaints of bodily ills, so I lay down under
the hedge in the soft grass, keeping my bruised shoulder uppermost,
and remained there thinking of the little maid, till finally the
pain easing somewhat, I fell asleep, and was presently awakened by a
soft touch on my sore shoulder, which caused me to wince and start
up with wide eyes, and there was Catherine Cavendish.

Catherine Cavendish I had seen afar, though not to speak with her,
and she being a year my senior and not then a beauty, and I being,
moreover, of an age to look at a girl and look away again to my own
affairs, I had thought no more of her, but I knew her at once. She
was, as I said before, not a beauty at that time, being one of those
maids which, like some flowers, are slow of bloom. She had grown so
fast and far that she had outspeeded her grace. She was full of
triangles instead of curves; her shyness was so intense that it
became aggressiveness. The greenness and sallowness of immaturity
that come before the perfection of bloom were on her face, and her
eyes either shrank before one or else gleamed fiercely with the
impulse of concealment. There is in all youth and imperfection a
stage wherein it turns at bay to protect its helplessness with a
vain show of inadequate claws and teeth, and Catherine Cavendish had
reached it, and I also, in my different estate as a boy.

Catherine towered over me with her slender height, her sallow hair
falling in silky ringlets over her dull cheeks, and when she spoke
her voice rang sharp where mine would have growled with hoarseness.

"Why did you not tell?" said she sharply, and I stared up at her
speechless, for I saw that she knew.

"Why did you not tell, and why were you whipped for it?" she
demanded again. Then, when I did not answer: "I saw it all. I hid
behind a tree for fear of the stallion. The child would have been
killed but for you. Why were you whipped for a thing like that?"
Then all at once, before I could answer, had I been minded to do so,
she burst out almost with violence with a brilliant red, surging up
from the cords of her thin neck, over her whole face. "Never mind, I
like you for it. I would not have told. I will never tell as long as
I live, and I have brought some lotion of cream and healing herbs,
and a linen cloth, and I will bind up your shoulder for you."

With that, down she was on her knees, though I strove half rudely to
prevent her, and was binding up my shoulder with a wonderful
deftness of her long fingers.

When she had done she sprang to her feet with a curious multifold
undoubling motion by reason of her great height and lack of practice
with it, and I lumbered heavily to mine, and she asked me again with
a sharpness that seemed almost venomous, so charged with curiosity
it was, though she had just expressed her approbation of me:

"Why did you not tell?"

But I did not answer her that. I only thanked her, or tried to thank
her, I dare say in such surly fashion that it was more like a
rebuff; then I was off, but I felt her standing there close to the
white-blooming hedge, staring after me with that inscrutable look of
an immature girl who questions doubly all she sees, beginning with


Although I was heir to a large estate, I had not much gold and
silver nor many treasures in my possession. I never knew rightly
why; but my mother, having control until I was come of age, and
having, indeed, the whole property at her disposal, doubtless
considered it best that the wealth should accumulate rather than be
frittered away in trifles which could be of but passing moment to a
boy. But I was well equipped enough as regarded comforts, and, as I
said before, my education was well looked after. Through never
having much regard for such small matters, it used to gall me not at
all that my half-brother, who was younger and such a fair lad that
he became them like a girl, should go clad in silks and velvets and
laces, with a ready jingle of money in his purse and plenty of
sweets and trinkets to command. But after I saw that little maid it
went somewhat hard with me that I had no bravery of apparel to catch
her sweet eyes and cause her to laugh and point with delight, as I
have often seen her do, at the glitter of a loop of gold or a
jewelled button or a flash of crimson sheen from a fold of velvet,
for she always dearly loved such pretty things. And it went hard
with me that I had not the wherewithal to sometimes purchase a
comfit to thrust into her little hand, reaching of her nature for
sweets like the hands of all young things. Often I saw my brother
John win her notice in such wise, for he, though he cared in general
but little for small folk, was ravished by her, as indeed was every
one who saw her. And once my brother John gave her a ribbon stiff
with threads of gold which pleased her mightily at the time, though,
the day after, I saw it gleaming from the wet of the park grass,
whither she had flung it, for the caprices of a baby are beyond
those of the wind, being indeed human inclination without rudder nor
compass. Then I did an ungallant and ungenerous thing, for which I
have always held myself in light esteem: I gathered up that ribbon
and carried it to my brother and told him where I had found it, but
all to small purpose as regarded my jealousy, as he scarce gave it a
thought, and the next day gave the little maid a silver button,
which she treasured longer. As for me, I having no ribbons nor
sweets nor silver buttons to give her, was fain to search the woods
and fields and the seashore for those small treasures, without money
and without price, with which nature is lavish toward the poor who
love her and attend her carefully, such as the first flowers of the
season, nuts and seed-vessels, and sometimes an empty bird's nest
and a stray bright feather and bits of bright stones, which might,
for her baby fancy, be as good as my brother's gold and silver, and
shells, and red and russet moss. All these I offered her from time
to time as reverently and shyly as any true lover; though she was
but a baby tugging with a sweet angle of opposition at her black
nurse's hand and I near a man grown, and though I had naught to hope
for save a fleeting grasp of her rosy fingers and a wavering smile
from her sweet lips and eyes, ere she flung the offering away with
innocent inconstancy.

Her father, Capt. Geoffry Cavendish, seemed to regard my devotion to
his daughter with a certain amusement and good-will; indeed, I used
to fancy that he had a liking for me, and would go out of his way to
say a pleasant word, but once it happened that I took his kindness
in ill part, and still consider that I was justified in so doing.

A gentleman should not have pity thrust upon him unless he himself,
by his complaints, seems to sue for it, and that was ever far from
me, and I was already, although so young, as sensitive to all
slights upon my dignity as any full-grown man. So when, one day,
lying at full length upon the grass under a reddening oak with a
book under my eyes and my pocket full of nuts if, perchance, my
little sweetheart should come that way with her black nurse, I heard
suddenly Captain Cavendish's voice ring out loud and clear, as it
always did, from his practice on the quarter-deck, with something
like an oath as of righteous indignation to the effect that it was a
damned shame for the heir and the eldest son, and a lad with a head
of a scholar and the arm of a soldier, to be thrust aside so and
made so little of. Then another voice, smoothly sliding, as if to
make no friction with the other's opinions, asked of whom he spoke,
and that smoothly sliding voice I recognised as Mr. Abbot's, the
attorney's, and Captain Cavendish replied in a fashion which
astonished me, for I had no idea to whom he had referred--"Harry
Maria Wingfield, the eldest son and heir of as fine and gallant a
gentleman as ever trod English soil, who is treated like the son of
a scullion by those who owe him most, and 'tis a damned shame and I
care not who hears me."

Then, before I had as yet fairly my wits about me, Mr. Abbot spoke
again in that voice of his which I so hated in my boyish
downrightness and scorn of all policy that it may have led me to an
unjust estimate of all men of his profession. "But Col. John
Chelmsford hath no meaning to deal otherwise than fairly by the boy,
and neither, unless I greatly mistake, hath his wife." And this he
said as if both Colonel Chelmsford and my mother were at his elbow,
and for that manner of speaking I have ever had contempt, preferring
downright scurrility, and Captain Cavendish replied with his quick
agility of wrath, as precipitate toward judgment as a sailor to the
masthead in a storm:

"And what if she be? The more shame to them that they have not
enough wit to see what they do! I tell thee this poor Harry hath a
harder time of it than any slave on my plantation in Virginia,

But then I was on my feet, and, facing them both with my head flung
back and my face, I dare say, red and white with wrath, and
demanding hotly what that might be to them, and if my treatment at
the hands of my stepfather and my own mother was not between them
and me, and none else, and, boy as I was, I felt as tall as Captain
Cavendish as I stood there. Captain Cavendish stared a moment and
reddened and frowned, and then his gaunt face widened with his ever
ready laugh which made it passing sweet for a man.

"Tush, lad," he cried out, "and had I known how fit thou were to
fight thy own battles I had not taken up the cudgels for thee, and I
crave thy pardon. I had not perceived that thy sword-arm was grown,
and henceforth thou shall cross with thy adversaries for all me."
Then he laughed again, and I stared at him still grimly but
softened, and he and Mr. Abbot moved on, but the attorney, in
passing, laid his great white hand on my black mane of hair as if he
would bless me, and I shrank away from under it, and when he said in
that voice of his, "'Tis a gallant lad and one to do good service
for his king and country," I would that he had struck me that I
might have justly hit back.

When they had passed back on the turf I lay with my boyish heart in
a rage with the insults, both of pity and of praise, which had been
offered me; for why should pity be offered unless there be the
weakness of betrayal of suffering to warrant it, and why should
there be praise unless there be craving for it, through the weakness
of wronged conceit? Be that as it may, my book no longer interested
me, and finally I rose up and went away after having deposited all
my nuts on the grass in the hope that the little maid might chance
that way and espy them.

It was both a great and a sad day for me when I came to go to
Cambridge, great because of my desire for knowledge and the sight of
the world which has ever been strong within me, and, being so
strong, should have led to more; and sad because of my leaving the
little maid without a chance of seeing her for so long a time. She
was then six years old, and a wonder both in beauty and mind to all
who beheld her. I saw much more of her in those days, for my mother,
whose heart had always been sore for a little girl, was often with
Captain Cavendish's wife, for the sake of the child, though the two
women were not of the best accord one with another. Often would I
notice that my mother caressed the child, with only a side attention
for her mother, though that was well disguised by her soft grace of
manner, which seemed to include all present in a room, and I also
noticed that Madam Rosamond Cavendish's sweet mouth would be set in
a straight line with inward dissent at some remark of the other

Madam Rosamond Cavendish was, I suppose, a beauty, though after a
strange and curious fashion, being seemingly dependent upon those
around her for it, as a chameleon is dependent for his colour upon
his surroundings. I have seen Madam Cavendish, when praised by one
she loved, or approached by the little maid, her daughter, with an
outstretch of fair little arms and a coercion of dimples toward
kisses, flash into such radiance of loveliness that, boy as I was, I
was dazzled by her. Then, on the other hand, I have seen her as
dully opaque of any meaning of beauty as one could well be. But she
loved Captain Cavendish well, and I wot he never saw her but with
that wondrous charm, since whenever he cast his eyes upon her it
must have been to awaken both reflection and true life of joy in her
face. She was so small and exceeding slim that she seemed no more
than a child, and she was not strong, having a quick cough ready at
every breath of wind, and she rode nor walked like our English
women, but lay about on cushions in the sun. Still, when she moved,
it was with such a vitality of grace and such readiness that no one,
I suspect, knew how frail she was until she sickened and died the
second year of my stay in Cambridge. When I returned home I found in
her stead Madam Judith Cavendish, the mother of Captain Cavendish,
who had come from Huntingdonshire. She was at that time well turned
of threescore, but a woman who was, as she had always been, a power
over those about her. She looked her age, too, except for her
figure, for her hair was snowy white, and the lines of her face
fixed beyond influence of further smiles or tears. My imagination
has always been a mighty factor in my estimation of the characters
of others, and I have often wondered how true to facts I might be,
but verily it seemed to me that after Madam Cavendish arrived at
Cavendish Court the influence of that great strength of character,
which, when it exists in a woman, intimidates every man, no matter
who he may be, made itself evident in the very king's highway
approaching Cavendish Court, and increased as the distance
diminished, according to some of my mathematical rules.

There were in her no change and shifting to new lights of beauty or
otherwise at the estimation of those around her; she rather
controlled, as it were, all the domestic winds. Captain Cavendish
bowed before his superior on his own deck, though I believe there
was much love betwixt them, and, as for the little maid, she
tempered the wilfulness which was then growing with her growth by
outward meekness at least. I used to think her somewhat afraid of
her grandmother, and disposed to cling for protection and
mother-love to her elder sister Catherine. Catherine, in those two
years, had blossomed out her beauty; her sallowness and green pallor
had become bloom, though not rosy, rather an ineffable clear white
like a lily. Her eyes, at once shy and antagonistic, had become as
steady as stars in their estimation of self and others, and all her
slender height was as well in her power of graceful guidance as the
height of a young oak tree. Catherine, in those days, paid very
little heed to me, for her one year of superior age seemed then
threefold to both of us, except as she was jealously watchful that I
win not too much of the love of her little sister. I have never seen
such love from elder to younger as there was from Catherine
Cavendish to her half-sister Mary after the little one had lost her
mother. And all that the little maid did, whether of work or play,
was with an eye toward the other's approbation, especially after the
advent of her grandmother. Catherine had lovers, but she would have
none of them. It seemed as if the maternal love of which most maids
feel the unknown and unspelled yearning, and which, perchance, may
draw them all unwittingly to wedlock, had seized upon Catherine
Cavendish, and she had, as it were, fulfilled it by proxy by this
love of her young sister, and so had her heart made cold toward all
lovers. Be that as it may, though she was much sought after by more
than one of high degree, she remained as she was.

For the last part of my stay at Cambridge I saw but little of her,
and not so much as I would fain have done of her sister. I was past
the boyish liberty of lying in wait in the park for a glimpse of
her; she was not of an age for me to pay my court, and there was
little intimacy betwixt my mother and Madam Cavendish. But I can
truly say that never for one minute did I lose the consciousness of
her in the world with me, and that at a time when my love might well
be a somewhat anomalous and sexless thing, since she was grown a
little past my first conception of love toward her, and had not yet
reached my second.

But oh, the glimpses I used to catch of her at that time,
slim-legged and swift, and shrilly sweet of voice as a lark, and as
shyly a-flutter at the motion of a hand toward her, or else seated
prim as any grown maiden, with grave eyes of attention upon her task
of sampler or linen stitching!

My heart used to leap in a fashion that none would have believed nor
understood, at the blue gleam of her gown and the gold gleam of her
little head through the trees of the park, or through the oaken
shadows of the hall at Cavendish Court during my scant visits there.
No maid of my own age drew, for one moment, my heart away from her.
She had no rivals except my books, for I was ever an eager scholar,
though it might have been otherwise had the state of the country
been different. I can imagine that I might in some severe stress
have had my mind, being a hot-headed youth, diverted by the feel of
the sword-hilt. But just then the king sat on his throne, and there
was naught to disturb the public peace except his multiplicity of
loves, which aroused discussion, which salted society with keenest
relish, but went no farther.

I took high honours at Cambridge, though no higher than I should
have done, and so no pride and no modesty in the owning and telling;
and then I came home, and my mother greeted me something more warmly
than she was wont, and my stepfather, Col. John Chelmsford, took me
by the hand, and my brother John played me at cards that night, and
won, as he mostly did. John was at that time also in Cambridge, but
only in his second year, being, although of quicker grasp upon
circumstances to his own gain than I, yet not so alert at book-lore;
but he had grown a handsome man, as fair as a woman, yet bold as any
cavalier that ever drew sword--the kind to win a woman by his
own strength and her own arts.

The night after I returned, there was a ball at Cavendish Court, the
first since the death of Madam Rosamond, and my brother and I went,
and my stepfather and my mother, though she loved not Madam

And Mary Cavendish, at that time ten years old, was standing, when I
first entered, with a piece of blue-green tapestry work at her back,
clad in a little straight white gown and little satin shoes, and a
wreath of roses on her head, from whence the golden locks flowed
over her gentle cheeks, delicately rounded between the baby and
maiden curves, with her little hands clasped before her; and her
blue eyes, now downcast, now uplifted with utmost confidence in the
love of all who saw her. And close by her stood her sister
Catherine, coldly sweet in a splendid spread of glittering brocade,
holding her head, crowned with flowers and plumes, as still and
stately as if there were for her in all the world no wind of
passion; and my brother John looked at her, and I knew he loved her,
and marvelled what would come of it, though they danced often

The ball went on till the east was red, and the cocks crew, and all
the birds woke in a tumult, and then that happened which changed my
whole life.

Three weeks from that day I set sail for the New World--a
convict. I will not now say how nor why; and on the same ship sailed
Capt. Geoffry Cavendish, his mother Madam Judith Cavendish, his
daughter Catherine, and the little maid Mary.

And on the long voyage Captain Cavendish's old wound broke out anew,
and he died and was buried at sea, and I, when I arrived in this
kingdom of Virginia, with the dire uncertainty and hardship of the
convict before me, yet with strength and readiness to bear it, was
taken as a tutor by Madam Judith Cavendish for her granddaughter
Mary, being by education well fitted for such a post, and she
herself knowing her other reasons for so doing. And so it happened
that Mistress Mary Cavendish and I rode to meeting in Jamestown that
Sabbath in April of 1682.


Albeit I have as faithful a respect for the customs of the Church as
any man, I considered then, and consider now as well, that it was
almost beyond the power of any one to observe them according to the
fashion of the times and gain therefrom a full edification of the

Therefore, that April morning, though filled in my inmost heart with
love and gratitude toward God, as I had always been since I had seen
His handiwork in Mary Cavendish, which was my especial lesson of His
grace to meward, with sweetest rhymes of joy for all my pains, and
reasons for all my doubts; and though she sat beside me, so near
that the rich spread of her gown was over my knee, and the shining
of her beauty warm on my face, yet was I weary of the service and
eager to be out. As I said before, Parson Downs was not to my mind,
neither he nor his discourse. Still he spoke with a mighty energy
and a conviction of the truth of his own words which would have
moved his hearers to better purpose had they moved himself as
regarded his daily life. But beyond a great effervescence of the
spirit, which produced a high mounting froth of piety, like the
seething top of an ale-tankard, there came naught of it. Still was
there in him some good, or rather some lack of ill; for he was no
hypocrite, but preached openly against his own vices, then went
forth to furnish new texts for his sermon, not caring who might see
and judge him. A hearty man he was, who would lend his last shilling
or borrow his neighbour's with equal readiness, forcing one to a
certain angry liking for him because of his good-will to do that for
you which you were loth to do for him. Yet if there ever was a man
in harness to Satan as to the lusts of his flesh and his pride of
life, it was Parson Downs, in despite of his bold curvets and
prances of exhortation, which so counterfeited freedom that I doubt
not that they deceived even himself; and he felt not, the while he
was expanding his great front over his pulpit, and waving his hands,
on one of which shone a precious red stone, the strain of his own
leash. But I have ever had a scorn which I could not cry down for
any man who was a slave, except by his own will.

Feeling thus, I was glad when Parson Downs was done, and letting
himself down with stately jolts of ponderosity from his pulpit, and
the folk were moving out of the church in a soft press of decorously
veiled eagerness, with a great rustling of silks and satin, and
jingling of spurs and swords, and waving of plumes, and shaking out
of stronger odours of flowers and essences and spices.

And gladder still I was when astride my horse in the open, with the
sweet broadside of the spring wind in my face, and all the white
flowering trees and bushes bowing and singing with a thousand
bird-voices, like another congregation before the Lord. I had not
the honour to assist Mistress Mary to her saddle. Sir Humphrey Hyde
and Ralph Drake, who was a far-off cousin of hers; and my Lord
Estes, who was on a visit to his kinsman, Lord Culpeper, the
Governor of Virginia; and half a score of others pressed before me,
who was but the tutor, and had no right to do her such service
except for lack of another at hand. And a fair sight it was for one
who loved her as I, with no privilege of jealousy, and yet with it
astir within him, like a thing made but of claws and fangs and
stinging tongue, to see her with that crowd of gallants about her,
and the other maids going their ways unattended, with faces of
averted meekness, or haughty uplifts of brows and noses, as suited
best their different characters. Mistress Mary was, no doubt, the
fairest of them all, and yet there was more than that in the cause
for her advantage over them. She kept all her admirers by the very
looseness of her grasp, which gave no indication of any eagerness to
hold, and thus aroused in them no fear of detention nor of wiles of
beauty which should subvert their wills. And, furthermore, Mary
Cavendish distributed her smiles as impartially as a flower its
sweetness, to each the same, though but a scant allotment to each,
as beseemed a maid. I could not, even with my outlook, observe that
she favoured one more than another, unless it might have been Sir
Humphrey Hyde. I knew well that there was some confidence betwixt
the two, but whether it was of the nature of love I could not tell.

Sir Humphrey kept the road with us for some distance after we had
left the others, gazing beside the horse-block, all equally desirous
of following, but knowing well that it would not be a fair deed to
the maid to attend her homeward on the Sabbath day with a whole
troop of lovers. But Sir Humphrey Hyde leapt to his saddle and rode
abreast with no ado, being ever minded to do what seemed good to
himself, unless, indeed, his mother stood in the way of his
pleasure. Sir Humphrey's mother, Lady Clarissa Hyde, was one of
those unwitting tyrants which one sees among women, by reason of her
exceeding delicacy and gentleness, which made it seem but the
cruelty of a brute to cross her, and thus had her own way forever,
and never suspected it were not always the way of others.

Sir Humphrey was a well-set young gentleman, and he was dressed in
the farthest fashion. The broad back of his scarlet coat, rising to
the trot of his horse, clashed through the soft gold-green mists and
radiances of the spring landscape like the blare of a trumpet; his
gold buttons glittered; the long plume on his hat ruffled to the
wind over his fair periwig. Wigs were not so long in fashion, but
Sir Humphrey was to the front in his. Mary Cavendish and Sir
Humphrey rode on abreast, and I behind far enough to be cleared of
the mire thrown by their horse-hoofs, and my heart was full of that
demon of jealousy which possessed me in spite of my love. It is
passing strange that I, though loving Mary Cavendish better than
myself, and having the strength to prefer her to myself in all
things, yet had not the power to do it without pain, and must hold
that ravening jealousy to my breast. But not once did it get the
better of me, and all the way was I, even then, thinking that Sir
Humphrey Hyde might be good man and true for Mary Cavendish to wed,
except for a few faults of his youth, which might be amended, and
that if such be her mind I might help her to her happiness, since I
knew that, for some reason, Madam Cavendish had small love for Sir
Humphrey, and I knew also that I had some influence with her.

Behind us straggled the black slaves, as on our way thither, moving
unhaltingly, yet with small energy, as do folk urged hither and yon
only by the will of others and not by their own; but, presently,
through them, scattering them to the left and right, galloped a
black lad on a great horse after Sir Humphrey, with the word that
his mother would have him return to the church and escort her
homeward. Then Sir Humphrey turned, after a whispered word or two
with Mistress Mary, and rode back to Jamestown; and the black lad,
bounding in the saddle like a ball, after him.

I still kept my distance behind Mistress Mary, though often I saw
her head turn, and caught a blue flash of an eye over her mask.

Then passed us, booted and spurred, for he had gotten his priestly
robes off in a hurry, Parson Downs on the fastest horse in those
parts, and riding like a jockey in spite of his heavy weight. His
horse's head was stretched in a line with his neck, and after him
rode, at near as great speed, Capt. Noel Jaynes, who, as report had
it, had won wealth on the high seas in unlawful fashion. He was a
gray old man, with the eye of a hot-headed boy, and a sabre-cut
across his right cheek.

The parson saluted Mistress Mary as he passed, and so did Captain
Jaynes, with a glance of his bright eyes at her that stirred my
blood and made me ride up faster to her side.

But the two men left the road abruptly, plunging into a bridle-path
at the right, and the green walls of the wood closed behind them,
though one could still hear for long the galloping splash of their
horse's hoofs in the miry path.

Mistress Mary turned to me, and her voice rang sharp, "'Tis a pretty
parson," said she; "he is on his way to Barry Upper Branch with
Captain Jaynes, and who is there doth not know 'tis for no good, and
on the Sabbath day, too?"

Now Barry Upper Branch belonged to brothers of exceeding ill repute,
except for their courage, which no one doubted. They had fought well
against the Indians, and also against the Government with Nathaniel
Bacon some half dozen years before. There had been a prize on their
heads and they had been in hiding, but now lived openly on their
plantation and were in full feather, and therein lay in a great
measure their ill repute.

When my Lord Culpeper had arrived in Virginia, succeeding Berkeley,
Jeffries, and Chichely, then returned the brothers Richard and
Nicholas Barry, or Dick and Nick, as they were termed among the
people; and as my Lord Culpeper was not averse to increasing his
revenues, there were those who whispered, though secretly and
guardedly, that the two bold brothers purchased their safety and
peaceful home-dwelling.

Barry Upper Branch was a rich plantation and had come into full
possession of the brothers but lately, their father, Major Barry,
who had been a staunch old royalist, having died. There were acres
of tobacco, and whole fields of locust for the manufacture of
metheglin, and apple orchards from which cider enough to slack the
thirst of the colony was made. But the brothers were far from
content with such home-made liquors for their own drinking, but
imported from England and the Netherlands and Spain great stores of
ale and rum and wines, and held therewith high wassail with some
choice and kindred spirits, especially on the Sabbath.

Not a woman was there at Barry Upper Branch, except for slaves, and
such stories were told as might cause a modest maid to hesitate to
speak of the place; but Mary Cavendish was as yet but a child in her
understanding of certain things. Her blue eyes fixed me with the
brave indignation of a boy as she went on, "'Tis a pretty parson,"
said she again, "and it would be the tavern, just as openly, were it
on a week day."

I put my finger to my lip and cast a glance about, for it was
enjoined upon the people under penalty that they speak not ill of
any minister of the gospel. While I cared not for myself, having
never yet held my tongue, except from my own choice, yet was I
always concerned for this young thing, with her utter recklessness
of candour, lest her beauty and her charm might not protect her
always against undesirable results; and not only were the slaves
within hearing of her voice, but none knew how many others, for
those were brave days for tale-bearers. But Mary spoke again, and
more sweetly and shrilly than ever. "A pretty parson, forsooth! And
to keep company with a pirate captain! Fie! When he looks at me, I
clutch my gold chain and turn the flash of my rings from sight, and
Dick and Nick Barry are the worst rakes in the colony! Naught was
ever heard good of them, except their following of General Bacon,
but a good cause makes not always worthy adherents." This last she
said with a toss of her head and a proud glance, for Nathaniel Bacon
was to this maid a hero of heroes, and naught but her sex and her
tender years, she being but twelve or so at the time, had kept her
from joining his ranks. But, indeed, in this I had full sympathy
with her, though chary of expressing it. Had it not been for my
state of disgrace and my outlook for the welfare of the Cavendishes,
I should most assuredly have fought with that brave man myself, for
'twas a good cause, and one which has been good since the beginning
of things, and will hold good till the end--the cause of the
poor and down-trod against the tyranny of the rich and great. No
greater man will there ever be in this new country of America than
Nathaniel Bacon, though he had but twenty weeks in which to prove
his greatness; had he been granted more he might well have changed
history. I can see now that look of high command which none could
withstand, for leaders of men are born, as well as poets and kings,
and are invincible. But it may be that the noble wave of rebellion
which he raised is even now going on, never to quite cease in all
time, for I know not the laws that govern such things. It may be
that, in consequence of that great and brief struggle of Nathaniel
Bacon, this New World will never sit. quietly for long at the foot
of any throne, but that I know not, being no prophet. However, this
I do know, that his influence was not then ceased in Virginia,
though he was six years dead, and has not yet.

Mistress Mary Cavendish had framed in black, in her chamber, a
silhouette of this hero, and she wore in a locket a lock of his
hair, by which she had come, in some girlish fashion, through a
young gossip of hers, a kinswoman of Bacon's, from whose head I
verily believe she had pilfered it while asleep. And, more than
that, I knew of her and Cicely Hyde strewing fresh blossoms on the
tide of the York River, in which Bacon had been buried, on the
anniversary of his death, and coming home with sweet eyes red with
tears of heroic sentiment, which surely be not the most ignoble shed
by mankind.

"'Twas the only good ever heard of them," repeated Mistress Mary,
"and even that they must need spoil by coming home and paying tithes
to my Lord Culpeper that he wink at their disaffection. I trow had I
been a man and fought with General Bacon, as I would have fought,
had I been a man, I would have paid no price therefore to the king
himself, but would have stayed in hiding forever."

With that she touched Merry Roger with her whip and was off at a
gallop, and I abreast, inwardly laughing, for I well understood that
this persistency on other and stirring topics, and sudden flight
when they failed, was to keep me from the subject of the powder and
ammunition unladen that morning from the "Golden Horn." But she need
not have taken such pains, for I, while in church, had resolved
within myself not to question her further, lest she tell me
something which might do her harm were I forced, for her good, to
reveal it, but to demand the meaning of all this from Sir Humphrey
Hyde, who, I was convinced, knew as much as she.


Thus we rode homeward, and presently came in sight of the Cavendish
tobacco-fields overlapped with the fresh green of young leaves like
the bosses of a shield, and on the right waxed rosy garlands of the
locust grove, and such a wonderful strong sweetness of honey came
from it that we seemed to breast it like a wave, and caught our
breaths, and there was a mighty hum of bees like a hundred
spinning-wheels. But Mistress Mary and I regarded mostly that green
stretch of tobacco, and each of us had our thoughts, and presently
out came hers--"Master Wingfield, I pray you, whose tobacco may
that be?" she inquired in a sudden, fierce fashion.

"Madam Cavendish's and yours and your sister's," said I.

"Nay," said she, "'tis the king's." Then she tossed her head again
and rode on, and said not another word, nor I, but I knew well what
she meant. Since the Navigation Act, it was, indeed, small profit
any one had of his own tobacco, since it all went into the exchequer
of the king, and I did not gainsay her.

When we had passed the negro huts, swarming with black babies
shining in the sun as sleek as mahogany, and all turning toward us
with a marvellous flashing of white eyeballs and opening of red
mouths of smiles, all at once, like some garden bed of black
flowers, at the sight of our gay advance, we reached the great
house, and Mistress Catherine stood in the door clad in a green
satin gown which caught the light with smooth shimmers like the
green sheath of a marsh lily.

Her bare, slender arms were clasped before her, and her long, white
neck was bent into an arch of watchful grace. Her face was the
gravest I ever saw on maid, and not to be reconciled with my first
acquaintance with her, thereby giving me always a slight doubt as of
a mask, but her every feature was as clear and fine as ivory, and
her head proudly crowned with great wealth of hair. Catherine
Cavendish was esteemed a great beauty, by both men and women, which
shows, perchance, that her beauty availed her little in some ways,
else it had not been so freely admitted by her own sex. However that
may be, Catherine Cavendish had had few lovers as compared with many
a maid less fair and less dowered, and at this time she seemed to
have settled into an expectation and contentment of singleness.

She stood looking at her sister and me as we rode toward her, and
the sun was full on her face, which had the cool glimmer of a pearl
in the golden light, and her wide-open eyes never wavered. As she
stood there she might have been the portrait of herself, such a look
had she of unchanging quiet, and the wonder and incredulity which
always seized me at the sight of her to reconcile what I knew with
what she seemed, was strong upon me.

When her young sister had dismounted and had gone up the steps, she
kissed her, and the two entered the hall, clinging together in a way
which was pretty to see. I never saw such love betwixt two where
there was not full sympathy, and that was lacking always and lacked
more in the future, through the difference in their two temperaments
gotten from different mothers.

Madam Cavendish was still in her bedchamber, and the two sisters and
I dined together in the great hall. Then, after the meal was over, I
went forth with my book of Sir William Davenant's plays, and sought
a favourite place of mine in the woods, and stayed there till
sundown. Then, rising and going homeward when the mist floated over
the marshlands like veils of silver gauze, and the frogs chorused
through it in waves of sound, and birds were circling above it,
calling sweetly with fluting notes or screaming with the harsh
trumpet-clang of sea-fowl, I heard of a sudden, just as the sun sank
below the western sky, a mighty din of horns and bells and voices
from the direction of Jamestown. I knew that the sports which a
certain part of the community would have on a Sabbath after sundown,
when they felt so inclined, had begun. Since the king had been
restored such sports had been observed, now and then, according to
the humour of the governor and the minister and the others in
authority. Laws had been from time to time set forth that the night
after the Sabbath, the Sabbath being considered to cease at sundown,
should be kept with decorum, but seldom were they enforced, and
often, as now, a great din arose when the first gloom overspread the
earth. However, that night was the 30th of April, the night before
May day; and there was more merrymaking in consequence, though May
was not here as in England, and even in England not what it had been
in the first Charles's reign.

But they kept up their rollicking late that night, for the window of
my chamber being toward Jamestown, and the wind that way, I could
hear them till I fell asleep. At midnight I wakened suddenly at the
sound of a light laugh, which I knew to be Mary Cavendish's. There
was never in the maid any power of secrecy when her humour overcame
her. She laughed again, and I heard a hushing voice, which I knew to
be neither her sister's nor grandmother's, but a man's.

I was up and dressed in a trice, and sword in hand, and out of my
window, which was on the first floor, and there was Mistress Mary
and Sir Humphrey Hyde. I stepped between them and thrust aside Sir
Humphrey, who would have opposed me. "Go into the house, madam,"
said I to her, and pointed to the door, which stood open. Then while
she hesitated, half shrinking before me, with her old habit of
obedience strong upon her, yet with angry wilfulness urging her to
rebellion, forth stepped her distant cousin Ralph Drake from behind
a white-flowering thicket, and demanded to know what that cursed
convict fellow did there, and had he not a right to parley with his
cousin, and was her honour not safe with her kinsman and he an
English gentleman? I perceived by Ralph Drake's voice that he had
perchance been making gay with the revellers at Jamestown, and stood
still when he came bullyingly toward me, but at that minute Mistress
Mary spoke.

"I will not have such language to my tutor, Cousin Ralph," said she,
"and I will have you to understand it. He is a gentleman as well as
yourself, and you owe him an apology." So saying, she stamped her
foot and looked at Ralph Drake, her eyes flashing in the moonlight.
But Ralph Drake, whose face I could see was flushed, even in that
whiteness of light, flung away with an oath muttered under his
breath, and struck out across the lawn, his black shadow stalking
before him.

Then Mistress Mary turned and bade me goodnight in the sweetest and
most curious fashion, as if nothing unusual had happened, and yet
with a softness in voice as if she would fain make amends for her
cousin's rough speech, and fluttered in through the open door like a
white moth, and left me alone with Sir Humphrey Hyde.

Sir Humphrey was but a lad to me, scarcely older than Mistress Mary,
for all his great stature. He stood before me scraping the shell
walk with the end of his riding whip. Both men had ridden hither,
and I at that moment heard Ralph Drake's horse's hard trot.

"If you come courting Mistress Mary Cavendish, 'tis for her
guardians, her grandmother, and elder sister to deal with you
concerning the time and place you choose," said I, "but if it be on
any other errand--"

"Good God, Harry," broke in Sir Humphrey, "do you think I am come
love-making in such fashion, and with Ralph Drake in his cups,
though I swear he fastened himself to me against my will?"

I waited a moment. Sir Humphrey had been much about the place since
he was a mere lad, and had had, I believe, a sort of boyish
good-will toward me. Not much love had he for books, but I was
accounted a fair shot, and had some knowledge of sports of hunting
and fishing, and had given him some lessons, and he had followed me
about some few years before, somewhat to the uneasiness of his
mother, who could not forget that I was a convict.

I cast about in my mind what to say, being resolved not to betray
Mary Cavendish, even did this man know what I could betray, and yet
being resolved to have some understanding of what was afoot.

"A man of honour includes not maidens in plots, Sir Humphrey," said
I finally.

Sir Humphrey stammered and looked at me, and looked away again. Then
suddenly spake Mistress Mary from her window overhead, set in a
climbing trumpet-vine, and so loudly and recklessly that had not her
grandmother and sister been on the farther side of the house they
must have heard her. "'Tis not Sir Humphrey included the maid in the
plot, but the maid who included Sir Humphrey," said she. Then she
laughed, and at the same moment a mock-bird trilled in a tree.

"Why do you not tell Master Wingfield that the maid, and not you nor
Cousin Ralph, is the prime mover in this mystery of the cargo of
furbelows on the Golden Horn?" said she, and laughed again.

"I shield not myself behind a maiden's skirts," said Sir Humphrey,

"Then," tried Mary, "will I tell thee, Master Wingfield, what it
means. He cannot betray us, Humphrey, for his tongue is tied with
honour, even if he be not on our side. But he is on our side, as is
every true Englishman." Then Mary Cavendish leaned far out the
window, and a white lace scarf she wore floated forth, and she cried
with a great burst of triumph and childish enthusiasm: "I will tell
thee what it means, Master Wingfield, I will tell thee what it
means; I am but a maid, but the footsteps of General Bacon be yet
plain enough to follow in this soil of Virginia,
and--and--the king gets not our tobacco crops!"


I have always observed with wonder and amusement and a tender
gladness the faculty with which young creatures, and particularly
young girls, can throw off their minds for the time being the weight
of cares and anxieties and bring all of themselves to bear upon
those exercises of body or mind, to no particular end of serious
gain, which we call play and frivolity. It may be that faculty is so
ordained by a wise Providence, which so keeps youth and the bloom of
it upon the earth, and makes the spring and new enterprises
possible. It may be that without it we should rust and stick fast in
our ancient rivets and bolts of use.

That very next morning, after I had learned from Mary Cavendish,
supplemented by a sulky silence of assent from Sir Humphrey Hyde,
that she had, under presence of ordering feminine finery from
England, spent all her year's income from her crops on powder and
shot for the purpose of making a stand in the contemplated
destruction of the new tobacco crops, and thereby plunged herself
and her family in a danger which were hard to estimate were it
discovered, I heard a shrill duet of girlish laughs and merry
tongues before the house. Then, on looking forth, whom should I see
but Mary Cavendish and Cicely Hyde, her great gossip, and a young
coloured wench, all washing their faces in the May dew, which lay in
a great flood as of diamonds and pearls over everything. I minded
well the superstition, older than I, that, if a maid washed her face
in the first May dew, it would make her skin wondrous fair, and I
laughed to myself as I peeped around the shutter to think that Mary
Cavendish should think that she stood in need of such amendment of
nature. Down she knelt, dragging the hem of her chintz gown, which
was as gay with a maze of printed posies as any garden bed, and she
thrust her hollowed hands into the dew-laden green and brought them
over her face and rubbed till sure there was never anything like it
for sweet, glowing rosiness. And Cicely Hyde, who must have come
full early to Drake Hill for that purpose, did likewise, and with
more need, as I thought, for she was a brown maid, not so fair of
feature as some, though she had a merry heart, which gave to her
such a zest of life and welcome of friends as made her a favourite.
Up she scooped the dew and bathed her face, turning ever and anon to
Mary Cavendish with anxious inquiries, ending in trills of laughter
which would not be gainsaid in May-time and youth-time by aught of
so little moment as a brown skin. "How look I now?" she would cry
out. "How look I now, sweetheart? Saw you ever a lily as fair as my
face?" Then Mary, with her own face dripping with dew, with that
wonderful wet freshness of bloom upon it, would eye her with
seriousness as to any improvement, and bid her turn this way and
that. Then she would give it as her opinion that she had best
persevere, and laugh somewhat doubtfully at first, then in a full
peal when Cicely, nothing daunted by such discouragement in her
friend's eyes, went bravely to work again, all her slender body
shaking with mirth. But the most curious sight of all, and that
which occasioned the two maids the most merriment, though of a
covert and even tender and pitying sort, was Mary's black
serving-wench Sukey, a half-grown girl, who had been bidden to
attend her mistress upon this morning frolic. She was seated at a
distance, square in the wet greenness, and was plunging both hands
into the May dew and scrubbing her face with a fierce zeal, as if
her heart was in that pretty folly, as no doubt it was. And ever and
anon as she rubbed her cheeks, which shone the blacker and glossier
for it, she would turn the palms of her hands, which be so curiously
pale on a negro's hands, to see if perchance some of the darkness
had stirred. And when she saw not, then would she fall to scrubbing

Presently up stood Mary and Cicely, and Cicely flashed in the sun a
little silver mirror which she had brought and which had lain
glittering in the grass a little removed, and looked at herself, and
saw that her brown cheeks were as ever, with the exception of the
flush caused by rubbing, and tossed it with her undaunted laugh to
Mary. "The more fool be I!" she cried out, "instead of washing mine
own face in the May dew, better had it been had I locked thee in the
clothes-press, Mary Cavendish, and not let thee add to thy beauty,
while I but gave my cheeks the look of fever or the small-pox. I
trow the skin be off in spots, and all to no purpose! Look at
thyself, Mary Cavendish, and blush that thou be so much fairer than
one who loves thee!"

And verily Mary Cavendish did for a minute seem to blush as she cast
a glance at herself in the mirror and saw her marvellous rose of a
face, but the next minute the mirror flashed in the grass and her
arms were about Cicely Hyde's neck. "'Tis the dearest face in
Virginia, Cicely," said she, in her sweet, vehement way, and laid
her pink cheek against the other's plain one. And Cicely laughed,
and took her face in her two hands and held it away that she might
see it.

"What matters it to poor Cicely whether her own face be fair or not,
so long as it is dear to thee, and so long as she can see thine!"
she cried as passionately as a lad might have done, and I frowned,
not with jealousy, but with a curious dislike to such affection from
one maid to another, which I could never understand in myself. Had
Cicely Hyde had a lover, she would have said that fond speech to him
instead of Mary Cavendish, but lover she had none.

But all at once the two maids nudged one another, and turned their
faces, all convulsed with merriment, and I looked and saw that the
poor little black lass had crept on hands and knees to where the
mirror flashed in the grass, and was looking at her face therein
with such anxiety as might move one at once to tears and laughter,
to see if the dew had washed her white.

But Mary Cavendish ceased all in a minute her mirth, and went up to
the black child and took the mirror from her, and said, in the
sweetest voice of pity I ever heard, "'Tis not in one May dew nor
two, nor perchance in the dews of many years, you can wash your face
white, but sometime it will be."

Then the black wench burst into tears, and begged in that thick,
sluggishly sweet tongue of hers to know if ever the May dew would
wash her black away, and Mistress Mary answered as seriously as if
she were in the pulpit on the Sabbath day that it would sometime
most surely and she should see her face in the glass as fair as any.

Then the two maids, Mary Cavendish and Cicely Hyde, went into the
house, and left me, as I said before, to wonder at that spirit of
youth which can all in a minute disregard care and anxiety and risk
of death for the play of vanity. But, after all, which be stronger,
wars and rumours of wars or vanity? And which be older, and which
fathered the other?

After the house door had shut behind the maidens, I too went out,
but not to wash my grim man's face in May dew, but rather for a
stroll in the morning air, and the clearing of my wits for
reflection; for much I wondered what course I should take regarding
my discovery of the night before. I went down the road toward
Jamestown, and struck into the path to the wharf, the same that we
had taken the day before, but there were no masts of the Golden Horn
rising among the trees with a surprise of straightness. She had
weighed anchor and sailed away over night, and possibly before. The
more I reflected the more I understood that Mistress Mary Cavendish,
with her ready wit and supply of money through her inheritance from
her mother, might have concocted the scheme of bringing over
ammunition from England to enable us to make a stand against the
government; but the plot in the first of it could not have been hers
alone. Assuredly Ralph Drake was concerned in it, and Sir Humphrey
Hyde, and no one knew how many more. The main part for Mistress Mary
might well have been the furnishing of the powder and shot, for
Ralph Drake was poor, and lived, it was said, by his good luck at
cards; and as for Sir Humphrey Hyde, his mother held the reins in
those soft hands of hers, which would have been sorely bruised had
they been withdrawn too roughly.

I sat me down on a glittering ridge of rock near the river-bank, and
watched the blue run of the water, and twisted the matter this and
that way in my mind, for I was sorely perplexed. Never did I feel as
then the hamper of my position, for a man who was held in such
esteem as I by some and contempt by others, and while having voice
had no authority to maintain it, was neither flesh nor fowl nor
slave nor master. Madam Cavendish treated me in all respects as the
equal of herself and her family--nay, more than that, she
deferred to me in such fashion as I had never seen in her toward any
one, but Catherine treated me ever with iciness of contempt, which I
at that time conceived to be but that transference of blame from her
own self to a scapegoat of wrong-doing which is a resort of ignoble
souls. They will have others not only suffer for their own sin, but
even treat them with the scorn due themselves. And not one man was
there in the colony, excepting perhaps Sir Humphrey Hyde and Parson
Downs and the brothers Nicholas and Richard Barry, which last were
not squeamish, and would have had me as boon companion at Barry
Upper Branch, having been drawn to me by a kindred boldness of
spirit and some little passages which I had had with the Indians,
which be not worth repeating. I being in such a position in the
colony, and considering the fact that Madam Cavendish and Catherine
were staunch loyalists, and would have sent all their tobacco to the
bottom of the salt sea had the king so ordained, and regarded all
disaffection from the royal will as a deadly sin against God and the
Church, as well as the throne, and knowing the danger which Mary
Cavendish ran, I was in a sore quandary. Could I have but gone to
those men whom I conceived to be in the plot, and talked with them
on an equal footing, I would have given my right hand. But I
wondered, and with reason, what hearing they would accord me, and I
wondered how to move in the matter at all without doing harm to
Mistress Mary, yet feared greatly that the non-movement would harm
her more. As I sat there I fell to marvelling anew, as I had
marvelled many times before, at that yielding on the part of the
strong which makes the power of those in authority possible. At the
yielding of the weak we marvel not, but when one sees the bending of
staunch, true men, with muscles of iron and hearts of oak, to
commands which be manifestly against their own best interests, it is
verily beyond understanding, and only to be explained by the working
of those hidden springs of nature which have been in men's hearts
since the creation, moving them along one common road of herding to
one common end. As I sat there I wondered not so much at the plot
which was simply to destroy all the young tobacco plants, that there
be not an over-supply and ruinous prices therefor next year, as at
the fact that the whole colony to a man did not arise and rebel
against the order of the king in that most infamous Navigation Act
which forbade exportation to any place but England, and load their
ships for the Netherlands, and get the full worth of their crops.
Well I knew that some of the burgesses were secretly in favour of

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