A Beautiful Possibility by Edith Ferguson Black
[Illustration: LOUIS DASHED THE GLOWING END OF HIS CIGAR IN THE
A BEAUTIFUL POSSIBILITY
EDITH FERGUSON BLACK
A BEAUTIFUL POSSIBILITY.
In one of the fairest of the West Indian islands a simple but
elegant villa lifted its gabled roofs amidst a bewildering wealth of
tropical beauty. Brilliant birds flitted among the foliage, gold and
silver fishes darted to and fro in a large stone basin of a fountain
which threw its glittering spray over the lawn in front of the house,
and on the vine-shaded veranda hammocks hung temptingly, and low wicker
chairs invited to repose.
Behind the jalousies of the library the owner of the villa sat at a
desk, busily writing. He was a slight, delicate looking man, with an
expression of careless good humor upon his face and an easy air of
assurance according with the interior of the room which bespoke a
cultured taste and the ability to gratify it. Books were everywhere,
rare bits of china, curios and exquisitely tinted shells lay in
picturesque confusion upon tables and wall brackets of native woods;
soft silken draperies fell from the windows and partially screened from
view a large alcove where microscopes of different sizes stood upon
cabinets whose shelves were filled with a miscellaneous collection of
rare plants and beautiful insects, specimens from the agate forest of
Arizona, petrified remains from the 'Bad Lands' of Dakota, feathery
fronded seaweed, skeletons of birds and strange wild creatures, and all
the countless curiosities in which naturalists delight.
Lenox Hildreth when a young man, forced to flee from the rigors of
the New England climate by reason of an inherited tendency to pulmonary
disease, had chosen Barbadoes as his adopted country, and had never
since revisited the land of his birth. From the first, fortune had
smiled upon him, and when, some time after his marriage with the
daughter of a wealthy planter, she had come into possession of all her
father's estates, he had built the house which for fifteen years he had
called home. When Evadne, their only daughter, was a little maiden of
six, his wife had died, and for nine years father and child had been
all the world to each other.
He finished writing at last with a sigh of relief, and folding the
letter, together with one addressed to Evadne, he enclosed both in a
large envelope which he sealed and addressed to Judge Hildreth,
Marlborough, Mass. Then he leaned back in his chair, and, clasping his
hands behind his head, looked fixedly at the picture of his fair young
wife which hung above his desk.
“A bad job well done, Louise—or a good one. Our little lass isn't
very well adapted to making her way among strangers, and the
Bohemianism of this life is a poor preparation for the heavy
respectability of a New England existence. Lawrence is a good fellow,
but that wife of his always put me in mind of iced champagne, sparkling
and cold.” He sighed heavily, “Poor little Vad! It is a dreary outlook,
but it seems my one resource. Lawrence is the only relative I have in
“After all, I may be fighting windmills, and years hence may laugh
at this morning's work as an example of the folly of yielding to
unnecessary alarm. Danvers is getting childish. All physicians get to
be old fogies, I fancy, a natural sequence to a life spent in hunting
down germs I suppose. They grow to imagine them where none exist.”
He rose, and strolled out on the veranda. As he did so, a negro,
whose snow-white hair had earned for him from his master the sobriquet
of Methusaleh, came towards the broad front steps. He was a grotesque
image as he stood doffing a large palm-leaf hat, and Lenox Hildreth
felt an irresistible inclination to laugh, and laughed accordingly. His
morning's occupation had been one of the rare instances in which he had
run counter to his inclinations. Sky blue cotton trousers showed two
brown ankles before his feet hid themselves in a pair of clumsy shoes;
a scarlet shirt, ornamented with large brass buttons and fastened at
the throat with a cotton handkerchief of vivid corn color, was
surmounted by an old nankeen coat, upon whose gaping elbows a careful
wife had sewn patches of green cloth; his hands were encased in white
cotton gloves three sizes too large, whose finger tips waved in the
wind as their wearer flourished his palm-leaf headgear in deprecating
“Well, Methusaleh, where are you off to now?” and Lenox Hildreth
leaned against a flower wreathed pillar in lazy amusement.
“To camp-meetin', Mass Hildreff. I hez your permission, sah?” and
the negro rolled his eyes with a ludicrous expression of humility.
His master laughed with the easy indulgence which made his servants
impose upon him.
“You seem to have taken it, you rascal. It is rather late in the day
to ask for permission when you and your store clothes are all ready for
“'Scuse me, Mass Hildreff,” with another deprecating wave of the
palm-leaf hat, “but yer see I knowed yer wouldn't dissapint me of de
priv'lege uv goin' ter camp-meetin' nohow.”
Lenox Hildreth held his cigar between his slender fingers and
watched the tiny wreaths of smoke as they circled about his head.
“So camp-meeting is a privilege, is it?” he said carelessly. “How
much more good will it do you to go there than to stay at home and hoe
The eyes were rolled up until only the whites were visible.
“Powerful sight more good, Mass Hildreff. De preacher's 'n uncommon
relijus man, an' de 'speriences uv de bredren is mighty upliftin'. Yes,
“Well, see that they don't lift you up so high that you'll forget to
come down again. I suppose you have an experience in common with the
“Yes, Mass Hildreff,” and the palm-leaf made another gyration
through the air. “I'se got a powerful 'sperience, sah.”
“Well, off you go. It would be a pity to deprive the assembly of
such an edifying specimen of sanctimoniousness.”
“Yes, sah, I'se bery sanktimonyus. I'se 'bliged to you, sah.”
With a last obsequious flourish the palm-leaf was restored to its
resting-place upon the snowy wool, and the negro shambled away. When he
had gone a few yards a sudden thought struck his master and he
“Methusaleh, I say, Methusaleh!”
“Yes, sah,” and the servant retraced his steps.
“What about that turkey of mine that you stole last week? You can't
go to camp-meeting with that on your conscience. Come, now, better take
off your finery and repent in sackcloth and ashes.”
For an instant the negro was nonplused, then the palm-leaf was
flourished grandiloquently, while its owner said in a voice of
“Laws! Mass Hildreff, do yer spose I'se goin' ter neglec' de Lawd
fer one lil' turkey?”
His master turned on his heel with a low laugh. “Of a piece with the
whole of them!” he said bitterly. “Hypocrites and shams!”
“Evadne!” he exclaimed impetuously, as a slight girlish figure came
towards him, “never say a single word that you do not mean nor express
a sensation that you have not felt. It is the people who neglect this
rule who play havoc with themselves and the world.”
“Why, dearest, you frighten me!” and the girl slipped her hand
through his arm with a low, sweet laugh. “I never saw you look so
“Hypocrisy, Vad, is the meanest thing on earth! The pious people at
the church yonder call me an unbeliever, but they've got themselves to
thank for it. I may be a good-for-nothing but at least I will not
preach what I do not practise.”
“You are as good as gold, dearest. I won't have you say such horrid
things! And you don't need to preach anything. I am sure no one in all
the world could be happier than we.”
Her father put his hand under her chin, and, lifting her face
towards his, looked long and earnestly at the pure brow, about which
the brown hair clustered in natural curls, the clear-cut nose, the
laughing lips parted over a row of pearls, and the wonderful deep gray
“Are you happy, little one?” he asked wistfully. “Are you
quite sure about that?”
“Happy!” the girl echoed the word with an incredulous smile. “Why,
dearest, what has come to you? You never needed to ask me such a
question before! Don't you know there isn't a girl in Barbadoes who has
been so thoroughly spoiled, and has found the spoiling so sweet? Do I
look more than usually mournful to-day that you should think I am
pining away with grief?” She looked up at him with a roguish laugh.
He smiled and laid his finger caressingly on the dimpled chin. “Dear
little bird!” he said tenderly; “but when this dimple captivates the
heart of some one, Vad, you will fly away and leave the poor father in
the empty nest.”
Her color glowed softly through the olive skin. She threw her arms
around his neck and laid her face against his breast. “You know
better!” she exclaimed passionately. “You know I wouldn't leave you for
all the 'some ones' in the world!”
Her father caught her close. “Poor little lass!” he said with a
The girl lifted her head and looked at him anxiously. “Dearest, what
is the matter? I am sure you are not well! You have been sitting
too long at that tiresome writing.”
“Yes, that is it, darling,” he said with a sudden change of tone.
“Writing always does give me the blues. I think the man who invented
the art should have been put in a pillory for the rest of his natural
life. Blow your whistle for Sam to bring the horses and we will go for
a ride along the beach.”
Evadne lifted the golden whistle which hung at her girdle and blew
the call which the well-trained servant understood. “Fi, dearest!” she
said, “if there were no writing there would be no books, and what would
become of our beautiful evenings then? But I am glad you do not have to
write much, since it tires you so. What has it all been about, dear? Am
I never to know?”
“Some day, perhaps, little Vad. But do not indulge in the besetting
sin of your sex, or, like the mother of the race, you may find your
apple choke you in the chewing.”
Evadne shook her finger at him. “Naughty one! As if you were not
three times as curious as I! And when it comes to waiting,—you should
have named me Patience, sir!”
Her father laughed as he kissed her, then he tied on her hat, threw
on his own, and hand-in-hand like two children they ran down the
veranda steps to where the groom stood waiting with the horses.
A month full of happy days had flown by when Evadne and her father
returned one morning from a long tramp in search of specimens. A
delightful afternoon had followed, he in a hammock, she on a low seat
beside him, arranging, classifying and preparing their morning's spoil
for the microscope. Suddenly she turned towards him with a troubled
“Dearest, how pale you look! Are you very tired?”
“It is only the heat,” he answered lightly. “We had a pretty stiff
walk this morning, you know.”
“And I carried you on and on!” she cried reproachfully. “I was so
anxious to find this particular crab. Isn't he a pretty fellow?” and
she lifted the box that her father might watch the tiny creature's
play. “I shall go at once and make you an orange sherbet.”
“Let Dinah do it and you stay here with me.”
“No indeed! You know you think no one can make them as well as I do.
I promise you this one shall be superfine.”
“As you will, little one,—only don't stay away too long.”
He lay very still after she had left him, looking dreamily through
the vines at the silver spray of the fountain. The air had grown
oppressively sultry; no breath of wind stirred the heavily drooping
leaves, no sound except the rhythmic splash of the fountain and the
soft lapping of the waves upon the beach. He closed his eyes while
their ceaseless monotone seemed to beat upon his brain.
“Forever! Forever! Forever!”
A spasm of pain crossed his face as Evadne's voice woke the echoes
with a merry song. “Poor little lass!” he murmured. Then he smiled as
she came towards him, quaffed off the beverage she had prepared with
loving skill, and called her the best cook in all the Indies.
“Has it refreshed you, dearest?” she asked anxiously.
“Immensely! Now you shall read me some of Lalla Rookh, and after
dinner I will set about making a Mecca for your crab.”
Evadne stroked the dainty claws,—
“Poor little chap! So you are a pilgrim like the rest of us. I wish
we did not have to go on and on, dearest!” she exclaimed passionately,
“why cannot we stand still and enjoy?”
“It would grow monotonous, little Vad. Progress is the law of all
being, and seventy years of life is generally enough for the majority.
You would not like to live to be an old lady of two hundred and fifty?
Think how tired you would be!”
She laid her cheek against his upon the pillow. “I should never
grow tired,—with you!”
The evening drew on, hot and breathless. Low growls of distant
thunder were heard at intervals, and in the eastern sky the lightning
Evadne watched it, sitting on the top step of the veranda, her white
muslin dress in happy contrast with the deep green of the vines which
clustered thickly about the pillar against which she leaned. On the
step below her a young man sat. He too was clad in white and the rich
crimson of the silken scarf which he wore about his waist enhanced his
Spanish beauty. A zither lay across his knees over which his hands
wandered skilfully as he made the air tremble with dreamy music. Mr.
Hildreth paced slowly up and down the veranda behind them.
“What is the news from the great world, Geoff? I saw a troop ship
signaled this morning. Have you been on board yet?”
“No, sir, I have been looking over the plantation with my father all
day, and only got home in time for dinner.”
“You chose a cool time for it!” and Mr. Hildreth laughed.
Geoffrey Chittenden shrugged his shoulders. “When Geoffrey
Chittenden, Senior, makes up his mind to do anything, he has the most
sublime indifference for the thermometer of any one I ever had the
honor of knowing. But the ship only brought a small detachment, I
believe; she will carry away a larger one. The garrison here is to be
reduced, you know.”
“Yes, it is a mistake I think. Will Drewson have to go? He has been
on this Station longer than any of the others.”
“Yes, his company has marching orders for Malta. He told me last
night he was coming to take leave of you next week.”
“Our nice Captain Drewson going away!” Evadne exclaimed, aghast.
“Why, dearest, he is one of our oldest friends!”
“The law of progression, Vad darling.”
“How I hate it!” she cried, while her lips trembled. “Why can't we
just live on in the old happy way? You will be going next, Geoff, and
the Hamiltons and the Vandervoorts. Does nothing last?”
Her voice hushed itself into silence and again Lenox Hildreth heard
the soft waves singing,—
“Forever! Forever! Forever!”
“Oh yes, Evadne,” Geoffrey said with a laugh: “we are very lasting.
It is only the unfortunate people under military rule who prove
unreliable. Let me sing you my latest song to cheer your spirits. I
only learned it last week.”
He struck a few chords and was beginning his song when a low groan
made him spring to his feet. Evadne passed him like a flash of light
and flew to her father's side. He was leaning heavily against a pillar
with his handkerchief, already showing crimson stains, pressed tightly
against his lips.
They laid him gently down and summoned help. After that all was like
a horrible dream to Evadne. She was dimly conscious that friends came
with ready offers of assistance, and that Barbadoes' best physicians
were unremitting in their efforts to stop the hemorrhage; while she
stood like a statue beside her father's bed. She was absolutely still.
When at last the hemorrhage was checked the exhaustion was terrible.
Evadne longed to throw herself beside him and pillow the dear head upon
her bosom, but Dr. Danvers had whispered,—
“A sudden sound may start the hemorrhage again,—the slightest shock
is sure to.” After that, not for worlds would she have moved a finger.
The day passed and another night drew on. One of the physicians was
constantly in attendance, for the hemorrhage returned at intervals.
Just as the rose-tinted dawn looked shyly through the windows, her
father spoke, and Evadne bent her head to catch the faint tone of the
voice which sounded so far away.
“Vad, darling, I have made an awful mistake! I thought everything a
sham. I know better now. Make it the business of your life, little Vad,
to find Jesus Christ.”
Again the red stream stained his lips, and Dr. Danvers came swiftly
forward, but Lenox Hildreth was forever beyond all need of human care.
* * * * *
A week passed, and day after day Evadne sat by her window, speaking
no word. Outdoors the fountain still sparkled in the sunshine and the
birds sang, but for her the foundations of life had been shaken to
their center. Her friends tried in vain to break up her unnatural calm.
“If you would only have a good cry, Evadne,” Geoffrey Chittenden
said at last, “you would feel better, dear. That is what all girls do,
She turned upon him a pair of solemn eyes, out of which the merry
sparkle had faded. “Will crying give me back my father?”
“Why, no, dear. Of course I didn't mean that. But these things are
bound to happen to us all, sooner or later, you know. It is the rule of
“'The law of progression,'“ she said with a dreary laugh. “I wish
the world would stop for good!”
When the clergyman came she met him quietly, and he found himself
not a little disconcerted by the steady gaze of the mournful grey eyes.
He was not accustomed to dealing with such wordless grief, and he found
his favorite phrases sadly inadequate to the occasion. There was an
“Dr. Danvers says your father told him some time ago that, in the
event of his death, he wished you to make your home with your uncle in
America?” he said at length.
“Well, my dear young lady, you will find it in all respects a most
desirable home, I feel confident. Judge Hildreth holds a position of
great trust in the church, and is universally esteemed as a Christian
gentleman of sterling character.”
The grey eyes were lifted to his face.
“Shall I find Jesus Christ there?”
“Jesus Christ?” The clergyman echoed her words with a start. “I beg
your pardon, my dear. The Lord sitteth upon his throne in the heavens.
We must approach him reverently, with humble fear.”
“That seems a long way off,” said Evadne in a disappointed tone.
“There must be some mistake. My father told me to make it the business
of my life to find him.”
“Your father, my dear! Oh, ah, ahem!”
An indignant flash leaped into the grey eyes. Evadne rose and faced
him. “You must excuse me, sir,” she said quietly. Then she left the
And the tears, which all the kindly sympathy had failed to bring
her, at the first breath of censure fell about her like a flood.
Judge Hildreth sat with his family at dinner in the spacious
dining-room of one of the finest houses in Marlborough. He was a
handsome man, with a stateliness of manner attributable in part to the
deferential homage which Marlborough paid to his opinion in all matters
of importance. His wife, tall and queenly, sat opposite him. Two
daughters and a son completed the family group. Louis Hildreth had his
father's dark blue eyes and regular features, but there were weak lines
about the mouth which betokened a lack of purpose, and the expression
of his face was marred by a cynical smile which was fast becoming
habitual with him. Isabelle, the eldest, was tall and fair, except for
a chill hauteur which set strangely upon one so young, while her firmly
set lips betokened the existence of a strong will which completely
dominated her less self-reliant sister. Marion Hildreth was just
Evadne's age, with a pink and white beauty and soft eyes which turned
deprecatingly at intervals towards Isabelle, as though to ask pardon
for imaginary solecisms against Miss Hildreth's code of etiquette.
The covers were being changed for the second course when a servant
entered and approached the Judge, bearing a cablegram upon a silver
salver. He ran his eyes hastily over its contents, then he leaned back
heavily against his chair, while an expression of genuine sorrow
settled down upon his face.
“Your Uncle Lenox is dead,” he said briefly, as the girls plied him
“Dead!” Mrs. Hildreth's voice broke the hush which had fallen in the
room. “Why, Lawrence, this is very sudden! We have looked upon Lenox as
being perfectly well.”
“It is not safe to count anyone well, Kate, who carries such a
lurking serpent in his bosom. Only forty-three! Just in his prime. Poor
Len!” The Judge leaned his head upon his hand, while his thoughts were
busy with memories of the gay young brother who had filled the old
homestead with his merry nonsense.
“And what will become of Evadne?” Again Mrs. Hildreth's voice broke
“Evadne?” the Judge looked full in his wife's face. “Why, my dear,
there is only one thing to be done. I shall cable immediately to have
her come to us.” He rose from the table, his dinner all untasted, and
left the room.
Louis was the first to speak. “A Barbadoes cousin. How will you like
having such a novelty as that, Sis, to introduce among your
acquaintance?” He bowed lazily to Mrs. Hildreth. “Let me congratulate
you, lady mother. You will have the pleasure of floating another bud
into blossom upon the bosom of society.”
“I do not see any room for congratulation, Louis,” Mrs. Hildreth
said discontentedly. “It is a dreadful responsibility. One does not
know what the child may be like.”
“Hardly a child, mamma,” pouted Marion. “Evadne must be as old as
“If that is so, Sis, she must have the wisdom of Methusaleh!” and
Louis looked at his sister with one of his mocking smiles. “At any rate
she will afford scope for your powers of training, Isabelle. It must be
depressing to have to waste your eloquence upon an audience of one.”
Isabelle tossed her head. “I am not anxious for the opportunity,”
she said coldly. “Likely the child will be a perfect heathen after
running wild among savages all her life.”
Louis whistled. “A little less Grundy and a little more geography
would be to your advantage, Isabelle! Barbadoes happens to be the creme
de la creme of the British Indies. I would not advise you to display
your ignorance before Evadne, or your future lecturettes on the
conventionalities may prove lacking in vital force.”
“Why, Isabelle, my dear, you must be dreaming!” and her mother
looked annoyed. “Don't let your father hear you say such a thing, I beg
of you! When he visited Barbadoes he was delighted, and he thought
Evadne's mother one of the most charming women he had ever met. If she
had lived of course Evadne would be all right, but she has been left
entirely to her father's guidance, and he had such peculiar ideas.”
“When, did she die, mamma?” asked Marion.
“I am sure I cannot remember. Six or seven years ago it must have
been. But we rarely heard from them. Your Uncle Lenox was always a
wretched correspondent, and since his wife's death he has hardly
written at all.”
“The house of Hildreth cannot claim to be well posted in the matter
of blood relations,” said Louis carelessly, as he helped himself to
* * * * *
Upon the deck of one of the Ocean Greyhounds a promiscuous crowd was
gathered. Returning tourists in all the glory of field glasses and
tweed suits; British officers going home on furlough from the different
outposts where they were stationed; merchants from the rich markets of
the far East; picturesque foreigners in national costume; and a bishop
who paced the deck with a dignity becoming his ecclesiastical rank.
There was a continuous hum of conversation, mingled with intermittent
ripples of laughter from the different groups which were scattered
about the deck. Among the exceptions to the general sociability were
the bishop, still pacing up and down with his hands clasped behind him,
and a young girl who sat looking far out over the waves, utterly
heedless of the noise and confusion around her.
She was absolutely alone. The gentleman under whose care she was
traveling made a point of escorting her to meals, after which he
invariably secured her a comfortable deck chair, supplied her liberally
with rugs and books, and then retired to the smoking-room, with the
serene consciousness of duty well performed; and Evadne Hildreth was
thankful to be left in peace. She was no longer the buoyant, merry
girl. Her vitality seemed crushed. Hour after hour she sat motionless,
her hands folded listlessly in her lap, looking out over the dancing
waves. She had caught the last glimpse of her beloved island in a grey
stupor. Everything was gone,—father and home and friends,—nothing
that happened could matter now,—but, oh, the dreary, dreary years! Did
the sun shine in far-away New England, and could the water be as blue
as her dear Atlantic, with the gay ripple on its bosom and the music of
its waves? She looked at the tender sky, as on the far horizon it bent
low to kiss the face of the mysterious mighty ocean which stretched “a
sea without a shore.” That was like her life now. All the beauty ended,
yet stretching on and on and on. And she must keep pace with it,
against her will. And there was no one to care. She was all alone! No,
there was Jesus Christ!
She started to find that the Bishop's lady was speaking to her.
Evadne recognized her, for she sat at the next table, and several times
she had stood aside to let her pass to her seat. Something about the
solitary, pathetic little figure, the hopeless face and mournful grey
eyes, had won the compassion of the good lady, for she was a kindly
“My dear, you have a great sorrow?” she said gently. “I hope you
have the consolations of our holy religion to help you bear it.”
Evadne turned towards her eagerly. Her husband was the head of the
church. Surely she would know.
“Can you help me to find him?” she asked abruptly.
“Find whom, my dear? Have you a friend among the passengers?”
“Oh!” The Bishop's lady sat back with the suddenness of the shock,
“Are you in earnest, my dear?” she asked with a tinge of severity in
her tone. “This is a very serious question, but, if you really mean it,
I will lend you my Prayer Book.”
Evadne smiled drearily. “Oh, yes, I am terribly in earnest. My
father said I was to make it the business of my life.”
“Oh, ah, yes, to be sure,” said the lady a trifle absently. “That is
very proper. Christianity should be the great purpose of our life.”
“I do not want Christianity,” said Evadne impatiently, “I want
“My dear, you shock me! The eternal verities of our holy religion
must ever be—”
“Do you believe in him?” asked Evadne, interrupting her.
“Believe in him? whom do you mean?”
Aghast, the Bishop's lady crossed herself and began repeating the
“That makes him seem so far away,” said Evadne sadly. “I do not want
him in heaven if I have to live upon earth. Have you found him?”
she asked eagerly. “Are you on intimate terms with him? Is he your
The Bishop's lady gasped for breath. That she, a member of the
Church of the Holy Communion of All Saints should be interrogated in
such a fashion as this! “I think you do not quite understand,” she said
coldly. “I will lend you a treatise on Church Doctrine. You had better
“Charlotte,” said her husband when she reached her stateroom, “I
have arrived at an important decision this afternoon. I have finally
concluded to take the Socinian Heresy as my theme for the noon
lectures. The subject will admit of elaborate treatment and afford
ample scope for scholarship.”
“Heresy!” echoed his wife, who had not yet recovered her equanimity;
“why, Bertram, I have just been talking to a young person who asked me
if I was on intimate terms with Jesus Christ!”
“Ah, yes,” said the Bishop absently, “the radical tendencies of the
present day are to be deplored. Have you seen that my vestments are in
order, Charlotte? I shall hold Divine service on board to-morrow.”
In a neighboring stateroom a lonely soul, bewildered and despairing,
struggled through the darkness towards the light.
* * * * *
The last snow of the winter lay in soft beauty upon the streets of
Marlborough as Evadne's train drew into the railway station. Instantly
all was bustle and confusion throughout the cars. Evadne shrank back in
her seat and waited. Instinctively she felt that for her there would be
no joyous welcome. Inexpressibly dreary as the journey had been she was
sorry it was at an end. An overwhelming embarrassment of shyness seized
upon her, and the chill desolation of loneliness seemed to shut down
about her like a cloud.
A young man sauntered past her with his hands in his pockets. When
he reached the end of the car he turned and surveyed the passengers
leisurely, then he came back to her seat. He lifted his hat with lazy
“Miss Hildreth, I believe?”
Evadne bowed. He shook hands coolly.
“I have the honor of introducing myself as your cousin Louis.”
He made no attempt to give her a warmer greeting, and Evadne was
glad, but how dreary it was!
Louis led the way out of the station to where a pair of magnificent
horses stood, tossing their regal heads impatiently. A colored coachman
stood beside them, clad in fur.
“Pompey,” he said, “this is Miss Evadne Hildreth from Barbadoes.”
The man bent his head low over the little hand which was instantly
stretched out to him. “I'se very glad to see Miss 'Vadney,” he said
with simple fervor. “I was powerful fond of Mass Lennux;” and Evadne
felt she had received her warmest welcome.
She nestled down among the soft robes of the sleigh while the silver
bells rang merrily through the frosty air. It was all so new and
strange. A leaden weight seemed to be settling down upon her heart and
she felt as if she were choking, but she threw it off. She dared not
let herself think. She began to talk rapidly.
“What splendid horses you have! Surely they must be thoroughbreds?
No ordinary horses could ever hold their heads like that.”
Louis nodded. “You have a quick eye,” he said approvingly. “Most
girls would not know a thoroughbred from a draught horse. You have hit
upon the surest way to get into my father's good graces. His horses are
“What are their names?”
“Brutus and Caesar. The Judge is nothing if not classical.”
As they mounted the front steps the faint notes of a guitar sounded
from the front room.
“Confound Isabelle and her eternal twanging!” muttered Louis, as he
fumbled for his latch-key. “It would be a more orthodox welcome if you
found your relations waiting for you with open arms, but the Hildreth
family is not given to gush. Isabelle will tell you it is not good
form. So we keep our emotions hermetically sealed and stowed away under
decorous lock and key, polite society having found them inconvenient
things to handle, partaking of the nature of nitroglycerine, you know,
and liable to spontaneous combustion.”
He opened the door as he spoke and Evadne followed him into the
hall. She shivered, although a warm breath of heated air fanned her
cheek. The atmosphere was chilly.
Marion, hurried forward to greet her, followed more leisurely by
Isabelle and her mother, who touched her lips lightly to her forehead.
“I hope you have had a pleasant journey, my dear, although you must
find our climate rather stormy. I think you might as well let the girls
take you at once to your room and then we will have dinner.”
“Where is the Judge?” inquired Louis.
“Detained again at the office. He has just telephoned not to wait
for him. He is killing himself with overwork.”
To Evadne the dinner seemed interminable and she found herself
contrasting the stiff formality with the genial hospitality of her
father's table. She saw again the softly lighted room with its open
windows through which the flowers peeped, and heard his gay badinage
and his low, sweet laugh. Could she be the same Evadne, or was it all a
Isabelle stood beside her as she began to prepare for the night. She
wished she would go away. The burden of loneliness grew every moment
more intolerable. Suddenly she turned towards her cousin and cried in
“Can you tell me where I shall find Jesus Christ?”
Isabelle started. “My goodness, Evadne, what a strange question! You
took my breath away.”
“Is it a strange question?” she asked wistfully. “Everyone seems to
think so, and yet—my father said I was to make it the business of my
life to find him.”
“Your father!” cried Isabelle. “Why Uncle Lenox was an——”
Instantly a pair of small hands were held like a vice against her
lips. Isabelle threw them off angrily.
“You are polite, I must say! Is this a specimen of West Indian
“You were going to say something I could not hear,” said Evadne
quietly, “there was nothing else to do.”
Isabelle left the room, and, returning, threw a book carelessly upon
the table. “You had better study that,” she said. “It will answer your
questions better than I can.”
“I told you she was a heathen!” she exclaimed, as she rejoined her
mother in the sitting-room; “but I did not know that I should have to
turn missionary the first night and give her a Bible!”
Upstairs Evadne buried her face among the pillows and the aching
heart burst its bonds in one long quivering cry of pain.
A day full of light—warm and brilliant. The sun flooding the wide
fields of timothy and clover and fresh young grain with glory; falling
with a soft radiance upon the comfortable mansion of the master of
Hollywood Farm, with its spacious barns and long stretches of stabling,
and throwing loving glances among the leaves of its deep belt of
woodland where the river sparkled and soft rugs of moss spread their
rich luxuriance over an aesthetic carpet of resinous pine needles.
Near the limits of Hollywood the forest made a sudden curve to the
right, and the river, turned from its course, rushed, laughing and
eager, over a ridge of rocks which tossed it in the air in sheets of
Standing there, leaning upon a gun, a boy of about seventeen looked
long at a squirrel whose mangled body was staining the emerald beauty
of the moss with crimson. His face was earnest and troubled, while the
expression of sorrowful contempt which swept over it, made him seem
older than he was. It was a strong face, with deep-set, thoughtful eyes
which lit up wondrously when he was interested or pleased. His mouth
was sensitive but his chin was firm and his brown hair fell in soft
waves over a broad, full brow. People always took it for granted that
John Randolph would be as good as his word. They never reasoned about
it. They simply expected it of him.
He began to speak, and his voice fell clear and distinct through the
“And you call this sport?” There was no answer save the soft gurgle
of the river as it splashed merrily over the stones.
“You are a brute, John Randolph!” And the wind sighed a plaintive
echo among the trees.
He was silent while the words which he had read six weeks before and
which had been ringing a ceaseless refrain in his heart ever since,
obtruded themselves upon his memory.
“It is the privilege of everyone to become an exact copy of Jesus
“Well, John Randolph, can you picture to yourself Jesus Christ
shooting a squirrel for sport?” He tossed aside the weapon he had been
leaning upon with a gesture of disgust, and, folding his arms, looked
up at the cloud-flecked sky.
“Are you there, Jesus Christ?” he asked wistfully. “Are you looking
down on this poor old world, and what do you think of it all? Men made
in God's image finding their highest enjoyment in slaughtering his
creatures. Game Preserves where they can do it in luxurious leisure;
fox hunts with their pack of hunters and hounds in full cry after one
poor defenceless fox, and battle-fields where they tear each other limb
from limb with Gatling gun and shells; and yet we call ourselves
honorable gentlemen, and talk of the delights of the chase and the
glories of war! Pshaw! what a mockery it is.”
Stooping suddenly he laid the squirrel upon his open palm and gently
stroked the long, silky fur. He lifted the tiny paws with their perfect
equipment for service and looked remorsefully at the eyes whose light
was dimmed, and the mouth which had forever ceased its merry chatter. A
great tenderness sprang up in his heart toward all living things and,
lifting his right hand to heaven, he exclaimed, “Poor little squirrel,
I cannot give you back your happy life, but, I will never take
Then he knelt, and scooping out a grave, laid the little creature to
rest at the foot of a tree in whose trunk the remnant of its winter
store of nuts was carefully garnered. When at length he turned to leave
the spot the tiny grave was marked by a pine slab, on which was
“Here lies the germ of a resolve.
July 17th, 18—”
He walked slowly along the fragrant wood-path, looking thoughtfully
at the shadows as they played hide and seek upon the moss, while
through the trees he caught glimpses of the sparkling river which sang
as it rolled along.
When he reached the border of the woodland he stood still and his
eyes swept over the landscape. Hollywood was the finest stock farm in
the country. After his father's death he had come, a little lad, to
live with Mr. Hawthorne, and every year which had elapsed since then
made it grow more dear. He loved its rolling meadows, its breezy
pastures and its fragrant orchards. Its beautifully kept grounds and
outbuildings appealed to his innate sense of the fitness of things,
while its air of abundant comfort made it difficult to realize that the
world was full of hunger and woe. He loved the green road where the
wild roses blushed and the honeysuckle drooped its fragrant petals, but
most of all he loved the graceful horses and sleek cows which just now
were grazing in the fields on either side; and the shy creatures, with
the subtle instinct by which all animals test the quality of human
friendship, took him into their confidence and came gladly at his call
and did his bidding.
When he reached the end of the road he stopped again, and, leaning
against the fence adjoining the broad gate which led to the house, gave
a low whistle. A thoroughbred Jersey, feeding some distance away,
lifted her head and listened. Again he whistled, and with soft, slow
tread the cow came towards him and rubbed her nose against his arm. He
took her head between his hands, her clover-laden breath fanning his
cheeks, and looked at the dark muzzle and the large eyes, almost human
in their tenderness.
“Well, Primrose, old lady, you're as dainty as your namesake, and as
sweet. Ah, Sylph, you beauty!” he continued, as a calf like a young
fawn approached the gate, “you can't rest away from your mammy, can
you? Primrose, have you any aspirations, or are you content simply to
eat and drink? You have a good time of it now, but what if you were
kicked and cuffed and starved? You are sensitive, for I saw you shrink
and shiver when Bill Wright,—the scoundrel!—dared to strike you.
He'll never do it again, Prim! Have you the taste of an epicure for the
juicy grass blades and the clover when it is young,—do you love to
hear the birds sing and the brook murmur, and do you enjoy living under
the trees and watching the clouds chase the sunbeams as you chew your
cud? Do you wonder why the cold winter comes and you have to be shut up
in a stall with a different kind of fodder? Do you ever wonder who gave
you life and what you are meant to do with it? How I wish you could
talk, old lady!”
He vaulted over the gate, and whistling to a fine collie who came
bounding to meet him, walked slowly on towards the stables.
“Hulloa, John!” and a boy about two years his junior threw himself
off a horse reeking with foam. “Rub Sultan down a bit like a good
fellow. There'll be the worst kind of a row if the governor sees him in
John Randolph looked indignantly at the handsome horse, as he stood
with drooping head and wide distended nostrils, while the white foam
dripped over his delicate legs.
“Serve you right if there were!” and his voice was full of scorn.
“You're about as fit to handle horseflesh as an Esquimaux.”
“Oh, pish! You're a regular old grandmother, John. There's nothing
to make such a row about.” And Reginald Hawthorne turned upon his heel.
John threw off coat and vest, and, rolling up his sleeves, led the
exhausted horse to the currying ground. Reginald followed slowly, his
hands in his pockets.
“How did you get him into such a mess?” he asked shortly.
“I don't know, I didn't do anything to him,” and Reginald kicked the
gravel discontentedly. “I believe he's getting lazy.”
“Sultan lazy!” and John laughed incredulously. “That's a good joke!
Why, he is the freest horse on the place!”
“Well, I don't know how else to explain it. He's been on the go
pretty steadily, but what's a horse good for? Thursday afternoon we had
our cross-country run and the ground was horribly stiff. I thought he
had sprained his off foreleg for he limped a good deal on the home
stretch, but he seemed to limber up all right the last few miles. I was
sorry not to let him rest yesterday; would have put him in better trim
I suppose for to-day's twenty mile pull,—but Cartwright and Peterson
wanted to make up a tandem, and when they asked for Sultan I didn't
like to refuse. They are heavy swells, and you know father wants me to
get in with that lot. But that shouldn't have hurt him. They only went
as far as Brighton. What's fifteen miles to a horse!”
“Fifteen miles means thirty to a horse when he has to travel back
the same road,” said John drily; “and your heavy swells take the toll
out of horseflesh quicker than a London cabby.”
“Why, John, what has come to you? You're the last fellow in the
world to want me to be churlish.”
“That's true, Rege,—but I don't want them to cripple you as they
have poor Sultan. What kind of fellows are they?”
“Oh, not a bad sort,” said Reginald carelessly. “Lots of the
needful, you know, and free with it. Not very fond of the grind, but
always up to date when there are any good times going. What do you
suppose put Sultan in such a lather, John? I was so afraid father would
catch me that I came across the fields, and it was just as much as he
could do to take the last fence. I made sure he was going to tumble.”
“Well for you he didn't,” and John smoothed the delicate limbs with
his firm hand, “these knees are too pretty for a scar. Go into the vet
room, Rege, and bring me out a roll of bandage.”
“Hulloa! That will give me away to the governor with a vengeance!
What are you going to bandage him for?”
“He is badly strained, and if I don't his legs will be all puffed by
the morning. It will be lucky if it is nothing worse. He looks to me as
if he was in for a touch of distemper, but I'll give him a powder and
perhaps we can stave it off.”
Reginald brought the bandage and then stood moodily striking at a
beetle with his riding whip. He was turning away when a hand with a
grip of steel was laid on his shoulder and he was forced back to where
the beetle lay, a shapeless mass of quivering agony, while a low stern
“Finish your work! Even the cannibals do that.”
Reginald wrenched himself free. “Pshaw!” he said contemptuously,
“it's only a beetle.” But he did as he was told.
Then he stood silently watching as with swift skilfulness John
swathed the horse's limbs in flannel. “I guess Sultan misses you, John.
Over at the college livery their fingers are all thumbs.”
“Poor Sultan!” was all John's answer, as he led the horse into a
large paddock thickly strewn with fresh straw.
A night full of stars—silent and sweet. John Randolph leaned on the
broad gate which opened into the green road where he had lingered in
the afternoon. The thoughts which surged through his brain made sleep
impossible, and so, lighting his bull's-eye, he had gone to the stables
to see how Sultan was faring, and then wandered on under the mystery of
The night was warm. A breeze heavy with perfume lifted the hair from
his brow. He heard the low breathing of the cattle as they dozed in the
fields on either side, and the soft whirr of downy plumage as the great
owl which had built its nest among the eaves of the new barn flew past
him. Suddenly a warm nose was thrust against his shoulder and, with the
assurance of a spoilt beauty, the cow laid her head upon his arm. He
lifted his other hand and stroked it gently.
“Hah, Primrose! Are you awake, old lady? What are your views of life
now, Prim? Do the shadows make it seem more weird and grand, or does
midnight lose its awesomeness when one is upon four legs?”
He looked away to where the stars were throbbing with tender light,
crimson and green and gold, and the words of the book which he had been
studying every leisure moment for the past six weeks swept across his
“'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk
in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'
“'The light of life,'“ he repeated slowly. “Why, to most people life
seems all darkness! What is 'the light of life'?”
Still other words came stealing to his memory. 'I am the way, the
truth, and the life, no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.' 'Except
ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into
the kingdom of heaven.' 'This is life eternal, that they should know
thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus.'
A great light flooded John Randolph's soul.
“'I' and 'me,'“ he whispered. “Why, it is a personality. It is Jesus
himself! He is the way to the kingdom, the truth of the kingdom and the
life of it. The kingdom of heaven, not far away in space, but set up
here and now in the hearts of men who live the life hid with Christ in
God. I see it all! Jesus Christ is the light of the life which God
gives us through his Son.”
He stretched his hands up towards the glistening sky.
“Jesus Christ,” he cried eagerly, “come into my life and make it
light. I take thee for my Master, my Friend. I give myself away to
thee. I will follow wherever thou dost lead. Jesus Christ, help me to
grow like thee!”
The hush of a great peace fell upon his soul, while through the
listening night an angel stooped and traced upon his brow the kingly
motto, 'Ich Dien.'
“Don, Don, me's tumin',” and the baby of the farm, a little child
with sunny curls and laughing eyes, ran past the great barns of
John Randolph was swinging along the green road with a bridle over
his arm, whistling softly. He turned as the childish voice was borne to
him on the breeze. “All right, Nansie, wait for me at the gate.” Then
he sprang over the fence and crossed the field to where a group of
horses were feeding.
The child climbed up on the gate beside a saddle which John had
placed there and waited patiently. He soon came back, leading a
magnificent bay horse, and began to adjust the saddle.
“Now, Nan, I'll give you a ride to the house. Can't go any further
to-day, for I have to cross the river.”
The child shook her head confidently. “Me 'll go too, Don.”
“I'm afraid not, Nan. The river is so deep, we'll have to swim for
it. That is why I chose Neptune, you see.”
“Me's not 'fraid, wiv 'oo, Don.”
“Better wait, Baby, till the river is low. Well, come along then,”
as the wily schemer drew down her pretty lips into the aggrieved curve
which always conquered his big, soft heart. She clapped her hands with
glee, as he lifted her in front of him and started Neptune into a brisk
trot, and made a bridle for herself out of the horse's silky mane.
“Gee, gee, Nepshun. Nan loves you, dear.”
When they reached the fording place John's face grew grave. The
river had risen during the night and was rushing along with turbulent
strength. There was no house within five miles. His business was
imperative. He dared not leave the child until he came back. Crouching
upon the saddle, he clasped one arm about her while he twisted his
other hand firmly in and out of the horse's mane.
“Are you afraid, Nansie?”
She twined her arms more tightly about his neck until the sunny
curls brushed his cheek.
“Me'll do anywhere, wiv 'oo, Don.”
Just as the gallant horse reached the opposite bank Reginald
galloped down to the ford on his way home for Sunday.
“Upon my word, John, you're a perfect slave to that youngster! What
mad thing will you be doing next, I wonder?”
“The next thing will be to go back again,” said John with a smile,
while Nan clung fast to his neck and peeped shyly through her curls at
“Where are you off to?”
Reginald turned his horse's head. “I might as well go along. A man's
a fool to ride alone when he can have company.”
John gave him a swift, comprehensive glance.
“How are things going, Rege? You're not looking very fit.”
Reginald yawned and drew his hand across his heavy eyes. “Oh, all
right. Oyster suppers and that sort of thing are apt to make a fellow
“Don't go too fast, Rege.”
“Why not?” said Reginald carelessly. “It suits the governor, and
that book you're so fond of says children should obey their parents.”
* * * * *
“I declare, John, you're a regular algebraic puzzle!” he exclaimed
later in the day, as he stood beside John in the carpenter's shop,
watching the curling strips of wood which his plane was tossing off
with sweeping strokes. “You put all there is of you into everything you
do. You take as much pains over a plough handle as you would over a
“Why not? God takes as much pains with a humming-bird as an
elephant. Mere size doesn't count.”
“Nan loves you, Reggie,” and a tiny hand was slipped shyly into her
“All right, Magpie,” he said carelessly. “You had better run home
now to mother. Your chatter makes my head ache.”
The laughing lips quivered and the child turned away from him to
John and hid her face against his knee. He lifted her up on the bench
beside him and gave her a handful of shavings to play with.
“I don't see how you accomplish anything with that child
everlastingly under your feet!” Reginald continued, “yet you do two
men's work and seem to love it into the bargain. I'm sure if I had to
cooper up all the things on the farm as you do, I should loathe the
very sight of tools.”
“I do love it, Rege. Jesus Christ was a carpenter, you know.
I get very near to him out here.”
“Jesus Christ!” echoed Reginald with a puzzled stare. “What is
coming to you, John?”
“It has come, Rege,” John said with a great light in his face. “I
have found my Master.”
“Upon my word, John, you are the queerest fellow! What next, I
“The next thing, Rege,” and John laid his hand affectionately upon
his friend's shoulder, “is for you to find him too.”
“So, you're going to turn preacher, John? You'll find me a hard
subject. A short life and a merry one is what I am going in for. I've
no turn for Christianity.”
“It pays, Rege.”
“Don't believe it. How can life be worth living when you're
drivelling psalm tunes all day long?”
John laughed, and there was a new note of gladness in his voice
which Reginald was quick to notice. “I haven't begun to drivel yet,
Rege; and life counts for a good deal more when a man has an object
than when he is living just to please himself.”
“And who should a man please but himself, I should like to know?”
* * * * *
“Upon my word!” said Reginald some weeks later, as he came upon John
sitting astride a cobbler's bench busily mending a pair of shoes, while
Nan looked on admiringly. “Do you learn a new trade every month?”
John laughed quietly. “I took up this one because there are so many
repairs always needed on the harness, and your father thinks all talent
should be utilized.”
There was a quizzical look about his mouth as he spoke. Reginald
caught the look and answered hotly.
“The governor ought to be ashamed of himself! Why don't you strike,
“Why should I? Knowledge is power, Rege.”
“Knowledge of shoemaking!” said Reginald contemptuously. “It won't
add to your strength much, John.”
“Never can tell,” said John sententiously. “You remember that lame
fellow saved a battle for us by knowing how to shoe the general's
“Next thing you'll be going in for a blacksmith's diploma!”
“I'm thinking of it,” said John coolly. “That fellow at the Forks
has no more sense than a hen. He pared so much off Neptune's hoof last
week that he has been limping ever since. I had to take him this
morning and have the shoes removed.”
“I wish you'd do some shirking, John, like the rest of us.”
“Jesus Christ never shirked, Rege.”
“Pshaw! You're so ridiculous!” and Reginald walked discontentedly
“Here, John, John, I say,” he called, when the time came for him to
return to College, “go catch and saddle Sultan for me. You're so fond
of work, you might as well have two masters. Be quick now, for I'm in
the mischief of a hurry.”
John's face flushed. This boy was younger than himself, and his
father had been Mr. Hawthorne's friend.
“Do you hear what I say, John?” demanded Reginald. “You're only here
as a servant any way, and I'll be master some day, so you might as well
learn to obey me now.”
John's brow cleared, while the words echoed in his heart with a glad
“A servant of Jesus Christ,” and “The Lord's servant must not
strive, but be gentle towards all ... forbearing.” After all, life was
a matter between himself and the Lord Jesus. What could Reginald's
taunts affect him now?
“All right,” he said quietly, and started for the field.
“I declare!” muttered Reginald, as he watched the tall, lithe form
cross the field with springing step, “you might as well try to make the
fellow mad now, as to storm Gibraltar! What has come to him?”
“Here you are, Sir Reginald,” said John good-humoredly, as he led
the freshly groomed horse to the riding-block.
Reginald's voice choked. “Shake hands, John,” he said huskily. “I am
a brute! There must be something in this new fad of yours after all. If
you had spoken to me as I did to you just now, I should have knocked
He rode on for a mile or two in moody silence, then he gave his
shoulders an impatient shrug.
“I'd like to know what it is about John Randolph that makes me feel
so small! I have good times and he is always on the grind. I have all
the money I can spend and he has nothing but the pittance the governor
gives him, and yet he is three times the better fellow of the two. I
envy him his spunk and go. He comes to everything as fresh as a
two-year old, and he works everything for all there is in it. To see
him climbing that hill yesterday, with the youngster on his shoulder,
actually made me feel as if climbing hills was the jolliest thing in
life. And it's so with everything he does. Confound it! I don't see why
I can't get the same comfort out of things. I don't see where the
fellow gets his vim. If I worked as hard as he does, I'd be ready to
tumble into bed instead of pegging away at Latin and Mathematics. I'll
have to put on a spurt in self-defence or he'll be tripping me up with
his questions. He's got the longest head of anyone I know. The idea of
the governor daring to set such a fellow as that to cobble shoes!”
“It's queer about the governor,” he continued after a pause. “He's
always ready to shell out when I ask him for money, but he keeps poor
John with his nose to the grindstone all the year round. I suppose he
expects me to pay him in glory. He's set his heart on my being a
judge,—Judge Hawthorne of Hollywood. Sounds euphonious, and I verily
believe the old gentleman has begun to roll it like a sweet morsel
under his tongue. Can't say I have a special aptitude for the
profession, and certainly the brains are not in evidence, but I suppose
the governor thinks money will take their place. He has found it takes
the place of most things.
“Sultan, old boy, we seem down on our luck this morning. We had
better take a speeder to raise our spirits. It is hardly the thing for
Judge Hawthorne of Hollywood to envy John Randolph his humdrum life of
mending rakes and shoes,” and he urged his horse into a mad gallop.
* * * * *
“I believe I'd like to be poor and work, John,” he exclaimed one
day. “It gets tiresome having everything laid ready to your hand, with
nothing to do but take it. Life must be full of snap when you have to
dash your will up against old Dame Fortune and wrest what you want out
of her miserly clutches.”
“Yes,” said John simply, “Jesus Christ was poor.”
“Look here, John. If you don't stop that nonsense, people will be
dubbing you a crank.”
“I am ready!” he cried, and there was a strange, exulting ring in
his voice. “They called him mad, you know.”
Evadne found herself one morning in Judge Hildreth's roomy
coach-house, watching Pompey, as he skilfully groomed her uncle's pets.
It had been decided that after the summer holidays, she should
become a member of the fashionable school which Isabelle and Marion
attended. In the meantime she was left almost entirely to her own
devices. Her uncle was away all day, Louis at College, and her aunt
busy with social duties. Her cousins had their own particular friends,
who were not slow to vote the silent girl with the mournful grey eyes,
full of dumb questioning, a bore; while Evadne, accustomed to being her
father's companion in all his scientific researches, found their vapid
chatter wearisome in the extreme.
Horses were a passion with her, and she noted with pleased interest
Pompey's deft manipulations. She stood for a long time in silence.
Pompey had saluted her respectfully then kept on steadily with his
work. Dexterously he swept the curry-comb over the shining coats and
then drew it through the brush in his left hand with a curious vocal
accompaniment, something between a long-drawn whistle and a sigh, and
the horses laid their heads against his shoulder affectionately and
looked wonderingly at the stranger out of their large, bright eyes.
“Did you really know my father?” she asked at length.
“Laws, yes, Missy!” and Pompey's honest black face grew tender with
sympathy. “Mass Lennux stayed with the Jedge 'fore he went ter
Barbadoes, an' he spen' powerful sight of his time out here wid me an'
de horses. He wuz allers del'cut,—warn't able ter do nothin' in this
yere climate,—but he bed sech a sperit! He wouldn't ever let folks
know when he wuz a sufferin'. He use ter call me 'Pompous,'“ and Pompey
chuckled softly. “He say when I git inter my fur coat I look as gran'
on de box as de Jedge do inside; an' one day he braided de horses'
manes inter a hunderd tails an' tied 'em wid yaller ribbun, 'cause he
said de crimps wuz in de fashun an' yaller wuz de Jedge's 'lecshun
color. De Jedge wuz powerful angry. He don't like no sech tricks wid
his horses. But, laws, he couldn't keep angry wid Mass Lennux! He jes'
stood wid his hans on his sides an' larf an' larf, till de Jedge he hev
ter larf too, an' he call him a graceless scamp, an' say he send him
ter Coventry, an' Mass Lennux he say 'all right ef de Jedge go 'long
too, an' take de horses, he couldn't do widout dem nohow.'“
“Were these the horses my father used to ride?”
“Laws, no, Missy. Dey wuz ez black ez night. Mass Lennux use ter
call 'em Egyp an' Erybus.”
Pompey's face softened.
“When my leetle gal died he jes' put his han' on my shoulder an' sez
he,—'Pompous, you jes' go home an' cheer up de Missis, yer don't hev
no call to worry 'bout de horses.' An' he tuk care of dem jes' as ef
he'd ben a coachman. We'll never fergit it, Dyce an' me.”
Evadne's eyes shone. That was just like her father!
“'Specs little Miss is powerful lonesum 'thout Mass Lennux?”
The soft voice was full of a genuine regret. Evadne sank down on a
bench which stood near by and burst into tears.
“Oh, Pompey, I wish I could die!”
“'Specs little Miss hez no call ter wish dat,” said Pompey gently.
“'Specs de Lord Jesus wants her to live fer him.”
Evadne opened her eyes in wonder.
“'The Lord Jesus,'“ she repeated. “Why, Pompey, do you know him?”
A great joy transfigured the black face.
“He is my Frien',” he said simply.
Evadne leaned forward eagerly. “Oh, Pompey, if that is true, then
you can help me find him.”
Pompey smiled joyously. “Miss 'Vadney don't need ter go far away fer
dat. He is right here.”
“Here!” echoed Evadne faintly.
“Lo, I am wid you all de days'“ Pompey repeated softly. “De Lord
Jesus don't leave no gaps in his promises, Miss 'Vadney. He's allers
wid me wherever I is workin', an' when I is up on my box a drivin' troo
de streets, he's dere. He's wid me continuous. Dere's nuthin can
seprate Pompey from de Lord,” he added with a sweet reverence.
“How can you be so sure?” she asked wistfully.
“I hez his word, Missy. You allers b'lieved your father? 'I will not
leave you orphuns, I will cum ter you.' I 'specs dat verse is meant
speshully fer you, Miss 'Vadney.”
“But we can't see him,” said Evadne.
“Only wid de eye of faith, Missy. We trusts our friens in de dark.
You didn't need ter see your father ter know he wuz in de house?”
“Oh, no!” Evadne's voice trembled.
“It's jes' de same wid my Father, Miss 'Vadney.”
“How can you call God so, Pompey?”
A great sweetness came over the homely face.
“'Cause he hez sent his Sperit inter my heart, an' poor black Pompey
can look up inter de shinin of his face an' say 'my Father,' 'cause
I'se hidden away in his Son. I'se a little branch abidin' in de great
Vine. I'se one wid de Lord Jesus.”
“I don't know where to look for him!” Evadne cried disconsolately.
Pompey laid aside his curry-comb and brush and folded his toil-worn
“Lord Jesus,” he said quietly, “here is thy little lamb. She's out
in de dark mountain, an' she's lonesum an' hungry, an' de col' rain of
sorrow is beatin' on her head. Lord, thou is de good Shepherd. Let her
hear thy voice a callin' her. Carry this little lamb in thy bosom an'
giv her de joy of thy love.”
* * * * *
Judge Hildreth sat in his library far into the night. He was reading
for the twentieth time the letter which Evadne had placed in his hands
the morning after her arrival, and as he read, he frowned.
“It is ridiculous, absurd!” he exclaimed impatiently. “Just of a
piece with all of Len's quixotic theories. By what possible chance
could a child of that age know how to manage money? She would make
ducks and drakes of the whole business in less than a year!”
A letter addressed to Evadne lay upon the pile of age-worn papers in
an open drawer at his side.
“I enclose herewith a letter to Evadne,” his brother had written,
“giving full and minute explanations as to her best course in the
matter. These she will follow implicitly, under your supervision, and I
feel confident the result will be a well-developed character along the
lines on which women, through no fault of their own, are so lamentably
deficient, namely, the proper conduct of business and management of
Judge Hildreth looked again at the envelope with its clear, bold
address. “That is not the handwriting of a fool,” he muttered. “I wish
I could make up my mind what to do.”
Through the solemn hush of midnight his good and evil angels
contended for his soul. In a strange silence he listened to their
voices, the one insidious, tempting, the other urging him to take the
upright course. Had his eyes not been holden he would have seen them,
the one dark-browed, malignant, clothed in shadows, the other robed in
light; while other angels hovered near and looked on pityingly. The
white-robed angel spoke first.
“It is not a question to be decided by your judgment. There is no
other course left open to you.”
Mockingly the other answered. “It is a most unprecedented
proceeding. You should have been appointed her guardian, with sole
“It is your brother's last will and testament.”
“Some wills are made to be broken. This one is against sound
“It is the only honorable thing to do.”
“It is unnecessary. The child need not know, and, if she did, would
thank you for saving her from care.”
“It is your brother's money. He had a right to do as he will with
“If he had known to what straits this year's speculations have
brought you, he would be glad to give you a lift. If you do not have
money now what are you going to do? This has come just in time, for you
know your credit is already strained to its utmost.” “Your niece will
be anxious to have your advice as to profitable investments. You can
borrow the money from her.”
“That would be awkward, in case the bottom fell out of the mine. A
little capital in hand would give you a chance to water the Panhattan
stock and develop a new lead in the Silverwing.”
“If you use money that does not belong to you, you will be a thief!”
“If you do not use it, you will be a pauper. You have paper out now
to five times the amount of your income. This is an interposition of
Providence to save you from ruin.”
“What right had you to put yourself in the way of ruin?”
“You did it to advance the interests of your family. The Bible says,
'If any provide not for his own, especially his own kindred, he ... is
worse than an infidel.'[Footnote: Marginal rendering A. V.]”
“If you do this thing you will be dishonored in the sight of God.”
“If you do not save yourself from this temporary embarrassment, you
will be disgraced in the eyes of the world. You owe it to your position
in society, and the church, to keep above the waves.” The listening
spirits heard a low, malicious laugh of triumph and the white-robed
angel turned sadly away.
Judge Hildreth had thrust Evadne's letter, with his own, far under
the pile of papers, and double-locked the drawer!
* * * * *
Above the coach-house was a large room where Pompey kept a store of
hay and grain, and there Evadne often found herself ensconced with
Isabelle's Bible, during the long mornings when she was left to amuse
herself as best she might. The atmosphere of the house stifled her, and
Pompey had loved her father! It was scrupulously clean. Under Pompey's
regime spiders and moths found no tolerance, and a magnificent black
cat effectually frightened away the audacious rodents which were
tempted to depredations by the toothsome cereals in the great bins. In
one corner Pompey had improvised for her a luxurious couch of hay and
rugs, and in this fragrant retreat Evadne studied her strange new book.
She brought to it a mind absolutely untrammeled by creed or
circumstance, and in this virgin soil God's truth took root. Slowly the
light dawned. Hers was no shallow nature to leap to a hasty conclusion
and then forsake it for a later thought. Gradually through the
darkness, as God's flowers grow, this human flower lifted itself
towards the light.
Sometimes she would sit for hours with the stately cat upon her
knee, thinking, thinking, thinking, while Pompey sang his favorite
hymns about his work and the mellow strains floated up the stairway and
soothed her lonely heart. His childlike faith became to her a tower of
refuge, and often, when bewildered by life's inconsistencies, she felt
as if the eternal realities were vanishing into mist, she was calmed
and comforted by his happy trust.
“I cannot imagine, Evadne,” said Isabelle one evening at dinner,
“what pleasure you can find in sitting in a stable in company with a
negro! It certainly shows a most depraved taste.”
“Christ was born in a stable, Isabelle.”
“What in the world has that to do with you?”
“I am beginning to think he has everything to do with me,” answered
her cousin quietly.
“Well,” said Isabelle with a toss of her head, “we are known by the
company we keep. I should imagine Pompey's curriculum of manners was
not on a very elevated plane.”
“Pompey! Isabelle,” said Judge Hildreth suddenly. “Why, my dear,
Pompey is a modern Socrates, bound in ebony. There is no danger to be
apprehended from him.”
“Well, it is a peculiar companionship for Judge Hildreth's niece,
that is all I have to say,” said Isabelle coldly, “but chacun a son
“I read this morning in your Bible that God had chosen the base
things of the world, and things which are despised, and things which
are not, to bring to nought things that are. What does that mean,
“Really, Evadne, we shall have to send you to live with Doctor
Jerome!” said her aunt, with a careless laugh. “You are getting to be a
regular interrogation point. We are not Bible commentators, child, you
cannot expect us to explain all the difficult passages.
“The Embroidery Club meets here tomorrow, Evadne,” exclaimed Marion,
“and I don't believe you have touched your table scarf since they were
here before. What will Celeste Follingsby think? She works so rapidly,
and her drawn work is a perfect poem.”
“No, I have not,” confessed Evadne. “It seems such silly work, to
draw threads apart and then sew them together again.”
Isabelle elevated her eyebrows with a look of horror.
Louis laughed. “She's a hopeless case, Isabelle. You'll never
convert her into an elegant trifler. You might as well throw up the
“It seems to me, Evadne,” said his sister icily, “that you might
have a little regard for the decorums of society. Don't, I beg of you,
give utterance to such heresies before the girls. And I wish you would
not call it my Bible. I did not make it.”
“That is quite true, Evadne,” said Louis gravely. “If she had, there
would have been a good deal left out.”
Isabella shot an angry glance at him but made no remark. Her
brother's sarcasms were always received in silence.
“Eva,” she said after a pause, “I intend to call you by that name in
future,—your full one is too troublesome.”
Evadne shivered. Her father was the only one who had ever
abbreviated her name. “I shall not answer to it,” she said quietly.
“Because, I suppose, in common with the rest of the lower animals, I
have a natural repugnance to being cut in two.”
“How tiresome you are!” exclaimed Isabelle with a pout. “I do not
object to my first syllable. All the girls at school call me Isa.
Mamma, did you remember to order the tulle for our wings? Claude Rivers
has finished hers and they are perfectly sweet. She showed them to me
“Wings, Isabelle! What in the world are you up to now?”
“A Butterfly Social, Papa. We must raise money in some way. The
church is frightfully in debt.”
“That is a deplorable fact, but I did not know butterflies were
famed as financiers.”
“Oh, of course it is just for the novelty of the thing. The last
social we had was a Mother Goose, and we have had Brownie suppers and
Pink teas and everything else we could think of. We must have something
to attract, you know.”
“I wonder if it really pays?” ventured Marion. “It never seems to me
there is much left, after you deduct the cost of the preparation.
People might as well give the money outright. It would save them a
world of trouble.”
“Why, you silly child, it is to promote sociability in the church.
As to the trouble, of course we do not count that. We must expect to
“But they do not make the church any more sociable,” said Marion
boldly, who, having struck for freedom of thought, was following up her
advantage. “The same people take part every time and the others are
“Nonsense!” said Isabelle hotly. “It is only those who cannot afford
to take part, and think what a treat it is for them to look on!”
“A sort of half-price theatre,” said Louis with a sneer.
“I don't believe they find the looking on such fun as you think,”
said Marion, who was astonished at herself. “Suppose you try if they
wouldn't like to take part and offer your place in the Cantata to
“Well done, Sis!” and Louis applauded softly.
Isabelle's lip curled. “Upon my word, Marion, you bid fair to become
as hot an anarchist as Louise Michel. It is a mystery to me where you
find out the Christian names of all the ungainly people in the
congregation. The other sopranos would feel complimented to have a
prima-donna with a face like a full moon and hands like a blacksmith's
foisted upon them! One must have a little regard for appearances,” and
Isabelle drew her graceful figure up to its full height.
“Jemima Dobbs isn't dynamite, and I have no anarchical tendencies,”
persisted Marion stoutly,—“but beauty is only skin deep, Isabelle. She
supports a sick mother and five children and that is more than any of
the rest of us could do,” and Marion, frightened at her momentary
temerity, shrank back into her shell.
“It is a most unaccountable thing, Lawrence,” said Mrs. Hildreth,
“why the church should be so heavily encumbered. I am sure you
contribute handsomely and the pew rents are high. There is always a
large congregation. I cannot understand.”
“It is largely composed of transients though, my dear, and they
never carry more than a nickel in their pockets, so the weight of the
burden falls upon a few. The expenses are very heavy. Jerome wants to
make it the most popular church in the city, and the new quartette
proves an extravagant luxury.”
“Oh, well,” said Mrs. Hildreth, “of course one cannot grudge the
money for that. Professional singing is such an attraction! The way
Madame Rialto took that high C last Sunday was superb.”
“Well,” said Isabelle, “I don't think there is any doubt that Doctor
Jerome is the most popular preacher in the city. He is going to preach
next Sunday on the moral progress of social sciences, and next month he
commences his series of sermons on the social problems of the day. He
does take such an interest in sociology.”
“But why doesn't he preach Jesus Christ?” asked Evadne wonderingly.
“You will get to be a regular fanatic, Evadne, if you ring the
changes on that subject so often. Doctor Jerome says he wants his
people to have an intelligent idea of the progress of events. Of course
everyone understands the Bible.
“I do think he is the loveliest man!” she continued rapturously, “he
is so sympathetic; and Celeste Follingsby says he is 'perfectly
heavenly in affliction.' Her little sister died last week, you know. It
is so awkward that it should have happened just now. She will not be
able to take any part in the Cantata, and she had the sweetest dress!”
“Very ill-timed of Providence!” said Louis gravely. “What a pity it
is, Isabelle, that you couldn't have the regulation of affairs.” He
yawned and strolled lazily towards the fireplace. When he looked round
again, Evadne was the only other occupant of the room.
“Well, coz, what do you think of the situation? I belong to the
worldlings, of course, but I confess the idea of Jesus Christ at a
Butterfly Social is tremendously incongruous. We have the best of it,
Evadne, for we live up to our theories. Give it up, coz. You'll find it
a hopeless task to make the Bible and modern Christianity agree.”
He looked at his watch.
“I say, Evadne, Jefferson is playing at the Metropolitan in Richard
III. to-night. Let us go and hear him.”
And Evadne went, and enjoyed it immensely.
“I am going for a long ride into the country, Evadne,” said her
uncle one morning, “would you like to come with me?”
Evadne gave a glad assent. After her beautiful tropical life, it
seemed to her as if she should choke, shut away from the wide expanse
of sky which she loved, among monotonous rows of houses and dingy
As they left the city behind them and the road swept out into the
open, she gave a long sigh of delight. Her uncle laughed.
“Well, Evadne, does it please you?”
“It is the first time I have felt as if I could breathe,” she said.
“So you don't take kindly to Marlborough? Well, I suppose it is a
rude awakening from your sunny land, but you will get used to it. We
grow accustomed to all life's disagreeable surprises as time rolls on.”
Evadne shivered. “I do not think I shall ever grow accustomed to it,
“Ah, you are young. We grow wiser as our hair turns grey.”
“If that is wisdom, I do not care to grow wise.”
“Not grow wise, Evadne!” said her uncle quizzically. “In this age,
when women claim a surplusage of all the brain power bestowed upon the
race! What will you do when you have to attend to business?”
“Business,” echoed Evadne, “I have never thought about it, Uncle
“No turn for dollars and cents, eh? Did your father never consult
you about his affairs?”
Evadne's lip quivered. “Oh, yes,” she said, and her words were a cry
of pain, “he consulted me about everything, but I do not think there
was ever any mention of money. Does money constitute business, Uncle
“Wealth gives power, Evadne. Money is one of the greatest things in
the world. While we are on the subject I may as well tell you that your
father wrote me concerning the disposition of his property. I shall
look after your interests carefully, together with my own, and give you
the same quarterly allowance that my own girls have. When you are older
I will go more into detail, but it is not worth while now to worry your
head over columns of uninteresting figures. I shall open an account for
you at the National Bank and you can draw on that for your expenses.
Your aunt will initiate you into the mysteries of shopping. By the way,
you must have gone through that experience in Barbadoes. How did you
Evadne turned her head away and clenched her hands tightly as the
flood of bitter-sweet memories threatened to engulf her.
“Papa always went with me,” she said slowly, “whatever he liked I
Judge Hildreth gave a sigh of relief. He had extricated himself from
a difficult position with diplomatic skill. It did not occur to him
that a lie which is half the truth is the meanest kind of a lie. He had
acquainted his niece with all that was necessary for her to know at
present, and at the same time left himself a loophole of escape from
the imputation of disregarding his brother's wishes. When she became
old enough to assume the responsibility, and he got his affairs
straightened out sufficiently to admit of transferring to her care the
funds which were so absolutely essential to his present success, he
would put Evadne in full possession of her inheritance. Results had
proved the wisdom of his decision. By her own acknowledgment his niece
had never given a thought to the subject. His brother's plan would be a
height of imprudence from which he was bound to shield her.
In Evadne's mind also thought was busy. “Money is one of the
greatest things in the world,” her uncle had said, and she had read
that morning, “tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall be done away,
but love never faileth. Now abideth faith, hope, and love; the greatest
of these is love.” Was Louis right? Did Christians and the Bible not
agree? And the business of her life was to find Jesus Christ.
Was there any money in that?
When they reached Hollywood, where Judge Hildreth had business with
Mr. Hawthorne, Evadne was in an ecstasy of silent rapture. She had
never dreamed what a New England farm might be. Its varied beauty, clad
in the dazzling robes of early summer, came upon her with the
suddenness of a revelation. She begged to be allowed to wait for her
uncle out of doors, and wandered slowly on past the great barns to
where the wide gate stretched across the green road. When she reached
it she stopped and looked with keen delight at the beautiful creatures
in the fields on either side. The sunshine fell upon her with loving
warmth; in the distance she could hear the whirr of a mowing machine
and the shouts of the men at work. A magnificent young horse thrust his
head familiarly over the fence near by, and under the shade of a great
tree Primrose, with her graceful calf beside her, was lazily chewing
Everything spoke of contentment and comfort and peace. An
unutterable longing seized upon the lonely girl. Here at least she
would have God's creatures to love, and his woods and the sky! She laid
her head down upon the gate with a smothered cry.
“If I only belonged,—like the cows!”
Startled by the sweet, baby voice, Evadne looked up to find a pair
of laughing blue eyes peeping sympathetically at her. The sun-bonnet
had fallen back and the golden curls were tossed in luxurious confusion
over the little head.
Evadne caught the child in her arms.
“You little darling!”
“Yes, me is,” said the child, resting contentedly within Evadne's
embrace, as if, with the mysterious telepathy of childhood, she
recognized a spiritual affinity which she was bound to help. “Me's very
nice. Don says so.”
“And who is Don?” asked Evadne.
“Don's my bootiful man. Me's doin' to marry Don when me gets big.
Oh, dere he is!” and breaking from Evadne, she rolled herself between
the bars of the gate and ran at the top of her speed towards John
Randolph, who just then appeared around a bend in the road, one arm
thrown lightly over the neck of the horse he had been training.
“Halloo, Nansie!” Evadne heard his cheery greeting, saw him stoop
and lift the child on to the horse's back, and was so interested in the
pretty scene that she forgot she was a stranger. When she came to
herself with a start the little cavalcade had reached the gate and John
Randolph stood before her with his hat in his hand.
Evadne bowed. “It is so beautiful!” she said. “I have been waiting
for my uncle and lost myself among the harmonies of Nature.”
John Randolph's eyes lightened. “It is God's world,” he answered
with a sweet reverence.
Evadne looked full into the shining face. “Do you know Jesus
Christ?” she asked impulsively.
The face softened into a great tenderness. “He is my King.”
“And do you love him?”
“With all there is of me.”
A servant came just then to say the Judge was waiting.
“I will come at once,” Evadne said courteously. Then she turned once
more to John. “And what do you think of life?” she cried softly.
“Life!” he said, and there was a strange, exultant ring in his
voice. “Life is a beautiful possibility.”
There was no time for more, but in the spirit realm of kinship no
multitude of words is needed. Only a few moments had passed, yet in
that little space two souls had met. What did it matter if the devious
turnings of life should lead them far apart, or the barring gate of
circumstance forever separate them? They had found each other!
“Pitty lady!—Nan loves oo, dear,” and the child whom John held
seated on the broad top rail of the gate, held up her rosy lips for a
Instinctively Evadne held out her hand to John. Spiritual ethics
laugh at the conventionalities of time. “Good-bye,” she said, “and
She looked back once to wave her hand to little Nan. John was
standing as she had left him, one arm encircling the child who nestled
close to him, while over his right shoulder the horse had thrust his
handsome head. Always afterward she saw him so. It was a parable of
what God had meant man to be.
* * * * *
Long after the sound of the carriage wheels had died away John stood
motionless, beholding again as in a vision the earnest face and
wonderful grey eyes. Then he stooped for his hat which had fallen to
the ground when he had taken her hand in his. As he did so, he saw a
dainty bit of lawn lying on the other side of the gate. He put his hand
between the bars and caught it just as the breeze was about to blow it
away. He looked at the name which was delicately traced in one corner
with a strange sense of pleasure: Evadne.
“It fits her,” he said to himself. “There's a sweet elusiveness
about her. She makes me think of a bird. She'll let you come just so
far, until she gets to trust you, and then you'll have all her
He drew a long breath which was strangely like a sigh, and, folding
the handkerchief carefully, put it in his pocket.
“Pitty lady,” murmured little Nan drowsily, and John caught her up
and kissed her,—he could not have told why.
* * * * *
“I do think Dorothy Bruce is the kindest creature!” exclaimed Marion
one Saturday morning as they lingered with a pleasant sense of leisure
over the breakfast table. “She offered to give up the whole of to-day
to me. I thought it was lovely when she works so hard all the week.”
“Give it up to you. Why, what do you mean, Marion? We never have
anything to do with her in school. What could you possibly want of her
“Oh, it is that doleful algebra,” sighed Marion. “It is utterly
impossible for me to get it into my head, and Dorothy takes to it like
a duck to water, and she is a born teacher. Madame Castle says her
aptitude for imparting knowledge amounts to genius. You must allow it
was kind of her, Isabelle.”
Isabelle shrugged her shoulders. “Self-interested, most likely. That
sort of people would do anything to obtain a foothold.”
“Oh, Isabelle!” cried Evadne. “Do have a little faith in your
fellow-man! Why should you set yourself up on a pinnacle and despise
everyone who is poor, when the father of us all hoed for a living?”
Louis looked up from the paper he was reading. “There are two things
Isabelle has no faith in, Evadne. The Declaration of Independence and
the book she loaned you. One says all men are free and equal,—the
other that God has made of one blood all the nations of the earth. Her
Serene Highness objects to this. She will have the blue blood come in
somewhere, though where she gets it from heaven only knows!”
“Louis, I do wish you would not be so radical!” Isabelle said,
peevishly. “You must admit there is such a thing as culture and
“Certainly I admit it. The only thing I object to is that you talk
as if you possessed a monopoly of the article, whereas I hold that it
is just a question of environment. It is no thanks to you that you were
not born a Hottentot or a Choctaw. Give yourself the same ancestors and
surroundings as your chimney-sweep and wherein would you be superior to
him? And when it comes to ancestry, by the way, probably Miss Bruce can
trace back to some of the grand old Highland chiefs who covered
themselves with glory long before the lineage of Hildreth had emerged
“I don't know anyone who likes to choose his company better than
you!” observed Isabelle sarcastically.
“Certainly I do. Similarity of environment presupposes similarity of
tastes. Probably my idea of enjoyment would not accord with the
chimney-sweep's, but at the same time I don't look down on the poor
beggar because he hasn't been as fortunate as I in getting his bread
well buttered. There is a law of cultivation for humanity as well as
plants. Surround a succession of generations with all the advantages of
wealth, education and travel, and you produce the aristocrat; just as
you get the delicate Solanum Wendlandi from the humble potato blossom.
Set your aristocrat in the wilderness to earn his living by the sweat
of his brow,—let the rain and wind beat upon his delicate skin,—shut
him away from all the elevating influences to which he has been
accustomed, and, in course of time, what have you? His descendants have
retrograded. The Solanum has become a potato again.”
“That is all very well,” said Isabelle, “but I believe the instinct
of culture will be dormant somewhere.”
“Then why do you not recognize it in your chimney-sweep? For all you
know he may be the descendant of some impecunious sire of a lordly
house. Probably plenty of them are.”
Louis rose and tossed the paper carelessly to his mother, who had
been an amused listener to the discussion. It never occurred to him to
do so before. What did women want to know about politics or the turf?
“Jesus Christ never seemed to care about externals,” said Evadne
softly. “He chose his friends among the common people.”
“For pity's sake, Evadne!” cried Isabelle. “When will you learn that
the Bible is not to be taken literally?”
“Not to be taken literally!” echoed Evadne in wonderment. “How is it
to be taken then?”
“Isabelle means that we have to make allowances,” said her aunt.
“Christ could do a great many things that you cannot.”
Evadne was silent, while the words of Jesus kept ringing in her
ears: “For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I
have done to you.” If only she could understand!
“By the way, Evadne,” said Mrs. Hildreth, “I beg you will not repeat
your mistake of yesterday.”
“What do you mean, Aunt Kate?”
“Bringing such a disreputable character into the house. When I came
in and found her sitting in the hall and you talking to her I was
perfectly paralyzed. Horrible! Why her rags were abominable, and her
feet were bare!”
“But she had no shoes, Aunt Kate, and she was just my height. I was
so glad that my clothes would fit her.”
“A pretty thing to have your clothes paraded through the streets by
such a creature! Most likely she would pawn them for gin. I am sure she
was an improper character.”
“But, Aunt Kate,” pleaded Evadne, “Jesus Christ says we must clothe
the naked and feed the hungry if we would be his followers. I must do
as he tells me for I am going to follow him.”
“Your uncle does enough of that for the family,” said her aunt
coldly. “I do not wish you to try any such experiments again.”
Puzzled and chilled, Evadne left the room. Was obeying the commands
of Christ only an “experiment” after all?
She crept up to her favorite retreat and threw herself upon her
gayly covered couch. “Oh, Jesus Christ!” she cried passionately, “I am
glad I did not live in Galilee when you were there! Aunt Kate and
Isabelle would have thought it bad form for me to follow you in the
crowd where the sinners were. But they can't keep me from doing so now!
“Oh, I wish I were dead! No one would care. Yes, Pompey would be
sorry. Louis would call it 'a sable attachment,' but Pompey loved my
father. Oh, dearest! dearest!”
She buried her head in her hands while wave after wave of desolation
broke over the lonely soul. “A beautiful possibility” her knight of the
gate had said. Could life become that to her?
Downstairs Pompey began to sing,—
“Shall we meet beyond the river,
Where the surges cease to roll,
Where in all the bright forever
Sorrow ne'er shall press the soul?”
The rich vibrations rolled up and trembled about her. She held out
her arms and her voice broke in a cry of triumphant faith, “Yes, we
shall meet, Lord Jesus, face to face!”
“Pompey,” said Evadne one morning, “I am going to see your wife.”
The black face beamed with satisfaction. “Dyee'll be mighty
uplifted, Miss 'Vadney. She think a powerful sight o' Mass Lennux.”
Evadne stood watching him as he gave finishing touches to the silver
mountings of the handsome harness. “I don't believe there is another
harness in Marlborough that shines like yours, Pompey,” she said with a
laugh. “You are as particular with it as though every day was a special
“So 'tis, Miss 'Vadney,” said Pompey simply. “Can't slight nuthin'
when de Lord's lookin' on. Whoa, Brutis! Dere's goin' ter be Holiness
to de Lord written on de bells ob de horses bimeby, Missy. I'se got it
writ dere now.”
“I believe you have, Pompey,” said Evadne soberly, “for you do your
work just as perfectly whether Uncle Lawrence is going to see it or
not. It almost seems as if you were trying to please someone out of
Pompey drew himself up to his full height. “I'se a frien' ob de Lord
Jesus, Miss 'Vadney. I'se got ter do everything perfect 'cause ob dat.
Couldn't bring no disgrace on my Lord.”
“But would that disgrace him?” asked Evadne in wonderment.
“Why, yes, Missy. Ef I wuz a poor, shifles' crittur, only workin'
fer de praise o' men, folks would say,—'he's no differen' frum de
rest; you've got to keep yer eye on him ef yer want tings done
properly. De King's chillen ain't no better dan de worl's chillen be.'
“De Lord Jesus, he say to me,—'Pompey, you must be faithful in de
little things as well as in de big. I never slurred nuthin when I wuz a
walkin' up and down troo Palestine. I sees you, Pompey; don't make no
difference whether de earthly master does or not.' So I does all de
little tings to de Lord, Miss 'Vadney, an' de Jedge knows he can depen'
on Pompey. Whenever he wants me, I'se here.”
“That is lovely!” said Evadne softly. “But don't you get dreadfully
tired doing the same work over and over? Every day you have to do
exactly the same things. It is as bad as a tread-mill. You just keep on
going round and round.”
Pompey gave one of his low chuckles. “'Specs dat's de way in dis
worl', Miss 'Vadney. We'se got ter keep on eatin', an' we can't sleep
enuff one night ter last fer a week,—but I 'low it's jes' one o' de
beautiful laws ob de Lord,—de sun an' de moon an' de stars keeps
a'goin over de same ground most continuous. So long as we'se doin' his
will, Missy, it don't matter much whether we'se goin' roun' an' roun'
or straight ahead. Stan' over, Ceesah!” and Pompey gave a final polish
to the horse's already immaculate legs.
“Why don't you blacken their hoofs, Pompey? They used to do it in
Pompey's eyes twinkled. “Dat's a no 'count livery notion, Miss
'Vadney, a coverin' up de cracks an' makin' de horse's hufs look better
dan dey is. De King's chillens can't stoop ter any sech decepshuns. De
Lord Jesus says, 'Pompey, I is de truff. You's got ter speak de truff
an' live de truff ef you belongs ter me.' We ain't got no call ter
cover up anything, Miss 'Vadney, ef we'se livin' ez de Lord wants us
to. 'Sides, der ain't no 'cashun fer it. Ef we keeps de stable pure an'
de food good an' gives de horse de right kind of exercise an' plenty of
'tention, de hufs will take care ob demselves,” and he held Caesar's
foot up for her inspection.
“Halloo, Evadne, are you taking lessons in farriery? What's the
matter, Pompey? Has Caesar got a sand crack?” and Louis sauntered up,
the inevitable cigar between his lips.
“I don't 'low my horses ever hez sech things, Mass Louis,” said
“Ha, ha! what a conceited old beggar you are. But I'll give the
devil his due and acknowledge the horses are a credit to you.” He held
a dollar towards him balanced on his forefinger. “Here, take this and
fill your pipe with it.”
“Don't want no pay fer doin' my dooty, Mass Louis.”
“Pshaw, man! Take a tip, can't you?”
Pompey shook his head. “I don't smoke, Mass Louis.”
“Don't smoke!” ejaculated Louis. “You don't here, I know, because
the Judge is afraid of fire, but you'll never make me believe that you
don't spend your evenings over the fire with your pipe. You darkeys are
as fond of one as the other.”
“You's mistaken, Mass Louis,” said Pompey quietly.
“'Pon my word! And why don't you smoke, Pomp? You don't know what
you're missing. It is the greatest comfort on earth.”
“'Specs I don't need sech poor comfort, Mass Louis. I takes my
comfort wid de Lord.”
Pompey's voice was low and sweet. Evadne felt her heart glow.
“But come now, Pomp,” persisted Louis, “that's all nonsense. You
must have some reason for not smoking. Everybody does. Come, I insist
on your telling me.”
Pompey was silent for a moment. “'The pure in heart shall see God,'“
he said slowly. “I 'low, Mass Louis, de King's chillen's got ter be
pure in body too.”'
“You insolent scoundrel! How dare you?” and Louis dashed the glowing
end of his cigar in the negro's face.
For a moment Pompey stood absolutely still,—the cigar which had
left its mark upon his cheek lying smouldering at his feet,—then he
turned quietly and walked away.
Louis strode out of the coach-house. Evadne followed him, her eyes
blazing. “You are a coward!” she cried passionately. “You would not
have dared to do that to a man who could hit you back. You forced him
to tell you and then struck him for doing it! If this is your culture
and refinement, I despise it! I am going to be a Christian, like
Pompey. That is grand!”
“Well done, coz!” and Louis affected a laugh. “There's not much of
the 'meek and lowly' in evidence just now at any rate.”
He looked after her as she walked away, her indignant tones still
lingered in his ears. “By Jove! there's something to her though she is
so quiet! I must cultivate the child.”
Seen through Evadne's clear eyes his action looked despicable and
his better nature suggested an apology, but he swept the suggestion
aside with a muttered “Pshaw! he's only a nigger,” and turned
carelessly on his heel.
“You are Dyce!” cried Evadne impulsively when she reached the
cottage in whose open doorway a pleasant-faced colored woman was
standing. “Pompey has told me about you. I think your husband is one of
the grandest men I know.”
“Thank you, Missy. Walk right in, I'se proper glad ter see Mass
“Why, how did you know me?” asked Evadne wonderingly.
The woman laughed softly. “Laws, honey, you'se de livin' image of
She excused herself after a few moments and Evadne laid her head
against the cushions of a comfortable old rocking chair and rested. She
wondered sometimes where her old strength had gone. She had never felt
tired in Barbadoes. The tiny room was full of a homely comfort which
did her heart good. There were books lying on the table and flowers in
the window, a handsome cat purred in front of the fireplace, and on a
bracket in one corner an asthmatic clock ticked off the hours with
wheezy vigor. In an adjoining room Evadne could see a bed with its gay
patchwork quilt of Dyce's making, and in the little kitchen beyond she
heard her singing as she trod to and fro. A couple of dainty muslin
dresses were draped over chairs, for Dyce was the finest clear starcher
in Marlborough, and her kitchen was all too small to hold the products
of her skill. She entered the room again bearing a tray covered with a
snowy napkin on which were quaint blue plates of delicious bread and
butter, pumpkin pie, golden browned as only Dyce could bake it, and a
cup of fragrant coffee.
“I did not know anything could taste quite so good!” Evadne said
when she had finished, “you must be a wonderful cook.”
Dyce laughed, well pleased. “When de Lord gives us everything in
perfecshun, 'specs it would be terrible shifles' of me ter spoil it in
de cookin', Miss 'Vadney.”
“The Lord,” repeated Evadne. “You know him too, then? You must, if
you live with Pompey.”
Dyce's face grew luminous. “He is my joy!” she said softly.
“And does he make you happy all the time?” asked the girl wistfully.
“You seem to have to work as hard as Pompey. What is it makes you so
“Laws, honey, how kin I help bein' glad? De chile o' de King, on de
way ter my Father's palace. Ain't dat enuff 'cashun ter keep a poor
cullered woman rejoicin' all de day long? I'se so happy I'se a singin'
all de time over my work, an' in de street; it don't matter where I
“But you can't sing in the streets, Dyce!”
“Laws, chile, don't yer know de heart kin sing when de lips is
silent? It's de heart songs dat de King tinks de most of, but when de
heart gits too full, den de lips hez ter do deir share.”
“But suppose you were to lose your eyesight, or Pompey got sick,
Dyce gave one of her soft laughs. “Laws, honey, I never supposes. De
Lord's got no use fer a lot o' supposin' chillen who's allers frettin'
demselves sick fer fear Satan'll git de upper han'. De Lord's reignin',
dat's enuff fer me. I 'low he'll take care o' me in de best way.”
Evadne looked again at the exquisitely laundered dresses. “Why do
you work so hard?” she asked. “Doesn't Pompey get enough to live on?”
“Oh, yes, honey; de Jedge gives good wages; but yer see, we wants to
do so much fer Jesus dat de wages don't hold out.”
“So much for Jesus!”
“Why, yes, Missy. He says ef we loves him we'll do what he tells us,
an' he's tol' us ter feed de hungry, an' clothe de naked, an' go preach
de gospel. So, when we cum ter talk it ober, it seem drefful shifles'
in me ter be doin' nothin' when de Lord worked night an' day, so I
begun ter take in laundry work an' now we hev more money ter spen' on
de Lord. But we never hez enuff. De worl's so full o' perishin' souls
an' starvin' bodies. I tells Pompey I never wanted ter be rich till I
began ter do de King's bizniss. It's drefful comfortin' work, Miss
* * * * *
The chill March wind blew fiercely along the streets of Marlborough
one afternoon and Evadne shivered. She had been standing for an hour
wedged tightly against the doors of the Opera House by an impatient
crowd which swayed hither and thither in a fruitless effort to force an
entrance. It was Signor Ferice's farewell to America and it was his
whim to make his last concert a popular one, with no seats reserved.
Every nerve in her body seemed strained to its utmost tension and her
head was in a whirl. She turned and faced the crowd. A sea of faces;
some eager, some sullen, some frowning, all impatient. The scraps of
merry talk which had floated to her at intervals during the earlier
stages of the waiting were no longer heard. A gloomy silence seemed to
have settled down upon every one. Suddenly a laugh rang out upon the
keen air,—so full of a clear joyousness that people involuntarily
straightened their drooping shoulders, as if inspired with a new sense
of vigor and smiled in sympathy.
Evadne started. Surely she had heard that voice before! It must
be,—yes, it was,—her knight of the gate! Their eyes met. A great
light swept over his face and he lifted his hat. Then the surging crowd
carried him out of her range of vision.
“I don't see what you find to look so pleased about, Evadne,”
grumbled Isabelle, as they drove homeward. “For my part I think the
whole thing was a fizzle.”
“I was thinking,” said Evadne slowly, “of the power of a laugh.”
“The power of a laugh! What in the World do you mean?”
“I mean that it is a great deal better for ourselves to laugh than
to cry, and vastly more comfortable for our neighbors.”
“Evadne will not be down,” announced Marion the next morning as she
entered the breakfast room. “She caught a dreadful cold at the concert
yesterday and she can't lift her head from the pillow. Celestine thinks
she is sickening for a fever.”
“Dear me, how tiresome!” exclaimed Mrs. Hildreth. “I have such a
horror of having sickness in the house,—one never knows where it will
end. Ring the bell for Sarah, Marion, to take up her breakfast.”
“It is no use, Mamma. She says she does not want anything.”
“But that is nonsense. The child must eat. If it is fever, she will
need a nurse, and nurses always make such an upheaval in a house.”
“You had better go up, my dear, and see for yourself,” said Judge
Hildreth. “Celestine may be mistaken.”
“Mercy!” cried Isabelle, “it is to be hoped she is! I have the most
abject horror of fevers and that is enough to make me catch it. Fancy
having one's head shorn like a convict! The very idea is appalling.”
“Oh, of course if there is the slightest danger, you and Marion will
have to go to Madame Castle's to board,” said her mother. “It is very
provoking that Evadne should have chosen to be sick just now.”
“Not likely the poor girl had much choice in the matter,” laughed
Louis. “There are a few things, lady mother, over which the best of us
have no control.”
“I wish you would go up and see the child, Kate,” said Judge
Hildreth impatiently. “If there is the least fear of anything serious I
will send the carriage at once for Doctor Russe. It is a risky business
transplanting tropical flowers into our cold climate.”
The kind-hearted French maid was bending over Evadne's pillow when
Mrs. Hildreth entered the room. She had grown to love the quiet
stranger whose courtesy made her work seem light, and it was with
genuine regret that she whispered to her mistress,—“It is the feevar.
I know it well. My seestar had it and died.”
Evadne's eyes were closed and she took no notice of her aunt's
entrance. Mrs. Hildreth spoke to her and then left the room hurriedly
to summon her husband. Even her unpractised eyes showed her that her
niece was very ill.
Doctor Russe shook his head gravely. “It is a serious case,” he
said, “and I do not know Where you will find a nurse. I never remember
a spring when there was so much sickness in the city. I sent my last
nurse to a patient yesterday and since then have had two applications
for one. It is most unfortunate. The young lady will need constant
care. She requires a person of experience.”
Pompey, waiting to drive the doctor home, caught the words, spoken
as he descended the steps to enter the carriage, and came forward
eagerly. “If you please, Missus,” he said, touching his hat, “Dyce
would come. She's hed a powerful sight of 'sperience nussin' fevers in
New Orleans. She'd be proper glad ter tend Miss 'Vadney.”
“How is that?” questioned the busy doctor. “Oh, your wife, my good
fellow? The very thing. Let her come at once.”
So Dyce came, and into her sympathetic ears were poured the
delirious ravings of the lonely heart which had been so suddenly torn
from its genial surroundings of love and happiness and thrust into the
chilling atmosphere of misunderstanding and neglect.
Every day the patient grew weaker and after each visit the doctor
looked graver. Mrs. Hildreth began to feel the gnawings of remorse, as
she thought of the lonely girl to whom she had so coldly refused a
daughter's place; and the Judge's thoughts grew unbearable as he
remembered his broken trust; even Louis missed the earnest face which
he had grown to watch with a curious sense of pleasure; while the girls
at school felt their hearts grow warm as they thought of the young
cousin so soon to pass through the valley of the shadow.
But Evadne did not die. The fever spent itself at last and there
followed long days of utter prostration both of mind and body. Dyce's
cheery patience never failed. Her sunny nature diffused a bright
hopefulness throughout the sick chamber, until Evadne would lie in a
dreamy content, almost fancying herself back in the old home as she
listened to the musical tones and watched the dusky hands which so
deftly ministered to her comfort. One day after she had lain for a long
time in silence, she looked up at her faithful nurse and the grey eyes
shone like stars.
“Dyce!” she cried softly. “I have found Jesus Christ!”
Reginald Hawthorne lay upon a couch on the wide veranda of his
lovely home. The birds held high carnival around him,—nesting in the
large cherry tree, playing hide and seek among the fragrant apple
blossoms and making the air melodious with their merry songs. Brilliant
orioles flashed to and fro like gleams of gold in the sunlight, as they
built their airy hammocks high among the swaying branches of the great
willow, and one inquisitive robin swept boldly through the clustering
vines which screened the front of the veranda and perched upon his
shoulder. He heard the merry hum of the bees at work and the strident
call of the locusts, mingled with the distant neighing of horses and
the soft lowing of the cows, but all the sweetness of nature was
powerless to lift the gloom which seemed to envelop him as in a shroud.
His face was white and drawn with pain and there were heavy rings
beneath his eyes. Reginald Hawthorne would be a cripple for life.
The College Football Club had met a New York team in the yearly
contest, which was looked forward to as one of the events in the
athletic world, and Reginald had been foremost among the leaders of the
play. Fierce and long had been the fight and the enthusiastic
spectators had shouted themselves hoarse with applause or groaned in
despair when the honor of Marlborough seemed likely to be lost. Then
had come a mighty onward rush and the opposing forces concentrated into
one seething mass of struggling humanity. When they drew apart at last
the College boys had made the welkin ring with shouts of victory, but
their bravest champion lay white and still upon the field.
Long days and nights of pain had followed, when John and Mrs.
Hawthorne were at their wits' end to alleviate the sufferings of the
unfortunate boy. Now the pain had resolved itself into a dull aching
but Reginald would never walk without a crutch again.
The mortification to his father was extreme. A passionate man, he
had centred all his hopes upon his son, whose position in life he
fondly expected to repay him for his years of unremitting toil, and
this was the end of it all! He grew daily more overbearing and hard to
please, and his ebullitions of disappointment and rage were terrible to
witness. He vented his anger most frequently upon John, the sight of
whose superb strength goaded the unhappy man into a frenzy, and John's
forbearance was tried to the utmost, but there was a sweet patience
growing in his soul which made it possible to endure in silence,
however capricious or unreasonable the commands of his master might be,
and Reginald, watching him critically, marvelled at the mysterious
inner strength of his friend.
He came along now with his quick, light step and drew a chair up
beside Reginald's couch. He planned his work so as to be with the
invalid as much as possible, and his constant sympathy and cheer were
all that made the days bearable to him.
“Well, Rege, how goes it?” he asked in tones as tender as a woman's.
Reginald looked up at him with envious eyes. There was such a
freshness about this strong young life, as if every moment were a
“I wish I was dead!” he answered moodily.
“Don't dare to wish that!” said John quickly, “until you have made
the most of your life.”
“The most of my life!” echoed Reginald contemptuously. “That's well
put, John, I must say! What is my life worth to me now? You see what my
father thinks of it. A useless log, as valuable as a piece of waste
paper. I believe it would have pleased him better if I had been killed
outright. He wouldn't have had the humiliation of it always before his
eyes. If it had been any sort of a decent accident, I believe I could
bear it better, but to be knocked over in a football match, like the
precious duffer that I am—bah!”
The concentrated bitterness of the last words made John's heart
ache. “Looking backward, Rege,” he said quietly, “will never make a man
of you. It is only a waste of time and vital tissue. But there are lots
of noble lives in spite of limitations. Paul had his thorn in the
flesh, you know, and Milton his blindness. Difficulties are a spur to
the best that is in us.”
“Difficulties, John. You never look at them, do you?”
John laughed. “It is not worth while except to see how to surmount
“I wish you could be idle just for an hour,” said Reginald
peevishly, “you make me nervous.”
John took another stitch in the halter he was mending. “Old Father
Time's spoiling tooth is never still, Rege. I have to work to keep pace
“I should think you would need a month of loafing to made up for the
sleep you have lost. You're ahead of Napoleon, John, for he only kept
one eye open, but I've never been able to catch you napping once. How
have you stood it, man?”
“Forty winks is a fair allowance sometimes, Rege.”
Reginald groaned. “Your pluck is worth a king's ransom, John. I wish
I had it.”
John began to whistle softly as he drew his waxed ends in and out.
“I declare, John, I can't fathom you!” and Reginald moved
impatiently upon his couch. “You are invulnerable as Achilles. I never
saw a fellow get so much comfort out of everything as you do, and yet
your life is a steady grind. What does it all mean?”
“It means,” said John softly, “that I am a Christ's man, and he has
lifted me above the power of circumstances. Jesus is centre and
circumference with me now, Rege.
“You were talking yesterday about some men wanting the earth. I
own the earth, because it belongs to my Father,—the best part of
it, you know,—there is a truer giving than by title deeds to material
acres—and the world has grown very beautiful since my Father made me
heir of all things through his Son. The birds' songs have a new note in
them, and the sunlight is brighter, and there is a different blue in
the sky. I'm monarch of all I survey because I get the good out of
everything,—mere earthly possession doesn't amount to much, a man has
to leave the finest estates behind him,—but I get the concentrated
sweetness of it all wherever I am. It is God's world, you know, and he
is my Father.”
John was called away just then to attend to some gentlemen who had
come to look at the horses, and Reginald waited for his return in vain.
He heard his father's voice once, raised high in stormy wrath, then all
was still again. Some time afterwards, through the leafy curtain of his
veranda, he saw Mr. Hawthorne drive past with a face so distorted with
passion that he shivered.
“There's been no end of a row this time,” he soliloquized. “It is a
mystery to me why John puts up with it. He's free to go when he
chooses. I'm sure I'd clear out if I wasn't such a good-for-nothing.
The governor is getting to be more like a bear than a human being, it's
a dog's life for everybody unlucky enough to be under the same roof
* * * * *
Down at the bend of the river a tall figure lay stretched upon the
moss. The river laughed and the birds sang, but John Randolph's face
was buried in his arms.
To leave Hollywood—that very night! The place whose very stones
were dear to him, where he had learned all he knew of home. To be
turned off like a beggar, without a moment's warning, after all his
years of toil! To say good-bye forever to the human friends who loved
him, and the dear, dumb friends whom he had fondled and tended with
such constant care. Never again to swing along through the sweet
freshness of the morning before the sun was up to find the earliest
snowdrops for Mrs. Hawthorne, or take a spin in the moonlight with
every nerve a-tingle across the frozen bosom of the lake, or wander in
delight along the wood roads when every tree was clad in the witching
beauty of a silver thaw, or sweep across the wide stretching country in
the very poetry of motion, or hear the soft swish of the tall grass as
it fell in fragrant rows before the mower, or the creak of the vans as
they bore its ripened sweetness towards the great barns, while bird and
bee and locust joined in the harmony of the Harvest Home, until the sun
sank to rest amidst cloud draperies of royal purple and crimson and
gold and the sweet-voiced twilight soothed the world into peace.
On and on the hours swept while John fought his battle. At length he
rose, and with long, lingering glances of good-bye to every tree and
rock and flower, began his homeward way. He would think of it so while
he could. In a few short hours he would be a wanderer upon the face of
the earth. A sudden joy crept into the weary eyes. So was Jesus Christ!
“Why, John, what has happened!” cried Reginald, as his faithful
nurse came to make him comfortable for the night. “You look like a
ghost, and you have had no dinner! What the mischief is to pay? You
must have been precious busy to leave me alone the whole afternoon.”
“I have been, Rege,” said John quietly, “very busy.”
“I declare, John, I'd make tracks for freedom if I were in your
shoes. You're a regular convict, and, since you've had me on your
hands, a galley slave is a gentleman of leisure in comparison! Why
don't you go, John? You've had nothing but injustice at Hollywood.”
John fell on his knees beside the bed. “I am going, Rege. Your
father has ordered me away.”
When the thought which has floated—nebulous—across our mental
vision, suddenly resolves itself into tangible form and becomes a solid
fact to be confronted and battled with, the shock is greater than if no
shadowy premonition had ever haunted the dreamland of our fancy.
Reginald gave a low cry, then he lay looking at John with eyes full of
a blank horror. His mind utterly refused to grasp the situation.
“You see, Rege, it is this way,” said John gently. “Your father
seems to have taken a dislike to me and lately I have fancied he was
only waiting for an excuse to turn me off. As soon as those fellows
began to talk to him about the horses I saw there was trouble brewing.
Everything I did was wrong, and once he swore at me. He would order me
to bring one horse and then change his mind before I got half across
the field, and then he would rail at me for not having brought the
“They pitched on Neptune at last, and asked if he had been
registered. I said 'No,' so then they refused to pay the price your
father asked, and he had to come down on him. He was furious, and, as
soon as the men's backs were turned, he ordered me out of his sight
forever. He says I have ruined the reputation of Hollywood,” John's
“But, John, you mustn't go!” cried Reginald. “You cannot! My father
is out of his mind. People don't pay any attention to the ravings of a
John shook his head sadly. “He is master here, Rege. There is
nothing else for me to do.”
“But, John, it is impossible—preposterous! Why, everything will go
to ruin without you, and I will take the lead.”
“No, no!” said John quickly. “You will be a rich man some day, Rege.
Wealth is a wonderful opportunity. Prepare yourself to use it well.”
“I tell you I can't do anything without you, John. I am like a ship
without a rudder. It is no use talking. I cannot spare you. You must
“If you take the great Pilot aboard, Rege, you will be in no danger
of drifting. It is only when we choose Self for our Captain that the
ship runs on the rocks.”
* * * * *
“Don, Don!” The child heard his step in the hall long before he
reached the door. He was coming, as he did every night, to give her a
ride in his arms before she went to by-by. She held out her little arms
from which the loose sleeves had fallen back. John lifted her up, for
the last time.
He laid his strong, set face against the rosy cheek, and looked into
the laughing eyes which the sand man had already sprinkled with his
magic powder. “Nansie, baby, I have come to say good-bye.”
“Not dood-bye, Don, oo always say dood-night.”
“But it is good-bye this time, little one, there will be no more
good-nights for you and me. I am going away.”
A bewildered look swept over the child's face. “Away!” she echoed,
“to leave Nan an' Pwimwose an' the horsies? Me'll do too, Don. He'll do
anywhere wid oo, Don.”
“I wish I could take you!” and John strained her to his breast. “But
there is no Neptune to carry us now, little one. Your father sold him
“My nice Nepshun!” The child's lip quivered, but something in the
suffering face above her made her say quickly, “Me'll be dood, Don, an'
when oo turn back, me'll be waitin' at de gate.”
She patted his cheek confidingly. “Nice Don! Nan loves oo, dear, an'
Desus. Nan loves Desus 'cause oo do, Don.”
John's voice choked. “Keep on loving, Nansie.”
“Yes, me will. Does Desus carry de little chil'en in his arms like
oo do, Don? Me's so comf'able. Me loves Desus.”
The little arm, soft and warm, crept closer around his neck, while
the golden curls swept his cheek. “Oo's my bootiful man, Don. Me'll
marry oo when me gets big,” and then, all unconscious of the sorrow
which should greet her in the morning, the baby slept.
To and fro across the floor John trod lightly with his precious
burden. His arms never felt the weight. They would be such empty arms
bye-and-bye! Then at last he laid her down, and, taking a pair of
scissors from his pocket, he carefully severed one of the golden rings
of hair, and laid it within the folds of the handkerchief which he
still carried in his vest pocket. The fair girl and the little child.
These should be his memory of womanhood.
[Illustration: 'ME'LL DO ANYWHERE, WIV OO, DON.]
* * * * *
In Reginald's room kind-hearted Mrs. Hawthorne was weeping bitterly.
She loved John as her own son, but no one ever dreamed of disputing the
tyrannical dictates of the master of Hollywood, however unjust they
Reginald lay as John had left him with his face buried in the
pillows and utterly refused to be comforted. What comfort could there
be if John was going away? It never occurred to him that his mother
needed cheer as much as he. Like all selfish souls his own pain
completely filled his horizon.
“I don't see what we are to do about Evadne!” and Mrs. Hildreth
sighed disconsolately. “She looks like a walking shadow. I should not
be surprised if she had inherited her father's disease, and they say
now that consumption is as contagious as diphtheria.”
“Horrors!” cried Isabelle. “Do quarantine her somewhere, Mamma,
until you are quite sure there is no danger. I haven't the faintest
aspirations to martyrdom.”
“It is a great care,” sighed Mrs. Hildreth. “All of you children
have always been so healthy. I don't believe Doctor Russe will listen
to her going to the seaside, and the mountains are so monotonous! Other
people's children are a great responsibility.”
Suddenly Isabelle clapped her hands. “I have it!” she cried. “Send
her up to Aunt Marthe, and then we can tease Papa to let us go to
Newport. Marion is going to spend the summer with Christine Drayton,
you know, and Papa does not intend to leave the city, so we can
persuade him that it is our duty to seize such a golden opportunity of
doing things economically. I am sure I don't know what people must
think of us, never going to any of the fashionable places. For my part
I think we owe it to Papa's position to keep up with the world.”
“I believe it might be managed,” said Mrs. Hildreth after some
consideration. “It was very clever of you to think of it, Isabelle. You
ought to be a diplomat, my dear,” and she smiled approvingly on her
* * * * *
The train swept along through the picturesque Vermont scenery and
Evadne looked out of her window with never ending delight.
“I am like a poor, lonely bird,” she said to herself, “who flits
from shore to shore, seeking rest and finding none. Another journey in
the dark! I wonder what will be at the end of this one? Well, I'll hope
for the best. Aunt Marthe's letter was kind, and her name sounds as
cheery as Aunt Kate's sounds cold.”
Mr. Everidge came to meet her as the train steamed into the little
station, and Evadne soon found herself seated in a comfortable carriage
behind a handsome chestnut mare, bowling along a fragrant country road,
catching glimpses at every turn of the verdure-clad hills.
She found her new uncle very pleasant. There was a silver-tongued
suavity about him in striking contrast to the growing preoccupation of
Judge Hildreth, and a sort of airy self complaisance which took it for
granted that he should be well treated by the world.
“I am very glad you have come, my dear niece,” he said, “to relieve
the tedium of our uneventful existence. You must let our Vermont air
kiss the roses into bloom again in your pale cheeks. It has a
world-wide reputation as a tonic. I hope you left our Marlborough
relatives in a pleasant attitude of mind? It is one of the evidences of
this progressive age that you should woo 'tired Nature's sweet
restorer' one night under the roof of my respected brother-in-law, the
next under my own. The ancients, with their primitive modes of
laborious transit, were only half alive. We of to-day, thanks to the
melodious tea-kettle and inventive cerebral tissue of the youthful
Watt, live in a perpetual hand-clasp, so to speak, and, by means of the
flashing chain of light which girdles the globe are kept in touch with
the world. It is food for reflection that the thought which is evolved
from the shadowy recesses of our brain to-day, should be, by the
mysterious camera of electricity, photographed upon the retina of the
Australian public to-morrow, and we need to have the archives of our
memory enlarged to hold the voluminous correspondence of the century.
“Ah, Squire Higgins, good-evening. My niece by marriage, Miss
Hildreth of Barbadoes.”
The Squire lifted his hat, there was a little desultory
conversation, then the carriages went on their separate ways, and soon
Evadne found herself at her destination.
She looked eagerly at the pretty house with its entourage of
flowers and lawns, grand old trees and distance-purpled hills, then
Aunt Marthe appeared in the doorway and she saw nothing else.
She was of medium height with a crown of soft, brown hair, and eyes
whose first glance of welcome caught Evadne's heart and held her
captive. There was a wonderful sweetness about the smiling mouth, and
the face, although not classically beautiful, possessed a subtle
spiritual charm more fascinating than mere physical perfection of color
and form. She moved lightly with a buoyant youthfulness strangely at
variance with the stately dignity of Mrs. Hildreth and the studied
repose of Isabelle.
“You dear child!” The soft arms held her close, the sweet lips
caught hers in a kiss, and Evadne felt with a great throb of joy that
the weary bird had found a resting-place at last.
She led her into a cool, tastefully furnished room, drew her down
beside her on the couch and took off her hat and gloves, then she
handed her a fan and went to make her a lemon soda.
Evadne looked round the room with its soft curtains swaying in the
breeze, the cool matting on the floor with a rug or two, the light
bookcases with their wealth of thought, the comfortable wicker rockers,
the bamboo tables holding several half cut magazines, an open
work-basket, a vase with a single rose, while on the low mantel a
cluster of graceful lilies were reflected in the mirror. “Why, this is
home!” she cried and she laid her head against the cushions with a
delightful sense of freedom.
The early supper was soon announced and Evadne found herself in a
cozy dining-room seated near a window which opened into a bewildering
vista of summer beauty. There were flowers beside each plate as well as
in the quaintly carved bowl in the centre of the table. Evadne caught
herself smiling. That had always been a conceit of hers in Barbadoes.
Everything was simple but delicious. The tender, juicy chicken, the
delicate pink ham, the muffins browned to a turn, the Jersey butter
moulded into a sheaf of wheat, and moist brown bread of Aunt Marthe's
own making, the blocks of golden sponge cake, the crisp lettuce, the
fragrant strawberries, the cool jelly frosted with snow. Evadne drank
her tea out of a chocolate tinted cup, fluted like the bell of a
flower, and felt as if she were feasting on the nectar of the gods,
while Mr. Everidge's silvery tones kept up a constant stream of talk
and Aunt Marthe's beautiful hospitality made her feel perfectly at
“Tea, my dear Evadne,” he said, as he passed her cup to be refilled,
“is an infusion of poison which is slowly but surely destroying the
coatings of the gastronomical organ of the female portion of society. I
tremble to think of the amount of tannin which analysis would show
deposited in the systems of the votaries of the deadly Five o'clock,
and the unhealthy nervous tension of the age is largely traceable to
the excessive consumption of the pernicious liquid. Chocolate, on the
contrary, taken as I always drink it, is simple and nutritive, with no
unpleasant after effects to be apprehended, but this decoction of
bitter herbs, steeped to death in water far past its proper
temperature, is concentrated lye, my dear Evadne, nothing but
concentrated lye. By the way, Marthe, I wish you would give your
personal supervision to the preparation of my hot water in the future.
Nothing comparable to hot water, Evadne, just before retiring. It aids
digestion and induces sleep, and sleep you know is a gift of the gods.
The Chinese mode of punishing criminals has always seemed to me
exquisite in its barbarity. They simply make it impossible for the
unhappy wretches to obtain a wink of sleep, until at length the torture
grows unbearable and they find refuge in the long sleep which no mortal
has power to prevent. So, my dear Marthe, see to it if you please in
future that my slumber tonic is served just on the boil. The worthy
Joanna does not understand the mysteries of the boiling process. Water,
after it has passed the initiatory stage becomes flat, absolutely flat
and tasteless. What I had to drink last night was so repugnant to my
palate that I found it impossible to sink into repose with that calm
attitude of mind which is so essential to perfect slumber.
“See to it also, my dear, that I am not disturbed at such an
unearthly hour again as I was this morning. Tesla, the great
electrician, has put himself on record as intimating that the want of
sleep is a potent factor in the deplorably heavy death rate of the
present day. He thinks sleep and longevity are synonymous, therefore it
becomes us to bend every effort to attain that desirable consummation.”
Involuntarily Evadne looked at Mrs. Everidge. Her face was slightly
turned towards the open window and there was a half smile upon her
lips, as if, like Joan of Arc, she was listening to voices of sweeter
tone than those of earth. She came back to the present again on the
instant and met her niece's eyes with a smile, but in the subtle realm
of intuition we learn by lightning flashes, and Evadne needed no
further telling to know that the saddest loneliness which can fall to
the lot of a woman was the fate of her aunt.
Immediately after supper Mrs. Everidge persuaded Evadne to go to her
room. The long journey had been a great strain upon her strength and
she was very tired.
“I wish you a good night, Uncle Horace,” she said as she passed him
in the doorway.
“And you a pleasant one,” he rejoined with a gallant bow. “'We are
such stuff as dreams are made of—and our little life is rounded with a
She lay for a long time wakeful, revelling in the strange sense of
peace which seemed to enfold her, while the evening breeze blew through
the room and the twilight threw weird shadows among the dainty
draperies. At length there came a low knock and Mrs. Everidge opened
Evadne stretched out her hands impulsively. “Oh, this beautiful
stillness!” she exclaimed. “In Marlborough there is the clang of the
car gongs and the rumble of cabs and the tramp of feet upon the
pavement until it seems as if the weary world were never to be at rest,
but this house is so quiet I could almost hear a pin drop.”
Mrs. Everidge smiled. “You have quick ears, little one. But we are
quieter than usual to-night; Joanna is sitting up with a sick neighbor,
your uncle went to his room early, and I have been reading in mine.”
She drew a low chair up beside the bed. “Now we must begin to get
acquainted,” she said.
“Dear Aunt Marthe!” cried Evadne, “I feel as if I had known you all
She gave her a swift caress. “You dear child! Then tell me about
Evadne looked at her gratefully. No one had ever cared to know about
her father before. Forgetting her weariness in the absorbing interest
of her subject, she talked on and on, and Mrs. Everidge with the wisdom
of true sympathy, made no attempt to check her, knowing full well that
the relief of the tried heart was helping her more than any physical
rest could do.
“And now, oh, Aunt Marthe, life is so desperately lonely!” she said
at last with a sobbing sigh.
Mrs. Everidge leaned over and kissed the trembling lips. “I think
sometimes the earthly fatherhood is taken from us, dear child, that we
may learn to know the beautiful Fatherliness of God. We can never find
true happiness until our restless hearts are folded close in the hush
of his love. Human love—however lovely—does not satisfy us. Nothing
“The Fatherliness of God,” repeated Evadne. “That sounds lovely, but
people do not think of him so. God is someone very terrible and far
“'And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.' Does that
sound as if he were far away, little one? 'As one whom his mother
comforteth, so will I comfort you.' Why, God is father and mother both
to us, dear child. Can you think of anyone nearer than that?”
Evadne caught her breath in a great gladness. “I believe you are his
angel of consolation,” she said in a hushed voice.
“'Even unto them will I give ... a place and a name better than of
sons and daughters,'“ quoted Aunt Marthe softly. “That means a location
and an identity. Here, sometimes, it seems as if we had neither the one
nor the other. Christ follows out the same idea in his picture of the
abiding place which is being prepared for you and me. Everything on
earth is so transitory, and the human heart has such a hunger for
something that will last.”
“Have you felt this too?” cried Evadne. “I thought I was the only
Mrs. Everidge laughed. “The only one in all the world to puzzle over
its problems! Oh, yes, the older we grow, the more we find that the
great majority have the same feelings and perplexities as ourselves,
although some may not understand their thought clearly enough to put it
“What is your favorite verse in all the Bible?” asked Evadne after a
Mrs. Everidge laughed again, and Evadne thought she had never heard
a laugh at once so merry and so sweet.
“You send me into a rose garden, dear child, and tell me to select
the choicest bloom out of its wilderness of beauty. How can I when
every one has a different coloring and a fragrance all its own? Two of
my special favorites are in the Revelation,—'To him that overcometh,
to him will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white
stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but
he that receiveth it.' 'And they shall see his face, and his name shall
be on their foreheads.'
“That means a possession and a belonging. It is the spiritual symbol
which binds us to our heavenly lover for eternity just as the wedding
ring is a pledge of fidelity for our earth time. It is only as we see
it so, that we get the full beauty of the religion of Jesus. His
church—the inner circle of his chosen 'hidden ones'—is his bride, and
what can be more glorious than to be the bride of the King of kings?
The dear souls who only serve him with fear do not get the sweetness
out of it at all. How can they, when their lives are all duty? 'Perfect
love casteth out fear' and there is no duty about it, for when we love,
it is a joy to serve and give. It hurts the Christ to have us content
to be simply servants when he would lift us up to the higher plane of
friendship, when he has put upon us the high honor of the dearest
friend of all! Earthly brides spend a vast deal of time and thought
over their trousseau, so I think Christ's bride should walk among men
with a sweet aloofness while the spiritual garments are being fashioned
in which she is to dwell with him. The Bible says a great deal about
dressing. 'Let thy garments be always white'—the sunshine color, the
joy color—for bye and bye we are to walk with him in white, you know.
Our spiritual wardrobe must be fitted and worn down here. It is a
terrible mistake to put off donning the wedding robes until we come to
the feast. And the wardrobe is very ample. Christ would have his bride
luxuriously appareled. 'Be clothed with humility.' That is a fine,
close-fitting suit for every day, but over it we are to wear the
garment of praise and the warm, shining robe of charity. Can you fancy
anything more beautiful than a life clothed in such garments as these?
And to me the loveliest of all is charity. The highest praise I ever
heard given to a woman was that 'she had such a tender way of making
excuses for everybody.'
“Very fair must be the bride in the eyes of her royal lover, clothed
in the garments which he has selected,—all light and joy and
tenderness, for, the King's daughter is all glorious within.”
“Aunt Marthe,” said Evadne, after a long silence, in which they had
been tasting the sweetness of it, “I do not need to ask if you know
The lovely face took on an added beauty. “He is my life,” she said.
Evadne was swinging in the hammock one golden summer afternoon,
humming soft snatches of her old songs while she played with her aunt's
pet black and tan. The sweet freshness of her new existence was rapidly
restoring tone to her mental system, and life no longer seemed a
hopeless task. The days were full of dreamy contentment. She spent long
mornings under the murmuring pines in the deep belt of forest which
stretched for miles behind the house, or helped Mrs. Everidge keep the
rooms in dainty order; drove with her along the grass-bordered roads,
while ears and eyes feasted on the symphonies of Nature and the ever
changing beauty of the hills; or stood beside Joanna in a trance of
delight out in the fragrant dairy, whose windows opened into a wild
sweetness of fluttering leaves, and whose cool stone floor made a
channel for a purling brook, watching her as with dexterous hands she
shaped and moulded the bubbley dough or tossed up an omelet or made one
of her delicious cherry pies, conscious through it all of the sweet
influence which seemed to pervade every corner of the house and
“I wonder what it is about you, you dear Aunt Marthe?” she
soliloquized, as she pulled Noisette's silky ears. “When you are away I
cannot bear to go into the house,—everything seems so different, so
cold and dark,—but the moment you come home again it is as lovely as
ever. Concentrated light. Yes, that name would suit you, for light is
sweet and pure and stimulating and precious. If all the people in the
world were like you, what a world it would be!”
She looked up as she heard footsteps approaching, and then rose to
welcome her visitor. A woman twenty years her senior, bright, capable,
energetic, with a shrewd face and kindly eyes whose keen glance was
quick to pierce the flimsy veil of humbug, and a tongue whose
good-natured sarcasm had made more than one pretender feel ashamed.
“How do?” she said briskly, as she took the chair Evadne offered. “I
hope you're feelin' better sence you've cum?”
“Much better, thank you. I am very sorry my aunt is not at home.”
“I'm sorry likewise, though it don't make as much difference as it
might have done, as I'm callin' a purpose to see you.”
“That is very good of you,” said Evadne with a laugh. There was a
spicy flavor about this child of the mountains which she found
“It's a bit awkward,” continued her visitor with a twinkle in her
eye, “as we'll have to do our own introducin'. My name's Penelope
Riggs, Penel for brevity. What's yours?”
“Evadne. That's uncommon and pretty. I'm goin' to call you so if
you're not objectionable to it. Life's too short for handles.”
Evadne laughed merrily. “I'm not in the least objectionable,” she
“No, that's a fact,” said her visitor after a moment's kindly
scrutiny. “You're true and thorough. I knew I was goin' to like you
when I saw you in meetin'.”
Evadne flushed with pleasure. “Why, that is a beautiful character! I
only wish I deserved it. But I fear you are very much mistaken in me,
though it is very kind in you to think such nice things.”
“Nonsense, child! I don't waste my time thinkin'. Let me have a good
look at your face for half an hour and I'll know as much about you as
you could tell me in a week. Malviny Higgins has just come back from
Bosting with her head full of sykick forces an' mental affinities an'
the dear knows what else, but I think it's just a cultivation of our
common senses—number, five. You can feel a person without touching
them; it's in the air all round you; and you don't need much
discrimination to know whether what you will say will hurt them or be a
blessin'. The main thing is to put yourself in their shoes before you
begin to talk.”
“Their shoes, Miss Riggs,” laughed Evadne, “why they might not fit.”
“Penelope,” corrected her visitor, “Penel for brevity. Yes, they
will too, that kind of shoe leather is elastic. It's the old Bible
doctrine, 'never do anything to others that you wouldn't like others to
do to you.' If people got the shoes well fitted before they let their
tongues loose, there would be a deal less sorrow and heartburn in the
“'Love thy neighbor as thyself,'“ said Evadne. “I never thought of
it in that way before.”
“Well,” said Miss Riggs briskly, “I'm dredful glad you've cum,
Evadne. It'll do Mis' Everidge a sight of good to have you, though
Marthe Everidge is raised above the need of humans as far as any mortal
can be on this earth. With all their inventions there ain't nobody
discovered how to make spiritual photographs yet, or I would have the
picture of her character in all the windows of the land. 'Twould
do more good than miles of tracts. I agree with Paul that livin'
epistles make the best readin' an' it don't seem fittin' that she
should be shut up in this little place where only a few of us have the
right kind of spectacles to see her through. Most of the folks just
allow it's Mis' Everidge's way, and would as soon think of tryin' to
imitate her as a tadpole would a star.”
“But we are to imitate Christ,” said Evadne.
“'Course, child! But it's dredful comfortin' to have a human life in
front of us to show us that is possible. Lots of times when life looks
like a long seam an' the sewin' pricks my fingers, a new light falls on
this picture, and I sez to myself, 'Penel,' says I, 'look at Marthe
Everidge. The Lord has made you both out of the same material. There
ain't no reason why she should be always gettin' nearer heaven and you
goin' back to earth. She has difficulties and worriments, same as you
have, but if she can make every trial into a new rung for the ladder on
which she is mountin' up to God, there ain't no reason why you should
make a gravestone out of yours to bury yourself under; and so I start
on with a new courage, an' when we get to the end of the journey, I'll
not be the only one who'll have to thank Marthe Everidge for showin'
Evadne's eyes shone. “You make me feel,” she cried, “as if I would
rather live a beautiful life than do the most magnificent thing in the
“That's a safe feelin' to tie to,” said Penelope with an approving
smile; “for character is the only thing we've got to carry with us when
“Well,” she continued, “I must be goin'. I did think I'd be
forehanded in callin', but mother's been dredful wakeful lately, and
when daylight comes, it don't seem as if I had the ambition of a snail.
She don't like to be left alone for a minit, mother don't, so it's a
bit of a puzzle to keep up with society.”
She laughed cheerily as she held out her hand. “Well, I'm dredful
pleased to have met you. I'll be more than glad to have you come in
whenever you're down our way.”
Evadne watched her as she walked briskly along the road. “She is not
Aunt Marthe,” she said slowly; “I suppose Louis would call it a case of
the solanum and the potato blossom, but she is one of the Lord's plants
all the same.”
“Aunt Marthe, what is culture?” she asked suddenly, as later
in the afternoon Mrs. Everidge sat beside her hammock. “Is Louis right?
Is it just the veneer of education and travel and environment?”
“You can hardly call that a veneer, little one. Real education goes
very deep. Emerson says 'nothing is so indicative of deepest culture as
a tender consideration of the ignorant.' I think that culture, to be
perfect, must have its root in love. It is impossible that anyone
filled with the love of Christ should ever be discourteous or lack in
thoughtfulness for the feelings of others.”
“Why that must be what Penelope Riggs meant by her 'elastic shoe
leather,'“ said Evadne with a laugh, and then she repeated the
“Oh, she has been here! I am glad. It will do you good to know her.
She is the cheeriest soul, and the busiest. She always acts upon me as
a tonic, for I know just how much she has had to give up and how hard
her life has been.”
“Why, Aunt Marthe, she says when she gets to heaven she will have to
thank you for showing her the way. She thinks you are perfection.”
“'Not I, but Christ,'“ said Aunt Marthe with a happy smile. She went
into the house and returned with a book in her hand. “You asked what
culture really was. This writer says 'Drudgery.' Listen while I give
you a few snatches, then you shall have the book for your own.
“'Culture takes leisure, elegance, wide margins of time, a
pocket-book; drudgery means limitations, coarseness, crowded hours,
chronic worry, old clothes, black hands, headaches. Our real and our
ideal are not twins. Never were! I want the books, but the clothes
basket wants me. I love nature and figures are my fate. My taste is
books and I farm it. My taste is art and I correct exercises. My taste
is science and I measure tape. Can it be that this drudgery, not to be
escaped, gives 'culture?' Yes, culture of the prime elements of life,
of the very fundamentals of all fine manhood and fine womanhood, the
fundamentals that underlie all fulness and without which no other
culture worth the winning is even possible. Power of attention, power
of industry, promptitude in beginning work, method and accuracy and
despatch in doing it, perseverance, courage before difficulties, cheer,
self-control and self-denial, they are worth more than Latin and Greek
and French and German and music and art and painting and waxflowers and
travels in Europe added together. These last are the decorations of a
man's life, those other things are the indispensables. They make one's
sit-fast strength and one's active momentum,—they are the solid
substance of one's self.
“'How do we get them? High school and college can give much, but
these are never on their programmes. All the book processes that we go
to the schools for and commonly call our 'education' give no more than
opportunity to win the indispensables of education. We must get them
somewhat as the fields and valleys get their grace. Whence is it that
the lines of river and meadow and hill and lake and shore conspire
to-day to make the landscape beautiful? Only by long chiselings and
steady pressures. Only by ages of glacier crush and grind, by scour of
floods, by centuries of storm and sun. These rounded the hills and
scooped the valley-curves and mellowed the soil for meadow-grace. It
was 'drudgery' all over the land. Mother Nature was down on her knees
doing her early scrubbing work! That was yesterday, to-day—result of
scrubbing work—we have the laughing landscape.
“'Father and mother and the ancestors before them have done much to
bequeath those mental qualities to us, but that which scrubs them into
us, the clinch which makes them actually ours and keeps them ours, and
adds to them as the years go by,—that depends on our own plod in the
rut, our drill of habit, in a word our 'drudgery.' It is because we
have to go and go morning after morning, through rain, through shine,
through toothache, headache, heartache to the appointed spot and do the
appointed work, no matter what our work may be, because of the rut,
plod, grind, humdrum in the work, that we get our foundations.
“'Drudgery is the gray angel of success, for drudgery is the doing
of one thing long after it ceases to be amusing, and it is 'this one
thing I do' that gathers me together from my chaos, that concentrates
me from possibilities to powers and turns powers into achievements. The
aim in life is what the backbone is in the body, if we have no aim we
have no meaning. Lose us and the earth has lost nothing, no niche is
empty, no force has ceased to play, for we have no aim and therefore we
are still—nobody. Our bodies are known and answer in this world to
such or such a name, but, as to our inner selves, with real and awful
meaning our walking bodies might be labelled 'An unknown man sleeps
“'But we can be artists also in our daily task,—artists not
artisans. The artist is he who strives to perfect his work, the artisan
strives to get through it. If I cannot realize my ideal I can at least
idealize my real—How? By trying to be perfect in it. If I am but a
raindrop in a shower, I will be at least a perfect drop. If but a leaf
in a whole June, I will be a perfect leaf. This is the beginning of all
Gospels, that the kingdom of heaven is at hand just where we are.'“
“Oh!” cried Evadne, drawing a long breath, “that is beautiful! I
feel as if I had been lifted up until I touched the sky.”
“Marthe,” exclaimed Mr. Everidge reproachfully, suddenly appearing
in the doorway with a sock drawn over each arm, “it is incomprehensible
to me you do not remember that my physical organism and darns have
absolutely no affinity.”
Mrs. Everidge laughed brightly. “If you will make holes, Horace, I
must make darns,” she said.
“Not a natural sequence at all!” he retorted testily. “When the wear
and tear of time becomes visible in my underwear it must be relegated
“But Reuben's affinity for patches may be no stronger than your own,
Uncle Horace,” said Evadne mischievously.
Mr. Everidge waved his sock-capped hands with a gesture of disdain.
“The lower orders, my dear Evadne, are incapable of those delicate
perceptions which constitute the mental atmosphere of those of finer
mould. The delft does not feel the blow which would shiver the
porcelain into atoms, and Reuben's epidermis is, I imagine, of such a
horny consistency that he would walk in oblivious unconcern upon these
elevations of needlework which are as a ploughshare to my sensitive
nerves. It is the penalty one has to pay for being of finer clay than
the common herd of men.”
Evadne looked at Mrs. Everidge. A deep flush of shame had dyed her
cheeks and her lips were quivering.
“Oh, Horace,” she cried, “Reuben is such a faithful boy!”
“My dear,” said her husband airily, “I make no aspersions against
his moral character, but he certainly cannot be classed among the
velvet-skinned aristocracy. By the way, I wish you would see in future
that my undergarments are of a silken texture. My flesh rebels at
anything approaching to harshness,” and then he went complacently back
to his library to weave and fashion the graceful phrases which flowed
from his facile pen.
“Why should he go clothed in silk and you in cotton!” cried Evadne,
jealous for the rights of her friend.
Mrs. Everidge's eyes came back from one of their long journeys, “Oh,
I have learned the luxury of doing without,” she said lightly.
Evadne threw her arms around her impulsively. “But why, oh, Aunt
Marthe, why should not Uncle Horace learn it too?”
“We do not see things through the same window,” she answered with a
smile and a sigh.
John Randolph walked slowly through the soft dawning. It had been a
brilliant night. The late moon had risen as he was bidding good-bye to
the graceful creatures he should never see again, and Hollywood had
been clad in a bewitching beauty which made it all the harder to say
farewell. Far into the night he had lingered, visiting every corner of
the dearly loved home, then at last he had turned away and walked
steadily along the road which led to Marlborough.
The sun rose in a blaze of splendor and the birds began to twitter.
The gripsack which he carried grew strangely heavy, and he felt faint
and weary. The long strain of the day before was beginning to tell upon
him, and it was many hours since he had tasted food.
A sudden turn of the road brought him in sight of a trig little
farm, against whose red gate a man was leaning, leisurely enjoying the
beauty of the morning before he began work. He had a pleasant face,
strong and peaceful. No one had ever known Joseph Makepeace to be out
of temper or in a hurry. He would have said it was because he commenced
every day listening to the inner voice among the silences of Nature.
Joseph Makepeace was a Quaker.
“Why, John, lad!” he cried, “thou art a welcome sight on this fair
morning. Come in, come in. Breakfast will soon be ready and thou art in
sore need of it by the look of thy face.” He gave John's hand a mighty
grasp and took his gripsack from him.
“Why, John, hast thou walked far with this load? Where were all the
horses of Hollywood? Is anything wrong, John? I don't like thy looks,
John's voice trembled. “I have left Hollywood” he said. “Mr.
Hawthorne has turned me off.”
“Left Hollywood! You don't mean it, John? Well, well, folks say
Robert Hawthorne has not been right in his mind since his boy got hurt.
I believe it now. It's a comfort that the great Master will never turn
us off, lad. Thee'd better lie down on the lounge and rest thee a bit,
John, while I go and tell mother.”
He entered the spotless kitchen where his wife was moving blithely
to and fro. “Thee has another 'unawares angel' to breakfast, Ruth. It's
a grand thing being on the public road!”
Ruth Makepeace laughed merrily. “An angel, Joseph? I hope he's not
like thy last one, who stole three of my best silver spoons!”
“So, so, thee didst promise to forget that, Ruth, if I replace them
next time I go to Marlborough.”
“Well, so I do, except when thee does remind me. Is this a very
hungry angel, Joseph? Does thee think I'd better cook another chicken?”
“He ought to be hungry, poor lad, but I doubt if he eats much. Does
thee remember friend Randolph, Ruth?”
“Of course I do. But he's been dead these ten years. Thee doesn't
mean he's come back to breakfast with us?”
Her husband put his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently. Then
he kissed her. “Thee is fractious this morning, Ruth. Friend Randolph
had a son, thee dost mind, whom Robert Hawthorne took to live at
Hollywood. It is he whom the good Lord has sent to us to care for,
Ruth. He's just been turned adrift.”
“If thee wasn't so big I would shake thee, Joseph! The idea of John
Randolph being in this house and thee beating round the bush with thine
angels!” and with all her motherhood shining in her eyes, Ruth
Makepeace started for the parlor.
In spite of the overflowing kindness with which he was surrounded
John found the meal a hard one. He had been used to breakfast with
little Nan upon his knee.
“When thee is rested we'll have a talk, lad,” said his host, as they
rose from the table; “but thee'd better bide with us for the summer and
not fret about the future: thee dost need a holiday.”
“Of course thee dost, John!” said blithe little Mrs. Makepeace. “I
wish thee would bide for good.”
Her husband laid his hand upon his shoulder. “Thou knowest, lad,
there is the little grave out yonder. Thee should'st have his place in
our hearts and home. Would'st thee be content to bide, John?”
John Randolph looked at his friends with shining eyes. “You have
done me good for life!” he said, “but the world calls me, I must go. I
mean to work my way through college, and be a physician, Mr.
“So! so! Well, we mustn't stand in the way, Ruth. Thee'll make a
good one, John. But how art thee going to manage it, lad?”
“The Steel Works in Marlborough pay good wages. I mean to get a
place there if I can, and study in the evenings.”
“Why, John, lad, the Steel Works shut down yesterday afternoon.”
For an instant the brave spirit quailed, only for an instant. “Then
I must find something else,” he said quietly.
“It's a bad season, John, and the times are hard.” Joseph Makepeace
thought for a moment. “There's friend Harris up the river. What dost
thee think, Ruth?”
“Why, he wants men to pile wood,” exclaimed his wife. “Thee would'st
not set John at that!”
“Lincoln split rails,” said John with a smile, “why should not I
pile them? It's clean work, and honest, Mrs. Makepeace.”
“He has a logging camp in the winter. Thee would'st have good pay
“But thee would'st be so lonely, John, amongst all those rough men!
And thee did'st say once it was dangerous, Joseph. It's not fit work
“I am not afraid of work, Mrs. Makepeace, and I can never be lonely
with Jesus Christ.”
* * * * *
In far Vermont Evadne was reading aloud from a paper she had brought
from the post-office. “The whole sum of Christian living is just
loving.” “Do you believe that, Aunt Marthe?”
“Surely, dear child. Love is the fulfilling of the law, you know.
When we love God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves,
there is no danger of our breaking the Decalogue. 'He who loveth
knoweth God,' and 'to know him is life eternal.'“
“Just love,” said Evadne musingly. “It seems so simple.”
“Do you think so?” said Aunt Marthe with a smile. “Yet people find
it the hardest thing to do, as it is surely the noblest. Drummond calls
it 'the greatest thing in the world' and you have Paul's definition of
it in Corinthians. Did you ever study that to see how perfect love
would make us?
“'Love suffereth long,' that does away with impatience; 'and is
kind,' that makes us neighborly; 'love envieth not,' that saves from
covetousness; 'vaunteth not itself,' that does away with self-conceit;
'seeketh not its own,' that kills selfishness; 'is not provoked,' that
shows we are forgiving; 'rejoiceth not in unrighteousness,' makes us
love only what is pure; 'covereth [Footnote: Marginal rendering.] all
things,' that leaves no room for scandal; 'believeth all things,' that
does away with doubt; 'hopeth all things,' that is the antithesis of
distrust; 'endureth all things,' proves that we are strong; and then
the beautiful summing up of the whole matter, 'love never faileth.' If
that is true of us, it can only be as we are filled with the spirit of
the Christ of God, 'whose nature and whose name is love.'“
“You see such beautiful things in the Bible!” said Evadne
despairingly, “why cannot I get below the surface?”
“You will, dearie. You forget I have been digging nuggets from this
precious mine for years and you have just begun to search for them.
Would you like another drive, or do you feel too tired?”
“Not in the least. What can I do for you?”
“I would like to send some of that currant jelly I made yesterday to
old Mrs. Riggs, if you are sure you would like to take it?”
“As sure as sure can be, dear,” said Evadne with a kiss, “Where
shall I find it?”
“In the King's corner.”
“'The King's corner?'“ echoed Evadne with a puzzled look.
“Oh, I forgot you did not know. I always give the Lord the first
fruits of my cooking, and keep them in a special place set apart for
his use, then, when I go to see the sick, there is always something
ready to tempt their fancy. It is wonderful what a saving of time it
is. I rarely have to make anything on purpose,—there is always
She followed her niece out to the carriage, helped her pack the
jelly safely, with one of her crisp loaves of fresh brown bread, bade
her a merry farewell and went back to the house again singing.
“Oh, Aunt Marthe!” cried Evadne, as she drove slowly under the
trees, “shall I ever, ever learn to be like you?”
She found the old lady sitting by the fire wrapped up in a shawl,
although the day was sultry.
“Good-morning,” said Evadne, as she deposited her parcels on the
table. “I come from Mrs. Everidge. She thought you would fancy some of
her fresh brown bread and currant jelly.”
“Hum!” said the old lady ungraciously, “I hope it's better than the
last wuz. Guess Mis' Everidge ain't ez pertickler ez she used ter be.”
“Aunt Marthe!” cried Evadne indignantly. “Why, everything she does
“Land, child! There ain't no perfecshun in this world. It's all a
wale, a wale o' tears. We'se poor, miserable critters,—wurms o' the
dust,—that's what we be.”
“There isn't any worm about Aunt Marthe,” cried Evadne with a laugh.
“I think you must be looking through a wrong pair of spectacles, Mrs.
“Land, child! I ain't got but the one pair, an' they got broke this
morning. But it's jest my luck. Everything goes agin me.”
“But you can get them mended,” said Evadne.
“Sakes alive! There ain't much hope o' gettin' them mended, with
Penel behindhand on the rent, an' the firin' an' the land knows what
else. I don't see why Penel ain't more forehanded. I tell her ef I wuz
ez young an' ez spry ez she be, I guess I'd hev things different, but,
la! that's Penel's way. She's terrible sot in her own way, Penel is.
She's not willin' ter take my advice. Children now-a-days allers duz
know more than their mothers.”
“Where is Penelope?” asked Evadne.
“Oh, skykin' round. She's gone over to Miss Johnsing's ter help with
the quiltin'. That's the way she duz, an' here I am all alone with the
fire ter tend ter, an' not a livin' soul ter do a hand's turn fer me!
She sez she hez ter do it ter keep the pot bilin'—'pears ter me
Penel's pots take a sight uv bilin'.”
“But she has left a nice pile of wood close beside you, Mrs. Riggs.”
“La, yes,” grumbled the old lady, “but it's dretful thoughtless in
her ter stay away so long, when she knows the stoopin' cums so hard on
my rheumatiz. An' it's terrible lonesome. I get that narvous some days
I'm all of a shake. 'Tain't ez ef she kep within' call, but t'other day
she went clean over ter Hancocks,—a hull mile an' a half! She sez she
hez ter go where folks wants things done, but that's nonsense, folks
oughter want things done near at hand,—they know how lonesome I be.
Why, a bear might cum in an' eat me up for all Penel would know. She
gits so taken up a' larfin' an' singin', she ain't got no sympathy. Oh,
it's a wale o' tears!”
“But there are no bears in Vernon, Mrs. Riggs,” laughed Evadne.
“Land, child! you never know what there might be!” said the old lady
testily. “Be you a' stayin' at Mis' Everidge's?”
“Yes,” said Evadne, “she is my aunt.”
“Hum! I never knew she hed any nieces, 'cept them two gals uv Jedge
Hildreth's down ter Marlborough.”
“I am their cousin, Mrs. Riggs. I used to live in Barbadoes.”
“Well, I declar! Why, Barbaderz is t' other side of nowhere! Used
ter be when I went ter school. Well, well, some folks hez a lion's
share uv soarin' an' here I've ben all my life jest a' pinin' my heart
out ter git down ter Bosting, an' I ain't never got there! But that's
allers the way. I never git nuthin'. I'm sixty-nine years old cum
Christmas an' I ain't never ben further away frum hum than twenty miles
hand runnin', an' here's a chit like you done travelin' enuff ter last
“But I didn't want to travel, Mrs. Riggs,” said Evadne gently. “I
would so much rather have stayed at home.”
“There you go!” grumbled the old lady. “Folks ain't never satisfied
with their mercies. Allers a' flyin' in the face uv Providence. I tell
you we'se wurms, child; miserable, shiftless wurms, a' crawlin' down in
this walley of humiliation, with our faces ter the dust.”
“But you've got a great deal to be thankful for, Mrs. Riggs,”
ventured Evadne, “in having such a daughter. Aunt Marthe thinks she is
a splendid character.”
“So she oughter be!” retorted the old lady, “with sech a bringin' up
ez she's hed. But land! childern's dretful disappointin' ter a pusson.
There ain't a selfish bone in my body, but Penel's ez full uv
'em. She'll let me lie awake by the hour at a time while she's a'
snoozin' on the sofy beside me. She don't sleep in her own bed any more
because I hev ter hev her handy ter rub me when the rheumatiz gits ter
jumpin'. She sez she can't help bein' drowsy when she's workin' through
the day, but land! she'd manage ter keep awake ef she hed any sympathy!
She ain't got no sympathy, Penel ain't; an' she ain't a bit forehanded.
“But I don't 'spect nuthin' else in this world. It's a wale o' tears
an' we ain't got nuthin' else ter look fer but triberlation an' woe.
Man ez born ter trouble ez the sparks fly upward, an' a woman allers
hez the lion's share.”
Evadne burst into the sitting-room with flashing eyes. “Aunt Marthe,
if I were Penelope Riggs, I would shoot her mother! She's just a
crooked old bundle of unreasonableness and ingratitude!”
Mrs. Everidge laughed. “No, you wouldn't dear, not if you were
“But, Aunt Marthe, how does she stand it? Why, it would drive me
crazy in a week! To think of that poor soul, working like a slave all
day, and then grudged the few winks of sleep she gets on a hard old
sofa. I declare, it makes me feel hopeless!”
“The day I climbed Mont Blanc,” said Mrs. Everidge softly, “we had a
wonderful experience. Down below us a sudden storm swept the valley.
The rain fell in torrents, and the thunder roared, but up where we
stood the sun was shining and all was still. When we walk with Christ,
little one, we find it possible to live above the clouds.”
“An Alpine Christian!” cried Evadne. “Oh, Aunt Marthe, that is
“The ancient Egyptians, Evadne,” remarked Mr. Everidge the next day
at dinner, as he selected the choicest portions of a fine roast duck
for his own consumption, “during the period of their nation's highest
civilization, subsisted almost exclusively upon millet, dates and other
fruits and cereals; and athletic Greece rose to her greatest culture
upon two meals a day, consisting principally of maize and vegetables
steeped in oil. Don't you think you ladies would find it of advantage
to copy them in this laudable abstemiousness? There is something
repugnant to a refined taste in the idea of eating flesh whose
constituent particles partake largely of the nature of our own.”
“Why, certainly, Uncle Horace,” said Evadne merrily. “I am quite
ready to become a vegetarian, if you will set me the example. The
feminine mind, you know, is popularly supposed to be only fitted to
follow a masculine lead.”
“Ah, I wish it were possible, my dear Evadne, but the peculiar
susceptibility of my internal organism precludes all thought of my
making such a radical change in the matter of diet. Even now, in spite
of all my care, indigestion, like a grim Argus, stares me out of
countenance. I wish you would bear this fact more constantly in mind,
my dear Marthe. This duck, for instance, has not arrived at that stage
of absolute fitness which is so essential to the appreciation of a
delicate stomach. A duck, Evadne, is a bird which requires very careful
treatment in its preparation for the table. It should be suspended in
the air for a certain length of time, and then, after being carefully
trussed, laid upon its breast in the pan, in order that all the juices
of the body may concentrate in that titbit of the epicure,—then let
the knife touch its richly browned skin, and, presto, you have a dish
fit for the gods! The skin of this duck on the contrary presents a
degree of resistance to the carver which proves that it has been placed
in the oven before it had arrived at that stage of perfection.”
“Why, Horace,” laughed Mrs. Everidge, “I thought this one was just
right! You remember you told me the last one we had, had hung five
hours too long.”
“Exactly so. My friend, Trenton, will tell you that five hours is
all the length of time required to seal the fate of nations. It is a
pet theory of his that the finale of the material world will be rapid.
He bases his conclusions upon the fact of the steady decrease in the
volume of the surrounding atmosphere and the almost instantaneous
action of all of Nature's destructive forces, fire and flood, storm and
sunstroke, lightning and hail, earthquake and cyclone. Oh, apropos
of my erudite friend, Marthe, he has promised to spend August with us,
so you will have to look to your culinary laurels, for he is accustomed
to dine at Delmonico's.”
“Professor Trenton coming here in August!” cried Mrs. Everidge in
dismay. “Why, Horace, you never told me you had invited him!”
“My dear, I am telling you now.”
“But I meant to take Evadne up to our mountain camp in August. I am
sure the resinous air would make her strong. I had my plans all laid.”
“'The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley,'“ said her
husband suavely. “Evadne's mental strength cannot fail to be developed
by intercourse with such a clever man. We must not allow the culture of
the body to occupy so prominent a place in our thoughts that we forget
the mind, you know.”
“A fusty old Professor!” pouted Evadne. “Oh, Uncle Horace, why
didn't you leave him among his tomes and his theories and let us be
free to enjoy?”
“Mere sensual gratification, Evadne,” said Mr. Everidge, as he
replenished his plate with some dainty pickings, “is not the true aim
of life. I consider it a high honor that the Professor should consent
to devote a month of his valuable time to my edification, for he is
getting to be quite a lion in the literary world. You had better have
your chamber prepared for his occupancy, Marthe. As I remember him at
college he had a fondness amounting almost to a craze for rooms with a
Joanna came in to announce the arrival of a visitor whom Evadne had
already learned to dread on account of her continual depression.
“Oh, Aunt Marthe!” she exclaimed, “must you waste this beautiful
afternoon listening to her dolorosities. I wanted you to go for a
“You go, dearie, and take Penelope Riggs. It will be a treat to her
and you ought to be out in the open air as much as possible.”
Evadne went out on the veranda. Through the open window she could
hear the visitor's ceaseless monotone of complaint mingled with the
soft notes of Mrs. Everidge's cheery sympathy. “Oh, dearest,” she
murmured, “if you had seen this beautiful life, you would have known
that there is no sham in the religion of Jesus!”
She waited long, in the hope that Mrs. Everidge would be able to
accompany her, then she started for the Eggs cottage. She found the old
lady alone. “Where is Penelope, Mrs. Riggs?”
“Oh, skykin' round ez usual,” was the peevish response. “It's church
work this time. When I wuz young, folks got along 'thout sech an
everlastin' sight uv meetins, but nowadays there's Convenshuns, an'
Auxils an' Committees, an' the land knows what, till a body's clean
distracted. Fer my part I hate ter see wimmen a' wallerin' round in the
mud till it takes 'em the best part uv the next day ter git their
“But there is no mud now, Mrs. Riggs,” laughed Evadne.
“Land alive, child! There will be sometime. In my day folks used ter
stay ter hum an' mind their childern, but now they've all took ter
soarin' an' it don't matter how many ends they leave flyin' loose
“But Penelope has no children to mind, Mrs. Riggs.”
“Land alive! She hez me, an' I oughter be more ter her than a duzzen
childern,—but she ain't got no proper feelin's, Penel ain't. When I'm
a' lyin' in my coffin she'll give her eyes ter hev the chance ter rub
my rheumatiz, an' run for hot bottles an' flannels an' ginger tea. It's
an ongrateful world but I allcrs sez there ain't no use complainin';
it's what we've got ter expec',—triberlation an' anguish an' mournin'
an' woe. It's good enuff fer us too. Sech wurms ez we be!”
“Well, Evadne, how do you do, child? I'm dretful glad to see you,”
and Penelope, breezy and keen as a March wind, came bustling into the
room. “Why, yes, I'm well, child, if it wasn't for bein' so tumbled
about in my mind.”
“What has tumbled you, Penelope?” asked Evadne with a merry laugh.
“The Scribes and Pharisees,” was the terse rejoinder. “I've just cum
from a Committee meeting of the Missionary Society an' I'm free to
confess my feelin's is roused tremendous. Seems to me nowadays the
church is built at a different angle from the Sermon on the Mount an'
things is measured by the world's yardsticks till there ain't much
sense in callin' it a church at all. Ef you'd seen the way Squire
Higgins' girls sot down on poor little Matildy Jones this afternoon,
just because her father sells fish! Their father sells it too, but he's
got forehanded an' can do it by the gross, an' so they toss their heads
an' set a whole garden full o' flowers a' shakin' upan' down. They're
allers more peacocky in their minds after they git their spring
bunnets. The Lord said we was to consider the lilies, but I guess he
meant us to leave 'em in the fields, for I notice the more folks
carries on the tops of their heads the less their apt to be like 'em
“But what did they say to her?” asked Evadne.
“You're young, child, or you'd know there's more ways of insultin'
than with the tongue, an' poor little Matildy is jest the one to be
hurt that way. Some folks is like clams, the minute you touch 'em, they
shut themselves up in their shells an' then they don't feel what you do
to 'em any more'n the Rocky mountains, but Matildy isn't made that way.
She just sot there with the flushes comin' in her cheeks an' the tears
shinin' in her pretty eyes till my heart ached. I leaned over to her
an' whispered, 'Don't fret, Matildy, they ain't wuth mindin'. She gave
me a little wintry smile but the tears kep a' comin' an' by an' bye she
got up and went out, an' ef she don't imitate the Prophet Jeremi an'
water her piller with her tears this night, then I've changed my name
“I was so uplifted in my mind with righteous indignation that I felt
called upon to let it loose, so I begun in a musin' tone, as ef I was
havin' a solil.”
“'A solil?'“ said Evadne in a mystified tone.
“Why, yes; talkin' to myself, child. I did think, ef there was any
place folks was free an' eqal 'twould be in the Lord's service,' sez I.
'The Bible teaches it's a pretty dangerous bizness to offend one uv
these little ones. I'm not much of a hand at quotations, but there's an
unpleasant connection between it an' a millstun,' sez I.
“Malviny Higgins tossed her head an' giv me one uv her witherinest
looks, but I'm not one uv the perishin' kind, so I kep on a' musin'.
“'It's wonderful what a difference there is between sellin' by the
poun' an' the barrel,' sez I. 'It's unfortunet that there's only one
way to the heavenly country, an' it's a limited express with no Pullman
attached. The Lord hedn't time to put on a parlor car fer the wholesale
trade; seems like as if it was kind uv neglectful in him. It would hev
been more convenient an' private.'
“Malviny's cheeks got as red as beets an' the flowers on her bonnet
danced a Highland Fling as she leaned over to whisper somethin' to her
sister, but I hed relieved my feelin's an' could join in quite peaceful
like when Mrs. Songster said we'd close the meetin' by singin' 'Blest
be the tie that binds.' Well, there'll be no clicks in heaven, that's
“Why, yes, child, the folks that gets off by themselves in a corner
an' thinks nobody outside the circle is fit to tie their shoe. I expect
to hev edifyin' conversations with Moses an' Elija, an' the first thing
I mean to ask him is what kind of ravens they really were.”
“'Ravens,'“ echoed Evadne bewildered, “what do you mean,
“Sakes alive, child! Haven't you read your Bible? and don't you know
the ravens fed the old gentleman in the desert, an' that folks now say
they were Arabs, because the ravens are dirty birds an' live on
carrion, an' it stands to reason Elija couldn't touch that if he hed an
ordinary stumach. As if the Lord couldn't hev made 'em bring food from
the king's table if he hed chosen to do it! It's all of a piece with
the way folks hev now of twistin' the Bible inside out till nobody
knows what it means. For my part I believe if the Lord hed meant Arabs
he would hev said Arabs an' not hev deceived us by callin' 'em birds uv
prey. Folks is so set against allowin' anything that looks like a
meracle that they'll go all the way round the barn an' creep through a
snake fence if they can prove it's jest an ordinary piece of business.
They do say there are some things the Lord can't do, but I'm free to
confess I've never found them out.”
* * * * *
“Aunt Marthe,” said Evadne, when they had settled down for their
evening talk, “what does it all mean? 'The victory of our faith,' you
know, and the 'Overcomeths' in Revelation? I thought Christ got the
victory for us?”
“So he does, dear child, and we through him. I came across a lovely
explanation of it some time ago which I will copy for you; it has been
such an inspiration. Listen,—
“'When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught and
you smile inwardly, glorying in the insult or the oversight,—that is
“'When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed,
your tastes offended, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed,
and you take it all in patient and loving silence,—that is victory.
“'When you are content with any food, any raiment, any climate, any
society, any position in life, any solitude, any interruption,—that is
“'When you can bear with any discord, any annoyance, any
irregularity or unpunctuality (of which you are not the cause),—that
“'When you can stand face to face with folly, extravagance,
spiritual insensibility, contradiction of sinners, persecution, and
endure it all as Jesus endured it,—that is victory.
“'When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, nor to
record your works, nor to seek after commendation; when you can truly
love to be unknown,—that is victory.'“
“Now I see!” exclaimed Evadne. “It means the beautiful patience with
which you bear aggravating things and the gentle courtesy with which
you treat all sorts of troublesome people. Oh, my Princess, I envy you
Professor Trenton had come and gone and the glory of the autumn was
over the land. The early supper was ended and Evadne had ensconced
herself in her favorite window to catch the sun's last smile before he
fell asleep. In the room across the hall Mr. Everidge reclined in his
luxurious arm-chair and leisurely turned the pages of the last “North
American Review.” It was Saturday evening.
“Why, Horace, can this be possible?” Mrs. Everidge entered the room
quickly and stood before her husband. Neither of them noticed Evadne.
“My dear, many things are possible in this terrestrial sphere. What
particular possibility do you refer to?”
“That you have discharged Reuben?” The sweet voice trembled. Mr.
Everidge's tones kept their usual complacent calm.
“That possibility, my dear, has taken definite form in fact.”
“But, Horace, the boy is heart-broken.”
“Time is a mighty healer, my love. He will recover his mental
equipoise in due course.”
“But you might have given him a month's warning. Where is the poor
boy to find another place? It is cruel to turn him off like this!”
“Really, my dear Marthe, I do not feel myself competent to solve all
the problems of the labor question,” said Mr. Everidge carelessly.
“Reuben must take his chances in common with the rest of his class.”
“But, Horace, I cannot imagine what your reason for this can be!
Where will you find so good a boy?”
“I am not aware that Socrates thought it necessary to acquaint the
worthy Xantippe with the reasons for his conduct,” remarked Mr.
Everidge suavely. “The feminine mind is too much disposed to jump to
hasty conclusions to prove of any assistance in deciding matters of
importance. The masculine brain, on the contrary, takes time for calm
deliberation and weighs the pros and cons in the scale of a well
balanced judgment before arriving at any definite decision. But my
reason in this case will soon become apparent to you. I do not intend
to keep a boy at all.”
“But who will take care of Atalanta? Are you going to forsake your
cherished books for a curry-comb?”
“Really, Marthe!” exclaimed her husband in an aggrieved tone, “it is
incomprehensible that you should have such a total disregard for the
delicacy of my constitution,—especially when you know that the very
odor of the stable is abhorrent to my olfactory senses. Atalanta has
quarters provided for her at the Vernon Livery, and one of the grooms
has orders to bring the carriage to the door at two o'clock every
“But that will make it very awkward, Horace. I so often have to use
the carriage in the morning.”
“'Have,' my dear Marthe, is a word which admits of many
substitutions,—'cannot' in this case will be a suitable one. I find it
is necessary to resume possession of the reins. Atalanta is
retrograding and is rapidly losing that characteristic of speed which
made her name a fitting one. There is a lack of mastery about a woman's
handling of the ribbons which is quickly detected by horses, especially
when they are of more than average intelligence.”
“But, Horace, if Reuben goes, Joanna will go too. You know she
promised her mother she would never leave him.”
“In that event, my dear, you will have an opportunity to become more
intimately acquainted with the mysteries of the culinary art,” observed
Mr. Everidge cheerfully. “It will be a splendid chance to evolve that
finest of character combinations, Spartan endurance coupled with
Mrs. Everidge smiled. “But what if I do not have the Spartan
“That is merely a matter of imagination, my love. It proves the
truth of my theory that necessity develops capacity. A woman of
leisure, for want of suitable mental pabulum, grows to fancy she has
every ill that flesh is heir to, whereas, when she is obliged by
compelling circumstances to put her muscles into practice, her mind
acquires a more healthy tone. Self-contemplation is a most enervating
exercise and involves a tremendous drain on the moral forces.”
“Do you think I waste much time in that way, Horace?” Mrs. Everidge
spoke wistfully, and Evadne, forced to be an unwilling listener to the
conversation, felt her cheeks grow hot with indignation.
“My dear, I merely refer to the deplorable tendency of your sex. All
you require is moral stamina to tear yourself away from the arms of
Morpheus at an earlier hour in the It is a popular illusion, you know,
that work performed before sunrise takes less time to accomplish and is
better done than later in the day. My mother used to affirm that she
accomplished the work of two days in one when she arose at three a.m.,
but then my mother was a most exceptional woman,” with which parting
thrust Mr. Everidge retired behind the pages of his magazine.
Upstairs in her own room Evadne paced the floor with tightly
clenched hands. “Oh!” she cried, “what shall I do? I hate him! I hate
him! How dare he! He ought to be glad to go down on his knees to serve
her, she is so sweet, so dear! Oh, I cannot bear it! That she should be
compelled to endure such servitude, and I can do nothing to help,
nothing! nothing!” She threw herself across the bed and burst into a
passion of tears. Was this the silent girl whom Isabelle had voted
tiresome and slow?
A little later than usual she heard the low knock which always
preceded the visit which she looked forward to as the sweetest part of
the day. Could it be possible she would come to-night? Was no thought
of self ever permitted to enter that brave, suffering heart?
She rose and opened the door. The dear face was paler than usual but
there was no shadow upon the smooth brow. Marthe Everidge had crossed
the tempest-tossed ocean of human passion into the sun-kissed calm of
Christ's perfect peace.
Evadne threw her arms around her neck and laid her storm-swept face
upon her shoulder. “Forgive me!” she cried, “I heard it all. I could
not help it. I think my heart is breaking. Do not be angry, you see I
love you so! How can I bear to have you subjected to this? You are so
tender, so true. There is such a charm about you! You are so
beautifully unselfish! Oh, my dear, my dear, how can you, do you bear
Mrs. Everidge lifted her face tenderly and kissed the quivering
lips. “It is 'not I but Christ,' dear child. That makes it possible.”
Then she drew her over to the lounge and began to undress her as if she
had been a baby. “My dear little sister. You are utterly exhausted. You
are not strong enough to suffer so.”
“Oh, will you let me be your sister and help you bear your burdens?”
cried Evadne, unconscious that all the time the skilful hands were
keeping up their sweet ministry and that her burden was being lifted
for her by the one who had the greater burden to bear.
When she was comfortably settled for the night Mrs. Everidge drew
her low chair up beside the bed. Evadne caught her hand in hers and
kissed it reverently. “I wish I could make you understand how I honor
you!” she said.
“You must not do it, dear!” said Aunt Marthe quickly. “Honor the
After a pause she began to speak slowly and her voice was sweet and
low. “When, the first night you came, you asked me if I knew Jesus
Christ, I told you he was my life. That explains it all. It is very
sweet of you to say the kind things that you have about me but they are
not true. In and of herself, Marthe Everidge is nothing. The moment she
tries to live her own life she utterly fails. If there is anything good
about her life, it is only as she lets Christ live it for her.”
“I do not understand,” said Evadne with a puzzled look. “How is it
possible for any one else to live our lives for us?”
“No one can but Jesus,” said Aunt Marthe with a smile. “He does the
impossible. Take that exquisite fifteenth chapter of St. John and study
it verse by verse. 'Abide in me, and I in you.' There you have the two
abidings. We are in Christ when we believe in him and are
accepted through the merit of his blood and brought by adoption into
the family of God, but not until he abides in our hearts shall our
lives become as beautiful as God means them to be. Fruitfulness,—that
is the cry everywhere. Men are calling for intellectual fruitfulness
and mechanical fruitfulness, and are bending their energies to find the
soil which will develop at once the best quality and greatest amount of
fruit. Take a tree, to make my meaning clearer. The tree may abide in
the soil and be just alive, but it is not until the essence of the soil
enters into and abides in the tree, that it really grows and bears
fruit. Growers of the finest varieties will show you plums that look as
if they had been frosted with silver, and peaches with cheeks like the
first blush of dawn. The 'fruits of the Spirit,' have a wondrous bloom
and an exquisite fragrance.”
“'Love, joy, peace,'“ Evadne repeated slowly, “'long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith.' But those belong to the Spirit, Aunt
“Yes, dear child, the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit whom he sent to
comfort his people when he took his bodily presence from the earth. The
holy, indwelling presence which is to reveal the Christ to us and
prepare us for the abiding of the Father and the Son. It is the
beautiful mystery of the Trinity.”
“But we cannot have the Trinity abiding in our hearts!” said Evadne
in an awestruck voice.
“The Bible teaches us so.”
“Not God, Aunt Marthe!”
“Jesus is God, little one. He said to the Jews, 'I and my Father are
one.' He says plainly, 'If any man love me, he will keep my word and my
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with
him,' and in another place we are told to be filled with the Spirit. It
is three persons but three in one.”
“I do not understand, Aunt Marthe.”
“No, dear, we never shall, down here. Thomas wanted to do that and
Christ said 'Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have
believed.' The Spirit is continually giving us deeper insight into the
love of the Son, just as the Son came to make known to the world the
wonderful love of the Father.”
“But 'be filled,'“ said Evadne. “That looks as if we had something
to do with it.”
“So we have, dear child. Suppose a man owned one hundred acres of
land and gave you the right of way through it from one public road to
another,—that would leave him many acres for his own use on which you
have no right to trespass. I think we treat Jesus so. We are willing
that he should have the right of way through our hearts, but we forget
that every acre must be the King's property. There must be no rights
reserved, no fenced corners. Jesus must be an absolute monarch.”
Mrs. Everidge spoke the last words softly and Evadne, looking at her
uplifted face, shining now with the radiance which always filled it
when she spoke of her Lord, saw again that glowing face which she had
watched across the gate at Hollywood and heard the strange, exultant
tones, 'He is my King!' Ah, that was beautiful! That was what Aunt
Marthe meant, and Pompey and Dyce.
“Jesus must come to abide, not merely as a transient guest,” Aunt
Marthe continued in her low tones. “We must give him full control of
our thought and will. We must hand him the keys of the citadel. We must
give the all for the all,—that is only fair dealing. You see, dear
child, Christ cannot fill us until we are willing to be emptied of
self. He must have undivided possession. There is a vast amount of
heartache, little one, in this old world, and self is at the bottom of
it all, when we stop to analyze it. We want to be first, to be thought
much of, to be loved best. No wonder that the selfless life seems
impossible to most people. Think what a continuous self-sacrifice
Christ's life was! So utterly alone and lonely among such uncongenial
surroundings with people uncouth and totally foreign to his tastes. Ah!
we don't realize it. We look at him doing the splendid things amidst
the plaudits of the multitude, but think of the monotonous, weary days,
going up and down the sun-baked streets surrounded by a crowd of noisy
beggars full of all sorts of loathsome disease, and the humdrum life in
Nazareth; and all the time the great heart aching with that ceaseless
sorrow,—'His own received him not!' Oh, what a waste of love! We do
not realize that it is in these footsteps of his that we are called to
follow. We are willing to do the great things, with the world looking
on, but not for the loneliness and the pain! It seems a strange
antithesis that Paul should count that as his highest glory, and yet
how comparatively few seem counted worthy to enter with Christ into the
shadow of that mysterious Gethsemane which lasted all his life. 'The
fellowship of his sufferings.' It must surely mean the privilege of
getting very near his heart, just as human hearts grow closer in a
common sorrow,—knit by pain. Yes, dear child, self must die: and it is
a cruel death,—the death of the cross. But then comes the newness of
life with its strange, sweet joy which the world's children do not know
the taste of. How can they when it is 'the joy of the Lord,' and they
“You talk of the cross, Aunt Marthe, and other people talk of
crosses. Aunt Kate and Isabelle are always talking about the sacrifices
they have to make, and Mrs. Rivers carries a perfect bundle of crosses
on her back. She is wealthy and has everything she wants, and yet she
is always wailing, while Dyce is as happy as the day is long. Do the
poor Christians always do the singing while the rich ones sigh?”
Mrs. Everidge smiled. “We make our crosses, dear child, when we put
our wishes at right angles to God's will. When we only care to please
him everything that he chooses for us seems just right. I have heard
people speak as if it were a cross to mention the name of Christ. How
could it be if they loved him? Do you find it a cross to talk to me
about your father? People make a terrible mistake about this. The only
cross we are commanded to carry is the cross of Christ.”
“And what is that, Aunt Marthe?”
“Self renunciation,” said Aunt Marthe softly, “the secret of peace.
“Among all the pictures of the Madonna,” she continued after a
pause, “the one I like best is where Mary is sitting, holding in her
hands the crown of thorns; everything else had been wrenched from her
grasp, but this they had no use for. What a legacy it was! As I look at
it I see how he has gathered all the thorns of life and woven them into
that kingly garland which is his glory. All the wealth of the Indies
could not shed as dazzling a light as that thorny crown. Like the brave
soldier who gathered into his own breast the spears of the enemy,
Christ has taken the sting from our sorrows and made us more than
conquerors over the wounds of earth. Surely he has tasted it all for
us,—the baseness and coldness and ingratitude and treachery which have
wrung human hearts all through the ages,—when Judas betrayed him,
Peter denied him and they all forsook him and fled, do you suppose any
other pain was comparable to that? Only our friends have the power to
wound us, you know, and, 'he was wounded in the house of his friends.'
When people talk of the crucifixion they think of the nail-torn hands
and pierced side,—I think of his heart! Oh, my Lord, how could
they treat thee so!”
Evadne looked wistfully at the rapt face, irradiated now by the
moonlight which was streaming in through the window. “How you
love him, Aunt Marthe!”
“He is my all,” she answered simply. The girl stroked the hand which
she still held in both her own. She is absolutely satisfied, she
thought sorrowfully, she wants nothing that I can give her. And then
through the stillness she heard the sweet voice singing,—
“I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.”
“Dear Aunt Marthe,” cried Evadne one afternoon, “what is love?”
“I will answer you in the words of one who for years has lived the
love-life,” said Mrs. Everidge.
“'One must be himself infinite in knowledge to define it, infinite
in comprehension to fathom it, infinite in love to appreciate it. Love
is God in man, for “God is love,” and “every one that loveth is born of
God;” but love is not merely veneration, nor respect, nor justice, nor
passion, nor jealousy, nor sympathy, nor pity, nor self-gratification;
to love something as our own is but a form of self-love; to love
something in order to win it for ourselves is just a perpetration of
the same mistake.' Dr. Karl Gerok wrote,—'Love is the fundamental law
of the world. First, as written in heaven, for God is love; second, as
written on the cross, for Christ is love; third, as written in our
hearts, for Christianity is love,' And Drummond tells us that 'Love—is
the rule for fulfilling all rules, the new commandment for keeping all
the old commandments, Christ's one secret of the Christian life.' And
another writer says,—'You are a personality only as your heart lives,
and the heart lives only as it loves. Love is all action, therefore the
amount of your active love measures the size of your personal heart.'“
“Love has been defined as 'the desire to bless.' That is like divine
love, for there can be no self thought in God. God's love is over all
and above all, but when our love responds to his, his love becomes to
us a personal experience. Love can reach down when in loving trust we
reach up. Love is like the seed. It manifests no life until it begins
to grow. Like the seed it must rise out of the dark ground into the
light of heaven,—out of self thought into God. God's love to us is
like the sunlight. We can make it our own only by being in it, if we
try to shut up the sunlight, we shut it out. We forget to do wrong when
loving God. As we love God, the love we feel for him goes out to
Evadne sighed. “You make it seem a wonderful thing to be a
Christian,” she said.
“To be a Christian, little one, Andrew Murray tells us, 'just means
to have Christ's love.' Real love means giving always, of our best.”
[Illustration: THE SILENT FIGURE WITH THE AWFUL ENTREATY IN ITS
God so loved that he gave his Son, the essence of himself. Jesus
gave his life, not only in the final agony of the crucifixion, but all
through the beautiful years of ministry in Nazareth and Galilee. There
is a truer giving than of our temporal goods. Our friends, if they
really love us, want most of all what we can give them of ourselves. It
is those who give themselves to the world's need who come nearest to
the divine pattern Christ has set for us to copy, and, if we truly love
him, we shall want not his gifts but himself.
“People seek after holy living instead of perfect loving, they do
not realize that we can be truly holy only as we love, for 'love is the
great reality of the spiritual world.'“
Evadne laid her cheek caressingly against Mrs. Everidge's. “If it
were only you, dear, how delightfully easy it would be, but do you
suppose it is possible for me to love Aunt Kate and Isabelle?”
“Yes, dear child, with the love of God.”
“You can't imagine how I dread the idea of going back!” Evadne said
with a sigh. “This summer has been like a lovely dream. How shall I
endure the cold reality of my waking?”
“Where is your joy, little one?”
“Joy, Aunt Marthe!” exclaimed Evadne drearily, “why, I haven't got
any apart from you. Just the mere thought of the separation makes my
“'The joy of the Lord,'“ said Mrs. Everidge softly. “If Jesus Christ
is able to fill heaven don't you think he ought to be able to fill
earth too? The trouble is we turn away from him and pour our wealth of
love at earthly shrines. Mary showed us the better way,—she broke
the box, that every drop of the precious ointment might fall on his
dear head. What is going to be the crowning satisfaction of heaven? Not
that we shall meet our friends, as so many seem to think, but that we
shall awake in his likeness and see his face. We shall be
'together,'—we have that comfort given us, but it will be 'together
with the Lord.' He is to be the centre of attraction and delight
always. What an unfathomable mystery it must be to the angels that he
is not so with us now!”
Evadne took a long, yearning look at the dear face, as if she would
imprint it upon her memory forever. “He is with you,” she said
softly. “You will never be a puzzle to the angels.”
* * * * *
The time of her stay in Vernon drew near its close, and on the last
day but one she went to say good-bye to Penelope Riggs. She found her
sitting alone in the house, her mother having taken a fancy to have a
sun bath. Her right hand was doubled up and she was rubbing it slowly
up and down the palm of her left while she sang softly.
“Why, Penelope, what are you doing?” cried Evadne in amaze.
“Polishin', child. I learnt it long ago. One day I was that wore out
I wouldn't have cared if the sky had fallen,—things had been goin'
crooked, an' Mother hadn't slept well for a fortnight, an' I was that
narvous an' tuckered out I thought I'd fly to pieces. There's an old
hymn Mother's dredful fond of,—I don't remember how it goes now, but
there's one line she keeps repeatin' over an' over till I feel ready to
jump. It's this,—'What dyin' wurms we be.' So, when she begun her wurm
song that mornin' I just let fly. 'Ef I am a wurm,' sez I, 'I
ain't goin' ter be allers lookin' to see myself squirm!' and with that
I up and out of the house. My head was that tight inside I felt if I
didn't git out that minit somethin' would snap. I went straight up to
Mis' Everidge's. She's one of the people you see who always lives on a
hill, inside an' out. When I got there I couldn't speak. My heart's
weak at the best of times an' the weather in there was pretty stormy. I
just dropped into the first chair an' she put her hands on my two
shoulders an' sez she,—'You poor child!' an' then she went away an'
made me a syllabub.”
“'Look on the bright side,' sez she in her cheery way when I had
“'Sakes alive, Mis' Everidge,' sez I, 'there isn't any bright
“'Then polish up the dark one,' sez she, ez quick ez a flash. I've
been tryin' to do it ever since.”
“You dear Penelope!” exclaimed Evadne, “I think you have!”
“It's all a wale, child, a wale o' tears,” old Mrs. Riggs complained
as she bade her good-bye in the porch, but when she reached the turn in
the road she heard Penelope singing,—
“Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be!
Lead me by Thine own hand;
Choose out my path for me.
I dare not choose my lot,
I would not if I might;
Choose Thou for me, My God,
So shall I walk aright.”
and Evadne knew that in the brave heart the voice of Christ had made
the storm a calm.
“You dear Aunt Marthe! How am I ever going to thank you for all you
have been to me; and what shall I do without you?” Evadne spoke the
words wistfully. They were making the most of their last evening.
“Why, dear child, we can always be together in spirit. 'It is not
distance in miles that separates people but distance in feeling.'
Emerson says,—'A man really lives where his thought is,' so you can be
in Vernon and I in Marlborough,—each of us held close in the hush of
God's love, which 'in its breadth is a girdle that encompasses the
globe and a mantle that enwraps it.'“
Evadne caught Mrs. Everidge's face between her hands and kissed it
reverently. “I mean to devote my life to making other people happy, as
you do, my saint,” she said.
* * * * *
“Board!” The conductor's cry of warning smote the air and the train
passengers made a final bustle of preparation for a start. Mrs.
Everidge caught Evadne close in a last embrace.
“My precious little sister, I shall miss you every day!” Then she
was gone, and Evadne, looking eagerly out of her window, saw the dear
face, from which the tears had been swept away, smiling brightly at her
from the platform.
“You magnificent Christian!” she cried. “You will give others the
* * * * *
The train steamed into the station at Marlborough and again Louis
came forward to greet her with a look of admiration on his unusually
“Well done, Evadne! If the atmosphere of Vernon can work such
transformation as this, it ought to be bottled up and sold at twenty
dollars the dozen. You go away looking like a snow-wraith, and you
return a blooming Hebe.”
Evadne laughed merrily. “Thank you. The atmosphere of Vernon has a
wonderful power,” but it was not of the material ozone she was thinking
as she spoke.
“I believe I will try it. My constitution is running down at the
rate of an alarm clock. I must take my choice between a tonic and an
early grave. Will you vouch for like good results in my case?”
Evadne shook her head. “I do not believe it would have the same
effect upon everyone,” she said.
“Ah, then I shall be compelled to go to Europe.”
Evadne looked at him. “Yes,” she said, “I think Europe would suit
“That is unfortunate,—for the Judge's purse. How is Aunt Marthe?”
“She is well,” she answered with a sudden stillness in her voice.
She could not trust herself to talk about this friend of hers to
careless questioners. “How is Uncle Lawrence, and all the others?”
“The Judge is in his usual state of health, I fancy. We rarely meet
except at the table and then you know personal questions are not
considered in good form. The others are well, and Isabelle, having just
returned from the metropolis of Fashion, is more than ever au fait
in the usages of polite society. But none of them have improved like
you, little coz. What has changed you so?”
And she answered softly, with a new light shining in her lovely
* * * * *
“You poor Evadne!” said Marion that evening, “what a dreary summer
you must have had, shut away among those stupid mountains! If you could
only have been with me, now. I never had such a lovely vacation in my
life. There seemed to be some excitement every day;—picnics and
boating parties and tennis matches and five o'clocks——”
Evadne laughed. “You would better not let Uncle Horace know you are
'a votary of the deadly five o'clock' or he will empty his vials of
denunciation upon your unlucky head.
“Oh, Aunt Kate, he sent you a large bundle of fraternal greetings.
He says that, 'viewed through the glamour of memory, you impress him
like an Alpine landscape, when the sun is rising, and he hopes the soft
brilliance of prosperity will ever envelop you in its radiance and
serve to enhance the beauty of your stately calm.'“
Mrs. Hildreth smiled, well pleased. “Horace is so poetical,” she
said, “but all the Everidges are clever. What a shame it seems that a
man of his talent should be forced by ill health to exist in a place
where there is not a single soul capable of appreciating his rare
qualities. Even his wife does not begin to understand him. It seems
like casting pearls before swine.”
Evadne's eyes flashed and her lips pressed themselves tightly
together, but Mrs. Hildreth's gaze was fixed intently upon the lace
shawl she was knitting and Louis just then gave a sudden turn to the
She went up to her room with a great homesickness surging at her
heart. Only last night all had been lightsome and happy, now the old
darkness seemed to have settled down about her again. She knelt before
her window and looked at the strip of sky which was all a Marlborough
residence allowed her. “Happy stars!” she murmured, “for you are
shining on Aunt Marthe!”
Far into the night she knelt there, until a great peace flooded her
soul. She raised her hands towards the sparkling sky. “To make the
world brighter, to make the world better, to lift the world nearer to
God. Blessed Christ, that was thy mission. I will make it mine!”
The next morning Louis drew her aside. “So, little coz, you did not
coincide with the lady mother's eulogium of our respected collateral
“Why, I said nothing!” cried Evadne in astonishment.
Louis laughed. “Have you never heard of eyes that speak and faces
that tell tales?” he said. “I will just whisper a word of warning
before you play havoc with your web of destiny. Don't let a suspicion
of your dislike cross the lady mother's mind, for Uncle Horace is her
beau-ideal of a man. I agree with you. I think he is a cad.”
“An invitation to Professor Joliette's,” and Isabelle tossed a
gilt-edged card across the table to Marion; “Wednesday evening. It's
not a very long invitation. What dress will you wear?”
“But you are engaged, Marion,” said Evadne; “Wednesday evening, you
“Yes,” said Marion with a sigh, “it is awkward. I do wish they would
choose some other night for prayer meeting. Wednesday seems such a
favorite with everybody.”
“What a little prig you are getting to be, Evadne!” said Isabelle
with a sneer. “Your only diversion seems to be prayer meeting and
church. You are as bad as Aunt Marthe.”
“Aunt Marthe a prig! Oh, that is too funny!” and Evadne gave one of
her low, sweet laughs. “Besides, does keeping one's engagements
constitute a prig, Isabelle? You wouldn't think so if you were invited
to the President's reception.”
“The President's reception! What does get into the child! I don't
see much analogy between the two cases. No one considers prayer meeting
a binding engagement, and I'm sure we go as often as we can.”
“Not binding!” echoed Evadne. “So Christ is not of as much
importance as the President of the United States!”
“You do have such a way of putting things, Evadne!” said Marion
thoughtfully. “I expect we had better refuse, Isabelle.”
“Refuse,—nonsense!” said Isabelle sharply. “You always meet the
best people at the Joliettes',—besides, why should we run the risk of
“Why should they run the risk of offending you, by choosing a night
they know you cannot come?” asked Evadne.
“Ridiculous! What do they care about our church concerns? The
Joliettes are foreigners. People in polite society do not give religion
such an unpleasant prominence as you delight in, Evadne. For my part, I
consider it very bad form.”
“Breakers ahead, Evadne,” said Louis with his cynical laugh. “Good
form is Isabelle's fetich. Woe betide the unlucky wight who dares to
hold an opinion of his own.”
“But,” said Evadne, the old puzzled look coming into her eyes, “I
wish I could understand. Are Christians ashamed of the religion of
“That's about the amount of it, little coz. It is a sort of kedge
anchor which they keep on board in case of danger. For my part I think
it is better to sail clear. It is only an uncomfortable addition which
spoils the trim of the ship.”
“Oh, Louis, don't!” exclaimed Marion with a sigh. “It is so hard to
know what is right! Sometimes I wish I were a nun, shut up in a
convent, and then I should have nothing else to do.”
“Doubtless the Lord would appreciate that sort of faithfulness,”
said Louis gravely, “although I notice Christianity seems to be a sort
of Sing-Sing arrangement with the majority. Everything is done under a
sense of compulsion, and the air is lurid with trials and lamentations
and woe. It is not an alluring life, and, in my opinion, the jolly old
world shows its sense in steering clear of it.”
“Your irreverence is shocking, Louis,” said Isabelle severely, “and
you are as much of an extremist as Evadne. No one could live such a
life as you seem to expect. Religion has its proper place, of course,
but I do not think it is wise to speak of the deep things of life on
“'I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ,
and him crucified,'“ quoted Evadne. “Was Paul mistaken then?”
“Certainly, my dear coz,” said Louis, as he prepared to leave the
room. “The greatest men are subject to that infirmity. The only one who
has never been mistaken is Isabelle.”
* * * * *
“It is so provoking that we cannot have the carriage,” grumbled
Isabelle, as, when Wednesday evening came, they waited for Louis in the
dining-room. “At the Joliettes' of all places! I am sure I don't see,
Papa, why you cannot insist upon Pompey's taking some other night off
when we need him on Wednesdays. It is horribly awkward!”
Her father shook his head as he slowly peeled an orange. “Because I
have given him my word, my dear. The only stipulation he made when I
engaged him was that he should not be required to drive on Sundays and
Wednesday evenings, and, when I hear people complaining about their
surly, incapable coachmen, I consider it is a light price to pay.
Pompey is as sober as a church and as pleasant-tempered in a rain storm
as a water-spaniel,—no matter what hour of the night you keep him
waiting; so it is the least we can do to let the poor fellow be sure of
one evening to himself;” and the Judge opened his Times and began to
study the money market.
“Well,” said Isabelle crossly. “I, for one, don't believe in
allowing servants to have such cast-iron rules. It savors too much of
“Exactly so,” said Louis from the doorway, where he stood leisurely
buttoning his gloves. “You will never pose as the goddess of liberty,
ma belle soeur. It is a good thing that Lincoln got the
Emancipation bill signed before you came into power, or dusky millions
might still be weeping tears of blood.”
Isabelle swept past him with an indignant toss of her head, and the
front door closed after the trio with a metallic clang.
“I don't wonder the poor child is annoyed,” said Mrs. Hildreth as
she played with her grapes. “It is very embarrassing when people know
that we keep a carriage; and the Joliettes are such sticklers in the
matter of etiquette. It is a ridiculous fad of yours, Lawrence, to be
“But, my dear, I gave him my word of honor!”
“What if you did? There are exceptions to every rule.”
“Not in the Hildreth code of honor, Kate.”
“Nonsense! What does a colored coachman understand about that! Why,
Evadne, you cannot go to prayer meeting alone!” she exclaimed, as
Evadne came into the room with her hat on. “Your uncle is busy and I am
too tired, so there is no way for you to get home.”
“I am going to Dyce's church, Aunt Kate. Pompey will bring me home.”
“Among a lot of shouting negroes! You must be crazy, child!”
“Their souls are white, Aunt Kate, and there is no color line on the
Rock of Ages.”
“Oh, well, tastes differ,” said her aunt carelessly, “but it is a
strange fancy for Judge Hildreth's niece. Next thing you will suggest
going to board with Pompey.”
“I might fare a good deal worse,” said Evadne with her soft laugh.
“Dyce keeps her rooms like waxwork and she is a capital cook.”
“Really, Evadne, I am in despair! You have not an iota of proper
pride. How are you going to maintain your position in society?”
“I don't believe I care to test the question, Aunt Kate; but I think
my position will maintain itself.”
“Well said, Evadne,” said her uncle, looking up from his paper. “You
will never forget you are a Hildreth, eh?”
“Higher than that, uncle,” said Evadne softly. “I am a sister of
“I don't know what to make of the child,” said Mrs. Hildreth
discontentedly, as the door closed behind her. “I believe she would
rather associate with such people than with those of her own class. She
has a bowing acquaintance with the most outre looking
individuals I ever saw. I really don't think Dr. Jerome is wise setting
young girls to visit in the German quarter. It doesn't hurt Marion,
now. She only does it as a disagreeable duty and is immensely relieved
when her round of visits is made for the month, but Evadne takes as
much interest in them as if they were her relations. Next thing we
know, she will be wanting to take up slum work. I hope she won't come
to any harm down among those crazy blacks. They always seem to get
possessed the moment they touch religion.”
“I do not think Evadne will ever come to any harm,” the Judge said
slowly. “The Lord takes pretty good care of his own.”
His wife looked at him with a puzzled expression. “I fully intended
going to prayer meeting myself to-night,” she said, “but it gets to be
a great tax,—an evening out of every week,—and I do dread the night
air so much.”
Mrs. Judge Hildreth dipped her jeweled fingers into the perfumed
water of her finger glass and dried them on her silk-fringed napkin.
“Oh, Lawrence, don't forget Judge Tracer's dinner to-morrow night. You
will have to come home earlier than usual, for it is such a long drive,
and it will never do to keep his mulligatawny waiting. And, by the way,
I made a new engagement for you to-day. Mrs. General Leighton has
invited us to join the Shakespearean Club which she is getting up. It
is to be very select. Will meet at the different houses, you know, with
a choice little supper at the close. She says the one she belonged to
in Atlanta was a brilliant affair. She comes from one of Georgia's
first families, you remember.”
“A Shakespearean Club!” and Judge Hildreth smiled incredulously.
“Why, my dear, I never knew you and the immortal Will had much affinity
for each other!”
“Oh, of course it is more for the prestige of the thing. Mrs.
Leighton said the General assured her you would never find leisure for
it, but I said I would promise for you. It is only one evening a week
you know. She thinks we Americans retire far too early from the
enjoyments of life in favor of our children, and I believe she is
right. I certainly do not feel myself in the sere and yellow,” and Mrs.
Judge Hildreth regarded herself complacently in the long mirror before
which she stood. “You will manage to make the time, Lawrence?”
“What other answer but 'yes' can Petruchio make to 'the prettiest
Kate in Christendom'?” replied the Judge, bowing gallantly to the face
in the mirror as he came up and stood beside his wife. It was a
handsome face but there was a hardness about it, and the lines around
the mouth which bespoke an indomitable will, had deepened with the
“Only one evening a week, Kate, but you thought that too much of a
tax just now.”
“How absurd you are, Lawrence! When shall I make you understand that
there are sacrifices that must be made. We owe a duty to society. We
cannot afford to let ourselves drop wholly out of the world.”
A little later Judge Hildreth entered his library with a heavy sigh.
He had attained the ends he had striven for, he was respected alike in
the church and the world, he held a high and lucrative position, he had
a well appointed home, over which his handsome wife presided with
dignity and grace, and yet, as he took his seat before his desk in the
lofty room whose shelves were lined with gems of thought in fragrant,
costly bindings, life seemed to have missed its sweetness to Lawrence
Evadne's words haunted him, and, like an accusing angel, the letter
which still lay hidden under the mass of papers in the drawer which he
never opened, seemed to look at him reproachfully.
“A sister of Jesus Christ.” Sisters and brothers lived together. Was
it possible that Jesus Christ could be in this house,—this very room?
The idea was appalling. He was familiar with the truism that God was
everywhere, but he had never really believed it; and, as the years
passed, he had found it convenient to remove him to a shadowy distance
in space, less likely to interfere with modern business methods. Jesus
Christ, enshrined in a far off glory among his angels, appealed to the
decorum of his religious sentiment; but Jesus Christ, face to face, to
be reckoned with in the practical details of honesty and fair dealing;
that was a different matter. And this was the violation of a dead man's
trust, who had put everything in his power because he had faith in him!
He saw again the young brother, handsome, easy-going to a fault, but
with a sense of honor so fine as to shrink in indignation from the
slightest breath of shame; read again the closing words of the farewell
letter which he had read for the first time on the day now so long ago,
which he would have given worlds to recall, and which, from out the
shadowy recesses of eternity, laughed at his futile wish.
“So, my dear brother,” the letter ran, “I am giving you this
responsibility as only a brother can. I have left Evadne absolutely
untrammelled. I have no fear that my little girl will abuse the trust.
She is wise beyond her years, with a sense of honor as keen as your
The Judge's head sank upon his hands. It was for Evadne's good he
had persuaded himself. She was too much of a child,—and now,—the
letter could not be delivered. It meant disgrace and shame. It was his
duty as a father to shield his family from that. How well he could
picture Evadne's look of bewildered, incredulous surprise, and then the
pain, tinged with scorn, which would creep into the clear eyes. And
Jesus Christ! The Judge's head sank lower as he heard the voice which
has rung down through the ages in scathing denunciation of all
subterfuge and lies.
“Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and
cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice
and mercy and faith.”
“Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup
and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and
“Woe unto you ... hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres
which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's
Lower and lower sank the Judge's head, until at last it rested upon
the desk with a groan.
* * * * *
They were singing when Evadne reached the humble church which Dyce
and Pompey called their spiritual home. The walls were white-washed and
the seats were hard, for the “Disciples of Jesus” possessed but little
of this world's goods. Two prayers followed, full of rich imagery and
fervid passion, and then a young girl with a deep contralto voice began
“Steal away, steal away,
Steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, steal away home,
We ain't got long to stay here.”
The soft, deep notes of the weird melody ended in a burst of
triumph, and Evadne bent her head while her tired heart thrilled with
joy. When she looked up again Dyce was speaking.
“I've ben thinkin', friens,” she said, “that we don't get the
sweetness of them words inter our hearts ez we should. We'se too much
taken up wid de thought of de heavenly manshuns to 'member dat de
King's chillen hez an inheritance on de earth. We'se not poor, lonesome
people widout a home! De dear Christ promised, 'I will not leave youse
orphans, I will come to youse,' an' he who hez de Lord Jesus alongside,
hez de best of company. 'Pears like we don't let our Father's message
go any deeper dan de top of our heads. Ef we believes we'se preshus in
his sight,—an' de Bible sez we is,—we'll hev no occashun fer gettin
discouraged, fer de dear Lord's boun ter do de best fer his loved ones.
Ef we'se keepin' company wid Jesus we'se no call ter want de worl's
invitashuns, an ef we'se hidden away in Christ's heart dere's no need
fer us ter be frettin' about de little worriments of earth. Satan don't
hev no chance where Jesus is. Ef we'se tempted, friens, an' fall inter
sin, it's 'cause we'se not livin' close ter de Saviour.
“I knows we allers tinks of a home as a place where dere is good
times, an' dere don't seem much good times goin' for some of us in dis
worl', but dere ain't no call fer us ter spec' ter be better off dan
our Lord, an ef we'se feedin' on de Lord Jesus all de time we won't
min' ef de worl's bread is scarce; de soul ain't dependin' on dem tings
fer nourishmen' an' de Lord Jesus makes de hard bed easy an' de coarse
food taste good.
“'Tain't good management fer us ter be allers groanin' in dis worl'
while we 'spect ter be singin' de glory song up yonder. De best singers
is dem dat's longes' trainin' an' I'se feared some of us'll find it
drefful hard ter git up ter de proper concert pitch in heaven ef we
sings nuthin but lamentashuns on earth. De dear Lord don't seem ter hev
made any sort of pervishun for fault findin'. He 'low dere'll be
trubble, but he tells us ter be of good cheer on account of hevin' him
ter git de victry fer us, an' ef we keep singin' all de time, dere
ain't no time fer sighs. Let us keep a-whisperin' to our Father, my
friens. It's a beautiful worl' he's put us in, an' dere ain't no
combine ter keep us back from enjoyin' de best tings in it. De sky
belong ter us ez much as to de rich folks, an' de grass an' de trees
an' de birds an' de flowers; de rollin rivers an' de mighty ocean
belongs ter us. De only priviluge de rich folks hez is dat dey kin sail
on deir billows while we hez ter stan' alongside,—but dey's powerfu'
unhappy sometimes when dey hez so much ter look after, an' we kin enjoy
lookin' at deir fine houses widout hevin' any of de care.
“We'se not payin' much complimen' ter Jesus, friens, when we 'low
dat de good tings of dis worl' kin make people happier dan he kin, an'
'pears like we ought ter be 'shamed of ourselves. De Bible sez we'se
ter 'live an' move an' hev our bein' in God,' an' it don't 'pear
becomin' when we hev such a home pervided fer us, ter be allers
grumblin' 'cause we can't live in de brown stone fronts an' keep a
kerridge. We don't begin ter understan' how ter live up ter our
privilegus, friens, an' I'se bowed in shame as I tink how de dear
Lord's heart must ache as he sees how little we'se appresheatin' his
The tender, pleading voice ceased and then Dyce lifted her clasped
hands,—“Oh, Lord Jesus, help us ter glorify thee before de worl'. Help
us ter understan' an 'preciate de wonderful honor thou hez put upon us.
Make us used ter dwellin' wid thee on de earth, so as we won't feel
like strangers in heaven. Oh, blessed Jesus, by de remembrance of de
thorn marks an' de nail prints an' de woun' in thy side forgive thy
ungrateful chillen. We'se ben a' lookin' roun on de perishin' tings of
earth fer our comfort, an' a' seekin' our homes in this worl'. Lord,
help us ter find our real home in thee! Help us ter steal away ter
Jesus, when de storm cloud hangs low and de billows roar about our
heads. Dere's no shadows in de home thou makes, fer 'de light of de
worl' is Jesus,' an' ebery room is full of de sunshine of thy love.
Dere's no harm kin cum to us ef we'se inside de fold, fer thou art de
door, Lord Jesus; dere's no danger kin touch us ef we'se hidden in de
cleft of de rock. Lord, make us abide in de secret place of de Almighty
an' hoi' us close forever under de shadow of thy wing.”
Then the congregation dispersed to the humble homes, glorified now
by the possibility of being made the dwelling-place of the King of
It was intensely warm in the Marlborough Steel Works. Outdoors the
sun beat fiercely upon the heads of toiling men and horses while the
heat waves danced with a dazzling shimmer along the brick pavements.
Indoors there was the steady thud of the engine, and the great hammers
clanked and the belts swept through the air with a deafening whirr,
while the workmen drew blackened hands across their grimy foreheads and
John Randolph gave a sigh of longing for the cool forest chambers of
Hollywood, as he leaned over to exchange a cheery word with Richard
Trueman, beside whom he had been working for over a year and for whom
he had come to entertain a strong feeling of affection.
Varied experiences had come to him since he had said good-by to his
kind Quaker friends and started on his search for work. Monotonous days
of wood piling in a lumber yard, long weeks of isolation among the
giant trees of the forest, where no sound was to be heard except the
whistle of the axes, as they cleaved the air, and the coarse jokes of
the workmen,—then had come days when even odd jobs had been hailed
with delight, and he had sat at the feet of the grim schoolmistress
Necessity and learned how little man really needs to have to live. And
then the Steel Works had opened again and he had forged his way up
through the different departments to the responsible position he now
held. His promotion had been rapid. The foreman had been quick to note
the keen, intelligent interest and deft-handedness of this strangely
alert new employe. He finished his work in the very best way that it
was possible to do it, even though it took a little longer in the
doing. Such workmen were not common at the Marlborough Steel Works. He
put his heart into whatever he did. That was John Randolph's way. There
was something about the work which pleased him. It gave him a feeling
of triumph to watch the evolution of the crude chaos into the finished
perfection, and see how through baptism of fire and flood the diverse
particles emerged at length a beautifully tempered whole. He read as in
an allegory the discipline which a soul needs to fit it for the
kingdom, and so throughout the meshes of his daily toil John Randolph
wove his parable.
When evening came he would stride cheerily along the dingy street to
the house where he and his fellow-workman lodged, refresh himself with
a hot bath, don what he called his dress suit, and after their simple
meal and a frolic with little Dick, the motherless boy who was the joy
of Richard Trueman's heart, he would settle down for a long evening of
study among his cherished books. John Randolph never lost sight of the
fact that he was to be a physician by and by.
* * * * *
Somewhere in one of the great centers of the world's industry a
workman had blundered. His conscience urged him to confess his mistake,
while Satan whispered with a sneer,—“Yes, and get turned adrift for
your pains, with a rating into the bargain!”
“Never mind if you do lose a week's wages,” conscience had pleaded,
“your hands will be clean,” and the workman shrugged his shoulders with
a muttered, “Pshaw! What do I care for that, so long as I don't git
found out. I'll fix it so as no one kin tell it was me.”
The work was passed upon by the foreman and the Company's
certificate attached. The man chuckled, “Hooray! Now that it's out from
under old Daggett's eyes nobody'll ever be able to lay the blame on
me!” and he had gone home whistling. He forgot God!
* * * * *
The long, stifling day was drawing near its close. Half an hour more
and the workmen would be free to rest. Only half an hour! Suddenly
there was a sharp clicking sound, then a cry, and in an instant all was
bustle and confusion at the Marlborough Steel Works. The great hammers
hung suspended in mid-air, the whirling wheels were still, while the
workmen, with faces showing pale beneath the grime, gathered hastily
around a fallen comrade. Summoned by telephone the Company's surgeon
was driving rapidly towards the Works, but his services would not be
An accident. No one knew just how it happened. There must have been
a flaw, a defect in some part of the machinery. These things do happen.
Somewhere there had been carelessness, dishonesty, and the price of it
The dying man opened his eyes suddenly and looked full at John
Randolph, who knelt beside him supporting his head on his arm.
“Little Dick,” he murmured.
“All right, Trueman, I will take care of him.”
“God bless you, John!” and with the fervid benediction, the breath
ceased and the spirit flew away.
The body was prepared for the inquest, and through the gathering
dusk John, strangely white and silent, entered the house he called
home, gathered the fatherless boy into his arms and let him sob out his
grief upon his shoulder.
* * * * *
Some days after the funeral the Manager sent for John to come to his
private office. He was a pleasant man and had taken a kindly interest
in the capable young workman from the start.
“Well, Randolph, this is a terrible business of poor Trueman,” he
said, as he pointed him to a chair. “Terrible! I can't get over it. A
fine man and one of our best finishers too. Well, we can't do anything
for him now, poor fellow, but he left a boy I think?”
“Yes, sir,” said John simply; “I have taken him to live with me.”
“Shake hands, Randolph! We talk about what ought to be done
and you do it. Is that your usual mode of procedure?”
John laughed. “There was nothing else to do,” he said.
“H'm. Most fellows in your position would have thought it was the
last thing possible. Have you any idea what it means to saddle yourself
with a child like this? Whatever put such an idea into your head?”
“Jesus Christ,” answered John quietly.
“Well, well, you're a queer fellow, Randolph. But how are you going
to make the wages spin out? A boy is 'a growing giant of wants whom the
coat of Have is never large enough to cover.'“
“His father managed, so can I.” John's voice shook a little.
“His father! But he was his father, you see. That makes a
mighty difference. Well, Randolph, I give you up. You are beyond me.”
John rose. “Was that all you wished to say to me, Mr. Branford?”
“Sit down, man! What the mischief are you in such a hurry for? It
stands to reason the Company can't let you bear the brunt of this most
deplorable occurrence, though I don't believe we could have found a
better guardian for the poor little lad. But guardians expect to be
paid for their trouble. What price do you set, Randolph?”
“I don't want any pay for obeying my Master, Mr. Branford.”
“Your Master, Randolph?” said the Manager with a puzzled stare.
“Yes, sir, Jesus Christ.”
“Upon my word, Randolph, you're a queer fellow! Well, if you don't
want pay, I want some one with a head on his shoulders in this office.
Any of the fellows in the outside office would be glad of the chance to
get in here, but I want a man who understands what he is doing as well
as I do myself. You have practical knowledge, Randolph, you're the man
I want. I shall expect you to start in here tomorrow morning. The
salary will be double your present wages. And, since you have
constituted yourself guardian of the boy, I may as well tell you that
the Company has decided to set aside a yearly sum for his maintenance
“Now you can go, if you are in such a tremendous hurry, Randolph:
only don't try any more of such toploftiness with me. It won't go down,
you see;” and the Manager chuckled softly, as John, with broken thanks,
left the room. “I rather think I got the better of him that time!” he
said to himself.
Judge Hildreth sat in his private office, immersed in anxious
thought. Every day brought new difficulties to be wrestled with in
connection with the multitudinous schemes which were making an old man
of him while he was still in his prime. His hair was grey, his hands
trembled, his eyes were bloodshot, and his face had the unhealthy
pallor which accompanies intense nervous pressure and excitement.
He knew that it was so, and the knowledge did not tend to sweeten
his disposition. He told himself again and again that he could not help
it,—it was the force of circumstances and the curse of competition.
Like the fly in the spider's parlor, he found himself inextricably
enveloped in the silken maze of deceit which he had entered so blithely
years ago. He had ceased to question bitterly whether the game was
worth the candle. He told himself the Fates had decreed it, and the
game had to be played out to the end, The principal thing now was to
keep the pieces moving and prevent a checkmate, for that would mean
One of the office boys knocked at the door and presented a card, for
into this sanctum sanctorum no one was permitted to enter
unannounced. The card bore the name of the nominal president of the
Consolidated Provident Savings Company, which was one of the numerous
schemes that Judge Hildreth had on hand. It was not always wise to have
his name appear. He believed in sleeping partnerships. As he explained
it to himself, that gave one a free hand.
The Consolidated Provident Savings Company was a popular institution
in Marlborough. There were conservative financiers who shook their
heads and feared that its methods were not based on sound business
principles and savored too much of wild-cat schemes and fraudulent
speculations, but they were voted cranks by the majority, and the
Consolidated Provident Savings Company grew and flourished. It paid
large dividends, and its stockholders were duly impressed with the
magnificence of its buildings and the grandiose tone of its officials.
Judge Hildreth frowned heavily as he read the name, and was about to
deny himself to the visitor, but on second thought he curtly ordered
the boy to show him in.
The man who obeyed the invitation bowed deferentially to his chief
and then took a chair in front of him, with the table between. He was
elaborately dressed, and the shiny silk hat which he deposited on the
table looked aggressively prosperous. His manner betokened a man
suddenly inflated with a sense of his own importance. His hair was
sandy, and the thin moustache and beard failed to cover the pitifully
weak lines of his mouth and chin.
“Good-morning, Peters.” The Judge nodded carelessly as he spoke, but
he moved uneasily in his chair. Of late the sight of this man fretted
him. It seemed as if he always saw him accompanied by a ghostly form.
He tried to shake off the impression, and told himself angrily that he
was falling into his dotage; but his memory would not yield. He saw
again the pleading, trustful face of the man's mother as, years ago,
she had besought him to do what he could for her son.
“Just make a man of him, like yourself, Judge Hildreth,” she had
pleaded. “I will be more than satisfied then. I want my boy to be
respected and to have a place in the world. Folks needn't know how hard
his mother had to work.”
The Judge smiled grimly as he thought of her phrasing,—“a man like
yourself.” She did not know how near to it he had come!
The boy had a surface smartness, and he had proved himself an apt
scholar. The Judge had found him a willing tool in many of his deep
laid schemes to get money for less than money's worth. But within the
last few months there had been a change. A spark of manhood had
asserted itself, and in the presence of his minion the Judge found
himself upon the rack.
He was the first to speak. “I hope there is nothing out of the
usual?” he said. “I intended coming over to the office before the
meeting of directors took place.”
“It is the same old trouble about bonds, Judge Hildreth. There are
not enough of them to go round.”
The Judge rubbed his hands in simulated pleasure. “Well, that shows
good management, Peters, if the public are hungry for our stock.”
“The public are fools!” said the young man, hotly.
“Not at all, Peters. A discriminating public, you know, always
chooses the best depositaries.” He chuckled softly. He had turned his
eyes towards the window so as not to see the ghostly figure behind the
young man's chair which had such a world of reproach in its face.
“There is only one thing to do, Peters. We must water it a little, eh?”
“It seems to me we've been using the watering-pot rather too
The Judge started. Had he detected a menace in the tone?
He temporized. His plans were not sufficiently matured yet. When
they were he would crush this tool of his as surely and as carelessly
as he would have crushed a fly.
“Nonsense, Peters!” he said pleasantly; “that is only a little
clever financing to tide us over the hard places. Of course we will
make it all good to the public—by and bye.”
“How?” The question rang out through the office like a pistol shot.
The Judge looked at the man before him in amaze. For once his face
showed determination and an honest purpose.
“Will you tell me how we're going to do it?” he persisted with a
strange vehemence. “I've been a fool, Judge Hildreth, a blamed,
gigantic fool! I've let you hood wink me and lead me by the nose for
years. I've done your dirty work for you and borne the credit of it,
too; but I swear I'll not do it any longer. I thought at first—fool
that I was—that everything you did was just the right thing to copy.
My poor old mother told me you were the pattern I was to follow if I
wanted to be an honorable man. An honorable man! Good heavens!
“Do you know where I've been these last months? I've been in hell,
sir; in hell, I tell you! Every night I've dreamed of my mother and
every day I've bamboozled the public and sold bonds that weren't worth
the paper they were written on, and paid big dividends that were just
some of their own money returned. And now you tell me to keep on
watering the stock when you know we haven't a dollar put towards the
'Rest' and the money is just pouring out for expenses and directors'
fees. There's barely enough left over to keep up the sham of dividends.
You know it as well as I do. I've been an ass and an idiot, but I'm
done with living a lie. Judge Hildreth, I came to tell you that if you
don't do the square thing by these people who have trusted us, I'll
His vehemence was tremendous and the words poured out in a torrent
which never checked its flow. He had risen and in his excitement paced
up and down the room. Now, overcome by his effort, he sank exhausted
into a chair.
Judge Hildreth rose suddenly and locked the office door. When he
turned again his face was not a pleasant sight to see.
“President Peters,” he said sternly, “this is not the age of heroics
nor the place for them. In future I beg you to remember our relative
positions. You seem to forget that I am the direct cause of your
present prosperity, but that is an omission which men of your stamp are
liable to make. I never expect gratitude from those whom I have
“But when you come to threats, that is another matter. You say you
will expose me. To whom, if you please? You are the President of
the Consolidated Company. Your name is associated with its business.
Mine does not appear in any way, shape or form. You sign all papers,
and it is you whom the public hold accountable for all moneys deposited
in the institution. Any attempt which you might make to connect me with
the enterprise would be futile, utterly futile. The public would not
believe you, and you could not prove it in any court of law.”
The man, worn and spent with his emotion, lifted his head and looked
at the Judge with dazed, lack-luster eyes.
“Not connected with the enterprise,” he repeated, “why, the whole
thought of the thing came from you! and you have drawn thousands of
“I have simply given advice,” interrupted the Judge haughtily.
“Advice!” echoed the man, “and doesn't advice count in law?”
“If you can prove it;” said the Judge with a cold smile. “Do you
ever remember having any of my opinions in writing, President Peters?
The law takes cognizance only of black and white, you know.”
The victim writhed in his chair, as the trap in which he was caught
revealed itself. Heavily his eyes searched Judge Hildreth's face for
some sign of pity or relenting, but in vain.
“And if there should come a run on the funds?” he questioned dully.
“If there should come a run on the funds,” answered the Judge, “
you would be underneath.”
The man's head fell forward upon the table, and the Judge, with a
cruel smile, left the room.
* * * * *
Two office boys lingered in the handsome offices of the Consolidated
Provident Savings Company after business hours were over.
“I tell you what it is, Bob,” said the eldest one, “I'm going to
quit this concern. It's my opinion it's a rotten corporation; and I
don't propose to ruin my standing with the commercial world.”
“Gee!” exclaimed the younger boy in delight. “You're a buster, Joe,
and no mistake. The president himself couldn't have rolled that
sentence off better, or that old piece of pomposity who conies to the
secret meetings with the gold-headed cane.”
“That's Judge Hildreth. He's another deep one or I lose my guess.”
“Why, he's a No. I deacon in one of the uptown's swellest churches!”
“Guess he's a child of darkness in between times then, for I'll bet
he does lots of underground work. I don't believe in this awfully
private business. The other day, after old man Hildreth came, before
the directors had their meeting, (he always does come just before that,
to prime Peters, you know,) what did he do but make Peters send for me
to shut the transoms over his office doors, so that none of us fellows
outside could hear what they were saying!
“I tell you I don't like the looks of things. This morning one of
those heavy stockholders came in and wanted to take out all his money,
and the president went white as a sheet. There's a flaw in the ready
money account somewhere, I'll bet, and I'm going to leave before the
bottom drops out of the concern. If you take my advice you'll follow.”
The other boy laughed. “Bet your life I won't, then. Where'd you get
such good pay, I'd like to know? I've had enough of grubbing along on
$4.00 a week. No, sirree, I'll keep in tow with the deacon and get my
share of all the stuff that's going, same as the other fellows do.”
“You won't do it long then, you mark my words. Did you see the
president when he came into the office this morning? He looked as if
he'd been gagged. I went into his office for something in a hurry
afterwards and he was head over ears in Railway Time Tables. He jumped
as if he'd been caught poaching. It's my belief he means to skip across
the border. It's the only way for him to get out of the mess, unless he
takes a dose of lead, you see.
“Well, here goes. I'm going to write my resignation with the
president's best gold pen. You can do as you like, but it's slow and
honest for me.”
Miss Diana Chillingworth was sitting in the old-fashioned porch of
her old-fashioned house which opened into an old-fashioned garden in
one of the suburbs of Marlborough, shelling peas. Everything about Miss
Diana was old-fashioned and sweet. Her hair was dressed as she had been
accustomed to wear it in her girlhood, and even the head mantua-maker
of Marlborough, ardent worshiper at Fashion's shrine though she was,
was forced to bow before her gentle individuality and confess that Miss
Diana's taste was perfect.
She wore a morning dress of soft pearl grey, over which she had tied
an apron of white lawn with a dainty ruffle of embroidery below its
hem. The peas danced merrily against the sides of an old-fashioned
china bowl. Miss Diana had an aesthetic repugnance to the use of tin
utensils in the preparation of food.
Outside there were sweet lilies of the valley and violets and
pansies, and the roses wafted long breaths of fragrance to her through
the trellis work of the porch, while the morning glories hung their
heads and blushed under the ardent kisses of the sun.
In the kitchen Unavella Cynthesia Crockett, her faithful and devoted
“assistant” (Miss Crockett objected to the term servant upon democratic
principles), moved cheerily, with a giant masterfulness which bespoke a
successful initiation into the mysteries of the culinary art. All at
once she shut the oven door, where three toothsome loaves were
browning, and listened intently. Then she went out to interview Thomas,
the butcher's boy, who came three times a week with supplies.
“The sweet-breads hez cum, Miss Di-an,” she said, appearing in the
porch before her mistress.
“Well, Unavella,” said Miss Diana, with a pleasant smile, “you
expected them, did you not? We ordered them, you know. They are very
nutritious, I think.”
“Hum! There's some news cum along with 'em that ain't likely to
prove ez nourishin'. Tummas sez the Provident Savings Company hez
busted an' the president's vamoosed.”
“Dear me! I wish Thomas would not use such very forceful language,”
said Miss Diana. “Do you think he finds it necessary? Being a butcher,
you know? I hardly understand the words. Do you think you would find
them defined in Webster?”
Unavella's eyes twinkled through her gloom. “I guess Tummas ain't
got much use for dictionners,” she said. “He uses words that cums
nearest to his feelin's. He's lost two hundred dollars, Tummas hez.”
“Dear me! How very grieved I am. But a dictionary, Unavella, is the
basis of all education. Thomas ought to appreciate that. 'Busted,'“ she
repeated the word slowly, with an instinctive shrinking from its sound,
“that is a vulgar corruption of the verb to burst; but 'vamoosed,' I do
not think I ever heard the term before.”
“Tummas says it means to show the under side of your shoe leather.”
“The under side of your shoe leather, Unavella?” Miss Diana lifted
her pretty shoe and held it up for inspection. “Do you see anything
wrong with that?”
The faithful soul threw her apron over her head with a sob. “Oh,
Miss Di-an!” she wailed, “it means the company's all a set of cheats,
an' the biggest rogue of the lot hez lit out—run away—an' taken the
money the Gin'rel left you along with him.”
Miss Diana received the news in absolute silence. The brave daughter
of a brave father, she would make no moan, but the sweetness seemed to
have suddenly gone from the flowers and the light out of the sky.
Unavella looked at her in amazement. She was used to the stormy
grief which finds vent in tears and groans. “It beats me how different
folks takes things!” she ejaculated mentally. “Well, she'll need
suthin' to keep her strength up all the more now she ain't got nuthin'
to support her;” and, gathering peas and pods into her apron with a
mighty sweep of her arm, she marched into her kitchen in a fever of
sympathetic indignation and evolved a dinner which was a masterpiece of
Miss Diana forced herself to eat something. She knew if she did not,
Unavella would be worried, and she possessed that peculiar regard for
the feelings of others which would not allow her to consider her own.
“You are a wonderful cook, Unavella,” she said, with a pathetic
cheerfulness which did not deceive her faithful handmaiden, who, as she
confided afterwards to a friend, wuz weepin' bitter gall tears in her
mind, though she kep' a calm front outside, for she wuzn't goin' ter be
outdid in pluck by that little bit of sweetness. “I shall be able to
give you a beautiful character.”
She lifted her hand with a deprecating gesture as Unavella was about
to burst forth with a stormy denial.
“Not yet, please, Unavella; not just yet. Let me have time to think
a little before you say anything. I feel rather shaken. The news was so
very unexpected, you see,” she said with a shadowy smile, which
Unavella averred “cut her heart clean in two.” “But everything is just
right, Unavella, that happens to the Lord's children, you know. Things
look a little misty now, but I shall see the sunlight again by and bye.
In the meantime there is this delicious dinner. Someone ought to be
reaping the benefit of it. Suppose you take it to poor Mrs. Dixon? She
enjoys anything tasty so much and she cannot afford to buy dainties for
herself.” Miss Diana would never learn the economy which is content to
be comfortable while a neighbor is in need. “And, Unavella, if you
please, you might say I am not receiving callers this afternoon. I am
afraid it is not very hospitable, but I feel as if I must be alone.
This has been rather a sudden shock to me.”
“You, you—angul!” exclaimed Unavella, as soon as she had regained
the privacy of her kitchen, while a briny crystal of genuine affection
rolled down her cheek and splashed unceremoniously into the gravy.
Up-stairs in her pretty chamber Miss Diana sat and thought. Ruin and
starvation. Was that what it meant? She had seen the words in print
often but they seemed different now. Ruin meant a giving up and going
out, while the auctioneer's hammer smote upon one's heart with cruel
blows, and one could not see to say farewell because one's eyes were
full of tears. It would not be starvation—of the body. She must be
thankful for that. The house and grounds were in a good locality and
she had refused several handsome offers for them during the past year.
She caught her breath a little as she thought of the wide stretching
field where her dainty Jersey was feeding, with its cluster of trees in
one corner, under which a brook babbled joyously as it danced on its
way to the river; the pretty barn with its pigeon-house where her
snow-white fantails craned their imperious heads; the wide porch with
its flower drapery, where she sat and read or worked with her pet
spaniel at her feet, and where her friends loved to gather through the
summer afternoons and chat over the early supper before they went back
to the city's grime and stir.
Then in thought she entered the house. The room which had been her
father's and the library which held his books. Could she sell those!
She shivered, as in imagination she heard the careless inventory of the
auctioneer. She had never attended an auction except once, and then she
had hurried away, for it seemed to her the pictured faces were misty
with tears and she fancied the draperies sighed, as they waved in the
wind which swept through the gaping windows. There were the engravings
which she loved and the pictures her father had brought with him from
Europe, and the rare old china and her mother's silver service, and her
store of delicate napery and household linen; while every table and
chair had a story and the very walls of each room were dear. Had she
been making idols of these things in her heart?
Miss Diana knelt beside the couch, comfortable as only old-fashioned
couches know how to be. “Dear Christ,” she cried, “I am thy follower
and I have gone shod with velvet while thy feet were travel-stained,
and I have slept upon eider-down while thou hadst not where to lay
She knelt on, motionless, until the twilight fell and the stars
began to peep out in the sky. Then she went down-stairs and there was a
strange, exalted look upon her sweet face.
“Unavella,” she cried softly, “I have found the sunlight, for I can
say 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name
of the LORD.'“
“Oh, Miss Di-an!” wailed Unavella, “I b'lieve you're goin' ter die
an' be an angul afore the moon changes!”
* * * * *
Miss Diana had been to see her lawyer and he had confirmed her
decision. Her income was gone. With the exception of a couple of
hundred dollars, coming to her from a different source, she was
penniless. There was nothing left her but to sell.
When she reached home that night she looked very white and weary,
but her smile was all the sweeter because of the unshed tears. Unavella
had spread her supper in the porch. She ate but little, however. “I am
sorry I cannot do more justice to your skill, Unavella,” she said with
her gentle courtesy, “but I do not seem to feel hungry lately.”
“It's that li-yar!” muttered Unavella grimly, as she cleared the
things away. “I never knowed a li-yar yit that didn't scare all the
appetite away from a body.”
When her work was finished she came back to the porch where Miss
Diana was sitting very still in the moonlight. “Miss Di-an!” she
exclaimed impetuously, “don't you go fer to be thinkin' of sellin'!
I've got a plan that beats the li-yar's all holler, ef he duz wear a
“Sit down, Unavella,” said her mistress kindly, “and tell me what it
“Well, I haven't said nuthin' to you before, 'cause I knowed it
would only hurt you ef I wuz to let my feelin's loose about them
thievin' rapscallions that dared to lay their cheatin' hands on the
money the Gin'rel left ye; but I've been a thinkin'—stiddy—an' while
you wuz comin' to your decision above I wuz comin' to mine below, an'
now we'll toss 'em up fer luck, an' see which wins, ef you air
Miss Diana smiled. “Well, Unavella.” she said.
“You decide ter leave yer hum, with all there is to it, an' me inter
the bargain, an' go ter board with folks what don't know yer likins nor
understan' yer feelin's, an' the end on it'll be that you'll jest wilt
away wuss than a mornin' glory. I never did think folks sarved the Lord
by dyin' afore their time comes.
“I decide to hev you keep yer hum, an' the things in it, an' me too.
The hull on it is, Miss Di-an, I won't be left!” and Unavella
buried her face in her hands and sobbed aloud.
“You dear Unavella!” Miss Diana laid her soft hand upon the
toil-roughened ones. “If you only knew how I dread the thought of
leaving you! But what else is there for me to do?”
“Gentlemen boarders,” was the terse reply.
“Gentlemen boarders!” echoed Miss Diana in bewilderment.
“Yes. You catch 'em, an' I'll cook'em. We'll begin with two ter see
how they eat, an ef we find it don't cost too much ter fatten 'em up,
we'll go inter the bizness reglar;” after making which cannibalistic
proposition Unavella looked to her mistress for approval.
“Why, Unavella,” said Miss Diana, after the first shock of surprise
was over, “I never even dreamed of such a thing! It might be possible,
if you are willing to undertake it, it is very good of you. But we will
not make any plans, Unavella, until I talk it over with the Lord. If
his smile rests upon it, your kindly thought for me will succeed; if
not, it would be sure to fail. I must have his approval first of all.”
She rose as she spoke and bade her a gentle good-night, and Unavella
walked slowly back to her kitchen again. “Ef the angul Gabriel,” she
soliloquized, “starts in ter searchin' the earth this night fer the
Lord's chosen ones, there ain't no fear but what he'll cum ter this
house, the fust thing.”
Up-stairs Miss Diana was whispering softly, as she looked up at the
stars with a trustful smile. “Oh, my Father, if it is thy will that I
should do this thing, thou wilt send me the right ones.”
John Randolph did some hard thinking during the weeks which followed
Richard Trueman's death. It was no light task which he had so
cheerfully imposed upon himself. The boy was constitutionally delicate
and fretted so constantly after his father that his health began to
suffer, and it grew to be a very pale face which welcomed John with a
smile when he returned from the office. The style of living was bad for
him. He was alone all day, except for an occasional visit from the
good-natured German woman who kept their rooms, and, although he was a
voracious reader, the doctor had forbidden all thought of study for a
year, even had there been a school near enough for him to attend, where
John would have been willing to send him. He ought to be where the air
was pure and the surroundings cheerful. John would have preferred to
put up with the discomfort of his present quarters and lay by the
addition to his salary towards the more speedy realization of his
day-dream, but John Randolph had never found much time to think of
himself; there were always so many other people in the world to be
“Dick, my boy,” he said cheerily one evening, after they had
finished what he pronounced a sumptuous repast, “I have a presentiment
that this month will witness a turning point in our career. I believe
you and I are going to become suburbanites.”
The boy's sad eyes grew wide with wonder.
“What do you mean, John?”
“Well you see, Dick True, it is this way. As soon as I get my
degree—earn the right to put M.D. after my name, you know,—I am going
to take two rubber bags, fill one with sunshine and one with pure air,
full of the scent of rose leaves and clover and strawberries—ah, Dick,
you'd like to smell that, wouldn't you?—and carry one in each pocket;
then, when my patients come to me for advice, the first dose I shall
give them will be out of my rubber bags, and in six cases out of ten I
believe they'll get better without any drug at all. You see, Dick True,
the trouble is, our Father has given us a whole world full of air and
sunlight to be happy in, and we poison the air with smoke and shut
ourselves away from the sunshine in boxes of brick and mortar, only
letting a stray beam come in occasionally through slits in the walls
which we call windows. It's no wonder we are such poor, miserable
concerns. You can't fancy an Indian suffering from nervous prostration,
can you, Dick? and it doesn't strike you as probable that Robinson
Crusoe had any predisposition to lung trouble? So you see, Dick True,
as it is a poor doctor who is afraid of his own medicine, I am going to
prescribe it first of all for ourselves, and we will go where
unadulterated oxygen may be had for the smelling, and we can draw in
sunshine with every breath.”
The pale face brightened.
“Oh, that will be lovely! I do get so tired of these old streets.
“Why do you keep calling me Dick True all the time?”
John laughed. “Just to remind you that you must be a true boy before
you can really be a True-man, Dick. I want you to be in the best
company. Jesus Christ is the truth, you know, Dick.”
“Jesus Christ,” repeated the boy thoughtfully. “I wish I knew him,
John, as well as you do.”
“If you love, you will know,” said John, the light which the boy
loved to watch creeping into his eyes. “He is the best friend we will
ever have, Dick, you and I.”
He opened several papers as he spoke and ran his eyes over the
advertising columns. “H'm, I don't like the sound of these,” he said,
“they promise too much. Hot and cold water baths and gas and the
advantages of a private family and city privileges. Everyone seems to
keep the 'best table in the city.' That's curious, isn't it, Dick? And
nearly everyone has the most convenient location. Dick, my boy, it's
one thing to say we are going to do a thing, it's another thing to do
it. I expect this suburban question is going to be a puzzle to you and
And so it proved. Day after day John searched the papers in vain,
until it seemed as if a suburban residence was the one thing in life
unattainable. But the long lane of disappointment had its turning at
length, and he hurried home to Dick, paper in hand.
“Dick, Dick True, we've found it at last! Listen:
“Two gentlemen can be pleasantly accommodated at 'The Willows.'
Address Miss Chillingworth, University P.O. Box 123.
“The University Post Office is just near the College, you know,
Dick, so it is in a good location. Two gentlemen—that means you and
me, Dick; and 'The Willows' means running brooks, or ought to, if they
are any sort of respectable trees.”
The boy clapped his hands. “When can we go, John?”
John laughed. “Not so fast, Dick. There may be other gentlemen in
Marlborough on the lookout for a suburban residence. I addressed Miss
Chillingworth on paper this morning, telling her I should give myself
the pleasure of addressing her in person to-morrow. It is a half
holiday, you know, Dick. I like the ring of this advertisement. There
is no fuss and feathers about it. She doesn't offer city privileges and
promise ice cream with every meal.”
“But, John,” said the boy, ruefully, “we're not gentlemen. You don't
wear a silk hat, you know, and I have no white shirts—nothing but
these paper fronts. I hate paper fronts! They're such shams!
“Oh, ho! Dick, so you're pining for frills, eh? Well, if it will
make you feel more comfortable, we'll go down to Stewart's and get
fitted out to your satisfaction. But don't forget that you can be a
gentleman in homespun as well as broadcloth, Dick. Real diamonds don't
need to borrow any luster from their setting; only the paste do that.”
The next afternoon John strode along in the direction of 'The
Willows' to the accompaniment of a merry whistle. It did him good to
get out into the open country once more, and he felt sure it would be
worth a king's ransom to Dick; but when he came in sight of the house
he hesitated. There must be some mistake. This was not the sort of
house to open its doors to boarders. “Poor Dick!” he soliloquized, “no
wonder you felt a premonitory sense of the fitness of frills! Well,
I'll go and inquire. They can only say 'No,' and that won't annihilate
He was ushered into Miss Diana's presence, and on the instant forgot
everything but Miss Diana herself. Before he realized what he was doing
he had explained the reason of his seeking a suburban home, and, drawn
on by her gentle sympathy, was telling her the story of his life. Miss
Diana had a way of compelling confidence, and the people who gave it to
her never afterwards regretted the gift. With the straightforwardness
which was a part of his nature he told his story. It never occurred to
him that there was anything peculiar about it, yet when he had finished
there were tears in his listener's eyes.
When at length he rose to go, everything was settled between them.
John's eyes wandered round the room and then rested again with a
curious sense of pleasure upon Miss Diana's face.
“I cannot begin to thank you,” he said, gratefully, “for allowing us
to come here. I never dared to hope that my poor little Dick would have
such an education as this home will be to him, but I feel sure you will
learn to like Dick True.”
Miss Diana held out her hand, with a smile. “I think I shall like
you as well as Dick,” she said.
* * * * *
Weeks and months flew past and the household at 'The Willows' was a
very happy one. Unavella was in great glee over the success of her
“I used ter think,” she confided to her bosom friend, “thet boarders
wuz good fer nuthin' 'cept ter be an aggervation an' a plague; but I
couldn't think o' nuthin' else ter do, an' I made up my mind I'd ruther
put up with 'em than lose Miss Di-an, even ef their antics did make me
gray-headed afore the year wuz out. But I needn't hev worritted. Two
sech obligin' young fellers I never did see, an' never expect ter agin
in this world. They don't never seem comfortable 'cept when they're
helpin' a body. An' Mr. John's whistle ez enuff ter put sunshine inter
the Deluge! I used ter think we wuz ez happy ez birds—Miss Di-an an'
me—but I declare the house seems lonesum now when he leaves in the
mornin'. He's alluz at it, whistle, whistle, whistle. 'Tain't none o'
them screechin' whistles that takes the top off of your head an' leaves
the inside a' hummin', but it's jest as soft an' sweet an' low!
Sometimes I think he's prayin', it's that lovely. It's my belief it
puts Miss Di-an in mind o' someone, fer she jest sets in the porch,
when he's a' tinkerin' round in the evenings or dig-gin' in the
gardin—he's never satisfied unless everything's jest kep spick an'
span—an' there's the sweetest smile on her face, an' the dreamy look
in her eyes thet folks' eyes don't never hev 'cept when they're
episodin' with their past.
“An' the way they foller her about an' treat her jest ez ef she wuz
a princess! I declare, it makes my heart warm. The young one called her
his little mother the other night, an' Mr. John sez, sez he, 'Ye
couldn't hev a sweeter, Dick, nor a dearer.' He makes me think of one
o' them folks in poetry what wuz alluz a' ridin' round with banners an'
“A knight?” suggested her friend, who had just indulged a literary
taste by purchasing a paper covered edition of Sir Walter Scott.
“Yes, that's what I mean. An' I sez to myself,—'ef they wuz like he
is, an' wuz ez plenty in the Middle Ages ez they make 'em out ter be,
then it's a pity we wuzn't back right in the center uv 'em,' sez I.”
“Lady Di! Lady Di!” and little Dick came hurrying into the library
where Miss Diana was sitting in the gloaming. “John wants you to come
out and see if you like the new flowers he is planting. He says I must
be sure to put your shawl on, for the dew is falling.”
Miss Diana's eyes grew misty as her little cavalier adjusted her
wrap. “Why do you give me that name, Dick?” she asked. Only one other
had ever given it to her before, in the long ago.
“What? Lady Di?” answered the boy. “Oh, we always call you that,
John and I. Our Lady Di. John says you make him think of the elect
lady, in the Bible, you know.”
And Miss Diana, as she passed the shelves, laid her hand caressingly
upon the beloved books with a happy smile. God had sent her the right
Marion entered Evadne's room one glorious winter's morning and threw
herself on the lounge beside her cousin with a sigh.
“I don't see how you do it!” she exclaimed.
“Do what?” asked Evadne.
“Why, keep so pleasant with Isabelle. She works me up to the last
pitch of endurance, until I feel sometimes as if I should go wild. It
is no use saying anything, Mamma always takes her side, you know, but
she does aggravate me so! Even her movements irritate me,—just the way
she shakes her head and curls her lip,—she is so self-satisfied. She
thinks no one else knows anything. It must be a puzzle to her how the
world ever got along before she came into it, and what it will do when
she leaves it is a mystery!”
“She is good discipline.”
Marion gave her an impetuous hug. “You dear Evadne! I believe you
take us all as that! But I don't think the rest of us can be quite as
trying as Isabelle. She does seem to delight in saying such horrid
things. She was abominably rude to you this morning at breakfast and
yet you were just as polite as ever. I couldn't have done it. I should
have sulked for a week. I know you feel it, for I see your lips
quiver—you are as susceptible to a rude touch as a sensitive
plant—but it is beautiful to be able to keep sweet outside.”
“You mean to be kept, Marion,” said Evadne softly, “by the
power of God. I have no strength of my own.”
Marion sighed dismally. “Oh, dear! I don't know what I mean, except
that I'm a failure. It is no wonder Louis thinks Christianity is a
humbug, though he must confess there is something in it when he looks
at you. You are so different, Evadne! I should think Isabelle would be
ashamed of herself, for I believe half the time she says things on
purpose to provoke you. She doesn't seem to get much comfort out of it
any way. I never saw such a discontented mortal. Don't you think it is
wicked for people to grumble the way she does, Evadne? It is growing on
her, too. She finds fault with everything. Even the snow came in for a
share of her disapprobation this morning, because it would spoil the
skating, as if the Lord had no other plans to further than just to give
her an afternoon's amusement! She is so self-centered!”
Evadne looked out at the street where the fresh fallen snow had
spread a dazzling carpet of virgin white. “He is going to let me give
an afternoon's amusement to Gretchen and little Hans,” she said. “Uncle
Lawrence has promised me the sleigh and I am going to take them to the
Park. Won't it be beautiful to see them enjoy! Hans has never seen the
trees after a snowstorm.”
“That is you all over, Evadne. It is always other people's pleasure,
while I think of my own! Oh, dear! I seem to do nothing but get savage
and then sigh over it. I know it is dreadful to talk about my own
sister as I have been doing—they say you ought to hide the faults of
your relations—but it is only to you, you know. Do you suppose there
is any hope for me, Evadne?” she asked disconsolately.
Evadne drew her head down until it was on a level with her own. “Let
Christ teach you to love, dear,” she whispered, “Then, 'charity will
cover the multitude of sins.'“ She opened the book she had been reading
when her cousin entered and took from it a newspaper clipping. “Read
this,” she said. “Aunt Marthe sent it in her last letter. If we follow
its teachings I think all the fret and worry will go out of our lives
And Marion read,—“To step out of self-life into Christ-life, to lie
still and let him lift you out of it, to fold your hands close and hide
your face upon the hem of his robe, to let him lay his cooling,
soothing, healing hands upon your soul, and draw all the hurry and
fever away, to realize that you are not a mighty messenger, an
important worker of his, full of care and responsibility, but only a
little child with a Father's gentle bidding to heed and fulfil, to lay
your busy plans and ambitions confidently in his hands, as the child
brings its broken toys at its mother's call; to serve him by waiting,
to praise him by saying 'Holy, holy, holy,' a single note of praise, as
do the seraphim of the heavens if that be his will, to cease to live in
self and for self and to live in him and for him, to love his honor
more than your own, to be a clear and facile medium for his life-tide
to shine and glow through—this is consecration and this is rest.”
When, some hours later, Evadne went down-stairs to luncheon, she
felt strangely happy. Marion had said Louis must confess there was
something in Christianity when he looked at her. That was what she
longed to do—to prove to him the reality of the religion of Jesus. And
that afternoon she was going to give such a pleasure to Gretchen and
little Hans. It was beautiful to be able to give pleasure to people.
She could just fancy how Gretchen's eyes would glisten as she talked to
her in her mother tongue, while little Hans' shyness would vanish under
the genial influence of Pompey's sympathetic companionship, and he
would clap his hands with delight as Brutus and Caesar drew them under
the arches of evergreen beauty, bending low beneath their ermine robes,
while the silver bells broke the hush of silence which dwelt among the
forest halls with a subdued melody and then rang out joyously as they
emerged into the open, where the sun shone bright and clothed denuded
twigs and trees in the bewitching beauty of a silver thaw. It would
always seem to little Hans like a dream of fairyland and she would be
remembered as his fairy godmother. It was a pleasant role—that of a
She started, for Louis was saying carelessly to the servant,—“Tell
Pompey to have the sleigh ready by half-past two, sharp.”
“Why, Louis!” she spoke as if in a dream, “I am going to have the
sleigh this afternoon.”
“That is unfortunate, coz,” said Louis lightly, “as probably we are
going in different directions.”
“I am going to the Park,” stammered Evadne, “with little Hans and
“Exactly, and I to the Club grounds. Diametrically opposite, you
“But Uncle Lawrence promised me. He said no one wanted the sleigh
“The Judge should not allow himself to jump at such hasty
conclusions before hearing the decision of the Foreman of the Jury. It
is an unwise procedure for his Lordship.”
“But poor little Hans will be so disappointed! He has been looking
forward to it for weeks.”
“Disappointed! My dear coz, the placid Teutonic mind is impervious
to anything so unphilosophical. It will teach him the truth of the
adage that 'there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip,' and in
the future he will not be so foolish as to look forward to anything.”
Evadne's lips quivered. “You are cruel,” she said, “to shut out the
sunlight from a poor little crippled child!”
“My dear coz, I give you my word of honor, I am sorry. But there is
nothing to make a fuss about. Any other day will suit your little
beggar just as well. I promised some of the fellows to drive them out
and a Hildreth cannot break his word, you know.”
“You have made me break mine,” said Evadne sadly, as she passed him
to go upstairs.
“Ah, you are a woman,” said Louis coolly, “that alters everything.”
Did it alter everything? Evadne was pacing her floor with flashing
eyes. “Was there one rule of honor for Louis, another for herself? No!
no! no! How perfectly hateful he is!” and she stamped her foot with
sudden passion. “I despise him!”
Suddenly she fell on her knees beside the lounge and cowered among
its cushions, while the eyes of the Christ, reproachfully tender,
seemed to pierce her very soul. “Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you and persecute you,—that ye may be the children of
your Father in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on
the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
His sorrowful tones seemed to crush her into the earth. Was this her
Christ-likeness? And she had let Marion say she was better than them
all! What if she or Louis were to see her now? He would say again, as
he had said before, “There is not much of the 'meek and lowly' in
evidence at present.” “And he would be right,” she cried remorsefully.
“Oh, Jesus Christ, is this the way I am following thee!”
“You do right to feel annoyed,” argued self. “It hurts you to
disappoint Gretchen and Hans.”
“It is your own pride that is hurt,” answered her inexorable
conscience. “You wanted to pose as a Lady Bountiful. It is humiliating
to let these poor people see that you are of no consequence in your
uncle's house. Christ kept no carriage. It is not what you do but what
you are, that proves your kinship with the Lord.”
It was a very humble Evadne who, late in the afternoon, walked
slowly towards the German quarter. “I am very sorry,” she said quietly,
when she had reached the spotless rooms where Gretchen made a home for
her crippled brother, “my cousin had made arrangements to use the
sleigh this afternoon, so we could not have our drive. I am very
And they put their own disappointment out of sight, these kindly
German folk, and tried to make her think they cared as little as if
they were used to driving every day.
“Did you notice, Gretchen,” said Hans, after Evadne had left them,
“how sweet our Fraulein was this afternoon? But her eyes looked as if
she had been crying. Do you suppose she had?”
“I think, Hans,” said Gretchen slowly, “our Fraulein is learning to
dwell where God wipes all the tears away.”
“Are your eyes no better, Frau Himmel?” Evadne was saying as she
shook hands with another friend who was patiently learning the bitter
truth that she would never be able to see her beloved Fatherland again.
“Are the doctors quite sure that nothing can be done?”
“Quite sure, Fraulein Hildreth,” answered the woman with a smile,
“but there is one glorious hope they can't take from me.”
“A hope, Frau Himmel, when you are blind! What can it be?”
“This, dear Fraulein,” and the look on the patient face was
beautiful to see. “'Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty; they
shall behold the land that is very far off.'“
And Evadne, walking homeward, repeated the words which she had read
that morning with but a dim perception of their meaning. 'If limitation
is power that shall be, if calamities, opposition and weights are wings
and means—we are reconciled.'
“Uncle Lawrence, with your permission, I am going to study to be a
Judge Hildreth started. So light had been the footsteps and so
deeply had he been absorbed in thought, he had not heard his niece
enter the library and cross the room until she stood before his desk.
Very fair was the picture which his eyes rested upon. What made his
brows contract as if something hurt him in the sight?
Evadne Hildreth was in all the sweetness of her young womanhood. She
was not beautiful, not even pretty, Isabelle said, but there was a
strange fascination about her earnest face, and the wonderful grey eyes
possessed a charm that was all their own. She had graduated with
honors. Now she stood upon the threshold of the unknown, holding her
life in her hands.
Louis was traveling in Europe. Isabelle and Marion were at a
fashionable French Conservatory, for the perfecting of their Parisian
accent. Evadne was alone. She had chosen to have it so. She wanted to
follow up a special course in physiology which was her favorite study.
“A nurse, Evadne! My dear, you are beside yourself. 'Much learning
hath made you mad.'“
“'I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and
soberness.' I feel called to do this thing.”
“Who has called you, pray? We do not deal in supernaturalisms in
this prosaic century.”
The lovely eyes glowed. “Jesus Christ.” What an exultant ring there
was in her voice, and how tenderly she lingered over the name!
“Jesus Christ!” Judge Hildreth repeated the words in an awestruck
tone. Did she see him cower in his chair? It must have been an optical
illusion. The storm outside was making the house shiver and the lights
“You must consult your aunt,” he said in a changed voice. She
noticed with a pang how old and careworn he looked.
“Kate,” he called, as just then he heard his wife's step in the
hall, “come here.”
“What do you wish, Lawrence?” and there was a soft frou frou
of silken draperies as Mrs. Hildreth's dress swept over the carpet.
“Evadne wishes to become a nurse.”
“Are you crazy?” There was a steely glitter in Mrs. Hildreth's eyes,
and her tone fell cold and measured through the room.
“She says not,” said the Judge with a feeble smile.
“Why should you think so, Aunt Kate?” asked Evadne gently. “Look how
the world honors Florence Nightingale, and think how many splendid
women have followed her example.”
“To earn your own living by the labor of your hands. A Hildreth!”
“All the people who amount to anything in the world have to work,
Aunt Kate. There is nothing degrading in it.”
“Just try it and you will soon find out your mistake. If you do this
thing you will be ostracized by the world. People make a great talk
about the dignity of labor, but a girl who works has no footing in
Evadne's sweet laugh fell softly through the silence. “I don't
believe I have any time for society, Aunt Kate. Life seems too real to
be frittered away over afternoon teas.”
“Are you mad, Lawrence, to let her take this step? Think of the
Again Judge Hildreth laughed—that strange, feeble laugh. “Evadne is
of age, Kate; she must do as she thinks right. As to the rest—I think
the less we say about the Hildreth honor now the better for us all.”
He was alone. Mrs. Hildreth had swept away in a storm of wrath.
Evadne had followed her, leaving a soft kiss upon his brow. He lifted
his hand to the place her lips had touched—he felt as if he had been
stung—but there was no outward wound.
The Hildreth honor! The letters in the drawer at his side seemed to
confront him with scorn blazing from every page. He put forth his hand
with a sudden determination. He would crush their impertinent
obtrusiveness under his heel; then, when their damaging evidence was
buried in the dust of oblivion, he would be safe and fret! Evadne knew
her father had left her something. He would make special mention of it
in his will—a Trust fund—enough to yield her maintenance and the
paltry pin money which was all the allowance he had ever seen his way
clear to make his brother's child. It was not his fault, he argued—he
had meant to do right—but gilt-edged securities were as waste, paper
in the unprecedented monetary depression which was sweeping stronger
men than himself to the verge of ruin. He could not foresee such a
crisis. Even the Solons of Wall Street had not anticipated it. It was
not his fault. He had meant to make all right in a few years. What was
that they said was paved with good intentions? He could not remember.
He seemed to have strange fits of forgetfulness lately. He must see
that everything was put in proper shape in the event of his death.
People died suddenly sometimes. One never knew.
It would be safer to make re-investments. Yes, that was a good
thought. He wondered it had never occurred to him before. His wisest
plan was to have all moneys and securities in his own name. It would
make it so much easier for the executors. It was not fair to burden any
one with a business so involved as his was now. Of course he would make
a mental note of just how much belonged to his brother. It would not be
safe to put it in black and white—executors had such an unpleasant
habit of going over one's private papers—but he would be sure to
remember, and, if he ever got out of this bog, as he expected to do of
course shortly, he would give Evadne back her own. It would leave him
badly crippled for funds, but one must expect to make sacrifices for
the sake of principle. Then, when these letters were destroyed, they
would have no clue—he frowned. What an unfortunate word for him to
use! A clue wag suggestive of criminality. What possible connection
could there be between Judge Hildreth and that?
He fitted the key in the lock and turned it, then his hand fell by
his side. No, no, he had not come to that—yet. He had always held that
tampering with the mails evinced the blackest turpitude. He was an
honorable gentleman. He started. What was that? A long, low,
blood-curdling laugh, as if a dozen mocking fiends stood at his
elbow,—or was it just the shrieking of the wind among the gables? It
was a wild night. The rain dashed against the window panes in sheets of
vengeful fury, and the howling of the storm made him shudder as he
thought of the ships at sea. Now and then a loose slate fell from an
adjoining roof and was shivered into atoms upon the pavement, while the
wind swept along the street and lashed the branches of the trees into a
panic of helpless, quivering rage. Could any poor beggars be without a
shelter on such a night as this? How did such people live?
He caught himself dozing. He felt strangely drowsy. He straightened
himself resolutely in his chair and drew a package of stock
certificates from one of the secret drawers of the desk. He would see
about selling the stock and making re-investments to-morrow.
It must be done,—to save the Hildreth honor.
Once more the Hildreth household was united, if such a thing as
union could be possible, among so many diverse elements.
Isabelle's chill hauteur had increased with the years and a peevish
discontent was carving indelible lines upon her face which was rapidly
losing its delicate contour and bloom. Marion's pink and white beauty
was at its zenith, and the social attentions she was beginning to
receive only served to render her elder sister more than ever irritable
and envious. Louis was his old nonchalant self, careless and listless,
with an ever deepening expression of ennui which was pitiful in
one so young. His European travels had not improved him, in Evadne's
She saw but little of her cousins. They passed their days in
pleasure, she in work; but Marion, in her rare moments of reflection,
as she thought of the strangely peaceful face of the young nurse,
wondered sadly whether Evadne had not chosen the better part after all.
“Oh, Louis!” she cried one morning, and her voice was full of pain,
“how you are wasting this beautiful life that God has given you!”
Louis stretched himself lazily in his arm-chair and clasped his
hands behind his head. “Thanks for your high opinion, coz. Of what
special crime do I stand accused before the bar of your judgment?”
“Oh, it is nothing special, but you are just frittering away the
days that might be filled with such noble work, and you have nothing to
show for them but—smoke!” She swept her hand through the filmy cloud
which Louis just then blew into the air, with a gesture of disdain.
“Now you will think I am preaching, but indeed, indeed I am not, only,
it hurts me so!”
Louis laughed and threw away his cigar. “No, I will not charge you
with belonging to the cloth, but I confess I should like you better if
you had not entrenched yourself behind such a high wall of prejudice
against all the good things of this life. You are too narrow, Evadne.”
Evadne folded her hands together as if she were holding a strange,
sweet comfort against her heart. “The Jews said the same about Jesus
Christ,” she said, “why should the servant be judged more kindly than
“But there is no harm in these things, Evadne.”
“There is no good in them. Life is so real, Louis!”
“Well, I own I am a light weight in the race. But I assure you such
people are needed to balance matters. If every one was in such deadly
earnest as you, Evadne, the old world would go to pieces.”
“But, Louis, it is dreadful to have no purpose in life!”
“The Judge has enough of that for us both,” said Louis carelessly.
“Why should I choke my brains with musty law when his are charged to
“Think how it would please Uncle Lawrence!” urged Evadne.
“True,” said Louis gravely, “but that is an argument which will bear
“Oh, Louis,” and Evadne's voice was choked with tears, “the time may
come when you would give the whole world to be able to please your
“But, Evadne,” said Louis gently, “a man must have freedom of choice
in his vocation. My father chose the law for his profession, why should
he rebel if I choose dilettanteism?”
“Because it is no profession at all. I am sure he would not mind
what you did, if it were only real work.”
[Illustration: 'TAKE HER, RANDOLF, SHE IS WORTHY OF YOU.']
“Oh, pshaw! Always work, Evadne. I tell you I prefer to play. Miss
Angel told me at the General's ball last night that she liked a man who
took his glass and smoked and did all the rest of the naughty things.”
“She is an angel of darkness, luring you on to ruin.”
Louis shrugged his shoulders. “Possibly. If so, she is disguised as
an angel of light. She sings divinely.”
“So did the Sirens.”
Louis laughed. “She has promised to go for a sail with me to-morrow.
Better come along, coz, and keep us off the rocks.”
Evadne was silent.
“I like such a girl as that,” he continued. “She has common sense
and makes a fellow feel comfortable. These moral altitudes of yours are
all very fine in theory, but the atmosphere is too rare for me.”
“It is no real kindness to make you satisfied with your lowest. I
want you to rise to your best. Oh, Louis, won't you let Christ make
your life grand? It would be such a happiness to me!” She laid her hand
upon his shoulder. Louis caught it in his and drew her round in front
of his chair.
“Do you really mean that, little coz? Upon my word, it is the
strongest inducement you could offer me. I feel half inclined to try,
just for your sake, only you see it would involve such a tremendous
expenditure of moral force!” and he lighted a fresh cigar.
* * * * *
“I do wish you would not ride such wild horses, Louis,” said Mrs.
Hildreth, as she stood beside her son in the front doorway, looking
disapprovingly as she spoke at the horse who was champing his bit
viciously on the sidewalk below. “It keeps me in a perfect fever of
anxiety all the time.”
“Whoa, Polyphemus! Stand still, sir! Pompey, have you tightened that
girth up to its last hole? Better do it then. Don't mind his kicking.
It doesn't hurt him. It's just his way.
“My dear lady mother, if you knew what a pleasure it is to find
something untamable where everything is so confoundedly slow you would
not wonder at my fondness for the brute. As to your anxiety, that is
ridiculous. A Hildreth has too much sense to be conquered by a horse
and make a spectacle of himself into the bargain. Au revoir.
Better take a dose of lavender to calm your nerves,” and Louis waved
his hand to her with careless grace, as he gathered up the reins.
His mother looked after him with a sigh. “He is so fearless! What a
splendid cavalry officer he would make! He makes me think of the
regiment that went to the war from Marlborough.” Her eye fell casually
upon Pompey who was shutting the carriage gates. “What a waste of
precious lives it was to be sure, just to free a lot of cowardly
It was late in the afternoon when Pompey went up town on an errand
for Judge Hildreth. The street was full of men and horses hurrying to
and fro but Pompey paid them but little attention. He was busy with his
Hark! What was that? The sound of a horse's hoofs ringing with a
sharp, metallic clatter upon the paved street while children screamed
and men turned white faces towards the sound and hurriedly sought the
On they came, the horse and his rider. Louis pale as death,
Polyphemus mad with sudden fear and his own ungovernable temper. The
bit was between his teeth, his iron-shod feet were thrown out in
Pompey sprang forward.
“You can't stop him!” shouted the men. “It would be certain death!”
But just beyond the street took a sharp turn to the right and a deep
chasm, where extensive excavations for a sewer were being made, yawned
The horse plunged and reared. Pompey had caught hold of the reins
and was clinging to them with all his might.
* * * * *
Mrs. Hildreth leaned over her son in an agony of fear. Louis was her
idol. He opened his eyes wearily. His cheeks were as white as the
“Oh, Louis!” she wailed, “I knew that wretched horse would bring you
to your death!”
“I am not dead yet,” he said, with a shadow of his old mocking
smile, “although I have succeeded in making a fool of myself.
How is Pompey?”
“Pompey!” ejaculated his mother. “I never thought of any one but
* * * * *
Evadne stood in Dyce's little room, beside the bed with its gay
patchwork cover. The iron-shod hoofs had done their cruel work only too
“Pompey,” she said wistfully, “dear Pompey, is the pain terrible to
The faithful eyes looked up at her, the brave lips tried to smile.
“De Lord Jesus is a powerful help in de time of trubble, Miss 'Vadney;
I'se leanin' on his arm.”
Evadne repeated, as well as she could for tears. “'Fear thou not,
for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will
strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with
the right hand of my righteousness.'“
And Pompey answered with joyous assurance,—“'Though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art
with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.'“
“The Jedge hez been here,” said Dyce with mournful pride. “He say
he'll never find any one like Pompey. He say it wuz de braves' ting he
ever knowed any one to do. He jest cry like a chile, de Jedge did; he
say he never 'spect to find sech a faithful frien' again.”
“De Jedge is powerful kind, Missy. He say he'll look out fer Dyce ez
long ez he live,” the husband's voice broke,
“I don't care nuthin' 'bout dat!” and Dyce turned away with a
choking sob; “but I'se proud to hev him see what kind of a man you is.”
The night drew on. No sound was to be heard in the little cottage
except the ticking of the wheezy clock, as Dyce kept her solitary vigil
by the side of the man she loved. She knelt beside his pillow, and, for
her sake, Pompey made haste to die. As the shadows of the night were
fleeing before the heralds of the dawn, she saw the gray shadow which
no earthly light has power to chase away fall swiftly over his face.
He opened his eyes and spoke in a rapturous whisper. “Dyce! Dyce! I
see de Lord!”
The morning broke. Dyce still knelt on with her face buried in the
pillow; the asthmatic clock still kept on its tireless race; but
Pompey's happy spirit had forever swept beyond the bounds of time.
* * * * *
The humble funeral was over. The Hildreth carriage, behind whose
curtained windows sat Dyce and Evadne, had followed close after the
hearse. The Judge had walked behind.
“So uncalled for!” Mrs. Hildreth said in an annoyed tone when, she
heard of it. Your father never will learn to have a proper
regard for les convenances.”
“Uncalled for!” ejaculated Louis. “I'll venture to say the Judge
will never have a chance to follow such a brave man again.”
“He sent his carriage. That was all that was necessary.”
“Doubtless Dyce finds that superlative honor a perfect panacea for
her grief,” said Louis sarcastically. “It is eminently fitting that
Brutus and Caesar should have walked as chief mourners for they have
lost the truest friend they ever had.”
“I'm afraid poor Evadne will be worn out with such constant
attendance upon Louis,” said Marion some weeks after Pompey's death. “I
don't see how she stands it.”
“It is hardly worth her while to undertake nursing,” said Isabelle
coldly, “if she cannot stand such a trifle as this.”
“Why, Isabelle, just think of the strain night after night! You
wouldn't like it, I know. I want Mamma to get a paid nurse, but Louis
won't have any one near him but Evadne.”
“Of course I could not stand being broken of my rest,”
rejoined Isabelle, “it is hard enough for me to get any under the most
favorable circumstances, but probably Evadne sleeps like a log in the
daytime. It is the least return she can make for having disgraced the
family, to be of some use in it now.”
Marion laughed incredulously. “I should never think of associating
Evadne's name with disgrace,” she said. “What do you mean,
“Mamma says this nursing fad of hers upset Papa completely. He said
the Hildreth honor had better not be mentioned any more.”
“Well, I don't know. It seems to me she is of a good deal more value
to him now than the Hildreth honor. Dr. Russe says she is one of the
best nurses he ever saw. That is a high compliment, for he is
dreadfully particular. It is my opinion, Isabelle, that Louis is a good
deal worse than we think him to be. Don't mention it to Mamma, for she
is so nervous, but I heard Dr. Russo talking to Papa in the hall this
morning, something about an inherited tendency and a derangement of the
nervous system. I could not understand—he spoke so low—but Papa
looked dreadfully worried after he had gone.
“Don't you think Papa looks very badly, Isabelle? And he seems so
absent, as if he had something on his mind. I noticed it long before
Isabelle laughed carelessly. “What a girl you are, Marion! You are
always imagining things about people. For my part I have too many
worries of my own.”
Upstairs Evadne was saying wistfully, “Don't you think your life
should be very precious, Louis, now that two people have died?”
“Two people, Evadne? I know there was good old Pompey,—the thought
of that haunts me night and day,—but who else do you mean?”
“Do you never think about him, Louis?”
“My dear coz, I find it wiser not to think. Every other man you meet
holds a different creed, and each one thinks his is the right one. Why
should I set myself up as knowing better than other people? The only
way is to have a sort of nebulous faith. God will not expect too much
of us, if we do the best we can.”
“A 'nebulous faith' will not save you, Louis,” Evadne answered
sadly. “God expects us to believe his word when he tells us that he has
opened a way for us into the Holiest by the blood of his Son.”
“That atonement theory is an uncanny doctrine.”
“It is the only way by which sinners can be made 'at one' with an
absolutely holy God. Jesus said 'And I if I be lifted up ... will draw
all men unto me.' His humanitarianism did not win the hearts of the
multitude. The very men he had fed and healed hounded him on to his
“It is not philosophical.”
“I read this morning that 'the moving energy in the world's history
to-day is not a philosophy, but a cross.'“
“The God of the present is humanitarianism.”
“Humanitarianism is not Christ. Paul says—'Though I bestow all my
goods to feed the poor ... but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.'
The love which he means is the Christ power, for no mere human love
could reach the altitude of the 13th of 1st Corinthians. Real religion
is not a creed, but a Christ. It seems to me the most important
questions we have to answer are, what we think of Christ and what we
are going to do with him.
“When Peter gave his answer—'Thou art the Christ,—the Anointed
One,—the Son of the living God,—' Christ said, 'On this rock—the
faith of thine—I will build my church.' Humanitarianism, pure and
simple, seems to me but an attempt to imitate Christ. It is beautiful
as far as it goes, but it is not my idea of following him.”
“What is, Evadne?”
“When Jesus told his disciples to follow, he meant them to be with
him. I do not think we can ever hope to be like Christ unless we
believe him to be God and walk with him every day. If we have the
spirit of Jesus in our hearts, we shall be model humanitarians, for we
shall love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Louis caught her hand in his. “Begin by loving me!” he cried
suddenly. “I love you, dear! These long days of watching have taught me
that, although I began to suspect it some time ago. It is no use saying
anything,” he went on hurriedly, as Evadne began to protest, “you must
be my wife, for I cannot live without you!”
He drew a handsome ring, of quaint and curious workmanship which he
had bought in Venice, from his finger, and before Evadne could recover
from her astonishment, had thrust it upon hers. “See, you are mine,
darling. Now let us seal the compact with a kiss.”
“Louis, you are dreaming! This can never be!” She struggled to free
her hand but he held her fingers in a grasp of steel.
“It shall be, my sweet little Puritan! Do you suppose I will ever
give you up now? I tell you I love you, Evadne! Love you as I never
thought I should ever love a woman. Why, you can twist me around your
finger. I am like water in your hands.”
“Louis, please listen!” implored Evadne, with a white, strained
face. “This is utterly impossible, for—I do not love you.”
“I will teach you, dear,” said Louis cheerfully. “I know I have been
a brute, but I will show you how gentle I can be.”
“Louis!” cried Evadne desperately, “you must let me go! I will
never do this thing!”
She pulled vainly at the ring as she spoke. Louis' grasp never
relaxed. When he spoke she was frightened at the recklessness of his
“Take that ring off your finger and I go straight to the devil! You
say you want to win my soul. Here is your chance. You can make of me
what you will. I own there is something in your Christianity. I can't
help sneering when I see Isabelle and Marion playing at it, but I have
never sneered at you. Now, take your choice. Shall the devil have his
His voice was quiet but she could see he was laboring under intense
excitement. Evadne was in despair. What should she do? Only that
morning Dr. Russe had said to her,—
“It is not the injury he sustained in the fall that worries me. He
will get over that. But the shock to the nervous system has been
tremendous. Humor him in everything and avoid the least excitement, as
you value his life.”
She leaned over him and said gently,—“Dear Louis, you are not
strong enough to talk any more to-day. I will wear the ring a little
while to please you, but remember, this other thing you want can never
He looked up at her, his face pallid with exhaustion, “Promise me,”
he said faintly, “that the ring shall stay on your finger until I take
And Evadne promised.
Three years had slipped away and Evadne still wore her cousin's
ring. A great tenderness was growing up in her heart toward him. She
yearned over him as only those can understand who know what it is to
carry the burden of souls upon their hearts by night and day but no
thought of love ever crossed her mind. To Evadne Hildreth, love was a
wonderfully sacred thing. The ring fretted her and she longed to be
freed from its presence, but Louis held her to her promise. If he only
waited long enough, he persuaded himself, his patience would be
rewarded. Some day this shy, sweet bird would nestle against his heart.
In the meantime he would keep the ungenerous advantage which his
illness had given him. He forgot that it needs more to tame a bird than
merely putting it in a cage!
Isabelle had been intensely curious but her questions had elicited
no satisfaction from her brother, and Evadne had answered simply,
“Louis took a fancy to put it on my finger: I am wearing it to please
him, that is all:” and even Isabelle found her cousin's sweet dignity
an effectual bar against her morbid inquisitiveness.
They had seen comparatively little of each other. Evadne was
constantly busy, either at private or hospital nursing, and very short
were the furloughs which she spent under her uncle's roof. Louis had
spent the first winter after his illness with his mother in the South
of France, now he was in Florida, but he wrote regularly, and Evadne
answered—when she could. Sweet, pleading letters which he read over
and over and honestly tried to be better: but it was only for her sake;
he knew no higher motive—yet.
It was a perfect day. Down by the river an alligator was sunning
himself, and the resinous breath of the pine trees swept its aromatic
fragrance over Louis as he lay at full length in a hammock with his
hands behind his head. He had thrown the magazine he had been reading
on the ground and it lay open at the article on Heredity which he had
just finished. His desultory thoughts were roaming idly over the
subject, when one, more far reaching than the rest, made him start lip
with a sudden shock of unwelcome surprise.
“By Jove! Can it be that I am a victim of it too? It looks
confoundedly like it, although even my sweet little Puritan has not
felt it a sin against her conscience to keep me in the dark.”
He thrust his fingers with an impatient gesture through his hair.
“Now I come to think of it, the case grows deucedly clear. The South of
France one winter and Florida this! Simple nervous prostration would
seem to the uninitiated better fought in the exhilirating ozone of
Colorado, or—the North Pole—than in this languorous atmosphere. 'An
inherited tendency.' Is this the pleasant little legacy which my
respected ancestor has bequeathed to his only grandson? It skipped the
Judge, but it caught poor Uncle Lenox, and now it has nabbed me! What a
fool I have been not to surmise what this confounded pain meant between
my shoulders! Grandfather Hildreth kept himself alive with nostrums
until he was seventy, but he was an invalid all his life. He ought to
be cursed for his contemptible selfishness in bringing so much
suffering upon the race! There's none of the taint about Evadne, bless
her! Russe told me the Hospital examiners said they had never passed
such a perfect specimen of health.”
He stopped suddenly and bit his lips in pain. Would he not follow
his grandfather's example—if he had the chance?
“What in the world is the meaning of all this?”
Louis had arrived by an earlier train than he was expected and only
his mother was at home to greet him. The hall was in confusion,
workmen's tools lay about and ladders stood against the walls. Mrs.
Hildreth laughed lightly, as she laid her hand within her son's arm.
“Oh, they are only getting ready for the floral decorations,” she
said, “we give a reception to-morrow in honor of your return. How well
you are looking, Louis. I am so delighted to have you at home.”
“Thanks, lady mother. I do not need to ask how you have survived my
absence. How is Evadne,—and the Judge and the girls?”
His mother laughed again as she drew him on the sofa beside her. She
seemed in wonderfully good humor. “Rather a comprehensive question,”
she said. “Sit down and we will have a comfortable talk before the
others get home. Your father looks wretchedly but he says there is
nothing the matter. I suppose it is just overwork and the usual money
strain. Isabelle too is not as well as I should like her to be. Suffers
from nervousness a great deal, and depression. There is a new physician
here now, a Doctor Randolph, who we think is going to help her,
although he is very young; but she took a dislike to Doctor Russe
because he belongs to the old school. And now I have a surprise for
you. Marion is engaged!”
“Engaged! Why, you never hinted at it in your letters!”
“It has all been very sudden. I wrote you there was a young New
Yorker very attentive to her.”
“Yes, but that is an old story. There were two fellows 'very
attentive' when I went away. How long since the present devotion
“Just a week ago to-night: and they are so devoted!”
“A second Romeo and Juliet, eh?”—Louis' laugh had a bitter
ring,—“By the way, what is his name?”
“Brother Simp! Rich, I suppose?”
“Oh, yes, very. In fact he is eligible in every way.”
“I see,” yawned Louis, “Possessed of all the cardinal virtues. It is
a good thing his wealth is not all in his pockets, for they are apt to
spring a leak. But Evadne—how is she?”
“Oh, she is always well, you know,” said his mother carelessly.
“There they come now.”
“These Indian famines are a terrible business,” said Judge Hildreth
as they lingered over their dessert that evening. It was pleasant to
have Louis and Evadne back again. He too was glad to see his son so
well. “I don't see what the end is going to be.”
“People say that about every calamity, Papa,” said Isabelle, “but
the world goes on just the same.”
“Of course it does, Isabelle,” said her brother. “You see we can't
waste time over a few dying millions when we have to give a reception
“But that is a necessity, Louis,” said Mrs. Hildreth, “we must pay
our debts to society, you know.”
“I am sure I don't see where I could economize,” sighed Marion.
“That lecturer last night was splendid and I would like to have given
him thousands but I hadn't a dollar in my purse. I never have. I spent
my last cent for chocolates yesterday.”
Evadne smiled and sighed but said nothing. The lecturer the night
before had felt his soul strangely stirred at the sight of her glowing
face, and the plate when it passed her seat had borne a shining gold
piece, but perhaps she had not as many temptations as Marion and
“I would have willingly filled you up a check with the cost of the
floral decorations, Marion,” said her father with a twinkle in his eye.
“They would have purchased a good many bags of corn.”
“But that is ridiculous!” said Isabelle. “What would a reception be
without flowers, I should like to know? As it is, I expect it will be a
poor affair compared to the Van Nuys' last week. We never seem to be
able to do anything in proper style. You would better put your new
Worth gown, on the collection plate, Marion, and appear in a morning
dress to-morrow night. Louis would be the first one to be scandalized
if you did!”
“Well but, Isabelle, I had to have something now. I have worn my
other dresses so many times, I am perfectly ashamed.”
“Of course, sis,” said Louis gravely, “it was a most imperative
expenditure. It is a strange coincidence that you should have chosen
that particular make though. It has always been a fancy of mine that
the Levite was robed in a Worth gown when he passed by on the other
“The sufferings must be awful,” said Evadne, anxious to relieve
Marion's embarrassment. “I saw in the paper to-day that——”
Mrs. Hildreth lifted her hands in mock alarm. “Pray spare us any
recital of horrors, Evadne! I never want to hear about any of these
dreadful things. What is the use, when one cannot help in any way?”
“You forget, Mamma,” said Isabelle with a laugh, “that Evadne revels
in horrors. What would be torture to our quivering nerves, to her
atrophied sensibilities is merely an occurrence of every day.”
Louis gave a sudden start in his chair, but on the instant Evadne
laid her hand upon his arm, and its light touch soothed his anger as it
had been wont to soothe his pain.
Evadne Hildreth was climbing the heights of victory. She had learned
to cover her wounds with a smile.
“Who is that calf, Evadne, standing by the piano?” Louis put the
question to his cousin the next evening, as he sought a few moments'
respite from his duties as host at her side.
“That is Mr. Simpson Kennard.”
Louis surveyed the fashionably dressed, weak-faced, sandy-haired
young man from head to foot. “He will never get above his collar!” he
said in a tone of infinite scorn.
Evadne laughed. “You must confess it is high enough to limit the
aspirations of an ordinary mortal.”
Marion fluttered up to them, her cheeks aglow with excitement.
“Louis, where are you? I want to introduce you to Simpsey. He has just
Evadne looked after her as she led her brother away. “Poor little
soul. What a butterfly it is! Fancy having a husband whom one could
She started. Her knight of the gate was standing before her with
outstretched hand. A great light was in his face. “Do you remember?” he
asked, and Evadne's eyes glowed deep with pleasure, as she laid her
hand in his. They would never be properly introduced, these two, “'Life
is a beautiful possibility,'“ she said, “I am proving it so every
day,—but, oh, the awful suffering in the world! I cannot
And John Randolph answered with his strong, sweet faith. “God
understands, we do not need to.”
They were standing in an alcove partially screened by a tall palm
from the crowd which surged up and down through the rooms. He took from
his pocket a morocco case, and, opening it, held it towards her. What
made the color flush her cheeks while her eyes fell beneath his gaze?
She only saw a little square of lawn and lace, but the name traced
across one corner was 'Evadne'!
“Did you leave nothing behind you at Hollywood that day?” he asked
“My handkerchief!” she cried. “I missed it before we reached
Marlborough. I must have left it at the gate.” But Evadne had left more
behind her than she knew.
“I will keep it still,” he said, “with your permission. Will you
give it to me?”
“Oh, Doctor Randolph!” Isabelle's voice fell shrill upon Evadne's
silence, “they are calling for you in the other room to decide a knotty
question—something about microbes. I told them I was sure you would
know. Will you come?”
John Randolph put the case quickly in his pocket and smiled as he
turned away. He thought he had read consent in her lovely eyes.
After the reception was over Evadne knelt by her window until the
stars faded one by one from the sky. Then she turned away with a happy
sigh. When he came to get his answer, she would know.
* * * * *
“Give that to me!” Isabella spoke imperiously to the servant, who
was passing through the hall with a note in her hand. From where she
stood she had recognized the clear handwriting of the prescriptions
which the new doctor wrote. Her demon of curiosity overcame her. The
tempter was very near.
The girl held the note towards her. “It is for Miss Evadne,” she
said. “Miss E. Hildreth, you see.”
Isabelle gave a careless laugh. “Did you not know I had an E in my
name also? Evelyn Isabelle. I know the writing. The note is meant for
So the truth and the lie mingled! When John Randolph called that
evening he was ushered into the presence of Isabelle.
“I am so sorry about Evadne!” she exclaimed, before he had time to
speak. “She had an engagement with my brother. He monopolizes her
whenever he is at home.” She laughed affectedly. “Oh, I cannot tell you
when it is coming off, but she has worn his ring for years. They will
not give us any satisfaction—deep as the sea, you know. It seems so
strange to me, but then I am so transparent. She is a clever girl, but
very peculiar. Does not seem to have much natural feeling, you know,
but I suppose I am not fitted to judge, I am so emotional!”
John Randolph bit his lip hard. It startled him to find how sharp a
pain could be.
* * * * *
Day after day Evadne waited but her knight never asked for his
answer. She began to meet him professionally, for his reputation was
steadily increasing, but he made no attempt to resume the conversation
which had been so rudely interrupted. He treated her with a delicate
chivalry always—that was John Randolph's way—and once she had caught
such a strange, wistful expression on his face as he looked at her and
then at a patient's arm which she was deftly bandaging. She was
puzzled. What could it all mean? Well, God understood.
The surgical ward in the new Hospital at Marlborough was filled to
its utmost capacity and Evadne found her work no sinecure. The force of
nurses was inadequate to the demand. Often she would be called from her
rest to minister to the critical cases which were her special care, and
she would go down to the ward saying softly, “The Master is come and
calleth for thee,” and bending tenderly over the sufferers, would
behold as in a vision the face of Christ.
“My dear Miss Hildreth!” the superintendent exclaimed one day, “how
is it that you make the patients love you so?”
Evadne laughed merrily. “If they do,” she said, “it must be because
of my love for them.” And the Superintendent answered in a hushed
voice, “Why, that is the Gospel!”
They called her 'Sister,' these rough men. She liked it so. She felt
herself a sister to the world.
It was evening and the lights were turned low in the surgical ward.
Evadne was making her round before going to her room for a sorely
needed rest. John Randolph, who had come to pay a second visit to an
interesting case in one of the medical wards, stood in the shadow of
the doorway and watched her hungrily. Each one wanted to say something
and Evadne listened patiently. To her the mission of a nurse meant
something higher than gruel and bandages. She never forgot as she
ministered to the body that she was dealing with a soul.
John Randolph, standing with folded arms in the doorway, heard her
low, sweet laugh, as she strove to brighten up a lachrymose patient;
and caught at intervals the name of Jesus, as she reminded one and
another of the Friend whose sympathy is strong enough to bear all the
weight of human pain, and once he thought he heard the sweet note of a
prayer. He started forward. Evadne was bending over a man who had been
badly crippled in a saw mill. His left arm was gone and all the fingers
from his right hand. With the morbidness of those who delight in
concentrating attention upon their own sufferings, he had pulled off
the loosened bandage with his teeth and held up the stump for
inspection, and Evadne had laid her cool, soft hands on either side of
the unsightly mass of red and angry flesh and was holding them there
while she talked!
“She gives herself!” cried John Randolph with a great throb of
longing. “It is what Jesus did, in Galilee.”
A wave of passion broke over him. It was not true, this story. It
could not be! How could her nature, sweet as light, ever be attuned to
that of her cynical cousin? She was coming nearer, nearer. He would
stay and meet her. He thought he had read his answer in her eyes. Now
he would have it from her lips as well.
But then, there was the ring! Isabelle had been right. It was no
lady's ornament, and he had seen the initials L. H. graven in the heart
of the stone as their hands had met one day in dressing a wound. Evadne
Hildreth was not one to wear a man's ring lightly and John Randolph
bent his head and groaned.
“Sister, Sister, won't you sing before you go?”
“Oh, yes, Sister, give us just one song!”
The men raised themselves on their elbows in pleading entreaty, and
Evadne stood in all her sweet unconsciousness before him and began to
do their will. Soft and clear the music fell about him. The air was
'The last Rose of Summer' but the words were 'Jesus, Lover of my soul.'
When the song was ended, John Randolph, hushed and comforted, walked
noiselessly down the stairway and out into the quiet street.
Evadne had sung her message, while she folded its leaves of healing
down over her own sore heart, and human love had paled before the
exquisite beauty of the love of God!
The two men stood facing each other with hands held in a vice-like
grasp, all unconscious of what was going on around them in the street.
“Where did you come from?”
“Where have you been?”
John laughed. “In and around Marlborough all the time, except when I
went to New York for my degree.”
“And never let us hear a word from you all these years!”
“You forget, Rege, your father forbade me to hold any communication
Reginald's face grew grave. “Poor father. Well he's done with it all
“You don't mean that he is dead, Rege?”
“Yes—and little Nan.”
“Oh!” The exclamation was sharp with pain.
“I think she fretted for you, John. She just seemed to pine away.
Every day we missed her about the same time, and they always found her
in the same place, down by the green road. Then scarlet fever came. She
never spoke of getting well—didn't seem to want to. The night she died
she put her arms around mother's neck and whispered. 'Tell Don me'll be
waitin' at the gate.' That was all.”
John wrung Reginald's hand and turned away. Reginald looked after
him with misty eyes. “I used to tell mother it would break his heart. I
never saw any one so wrapped up in a child!”
“And your father, Rege?” John was calm again.
“Had a fit of apoplexy soon after. I think Nan was the only thing in
the world he cared for. It had never struck him that she could die. We
sold Hollywood and went abroad. Mother's health broke down—she was
never very strong, you know. We spent one year in Italy and one in
France, but the shock had been too great. She lies in a lovely spot
beside the sea.”
“Not your mother too, Rege!”
Reginald's voice broke. “Yes, they are all gone. It was a great deal
to happen in a few years. I am a wealthy man, John, but I am all alone
in the world, except for Elise. Well,” he added more lightly, “I have
learned not to rebel at the inevitable. It is only what we have to
“Elise!” echoed John wonderingly, after the first shock of grief was
“My wife,” said Reginald proudly. “You must come home at once and
let me show you the sweetest woman in the world.”
“Not just yet, Rege I must pay a visit to Mrs. O'Flannigan, then
there is the hospital, and the dispensary, and I promised to concoct a
bed for a poor fellow in the last stages of heart trouble. But I will
“Always helping somewhere, John. What a grand fellow you are!”
“We are in the world to help the world, else what were the use of
“I can't do anything,” said Reginald, “with this clog.” He looked
contemptuously at his ebony crutch as he spoke.
John laid his hand upon his arm. “Rege,” he said in his old, tender
way. “I think this very 'clog' as you call it, is a preparation to help
those who are passing through the baptism of pain.”
* * * * *
Mrs. Reginald Hawthorne welcomed her husband's friend with a winning
charm. She was very pretty, very graceful and very young. Reginald
idolized her. John saw that as he looked around the sumptuous home
whose every fitting was a tribute to her taste. They had just finished
unpacking the things they had brought from Europe.
“Strangely enough,” said Reginald with a laugh, “I told Elise this
morning that now I was going to start out in search of you!”
He had developed wonderfully. John saw that too. Travel and trial
had brought out the good that was in him—but not the best.
The evening passed pleasantly. Mrs. Hawthorne played beautifully,
and Reginald had kept ears and eyes open and talked well.
“How about the other life, Rege?” asked John when they had a few
moments alone. “This one seems very fair.”
“All a humbug, John. You Christians are chasing a will o' the wisp,
a jack o' lantern. You remember my fad for mathematics? I have followed
it up, and I find your theory a 'reductio ad absurdum.' I must have
everything demonstrable and clear. This is neither.”
“Yet it was a great mathematician who said, 'Omit eternity in your
estimate of area and your solution is wrong.'“
Reginald shook his head. “I have nothing to do with this faith
business. I go as far as I see, no further.”
“God calls our wisdom foolishness, Rege. Jesus Christ put a
tremendous premium upon the faith of a little child.”
“Things must be tangible for me to believe in them. Reason is king
“Without faith in your fellow man—and your wife—you would have a
poor time of it, Rege; why should you refuse to have faith in your God?
Is your will tangible, and can you demonstrate the mysterious forces of
nature? You know you can't, Rege, you have to take them on trust; and
if you had seen what I have, you would know that poor human reason is a
pitiful thing! But I won't argue with you. Some day you will
Reginald Hawthorne went back into the room where his wife was
sitting. “Elise, darling, you have seen one of the grandest men in the
world to-night. The only trouble is that on one subject he is a crank.”
“Oh, Reginald, do you mean it! I thought he was splendid. And what a
wonderful face he has!”
Reginald started. “Hah! Am I to be jealous of my old friend? But I
might have known,” he added sadly, “no one could care long for such a
wreck as I!”
The girl wife put her arms around his neck and kissed him softly,
“You foolish boy!” she whispered, “you know I shall never love any one
And Reginald Hawthorne counted himself a perfectly happy man.
Judge Hildreth sat in his library, alone. He had left home
immediately after dinner, ostensibly to catch the evening train for New
York, and had sent the carriage back from the station to take his
family to the Choral Festival which was the event of the year in
Marlborough, and then returning in a hired conveyance, had let himself
into his house like a thief. When we sacrifice principle upon the altar
of expediency, truth and honor, like twin victims, stand bound at its
foot. He wanted to be undisturbed, to have time to think, and God
granted his wish, until his reeling brain prayed for oblivion!
No sound broke the stillness. With the exception of the servants in
a distant part of the house, he was absolutely alone.
He drew out his will from a secret drawer of his desk and looked it
over with a ghastly smile. “To my dear niece, Evadne, the sum of thirty
thousand dollars, held by me in trust from her father.” Then came a
long list of charities. It read well. People could not say he had left
all to his family and forgotten the Lord. If his executors should find
a difficulty in realizing one quarter of the values so speciously set
forth, they could only say that dividends had shrunk and investments
proved unreliable. It was not his fault. He had meant well. Besides, he
had no thought of dying for years. There was plenty of time for
skillful financing. Other men had done the same and prospered. Why
should not he?
But the letters must be destroyed. He had come to a decision at
last. It was an imperative necessity. His hesitancy had been only the
foolish scruples of an over sensitive conscience. The tremendous
pressure of the age made things permissible. He was “torn by the tooth
of circumstance” and “necessity knows no law.” So he entrenched himself
behind a breastwork of sophisms. Long familiarity with the suggestions
of evil had bred a contempt for the good!
He stretched out his hand towards the drawer. There should be no
more weak delay. If a thing were to be done, 'twere well it were done
The horror of a great fear fell upon him. Again his hand had fallen,
and this time he was powerless to lift it up!
The hours passed and he sat helpless, bound in that awful chain of
frozen horror. In vain he struggled in a wild rage for freedom. No
muscle stirred. Where was his boasted will power now? Hand and foot,
faithful, uncomplaining slaves for so many years, had rebelled at last!
His brain seemed on fire and the flashing thoughts blinded him with
their glare. The letters rose from their sepulchre and, clothed in the
majesty of a dead man's faith, looked at him with an awful reproach,
until his very soul bowed in the dust with shame. His will still lay
upon the desk, open at the paragraph “to my dear niece, Evadne,” and
the words “in trust,” like red hot irons, branded him a felon in the
sight of God and men!
He remembered having once read a quotation from a great
writer,—“When God says, 'You must not lie and you do lie, it is not
possible for Deity to sweep his law aside and say—'No matter.'“ Did
God make no allowances for the nineteenth century?
The others returned from the Festival, and Louis passed the door
whistling. He had had a rare evening of pleasure with Evadne. Towards
its close, under cover of the rolling harmonies, he had leaned over and
whispered “I love you, dear!” and Evadne had held out her hand to him
with the low pleading cry, “Oh, Louis, if you really do, then set me
free!” but he had only smiled and taken the hand, on which his ring was
gleaming, into his, and settled his arm more securely upon the back of
her chair; and John Randolph, sitting opposite with Dick and Miss
Diana, had watched the little scene and drawn his own conclusions with
The night drew on. The electric lights which it was Judge Hildreth's
fancy to have ablaze in every room downstairs until the central current
was shut off, still gleamed steadily upon the rigid figure before the
desk, with the white, drawn face and the awful look of horror in its
staring eyes. In an agony he tried to call, but no sound escaped the
lips, set in a sphinx-like silence.
He must shake off this strange lethargy. It was not possible for him
to die—he had not time. To-morrow was the meeting of the Panhattan
directors—they were relying upon him to work through the second call
on stock—and two of his notes fell due, if he did not retire them his
credit would be lost at the bank; and there was the banquet to the
English capitalists, with whom he was negotiating a mining deal; and he
must arrange with his broker to float some more shares of the
“Silverwing”—and manipulate, manipulate, manipulate—
An agonized, voiceless cry went up to heaven. “Oh, God, let me have
In the morning a servant found him, when she came to clean the room,
and fled screaming from the presence of the silent figure with the
awful entreaty in its staring eyes.
Louis hurried downstairs to learn the cause of the commotion,
followed by Mrs. Hildreth, swept for once off her pedestal of stately
Shivering with horror the family gathered in the beautiful room
which had been so suddenly turned into a death chamber, the servants
weeping boisterously, Isabella and her mother in violent hysterics, and
Marion clinging with wide, frightened eyes to Louis, who found himself
thrust into a man's place of responsibility and did not know what to
He sent one servant to the Hospital for Evadne—instinctively he
turned in his thought to her,—another for the Doctor; while with one
arm around Marion, he tried to sooth his mother and Isabelle.
And in the midst of all the wild commotion his father sat, unmoved
and silent, his agonized face lifted in an attitude of supplication,
his lifeless hands lying heavily upon the now worthless papers, since
for him there would be no to-morrow!
* * * * *
The stately obsequies were ended. The paid quartette had sung their
sweetest, while Doctor Jerome, standing beside the frozen face in the
massive coffin, had delivered an eloquent eulogium, and Mrs. Hildreth,
clad in her costly robes of mourning, had been led to her carriage by
her son. Everything had been conducted in a manner befitting the
* * * * *
“Evadne!” Louis turned a white, scared face towards his cousin, who
stood beside him as he sat at his father's desk. Upstairs Mrs. Hildreth
and Isabelle were in solemn consultation with a dressmaker. In the
drawing-room Marion was being consoled by Simpson Kennard.
“Well, Louis?” She laid her hand on his shoulder gently. She was
very sorry for him.
“There is some awful mistake. Poor Father seems to have counted on
funds which we can find no trace of. The estate is not worth an eighth
of what he valued it at. There is barely enough to keep you, mother and
Isabelle, alive!” He laid his head down on the desk while great tears
fell through his fingers. The shameful mystery of it was intolerable.
“But, Louis, have you looked everywhere? There must be some
Louis shook his head. “Everywhere, but in this drawer. I opened it
but there is nothing but musty old letters. I haven't time to go into
them now. Oh, little coz, I don't dare to look you in the face. All the
money that was left you by your father is gone!”
“Don't tell Aunt Kate and the girls, Louis, There is no need that
they should ever know. I have my profession and I am strong. Uncle
Lawrence never meant to do anything except what was right, I know.”
Louis looked up at her and there was a strange reverence in his
cynical face. He was in the presence of a Christliness which he had
never dreamed of. “I am not worthy to touch the hem of your garment,”
he said humbly. But he did not offer to release her from her promise.
He had not learned to be generous—yet.
Evadne's dream was ended and rude was the awaking. The idea of
helping her fellows had grown to be a passion with her and very fair
had been the castle in the air of which she was the Princess. A home,
not rich or stately but full of a delightful homeiness which should
soothe and cheer those who, walking through the world amid a storm of
tears, call earth a wilderness, while their desolate hearts echo the
mournful question,—“Is there any sorrow like unto my sorrow.” She,
too, had been lonely,—she could understand, and by the sweet influence
of human love and sympathy lift their thought above the earthly shadows
up to the love of God.
She had not dreamed of doing things on a grand scale. Evadne
Hildreth was wise enough to know that comfort cannot be dealt out in
wholesale packages,—she never forgot that Jesus of Nazareth helped the
people one by one.
She had never questioned the terms of her father's will—if there
was a will. She had supposed when she became of age there would be some
change, but her uncle had made no reference to the subject and she had
not liked to ask. He was always kind—he would do what was best. Some
day she would be free to carry out this beautiful dream of hers. She
could afford to wait. Now there was nothing to wait for any more!
How strange it seemed, when the need was so great and she longed to
help much! Well, she was only a little child,—she could trust her
Father. God understood.
That was what he had said, this strong, true friend of hers, that
night he asked the question which he had never asked again. How gentle
he was!—but it was the gentleness of strength—and how every one
depended on him! She, herself, had learned to expect the helpful words
which he always gave her when they met. Friendship was a beautiful
John Randolph came up behind Evadne one morning as she was dressing
the burns of a little lad who had been severely injured at a fire. She
did not hear his step—she was telling a bright story to the little
sufferer, to make him forget his pain, and the boy was laughing loudly.
His face was very grave, but his eyes lightened as they always did when
they rested upon her face.
“Mrs. Reginald Hawthorne is very ill. Can you, will you come?”
And Evadne answered with a simple “Yes.” They needed so few words,
“I tell you I will not die!” The piercing cry rang through the
handsome room and fell like molten lead upon the heart of the man who
with strained, haggard face was sitting by the bedside. “You have not
told me the truth, Reginald! There is a God. I feel it! You have always
laughed and called me young and foolish, but I know better than you do,
now. You said if our lives were governed by reason, we would meet death
like a philosopher, and I do not know how to die! You used to laugh and
say the whole thing was child's play and there was nothing to fear, and
I believed you,—I thought you were so wise, but it was easy to believe
you then with your arms folded close about me and the sunlight
streaming through the windows and the shouts of the children outside,
but now you cannot go with me and I am afraid to go alone.” The eyes,
wild and despairing, burned fiercely in the pallid cheeks. “Do you
hear, Reginald? I am afraid, I tell you; horribly afraid! You used to
say you would lay down your life to save me. Why do you not help me
“What makes you look so strangely, if it is all nonsense, Reginald?
why do you shut out all the sunshine and why is the house so still? You
told me once you were going to die with a laugh on your lips. I am
dying, Reginald, why don't you help your wife to die as you mean to do?
Her voice died away in a low wail of terror and the delicate blue
veins in her temples throbbed with feverish excitement. Reginald
Hawthorne had crouched down in his chair and buried his face in his
hands. The pitiful cry began again.
“To die, when life is so sweet! To be shut up in a coffin and buried
in a cold, dark grave! You don't love me, Reginald. If you did, you
would die too—with a laugh on your lips you know—then I should have
that to cheer me, and we should be together, and I should not be
afraid. But now you look so strangely, Reginald. Don't you care for me
any more? Can you let them take me away from this beautiful world and
stay in it all by yourself?
“I suppose you will give me a splendid funeral—you are so generous
you know—but I will not care whether the prison is pine or mahogany if
I am to be shut up in it all alone! And you will have a long
procession, with plumes and flowers and show, but you will leave me in
the dreary cemetery and you will come back to our home, where we have
been so happy together—so happy, just you and I—but you see you are a
philosopher and I do not know how to die!
“And some day you will forget me—men do such things they say—and
another woman will be your wife and I will be all alone!”
“Sister!” The abject man in the chair held out his hands in an agony
of entreaty, “Come here and help us—if you can!” and Evadne came
swiftly into the room, and, sitting down on the side of the bed,
gathered the pitiful little figure to her heart.
“It is not death but life,” she said gently. “This body is not
you. The home of the soul is more beautiful than, any earthly home
can ever be. It is those who are left behind dear, who mourn, not those
Elise Hawthorne laid her head on Evadne's shoulder like a tired
child. “But I am afraid,” she whispered. “If this is true, and God is
holy, I am not fit, you know.”
“Your Father loves you dear, for he sent his Son to die. The thief
on the cross was a sinner, yet Christ took him to Paradise. The fitness
must come from Jesus. His blood washes whiter than snow.”
“But I have done nothing to earn it. I have lived for myself alone.”
“We never can earn a gift, dear. God gives in a royal way. He says
to you only 'Believe I have given you life through my Son.'“ Evadne had
taken the tiny Bible which she always carried from her pocket and was
turning its pages rapidly. “Here it is. Will you raise the blind, Mr.
Hawthorne, that your wife may see for herself? 'God so loved the world
that he gave his only begotten Son,'—the best he had!—'that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish,' you see there is no death for
those who trust in him. And then 'He that believeth on the Son hath
everlasting life.' It does not mean that we may have it after years of
toil. The Israelites, stung by the serpents, had no time to reason or
plan to live better, for they were dying, but they could turn their
eyes to the brazen serpent which God had ordered to be lifted up in the
midst of tho camp for an antidote to the poison. So Christ has been
'lifted up' upon the cross for us. He died instead of you. Why should
you die forever when he has paid your ransom and set you free?”
“But I cannot touch him,—I cannot be sure it is true.”
“The Israelites could not touch the brazen serpent. They simply
looked, and lived. There is just one condition for us to-day and it is
'Believe.' Cannot you take your Heavenly Father at his word as you
would your husband? Cannot you treat God the same?”
Mrs. Hawthorne looked wonderingly at her nurse. “Treat him the same
as I do my husband!” she exclaimed. “Why, with Reginald, I believe
every word he says.”
“And I with God,” said Evadne reverently.
“What charm have you wrought?” asked John Randolph in a whisper, as
they stood together that evening beside a quiet sleeper. “This is the
first natural sleep she has had. I believe it will prove her
Evadne looked up at him, and over her face a light was breaking, “I
have led her to Jesus, the Mighty to save.”
* * * * *
The Hawthornes were going to Europe. The young wife's convalescence
had been tedious and it was a very frail little figure which clung to
Evadne the evening before they started. They had pleaded with her to go
with them. “Give up this toilsome work which is overtaxing your
strength,” Reginald had said, as they sat together one evening in the
twilight, “and make your home with us. You have grown to be our sister
in the truest sense of the word and we have learned to lean upon you,
Elise and I. We can never hope to repay you,” he continued huskily,
“but it would be such a pleasure to have you with us for good.”
Evadne looked at the pleading eyes with which Elise Hawthorne
seconded her husband's wish and her lips trembled. “How rich God is
making me in friends!” she said. “I shall never forget that this thing
has been in your hearts, but I must be about my Father's business.”
And then John Randolph had come to make one of his pleasant,
informal visits and they had sat together in a beautiful fellowship,
talking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom.
“Doctor Randolph,” Elise asked suddenly, “what is your conception of
prayer? Evadne says it means to her communion and companionship with
Jesus. She says it is 'the practice of the presence of God.'“
John Randolph's face grew luminous. “To me it means a great
stillness,” he said. “Did you ever think of the silences of God? 'Be
still, and know that I am God,' 'Stand still, and see his salvation.'“
“But are we not to ask for what we want?” asked Mrs. Hawthorne
“Oh, yes, but we learn to ask so little for ourselves when we love
our Father's will. The trouble is, we, want to do the talking. God
would have us listen while he speaks.”
“Then what does it mean to worship God?” she asked. “We cannot
always be in church.”
John Randolph smiled. “We do not need to be. If our hearts are all
on fire with the love of God, we worship him continually.”
When he rose to go he turned towards Evadne. “How goes life with you
now, dear friend?”
The grey eyes, full of a clear shining, were lifted to his, “I am
absolutely satisfied with Jesus Christ.”
Marion was married and living in New York. Louis had taken a small
house, where he lived with his mother and Isabelle. He spent his days
in the monotonous routine of a hank, and to his pleasure-loving nature
the drudgery seemed intolerable, but he said little. Evadne never
One day he went to see her at the Hospital and she was frightened at
the pallor of his face. She led him to the superintendent's reception
room—there they would be undisturbed. He staggered blindly as he
entered the room and then sank heavily on a sofa near the door. He
looked like an old man.
“Louis!” she cried in alarm, “what is the matter?”
He took a letter from his pocket and held it toward her. It bore her
own name, and the writing was her father's!
“Can you ever forgive?” Then he buried his face in his arms
and groaned aloud. The awful disgrace and shame of it seemed more than
he could bear.
Interminable seemed the hours after Louis had left her, walking
slowly, with that strange, grey shadow upon his face, and stooping as
if some unseen burden were crushing him to the earth. She dared not let
herself think. She must wait until she was alone. At last she was free
to go to her room.
Down on her knees she read the passionate farewell words, which made
her heart thrill, so full of tender advice and loving thought for her
comfort. Through streaming tears she looked at the closely written
pages of instructions, so minute that she could not err—and he had
disliked writing so much! This was the weary task which had tried him
so! And all these years she had never known. She had been robbed of her
Fierce and long the battle raged. When it was ended God heard his
child cry softly, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us.”
She had forgiven!
Mrs. Simpson Kennard was sitting in her pretty morning room with her
baby on her knee. She looked across the room at her sister who was
paying her a visit. “I wish you had a little child to love, Isabelle.
It makes life so different. I am just wrapped up in Florimel.”
“For pity's sake, Marion,” cried Isabelle peevishly, “don't you grow
to be one of those tiresome women who think the whole world is
interested in a baby's tooth! I certainly do not echo your wish. I
think children are a nuisance.”
Marion caught up her baby in dismay. “Why, Isabelle, just think how
much they do for us! They broaden our sympathies—I read that only the
other day, and——”
“Broaden your fiddlesticks!” said Isabelle contemptuously. “Easy for
you to talk when you have everything you want! If you had to live in
that poky little house in Marlborough, I guess you would not find
anything very broadening about them!
“It is perfectly preposterous to think of our being reduced to such
a style of living!” she continued, as Mrs. Kennard strove to soothe her
baby's injured feelings with kisses. “Just fancy, only one servant! I
never thought a Hildreth would fall so low.”
“But you and Mamma are comfortable, Isabelle. It is not as if you
were forced to do anything.”
“Do anything!” echoed Isabelle. “Are you going crazy?”
“Well, see how hard Evadne has to work? and she is a Hildreth as
well as you.”
“Evadne!” said Isabelle sarcastically, “with her nerves of steel and
spine of adamant! Evadne will never kill herself with work. She is too
much taken up with her wealthy private patients. You should have seen
her driving round with the Hawthornes in their elegant carriage And I
reduced to dependence upon the electric cars! I don't see how she
manages to worm her way into people's confidence as she seems to do. I
couldn't, but then I have such a horror of being forward.”
“'All doors are open to those who smile.' I believe that is the
“Stuff and nonsense!” was Miss Hildreth's inelegant reply.
“She is a dear girl, Isabelle. Why will you persist in disliking her
“Oh, pray spare me any panegyrics!” said Isabelle carelessly. “It is
bad enough to have Louis blazing up like a volcano if one has the
temerity to mention her ladyship's name.”
“How is Louis?” asked Mrs. Kennard, finding she was treading on
“Oh, the same as usual. He looks like a ghost, and is about as
cheerful as a cemetery. He spends his holidays going over musty old
letters in papa's desk. I'm sure I don't see what fun he finds in it.
It is so selfish in him, when he might be giving mamma and me some
pleasure—but Louis never did think of anyone but himself. One day I
found him stretched across the desk and it gave me such a fright! You
know what a state my nerves are in. I thought he was in a fit or
something,—he just looked like death, and he didn't seem to hear me
when I called. He had a large envelope addressed to papa in his hand
and there was another under his arm that didn't look as if it had ever
been opened, but I couldn't see the address. I ran for mamma, but
before we got back he was gone and the letters with him. Whatever it
was, it has had an awful effect upon him, though he won't give us any
satisfaction, you know how provoking he is. It is my belief he is going
into decline, and I have such a horror of contagious diseases!
“If Evadne is so anxious to work, why doesn't she come and help
mamma and me? It is the least she could do after all we have done for
her, but as mamma says, 'It is just a specimen of the ingratitude there
is in the world.'“
* * * * *
The months rolled by and Evadne sat one afternoon in the
superintendent's reception room reading a letter which the postman had
just delivered. It bore the Vernon postmark.
She had seen but little of Mrs. Everidge through the years which
followed her graduation. She had been constantly busy and her aunt's
hands had been full, for her husband's health had failed utterly and he
demanded continual care. Now her long, beautiful ministry was over, for
Horace Everidge, serenely selfish to the last, had fallen into the
slumber which knows no earthly waking, and Aunt Marthe was free.
“I do not know what it means,” she wrote, “but something tells me I
shall not be long in Vernon. I am just waiting to see what work the
King has for me to do.”
Evadne pressed the letter to her lips. “Dear Aunt Marthe! If the
majority had had your 'tribulum' they would think they had earned the
right to play!”
She looked up. John Randolph was standing before her with a package
in his hands.
“I have been commissioned by the Hawthornes to give this into your
own possession,” he said with a smile.
She opened it wonderingly. Bonds and certificates of stock bearing
her name. What did it mean? John Randolph had drawn a chair opposite
her and was watching her face closely.
“You cannot think what long consultations we have held on the
subject of what you would like,” he said, “you seemed to have no wishes
of your own. At last a happy thought struck Reginald, and he sent me a
power of attorney to make the transfer of these bonds and stocks to
you. It is a Trust Fund to be used to help souls. We all thought that
would please you best of all. You are a rich woman, Miss Hildreth.”
A great wave of joy swept over her bewildered face. “So God has sent
me the fulfilment of my dream!” she said softly. And John Randolph
That evening she wrote to Mrs. Everidge.
“Dear Aunt Marthe,—The King's work is waiting for you in
Marlborough. The work that we used to long for—the joy of lifting the
shadows from the hearts of the heavy laden—God has given to you and
* * * * *
“Why should you not come to 'The Willows'?”
John Randolph put the question one afternoon, as they were enjoying
Miss Diana's hospitality in the fragrant porch. Evadne had just
finished a merry recital of their woes.
“We have looked at houses until we are fairly distracted, Aunt
Marthe and I. One had a cellar kitchen, and I am not going to have my
good Dyce buried in a cellar kitchen; and one had no bathroom, and
another was all stairs; and they are all nothing but brick and mortar
with a scrap of sky between. I want trees and water and fields. The
poor souls have enough of masonry in their daily lives.”
“I believe it is decreed that you should come here,” he continued,
after the first exclamations of surprise were over. “It is just the
work our lady delights in, and she cannot be left alone. Dick goes to
College next month and I must live in town. The house is beautiful for
situation, and a threefold cord of love and faith cannot easily be
He looked round upon them, this man who found his joy in helping
others, and waited for their answer.
“It would be beautiful, beautiful!” cried Evadne, “if Miss
Chillingworth were willing. But the house is not large enough, Doctor
Randolph, we shall need three or four guest chambers, you know.”
“Nothing easier than to build an addition,” said John, with the
quiet reserve of power which always made his patients believe in the
Evadne laid her hand upon Miss Chillingworth's—“Dear Miss Diana,”
she said gently, “you do not say 'No' to us; do you think you could
ever find it in your heart to say 'Yes'? I know it must seem a terrible
innovation, but we could never have imagined anything half so
delightful, Aunt Marthe and I. The atmosphere—outdoors and in—is
Miss Diana looked at the sparkling face and then at Mrs. Everidge
with her gentle smile. “I find myself very glad,” she said,
“since I have to lose my boys, but do you think we had better make any
definite plans, dear, until we have talked it over with the Lord?”
And John Randolph said to Evadne with eyes that were suspiciously
bright; “It is impossible for anyone to get very far from the Kingdom,
when they live with our Lady Di.”
The talk had wandered then to different subjects, and John Randolph
listened to the soft play of Evadne's fancy and watched the light in
her wonderful eyes. Her nature, so long repressed in an uncongenial
environment, in this new soil of love and sympathy was blossoming
richly and he found her very fair. He had rarely seen her resting. Now
the shapely hands were folded together in a beautiful stillness—and
then the breeze had waved aside a flower, and a sunbeam, darting
through the trellis, fell upon the stone in her ring and made it
sparkle with a baleful fire!
“Poor Louis!” Isabelle had said, the last time he had been called to
prescribe for her frequently recurring attacks of indisposition, “he
will have to wait for promotion now before he can think of marriage. It
is very hard for him.”
So again the truth and the lie had mingled.
Very sweet grew the life at 'The Willows' and Mrs. Everidge and
Evadne and Miss Diana found their hands full of happy work.
Unavella still reigned supreme in her kitchen. “'Tain't a great
sight harder to cook for a dozen than six,” she had remarked
sententiously, when the plan was unfolded to her, “it's only a matter
uv quantity, the quality's jest the same. Ef Miss Di-an's a'goin ter
start in ter be a she Atlas an' carry the world on her shoulders,
she'll find I'm warranted ter wash an' not shrink in the rinsin'. I'm
not a'goin ter be left behind, without I hev changed my name.”
Dyce kept the rooms in spotless order and waited upon the guests.
“Dear friend,” said Evadne one morning, as she watched her putting
loving touches to the dining table, “you take as much trouble as if you
expected Jesus Christ to be here!”
“So I does, Miss 'Vadney,” she answered simply, “I never feels
comfortable 'cept when dere's a place fer de Lord,” and Evadne
answered, “Dear Dyce, you make me feel ashamed!”
Many and varied were the guests who partook of their hospitality.
The famine which no material wealth can alleviate is not confined to
the dwellings of the poor. Hearts starve beneath coverings of velvet
and loneliness often rides in a carriage. Many were the patients whom
the world counted “well to do” that John Randolph sent to Evadne to be
comforted. There was nothing to make them suspect that the keen
intuition of the young physician had read their secret. 'The Willows'
was simply a charming retreat where he sent them to try his favorite
tonics of sunlight and oxygen; they never dreamed they were to be the
recipients of favors which would not be rendered in the bill.
It was a beautiful fellowship in which they were banded together,
for the Hawthornes had returned and were learning to find their
pleasure in doing their Father's will. Dick True was in the brotherhood
also, and never came home for his vacations without bringing with him
“some fellow who needed a taste of love,” and the overgrown boys would
glory in their strength as they lifted Miss Diana from the carriage
after a delightful drive, and learn a strange gentleness as they were
unconsciously trained in the little deeds of chivalry which bespeak a
Soon after Evadne's dream had materialized John Randolph had sent
her a dainty little equipage to help on the work.
“You are too kind!” she cried, as she thanked him, “too generous!”
“Can we be that?” he asked, “when we are giving to a King? It is a
theory of mine that a drive in the country with the right companion is
better than exordiums. These poor souls have never learned to see
'sermons in stones, books in the running brooks, and God in
everything.' You must give me the pleasure of a little share in your
beautiful work, my friend.”
“A little share!” echoed Evadne. “Is it possible that you do not
know, Doctor Randolph, how much of it belongs to you!”
The beauty of the life was that the guests were taken into the heart
of the living and felt themselves a part of the home. They never
preached, these wise, tender women, but the beautiful incidental
teachings sank deep into hearts that would have been closed fast
against sermons. There was no stereotyped effort to do them good, they
simply lived as Christ did, and the world-tired souls looked on and
marveled, and rejoiced in the sunlight of the present and the afterglow
which made the memory of their visit a delight.
“'Do not leave the sky out of your landscape,'“ said Aunt Marthe in
her cheery way, as Mrs. Dolours was wailing over her troubles. That was
all—for the time,—Mrs. Everidge believed in homeopathy—but it set
her hearer thinking, and thought found expression in questioning, until
she was led to the feet of the great Teacher and learned to roll her
burden of trouble upon him who came to bear the burdens of the world.
“'We are not to be anxious about living but about living well,'“
said Miss Diana to a young man who prided himself upon being a
philosopher “that is a maxim of Plato's but we can only carry it out by
the help of the Lord, my boy.” And he listened to Evadne's merry laugh
as she pelted Hans with cherries while Gretchen dreamed of the
Fatherland under the trees by the brook, and wondered whether after all
the men who had made it their aim to stifle every natural inclination,
had learned the true secret of living as well as these happy souls who
laid their cares down at the feet of their Father, and gave their lives
into Christ's keeping day by day.
“You just seem to live in the present,” wealthy Mrs. Greyson said
with a sigh, as she folded her jeweled fingers over her rich brocade,
“I don't see how you do it! Life is one long presentiment with me. I am
filled with such horrible forebodings. I tell Doctor Randolph, it is a
sort of moral nightmare.”
“Some of your griefs you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of pain you endured,
From evils that never arrived!”
Evadne quoted the words from a book of old French poems she had
found in the library. Then she asked gently, “Why should you worry
about the future, dear Mrs. Greyson, when it is such a waste of time?
Don't you believe our Father loves his children?
“A waste of time.” That was a new way of looking at it! Mrs. Greyson
had always prided herself upon being thrifty, and, if God loved, would
he let any real harm happen? She knew she would shield her children.
How blind she had been!
“Ah, but you have never known sorrow!” and Mrs. Morner drew her
sable draperies around her with a sigh. “Just look at your face! Not a
shadow upon it and hardly a wrinkle. You are one of the favored ones
with whom life has been all sunshine.”
Mrs. Everidge laughed brightly. She had never pined to pose as a
martyr before the world.
“God has been wondrous kind to me,” she said, “but there is a cure
for all sorrow, dear friend, in his love. The great Physician is the
only one who has a medicament for that disease. It is not
forgetfulness, you know—he does not deal in narcotics—but he lays his
pierced hand upon our bleeding hearts and stills their pain. Our memory
is as fresh as ever, but it is memory with the sting taken out.”
“Ah, but you cannot understand—how should you? You have always had
everything you wanted, and you have never lost anything or longed for
what has been denied you!” and a toilworn woman, whose life seemed one
long battle with disappointment, looked enviously at Miss Diana, over
whose peaceful face life's twilight was falling in tender colors.
“Not quite everything I wanted, dear,” said Miss Diana softly, “but
I have come to know that God himself is sufficient for all our needs.”
“Our dear Miss Diana has learned that 'we must sit in the sunshine
if we would reflect the rainbow,'“ said Aunt Marthe in her low tones.
“It is a good rule, 'for every look we take at self, to take ten looks
at Jesus.' She lives in the light of his smile.”
Then through the open window they heard Evadne singing,
“Oh, the little birds sang east, and the little birds sang west,
And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our
Round our restlessness, his rest.”
And the weary soul folded its tired wings, all wounded with vain
beatings against the prison bars of circumstance, and was hushed into a
great stillness against the heart of its Father.
* * * * *
John Randolph sought Evadne in the familiar porch which had grown to
be to him the sweetest spot on earth.
“You are always busy,” he said with a smile, as he lifted the
garment she was making for the little waif who was to have her first
taste of heaven at 'The Willows.' Satan has no chance to find an
occupation for you.”
“But, oh, Doctor Randolph, what a drop in the bucket all our doing
seems, when we think of the need of the world!”
“Yet without the drops the bucket would be empty, dear friend. God
never expects the impossible from us, you know. I think Christ's
highest commendation will always be, 'She hath done what she could.' It
is when we neglect the doing that he is wounded.”
After a pause he spoke again. “With your permission I am going to
send you a new patient.” There was no trace of the struggle through
which he had passed. This brave soul had learned to do the right and
leave the rest with God.
Evadne laughed. “Still they come! Is it man, woman or child. Doctor
“Your cousin Louis.” His voice was very still.
“Poor Louis! Is it more serious then? He has been looking wretchedly
John Randolph examined her face critically. Could she call him “poor
Louis” if she loved?
“His present trouble is nervous strain, aggravated by the
unaccustomed confinement, and some mental excitement under which he is
laboring. He must have a long rest, with a complete change of
environment. If anyone can lift the cloud which seems to be hanging
over him, I think it is you.”
Evadne shook her head sadly. “The only one who can help Louis is
Jesus Christ,” she said.
Louis Hildreth lay upon a couch in the cool library the morning
after his arrival at 'The Willows.' Evadne had been shocked at the
change in him since she had seen him last. His eyes were sunken, while
underneath purple shadows fell upon his pallid cheeks. He touched
Evadne's hand as she sat beside him. It was his hand!
“What a splendid fellow Randolph is!” he exclaimed suddenly. “He is
making himself felt in Marlborough, I tell you. Strange, how some men
forge their way to the front, while the rest of us just float down the
stream of mediocrity. No wonder we are not missed, when we drop out of
the babbling conglomerate of humanity into silence,” he added bitterly.
“Who would miss a single pair of fins from amidst a shoal of herring!”
“I think it is because Doctor Randolph is not content to float,
Louis,” Evadne answered gently. “He must always be climbing higher.
Like Paul, he is 'pressing towards the mark.'“
“He is a grand fellow! And the beauty of it is he never seems to
think of himself at all. Most men would get to be top-lofty if they
accomplished as much as he does every day.”
Evadne's lips parted in a happy smile. “I think Doctor Randolph is
too much occupied with Jesus to have time to waste upon himself.”
“Upon my word, coz, you're a puzzle! You talk in an unknown tongue.
Don't you know Self is the god we worship, and the aim of our existence
is to have it wear purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every
“It should not be!” cried Evadne. “Oh Louis, dear Louis, life can
never be grand until we are able to say—'Self has been crucified with
* * * * *
Weeks rolled into months and Louis was still at 'The Willows.' His
cynicism had come to have a strangely wistful ring. John Randolph's
visits were frequent and they held long conversations together, these
men, the one who had seized every opportunity and made the most of it,
the other who had let his golden chances slip through his fingers one
by one; then John Randolph would go bravely back to his life of toil,
while Louis listened to Evadne's sweet voice as she sang in the
gloaming, or watched his ring glisten as her deft fingers were busy
with their deeds of love.
“How do you do it?” he exclaimed one evening when they were alone
together. “You never rest! Your whole life seems to be centered in the
lives of others, and there is nothing attractive about them, if there
were I could understand. It looks like such drudgery to me. Tell me,
little coz, what makes you give up all your ease to make these people
“When we love our Father it is our joy to do his will,” she answered
“If I could live like you and Randolph I should be perfectly
satisfied. I wish I had the courage to try.”
“Mere outward living cannot save us, Louis. Nothing can but faith in
the atoning blood and the name and the love of Christ. Then—when we
believe, you know—all things become possible. We make an awful mistake
when we think we know better than the Bible. Nicodemus lived a perfect
outward life, yet Christ said to him, 'Except ye be born again—of the
Word and the Spirit—ye cannot see the Kingdom of God.' We are running
a terrible risk when we try to live without Jesus.”
“That is what Randolph says. He is a one idea man, if ever there was
one, and yet he is so many sided! He is the most uncompromising fellow
I ever knew. I should as soon expect to see the stars fall from the sky
as to see him do a shady thing. You would be amused, coz, to see the
lady mother and Isabelle joining forces to lay siege to his
What meant that sudden start and then the blush which flamed up over
cheek and brow? Louis Hildreth closed his thin fingers over Evadne's
ring with a long drawn sigh. He was beginning to realize that a hand,
without a heart, is an empty thing.
Long after she had left him he lay motionless. This knowledge which
had come to him so suddenly had a bitter taste.
* * * * *
“You ought to get well, Hildreth, and you ought to be a very happy
man,” John Randolph spoke the words suddenly as he rose to take his
“I never expect to be either. When a man has all he has prided
himself upon swept away from him, and all that he longs for denied him,
how can it be possible?”
“'Count it your highest good when God denies you.' Is that too hard
a gospel? We shall not read it so in the light of eternity. It is only
that Christ may become to us the 'altogether lovely' One.”
“Did you ever love—a woman?” Louis put the question suddenly,
watching his friend's face with a jealous scrutiny.
“Yes.” The answer was as simple and straightforward as the man. He
knew of nothing to be ashamed of in this beautiful love of his life.
“And her name was?—”
John Randolph spoke the name for the first time to another, looking
up at the sky. When he turned to leave the room he saw that Louis' face
was buried among his cushions and he drove away in a great wonderment.
What could it all mean?
“Knocking, knocking, who is there?
Waiting, waiting, oh, how fair!
'T is a pilgrim, strange and kingly,
Never such was seen before.
Ah, my soul, for such a wonder,
Wilt thou not undo the door?”
Evadne sang the words softly in the twilight: sang them with a great
note of longing in her pleading voice. She and her cousin were alone.
“Evadne, come here.”
She crossed the room and knelt beside his couch.
“Little coz, I have let the Pilgrim in.”
And Evadne buried her face in the cushions with a low cry. The crown
of rejoicing was hers—at last!
* * * * *
“There is only one thing wanting between you two.” Louis looked
wistfully at John Randolph and Evadne, as they stood beside him,
talking brightly of how he should help when he grew strong.
“And what is that?” Doctor Randolph asked the question with a smile.
Louis drew his ring from Evadne's finger and laid her hand in that
of his friend. “Take her, Randolph, she is worthy of you. I would not
say that of any other woman.”
With a great joy surging in his heart, John Randolph held out his
other hand. She must give herself. He could not take her from another's
A lovely shyness flushed into the pure face, their eyes met, and
Evadne laid her hand in his without a word.
“Evadne!” The rich, tender tones fell throbbing through the silence,
enwrapping the name in a sweet protectiveness. “Life is—for us—to do
the will of God!”