by Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth
MRS. E. D. E. N. SOUTHWORTH
Author of THE CURSE OF CLIFTON
New York Hurst &Company Publishers
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. A
CHAPTER X. THE
ROOM OF THE
CHAPTER XI. A
MYSTERY AND A
CHAPTER XIV. THE
ANOTHER STORM AT
CHAPTER XIX. THE
CHAPTER XX. THE
GABRIEL LE NOIR.
THE SMUGGLER AND
THE BOY'S LOVE
CAP'S TRICKS AND
THE PERIL AND
THE PLUCK OF
A PANIC IN THE
THE VICTORY OVER
CHAPTER XXX. THE
CHAPTER I. THE NOCTURNAL VISIT.
* * * Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me when every sound appals me?
* * * I hear a knocking
In the south entry! Hark!More knocking!
Hurricane Hall is a large old family mansion, built of dark-red
sandstone, in one of the loneliest and wildest of the mountain regions
The estate is surrounded on three sides by a range of steep, gray
rocks, spiked with clumps of dark evergreens, and called, from its
horseshoe form, the Devil's Hoof.
On the fourth side the ground gradually descends in broken, rock and
barren soil to the edge of the wild mountain stream known as the
When storms and floods were high the loud roaring of the wind
through the wild mountain gorges and the terrific raging of the torrent
over its rocky course gave to this savage locality its ill-omened names
of Devil's Hoof, Devil's Run and Hurricane Hall.
Major Ira Warfield, the lonely proprietor of the Hall, was a veteran
officer, who, in disgust at what he supposed to be ill-requited
services, had retired from public life to spend the evening of his
vigorous age on this his patrimonial estate. Here he lived in
seclusion, with his old-fashioned housekeeper, Mrs. Condiment, and his
old family servants and his favorite dogs and horses. Here his mornings
were usually spent in the chase, in which he excelled, and his
afternoons and evenings were occupied in small convivial suppers among
his few chosen companions of the chase or the bottle.
In person Major Warfield was tall and strongly built, reminding one
of some old iron-limbed Douglas of the olden time. His features were
large and harsh; his complexion dark red, as that of one bronzed by
long exposure and flushed with strong drink. His fierce, dark gray eyes
were surmounted by thick, heavy black brows that, when gathered into a
frown, reminded one of a thunder cloud, as the flashing orbs beneath
them did of lightning. His hard, harsh face was surrounded by a thick
growth of iron-gray hair and beard that met beneath his chin. His usual
habit was a black cloth coat, crimson vest, black leather breeches,
long, black yarn stockings, fastened at the knees, and morocco slippers
with silver buttons.
In character Major Warfield was arrogant, domineering and
violentequally loved and feared by his faithful old family servants
at homedisliked and dreaded by his neighbors and acquaintances
abroad, who, partly from his house and partly from his character, fixed
upon him the appropriate nickname of Old Hurricane.
There was, however, other ground of dislike besides that of his
arrogant mind, violent temper and domineering habits. Old Hurricane was
said to be an old bachelor, yet rumor whispered that there was in some
obscure part of the world, hidden away from human sight, a deserted
wife and child, poor, forlorn and heart-broken. It was further
whispered that the elder brother of Ira Warfield had mysteriously
disappeared, and not without some suspicion of foul play on the part of
the only person in the world who had a strong interest in his taking
off. However these things might be, it was known for a certainty that
Old Hurricane had an only sister, widowed, sick and poor, who, with her
son, dragged on a wretched life of ill-requited toil, severe privation
and painful infirmity in a distant city, unaided, unsought and uncared
for by her cruel brother.
It was the night of the last day of October, eighteen hundred and
forty-five. The evening had closed in very dark and gloomy. About dusk
the wind arose in the northwest, driving up masses of leaden-hued
clouds, and in a few minutes the ground was covered deep with snow and
the air was filled with driving sleet.
As this was All Hallow Eve, the dreadful inclemency of the weather
did not prevent the negroes of Hurricane Hall from availing themselves
of their capricious old master's permission and going off in a body to
a banjo breakdown held in the negro quarters of their next neighbor.
Upon this evening, then, there was left at Hurricane Hall only Major
Warfield, Mrs. Condiment, his little housekeeper, and Wool, his body
Early in the evening the old hall was shut up closely to keep out as
much as possible the sound of the storm that roared through the
mountain chasms and cannonaded the walls of the house as if determined
to force an entrance. As soon as she had seen that all was safe, Mrs.
Condiment went to bed and went to sleep.
It was about ten o'clock that night that Old Hurricane, well wrapped
up in his quilted flannel dressing-gown, sat in his well-padded
easy-chair before a warm and bright fire, taking his comfort in his own
most comfortable bedroom. This was the hour of the coziest enjoyment to
the self-indulgent old Sybarite, who dearly loved his own ease. And,
indeed, every means and appliance of bodily comfort was at hand. Strong
oaken shutters and thick, heavy curtains at the windows kept out every
draft of air, and so deadened the sound of the wind that its subdued
moaning was just sufficient to remind one of the stormy weather without
in contrast to the bright warmth within. Old Hurricane, as I said, sat
well wrapped up in his wadded dressing-gown, and reclining in his
padded easy-chair, with his head thrown back and his feet upon the fire
irons, toasting his shins and sipping his punch. On his right stood a
little table with a lighted candle, a stack of clay pipes, a jug of
punch, lemons, sugar, Holland gin, etc., while on the hearth sat a
kettle of boiling water to help replenish the jug, if needful.
On his left hand stood his cozy bedstead, with its warm crimson
curtains festooned back, revealing the luxurious swell of the full
feather bed and pillows, with their snow-white linen and lamb's-wool
blankets, inviting repose. Between this bedstead and the corner of the
fireplace stood Old Hurricane's ancient body servant Wool, engaged in
warming a crimson cloth nightcap.
Fools! muttered Old Hurricane, over his punchjacks! they'll all
get the pleurisy except those that get drunk! Did they all go, Wool?
Ebery man, 'oman and chile, sar!'cept 'tis me and coachman, sar!
More fools they! And I shouldn't wonder if you, you old scarecrow,
didn't want to go too!
I know better, sir! Don't contradict me! Well, as soon as I'm in
bed, and that won't be long now, you may goso that you get back in
time to wait on me to-morrow morning.
Hold your tongue! You're as big a fool as the rest.
I take this, said Old Hurricane, as he sipped his punch and
smacked his lipsI take this to be the very quintessence of human
enjoymentsitting here in my soft, warm chair before the fire,
toasting my legs, sipping my punch, listening on the one hand to the
storm without and glancing on the other hand at my comfortable bed
waiting there to receive my sleepy head. If there is anything better
than this in this world I wish somebody would let me know it.
It's all werry comformable indeed, marse, said the obsequious
I wonder, now, if there is anything on the face of the earth that
would tempt me to leave my cozy fireside and go abroad to-night? I
wonder how large a promise of pleasure or profit or glory it would take
Much as ebber Congress itse'f could give, if it give you a penance
for all your sarvins, suggested Wool.
Yes, and more; for I wouldn't leave my home comforts to-night to
insure not only the pension but the thanks of Congress! said the old
man, replenishing his glass with steaming punch and drinking it off
The clock struck eleven. The old man again replenished his glass,
and, while sipping its contents, said:
You may fill the warming-pan and warm my bed, Wool. The fumes of
this fragrant punch are beginning to rise to my head and make me
The servant filled the warming-pan with glowing embers, shut down
the lid and thrust it between the sheets to warm the couch of this
luxurious Old Hurricane. The old man continued to toast his feet, sip
his punch and smack his lips. He finished his glass, set it down, and
was just in the act of drawing on his woolen nightcap, preparatory to
stepping into his well-warmed bed when he was suddenly startled by a
loud ringing of the hall-door bell.
What the foul fiend can that mean at this time of night? exclaimed
Old Hurricane, dropping his nightcap and turning sharply around toward
Wool, who, warming-pan in hand, stood staring with astonishment. What
does that mean, I ask you?
'Deed, I dunno, sar, less it's some benighted traveler in search o'
shelter outen de storm!
Humph! and in search of supper, too, of course, and everybody gone
away or gone to bed but you and me!
At this moment the ringing was followed by a loud knocking.
Marse, don't less you and me listen to it, and then we ain't
'bliged to 'sturb ourselves with answering of it! suggested Wool.
'Sdeath, sir! Do you think that I am going to turn a deaf ear to a
stranger that comes to my house for shelter on such a night as this? Go
and answer the bell directly.
But stoplook here, sirrahmind I am not to be disturbed. If it
is a traveler, ask him in, set refreshments before him and show him to
bed. I'm not going to leave my warm room to welcome anybody to-night,
please the Lord. Do you hear?
Yes, sar, said the darkey, retreating.
As Wool took a shaded taper and opened the door leading from his
master's chamber, the wind was heard howling through the long passages,
ready to burst into the cozy bedroom.
Shut that door, you scoundrel! roared the old man, folding the
skirt of his warm dressing-gown across his knees, and hovering closer
to the fire.
Wool quickly obeyed, and was heard retreating down the steps.
Whew! said the old man, spreading his hands over the blaze with a
look of comfortable appreciation. What would induce me to go abroad on
such a night as this? Wind blowing great guns from the northwestsnow
falling fast from the heavens and rising just as fast before the wind
from the groundcold as Lapland, dark as Erebus! No telling the earth
from the sky. Whew! and to comfort the cold thought, Old Hurricane
poured out another glass of smoking punch and began to sip it.
How I thank the Lord that I am not a doctor! If I were a doctor,
now, the sound of that bell at this hour of night would frighten me; I
should think some old woman had been taken with the pleurisy, and
wanted me to get up and go out in the storm; to turn out of my warm bed
to ride ten miles through the snow to prescribe for her. A doctor never
can feel sure, even in the worst of weathers, of a good night's rest.
But, thank Heaven, I am free from all such annoyances, and if I am sure
of anything in this world it is of my comfortable night's sleep, said
Old Hurricane, as he sipped his punch, smacked his lips and toasted his
At this moment Wool reappeared.
Shut the door, you villain! Do you intend to stand there holding it
open on me all night? vociferated the old man.
Wool hastily closed the offending portals and hurried to his
Well, sir, who was it rung the bell?
Please, marster, sir, it wer' de Reverend Mr. Parson Goodwin.
Goodwin? Been to make a sick-call, I suppose, and got caught in the
snow-storm. I declare it is as bad to be a parson as it is to be a
doctor. Thank the Lord I am not a parson, either; if I were, now, I
might be called away from my cozy armchair and fireside to ride twelve
miles to comfort some old man dying of quinsy. Well, herehelp me into
bed, pile on more comforters, tuck me up warm, put a bottle of hot
water at my feet, and then go and attend to the parson, said the old
man, getting up and moving toward his inviting couch.
Sar! sar! stop, sar, if you please! cried Wool, going after him.
Why, what does the old fool mean? exclaimed Old Hurricane,
Sar, de Reverend Mr. Parson Goodwin say how he must see you
yourself, personable, alone!
See me, you villain! Didn't you tell him that I had retired?
Yes, marse; I tell him how you wer' gone to bed and asleep more'n
an hour ago, and he ordered me to come wake you up, and say how it were
a matter o' life and death!
Life and death? What have I to do with life and death? I won't
stir! If the parson wants to see me he will have to come up here and
see me in bed, exclaimed Old Hurricane, suiting the action to the word
by jumping into bed and drawing all the comforters and blankets up
around his head and shoulders.
Mus' I fetch him reverence up, sar?
Yes; I wouldn't get up and go down to seeWashington. Shut the
door, you rascal, or I'll throw the bootjack at your wooden head.
Wool obeyed with alacrity and in time to escape the threatened
After an absence of a few minutes he was heard returning, attending
upon the footsteps of another. And the next minute he entered, ushering
in the Rev. Mr. Goodwin, the parish minister of Bethlehem, St. Mary's.
How do you do? How do you do? Glad to see you, sir; glad to see
you, though obliged to receive you in bed. Fact is, I caught a cold
with this severe change of weather, and took a warm negus and went to
bed to sweat it off. You'll excuse me. Wool, draw that easy-chair up to
my bedside for worthy Mr. Goodwin, and bring him a glass of warm negus.
It will do him good after his cold ride.
I thank you, Major Warfield. I will take the seat but not the
negus, if you please, to-night.
Not the negus? Oh, come now, you are joking. Why, it will keep you
from catching cold and be a most comfortable nightcap, disposing you to
sleep and sweat like a baby. Of course, you spend the night with us?
I thank you, no. I must take the road again in a few minutes.
Take the road again to-night! Why, man alive! it is midnight, and
the snow driving like all Lapland!
Sir, I am sorry to refuse your proffered hospitality and leave your
comfortable roof to-night, and sorrier still to have to take you with
me, said the pastor, gravely.
Take me with you! No, no, my good sir!no, no, that is too good a
Sir, I fear that you will find it a very serious one. Your servant
told you that my errand was one of imminent urgency?
Yes; something like life and death
Exactly; down in the cabin near the Punch Bowl there is an old
There! I knew it! I was just saying there might be an old woman
dying! But, my dear sir, what's that to me? What can I do?
Humanity, sir, would prompt you.
But, my dear sir, how can I help her? I am not a physician to
She is far past a physician's help.
Nor am I a priest to hear her confession
Her confession God has already received.
Well, and I'm not a lawyer to draw up her will.
No, sir; but you are recently appointed one of the justices of the
peace for Alleghany.
Yes. Well, what of that? That does not comprise the duty of getting
up out of my warm bed and going through a snow-storm to see an old
I regret to inconvenience you, sir; but in this instance your duty
demands your attendance at the bedside of this dying woman
I tell you I can't go, and I won't! Anything in reason I'll do.
Anything I can send she shall have. Here, Wool, look in my breeches
pocket and take out my purse and hand it. And then go and wake up Mrs.
Condiment, and ask her to fill a large basket full of everything a poor
old dying woman might want, and you shall carry it.
Spare your pains, sir. The poor woman is already past all earthly,
selfish wants. She only asks your presence at her dying bed.
But I can't go! I! The idea of turning out of my warm bed and
exposing myself to a snow-storm this time of night!
Excuse me for insisting, sir; but this is an official duty, said
the parson mildly but firmly.
I'llI'll throw up my commission to-morrow, growled the old man.
To-morrow you may do that; but meanwhile, to-night, being still in
the commission of the peace, you are bound to get up and go with me to
this woman's bedside.
And what the demon is wanted of me there?
To receive her dying deposition.
To receive a dying deposition! Good Heaven! was she murdered,
then? exclaimed the old man in alarm, as he started out of bed and
began to draw on his nether garments.
Be composed; she was not murdered, said the pastor.
Well, then, what is it? Dying deposition! It must concern a crime,
exclaimed the old man, hastily drawing on his coat.
It does concern a crime.
What crime, for the love of Heaven?
I am not at liberty to tell you. She will do that.
Wool, go down and rouse up Jehu, and tell him to put Parson
Goodwin's mule in the stable for the night. And tell him to put the
black draught horses to the close carriage, and light both of the front
lanternsfor we shall have a dark, stormy roadShut the door, you
infernalI beg your pardon, parson, but that villain always leaves
the door ajar after him.
The good pastor bowed gravely, and the major completed his toilet by
the time the servant returned and reported the carriage ready.
It was dark as pitch when they emerged from the hall door out into
the front portico, before which nothing could be seen but two red
bull's-eyes of the carriage lanterns, and nothing heard but the
dissatisfied whinnying and pawing of the horses.
CHAPTER II. THE MASKS.
What are these,
So withered and so wild in their attire
That look not like th' inhabitants of earth
And yet are on't?
To the Devil's Punch Bowl, was the order given by Old Hurricane as
he followed the minister into the carriage. And now, sir, he
continued, addressing his companion, I think you had better repeat
that part of the church litany that prays to be delivered from 'battle,
murder and sudden death,' for if we should be so lucky as to escape
Black Donald and his gang, we shall have at least an equal chance of
being upset in the darkness of these dreadful mountains.
A pair of saddle mules would have been a safer conveyance,
certainly, said the minister.
Old Hurricane knew that, but, though a great sensualist, he was a
brave man, and so he had rather risk his life in a close carriage than
suffer cold upon a sure-footed mule's back.
Only by previous knowledge of the route could any one have told the
way the carriage went. Old Hurricane and the minister both knew that
they drove, lumbering, over the rough road leading by serpentine
windings down that rugged fall of ground to the river's bank, and that
then, turning to the left by a short bend, they passed in behind that
range of horseshoe rocks that sheltered Hurricane Hallthus, as it
were doubling their own road. Beneath that range of rocks, and between
it and another range, there was an awful abyss or chasm of cleft, torn
and jagged rocks opening, as it were, from the bowels of the earth, in
the shape of a mammoth bowl, in the bottom of which, almost invisible
from its great depth, seethed and boiled a mass of dark water of what
seemed to be a lost river or a subterranean spring. This terrific
phenomenon was called the Devil's Punch Bowl.
Not far from the brink of this awful abyss, and close behind the
horseshoe range of rocks, stood a humble log-cabin, occupied by an old
free negress, who picked up a scanty living by telling fortunes and
showing the way to the Punch Bowl. Her cabin went by the name of the
Witch's Hut, or Old Hat's Cabin. A short distance from Hat's cabin the
road became impassable, and the travelers got out, and, preceded by the
coachman bearing the lantern, struggled along on foot through the
drifted snow and against the buffeting wind and sleet to where a faint
light guided them to the house.
The pastor knocked. The door was immediately opened by a negro,
whose sex from the strange anomalous costume it was difficult to guess.
The tall form was rigged out first in a long, red, cloth petticoat,
above which was buttoned a blue cloth surtout. A man's old black beaver
hat sat upon the strange head and completed this odd attire.
Well, Hat, how is your patient? inquired the pastor, as he entered
preceding the magistrate.
You will see, sir, replied the old woman.
The two visitors looked around the dimly-lighted, miserable room, in
one corner of which stood a low bed, upon which lay extended the form
of an old, feeble and gray-haired woman.
How are you, my poor soul, and what can I do for you now I am
here? inquired Old Hurricane, who in the actual presence of suffering
was not utterly without pity.
You are a magistrate? inquired the dying woman.
Yes, my poor soul.
And qualified to administer an oath and take your deposition, said
Will it be legalwill it be evidence in a court of law? asked the
woman, lifting her dim eyes to the major.
Certainly, my poor soulcertainly, said the latter, who, by the
way, would have said anything to soothe her.
Send every one but yourself from the room.
What, my good soul, send the parson out in the storm? That will
never do! Won't it be just as well to let him go up in the corner
No! You will repent it unless this communication is strictly
But, my good soul, if it is to be used in a court of law?
That will be according to your own discretion!
My dear parson, said Old Hurricane, going to the minister, would
you be so good as to retire?
There is a fire in the woodshed, master, said Hat, leading the
Now, my good soul, now! You want first to be put upon your oath?
The old man drew from his great-coat pocket a miniature copy of the
Scriptures, and with the usual formalities administered the oath.
Now, then, my good soul, begin'the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth,' you know. But first, your name?
Is it possible you don't know me, master?
Not I, in faith.
For the love of heaven, look at me, and try to recollect me, sir!
It is necessary some one in authority should be able to know me, said
the woman, raising her haggard eyes to the face of her visitor.
The old man adjusted his spectacles and gave her a scrutinizing
look, exclaiming at intervals:
Lord bless my soul, it is! it ain't! it must! it can't be! Granny
Grewell, thethethemidwife that disappeared from here some twelve
or thirteen years ago!
Yes, master, I am Nancy Grewell, the ladies' nurse, who vanished
from sight so mysteriously some thirteen years ago, replied the woman.
Heaven help our hearts! And for what crime was it you ran away?
Comemake a clean breast of it, woman! You have nothing to fear in
doing so, for you are past the arm of earthly law now!
I know it, master.
And the best way to prepare to meet the Divine Judge is to make all
the reparation that you can by a full confession!
I know it, sirif I had committed a crime; but I have committed no
crime; neither did I run away.
What? what? what? What was it, then? Remember, witness, you are on
I know that, sir, and I will tell the truth; but it must be in my
At this moment a violent blast of wind and hail roared down the
mountain side and rattled against the walls, shaking the witch's hut,
as if it would have shaken it about their ears.
It was a proper overture to the tale that was about to be told.
Conversation was impossible until the storm raved past and was heard
dying in deep, reverberating echoes from the depths of the Devil's
It is some thirteen years ago, began Granny Grewell, upon just
such a night of storm as this, that I was mounted on my old mule Molly,
with my saddlebags full of dried yarbs and 'stilled waters and sich, as
I allus carried when I was out 'tendin' on the sick. I was on my way
a-going to see a lady as I was sent for to 'tend.
Well, master, I'm not 'shamed to say, as I never was afraid of man,
beast, nor sperrit, and never stopped at going out all hours of the
night, through the most lonesome roads, if so be I was called upon to
do so. Still I must say that jest as me and Molly, my mule, got into
that deep, thick, lonesome woods as stands round the old Hidden House
in the hollow I did feel queerish; 'case it was the dead hour of the
night, and it was said how strange things were seen and hearn, yes, and
done, too, in that dark, deep, lonesome place! I seen how even my mule
Molly felt queer, too, by the way she stuck up her ears, stiff as
quills. So, partly to keep up my own spirits, and partly to 'courage
her, says I, 'Molly,' says I, 'what are ye afeared on? Be a man,
Molly!' But Molly stepped out cautious and pricked up her long ears all
Well, master, it was so dark I couldn't see a yard past Molly's
ears, and the path was so narrow and the bushes so thick we could
hardly get along; and just as we came to the little creek, as they
calls the Spout, 'cause the water jumps and jets along it till it
empties into the Punch Bowl, and just as Molly was cautiously putting
her fore foot into the water, out starts two men from the bushes and
seized poor Molly's bridle!
Good Heaven! exclaimed Major Warfield.
Well, master, before I could cry out, one of them willains seized
me by the scruff of my neck, and, with his other hand upon my mouth, he
'Be silent, you old fool, or I'll blow your brains out!'
And then, master, I saw for the first time that their faces were
covered over with black crape. I couldn't a-screamed if they'd let me!
for my breath was gone and my senses were going along with it from the
fear that was on me.
'Don't struggle; come along quietly, and you shall not be hurt,'
says the man as had spoke before.
Struggle! I couldn't a-struggled to a-saved my soul! I couldn't
speak! I couldn't breathe! I liked to have a-dropped right offen
Molly's back. One on 'em says, says he:
'Give her some brandy!' And t'other takes out a flask and puts it
to my lips and says, says he:
'Here, drink this.'
Well, master, as he had me still by the scruff o' my neck I
couldn't do no other ways but open my mouth and drink it. And as soon
as I took a swallow my breath came back and my speech.
'And oh, gentlemen,' says I, 'ef it's your money or your life you
mean, I hain't it about me! 'Deed, 'clare to the Lord-a-mighty, I
hain't! It's wrapped up in an old cotton glove in a hole in the
plastering in the chimney corner at home, and ef you'll spare my life
you can go there and get it,' says I.
'You old blockhead!' says they, 'we want neither one nor t'other!
Come along quietly and you shall receive no harm. But at the first cry,
or attempt to escapethis shall stop you! And with that the willain
held the mizzle of a pistil so nigh to my nose that I smelt brimstone,
while t'other one bound a silk hankercher round my eyes, and then took
poor Molly's bridle and led her along. I couldn't see, in course, and I
dassint breathe for fear o' the pistil. But I said my prayers to myself
all the time.
Well, master, they led the mule on down the path until we comed to
a place wide enough to turn, when they turned us round and led us back
outen the wood, and then 'round and round, and up and down, and
crossways and lengthways, as ef they didn't want me to find where they
were taking me.
Well, sir, when they'd walked about in this 'fused way, leadin' of
the mule about a mile, I knew we was in the woods againthe very same
woods and the very same pathI, knowed by the feel of the place and
the sound of the bushes as we hit up against them each side, and also
by the rumbling of the Spout as it rumbled along toward the Punch Bowl.
We went down and down and down, and lower and lower and lower until we
got right down in the bottom of that hollow.
Then we stopped. A gate was opened. I put up my hand to raise the
hankerchief and see where I was; but just at that minute I felt the
mizzle o' the pistol like a ring of ice right agin my temple, and the
willain growling into my ear:
'If you do!'
But I didn'tI dropped my hand down as if I had been shot, and
afore I had seen anything, either. So we went through the gate and up a
gravelly walkI knew it by the crackling of the gravel under Molly's
feetand stopped at a horse-block, where one o' them willains lifted
me off. I put up my hand agin.
'Do if you dare!' says t'other one, with the mizzle o' the pistol
at my head.
I dropped my hand like lead. So they led me on a little way, and
then up some steps. I counted them to myself as I went along. They were
six. You see, master, I took all this pains to know the house agin.
Then they opened a door that opened in the middle. Then they went along
a passage and up more stairsthere was ten and a turn, and then ten
more. Then along another passage, and up another flight of stairs just
like the first. Then along another passage and up a third flight of
stairs. They was alike.
Well, sir, here we was at the top o' the house. One o' them
willains opened a door on the left side, and t'other said:
'Therego in and do your duty!' and pushed me through the door and
shut and locked it on me. Good gracious, sir, how scared I was! I
slipped off the silk handkercher, and, 'feared as I was, I didn't
forget to put it in my bosom.
Then I looked about me. Right afore me on the hearth was a little
weeny taper burning, that showed I was in a great big garret with
sloping walls. At one end two deep dormer windows and a black walnut
bureau standing between them. At t'other end a great tester bedstead
with dark curtains. There was a dark carpet on the floor. And with all
there were so many dark objects and so many shadows, and the little
taper burned so dimly that I could hardly tell t'other from which, or
keep from breaking my nose against things as I groped about.
And what was I in this room for to do? I couldn't even form an
idee. But presently my blood ran cold to hear a groan from behind the
curtains! then another! and another! then a cry as of some child in
mortal agony, saying:
'For the love of Heaven, save me!'
I ran to the bed and dropped the curtains and liked to have fainted
at what I saw!
And what did you see? asked the magistrate.
Master, behind those dark curtains I saw a young creature tossing
about on the bed, flinging her hair and beautiful arms about and
tearing wildly at the fine lace that trimmed her night-dress. But,
master, that wasn't what almost made me faintit was that her right
hand was sewed up in black crape, and her whole face and head
completely covered with black crape drawn down and fastened securely
around her throat, leaving only a small slit at the lips and nose to
What! Take care, woman! Remember that you are upon your oath! said
I know it, master. And as I hope to be forgiven, I am telling you
Go on, then.
Well, sir, she was a young creature, scarcely past childhood, if
one might judge by her small size and soft, rosy skin. I asked her to
let me take that black crape from her face and head, but she threw up
her hands and exclaimed:
'Oh, no; no, no! for my life, no!'
Well, master, I hardly know how to tell you what followed, said
the old woman, hesitating in embarrassment.
Go right straight on like a car of Juggernaut, woman! Rememberthe
Well, master, in the next two hours there were twins born in that
rooma boy and a girl; the boy was dead, the girl living. And all the
time I heard the measured tramping of one of them willains up and down
the passage outside of that room. Presently the steps stopped, and
there was a rap at the door. I went and listened, but did not open it.
'Is it all over?' the voice asked.
Before I could answer a cry from the bed caused me to look round.
There was the poor, masked mother stretching out her white arms toward
me in the most imploring way. I hastened back to her.
'Tell himnono,' she said.
'Have you got through?' asked the man at the door, rapping
'No, no,' said I, as directed.
He resumed his tramping up and down, and I went back to my patient.
She beckoned me to come close, and whispered:
'Save my child! The living one, I mean! Hide her! oh, hide her from
him! When he demands the babe, give him the poor little dead onehe
cannot hurt that! And he will not know there was another. Oh! hide and
save my child!'
Master, I was used to queer doings, but this was a little the
queerest. But if I was to conceal that second child in order to save
it, it was necessary to stop its mouth, for it was squalling like a
wild cat. So I took a vial of paregoric from my pocket and give it a
drop and it went off to sleep like an angel. I wrapped it up warm and
lay it along with my shawl and bonnet in a dark corner. Just then the
man rapped again.
'Come in, master,' said I.
'No, bring me the babe,' he said.
I took up the dead infant. Its mother kissed its brow and dropped
tears upon its little cold face. And I carried it to the man outside.
'Is it asleep?' the willain asked me.
'Yes, master,' said I as I put it, well wrapped up, in his arms;
'very sound aslep.'
'So much the better,' said the knave, walking away.
I bolted the door and went back to my patient. With her free hand
she seized mine and pressed it to her lips and then, holding up her
left hand, pointed to the wedding ring upon her third finger.
'Draw it off and keep it,' she said; 'conceal the child under your
shawl and take her with you when you go! Save her and your fortune
shall be made.'
I declare, master, I hadn't time to think, before I heard one of
them wretches rap at the door.
'Come! Get ready to go,' he said.
She also beckoned me. I hastened to her. With eager whispers and
imploring gestures she prayed me to take her ring and save her child.
'But you,' said I, 'who is to attend to you?'
'I do not know or care! Save her!'
The rapping continued. I ran to the corner where I had left my
things. I put on my bonnet, made a sort of sling around my neck of the
silk handkercher, opened the large part of it like a hammock and laid
the little sleeping babe there. Then I folded my big shawl around my
breast and nobody any the wiser. The rapping was very impatient.
'I am coming,' said I.
'Remember!' whispered the poor girl.
'I will,' said I, and went out and opened the door. There stood
t'other willain with his head covered with black crape. I dreamt of
nothing but black-headed demons for six months afterward.
'Are you ready?' says he.
'Yes, your worship,' says I.
'Come along, then.'
And, binding another silk hankercher round my eyes, he led me
Instead of my mule, a carriage stood near the horse-block.
'Get in,' says he, holding the pistil to my ears by way of an
I got in. He jumped up upon the driver's seat and we drove like the
wind. In another direction from that in which we come, in course, for
there was no carriage road there. The carriage whirled along at such a
rate it made me quite giddy. At last it stopped again. The man in the
mask got down and opened the door.
'Where are you taking me?' says I.
'Be quiet,' says he, 'or'And with that he put the pistil to my
cheek, ordered me to get out, take the bandage from my eyes and walk
before him. I did so and saw dimly that we were in a part of the
country that I was never at before. We were in a dark road through a
thick forest. On the left side of the road in a clearing stood an old
house; a dim light was burning in a lower window.
'Go on in there,' said the willain, putting the pistil to the back
of my head. As the door stood ajar I went in, to a narrow, dark
passage, the man all the time at my back. He opened a door on the left
side and made me go into a dark room. Just then the unfortunate child
that had been moving restlessly began to wail. Well it might, poor,
'What's that?' says the miscreant under his breath and stopping
'It ain't nothing, sir,' says I, and 'Hush-h-h' to the baby. But
the poor little wretch raised a squall.
'What is the meaning of this? 'says he. 'Where did that child come
from? Why the demon don't you speak?' And with that he seized me again
by the scruff of the neck and shook me.
'Oh, master, for the love of Heaven don't!' says I. 'This is only a
poor unfortnet infant as its parents wanted to get outen the way, and
hired me to take care on. And I have had it wrapped up under my shawl
all the time 'cept when I was in your house, when I put it to sleep in
'Humphand you had that child concealed under your shawl when I
first stopped you in the woods?'
'In course, master,' says I.
'Whose is it?'
'Master,' says I, 'it'sit's a dead secret!' for I hadn't another
He broke out into a rude, scornful laugh, and seemed not half to
believe me and yet not to care about questioning me too closely. He
made me sit down then in the dark, and went out and turned the key on
me. I wet my finger with the paregoric and put it to the baby's lips to
quiet its pains of hunger. Then I heard a whispering in the next room.
Now my eyesight never was good, but to make up for it I believe I had
the sharpest ears that ever was, and I don't think anybody could have
heard that whispering but me. I saw a little glimmer of light through
the chinks that showed me where the door was, and so I creeped up to it
and put my ear to the key-hole. Still they whispered so low that no
ears could o' heard them but my sharp ones. The first words I heard
good was a grumbling voice asking:
'Fiftymore or less, but strong, active, a good nurse and a very
light mulatto,' says my willain's voice.
'Humtoo old,' says the other.
'But I will throw the child in.'
A low, crackling laugh the only answer.
'You mean that would be only a bother. Well, I want to get rid of
the pair of them,' said my willain, 'so name the price you are willing
'Cap'n, you and me have had too many transactions together to make
any flummery about this. You want to get shet o' them pair. I hain't no
objections to turning an honest penny. So jest make out the
papersbill o' sale o' the 'oman Kate, or whatsoever her name may be,
and the child, with any price you please, so it is only a make-believe
price, and I'll engage to take her away and make the most I can of them
in the Souththat won't be much, seeing it's only an old 'oman and
childscarcely a fair profit on the expense o' takin' of her out. Now,
as money's no object to you, Cap'n'
'Very well; have your own way; only don't let that woman escape and
return, for if you do'
'I understand, Cap'n; but I reckon you needn't threaten, for if you
could blow mewhy, I would return you the same favor,' said the other,
raising his voice and laughing aloud.
'Be quiet, fool, or come away fartherhere.' And the two willains
moved out of even my hearing.
' I should o' been uneasy, master, if it hadn't been the 'oman they
were talking about was named Kate, and that wasn't my name, which were
well beknown to be Nancy.'
Presently I heard the carriage drive away. And almost 'mediately
after the door was unlocked, and a great, big, black-bearded and
black-headed beast of a ruffian came in, and says he:
'Well, my woman, have you had any supper?'
'No,' said I, 'I hain't; and ef I'm to stay here any length of time
I'd be obleeged to you to let me have some hot water and milk to make
pap for this perishing baby.'
'Follow me,' says he.
And he took me into the kitchen at the back of the house, where
there was a fire in the fireplace and a cupboard with all that I
needed. Well, sir, not to tire you, I made a nursing-bottle for the
baby and fed it. And then I got something for my own supper, or,
rather, breakfast, for it was now near the dawn of day. Well, sir, I
thought I would try to get out and look about myself to see what the
neighborhood looked like by daylight, but when I tried the door I found
myself locked up a close prisoner. I looked out of the window and saw
nothing but a little back yard, closed in by the woods. I tried to
raise the sash, but it was nailed down. The black-headed monster came
in just about that minute, and seeing what I was a-doing of, says he:
'What am I stopped here for?' says I; 'a free 'oman,' says I,
a-'vented of going about her own business?' says I.
But he only laughed a loud, crackling, scornful laugh, and went
out, turning the key after him.
A little after sunrise an old, dried-up, spiteful looking hag of a
woman came in and began to get breakfast.
'What am I kept here for?' says I to her.
But she took no notice at all; nor could I get so much as a single
word outen her. In fact, master, the little 'oman was deaf an' dumb.
Well, sir, to be short, I was kept in that place all day long, and
when night come I was druv into a shay at the point of the pistil, and
rattled along as fast as the horses could gallop over a road as I knew
nothing of. We changed horses wunst or twict, and just about the dawn
of day we come to a broad river with a vessel laying to, not far from
As soon as the shay druv down on the sands, the willain as had run
away with me puts a pipe to his willainous mouth and blows like mad.
Somebody else blowed back from the wessel. Then a boat was put off and
rowed ashore. I was forced to get into it, and was follered by the
willain. We was rowed to the wessel, and I was druv up the ladder on to
the decks. And there, master, right afore my own looking eyes, me and
the baby was traded off to the captain! It was no use for me to 'splain
or 'spostulate. I wasn't b'lieved. The willain as had stole me got back
into the boat and went ashore, and I saw him get into the shay and
drive away. It was no use for me to howl and cry, though I did both,
for I couldn't even hear myself for the swearing of the captain and the
noise of the crew, as they was a gettin' of the wessel under way. Well,
sir, we sailed down that river and out to sea.
Now, sir, come a strange providence, which the very thoughts of it
might convert a heathen! We had been to sea about five days when a
dreadful storm riz. Oh, marster! the inky blackness of the sky, the
roaring of the wind, the raging of the sea, the leaping of the waves
and the rocking of that wesseland every once in a while sea and ship
all ablaze with the blinding lightningwas a thing to see, not to hear
tell of! I tell you, marster, that looked like the wrath of God! And
then the cursing and swearing and bawling of the captain and the crew,
as they were a-takin' in of sail, was enough to raise one's hair on
their head! I hugged the baby to my breast, and went to praying as hard
as ever I could pray.
Presently I felt an awful shock, as if heaven an' earth had come
together, and then everybody screaming, 'She's struck! She's struck!' I
felt the wessel trembling like a live creetur, and the water a-pouring
in everywhere. I hugged the babe and scrambled up the companionway to
the deck. It was pitch dark, and I heard every man rushing toward one
side of the wessel.
A flash of lightning that made everything as bright as day again
showed me that they were all taking to the boat. I rushed after,
calling to them to save me and the baby. But no one seemed to hear me;
they were all too busy trying to save themselves and keep others out of
the boat, and cursing and swearing and hollering that there was no more
room, that the boat would be swamped, and so on. The end was, that all
who could crowd into the boat did so. And me and the baby and a poor
sailor lad and the black cook were left behind to perish.
But, marster, as it turned out, we as was left to die were the only
ones saved. We watched after that boat with longing eyes, though we
could only see it when the lightning flashed. And every time we saw it
it was farther off. At last, marster, a flash of lightning showed us
the boat as far off as ever we could see her, capsized and beaten
hither and thither by the wild wavesits crew had perished.
Marster, as soon as the sea had swallowed up that wicked captain
and crew the wind died away, the waves fell and the storm lulledjust
as if it had done what it was sent to do and was satisfied. The
wreckwhere we poor forlorn ones stoodthe wreck that had shivered
and trembled with every wave that struck it,until we had feared it
would break up every minute, became still and firm on its sand-bar, as
a house on dry land.
Daylight came at last. And a little after sunrise we saw a sail
bearing down upon us. We could not signal the sail, but by the mercy of
Providence, she saw us and lay to, and sent off a boat and picked us up
and took us on boardme and the baby and the cook and the sailor lad.
It was a foreign wessel, and we could not understand a word they
said, nor they us. All we could do was by signs. But they were very
good to usdried our clothes and gave us breakfast and made us lie
down and rest, and then put about and continued their course. The
sailor ladHerbert Greysonsoon found out and told me they were bound
for New York. And, in fact, marster, in about ten days we made that
When the ship anchored below the Battery, the officers and
passengers made me up a little bundle of clothes and a little purse of
money and put me ashore, and there I was in a strange city, so
bewildered I didn't know which way to turn. While I was a-standing
there, in danger of being run over by the omnibuses, the sailor boy
came to my side and told me that he and the cook was gwine to engage on
board of another 'Merican wessel, and axed me what I was gwine to do. I
told him how I didn't know nothing at all 'bout sea sarvice, and so I
didn't know what I should do. Then he said he'd show me where I could
go and stay all night, and so he took me into a little by-street, to a
poor-looking house, where the people took lodgers, and there he left me
to go aboard the ship. As he went away he advised me to take care of my
money and try to get a servant's place.
Well, marster, I ain't a gwine to bother you with telling you of
how I toiled and struggled along in that great cityfirst living out
as a servant, and afterward renting a room and taking in washing and
ironingay! how I toiled and struggledfortenlongyears, hoping
for the time to come when I should be able to return to this
neighborhood, where I was known, and expose the evil deeds of them
willains. And for this cause I lived on, toiling and struggling and
laying up money penny by penny. Sometimes I was fool enough to tell my
story in the hopes of getting pity and helpbut telling my story
always made it worse for me! some thought me crazy and others thought
me deceitful, which is not to be wondered at, for I was a stranger and
my adventures were, indeed, beyond belief.
No one ever helped me but the lad Herbert Greyson. W'enver he came
from sea he sought me out and made a little present to me or Cap.
Cap, marster, was Capitola, the child. The reason I gave her that
name was because on that ring I had drawn from the masked mother's hand
were the two namesEugeneCapitola.
Well, marster, the last time Herbert Greyson came home he gave me
five dollars, and that, with what I had saved, was enough to pay my
passage to Norfolk.
I left my little Cap in the care of the people of the houseshe
was big enough to pay for her keep in workand I took passage for
Norfolk. When I got there I fell ill, spent all my money, and was at
last taken to the poor-house. Six months passed away before I was
discharged, and then six months more before I had earned and saved
money enough to pay my way on here.
I reached here three days ago and found a wheat field growing where
my cottage fire used to burn, and all my old cronies dead, all except
Old Hat, who has received and given me shelter. Sir, my story is
donemake what you can of it, said the invalid, sinking down in her
bed as if utterly exhausted.
Old Hurricane, whose countenance had expressed emotions as powerful
as they were various while listening to this tale, now arose, stepped
cautiously to the door, drew the bolt, and, coming back, bent his head
What more of the child?
Cap, sir? I have not heard a word of Cap since I left her to try to
find out her friends. But any one interested in her might inquire for
her at Mrs. Simmons', laundress, No. 8 Rag Alley.
You say the names upon that ring were EugeneCapitola?
Yes, sir, they were.
Have you that ring about you?
No, marster. I thought it was best in case of accidents to leave it
with the child.
Have you told her any part of this strange history?
No, marster, nor hinted at it; she was too young for such a
You were right. Had she any mark about her person by which she
could be identified?
Yes, marster, a very strange one. In the middle of her left palm
was the perfect image of a crimson hand, about half an inch in length.
There was also another. Henry Greyson, to please me, marked upon her
forearm, in India ink, her name and birthday'Capitola, Oct. 31st,
Right! Now tell me, my good soul, do you know, from what you were
able to observe, what house that was where Capitola was born?
I am on my oath! No, sir; I do not know, but
The woman nodded.
It was said old Hurricane, stooping and whispering a name that
was heard by no one but the sick woman.
She nodded again, with a look of intense meaning.
Does your old hostess here, Hat, know or suspect anything of this
story? inquired Major Warfield.
Not a word! No soul but yourself has heard it!
That is right! Still be discreet! If you would have the wicked
punished and the innocent protected, be silent and wary. Have no
anxiety about the girl. What man can do for her will I do and quickly!
And now, good creature, day is actually dawning. You must seek repose.
And I must call the parson in and return home. I will send Mrs.
Condiment over with food, wine, medicine, clothing and every comfort
that your condition requires, said Old Hurricane, rising and calling
in the clergyman, with whom he soon after left the hut for home.
They reached Hurricane Hall in time for an early breakfast, which
the astonished housekeeper had prepared, and for which their night's
adventures had certainly given them a good appetite.
Major Warfield kept his word, and as soon as breakfast was over he
dispatched Mrs. Condiment with a carriage filled with provisions for
the sick woman. But they were not needed. In a couple of hours the
housekeeper returned with the intelligence that the old nurse was dead.
The false strength of mental excitement that had enabled her to tell so
long and dreadful a tale had been the last flaring up of the flame of
life that almost immediately went out.
I am not sorry, upon the whole, for now I shall have the game in my
own hands! muttered Old Hurricane to himself. Ah! Gabrielle Le Noir,
better you had cast yourself down from the highest rock of this range
and been dashed to pieces below, than have thus fallen into my power!
CHAPTER III. THE QUEST.
Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling
And out he rode.
Pursuant to the orders of Major Warfield, the corpse of the old
midwife was the next day after her decease brought over and quietly
interred in the family graveyard of Hurricane Hall.
And then Major Warfield astonished his household by giving orders to
his housekeeper and his body-servant to prepare his wardrobe and pack
his trunks for a long journey to the north.
What can the major be thinking of, to be setting out for the north
at this time of the year? exclaimed good little Mrs. Condiment, as she
picked over her employer's shirts, selecting the newest and warmest to
be done up for the occasion.
Lord A'mighty o'ny knows; but 'pears to me marster's never been
right in his headpiece since Hollow-eve night, when he took that ride
to the Witch's Hut, replied Wool, who, with brush and sponge, was
engaged in rejuvenating his master's outer garments.
But, let his family wonder as they would, Old Hurricane kept his own
counselonly just as he was going away, lest mystery should lead to
investigation, and that to discovery, the old man gave out that he was
going north to invest capital in bank stock, and so, quite unattended,
His servant Wool, indeed, accompanied him as far as Tip-Top, the
little hamlet on the mountain at which he was to meet the eastern
stage; but there having seen his master comfortably deposited in the
inside of the coach, and the luggage safely stowed in the boot, Wool
was ordered to return with the carriage. And Major Warfield proceeded
on his journey alone. This also caused much speculation in the family.
Who's gwine to make his punch and warm his bed and put his slippers
on the hearth and hang his gown to de fire?that what I want to know!
cried the grieved and indignant Wool.
Oh, the waiters at the taverns where he stops can do that for him,
said Mrs. Condiment.
No, they can't, nuther; they don't know his ways! they don't know
nuffin' 'bout him! I 'clare, I think our ole marse done gone clean
crazy! I shouldn't be s'prised he'd gone off to de norf to get married,
and was to bring home a young wife to we dem!
Tut! tut! tut! such talk! That will never do! exclaimed the deeply
shocked Mrs. Condiment.
Werry well! All I say is, 'Dem as libs longest will see most!'
said Wool, shaking his white head. After which undeniable apothegm the
conversation came to a stand.
Meanwhile, Old Hurricane pursued his journeya lumbering,
old-fashioned stage-coach rideacross the mountains, creeping at a
snail's crawl up one side of the precipice and clattering thunderously
down the other at a headlong speed that pitched the back-seat
passengers into the bosoms of the front ones and threatened even to
cast the coach over the heads of the horses. Three days and nights of
such rugged riding brought the traveler to Washington City, where he
rested one night and then took the cars for New York. He rested another
night in Philadelphia, resumed his journey by the first train in the
morning and reached New York about noon.
The crowd, the noise, the hurry and confusion at the wharf almost
drove this irascible old gentleman mad.
No, confound you!
I'll see your neck stretched first, you villain!
Out of my way, or I'll break your head, sirrah! were some of his
responses to the solicitous attentions of cabmen and porters. At
length, taking up his heavy carpet-bag in both hands, Old Hurricane
began to lay about him, with such effect that he speedily cleared a
passage for himself through the crowd. Then addressing a cabman who had
not offended by speaking first, he said:
Here, sir! Here are my checks! Go get my luggage and take it to the
Astor House. Hand the clerk this card, and tell him I want a good room,
well warmed. I shall take a walk around the city before going. And,
hark ye! If one of my trunks is missing I'll have you hanged, you
Breach of trust isn't a hanging matter in New York, your honor,
laughed the cabman, as he touched his hat and hurried off toward the
crowd collected around the baggage car.
Old Hurricane made a step or two as if he would have pursued and
punished the flippancy of the man, but finally thought better of it,
picked up his portmanteau and walked up the street slowly, with
frequent pauses and bewildered looks, as though he had forgotten his
directions or lost his way, and yet hesitated to inquire of any one for
the obscure little alley in which he had been told to look for his
CHAPTER IV. CAPITOLA.
Her sex a page's dress belied,
Obscured her charms but could not hide.
Please, sir, do you want your carpet-bag carried? asked a voice
Old Hurricane looked around him with a puzzled air, for he thought
that a young girl had made this offer, so soft and clear were the notes
of the voice that spoke.
It was I, sir! Here I am, at yours and everybody's service, sir!
said the same voice.
And turning, Old Hurricane saw sitting astride a pile of boxes at
the corner store, a very ragged lad some thirteen years of age.
Good gracious! thought Old Hurricane, as he gazed upon the boy,
this must be crown prince and heir apparent to the 'king of shreds and
Well, old gent! you'll know me next time, that's certain, said the
lad, returning the look with interest.
It is probable Old Hurricane did not hear this irreverent speech,
for he continued to gaze with pity and dismay upon the ragamuffin
before him. He was a handsome boy, too, notwithstanding the deplorable
state of his wardrobe. Thick, clustering curls of jet-black hair fell
in tangled disorder around a forehead broad, white and smooth as that
of a girl; slender and quaintly arched black eyebrows played above a
pair of mischievous, dark-gray eyes that sparkled beneath the shade of
long, thick, black lashes; a little turned-up nose, and red, pouting
lips completed the character of a countenance full of fun, frolic,
spirit and courage.
Well, governor, if you've looked long enough, maybe you'll take me
into service, said the lad, winking to a group of his fellow-newsboys
that had gathered at the corner.
Dear! dear! dear! he looks as if he had never in his life seen soap
and water or a suit of whole clothes! ejaculated the old gentleman,
adding, kindly: Yes, I reckon I will give you the job, my son!
His son! Oh, crikey! do you hear that, fellows? His son? Oh, Lor'!
my governor's turned up at last. I'm his son! oh, gemini! But what did
I tell you! I always had a sort of impression that I must have had a
father in some former period of my life; and, behold, here he is! Who
knows but I might have had a mother also? But that isn't likely. Still,
I'll ask him. How's the old woman, sir? said the newsboy, jumping off
the boxes and taking the carpet-bag in his hand.
What are you talking about, you infatuated tatterdemalion? Come
along! If it weren't for pity I'd have you put in the pillory!
exclaimed Old Hurricane, shaking his cane at the offender.
Thanky, sir! I've not had a pillow under my head for a long time.
Just so, sir! 'a dumb devil is better than a talking one!'
answered the lad, demurely following his employer.
They went on some distance, Old Hurricane diligently reading the
names of the streets at the corners. Presently he stopped again,
bewildered, and after gazing around himself for a few minutes, said:
Do you know such a place as Rag Alley in Manillo Street?
Rag Alley, sir?
Yes; a sort of narrow, dark, musty place, with a row of old,
tumble-down tenements each side, where poor wretches live all huddled
up together, fifty in a house, eh? I was told I couldn't drive up it in
a carriage, so I had to walk. Do you know such a place?
Do I know such a place! Do I know Rag Alley? Oh, my eye! Oh, he!
he! he! he!
What are you laughing at now, you miscellaneous assortment of
Oh! oh, dear! I was laughing to think how well I knew Rag Alley!
Humph! you do look as if you were born and bred there.
But, sir, I wasn't!
Humph! How did you get into life, then?
I don't know, governor, unless I was raked up from the gutter by
some old woman in the rag-picking line! said the newsboy, demurely.
Humph. I think that quite likely! But now, do you say that you know
where that alley is?
Oh, don't set me off again! Oh, he! he! he! Yes, sir, I know.
Well, then, show me the way and don't be a fool!
I'd scorn to be it, sir. This is the way! said the lad, taking the
They walked on several squares, and then the boy stopped, and
pointing down a cross-street, said:
There, governor; there you are.
There! Where? Why that's a handsome street! said Old Hurricane,
gazing up in admiration at the opposite blocks of stately brown-stone
That's it, hows'ever! That's Rag Alley. 'Tain't called Rag Alley
now, though! It's called Hifalutin Terrace! Them tenements you talk of
were pulled down more'n a year ago and these houses put up in their
place, said the newsboy.
Dear! dear! dear! what changes! And what became of the poor
tenants? asked Old Hurricane, gazing in dismay at the inroads of
The tenants? poor wretches! how do I know? Carted away, blown away,
thrown away, with the other rubbish. What became of the tenants?
'Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea-ty!'
I heard that spouted at a school exhibition once, governor! said
the lad, demurely.
Humph! well, well well! the trace is lost! What shall I do?put
advertisements in all the daily papersapply at the chief police
office? Yes, I'll do both, muttered Old Hurricane to himself; then,
speaking out, he called:
Call me a cab!
Yes, sir! And the lad was off like an arrow to do his bidding.
In a few moments the cab drove up. The newsboy, who was sitting
beside the driver, jumped down and said:
Here it is, sir!
Thank you, my son; here is your fee, said Old Hurricane, putting a
silver dollar into the lad's hand.
What! Lor', it can't be I but it is! He must have made a mistake!
What if he did, I don't care! Yes, I do, too! 'Honor bright!'
exclaimed the newsboy, looking in wonder and desire and sore temptation
upon the largest piece of money he had ever touched in his life.
Well, boy? said the old gentleman, with his feet upon the steps of
You've been and done and gone and give me a whole dollar by
And why should you think it a mistake, you impertinent monkey?
Your honor didn't mean it?
Why not, you young rascal? Of course I did. Take it and be off with
you! said Old Hurricane, beginning to ascend the steps.
I'm a great mind to, said the newsboy, still gazing on the coin
with satisfaction and desireI'm a great mind to; but I won't!
'tain't fair! Governor, I say!
What now, you troublesome fellow?
Do stop a minute! Don't tempt me too hard, 'cause, you see, I ain't
sure I could keep honest if I was tempted too hard.
What do you mean now, you ridiculous little ape?
I mean I know you're from the country, and don't know no better,
and I mus'n't impose upon your ignorance.
My ignorance, you impudent villain! exclaimed the old man, with
Yes, governor; you hain't cut your eye-teeth yet! you hain't up to
snuff! you don't know nothing! Why, this is too much for toting a
carpet-bag a half a dozen squares; and it's very well you fell in with
a honest lad like me, that wouldn't impose on your innocence. Bless
you, the usual price isn't more'n a dime, or, if you're rich and
generous, a shillin'; but
What the deuce do I care for the usual price, youyouyou perfect
prodigy of patches? There, for the Lord's sake, go get yourself a
decent suit of clothes! Drive on, cabman! roared Old Hurricane,
flinging an eagle upon the sidewalk and rolling off in his cab.
Poor dear, old gentleman! I wonder where his keeper is? How could
he have got loose? Maybe I'd better go and tell the police! But then I
don't know who he is, or where he's gone! But he is very crazy, and I'm
afraid he'll fling away every cent of his money before his friends can
catch him. I know what I'll do. I'll go to the stand and watch for the
cab to come back and ask the driver what he has done with the poor,
dear old fellow! said the newsboy, picking up the gold coin and
putting it into his pocket. And then he started, but with an eye to
business, singing out:
Herald! Triebune! Express! last account of the orful
accidentsteamer, etc., etc., etc., selling his papers as he went on
to the cab-stand. He found the cabman already there. And to his anxious
inquiries as to the sanity of the old gentleman, that Jehu replied:
Oh, bless your soul, crazy? No; no more'n you or I. He's a real
noba real Virginian, F. F. V., with money like the sands on the
seashore! Keep the tin, lad; he knowed what he was a-doin' on.
Oh, it a'most scares me to have so much money! exclaimed the boy,
half in delight, half in dismay; but to-night I'll have a warm supper
and sleep in a bed once more! And to-morrow a new suit of clothes! So
here goesHerald! Express!full accountthe horrible murderBell
StreetLedgee-ee-ee, etc., etc., etc., crying his papers until he was
out of hearing.
Never in his life had the newsboy felt so prosperous and happy.
CHAPTER V. THE DISCOVERY.
And at the magistrate's command,
And next undid the leathern band
That bound her tresses there,
And raised her felt hat from her head,
And down her slender form there spread
Black ringlets rich and rare.
Old Hurricane meanwhile dined at the public table at the Astor, and
afterward went to his room to rest, smoke and ruminate. And he finished
the evening by supping and retiring to bed.
In the morning, after an early breakfast, he wrote a dozen
advertisements and called a cab and rode around to leave them with the
various daily papers for immediate publication. Then, to lose no time,
he rode up to the Recorder's office to set the police upon the search.
As he was about to enter the front portal he observed the doorway
and passage blocked up with even a larger crowd than usual.
And seeing the cabman who had waited upon him the preceding day, he
inquired of him:
What is the matter here?
Nothing, your honor, 'cept a boy tuk up for wearing girl's clothes,
or a girl tuk up for wearing boy's, I dunno which, said the man,
touching his hat.
Let me pass, then; I must speak to the chief of police, said Old
Hurricane, shoving his way into the Recorder's room.
This is not the office of the chief, sir; you will find him on the
other side of the hall, said a bystander.
But before Old Hurricane had gathered the sense of these words, a
sight within the office drew his steps thither. Up before the Recorder
stood a lad of about thirteen years, who, despite his smart, new suit
of gray casinet, his long, rolling, black ringlets and his downcast and
blushing face, Old Hurricane immediately recognized as his
acquaintance, of the preceding day, the saucy young tatterdemalion.
Feeling sorry for the friendless boy, the old man impulsively went
up to him and patted him on the shoulder, saying:
What! In trouble, my lad? Never mind; never look down! I'll warrant
ye an honest lad from what I've seen myself. Come! come! pluck up a
spirit! I'll see you through, my lad.
'Lad!' Lord bless your soul, sir, he's no more a lad than you or I!
The young rascal is a girl in boy's clothes, sir! said the officer who
had the culprit in custody.
Whatwhatwhat! exclaimed Old Hurricane, gazing in consternation
from the young prisoner to the accuser; whatwhat! my newsboy, my
saucy little prince of patches, a girl in boy's clothes?
Yes, sira young scoundrel! I actually twigged him selling papers
at the Fulton Ferry this morning! A little rascal!
A girl in boy's clothes! A girl! exclaimed Old Hurricane, with his
eyes nearly starting out of his head.
Just then the young culprit looked up in his face with an expression
half melancholy, half mischievous, that appealed to the rugged heart of
the old man. Turning around to the policeman, he startled the whole
office by roaring out:
Girl, is she, sir? Then, demmy, sir, whether a girl in boy's
clothes, or men's clothes, or soldier's clothes, or sailor's clothes,
or any clothes, or no clothes, sir, treat her with the delicacy due to
womanhood, sir! ay, and the tenderness owed to childhood! for she is
but a bit of a poor, friendless, motherless, fatherless child, lost and
wandering in your great Babylon! No more hard words to her, siror by
Order! put in the calm and dignified Recorder.
Old Hurricane, though his face was still purple, his veins swollen
and his eyeballs glaring with anger, immediately recovered himself,
turned and bowed to the Recorder and said:
Yes, sir, I will keep order, if you'll make that brute of a
policeman reform his language!
And so saying Old Hurricane subsided into a seat immediately behind
the child, to watch the examination.
What'll they do with her, do you think? he inquired of a
Send her down, in course.
To Blackwell's Islandto the work'us, in course.
To the workhouseher, that child?the wretches! Um-m-m-me!
Oh-h-h! groaned Old Hurricane, stooping and burying his shaggy gray
head in his great hands.
He felt his shoulder touched, and, looking up, saw that the little
prisoner had turned around, and was about to speak to him.
Governor, said the same clear voice that he had even at first
supposed to belong to a girlGovernor, don't you keep on letting out
that way! You don't know nothing! You're in the Recorder's Court! If
you don't mind your eye they'll commit you for contempt!
Will they? Then they'll do well, my lad! Lass, I mean. I plead
guilty to contempt. Send a child like you to the! They shan't do
it! Simply, they shan't do it! I, Major Warfield of Virginia, tell you
so, my boygirl, I mean!
But, you innocent old lion, instead of freeing me, you'll find
yourself shut up between four walls! and very narrow ones at that, I
tell you! You'll think yourself in your coffin! Governor, they call it
The Tombs! whispered the child.
Attention! said the clerk.
The little prisoner turned and faced the court. And the old lion
buried his shaggy, gray head and beard in his hands and groaned aloud.
Now, then, what is your name, my ladmy girl, I should say?
inquired the clerk.
Old Hurricane pricked up his ears and raised his head, muttering to
himself: Cap-it-o-la! That's a very odd name! Can't surely be two in
the world of the same! Cap-it-ola!if it should be my Capitola, after
all! I shouldn't wonder at all! I'll listen and say nothing. And with
this wise resolution, Old Hurricane again dropped his head upon his
You say your name is CapitolaCapitola what? inquired the clerk,
continuing the examination.
Nothing! What do you mean?
I have no name but Capitola, sir.
Who is your father?
Never had any that I know, sir.
Never had a mother either, sir, as ever I heard.
Where do you live?
About in spots in the city, sir.
Ohohoh! groaned old Hurricane within his hands.
What is your calling? inquired the clerk.
Selling newspapers, carrying portmanteaus and packages sweeping
before doors, clearing off snow, blacking boots and so on.
Little odd jobs in general, eh?
Yes, sir, anything that I can turn my hand to and get to do.
Boygirl, I should saywhat tempted you to put yourself into male
In boy's clothes, then?
Oh, yes; want, sirandanddanger, sir! cried the little
prisoner, putting her hands to a face crimson with blushes and for the
first time since her arrest upon the eve of sobbing.
Ohohoh! groaned Old Hurricane from his chair.
Want? Danger? How is that? continued the clerk.
Your honor mightn't like to know.
By all means! It is, in fact, necessary that you should give an
account of yourself, said the clerk.
Old Hurricane once more raised his head, opened his ears and gave
One circumstance he had particularly remarkedthe language used by
the poor child during her examination was much superior to the slang
she had previously affected, to support her assumed character of
Well, wellwhy do you pause? Go ongo on, my good boygirl, I
mean I said the Recorder, in a tone of kind encouragement.
CHAPTER VI. A SHORT, SAD STORY.
Ah! poverty is a weary thing!
It burdeneth the brain,
It maketh even the little child
To murmur and complain.
It is not much I have to tell, began Capitola. I was brought up
in Rag Alley and its neighborhood by an old woman named Nancy Grewell.
Ah! ejaculated Old Hurricane.
She was a washwoman, and rented one scantily furnished room from a
poor family named Simmons.
Oh! cried Old Hurricane.
Granny, as I called her, was very good to me, and I never suffered
cold nor hunger until about eighteen months ago, when Granny took it
into her head to go down to Virginia.
Umph! exclaimed Old Hurricane.
When Granny went away she left me a little money and some good
clothes and told me to be sure to stay with the people where she left
me, for that she would be back in about a month. But, your honor, that
was the last I ever saw or heard of poor Granny! She never came back
again. And by that I know she must have died.
Ah-h-h! breathed the old man, puffing fast.
The first month or two after Granny left I did well enough. And
then, when the little money was all gone, I eat with the Simmonses and
did little odd jobs for my food. But by and by Mr. Simmons got out of
work, and the family fell into want, and they wished me to go out and
beg for them. I just couldn't do that, and so they told me I should
look out for myself.
Were there no customers of your grandmother that you could have
applied to for employment? asked the Recorder.
No, sir. My Granny's customers were mostly boarders at the small
taverns, and they were always changing. I did apply to two or three
houses where the landladies knew Granny; but they didn't want me.
Oh-h-h! groaned Major Warfield, in the tone of one in great pain.
I wouldn't have that old fellow's conscience for a good deal,
whispered a spectator, for, as sure as shooting, that gal's his
Well, go on! What next? asked the clerk.
Well, sir, though the Simmonses had nothing to give me except a
crust now and then, they still let me sleep in the house, for the
little jobs I could do for them. But at last Simmons he got work on the
railroad away off somewhere, and they all moved away from the city.
And you were left alone?
Yes, sir; I was left alone in the empty, unfurnished house. Still
it was a shelter, and I was glad of it, and I dreaded the time when it
would be rented by another tenant, and I should be turned into the
Oh! oh! oh, Lord! groaned the major.
But it was never rented again, for the word went around that the
whole row was to be pulled down, and so I thought I had leave to stay
at least as long as the rats did! continued Capitola, with somewhat of
her natural roguish humor twinkling in her dark-gray eyes.
But how did you get your bread? inquired the Recorder.
Did not get it at all, sir. Bread was too dear! I sold my clothes,
piece by piece, to the old Jew over the way and bought corn-meal and
picked up trash to make a fire and cooked a little mush every day in an
old tin can that had been left behind. And so I lived on for two or
three weeks. And then when my clothes were all gone except the suit I
had upon my back, and my meal was almost out, instead of making mush
every day I economized and made gruel.
But, my boymy good girl, I meanbefore you became so destitute
you should have found something or other to do, said the Recorder.
Sir, I was trying to get jobs every hour in the day. I'd have done
anything honest. I went around to all the houses Granny knew, but they
didn't want a girl. Some of the good-natured landlords said if I was a
boy, now, they could keep me opening oysters; but as I was a girl they
had no work for me. I even went to the offices to get papers to sell;
but they told me that crying papers was not proper work for a girl. I
even went down to the ferry-boats and watched for the passengers coming
ashore, and ran and offered to carry their carpet-bags or portmanteaus;
but some growled at me, and others laughed at me, and one old gentleman
asked me if I thought he was a North American Indian to strut up
Broadway with a female behind him carrying his pack. And so, sir, while
all the ragged boys I knew could get little jobs to earn bread, I,
because I was a girl, was not allowed to carry a gentleman's parcel or
black his boots, or shovel the snow off a shopkeeper's pavement, or put
in coal, or do anything that I could do just as well as they. And so
because I was a girl there seemed to be nothing but starvation or
beggary before me!
Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! that such things should be! cried Old
That was bad, sir; but there was worse behind! There came a day
when my meal, even the last dust of it, was gone. Then I kept life in
me by drinking water and by sleeping all I could. At first I could not
sleep for the gnawinggnawingin my stomach; but afterwards I slept
deeply, from exhaustion, and then I'd dream of feasts and the richest
sort of food, and of eating such quantities; and, really, sir, I seemed
to taste it and enjoy it and get the good of it, almost as much as if
it was all true! One morning after such a dream I was waked up by a
great noise outside. I staggered upon my feet and crept to the window,
and there, sir, were the workmen all outside a-pulling down the house
over my head!
Good Heaven! ejaculated Old Hurricane, who seemed to constitute
himself the chorus of this drama.
Sir, they didn't know that I or any one was in the empty house!
Fright gave me strength to run down-stairs and run out. Then I stopped.
Oh! I stopped and looked up and down the street. What should I do? The
last shelter was gone away from methe house where I had lived so many
years, and that seemed like a friend to me, was falling before my eyes!
I thought I'd just go and pitch myself into the river and end it all!
That was a very wicked thought, said the Recorder.
Yes, sir, I know it was, and, besides, I was dreadfully afraid of
being suffocated in the dirty water around the wharf! said Capitola,
with a sparkle of that irrepressible humor that effervesced even
through all her trouble. Well, sir, the hand that feeds young ravens
kept me from dying that day. I found a five-cent piece in the street
and resolved not to smother myself in the river mud as long as it
lasted. So I bought a muffin, ate it, and went down to the wharf to
look for a job. I looked all day but found none, and when night came I
went into a lumber yard and hid myself behind a pile of planks that
kept the wind off me, and I went to sleep and dreamed a beautiful dream
of living in a handsome house, with friends all around me and
everything good to eat and drink and wear!
Poor, poor child; but your dream may come true yet! muttered Old
Hurricane to himself.
Well, your honor, next day I spent another penny out of my
half-dime and looked in vain for work all day and slept at night in a
broken-down omnibus that had happened to be left on the stand. And so,
not to tire your patience, a whole week passed away. I lived on my
half-dime, spending a penny a day for a muffin, until the last penny
was gone, and sleeping at night wherever I couldsometimes under the
front stoop of a house, sometimes in an old broken carriage and
sometimes behind a pile of boxes on the sidewalk.
That was a dreadful exposure for a young girl, said the Recorder.
A burning blush flamed up over the young creature's cheek as she
Yes, sir, that was the worst of all; that finally drove me to
putting on boy's clothes.
Let us hear all about it.
Oh, sir, I can'tIHow can I? Well, being always exposed,
sleeping outdoors, I was often in danger from bad boys and bad men,
said Capitola, and, dropping her head upon her breast and covering her
crimson cheeks with her hands, for the first time she burst into tears
and sobbed aloud.
Come, come, my little manmy good little woman, I mean! don't take
it so to heart. You couldn't help it! said Old Hurricane, with
raindrops glittering even in his own stormy eyes.
Capitola looked up, with her whole countenance flashing with spirit,
and exclaimed: Oh! but I took care of myself, sir! I did, indeed, your
honor! You mustn't, either you or the old gentleman, dare to think but
what I did!
Oh, of course! of course! said a bystander, laughing.
Old Hurricane sprang up, bringing his feet down upon the floor with
a resound that made the great hall ring again, exclaiming:
What do you mean by 'of course! of course!' you villain? Demmy!
I'll swear she took care of herself, you varlet; and if any man dares
to hint otherwise, I'll ram his falsehood down his throat with the
point of my walking stick and make him swallow both!
Order! order! said the clerk.
Old Hurricane immediately wheeled to the right about faced and
saluted the bench in military fashion, and then said:
Yes, sir! I'll regard order! but in the meanwhile, if the court
does not protect this child from insult I must, order or no order! and
with that the old gentleman once more subsided into his seat.
Governor, don't you be so noisy! You'll get yourself stopped up
into a jug next! Why, you remind me of an uproarious old fellow poor
Granny used to talk about, that they called Old Hurricane, because he
was so stormy! whispered Capitola, turning toward him.
Humph! she's heard of me, then! muttered the old gentleman to
Well, sirI mean, missgo on! said the clerk, addressing
Yes, sir. Well, your honor, at the end of five days, being a
certain Thursday morning, when I couldn't get a job of work for love
nor money, when my last penny was spent for my last roll, and my last
roll was eaten up, and I was dreading the gnawing hunger by day and the
horrid perils of the night, I thought to myself if I were only a boy I
might carry packages and shovel in coal, and do lots of jobs by day,
and sleep without terror by night. And then I felt bitter against Fate
for not making me a boy. And so, thinking and thinking and thinking I
wandered on until I found myself in Rag Alley, where I used to live,
standing right between the pile of broken bricks, plaster and lumber
that used to be my home, and the old Jew's shop where I sold my clothes
for meal. And then all of a sudden a bright thought struck me? and I
made up my mind to be a boy!
Made up your mind to be a boy?
Yes, sir, for it was so easy! I wondered how I came to be so stupid
as not to have thought of it before. I just ran across to the old Jew's
shop and offered to swap my suit of girl's clothes, that was good,
though dirty, for any, even the raggedest suit of boy's clothes he had,
whether they'd fit me or not, so they would only stay on me. The old
fellow put his finger to his nose as if he thought I'd been stealing
and wanted to dodge the police. So he took down an old, not very
ragged, suit that he said would fit me, and opened a door and told me
to go in his daughter's room and put 'em on.
Well, not to tire your honors, I went into that little back parlor
a girl and I came out a boy, with a suit of pants and jacket, with my
hair cut short and a cap on my head! The Jew gave me a penny roll and a
sixpence for my black ringlets.
All seemed grist that came to his mill! said Old Hurricane.
Yes, Governor, he was a dealer in general. Well, the first thing I
did was to hire myself to the Jew, at a sixpence a day and find myself,
to shovel in his coal. That didn't take me but a day. So at night the
Jew paid me, and I slept in peace behind a stack of boxes. Next morning
I was up before the sun and down to the office of the little penny
paper, the 'Morning Star.' I bought two dozen of 'em and ran as fast as
I could to the ferry-boats to sell to the early passengers. Well, sir,
in an hour's time I had sold out and pocketed just two shillings, and
felt myself on the highroad to fortune!
And so that was the way by which you came to put yourself in male
Yes, sir, and the only thing that made me feel sorry was to see
what a fool I had been not to turn to a boy before, when it was so
easy! And from that day forth I was happy and prosperous! I found
plenty to do! I carried carpet-bags, held horses, put in coal, cleaned
sidewalks, blacked gentlemen's boots and did everything an honest lad
could turn his hand to. And so for more'n a year I was as happy as a
king, and should have kept on so, only I forgot and let my hair grow;
and instead of cutting it off, just tucked it up under my cap; and so
this morning on the ferry-boat, in a high breeze, the wind blowed off
my cap and the policeman blowed on me!
'Twasn't altogether her long hair, your honor, for I had seen her
before, having known her when she lived with old Mrs. Grewell in Rag
Alley, interrupted the officer.
You may sit down, my child, said the Recorder, in a tone of
CHAPTER VII. METAMORPHOSIS OF THE
With caution judge of probability,
Things deemed unlikely, e'en impossible,
Experience oft hath proven to be true.
What shall we do with her? inquired the Recorder, sotto voce, of a
brother magistrate who appeared to be associated with him on the bench.
Send her to the Refuge, replied the other, in the same tone.
What are they consulting about? asked Old Hurricane, whose ears
were not of the best.
They are talking of sending her to the Refuge, answered a
Refuge? Is there a refuge for destitute children in New York? Then
Babylon is not so bad as I thought it. What is this Refuge?
It is a prison where juvenile delinquents are trained to habits
A prison! Send her to a prison? Never! burst forth Old Hurricane,
rising and marching up to the Recorder; he stood, hat in hand, before
him and said:
Your honor, if a proper legal guardian appears to claim this young
person and holds himself in all respects responsible for her, may she
not be at once delivered into his hands?
Assuredly, answered the magistrate, with the manner of one glad to
be rid of the charge.
Then, sir, I, Ira Warfield, of Hurricane Hall, in Virginia, present
myself as the guardian of this girl, Capitola Black, whom I claim as my
ward. And I will enter into a recognizance for any sum to appear and
prove my right if it should be disputed. For my personal
responsibility, sir, I refer you to the proprietors of the Astor, who
have known me many years.
It is not necessary, Major Warfield; we assume the fact of your
responsibility and deliver up the young girl to your charge.
I thank you, sir, said Old Hurricane, bowing low. Then hurrying
across the room where sat the reporters for the press he said:
Gentlemen, I have a favor to ask of you; it is that you will
altogether drop this case of the boy in girl's clothesI mean the girl
in girl's clothesI declare I don't know what I mean; nor I shan't,
neither, until I see the creature in its proper dress, but this I wish
to request of you, gentlemen, that you will drop that item from your
report, or if you must mention it, treat it with delicacy, as the good
name of a young lady is involved.
The reporters, with sidelong glances, winks and smiles, gave him the
required promise, and Old Hurricane returned to the side of his
Capitola, are you willing to go with me?
Jolly willing, governor.
Then come along; my cab is waiting, said Old Hurricane, and,
bowing to the court, he took the hand of his charge and led her forth,
amid the ill-suppressed jibes of the crowd.
There's a hoary-headed old sinner! said one.
She's as like him as two peas, quoth another.
Wonder if there's any more belonging to him of the same sort?
inquired a third.
Leaving all the sarcasm behind him, Old Hurricane handed his
protégée into the cab, took the seat beside her and gave orders to be
driven out toward Harlem.
As soon as they were seated in the cab the old man turned to his
charge and said:
Capitola, I shall have to trust to your girl's wit to get yourself
into your proper clothes again without exciting further notice.
My boygirl, I meanI am not the governor of Virginia, though if
every one had his rights I don't know but I should be. However, I am
only Major Warfield, said the old man, naively, for he had not the
most distant idea that the title bestowed on him by Capitola was a mere
remnant of her newsboys slang.
Now, my ladpshaw! my lass, I meanhow shall we get you
I know, govmajor, I mean. There is a shop of ready-made clothing
at the Needle Woman's Aid, corner of the next square. I can get out
there and buy a full suit.
Very well. Stop at the next corner, driver, called Old Hurricane.
The next minute the cab drew up before a warehouse of ready-made
Old Hurricane jumped out, and, leading his charge, entered the shop.
Luckily, there was behind the counter only one persona staid,
elderly, kind-looking woman.
Here, madam, said Old Hurricane, stooping confidentially to her
ear, I am in a little embarrassment that I hope you will be willing to
help me out of for a consideration. I came to New York in pursuit of my
wardthis young girl herewhom I found in boy's clothes. I now wish
to restore her to her proper dress, before presenting her to my
friends, of course. Therefore, I wish you to furnish her with a half
dozen complete suits of female attire, of the very best you have that
will fit her. And also to give her the use of a room and of your own
aid in changing her dress. I will pay you liberally.
Half suspicious and half scandalized, the worthy woman gazed with
scrutiny first into the face of the guardian and then into that of the
ward; but finding in the extreme youth of the one and the advanced age
of the other, and in the honest expression of both, something to allay
her fears, if not to inspire her confidence, she said:
Very well, sir. Come after me, young gentlemanyoung lady, I
should say. And, calling a boy to mind the shop, she conducted
Capitola to an inner apartment.
Old Hurricane went out and dismissed his cab. When it was entirely
out of sight he hailed another that was passing by empty, and engaged
it to take himself and a young lady to the Washington House.
When he re-entered the shop he found the shop woman and Capitola
returned and waiting for him.
Capitola was indeed transfigured. Her bright black hair, parted in
the middle, fell in ringlets each side her blushing cheeks; her
dark-gray eyes were cast down in modesty at the very same instant that
her ripe red lips were puckered up with mischief. She was well and
properly attired in a gray silk dress, crimson merino shawl and a black
The other clothing that had been purchased was done up in packages
and put into the cab.
And after paying the shop woman handsomely, Old Hurricane took the
hand of his ward, handed her into the cab and gave the order:
To the Washington House.
The ride was performed in silence.
Capitola sat deeply blushing at the recollection of her male attire,
and profoundly cogitating as to what could be the relationship between
herself and the gray old man whose claim the Recorder had so promptly
admitted. There seemed but one way of accounting for the great interest
he took in her fate. Capitola came to the conclusion that the grim old
lion before her was no more nor less thanher own father! for alas!
poor Cap had been too long tossed about New York not to know more of
life than at her age she should have known. She had indeed the
innocence of youth, but not its simplicity.
Old Hurricane, on his part, sat with his thick cane grasped in his
two knobby hands, standing between his knees, his grizzled chin resting
upon it and his eyes cast down as in deep thought.
And so in silence they reached the Washington House.
Major Warfield then conducted his ward into the ladies' parlor, and
went and entered his own and her name upon the books as Major Warfield
and his ward, Miss Black, for whom he engaged two bedrooms and a
Then, leaving Capitola to be shown to her apartment by a
chambermaid, he went out and ordered her luggage up to her room and
dismissed the cab.
Next he walked to the Astor House, paid his bill, collected his
baggage, took another carriage and drove back to the Washington Hotel.
All this trouble Old Hurricane took to break the links of his action
and prevent scandal. This filled up a long forenoon.
He dined alone with his ward in their private parlor.
Such a dinner poor Cap had never even smelled before. How immensely
she enjoyed it, with all its surroundingsthe comfortable room, the
glowing fire, the clean table, the rich food, the obsequious
attendance, her own genteel and becoming dress, the company of a highly
respectable guardianall, all so different from anything she had ever
been accustomed to, and so highly appreciated.
How happy she felt! How much happier from the contrast of her
previous wretchedness, to be suddenly freed from want, toil, fear and
all the evils of destitute orphanage, and to find herself blessed with
wealth, leisure and safety, under the care of a rich, good and kind
father (or as such Capitola continued to believe her guardian to be).
It was an incredible thing! It was like a fairy tale!
Something of what was passing in her mind was perceived by Old
Hurricane, who frequently burst into uproarious fits of laughter as he
At last, when the dinner and the dessert were removed, and the nuts,
raisins and wine placed upon the table, and the waiters had retired
from the room and left them alone, sitting one on each side of the
fire, with the table and its luxuries between them, Major Warfield
suddenly looked up and asked:
Capitola, whom do you think that I am?
Old Hurricane, to be sure. I knew you from Granny's description,
the moment you broke out so in the police office, answered Cap.
Humph! Yes, you're right; and it was your Granny that bequeathed
you to me, Capitola.
Then she is really dead?
Yes. Theredon't cry about her. She was very old, and she died
happy. Now, Capitola, if you please me I mean to adopt you as my own
No, no; you needn't call me father, you know, because it isn't
true. Call me uncle, uncle, uncle.
Is that true, sir? asked Cap, demurely.
No, no, no; but it will do, it will do. Now, Cap, how much do you
know? Anything? Ignorant as a horse, I am afraid.
Yes, sir; even as a colt.
Can you read at all?
Yes, sir; I learned to read at Sunday-school.
Cast accounts and write?
I can keep your books at a pinch, sir.
Humph! Who taught you these accomplishments?
Herbert Greyson, sir.
Herbert Greyson! I've heard that name before; here it is again. Who
is that Herbert Greyson?
He's second mate on the Susan, sir, that is expected in every day.
Umph! umph! Take a glass of wine, Capitola.
No, sir; I never touch a single drop.
Why? Why? Good wine after dinner, my child, is a good thing, let me
Ah, sir, my life has shown me too much misery that has come of
Well, well, as you please. Why, where has the girl run off to!
exclaimed the old man, breaking off, and looking with amazement at
Capitola, who had suddenly started up and rushed out of the room.
In an instant she rushed in again, exclaiming:
Oh, he's come! he's come! I heard his voice!
Whose come, you madcap? inquired the old man.
Oh, Herbert Greyson! Herbert Greyson! His ship is in, and he has
come here! He always comes heremost of the sea officers do,
exclaimed Cap, dancing around until all her black ringlets flew up and
down. Then suddenly pausing, she came quietly to his side and said,
Uncle, Herbert has been at sea three years; he knows nothing of my
past misery and destitution, nor of my ever wearing boy's clothes.
Uncle, please don't tell him, especially of the boy's clothes. And in
the earnestness of her appeal Capitola clasped her hands and raised her
eyes to the old man's face. How soft those gray eyes looked when
praying! But for all that, the very spirit of mischief still lurked
about the corners of the plump, arched lips.
Of course I shall tell no one! I am not so proud of your
masquerading as to publish it. And as for this young fellow, I shall
probably never see him! exclaimed Old Hurricane.
CHAPTER VIII. HERBERT GREYSON.
A kind, true heart, a spirit high,
That cannot fear and will not bow,
Is flashing in his manly eye
And stamped upon his brow.
In a few minutes Capitola came bounding up the stairs again,
Here he is, uncle! Here is Herbert Greyson! Come along, Herbert;
you must come in and see my new uncle! And she broke into the room,
dragging before her astonished guardian a handsome, dark-eyed young
sailor, who bowed and then stood blushing at his enforced intrusion.
I beg your pardon, sir, he said, for bursting in upon you in this
I dragged him here willy-nilly, said Capitola.
Still, if I had had time to think I should not have intruded.
Oh, say no more, sir. You are heartily welcome, exclaimed the old
man, thrusting out his rugged hand and seizing the bronzed one of the
youth. Sit down, sir, sit down. Good Lord, how like! he added,
Then, seeing the young sailor still standing, blushing and
hesitating, he struck his cane upon the floor and roared out:
Demmy, sit down, sir! When Ira Warfield says sit down, he means sit
Ira Warfield! exclaimed the young man, starting back in
astonishmentone might almost say in consternation.
Ay, sir; Ira Warfield! That's my name. Never heard any ill of it,
The young man did not answer, but continued gazing in amazement upon
Nor any good of it either, perhapseh, uncle? archly put in
Silence, you monkey! Well, young man, well, what is the meaning of
all this? exclaimed old Hurricane, impatiently.
Oh, your pardon, sir; this was sudden. But you must know I had once
a relative of that namean uncle.
And have still, Herbert; and have still, lad. Come, come, boy; I am
not sentimental, nor romantic, nor melodramatic, nor nothing of that
sort. I don't know how to strike an attitude and exclaim, 'Come to my
bosom, sole remaining offspring of a dear departed sister' or any of
the like stage playing. But I tell you, lad, that I like your looks;
and I like what I have heard of you from this girl, and another old
woman, now dead; and soBut sit down, sit down! demmy, sir, sit down,
and we'll talk over the walnuts and the wine. Capitola, take your seat,
too, ordered the old man, throwing himself into his chair. Herbert
also drew his chair up.
Capitola resumed her seat, saying to herself:
Well, well, I am determined not to be surprised at anything that
happens, being perfectly clear in my own mind that this is all nothing
but a dream. But how pleasant it is to dream that I have found a rich
uncle and he has found a nephew, and that nephew is Herbert Greyson! I
do believe that I had rather die in my sleep than wake from this
Herbert, said old Hurricane, as soon as they were gathered around
the tableHerbert, this is my ward, Miss Black, the daughter of a
deceased friend. Capitola, this is the only son of my departed sister.
Hem-m-m! We have had the pleasure of being acquainted with each
other before, said Cap, pinching up her lip and looking demure.
But not of really knowing who 'each other' was, you monkey.
Herbert, fill your glass. Here's to our better acquaintance.
I thank you, sir. I never touch wine, said the young man.
Never touch wine! Here's another; here's a young prig! I don't
believe youyes, I do, too! Demmy, sir, if you never touch wine it's
because you prefer brandy! Waiter!
I thank you, sir. Order no brandy for me. If I never use
intoxicating liquors it is because I gave a promise to that effect to
my dying mother.
Say no moresay no more, lad. Drink water, if you like. It won't
hurt you! exclaimed the old man, filling and quaffing a glass of
champagne. Then he said:
I quarreled with your mother, Herbert, for marrying a man that I
hatedyes, hated, Herbert, for he differed with me about the tariff
andthe Trinity! Oh, how I hated him, boy, until he died! And then I
wondered in my soul, as I wonder even now, how I ever could have been
so infuriated against a poor fellow now cold in his grave, as I shall
be in time. I wrote to my sister and expressed my feelings; but,
somehow or other, Herbert, we never came to a right understanding
again. She answered my letter affectionately enough, but she refused to
accept a home for herself and child under my roof, saying that she
thanked me for my offer, but that the house which had been closed
against her husband ought never to become the refuge of his widow.
After that we never corresponded, and I have no doubt, Herbert, that
she, naturally enough, taught you to dislike me.
Not so, sir; indeed, you wrong her. She might have been loyal to my
father's memory without being resentful toward you. She said that you
had a noble nature, but it was often obscured by violent passions. On
her dead-bed she bade me, should I ever meet you, to say that she
repented her refusal of your offered kindness.
And consented that it should be transferred to her orphan boy?
added Old Hurricane, with the tears like raindrops in his stormy eyes.
No, sir, she said not so.
But yet she would not have disapproved a service offered to her
Unclesince you permit me to call you soI want nothing. I have a
good berth in the Susan and a kind friend in her captain.
You have all your dear mother's pride, Herbert.
And all his uncle's! put in Cap.
Hush, Magpie! But is the merchant service agreeable to you,
Not perfectly, sir; but one must be content.
Demmy, sir, my sister's son need not be content unless he has a
mind to! And if you prefer the navy
No, sir. I like the navy even less than the merchant service.
Then what would suit you, lad? Come, you have betrayed the fact
that you are not altogether satisfied.
On the contrary, sir, I told you distinctly that I really wanted
nothing, and that I must be satisfied.
And I say, demmy, sir! you sha'n't be satisfied unless you like to!
Come, if you don't like the navy, what do you say to the army, eh?
It is a proud, aspiring profession, sir, said the young man, as
his face lighted up with enthusiasm.
Then, demmy, if you like the army, sir, you shall enter it! Yes,
sir! Demmy, the administration, confound them, has not done me justice,
but they'll scarcely dare to refuse to send my nephew to West Point
when I demand it.
To West Point! exclaimed Herbert, in delight.
Ay, youngster, to West Point. I shall see to it when I pass through
Washington on my way to Virginia. We start in the early train to-morrow
morning. In the meantime, young man, you take leave of your captain,
pack up your traps and join us. You must go with me and make Hurricane
Hall your home until you go to West Point.
Oh, what a capital old governor our uncle is! exclaimed Cap,
jumping up and clapping her hands.
Sir, indeed you overwhelm me with this most unexpected kindness! I
do not know as yet how much of it I ought to accept. But accident will
make me, whether or no, your traveling companion for a great part of
the way, as I also start for Virginia to-morrow, to visit dear friends
there, whose house was always my mother's home and mine, and who, since
my bereavement, have been to me like a dear mother and brother. I have
not seen them for years, and before I go anywhere else, even to your
kind roof, I must go there, said Herbert, gravely.
And who are those dear friends of yours, Hebert, and where do they
live? If I can serve them they shall be rewarded for their kindness
unto you, my boy.
Oh, sir, yes; you can indeed serve them. They are a poor widow and
her only son. She has seen better days, but now takes in sewing to
support herself and boy. When my mother was living, during the last
years of her life, when she also was a poor widow with an only son,
they joined their slender means and took a house and lived together.
When my mother died, leaving me a boy of ten years old, this poor woman
still sheltered and worked for me as for her own son until, ashamed of
being a burden to her, I ran away and went to sea.
Noble, woman! I will make her fortune! exclaimed Old Hurricane,
jumping up and walking up and down the floor.
Oh, do, sir! Oh, do, dear uncle! I don't wish you to expend either
money or influence upon my fortunes; but, oh, do educate Traverse! He
is such a gifted ladso intellectual! Even his Sunday-school teacher
says that he is sure to work his way to distinction, although now he is
altogether dependent on his Sunday-school for his learning. Oh, sir, if
you would only educate the son he'd make a fortune for his mother.
Generous boy, to plead for your friends rather than for yourself.
But I am strong enough, thank God, to help you all. You shall go to
West Point. Your friend shall go to school and then to college, said
Old Hurricane, with a burst of honest enthusiasm.
And where shall I go, sir? inquired Cap.
To the insane asylum, you imp! exclaimed the old man; then,
turning to Herbert, he continued: Yes, lad; I will do as I say; and as
for the poor but noble-hearted widow
You'll marry her yourself, as a reward; won't you, uncle? asked
the incorrigible Cap.
Perhaps I will, you monkey, if it is only to bring somebody home to
keep you in order, said Old Hurricane; then, turning again to Herbert,
he resumed: As to the widow, Herbert, I will place her above want.
Over my head, cried Cap.
And now, Herbert, I will trouble you to ring for coffee, and after
we have had that I think we had better separate and prepare for our
Herbert obeyed, and, after the required refreshment had been served
and partaken of, the little circle broke up for the evening and soon
after retired to rest.
Early the next morning, after a hasty breakfast, the three took
their seats in the express train for Washington, where they arrived
upon the evening of the same day. They put up for the night at Brown's,
and the next day Major Warfield, leaving his party at their hotel,
called upon the President, the Secretary of the Navy and other high
official dignitaries, and put affairs in such a train that he had
little doubt of the ultimate appointment of his nephew to a cadetship
at West Point.
The same evening, wishing to avoid the stage route over the
mountains, he took, with his party, the night boat for Richmond, where,
in due time, they arrived, and whence they took the valley line of
coaches that passed through Tip-Top, which they reached upon the
morning of the fourth day of their long journey. Here they found Major
Warfield's carriage waiting for him, and here they were to
separateMajor Warfield and Capitola to turn off to Hurricane Hall and
Herbert Greyson to keep on the route to the town of Staunton.
It was as the three sat in the parlor of the little hotel where the
stage stopped to change horses that their adieus were made.
Remember, Herbert, that I am willing to go to the utmost extent of
my power to benefit the good widow and her son who were so kind to my
nephew in his need. Remember that! I hold it a sacred debt that I owe
them. Tell them so. And mind, Herbert, I shall expect you back in a
week at furthest.
I shall be punctual, sir. God bless you, my dear uncle. You have
made me very happy in being the bearer of such glad tidings to the
widow and the fatherless. And now I hear the horn blowinggood-by,
uncle; good-by, Capitola. I am going to carry them great joysuch
great joy, uncle, as you, who have everything you want, can scarcely
imagine. And, shaking hands heartily with his companions, Herbert ran
through the door and jumped aboard the coach just as the impatient
driver was about to leave him behind.
As soon as the coach had rolled out of sight Major Warfield handed
Capitola into his carriage that had long been waiting, and took the
seat by her side, much to the scandalization of Wool, who muttered to
There, I told you so! I said how he'd go and bring home a young
wife, and behold he's gone and done it!
Uncle, said Capitola as the carriage rolled lazily alonguncle,
do you know you never once asked Herbert the name of the widow you are
going to befriend, and that he never told you?
By George, that is true! How strange! Yet I did not seem to miss
the name. How did it ever happen, Capitola? Did he omit it on purpose,
do you think?
Why, no, uncle. He, boylike, always spoke of them as 'Traverse' and
'Traverse's mother'; and you, like yourself, called her nothing but the
'poor widow' and the 'struggling mother' and the 'noble woman,' and so
on, and her son as the 'boy,' the 'youth,' 'young Traverse,' Herbert's
'friend,' etc. I, for my part, had some curiosity to see whether you
and Herbert would go on talking of them forever without having to use
their surnames. And, behold, he even went away without naming them!
By George! and so he did. It was the strangest over-sight. But I'll
write as soon as I get home and ask him.
No, uncle; just for the fun of the thing, wait until he comes back,
and see how long it will be and how much he will talk of them without
mentioning their names.
Ha, ha, ha! So I will, Cap, so I will! Besides whatever their names
are, it's nothing to me. 'A rose by any other name would smell as
sweet,' you know. And if she is 'Mrs. Tagfoot Waddle' I shall still
think so good a woman exalted as a Montmorencie. Mind there, Wool; this
road is getting rough.
Over it now, marster, said Wool, after a few heavy jolts. Over it
now, missus; and de rest of de way is perfectly delightful.
Cap looked out of the window and saw before her a beautiful piece of
sceneryfirst, just below them, the wild mountain stream of the
Demon's Run, and beyond it the wild dell dented into the side of the
mountain, like the deep print of an enormous horse's hoof, in the midst
of which, gleaming redly among its richly-tinted autumn woods, stood
CHAPTER IX. MARAH ROCKE.
There sits upon her matron face
A tender and a thoughtful grace,
Though very still,for great distress
Hath left this patient mournfulness.
Beside an old rocky road leading from the town of Staunton out to
the forest-crowned hills beyond, stood alone a little, gray stone
cottage, in the midst of a garden inclosed by a low, moldering stone
wall. A few gnarled and twisted fruit trees, long past bearing, stood
around the house that their leafless branches could not be said to
shade. A little wooden gate led up an old paved walk to the front door,
on each side of which were large windows.
In this poor cottage, remote from other neighbors, dwelt the friends
of Herbert Greysonthe widow Rocke and her son Traverse.
No one knew who she was, or whence or why she came. Some fifteen
years before she had appeared in town, clothed in rusty mourning and
accompanied by a boy of about two years of age. She had rented that
cottage, furnished it poorly and had settled there, supporting herself
and child by needlework.
At the time that Doctor Greyson died and his widow and son were left
perfectly destitute, and it became necessary for Mrs. Greyson to look
out for a humble lodging where she could find the united advantages of
cheapness, cleanliness and pure air, she was providentially led to
inquire at the cottage of the widow Rocke, whom she found only too glad
to increase her meager income by letting half her little house to such
unexceptionable tenants as the widow Greyson and her son.
And thus commenced between the two poor young women and the two boys
an acquaintance that ripened into friendship, and thence into that
devoted love so seldom seen in this world.
Their households became united. One fire, one candle and one table
served the little family, and thus considerable expense was saved as
well as much social comfort gained. And when the lads grew too old to
sleep with their mothers, one bed held the two boys and the other
accommodated the two women. And, despite toil, want, carethe sorrow
for the dead and the neglect of the livingthis was a loving,
contented and cheerful little household. How much of their private
history these women might have confided to each other was not known,
but it was certain that they continued fast friends up to the time of
the death of Mrs. Greyson, after which the widow Rocke assumed a double
burden, and became a second mother to the orphan boy, until Herbert
himself, ashamed of taxing her small means, ran away, as he had said,
and went to sea.
Every year had Herbert written to his kind foster mother and his
dear brother, as he called Traverse. And at the end of every prosperous
voyage, when he had a little money, he had sent them funds; but not
always did these letters or remittances reach the widow's cottage, and
long seasons of intense anxiety would be suffered by her for the fate
of her sailor boy, as she always called Herbert. Only three times in
all these years had Herbert found time and means to come down and see
them, and that was long ago. It was many months over two years since
they had even received a letter from him. And now the poor widow and
her son were almost tempted to think that their sailor boy had quite
It is near the close of a late autumnal evening that I shall
introduce you, reader, into the interior of the widow's cottage.
You enter by the little wooden gate, pass up the moldering paved
walk, between the old, leafless lilac bushes, and pass through the
front door right into a large, clean but poor-looking sitting-room and
Everything was old, though neatly and comfortably arranged about
this room. A faded home-made carpet covered the floor, a threadbare
crimson curtain hung before the window, a rickety walnut table, dark
with age, sat under the window against the wall; old walnut chairs were
placed each side of it; old plated candlesticks, with the silver all
worn off, graced the mantelpiece; a good firea cheap comfort in that
well-wooded countryblazed upon the hearth; on the right side of the
fireplace a few shelves contained some well-worn books, a flute, a few
minerals and other little treasures belonging to Traverse; on the left
hand there was a dresser containing the little delfware, tea service
and plates and dishes of the small family.
Before the fire, with her knitting in her hand, sat Marah Rocke,
watching the kettle as it hung singing over the blaze and the oven of
biscuits that sat baking upon the hearth.
Marah Rocke was at this time about thirty-five years of age, and of
a singularly refined and delicate aspect for one of her supposed rank;
her little form, slight and flexible as that of a young girl, was
clothed in a poor but neat black dress, relieved by a pure-white collar
around her throat; her jet-black hair was parted plainly over her low,
sweet brow, brought down each side her thin cheeks and gathered into a
bunch at the back of her shapely little head; her face was oval, with
regular features and pale olive complexion; serious lips, closed in
pensive thought, and soft, dark-brown eyes, full of tender affection
and sorrowful memories, and too often cast down in meditation beneath
the heavy shadows of their long, thick eyelashes, completed the
melancholy beauty of a countenance not often seen among the
hard-working children of toil.
Marah Rocke was a very hard-working woman, sewing all day long and
knitting through the twilight, and then again resuming her needle by
candle-light and sewing until midnightand yet Marah Rocke made but a
poor and precarious living for herself and son. Needlework, so ill-paid
in large cities, is even worse paid in the country towns, and, though
the cottage hearth was never cold, the widow's meals were often scant.
Lately her son, Traverse, who occasionally earned a trifle of money by
doing with all his might whatever his hand could find to do, had been
engaged by a grocer in the town to deliver his goods to his customers
during the illness of the regular porter; for which, as he was only a
substitute, he received the very moderate sum of twenty-five cents a
This occupation took Traverse from home at daybreak in the morning,
and kept him absent until eight o'clock at night. Nevertheless, the
widow always gave him a hot breakfast before he went out in the morning
and kept a comfortable supper waiting for him at night.
It was during this last social meal that the youth would tell his
mother all that had occurred in his world outside the home that day,
and all that he expected to come to pass the next, for Traverse was
wonderfully hopeful and sanguine.
And after supper the evening was generally spent by Traverse in hard
study beside his mother's sewing-stand.
Upon this evening, when the widow sat waiting for her son, he seemed
to be detained longer than usual. She almost feared that the biscuits
would be burned, or, if taken from the oven, be cold before he would
come to enjoy them; but, just as she had looked for the twentieth time
at the little black walnut clock that stood between those old plated
candlesticks on the mantelpiece, the sound of quick, light, joyous
footsteps was heard resounding along the stony street, the gate was
opened, a hand laid upon the door-latch, and the next instant entered a
youth some seventeen years of age, clad in a home-spun suit, whose
coarse material and clumsy make could not disguise his noble form or
He was like his mother, with the same oval face, regular features
and pale olive complexion, with the same full, serious lips, the same
dark, tender brown eyes, shaded by long, black lashes, and the same
wavy, jet-black hairbut there was a difference in the character of
their faces; where hers showed refinement and melancholy, his exhibited
strength and cheerfulnesshis loving brown eyes, instead of drooping
sadly under the shadow of their lashes, looked you brightly and
confidently full in the face; and, lastly, his black hair curled
crisply around a broad, high forehead, royal with intellect. Such was
the boy that entered the room and came joyously forward to his mother,
clasping his arm around her neck, saluting her on both cheeks, and then
laughingly claiming his childish privilege of kissing the pretty
little black mole on her throat.
Will you never have outgrown your babyhood, Traverse? asked his
mother, smiling at his affectionate ardor.
Yes, dear little mother; in everything but the privilege of
fondling you; that feature of babyhood I never shall outgrow,
exclaimed the youth, kissing her again with all the ardor of his true
and affectionate heart, and starting up to help her set the table.
He dragged the table out from under the window, spread the cloth and
placed the cups and saucers upon it, while his mother took the biscuits
from the oven and made the tea; so that in ten minutes from the moment
in which he entered the room, mother and son were seated at their
I suppose, to-morrow being Saturday, you will have to get up
earlier than usual to go to the store? said his mother.
No, ma'am, replied the boy, looking up brightly, as if he were
telling a piece of good news; I am not wanted any longer. Mr. Spicer's
own man has got well again and returned to work.
So you are discharged? said Mrs. Rocke, sadly.
Yes, ma'am; but just think how fortunate that is, for I shall have
a chance to-morrow of mending the fence and nailing up the gate and
sawing wood enough to last you a week, besides doing all the other
little odd jobs that have been waiting for me so long; and then on
Monday I shall get more work.
I wish I were sure of it, said the widow, whose hopes had long
since been too deeply crushed to permit her ever to be sanguine.
When their supper was over and the humble service cleared away, the
youth took his books and applied himself to study on the opposite side
of the table at which his mother sat busied with her needlework. And
there fell a perfect silence between them.
The widow's mind was anxious and her heart heavy; many cares never
communicated to cloud the bright sunshine of her boy's soul oppressed
hers. The rent had fallen fearfully behindhand, and the landlord
threatened, unless the money could be raised to pay him, to seize their
furniture and eject them from the premises. And how this money was to
be raised she could not see at all. True, this meek Christian had often
in her sad experience proved God's special providence at her utmost
need, and now she believed in His ultimate interference, but in what
manner He would now interpose she could not imagine, and her faith grew
dim and her hope dark and her love cold.
While she was revolving these sad thoughts in her mind, Traverse
suddenly thrust aside his books, and, with a deep sigh, turned to his
mother and said:
Mother, what do you think has ever become of Herbert?
I do not know; I dread to conjecture. It has now been nearly three
years since we heard from him, exclaimed the widow, with the tears
welling up in her brown eyes.
You think he has been lost at sea, mother, but I don't. I simply
think his letters have been lost. And, somehow, to-night I can't fix my
mind on my lesson or keep it off Herbert. He is running in my head all
the time. If I were fanciful, now, I should believe that Herbert was
dead and his spirit was about me. Good heavens, mother, whose step is
that? suddenly exclaimed the youth, starting up and assuming an
attitude of intense listening, as a firm and ringing step, attended by
a peculiar whistling, approached up the street and entered the gate.
It is Herbert! it is Herbert! cried Traverse, starting across the
room and tearing open the door with a suddenness that threw the
entering guest forward upon his own bosom; but his arms were soon
around the newcomer, clasping him closely there, while he breathlessly
Oh, Herbert, I am so glad to see you! Oh, Herbert, why didn't you
come or write all this long time? Oh, Herbert, how long have you been
ashore? I was just talking about you.
Dear fellow! dear fellow! I have come to make you glad at last, and
to repay all your great kindness; but now let me speak to my second
mother, said Herbert, returning Traverse's embrace and then gently
extricating himself and going to where Mrs. Rocke stood up, pale,
trembling and incredulous; she had not yet recovered from the great
shock of his unexpected appearance.
Dear mother, won't you welcome me? asked Herbert, going up to her.
His words dissolved the spell that bound her. Throwing her arms around
his neck and bursting into tears, she exclaimed:
Oh, my son! my son! my sailor boy! my other child! how glad I am to
have you back once more! Welcome! To be sure you are welcome! Is my own
circulating blood welcome back to my heart? But sit you down and rest
by the fire; I will get your supper directly.
Sweet mother, do not take the trouble. I supped twenty miles back,
where the stage stopped.
And will you take nothing at all?
Nothing, dear mother, but your kind hand to kiss again and again!
said the youth, pressing that hand to his lips and then allowing the
widow to put him into a chair right in front of the fire.
Traverse sat on one side of him and his mother on the other, each
holding a hand of his and gazing on him with mingled incredulity,
surprise and delight, as if, indeed, they could not realize his
presence except by devouring him with their eyes.
And for the next half hour all their talk was as wild and incoherent
as the conversation of long-parted friends suddenly brought together is
apt to be.
It was all made up of hasty questions, hurried one upon another, so
as to leave but little chance to have any of them answered, and wild
exclamations and disjointed sketches of travel, interrupted by frequent
ejaculations; yet through all the widow and her son, perhaps through
the quickness of their love as well as of their intellect, managed to
get some knowledge of the past three years of their sailor boy's life
and adventures, and they entirely vindicated his constancy when they
learned how frequently and regularly he had written, though they had
never received his letters.
And now, said Herbert, looking from side to side from mother to
son, I have told you all my adventures, I am dying to tell you
something that concerns yourselves.
That concerns us? exclaimed mother and son in a breath.
Yes, ma'am; yes, sir; that concerns you both eminently. But, first
of all, let me ask how you are getting on at the present time.
Oh, as usual, said the widow, smiling, for she did not wish to
dampen the spirits of her sailor boy; as usual, of course. Traverse
has not been able to accomplish his darling purpose of entering the
Seminary yet; but
But I'm getting on quite well with my education, for all that,
interrupted Traverse; for I belong to Dr. Day's Bible class in the
Sabbath school, which is a class of young men, you know, and the doctor
is so good as to think that I have some mental gifts worth cultivating,
so he does not confine his instructions to me to the Bible class alone,
but permits me to come to him in his library at Willow Heights for an
hour twice a week, when he examines me in Latin and algebra, and sets
me new exercises, which I study and write out at night; so that you see
I am doing very well.
Indeed, the doctor, who is a great scholar, and one of the trustees
and examiners of the Seminary, says that he does not know any young man
there, with all the advantages of the institution around him, who is
getting along so fast as Traverse is, with all the difficulties he has
to encounter. The doctor says it is all because Traverse is profoundly
in earnest, and that one of these days he will be
There, mother, don't repeat all the doctor's kind speeches. He only
says such things to encourage a poor boy in the pursuit of knowledge
under difficulties, said Traverse, blushing and laughing.
'Will be an honor to his kindred, country and race!' said
Herbert, finishing the widow's incomplete quotation.
It was something like that, indeed, she said, nodding and smiling.
You do me proud! said Traverse, touching his forelock with comic
gravity. But, inquired he, suddenly changing his tone and becoming
serious, was it notis it notnoble in the doctor to give up an hour
of his precious time twice a week for no other cause than to help a
poor, struggling fellow like me up the ladder of learning?
I should think it was! But he is not the first noble heart I ever
heard of! said Herbert, with an affectionate glance that directed the
compliment. Nor is his the last that you will meet with. I must tell
you the good news now.
Oh, tell it, tell it! Have you got a ship of your own, Herbert?
No; nor is it about myself that I am anxious to tell you. Mrs.
Rocke, you may have heard that I had a rich uncle whom I had never
seen, because, from the time of my dear mother's marriage to that of
her death, she and her brotherthis very unclehad been estranged?
Yes, said the widow, speaking in a very low tone and bending her
head over her work; yes, I have heard so; but your mother and myself
seldom alluded to the subject.
Exactly; mother never was fond of talking of him. Well, when I came
ashore and went, as usual, up to the old Washington House, who should I
meet with, all of a sudden, but this rich uncle. He had come to New
York to claim a little girl whom I happened to know, and who happened
to recognize me and name me to him. Well, I knew him only by his name;
but he knew me both by my name and by my likeness to his sister, and
received me with wonderful kindness, offered me a home under his roof,
and promised to get for me an appointment to West Point. Are you not
glad?say, are you not glad? he exclaimed, jocosely clapping his hand
upon Traverse's knee, and then turning around and looking at his
Oh, yes, indeed, I am very glad, Herbert, exclaimed Traverse,
heartily grasping and squeezing his friend's hand.
Yes, yes; I am indeed sincerely glad of your good fortune, dear
boy, said the widow; but her voice was very faint and her head bent
still lower over her work.
Ha! ha! ha! I knew you'd be glad for me; but now I require you to
be glad for yourselves. Now listen! When I told my honest old
unclefor he is honest, with all his eccentricitieswhen I told him
of what friends you had been to me
Oh, no; you did notyou did not mention us to him? cried the
widow, suddenly starting up and clasping her hands together, while she
gazed in an agony of entreaty into the face of the speaker.
Why not? Why in the world not? Was there anything improper in doing
so? inquired Herbert in astonishment, while Traverse himself gazed in
amazement at the excessive and unaccountable agitation of his mother.
Why, mother? Why shouldn't he have mentioned us? Was there anything
strange or wrong in that? inquired Traverse.
No; oh no; certainly not; I forgot, it was so sudden, said the
widow, sinking back in her chair and struggling for self-control.
Why, mother, what in the world is the meaning of this? asked her
Nothing, nothing, boy; only we are poor folks, and should not be
forced upon the attention of a wealthy gentleman, she said with a
cold, unnatural smile, putting her hand to her brow and striving to
gain composure. Then, as Herbert continued silent and amazed, she said
Go on, go onyou were saying something about myabout Major
Warfield's kindness to yougo on. And she took up her work and tried
to sew, but she was as pale as death and trembling all over at the same
time that every nerve was acute with attention to catch every word that
might fall from the lips of Herbert.
Well, recommenced the young sailor, I was just saying that when I
mentioned you and Traverse to my uncle, and told him how kind and
disinterested you had been to meyou being like a mother and Traverse
like a brotherhe was really moved almost to tears. Yes, I declare I
saw the raindrops glittering in his tempestuous old orbs as he walked
the floor muttering to himself, 'Poor womengood, excellent woman.'
While Herbert spoke the widow dropped her work without seeming to
know that she had done so; her fingers twitched so nervously that she
had to hold both hands clasped together, and her eyes were fixed in
intense anxiety upon the face of the youth as she repeated:
Go onoh, go on. What more did he say when you talked of us?
He said everything that was kind and good. He said that he could
not do too much to compensate you for the past.
Oh, did he say that? exclaimed the widow, breathlessly.
Yes, and a great deal morethat all that he could do for you or
your son was but a sacred debt he owed you.
Oh, he acknowledged ithe acknowledged it! Thank Heaven! oh, thank
Heaven! Go on, Herbert; go on.
He said that he would in future take the whole charge of the boy's
advancement in life, and that he would place you above want forever:
that he would, in fact, compensate for the past by doing you and yours
Thank Heaven! oh, thank Heaven! exclaimed the widow, no longer
concealing her agitation, but throwing down her work, and starting up
and pacing the floor in excess of joy.
Mother, said Traverse, uneasily, going to her and taking her hand,
mother, what is the meaning of all this? Do come and sit down.
She immediately turned and walked back to the fire, and, resting her
hands upon the back of the chair, bent upon them a face radiant with
youthful beauty. Her cheeks were brightly flushed, her eyes were
sparkling with light, her whole countenance resplendent with joyshe
scarcely seemed twenty years of age.
Mother, tell us what it is, pleaded Traverse, who feared for her
Oh, boys, I am so happy! At last! at last! after eighteen years of
patient 'hoping against hope!' I shall go mad with joy!
Mother, said Herbert, softly.
Children, I am not crazy! I know what I am saying, though I did not
intend to say it! And you shall know, too! But first I must ask Herbert
another question: Herbert, are you very sure that heMajor
Warfieldknew who we were?
Yes, indeed; didn't I tell him all about youyour troubles, your
struggles, your disinterestedness and all your history since ever I
knew you? answered Herbert, who was totally unconscious that he had
left Major Warfield in ignorance of one very important facther
Then you are sure he knew who he was talking about?
Of course he did.
He could not have failed to do so, indeed. But, Herbert, did he
mention any other important fact that you have not yet communicated to
Did he allude to any previous acquaintance with us?
No, ma'am, unless it might have been in the words I repeated to
youthere was nothing elseexcept that he bade me hurry to you and
make you glad with his message, and return as soon as possible to let
him know whether you accept his offers.
Accept them! accept them! Of course I do. I have waited for them
for years. Oh, children, you gaze on me as if you thought me mad. I am
not so; nor can I now explain myself, for, since he has not chosen to
be confidential with Herbert, I cannot be so prematurely; but you will
know all when Herbert shall have borne back my message to Major
It was indeed a mad evening in the cottage. And even when the little
family had separated and retired to bed, the two youths, lying together
as formerly, could not sleep for talking, while the widow on her lonely
couch lay awake for joy.
CHAPTER X. THE ROOM OF THE
If you have hitherto concealed this sight,
Let it be tenable, in your silence still;
And whatsoever else doth hap to-night,
Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
Capitola, meanwhile, in the care of the major, arrived at Hurricane
Hall, much to the discomfiture of good Mrs. Condiment, who was quite
unprepared to expect the new inmate; and when Major Warfield said:
Mrs. Condiment, this is your young lady; take her up to the best
bedroom, where she can take off her bonnet and shawl, the worthy dame,
thinking secretly, The old fool has gone and married a young wife,
sure enough; a mere chit of a child, made a very deep curtsy and a
very queer cough and said:
I am mortified, madam, at the fire not being made in the best
bedroom; but, then, I was not warned of your coming, madam.
Madam? Is the old woman crazed? This child is no 'madam.' She is
Miss Black, my ward, the daughter of a deceased friend, sharply
exclaimed Old Hurricane.
Excuse me, miss; I did not know; I was unprepared to receive a
young lady. Shall I attend you, Miss Black? said the old lady, in a
If you please, said Capitola, who arose to follow her.
Not expecting you, miss, I have no proper room prepared; most of
them are not furnished, and in some the chimneys are foul; indeed, the
only tolerable room I can put you in is the room with the trap-doorif
you would not object to it, said Mrs. Condiment, as with a candle in
her hand she preceded Capitola along the gloomy hall and then opened a
door that led into a narrow passage.
A room with a trap-door? That's a curious thing; but why should I
object to it? I don't at all. I think I should rather like it, said
I will show it to you and tell you about it, and then if you like
it, well and good. If not, I shall have to put you in a room that leaks
and has swallows' nests in the chimney, answered Mrs. Condiment, as
she led the way along the narrow passages and up and down dark back
stairs and through bare and deserted rooms and along other passages
until she reached a remote chamber, opened the door and invited her
guest to enter.
It was a large, shadowy room, through which the single candle shed
such a faint, uncertain light that at first Capitola could see nothing
but black masses looming through the darkness.
But when Mrs. Condiment advanced and set the candle upon the
chimney-piece, and Capitola's sight accommodated itself to the scene,
she saw that upon the right of the chimney-piece stood a tall tester
bedstead, curtained with very dark crimson serge; on the left hand,
thick curtains of the same color draped the two windows. Between the
windows, directly opposite the bed, stood a dark mahogany dressing
bureau with a large looking-glass; a washstand in the left-hand corner
of the chimney-piece, and a rocking-chair and two plain chairs
completed the furniture of this room that I am particular in
describing, as upon the simple accident of its arrangement depended,
upon two occasions, the life and honor of its occupant. There was no
carpet on the floor, with the exception of a large, old Turkey rug that
was laid before the fireplace.
Here, my dear, this room is perfectly dry and comfortable, and we
always keep kindlings built up in the fireplace ready to light in case
a guest should come, said Mrs. Condiment, applying a match to the
waste paper under the pine knots and logs that filled the chimney. Soon
there arose a cheerful blaze that lighted up all the room, glowing on
the crimson serge bed curtains and window curtains and flashing upon
the large looking-glass between them.
There, my dear, sit down and make yourself comfortable, said Mrs.
Condiment, drawing up the rocking-chair.
Capitola threw herself into it, and looked around and around the
room, and then into the face of the old lady saying:
But what about the trap-door? I see no trap-door.
Ah, yeslook! said Mrs. Condiment, lifting up the rug and
revealing a large drop, some four feet square, that was kept up in its
place by a short iron bolt.
Now, my dear, take care of yourself, for this bolt slides very
easily, and if, while you happened to be walking across this place, you
were to push the bolt back, the trap-door would drop and you fall
downheaven knows where!
Is there a cellar under there? inquired Capitola, gazing with
interest upon the door.
Lord knows, child; I don't. I did once make one of the nigger men
let it down so I could look in it; but, Lord, child, I saw nothing but
a great, black, deep vacuity, without bottom or sides. It put such a
horror over me that I have never looked down there since, and never
want to, I'm sure.
Ugh! for goodness' sake what was the horrid thing made for?
ejaculated Capitola, gazing as if fascinated by the trap.
The Lord only knows, my dear; for it was made long before ever the
house came into the major's family. But they do say whispered Mrs.
Ah! what do they say? asked Capitola, eagerly, throwing off her
bonnet and shawl and settling herself to hear some thrilling
Mrs. Condiment slowly replaced the rug, drew another chair to the
side of the young girl and said:
They do say it wasa trap for Indians!
A trap for Indians?
Yes, my dear. You must know that this room belongs to the oldest
part of the house. It was all built as far back as the old French and
Indian war; but this room belonged to the part that dates back to the
first settlement of the country.
Then I shall like it better than any room in the house, for I dote
on old places with stories to them. Go on, please.
Yes, my dear. Well, first of all, this place was a part of the
grant of land given to the Le Noirs. And the first owner, old Henri Le
Noir, was said to be one of the grandest villains that ever was heard
of. Well, you see, he lived out here in his hunting lodge, which is
this part of the house.
Oh, my! then this very room was a part of the old pioneer hunter's
Yes, my dear; and they do say that he had this place made as a trap
for the Indians! You see, they say he was on terms of friendship with
the Succapoos, a little tribe of Indians that was nearly wasted away,
though among the few that was left there were several braves. Well, he
wanted to buy a certain large tract of land from this tribe, and they
were all willing to sell it except those half a dozen warriors, who
wanted it for camping ground. So what does this awful villain do but
lay a snare for them. He makes a great feast in his lodge and invites
his red brothers to come to it; and they come. Then he proposes that
they stand upon his blanket and all swear eternal brotherhood, which he
made the poor souls believe was the right way to do it. Then when they
all six stood close together as they could stand, with hands held up
touching above their heads, all of a sudden the black villain sprung
the bolt, the trap fell and the six men went downdown, the Lord knows
Oh! that is horrible! horrible! cried Capitola; but where do you
think they fell to?
I tell you the Lord only knows! They say that it is a bottomless
abyss, with no outlet but one crooked one, miles long, that reaches to
the Demon's Punch Bowl. But if there is a bottom to that abyss, that
bottom is strewn with human bones!
Oh! horrible! most horrible! exclaimed Capitola.
Perhaps you are afraid to sleep here by yourself? If so, there's
the damp room
Oh, no! oh, no! I am not afraid. I have been in too much deadly
peril from the living ever to fear the dead! No, I like the room, with
its strange legend; but tell me, did that human devil escape without
punishment from the tribe of the murdered victims?
Lord, child, how were they to know of what was done? There wasn't a
man left to tell the tale. Besides, the tribe was now brought down to a
few old men, women and children. So, when he showed a bill of sale for
the land he wanted, signed by the six braves'their marks,' in six
blood-red arrows, there was none to contradict him.
How was his villainy found out?
Well, it was said he married, had a family and prospered for a long
while; but that the poor Succapoos always suspected him, and bore a
long grudge, and that when the sons of the murdered warriors grew up to
be powerful braves, one night they set upon the house and massacred the
whole family except the eldest son, a lad of ten, who escaped and ran
away and gave the alarm to the block-house, where there were soldiers
stationed. It is said that after killing and scalping father, mother
and children, the savages threw the dead bodies down that trap-door.
And they had just set fire to the house and were dancing their wild
dance around it, when the soldiers arrived and dispersed the party and
put out the fire.
Oh, what bloody, bloody days!
Yes, my dear, and as I told you before, if that horrible pit has
any bottom, that bottom is strewn with human skeletons!
It is an awful thought
As I said, my dear, if you feel at all afraid you can have another
Afraid! What of? Those skeletons, supposing them to be there,
cannot hurt me! I am not afraid of the dead! I only dread the living,
and not them much, either! said Capitola.
Well, my dear, you will want a waiting-woman, anyhow; and I think I
will send Pitapat to wait on you; she can sleep on a pallet in your
room, and be some company.
And who is Pitapat, Mrs. Condiment?
Pitapat? Lord, child, she is the youngest of the housemaids. I've
called her Pitapat ever since she was a little one beginning to walk,
when she used to steal away from her mother, Dorcas, the cook, and I
would hear her little feet coming pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, up the dark
stairs up to my room. As it was often the only sound to be heard in the
still house, I grew to call my little visitor Pitapat.
Then let me have Pitapat by all means. I like company, especially
company that I can send away when I choose.
Very well, my dear; and now I think you'd better smooth your hair
and come down with me to tea, for it is full time, and the major, as
you may know, is not the most patient of men.
Capitola took a brush from her traveling-bag, hastily arranged her
black ringlets and announced herself ready.
They left the room and traversed the same labyrinth of passages,
stairs, empty rooms and halls back to the dining-room, where a
comfortable fire burned and a substantial supper was spread.
Old Hurricane took Capitola's hand with a hearty grasp, and placed
her in a chair at the side, and then took his own seat at the foot of
Mrs. Condiment sat at the head and poured out the tea.
Uncle, said Capitola, suddenly, what is under the trap-door in my
What! Have they put you in that room? exclaimed the old man,
hastily looking up.
There was no other one prepared, sir, said the housekeeper.
Besides, I like it very well, uncle, said Capitola.
Humph! humph! humph! grunted the old man, only half satisfied.
But, uncle, what is under the trap-door? persisted Capitola;
what's under it?
Oh, I don't knowan old cave that was once used as a dry cellar
until an underground stream broke through and made it too damp, so it
is said. I never explored it.
But, uncle, what about the
Here Mrs. Condiment stretched out her foot and trod upon the toes of
Capitola so sharply that it made her stop short, while she dexterously
changed the conversation by asking the major if he would not send Wool
to Tip-Top in the morning for another bag of coffee.
Soon after supper was over Capitola, saying that she was tired, bade
her uncle good night, and, attended by her little black maid Pitapat,
whom Mrs. Condiment had called up for the purpose, retired to her
distant chamber. There were already collected here three trunks, which
the liberality of her uncle had filled.
As soon as she had got in and locked the door she detached one of
the strongest straps from her largest trunk and then turned up the rug
and secured the end of the strap to the ring in the trap-door. Then she
withdrew the bolt, and, holding on to one end of the strap, gently
lowered the trap, and, kneeling, gazed down into an awful black
voidwithout boundaries, without sight, without sounds, except a deep,
faint, subterranean roaring as of water.
Bring the light, Pitapat, and hold it over this place, and take
care you don't fall in, said Capitola. Come, as I've got a 'pit' in
my name and you've got a 'pit' in yours, we'll see if we can't make
something of this third 'pit.'
Deed, I'se 'fraid, Miss, said the poor little darkey.
Afraid! What of?
Nonsense. I'll agree to lay every ghost you see!
The little maid approached, candle in hand, but in such a gingerly
sort of way, that Capitola seized the light from her hand, and,
stooping, held it down as far as she could reach and gazed once more
into the abyss. But this only made the horrible darkness visible; no
object caught or reflected a single ray of light; all was black,
hollow, void and silent except the faint, deep, distant, roaring as of
Capitola pushed the light as far down as she could possibly reach,
and then, yielding to a strange fascination, dropped it into the abyss!
It went down, down, down, down into the darkness, until far below it
glimmered out of sight. Then with an awful shudder Capitola pulled up
and fastened the trap-door, laid down the rug and said her prayers and
went to bed by the firelight, with little Pitapat sleeping on a pallet.
The last thought of Cap, before falling to sleep, was:
It is awful to go to bed over such a horrible mystery; but I will
be a hero!
CHAPTER XI. A MYSTERY AND A STORM AT
Bid her address her prayers to Heaven!
Learn if she there may be forgiven;
Its mercy may absolve her yet!
But here upon this earth beneath
There is no spot where she and I
Together for an hour could breathe!
Early the next morning Capitola arose, made her toilet and went out
to explore the outer walls of her part of the old house, to discover,
if possible, some external entrance into the unknown cavity under her
room. It was a bright, cheerful, healthy autumnal morning, well adapted
to dispel all clouds of mystery and superstition. Heaps of crimson and
golden-hued leaves, glimmering with hoar frost, lay drifted against the
old walls, and when these were brushed away by the busy hands of the
young girl they revealed nothing but the old moldering foundation; not
a vestige of a cellar-door or window was visible.
Capitola abandoned the fruitless search, and turned to go into the
house. And saying to herself
I'll think no more of it! I dare say, after all, it is nothing but
a very dark cellar without window and with a well, and the story of the
murders and of the skeletons is all moonshine, she ran into the
dining-room and took her seat at the breakfast table.
Old Hurricane was just then storming away at his factotum Wool for
some misdemeanor, the nature of which Capitola did not hear, for upon
her appearance he suffered his wrath to subside in a few reverberating,
low thunders, gave his ward a grumphy Good morning and sat down to
After breakfast Old Hurricane took his great-coat and old cocked hat
and stormed forth upon the plantation to blow up his lazy overseer, Mr.
Will Ezy, and his idle negroes, who had loitered or frolicked away all
the days of their master's absence.
Mrs. Condiment went away to mix a plum pudding for dinner, and Cap
was left alone.
After wandering through the lower rooms of the house the stately,
old-fashioned drawing-room, the family parlor, the dining-room, etc.,
Cap found her way through all the narrow back passages and steep little
staircases back to her own chamber.
The chamber looked quite different by daylightthe cheerful wood
fire burning in the chimney right before her, opposite the door by
which she entered; the crimson draped windows, with the rich, old
mahogany bureau and dressing-glass standing between them on her left;
the polished, dark oak floor; the comfortable rocking chair; the new
work-stand placed there for her use that morning and her own
well-filled trunks standing in the corners, looked altogether too
cheerful to associate with dark thoughts.
Besides, Capitola had not the least particle of gloom, superstition
or marvelousness in her disposition. She loved old houses and old
legends well enough to enjoy them; but was not sufficiently credulous
to believe, or cowardly to fear, them.
She had, besides, a pleasant morning's occupation before her, in
unpacking her three trunks and arranging her wardrobe and her
possessions, which were all upon the most liberal scale, for Major
Warfield at every city where they had stopped had given his poor little
protégée a virtual carte blanche for purchases, having said to
Capitola, I'm an old bachelor; I've not the least idea what a young
girl requires; all I know is, that you have nothing but your clothes,
and must want sewing and knitting needles and brushes and scissors and
combs and boxes and smelling bottles and tooth powder and such. So come
along with me to one of those Vanity Fairs they call fancy stores and
get what you want; I'll foot the bill.
And Capitola, who firmly believed that she had the most sacred of
claims upon Major Warfield, whose resources she also supposed to be
unlimited, did not fail to indulge her taste for rich and costly toys
and supplied herself with a large ivory dressing-case, lined with
velvet and furnished with ivory-handled combs and brushes, silver boxes
and crystal bottles, a papier-mâché work-box, with gold thimble,
needle-case and perforator and gold-mounted scissors and winders; and
an ebony writing-desk, with silver-mounted crystal standishes; each of
theseboxes and deskwas filled with all things requisite in the
several departments. And now as Capitola unpacked them and arranged
them upon the top of her bureau, it was with no small degree of
appreciation. The rest of the forenoon was spent in arranging the best
articles of her wardrobe in her bureau drawers.
Having locked the remainder in her trunks and carefully smoothed her
hair, and dressed herself in a brown merino, she went down-stairs and
sought out Mrs. Condiment, whom she found in the housekeeper's little
room, and to whom she said:
Now, Mrs. Condiment, if uncle has any needlework wanted to be done,
any buttons to be sewed on, or anything of that kind, just let me have
it; I've got a beautiful work-box, and I'm just dying to use it.
My dear Miss Black
Please to call me Capitola, or even Cap. I never was called Miss
Black in my life until I came here, and I don't like it at all!
Well, then, my dear Miss Cap, I wish you would wait till to-morrow,
for I just came in here in a great hurry to get a glass of brandy out
of the cupboard to put in the sauce for the plum-pudding, as dinner
will be on the table in ten minutes.
With a shrug of her little shoulders, Capitola left the
housekeeper's room and hurried through the central front hall and out
at the front door, to look about and breathe the fresh air for a while.
As she stepped upon the front piazza she saw Major Warfield walking
up the steep lawn, followed by Wool, leading a pretty mottled iron-gray
pony, with a side-saddle on his back.
Ah, I'm glad you're down, Cap! Come! look at this pretty pony! he
is good for nothing as a working horse, and is too light to carry my
weight, and so I intend to give him to you! You must learn to ride,
said the old man, coming up the steps.
Give him to me! I learn to ride! Oh, uncle! Oh, uncle! I shall go
perfectly crazy with joy! exclaimed Cap, dancing and clapping her
hands with delight.
Oh, well, a tumble or two in learning will bring you back to your
senses, I reckon!
Oh, uncle! oh, uncle! When shall I begin?
You shall take your first tumble immediately after dinner, when,
being well filled, you will not be so brittle and apt to break in
Oh, uncle! I shall not fall! I feel I shan't! I feel I've a natural
gift for holding on!
Come, come; get in! get in! I want my dinner! said Old Hurricane,
driving his ward in before him to the dining-room, where the dinner was
smoking upon the table.
After dinner Cap, with Wool for a riding-master, took her first
lesson in equestrianism. She had the four great requisites for forming
a good ridera well-adapted figure, a fondness for the exercise,
perfect fearlessness and presence of mind. She was not once in danger
of losing her seat, and during that single afternoon's exercise she
made considerable progress in learning to manage her steed.
Old Hurricane, whom the genial autumn afternoon had tempted out to
smoke his pipe in his armchair on the porch, was a pleased spectator of
her performances, and expressed his opinion that in time she would
become the best rider in the neighborhood, and that she should have the
best riding-dress and cap that could be made at Tip Top.
Just now, in lack of an equestrian dress, poor Cap was parading
around the lawn with her head bare and her hair flying and her merino
skirt exhibiting more ankles than grace.
It was while Old Hurricane still sat smoking his pipe and making his
comments and Capitola still ambled around and around the lawn that a
horseman suddenly appeared galloping as fast as the steep nature of the
ground would admit up toward the house, and before they could form an
idea who he was the horse was at the block, and the rider dismounted
and standing before Major Warfield.
Why, Herbert, my boy, back so soon? We didn't expect you for a week
to come. This is sudden, indeed! So much the better! so much the
better! Glad to see you, lad! exclaimed Old Hurricane, getting up and
heartily shaking the hand of his nephew.
Capitola came ambling up, and in the effort to spring nimbly from
her saddle tumbled off, much to the delight of Wool, who grinned from
ear to ear, and of Old Hurricane, who, with an I said so, burst into
a roar of laughter.
Herbert Greyson sprang to assist her; but before he reached the spot
Cap had picked herself up, straightened her disordered dress, and now
she ran to meet and shake hands with him.
There was such a sparkle of joy and glow of affection in the meeting
between these two that Old Hurricane, who saw it, suddenly hushed his
laugh and grunted to himself:
Humph! humph! humph! I like that; that's better than I could have
planned myself; let that go on, and then, Gabe Le Noir, we'll see under
what name and head the old divided manor will be held!
Before his mental soliloquy was concluded, Herbert and Capitola came
up to him. He welcomed Herbert again with great cordiality, and then
called to his man to put up the horses, and bade the young people to
follow him into the house, as the air was getting chilly.
And how did you find your good friends, lad? inquired Old
Hurricane, when they had reached the sitting parlor.
Oh, very well, sir! and very grateful for your offered kindness;
and, indeed, so anxious to express their gratitudethatthat I
shortened my visit and came away immediately to tell you.
Right, lad, right! You come by the down coach?
Yes, sir, and got off at Tip Top, where I hired a horse to bring me
here. I must ask you to let one of your men take him back to Mr. Merry
at the Antler's Inn to-morrow.
Surely, surely, lad! Wool shall do it!
And so, Herbert, the poor woman was delighted at the prospect of
better times? said Old Hurricane, with a little glow of benevolent
Oh, yes, sir; delighted beyond all measure!
Poor thing! poor thing! See, young folks, how easy it is for the
wealthy, by sparing a little of their superfluous means, to make the
poor and virtuous happy! And the boy, Herbert, the boy?
Oh, sir! delighted for himself, but still more delighted for his
mother; for her joy was such as to astonish and even alarm me! Before
that I had thought Marah Rocke a proud woman, but
What!say that again! exclaimed Major Warfield. I say that I
thought she was a proud woman, but
Thought who was a proud woman, sir? roared Old Hurricane.
Marah Rocke! replied the young man, with wonder.
Major Warfield started up, seized the chair upon which he had sat
and struck it upon the ground with such force as to shatter it to
pieces; then turning, he strode up and down the floor with such
violence that the two young people gazed after him in consternation and
fearful expectancy. Presently he turned suddenly, strode up to Herbert
Greyson and stood before him.
His face was purple, his veins swollen and they stood out upon his
forehead like cords, his eyes were protruded and glaring, his mouth
clenched until the grizzly gray mustache and beard were drawn in, his
whole huge frame was quivering from head to foot. It was impossible to
tell what passionwhether rage, grief or shamethe most possessed
him, for all three seemed tearing his giant frame to pieces.
For an instant he stood speechless, and Herbert feared that he would
fall into a fit; but the old giant was too strong for that! For one
short moment he stood thus, and in a terrible voice he asked:
Young man, did youdid you knowthe shame that you dashed into my
face with the name of that woman?
Sir, I know nothing but that she is the best and dearest of her
sex! exclaimed Herbert, beyond all measure amazed at what he heard and
Best and dearest! thundered the old man. Oh, idiot; is she still
a siren, and are you a dupe? But that cannot be! No, sir! it is I whom
you both would dupe! Ah, I see it all now! This is why you artfully
concealed her name from me until you had won my promise! It shall not
serve either you or her, sir! I break my promise thus! bending and
snapping his own cane and flinging the fragments behind his back.
There, sir! when you can make those ends of dry cedar grow together
again and bear green leaves, you may hope to reconcile Ira Warfield and
Marah Rocke! I break my promise, sir, as she broke
The old man suddenly sank back into the nearest chair, dropped his
shaggy head and face into his hands and remained trembling from head to
foot, while the convulsive heaving of his chest and the rising and
falling of his huge shoulders betrayed that his heart was nearly
bursting with such suppressed sobs as only can be forced from manhood
by the fiercest anguish.
The young people looked on in wonder, awe and pity; and then their
eyes metthose of Herbert silently inquired:
What can all this mean? Those of Capitola mutely answered:
Heaven only knows!
In his deep pity for the old man's terrible anguish, Herbert could
feel no shame or resentment for the false accusation made upon himself.
Indeed, his noble and candid nature easily explained all as the ravings
of some heartrending remembrance. Waiting, therefore, until the violent
convulsions of the old man's frame had somewhat subsided, Herbert went
to him, and with a low and respectful inflection of voice, said:
Uncle, if you think that there was any collusion between myself and
Mrs. Rocke you wrong us both. You will remember that when I met you in
New York I had not seen or heard from her for years, nor had I then any
expectation of ever seeing you. The subject of the poor widow came up
between us accidentally, and if it is true that I omitted to call her
by name it must have been because we both then felt too tenderly by her
to call her anything else but 'the poor widow, the poor mother, the
good woman,' and so onand all this she is still.
The old man, without raising his head, held out one hand to his
nephew, saying in a voice still trembling with emotion:
Herbert, I wronged you; forgive me.
Herbert took and pressed that rugged and hairy old hand to his lips,
Uncle, I do not in the least know what is the cause of your present
Emotion! Demmy, sir, what do you mean by emotion? Am I a man to
give way to emotion? Demmy, sir, mind what you say! roared the old
lion, getting up and shaking himself free of all weaknesses.
I merely meant to say, sir, that if I could possibly be of any
service to you I am entirely at your orders.
Then go back to that woman and tell her never to dare to utter, or
even to think of, my name again, if she values her life!
Sir, you do not mean it! and as for Mrs. Rocke, she is a good woman
I feel it my duty to uphold!
Good! ugh! ugh! ugh! I'll command myself! I'll not give way again!
Good! ah, lad, it is quite plain to me now that you are an innocent
dupe. Tell me now, for instance, do you know anything of that woman's
life before she came to reside at Staunton?
Nothing; but from what I've seen of her since I'm sure she always
Did she never mention her former life at all?
Never; but, mind, I hold to my faith in her, and would stake my
salvation on her integrity, said Herbert, warmly.
Then you'd lose it, lad, that's all; but I have an explanation to
make to you, Herbert. You must give me a minute or two of your company
alone, in the library, before tea.
And so saying, Major Warfield arose and led the way across the hall
to the library, that was immediately back of the back drawing-room.
Throwing himself into a leathern chair beside the writing-table, he
motioned for his companion to take the one on the opposite side. A low
fire smoldering on the hearth before them so dimly lighted the room
that the young man arose again to pull the bell rope; but the other
No, you need not ring for lights, Herbert! my story is one that
should be told in the dark. Listen, lad; but drop your eyes the while.
I am all attention, sir!
Herbert, the poet says that
'At thirty man suspects himself a fool,
Knows it at forty and reforms his rule.'
But, boy, at the ripe age of forty-five, I succeeded in achieving
the most sublime folly of my life. I should have taken a degree in
madness and been raised to a professor's chair in some college of
lunacy! Herbert, at the age of forty-five I fell in love with and
married a girl of sixteen out of a log cabin! merely, forsooth, because
she had a pearly skin like the leaf of the white japonica, soft gray
eyes like a timid fawn's and a voice like a cooing turtle dove's!
because those delicate cheeks flushed and those soft eyes fell when I
spoke to her, and the cooing voice trembled when she replied! because
the delicate face brightened when I came and faded when I turned away!
'She wept with delight when I gave her a smile,
And trembled with fear at my frown,' etc.;
because she adored me as a sort of god, I loved her as an angel and
married hermarried her secretly, for fear of the ridicule of my
brother officers, put her in a pastoral log cabin in the woods below
the block-house and visited her there by stealth, like Numa did his
nymph in the cave. But I was watched; my hidden treasure was discovered
and coveted by a younger and prettier follow than myself. Perdition! I
cannot tell this story in detail! One night I came home very late and
quite unexpectedly and foundthis man in my wife's cabin! I broke the
man's head and ribs and left him for dead. I tore the woman out of my
heart and cauterized its bleeding wounds. This man was Gabriel Le Noir!
Satan burn him forever! This woman was Marah Rocke, God forgive her! I
could have divorced the woman, but as I did not dream of ever marrying
again, I did not care to drag my shame before a public tribunal. There!
You know all! Let the subject sink forever! said Old Hurricane, wiping
great drops of sweat from his laboring brows.
Uncle, I have heard your story and believe you, of course. But I am
bound to tell you that without even having heard your poor wife's
defense, I believe and uphold her to be innocent! I think you have been
as grossly deceived as she has been fearfully wronged and that time and
Providence will prove this! exclaimed Herbert, fervently.
A horrible laugh of scorn was his only answer as Old Hurricane
arose, shook himself and led the way back to the parlor.
CHAPTER XII. MARAH'S DREAM.
And now her narrow kitchen walls
Stretched away into stately halls;
The weary wheel to a spinnet turned,
The tallow candle an astral burned;
A manly form at her side she saw,
And joy was duty and love was law.
On the same Saturday morning that Herbert Greyson hurried away from
his friend's cottage, to travel post to Hurricane Hall, for the sole
purpose of accelerating the coming of her good fortune, Marah Rocke
walked about the house with a step so light, with eyes so bright and
cheeks so blooming, that one might have thought that years had rolled
backward in their course and made her a young girl again.
Traverse gazed upon her in delight. Reversing the words of the text,
We must call you no longer Marah (which is bitter), but we must
call you Naomi (which is beautiful), mother!
Young flatterer! she answered, smiling and slightly flushing. But
tell me truly, Traverse, am I very much faded? Have care and toil and
grief made me look old?
You old? exclaimed the boy, running his eyes over her beaming face
and graceful form with a look of non-comprehension that might have
satisfied her, but did not, for she immediately repeated:
Yes; do I look old? Indeed I do not ask from vanity, child? Ah, it
little becomes me to be vain; but I do wish to look well in some one's
I wish there was a looking-glass in the house, mother, that it
might tell you; you should be called Naomi instead of Marah.
Ah! that is just what he used to say to me in the old, happy
timethe time in Paradise, before the serpent entered!
What 'he,' mother?
Your father, boy, of course.
That was the first time she had ever mentioned his father to her
son, and now she spoke of him with such a flush of joy and hope that
even while her words referred darkly to the past, her eyes looked
brightly to the future. All this, taken with the events of the
preceding evening, greatly bewildered the mind of Traverse and agitated
him with the wildest conjectures.
Mother, will you tell me about my father, and also what it is
beyond this promised kindness of Major Warfield that has made you so
happy? he asked.
Not now, my boy; dear boy, not now. I must notI cannotI dare
not yet! Wait a few days and you shall know all. Oh, it is hard to keep
a secret from my boy! but then it is not only my secret, but another's!
You do not think hard of me for withholding it now, do you, Traverse?
she asked, affectionately.
No, dear mother, of course I don't. I know you must be right, and I
am glad to see you happy.
Happy! Oh, boy, you don't know how happy I am! I did not think any
human being could ever feel so joyful in this erring world, much less
me! One cause of this excess of joyful feeling must be from the
contrast; else it were dreadful to be so happy.
Mother, I don't know what you mean, said Traverse uneasily, for he
was too young to understand these paradoxes of feeling and thought, and
there were moments when he feared for his mother's reason.
Oh, Traverse, think of it! eighteen long, long years of
estrangement, sorrow and dreadful suspense! eighteen long, long, weary
years of patience against anger and loving against hatred and hoping
against despair! your young mind cannot grasp it! your very life is not
so long! I was seventeen then; I am thirty-five now. And after wasting
all my young years of womanhood in loving, hoping, longinglo! the
light of life has dawned at last!
God save you, mother! said the boy, fervently, for her wild,
unnatural joy continued to augment his anxiety.
Ah, Traverse, I dare not tell you the secret now, and yet I am
always letting it out, because my heart overflows from its fulness. Ah,
boy! many, many weary nights have I lain awake from grief; but last
night I lay awake from joy! Think of it!
The boy's only reply to this was a deep sigh. He was becoming
seriously alarmed. I never saw her so excited! I wish she would get
calm, was his secret thought. Then, with the design of changing the
current of her ideas, he took off his coat and said:
Mother, my pocket is half torn out, and though there's no danger of
my losing a great deal out of it, still I'll get you, please, to sew it
in while I mend the fence!
Sew the pocket! mend the fence! Well! smiled Mrs. Rocke; we'll do
so if it will amuse you. The mended fence will be a convenience to the
next tenant, and the patched coat will do for some poor boy. Ah,
Traverse, we must be very good to the poor, in more ways than in giving
them what we do not ourselves need, for we shall know what it is to
have been poor, she concluded, in more serious tones than she had yet
Traverse was glad of this, and went out to his work feeling somewhat
The delirium of happiness lasted intermittently a whole week, during
the last three days of which Mrs. Rocke was constantly going to the
door and looking up the road, as if expecting some one. The mail came
from Tip-Top to Staunton only once a weekon Saturday mornings.
Therefore, when Saturday came again, she sent her son to the
If they do not come to-day they will surely write.
Traverse hastened with all his speed, and got there so soon that he
had to wait for the mail to be opened.
Meanwhile, at home the widow walked the floor in restless, joyous
anticipation, or went to the door and strained her eyes up the road to
watch for Traverse, and perhaps for some one else's coming. At last she
discerned her son, who came down the road walking rapidly, smiling
triumphantly and holding a letter up to view.
She ran out of the gate to meet him, seized and kissed the letter,
and then, with her face burning, her heart palpitating and her fingers
trembling, she hastened into the house, threw herself into the little
low chair by the fire and opened the letter. It was from Herbert, and
Hurricane Hall, Nov. 30th, 1843.
My Dearest and Best Mrs. RockeMay God strengthen you to read
few bitter lines I have to write. Most unhappily, Major
did not know exactly who you were when he promised so much.
learning your name he withdrew all his promises. At night, in
library, he told me all your early history. Having heard all,
very worst, I believe you as pure as an angel. So I told him!
would uphold with my life and seal with my death! Trust yet in
and believe in the earnest respect and affection of your
and attached son,
P.S.For henceforth I shall call you mother.
Quietly she finished reading, pressed the letter again to her lips,
reached it to the fire, saw it like her hopes shrivel up to ashes, and
then she arose, and with her trembling fingers clinging together,
walked up and down the floor.
There were no tears in her eyes, but, oh! such a look of unutterable
woe on her pale, blank, despairing face!
Traverse watched her and saw that something had gone frightfully
wrong; that some awful revolution of fate or revulsion of feeling had
passed over her in this dread hour!
Cautiously he approached her, gently he laid his hand upon her
shoulder, tenderly he whispered:
She turned and looked strangely at him, then exclaiming:
Oh, Traverse, how happy I was this day week! She burst into a
flood of tears.
Traverse threw his arm around his mother's waist and half coaxed and
half bore her to her low chair and sat her in it and knelt by her side
and, embracing her fondly, whispered:
Mother, don't weep so bitterly! You have me; am I nothing? Mother,
I love you more than son ever loved his mother, or suitor his
sweetheart, or husband his wife! Oh! is my love nothing, mother?
Only sobs answered him.
Mother, he pleaded, you are all the world to me; let me be all
the world to you! I can be it, mother; I can be it; try me! I will make
every effort for my mother, and the Lord will bless us!
Still no answer but convulsive sobs.
Oh, mother, mother! I will try to do for you more than ever son did
for mother or man for woman before! Dear mother, if you will not break
my heart by weeping so!
The sobbing abated a little, partly from exhaustion and partly from
the soothing influences of the boy's loving words.
Listen, dear mother, what I will do! In the olden times of
chivalry, young knights bound themselves by sacred vows to the service
of some lady, and labored long and perilously in her honor. For her,
blood was spilled; for her, fields were won; but, mother, never yet
toiled knight in the battlefield for his lady-love as I will in the
battle of life for my dearest ladymy own mother!
She reached out her hand and silently pressed his.
Come, come, said Traverse; lift up your head and smile! We are
young yetboth you and I! for, after all, you are not much older than
your son; and we two will journey up and down the hills of life
togetherall in all to each other; and when at last we are old, as we
shall be when you are seventy-seven and I am sixty, we will leave all
our fortune that we shall have made to found a home for widows and
orphans, as we were, and we will pass out and go to heaven together.
Now, indeed, this poor, modern Hagar looked up and smiled at the
oddity of her Ishmael's far-reaching thought.
In that poor household grief might not be indulged. Marah Rocke took
down her work-basket and sat down to finish a lot of shirts, and
Traverse went out with his horse and saw to look for a job at cutting
wood for twenty-five cents a cord. Small beginnings of the fortune that
was to found and endow asylums! but many a fortune has been commenced
Marah Rocke had managed to dismiss her boy with a smile, but that
was the last effort of nature; as soon as he was gone and she found
herself alone, tear after tear welled up in her eyes and rolled down
her pale cheeks; sigh after sigh heaved her bosom.
Ah! the transitory joy of the past week had been but the lightning's
arrowy course scathing where it illumined!
She felt as if this last blow that had struck her down from the
height of hope to the depth of despair had broken her heart, as if the
power of reaction was gone, and she mourned as one who would not be
While she sat thus the door opened, and before she was aware of his
presence, Herbert Greyson entered the room and came softly to her side.
Ere she could speak to him he dropped upon one knee at her feet and
bowed his young head lowly over the hand that he took and pressed to
his lips. Then he arose and stood before her. This was not unnatural or
exaggerated; it was his way of expressing the reverential sympathy and
compassion he felt for her strange, life-long martyrdom.
Herbert, you here? Why, we only got your letter this morning, she
said, in tones of gentle inquiry, as she arose and placed a chair for
Yes, I could not bear to stay away from you at such a time; I came
up in the same mail-coach that brought my letter; but I kept myself out
of Traverse's sight, for I could not bear to intrude upon you in the
first hour of your disappointment, said Herbert, in a broken voice.
Oh, that need not have kept you away, dear boy! I did not cry much;
I am used to trouble, you know; I shall get over this alsoafter a
little whileand things will go on in the old way, said Marah Rocke,
struggling to repress the rising emotion that, however, overcame her,
for, dropping her head upon her sailor boy's shoulder, she burst into
a flood of tears and wept plenteously.
Dear mother, be comforted! he said; dear mother, be comforted!
CHAPTER XIII. MARAH'S MEMORIES.
In the shade of the apple-tree again
She saw a rider draw his rein,
And gazing down with a timid grace,
She felt his pleased eyes read her face.
Dear Marah, I cannot understand your strong attachment to that
bronzed and grizzled old man, who has, besides, treated you so
barbarously, said Herbert.
Is he bronzed and gray? asked Marah, looking up with gentle pity
in her eyes and tone.
Why, of course he is. He is sixty-two.
He was forty-five when I first knew him, and he was very handsome
then. At least, I thought him the very perfection of manly strength and
beauty and goodness. True, it was the mature, warm beauty of the Indian
summer, for he was more than middle-aged; but it was very genial to the
chilly, loveless morning of my own early life, said Marah, dropping
her head upon her hand and sliding into reminiscences of the past.
Dear Marah, I wish you would tell me all about your marriage and
misfortunes, said Herbert, in a tone of the deepest sympathy and
Yes, he was very handsome, continued Mrs. Rocke, speaking more to
herself than to her companion; his form was tall, full and stately;
his complexion warm, rich and glowing; his fine face was lighted up by
a pair of strong, dark-gray eyes, full of fire and tenderness, and was
surrounded by waving masses of jet-black hair and whiskers; they are
gray now, you say, Herbert?
Gray and grizzled, and bristling up around his hard face like
thorn-bushes around a rock in winter! said Herbert, bluntly, for it
enraged his honest but inexperienced boyish heart to hear this wronged
woman speak so enthusiastically.
Ah! it is winter with him now; but then it was glorious Indian
summer! He was a handsome, strong and ardent man. I was a young,
slight, pale girl, with no beauty but the cold and colorless beauty of
a statue; with no learning but such as I had picked up from a country
school; with no love to bless my lonely lifefor I was a friendless
orphan, without either parents or relatives, and living by sufferance
in a cold and loveless home.
Poor girl! murmured Herbert, in almost inaudible tones.
Our log cabin stood beside the military road leading through the
wilderness to the fort where he was stationed. And, oh! when he came
riding by each day upon his noble, coal-black steed and in his martial
uniform, looking so vigorous, handsome and kingly, he seemed to me
almost a god to worship! Sometimes he drew rein in front of the old oak
tree that stood in front of our cabin to breathe his horse or to ask
for a draught of water. I used to bring it to him. Oh! then, when he
looked at me, his eyes seemed to send new warmth to my chilled heart;
when he spoke, too, his tones seemed to strengthen me; while he stayed
his presence seemed to protect me!
Aye, such protection as vultures give to dovescovering and
devouring them, muttered Herbert to himself. Mrs. Rocke, too absorbed
in her reminiscences to heed his interruptions, continued:
One day he asked me to be his wife. I do not know what I answered.
I only know that when I understood what he meant, my heart trembled
with instinctive terror at its own excessive joy! We were privately
married by the chaplain at the fort. There were no accommodations for
the wives of officers there. And, besides, my husband did not wish to
announce our marriage until he was ready to take me to his princely
mansion in Virginia.
Humph! grunted Herbert inwardly, for comment.
But he built for me a pretty cabin in the woods below the fort,
furnished it simply and hired a half-breed Indian woman to wait on me.
Oh, I was too happy! To my wintry spring of life summer had come, warm,
rich and beautiful! There is a clause in the marriage service which
enjoins the husband to cherish his wife. I do not believe many people
ever stop to think how much is in that word. He did; he cherished my
little, thin, chill, feeble life until I became strong, warm and
healthful. Oh! even as the blessed sun warms and animates and glorifies
the earth, causing it to brighten with life and blossom with flowers
and bloom with fruit, so did my husband enrich and cherish and bless my
life! Such happiness could not and it did not last!
Of course not! muttered Herbert to himself.
At first the fault was in myself. Yes, Herbert it was! you need not
look incredulous or hope to cast all the blame on him! Listen: Happy,
grateful, adoring as I was, I was also shy, timid and bashfulnever
proving the deep love I bore my husband except by the most perfect
self-abandonment to his will. All this deep, though quiet, devotion he
understood as mere passive obedience void of love. As this continued he
grew uneasy, and often asked me if I cared for him at all, or if it
were possible for a young girl like me to love an old man like
A very natural question, thought Herbert.
Well, I used to whisper in answer, 'Yes,' and still 'Yes.' But this
never satisfied Major Warfield. One day, when he asked me if I cared
for him the least in the world, I suddenly answered that if he were to
die I should throw myself across his grave and lie there until death
should release me! whereupon he broke into a loud laugh, saying,
'Methinks the lady doth protest too much.' I was already blushing
deeply at the unwonted vehemence of my own words, although I had spoken
only as I feltthe very, very truth. But his laugh and his test so
increased my confusion that, in fine, that was the first and last time
I ever did protest! Like Lear's Cordelia, I was tongue-tiedI had no
words to assure him. Sometimes I wept to think how poor I was in
resources to make him happy. Then came another annoyancemy name and
fame were freely discussed at the fort.
A natural consequence, sighed Herbert.
The younger officers discovered my woodland home, and often stole
out to reconnoitre my calm. Among them was Captain Le Noir, who, after
he had discovered my retreat, picked acquaintance with Lura, my
attendant. Making the woodland sports his pretext, he haunted the
vicinity of my cabin, often stopping at the door to beg a cup of water,
which, of course, was never denied, or else to offer a bunch of
partridges or a brace of rabbits or some other game, the sports of his
gun, which equally, of course, was never accepted. One beautiful
morning in June, finding my cabin door open and myself alone, he
ventured unbidden across my threshold, and by his free conversation and
bold admiration offended and alarmed me. Some days afterward, in the
mess-room at the fort, being elevated by wine, he boasted among his
messmates of the intimate terms of friendly acquaintance upon which he
falsely asserted that he had the pleasure of standing with 'Warfield's
pretty little favorite,' as he insolently called me. When my husband
heard of this I learned for the first time the terrific violence of his
temper. It was awful! it frightened me almost to death. There was a
duel, of course. Le Noir was very dangerously wounded, scarred across
the face for life, and was confined many weeks to his bed. Major
Warfield was also slightly hurt and laid up at the fort for a few days,
during which I was not permitted to see him.
Is it possible that even then he did not see your danger and
acknowledge your marriage and call you to his bedside? inquired
No, no! if he had all after suffering had been spared. No! at the
end of four days he came back to me; but we met only for bitter
reproaches on his part and sorrowful tears on mine. He charged me with
coldness, upon account of the disparity in our years, and of the
preference for Captain Le Noir, because he was a pretty fellow, I knew
this was not true of me. I knew that I loved my husband's very
footprints better than I did the whole human race besides; but I could
not tell him so then. Oh, in those days, though my heart was so full, I
had so little power of utterance! There he stood before me! he that had
been so ruddy and buoyant, now so pale from loss of blood, and so
miserable, that I could have fallen and groveled at his feet in sorrow
and remorse at not being able to make him happy!
There are some persons whom we can never make happy. It is not in
them to be so, commented Herbert.
He made me promise never to see or to speak to Le Noir againa
promise eagerly given but nearly impossible to keep. My husband spent
as much time with me as he possibly could spare from his military
duties, and looked forward with impatience to the autumn, when it was
thought that he would be at liberty to take me home. He often used to
tell me that we should spend our Christmas at his house, Hurricane
Hall, and that I should play Lady Bountiful and distribute Christmas
gifts to the negroes and that they would love me. And, oh! with what
joy I anticipated that time of honor and safety and careless ease, as
an acknowledged wife, in the home of my husband! There, too, I fondly
believed, our child would be born. All his old tenderness returned for
me, and I was as happy, if not as wildly joyful, as at first.
'Twas but a lull in the storm, said Herbert.
Aye! 'twas but a lull in the storm, or, rather, before the storm! I
do think that from the time of that duel Le Noir had resolved upon our
ruin. As soon as he was able to go out he haunted the woods around my
cabin and continually lay in wait for me. I could not go out even in
the company of my maid Lura to pick blackberries or wild plums or
gather forest roses, or to get fresh water at the spring, without being
intercepted by Le Noir and his offensive admiration. He seemed to be
ubiquitous! He met me everywhereexcept in the presence of Major
Warfield. I did not tell my husband, because I feared that if I did he
would have killed Le Noir and died for the deed.
Humph! it would have been 'good riddance of bad rubbish' in both
cases, muttered Herbert, under his teeth.
But instead of telling him I confined myself strictly to my cabin.
One fatal day my husband, on leaving me in the morning, said that I
need not wait up for him at night, for that it would be very late when
he came, even if he came at all. He kissed me very fondly when he went
away. Alas! alas! it was the lastlast time! At night I went to bed
disappointed, yet still so expectant that I could not sleep. I know not
how long I had waited thus, or how late it was when I heard a tap at
the outer door, and heard the bolt undrawn and a footstep enter and a
low voice asking:
Is she asleep? and Lura's reply in the affirmative. Never doubting
it was my husband, I lay there in pleased expectation of his entrance.
He came in and began to take off his coat in the dark. I spoke, telling
him that there were matches on the bureau. He did not reply, at which I
was surprised; but before I could repeat my words the outer door was
burst violently open, hurried footsteps crossed the entry, a light
flashed into my room, my husband stood in the door in full military
uniform, with a light in his hand and the aspect of an avenging demon
on his brow, and
Horror upon horrors! the half-undressed man in my chamber was
Captain Le Noir! I saw and swooned away!
But you were saved! you were saved! gasped Herbert, white with
Oh, I was saved, but not from sorrownot from shame! I awoke from
that deadly swoon to find myself alone, deserted, cast away! Oh, torn
out from the warmth and light and safety of my husband's heart, and
hurled forth shivering, faint and helpless upon the bleak world! and
all this in twenty-four hours. Ah, I did not lack the power of
expression then! happiness had never given it to me! anguish conferred
it upon me; that one fell stroke of fate cleft the rock of silence in
my soul, and the fountain of utterance gushed freely forth! I wrote to
him, but my letters might as well have been dropped into a well. I went
to him, but was spurned away. I prayed him with tears to have pity on
our unborn babe; but he laughed aloud in scorn and called it by an
opprobrious name! Letters, prayers, tears, were all in vain. He never
had acknowledged our marriage; he now declared that he never would do
so; he discarded me, disowned my child and forbade us ever to take his
Oh, Marah! and you but seventeen years of age! without a father or
a brother or a friend in the world to employ an advocate! exclaimed
Herbert, covering his face with his hands and sinking back.
Nor would I have used any of these agencies had I possessed them!
If my wifehood and motherhood, my affections and my helplessness were
not advocates strong enough to win my cause, I could not have borne to
Oh, Marah, with none to pity or to help; it was monstrous to have
abandoned you so!
No; hush! consider the overwhelming evidence against me; I
considered it even in the tempest and whirlwind of my anguish, and
never once blamed and never once was angry with my husband; for I
knewnot life, but the terrible circumstantial evidence had ruined
Ay, but did you not explain it to him?
How could I, alas! when I did not understand it myself? How Le Noir
knew that Major Warfield was not expected home that fatal nighthow he
got into my house, whether by conspiring with my little maid or by
deceiving heror, lastly, how Major Warfield came to burst in upon him
so suddenly, I did not know, and do not to this day.
But you told Major Warfield all that you have told me?
Oh, yes! again and again, calling heaven to witness my truth! In
vain! he had seen with his own eyes, he said. Against all I could say
or do there was built up a wall of scornful incredulity, on which I
might have dashed my brains out to no purpose.
Oh, Marah, Marah! with none to pity or to save! again exclaimed
Yes, said the meek creature, bowing her head; God pitied and
helped me! First he sent me a son that grew strong and handsome in
body, good and wise in soul. Then He kept alive in my heart faith and
hope and charity. He enabled me, through long years of unremitting and
ill-requited toil, to live on, loving against anger, waiting against
time, and hoping against despair!
Why did you leave your western home and come to Staunton, Marah?
To be where I could sometimes hear of my husband without intruding
on him. I took your widowed mother in, because she was his sister,
though I never told her who I was, lest she should wrong and scorn me,
as he had done. When she died I cherished you, Herbert, first because
you were his nephew, but now, dear boy, for your own sake also.
And I, while I live, will be a son to you, madam! I will be your
constant friend at Hurricane Hall. He talks of making me his heir.
Should he persist in such blind injustice, the day I come into the
property I shall turn it all over to his widow and son. But I do not
believe that he will persist; I, for my part, still hope for the best.
I also hope for the best, for whatever God wills is sure to happen,
and His will is surely the best! Yes, Herbert, I also hopebeyond the
grave! said Marah Rocke, with a wan smile.
The little clock that stood between the tall, plated candlesticks on
the mantelpiece struck twelve, and Marah rose from her seat, saying:
Traverse, poor fellow, will be home to his dinner. Not a word to
him, Herbert, please! I do not wish the poor lad to know how much he
has lost, and above all, I do not wish him to be prejudiced against his
You are right, Marah, said Herbert, for if he were told, the
natural indignation that your wrongs would arouse in his heart would
totally unfit him to meet his father in a proper spirit in that event
for which I still hopea future and a perfect family union!
* * * * *
Herbert Greyson remained a week with his friends, during which time
he paid the quarter's rent, and relieved his adopted mother of that
cause of anxiety. Then he took leave and departed for Hurricane Hall,
on his way to Washington City, where he was immediately going to pass
his examination and await his appointment.
CHAPTER XIV. THE WASTING HEART.
Then she took up the burden of life again
Saying only, It might have been.
Alas for them both, alas for us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
For of all sad words of lips, or pen,
The saddest are theseIt might have been.
By the tacit consent of all parties, the meteor hope that had
crossed and vanished from Marah Rocke's path of life was never
mentioned again. Mother and son went about their separate tasks.
Traverse worked at jobs all day, studied at night and went twice a week
to recite his lessons to his patron, Doctor Day, at Willow Hill. Marah
sewed as usual all day, and prepared her boy's meals at the proper
times. But day by day her cheeks grew paler, her form thinner, her step
fainter. Her son saw this decline with great alarm. Sometimes he found
her in a deep, troubled reverie, from which she would awaken with heavy
sighs. Sometimes he surprised her in tears. At such times he did not
trouble her with questions that he instinctively felt she could not or
would not answer; but he came gently to her side, put his arms about
her neck, stooped and laid her face against his breast and whispered
assurances of his true love and his boyish hopes of getting on, of
making a fortune and bringing brighter days for her.
And she would return his caresses, and with a faint smile reply that
he must not mind her, that she was only a little low-spirited, that
she would get over it soon.
But as day followed day, she grew visibly thinner and weaker; dark
shadows settled under her hollow eyes and in her sunken cheeks. One
evening, while standing at the table washing up their little tea
service, she suddenly dropped into her chair and fainted. Nothing could
exceed the alarm and distress of poor Traverse. He hastened to fix her
in an easy position, bathed her face in vinegar and water, the only
restoratives in their meager stock, and called upon her by every loving
epithet to live and speak to him. The fit yielded to his efforts, and
presently, with a few fluttering inspirations, her breath returned and
her eyes opened. Her very first words were attempts to reassure her
dismayed boy. But Traverse could no more be flattered. He entreated his
mother to go at once to bed. And though the next morning, when she
arose, she looked not worse than usual, Traverse left home with a heart
full of trouble. But instead of turning down the street to go to his
work in the town he turned up the street toward the wooded hills
beyond, now glowing in their gorgeous autumn foliage and burning in the
brilliant morning sun.
A half-hour's walk brought him to a high and thickly wooded hill, up
which a private road led through a thicket of trees to a handsome
graystone country seat, situated in the midst of beautifully ornamented
grounds and known as Willow Heights, the residence of Dr. William Day,
a retired physician of great repute, and a man of earnest piety. He was
a widower with one fair daughter, Clara, a girl of fourteen, then
absent at boarding-school. Traverse had never seen this girl, but his
one great admiration was the beautiful Willow Heights and its worthy
proprietor. He opened the highly ornate iron gate and entered up an
avenue of willows that led up to the house, a two-storied edifice of
graystone, with full-length front piazzas above and below.
Arrived at the door he rang the bell, which was answered promptly by
a good-humored-looking negro boy, who at once showed Traverse to the
library up-stairs, where the good doctor sat at his books. Dr. Day was
at this time about fifty years of age, tall and stoutly built, with a
fine head and face, shaded by soft, bright flaxen hair and beard:
thoughtful and kindly dark-blue eyes, and an earnest, penetrating smile
that reached like sunshine the heart of any one upon whom it shone. He
wore a cheerful-looking flowered chintz dressing-gown corded around his
waist; his feet were thrust into embroidered slippers, and he sat in
his elbow-chair at his reading-table poring over a huge folio volume.
The whole aspect of the man and of his surroundings was kindly
cheerfulness. The room opened upon the upper front piazza, and the
windows were all up to admit the bright, morning sun and genial air, at
the same time that there was a glowing fire in the grate to temper its
chilliness. Traverse's soft step across the carpeted floor was not
heard by the doctor, who was only made aware of his presence by his
stepping between the sunshine and his table. Then the doctor arose, and
with his intense smile extended his hand and greeted the boy with:
Well, Traverse, lad, you are always welcome! I did not expect you
until night, as usual, but as you are here, so much the better. Got
your exercises all ready, eh? Heaven bless you, lad, what is the
matter? inquired the good man, suddenly, on first observing the boy's
deeply troubled looks.
My mother sir! my mother! was all that Traverse could at first
Your mother! My dear lad, what about her? Is she ill? inquired the
doctor, with interest.
Oh, sir, I am afraid she is going to die? exclaimed the boy in a
choking voice, struggling hard to keep from betraying his manhood by
bursting into tears.
Going to die! Oh, pooh, pooh, pooh! she is not going to die, lad.
Tell me all about it, said the doctor in an encouraging tone.
She has had so much grief and care and anxiety, sirdoctor, is
there any such malady as a broken heart?
Broken heart? Pooh, pooh! no, my child, no! never heard of such a
thing in thirty years' medical experience! Even that story of a porter
who broke his heart trying to lift a ton of stone is all a fiction. No
such a disease as a broken heart. But tell me about your mother.
It is of her that I am talking. She has had so much trouble in her
life, and now I think she is sinking under it; she has been failing for
weeks, and last night while washing the teacups she fainted away from
Heaven help us! that looks badly, said the doctor.
Oh, does it?does it, sir? She said it was 'nothing much.' Oh,
doctor, don't say she will diedon't! If she were to die, if mother
were to die, I'd give right up! I never should do a bit of good in the
world, for she is all the motive I have in this life! To study hard, to
work hard and make her comfortable and happy, so as to make up to her
for all she has suffered, is my greatest wish and endeavor! Oh, don't
say mother will die! it would ruin me! cried Traverse.
My dear boy, I don't say anything of the sort! I say, judging from
your account, that her health must be attended to immediately.
Andtrue I have retired from practice, but I will go and see your
Oh, sir, if you only would! I came to ask you to do that very
thing. I should not have presumed to ask such a favor for any cause but
this of my dear mother's life and health, andyou will go to see her?
Willingly and without delay, Traverse, said the good man, rising
immediately and hurrying into an adjoining chamber.
Order the gig while I dress, Traverse, and I will take you back
with me, he added, as he closed the chamber door behind him.
By the time Traverse had gone down, given the necessary orders and
returned to the library the doctor emerged from his chamber, buttoned
up his gray frock-coat and booted, gloved and capped for the ride.
They went down together, entered the gig and drove rapidly down the
willow avenue, slowly through the iron gate and through the dark
thicket and down the wooded hill to the high road, and then as fast as
the sorrel mare could trot toward town. In fifteen minutes the doctor
pulled up his gig at the right-hand side of the road before the cottage
They entered the cottage, Traverse going first in order to announce
the doctor. They found Mrs. Rocke, as usual, seated in her low chair by
the little fire, bending over her needlework. She looked up with
surprise as they came in.
Mother, this is Doctor Day, come to see you, said Traverse.
She arose from her chair and raised those soft and timid dark gray
eyes to the stranger's face, where they met that sweet, intense smile
that seemed to encourage while it shone upon her.
We have never met before, Mrs. Rocke, but we both feel too much
interest in this good lad here to meet as strangers now, said the
doctor, extending his hand.
Traverse gives me every day fresh cause to be grateful to you, sir,
for kindness that we can never, never repay, said Marah Rocke,
pressing that bountiful hand and then placing a chair, which the doctor
Traverse seated himself at a little distance, and as the doctor
conversed with and covertly examined his mother's face he watched the
doctor's countenance as if life and death hung upon the character of
its expression. But while they talked not one word was said upon the
subject of sickness or medicine. They talked of Traverse. The doctor
assured his mother that her boy was of such fine talent, character and
promise, and that he had already made such rapid progress in his
classical and mathematical studies, that he ought immediately to enter
upon a course of reading for one of the learned professions.
The mother turned a smile full of love, pride and sorrow upon the
fine, intellectual face of her boy, and said:
You are like the angel in Cole's picture of life! You point the
youth to the far-up temple of fame
And leave him to get there as he can? Not at all, madam! Let us
see: Traverse, you are now going on eighteen years of age; if you had
your choice which of the learned professions would you prefer for
yourselflaw, physic or divinity?
The boy looked up and smiled, then dropped his head and seemed to
Perhaps you have never thought upon the subject. Well, you must
take time, so as to be firm in your decision when you have once
decided, said the doctor.
Oh, sir, I have thought of it long, and my choice has been long and
firmly decided, were I only free to follow it.
Speak, lad; what is your choice?
Why, don't you know, sir? Can't you guess? Why, your own
profession, of course, sir! certainly, sir, I could not think of any
other! exclaimed the boy, with sparkling eyes and flushed cheeks.
That's my own lad! exclaimed the doctor, enthusiastically, seizing
the boy's hand with one of his and clapping the other down upon his
palmfor if the doctor had an admiration in the world it was for his
own profession. That's my own lad! My profession! the healing art!
Why, it is the only profession worthy the study of an immortal being!
Law sets people by the ears together. Divinity should never be
considered as a professionit is a divine mission! Physicphysic, my
boy! the healing art! that's the profession for you! And I am very glad
to hear you declare for it, too, for now the way is perfectly clear!
Both mother and son looked up in surprise.
Yes, the way is perfectly clear! Nothing is easier! Traverse shall
come and read medicine in my office! I shall be glad to have the lad
there. It will amuse me to give him instruction occasionally. I have a
positive mania for teaching!
And for doing good! Oh, sir, how have we deserved this kindness at
your hands, and how shall we ever, ever repay it? cried Mrs. Rocke, in
a broken voice, while the tears filled her gentle eyes.
Oh, pooh, pooh! a mere nothing, ma'am! a mere nothing for me to do,
whatever it may prove to him. It is very hard, indeed, if I am to be
crushed under a cart-load of thanks for doing something for a boy I
like, when it does not cost me a cent of money or a breath of effort!
Oh, sir, your generous refusal of our thanks does but deepen our
obligation! said Marah, still weeping.
Now, my dear madam, will you persist in making me confess that it
is all selfishness on my part? I like the boy, I tell you! I shall like
his bright, cheerful face in my office! I can make him very useful to
Oh, sir, if you can and will only make him useful to you
Why, to be sure I can and will! He can act as my clerk, keep my
accounts, write my letters, drive out with me and sit in the rig while
I go in to visit my patients, for though I have pretty much retired
from practice, still
Still you visit and prescribe for the sick poor, gratis! added
Pooh, pooh! habit, madamhabit! 'ruling passion strong as death,'
etc. I can't for the life of me keep from giving people bread pills.
And now, by the way, I must be off to see some of my patients in
Staunton. Traverse, my ladmy young medical assistant, I meanare you
willing to go with me?
Oh, sir, said the boy, and here his voice broke down with emotion.
Come along, then, laughed the doctor; You shall drive with me
into the village as a commencement.
Traverse got his hat, while the doctor held out his hand to Mrs.
Rocke, who, with her eyes full of tears and her voice faltering with
emotion, began again to thank him, when he good-humoredly interrupted
her by saying:
Now my good little woman, do pray, hush. I'm a selfish fellow, as
you'll see. I do nothing but what pleases my own self and makes me
happy. Good-by; God bless you, madam, he said, cordially shaking her
hand. Come, Traverse, he added, hurriedly striding out of the door
and through the yard to the gate, before which the old green gig and
sorrel mare were still waiting.
Traverse, I brought you out again to-day more especially to speak
of your mother and her state of health, said Doctor Day, very
seriously, as they both took their seats in the gig and drove on toward
the town. Traverse, your mother is in no immediate danger of death; in
fact, she has no disease whatever.
Oh, sir, you do not think her ill, then! I thought you did not,
from the fact that you never felt her pulse or gave her a
prescription, exclaimed Traverse, delightedly, for in one thing the
lad resembled his motherhe was sensitive and excitableeasily
depressed and easily exhilarated.
Traverse, I said your mother is in no immediate danger of death,
for that, in fact, she has no disease; but yet, Traverse, brace
yourself up, for I am about to strike you a heavy blow. Traverse, Marah
Rocke is starving!
Starving! Heaven of heavens! no! that is not so! it cannot be! My
mother starving! oh, horrible! horrible! But, doctor, it cannotcannot
be! Why, we have two meals a day at our house! cried the boy, almost
beside himself with agitation.
Lad, there are other starvations besides the total lack of food.
There are slow starvations and divers ones. Marah Rocke is starving
slowly and in every waymind, soul and body. Her body is slowly
wasting from the want of proper nutriment, her heart from the want of
human sympathy, her mind from the need of social intercourse. Her whole
manner of life must be changed if she is to live at all.
Oh, sir, I understand you now. I feel, I feel that you speak the
very truth. Something must be done. I must do something. What shall it
be? Oh, advise me, sir.
I must reflect a little, Traverse, said the doctor, thoughtfully,
as he drove along with very slack reins.
And, oh, how thoughtless of me! I forgotindeed, I did, sirwhen
I so gladly accepted your offer for me to read with you. I forgot that
if I spent every day reading in your office, my mother would sadly miss
the dollar and a half a week I make by doing odd jobs in town.
But I did not forget it, boy; rest easy upon that score; and now
let me reflect how we can best serve your good little mother, said the
doctor; and he drove slowly and thoughtfully along for about twenty
minutes before he spoke again, when he said:
Traverse, Monday is the first of the month. You shall set in with
me then. Come to me, therefore, on Monday, and I think by that time I
shall have thought upon some plan for your mother. In the mean time,
you make as much money at jobs as you can, and also you must accept
from me for her a bottle or so of port wine and a turkey or two. Tell
her, if she demurs, that it is the doctor's prescription, and that, for
fear of accident, he always prefers to send his own physic.
Oh, Doctor Day, if I could only thank you aright! cried Traverse.
Pooh, pooh! nonsense! there is no time for it. Here we are at
Spicer's grocery store, where I suppose you are again employed. Yes?
Well, jump out, then. You can still make half a day. Mind, remember on
Monday next, December 1st, you enter my office as my medical student,
and by that time I shall have some plan arranged for your mother.
Good-by; God bless you, lad, said the good doctor, as he drove off and
left Traverse standing in the genial autumn sunshine, with his heart
swelling and his eyes overflowing with excess of gratitude and
CHAPTER XV. CAP'S COUNTRY CAPERS.
A willful elfan uncle's child,
That half a pet and half a pest,
Was still reproved, endured, caressed,
Yet never tamed, though never spoiled.
Capitola at first was delighted and half incredulous at the great
change in her fortunes. The spacious and comfortable mansion of which
she found herself the little mistress; the high rank of the veteran
officer who claimed her as his ward and niece; the abundance,
regularity and respectability of her new life; the leisure, the
privacy, the attendance of servants, were all so different from
anything to which she had previously been accustomed that there were
times when she doubted its reality and distrusted her own identity.
Sometimes of a morning, after a very vivid dream of the alleys,
cellars and gutters, ragpickers, newsboys, and beggars of New York, she
would open her eyes upon her own comfortable chamber, with its glowing
fire and crimson curtains, and bright mirror crowning the walnut bureau
between them, she would jump up and gaze wildly around, not remembering
where she was or how she came thither.
Sometimes, suddenly startled by an intense realization of the
contrast between her past and her present life, she would mentally
Can this be really I, myself, and not another? I, the little
houseless wanderer through the streets and alleys of New York? I, the
little newsgirl in boy's clothes? I, the wretched little vagrant that
was brought up before the recorder and was about to be sent to the
House of Refuge for juvenile delinquents? Can this be I, Capitola, the
little outcast of the city, now changed into Miss Black, the young
lady, perhaps the heiress of a fine old country seat; calling a fine
old military officer uncle; having a handsome income of pocket money
settled upon me; having carriages and horses and servants to attend me?
No; it can't be! It's just impossible! No; I see how it is. I'm crazy!
that's what I am, crazy! For, now I think of it, the last thing I
remember of my former life was being brought before the recorder for
wearing boy's clothes. Now, I'm sure that it was upon that occasion
that I went suddenly mad with trouble, and all the rest is a lunatic's
fancy! This fine old country seat of which I vainly think myself the
mistress, is just the pauper madhouse to which the magistrates have
sent me. This fine old military officer whom I call uncle is the head
doctor. The servants who come at my call are the keepers.
There is no figure out of my past life in my present one except
Herbert Greyson. But, pshaw! he is not 'the nephew of his uncle;' he is
only my old comrade, Herbert Greyson, the sailor lad, who comes here to
the madhouse to see me, and, out of compassion, humors all my fancies.
I wonder how long they'll keep me here? Forever, I hope. Until I
get cured, I'm sure. I hope they won't cure me; I vow I won't be cured.
It's a great deal too pleasant to be mad, and I'll stay so. I'll keep
on calling myself Miss Black, and this madhouse my country seat, and
the head doctor my uncle, and the keepers servants, until the end of
time, so I will. Catch me coming to my senses, when it's so delightful
to be mad. I'm too sharp for that. I didn't grow up in Rag Alley, New
York, for nothing.
So, half in jest and half in earnest, Capitola soliloquized upon her
change of fortune.
Her education was commenced, but progressed rather irregularly. Old
Hurricane bought her books and maps, slates and copy-books, set her
lessons in grammar, geography and history, and made her write copies,
do sums and read and recite lessons to him. Mrs. Condiment taught her
the mysteries of cutting and basting, back-stitching and felling,
hemming and seaming. A pupil as sharp as Capitola soon mastered her
tasks, and found herself each day with many hours of leisure with which
she did not know what to do.
These hours were at first occupied with exploring the old house,
with all its attics, cuddies, cock-lofts and cellars; then in wandering
through the old ornamental grounds, that were, even in winter and in
total neglect, beautiful with their wild growth of evergreens; thence
she extended her researches into the wild and picturesque country
She was never weary of admiring the great forest that climbed the
heights of the mountains behind their house; the great bleak precipices
of gray rock seen through the leafless branches of the trees; the
rugged falling ground that lay before the house and between it and the
river; and the river itself, with its rushing stream and raging rapids.
Capitola had become a skilful as she had first been a fearless
rider. But her rides were confined to the domain between the mountain
range and the river; she was forbidden to ford the one or climb the
other. Perhaps if such a prohibition had never been made Capitola would
never have thought of doing the one or the other; but we all know the
diabolical fascination there is in forbidden pleasures for young human
nature. And no sooner had Cap been commanded, if she valued her safety,
not to cross the water or climb the precipice than, as a natural
consequence, she began to wonder what was in the valley behind the
mountain and what might be in the woods across the river. And she
longed, above all things, to explore and find out for herself. She
would eagerly have done so, notwithstanding the prohibition; but Wool,
who always attended her rides, was sadly in the way. If she could only
get rid of Wool, she resolved to go upon a limited exploring
One day a golden opportunity occurred. It was a day of unusual
beauty, when autumn seemed to be smiling upon the earth with her
brightest smiles before passing away. In a word, it was Indian summer.
The beauty of the weather had tempted Old Hurricane to ride to the
county seat on particular business connected with his ward herself.
Capitola, left alone, amused herself with her tasks until the
afternoon; then, calling a boy, she ordered him to saddle her horse and
bring him around.
My dear, what do you want with your horse? There is no one to
attend you; Wool has gone with his master, said Mrs. Condiment, as she
met Capitola in the hall, habited for her ride.
I know that; but I cannot be mewed up here in the old house and
deprived of my afternoon ride, exclaimed Capitola decidedly.
But, my dear, you must never think of riding out alone, exclaimed
the dismayed Mrs. Condiment.
Indeed I shall, thoughand glad of the opportunity, added Cap,
But, my dear love, it is improper, imprudent, dangerous.
Why so? asked Cap.
Good gracious, upon every account! Suppose you were to meet with
ruffians; supposeoh, heaven!suppose you were to meet withBlack
Mrs. Condiment, once for all do tell me who this terrible Black
Donald is? Is he the Evil One himself, or the Man in the Iron Mask, or
the individual that struck Billy Patterson, orwho is he?
Who is Black Donald? Good gracious, child, you ask me who is Black
Yes; who is he? where is he? what is he? that every cheek turns
pale at the mention of his name? asked Capitola.
Black Donald! Oh, my child, may you never know more of Black Donald
than I can tell you. Black Donald is the chief of a band of ruthless
desperadoes that infest these mountain roads, robbing mail coaches,
stealing negroes, breaking into houses and committing every sort of
depredation. Their hands are red with murder and their souls black with
Darker crimes than murder! ejaculated Capitola.
Yes, child, yes; there are darker crimes. Only last winter he and
three of his gang broke into a solitary house where there was a lone
woman and her daughter, andit is not a story for you to hear; but if
the people had caught Black Donald then they would have burned him at
the stake! His life is forfeit by a hundred crimes. He is an outlaw,
and a heavy price is set upon his head.
And can no one take him?
No, my dear; at least, no one has been able to do so yet. His very
haunts are unknown, but are supposed to be in concealed mountain
How I would like the glory of capturing Black Donald! said
You, child! You capture Black Donald! You are crazy!
Oh, by stratagem, I mean, not by force. Oh, how I should like to
capture Black Donald!There's my horse; good-by! and before Mrs.
Condiment could raise another objection Capitola ran out, sprang into
her saddle and was seen careering down the hill toward the river as
fast as her horse could fly.
My Lord, but the major will be hopping if he finds it out! was
good Mrs. Condiment's dismayed exclamation.
Rejoicing in her freedom, Cap galloped down to the water's edge, and
then walked her horse up and down along the course of the stream until
she found a good fording place. Then, gathering up her riding skirt and
throwing it over the neck of her horse she plunged boldly into the
stream, and, with the water splashing and foaming all around her, urged
him onward till they crossed the river and climbed up the opposite
bank. A bridle-path lay before her, leading from the fording place
through a deep wood. That path attracted her; she followed it, charmed
alike by the solitude of the wood, the novelty of the scene and her own
sense of freedom. But one thought was given to the story of Black
Donald, and that was a reassuring one:
If Black Donald is a mail robber, then this little bridle-path is
far enough off his beat.
And, so saying, she gayly galloped along, singing as she went,
following the narrow path up hill and down dale through the wintry
woods. Drawn on by the attraction of the unknown, and deceiving herself
by the continued repetition of one resolve, namelyWhen I get to the
top of the next hill, and see what lies beyond, then I will turn
backshe galloped on and on, on and on, on and on, until she had put
several miles between herself and her home; until her horse began to
exhibit signs of weariness, and the level rays of the setting sun were
striking redly through the leafless branches of the trees.
Cap drew rein at the top of a high, wooded hill and looked about
her. On her left hand the sun was sinking like a ball of fire below the
horizon; all around her everywhere were the wintry woods; far away, in
the direction whence she had come, she saw the tops of the mountains
behind Hurricane Hall, looking like blue clouds against the southern
horizon; the Hall itself and the river below were out of sight.
I wonder how far I am from home? said Capitola, uneasily;
somewhere between six and seven miles, I reckon. Dear me, I didn't
mean to ride so far. I've got over a great deal of ground in these two
hours. I shall not get back so soon; my horse is tired to death; it
will take me three hours to reach Hurricane Hall. Good gracious! it
will be pitch dark before I get there. No, thank heaven, there will be
a moon. But won't there be a row though? Whew! Well, I must turn about
and lose no time. Come, Gyp, get up, Gyp, good horse; we're going
And so saying, Capitola turned her horse's head and urged him into a
She had gone on for about a mile, and it was growing dark, and her
horse was again slackening his pace, when she thought she heard the
sound of another horse's hoofs behind her. She drew rein and listened,
and was sure of it.
Now, without being the least of a coward, Capitola thought of the
loneliness of the woods, the lateness of the hour, her own
helplessness, andBlack Donald! And thinking discretion the better
part of valor, she urged her horse once more into a gallop for a few
hundred yards; but the jaded beast soon broke into a trot and subsided
into a walk that threatened soon to come to a standstill.
The invisible pursuer gained on her.
In vain she urged her steed with whip and voice; the poor beast
would obey and trot for a few yards, and then fall into a walk.
The thundering footfalls of the pursuing horse were close in the
Oh, Gyp, is it possible that, instead of my capturing Black Donald,
you are going to let Black Donald or somebody else catch me? exclaimed
Capitola, in mock despair, as she urged her wearied steed.
In vain! The pursuing horseman was beside her; a strong hand was
laid upon her bridle; a mocking voice was ringing in her ear:
Whither away so fast, pretty one?
CHAPTER XVI. CAP'S FEARFUL
Who passes by this road so late?
Companion of the Majolaine!
Who passes by this road so late?
Say! oh, say?
Old French Song.
Of a naturally strong constitution and adventurous disposition, and
inured from infancy to danger, Capitola possessed a high degree of
courage, self-control and presence of mind.
At the touch of that ruthless hand, at the sound of that gibing
voice, all her faculties instantly collected and concentrated
themselves upon the emergency. As by a flash of lightning she saw every
feature of her imminent dangerthe loneliness of the woods, the
lateness of the hour, the recklessness of her fearful companion and her
own weakness. In another instant her resolution was taken and her
course determined. So, when the stranger repeated his mocking question:
Whither away so fast, pretty one? she answered with animation:
Oh, I am going home, and so glad to have company; for, indeed, I
was dreadfully afraid of riding alone through these woods to-night.
Afraid, pretty oneof what?
Oh, of ghosts and witches, wild beasts, runaway negroes, andBlack
Then you are not afraid of me?
Lors, no, indeed! I guess I ain't! Why should I be afraid of a
respectable-looking gentleman like you, sir?
And so you are going home? Where is your home, pretty one?
On the other side of the river. But you need not keep on calling me
'pretty one;' it must be as tiresome to you to repeat it as it is to me
to hear it.
What shall I call you, then, my dear?
You may call me Miss Black; or, if you are friendly, you may call
Capitola! exclaimed the man, in a deep and changed voice, as he
dropped her bridle.
YesCapitola; what objection have you got to that? It is a pretty
name, isn't it? But if you think it is too long, and if you feel very
friendly, you may call me Cap.
Well, then, my pretty Cap, where do you live across the river?
asked the stranger, recovering his self-possession.
Oh, at a rum old place they call Hurricane Hall, with a rum old
military officer they call Old Hurricane, said Capitola, for the first
time stealing a sidelong glance at her fearful companion.
It was not Black Donald; that was the first conclusion to which she
rashly jumped. He appeared to be a gentlemanly ruffian about forty
years of age, well dressed in a black riding-suit; black beaver hat
drawn down close over his eyes: black hair and whiskers; heavy black
eyebrows that met across his nose; drooping eyelashes, and eyes that
looked out under the corners of the lids; altogether a sly, sinister,
cruel facea cross between a fox and a tiger. It warned Capitola to
expect no mercy there. After the girl's last words he seemed to have
fallen into thought for a moment, and then again he spoke:
Well, my pretty Cap, how long have you been living at. Hurricane
Ever since my guardian, Major Warfield, brought me from the City of
New York, where I received my education (in the streets), she mentally
Humph! Why did you ride so fast, my pretty Cap? he asked, eying
her from the corner of his eyes.
Oh, sir, because I was afraid, as I told you before; afraid of
runaway negroes and wild beasts, and so on; but now, with a good
gentleman like you, I don't feel afraid at all; and I'm very glad to be
able to walk poor Gyp, because he is tired, poor fellow.
Yes, poor fellow, said the traveler, in a mocking tone, he is
tired; suppose you dismount and let him rest. Come, I'll get off, too,
and we will sit down here by the roadside and have a friendly
Capitola stole a glance at his face. Yes, notwithstanding his light
tone, he was grimly in earnest; there was no mercy to be expected from
that sly, sinister, cruel face.
Come, my pretty Cap, what say you?
I don't care if I do, she said, riding to the edge of the path,
drawing rein and looking down as if to examine the ground.
Come, little beauty, must I help you off? asked the stranger.
N-n-no, answered Capitola, with deliberate hesitation; no, this
is not a good place to sit down and talk; it's all full of brambles.
Very well; shall we go on a little further?
Oh, yes; but I don't want to ride fast, because it will tire my
You shall go just as you please, my angel, said the traveler.
I wonder whether this wretch thinks me very simple or very
depraved? He must come to one or the other conclusion, thought
They rode on very slowly for a mile further, and then, having
arrived at an open glade, the stranger drew rein and said:
Come, pretty lark, hop down; here's a nice place to sit and rest.
Very well; come help me off, said Capitola, pulling up her horse;
then, as by a sudden impulse, she exclaimed: I don't like this place
either; it's right on top of the hill; so windy, and just see how rocky
the ground is. No, I'll not sit and rest here, and that I tell you.
I am afraid you are trifling with me, my pretty bird. Take care;
I'll not be trifled with, said the man.
I don't know what you mean by trifling with you any more than the
dead. But I'll not sit down there on those sharp rocks, and so I tell
you. If you will be civil and ride along with me until we get to the
foot of the hill, I know a nice place where we can sit down and have a
good talk, and I will tell you all my travels and you shall tell me all
Ex-actly; and where is that nice place?
Why, in the valley at the foot of the hill.
Comecome on, then.
Slowly, slowly, said Capitola; I won't tire my horse.
They rode over the hill, down the gradual descent and on toward the
center of the valley.
They were now within a quarter of a mile of the river, on the
opposite side of which was Hurricane Hall andsafety! The stranger
drew rein, saying:
Come, my cuckoo; here we are at the bottom of the valley; now or
Oh, now, of course; you see, I keep my promise, answered Capitola,
pulling up her horse.
The man sprang from his saddle and came to her side.
Please be careful, now; don't let my riding-skirt get hung in the
stirrup, said Capitola, cautiously disengaging her drapery, rising in
the saddle and giving the stranger her hand. In the act of jumping she
suddenly stopped and looked down, exclaiming:
Good gracious! how very damp the ground is here, in the bottom of
More objections, I suppose, my pretty one; but they won't serve you
any longer. I am bent upon having a cozy chat with you upon that very
turf, said the stranger, pointing to a little cleared space among the
trees beside the path.
Now, don't be cross; just see how damp it is there; it would spoil
my riding-dress and give me my death of cold.
Humph! said the stranger, looking at her with a sly, grim, cruel
I'll tell you what it is, said Cap, I'm not witty nor amusing,
nor will it pay to sit out in the night air to hear me talk; but, since
you wish it, and since you were so good as to guard me through these
woods, and since I promised, why, damp as it is, I will even get off
and talk with you.
That's my birdling!
But hold on a minute; is there nothing you can get to put there for
me to sit onno stump nor dry stone?
No, my dear; I don't see any.
Could you not turn your hat down and let me sit on that?
Ha, ha, ha! Why, your weight would crush it as flat as a flounder!
Oh, I know now! exclaimed Capitola, with sudden delight; you just
spread your saddle-cloth down there, and that will make a beautiful
seat, and I'll sit and talk with you so nicelyonly you must not want
me to stay long, because if I don't get home soon I shall catch a
You shall neither catch a scolding nor a cold on my account, pretty
one, said the man, going to his horse to get the saddle-cloth.
Oh, don't take off the saddleit will detain you too long, said
My pretty Cap, I cannot get the cloth without taking it off, said
the man, beginning to unbuckle the girth.
Oh, yes, you can; you can draw it from under, persisted Cap.
Impossible, my angel, said the man, lifting off the saddle from
his horse and laying it carefully by the roadside.
Then he took off the gay, crimson saddle-cloth and carried it into
the little clearing and began carefully to spread it down.
Now was Cap's time. Her horse had recovered from his fatigue. The
stranger's horse was in the path before her. While the man's back was
turned she raised her riding whip and, with a shout, gave the front
horse a sharp lash that sent him galloping furiously ahead. Then,
instantaneously putting whip to her own horse, she started into a run.
Hearing the shout, the lash and the starting of the horses, the
baffled villain turned and saw that his game was lost; he had been
outwitted by a child! He gnashed his teeth and shook his fist in rage.
Turning as she wheeled out of sight, CapitolaI am sorry to
sayput her thumb to the side of her nose and whirled her fingers into
a semicircle, in a gesture more expressive than elegant.
CHAPTER XVII. ANOTHER STORM AT
At this, Sir Knight grew high in wroth,
And lifting hands and eyes up both,
Three times he smote on stomach stout,
From whence, at length, fierce words broke out
The moon was shining full upon the river and the homestead beyond
when Capitola dashed into the water and, amid the sparkling and leaping
of the foam, made her way to the other bank and rode up the rugged
ascent. On the outer side of the lawn wall the moonbeams fell full upon
the little figure of Pitapat waiting there.
Why, Patty, what takes you out so late as this? asked Capitola, as
she rode up to the gate.
Oh, Miss Catterpillar, I'se waitin' for you. Old marse is dreadful
he is! Jest fit to bust the shingles offen the roof with swearing! So I
come out to warn you, so you steal in the back way and go to your room
so he won't see you, and I'll go and send Wool to put your horse away,
and then I'll bring you up some supper and tell old marse how you've
been home ever so long, and gone to bed with a werry bad head-ache.
Thank you, Patty. It is perfectly astonishing how easy lying is to
you! You really deserve to have been born in Rag Alley; but I won't
trouble the recording angel to make another entry against you on my
Yes, miss, said Pitapat, who thought that her mistress was
And now, Patty, stand out of my way. I am going to ride straight up
to the horse-block, dismount and walk right into the presence of Major
Warfield, said Capitola, passing through the gate.
Oh, Miss Catterpillar, don't! don't! he'll kill you, so he will!
Who's afeard? muttered Cap to herself, as she put her horse to his
mettle and rode gayly through the evergreens up to the horse-block,
where she sprang down lightly from her saddle.
Gathering up her train with one hand and tossing back her head, she
swept along toward the house with the air of a young princess.
There was a vision calculated to test her firmness. Reader, did you
ever see a raging lion tearing to and fro the narrow limits of his
cage, and occasionally shaking the amphitheatre with his tremendous
roar; or a furious bull tossing his head and tail and plowing up the
earth with his hoofs as he careered back and forth between the
boundaries of his pen? If you have seen and noted these mad brutes, you
may form some idea of the frenzy of Old Hurricane as he stormed up and
down the floor of the front piazza.
Cap had just escaped an actual danger of too terrible a character to
be frightened now by sound and fury. Composedly she walked up into the
porch and said:
Good evening, uncle.
The old man stopped short in his furious strides and glared upon her
with his terrible eyes.
Cap stood fire without blanching, merely remarking:
Now, I have no doubt that in the days when you went battling that
look used to strike terror into the heart of the enemy, but it doesn't
into mine, somehow.
Miss! roared the old man, bringing down his cane with a resounding
thump upon the floor; miss! how dare you have the impudence to face
me, much less thethethe assurance!the effrontery!the
audacity!the brass! to speak to me!
Well, I declare, said Cap, calmly untying her hat; this is the
first time I ever heard it was impudent in a little girl to give her
uncle good evening!
The old man trotted up and down the piazza two or three turns, then,
stopping short before the delinquent, he struck his cane down upon the
floor with a ringing stroke and thundered:
Young woman, tell me instantly and without prevarication where
Certainly, sir; 'going to and fro in the earth and walking up and
down in it,' said Cap, quietly.
Flames and furies! that is no answer at all! Where have you been?
roared Old Hurricane, shaking with excitement.
Look here, uncle; if you go on that way you'll have a fit
presently, said Cap, calmly.
Where have you been? thundered Old Hurricane.
Well, since you will knowjust across the river and through the
woods and back again.
And didn't I forbid you to do that, minion? and how dare you
disobey me? You the creature of my bounty; you, the miserable little
vagrant that I picked up in the alleys of New York and tried to make a
young lady of; but an old proverb says 'You can't make a silken purse
out of a pig's ear.' How dare you, you little beggar, disobey your
benefactor?a man of my age, character and position? II Old
Hurricane turned abruptly and raged up and down the piazza.
All this time Capitola had been standing quietly, holding up her
train with one hand and her riding habit in the other. At this last
insult she raised her dark-gray eyes to his face with one long
indignant, sorrowful gaze; then, turning silently away and entering the
house, she left Old Hurricane to storm up and down the piazza until he
had raged himself to rest.
Reader, I do not defend, far less approve, poor Cap. I only tell her
story and describe her as I have seen her, leaving her to your
Next morning Capitola came down into the breakfast-room with one
idea prominent in her hard little head, to which she mentally gave
Well as I like that old man, he must not permit himself to talk to
me in that indecent strain, and so he must be made to know.
When she entered the breakfast-room she found Mrs. Condiment already
at the head of the table and Old Hurricane at the foot. He had quite
got over his rage, and turned around blandly to welcome his ward,
Good morning, Cap.
Without taking the slightest notice of the salutation, Cap sailed on
to her seat.
Humph. Did you hear me say 'Good morning,' Cap?
Without paying the least attention, Capitola reached out her hand
and took a cup of coffee from Mrs. Condiment.
Humph! Humph! Good morning, Capitola! said Old Hurricane, with
marked emphasis. Apparently without hearing him. Cap helped herself to
a buckwheat cake and daintily buttered it.
Humph! humph! humph! Well as you said yourself, 'a dumb devil is
better than a speaking one,' ejaculated Old Hurricane, as he sat down
and subsided into silence.
Doubtless the old man would have flown into another passion, had
that been possible; but, in truth, he had spent so much vitality in
rage number one that he had none left to sustain rage number two.
Besides, he knew it would be necessary to blow up Bill Ezy, his lazy
overseer, before night, and perhaps saved himself for that performance.
He finished his meal in silence and went out.
Cap finished hers, and, 'tempering justice with mercy,' went
up-stairs to his room and looked over all his appointments and
belongings to find what she would do for his extra comfort, and found a
job in newly lining his warm slippers and the sleeves of his
They met again at the dinner-table.
How do you do, Cap? said Old Hurricane, as he took his seat.
Capitola poured out a glass of water and drank it in silence.
Oh, very well, 'a dumb devil,' etc., exclaimed Old Hurricane,
addressing himself to his dinner. When the meal was over they again
separated. The old man went to his study to examine his farm books, and
Capitola back to her chamber to finish lining his warm slippers.
Again at tea they met.
Well, Cap is 'the dumb devil' cast out yet? he said, sitting down.
Capitola took a cup of tea from Mrs. Condiment and passed it on to
him in silence.
Humph! not gone yet, eh? Poor girl, how it must try you, said Old
After supper the old man found his dressing-gown and slippers before
the fire all ready for his use.
Cap, you monkey, you did this, he said, turning around. But
Capitola had already left the room.
Next morning at breakfast there was a repetition of the same scene.
Early in the forenoon Major Warfield ordered his horses and, attended
by Wool rode up to Tip-Top. He did not return either to dinner or tea,
but as that circumstance was not unusual, it gave no uneasiness. Mrs.
Condiment kept his supper warm, and Capitola had his dressing-gown and
She was turning them before the fire when the old man arrived. He
came in quite gayly, saying:
Now, Cap, I think I have found a talisman at last to cast out that
'dumb devil.' I heard you wishing for a watch the other day. Now, as
devils belong to eternity, and have no business with time, of course
the sight of this little time-keeper must put yours to flight, and so
saying he laid upon the table, before the eyes of Capitola, a beautiful
little gold watch and chain. She glanced at it as it lay glittering and
sparkling in the lamplight, and then turned abruptly and walked away.
Humph! that's always the way the devils dofly when they can't
Capitola deliberately walked back, laid a paper over the little
watch and chain, as if to cover its fascinating sparkle and glitter,
Uncle, your bounty is large and your present is beautiful; but
there is something that poor Capitola values more than
She paused, dropped her head upon her bosom, a sudden blush flamed
up over her face, and tear-drops glittered in her downcast eyes. She
put both hands before her burning face for a moment, and then, dropping
Uncle, you rescued me from misery and, perhapsperhaps, early
death; you have heaped benefits and bounties upon me without measure;
you have placed me in a home of abundance, honor and security. For all
this if I were not grateful I should deserve no less than death. But,
uncle, there is a sin that is worse, at least, more ungenerous, than
ingratitude; it is to put a helpless fellow-creature under heavy
obligations and then treat that grateful creature with undeserved
contempt and cruel unkindness. Once more her voice was choked with
For some reason or other Capitola's tearsperhaps because they were
so rarealways moved Old Hurricane to his heart's center. Going toward
her softly, he said:
Now, my dear; now, my child; now, my little Cap, you know it was
all for your own good. Why, my dear, I never for one instant regretted
bringing you to the house, and I wouldn't part with you for a kingdom.
Come, now, my child; come to the heart of your old uncle.
Now, the soul of Capitola naturally abhorred sentiment. If ever she
gave way to serious emotion, she was sure to avenge herself by being
more capricious than before. Consequently, flinging herself out of the
caressing arms of Old Hurricane, she exclaimed:
Uncle, I won't be treated with both kicks and half-pennies by the
same person, and so I tell you. I am not a cur to be fed with roast
beef and beaten with a stick, nornornor a Turk's slave to be
caressed and oppressed as her master likes. Such abuse as you heaped
upon me I never heardno, not even in Rag Alley!
Oh, my dear! my dear! my dear! for heaven's sake forget Rag Alley?
I won't! I vow I'll go back to Rag Alley for a very little more.
Freedom and peace is even sweeter than wealth and honors.
Ah, but I won't let you, my little Cap.
Then I'd have you up before the nearest magistrate, to show by what
right you detained me. Ah, ha! I wasn't brought up in New York for
Whee-eu! and all this because, for her own good, I gave my own
niece and ward a little gentle admonition.
Gentle admonition! Do you call that gentle admonition? Why, uncle,
you are enough to frighten most people to death with your fury. You are
a perfect dragon! a griffin! a Russian bear! a Bengal tiger! a Numidian
lion! You're all Barnum's beasts in one! I declare, if I don't write
and ask him to send a party down here to catch you for his museum!
You'd draw, I tell you!
Yes, especially with you for a keeper to stir me up once in a while
with a long pole.
And that I'd engage to docheap.
The entrance of Mrs. Condiment with the tea-tray put an end to the
controversy. It was, as yet, a drawn battle.
And what about the watch, my little Cap?
Take it back, uncle, if you please.
But they won't have it back; it has got your initials engraved upon
it. Look here, said the old man, holding the watch to her eyes. 'C.
L. N.'those are not my initials, said Capitola, looking up with
Why, so they are not; the blamed fools have made a mistake. But
you'll have to take it, Cap.
No, uncle; keep it for the present, said Capitola, who was too
honest to take a gift that she felt she did not deserve, and yet too
proud to confess as much.
Peace was proclaimedfor the present.
Alas! 'twas but of short continuance. During these two days of
coolness and enforced quietude Old Hurricane had gathered a store of
bad humors that required expenditure.
So the very next day something went wrong upon the farm, and Old
Hurricane came storming home, driving his overseer, poor, old, meek
Billy Ezy, and his man Wool before him.
Bill Ezy was whimpering; Wool was sobbing aloud; Old Hurricane was
roaring at them both as he drove them on before him, swearing that Ezy
should go and find himself a new home and Wool should go and seek
And for this cause Old Hurricane was driving them on to his study,
that he might pay the overseer his last quarter's salary and give the
servant a written order to find a master.
He raged past Capitola in the hall, and, meeting Mrs. Condiment at
the study door, ordered her to bring in her account book directly, for
that he would not be imposed upon any longer, but meant to drive all
the lazy, idle, dishonest eye-servants and time-servers from the house
What's the matter now? said Capitola, meeting her.
Oh, child, he's in his terrible tantrums again! He gets into these
ways every once in a while, when a young calf perishes, or a sheep is
stolen, or anything goes amiss, and then he abuses us all for a pack of
loiterers, sluggards and thieves, and pays us off and orders us off. We
don't go, of course, because we know he doesn't mean it; still, it is
very trying to be talked to so. Oh, I should go, but Lord, child, he's
a bear, but we love him.
Just as she spoke the study door opened and Bill Ezy came out
sobbing, and Wool lifting up his voice and fairly roaring.
Mrs. Condiment stepped out of the parlor door.
What's the matter, you blockhead? she asked of Wool.
Oh! boo-hoo-woo! Ole marse been and done and gone and guv me a line
to find anananotherboo-hoo-woo! sobbed Wool, ready to break his
Give you a line to find another boo-hoo-woo! I wouldn't do it, if I
were you, Wool, said Capitola.
Give me the paper, Wool, said Mrs. Condiment, taking the permit
and tearing it up, and adding:
There, now, you go home to your quarter, and keep out of your old
master's sight until he gets over his anger, and then you know very
well that it will be all right. There, go along with you.
Wool quickly got out of the way and made room for the overseer, who
was sniveling like a whipped schoolboy, and to whom the housekeeper
I thought you were wiser than to take this so to heart, Mr. Ezy.
Oh, mum, what could you expect? An old sarvint as has sarved the
major faithful these forty years, to be discharged at sixty-five! Oh,
hoo-ooo-oo! whimpered the overseer.
But then you have been discharged so often you ought to be used to
it by this time. You get discharged, just as Wool gets sold, about once
a monthbut do you ever go?
Oh, mum, but he's in airnest this time; 'deed he is, mum; terrible
in airnest; and all about that misfortnet bobtail colt getting stole. I
know how it wur some of Black Donald's gang as done itas if I could
always be on my guard against them devils; and he means it this time,
mum; he's terrible in airnest!
Tut! he's always in earnest for as long as it lasts; go home to
your family and to-morrow go about your business as usual.
Here the study bell rang violently and Old Hurricane's voice was
heard calling, Mrs. Condiment! Mrs. Condiment!
Oh, Lor', he's coming! cried Bill Ezy, running off as fast as his
age and grief would let him.
Mrs. Condiment! Mrs. Condiment! called the voice.
Yes, sir, yes, answered the housekeeper, hurrying to obey the
Capitola walked up and down the hall for half an hour, at the end of
which Mrs. Condiment came out with a smile on her lip and a tear in
her eye, and saying:
Well, Miss Capitola, I'm paid off and discharged also.
For aiding and abetting the rebels; in a word, for trying to
comfort poor Ezy and Wool.
And are you going?
Certainly not; I shan't budge; I would not treat the old man so
badly as to take him at his word. And, with a strange smile, Mrs.
Condiment hurried away just in time to escape Old Hurricane, who came
raving out of the study.
Get out of my way, you beggar! he cried, pushing past Capitola and
hurrying from the house.
Well, I declare, that was pleasant! thought Cap, as she entered
Mrs. Condiment, what will he say when he comes back and finds you
all here still? she asked.
Say? Nothing. After this passion is over he will be so exhausted
that he will not be able to get up another rage in two or three days.
Where has he gone?
To Tip-Top, and alone, too; he was so mad with poor Wool that he
wouldn't even permit him to attend.
Alone? Has he gone alone? Oh, won't I give him a dose when he comes
back, thought Capitola.
Meanwhile Old Hurricane stormed along toward Tip-Top, lashing off
the poor dogs that wished to follow him and cutting at every living
thing that crossed his path. His business at the village was to get
bills printed and posted offering an additional reward for the
apprehension of the marauding outlaw, Black Donald. That day he dined
at the village tavernThe Antlers, by Mr. Merryand differed,
disputed or quarrelled, as the case might be, with every man with whom
he came in contact.
Toward evening he set off for home. It was much later than his usual
hour for returning; but he felt weary, exhausted and indisposed to come
into his own dwelling where his furious temper had created so much
unhappiness. Thus, though it was very late, he did not hurry; he almost
hoped that every one might be in bed when he should return. The moon
was shining brightly when he passed the gate and rode up the evergreen
avenue to the horse-block in front of the house. There he dismounted
and walked up into the piazza, where a novel vision met his surprised
It was Capitola, walking up and down the floor with rapid, almost
masculine strides, and apparently in a state of great excitement.
Oh, is it you, my little Cap? Good evening, my dear, he said, very
Capitola pulled up in her striding walk, wheeled around, faced
him, drew up her form, folded her arms, threw back her head, set her
teeth and glared at him.
What the demon do you mean by that? cried Old Hurricane.
Sir! she exclaimed, bringing down one foot with a sharp stamp;
sir! how dare you have the impudence to face me? much less
thethethethe brass! the bronze! the copper! to speak to me!
Why, what in the name of all the lunatics in Bedlam does the girl
mean? Is she crazy? exclaimed the old man, gazing upon her in
Capitola turned and strode furiously up and down the piazza, and
then, stopping suddenly and facing him, with a sharp stamp of her foot
Old gentleman! Tell me instantly and without prevarication, where
have you been?
To the demon with you! What do you mean? Have you taken leave of
your senses? demanded Old Hurricane.
Capitola strode up and down the floor a few times, and, stopping
short and shaking her fist, exclaimed:
Didn't you know, you headstrong, reckless, desperate, frantic
veterandidn't you know the jeopardy in which you placed yourself in
riding out alone at this hour? Suppose three or four great runaway
negresses had sprung out of the bushes andandand She broke off
apparently for want of breath, and strode up and down the floor; then,
pausing suddenly before him, with a stern stamp of her foot and a
fierce glare of her eye, she continued:
You shouldn't have come back here any more! No dishonored old man
should have entered the house of which I call myself the mistress!
Oh, I take! I take! ha, ha, ha! Good, Cap, good! You are holding up
the glass before me; but your mirror is not quite large enough to
reflect 'Old Hurricane,' my dear. 'I owe one,' said the old man, as he
passed into the house, followed by his capricious favorite.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE DOCTOR'S
Oh, her smile, it seemed half holy,
As if drawn from thoughts more far,
Than our common jestings are.
And, if any painter drew her,
He would paint her unaware
With a hallow round her hair.
E. B. Browning.
On the appointed day Traverse took his way to Willow Heights to keep
his tryst and enter upon his medical studies in the good doctor's
office. He was anxious also to know if his patron had as yet thought of
any plan by which his mother might better her condition. He was met at
the door by little Mattie, the parlor-maid, who told him to walk right
up-stairs into the study, where her master was expecting him.
Traverse went up quietly and opened the door of that pleasant
study-room, to which the reader has already been introduced, and the
windows of which opened upon the upper front piazza.
Now, however, as it was quite cold, the windows were down, though
the blinds were open, and through them streamed the golden rays of the
morning sun that fell glistening upon the fair hair and white raiment
of a young girl who sat reading before the fire.
The doctor was not in the room, and Traverse, in his native modesty,
was just about to retreat when the young creature looked up from her
book and, seeing him, arose with a smile and came forward, saying:
You are the young man whom my father was expecting, I presume. Sit
down; he has stepped out, but will be in again very soon.
Now, Traverse, being unaccustomed to the society of young ladies,
felt excessively bashful when suddenly coming into the presence of this
refined and lovely girl. With a low bow and a deep blush he took the
chair she placed for him.
With natural politeness she closed her book and addressed herself to
I have heard that your mother is an invalid; I hope she is better.
I thank youyes, ma'ammiss, stammered Traverse, in painful
embarrassment. Understanding the mauvaise honte of the bashful
boy, and seeing that her efforts to entertain only troubled him, she
placed the newspapers on the table before him, saying:
Here are the morning journals, if you would like to look over them,
Mr. Rocke, and then she resumed her book.
I thank you, miss, replied the youth, taking up a paper, more for
the purpose of covering up his embarrassment than for any other.
Mr. Rocke! Traverse was seventeen years of age, and had never been
called Mr. Rocke before. This young girl was the very first to
compliment him with the manly title, and he felt a boyish gratitude to
her and a harmless wish that his well-brushed Sunday suit of black was
not quite so rusty and threadbare, tempered by an innocent exultation
in the thought that no gentleman in the land could exhibit fresher
linen, brighter shoes or cleaner hands than himself.
But not many seconds were spent in such egotism. He stole a glance
at his lovely companion sitting on the opposite side of the
fireplacehe was glad to see that she was already deeply engaged in
reading, for it enabled him to observe her without embarrassment or
offense. He had scarcely dared to look at her before, and had no
distinct idea of her beauty.
There has been for him only a vague, dazzling vision of a
golden-haired girl in floating white raiment, wafting the fragrance of
violets as she moved, and with a voice sweeter than the notes of the
cushat dove as she spoke.
Now he saw that the golden hair flowed in ringlets around a fair,
roseate face, soft and bright with feeling and intelligence. As her
dark-blue eyes followed the page, a smile intense with meaning deepened
the expression of her countenance. That intense smileit was like her
father's, only loveliermore heavenly.
That intense smileit had, even on the old doctor's face, an
inexpressible charm for Traversebut on the lovely young face of his
daughter it exercised an ineffable fascination. So earnest and so
unconscious became the gaze of poor Traverse that he was only brought
to a sense of propriety by the opening of the door and the entrance of
the doctor, who exclaimed:
Ah, here already, Traverse? That is punctual. This is my daughter
Clara, Traverse; Clare, this is Traverse you've heard me speak about.
But I daresay you've already become acquainted, concluded the doctor,
drawing his chair up to the reading table, sitting down and folding his
dressing-gown around his limbs.
Well, Traverse, how is the little mother? he presently inquired.
I was just telling Miss Day that she was much better, sir, said
Ah, ha, ha, ha! muttered the doctor to himself; that's kitchen
physicroast turkey and port wineand moral medicine, hopeand
mental medicine, sympathy.
Well, Traverse, he said aloud, I have been racking my brain for a
plan for your mother, and to no purpose. Traverse, your mother should
be in a home of peace, plenty and cheerfulnessI can speak before my
little Clare here; I never have any secrets from her. Your mother wants
good living, cheerful company and freedom from toil and care. The
situation of gentleman's or lady's housekeeper in some home of
abundance, where she would be esteemed as a member of the family, would
suit her. But where to find such a place? I have been
inquiringwithout mentioning her name, of courseamong all my
friends, but not one of them wants a housekeeper or knows a soul who
does want one; and so I am 'at sea on the subject.' I'm ashamed of
myself for not succeeding better.
Oh, sir, do not do yourself so great an injustice, said Traverse.
Well, the fact is, after boasting so confidently that I would find
a good situation for Mrs. Rocke, lo and behold! I have proved myself as
yet only a boaster.
Father, said Clara, turning upon him her sweet eyes.
Well, my love?
Perhaps Mrs. Rocke would do us the favor to come here and take
charge of our household.
Eh! What? I never thought of that! I never had a housekeeper in my
life! exclaimed the doctor.
No, sir; because you never needed one before, but now we really do.
Aunt Moggy has been a very faithful and efficient manager, although she
is a colored woman; but she is getting very old.
Yes, and deaf and blind and careless. I know she is. I have no
doubt in the world she scours the coppers with the table napkins and
washes her face and hands in the soup tureen.
Oh, father! said Clara.
Well, Clare, at least she wants looking after.
Father, she wants rest in her old age.
No doubt of it; no doubt of it.
And, father, I intend, of course, in time, to be your housekeeper;
but, having spent all my life in a boarding school, I know very little
about domestic affairs, and I require a great deal of instruction; so I
really do think that there is no one needs Mrs. Rocke's assistance more
than we do, and if she will do us the favor to come we cannot do better
than to engage her.
To be sure; to be sure! Lord bless my soul! to think it should
never have entered my stupid old head until it was put there by Clare!
Here I was searching blindly all over the country for a situation for
Mrs. Rocke, and wanting her all the time more than any one else! That's
the way, Traverse; that's the way with us all, my boy! While we are
looking away off yonder for the solution of our difficulties, the
remedy is all the time lying just under our noses!
But so close to our eyes, father, that we cannot see it, said
Just so, Clare; just so. You are always ahead of me in ideas. Now,
Traverse, when you go home this evening you shall take a note to your
mother setting forth our wishesmine and Clara's; if she accedes to
them she will make us very happy.
With a great deal of manly strength of mind, Traverse had all his
mother's tenderness of heart. It was with difficulty that he could keep
back his tears or control his voice while he answered:
I remember reading, sir, that the young queen of England, when she
came to her throne, wished to provide handsomely for an orphan
companion of her childhood; and, seeing that no office in her household
suited the young person, she created one for her benefit. Sir, I
believe you have made one for my mother.
Not at all; not at all! If she doesn't come to look after our
housekeeping, old Moggy will be greasing our griddles with tallow
candle ends next! If you don't believe me; ask Clara, ask Clara!
Not believe him! If the doctor had affirmed that the moon was made
of moldy cheese, Traverse would have deemed it his duty to stoutly
maintain that astronomical theory. He felt hurt that the doctor should
use such a phrase.
Yes, indeed, we really do need her, Traverse, said the doctor's
Traverse! It had made him proud to hear her call him for the first
time in his life, Mr. Rocke! but it made him deeply happy to hear her
call him Traverse. It had such a sisterly sound coming from this
sweet creature. How he wished that she really were his sister! But,
then, the idea of that fair, golden-haired, blue-eyed, white-robed
angel being the sister of such a robust, rugged, sunburned boy as
himself! The thought was so absurd, extravagant, impossible, that the
poor boy heaved an unconscious sigh.
Why, what's the matter, Traverse? What are you thinking of so
Of your great goodness, sir, among other things.
Tut! let's hear no more of that. I pleased myself, said the
doctor; and now, Traverse, let's go to work decently and in order. But
first let me settle this pointif your good little mother determines
in our favor, Traverse, then, of course, you will live with us also, so
I shall have my young medical assistant always at hand. That will be
very convenient; and then we shall have no more long, lonesome
evenings, Clara, shall we, dear? And now, Traverse, I will mark out
your course of study and set you to work at once.
Shall I leave the room, father? inquired Clara.
No, no, my dear; certainly not. I have not had you home so long as
to get tired of the sight of you yet! No, Clare, no; you are not in our
wayis she, Traverse?
Oh, sir, the idea stammered Traverse, blushing deeply to be so
In his way! Why, a pang had shot through his bosom at the very
mention of her going.
Very well, then. Here, Traverse, here are your books. You are to
begin with this one; keep this medical dictionary at hand for
reference. Bless me, it will bring back my student days to go over the
ground with you, my boy.
Clara took her work-box and sat down to stitch a pair of dainty
wristbands for her father's shirts.
The doctor took up the morning papers.
Traverse opened his book and commenced his readings. It was a quiet
but by no means a dull circle. Occasionally Clara and her father
exchanged words, and once in a while the doctor looked over his pupil's
shoulder or gave him a direction.
Traverse studied con amore and with intelligent appreciation.
The presence of the doctor's lovely daughter, far from disturbing him,
calmed and steadied his soul into a state of infinite content. If the
presence of the beautiful girl was ever to become an agitating element,
the hour had not yet come.
So passed the time until the dinner bell rang.
By the express stipulation of the doctor himself, it was arranged
that Traverse should always dine with his family. After dinner an
hourwhich the doctor called a digestive hourwas spent in loitering
about and then the studies were resumed.
At six o'clock in the evening Traverse took leave of the doctor and
his fair daughter and started for home.
Be sure to persuade your mother to come, Traverse, said Clara.
She will not need persuasion; she will be only too glad to come,
miss, said Traverse, with a deep bow, turning and hurrying away toward
home. With winged feet he ran down the wooded hill and got into the
highway, and hastened on with such speed that in half an hour he
reached his mother's little cottage. He was agog with joy and eagerness
to tell her the good news.
CHAPTER XIX. THE RESIGNED SOUL.
This day be bread and peace my lot;
All else beneath the sun
Thou knowest if best bestowed or not,
And let thy will be done.
Poor Marah Rocke had schooled her soul to resignation; had taught
herself just to do the duty of each day as it came, and leave the
futurewhere, indeed, it must always remainin the hands of God.
Since the doctor's delicate and judicious kindness had cherished her
life, some little health and cheerfulness had returned to her.
Upon this particular evening of the day upon which Traverse entered
upon his medical studies she felt very hopeful.
The little cottage fire burned brightly; the hearth was swept clean;
the tea kettle was singing over the blaze; the tiny tea table, with its
two cups and saucers and two plates and knives was set: everything was
neat, comfortable and cheerful for Traverse's return. Marah sat in her
little low chair, putting the finishing touches to a set of fine
She was not anxiously looking for her son, for he had told her that
he should stay at the doctor's until six o'clock; therefore she did not
expect him until seven.
But so fast had Traverse walked that just as the minute hand pointed
to half-past six the latch was raised and Traverse ran inhis face
flushed with joy.
The first thing he did was to run to his mother, fling his arms
around her neck and kiss her. Then he threw himself into his chair to
Now, then, what's the matter, Traverse? You look as if somebody had
left you a fortune!
And so they have, or, as good as done so! exclaimed Traverse,
panting for breath.
What in the world do you mean? exclaimed Marah, her thoughts
naturally flying to Old Hurricane, and suggesting his possible
repentance or relenting.
Read that, mother! read that! said Traverse, eagerly putting a
note into her hand.
She opened it and read:
Dear MadamMy little daughter Clara, fourteen years of age,
just returned from boarding-school to pursue her studies at
Among other things, she must learn domestic affairs, of which
knows nothing. If you will accept the position of housekeeper
matronly companion of my daughter, I will make the terms such
shall reconcile you to the change. We shall also do all that
to make you happy. Traverse will explain to you the details.
time to think of it, but if possible let us have your answer
Traverse when he comes to-morrow. If you accede to this
you will give my daughter and myself sincere satisfaction.
Marah finished reading, and raised her eyes, full of amazement, to
the face of her son.
Mother! said Traverse, speaking fast and eagerly, they say they
really cannot do without you! They have troops of servants; but the old
cook is in her dotage and does all sorts of strange things, such as
frying buckwheat cakes in lamp oil and the like!
Oh, hush! what exaggeration!
Well, I don't say she does that exactly, but she isn't equal to her
situation without a housekeeper to look after her, and they want you
very much, indeed!
And what is to become of your home, if I break up? suggested the
Oh, that is the very best of it! The doctor says if you consent to
come that I must also live there, and that then he can have his medical
assistant always at hand, which will be very convenient!
Marah smiled dubiously.
I do not understand it, but one thing I do know, Traverse! There is
not such a man as the doctor appears in this world more than once in a
Not in a thousand years, mother, and as for his daughteroh, you
should see Miss Clara, mother! Her father calls her ClareClare Day!
how the name suits her! She is so fair and bright! with such a warm,
thoughtful, sunny smile that goes right to your heart! Her face is,
indeed, like a clear day, and her beautiful smile is the sunshine that
lights it up! said the enthusiastic youth, whose admiration was as yet
too simple and single-hearted and unselfish to tie his tongue.
The mother smiled at his earnestnesssmiled without the least
misgiving; for, to her apprehension, the youth was still a boy, to
wonder at and admire beauty, without being in the least danger of
having his peace of mind disturbed by love. And as yet her idea of him
And mother, of course, you will go, said Traverse.
Oh, I do not know! The proposition was so sudden and unexpected,
and is so serious and important, that I must take time to reflect,
said Mrs. Rocke, thoughtfully.
How much time, mother? Will until to-morrow morning do? It must,
little mother, because I promised to carry your consent back with me!
Indeed, I did, mother! exclaimed the impatient boy.
Mrs. Rocke dropped her head upon her hand, as was her custom when in
deep thought. Presently she said:
Travy, I'm afraid this is not a genuine offer of a situation of
housekeeper! I'm afraid that it is only a ruse to cover a scheme of
benevolence! and that they don't really want me, and I should only be
in their way.
Now, mother, I do assure you, they do want you! Think of that young
girl and elderly gentleman! Can either of them take charge of a large
establishment like that of Willow Heights?
Well argued, Traverse; but granting that they need a housekeeper,
how do I know I would suit them?
Why, you may take their own words for that, mother!
But how can they know? I am afraid they would be disappointed!
Wait until they complain, mother!
I don't believe they ever would!
I don't believe they ever would have cause!
Well, granting also that I should suit themthe mother paused and
sighed. Traverse filled up the blank by saying:
I suppose you meanif you should suit them they might not suit
No, I do not mean that! I am sure they would suit me; but there is
one in the world who may one day come to reason and take bitter umbrage
at the fact that I should accept a subordinate situation in any
household, murmured Mrs. Rocke, almost unconsciously.
Then that 'one in the world,' whoever he, she, or it may be, had
better place you above the necessity, or else hold his, her, or its
tongue! Mother, I think that goods thrown in our way by Providence had
better be accepted, leaving the consequences to Him!
Traverse, dear, I shall pray over this matter to-night and sleep on
it; and He to whom even the fall of a sparrow is not indifferent will
guide me, said Mrs. Rocke; and here the debate ended.
The remainder of the evening was spent in laudation of Clare Day,
and in writing a letter to Herbert Greyson, at West Point, in which all
these laudations were reiterated, and in the course of which Traverse
wrote these innocent words: I have known Clare Day scarcely twelve
hours, and I admire her as much as I love you! and oh, Herbert! If you
could only rise to be a major-general and marry Clare Day, I should be
the happiest fellow alive! Would Traverse as willingly dispose of
Clare's hand a year or two after this time? I trow not!
The next morning after breakfast Mrs. Rocke gave in her decision.
Tell the doctor, Traverse, she said, that I understand and
appreciate his kindness; that I will not break up my humble home as
yet, but I will lock up my house and come a month, on trial. If I can
perform the duties of the situation satisfactorily, well and good! I
will remain; if not, why then, having my home still in possession, I
can return to it.
Wise little mother! She will not cut down the bridge behind her!
exclaimed Traverse, joyfully, as he bade his mother good-by for the
day, and hastened up to Willow Heights with her answer. This answer was
received by the good doctor and his lovely daughter with delight as
unfeigned as it was unselfish. They were pleased to have a good
housekeeper, but they were far better pleased to offer a poor
struggling mother a comfortable and even luxurious home.
On the next Monday morning Mrs. Rocke having completed all her
arrangements, and closed up the house, entered upon the duties of her
Clara gave her a large, airy bed-chamber for her own use,
communicating with a smaller one for the use of her son; besides this,
as housekeeper, she had of course, the freedom of the whole house.
Traverse watched with anxious vigilance to find out whether the
efforts of his mother really improved the condition of the
housekeeping, and was delighted to find that the coffee was clearer and
finer-flavored; the bread whiter and lighter; the cream richer, the
butter fresher, and the beefsteak juicier than he had ever known them
to be on the doctor's table; that on the dinner table, from day to day,
dishes succeeded each other in a well-ordered variety and well-dressed
stylein a word, that, in every particular, the comfort of the family
was greatly enhanced by the presence of the housekeeper, and that the
doctor and his daughter knew it.
While the doctor and his student were engaged in the library, Clara
spent many hours of the morning in Mrs. Rocke's company, learning the
arts of domestic economy and considerably assisting her in the
preparation of delicate dishes.
In the evening the doctor, Clara, Mrs. Rocke and Traverse gathered
around the fire as one familyMrs. Rocke and Clara engaged in
needlework, and the doctor or Traverse in reading aloud, for their
amusement, some agreeable book. Sometimes Clara would richly entertain
them with musicsinging and accompanying herself upon the piano.
An hour before bedtime the servants were always called in, and
general family prayer offered up.
Thus passed the quiet, pleasant, profitable days. Traverse was fast
falling into a delicious dream, from which, as yet, no rude shock
threatened to wake him. Willow Heights seemed to him Paradise, its
inmates angels, and his own lifebeatitude!
CHAPTER XX. THE OUTLAW'S RENDEZVOUS.
Our plots fall short like darts which rash hands throw
With an ill aim, and have too far to go;
Nor can we long discoveries prevent;
God is too much about the innocent!
Sir Robert Howard.
The Old Road Inn, described in the dying deposition of poor Nancy
Grewell, was situated some miles from Hurricane Hall, by the side of a
forsaken turnpike in the midst of a thickly wooded, long and narrow
valley, shut in by two lofty ranges of mountains.
Once this turnpike was lively with travel and this inn gay with
custom; but for the last twenty-five years, since the highway had been
turned off in another direction, both road and tavern had been
abandoned, and suffered to fall to ruin. The road was washed and
furrowed into deep and dangerous gullies, and obstructed by fallen
timber; the house was disfigured by moldering walls, broken chimneys
and patched windows.
Had any traveler lost himself and chanced to have passed that way,
he might have seen a little, old, dried-up woman, sitting knitting at
one of the windows. She was known by those who were old enough to
remember her and her home, as Granny Raven, the daughter of the last
proprietor of the inn. She was reputed to be dumb, but none could speak
with certainty of the fact. In truth, for as far back as the memory of
the oldest inhabitant could reach, she had been feared, disliked and
avoided, as one of malign reputation; indeed, the ignorant and
superstitious believed her to possess the evil eye, and to be gifted
with second sight.
But of late years, as the old road and the old inn were quite
forsaken, so the old beldame was quite forgotten.
It was one evening, a few weeks after Capitola's fearful adventure
in the forest, that this old woman carefully closed up every door and
window in the front of the house, stopping every crevice through which
a ray of light might gleam and warn that impossible phenomenona
chance traveler, on the old road, of life within the habitation.
Having, so to speak, hermetically sealed the front of the house, she
betook herself to a large back kitchen.
This kitchen was strangely and rudely furnished, having an extra
broad fireplace with the recesses, on each side of the chimney filled
with oaken shelves, laden with strong pewter plates, dishes and mugs;
all along the walls were arranged rude, oaken benches; down the length
of the room was left, always standing, a long deal table, capable of
accommodating from fifteen to twenty guests.
On entering this kitchen Granny Raven struck a light, kindled a fire
and began to prepare a large supper.
Nor unlike the ill-omened bird whose name she bore did this old
beldame look in her close-clinging black gown, and flapping black cape
and hood, and with her sharp eyes, hooked nose and protruding chin.
Having put a huge sirloin of beef before the fire, she took down a
pile of pewter plates and arranged them along on the sides of the
table; then to every plate she placed a pewter mug. A huge wheaten loaf
of bread, a great roll of butter and several plates of pickles were
next put upon the board, and when all was ready the old woman sat down
to the patient turning of the spit.
She had not been thus occupied more than twenty minutes when a
hasty, scuffling step was heard at the back of the house, accompanied
by a peculiar whistle, immediately under the window.
That's 'Headlong Hal,' for a penny! He never can learn the cat's
tread! thought the crone, as she arose and withdrew the bolt of the
A little dark-skinned, black-eyed, black-haired, thin and wiry man
came hurrying in, exclaiming:
How now, old girlsupper ready!
She shook her head, pointed to the roasting beef, lifted up both
hands with the ten fingers spread out twice, and then made a rotary
motion with one arm.
Oh, you mean it will be done in twenty turns; but hang me if I
understand your dumb show half the time! Have none of the men come
She put her fingers together, flung her hands widely apart in all
directions, brought them slowly together again and pointed to the
Um! That is to say they are dispersed about their business, but
will all be here to-night?
Where's the capt'n?
She pointed over her left shoulder upwards, placed her two hands out
broad from her temples, then made a motion as of lifting and carrying a
basket, and displaying goods.
Humph! humph! gone to Tip-top to sell goods disguised as a
She nodded. And before he could put another question a low, soft mew
was heard at the door.
There's 'Stealthy Steve!'he might walk with hob-nailed high-lows
upon a gravelly road, and you would never hear his footfall, said the
man, as the door noiselessly opened and shut, a soft-footed,
low-voiced, subtle-looking mulatto entered the kitchen, and gave good
evening to its occupants.
Ha! I'm devilish glad you've come, Steve, for hang me if I'm not
tired to death trying to talk to this crone, who, to the charms of old
age and ugliness, adds that of dumbness. Seen the cap'n?
No, he's gone out to hear the people talk, and find out what they
think of him.
Hal burst into a loud and scornful laugh, saying: I should think it
would not require much seeking to discover that!
Here the old woman came forward, and, by signs, managed to inquire
whether he had brought her the tea.
Steve drew a packet from his pocket, saying, softly:
Yes, mother, when I was in Spicer's store I saw this lying with
other things on the counter, and, remembering you, quietly put it into
The old crone's eyes danced. She seized the packet, patted the
excellent thief on the shoulder, wagged her head deridingly at the
delinquent one, and hobbled off to prepare her favorite beverage.
While she was thus occupied the whistle was once more heard at the
door, followed by the entrance of a man decidedly the most repulsive
looking of the whole partya man one having a full pocket would
scarcely like to meet on a lonely road in a dark night. In form he was
of Dutch proportions, short but stout, with a large, round head covered
with stiff, sandy hair; broad, flat face; coarse features, pale,
half-closed eyes, and an expression of countenance strangely made up of
elements as opposite as they were forbiddinga mixture of stupidity
and subtlety, cowardice and ferocity, caution and cruelty. His name in
the gang was Demon Dick, a sobriquet of which he was eminently
deserving and characteristically proud.
He came in sulkily, neither saluting the company nor returning their
salutations. He pulled a chair to the fire, threw himself into it, and
ordered the old woman to draw him a mug of ale.
Dick's in a bad humor to-night, murmured Steve, softly.
When was he ever in a good one? roughly broke forth Hal.
H-sh! said Steve, glancing at Dick, who, with a hideous
expression, was listening to the conversation.
There's the cap'n! exclaimed Hal, as a ringing footstep sounded
outside, followed by the abrupt opening of the door and entrance of the
Setting down a large basket, and throwing off a broad-brimmed Quaker
hat and broad-skirted overcoat, Black Donald stood roaring with
Black Donald, from his great stature, might have been a giant walked
out of the age of fable into the middle of the nineteenth century. From
his stature alone, he might have been chosen leader of this band of
desperadoes. He stood six feet eight inches in his boots, and was stout
and muscular in proportion. He had a well-formed, stately head, fine
aquiline features, dark complexion, strong, steady, dark eyes, and an
abundance of long curling black hair and beard that would have driven
to despair a Broadway beau, broken the heart of a Washington belle, or
made his own fortune in any city of America as a French count or a
German baron! He had decidedly the air noble and distinguished.
While he threw his broad brim in one direction and his broad coat in
another, and gave way to peals of laughter, Headlong Hal said:
Cap'n, I don't know what you think of it, but I think it just as
churlish to laugh alone as to get drunk in solitude.
Oh, you shall laugh! You shall all laugh! Wait until I tell you!
But first, answer me: Does not my broad-skirted gray coat and
broad-brimmed gray hat make me look about twelve inches shorter and
That's so, cap'n!
And when I bury my black beard and chin deep down in this drab
neck-cloth, and pull the broad brim low over my black hair and eyes, I
look as mild and respectable as William Penn?
Yea, verily, friend Donald, said Hal.
Well, in this meek guise I went peddling to-day!
Aye, cap'n, we knew it; and you'll go once too often!
I have gone just once too often!
I knew it!
We said so!
Dn! were some of the ejaculations as the members of the band
sprang to their feet and handled secret arms.
Pshaw! put up your knives and pistols! There is no danger. I was
not tracedour rendezvous is still a secret for which the government
would pay a thousand dollars!
How, then, do you say that you went once too often, cap'n?
It was inaccurate! I should have said that I had gone for the last
time, for that it would not be safe to venture again. ComeI must tell
you the whole story! But in the mean time let us have supper. Mother
Raven, dish the beef! Dick, draw the ale! Hal, cut the bread! Steve,
carve! Bestir yourselves, burn you, or you shall have no story!
exclaimed the captain, flinging himself into a chair at the head of the
When his orders had been obeyed, and the men were gathered around
the table, and the first draught of ale had been quaffed by all, Black
Where do you think I went peddling to-day?
Devil knows, said Hal.
That's a secret between the Demon and Black Donald said Dick.
Hush! he's about to tell us, murmured Steve.
Wooden heads! you'd never guess! I wentI went todo you give it
up? I went right straight into the lion's jawsnot only into the very
clutches, but into the very teeth, and down the very throat of the
lion, and have come out as safe as Jonah from the whale's belly! In a
word, I have been up to the county seat where the court is now in
session, and sold cigar cases, snuff boxes and smoking caps to the
grand and petit jury, and a pair of gold spectacles to the learned
No!!! exclaimed Hal, Steve and Dick in a breath.
Yes! and, moreover, I offered a pair of patent steel spring
handcuffs to the sheriff, John Keepe, in person, and pressed him to
purchase them, assuring him that he would have occasion for their use
if ever he caught that grand rascal, Black Donald!
'Ah, the atrocious villain, if I thought I should ever have the
satisfaction of springing them upon his wrists, I'd buy them at my own
proper cost!' said the sheriff, taking them in his hands and examining
'Ah! he's a man of Belial, that same Black Donaldthee'd better
buy the handcuffs, John,' said I.
'Nay, friend, I don't know; and as for Black Donald, we have some
hopes of taking the wretch at last!' said the simple gentleman.
'Ah, verily, John, that's a good hearing for peaceful travelers
like myself,' said I.
'Excellent! excellent! For when that fell marauder once swings from
'His neck will be broken, John?'
'Yes, friend! yes, probably; after which honest men may travel in
safety! Ah, never have I adjusted a hempen cravat about the throat of
any aspirant for such an honor with less pain than I shall officiate at
the last toilet of Black Donald!'
'If thee catch him!'
'Exactly, friend, if I catch him; but the additional reward offered
by Major Warfield, together with the report that he often frequents our
towns and villages in disguise, will stimulate people to renewed
efforts to discover and capture him,' said the sheriff.
'Ah! that will be a great day for Alleghany. And when Black Donald
is hanged, I shall make an effort to be present at the solemnity
'Do, friend,' said the sheriff, 'and I will see to getting you a
good place for witnessing the proceedings.'
'I have no doubt thee will, Johna very good place! And I assure
thee that there will not be one present more interested in those
proceedings than myself,' said I.
'Of course, that is very natural, for there is no one more in
danger from these marauders than men of your itinerant calling. Good
heavens! It was but three years ago a peddler was robbed and murdered
in the woods around the Hidden House.'
'Just so, John,' said I; 'and it's my opinion that often when I've
been traveling along the road at night Black Donald hasn't been far
off! But tell me, John, so that I may have a chance of earning that
thousand dollarswhat disguises does this son of Moloch take?'
'Why, friend, it is said that he appears as a Methodist missionary,
going about selling tracts; and sometimes as a knife grinder, and
sometimes simulates your calling, as a peddler!' said the unsuspicious
I thought, however, it was time to be off, so I said 'Thee had
better let me sell thee those handcuffs, John. Allow me! I will show
thee their beautiful machinery! Hold out thy wrists, if thee pleases,
The unsuspicious officer, with a face brimful of interest, held out
his wrists for experiment.
I snapped the ornaments on them in a little less than no time, and
took up my pack and disappeared before the sheriff had collected his
faculties and found out his position!
Ha, ha, ha! Haw, haw, haw! Ho, ho, ho! laughed the outlaws, in
every key of laughter. And so our captain, instead of being pinioned
by the sheriff, turned the tables and actually manacled his honor! Hip,
hip, hurrah! Three times three for the merry captain, that manacled the
Hush, burn ye! There's some one coming! exclaimed the captain,
rising and listening. It is Le Noir, who was to meet me here to-night
on important business!
CHAPTER XXI. GABRIEL LE NOIR.
Naught's had! all's spent!
When our desires are gained without content.
The colonel! exclaimed the three men in a breath, as the door
opened and a tall, handsome and distinguished-looking gentleman,
wrapped in a black military cloak and having his black beaver pulled
low over his brow, strode into the room.
All arose upon their feet to greet him as though he had been a
With a haughty wave of the hand, he bade them resume their seats,
and beckoning their leader, said:
Donald, I would have a word with you!
At your command, colonel! said the outlaw, rising and taking a
candle and leading the way into the adjoining room, the same in which
fourteen years before old Granny Grewell and the child had been
Setting the candle upon the mantelpiece, Black Donald stood waiting
for the visitor to open the conversation, a thing that the latter
seemed in no hurry to do, for he began walking up and down the room in
You seem disturbed, colonel, at length said the outlaw.
I am disturbedmore than disturbed! I am suffering!
Aye, suffering! From what think you? The pangs of remorse!
Remorse! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! laughed the outlaw till all the
Aye, man, you may laugh; but I repeat that I am tortured with
remorse! And for what do you suppose? For those acts of
self-preservation that fanatics and fools would stigmatize as crimes?
No, my good fellow, no! but for one 'unacted crime!'
I told your honor so! cried the outlaw, triumphantly.
Donald, when I go to church, as I do constantly, I hear the
preacher prating of repentance; but man, I never knew the meaning of
the word until recently.
And I can almost guess what it is that has enlightened your honor?
said the outlaw.
Yes, it is that miserable old woman and babe! Donald, in every vein
of my soul I repent not having silenced them both forever while they
were yet in my power!
Just so, colonel; the dead never come back, or if they do, are not
recognized as property holders in this world. I wish your honor had
taken my advice and sent that woman and child on a longer journey.
Donald, I was younger then than now. Ishrank from bloodshed,
said the man in a husky voice.
Bah! superstition! Bloodshedblood is shed every day! 'We kill to
live!' say the butchers. So do we. Every creature preys upon some other
creature weaker than himselfthe big beasts eat up the little
onesartful men live on the simple! So be it! The world was made for
the strong and cunning! Let the weak and foolish look to themselves!
said the outlaw, with a loud laugh.
While he spoke the visitor resumed his rapid, restless striding up
and down the room. Presently he came again to the side of the robber
Donald, that girl has returned to the neighborhood, brought back by
old Warfield. My son met her in the woods a month ago, fell into
conversation with her, heard her history, or as much of it as she
herself knows. Her name is Capitola! She is the living image of her
mother! How she came under the notice of old Warfieldto what extent
he is acquainted with her birth and rightswhat proofs may be in his
possession I know not. All that I have discovered after the strictest
inquiry that I was enabled to make, is thisthat the old beggar woman
that died and was buried at Major Warfield's expense, was no other than
Nancy Grewell, returnedthat the night before she died she sent for
Major Warfield and had a long talk with him, and that shortly afterward
the old scoundrel traveled to the north and brought home this girl!
Humph! it is an ugly business, your honor, especially with your
honor's little prejudice against
Donald, this is no time for weakness! I have gone too far to stop!
Capitola must die!
That's so, colonelthe pity is that it wasn't found out fourteen
years ago. It is so much easier to pinch a baby's nose until it falls
asleep than to stifle a young girl's shrieks and criesthen the baby
would not have been missedbut the young girl will be sure to be
I know that there will be additional risk, but there shall be the
larger compensation, larger than your most sanguine hopes would
suggest. Donald, listen! said the colonel, stooping and whispering
lowthe day that you bring me undeniable proofs that Capitola Le Noir
is dead, you finger one thousand dollars!
Ha, ha, ha! laughed the outlaw, in angry scorn. Capitola Le Noir
is the sole heiress of a fortunein land, negroes, coal mines, iron
foundries, railway shares and bank stock of half a million of
dollarsand you ask me to get her out of your way for a thousand
dollarsI'll do ityou know I will! Ha, ha, ha!
Why, the government doesn't value your whole carcass at more than I
offer you for the temporary use of your hands, you villain! frowned
No ill names, your honorbetween us they are like kicking
gunsapt to recoil!
You forget that you are in my power!
I remember that your honor is in mine! Ha, ha, ha! The day Black
Donald stands at the barthe honorable Colonel Le Noir will probably
be beside him!
Enough of this! Confound you, do you take me for one of your pals?
No, your worship, my pals are too poor to hire their work done, but
then they are brave enough to do it themselves.
Enough of this, I say! Name the price of this new service!
Ten thousand dollarsfive thousand in advancethe remainder when
the deed is accomplished.
Extortioner! Shameless, ruthless extortioner!
Your honor will fall into that vulgar habit of calling ill names.
It isn't worth while! It doesn't pay! If your honor doesn't like my
terms, you needn't employ me. What is certain is that I cannot work for
You take advantage of my necessities.
Not at all; but the truth is, Colonel, that I am tired of this sort
of life, and wish to retire from active business. Besides, every man
has his ambition, and I have mine. I wish to emigrate to the glorious
West, settle, marry, turn my attention to politics, be elected to
Congress, then to the Senate, then to the Cabinet, then to the White
Housefor success in which career, I flatter myself nature and
education have especially fitted me. Ten thousand dollars will give me
a fair start! Many a successful politician, your honor knows, has
started on less character and less capital!
To this impudent slander the colonel made no answer. With his arms
folded and his head bowed upon his chest he walked moodily up and down
the length of the apartment. Then muttering, Why should I hesitate?
he came to the side of the outlaw and said:
I agree to your termsaccomplish the work and the sum shall be
yours. Meet me here on to-morrow evening to receive the earnest money.
In the meantime, in order to make sure of the girl's identity, it will
be necessary for you to get sight of her beforehand, at her home, if
possiblefind out her habits and her hauntswhere she walks, or
rides, when she is most likely to be alone, and so on. Be very careful!
A mistake might be fatal.
Your honor may trust me.
And now good-byremember, to-morrow evening, said the colonel,
as, wrapping himself closely in his dark cloak, and pulling his hat low
over his eyes, he passed out by the back passage door and left the
Ha, ha, ha! Why does that man think it needful to look so
villainous? If I were to go about in such a bandit-like dress as that,
every child I met would take me forwhat I am! laughed Black Donald,
returning to his comrades.
During the next hour other members of the band dropped in until some
twenty men were collected together in the large kitchen around the long
table, where the remainder of the night was spent in revelry.
CHAPTER XXII. THE SMUGGLER AND
Come buy of me! come buy! come buy!
Buy, lads, or else the lassies cry;
I have lawns as white as snow;
Silk as black as e'er was crow;
Gloves as sweet as damask roses;
Veils for faces; musk for noses;
Pins and needles made of steel;
All you need from head to heel.
If I am not allowed to walk or ride out alone, I shall 'gang daft!'
I know I shall! Was ever such a dull, lonesome, humdrum place as this
same Hurricane Hall? complained Cap, as she sat sewing with Mrs.
Condiment in the housekeeper's room.
You don't like this quiet country life? inquired Mrs. Condiment.
No! no better than I do a quiet country graveyard! I don't want to
return to dust before my time, I tell you! said Cap, yawning dismally
over her work.
I hear you, vixen! roared the voice of Old Hurricane, who
presently came storming in and saying:
If you want a ride go and get ready quickly, and come with me, I am
going down to the water mill, please the Lord, to warn Hopkins off the
premises, worthless villain! Had my grain there since yesterday morning
and hasn't sent it home yet! Shan't stay in my mill another month!
Come, Cap, be off with you and get ready!
The girl did not need a second bidding but flew to prepare herself,
while the old man ordered the horses.
In ten minutes more Capitola and Major Warfield cantered away.
They had been gone about two hours, and it was almost time to expect
their return, and Mrs. Condiment had just given orders for the tea
table to be set, when Wool came into her room and said there was a
sailor at the hall door with some beautiful foreign goods which he
wished to show to the ladies of the house.
A sailor, Woola sailor with foreign goods for sale? I am very
much afraid he's one of these smugglers I've heard tell of, and I'm not
sure about the right of buying from smugglers! However, I suppose
there's no harm in looking at his goods. You may call him in, Wool,
said the old lady, tampering with temptation.
He do look like a smudgeler, dat's a fact, said Wool whose ideas
of the said craft were purely imaginary.
I don't know him to be a smuggler, and it's wrong to judge,
particularly beforehand, said the old lady, nursing ideas of rich
silks and satins, imported free of duty and sold at half price, and
trying to deceive herself.
While she was thus thinking the door opened and Wool ushered in a
stout, jolly-looking tar, dressed in a white pea-jacket, duck trousers
and tarpaulin hat, and carrying in his hand a large pack. He took off
his hat and scraped his foot behind him, and remained standing before
the housekeeper with his head tied up in a red bandana handkerchief and
his chin sunken in a red comforter that was wound around his throat.
Sit down, my good man, and rest while you show me the goods, said
Mrs. Condiment, who, whether he were smuggler or not, was inclined to
show the traveler all lawful kindness.
The sailor scraped his foot again, sat down on a low chair, put his
hat on one side, drew the pack before him, untied it and first
displayed a rich golden-hued fabric, saying:
Now here, ma'am, is a rich China silk I bought in the streets of
Shanghai, where the long-legged chickens come from. Come, now, I'll
ship it off cheap
Oh, that is a great deal too gay and handsome for an old woman like
me, said Mrs. Condiment.
Well, ma'am, perhaps there's young ladies in the fleet? Now, this
would rig out a smart young craft as gay as a clipper! Better take it,
ma'am. I'll ship it off cheap!
Wool! said Mrs. Condiment, turning to the servant, go down to the
kitchen and call up the house servantsperhaps they would like to buy
As soon as Wool had gone and the good woman was left alone with the
sailor, she stooped and said:
I did not wish to inquire before the servant man, but, my good sir,
I do not know whether it is right to buy from you!
Why so, ma'am? asked the sailor, with an injured look.
Why, I am afraidI am very much afraid you risk your life and
liberty in an unlawful trade!
Oh, ma'am, on my soul, these things are honestly come by, and you
have no right to accuse me! said the sailor, with a look of subdued
I know I haven't, and I meant no harm, but did these goods pass
through the custom house?
Oh, ma'am, now, that's not a fair question!
It is as I suspected! I cannot buy from you, my good friend. I do
not judge youI don't know whether smuggling is right or wrong, but I
know that it is unlawful, and I cannot feel free to encourage any man
in a traffic in which he risks his life and liberty, poor fellow!
Oh, ma'am, said the sailor, evidently on the brink of bursting
into laughter, if we risk our lives, sure, it's our own business, and
if you've no scruples on your own account, you needn't have any on
While he was speaking the sound of many shuffling feet was heard
along the passage, and the room was soon half filled with colored
people come in to deal with the sailor.
You may look at these goods, but you must not buy anything.
Lor' missus, why? asked little Pitapat.
Because I want you to lay out all your money with my friend Mr.
Crash at Tip-Top.
But after de good gemman has had de trouble? said Pitapat.
He shall have his supper and a mug of ale and go on his journey,
said Mrs. Condiment.
The sailor arose and scraped his foot behind him in acknowledgment
of this kindness and began to unpack his wares and display them all
over the floor.
And while the servants in wonder and delight examined these
treasures and inquired their prices, a fresh young voice was heard
carolling along the hall, and the next moment Capitola, in her green
riding habit and hat entered the room.
She turned her mischievous gray eyes about, pursed up her lips and
asked Mrs. Condiment if she were about to open a fancy bazaar.
No, my dear Miss Capitola! It is a sailor with foreign goods for
sale, answered the old lady.
A sailor with foreign goods for sale! Umph! yes, I know. Isn't he a
smuggler? whispered Capitola.
Indeed. I'm afraid so, my dearin fact, he don't deny it!
whispered back the matron.
Well, I think it's strange a man that smuggles can't lie!
Well, I don't know, my dearmay be he thinks it's no harm to
smuggle, and he knows it would be a sin to lie. But where is your
uncle, Miss Capitola?
Gone around to the stable to blow Jem up for mounting on a lame
horse. He swears Jem shall find another master before to-morrow's sun
sets. But now I want to talk to that bold buccaneer. Say, you sir, show
me your foreign goodsI'm very fond of smugglers myself!
You are right, my dear young lady! You would give poor sailors some
little chance to turn an honest penny!
Certainly! Brave fellows! Show me that splendid fabric that shines
like cloth of gold.
This, my young lady, this is a real, genuine China silk. I bought
it myself in my last cruise in the streets of Shanghai, where the
And fast young men come from! I know the place! I've been along
there! interrupted Capitola, her gray eyes glittering with mischief.
This you will perceive, young lady, is an article that cannot be
purchased anywhere except
From the manufactory of foreign goods in the city of New York, or
from their traveling agents!
Oh, my dear young lady, how you wrong me! This article came
The factory of Messrs. Hocus &Pocus, corner of Can't and Come-it
Street, City of Gotham!
Oh, my dear young lady
Look here, my brave buccaneer, I know all about it! I told you I'd
been along there! said the girl, and, turning to Mrs. Condiment, she
said. See here, my dear, good soul, if you want to buy that 'India'
silk that you are looking at so longingly, you may do it with a safe
conscience! True, it never passed through the custom housebecause it
was made in New York. I know all about it! All these 'foreign goods'
are manufactured at the north and sent by agents all over the country.
These agents dress and talk like sailors and assume a mysterious manner
on purpose to be suspected of smuggling, because they know well enough
fine ladies will buy much quicker and pay much more if they only fancy
they are cheating Uncle Sam in buying foreign goods from a smuggler at
So, then, you are not a smuggler, after all! said Mrs. Condiment,
looking almost regretfully at the sailor.
Why, ma'am, you know I told you you were accusing me wrongfully.
Well, but really, now, there was something about you that looked
sort of suspicious.
What did I tell you? A look put on on purpose, said Cap.
Well, he knows that if he wanted to pass for a smuggler, it didn't
take here, said Mrs. Condiment.
No, that it didn't! muttered the object of these commentaries.
Well, my good man, since you are, after all, an honest peddler,
just hand me that silk and don't ask me an unreasonable price for it,
because I'm a judge of silks and I won't pay more than it is worth,
said the old lady.
Madam, I leave it to your own conscience! You shall give me just
what you think it's worth.
Humph! that's too fair by half! I begin to think this fellow is
worse than he seems! said Capitola to herself.
After a little hesitation a price was agreed upon and the dress
Then the servants received permission to invest their little change
in ribbons, handkerchiefs, tobacco, snuff, or whatever they thought
they needed. When the purchases were all made and the peddler had done
up his diminished pack and replaced his hat upon his head and was
preparing to leave, Mrs. Condiment said:
My good man, it is getting very late, and we do not like to see a
traveler leave our house at this hourpray remain until morning, and
then, after an early breakfast, you can pursue your way in safety.
Thank you kindly, ma'am, but I must be far on my road to-night,
said the peddler.
But, my good man, you are a stranger in this part of the country
and don't know the danger you run, said the housekeeper.
Danger, ma'am, in this quiet country?
Oh, dear, yes, my good man, particularly with your valuable
packoh, my good gracious! cried the old lady, with an appalled look.
Indeed, ma'am, youyou make me sort of uneasy! What danger can
there be for a poor, peaceful peddler pursuing his path?
Oh, my good soul, may heaven keep you fromBlack Donald!
Black Donaldwho's he?
Oh, my good man, he's the awfullest villain that ever went unhung!
Black Donald? Black Donald? Never heard that name before in my
life? Why is the fellow called Black Donald?
Oh, sir, he's called Black Donald for his black soul, black deeds
andandalso, I believe, for his jet black hair and beard.
'Oh, my countrymen, what a falling up was there,' exclaimed
Capitola at this anti-climax.
And how shall I keep from meeting this villain? asked the peddler.
Oh, sir, how can I tell you? You never can form an idea where he is
or where he isn't! Only think, he may be in our midst any time, and we
not know it! Why, only yesterday the desperate villain handcuffed the
very sheriff in the very courtyard! Yet I wonder the sheriff did not
know him at once! For my own part, I'm sure I should know Black Donald
the minute I clapped my two looking eyes on him!
Should you, ma'am?
Yes, indeed, by his long, black hair and beard! They say it is half
a yard longnow a man of such a singular appearance as that must be
Of course! Then you never met this wretch face to face?
He? Me? Am I standing here alive? Do you suppose I should be
standing here if ever I had met that demon? Why, man, I never leave
this house, even in the day time, except with two bull dogs and a
servant, for fear I should meet Black Donald! I know if ever I should
meet that demon, I should drop dead with terror! I feel I should!
But maybe, now, ma'am, the man may not be so bad, after all? Even
the devil is not so bad as he is painted.
The devil may not be, but Black Donald is!
What do you think of this outlaw, young lady? asked the peddler,
turning to Capitola.
Why, I like him! said Cap.
Yes, I do! I like men whose very names strike terror into the
hearts of commonplace people!
Oh, Miss Black! exclaimed Mrs. Condiment.
Yes, I do, ma'am. And if Black Donald were only as honest as he is
brave I should quite adore him. So there! And if there is one person in
the world I should like to see it is Black Donald!
Do you really wish to see him? asked the peddler, looking intently
into the half earnest, half satirical face of the girl.
Yes, I do wish to see him above all things!
And do you know what happened the rash girl who wished to see the
She saw him!
Oh, if that's all, I dare it! And if wishing will bring me the
sight of this notorious outlaw, lo, I wish it! I wish to see Black
Donald! said Capitola.
The peddler deliberately arose and put down his pack and his hat;
then he suddenly tore off the scarf from his neck and the handkerchief
from his head, lifted his chin and shook loose a great rolling mass of
black hair and beard, drew himself up, struck an attitude, called up a
look, and exclaimed:
Behold Black Donald!
With a piercing shriek, Mrs. Condiment swooned and fell to the
floor; the poor negroes, men and maids, were struck dumb and motionless
with consternation; Capitola gazed for one lost moment in admiration
and curiosity; in the meantime Black Donald quickly resumed his
disguises, took up his pack and walked out of the room.
Capitola was the first to recover her presence of mind; the instinct
of the huntress possessed her; starting forward, she exclaimed:
Pursue him! catch him! come with me! Cowards, will you let a robber
and murderer escape? and she ran out and overtook the outlaw in the
middle of the hall. With the agile leap of a little terrier she sprang
up behind him, seized the thick collar of his pea-jacket with both
hands, and, drawing up her feet, hung there with all her weight,
Help! murder! murder! help! Come to my aid! I've caught Black
He could have killed her instantly in any one of a dozen ways. He
could have driven in her temples with a blow of his sledge-hammer fist;
he could have broken her neck with the grip of his iron fingers; he
only wished to shake her off without hurting hera difficult task, for
there she hung, a dead weight, at the collar of his coat at the back of
Oh, very well! he cried, laughing aloud! Such adhesiveness I
never saw! You stick to me like a wife to her husband. So if you won't
let go, I shall have to take you along, that's all! So here I go like
Christian with his bundle of sin on his back!
And loosing the upper button of his pea-jacket so as to give him
more breath, and, putting down his peddler's pack to relieve himself as
much as possible, the outlaw strode through the hall door, down the
steps, and down the evergreen avenue leading to the woods.
Capitola still clinging to the back of his coat-collar, with feet
drawn up, a dead weight, and still crying:
Help! Murder! I've caught Black Donald, and I'll die before I'll
let him go!
You're determined to be an outlaw's bride, that's certain! Well,
I've no particular objection! cried Black Donald, roaring with
laughter as he strode on.
It was a thing to see, not hearthat brave, rash, resolute imp
clinging like a terrier, or a crab, or a briar, on to the back of that
gigantic ruffian, whom, if she had no strength to stop, she was
determined not to release.
They had nearly reached the foot of the descent, when a great noise
and hallooing was heard behind them. It was the negroes, who, having
recovered from their panic, and armed themselves with guns, pistols,
swords, pokers, tongs and pitchforks, were now in hot pursuit!
And cries of Black Donald! Black Donald! Black Donald! filled the
I've got him! I've got him! help! help! quick! quick! screamed
Capitola, clinging closer than ever.
Though still roaring with laughter at the absurdity of his position,
Black Donald strode on faster than before, and was in a fair way of
escape, when lo! suddenly coming up the path in front of him, he
As the troop of miscellaneously armed negroes running down the hill
were still making eve hideous with yells of Black Donald! and
Capitola still clinging and hanging on at the back of his neck,
continued to cry, I've caught him! help! help! something like the
truth flashed in a blinding way upon Old Hurricane's perceptions.
Roaring forth something between a recognition and a defiance, the
old man threw up his fat arms, and as fast as age and obesity would
permit, ran up the hill to intercept the outlaw.
There was no time for trifling now! The army of negroes was at his
heels; the old veteran in his path; the girl clinging a dead weight to
his jacket behind. An idea suddenly struck him which he wondered had
not done so beforequickly unbuttoning and throwing off his garment he
dropped both jacket and captor behind him on the ground.
And before Capitola had picked herself up, Black Donald, bending his
huge head and shoulders forward and making a battering ram of himself,
ran with all his force and butted Old Hurricane in the stomach,
pitching him into the horse pond, leaped over the park fence and
disappeared in the forest.
What a scene! what a row followed the escape and flight of the
Who could imagine, far less describe it!a general tempest in which
every individual was a particular storm!
There stood the baffled Capitola, extricating her head from the
pea-jacket, and with her eyes fairly flashing out sparks of anger,
exclaiming, Oh, wretches! wretches that you are! If you'd been worth
salt you could have caught him while I clung to him so!
There wallowed Old Hurricane, spluttering, floundering, half
drowning, in the horse pond, making the most frantic efforts to curse
and swear as he struggled to get out.
There stood the crowd of negroes brought to a sudden stand by a
panic of horror at seeing the dignity of their master so outraged!
And, most frenzied of all, there ran Wool around and around the
margin of the pond, in a state of violent perplexity how to get his
master out without half drowning himself!
Blurr-urr-rr! flitch! flitch! Blurr!-ur! spluttered and sneezed
and strangled, Old Hurricane, as he floundered to the edge of the
pondBurr-urr-rr! Help me out, you scoundrel! I'll break every bone
in yourflitch! body! Do you hear meca-snish!villain you! flitch!
flitch! ca-snish! oh-h!
Wool with his eyes starting from his head and his hair standing up
with terrors of all sorts, plunged at last into the water and pulled
his old master up upon his feet.
Ca-snish! ca-snish! blurr-rr! flitch!what are you gaping there
for as if you'd raised the devil, you crowd of born fools! bawled Old
Hurricane as soon as he could get the water out of his mouth and
nosewhat are you standing there for! After him! After him, I say!
Scour the woods in every direction! His freedom to any man who brings
me Black Donald, dead or aliveWool!
Yes, sir, said that functionary, who was busying himself with
squeezing the water out of his master's garments.
Wool, let me alone? Take the fleetest horse in the stable! Ride for
your life to the Court House! Tell Keepe to have new bills posted
everywhere, offering an additional five hundred dollars for the
apprehension of thatthatthatfor the want of a word strong enough
to express himself, Old Hurricane suddenly stopped, and for the lack of
his stick to make silence emphatic, he seized his gray hair with both
hands and groaned aloud!
Wool waited no second bidding, but flew to do his errand.
Capitola came to the old man's side, saying:
Uncle, hadn't you better hurry homeyou'll take cold.
Cold? Cold! demmy! I never was so hot in my life! cried the old
man; but, demmy! you're right! Run to the house, Capitola, and tell
Mrs. Condiment to have me a full suit of dry clothes before the fire in
my chamber. Go, child! every man-jack is off after Black Donald, and
there is nobody but you and Condiment and the housemaids to take care
of me. Stop! look for my stick first. Where did that black demon throw
it? Demmy! I'd as well be without my legs!
Capitola picked up the old man's cane and hat and put the one on his
head and the other in his hand, and then hastened to find Mrs.
Condiment and tell her to prepare to receive her half-drowned patron.
She found the old lady scarcely recovered from the effects of her
recent fright, but ready on the instant to make every effort in behalf
of Old Hurricane, who presently after arrived dripping wet at the
Leaving the old gentleman to the care of his housekeeper, we must
follow Black Donald.
Hatless and coatless, with his long black hair and beard blown by
the wind, the outlaw made tracks for his retreatoccasionally stopping
to turn and get breath, and send a shout of laughter after his baffled
That same night, at the usual hour, the gang met at their
rendezvous, the deserted inn, beside the old road through the forest.
They were in the midst of their orgies around the supper table, when
the well-known ringing step of the leader sounded under the back
windows without, the door was burst open, and the captain, hatless,
coatless, with his dark elf locks flying, and every sign of haste and
disorder, rushed into the room.
He was met by a general rising and outcry: Hi! hillo! what's up?
exclaimed every man, starting to his feet and laying hands upon secret
arms, prepared for instant resistance.
For a moment Black Donald stood with his leonine head turned and
looking back over his stalwart shoulders, as if in expectation of
pursuit, and then, with a loud laugh, turned to his men, exclaiming:
Ho! you thought me followed! So I have been; but not as close as
hound to heel!
In fact, captain, you look as if you'd but escaped with your skin
this time! said Hal.
Faith! the captain looks well peeled! said Stephen.
Worse than that, boys! worse than that! Your chief has not only
lost his pack, his hat and his coat, buthis heart! Not only are the
outworks battered, but the citadel itself is taken! Not only has he
been captured, but captivated! And all by a little minx of a girl!
Boys, your chief is in love! exclaimed Black Donald, throwing himself
into his seat at the head of the table, and quaffing off a large
draught of ale.
Hip! hip! hurraw! three times three for the captain's love! cried
Hal, rising to propose the toast, which was honored with enthusiasm.
Now tell us all about it, captain. Who is she? Where did you see
her? Is she fair or dark; tall or short; thin or plump; what's her
name, and is she kind? asked Hal.
First, guess where I have been to-day?
You and your demon only know!
I guess they also know at Hurricane Hall, for it is there I have
Well, then, why didn't you go to perdition at once? exclaimed Hal,
in a consternation that was reflected in every countenance present.
Why, because when I go there I intend to take you all with me and
remain! answered Black Donald.
Tell us about the visit to Hurricane Hall, said Hal.
Whereupon Black Donald commenced, and concealing only the motive of
his visit, gave his comrades a very graphic, spicy and highly colored
narrative of his adventure at Hurricane Hall, and particularly of his
passages at arms with the little witch, Capitola, whom he described
Such a girl! slender, petite, lithe, with bright, black ringlets
dancing around a little face full of fun, frolic, mischief and spirit,
and bright eyes quick and vivacious as those of a monkey, darting
hither and thither from object to object.
The captain is in love sure enough, said Steve.
Bravo! here's success to the captain's love!she's a brick!
shouted the men.
Oh, she is! assented their chief, with enthusiasm.
Long life to her! three times three for the pretty witch of
Hurricane Hall! roared the men, rising to their feet and waving their
full mugs high in the air, before pledging the toast.
That is all very well, boys; but I want more substantial
compliments than wordsboys, I must have that girl!
Who doubts it, captain? Of course you will take her at once if you
want her, said Hal, confidently.
But, I must have help in taking her.
Captain, I volunteer for one! exclaimed Hal.
And I, for another, added Stephen.
And you, Dick? inquired the leader, turning toward the sullen man,
whose greater atrocity had gained for him the name of Demon Dick.
What is the use of volunteering when the captain has only to
command, said this individual, sulkily.
Ay! when the enterprise is simply the robbing of a mail coach, in
which you all have equal interest, then, indeed, your captain has only
to command, and you to obey; but this is a more delicate matter of
entering a lady's chamber and carrying her off for the captain's arms,
and so should only be entrusted to those whose feelings of devotion to
the captain's person prompt them to volunteer for the service, said
How elegantly our captain speaks! He ought to be a lawyer, said
The captain knows I'm with him for everything, said Dick, sulkily.
Very well, then, for a personal service like this, a delicate
service requiring devotion, I should scorn to give commands! I thank
you for your offered assistance, my friends, and shall count on you
three Hal, Stephen and Richard for the enterprise! said the captain.
Ay, ay, ay! said the three men, in a breath.
For the time and place and manner of the seizure of the girl, we
must reflect. Let us see! There is to be a fair in the village next
week, during the session of the court. Old Hurricane will be at court
as usual. And for one day, at least, his servants will have a holiday
to go to the fair. They will not get home until the next morning. The
house will be ill-guarded. We must find out the particular day and
night when this shall be so. Then you three shall watch your
opportunity, enter the house by stealth, conceal yourselves in the
chamber of the girl, and at midnight when all is quiet, gag her and
bring her away.
Excellent! said Hal.
And mind, no liberty, except the simple act of carrying her off, is
to be taken with your captain's prize! said the leader, with a
threatening glare of his lion-like eye.
Oh, no, no, not for the world! She shall be as sacred from insult
as though she were an angel and we saints! said Hal, both the others
And now, not a word more. We will arrange the further details of
this business hereafter, said the captain, as a peculiar signal was
given at the door.
Waving his hand for the men to keep their places, Black Donald went
out and opened the back passage door, admitting Colonel Le Noir.
Well! said the latter anxiously.
Well, sir, I have contrived to see her; come into the front room
and I will tell you all about it! said the outlaw, leading the way
into the old parlor that had been the scene of so many of their
Does Capitola Le Noir still live? hoarsely demanded the colonel,
as the two conspirators reached the parlor.
Still live? Yes; 'twas but yesterday we agreed upon her death! Give
a man time! Sit down, colonel! Take this seat. We will talk the matter
With something very like a sigh of relief, Colonel Le Noir threw
himself into the offered chair.
Black Donald drew another chair up and sat down beside his patron.
Well, colonel, I have contrived to see the girl as I told you, he
But you have not done the deed! When will it be done?
Colonel, my patron, be patient! Within twelve days I shall claim
the last instalment of the ten thousand dollars agreed upon between us
for this job!
But why so long, since it is to be done, why not have it over at
once? said Colonel Le Noir, starting up and pacing the floor
Patience, my colonel! The cat may play with the mouse most
delightfully before devouring it!
What do you mean?
My colonel, I have seen the girl, under circumstances that has
fired my heart with an uncontrollable desire for her.
Ha, ha ha! scornfully laughed the colonel. Black Donald, the mail
robber, burglar, outlaw, the subject of the grand passion!
Why not, my colonel? Listen, you shall hear! And then you shall
judge whether or not you yourself might not have been fired by the
fascinations of such a witch! said the outlaw, who straightway
commenced and gave his patron the same account of his visit to
Hurricane Hall that he had already related to his comrades.
The colonel heard the story with many a pish, tush and pshaw,
and when the man had concluded the tale he exclaimed:
Is that all? Then we may continue our negotiations, I care not!
Carry her off! marry her! do as you please with her! only at the end of
allkill her! hoarsely whispered Le Noir.
That is just what I intend, colonel!
That will do if the event be certain: but it must be certain! I
cannot breathe freely while my brother's heiress lives, whispered Le
Well, colonel, be content; here is my hand upon it! In six days
Capitola will be in my power! In twelve days you shall be out of hers!
It is a bargain, said each of the conspirators, in a breath, as
they shook hands and partedLe Noir to his home and Black Donald to
join his comrades' revelry.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE BOY'S LOVE
Why so endearing
Are those soft shining eyes,
Through their silk fringe peering?
They love thee! they love thee!
And more than aught else on earth
Thou lovest them dearly!
While these dark conspiracies were hatching elsewhere, all was
comfort, peace and love in the doctor's quiet dwelling.
Under Marah Rocke's administration the business of the household
went on with the regularity of clockwork. Every one felt the advantage
of this improved condition.
The doctor often declared that for his part he could not for the
life of him think how they had ever been able to get along without Mrs.
Rocke and Traverse.
Clara affirmed that however the past might have been, the mother and
son were a present and future necessity to the doctor's comfort and
The little woman herself gained rapidly both health and spirits and
good looks. Under favorable circumstances, Marah Rocke, even at
thirty-six, would have been esteemed a first-rate beauty; and even now
she was pretty, graceful and attractive to a degree that she herself
was far from suspecting.
Traverse advanced rapidly in his studies, to the ardent pursuit of
which he was urged by every generous motive that could fire a human
bosomaffection for his mother, whose condition he was anxious to
elevate; gratitude to his patron, whose great kindness he wished to
justify, and admiration for Clara, whose esteem he was ambitious to
He attended his patron in all his professional visits; for the
doctor said that actual, experimental knowledge formed the most
important part of a young medical student's education.
The mornings were usually passed in reading, in the library; the
middle of the day in attending the doctor on his professional visits,
and the evenings were passed in the drawing-room with the doctor, Clara
and Mrs. Rocke. And if the morning's occupation was the most earnest
and the day's the most active, the evening's relaxation with Clara and
music and poetry was certainly the most delightful! In the midst of all
this peace and prosperity a malady was creeping upon the boy's heart
and brain that, in his simplicity and inexperience, he could neither
understand nor conquer.
Why was it that these evening fireside meetings with the doctor's
lovely daughter, once such unalloyed delight, were now only a keenly
pleasing pain? Why did his face burn and his heart beat and his voice
falter when obliged to speak to her? Why could he no longer talk of her
to his mother, or write of her to his friend, Herbert Greyson? Above
all, why had his favorite day dream of having his dear friends, Herbert
and Clara married together, grown so abhorrent as to sicken his very
Traverse himself could not have answered these questions. In his
ignorance of life he did not know that all his strong, ardent, earnest
nature was tending toward the maiden by a power of attraction seated in
the deepest principles of being and of destiny.
Clara in her simplicity did not suspect the truth; but tried in
every innocent way to enliven the silent boy, and said that he worked
too hard, and begged her father not to let him study too much.
Whereupon the doctor would laugh and bid her not be uneasy about
Traversethat the boy was all right and would do very well! Evidently
the doctor, with all his knowledge of human nature, did not perceive
that his protégé was in process of forming an unadvisable attachment to
his daughter and heiress.
Mrs. Rocke, with her woman's tact and mother's forethought, saw all!
She saw that in the honest heart of her poor boy, unconsciously there
was growing up a strong, ardent, earnest passion for the lovely girl
with whom he was thrown in such close, intimate, daily association, and
who was certainly not indifferent in her feelings toward him; but whom
he might never, never hope to possess.
She saw this daily growing, and trembled for the peace of both. She
wondered at the blindness of the doctor, who did not perceive what was
so plain to her own vision. Daily she looked to see the eyes of the
doctor open and some action taken upon the circumstances; but they did
not open to the evil ahead, for the girl and boy! for morning after
morning their hands would be together tying up the same vines, or
clearing out the same flower bed; day after day at the doctor's orders
Traverse attended Clara on her rides; night after night their blushing
faces would be bent over the same sketch book, chess board, or music
Oh! if the doctor cannot and will not see, what shall I do? What
ought I to do? said the conscientious little woman to herself,
dreading above all things, and equally for her son and the doctor's
daughter, the evils of an unhappy attachment, which she, with her
peculiar temperament and experiences, believed to be the worst of
sorrowsa misfortune never to be conquered or outlived.
Yes! It is even better that we should leave the house than that
Traverse should become hopelessly attached to Clara; or, worse than
all, that he should repay the doctor's great bounty by winning the
heart of his only daughter, said Marah Rocke to herself; and so
screwing her courage to the sticking place, she took an opportunity
one morning early while Traverse and Clara were out riding, to go into
the study to speak to the doctor.
As usual, he looked up with a smile to welcome her as she entered;
but her downcast eyes and serious face made him uneasy, and he hastened
to inquire if she was not well, or if anything had happened to make her
anxious, and at the same time he placed a chair and made her sit in it.
Yes, I am troubled, doctor, about a subject that I scarcely know
how to break to you, she said, in some considerable embarrassment.
Mrs. Rocke, you know I am your friend, anxious to serve you! Trust
in me, and speak out!
Well, sir, said Marah, beginning to roll up the corner of her
apron, in her embarrassment, I should not presume to interfere, but
you do not see; gentlemen, perhaps, seldom do until it is too late.
She paused, and the good doctor turned his head about, listening first
with one ear and then with the other, as if he thought by attentive
hearing he might come to understand her incomprehensible words.
Miss Clara has the misfortune to be without a mother, or an aunt,
or any lady relative
Oh, yes, I know it, my dear madam; but then I am sure you
conscientiously try to fill the place of a matronly friend and adviser
to my daughter, said the doctor, striving after light.
Yes, sir, and it is in view of my duties in this relation that I
sayI and Traverse ought to go away.
You and Traverse go away! My good little woman, you ought to be
more cautious how you shock a man at my time of lifefifty is a very
apoplectic age to a full-blooded man, Mrs. Rocke! But now that I have
got over the shock, tell me why you fancy that you and Traverse ought
to go away?
Sir, my son is a well-meaning boy
A high-spirited, noble-hearted lad! put in the doctor. I have
never seen a better!
But granting all that to be what I hope and believe it istrue,
still, Traverse Rocke is not a proper or desirable daily associate for
Why? curtly inquired the doctor.
If Miss Clara's mother were living, sir, she would probably tell
you that young ladies should never associate with any except their
equals of the opposite sex, said Marah Rocke.
Clara's dear mother, were she on earth, would understand and
sympathize with me, and esteem your Traverse as I do, Mrs. Rocke, said
the doctor, with moist eyes and a tremulous voice.
But oh, sir, exceeding kind as you are to Traverse, I dare not, in
duty, look on and see things going the way in which they are, and not
speak and ask your consent to withdraw Traverse!
My good little friend, said the doctor, rising and looking kindly
and benignantly upon Marah, My good little woman 'sufficient unto the
day is the evil thereof!' Suppose you and I trust a little in Divine
Providence, and mind our own business?
But, sir, it seems to me a part of our business to watch over the
young and inexperienced, that they fall into no snare.
And also to treat them with 'a little wholesome neglect' that our
over-officiousness may plunge them into none!
I wish you would comprehend me, sir!
I do, and applaud your motives; but give yourself no further
trouble! Leave the young people to their own honest hearts and to
Providence. Clara, with all her softness, is a sensible girl, and as
for Traverse, if he is one to break his heart from an unhappy
attachment, I have been mistaken in the lad, that is all! said the
Mrs. Rocke sighed, and, saying, I deemed it my duty to speak to
you, sir, and having done so, I have no more to say, she slightly
curtsied and withdrew.
He does not see! His great benevolence blinds him! In his wish to
serve us he exposes Traverse to the most dreadful misfortunethe
misfortune of becoming hopelessly attached to one far above him in
station, whom he can never expect to possess! said Marah Rocke to
herself, as she retired from the room.
I must speak to Traverse himself and warn him against this snare,
she said, as she afterward ruminated over the subject.
And accordingly that evening, when she had retired to her chamber
and heard Traverse enter the little adjoining room where he slept, she
called him in, and gave him a seat, saying that she must have some
serious conversation with him.
The boy looked uneasy, but took the offered chair and waited for his
mother to speak.
Traverse, she said, a change has come over you recently that may
escape all other eyes but those of your mother; she, Traverse, cannot
be blind to anything that seriously affects her boy's happiness.
Mother, I scarcely know what you mean, said the youth in
Traverse, you are beginning to think too much of Miss Day.
Oh, mother! exclaimed the boy, while a violent blush overspread
and empurpled his face! Then in a little while and in faltering tones
he inquired. Have I betrayed, in any way, that I do?
To no one but to me, Traverse, to me whose anxiety for your
happiness makes me watchful; and now, dear boy, you must listen to me.
I know it is very sweet to you, to sit in a dark corner and gaze on
Clara, when no one, not even herself, witnesses your joy, and to lie
awake and think and dream of her when no eye but that of God looks down
upon your heart; and to build castles in the air for her and for you;
all this I know is very sweet, but, Traverse, it is a sweet
poisonfatal if indulged infatal to your peace and integrity.
Oh, my mother! Oh, my mother! What are you telling me! exclaimed
Unpalatable truths, dear boy, but necessary antidotes to that sweet
poison of which you have already tasted too much.
What would you have me to do, my mother?
Guard your acts and words, and even thoughts; forbear to look at,
or speak to, or think of Clara, except when it is unavoidableor if
you do, regard her as she isone so far beyond your sphere as to be
Oh, mother, I never once dreamed of such presumption as to think
ofofThe youth paused and a deep blush again overspread his face.
I know you have not indulged presumptuous thoughts as yet, my boy,
and it is to warn you against them, while yet your heart is in some
measure within your own keeping, that I speak to you. Indulge your
imagination in no more sweet reveries about Miss Day, for the end
thereof will be bitter humiliation and disappointment. Remember also
that in so doing you would indulge a sort of treachery against your
patron, who in his great faith in your integrity has received you in
the bosom of his family and admitted you to an almost brotherly
intimacy with his daughter. Honor his trust in you, and treat his
daughter with the distant respect due to a princess.
I will, mother! It will be hard, but I will! Oh, an hour ago I did
not dream how miserable I should be now! said Traverse, in a choking
Because I have pointed out to you the gulf toward which you were
I know it! I know it now, mother, said Traverse, as he arose and
pressed his mother's hand and hurried to his own room.
The poor youth did his best to follow out the line of conduct
prescribed for him by his mother. He devoted himself to his studies and
to the active service of his patron. He avoided Clara as much as
possible, and when obliged to be in her company, he treated her with
the most respectful reserve.
Clara saw and wondered at his change of manner, and began to cast
about in her own mind for the probable cause of his conduct.
I am the young mistress of the house, said Clara to herself, and
I know I owe to every inmate of it consideration and courtesy; perhaps
I may have been unconsciously lacking in these toward Traverse, whose
situation would naturally render him very sensitive to neglect. I must
endeavor to convince him that none was intended. And so resolving,
Clara redoubled all her efforts to make Traverse, as well as others,
happy and comfortable.
But happiness and comfort seemed for the time to have departed from
the youth. He saw her generous endeavors to cheer him, and while
adoring her amiability, grew still more reserved.
This pained the gentle girl, who, taking herself seriously to task,
Oh, I must have deeply wounded his feelings in some unconscious
way! And if so, how very cruel and thoughtless of me! How could I have
done it? I cannot imagine! But I know I shall not allow him to continue
unhappy if I can prevent it! I will speak to him about it.
And then in the candor, innocence and humility of her soul, she
followed him to the window where he stood in a moody silence, and said
Traverse, we do not seem to be so good friends as formerly. If I
have done anything to offend you, I know that you will believe me when
I say that it was quite unintentional on my part and that I am very
sorry for it, and hope you will forget it.
YouyouMiss Day! You say anything to displease anybody! Any one
become displeased with you! exclaimed the youth in a tremulous
enthusiasm that shook his voice and suffused his cheeks.
Then if you are not displeased, Traverse, what is the matter, and
why do you call me Miss Day instead of Clara?
Miss Day, because it is right that I should. You are a young
ladythe only daughter and heiress of Doctor Day of Willow Heights,
while I am
His friend, said Clara.
The son of his housekeeper, said Traverse, walking away.
Clara looked after him in dismay for a moment, and then sat down and
bent thoughtfully over her needlework.
From that day Traverse grew more deeply in love and more reserved
than before. How could it be otherwise, domesticated as he was, with
this lovely girl and becoming daily more sensible of her beauty,
goodness and intelligence? Yet he struggled against his inevitable
attachment as a great treachery. Meantime he made rapid progress in his
medical studies. It was while affairs were in this state that one
morning the doctor entered the study holding the morning paper in his
hand. Seating himself in his leathern armchair at the table, he said:
I see, my dear Traverse, that a full course of lectures is to be
commenced at the medical college in Washington, and I think that you
are sufficiently far advanced in your studies to attend them with great
advantagewhat say you?
Oh, sir! said Traverse, upon whom the proposition had burst quite
unexpectedly, I should indeed be delighted to go if that were
There is no 'if' about it, my boy; if you wish to go, you shall do
so. I have made up my mind to give you a professional education, and
shall not stop half way.
Oh, sir, the obligationthe overwhelming obligation you lay upon
Nonsense, Traverse! it is only a capital investment of funds! If I
were a usurer I could not put out money to a better advantage. You will
repay me by-and-by with compound interest; so just consider all that I
may be able to do for you as a loan to be repaid when you shall have
I am afraid, sir, that that time will never
No, you are not! interrupted the doctor, and so don't let modesty
run into hypocrisy. Now put up your books and go and tell your good
little mother to get your clothes all ready for you to go to
Washington, for you shall start by the next coach.
Much surprise was created in the little household by the news that
Traverse was going immediately to Washington to attend the medical
lectures. There were but two days to prepare his wardrobe for the
journey. Mrs. Rocke went cheerfully to work; Clara lent her willing and
skilful aid, and at the end of the second day his clothes, in perfect
order, were all neatly packed in his trunk.
And on the morning of the third day Traverse took leave of his
mother and Clara, and for the first time left home to go into the great
world. Doctor Day accompanied him in the old green gig as far as
Staunton, where he took the stage.
As soon as they had left the house Marah Rocke went away to her own
room to drop a few natural tears over this first parting with her son.
Very lonely and desolate the mother felt as she stood weeping by the
window, and straining her eyes to catch a distant view of the old green
gig that had already rolled out of sight.
While she stood thus in her loneliness and desolation, the door
silently opened, a footstep softly crossed the floor, a pair of arms
was put around her neck, and Clara Day dropped her head upon the
mother's bosom and wept softly.
Marah Rocke pressed that beautiful form to her breast, and felt with
dismay that the doctor's sweet daughter already returned her boy's
CHAPTER XXIV. CAPITOLA'S MOTHER.
A woman like a dew-drop she was purer than the purest,
And her noble heart the noblest, yes, and her sure faith the
And her eyes were dark and humid like the depth in depth of
Hid i' the harebell, while her tresses, sunnier than the wild
Gushed in raven-tinted plenty down her cheeks' rose-tinted
Then her voice's musiccall it the well's bubbling, the bird's
What the blazes is the matter with you?
What the blazes! You better say what the dust and ashes! I'm bored
to death! I'm blue as indigo! There never was such a rum old place as
this or such a rum old uncle as you!
Cap, how often have I told you to leave off this Bowery boy talk?
Rum! pah! said Old Hurricane.
Well, it is rum, then! Nothing ever happens here! The silence
deafens me! the plenty takes away my appetite! the safety makes me
Hum! you are like the Bowery boys in times of peace, 'spoiling for
Yes. I am! just decomposing above ground for want of having my
blood stirred, and I wish I was back in the Bowery! Something was
always happening there! One day a fire, next day a fight, another day a
fire and a fight together.
Umph! and you to run with the engine!
Don't talk about it, uncle; it makes me homesickevery day
something glorious to stir one's blood! Here nothing ever happens,
hardly! It has been three days since I caught Black Donald; ten days
since you blowed up the whole household! Oh! I wish the barns would
catch on fire! I wish thieves would break in and steal. I wish Demon's
Run would rise to a flood and play the demon for once! Ohyah!oo!
said Cap, opening her mouth with a yawn wide enough to threaten the
dislocation of her jaws.
Capitola, said the old man, very gravely, I am getting seriously
uneasy about you. I know I am a rough old soldier, quite unfit to
educate a young girl, and that Mrs. Condiment can't manage you,
andI'll consult Mr. Goodwin! he concluded, getting up and putting on
his hat, and walking out of the breakfast-room, where this conversation
had taken place.
Cap laughed to herself. I hope it is not a sin. I know I should die
of the blues if I couldn't give vent to my feelings andtease uncle!
Capitola had scarcely exaggerated her condition. The monotony of her
life affected her spirits; the very absence of the necessity of
thinking and caring for herself left a dull void in her heart and
brain, and as the winter waned the annual spring fever of lassitude and
dejection to which mercurial organizations like her own are subject,
tended to increase the malady that Mrs. Condiment termed a lowness of
At his wits' end, from the combined feelings of his responsibility
and his helplessness in his ward's case, Old Hurricane went and laid
the matter before the Rev. Mr. Goodwin.
Having reached the minister's house and found him alone and
disengaged in his library, Old Hurricane first bound him over to strict
secrecy and then made a clean breast of it; told him where Capitola
had been brought up and under what circumstances he had found her.
The honest country clergyman was shocked beyond all immediate power
of recovering himselfso shocked, in fact, that Old Hurricane, fearing
he had gone too far, hastened to say:
But mind, on my truth as a man, my honor as a soldier, and my faith
as a Christian, I declare that that wild, reckless, desolate child has
passed unscathed through the terrible ordeal of destitution, poverty
and exposure. She has, sir! She is as innocent as the most daintily
sheltered young heiress in the country! She is, sir! And I'd cut off
the tongue and ears of any man that said otherwise.
I do not say otherwise, my friend; but I say that she has suffered
a frightful series of perils.
She has come out of them safe, sir! I know it by a thousand signs;
what I fear for her is the future. I can't manage her. She won't obey
me, except when she likes. She has never been taught obedience nor been
accustomed to subordination, and I don't understand either. She rides
and walks out alone in spite of all I can do or say. If she were a boy
I'd thrash her; but what can I do with a girl? said Old Hurricane, in
Lock her up in her chamber until she is brought to reason,
suggested the minister.
Demmy, she'd jump out of the window and break her neck! or hang
herself with her garters! or starve herself to death! You don't know
what an untamable thing she is. Some birds, if caged, beat themselves
to death against the bars of their prison. She is just such a wild bird
Humph! it is a difficult case to manage; but you should not shrink
from responsibility; you should be firm with her.
That's just what I can't be with the witch, confound her! she is
such a wag, such a drole, such a mimic; disobeys me in such a mocking,
cajoling, affectionate way. I could not give her pain if her soul
depended on it!
Then you should talk to her; try moral suasion.
Yes; if I could only get her to be serious long enough to listen to
me! But you see Cap isn't sentimental, and if I try to be she laughs in
But, then, is she so insensible to all the benefits you have
conferred upon her? Will not gratitude influence her?
Yes; so far as repaying me with a genuine affection, fervent
caresses and careful attention to my little comforts can go; but Cap
evidently thinks that the restriction of her liberty is too heavy a
price to pay for protection and support. The little rogue! Think of her
actually threatening, in her good-humored way, to cite me before the
nearest justice to show cause why I detained her in my house!
Well, you could easily do that, I suppose, and she could no longer
oppose your authority.
No; that is just what I couldn't do; I couldn't show any legal
rights to detain Capitola.
Humph! That complicates the case very much!
Yes; and much more than you think; for I wish to keep Capitola
until she is of legal age. I do not wish that she should fall into the
hands of her perfidious guardian until I shall be able to bring legal
proof of his perfidy.
Then it appears that this girl has received foul play from her
Foul play! I should think so! Gabriel Le Noir has very nearly put
his neck into a halter.
Gabriel Le Noir! Colonel Le Noir, our neighbor! exclaimed the
Exactly so. Parson, you have given me your word as a Christian
minister to be silent forever concerning this interview, or until I
give you leave to speak of it.
Yes, major, and I repeat my promise; but, indeed, sir, you astound
Listen, and let astonishment rise to consternation. I will tell you
who Capitola is. You, sir, have been in this neighborhood only ten
years, and, consequently, you know Gabriel Le Noir only as the
proprietor of Hidden House, a widower with a grown son
And as a gentleman of irreproachable reputation, in good standing
both in the church and in the county.
Ex-actly! A man that pays his pew rent, gives good dinners and
takes off his hat to women and clergymen! Well, sir, this gentleman of
irreproachable manners and moralsthis citizen of consideration in the
communitythis member in good standing with the churchhas qualified
himself for twenty years' residence in the penitentiary, even if not
for the exaltation of a hangman's halter!
Sir, I am inexpressibly shocked to hear you say so, and I must
still believe that there is some great mistake.
Wait until I tell you! I, Ira Warfield, have known Gabriel Le Noir
as a villain for the last eighteen years. I tell you so without
scruple, and hold myself ready to maintain my words in field or forum,
by sword or law! Well, having known him so long for such a knave, I was
in no manner surprised to discover some six months ago that he was also
a criminal, and only needed exposure to become a felon!
Sir, sir! this is strong language!
I am willing to back it with 'life, liberty and sacred honor,' as
the Declaration of Independence has it. Listen: Some sixteen years ago,
before you came to take this pastoral charge, the Hidden House was
occupied by old Victor Le Noir, the father of Eugene, the heir, and of
Gabriel, the present usurper. The old man died, leaving a will to this
effectthe landed estate, including the coal and iron mines, the
Hidden House and all the negroes, stock, furniture and other personal
property upon the premises to his eldest son Eugene, with the proviso
that if Eugene should die without issue, the landed estate, houses,
negroes, etc., should descend to his younger brother Gabriel. To
Gabriel he left his bank stock and blessing.
An equitable will, observed the minister.
Yes; but hear! At the time of his father's death Eugene was
traveling in Europe. On receiving the news he immediately returned
home, bringing with him a lovely young creature, a mere child, that he
presented to his astounded neighbors as Madame Eugene Le Noir! I
declare to you there was one simultaneous outcry of shame, that he
should have trapped into matrimony a creature so infantile, for she was
scarcely fourteen years of age!
It was indeed highly improper, said the minister.
So thought all the neighborhood; but when they found out how it
happened, disapproval was changed to commendation. She was the daughter
of a French patriot. Her father and mother had both perished on the
scaffold in the sacred cause of liberty; she was thrown helpless,
friendless and penniless upon the cold charity of the world; Providence
cast her in the way of our sensitive and enthusiastic young traveler;
he pitied her; he loved her, and was casting about in his own mind how
he could help without compromising her, when the news of his father's
illness summoned him home. Then, seeing no better way of protecting
her, after a little hesitation upon account of her tender age, he
married her and brought with him.
Good deeds, we know, must be rewarded in heaven, since on earth
they are so often punished.
He did not long enjoy his bride. She was just the most beautiful
creature that ever was seenwith a promise of still more glorious
beauty in riper years. I have seen handsome women and pretty womenbut
Madame Eugene Le Noir was the only perfectly beautiful woman I ever saw
in my long life! My own aged eyes seemed 'enriched' only to look at
her! She adored Eugene, too; any one could see that. At first she spoke
English in 'broken music,' but soon her accent became as perfect as if
she had been native born. How could it have been otherwise, when her
teacher and inspirer was love? She won all hearts with her loveliness!
Humph! hear me, an old foolworsean Old Hurricanebetrayed into
discourses of love and beauty merely by the remembrance of Madame
Eugene Le Noir! Ah, bright, exotic flower! she did not bloom long. The
bride had scarcely settled down into the wife when one night Eugene Le
Noir did not come home as usual. The next day his dead body, with a
bullet in his brain, was found in the woods around the Hidden House.
The murderer was never discovered. Gabriel Le Noir came in haste from
the military post where he had been stationed. Madame Eugene was never
seen abroad after the death of her husband. It was reported that she
had lost her reason, a consequence that surprised no one. Eugene having
died without issue, and his young widow being mad, Gabriel, by the
terms of his father's will, stepped at once into the full possession of
the whole property.
Something of all this I have heard before, said the minister.
Very likely, for these facts and falsehoods were the common
property of the neighborhood. But what you have not heard before, and
what is not known to any now living, except the criminals, the victims
and myself, is that, three months after the death of her husband,
Madame Eugene Le Noir gave birth to twinsone living, one dead. The
dead child was privately buried; the living one, together with the
nurse that was the sole witness of the birth, was abducted.
Great heavens! can this be true? exclaimed the minister, shocked
beyond all power of self-control.
True as gospel! I have proof enough to carry conviction to any
honest breastto satisfy any cavillerexcept a court of justice. You
shall hear. You remember the dying woman whom you dragged me out in the
snow-storm to seeblame you!
She was the abducted nurse, escaped and returned. It was to make a
deposition to the facts I am about to relate that she sent you to fetch
me, said Old Hurricane; and with that he commenced and related the
whole dark history of crime comprised in the nurse's dying deposition.
They examined the instrument together, and Old Hurricane again related,
in brief, the incidents of his hurried journey to New York; his meeting
and identifying Capitola and bringing her home in safety to his house.
And thus, said the old man, you perceive that this child whose
birth was feloniously concealed, and who was cast away to perish among
the wretched beggars, thieves and street-walkers of New York, is really
the only living child of the late Eugene Le Noir, and the sole
inheritrix of the Hidden House, with its vast acres of fields, forests,
iron and coal mines, water power, steam mills, furnaces and
foundrieswealth that I would not undertake to estimate within a
million of dollarsall of which is now held and enjoyed by that
usurping villain, Gabriel Le Noir!
But, said the minister, gravely, you have, of course, commenced
proceedings on the part of your protégé.
Listen; I will tell you what I have done. When I first brought Cap
home I was moved not only by the desire of wreaking vengeance upon a
most atrocious miscreant who had done me an irreparable injury, but
also by sympathy for the little witch who had won my heart at first
sight. Therefore, you may judge I lost no time in preparing to strike a
double blow which should ruin my own mortal enemy and reinstate my
favorite in her rights. With this view, immediately on my return home,
I sent for Breefe, my confidential attorney, and laid the whole matter
To my dismay he told me that, though the case was clear enough, it
was not sufficiently strong, in a legal point of view, to justify us in
bringing suit; for that the dying deposition of the mulatto nurse could
not be received as evidence in our county courts.
You knew that before, sir, I presume.
Of course I did; but I thought it was a lawyer's business to get
over such difficulties; and I assure you, parson, that I flew into a
passion and cursed court and county law and lawyers to my heart's
content. I would have quarreled with old Breefe then and there, only
Breefe won't get excited. He very coolly advised me to keep the matter
close and my eyes open, and gather all the corroborative testimony I
could find, and that, in the meantime, he would reflect upon the best
manner of proceeding.
I think, Major Warfield, that his counsel was wise and
disinterested. But tell me, sir, of the girl's mother. Is it not
astonishingin fact, is it not perfectly incomprehensiblethat so
lovely a woman as you have represented her to be should have consented
to the concealment, if not to the destruction, of her own legitimate
Sir, to me it is not incomprehensible at all. She was at once an
orphan and a widow; a stranger in a strange land; a poor, desolate,
broken-hearted child, in the power of the cunningest and most
unscrupulous villain that the Lord ever suffered to live! I wonder at
nothing that he might have deceived or frightened her into doing.
Heaven forgive us! Have I known that man for ten years to hear this
account of him at last? But tell me, sir, have you really any true idea
of what has been the fate of the poor young widow?
No; not the slightest. Immediately after his brother's funeral,
Gabriel Le Noir gave out that Madame Eugene had lost her reason through
excessive grief, soon after which he took her with him to the North,
and, upon his return alone, reported that he had left her in a
celebrated lunatic asylum. The story was probable enough, and received
universal belief. Only now I do not credit it, and do not know whether
the widow be living or dead; or, if living, whether she be mad or sane;
if dead, whether she came to her end by fair means or foul!
Merciful heaven, sir! you do not mean to say
Yes; I do mean to say; and if you would like to know what is on my
private mind I'll tell you. I believe that Madame Eugene Le Noir has
been treacherously made away with by the same infernal demon at whose
instigation her husband was murdered and her child stolen.
The minister seemed crushed beneath the overwhelming weight of this
communication; he passed his hand over his brow and thence down his
face and sighed deeply. For a few moments he seemed unable to reply,
and when he spoke it was only to say:
In this matter, Major Warfield, I can offer you no counsel better
than that of your confidential attorneyfollow the light that you have
until it lead you to the full elucidation of this affair; and may
heaven grant that you may find Colonel Le Noir less guilty than you
Parson, humbug! When charity drivels it ought to be turned off by
justice! I will follow the little light I have. I suspect, from the
description, that the wretch who at Le Noir's instance carried off the
nurse and child was no other than the notorious Black Donald. I have
offered an additional thousand dollars for his apprehension, and if he
is taken he will be condemned to death, make a last dying speech and
confession and give up his accomplices, the accomplished Colonel Le
Noir among the rest!
If the latter really was an accomplice, there could be no better
way of discovering the fact than to bring this Black Donald to justice;
but I greatly fear that there is little hope of that, said the
Aye, but there is! Listen! The long impunity enjoyed by this
desperado has made him daring to fatuity. Why, I was within a hair's
breadth of capturing him myself a few days ago.
Ha! is it possible? asked the minister, with a look of surprise
Aye, was I; and you shall hear all about it, said Old Hurricane.
And upon that he commenced and told the minister the adventure of
Capitola with Black Donald at Hurricane Hall.
The minister was amazed, yet could not forbear to say:
It seems to me, however, that it was Capitola who was in a hair's
breadth of capturing this notorious desperado.
Pooh! she clung to him like the reckless lunatic that she is; but
Lord, he would have carried her off on his back if it had not been for
The minister smiled a little to himself and then said:
This protégé of yours is a very remarkable girl, as interesting to
me in her character as she is in her history; her very spirit, courage
and insubordination make her singularly hard to manage and apt to go
astray. With your permission I will make her acquaintance, with the
view of seeing what good I can do her.
Pray do so, for then you will be better able to counsel me how to
manage the capricious little witch who, if I attempt to check her in
her wild and dangerous freedom of action, tells me plainly that liberty
is too precious a thing to be exchanged for food and clothing, and
that, rather than live in bondage, she will throw herself upon the
protection of the court. If she does that the game is up. Le Noir,
against whom we can as yet prove nothing, would claim her as his niece
and ward, and get her into his power for the purpose of making way with
her, as he did with her father and mother.
Oh, for heaven's sake, sir! no more of that until we have further
evidence, said the minister, uneasily, adding, I will see your very
interesting protégé to-morrow.
Do, do! to-morrow, to-day, this hour, any time! said Major
Warfield, as he cordially took leave of the pastor.
CHAPTER XXV. CAP'S TRICKS AND
I'll be merry and free,
I'll be sad for naebody;
Naebody cares for me,
I care for naebody.
The next day, according to agreement, the pastor came and dined at
Hurricane Hall. During the dinner he had ample opportunity of observing
In the afternoon Major Warfield took an occasion of leaving him
alone with the contumacious young object of his visit.
Cap, with her quick perceptions, instantly discovered the drift and
purpose of this action, which immediately provoked all the mischievous
propensities of her elfish spirit.
Uncle means that I shall be lectured by the good parson. If he
preaches to me, won't I humor him 'to the top of his bent?'that's
all, was her secret resolution, as she sat demurely, with pursed-up
lips, bending over her needlework.
The honest and well-meaning old country clergyman hitched his chair
a little nearer to the perverse young rebel, and gingerlyfor he was
half afraid of his questionable subjectentered into conversation with
To his surprise and pleasure, Capitola replied with the decorum of a
Encouraged by her manner, the good minister went on to say how much
interested he felt in her welfare; how deeply he compassionated her lot
in never having possessed the advantage of a mother's teaching; how
anxious he was by his counsels to make up to her as much as possible
such a deficiency.
Here Capitola put up both her hands and dropped her face upon them.
Still farther encouraged by this exhibition of feeling, Mr. Goodwin
went on. He told her that it behooved her, who was a motherless girl,
to be even more circumspect than others, lest, through very ignorance,
she might err; and in particular he warned her against riding or
walking out alone, or indulging in any freedom of manners that might
draw upon her the animadversions of their very strict community.
Oh, sir, I know I have been very indiscreet, and I am very
miserable, said Capitola, in a heart-broken voice.
My dear child, your errors have hitherto been those of ignorance
only, and I am very much pleased to find how much your good uncle has
been mistaken, and how ready you are to do strictly right when the way
is pointed out, said the minister, pleased to his honest heart's core
that he had made this deep impression.
A heavy sigh burst from the bosom of Capitola.
What is the matter, my dear child? he said, kindly.
Oh, sir, if I had only known you before! exclaimed Capitola,
Why, my dear? I can do just as much good now.
Oh, no, sir; it is too late; it is too late!
It is never to late to do well.
Oh, yes, sir; it is for me! Oh, how I wish I had had your good
counsel before; it would have saved me from so much trouble.
My dear child, you make me seriously uneasy; do explain yourself,
said the old pastor, drawing his chair closer to hers and trying to get
a look at the distressed little face that was bowed down upon her hands
and veiled with her hair; do tell me, my dear, what is the matter.
Oh, sir, I am afraid to tell you; you'd hate and despise me; you'd
never speak to me again, said Capitola, keeping her face concealed.
My dear child, said the minister, very gravely and sorrowfully,
whatever your offense has been, and you make me fear that it has been
a very serious one, I invite you to confide it to me, and, having done
so, I promise, however I may mourn the sin, not to 'hate,' or
'despise,' or forsake the sinner. Come, confide in me.
Oh, sir, I daren't! indeed I daren't! moaned Capitola.
My poor girl! said the minister, if I am to do you any good it is
absolutely necessary that you make me your confidant.
Oh, sir, I have been a very wicked girl; I daren't tell you how
wicked I have been!
Does your good uncle know or suspect this wrongdoing of yours?
Uncle! Oh, no, sir! He'd turn me out of doors! He'd kill me! Indeed
he would, sir! Please don't tell him!
You forget, my child, that I do not yet know the nature of your
offense, said the minister, in a state of painful anxiety.
But I am going to inform you, sir; and oh! I hope you will take
pity on me and tell me what to do; for though I dread to speak, I can't
keep it on my conscience any longer, it is such a heavy weight on my
Sin always is, my poor girl, said the pastor, with a deep moan.
But, sir, you know I had no mother, as you said yourself.
I know it, my poor girl, and am ready to make every allowance,
said the old pastor, with a deep sigh, not knowing what next to expect.
AndandI hope you will forgive me, sir; butbut he was so
handsome I couldn't help liking him!
Miss Black! cried the horrified pastor.
There! I knew you'd just go and bite my head off the very first
thing! Oh, dear, what shall I do? sobbed Capitola.
The good pastor, who had started to his feet, remained gazing upon
her in a panic of consternation, murmuring to himself:
Good angel! I am fated to hear more great sins than if I were a
prison chaplain! Then, going up to the sobbing delinquent he said:
Unhappy girl! who is this person of whom you speak?
Hhhhim that I met when I went walking in the woods, sobbed
Heaven of heavens! this is worse than my very worst fears! Wretched
girl! Tell me instantly the name of this base deceiver!
Hehehe's no base deceiver; hehehe's very amiable and
good-looking; andandand that's why I liked him so much; it was all
my fault, not his, poor, dear fellow!
His name? sternly demanded the pastor.
AlfAlfAlfred, wept Capitola.
Miserable girl! how often have you met this miscreant in the
Idon'tknow! sobbed Capitola.
Where is the wretch to be found now?
Oh, please don't hurt him, sir! Please don't! Hehehe's hid in
the closet in my room.
A groan that seemed to have rent his heart in twain burst from the
bosom of the minister, as he repeated in deepest horror:
In your room! (Well, I must prevent murder being done!) Did you not
know, you poor child, the danger you ran by giving this young man
private interviews; and, above all, admitting him to your apartment?
Wretched girl! better you'd never been born than ever so to have
received a man!
Man! man! man!I'd like to know what you mean by that, Mr.
Goodwin! exclaimed Capitola, lifting her eyes flashing through their
I mean the man with whom you have given these private interviews.
I!I give private interviews to a man! Take care what you say, Mr.
Goodwin; I won't be insulted; no, not even by you!
Then, if you are not talking of a man, who or what in the world are
you talking about? exclaimed the amazed minister.
Why, Alfred, the Blenheim poodle that strayed away from some of the
neighbors' houses, and that I found in the woods and brought home and
hid in my closet, for fear he would be inquired after, or uncle would
find it out and make me give him up. I knew it was wrong, but then he
was so pretty
Before Capitola had finished her speech Mr. Goodwin had seized his
hat and rushed out of the house in indignation, nearly overturning Old
Hurricane, whom he met on the lawn, and to whom he said:
Thrash that girl as if she were a bay boy, for she richly deserves
There! what did I say? Now you see what a time I have with her; she
makes me sweat, I can tell you, said Old Hurricane, in triumph.
Oh! oh! oh! groaned the sorely-tried minister.
What's it now? inquired Old Hurricane.
The pastor took the major's arm and, while they walked up and down
before the house, told how he had been sold by Capitola, ending by
You will have to take her firmly in hand.
I'll do it, said Old Hurricane. I'll do it.
The pastor then called for his horse and, resisting all his host's
entreaties to stay to tea, took his departure.
Major Warfield re-entered the house, resolving to say nothing to
Capitola for the present, but to seize the very first opportunity of
punishing her for her flippancy.
The village fair had commenced on Monday. It had been arranged that
all Major Warfield's family should go, though not all upon the same
day. It was proposed that on Thursday, when the festival should be at
its height, Major Warfield, Capitola and the house servants should go.
And on Saturday Mrs. Condiment, Mr. Ezy and the farm servants should
have a holiday for the same purpose.
Therefore, upon Thursday morning all the household be-stirred
themselves at an unusually early hour, and appeared before breakfast in
their best Sunday's suit.
Capitola came down to breakfast in a rich blue silk carriage dress,
looking so fresh, blooming and joyous that it went to the old man's
heart to disappoint her; yet Old Hurricane resolved, as the pastor had
told him, to be firm, and, once for all, by inflicting punishment, to
bring her to a sense of her errors.
There, you need not trouble yourself to get ready, Capitola; you
shall not go to the fair with us, he said, as Cap took her seat.
Sir! exclaimed the girl, in surprise.
Oh, yes; you may stare; but I'm in earnest. You have behaved very
badly; you have deeply offended our pastor; you have no reverence, no
docility, no propriety, and I mean to bring you to a sense of your
position by depriving you of some of your indulgences; and, in a word,
to begin I say you shall not go to the fair to-day.
You mean, sir, that I shall not go with you, although you promised
that I should, said Cap, coolly.
I mean you shall not go at all, demmy!
I'd like to know who'll prevent me, said Cap.
I will, Miss Vixen! Demmy, I'll not be set at naught by a beggar!
Mrs. Condiment, leave the room, mum, and don't be sitting there
listening to every word I have to say to my ward. Wool, be off with
yourself, sir; what do you stand there gaping and staring for? Be off,
or the old man looked around for a missile, but before he found
one the room was evacuated except by himself and Capitola.
Now, minion, he began, as soon as he found himself alone with the
little rebel, I did not choose to mortify you before the servants,
but, once for all, I will have you to understand that I intend to be
obeyed. And Old Hurricane gathered his brows like a gathering storm.
Sir, if you were really my uncle, or my father, or my legal
guardian, I should have no choice but obey you; but the same fate that
made me desolate made me freea freedom that I would not exchange for
any gilded slavery, said Cap, gaily.
Pish! tush! pshaw! I say I will have no more of this nonsense. I
say I will be obeyed, cried Old Hurricane, striking his cane down upon
the floor, and in proof of it I order you immediately to go and take
off that gala dress and settle yourself down to your studies for the
Uncle, I will obey you as far as taking off this dress goes, for,
since you won't give me a seat in your carriage, I shall have to put on
my habit and ride Gyp, said Cap, good humoredly.
What! Do you dare to hint that you have the slightest idea of going
to the fair against my will?
Yes, sir, said Cap, gaily. Sorry it's against your will, but
can't help it; not used to being ordered about and don't know how to
submit, and so I'm going.
Ungrateful girl; actually meditating disobedience on the horse I
Easy now, unclefair and easy. I did not sell my free will for
Gyp! I wouldn't for a thousand Gyps! He was a free gift, said
Capitola, beginning an impatient little dance about the floor.
Come here to me; comeheretome! exclaimed the old man
peremptorily, rapping his cane down upon the floor with every syllable.
Capitola danced up to him and stood half smiling and fingering and
arranging the lace of her under sleeves.
Listen to me, you witch! Do you intend to obey me or not?
Not, said Cap, good-humoredly adjusting her cameo bracelet and
holding up her arm to see its effect.
You will not! Then, demmy, miss, I shall know how to make you!
thundered Old Hurricane, bringing the point of his stick down with a
Eh! cried Capitola, looking up in astonishment.
Yes, miss; that's what I saidmake you!
I should like to know how, said Cap, returning to her cool good
You would, would you? Demmy, I'll tell you! I have broken haughtier
spirits than yours in my life. Would you know how?
Yes, said Cap, indifferently, still busied with her bracelets.
Stoop and I will whisper the mystery.
Capitola bent her graceful head to hear.
With the rod! hissed Old Hurricane, maliciously.
Capitola sprang up as if she had been shot, wave after wave of blood
tiding up in burning blushes over neck, face and forehead; then,
turning abruptly, she walked off to the window.
Old Hurricane, terrified at the effect of his rude, rash words,
stood excommunicating himself for having been provoked to use them; nor
was the next aspect of Capitola one calculated to reassure his
She turned around. Her face was as white as marble, excepting her
glittering eyes; they, half sheathed under their long lashes, flashed
like stilettoes. Raising her hand and keeping her eyes fixed upon him,
with a slow and gliding motion, and the deep and measured voice that
scarcely seemed to belong to a denizen of earth, she approached and
stood before him and spoke these words:
Uncle, in all the sorrows, shames and sufferings of my destitute
childhood, no one ever dishonored my person with a blow; and if ever
you should have the misfortune to forget your manhood so far as to
strike me She paused, drew her breath hard between her set teeth,
grew a shade whiter, while her dark eyes dilated until a white ring
flamed around the iris.
Oh, you perilous witch! what then! cried Old Hurricane, in dismay.
Why, then, said Capitola, speaking in a low, deep and measured
tone, and keeping her gaze upon his astonished face,
Cut my throat! I feel you would, you terrible termagant! shuddered
Shave your beard off smick, smack, smoove! said Cap, bounding off
and laughing merrily as she ran out of the room.
In an instant she came bounding back, saying, Uncle, I will meet
you at the fair; au revoir, au revoir! and, kissing her hand,
she dashed away and ran off to her room.
She'll kill me; I know she will. If she don't do it one way she
will in another. Whew! I'm perspiring at every pore. Wool! Wool, you
scoundrel! exclaimed the old man, jerking the bell-rope as if he would
have broken the wires.
Yes, sir; here I am, marse, exclaimed that worthy, hastening in in
a state of perturbation, for he dreaded another storm.
Wool, go down to the stables and tell every man there that if
either of them allows a horse to be brought out for the use of Miss
Black to-day. I'll flay them alive and break every bone in their skins.
Away with you.
Yes, sir, cried the shocked and terrified Wool, hurrying off to
convey his panic to the stables.
Old Hurricane's carriage being ready, he entered it and drove off
for the fair.
Next the house servants, with the exception of Pitapat, who was
commanded to remain behind and wait upon her mistress, went off in a
When they were all gone, Capitola dressed herself in her
riding-habit and sent Pitapat down to the stables to order one of the
grooms to saddle Gyp and bring him up for her.
Now, when the little maid delivered this message, the unfortunate
grooms were filled with dismaythey feared their tyrannical little
mistress almost as much as their despotic old master, who, in the next
change of his capricious temper, might punch all their heads for
crossing the will of his favorite, even though in doing so they had
followed his directions. An immediate private consultation was the
consequence, and the result was that the head groom came to Pitapat,
told her that he was sorry, but that Miss Black's pony had fallen lame.
The little maid went back with the answer.
When she was gone the head groom, calling to his fellows, said:
That young gal ain't a-gwine to be fooled either by ole marse or
we. She'll be down here herself nex' minute and have the horse walked
out. Now we must make him lame a little. Light a match here, Jem, and
I'll burn his foot.
This was immediately done. And, sure enough, while poor Gyp was
still smarting with his burn, Capitola came, holding up her riding
train and hurrying to the scene, and asking indignantly:
Who dares to say that my horse is lame? Bring him out here this
instant, that I may see him!
The groom immediately took poor Gyp and led him limping to the
presence of his mistress.
At the sight Capitola was almost ready to cry with grief and
He was not lame last evening. It must have been your carelessness,
you good-for-nothing loungers; and if he is not well enough to take me
to the fair to-morrow, at least, I'll have the whole set of you lamed
for life! she exclaimed, angrily, as she turned off and went up to the
housenot caring so much, after all, for her own personal
disappointment as for Old Hurricane's triumph.
Cap's ill humor did not last long. She soon exchanged her
riding-habit for a morning wrapper, and took her needlework and sat
down to sew by the side of Mrs. Condiment in the housekeeper's room.
The day passed as usual, only that just after sunset Mrs. Condiment,
as a matter of precaution, went all over the house securing windows and
doors before nightfall. Then, after an early tea, Mrs. Condiment,
Capitola and the little maid Pitapat gathered around the bright little
wood fire that the chilly spring evening made necessary in the
housekeeper's room. Mrs. Condiment was knitting, Capitola stitching a
bosom for the major's shirts and Pitapat winding yarn from a reel.
The conversation of the three females left alone in the old house
naturally turned upon subjects of fearghosts, witches and robbers.
Mrs. Condiment had a formidable collection of accredited stories of
apparitions, warnings, dreams, omens, etc., all true as gospel. There
was a haunted house, she said, in their own neighborhoodThe Hidden
House. It was well authenticated that ever since the mysterious murder
of Eugene Le Noir unaccountable sights and sounds had been seen and
heard in and about the dwelling. A traveler, a brother officer of
Colonel Le Noir, had slept there once, and, in the dead waste and
middle of the night, had had his curtains drawn by a lady, pale and
passing fair, dressed in white, with flowing hair, who, as soon as he
attempted to speak to her, fled. And it was well known that there was
no lady about the premises.
Another time old Mr. Ezy himself, when out after coons, and coming
through the woods near the house, had been attracted by seeing a window
near the roof lighted up by a strange blue flame; drawing near, he saw
within the lighted room a female clothed in white passing and repassing
Another time, when old Major Warfield was out with his dogs, the
chase led him past the haunted house, and as he swept by he caught a
glimpse of a pale, wan, sorrowful female face pressed against the
window pane of an upper room, which vanished in an instant.
But might not that have been some young woman staying at the
house? asked Capitola.
No, my child; it is well ascertained that, since the murder of
Eugene Le Noir and the disappearance of his lovely young widow, no
white female has crossed the threshold of that fatal house, said Mrs.
'Disappearance,' did you say? Can a lady of condition disappear
from a neighborhood and no inquiry be made for her?
No, my dear; there was inquiry, and it was answered plausiblythat
Madame Eugene was insane and sent off to a lunatic asylum: but there
are those who believe that the lovely lady was privately made away
with, whispered Mrs. Condiment.
How dreadful! I did not think such things happened in a quiet
country neighborhood. Something like that occurred, indeed, in New
York, within my own recollection, however, said Capitola, who
straightway commenced and related the story of Mary Rogers and all
other stories of terror that memory supplied her with.
As for poor little Pitapat, she did not presume to enter into the
conversation; but, with her ball of yarn suspended in her hand, her
eyes started until they threatened to burst from their sockets, and her
chin dropped until her mouth gaped wide open, she sat and swallowed
every word, listening with a thousand audience power.
By the time they had frightened themselves pretty thoroughly the
clock struck eleven and they thought it was time to retire.
Will you be afraid, Mrs. Condiment? asked Capitola.
Well, my dear, if I am I must try to trust in the Lord to overcome
it, since it is no use to be afraid. I have fastened up the house well,
and I have brought in Growler, the bull-dog, to sleep on the mat
outside of my bedroom door, so I shall say my prayers and try to go to
sleep. I dare say there is no danger, only it seems lonesome like for
us three women to be left in this big house by ourselves.
Yes, said Capitola; but, as you say, there is no danger; and as
for me, if it will give you any comfort or courage to hear me say it, I
am not the least afraid, although I sleep in such a remote room and
have no one but Patty, who, having no more heart that a hare, is not
near such a powerful protector as Growler. And, bidding her little
maid take up the night lamp, Capitola wished Mrs. Condiment good-night
and left the housekeeper's room.
CHAPTER XXVI. THE PERIL AND THE
PLUCK OF CAP.
Who that had seen her form so light
For swiftness only turned,
Would e'er have thought in a thing so slight
Such a fiery spirit burned?
Very dreary looked the dark and silent passages as they went on
toward Capitola's distant chamber.
When at last they reached it, however, and opened the door, the
cheerful scene within quite reanimated Capitola's spirits. The care of
her little maid had prepared a blazing wood fire that lighted up the
whole room brightly, glowing on the crimson curtains of the bed and the
crimson hangings of the windows opposite and flashing upon the high
mirror between them.
Capitola, having secured her room in every way, stood before her
dressing bureau and began to take off her collar, under sleeves and
other small articles of dress. As she stood there her mirror,
brilliantly lighted up by both lamp and fire, reflected clearly the
opposite bed, with its warm crimson curtains, white coverlet and little
Pitapat flitting from post to post as she tied back the curtains or
smoothed the sheets.
Capitola stood unclasping her bracelets and smiling to herself at
the reflected picturethe comfortable nest in which she was so soon to
curl herself up in sleep. While she was smiling thus she tilted the
mirror downwards a little for her better convenience, and, looking into
Horror! What did she see reflected there? Under the bed a pair of
glaring eyes watching her from the shadows!
A sick sensation of fainting came over her; but, mastering the
weakness, she tilted the glass a little lower, until it reflected all
the floor, and looked again.
Horror of horrors there were three stalwart ruffians, armed to the
teeth, lurking in ambush under her bed!
The deadly inclination to swoon returned upon her; but with a heroic
effort she controlled her fears and forced herself to look.
Yes, there they were! It was no dream, no illusion, no
nightmarethere they were, three powerful desperadoes armed with bowie
knives and revolvers, the nearest one crouching low and watching her
with his wolfish eyes, that shone like phosphorus in the dark.
What should she do? The danger was extreme, the necessity of
immediate action imminent, the need of perfect self-control absolute!
There was Pitapat flitting about the bed in momentary danger of looking
under it! If she should their lives would not be worth an instant's
purchase! Their throats would be cut before they should utter a second
scream! It was necessary, therefore, to call Pitapat away from the bed,
where her presence was as dangerous as the proximity of a lighted
candle to an open powder barrel!
But how to trust her voice to do this? A single quaver in her tones
would betray her consciousness of their presence to the lurking robbers
and prove instantly fatal!
Happily Capitola's pride in her own courage came to her aid.
Is it possible, she said to herself, that after all I am a coward
and have not even nerve and will enough to command the tones of my own
voice? Fie on it! Cowardice is worse than death!
And summoning all her resolution she spoke up, glibly:
Patty, come here and unhook my dress.
Yes, miss, I will just as soon as I get your slippers from
unnerneaf of de bed!
I don't want them! Come here this minute and unhook my dressI
can't breathe! Plague take these country dress-makersthey think the
tighter they screw one up the more fashionable they make one appear!
Come, I say, and set my lungs at liberty.
Yes, miss, in one minute, said Pitapat; and to Capitola's
unspeakable horror the little maid stooped down and felt along under
the side of the bed, from the head post to the foot post, until she put
her hands upon the slippers and brought them forth! Providentially, the
poor little wretch had not for an instant put her stupid head under the
bed, or used her eyes in the searchthat was all that saved them from
Here dey is, Caterpillar! I knows how yer foots mus' be as much out
of breaf wid yer tight gaiters as your waist is long of yer tight
Unhook me! said Capitola, tilting up the glass lest the child
should see what horrors were reflected there.
The little maid began to obey and Capitola tried to think of some
plan to escape their imminent danger. To obey the natural impulseto
fly from the room would be instantly fatalthey would be followed and
murdered in the hall before they could possibly give the alarm! And to
whom could she give the alarm when there was not another creature in
the house except Mrs. Condiment?
While she was turning these things over in her mind it occurred to
her that man's extremity is God's opportunity. Sending up a silent
prayer to heaven for help at need, she suddenly thought of a planit
was full of difficulty, uncertainty and peril, affording not one chance
in fifty of success, yet the only possible plan of escape! It was to
find some plausible pretext for leaving the room without exciting
suspicion, which would be fatal. Controlling her tremors, and speaking
cheerfully, she asked:
Patty, do you know whether there were any of those nice quince
tarts left from dinner?
Lor', yes, miss, a heap on 'em! Ole Mis' put 'em away in her
Was there any baked custard left?
Lor', yes Miss Caterpillar; dere was nobody but we-dens three, and
think I could eat up all as was left?
I don't know but you might! Well, is there any pear sauce?
Yes, miss, a big bowl full.
Well, I wish you'd go down and bring me up a tart, a cup of custard
and a spoonful of pear sauce. Sitting up so late makes me as hungry as
a wolf! Come, Patty, go along!
Deed, miss, I'se 'fraid! whimpered the little maid.
Afraid of what, you goose?
'Fraid of meeting of a ghose in the dark places!
Pooh! you can take the light with you! I can stay here in the dark
'Deed, miss, I'se 'fraid!
What! with the candle, you blockhead?
Lors, miss, de candle wouldn't be no 'tection! I'd see de ghoses
all de plainer wid de candle!
What a provoking, stupid dolt! You're a proper maidafraid to do
my bidding! Afraid of ghosts, forsooth. Well, I suppose I shall have to
go myselfplague on you for an aggravating thing! Theretake the
candle and come along! said Capitola, in a tone of impatience.
Pitapat took up the light and stood ready to accompany her mistress,
Capitola, humming a gay tune, went to the door and unlocked and opened
She wished to withdraw the key, so as to lock it on the other side
and secure the robbers and insure the safety of her own retreat; but to
do this without betraying her purpose and destroying her own life
seemed next to impossible. Still singing gayly she ran over in her mind
with the quickness of lightning every possible means by which she might
withdraw the key silently, or without attracting the attention of the
watchful robbers. It is difficult to say what she would have done, had
not chance instantly favored her.
At the same moment that she unlocked and opened the door and held
the key in her hand fearful of withdrawing it, Pitapat, who was
hurrying after her with the candle, tripped and fell against a chair,
with a great noise, under cover of which Capitola drew forth the key.
Scolding and pushing Pitapat out before her, she closed the door
with a bang. With the quickness of lightning she slipped the key in the
key-hole and turned the lock, covering the whole with loud and angry
railing against poor Pitapat, who silently wondered at this unhappy
change in her mistress's temper, but ascribed it all to hunger,
muttering to herself:
I'se offen hern tell how people's cross when dere empty! Lors knows
ef I don't fetch up a whole heap o' wittels ebery night for Miss
Caterpillar from dis time forred, so I will'deed me!
So they went on through the long passages and empty rooms. Capitola
carefully locking every door behind her until she got down-stairs into
the great hall.
Now, Miss Caterpillar, ef you wants quint tart, an' pear sass, and
baked cussets, an' all dem, you'll jest has to go an' wake Ole Mis' up,
case dey's in her cubbed an' she's got the keys, said Pitapat.
Never mind, Patty, you follow me, said Capitola, going to the
front hall door and beginning to unlock it and take down the bars and
withdraw the bolts.
Lors, miss, what is yer a-doin' of? asked the little maid, in
wonder, as Capitola opened the door and looked out.
I am going out a little way and you must go with me!
Deed, miss, I'se 'fraid!
Very well, then, stay here in the dark until I come back, but don't
go to my room, because you might meet a ghost on the way!
Oh, Miss, I daren't stay hereindeed I daren't!
Then you'll have to come along with me, and so no more about it,
said Capitola, sharply, as she passed out from the door. The poor
little maid followed, bemoaning the fate that bound her to so
capricious a mistress.
Capitola drew the key from the hall door and locked it on the
outside. Then clasping her hands and raising her eyes to heaven, she
Thank Godoh, thank God that we are safe!
Lors, miss, was we in danger?
We are not now at any rate, Pitapat! Come along! said Capitola,
hurrying across the lawn toward the open fields.
Oh, my goodness, miss, where is yer-a-goin' of? Don't less us run
so fur from home dis lonesome, wicked, onlawful hour o' de night!
whimpered the distressed little darkey, fearing that her mistress was
Now, then, what are you afraid of? asked Capitola, seeing her hold
Lors, miss, you knowseberybody knowsBrack Dunnel!
Patty, come closelisten to medon't screamBlack Donald and his
men are up there at the housein my chamber, under the bed, whispered
Pitapat could not scream, for though her mouth was wide open, her
breath was quite gone. Shivering with fear, she kept close to her
mistress's heels as Capitola scampered over the fields.
A run of a quarter of a mile brought them to the edge of the woods,
where in its little garden stood the overseer's house.
Capitola opened the gate, hurried through the little front yard and
rapped loudly at the door.
This startled the house dog into furious barking and brought old Mr.
Ezy, with his night-capped head, to the window to see what was the
It is ICapitola, Mr. EzyBlack Donald and his men are lurking up
at the house, said our young heroine, commencing in an eager and
hurried voice, and giving the overseer an account of the manner in
which she had discovered the presence of the robbers, and left the room
without alarming them.
The old man heard with many cries of astonishment, ejaculations of
prayer, and exclamations of thanksgiving. And all the while his head
was bobbing in and out of the window, as he pulled on his pantaloons or
buttoned his coat.
And oh! he said, at last, as he opened the door to Capitola, how
providential that Mr. Herbert Greyson is arrove!
Herbert Greyson! Herbert Greyson arrived! Where is he, then?
exclaimed Capitola, in surprise and joy.
Yes, sartain! Mr. Herbert arrove about an hour ago, and thinking
you all abed and asleep at the Hall, he just stopped in with us all
night! I'll go and seeI doubt if he's gone to bed yet, said Mr. Ezy,
withdrawing into the house.
Oh, thank heaven! thank heaven! exclaimed Capitola, just as the
door opened and Herbert sprang forward to greet her with a
Dear Capitola! I am so glad to come to see you!
Dear Herbert, just fancy you have said that a hundred times over
and that I have replied to the same words a hundred timesfor we
haven't a moment to spare, said Capitola, shaking his hands, and then,
in an eager, vehement manner, recounting her discovery and escape from
the robbers whom she had locked up in the house.
Go, now, she said, in conclusion, and help Mr. Ezy to rouse up
and arm the farm hands and come immediately to the house! I am in agony
lest my prolonged absence should excite the robbers' suspicion of my
ruse, and that they should break out and perhaps murder poor Mrs.
Condiment. Her situation is awful, if she did but know it! For the love
of mercy, hasten!
Not an instant more of time was lost. Mr. Ezy and Herbert Greyson,
accompanied by Capitola and Patty, hurried at once to the negro
quarters, roused up and armed the men with whatever was at hand, and,
enjoining them to be as stealthy as cats in their approach, set out
swiftly for the Hall, where they soon arrived.
Take off all your shoes and walk lightly in your stocking feetdo
not speakdo not breathefollow me as silent as death, said Herbert
Greyson, as he softly unlocked the front door and entered the house.
Silently and stealthily they passed through the middle hall, up the
broad staircase, and through the long, narrow passages and steep stairs
that led to Capitola's remote chamber.
There at the door they paused awhile to listen.
All was still within.
Herbert Greyson unlocked the door, withdrew the key, and opened it
and entered the room, followed by all the men. He had scarcely time to
close the door and lock it on the inside, and withdraw the key, before
the robbers, finding themselves surprised, burst out from their hiding
place and made a rush for the passage; but their means of escape had
been already cut off by the forethought of Herbert Greyson.
A sharp conflict ensued.
Upon first being summoned to surrender the robbers responded by a
hail-storm of bullets from their revolvers, followed instantly by a
charge of bowie knives. This was met by an avalanche of blows from
pick-axes, pokers, pitchforks, sledge-hammers, spades and rakes,
beneath which the miscreants were quickly beaten down and overwhelmed.
They were then set upon and bound with strong ropes brought for the
purpose by Mr. Ezy.
When they were thus secured, hand and foot, Capitola, who had been a
spectator of the whole scene, and exposed as much as any other to the
rattle of the bullets, now approached and looked at the vanquished.
Black Donald certainly was not one of the party, who were no other
than our old acquaintancesHal, Steve and Dickof the band!
Each burglar was conveyed to a separate apartment and a strong guard
set over him.
Then Herbert Greyson, who had received a flesh wound in his left
arm, returned to the scene of the conflict to look after the wounded.
Several of the negroes had received gun-shot wounds of more or less
importance. These were speedily attended to. Mrs. Condiment, who had
slept securely through all the fight, was now awakened by Capitola, and
cautiously informed of what had taken place and assured that all danger
was now over.
The worthy woman, as soon as she recovered from the consternation
into which the news had plunged her, at once set about succoring the
wounded. Cots and mattresses were made up in one of the empty rooms and
bandages and balsams prepared.
And not until all who had been hurt were made comfortable, did
Herbert Greyson throw himself upon horseback, and ride off to the
county seat to summon the authorities, and to inform Major Warfield of
what had happened.
No one thought of retiring to bed at Hurricane Hall that night.
Mrs. Condiment, Capitola and Patty sat watching by the bedsides of
Bill Ezy and the men who had escaped injury mounted guard over the
Thus they all remained until sunrise, when the Major, attended by
the Deputy Sheriff and half a dozen constables, arrived. The night ride
of several miles had not sufficed to modify the fury into which Old
Hurricane had been thrown by the news Herbert Greyson had aroused him
from sleep to communicate. He reached Hurricane Hall in a state of
excitement that his factotum Wool characterized as boiling. But in
the very torrent, tempest and whirlwind of his passion he remembered
that to rail at the vanquished, wounded and bound was unmanly, and so
he did not trust himself to see or speak to the prisoners.
They were placed in a wagon and under a strong escort of constables
were conveyed by the Deputy Sheriff to the county seat, where they were
securely lodged in jail.
But Old Hurricane's emotions of one sort or another were a treat to
see! He bemoaned the sufferings of his poor wounded men; he raved at
the danger to which his women-kind had been exposed, and he exulted
in the heroism of Capitola, catching her up in his arms and crying out:
Oh, my dear Cap! My heroine! My queen! And it was you against whom
I was plotting treasonninny that I was! You that have saved my house
from pillage and my people from slaughter! Oh, Cap, what a jewel you
To all of which Capitola, extricating her curly head from his
embrace, cried only:
Utterly refusing to be made a lioness of, and firmly rejecting the
The next day Major Warfield went up to the county seat to attend the
examination of the three burglars, whom he had the satisfaction of
seeing fully committed to prison to await their trial at the next term
of the Criminal Court, which would not sit until October; consequently
the prisoners had the prospect of remaining in jail some months, which
Old Hurricane declared to be some satisfaction.
CHAPTER XXVII. SEEKING HIS FORTUNE.
A wide future smiles before him,
His heart will beat for fame,
And he will learn to breathe with love
The music of a name,
Writ on the tablets of his heart
In characters of flame.
When the winter's course of medical lectures at the Washington
College was over, late in the spring, Traverse Rocke returned to Willow
The good doctor gave him a glad welcome, congratulating him upon his
improved appearance and manly bearing.
Clara received him with blushing pleasure, and Marah Rocke with all
the mother's love for her only child.
He quickly fell into the old pleasant routine of his country life,
resumed his arduous studies in the doctor's office, his work in the
flower garden, and his morning rides and evening talk with the doctor's
Not the least obstacle was set in the way of his association with
Clara, yet Traverse, grown stronger and wiser than his years would seem
to promise, controlled both his feelings and his actions, and never
departed from the most respectful reserve, or suffered himself to be
drawn into that dangerous familiarity to which their constant
companionship might tempt him.
Marah Rocke, with maternal pride, witnessed his constant
self-control and encouraged him to persevere. Often in the enthusiasm
of her heart, when they were alone, she would throw her arm around him,
and push the dark, clustering curls from his fine forehead, and, gazing
fondly on his face, exclaim:
That is my noble-hearted boy! Oh, Traverse, God will bless you! He
only tries you now to strengthen you!
Traverse always understood these vague words and would return her
embrace with all his boyish ardor and say:
God does bless me now, mother! He blesses me so much, in so many,
many ways, that I should be worse than a heathen not to be willing to
bear cheerfully one trial?
And so Traverse would reck his own rede and cultivate cheerful
gratitude as a duty to God and man.
Clara, also, now, with her feminine intuition, comprehended her
reserved lover, honored his motives and rested satisfied with being so
deeply loved, trusting all their unknown future to heaven.
The doctor's appreciation and esteem for Traverse increased with
every new unfolding of the youth's heart and intellect, and never did
master take more pains with a favorite pupil, or father with a beloved
son, than did the doctor to push Traverse on in his profession. The
improvement of the youth was truly surprising.
Thus passed the summer in healthful alternation of study and
When the season waned, late in the autumn, he went a second time to
Washington to attend the winter's course of lectures at the Medical
The doctor gave him letters recommending him as a young man of
extraordinary talents and of excellent moral character, to the
particular attention of several of the most eminent professors.
His mother bore this second parting with more cheerfulness,
especially as the separation was enlivened by frequent letters from
Traverse, full of the history of the present and the hopes of the
The doctor did not forget from time to time to jog the memories of
his friends, the professors of the medical college, that they might
afford his protégé every facility and assistance in the prosecution of
Toward spring Traverse wrote to his friends that his hopes were
sanguine of obtaining his diploma at the examination to be held at the
end of the session. And when Traverse expressed this hope, they who
knew him so well felt assured that he had made no vain boast.
And so it proved, for early in April Traverse Rocke returned home
with a diploma in his pocket.
Sincere was the joyful sympathy that met him.
The doctor shook him cordially by the hands, declaring that he was
the first student he ever knew to get his diploma at the end of only
three years' study.
Clara, amid smiles and blushes, congratulated him.
And Mrs. Rocke, as soon as she had him alone, threw her arms around
his neck and wept for joy.
A few days Traverse gave up solely to enjoyment of his friends'
society, and then, growing restless, he began to talk of opening an
office and hanging out a sign in Staunton.
He consulted the doctor upon this subject. The good doctor heard him
out and then, caressing his own chin and looking over the tops of his
spectacles, with good-humored satire, he said:
My dear boy, you have confidence enough in me by this time to bear
that I should speak plainly to you?
Oh, Doctor Day, just say whatever you like! replied the young man,
Very well, then. I shall speak very plainlyto wityou'll never
succeed in Staunton! No, not if you had the genius of Galen and
Esculapius, Abernethy and Benjamin Rush put together!
My dear sirwhy?
Because, my son, it is written that 'a prophet hath no honor in his
own city!' Of our blessed Lord and Saviour the contemptuous Jews said,
'Is not this Jesus, the carpenter's son?'
Oh, I understand you, sir! said Traverse, with a deep blush. You
mean that the people who used some years ago to employ me to put in
their coal and saw their wood and run their errands, will never trust
me to look at their tongues and feel their pulses and write
That's it, my boy! You've defined the difficulty! And now I'll tell
you what you are to do, Traverse! You must go to the West, my lad!
Go to the West, sirleave my motherleave youleavehe
hesitated and blushed.
Clara? Yes, my son, you must go to the West, leave your mother,
leave me and leave Clara! It will be best for all parties! We managed
to live without our lad, when he was away at his studies in Washington,
and we will try to dispense with him longer if it be for his own good.
Ah, sir; but then absence had a limitation, and the hope of return
sweetened every day that passed; but if I go to the West to settle it
will be without the remotest hope of returning!
Not so, my boynot sofor just as soon as Doctor Rocke has
established himself in some thriving western town and obtained a good
practice, gained a high reputation and made himself a homewhich, as
he is a fast young man, in the best sense of the phrasehe can do in a
very few yearshe may come back here and carry to his western
homehis mother, said the doctor, with a mischievous twinkle of his
Doctor Day, I owe you more than a son's honor and obedience! I will
go wherever you think it best that I should, said Traverse, earnestly.
No more than I expected from all my previous knowledge of you,
Traverse! And I, on my part, will give you only such counsel as I
should give my own son, had heaven blessed me with one. And now,
Traverse, there is no better season for emigration than the spring, and
no better point to stop and make observations at than St. Louis! Of
course, the place of your final destination must be left for future
consideration. I have influential friends at St. Louis to whom I will
give you letters.
Dear sir, to have matured this plan so well you must have been
kindly thinking of my future this long time past! said Traverse,
Of courseof course! Who has a better right? Now go and break this
plan to your mother.
Traverse pressed the doctor's hand and went to seek his mother. He
found her in his room busy among his clothing. He begged her to stop
and sit down while he talked to her. And when she had done so, he told
her the doctor's plan. He had almost feared that his mother would meet
this proposition with sighs and tears.
To his surprise and pleasure, Mrs. Rocke received the news with an
encouraging smile, telling him that the doctor had long prepared her to
expect that her boy would very properly go and establish himself in the
West; that she should correspond with him frequently, and as soon as he
should be settled, come and keep house for him.
Finally she said that, anticipating this emergency, she had, during
her three years' residence beneath the doctor's roof, saved three
hundred dollars, which she should give her boy to start with.
The tears rushed to the young man's eyes.
For your dear sake, mother, only for yours, may they become three
hundred thousand in my hands! he exclaimed.
Preparations were immediately commenced for Traverse's journey.
As before, Clara gladly gave her aid in getting ready his wardrobe.
As he was about to make his debut as a young physician in a strange
city, his mother was anxious that his dress should be faultless; and,
therefore, put the most delicate needlework upon all the little
articles of his outfit. Clara volunteered to mark them all. And one
day, when Traverse happened to be alone with his mother, she showed him
his handkerchiefs, collars and linen beautifully marked in minute
I suppose, Traverse, that you, being a young man, cannot appreciate
the exquisite beauty of this work, she said.
Indeed, but I can, mother! I did not sit by your side so many years
while you worked without knowing something about it. This is wonderful!
The golden thread with which the letters are embroidered is finer than
the finest silk I ever saw! said Traverse, admiringly, to please his
mother, whom he supposed to be the embroideress.
Well they may be! said Mrs. Rocke, for that golden thread of
which you speak is Clara's golden hair, which she herself has drawn out
and threaded her needle with, and worked into the letters of your
Traverse suddenly looked up, his color went and came, he had no
words to reply.
I told you because I thought it would give you pleasure to know it,
and that it would be a comfort to you when you are far away from us;
for, Traverse, I hope that by this time you have grown strong and wise
enough to have conquered yourself, and to enjoy dear Clara's friendship
Mother! he said, sorrowfully, and then his voice broke down, and
without another word he turned and left the room.
To feel how deeply and hopelessly he loved the doctor's sweet
daughterto feel sure that she perceived and returned his dumb,
despairing loveand to know that duty, gratitude, honor commanded him
to be silent, to tear himself away from her and make no sign, was a
trial almost too great for the young heart's integrity. Scarcely could
he prevent the internal struggle betraying itself upon his countenance.
As the time drew near for his departure self-control grew difficult and
almost impossible. Even Clara lost her joyous spirits and despite all
her efforts to be cheerful, grew so pensive that her father, without
seeming to understand the cause, gayly rallied her upon her dejection.
Traverse understood it and almost longed for the day to come when he
should leave this scene of his love and his sore trial.
One afternoon, a few days before he was to start, Doctor Day sent
for Traverse to come to him in his study. And as soon as they were
seated comfortably together at the table the doctor put into the young
man's hand a well-filled pocketbook; and when Traverse, with a deep and
painful blush, would have given it back, he forced it upon him with the
It is only a loan, my boy! Money put out at interest! Capital well
and satisfactorily invested! And now listen to me! I am about to speak
to you of that which is much nearer your heart
Traverse became painfully embarrassed.
Traverse, resumed the doctor, I have grown to love you as a son,
and to esteem you as a man. I have lived long enough to value solid
integrity far beyond wealth or birth, and when that integrity is
adorned and enriched by high talents, it forms a character of
excellence not often met with in this world. I have proved both your
integrity and your talents, Traverse, and I am more than satisfied with
youI am proud of you, my boy.
Traverse bowed deeply, but still blushed.
You will wonder, continued the doctor, to what all this talk
tends. I will tell you. Traverse, I have long known your unspoken love
for Clara, and I have honored your scruples in keeping silent, when
silence must have been so painful. Your trial is now over, my son! Go
and open for yourself an honorable career in the profession you have
chosen and mastered, and return, and Clara shall be yours!
Traverse, overwhelmed with surprise and joy at this incredible good
fortune, seized the doctor's hand, and in wild and incoherent language
tried to express his gratitude.
Therethere, said the doctor, go and tell Clara all this and
bring the roses back to her cheeks, and then your parting will be the
happier for this hope before you.
I must speak! I must speak first! said the young man, in a choking
voice. I must tell you some little of the deep gratitude I feel for
you, sir. Oh, when I forget all that you have done for me, 'may my
right hand forget her cunning!' may God and man forget me! Doctor Day,
the Lord helping me for your good sake, I will be all that you have
prophesied, and hope and expect of me! For your sake, for Clara's and
my mother's, I will bend every power of my mind, soul and body to
attain the eminence you desire for me! In a word, the Lord giving me
grace, I will become worthy of being your son and Clara's husband.
There, there, my dear boy, go and tell Clara all that! said the
doctor, pressing the young man's hand and dismissing him.
Traverse went immediately to seek Clara, whom he found sitting alone
in the parlor.
She was bending over some delicate needlework that Traverse knew by
instinct was intended for himself.
Now, had Traverse foreseen from the first the success of his love,
there might possibly have been the usual shyness and hesitation in
declaring himself to the object of his affection. But although he and
Clara had long deeply and silently loved and understood each other, yet
neither had dared to hope for so improbable an event as the doctor's
favoring their attachment, and now, under the exciting influence of the
surprise, joy and gratitude with which the doctor's magnanimity had
filled his heart, Traverse forgot all shyness and hesitation, and,
stepping quickly to Clara's side, and dropping gently upon one knee, he
took her hand, and, bowing his head upon it, said:
Clara, my own, own Clara, your dear father has given me leave to
tell you at last how much and how long I have loved you! and then he
arose and sat down beside her.
The blush deepened upon Clara's cheek, tears filled her eyes, and
her voice trembled as she murmured: Heaven bless my dear father! He is
unlike every other man on earth!
Oh, he ishe is! said Traverse, fervently, and, dear Clara,
never did a man strive so hard for wealth, fame, or glory, as I shall
strive to become 'worthy to be called his son!'
Do, Traversedo, dear Traverse! I want you to honor even his very
highest drafts upon your moral and intellectual capacities! I know you
are 'worthy' of his high regard now, else he never would have chosen
you as his sonbut I am ambitious for you, Traverse! I would have your
motto be, 'Excelsior!'higher! said the doctor's daughter.
And you, dear Clara, may I venture to hope that you do not
disapprove of your father's choice, or reject the hand that he permits
me to offer you? said Traverse, for though he understood Clara well
enough, yet like all honest men, he wanted some definite and practical
There is my handmy heart was yours long ago, murmured the
maiden, in a tremulous voice.
He took and pressed that white hand to his heart, looked
hesitatingly and pleadingly in her face for an instant, and then,
drawing her gently to his bosom, sealed their betrothal on her pure
Then they sat side by side, and hand in hand, in a sweet silence for
a few moments, and then Clara said:
You have not told your mother yet! Go and tell her, Traverse; it
will make her so happy! And Traverse, I will be a daughter to her,
while you are gone. Tell her that, too.
Dear girl, you have always been as kind and loving to my mother as
it was possible to be. How can you ever be more so than you have been?
I shall find a way! smiled Clara.
Again he pressed her hand to his heart and to his lips, and left the
room to find his mother. He had a search before he discovered her at
last in the drawing-room, arranging it for their evening fireside
Come, mother, and sit down by me on this sofa, for I have glorious
tidings for your ear! Dear Clara sent me from her own side to tell
Ah, still thinkingalways thinking, madly thinking of the doctor's
daughter! Poor, poor boy! said Mrs. Rocke.
Yes, and always intend to think of her to the very end of my life,
and beyond, if possible! But come, dear mother, and hear me explain!
said Traverse, and as soon as Mrs. Rocke had taken the indicated seat,
Traverse commenced and related to her the substance of the conversation
between the doctor and himself in the library, in which the former
authorized his addresses to his daughter, and also his own subsequent
explanation and engagement with Clara.
Mrs. Rocke listened to all this, in unbroken silence, and when, at
length, Traverse had concluded his story, she clasped her hands and
raised her eyes, uttering fervent thanksgivings to the fountain of all
You do not congratulate me, dear mother.
Oh, Traverse, I am returning thanks to heaven on your behalf! Oh,
my son! my son; but that such things as these are Providential, I
should tremble to see you so happy! So I will not presume to
congratulate! I will pray for you!
Dear mother, you have suffered so much in your life that you are
incredulous of happiness! Be more hopeful and confiding! The Bible
says, 'There remaineth now these threeFaith, Hope and Charitybut
the greatest of all is Charity.' You have Charity enough, dear mother;
try to have more Faith and Hope, and you will be happier! And
lookthere is Clara coming this way! She does not know that we are
here. I will call her. Dear Clara, come in and convince my mothershe
will not believe in our happiness, said Traverse, going to the door
and leading his blushing and smiling betrothed into the room.
It may be that Mrs. Rocke does not want me for a daughter-in-law,
said Clara, archly, as she approached and put her hand in that of
Not want you, my own darling! said Marah Rocke, putting her arm
around Clara's waist, and drawing her to her bosom, not want you! You
know I am just as much in love with you as Traverse himself can be! And
I have longed for you, my sweet, longed for you as an unattainable
blessing, ever since that day when Traverse first left us, and you came
and laid your bright head on my bosom and wept with me!
And now if we must cry a little when Traverse leaves us, we can go
and take comfort in being miserable together, with a better
understanding of our relations! said Clara with an arch smile.
Where are you all? Where is everybodythat I am left wandering
about the lonely house like a poor ghost in Hades? said the doctor's
cheerful voice in the passage without.
Here, fatherhere we area family party, wanting only you to
complete it, answered his daughter, springing to meet him.
The doctor came in smiling, pressed his daughter to his bosom, shook
Traverse cordially by the hand, and kissed Marah Rocke's cheek. That
was his way of congratulating himself and all others on the betrothal.
The evening was passed in unalloyed happiness.
Let them enjoy it! It was their last of comfortthat bright
Over that household was already gathering a cloud heavy and dark
with calamitycalamity that must have overwhelmed the stability of any
faith which was not as theirs wasstayed upon God.
CHAPTER XXVIII. A PANIC IN THE
Imagination frames events unknown,
In wild, fantastic shapes of hideous ruin,
And what it fears creates!
Dark doubt and fear, o'er other spirits lower,
But touch not his, who every waking hour,
Has one fixed hope and always feels its power.
Upon the very same night, that the three robbers were surprised and
captured by the presence of mind of Capitola at Hurricane Hall, Black
Donald, disguised as a negro, was lurking in the woods around the
mansion, waiting for the coming of his three men with their prize.
But as hour after hour passed and they came not, the desperado began
heartily to curse their slothfor to no other cause was he enabled to
attribute the delay, as he knew the house, the destined scene of the
outrage, to be deserted by all for the night, except by the three
As night waned and morning began to dawn in the east, the chief grew
seriously uneasy at the prolonged absence of his agentsa circumstance
that he could only account for upon the absurd hypothesis that those
stupid brutes had suffered themselves to be overtaken by sleep in their
While he was cursing their inefficiency, and regretting that he had
not himself made one of the party, he wandered in his restlessness to
another part of the woods, and the opposite side of the house.
He had not been long here before his attention was arrested by the
tramping of approaching horsemen. He withdrew into the shade of the
thicket and listened while the travelers went by.
The party proved to consist of Old Hurricane, Herbert Greyson and
the Sheriff's officers, on their way from the town to Hurricane Hall to
take the captured burglars into custody. And Black Donald, by listening
attentively, gathered enough from their conversation to know that his
men had been discovered and captured by the heroism of Capitola.
That girl again! muttered Black Donald, to himself. She is doomed
to be my destruction, or I hers! Our fates are evidently connected!
Poor Steve! Poor Dick! Poor Hal! Little did I think that your devotion
to your captain would carry you into the very jaws of deathpshaw!
hang it! Let boys and women whine! I must act!
And with this resolution Black Donald dogged the path of the
horsemen until he had reached that part of the woods skirting the road
opposite the park gate. Here he hid himself in the bushes to watch
events. Soon from his hiding place he saw the wagon approach,
containing the three men, heavily ironed and escorted by a strong guard
of county constables and plantation negroes, all well armed, and under
the command of the Sheriff and Herbert Greyson.
Ha, ha, ha! They must dread an attempt on our part of rescue, or
they never would think of putting such a formidable guard over three
wounded and handcuffed men! laughed Black Donald to himself.
Courage, my boys, he muttered. Your chief will free you from
prison or share your captivity! I wish I could trumpet that into your
ears at this moment, but prudence, 'the better part of valor,' forbids!
For the same words that would encourage you would warn your captors
into greater vigilance. And so saying Black Donald let the procession
pass, and then made tracks for his retreat.
It was broad daylight when he reached the Old Inn. The robbers, worn
out with waiting and watching for the captain and his men with the fair
prize, had thrown themselves down upon the kitchen floor, and now lay
in every sort of awkward attitude, stretched out or doubled up in heavy
sleep. The old beldame had disappeareddoubtless she had long since
sought her night lair.
Taking a poker from the corner of the fireplace, Black Donald went
around among the sleeping robbers and stirred them up, with vigorous
punches in the ribs and cries of:
Wake up!dolts! brutes! blockheads! Wake up! You rest on a volcano
about to break out! You sleep over a mine about to be exploded! Wake
up!sluggards that you are! Your town is taken! Your castle is
stormed! The enemy is at your throats with drawn swords! Ah, brutes,
will you wake, then, or shall I have to lay it on harder?
What the demon?
What's this? were some of the ejaculations of the men as they
slowly and sulkily roused themselves from their heavy slumber.
The house is on fire! The ship's sinking! The cars have run off the
track! The boiler's burst, and the devil's to pay! cried Black Donald,
accompanying his words with vigorous punches of the poker into the ribs
of the recumbent men.
What the foul fiend ails you, captain? Have you got the girl and
drunk too much liquor on your wedding night? asked one of the men.
No, Mac, I have not got the girl! On the contrary, the girl, blame
her, has got three of my best men in custody! In one word, Hal, Dick
and Steve are safely lodged in the county jail!
Here's a go! were the simultaneous exclamations of the men as they
sprang upon their feet.
In the fiend's name, captain, tell us all about it! said Mac,
I have no time to talk much, nor you to tarry long! It was all
along of that blamed witch, Capitola! said Black Donald, who then gave
a rapid account of the adventure, and the manner in which Capitola
entrapped and captured the burglars, together with the way in which he
himself came by the information.
I declare, one can't help liking that girl! I should admire her
even if she should put a rope about my neck! said Mac.
She's a brick! said another, with emphasis.
She's some pumpkins, now, I tell you! assented a third.
I am more than ever resolved to get her into my possession! But in
the mean time, lads, we must evacuate the Old Inn! It is getting too
hot to hold us!
Aye, lads, listen! We must talk fast and act promptly; the poor
fellows up there in jail are game, I know! They would not willingly
peach, but they are badly wounded. If one of them should have to die,
and be blessed with a psalm-singing parson to attend him, no knowing
what he may be persuaded to confess! Therefore, let us quickly decide
upon some new rendezvous that will be unsuspected, even by our poor
caged birds! If any of you have any place in your eye, speak!
We would rather hear what you have to say, captain, said Mac; and
all the rest assented.
Well, then, you all know the Devil's Punch Bowl!
Aye, do we, captain!
Well, what you do not knowwhat nobody knows but myself is
thisthat about half-way down that awful chasm, in the side of the
rock, is a hole, concealed by a clump of evergreens; that hole is the
entrance to a cavern of enormous extent! Let that be our next
rendezvous! And now, avaunt! Fly! Scatter! and meet me in the cavern
to-night, at the usual hour! Listencarry away all our arms,
ammunition, disguises and provisionsso that no vestige of our
presence may be left behind. As for dummy, if they can make her speak,
the cutting out of her tongue was lost laborvanish!
But our pals in prison! said Mac.
They shall be my care. We must lie low for a few days, so as to put
the authorities off their guard. Then if our pals recover from their
wounds, and have proved game against Church and State, I shall know
what measures to take for their deliverance! No more talk nowprepare
for your flitting and fly!
The captain's orders were obeyed, and within two hours from that
time no vestige of the robbers' presence remained in the deserted Old
If any Sheriff's officer had come there with a search-warrant, he
would have found nothing suspicious; he would have seen only a poor old
dumb woman, busy at her spinning wheel; and if he had questioned her
would only have got smiles and shakes of the head for an answer, or the
exhibitions of coarse country gloves and stockings of her own knitting,
which she would, in dumb-show, beg him to purchase.
Days and weeks passed and the three imprisoned burglars languished
in jail, each in a separate cell.
Bitterly each in his heart complained of the leader that had,
apparently, deserted them in their direst need. And if neither betrayed
him it was probably because they could not do so without deeply
criminating themselves, and for no better motive.
There is said to be honor among thieves. It is, on the face of it,
untrue; there can be neither honor, confidence nor safety among men
whose profession is crime. The burglars, therefore, had no confidence
in their leader, and secretly and bitterly reproached him for his
desertion of them.
Meanwhile the annual camp meeting season approached. It was rumored
that a camp meeting would be held in the wooded vale below Tip-Top, and
soon this report was confirmed by announcements in all the county
papers. And all who intended to take part in the religious festival or
have a tent on the ground began to prepare provisionscooking meat and
poultry, baking bread, cakes, pies, etc. And preachers from all parts
of the country were flocking in to the village to be on the spot for
Mrs. Condiment, though a member of another church, loved in her soul
the religious excitementthe warming up, as she called it, to be had
at the camp meeting! But never in the whole course of her life had she
taken part in one, except so far as riding to the preaching in the
morning and returning home in the evening.
But Capitola, who was as usual in the interval between her
adventures, bored half to death with the monotony of her life at
Hurricane Halland praying not against but wishing forfire, floods
or thieves, or anything to stir her stagnant blood, heard of the camp
meeting, and expressed a wish to have a tent on the camp ground and
remain there from the beginning to the end, to see all that was to be
seen; hear all that was to be heard; feel all that was to be felt, and
learn all that was to be known!
And as Capitola, ever since her victory over the burglars, had been
the queen regnant of Hurricane Hall, she had only to express this wish
to have it carried into immediate effect.
Old Hurricane himself went up to Tip-Top and purchased the canvas
and set two men to work under his own immediate direction to make the
And as Major Warfield's campaigning experience was very valuable
here, it turned out that the Hurricane Hall tent was the largest and
best on the camp ground. As soon as it was set up under the shade of a
grove of oak trees a wagon from Hurricane Hall conveyed to the spot the
simple and necessary furniture, cooking materials and provisions. And
the same morning the family carriage, driven by Wool, brought out Major
Warfield, Mrs. Condiment, Capitola and her little maid Patty.
The large tent was divided into two compartmentsone for Major
Warfield and his man Woolthe other for Mrs. Condiment, Capitola and
As the family party stepped out of the carriage, the novelty,
freshness and beauty of the scene called forth a simultaneous burst of
admiration. The little snow-white tents were dotted here and there
through the woods, in beautiful contrast with the greenness of the
foliage, groups of well-dressed and cheerful-looking men, women and
children were walking about; over all smiled a morning sky of cloudless
splendor. The preachings and the prayer meetings had not yet commenced.
Indeed, many of the brethren were hard at work in an extensive
clearing, setting up a rude pulpit, and arranging rough benches to
accommodate the women and children of the camp congregation.
Our party went into their tent, delighted with the novelty of the
whole thing, though Old Hurricane declared that it was nothing new to
his experience, but reminded him strongly of his campaigning days.
Wool assented, saying that the only difference was, there were no
ladies in the old military camp.
I have neither time nor space to give a full account of this camp
meeting. The services commenced the same evening. There were preachers
of more or less fervor, of piety and eloquence of utterance. Old
Christians had their first love revived; young ones found their zeal
kindled, and sinners were awakened to a sense of their sin and danger.
Every Christian there said the season had been a good one!
In the height of the religious enthusiasm there appeared a new
preacher in the field. He seemed a man considerably past middle age and
broken down with sickness or sorrow. His figure was tall, thin and
stooping; his hair white as snow, his face pale and emaciated; his
movements slow and feeble, and his voice low and unsteady! He wore a
solemn suit of black, that made his thin form seem of skeleton
proportions; a snow-white neck-cloth, and a pair of great round
iron-rimmed spectacles, that added nothing to his good looks.
Yet this old, sickly and feeble man seemed one of fervent piety and
of burning eloquence. Every one sought his society; and when it was
known that Father Gray was to hold forth, the whole camp congregation
turned out to hear him.
It must not be supposed that in the midst of this great revival
those poor sinners above all sinners, the burglars imprisoned in the
neighboring town, were forgotten! no, they were remembered, prayed for,
visited and exhorted. And no one took more interest in the fate of
these men than good Mrs. Condiment, who, having seen them all on that
great night at Hurricane Hall, and having with her own kind hands
plastered their heads and given them possets, could not drive out of
her heart a certain compassion for their miseries.
No one, either, admired Father Gray more than did the little old
housekeeper of Hurricane Hall, and as her table and her accommodations
were the best on the camp ground, she often invited and pressed good
Father Gray to rest and refresh himself in her tent. And the old man,
though a severe ascetic, yielded to her repeated solicitations, until
at length he seemed to live there altogether.
One day Mrs. Condiment, being seriously exercised upon the subject
of the imprisoned men, said to Father Gray, who was reposing himself in
Father Gray, I wished to speak to you, sir, upon the subject of
those poor wretched men who are to be tried for their lives at the next
term of the Criminal Court. Our ministers have all been to see them,
and talked to them, but not one of the number can make the least
impression on them, or bring them to any sense of their awful
Ah, that is dreadful! sighed the aged man.
Yes, dreadful, Father Gray! Now I thought if you would only visit
them you could surely bring them to reason!
My dear friend, I would willingly do so, but I must confess to you
a weaknessa great weakness of the fleshI have a natural shrinking
from men of blood! I know it is sinful, but indeed I cannot overcome
But, my dear Father Gray, a man of your experience knows full well
that if you cannot overcome that feeling you should act in direct
opposition to it! And, I assure you, there is no danger! Why, even I
should not be at all afraid of a robber when he is double-ironed and
locked up in a cell, and I should enter guarded by a pair of turnkeys!
I know it, my dear lady, I know it, and I feel that I ought to
overcome this weakness or do my duty in its despite.
Yes, and if you would consent to go, Father Gray, I would not mind
going with you myself, if that would encourage you any!
Of course it would, my dear friend; and if you will go with me, and
if the brethren think that I could do any good I will certainly
endeavor to conquer my repugnance and visit these imprisoned men.
It was arranged that Father Gray, accompanied by Mrs. Condiment,
should go to the jail upon the following morning; and, accordingly,
they set out immediately after breakfast. A short ride up the mountain
brought them to Tip-Top, in the center of which stood the jail. It was
a simple structure of gray stone, containing within its own walls the
apartments occupied by the warden. To these Mrs. Condiment, who was the
leader in the whole matter, first presented herself, introducing Father
Gray as one of the preachers of the camp meeting, a very pious man, and
very effective in his manner of dealing with hardened offenders.
I have heard of the Rev. Mr. Gray and his powerful exhortations,
said the warden, with a low bow; and I hope he may be able to make
some impression on these obdurate men and induce them, if possible, to
'make a clean breast of it,' and give up the retreat of their band.
Each of them has been offered a free pardon on condition of turning
State's evidence and each has refused.
Indeed! have they done so, case-hardened creatures? mildly
inquired Father Gray.
Aye, have they; but you, dear sir, may be able to persuade them to
I shall endeavor! I shall endeavor! said the mild old man.
The warden then requested the visitors to follow him and led the way
up-stairs to the cells.
I understand that the criminals are confined separately? said Mr.
Gray to the warden.
No, sir; they were so confined at first, for better security, but
as they have been very quiet, and as since those rowdies that disturbed
the camp meeting have been sent to prison and filled up our cells, we
have had to put those three robbers into one cell.
I'm afraid I began the minister, hesitating.
Father Gray is nervous, good Mr. Jailor; I hope there's no danger
from these dreadful menall of them togetherfor I promised Father
Gray that he should be safe, myself, said Mrs. Condiment.
Oh, ma'am, undoubtedly; they are double-ironed, said the warden,
as he unlocked a door and admitted the visitors, into rather a darkish
cell, in which were the three prisoners.
Steve the mulatto was stretched upon the floor in a deep sleep.
Hal was sitting on the side of the cot, twiddling his fingers.
Dick sat crouched up in a corner, with his head against the wall.
Peace be with you, my poor souls, said the mild old man, as he
entered the cell.
You go to the demon! said Dick, with a hideous scowl.
Nay, my poor man, I came in the hope of saving you from that enemy
Here's another! There's three comes reg'lar! Here's the fourth! Go
it, old fellow! We're gettin' used to it! It's gettin' to be
entertainin'! It's the only diversion we have in this blamed hole,
Nay, friend, if you use profane language, I cannot stay to hear
it, said the old man.
Yaw-aw-aw-ow! yawned Steve, half rising and stretching himself.
What's the row? I was just dreaming our captain had come to deliver
usyow-aw-aw-ooh! It's only another parson! and with that Steve
turned himself over and settled to sleep.
My dear Mr. Jailer, do you think that these men are safefor if
you do, I think we had better leave excellent Mr. Gray to talk to them
alonehe can do them so much more good if he has them all to himself,
said Mrs. Condiment, who was, in spite of all her previous boasting,
beginning to quail and tremble under the hideous glare of Demon Dick's
N-no! n-no! n-no! faltered the preacher, nervously taking hold of
the coat of the warden.
You go along out of this the whole of you! I'm not a wild beast in
a cage to be stared at! growled Demon Dick with a baleful glare that
sent Mrs. Condiment and the preacher, shuddering to the cell door.
Mr. Gray, I do assure you, sir, there is no danger! The men are
double-ironed, and, malignant as they may be, they can do you no harm.
And if you would stay and talk to them you might persuade them to
confession and do the community much service, said the warden.
III'm no coward, butbutbut faltered the old man,
tremblingly approaching the prisoners.
I understand you, sir. You are in bad health, which makes you
Yesyes. Heaven forgive me, but if you, Mr. Jailer, and the good
lady here will keep within call, in case of accidents, I don't mind if
I do remain and exhort these men, for a short time, said the old man.
Of course we will. Come, Mrs. Condiment, mum! There's a good bench
in the lobby and I'll send for my old woman and we three can have a
good talk while the worthy Mr. Gray is speaking to the prisoners, said
the warden, conducting the housekeeper from the cell.
As soon as they had gone the old man went to the door and peeped
after them, and having seen that they went to the extremity of the
lobby to a seat under an open window, he turned back to the cell, and,
going up to Hal, said in a low, voice:
Now, then, is it possible that you do not know me?
Hal stopped twiddling his fingers and looked up at the tall, thin,
stooping figure, the gray hair, the white eyebrows and the pale face,
and said gruffly:
No! May the demon fly away with me if I ever saw you before!
Nor you, Dick? inquired the old man, in a mild voice, turning to
the one addressed.
No, burn you, nor want to see you now!
Steve! Steve! said the old man, in a pitiful voice, waking the
sleeper. Don't you know me, either?
Don't bother me, said that worthy, giving himself another turn and
another settle to sleep.
Dolts! blockheads! brutes! Do you know me now? growled the
visitor, changing his voice.
Our captain! they simultaneously cried.
Hush! sink your souls! Do you want to bring the warden upon us?
growled Black Donald, for it was unquestionably him in a new
Then all I have to say, captain, is that you have left us here a
blamed long time!
And exposed to sore temptation to peach on me! Couldn't help it,
lads! Couldn't help it! I waited until I could do something to the
Now, may Satan roast me alive if I know what you have done to turn
yourself into an old man! Burn my soul, if I should know you now,
captain, if it wa'n't for your voice, grumbled Steve.
Listen, then, you ungrateful, suspicious wretches! I did for you
what no captain ever did for his men before! I had exhausted all manner
of disguises, so that the authorities would almost have looked for me
in an old woman's gown! See, then, what I did! I put myself on a
month's regimen of vegetable diet, and kept myself in a cavern until I
grew as pale and thin as a hermit! Then I shaved off my hair, beard,
mustaches and eyebrows! Yes, blame you, I sacrificed all my beauty to
your interests! Fate helps those who help themselves! The camp meeting
gathering together hosts of people and preachers gave me the
opportunity of appearing without exciting inquiry. I put on a gray wig,
a black suit, assumed a feeble voice, stooping gait and a devout
manner, andbecame a popular preacher at the camp meeting.
Captain, you're a brick! You are indeed! I do not flatter you!
said Hal. It was a sentiment in which all agreed.
I had no need of further machination! continued the captain; they
actually gave me the game! I was urged to visit you hereforced to
remain alone and talk with you! laughed Black Donald.
And now, captain, my jewel, my treasure, my sweetheartthat I love
with 'a love passing the love of woman'how is your reverence going to
get us out?
Listen! said the captain, diving into his pockets, you must get
yourselves out! This prison is by no means strongly fastened or well
guarded! Here are files to file off your fetters! Here are tools to
pick the locks, and here are three loaded revolvers to use against any
of the turnkey who might discover and attempt to stop you! To-night,
however, is the last of the camp meeting, and the two turnkeys are
among my hearers! I shall keep them all night! Now you know what to do!
I must leave you! Dick, try to make an assault on me that I may scream,
but first conceal your tools and arms!
Hal hid the instruments and Dick, with an awful roar, sprang at the
visitor, who ran to the grating crying:
The warden came hurrying to the spot.
Take 'im out o' this, then! muttered Dick, sulkily getting back
into his corner.
Oh, what a wretch! said Mrs. Condiment.
I shall be glad when he's once hanged! said the jailer.
IIfear that I can do them but little good, andand I would
rather not come again, being sickly and nervous, faltered Father Gray.
No, my dear good sir! I for one shall not ask you to risk your
precious health for such a set of wretches! They are Satan's own! You
shall come home to our tent and lie down to rest, and I will make you
an egg-caudle that will set you up again, said Mrs. Condiment,
tenderly, as the whole party left the cell.
That day the outrageous conduct of the imprisoned burglars was the
subject of conversation, even dividing the interest of the religious
But the next morning the whole community was thrown into a state of
consternation by the discovery that the burglars had broken jail and
fled, and that the notorious outlaw Black Donald had been in their very
midst, disguised as an elderly field preacher.
CHAPTER XXIX. THE VICTORY OVER
Glory to God! to God! he saith,
Knowledge by suffering entereth,
And life is perfected in death.
E. B. Browning.
One morning, in the gladness of his heart, Doctor Day mounted his
horse and rode down to Staunton, gayly refusing to impart the object of
his ride to any one, and bidding Traverse stay with the women until he
As soon as the doctor was gone, Traverse went into the library to
arrange his patron's books and papers.
Mrs. Rocke and Clara hurried away to attend to some little mystery
of their own invention for the surprise and delight of the doctor and
Traverse. For the more secret accomplishment of their purpose, they had
dismissed all attendance, and were at work alone in Mrs. Rocke's room.
And here Clara's sweet, frank and humble disposition was again
manifest, for when Marah would arise from her seat to get anything,
Clara would forestall her purpose and say:
Tell metell me to get what you wantjust as if I were your
child, and you will make me feel so welldo, now!
You are very good, dear Miss Clara, butI would rather not presume
to ask you to wait on me, said Marah, gravely.
Presume! What a word from you to me! Please don't use it ever
again, nor call me Miss Clara. Call me 'Clara' or 'child'do, mamma,
said the doctor's daughter, then suddenly pausing, she blushed and was
Marah gently took her hand and drew her into a warm embrace.
It was while the friends were conversing so kindly in Marah's room,
and while Traverse was still engaged in arranging the doctor's books
and papers that one of the men-servants rapped at the library door, and
without waiting permission to come in, entered the room with every mark
of terror in his look and manner.
What is the matter? inquired Traverse, anxiously rising.
Oh, Mr. Traverse, sir, the doctor's horse has just rushed home to
the stables all in foam, without his rider!
Good heaven! exclaimed Traverse, starting up and seizing his hat.
Follow me immediately! Hurry to the stables and saddle my horse and
bring him up instantly! We must follow on the road the doctor took to
see what has happened! Stay! On your life, breathe not a word of what
has occurred! I would not have Miss Day alarmed for the world! he
concluded, hastening down-stairs attended by the servant.
In five minutes from the time he left the library Traverse was in
the saddle, galloping toward Staunton, and looking attentively along
the road as he went. Alas! he had not gone far, when, in descending the
wooded hill, he saw lying doubled up helplessly on the right side of
the path, the body of the good doctor!
With an exclamation between a groan and a cry of anguish, Traverse
threw himself from his saddle and kneeled beside the fallen figure,
gazing in an agony of anxiety upon the closed eyes, pale features and
contracted form and crying:
Oh, heaven have mercy! Doctor Day, oh, Doctor Day! Can you speak to
The white and quivering eyelids opened and the faltering tongue
Traverseget me homethat I may seeClara before I die!
Oh, must this be so! Must this be so! Oh, that I could die for you,
my friend! My dear, dear friend! cried Traverse, wringing his hands in
such anguish as he had never known before.
Then feeling the need of self-control and the absolute necessity of
removing the sufferer, Traverse repressed the swelling flood of sorrow
in his bosom and cast about for the means of conveying the doctor to
his house. He dreaded to leave him for an instant, and yet it was
necessary to do so, as the servant whom he had ordered to follow him
had not yet come up.
While he was bathing the doctor's face with water from a little
stream beside the path, John, the groom, came riding along, and seeing
his fallen master, with an exclamation of horror, sprang from his
saddle and ran to the spot.
John, said Traverse, in a heart-broken tone, mount again and ride
for your life to the house! Havea cartyesthat will be the easiest
conveyancehave a cart got ready instantly with a feather bed placed
in it, and the gentlest horse harnessed to it, and drive it here to the
roadside at the head of this path! Hasten for your life! Say not a word
of what has happened lest it should terrify the ladies! Quick! quick!
on your life!
Again, as the man was hurrying away, the doctor spoke, faintly
For heaven's sake, do not let poor Clara be shocked!
Nonoshe shall not be! I warned him, dear friend! How do you
feel? Can you tell where you are hurt?
The doctor feebly moved one hand to his chest and whispered:
There, and in my back.
Traverse, controlling his own great mental agony, did all that he
could to soothe and alleviate the sufferings of the doctor, until the
arrival of the cart, that stopped on the road at the head of the little
bridle path, where the accident happened. Then John jumped from the
driver's seat and came to the spot, where he tenderly assisted the
young man in raising the doctor and conveying him to the cart and
laying him upon the bed. Notwithstanding all their tender care in
lifting and carrying him, it was but too evident that he suffered
greatly in being moved. Slowly as they proceeded, at every jolt of the
cart, his corrugated brows and blanched and quivering lips told how
much agony he silently endured.
Thus at last they reached home. He was carefully raised by the bed
and borne into the house and up-stairs to his own chamber, where, being
undressed, he was laid upon his own easy couch. Traverse sent off for
other medical aid, administered a restorative and proceeded to examine
It is useless, dear boyuseless all! You have medical knowledge
enough to be as sure of that as I am. Cover me up and let me compose
myself before seeing Clara, and while I do so, go you and break this
news gently to the poor child! said the doctor, who, being under the
influence of the restorative, spoke more steadily than at any time
since the fall Traverse, almost broken-hearted, obeyed his benefactor
and went to seek his betrothed, praying the Lord to teach him how to
tell her this dreadful calamity and to support her under its crushing
As he went slowly, wringing his hands, he suddenly met Clara with
her dress in disorder and her hair flying, just as she had run from her
room while dressing for dinner. Hurrying toward him, she exclaimed:
Traverse, what has happened? For the good Lord's sake, tell me
quicklythe house is all in confusion. Every one is pale with
affright! No one will answer me! Your mother just now ran past me out
of the store room, with her face as white as death! Oh, what does it
Clara, love, come and sit down; you are almost fainting(oh,
heaven, support her!) murmured Traverse, as he led the poor girl to
the hall sofa.
Tell me! Tell me! she said.
My father! No, nonodo not say any harm has happened to my
fatherdo not, Traverse!do not!
Oh, Clara, try to be firm, dear one!
My father! Oh, my father!he is dead! shrieked Clara, starting up
wildly to run, she knew not whither.
Traverse sprang up and caught her arm and drawing her gently back to
her seat, said:
No, dear Clarano, not so bad as thathe is living!
Oh, thank heaven for so much! What is it, then, Traverse? He is
ill! Oh, let me go to him!
Stay, dear Claracompose yourself first! You would not go and
disturb him with this frightened and distressed face of yourslet me
get you a glass of water, said Traverse, starting up and bringing the
needed sedative from an adjoining room.
There, Clara, drink that and offer a silent prayer to heaven to
give you self-control.
I willoh, I must for his sake! But tell me, Traverse, is itis
it as I fearas he expectedapoplexy?
No, dear loveno. He rode out this morning and his horse got
frightened by the van of a circus company that was going into the town,
And ran away with him and threw him! Oh, heaven! Oh, my dear
father! exclaimed Clara, once more clasping her hands wildly, and
Again Traverse promptly but gently detained her, saying:
You promised me to be calm, dear Clara, and you must be so, before
I can suffer you to see your father.
Clara sank into her seat and covered her face with her hands,
murmuring, in a broken voice:
How can I be? Oh, how can I be, when my heart is with grief and
fright? Traverse! Was hewas heoh, dread to ask you! Oh, was he much
Clara, love, his injuries are internal! Neither he nor I yet know
their full extent. I have sent off for two old and experienced
practitioners from Staunton. I expect them every moment. In the mean
time, I have done all that is possible for his relief.
Traverse, said Clara, very calmly, controlling herself by an
almost superhuman effort, Traverse, I will be composed; you shall see
that I will; take me to my dear father's bedside; it is there that I
ought to be!
That is my dear, brave, dutiful girl! Come, Clara! replied the
young man, taking her hand and leading her up to the bed-chamber of the
doctor. They met Mrs. Rocke at the door, who tearfully signed them to
go in as she left it.
When they entered and approached the bedside, Traverse saw that the
suffering but heroic father must have made some superlative effort
before he could have reduced his haggard face and writhing form to its
present state of placid repose, to meet his daughter's eyes and spare
She, on her part, was no less firm. Kneeling beside his couch, she
took his hand and met his eye composedly as she asked:
Dear father, how do you feel now?
Not just so easy, love, as if I had laid me down here for an
afternoon's nap, yet in no more pain than I can very well bear.
Dear father, what can I do for you?
You may bathe my forehead and lips with cologne, my dear, said the
doctor, not so much for the sake of the reviving perfume, as because he
knew it would comfort Clara to feel that she was doing something,
however slight, for him.
Traverse stood upon the opposite side of the bed fanning him.
In a few moments Mrs. Rocke re-entered the room, announcing that the
two old physicians from Staunton, Doctor Dawson and Doctor Williams,
Show them up, Mrs. Rocke. Clara, love, retire while the physicians
remain with me, said Doctor Day.
Mrs. Rocke left the room to do his bidding. And Clara followed and
sought the privacy of her own apartment to give way to the overwhelming
grief which she could no longer resist.
As soon as she was gone the doctor also yielded to the force of the
suffering that he had been able to endure silently in her presence, and
writhed and groaned with agonythat wrung the heart of Traverse to
Presently the two physicians entered the room and approached the
bed, with expressions of sincere grief at beholding their old friend in
such a condition and a hope that they might speedily be able to relieve
To all of which the doctor, repressing all exhibitions of pain and
holding out his hand in a cheerful manner, replied:
I am happy to see you in a friendly way, old friends! I am willing
also that you should try what youwhat you can do for mebut I warn
you that it will be useless! A few hours or days of inflammation, fever
and agony, then the ease of mortification, then dissolution!
Tuttut, said Doctor Williams, cheerfully. We never permit a
patient to pronounce a prognosis upon his own case!
Friend, my horse ran away, stumbled and fell upon me, and rolled
over me in getting up. The viscera is crushed within me; breathing is
difficult; speech painful; motion agonizing; but you may examine and
satisfy yourselves, said Doctor Day, still speaking cheerfully, though
with great suffering.
His old friends proceeded gently to the examination, which resulted
in their silently and perfectly coinciding in opinion with the patient
Then, with Doctor Day and Traverse, they entered into a consultation
and agreed upon the best palliatives that could be administered, and
begging that if in any manner, professionally or otherwise, they could
serve their suffering friend, at any hour of the day or night, they
might be summoned, they took leave.
As soon as they had gone, Clara, who had given way to a flood of
tears, and regained her composure, rapped for admittance.
Presently, dear daughterpresently, said the doctor, who then,
beckoning Traverse to stoop low, said:
Do not let Clara sit up with me to-night. I foresee a night of
great anguish which I may not be able to repress, and which I would not
have her witness! Promise you will keep her away.
I promise, faltered the almost broken-hearted youth. You may
admit her now, said the doctor, composing his convulsed countenance as
best he could, lest the sight of his sufferings should distress his
Clara entered, and resumed her post at the side of the bed.
Traverse left the room to prepare the palliatives for his patient.
The afternoon waned. As evening approached the fever, inflammation
and pain arose to such a degree that the doctor could no longer forbear
betraying his excessive suffering, which was, besides, momentarily
increasing, so he said to Clara:
My child, you must now leave me and retire to bed. I must be
watched by Traverse alone to-night.
And Traverse, seeing her painful hesitation, between her extreme
reluctance to leave him and her wish to obey him, approached and
Dear Clara, it would distress him to have you stay; he will be much
better attended by me alone.
Clara still hesitated; and Traverse, beckoning his mother to come
and speak to her, left her side.
Mrs. Rocke approached her and said: It must be so, dear girl, for
you know that there are some cases in which sick men should be watched
by men only, and this is one of them. I myself shall sit up to-night in
the next room, within call.
And may I not sit there beside you? pleaded Clara.
No, my dear love; as you can do your father no good, he desires
that you should go to bed and rest. Do not distress him by refusing.
Oh, and am I to go to bed and sleep while my dear father lies here
suffering? I cannot; oh, I cannot.
My dear, yes, you must; and if you cannot sleep you can lie awake
and pray for him.
Here the doctor, whose agony was growing unendurable, called out:
Go, Clara, go at once, my dear.
She went back to the bedside and pressed her lips to his forehead,
and put her arms around him and prayed:
Oh, my dear father, may the blessed Saviour take you in his pitying
embrace and give you ease to-night. Your poor Clara will pray for you
as she never prayed for herself.
May the Lord bless you, my sweet child, said the doctor, lifting
one hand painfully and laying it in benediction on her fair and
Then she arose and left the room, saying to Mrs. Rocke as she went:
Oh, Mrs. Rocke, only last evening we were so happy'But if we have
received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive
Yes, my child; but remember nothing is really evil that comes from
His good hand, said Mrs. Rocke, as she attended Clara to the door.
His daughter had no sooner gone out of hearing than the doctor gave
way to his irrepressible groans.
At a sign from Traverse Mrs. Rocke went and took up her position in
the adjoining room.
Then Traverse subdued the light in the sick chamber, arranged the
pillows of the couch, administered a sedative and took up his post
beside the bed, where he continued to watch and nurse the patient with
At the dawn of day, when Clara rapped at the door, he was in no
condition to be seen by his daughter.
Clara was put off with some plausible excuse.
After breakfast his friends the physicians called and spent several
hours in his room. Clara was told that she must not come in while they
were there. And so, by one means and another, the poor girl was spared
from witnessing those dreadful agonies which, had she seen them, must
have so bitterly increased her distress.
In the afternoon, during a temporary mitigation of pain, Clara was
admitted to see her father. But in the evening, as his sufferings
augmented, she was again, upon the same excuse that had been used the
preceding evening, dismissed to her chamber.
Then passed another night of suffering, during which Traverse never
left him for an instant.
Toward morning the fever and pain abated, and he fell into a sweet
sleep. About sunrise he awoke quite free from suffering. Alas! it was
the ease that he had predictedthe ease preceding dissolution.
It is gone forever now, Traverse, my boy; thank God my last hours
will be sufficiently free from pain to enable me to set my house in
order. Before calling Clara in I would talk to you alone. You will
remain here until all is over?
Oh, yes, sir, yes; I would do anything on earthanything for you!
I would lay down my life this hour if I could do so to save you from
this bed of death.
Nay, do not talk so; your young life belongs to othersto Clara
and your mother. 'God doeth all things well.' Better the ripened ear
should fall than the budding germ. I do not feel it hard to die, dear
Traverse. Though the journey has been very pleasant the goal is not
unwelcome. Earth has been very sweet to me, but heaven is sweeter.
Oh, but we love you so! we love you so! you have so much to live
for! exclaimed Traverse, with an irrepressible burst of grief.
Poor boy, life is too hopeful before you to make you a comforter by
a death-bed. Yes, Traverse, I have much to live for but more to die
for. Yet not voluntarily would I have left you, though I know that I
leave you in the hands of the Lord, and with every blessing and promise
of His bountiful providence. Your love will console my child. My
confidence in you makes me easy in committing her to your charge.
Oh, Doctor Day, may the Lord so deal with my soul eternally as I
shall discharge this trust, said Traverse, earnestly.
I know that you will be true; I wish you to remain here with Clara
and your mother for a few weeks, until the child's first violence of
grief shall be over. Then you had best pursue the plan we laid out.
Leave your good mother here to take care of Clara, and you go to the
West, get into practice there, and, at the end of a few years, return
and marry Clara. Traverse, there is one promise I would have of you.
I give it before it is named, dear friend, said Traverse,
My child is but seventeen; she is so gentle that her will is
subject to that of all she loves, especially to yours. She will do
anything in conscience that you ask her to do. Traverse, I wish you to
promise me that you will not press her to marriage until she shall be
at least twenty years old. And
Oh, sir, I promise! Oh, believe me, my affection for Clara is so
pure and so constant, as well as so confiding in her faith and so
solicitous for her good, that, with the assurance of her love and the
privilege of visiting her and writing to her, I could wait many years
I believe you, my dear boy. And the very promise I have asked of
you is as much for your sake as for hers. No girl can marry before she
is twenty without serious risk of life, and almost certain loss of
health and beauty; that so many do so is one reason why there are such
numbers of sickly and faded young wives. If Clara's constitution should
be broken down by prematurely assuming the cares and burdens of
matrimony, you would be as unfortunate in having a sickly wife as she
would be in losing her health.
Oh, sir, I promise you that, no matter how much I may wish to do
so, I will not be tempted to make a wife of Clara until she has
attained the age you have prescribed. But at the same time I must
assure you that such is my love for her that, if accident should now
make her an invalid for life, she would be as dearas dearyes, much
dearer to me, if possible, on that very account; and if I could not
marry her for a wife, I should marry her only for the dear privilege of
waiting on her night and day. Oh, believe this of me, and leave your
dear daughter with an easy mind to my faithful care, said Traverse,
with a boyish blush suffusing his cheeks and tears filling his eyes.
I do, Traverse, I do; and now to other things.
Are you not talking too much, dear friend?
No, no; I must talk while I have time. I was about to say that long
ago my will was made. Clara, you know, is the heiress of all I possess.
You, as soon as you become her husband, will receive her fortune with
her. I have made no reservation in her favor against you; for he to
whom I can entrust the higher charge of my daughter's person, happiness
and honor I can also intrust her fortune.
Dear sir, I am glad for Clara's sake that she has a fortune; as for
me, I hope you will believe me that I would have gladly dispensed with
it and worked for dear Clara all the days of my life.
I do believe it; but this will was made, Traverse, three years ago,
before any of us anticipated the present relations between you and my
daughter, and while you were both still children. Therefore, I
appointed my wife's half-brother, Clara's only male relative, Colonel
Le Noir, as her guardian. It is true we have never been very intimate,
for our paths in life widely diverged; nor has my Clara seen him within
her recollection; for, since her mother's death, which took place in
her infancy, he has never been at our house, but he is a man of high
reputation and excellent character. I have already requested Doctor
Williams to write for him, so that I expect he will be here in a very
few days. When he comes Traverse, you will tell him that it is my
desire that my daughter shall continue to reside in her present home,
retaining Mrs. Rocke as her matronly companion. I have also requested
Doctor Williams to tell him the same thing, so that in the mouths of
two witnesses my words may be established.
Now, Traverse had never in his life before heard the name of Colonel
Le Noir; and, therefore, was in no position to warn the dying father
who placed so much confidence in the high reputation of his
brother-in-law that his trust was miserably misplaced; that he was
leaving his fair daughter and her large fortune to the tender mercies
of an unscrupulous villain and a consummate hypocrite. So he merely
promised to deliver the message with which he was charged by the dying
father for his daughter's guardian, and added that he had no doubt but
Clara's uncle would consider that message a sacred command and obey it
to the letter.
As the sun was now well up, the doctor consented that Mrs. Rocke and
his daughter should be admitted.
Marah brought with her some wine-whey that her patient drank, and
from which he received temporary strength.
Clara was pale but calm; one could see at a glance that the poor
girl was prepared for the worst, and had nerved her gentle heart to
bear it with patience.
Come hither, my little Clara, said the doctor, as soon as he had
been revived by the whey.
Clara came and kissed his brow and sat beside him with her hands
clasped in his.
My little girl, what did our Saviour die for? First to redeem us,
and also to teach us by His burial and resurrection that death is but a
falling asleep in this world and an awakening in the next. Clara, after
this, when you think of your father, do not think of him as lying in
the grave, for he will not be there in his vacated body, no more than
he will be in the trunk with his cast-off entries. As the coat is the
body's covering, so the body is the soul's garment, and it is the soul
that is the innermost and real man; it is my soul that is me; and that
will not be in the earth, but in heaven; therefore, do not think of me
gloomily as lying in the grave, but cheerfully as living in heavenas
living there with God and Christ and His saints, and with your mother,
Clara, the dear wife of my youth, who has been waiting for me these
many years. Think of me as being happy in that blessed society. Do not
fancy that it is your duty to grieve, but, on the contrary, know that
it is your duty to be as cheerful and happy as possible. Do you heed
me, my daughter?
Oh, yes, yes, dear father! said Clara, heroically repressing her
Seek for yourself, dear child, a nearer union with Christ and God.
Seek it, Clara, until the spirit of God shall bear witness with your
spirit that you are as a child of God; so shall you, as you come to lie
where I do now, be able to say of your life and death, as I say with
truth of mine: The journey has been pleasant, but the goal is blessed.
The doctor pressed his daughter's hand and dropped suddenly into an
Mrs. Rocke drew Clara away, and the room was very still.
Sweet, beautiful and lovely as is the death-bed of a Christian, we
will not linger too long beside it.
All day the good man's bodily life ebbed gently away. He spoke at
intervals, as he had strength given him, words of affection, comfort
and counsel to those around him.
Just as the setting sun was pouring his last rays into the chamber
Doctor Day laid his hand upon his child's head and blessed her. Then,
closing his eyes, he murmured softly: 'Lord Jesus, into thy hands I
resign my spirit:' and with that sweet, deep, intense smile that had
been so lovely in lifenow so much lovelier in deathhis pure spirit
winged its flight to the realms of eternal bliss.
CHAPTER XXX. THE ORPHAN.
Let me die, father! I fear, I fear
To fall in earth's terrible strife!
Not so, my child, for the crown must be won
In the battle-field of Life.
Life and Death.
He has gone to sleep again, said Clara, with a sigh of relief.
He has gone to heaven, my child, said Marah Rocke, softly.
The orphan started, gazed wildly on the face of the dead, turned
ghastly pale and, with a low moan and suffocating sob, fell fainting
into the motherly arms of Mrs. Rocke.
Marah beckoned Traverse, who lifted the insensible girl tenderly in
his arms and, preceded by his mother, bore her to her chamber and laid
her upon the bed.
Then Marah dismissed Traverse to attend to the duties owed to the
remains of the beloved departed, while she herself stayed with Clara,
using every means for her restoration.
Clara opened her eyes at length, but in reviving to life also
returned to grief. Dreadful to witness was the sorrow of the orphan
girl. She had controlled her grief in the presence of her father and
while he lingered in life, only to give way now to its overwhelming
force. Marah remained with her, Holding her in her arms, weeping with
her, praying for her, doing all that the most tender mother could do to
soothe, console and strengthen the bleeding young heart.
The funeral of Doctor Day took place the third day from his decease,
and was attended by all the gentry of the neighboring town and county
in their own carriages, and by crowds who came on foot to pay the last
tribute of respect to their beloved friend.
He was interred in the family burial ground, situated on a wooded
hill up behind the homestead, and at the head of his last resting place
was afterwards erected a plain obelisk of white marble, with his name
and the date of his birth and death and the following inscription:
He is not here, but is risen.
When dear Clara comes to weep at her father's grave, these words
will send her away comforted and with her faith renewed, had been
Traverse Rocke's secret thought when giving directions for the
inscription of this inspiring text.
On the morning of the day succeeding the funeral, while Clara,
exhausted by the violence of her grief, lay prostrate upon her chamber
couch, Mrs. Rocke and Traverse sat conversing in that once pleasant,
now desolate, morning reading-room.
You know, dear mother, that by the doctor's desire, which should be
considered sacred, Clara is still to live here, and you are to remain
to take care of her. I shall defer my journey West until everything is
settled to Clara's satisfaction, and she has in some degree recovered
her equanimity. I must also have an interview and a good understanding
with her guardian, for whom I have a message.
Who is this guardian of whom I have heard you speak more than once,
Traverse? asked Marah.
Dear mother, will you believe me that I have forgotten the man's
name; it is an uncommon name that I never heard before in my life, and,
in the pressure of grief upon my mind, its exact identity escaped my
memory; but that does not signify much, as he is expected hourly; and
when he announces himself, either by card or word of mouth, I shall
know, for I shall recognize the name the moment I see it written or
hear it spoken. Let me see, it was something like Des Moines, De
Vaughn, De Saule, or something of that sort. At all events, I'm sure I
shall know it again the instant I see or hear it. And now, dear mother,
I must ride up to Staunton to see some of the doctor's poor sick that
he left in my charge for as long as I stay here. I shall be back by
three o'clock. I need not ask you to take great care of that dear
suffering girl up-stairs, said Traverse, taking his hat and gloves for
I shall go and stay with her as soon as she awakes, answered Mrs.
And Traverse, satisfied, went his way.
He had been gone perhaps an hour when the sound of a carriage was
heard below in the front of the house, followed soon by a loud rapping
at the hall door.
It is dear Clara's guardian, said Marah Rocke, rising and
Soon a servant entered and placed a card in her hand, saying:
The gentleman is waiting in the hall below, and asked to see the
person that was in charge here, ma'am; so I fotch the card to you.
You did right, John. Show the gentleman up here, said Marah; and
as soon as the servant had gone she looked at the card, but failed to
make it out. The name was engraved in Old English text, and in such a
complete labyrinth, thicket and network of ornate flourishes that no
one who was not familiar at once with the name and the style could
possibly have distinguished it.
I do not think my boy would know this name at sight, was Marah's
thought as she twirled the card in her hand and stood waiting the
entrance of the visitor, whose step was now heard coming up the stairs.
Soon the door was thrown open and the stranger entered.
Marah, habitually shy in the presence of strangers, dropped her eyes
before she had fairly taken in the figure of a tall, handsome,
dark-complexioned, distinguished-looking man, somewhat past middle age,
and arrayed in a rich military cloak, and carrying in his hand a
The servant who had admitted him had scarcely retired when Marah
looked up and her eyes and those of the stranger metand
Colonel Le Noir!!!
Burst simultaneously from the lips of each.
Le Noir first recovered himself, and, holding out both hands,
advanced toward her with a smile as if to greet an old friend.
But Marah, shrinking from him in horror, turned and tottered to the
farthest window, where, leaning her head against the sash, she moaned:
Oh, my heart: my heart! Is this the wolf to whom my lamb must be
As she moaned these words she was aware of a soft step at her side
and a low voice murmuring:
Marah Rocke, yes! the same beautiful Marah that, as a girl of
fifteentwenty years agoturned my head, led me by her fatal charms
into the very jaws of deaththe same lovely Marah with her beauty only
ripened by time and exalted by sorrow!
With one surprised, indignant look, but without a word of reply,
Mrs. Rocke turned and walked composedly toward the door with the
intention of quitting the room.
Colonel Le Noir saw and forestalled her purpose by springing
forward, turning the key and standing before the door.
Forgive, me, Marah, but I must have a word with you before we
part, he said, in those soft, sweet, persuasive tones he knew so well
how to assume.
Marah remembered that she was an honorable matron and an honored
mother; that, as such, fears and tremors and self-distrust in the
presence of a villain would not well become her; so calling up all the
gentle dignity latent in her nature, she resumed her seat and, signing
to the visitor to follow her example, she said composedly:
Speak on, Colonel Le Noirremembering, if you please, to whom you
I do remember, Marah; remember but too well.
They call me Mrs. Rocke who converse with me, sir.
Marah, why this resentment? Is it possible that you can still be
angry? Have I remained true to my attachment all these years and sought
you throughout the world to find this reception at last?
Colonel Le Noir, if this is all you had to say, it was scarcely
worth while to have detained me, said Mrs. Rocke calmly.
But it is not all, my Marah! Yes, I call you mine by virtue of the
strongest attachment man ever felt for woman! Marah Rocke, you are the
only woman who ever inspired me with a feeling worthy to be called a
Colonel Le Noir, how dare you blaspheme this house of mourning by
such sinful words? You forget where you stand and to whom you speak.
I forget nothing, Marah Rocke; nor do I violate this sanctuary of
sorrowhere he sank his voice below his usual low toneswhen I
speak of the passion that maddened my youth and withered my manhooda
passion whose intensity was its excuse for all extravagances and whose
enduring constancy is its final, full justification!
Before he had finished this sentence Marah Rocke had calmly arisen
and pulled the bell rope.
What mean you by that, Marah? he inquired.
Before she replied a servant, in answer to the bell, came to the
door and tried the latch, and, finding it locked, rapped.
With a blush that mounted to his forehead and with a half-suppressed
imprecation, Colonel Le Noir went and unlocked the door and admitted
John, said Mrs. Rocke, quietly, show Colonel Le Noir to the
apartment prepared for him and wait his orders. And with a slight nod
to the guest she went calmly from the room.
Colonel Le Noir, unmindful of the presence of the servant, stood
gazing in angry mortification after her. The flush on his brow had
given way to the fearful pallor of rage or hate as he muttered
Insolent beggar! contradiction always confirms my half-formed
resolutions. Years ago I swore to possess that woman, and I will do it,
if it be only to keep my oath and humble her insolence. She is very
handsome still; she shall be my slave!
Then, perceiving the presence of John, he said:
Lead the way to my room, sirrah, and then go and order my fellow to
bring up my portmanteau.
John devoutly pulled his forelocks as he bowed low and then went on,
followed by Colonel Le Noir.
Marah Rocke meanwhile had gained the privacy of her own chamber,
where all her firmness deserted her.
Throwing herself into a chair, she clasped her hands and sat with
blanched face and staring eyes, like a marble statue of despair.
Oh, what shall I do? what shall I do while this miscreant remains
here?this villain whose very presence desecrates the roof and
dishonors me? I would instantly leave the house but that I must not
abandon poor Clara.
I cannot claim the protection of Traverse, for I would not provoke
him to wrath or run him into danger; nor, indeed, would I even permit
my son to dream such a thing possible as that his mother could receive
Nor can I warn Clara of the unprincipled character of her guardian,
for if she knew him as he is she would surely treat him in such a way
as to get his enmityhis dangerous, fatal enmity!doubly fatal since
her person and property are legally at his disposal. Oh, my dove! my
dove! that you should be in the power of this vulture! What shall I do,
Marah dropped on her knees and finished her soliloquy with prayer.
Then, feeling composed and strengthened, she went to Clara's room.
She found the poor girl lying awake and quietly weeping.
Your guardian has arrived, love, she said, sitting down beside the
bed and taking Clara's hand.
Oh, must I get up and dress to see a stranger? sighed Clara,
No, love; you need not stir until it is time to dress for dinner;
it will answer quite well if you meet your guardian at table, said
Marah, who had particular reasons for wishing that Clara should first
see Colonel Le Noir with other company, to have an opportunity of
observing him well and possibly forming an estimate of his character
(as a young girl of her fine instincts might well do) before she should
be exposed in a tête-a-tête to those deceptive blandishments he knew so
well how to bring into play.
That is a respite. Oh, dear Mrs. Rocke, you don't know how I dread
to see any one!
My dear Clara, you must combat grief by prayer, which is the only
thing that can overcome it, said Marah.
Mrs. Rocke remained with her young charge as long as she possibly
could, and then she went down-stairs to oversee the preparation of the
And it was at the dinner-table that Marah, with the quiet and gentle
dignity for which she was distinguished, introduced the younger members
of the family to the guest, in these words:
Your ward, Miss Day, Colonel Le Noir.
The colonel bowed deeply and raised the hand of Clara to his lips,
murmuring some sweet, soft, silvery and deferentially inaudible words
of condolence, sympathy and melancholy pleasure, from which Clara, with
a gentle bend of her head, withdrew to take her seat.
Colonel Le Noir, my son, Doctor Rocke, said Marah, presenting
The colonel stared superciliously, bowed with ironical depth, said
he was much honored, and, turning his back on the young man, placed
himself at the table.
During the dinner he exerted himself to be agreeable to Miss Day and
Mrs. Rocke, but Traverse he affected to treat with supercilious neglect
or ironical deference.
Our young physician had too much self-respect to permit himself to
be in any degree affected by this rudeness. And Marah, on her part, was
glad, so that it did not trouble Traverse, that Le Noir should behave
in this manner, so that Clara should be enabled to form some correct
idea of his disposition.
When dinner was over Clara excused herself and retired to her room,
whither she was soon followed by Mrs. Rocke.
Well, my dear, how do you like your guardian? asked Marah, in a
tone as indifferent as she could make it.
I do not like him at all! exclaimed Clara, her gentle blue eyes
flashing with indignation through her tears; I do not like him at all,
the scornful, arrogant, superciliousOh! I do not wish to use such
strong language, or to grow angry when I am in such deep grief; but my
dear father could not have known this man, or he never would have
chosen him for my guardian; do you think he would, Mrs. Rocke?
My dear, your excellent father must have thought well of him, or he
never would have intrusted him with so precious a charge. Whether your
father's confidence in this man will be justified as far as you are
concerned, time will show. Meanwhile, my love, as the guardian
appointed by your father, you should treat him with respect; but, so
far as reposing any trust in him goes, consult your own instincts.
I shall; and I thank heaven that I have not got to go and live with
Colonel Le Noir! said Clara, fervently.
Mrs. Rocke sighed. She remembered that the arrangement that
permitted Clara to live at her own home with her chosen friends was but
a verbal one, not binding upon the guardian and executor unless he
chose to consider it so.
Their conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a servant with
a message from Colonel Le Noir, expressing a hope that Miss Day felt
better from her afternoon's repose, and desiring the favor of her
company in the library.
Clara returned an answer pleading indisposition, and begging upon
that account to be excused.
At tea, however, the whole family met again. As before, Colonel Le
Noir exerted himself to please the ladies and treated the young
physician with marked neglect. This conduct offended Miss Day to such a
degree that she, being a girl of truth in every thought, word and deed,
could only exhibit toward the guest the most freezing politeness that
was consistent with her position as hostess, and she longed for the
time to come that should deliver their peaceful home and loving little
circle from the unwelcome presence of this arrogant intruder.
How can he imagine that I can be pleased with his deference and
courtesy and elaborate compliments, when he permits himself to be so
rude to Traverse? I hope Traverse will tell him of our engagement,
which will, perhaps, suggest to him the propriety of reforming his
manners while he remains under a roof of which Traverse is destined to
be master, said Clara to herself, as she arose from the table and,
with a cold bow, turned to retire from the room.
And will not my fair ward give me a few hours of her company this
evening? inquired Colonel Le Noir in an insinuating voice, as he took
and pressed the hand of the doctor's orphan daughter.
Excuse me, sir; but, except at meal times, I have not left my room
sincehere her voice broke down; she could not speak to him of her
bereavement, or give way in his presence to her holy sorrow. Besides,
sir, she added, Doctor Rocke, I know, has expressed to you his desire
for an early interview.
My fair young friend, Doctor Rocke, as you style the young man,
will please to be so condescending as to tarry the leisure of his most
humble servant, replied the colonel, with an ironical bow in the
direction of Traverse.
Perhaps, sir, when you know that Doctor Rocke is charged with the
last uttered will of my dear father, and that it is of more importance
than you are prepared to anticipate, you may be willing to favor us all
by granting this 'young man' an early audience, said Clara.
The last uttered will! I had supposed that the will of my late
brother-in-law was regularly drawn up and executed and in the hands of
his confidential attorney at Staunton.
Yes, sir; so it is; but I refer to my father's last dying wishes,
his verbal directions entrusted to his confidential friend Doctor
Rocke, said Clara.
Last verbal directions, entrusted to Doctor Rocke. Humph! Humph!
this would require corroborative evidence, said the colonel.
Such corroborative evidence can be had, sir, said Clara, coldly
and as I know that Doctor Rocke has already requested an interview for
the sake of an explanation of these subjects, I must also join my own
request to his, and assure you that by giving him an early opportunity
of coming to an understanding with you, you will greatly oblige me.
Then, undoubtedly, my sweet young friend, your wishes shall be
commandsEh! yousir! DoctorWhat's-your-name! meet me in the
library at ten o'clock to-morrow morning, said Le Noir, insolently.
I have engagements, sir, that will occupy me between the hours of
ten and three; before or after that period I am at your disposal, said
Pardieu! It seems to me that I am placed at yours! replied the
colonel, lifting his eyebrows; but as I am so placed by the orders of
my fair little tyrant here, so be itat nine to-morrow I am your most
At nine, then, sir, I shall attend you, said Traverse, with a cold
Clara slightly curtsied and withdrew from the room, attended by Mrs.
Traverse, as the only representative of the host, remained for a
short time with his uncourteous guest, who, totally regardless of his
presence, threw himself into an armchair, lighted a cigar, took up a
book and smoked and read.
Whereupon Traverse, seeing this, withdrew to the library to employ
himself with finishing the arranging and tying up of certain papers
left to his charge by Doctor Day.