by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
I. DR. DILLON TO EDWARD DELANEY, ESQ., AT THE PINES.
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
DELANY TO JOHN
DELANEY TO JOHN
XV. THE ARRIVAL.
DELANEY TO JOHN
I. DR. DILLON TO EDWARD DELANEY,
ESQ., AT THE PINES.
NEAR RYE, N.H.
August 8, 1872.
My Dear Sir: I am happy to assure you that your anxiety is without
reason. Flemming will be confined to the sofa for three or four
weeks, and will have to be careful at first how he uses his leg. A
fracture of this kind is always a tedious affair. Fortunately the
bone was very skilfully set by the surgeon who chanced to be in the
drugstore where Flemming was brought after his fall, and I apprehend
no permanent inconvenience from the accident. Flemming is doing
perfectly well physically; but I must confess that the irritable and
morbid state of mind into which he has fallen causes me a great deal
of uneasiness. He is the last man in the world who ought to break his
leg. You know how impetuous our friend is ordinarily, what a soul of
restlessness and energy, never content unless he is rushing at some
object, like a sportive bull at a red shawl; but amiable withal. He is
no longer amiable. His temper has become something frightful. Miss
Fanny Flemming came up from Newport, where the family are staying for
the summer, to nurse him; but he packed her off the next morning in
tears. He has a complete set of Balzac's works, twenty-seven volumes,
piled up near his sofa, to throw at Watkins whenever that exemplary
serving-man appears with his meals. Yesterday I very innocently
brought Flemming a small basket of lemons. You know it was a strip of
lemonpeel on the curbstone that caused our friend's mischance. Well,
he no sooner set is eyes upon those lemons than he fell into such a
rage as I cannot adequately describe. This is only one of moods, and
the least distressing. At other times he sits with bowed head
regarding his splintered limb, silent, sullen, despairing. When this
fit is on him--and it sometimes lasts all day--nothing can distract
his melancholy. He refuses to eat, does not even read the newspapers;
books, except as projectiles for Watkins, have no charms for him. His
state is truly pitiable.
Now, if he were a poor man, with a family depending on his daily
labor, this irritability and despondency would be natural enough. But
in a young fellow of twenty-four, with plenty of money and seemingly
not a care in the world, the thing is monstrous. If he continues to
give way to his vagaries in this manner, he will end by bringing on an
inflammation of the fibula. It was the fibula he broke. I am at my
wits' end to know what to prescribe for him. I have anaesthetics and
lotions, to make people sleep and to soothe pain; but I've no medicine
that will make a man have a little common-sense. That is beyond my
skill, but maybe it is not beyond yours. You are Flemming's intimate
friend, his fidus Achates. Write to him, write to him frequently,
distract his mind, cheer him up, and prevent him from becoming a
confirmed case of melancholia. Perhaps he has some important plans
disarranged by his present confinement. If he has you will know, and
will know how to advise him judiciously. I trust your father finds the
change beneficial? I am, my dear sir, with great respect, etc.
II. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING,
WEST 38TH STREET,
August 9, 1872.
My Dear Jack: I had a line from Dillon this morning, and was
rejoiced to learn that your hurt is not so bad as reported. Like a
certain personage, you are not so black and blue as you are painted.
Dillon will put you on your pins again in two to three weeks, if you
will only have patience and follow his counsels. Did you get my note
of last Wednesday? I was greatly troubled when I heard of the
I can imagine how tranquil and saintly you are with your leg in a
trough! It is deuced awkward, to be sure, just as we had promised
ourselves a glorious month together at the sea-side; but we must make
the best of it. It is unfortunate, too, that my father's health
renders it impossible for me to leave him. I think he has much
improved; the sea air is his native element; but he still needs my arm
to lean upon in his walks, and requires some one more careful that a
servant to look after him. I cannot come to you, dear Jack, but I have
hours of unemployed time on hand, and I will write you a whole
post-office full of letters, if that will divert you. Heaven knows, I
haven't anything to write about. It isn't as if we were living at one
of the beach houses; then I could do you some character studies, and
fill your imagination with groups of sea-goddesses, with their (or
somebody else's) raven and blonde manes hanging down their shoulders.
You should have Aphrodite in morning wrapper, in evening costume, and
in her prettiest bathing suit. But we are far from all that here. We
have rooms in a farm-house, on a cross-road, two miles from the
hotels, and lead the quietest of lives.
I wish I were a novelist. This old house, with its sanded floors
and high wainscots, and its narrow windows looking out upon a cluster
of pines that turn themselves into aeolian harps every time the wind
blows, would be the place in which to write a summer romance. It
should be a story with the odors of the forest and the breath of the
sea in it. It should be a novel like one of that Russian
fellow's--what's his name?--Tourguenieff, Turguenef, Turgenif,
Toorguniff, Turgenjew--nobody knows how to spell him. Yet I wonder if
even a Liza or an Alexandra Paulovna could stir the heart of a man who
has constant twinges in his leg. I wonder if one of our own Yankee
girls of the best type, haughty and spirituelle, would be of any
comfort to you in your present deplorable condition. If I thought so,
I would hasten down to the Surf House and catch one for you; or,
better still, I would find you one over the way.
Picture to yourself a large white house just across the road,
nearly opposite our cottage. It is not a house, but a mansion, built,
perhaps, in the colonial period, with rambling extensions, and gambrel
roof, and a wide piazza on three sides--a self- possessed, high-bred
piece of architecture, with its nose in the air. It stands back from
the road, and has an obsequious retinue of fringed elms and oaks and
weeping willows. Sometimes in the morning, and oftener in the
afternoon, when the sun has withdrawn from that part of the mansions,
a young woman appears on the piazza with some mysterious Penelope web
of embroidery in her hand, or a book. There is a hammock over
there--of pineapple fibre, it looks from here. A hammock is very
becoming when one is eighteen, and has golden hair, and dark eyes, and
an emerald-colored illusion dress looped up after the fashion of a
Dresden china shepherdess, and is chaussee like a belle of the time of
Louis Quatorze. All this splendor goes into that hammock, and sways
there like a pond-lily in the golden afternoon. The window of my
bedroom looks down on that piazza--and so do I.
But enough of the nonsense, which ill becomes a sedate young
attorney taking his vacation with an invalid father. Drop me a line,
dear Jack, and tell me how you really are. State your case. Write me a
long, quite letter. If you are violent or abusive, I'll take the law
III. JOHN FLEMMING TO EDWARD DELANEY.
August 11, 1872.
Your letter, dear Ned, was a godsend. Fancy what a fix I am in--I,
who never had a day's sickness since I was born. My left leg weighs
three tons. It is embalmed in spices and smothered in layers of fine
linen, like a mummy. I can't move. I haven't moved for five thousand
years. I'm of the time of Pharaoh.
I lie from morning till night on a lounge, staring into the hot
street. Everybody is out of town enjoying himself. The brown-stone-
front houses across the street resemble a row of particularly ugly
coffins set up on end. A green mould is settling on the names of the
deceased, carved on the silver door-plates. Sardonic spiders have
sewed up the key-holes. All is silence and dust and desolation. --I
interrupt this a moment, to take a shy at Watkins with the second
volume of Cesar Birotteau. Missed him! I think I could bring him down
with a copy of Sainte-Beuve or the Dictionnaire Universel, if I had
it. These small Balzac books somehow do not quite fit my hand; but I
shall fetch him yet. I've an idea that Watkins is tapping the old
gentleman's Chateau Yquem. Duplicate key of the wine-cellar. Hibernian
swarries in the front basement. Young Cheops up stairs, snug in his
cerements. Watkins glides into my chamber, with that colorless,
hypocritical face of his drawn out long like an accordion; but I know
he grins all the way down stairs, and is glad I have broken my leg.
Was not my evil star in the very zenith when I ran up to town to
attend that dinner at Delmonico's? I didn't come up altogether for
that. It was partly to buy Frank Livingstone's roan mare Margot. And
now I shall not be able to sit in the saddle these two months. I'll
send the mare down to you at The Pines--is that the name of the place?
Old Dillon fancies that I have something on my mind. He drives me
wild with lemons. Lemons for a mind diseased! Nonsense. I am only as
restless as the devil under this confinement--a thing I'm not used to.
Take a man who has never had so much as a headache or a toothache in
his life, strap one of his legs in a section of water- spout, keep him
in a room in the city for weeks, with the hot weather turned on, and
then expect him to smile and purr and be happy! It is preposterous. I
can't be cheerful or calm.
Your letter is the first consoling thing I have had since my
disaster, ten days ago. It really cheered me up for half an hour.
Send me a screed, Ned, as often as you can, if you love me. Anything
will do. Write me more about that little girl in the hammock. That was
very pretty, all that about the Dresden china shepherdess and the
pond-lily; the imagery a little mixed, perhaps, but very pretty. I
didn't suppose you had so much sentimental furniture in your upper
story. It shows how one may be familiar for years with the
reception-room of his neighbor, and never suspect what is directly
under his mansard. I supposed your loft stuffed with dry legal
parchments, mortgages, and affidavits; you take down a package of
manuscript, and lo! there are lyrics and sonnets and canzonettas. You
really have a graphic descriptive touch, Edward Delaney, and I suspect
you of anonymous love-tales in the magazines.
I shall be a bear until I hear from you again. Tell me all about
your pretty inconnue across the road. What is her name? Who is she?
Who's her father? Where's her mother? Who's her lover? You cannot
imagine how this will occupy me. The more trifling, the better. My
imprisonment has weakened me intellectually to such a degree that I
find your epistolary gifts quite considerable. I am passing into my
second childhood. In a week or two I shall take to India rubber rings
and prongs of coral. A silver cup, with an appropriate inscription,
would be a delicate attention on your part. In the mean time, write!
IV. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING.
August 12, 1872.
The sick pasha shall be amused. Bismillah! he wills it so. If the
story-teller becomes prolix and tedious--the bow-string and the sack,
and two Nubians to drop him into the Piscataqua! But truly, Jack, I
have a hard task. There is literally nothing here--except the little
girl over the way. She is swinging in the hammock at this moment. It
is to me compensation for many of the ills of life to see her now and
then put out a small kid boot, which fits like a glove, and set
herself going. Who is she, and what is her name? Her name is Daw. Only
daughter if Mr. Richard W. Daw, ex-colonel and banker. Mother dead.
One brother at Harvard, elder brother killed at the battle of Fair
Oaks, ten years ago. Old, rich family, the Daws. This is the
homestead, where father and daughter pass eight months of the twelve;
the rest of the year in Baltimore and Washington. The New England
winter too many for the old gentleman. The daughter is called
Marjorie--Marjorie Daw. Sounds odd at first, doesn't it? But after you
say it over to yourself half a dozen times, you like it. There's a
pleasing quaintness to it, something prim and violet-like. Must be a
nice sort of girl to be called Marjorie Daw.
I had mine host of The Pines in the witness-box last night, and
drew the foregoing testimony from him. He has charge of Mr. Daw's
vegetable-garden, and has known the family these thirty years. Of
course I shall make the acquaintance of my neighbors before many
days. It will be next to impossible for me not to meet Mr. Daw or
Miss Daw in some of my walks. The young lady has a favorite path to
the sea-beach. I shall intercept her some morning, and touch my hat
to her. Then the princess will bend her fair head to me with
courteous surprise not unmixed with haughtiness. Will snub me, in
fact. All this for thy sake, O Pasha of the Snapt Axle-tree!. . . How
oddly things fall out! Ten minutes ago I was called down to the
parlor--you know the kind of parlors in farm-houses on the coast, a
sort of amphibious parlor, with sea-shells on the mantel-piece and
spruce branches in the chimney-place--where I found my father and Mr.
Daw doing the antique polite to each other. He had come to pay his
respects to his new neighbors. Mr. Daw is a tall, slim gentleman of
about fifty-five, with a florid face and snow-white mustache and
side-whiskers. Looks like Mr. Dombey, or as Mr. Dombey would have
looked if he had served a few years in the British Army. Mr. Daw was a
colonel in the late war, commanding the regiment in which his son was
a lieutenant. Plucky old boy, backbone of New Hampshire granite.
Before taking his leave, the colonel delivered himself of an
invitation as if he were issuing a general order. Miss Daw has a few
friends coming, at 4 p.m., to play croquet on the lawn (parade-ground)
and have tea (cold rations) on the piazza. Will we honor them with our
company? (or be sent to the guard- house.) My father declines on the
plea of ill-health. My father's son bows with as much suavity as he
knows, and accepts.
In my next I shall have something to tell you. I shall have seen
the little beauty face to face. I have a presentiment, Jack, that
this Daw is a rara avis! Keep up your spirits, my boy, until I write
you another letter--and send me along word how's your leg.
V. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING.
August 13, 1872.
The party, my dear Jack, was as dreary as possible. A lieutenant of
the navy, the rector of the Episcopal Church at Stillwater, and a
society swell from Nahant. The lieutenant looked as if he had
swallowed a couple of his buttons, and found the bullion rather
indigestible; the rector was a pensive youth, of the daffydowndilly
sort; and the swell from Nahant was a very weak tidal wave indeed.
The women were much better, as they always are; the two Miss
Kingsburys of Philadelphia, staying at the Seashell House, two bright
and engaging girls. But Marjorie Daw!
The company broke up soon after tea, and I remained to smoke a
cigar with the colonel on the piazza. It was like seeing a picture,
to see Miss Marjorie hovering around the old soldier, and doing a
hundred gracious little things for him. She brought the cigars and
lighted the tapers with her own delicate fingers, in the most
enchanting fashion. As we sat there, she came and went in the summer
twilight, and seemed, with her white dress and pale gold hair, like
some lovely phantom that had sprung into existence out of the
smokewreaths. If she had melted into air, like the statue of Galatea
in the play, I should have been more sorry than surprised.
It was easy to perceive that the old colonel worshipped her and she
him. I think the relation between an elderly father and a daughter
just blooming into womanhood the most beautiful possible. There is in
it a subtile sentiment that cannot exist in the case of mother and
daughter, or that of son and mother. But this is getting into deep
I sat with the Daws until half past ten, and saw the moon rise on
the sea. The ocean, that had stretched motionless and black against
the horizon, was changed by magic into a broken field of glittering
ice, interspersed with marvellous silvery fjords. In the far distance
the Isle of Shoals loomed up like a group of huge bergs drifting down
on us. The Polar Regions in a June thaw! It was exceedingly fine. What
did we talk about? We talked about the weather--and you! The weather
has been disagreeable for several days past--and so have you. I glided
from one topic to the other very naturally. I told my friends of your
accident; how it had frustrated all our summer plans, and what our
plans were. I played quite a spirited solo on the fibula. Then I
described you; or, rather, I didn't. I spoke of your amiability, of
your patience under this severe affliction; of your touching gratitude
when Dillon brings you little presents of fruit; of your tenderness to
your sister Fanny, whom you would not allow to stay in town to nurse
you, and how you heroically sent her back to Newport, preferring to
remain alone with Mary, the cook, and your man Watkins, to whom, by
the way, you were devotedly attached. If you had been there, Jack, you
wouldn't have known yourself. I should have excelled as a criminal
lawyer, if I had not turned my attention to a different branch of
Miss Marjorie asked all manner of leading questions concerning you.
It did not occur to me then, but it struck me forcibly afterwards,
that she evinced a singular interest in the conversation. When I got
back to my room, I recalled how eagerly she leaned forward, with her
full, snowy throat in strong moonlight, listening to what I said.
Positively, I think I made her like you!
Miss Daw is a girl whom you would like immensely, I can tell you
that. A beauty without affectation, a high and tender nature--if one
can read the soul in the face. And the old colonel is a noble
I am glad that the Daws are such pleasant people. The Pines is an
isolated spot, and my resources are few. I fear I should have found
life here somewhat monotonous before long, with no other society than
that of my excellent sire. It is true, I might have made a target of
the defenceless invalid; but I haven't a taste for artillery, moi.
VI. JOHN FLEMMING TO EDWARD DELANEY.
August 17, 1872.
For a man who hasn't a taste for artillery, it occurs to me, my
friend, you are keeping up a pretty lively fire on my inner works.
But go on. Cynicism is a small brass field-piece that eventually
bursts and kills the artilleryman.
You may abuse me as much as you like, and I'll not complain; for I
don't know what I should do without your letters. They are curing me.
I haven't hurled anything at Watkins since last Sunday, partly because
I have grown more amiable under your teaching, and partly because
Watkins captured my ammunition one night, and carried it off to the
library. He is rapidly losing the habit he had acquired of dodging
whenever I rub my ear, or make any slight motion with my right arm. He
is still suggestive of the wine-cellar, however. You may break, you
may shatter Watkins, if you will, but the scent of the Roederer will
hang round him still.
Ned, that Miss Daw must be a charming person. I should certainly
like her. I like her already. When you spoke in your first letter of
seeing a young girl swinging in a hammock under your chamber window, I
was somehow strangely drawn to her. I cannot account for it in the
least. What you have subsequently written of Miss Daw has strengthened
the impression. You seem to be describing a woman I have known in some
previous state of existence, or dreamed of in this. Upon my word, if
you were to send me her photograph, I believe I should recognize her
at a glance. Her manner, that listening attitude, her traits of
character, as you indicate them, the light hair and the dark
eyes--they are all familiar things to me. Asked a lot of questions,
did she? Curious about me? That is strange.
You would laugh in your sleeve, you wretched old cynic, if you knew
how I lie awake nights, with my gas turned down to a star, thinking
of The Pines and the house across the road. How cool it must be down
there! I long for the salt smell in the air. I picture the colonel
smoking his cheroot on the piazza. I send you and Miss Daw off on
afternoon rambles along the beach. Sometimes I let you stroll with her
under the elms in the moonlight, for you are great friends by this
time, I take it, and see each other every day. I know your ways and
your manners! Then I fall into a truculent mood, and would like to
destroy somebody. Have you noticed anything in the shape of a lover
hanging around the colonel Lares and Penates? Does that lieutenant of
the horse-marines or that young Stillwater parson visit the house
much? Not that I am pining for news of them, but any gossip of the
kind would be in order. I wonder, Ned, you don't fall in love with
Miss Daw. I am ripe to do it myself. Speaking of photographs, couldn't
you manage to slip one of her cartes-de-visite from her album--she
must have an album, you know--and send it to me? I will return it
before it could be missed. That's a good fellow! Did the mare arrive
safe and sound? It will be a capital animal this autumn for Central
Oh--my leg? I forgot about my leg. It's better.
VII. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMIMG.
August 20, 1872.
You are correct in your surmises. I am on the most friendly terms
with our neighbors. The colonel and my father smoke their afternoon
cigar together in our sitting-room or on the piazza opposite, and I
pass an hour or two of the day or the evening with the daughter. I am
more and more struck by the beauty, modesty, and intelligence of Miss
You asked me why I do not fall in love with her. I will be frank,
Jack; I have thought of that. She is young, rich, accomplished,
uniting in herself more attractions, mental and personal, than I can
recall in any girl of my acquaintance; but she lacks the something
that would be necessary to inspire in me that kind of interest.
Possessing this unknown quality, a woman neither beautiful nor wealthy
nor very young could bring me to her feet. But not Miss Daw. If we
were shipwrecked together on an uninhabited island--let me suggest a
tropical island, for it costs no more to be picturesque--I would build
her a bamboo hut, I would fetch her bread-fruit and cocoanuts, I would
fry yams for her, I would lure the ingenuous turtle and make her
nourishing soups, but I wouldn't make love to her--not under eighteen
months. I would like to have her for a sister, that I might shield her
and counsel her, and spend half my income on old threadlace and
camel's-hair shawls. (We are off the island now.) If such were not my
feeling, there would still be an obstacle to my loving Miss Daw. A
greater misfortune could scarcely befall me than to love her.
Flemming, I am about to make a revelation that will astonish you. I
may be all wrong in my premises and consequently in my conclusions;
but you shall judge.
That night when I returned to my room after the croquet party at
the Daw's, and was thinking over the trivial events of the evening, I
was suddenly impressed by the air of eager attention with which Miss
Daw had followed my account of your accident. I think I mentioned this
to you. Well, the next morning, as I went to mail my letter, I
overtook Miss Daw on the road to Rye, where the post- office is, and
accompanied her thither and back, an hour's walk. The conversation
again turned to you, and again I remarked that inexplicable look of
interest which had lighted up her face the previous evening. Since
then, I have seen Miss Daw perhaps ten times, perhaps oftener, and on
each occasion I found that when I was not speaking of you, or your
sister, or some person or place associated with you, I was not holding
her attention. She would be absent-minded, her eyes would wander away
from me to the sea, or to some distant object in the landscape; her
fingers would play with the leaves of a book in a way that convinced
me she was not listening. At these moments if I abruptly changed the
theme--I did it several times as an experiment--and dropped some
remark about my friend Flemming, then the sombre blue eyes would come
back to me instantly.
Now, is not this the oddest thing in the world? No, not the oddest.
The effect which you tell me was produced on you by my casual mention
of an unknown girl swinging in a hammock is certainly as strange. You
can conjecture how that passage in your letter of Friday startled me.
Is it possible, than, that two people who have never met, and who are
hundreds of miles apart, can exert a magnetic influence on each other?
I have read of such psychological phenomena, but never credited them.
I leave the solution of the problem to you. As for myself, all other
things being favorable, it would be impossible for me to fall in love
with a woman who listens to me only when I am talking of my friend!
I am not aware that any one is paying marked attention to my fair
neighbor. The lieutenant of the navy--he is stationed at Rivermouth
--sometimes drops in of an evening, and sometimes the rector from
Stillwater; the lieutenant the oftener. He was there last night. I
should not be surprised if he had an eye to the heiress; but he is
not formidable. Mistress Daw carries a neat little spear of irony,
and the honest lieutenant seems to have a particular facility for
impaling himself on the point of it. He is not dangerous, I should
say; though I have known a woman to satirize a man for years, and
marry him after all. Decidedly, the lowly rector is not dangerous;
yet, again, who has not seen Cloth of Frieze victorious in the lists
where Cloth of Gold went down?
As to the photograph. There is an exquisite ivory-type of Marjorie,
in passe-partout, on the drawing room mantel-piece. It would be
missed at once if taken. I would do anything reasonable for you,
Jack; but I've no burning desire to be hauled up before the local
justice of the peace, on a charge of petty larceny.
P.S.--Enclosed is a spray of mignonette, which I advise you to
treat tenderly. Yes, we talked of you again last night, as usual. It
is becoming a little dreary for me.
VIII. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN
August 22, 1872.
Your letter in reply to my last has occupied my thoughts all the
morning. I do not know what to think. Do you mean to say that you are
seriously half in love with a woman whom you have never seen-- with a
shadow, a chimera? for what else can Miss Daw to be you? I do not
understand it at all. I understand neither you nor her. You are a
couple of ethereal beings moving in finer air than I can breathe with
my commonplace lungs. Such delicacy of sentiment is something that I
admire without comprehending. I am bewildered. I am of the earth
earthy, and I find myself in the incongruous position of having to do
with mere souls, with natures so finely tempered that I run some risk
of shattering them in my awkwardness. I am as Caliban among the
Reflecting on your letter, I am not sure that it is wise in me to
continue this correspondence. But no, Jack; I do wrong to doubt the
good sense that forms the basis of your character. You are deeply
interested in Miss Daw; you feel that she is a person whom you may
perhaps greatly admire when you know her: at the same time you bear
in mind that the chances are ten to five that, when you do come to
know her, she will fall far short of your ideal, and you will not
care for her in the least. Look at it in this sensible light, and I
will hold back nothing from you.
Yesterday afternoon my father and myself rode over to Rivermouth
with the Daws. A heavy rain in the morning had cooled the atmosphere
and laid the dust. To Rivermouth is a drive of eight miles, along a
winding road lined all the way with wild barberry bushes. I never saw
anything more brilliant than these bushes, the green of the foliage
and the faint blush of the berries intensified by the rain. The
colonel drove, with my father in front, Miss Daw and I on the back
seat. I resolved that for the first five miles your name should not
pass my lips. I was amused by the artful attempts she made, at the
start, to break through my reticence. Then a silence fell upon her;
and then she became suddenly gay. That keenness which I enjoyed so
much when it was exercised on the lieutenant was not so satisfactory
directed against myself. Miss Daw has great sweetness of disposition,
but she can be disagreeable. She is like the young lady in the rhyme,
with the curl on her forehead,
"When she is good, She is very, very good, And when she is bad,
she is horrid!"
I kept to my resolution, however; but on the return home I
relented, and talked of your mare! Miss Daw is going to try a side-
saddle on Margot some morning. The animal is a trifle too light for
my weight. By the bye, I nearly forgot to say that Miss Daw sat for a
picture yesterday to a Rivermouth artist. If the negative turns out
well, I am to have a copy. So our ends will be accomplished without
crime. I wish, though, I could send you the ivorytype in the
drawing-room; it is cleverly colored, and would give you an idea of
her hair and eyes, which of course the other will not.
No, Jack, the spray of mignonette did not come from me. A man of
twenty-eight doesn't enclose flowers in his letters--to another man.
But don't attach too much significance to the circumstance. She gives
sprays of mignonette to the rector, sprays to the lieutenant. She has
even given a rose from her bosom to your slave. It is her jocund
nature to scatter flowers, like Spring.
If my letters sometimes read disjointedly, you must understand that
I never finish one at a sitting, but write at intervals, when the
mood is on me.
The mood is not on me now.
IX. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING.
August 23, 1872.
I have just returned from the strangest interview with Marjorie.
She has all but confessed to me her interest in you. But with what
modesty and dignity! Her words elude my pen as I attempt to put them
on paper; and, indeed, it was not so much what she said as her manner;
and that I cannot reproduce. Perhaps it was of a piece with the
strangeness of this whole business, that she should tacitly
acknowledge to a third party the love she feels for a man she has
never beheld! But I have lost, through your aid, the faculty of being
surprised. I accept things as people do in dreams. Now that I am again
in my room, it all appears like an illusion--the black masses of
Rembrandtish shadow under the trees, the fireflies whirling in Pyrrhic
dances among the shrubbery, the sea over there, Marjorie sitting on
It is past midnight, and I am too sleepy to write more.
My father has suddenly taken it into his head to spend a few days
at the Shoals. In the meanwhile you will not hear from me. I see
Marjorie walking in the garden with the colonel. I wish I could speak
to her alone, but shall probably not have an opportunity before we
X. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN FLEMMING.
August 28, 1872.
You were passing into your second childhood, were you? Your
intellect was so reduced that my epistolary gifts seemed quite
considerable to you, did they? I rise superior to the sarcasm in your
favor of the 11th instant, when I notice that five days' silence on my
part is sufficient to throw you into the depths of despondency.
We returned only this morning from Appledore, that enchanted island
--at four dollars per day. I find on my desk three letters from you!
Evidently there is no lingering doubt in your mind as to the pleasure
I derive from your correspondence. These letters are undated, but in
what I take to be the latest are two passages that require my
consideration. You will pardon my candor, dear Flemming, but the
conviction forces itself upon me that as your leg grows stronger your
head becomes weaker. You ask my advice on a certain point. I will give
it. In my opinion you could do nothing more unwise that to address a
note to Miss Daw, thanking her for the flower. It would, I am sure,
offend her delicacy beyond pardon. She knows you only through me; you
are to her an abstraction, a figure in a dream--a dream from which the
faintest shock would awaken her. Of course, if you enclose a note to
me and insist on its delivery, I shall deliver it; but I advise you
not to do so.
You say you are able, with the aid of a cane, to walk about your
chamber, and that you purpose to come to The Pines the instant Dillon
thinks you strong enough to stand the journey. Again I advise you not
to. Do you not see that, every hour you remain away, Marjorie's
glamour deepens, and your influence over her increases? You will ruin
everything by precipitancy. Wait until you are entirely recovered; in
any case, do not come without giving me warning. I fear the effect of
your abrupt advent here--under the circumstances.
Miss Daw was evidently glad to see us back again, and gave me both
hands in the frankest way. She stopped at the door a moment this
afternoon in the carriage; she had been over to Rivermouth for her
pictures. Unluckily the photographer had spilt some acid on the
plate, and she was obliged to give him another sitting. I have an
intuition that something is troubling Marjorie. She had an abstracted
air not usual with her. However, it may be only my fancy. . . . I end
this, leaving several things unsaid, to accompany my father on one of
those long walks which are now his chief medicine--and mine!
XI. EDWARD DELANY TO JOHN FLEMMING.
August 29, 1972.
I write in great haste to tell you what has taken place here since
my letter of last night. I am in the utmost perplexity. Only one
thing is plain--you must not dream of coming to The Pines. Marjorie
has told her father everything! I saw her for a few minutes, an hour
ago, in the garden; and, as near as I could gather from her confused
statement, the facts are these: Lieutenant Bradly--that's the naval
officer stationed at Rivermouth--has been paying court to Miss Daw for
some time past, but not so much to her liking as to that of the
colonel, who it seems is an old fiend of the young gentleman's father.
Yesterday (I knew she was in some trouble when she drove up to our
gate) the colonel spoke to Marjorie of Bradly --urged his suit, I
infer. Marjorie expressed her dislike for the lieutenant with
characteristic frankness, and finally confessed to her father--well, I
really do not know what she confessed. It must have been the vaguest
of confessions, and must have sufficiently puzzled the colonel. At any
rate, it exasperated him. I suppose I am implicated in the matter, and
that the colonel feels bitterly towards me. I do not see why: I have
carried no messages between you and Miss Daw; I have behaved with the
greatest discretion. I can find no flaw anywhere in my proceeding. I
do not see that anybody has done anything--except the colonel himself.
It is probable, nevertheless, that the friendly relations between
the two houses will be broken off. "A plague o' both your houses,"
say you. I will keep you informed, as well as I can, of what occurs
over the way. We shall remain here until the second week in
September. Stay where you are, or, at all events, do not dream of
joining me....Colonel Daw is sitting on the piazza looking rather
wicked. I have not seen Marjorie since I parted with her in the
XII. EDWARD DELANEY TO THOMAS
DILLON, M.D., MADISON SQUARE, NEW YORK.
August 30, 1872.
My Dear Doctor: If you have any influence over Flemming, I beg of
you to exert it to prevent his coming to this place at present. There
are circumstances, which I will explain to you before long, that make
it of the first importance that he should not come into this
neighborhood. His appearance here, I speak advisedly, would be
disastrous to him. In urging him to remain in New York, or to go to
some inland resort, you will be doing him and me a real service. Of
course you will not mention my name in this connection. You know me
well enough, my dear doctor, to be assured that, in begging your
secret cooperation, I have reasons that will meet your entire
approval when they are made plain to you. We shall return to town on
the 15th of next month, and my first duty will be to present myself at
your hospitable door and satisfy your curiosity, if I have excited it.
My father, I am glad to state, has so greatly improved that he can no
longer be regarded as an invalid. With great esteem, I am, etc., etc.
XIII. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN
August 31, 1872.
Your letter, announcing your mad determination to come here, has
just reached me. I beseech you to reflect a moment. The step would be
fatal to your interests and hers. You would furnish just cause for
irritation to R. W. D.; and, though he loves Marjorie devotedly, he is
capable of going to any lengths if opposed. You would not like, I am
convinced, to be the means of causing him to treat her with severity.
That would be the result of your presence at The Pines at this
juncture. I am annoyed to be obliged to point out these things to you.
We are on very delicate ground, Jack; the situation is critical, and
the slightest mistake in a move would cost us the game. If you
consider it worth the winning, be patient. Trust a little to my
sagacity. Wait and see what happens. Moreover, I understand from
Dillon that you are in no condition to take so long a journey. He
thinks the air of the coast would be the worst thing possible for you;
that you ought to go inland, if anywhere. Be advised by me. Be advised
September 1, 1872.
1. - TO EDWARD DELANEY.
Letter received. Dillon be hanged. I think I ought to be on the
ground. J. F.
2. - TO JOHN FLEMMING.
Stay where you are. You would only complicated matters. Do not move
until you hear from me. E. D.
3. - TO EDWARD DELANEY.
My being at The Pines could be kept secret. I must see her. J. F.
4. - TO JOHN FLEMMING.
Do not think of it. It would be useless. R. W. D. has locked M. in
her room. You would not be able to effect and interview. E. D.
5. - TO EDWARD DELANEY.
Locked her in her room. Good God. That settles the question. I
shall leave by the twelve-fifteen express. J. F.
XV. THE ARRIVAL.
On the second day of September, 1872, as the down express, due at
3.40, left the station at Hampton, a young man, leaning on the
shoulder of a servant, whom he addressed as Watkins, stepped from the
platform into a hack, and requested to be driven to "The Pines." On
arriving at the gate of a modest farm-house, a few miles from the
station, the young man descended with difficulty from the carriage,
and, casting a hasty glance across the road, seemed much impressed by
some peculiarity in the landscape. Again leaning on the shoulder of
the person Watkins, he walked to the door of the farm-house and
inquired for Mr. Edward Delaney. He was informed by the aged man who
answered his knock, that Mr. Edward Delaney had gone to Boston the day
before, but that Mr. Jonas Delaney was within. This information did
not appear satisfactory to the stranger, who inquired if Mr. Edward
Delaney had left any message for Mr. John Flemming. There was a letter
for Mr. Flemming if he were that person. After a brief absence the
aged man reappeared with a Letter.
XVI. EDWARD DELANEY TO JOHN
September 1, 1872.
I am horror-stricken at what I have done! When I began this
correspondence I had no other purpose than to relieve the tedium of
your sick-chamber. Dillon told me to cheer you up. I tried to. I
thought that you entered into the spirit of the thing. I had no idea,
until within a few days, that you were taking matters au grand
What can I say? I am in sackcloth and ashes. I am a pariah, a dog
of an outcast. I tried to make a little romance to interest you,
something soothing and idyllic, and, by Jove! I have done it only too
well! My father doesn't know a word of this, so don't jar the old
gentleman any more than you can help. I fly from the wrath to
come--when you arrive! For oh, dear Jack, there isn't any piazza,
there isn't any hammock--there isn't any Marjorie Daw!