by Miriam Coles Harris
By MRS. SIDNEY S. HARRIS
Author of “Rutledge,” “St. Phillips,” etc., etc.
CHAPTER II. VERY
CHAPTER IV. MY
CHAPTER V. THE
THREE WEEKS TOO
CHAPTER IX. A
CHAPTER X. EVERY
DAY FROM SIX TO
THE WORLD GOES
ON THE SAME.
CHAPTER XV. I
SHALL HAVE SEEN
BESIDE HIM ONCE
CHAPTER XVIII. A
CHAPTER XX. THE
HOUR OF DAWN.
PERD ON BIEN.
CHAPTER XXII. A
GREAT DEAL TOO
CHAPTER XXIII. A
CHAPTER XXIV. MY
BIEN PERDU, BIEN
CHAPTER XXVI. A
CHAPTER I. VARICK STREET.
O for one spot of living green,
One little spot where leaves can grow,—
To love unblamed, to walk unseen,
To dream above, to sleep below!
There are in this loud stunning tide,
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime;
* * * * *
And to wise hearts this certain hope is given;
“No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven.”
I never knew exactly how the invitation came; I felt very much
honored by it, though I think now, very likely the honor was felt to be
upon the other side. I was exceedingly young, and exceedingly ignorant,
not seventeen, and an orphan, living in the house of an uncle, an
unmarried man of nearly seventy, wholly absorbed in business, and not
much more interested in me than in his clerks and servants.
I had come under his protection, a little girl of two years old, and
had been in his house ever since. I had had as good care as a very
ordinary class of servants could give me, and was supplied with some
one to teach me, and had as much money to spend as was good for
me—perhaps more; and I do not feel inclined to say my uncle did not do
his duty, for I do not think he knew of anything further to do; and
strictly speaking, I had no claim on him, for I was only a great-niece,
and there were those living who were more nearly related to me, and who
were abundantly able to provide for me, if they had been willing to do
When I came in to the household, its wants were attended to by a
cook and a man-servant, who had lived many years with my uncle. A third
person was employed as my nurse, and a great deal of quarrelling was
the result of her coming. I quite wonder my uncle did not put me away
at board somewhere, rather than be disturbed. But in truth, I do not
believe that the quarrelling disturbed him much, or that he paid much
attention to the matter, and so the matter settled itself. My nurses
were changed very often, by will of the cook and old Peter, and I never
was happy enough to have one who had very high principle, or was more
than ordinarily good-tempered.
I don't know who selected my teachers; probably they applied for
employment and were received. They were very business-like and
unsuggestive people. I was of no more interest to them than a bale of
goods, I believe. Indeed, I seemed likely to go a bale of goods through
life; everything that was done for me was done for money, and with a
view to the benefit of the person serving me. I was not sent to school,
which was a very great pity; it was owing to the fact, no doubt, that
somebody applied to my uncle to teach me at home, and so the system was
inaugurated, and never received a second thought, and I went on being
taught at home till I was seventeen.
The “home” was as follows; a large dark house on the unsunny side of
a dull street; furniture that had not been changed for forty years,
walls that were seldom repainted, windows that were rarely opened. The
neighborhood had been for many years unfashionable and undesirable,
and, by the time I was grown up, nobody would have lived in it, who had
cared to have a cheerful home, I might almost have said, a respectable
one, I fancy ours was nearly the only house in the block occupied by
its owner; the others, equally large, were rented for tenement houses,
or boarding-houses, and perhaps for many things worse. It was probably
owing to this fact, that my uncle gave orders, once for all, I was
never to go into the street alone; and I believe, in my whole life, I
had never taken a walk unaccompanied by a servant, or one of my
A very dull life indeed. I wonder how I endured it. The rooms were
so dismal, the windows so uneventful. If it had not been for a room in
the garret where I had my playthings, and where the sun came all day
long, I am sure I should have been a much worse and more unhappy child.
As I grew older, I tried to adorn my room (my own respectable sleeping
room, I mean), with engravings, and the little ornaments that I could
buy. But it was a hopeless attempt. The walls were so high and so
dingy, the little pictures were lost upon them; and the vases on the
great black mantel-shelf looked so insignificant, I felt ashamed of
them, and owned the unfitness of decorating such a room. No flowers
would grow in those cold north windows—no bird would sing in sight of
such a street. I gave it up with a sigh; and there was one good
When I was about eleven, I fell foul of some good books. If it had
not been for them, I truly do not see how I could have known that I was
not to lie or steal, and that God was to be worshipped. Certainly, I
had had hands slapped many times for taking things I had been forbidden
to touch, and had had many a battle in consequence of “telling
stories,” with the servants of the house, but I had always recognized
the personal spite of the punishments, and they had not carried with
them any moral lesson.
I had sometimes gone to church; but the sermons in large city
churches are not generally elementary, and I did not understand those
that I heard at all. Occasionally I went with the nurse to Vespers, and
that I thought delightful. I was enraptured with the pictures, the
music, the rich clothes of the priests; if it had not been for the bad
odor of the neighboring worshippers, I think I might have rushed into
the bosom of the Church of Rome. But that offended sense restrained me.
And so, as I said, if I had not obtained access to some books of holy
and pure influence, and been starved by the dullness of the life around
me into taking hold of them with eagerness, I should have led the life
of a little heathen in the midst of light. Of course the books were not
written for my especial case, nor were they books for children,—and
so, much was supposed, and not expressed, and consequently the truth
they imparted to me was but fragmentary. But it was truth, and the
influence was holy.
I was driven to books; I do not believe I had any more desire than
most vivid, palpitating, fluttering young things of my sex, to pore
over a dull black and white page; but this black and white gate opened
to me golden fields of happiness, while I was perishing of hunger in a
life of dreary fact.
When I was about sixteen, however, an outside human influence, not
written in black and white, came into the current of my existence.
About that time, my uncle took into his firm, as junior partner, a
young man who had long been a clerk in the house. After his promotion
he often came home with my uncle to dinner. I think this was done,
perhaps, with a view of civil treatment, on the first occasion; but
afterward, it was continued because my uncle could not bear to leave
business when he left the office, and because he could talk on the
matters which were dearer to him than his dinner, with this junior, in
whom he took unqualified delight. He often wrote letters in the
evening, which my uncle dictated, and he sometimes did not go away till
eleven o'clock at night. The first time he came, I did not notice him
very much. It was not unusual for Uncle Leonard to be accompanied by
some gentleman who talked business with him during dinner; and being
naturally shy, and moreover, on this occasion, in the middle of a very
interesting book, at once timid and indifferent, I slipped away from
the table the moment that I could. But upon the third or fourth
occasion of his being there, I became interested, finding often a pair
of handsome eyes fixed on me, and being occasionally addressed and made
a partner in the conversation. Uncle Leonard very rarely talked to me,
and I think found me in the way when Richard Vandermarck made the talk
extend to me.
But this was the beginning of a very much improved era for me. I
lost my shyness, and my fear of Uncle Leonard, and indeed, I think, my
frantic thirst for books, and became quite a young lady. We were great
friends; he brought me books, he told me about other people, he opened
a thousand doors of interest and pleasure to me. I never can enumerate
all I owed to him. My dull life was changed, and the house owed him
We began to have the gas lighted in the parlor, and even Uncle
Leonard came in there sometimes and sat after dinner, before he went up
into that dreary library above. I think he rather enjoyed hearing us
talk gayly across his sombre board; he certainly became softer and more
human toward me after Richard came to be so constantly a guest. He gave
me more money to spend, (that was always the expression of his
feelings, his language, so to speak;) he made various inquiries and
improvements about the house. The dinners themselves were improved, for
a horrible monotony had crept into the soups and sauces of forty years;
and Uncle Leonard was no epicure; he seemed to have no more stomach
than he had heart; brain and pocket made the man.
I think unconsciously he was much influenced by Richard, whose
business talent had charmed him, and to whom he looked for much that he
knew he must soon lose. He was glad to make the house seem pleasant to
him, and he was much gratified by his frequent coming. And Richard was
peculiarly a man to like and to lean upon. Not in any way brilliant,
and with no literary tastes, he was well educated enough, and very well
informed; a thorough business man. I think he was ordinarily reserved,
but our intercourse had been so unconventional, that I did not think
him so at all. He was rather good-looking, tall and square-shouldered,
with light-brown hair and fine dark-blue eyes; he had a great many
points of advantage.
One day, long after he had become almost a member of the household,
he told me he wanted me to know his sister, and that she would come the
next day to see me, if I would like it. I did like it, and waited for
her with impatience. He had told me a great deal about her, and I was
full of curiosity to see her. She was a little older than Richard, and
the only sister; very pretty, and quite a person of consequence in
society. She had made an unfortunate marriage, though of that Richard
said very little to me; but with better luck than attends most
unfortunately-married, women, she was released by her husband's early
death, and was free to be happy again, with some pretty boys, a
moderate fortune, and two brothers to look after her investments, and
do her little errands for her. She considered herself fortunate; and
was a widow of rare discretion, in that she was wedded to her
unexpected independence, and never intended to be wedded to anything or
anybody else. She was naturally cool and calculating, and was in no
danger of being betrayed by her feelings into any other course of life
than the one she had marked out as most expedient. If she was worldly,
she was also useful, intelligent, and popular, and a paragon in her
brother's partial eyes.
CHAPTER II. VERY GOOD LUCK.
Mieux vaut une once de fortune qu'une livre de sagesse.
At last (on the day on which Richard had advertised me she was
coming,) the door was opened, and some one was taken to the parlor.
Then old Peter rang a bell which stood on the hall table, and called
out to Ann Coddle (once my nurse, now the seamstress, chambermaid, and
general lightener of his toils), to tell Miss Pauline a lady wanted
This bell was to save his old bones; he never went up-stairs, and he
resented every visitor as an innovation. They were so few, his temper
was not much tried. I was leaning over the stairs when the bell rang,
and did not need a second message. Ann, who continued to feel a care
for my personal appearance, followed me to the landing-place and gave
my sash a last pull.
When I found myself in the parlor I began to experience a little
embarrassment. Mrs. Hollenbeck was so pretty and her dress was so
dainty, the dingy, stiff, old parlor filled me with dismay.
Fortunately, I did not think much of myself or my own dress. But after
a little, she put me at ease, that is, drew me out and made me feel
like talking to her.
I admired her very much, but I did not feel any of the affection and
quick cordiality with which Richard had inspired me. I could tell that
she was curious about me, and was watching me attentively, and though
she was so charming that I felt flattered by her interest, I was not
pleased when I remembered my interview with her.
“You are not at all like your brother,” I said, glancing in her face
“No?” she said smilingly, and looking attentively at me with an
expression which I did not understand.
And then she drew me on to speak of all his features, which I did
with the utmost candor, showing great knowledge of the subject.
“And you,” she said, “you do not look at all as I supposed. You are
not nearly so young—Richard told me you were quite a child. I was not
prepared for this grace; this young ladyhood—'cette taille de
palmier,'“ she added, with a little sweep of the hand.
Somehow I was not pleased to feel that Richard had talked of me to
her, though I liked it that he had talked of her to me. No doubt she
saw it, for I was lamentably transparent. “Do you lead a quiet life, or
have you many friends?” she said, as if she did not know exactly the
kind of life I led, and as if she had not come for the express purpose
of helping me out of it, at the instance of her kindly brother. Then,
of course, I told her all about my dull days, and she pitied me, and
said lightly it must not be, and I must see more of the world, and she,
for her part, must know me better, etc., etc. And then she went away.
In a few days, I went with Ann Coddle, in a carriage, to return the
visit. The house was small, but in a beautiful, bright street, and the
one window near the door was full of ferns and ivies. I did not get in,
which was a disappointment to me, particularly as I had no printed
card, and realized keenly all the ignominy of leaving one in writing.
This was in April, and I saw no more of my new friend. Richard was
away, on some business of the firm, and the days were very dull indeed.
In May he came back, and resumed the dinners, and the evenings in
the parlor, though not quite with the frequency of the past
winter,—and I think there was the least shade of constraint in his
manner. It was on one of these May days that he came and took me to the
Park. It was a great occasion; I had never been so happy before in my
life. I was in great doubt about taking Ann Coddle; never having been
out of the house without a person of that description in attendance
before. But Ann got a suspicion of my doubt and settled it, to go—of
course. I think Richard was rather chagrined when she followed us out
to get into the carriage; she was so dried-up and shrewish-looking, and
wore such an Irish bonnet. But she preserved a discreet silence, and
looked steadfastly out of the carriage window, so we soon forgot that
she was there, though she was directly opposite to us. It was Saturday;
the day was fresh and lovely, and there were crowds of people driving
in the Park. Once we left the carriage with Ann Coddle in it, and went
to hear the music. It was while we were sitting for a few moments under
the vines to listen to it, and watch the gay groups of people around
us, that a carriage passed within a dozen feet, and a lady leaned out
and bowed with smiles.
“Why, see—it is your sister!” I exclaimed, with the vivacity of a
person of a very limited acquaintance.
“Ah,” he said, and raised his hat carelessly. But I saw he was not
pleased; he pushed the end of his moustache into his mouth, and bit it,
as he always did when out of humor, and very soon proposed we should go
back and find the carriage. It was not long, however, before he
recovered from this annoyance, as he had from the unexpected pleasure
of Ann's company; and, I am sure, was as sorry as I when it was time to
go home to dinner.
He stayed and dined with us; another gentleman had come home with my
uncle, who talked well and amused us very much. I was excited and in
high spirits; altogether, it was a very happy day.
It was more than a week after this, that the invitation came which
turned the world upside down at once, and made me most extravagantly
happy. It was from Mrs. Hollenbeck, and I was asked to spend part of
June and all of July and August, with them at R——.
At R——was their old family home, a place of very little
pretension, but to which they were much attached. When the father died,
five years before, the two sons had bought the place, or rather had
taken it as their share, turning over the more productive property to
They had been very reluctant to close the house, and it was decided
that Sophie should go there every summer, and take her servants from
the city; the expenses of the place being borne by the two young men.
They were very well able to do it, as both were successful in business,
and keeping open the old home, with no diminution of the hospitality of
their father's time, was perhaps the greatest pleasure that they had.
It was an arrangement which suited Sophie admirably. It gave her the
opportunity to entertain pleasantly and informally; it was a capital
summer-home for her two boys; it was in the centre of an agreeable
neighborhood; and above all, it gave her yearly-exhausted purse time to
recuperate and swell again before the winter's drain. Of course she
loved the place, too, but not with the simple affection that her two
brothers did. The young men invited their friends there without
restriction, as was to be supposed; and Sophie was a gay and agreeable
hostess. No one could have made the house pleasanter than she did; and
she left nothing undone to gratify her brothers' tastes and wishes,
like a wise and prudent woman as she was.
I did not know all this then, or my invitation might not have
overwhelmed me with such gratitude to her. I reproached myself for not
having loved her the first time I saw her.
Three months! Three happy months in the country! I could hardly
believe it possible such a thing had happened to me. I took the note to
my uncle without much fear of his opposition, for he rarely opposed
anything that I had the courage to ask him, except going in the street
alone. (I believe my mother had made a runaway match, and I think he
had faith in inherited traits; his one resolution regarding me must
have been, not to give me a chance.) He read the note carefully, and
then looked me over with more interest than usual, and told me I might
go. Afterward he gave me a roll of bills, and told me to come to him
for more money, if I needed it.
I was much excited about my clothes. I could not think that anything
was good enough to go to R——; and I am afraid I spent a good deal of
my uncle's money. Ann Coddle and the cook thought that my dresses were
magnificent, and old Peter groaned over the coming of the packages. I
had indeed a wardrobe fit for a young princess, and in very good taste
besides, because I was born with that. An inheritance, no doubt. And my
uncle never complained at all about the bills. I seemed to have become,
in some way, a person of considerable importance in the house. Ann
Coddle no more fretted at me, but waited on me with alacrity. The cook
ceased to bully me, and on the contrary, flattered me outrageously. I
remembered the long years of bullying, and put no faith in her
assurances. I did not know exactly why this change had happened, but
supposed it might be the result of having become a young lady, and
being invited to pay visits.
CHAPTER III. KILIAN.
You are well made—have common sense,
And do not want for impudence.
Tanto buen die val niente.
Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire.
The packages finally ceased coming and the stiff old bell from being
pulled; but only half an hour before the carriage drove to the door
that was to take me to the boat. Ann Coddle was flying up and down the
stairs, and calling messages over to Peter in a shrill voice. She was
not designed by nature for a lady's maid, and was a very disagreeable
person to have about one's room. She made me even more nervous than I
should otherwise have been. I had never packed a trunk before, or had
one packed, and might have thought it a very simple piece of business
if Ann had not made such a mountain of it; packing every tray half a
dozen times over, and going down-stairs three times about every article
that was to come up from the laundry.
Happily she was not to go with me any farther than the boat. Richard
was away again on business—had been gone, indeed, since the day after
we had driven in the Park: so I was to be put on board the boat, and
left in charge of Kilian, his younger brother, who had called at my
uncle's office, and made the arrangement with him. I had never seen
Kilian, and the meeting filled me with apprehension; my uncle, however,
sent up one of his clerks in the carriage to take me to the boat, and
put me in charge of this young gentleman. This considerate action on
the part of my uncle seemed to fill up the measure of my surprises.
When we reached the boat, the clerk, a respectful youth, conducted
me to the upper deck, and then left me with Ann, while he went down
about the baggage.
With all our precautions, we were rather late, for the last bell was
ringing; Ann was in a fever of impatience, and I was quite uncertain
what to do, the clerk not having returned, and Mr. Kilian Vandermarck
not having yet appeared. Ann was so disagreeable, and so disturbing to
all thinking, that I had more than once to tell her to be quiet.
Matters seemed to have reached a crisis. The man at the gangway was
shouting “all aboard;” the whistle was blowing; the bell was ringing;
Ann was whimpering; when a belated-looking young man with a book and
paper under his arm came up the stairs hurriedly and looked around with
anxiety. As soon as his eye fell on us, he looked relieved, and walked
directly up to me, and called me by name, interrogatively.
“O yes,” I said eagerly, “but do get this woman off the boat or
we'll have to take her with us.” “Oh, no danger,” he said, “plenty of
time,” and he took her toward the stairs, at the head of which she was
met by the clerk, who touched his hat to me, handed the checks to Mr.
Vandermarck, then hurried off with Ann. Mr. Vandermarck returned to me,
but I was so engrossed looking over the side of the boat and watching
for Ann and the clerk, that I took no notice of him.
At last I saw Ann scramble on the wharf, just before the plank was
drawn in; with a sigh of relief I turned away.
“I want to apologize for being so late,” he said.
“Why, it is not any matter,” I answered, “only I had not the least
idea what to do.”
“You are not used to travelling alone, then, I suppose?”
“Oh no,” nor to travelling any way, for the matter of that, I added
to myself; but not aloud, for I had a great fear that it should be
known how very limited my experience was.
“You must let me take your shawl and bag, and we will go and get a
comfortable seat,” he said in a few moments. We went forward and found
comfortable chairs under an awning, and where there was a fine breeze.
It was a warm afternoon, and the change from the heated and glaring
wharf was delightful. Mr. Vandermarck threw himself back in his chair
with an expression of relief, and took off his straw hat.
“If you had been in Wall-street since ten o'clock this morning you
would be prepared to enjoy this sail,” he said.
“Is Wall-street so very much more disagreeable than other places? I
think my uncle regrets every moment that he spends away from it.”
“Ah, yes. Mr. Greer may; he has a good deal to make him like it; if
I made as much money as he does every day there, I think it's possible
I might like it too. But it is a different matter with a poor devil
like me: if I get off without being cheated out of all I've got, it is
as much as I can ask.”
“Well, perhaps when he was your age, Uncle Leonard did not ask more
“Not he; he began, long before he was as old as I am, to do what I
can never learn to do, Miss d'Esiree—make money with one hand and save
it with the other. Now, I'm ashamed to say, a great deal of money comes
into my pockets, but it never stays there long enough to give me the
feeling that I'm a rich man. One gets into a way of living that's
destruction to all chances of a fortune.”
“But what's the good of a fortune if you don't enjoy it?” I said,
thinking of the dreary house in Varick-street.
“No good,” he said. “It isn't in my nature to be satisfied with the
knowledge that I've got enough to make me happy locked up somewhere in
a safe: I must get it out, and strew it around in sight in the shape of
horses, pictures, nice rooms, and good things to eat, before I can make
up my mind that the money is good for anything. Now as to Richard, he
is just the other way: old head on young shoulders, old pockets in
young breeches (only there ar'nt any holes in them). He's a model of
prudence, is my brother Richard. Qui garde son diner, il a mieux a
souper. He'll be a rich man one of these fine days. I look to him
to keep me out of jail. You know Richard very well, I believe?” he
said, turning a sudden look on me, which would have been very
disconcerting to an older person, or one more acquainted with the
“O, very well indeed,” I said with great simplicity. “You know he is
such a favorite with my uncle, and he is a great deal at the house.”
“Well he may be a favorite, for he is built exactly on his model; at
seventy, if I am not hung for debt before I reach it, I shall look to
see him just a second Mr. Leonard Greer.”
I made a gesture of dissent. “I don't think he is in the least like
Uncle Leonard, and I don't think he cares at all for money.”
“O, Miss Pauline, don't you believe him if he says he doesn't. I'm
his younger brother, whom he has lectured and been hard on for these
twenty-seven years, and I know more about it than anybody else.”
“Why, is Mr. Richard Vandermarck twenty-seven years old?” I said
with much surprise.
“Twenty-nine his next birthday, and I am twenty-seven. Why, did he
pass himself off for younger? That's an excellent thing against him.”
“No; he did not pass himself off for anything in the matter of age.
It was only my idea about him. I thought he was not more than
twenty-five, perhaps even younger than that. But then I had nobody but
Uncle Leonard to compare him with, and it isn't strange that I didn't
get quite right.”
“It is something of a step from Mr. Greer to Richard, I must
say. Mr. Greer seems so much the oldest man in the world, and
Richard—well, Richard isn't that, but he is a good deal older than he
ought to be. But do you tell me, Miss Pauline, you havn't any younger
fellows than Richard on your cards? Do they keep you as quiet as all
that in Varick-street?”
I knew by intuition this was impertinence, and no doubt I looked
annoyed, and Mr. Vandermarck hastened to obliterate the impression by a
very rapid movement upon the scenery, the beauties of the river, and
many things as novel.
The three hours of our sail passed away pleasantly. Mr. Vandermarck
did not move from his seat; did not even read his paper, though I gave
him an opportunity by turning over the leaves of my “Littel” on the
occurrence of every pause.
I felt that I knew him quite well before the journey was over, and I
liked him exceedingly, almost as well as Richard. He was rather
handsomer than Richard, not so tall, but more vivacious and more
amusing, much more so. I began to think Richard rather dull when I
contrasted him with his brother.
When we reached the wharf, Mr. Vandermarck, after disposing of the
baggage, gave his arm to me, and took me to an open wagon which was
waiting for us. He put me in the seat beside him, and took the reins
with a look of pleasure.
“These are Tom and Jerry, Miss Pauline,” he said, “about the
pleasantest members of the family; at least they contribute more to my
pleasure than any other members of it. I squandered about half my
income on them a year or two ago, and have not repented yet; though,
indeed, repentance isn't in my way. I shall hope for the happiness of
giving you many drives with them, if I am permitted.”
“Nothing could make me happier, I am sure.”
“Richard hasn't any horses, though he can afford it much better than
I can. He does his driving, when he is here, with the carriage-horses
that we keep for Sophie—a dull old pair of brutes. He disapproves very
much of Tom and Jerry; but you see it would never do to have two such
wise heads in one family.”
“It would destroy the balance of power in the neighborhood.”
“Decidedly; as it is, we are a first-class power, owing to Sophie's
cleverness and Richard's prudence; my prodigality is just needed to
keep us from overrunning the county and proclaiming an empire at the
next town meeting. How do you like Sophie, Miss d'Estree? I know you
haven't seen much of her—but what you have? Isn't she clever, and
isn't she a pretty woman to be nearly thirty-five?”
I was feeling very grateful for my invitation, and so I said a great
deal of my admiration for his sister.
“Everybody likes her,” he said, complacently. “I don't know a more
popular person anywhere. She is the life of the neighborhood; people
come to her for everything, if they want to get a new door-mat for the
school-house, or if they want a new man nominated for the legislature.
I think she's awfully bored, sometimes, but she keeps it to herself.
But though the summer is her rest, she always does enough to tire out
anybody else. Now, for instance, she is going to have three young
ladies with her for the next two months (besides yourself, Miss
d'Estree), whom she will have to be amusing all the time, and some
friends of mine who will turn the house inside out. But Sophie never
“Tell me about them all,” I said, consuming with a fever of
“O, I forgot you did not know them. Shall I begin with the young
ladies?—(Sam, there's a stone in Jerry's off fore-foot; get down and
look about it—Steady!—there, I knew it)—Excuse me, Miss d'Estree.
Well,—the young ladies. There's one of our cousins, a grand, handsome,
sombre, estimable girl, whom nobody ever flirts with, but whom somebody
will marry. That's Henrietta Palmer. Then there is Charlotte
Benson—not pretty, but stylish and so clever. She carries too many
guns for most men; she is a capital girl in her way. Then there is Mary
Leighton; she is small, blonde, lovely. I do not believe in her
particularly, but we are great friends, and flirt a little, I am told.
I quite wonder how you will like each other. I hope you will tell me
your impressions. No doubt she will be rather your companion, for
Henrietta and Charlotte Benson are desperately intimate, and have a
room together. They are quite romantic and very superior. Pretty Miss
Leighton isn't in their line exactly, and is rather left to her own
reflections, I should think. But she makes up for it when the gentlemen
appear; she isn't left with any time upon her hands, you may be sure. I
don't know what it is about her; she never said a bright thing in her
life, and a great, great many silly ones; but everybody wants to talk
to her, and her silly words are precious to the man to whom she says
them. Did you ever meet anybody like her?”
“I? oh no. I never met anybody,” I said, half-bitterly, beginning to
be afraid of the people whom I so soon should meet; and then I began to
talk about the road, and to inquire how far we had yet to drive, and to
ask to have a shawl about my shoulders. It was not yet seven o'clock,
but the country air was fresh and cool, and the rapid driving made it
“We are almost there; and I hope, Miss d'Estree, that you won't feel
as if you were going among strangers. You will not feel so long, at any
rate. It is too bad Richard isn't here; you know him so much better
than the rest of us. But before he comes back, I am sure you will feel
as much at home as he. But here's the gate.”
There was a drive of perhaps an eighth of a mile from the gate to
the house: the trees and hedge were thick, so that one saw little of
the house from the road. The grounds were well kept; there was a nice
lawn, in front of the house, and some very fine old trees. The house
was low and irregular, but quite picturesque. It fronted the road; the
rear looked toward the river, about quarter of a mile distant, and of
which the view was lovely.
There was a piazza in front, on which four ladies stood; one of them
came forward, and came down the steps, and met me as I got out of the
carriage. That, of course, was Mrs. Hollenbeck, She welcomed me very
cordially, and led me up the steps of the piazza, where the young
ladies stood. Terrible young ladies! I shook with fear of them. I felt
as if I did not know anything, as if I did not look well, as if my
clothes were hideous. I should not have been afraid of young or old
men, nor of old women; but they were just my age, just my class, just
my equals, or ought to have been, if I had had any other fate than
Uncle Leonard and Varick-street. How they would criticize me! How soon
they would find out I had never been anywhere before! I wished for
Richard then with all my heart. Kilian had already deserted me, and was
talking to Miss Leighton, who had come half-way down the steps to meet
him, and who only gave me a glance and a very pretty smile and nod,
when Mrs. Hollenbeck presented me to them. Miss Benson and Miss Palmer
each gave me a hand, and looked me over horribly; and the tones of
their voices, when they spoke to me, were so constrained and cold, and
so different from the tones in which they addressed each other. I hated
After a few moments of wretchedness, Sophie proposed to take me to
my room. We went up the stairs, which were steep and old-fashioned,
with a landing-place almost like a little room. My room was in a wing
of the house, over the dining-room, and the windows looked out on the
river. It was not large, but was very pretty. The windows were
curtained, and the bed was dainty, and the little mantel was draped,
and the ornaments and pictures were quaint and delightful to my taste.
Sophie laid the shawls she had been carrying up for me upon the bed,
and said she hoped I would find everything I needed, and would try to
feel entirely at home, and not hesitate to ask for anything that would
make me comfortable.
Nothing could be kinder, but my affection and gratitude were fast
dying out, and I was quite sure of one thing, namely, that I never
should love Sophie if she spent her life in inviting me to pay her
visits. She told me that tea would be ready in half an hour, and then
left me. I sat down on the bed when she was gone, and wished myself
back in Varick-street; and then cried, to think that I should be
homesick for such a dreary home. But the appetites and affections
common to humanity had not been left out of my heart, though I had been
beggared all my life in regard to most of them. I could have loved a
mother so—a sister—I could have had such happy feelings for a place
that I could have felt was home. What matter, if I could not even
remember the smile on my mother's lips; what matter, if no brother or
sister had ever been born to me; if no house had ever been my rightful
home? I was hungry for them all the same. And these first glimpses of
the happy lives of others seemed to disaffect me more than ever with my
CHAPTER IV. MY COMPANIONS.
“Vous etes belle: ainsi donc la moitie
Du genre humain sera votre ennemie.”
“Oh, I think the cause
Of much was, they forgot no crowd
Makes up for parents in their shroud.”
The servant came to call me down to tea while I was still sitting
with my face in my hands upon the bed. I started up, lit the candles on
the dressing-table, arranged my hair, washed the tears off my face, and
hurried down the stairs. They were waiting for me in the parlor, and no
doubt were quite impatient, as they had already waited for the arrival
of the evening train, and it was nearly eight o'clock. The evening
train had brought Mr. Eugene Whitney, of whom I can only say, that he
was a very insignificant young man indeed. We all moved into the
dining-room; the others took the seats they were accustomed to. Mr.
Whitney and I, being the only new-comers, were advised which seats
belonged to us by a trim young maid-servant, and I, for one, was very
glad to get into mine. Mr. Whitney was my neighbor on one hand, the
youngest of the Hollenbeck boys on the other. These were our seats:
Miss Leighton, Miss Henrietta Palmer,
Miss Benson, Mr. Eugene Whitney,
The seat opposite me was not filled when we sat down.
“Where is Mr. Langenau, Charley?” said his mother.
“I'm sure I don't know, mamma,” said Charley, applying himself to
“Charley doesn't see much of his tutor out of hours, I think,” said
“A good deal too much of him in 'em,” murmured Charley, between a
spoonful of marmalade and a drink of milk.
“Benny's the boy that loves his book,” said Kilian; “he's the joy of
his tutor's heart, I know,” at which there was a general laugh, and
Benny, the younger, looked up with a merry smile.
The Hollenbeck boys were not fond of study. They were healthy and
pretty; quite the reverse of intellectual; very fair and rosy, without
much resemblance to their mother or her brothers. It was evident the
acquisition of knowledge was far from being the principal pursuit of
their lives, and the tutor was looked upon as the natural enemy of
Charley, at the least.
“I don't see what you ever got him for, mamma,” said Charley. “I'd
study just as much without him.”
“And that wouldn't be pledging yourself to very much, would it,
“Wish he was back in Germany with his ugly books,” cried Charley.
But—hush!—there was a sudden lull, as the tutor entered and took
his place by Charley. He was a well-made man, evidently about thirty.
He was so decidedly a gentleman, in manners and appearance, that even
these spoiled boys treated him respectfully, and the young ladies and
gentlemen at the table were more stiff than offensive in their manner.
But he was so evidently not one of them!
It is very disagreeable to be among people who know each other very
well, even if they try to know you very well and admit you to their
friendship. But I had no assurance that any one was trying to do this
for me, and I am afraid I showed very little inclination to be
admitted to their friendship. I could not talk, and I did not want to
be talked to. I was even afraid of the little boys, and thought all the
time that Charley was watching me and making signs about me to his
brother, when in reality he was only telegraphing about the marmalade.
In the meantime, without any attention to my feelings, the business
of the tea-table proceeded. Mrs. Hollenbeck poured out tea, and kept
the little boys under a moderate control. Kilian cut up some birds
before him, and tried to persuade the young ladies to eat some, but
nobody had appetite enough but Mr. Whitney and himself. Charlotte
Benson, who was clever and efficient and exceedingly at home, cut up a
cake that was before her, and gave the boys some strawberries, and
offered some to me. Miss Palmer simply looked very handsome, and eat a
biscuit or two, and tried to talk to Mr. Whitney, who seemed to have a
good appetite and very little conversation. Miss Leighton gave herself
up to attentions to Kilian; she was saying silly little things to him
in a little low tone all the time, and offering him different articles
before her, and advising him what he ought to eat; all of which seemed
most interesting and important in dumb-show till you heard what it was
all about, and then you felt ashamed of them. At times, I think, Kilian
felt somewhat ashamed too, and tried to talk a little to the others;
but most of the time he seemed to like it very well, and did not ask
anything better than the excellent woodcock on his plate, and the
pretty young woman by his side.
“By the way,” said Sophie, when the meal was nearly over, “I had a
letter from Richard to-day.”
“Ah!” said Kilian, with a momentary release from his admirer. “And
when is he coming home?”
I looked up with quick interest, and met Mrs. Hollenbeck's eyes,
which seemed to be always on me. Then I turned mine down the table
uncomfortably, and found Charlotte Benson looking at me too. I did not
know what I had done to be looked at, but wished they would look at
themselves and let me take my tea (or leave it alone) in peace.
“Not for two weeks yet,” said his sister; “not for two whole weeks.”
“How sorry I am,” said Charlotte Benson.
“I think we are all sorry,” said Henrietta the tranquil.
“Miss d'Estree confided to me that she'd be glad to see him,” said
Kilian, cutting up another woodcock and looking at his plate.
“Indeed I shall,” I said, with, a little sigh, not thinking so much
about them as feeling most earnestly what a difference his coming would
make, and how sure I should be of having at least one friend when he
“He seems to be having a delightful time,” said his sister.
“I am glad to hear that,” I said, interested. “Generally he finds it
such a bore. He doesn't seem to like to travel.” I was rather startled
at the sound of my own voice and the attention of my audience; but I
had been betrayed into speaking, by my interest in the subject, and my
surprise at hearing he was having such a pleasant time.
“Ah!” she said, “don't you think he does? At any rate, he seems to
be enjoying this journey, and to be in no hurry to come back. I looked
for him last week.”
Warned by my last experience, I said nothing in answer; and after a
moment Kilian said:
“Well, if Richard's having a good time, you may be sure he's made
some favorable negotiation, and comes home with good news for the firm.
That's his idea of a good time, you know.”
“Ah!” said Sophie, gently, “that's his brother's idea of his idea.
It isn't mine.”
Charlotte Benson seemed a little nettled at this, and exclaimed,
“Mrs. Hollenbeck! you are making us all unhappy. You are leading us
to suspect that the stern man of business is unbending. What's the
influence at work? What makes this journey different from other
journeys? Where does he tarry, oh, where?”
“Nonsense!” said Sophie, with a little laugh. “You cannot say I have
implied anything of the sort. Cannot Richard enjoy a journey without
your censure or suspicion? You must be careful; he does not fancy
“O, I shall not accuse him, you may be sure; that is, if he ever
comes. Do you believe he really ever will?”
“Not if he thinks you want him,” said Kilian, amiably. “He has a
great aversion to being made much of.”
“Yes, a family trait,” interrupted Charlotte, at which everybody
laughed, no one more cordially than Miss Leighton.
“Leave off laughing at my Uncle Richard,” said Benny, stoutly, with
his cheeks quite flushed.
“We have, dear, and are laughing at your Uncle Kilian. You don't
object to that, I'm sure,” and Charlotte Benson leaned forward and
threw him a little kiss past the tutor, who wore a silent, abstracted
look, in odd contrast with the animated expressions of the faces all
Benny did not like the joke at all, and got down from his chair and
walked away without permission. We all followed him, going into the
hall, and from thence to the piazza, as the night was fine. The tutor
walked silently through the group in the hall to a seat where lay his
book and hat, then passed through the doorway and disappeared from
CHAPTER V. THE TUTOR.
And now above them pours a wondrous voice,
(Such as Greek reapers heard in Sicily),
With wounding rapture in it, like love's arrows.
The next day, the first of my visit, was a very sultry one, and the
rest of the party thought it was, no doubt, a very dull one.
Kilian and Mr. Eugene Whitney went away in the early train, not to
return, alas, till the evening of the following day. Miss Leighton was
languid, and yawned incessantly, though she tried to appear interested
in things, and was very attentive to me. Charlotte Benson and Henrietta
laid strong-minded plans for the day, and carried them out faithfully.
First, they played a game of croquet, under umbrellas, for the sun was
blazing on the ground: that was for exercise; then, for mental
discipline, they read history for an hour in the library; and then, for
relaxation, under veils and sunhats, read Ruskin for two hours by the
I cannot think Henrietta understood Ruskin, but I have no doubt she
thought she did, and tried to share in her friend's enthusiasm. Sophie
had a little headache, and spent much of the morning in her room. The
boys were away with their tutor in the farm-house where they had their
school-room, and the house seemed deserted and delightful. I wandered
about at ease, chose my book, and sat for hours in the boat-house by
the river, not reading Ruskin, nor even my poor little novel, but
gazing and dreaming and wondering. It can be imagined what the country
seemed to me, in beautiful summer weather, after the dreary years I had
spent in a city-street.
It is quite impossible to describe all that seemed starting into
life within me, all at once—-so many new forces, so much new life.
My home-sickness had passed away, and I was inclined to be very
happy, particularly in the liberty that seemed to promise. Dinner was
very quiet, and every one seemed dull, even Charlotte Benson, who
ordinarily had life enough for all. The boys were there, but their
tutor had gone away on a long walk and would not be back till evening.
“A la bonne heure,” cried Madame, with a little yawn; “freedom
of the halls, and deshabille, for one afternoon.”
So we spent the afternoon with our doors open, and with books, or
without books, on the bed.
Nobody came into my room, except Mrs. Hollenbeck for a few moments,
looking very pretty in a white peignoir, and rather sleepy at the same
time; hoping I was comfortable and had found something to amuse me in
It seemed to be thought a great bore to dress, to judge from the
exclamations of ennui which I heard in the hall, as six o'clock
approached, and the young ladies wandered into each other's room and
bewailed the necessity. I think Miss Leighton would have been very glad
to have stayed on the bed, and tried to sleep away the hours that
presented no amusement; but Charlotte Benson laughed at her so cruelly,
that she began to dress at once, and said, she had not intended what
she said, of course.
I was the first to be ready, and went down to the piazza. The heat
of the day was over and there was a soft, pleasant breeze. We were to
have tea at seven o'clock, and while I sat there, the bell rang. The
tutor came in from under the trees where he had been reading, looking
rather pale after his long walk.
He bowed slightly as he passed me, and waited at the other end of
the piazza, reading as he stood, till the others came down to the
dining-room. As we were seating ourselves he came in and took his
place, with a bow to me and the others. Mrs. Hollenbeck asked him a
little about his expedition, and paid him a little more attention than
usual, being the only man.
He had a most fortunate way of saying just the right thing and then
being silent; never speaking unless addressed, and then conveying
exactly the impression he desired. I think he must have appeared in a
more interesting light that usual at this meal, for as we went out from
the dining room Mary Leighton put her arm through mine and whispered
“Poor fellow! How lonely he must be! Let's ask him to go and walk with
us this evening.”
Before I could remonstrate or detach myself from her, she had
twisted herself about, in a peculiarly supple and child-like manner
that she had, and had made the suggestion to him.
He was immeasurably surprised, no doubt, but he gave no sign of it.
After a silence of two or three instants, during which, I think, he was
occupied in trying to find a way to decline, he assented very sedately.
Charlotte Benson and her friend, who were behind us, were enraged at
this proceeding. During the week they had all been in the house
together, they had never gone beyond speaking terms with the tutor, and
this they had agreed was the best way to keep things, and it seemed to
be his wish no less than theirs. Here was this saucy girl, in want of
amusement, upsetting all their plans. They shortly declined to go to
walk with us: and so Mary Leighton, Mr. Langenau, and I started alone
toward the river.
It must be confessed, Miss Leighton was not rewarded for her effort,
for a stiffer and more uncomfortable companion could not be imagined.
He entirely declined to respond to her coquetry, and she very soon
found she must abandon this role; but she was nothing if not
coquettish, and the conversation flagged uncomfortably. Before we
reached home she was quite impatient, and ran up the steps, when we got
there, as if it were a great relief. The tutor raised his hat when he
left us at the door, turned back, and disappeared for the rest of the
The next morning, coming down-stairs half an hour before breakfast,
I went into the library (a little room at the right of the front door),
for a book I had left there. I threw myself into an easy-chair, and
opened it, when I caught sight of the tutor, reading at the window. I
half started to my feet, and then sank back again in confusion; for
what was there to go away for?
He rose and bowed, and resumed his seat and his book.
The room was quite small, and we were very near each other. How I
could possibly have missed seeing him as I entered, now surprised me. I
longed to go away, but did not dare do anything that would seem rude.
He appeared very much engrossed with his book, but I, for my part,
could not read a word, and was only thinking how I could get away.
Possibly he guessed at my embarrassment, for after about ten minutes he
arose, and coming up to the table by which I sat, he took up a card,
and placed it in his book for a mark, and shut it up, then made some
remark to me about the day.
The color was coming and going in my face.
He must have felt sorry or curious, for he did not go directly away,
and continued to talk of things that did not require me to answer him.
I do not know what it was about his voice that was so different from
the ordinary voices of people. There was a quality in it that I had
never heard in any other. But perhaps it was in the ear that listened,
as well as the voice that spoke. And apart from the tones, the words I
never could forget. The most trivial things that he ever said to me, I
can remember to this day.
I believe that this was not of my imagination, but that others felt
it in some degree as I did. It was this that made him such an
invaluable teacher; he impressed upon those flesh-and-blood boys, in
that one summer, more than they would have learned in whole years from
ordinary persons. It was not very strange, then, that I was smitten
with the strangest interest in all he said and did, and that his words
made the deepest impression on me.
No doubt it is pleasant to be listened to by one whose face tells
you you are understood; and the tutor was not in a hurry to go away. He
had got up from the window, I know, with the intention of going out of
the room, but he continued standing, looking down at me and talking,
for half an hour at least.
The soft morning wind came in at the open door and window, with a
scent of rose and honeysuckle: the pretty little room was full of the
early sunshine in which there is no glare: I can see it all now, and I
can hear, as ever, his low voice.
He talked of the book I held in my hand, of the views on the river,
of the pleasantness of country life. I fancy I did not say much, though
I never am able to remember what I said when talking to him. Whatever I
said was a mere involuntary accord with him. I never recollect to have
felt that I did not agree with and admire every word he uttered.
How different his manner from last night when he had talked with
Mary Leighton; all the stiffness, the half-concealed repelling tone was
gone. I had not heard him speak to any one, except perhaps once to
Benny, as he spoke now. I was quite sure that he liked me, and that he
did not class me with the others in the house. But when the
breakfast-bell rang, he gave a slight start, and his voice changed; and
such a frown came over his face! He looked at his watch, said something
about the hour, and quickly left the room. I bent my head over my book
and sat still, till I heard them all come down and go into the
breakfast-room. I trusted they would not know he had been talking to
me, and there was little danger, unless they guessed it from my cheeks
being so aflame.
At breakfast he was more silent than ever, and his brow had not
quite got over that sudden frown. At dinner he was away again, as the
The day passed much as yesterday had done. About four o'clock there
came a telegram from Kilian to his sister. He had been delayed, and Mr.
Whitney would wait for him, and they would come the next evening by the
boat. I think Mary Leighton could have cried if she had not been
ashamed. Her pretty blue organdie was on the bed ready to put on. It
went back into the wardrobe very quickly, and she came down to tea in a
gray barege that was a little shabby.
A rain had come on about six o'clock. At tea the candles were lit,
and the windows closed. Every one looked moped and dull; the evening
promised to be insufferable. Mrs. Hollenbeck saw the necessity of
rousing herself and providing us some amusement. When Mr. Langenau
entered, she met his bow with one of her best smiles: how the change
must have struck him; for she had been very mechanical and polite to
him before. Now she spoke to him with the charming manner that brought
every one to her feet.
And what was the cause of this sudden kindness? It is very easy for
me to see now, though then I had not a suspicion. Alas! I am afraid
that the cheeks aflame at breakfast-time were the immediate cause of
the change. Mrs. Hollenbeck would not have made so marked a movement
for an evening's entertainment: it seemed to suit her very well that I
should talk to the tutor in the library before breakfast, and she meant
to give me opportunities for talking to him in the parlor too.
“A dreary evening, is it not?” she began. “What shall we all do?
Charlotte, can't you think of something?”
Charlotte, who had her own plans for a quiet evening by the lamp
with a new book, of course could not think of anything.
“Henrietta, at least you shall give us some music, and Mr. Langenau,
I am sure you will be good enough to help us; I will send over to the
school-room for that flute and those piles of music that I've seen upon
a shelf, and you will be charitable enough to play for us.”
“I must beg you will not take that trouble.”
“Oh, Mr. Langenau, that is selfish now.”
Mrs. Hollenbeck did not press the subject then, but made herself
thoroughly delightful during tea, and as we rose from the table renewed
the request in a low tone to Mr. Langenau: and the result was, a little
after eight o'clock he came into the parlor where we sat. A place was
made for him at the table around which we were sitting, and Mrs.
Hollenbeck began the process of putting him at his ease. There was no
need. The tutor was quite as much at ease as any one, and, in a little
while, imperceptibly became the person to whom we were all listening.
Charlotte Benson at last gave up her book, and took her work-box
instead. We were no longer moping and dull around the table. And bye
and bye Henrietta, much alarmed, was sent to the piano, and her poor
little music certainly sounded very meagre when Mr. Langenau touched
I think he consented to play not to appear rude, but with the firm
intention of not being the instrument of our entertainment, and not
being made use of out of his own accepted calling. But happily for us,
he soon forgot all about us, and played on, absorbed in himself and in
his music. We listened breathlessly, the others quite as much engrossed
as I, because they all knew much more of music than I did. Suddenly,
after playing for a long while, he started from the piano, and came
back to the table. He was evidently agitated. Before the others could
say a word of thanks or wonder, I cried, in a fear of the cessation of
what gave me such intense pleasure,
“Oh, sing something; can't you sing?”
“Yes, I can sing,” he said, looking down at me with those dangerous
eyes. “Will it give you pleasure if I sing for you?”
He did not wait for an answer, but turned back to the piano.
He had said “if I sing for you,” and I knew that for me he was
singing. I do not know what it was for others, but for me, it was the
only true music that I had ever heard, the only music that I could have
begged might never cease, but flood over all the present and the
future, satisfying every sense. Other voices had roused and thrilled,
this filled me. I asked no more, and could have died with that sound in
“Why, Pauline! child! what is it?” cried Mrs. Hollenbeck, as the
music ceased and Mr. Langenau. again came back to the circle round the
table. Every one looked: I was choking with sobs.
“Oh, don't, I don't want you to speak to me,” I cried, putting away
her hand and darting from the room. I was not ashamed of myself, even
when I was alone in my room. The powerful magic lasted still, through
the silence and darkness, till I was aroused by the voices of the
others coming up to bed.
Mrs. Hollenbeck knocked at my door with her bedroom candle in her
hand, and, as she stood talking to me, the others strayed in to join
her and to satisfy their curiosity.
“You are very sensitive to music, are you not?” said Charlotte
Benson, contemplatively. She had tried me on Mompssen, and the “Seven
Lamps,” and found me wanting, and now perhaps hoped to find some other
point less faulty.
“I do not know,” I said, honestly. “I seem to have been very
“But you are not always?” asked Henrietta Palmer. “You do not always
cry when people sing?”
“Why, no,” I said with great contempt. “But I never heard any one
sing like that before.”
“He does sing well,” said Mrs. Hollenbeck, thoughtfully.
“Immense expression and a fine voice,” added Charlotte Benson.
“He has been educated for the stage, you may be sure,” said Mary
Leighton, with a little spite. “As Miss d'Estree says, I never heard
anyone sing like that, out of the chorus of an opera.”
“Well, I think,” returned Charlotte Benson, “if there were many
voices like that in ordinary choruses, one would be glad to dispense
with the solos and duets.”
“Oh, you would not find his voice so wonderful, if you heard it out
of a parlor. It is very well, but it would not fill a concert hall,
much less an opera house. No; you may be sure he has been educated for
some of those German choruses; you know they are very fine musicians.”
“Well, I don't know that it is anything to us what he was educated
for,” said Charlotte Benson, sharply. “He has given us a very
delightful evening, and I, for one, am much obliged to him.”
“Et moi aussi” murmured Henrietta, wreathing her large
beautiful arms about her friend, and the two sauntered away.
Mary Leighton, in general ill-humor, and still remembering the walk
of the last evening, desired to fire a parting-shot, and exclaimed, as
she went out, “Well, I think it is something to us; I like to have
gentlemen about me.”
“You need not be uneasy,” said Mrs. Hollenbeck, a little stiffly. “I
think Mr. Langenau is a gentleman.”
But at this moment his step was heard in the hall below, and there
was an end put to the conversation.
CHAPTER VI. MATINAL.
Last night, when some one spoke his name,
From my swift blood that went and came
A thousand little shafts of flame
Were shivered in my narrow frame.
The next morning was brilliant and cool, the earth and heavens
shining after the rain of the past night. I was dressed long, long
before breakfast: it would be so tiresome to wait in my room till the
bell rang; yet if I went down-stairs, would it not look as if I wanted
to see Mr. Langenau again? I need not go to the library, of course, but
I could scarcely avoid being seen from the library if I went out. But
why suppose that he would be down again so early? It was very
improbable, and so, affectionately deceived, I put on a hat and
walking-jacket and stole down the stairs. I saw by the clock in the
lower hall that it was half an hour earlier than I had come down the
morning before; at which I was secretly chagrined, for now there was no
danger, alias hope, of seeing Mr. Langenau.
But probably he had forgotten all about the foolish half-hour that
had given me so much to think about. I glanced into the library, which
was empty, and hurried out of the hall-door, secretly disappointed.
I took the path that led over the hill to the river. It passed
through the garden, under the long arbors of grapevines, over the hill,
and through a grove of maples, ending at the river where the boat-house
stood. The brightness of the morning was not lost on me, and before I
reached the maple-grove I was buoyant and happy. At the entrance of the
grove (which was traversed by several paths, the principal coming up
directly from the river) I came suddenly upon the tutor, walking
rapidly, with a pair of oars over his shoulder. He started, and for a
moment we both stood still and did not speak. I could only think with
confusion of my emotion when he sang.
“You are always early,” he said, with his slight, very slight,
foreign accent, “earlier than yesterday by half an hour,” he added,
looking at his watch. My heart gave a great bound of pleasure. Then he
had not forgotten! How he must have seen all this.
He stood and talked with me for some moments, and then desperately I
made a movement to go on. I do not believe, at least I am not sure,
that at first he had any intention of going with me. But it was not in
human nature to withstand the flattery of such emotion as his presence
seemed always to inspire in me; and then, I have no doubt, he had a
certain pleasure in talking to me outside of that; and then the morning
was so lovely and he had so much of books.
He proposed to show me a walk I had not taken. There was a little
hesitation in his manner, but he was reassured by my look of pleasure,
and throwing down the oars under a tree, he turned and walked beside
me. No doubt he said to himself, “America! This paradise of
girlhood;—there can be no objection.” It was heavenly sweet, that
walk—the birds, the sky, the dewiness and freshness of all nature and
all life. It seemed the unstained beginning of all things to me.
The woods were wet; we could not go through them, and so we went a
longer way, along the river and back by the road.
This time he did not do all the talking, but made me talk, and
listened carefully to all I said; and I was so happy, talking was not
At last he made some allusion to the music of last night; that he
was so glad to see that I loved music as I did. “But I don't
particularly,” I said in confusion, with a great fear of being
dishonest, “at least I never thought I did before, and I am so
ignorant. I don't want you to think I know anything about it, for you
would be disappointed.” He was silent, and, I felt sure, because he was
already disappointed; in fear of which I went on to say—
“I never heard any one sing like that before; I am very sorry that
it gave any one an impression that I had a knowledge of music, when I
hadn't. I don't care about it generally, except in church, and I can't
understand what made me feel so yesterday.”
“Perhaps it is because you were in the mood for it,” he said. “It is
often so, one time music gives us pleasure, another time it does not.”
“That may be so; but your voice, in speaking, even, seems to me
different from any other. It is almost as good as music when you speak;
only the music fills me with such feelings.”
“You must let me sing for you again,” he said, rather low, as we
walked slowly on.
“Ah; if you only will,” I answered, with a deep sigh of
We walked on in silence till we reached the gate: he opened it for
me and then said, “Now I must leave you, and go back for the oars.”
I was secretly glad of this; since the walk had reached its natural
limit and its end must be accepted, it was a relief to approach the
house alone and not be the subject of any observation.
Breakfast had began: no one seemed to feel much interest in my
entrance, though flaming with red roses and red cheeks.
They were of the sex that do not notice such things naturally, with
much interest or admiration. They had hardly “shaken off drowsy-hed,”
and had no pleasure in anything but their breakfast, and not much in
“How do you manage to get yourself up and dressed at such inhuman
hours?” said Mary Leighton, querulously.
“You are a reproach to the household, and we will not suffer it,”
said Charlotte Benson.
“I never could understand this thing of getting up before you are
obliged to,” added Henrietta plaintively.
But Sophie seemed well satisfied, particularly when Mr. Langenau
came in and I looked down into my cup of tea, instead of saying
good-morning to him. He did not say very much, though there was a good
deal of babble among the others, principally about his music.
It was becoming the fashion to be very attentive to him. He was made
to promise to play in the evening; to bring down his books of music for
the benefit of Miss Henrietta, who wanted to practice, Heaven knows
what of his. His advice was asked about styles of playing and modes of
instruction; he was deferred to as an authority. But very little he
seemed to care about it all, I thought.
CHAPTER VII. THREE WEEKS TOO LATE.
Qui va a la chasse perd sa place.
De la main a la bouche se perd souvent la soupe.
Distance all value enhances!
When a man's busy, why, leisure
Strikes him as wonderful pleasure.
Faith! and at leisure once is he,
Straightway he wants to be busy.
Two weeks more passed: two weeks that seem to me so many years when
I look back upon them. Many more walks, early and late, many evenings
of music, many accidents of meeting. It is all like a dream. At
seventeen it is so easy to dream! It does not take two weeks for a girl
to fall in love and make her whole life different.
It was Saturday evening, and Richard was expected; Richard and
Kilian and Mr. Eugene Whitney. Ah, Richard was coming just three weeks
We were all waiting on the piazza for them, in pretty toilettes and
excellent tempers. It was a lovely evening; the sunset was filling the
sky with splendor, and Charlotte and Henrietta had gone to the corner
of the piazza whence the river could be seen, and were murmuring
fragments of verses to each other. They were not so much absorbed,
however, but that they heard the first sound of the wheels inside the
gate, and hurried back to join us by the steps.
Mary Leighton looked absolutely lovely. The blue organdie had seen
the day at last, and she was in such a flutter of delight at the coming
of the gentlemen that she could scarcely be recognized as the pale,
flimsy young person who had moped so unblushingly all the week.
“They are all three there,” she exclaimed with suppressed rapture,
as the carriage turned the angle of the road that brought them into
sight. Mrs. Hollenbeck, quite beaming with pleasure, ran down the steps
(for Richard had been away almost two months), and Mary Leighton was at
her side, of course. Charlotte Benson and Henrietta went half-way down
the steps, and I stood on the piazza by the pillar near the door.
I was a little excited by their coming, too, but not nearly as much
so as I might have been three weeks ago. A subject of much greater
interest occupied my mind that very moment, and related to the chances
of the tutor's getting home in time for tea, from one of those long
walks that were so tiresome. I felt as if I hardly needed Richard now.
Still, dear old Richard! It was very nice to see him once again.
The gentlemen all sprang out of the carriage, and a Babel of
welcomes and questions and exclamations arose. Richard kissed his
sister, and answered some of her many questions, then shook hands with
the young ladies, but I could see that his eye was searching for me. I
can't tell why, certainly not because I felt at all shy, I had stepped
back, a little behind the pillar and the vines. In an instant he saw
me, and came quickly up the steps, and stood by me and grasped my hand,
and looked exactly as if he meant to kiss me. I hoped that nobody saw
his look, and I drew back, a little frightened. Of course, I know that
he had not the least intention of kissing me, but his look was so eager
and so unusual,
“It is two months, Pauline,” he said; “and are you well?” And though
I only said that I was well and was very glad to see him, I am sure his
sister Sophie thought that it was something more, for she had followed
him up the steps and stood in the doorway looking at us.
The others came up there, and Kilian, as soon as he could get out of
the meshes of the blue organdie, came to me, and tried to out-devotion
That is the way with men. He had not taken any trouble to get away
from Mary Leighton till Richard came.
A young woman only needs one lover very much in earnest, to bring
about her several others, not so much, perhaps, in earnest, but very
amusing and instructive. Richard went away very quickly, for I am sure
he did not like that sort of thing.
It was soon necessary for Mr. Kilian to suspend his devotion and go
to his room to get ready for tea.
When we all assembled again, at the table, I found that he had
placed himself beside me, next his sister, little Benny having gone to
“Of course, the head of the table belongs to Richard; I never
interfere there, and as everybody else is placed, this is the only seat
that I can take, following the rose and thorn principle.”
“But that principle is not followed strictly,” cried Charlotte
Benson, who sat by Mary Leighton. “Here are two roses and no thorn.”
“Ah! What a strange oversight,” he exclaimed, seating himself
nevertheless. “The only way to remedy it will be to put the tutor in
your place, Miss Benson, and you come opposite Miss Pauline. Quick;
before he comes and refuses to move his Teutonic bones an inch.”
Charlotte Benson changed her seat and the vacant one was left between
her and Mary Leighton.
This is the order of our seats, for that and many following happy
nights and days:
Richard, Mary Leighton, Henrietta, The Tutor, Mr. Eugene
Whitney, Charlotte Benson, Myself, Charley, Kilian,
Mary Leighton looked furious and could hardly speak a word all
through the meal. It was particularly hard upon her, as the tutor did
not come, and the chair was empty, and a glaring insult to her all the
Kilian had done his part so innocently and so simply that it was
hard to suspect him of any intention to pique her and annoy Richard,
but I am sure he did it with just those two intentions. He was as
thorough a flirt as any woman, and withal very fond of change, and I
think my pink grenadine quite dazzled him as I stood on the piazza.
Then came the brotherly and quite natural desire to outshine Richard
and put things out a little. I liked it all very much, and was charmed
to be of so much consequence, for I saw all this quite plainly. I
laughed and talked a good deal with Kilian; he was delightful to laugh
and talk with. Even Eugene Whitney found me more worth his weak
attention than the beautiful and placid Henrietta.
The amusement was chiefly at our end of the table. But amidst it, I
did not fail to glance often at the door and wonder, uncomfortably, why
the tutor did not come.
As we left the table and lingered for a few moments in the hall,
Richard came up to me and said, as he prepared to light his cigar,
“Will you not come out and walk up and down the path here with me while
I began to make some excuse, for I wanted to do nothing just then
but watch the stairway to see if Mr. Langenau did not come down even
then and go into the dining-room.
But I reflected how ungracious it would seem to refuse this, when he
had just come home, and I followed him out into the path.
There was no moon, but the stars were very bright, and the air was
sweet with the flower-beds in the grass along the path we walked.
The house looked gay and pleasant as we walked up and down before
it, with its many lighted windows, and people with bright dresses
moving about on the piazza. Richard lit his cigar, and said, after a
silence of a few moments, with a sigh, “It is good to be at home
“But you've had a pleasant journey?”
“No; the most tiresome that I ever made, and this last detention
wore my patience out. It seemed the longest fortnight. I could not bear
to think of you all here, and I away in such a dismal hole.”
“I suppose Uncle Leonard had no pity on you, as long as there was a
penny to be made by staying there.”
“No; I spent a great deal of money in telegraphing to him for orders
to come home, but he would not give up.”
“And how is Uncle Leonard; did you go to Varick-street?”
“No, indeed; I did not waste any time in town. I only reached there
“I wonder Uncle Leonard let you off so soon.”
“He growled a good deal, but I did not stay to listen.”
“That's always the best way.”
“And now, Pauline, tell me how you like the place.”
“Like it! Oh, Richard, I think it is a Paradise,” and I clasped my
hands in a young sort of ecstacy.
He was silent, which was a sign that he was satisfied. I went on
after a moment, “I don't wonder that you all love it. I never saw
anything half so beautiful. The dear old house is prettier than any new
one that could be built, and the trees are so grand! And oh, Richard, I
think the garden lying on the hillside there in the beautiful warm sun,
with such royal flowers and fruit, is worth all the grape-houses and
conservatories in the neighborhood. Your sister took us to three or
four of the neighboring places a week or two ago. But I like this a
hundred times the best. I should think you would be sorry every moment
that you have to spend away from it.”
“I hope one of these days to live here altogether,” he said in a low
It was so difficult for Richard to be unreserved that it is very
likely this was the first time in his life that he had ever expressed
this, the brightest hope he had.
I could fancy all these few words implied—a wife, children, a happy
home in manhood where he had been a happy child.
“It belongs to Kilian and me, but it is understood I have the right
to it when I am ready for it.”
“And your sister—it does not belong at all to her?”
“No, she only keeps house for us. It would make a great change for
Sophie if either of us married. But then I know that it would give her
pleasure, for I am sure that she would not be selfish.”
I was not so sure, but, of course, I did not say so. At this moment,
while Richard smoked and I walked silently beside him, a dark figure
struck directly across the path before us. The apparition was so sudden
that I sprang and screamed, and caught Richard by the arm.
“I beg your pardon,” said the tutor, with a quick look of surprise
at me and then at Richard, and bowing, strode on into the house.
“That's the German Sophie has taken for the boys, is it?” said
Richard, knitting his brows, and looking after him, with no great
approbation. “I don't half like the idea of his being here: I told
Sophie so at starting. A governess would do as well for two years yet.
What kind of a person does he seem to be?”
“I don't know—that is—I can't tell exactly. I don't know him well
enough,” I answered in confusion, which Richard did not see.
“No, of course not. You would not be likely to see him except at the
table. But it is awkward having him here,—so much of the week, no man
about; and one never knows anything about these Germans.”
“I thought—your sister said—you knew all about him,” I said, in
rather a low voice.
“As much as one needs to know about a mere teacher. But the person
you have in your house all the time is different.”
“But he is a gentleman,” I put in more firmly.
“I hope he is. He had letters to some friends of ours. But what are
letters? People give them when they're asked for them, and half the
time know nothing of the person for whom they do the favor, besides his
name and general standing. Hardly that, sometimes.” Then, as if to put
away a tiresome and unwelcome subject, he began again to talk about the
But I had lost my interest in the subject, and thought only of
returning to the house.
“Don't,” I said, playfully putting out my hand as he took out
another cigar to light. “You have smoked enough to-night. Do you know,
you smoke a great deal more than is good for you.”
“Well, I will not smoke any more to-night if you say so. Only don't
go in the house.”
“Oh, yes, you know we only came out to smoke.”
He stood in front of the path that led to the piazza and said, in an
affectionate, gentle way, “Stay and walk a little longer. I have not
told you half how glad I am that you are here at last.”
“Oh, as for that, you've got a good many weeks to tell me in.
Besides, it's getting chilly,” and I gave a little shiver.
“If you're cold, of course,” he said, letting me pass and following
me, and added, with a shade of anxiety, “Why didn't you tell me before?
I never thought of it, and you have no shawl.”
I felt ashamed of myself as I led the way up the piazza steps.
In the hall, which was quite light, they were all standing, and Mr.
Langenau was in the group. They were petitioning him for music.
“Oh, he has promised that he will sing,” said Sophie; “but remember
he has not had his tea. I have ordered it for you, Mr. Langenau; it
will be ready in a moment.”
Mr. Langenau bowed and turned to go up the stairs. His eye met mine,
as I came into the light, dazzled a little by it.
He went up the stairs; the others after a few moments, went into the
parlor. I sat down on a sofa beside Mrs. Hollenbeck. Richard was called
away by a person on business. There was a shaded lamp on a bracket
above the sofa where we sat; Mrs. Hollenbeck was reading some letters
she had just received, and I took up the evening paper, reading over
and over an advertisement of books. Presently the servant came to Mrs.
Hollenbeck and said that Mr. Langenau's tea was ready. She was sent up
to tell him so, and in a few moments he came down. When he reached the
hall, Sophie looked up with her most lovely smile.
“You must be famished, Mr. Langenau; pray go immediately to the
dining-room. I am sorry not to make your tea myself, but I hear Benny
waking and must go to him. Will you mind taking my place, Pauline, and
pouring out tea for Mr. Langenau?”
I was bending over the paper; my face turned suddenly from red to
pale. I said something inaudible in reply, and got up and went into the
dining-room, followed by the tutor.
It was several minutes before I looked at him. The servants had not
favored us with much light: there was a branch of wax candles in the
middle of the table. Mr. Langenau's plate was placed just at one side
of the tray, at which I had seated myself. He looked pale, even to his
lips. I began to think of the terrible walks in which he seemed to hunt
himself down, and to wonder what was the motive, though I had often
wondered that before. He took the cup of tea I offered him without
speaking. Neither of us spoke for several minutes, then I said, rather
irresolutely, “I am sure you tire yourself by these long walks.”
“Do you think so? No: they rest me.”
No doubt I felt more coquettish, and had more confidence than usual,
from the successes of that evening, and from the knowledge that Richard
and Kilian and Eugene Whitney, even, were so delighted to talk to me;
otherwise I could never have said what I said then, by a sudden
impulse, and with a half-laughing voice, “Do not go away again so long;
it makes it so dull and tiresome.”
He looked at me and said, “It does not seem to me you miss me very
much.” But such a gleam of those dark, dangerous eyes! I looked down,
but my breath came quickly and my face must have shown the agitation
that I felt.
At this moment Richard, released from his engagement in the library,
came through the hall and stopped at the dining-room door. He paused
for a moment at the door, walked away again, then came back and into
the room, with rather a quicker step than usual.
“Pauline,” he said, and I started visibly, “They seem to be waiting
for you in the parlor for a game of cards.”
His voice indicated anything but satisfaction. I half rose, then
sank back, and said, hesitatingly, “Can I pour you some more tea, Mr.
“If it is not troubling you too much,” he said in a voice that a
moment's time had hardened into sharpness.
Oh, the misery of that cup of tea, with Richard looking at me on one
side flushed and angry, and Mr. Langenau on the other, pale and
cynical. My hands shook so that I could not lift the teakettle, and
Richard angrily leaned down and moved it for me. The alcohol in the
lamp flamed up and scorched my arm.
“Oh Richard, you have burned me,” I cried, dropping the cup and
wrapping my handkerchief around my arm. In an instant he was all
softness and kindness, and, I have no doubt, repentance.
“I am very sorry,” he said; “Does it hurt you very much? Come with
me, and I will get Sophie to put something on it.”
But Mr. Langenau did not move or show any interest in my sufferings.
I was half-crying, but I sat still and tried with the other hand to
replace the cup and fill it. Seeing that I did not make much headway,
and that Richard had stepped back, Mr. Langenau said, “Allow me,” and
held the cup while I managed to pour the tea into it. He thanked me
stiffly, and without looking at either of them I got up and went out of
the room, Richard following me.
“Will you wait here while I call Sophie to get something for you?”
he said a little coldly.
“No, I do not want anything; I wish you would not say anything more
about it; it only hurt me for a moment.”
“Will you go into the parlor, then?”
“No—yes, that is,” I said, and capriciously went, alone, for he did
not follow me.
I was wanted for cards, but I would not play, and sat down by one of
the windows, a little out of the light. This window opened upon the
piazza. After a little while Richard, walking up and down the piazza,
stopped by it, and said to me: “I hope you won't think it unreasonable
in me to ask, Pauline; but how in the world did you happen to be making
tea for that—that man in there?”
“I happened to make tea for Mr. Langenau because your sister asked
me to,” I said angrily; “you had better speak to her about it.”
“You may be sure I shall,” he said, walking away from the window.
Presently the tutor came in from the hall by the door near the
piano, and sat down by it without being asked, and began to play
softly, as if not to interrupt the game of cards. I could not help
thinking in what good taste this was, since he had promised not to wait
for any more importunities. The game at cards soon languished, for
Charlotte Benson really had an enthusiasm for music, and was not happy
till she was at liberty to give her whole attention to it. As soon as
the players were released, Kilian came over and sat beside me. He
rather wearied me, for I wanted to listen to the music, but he was
determined not to see that, and chattered so that more than once
Charlotte Benson turned impatiently and begged us not to talk. Once Mr.
Langenau himself turned and looked at us, but Kilian only paused, and
then went on again.
Mary Leighton had fled to the piano and was gazing at the keys in a
rapt manner, hoping, no doubt, to rouse Kilian to jealousy of the
“Please go away,” I said at last, “this is making me seem rude.”
“Do not tell me,” he exclaimed, “that you are helping Mary Leighton
and Sophie to spoil this German fellow. I really did not look for it in
“I can't stay here and be talked to,” I said, getting up in despair.
“Then come on the piazza,” he exclaimed, and we were there almost
before I knew what I was doing.
I suppose every one in the room saw us go out: I was in terror when
I thought what an insult it would seem to Mr. Langenau. We walked about
the piazza for some time; I am afraid Mr. Kilian found me rather dull,
for I could only listen to what was going on inside. At last he was
called away by a man from the stable, who brought some alarming account
of his beloved Tom or Jerry. If I had been his bride at the altar, I am
sure he would have left me; being only a new and very faintly-lighted
flame, he hurried off with scarcely an apology.
I sat down in a piazza-chair, just outside the window at which we
had been sitting. I looked in at the window, but no one could see me,
from the position of my chair.
Presently Mr. Langenau left the piano, and Mary Leighton, talking to
him with effusion, walked across the room beside him, and took her seat
at this very window. He did not sit down, but stood before her with his
hat in his hand, as if he only awaited a favorable pause to go away.
“Ah, where did Pauline go?” she said, glancing around. “But I
suppose we must excuse her, for to-night at least, as he has just come
home. I imagine the engagement was no surprise to you?”
“Of what engagement do you speak?” he said.
“Why! Pauline and Richard Vandermarck; you know it is quite a
settled thing. And very good for her, I think. He seems to me just the
sort of man to keep her steady and—well, improve her character, you
know. She seems such a heedless sort of girl. They say her mother ran
away and made some horrid marriage, and, I believe, her uncle has had
to keep her very strict. He is very much pleased, I am told, with
marrying her to Richard, and she herself seems very much in love with
All this time he had stood very still and looked at her, but his
face had changed slowly as she spoke. I knew then that what she had
said had not pleased him. She went on in her babbling, soft voice:
“His sister Sophie isn't pleased, of course, so there is nothing
said about it here. It is rather hard for her, for the place
belongs to Richard, and besides, Richard has been very generous to her
always. And then to see him marry just such a sort of person—you
“Yes—so young,” said Mr. Langenau, between his teeth, “and of such
“Oh, as to that,” said Mary Leighton, piqued beyond prudence, “we
all have our own views as to that.”
The largess due the bearer of good news was not by right the meed of
Mary Leighton. He looked at her as if he hated her.
“Mr. Richard Yandermarck is a fortunate man,” he said. “She has rare
beauty, if he has a taste for beauty.”
“Men sometimes tire of that; if indeed she has it. Her coloring is
her strong point, and that may not last forever;” and Mary's voice was
no longer silvery.
“You think so?” he said. “I think her grace is her strong point, '
la grace encore plus belle que la beaute,' and longer-lived beside.
Few women move as she does, making it a pleasure to follow her with the
eyes. And her height and suppleness: at twenty-five she will be regal.”
“Then, Mr. Langenau,” she cried, with sudden spitefulness, “you
do admire her very much yourself! Do you know, I thought perhaps
you did. How you must envy Mr. Vandermarck!”
A slight shrug of the shoulders and a slight low laugh; after which,
he said, “No, I think not. I have not the courage that is necessary.”
“The courage! why, what do you mean by that?”
“I mean that a man who ventures to love a woman in whom he cannot
trust, has need for courage and for patience; perhaps Mr. Richard
Vandermarck has them both abundantly. For me, I think the pretty Miss
Pauline would be safer as an hour's amusement than as a life's
The words stabbed, killed me. With an ejaculation that could
scarcely have escaped their ears, I sprang up and ran through the hall
and up the stairs. Before I reached the landing-place, I knew that some
one was behind me. I did not look or pause, but flew on through the
hall till I reached my own door. My own door was just at the foot of
the third-floor stairway. I glanced back, and saw that it was Mr.
Langenau who was behind me. I pushed open my door and went half-way in
the room; then with a vehement and sudden impulse came back into the
hall and pulled it shut again and stood with my hand upon the latch,
and waited for him to pass. In an instant more he was near me, but not
as if he saw me; he could not reach the stairway without passing so
near me that he must touch my dress. I waited till he was so near, and
said, “Mr. Langenau.”
He raised his eyes steadily to mine and bowed low. I almost choked
for one instant, and then I found voice and rushed on vehemently. “What
she has told you is false; every word of it is false. I am not engaged
to Richard Vandermarck; I never thought of such a thing till I came
here, and found they talked about it. They ought to be ashamed, and I
will go away to-morrow. And what she said about my mother is a wicked
lie as well, at least in the way she meant it; and I shall hate her all
my life. I have been motherless and lonely always, but God has cared
for me, and I never knew before what evil thoughts and ways there were.
I am not ashamed that I listened, though I didn't mean to stay at
first. I'm glad I heard it all and know what kind of friends I have.
And those last cruel words you said—I never will forgive you,
never—never—never till I die.”
He had put his hand out toward me as if in conciliation, at least I
understood it so. I pushed it passionately away, rushed into my room,
bolted the door, and flung myself upon the bed with a frightful burst
of sobs. I heard his hand upon the latch of the door, and he said my
name several times in a low voice. Then he went slowly up the stairs.
And I think his room must have been directly over mine, for, for hours
I heard some one walking there; indeed, it was the last sound I heard,
when, having cried all my tears and vowed all my vows, I fell asleep
and forgot that I was wretched.
CHAPTER VIII. SUNDAY.
La notte e madre di pensieri.
Now tell me how you are as to religion?
You are a clear good man—but I rather fear
You have not much of it.
It was all very well to talk about going away; but the matter looked
very differently by daylight. It was Sunday; and I knew I could not go
away for a day or two, and not even then without making a horrid sort
of stir, for which I had not the courage in cold blood. Besides, I did
not even know that I wanted to go if I could. Varick-street! Hateful,
hateful thought. No, I could not go there. And though (by daylight) I
still detested Mary Leighton, and felt ashamed about Richard, and
remembered all Mr. Langenau's words (sweet as well as bitter),
everything was let down a great many degrees; from the heights of
passion into the plains of commonplace.
My great excitement had worked its own cure, and I was so dull and
weary that I did not even want to think of what had passed the night
before. If I had a sentiment that retained any strength, it was that of
shame and self-contempt. I could not think of myself in any way that
did not make me blush. When, however, it came to the moment of facing
every one, and going down to breakfast, I began to know I still had
some other feelings.
I was the last to go down. The bell had rung a very long while
before I left my room. I took my seat at the table without looking at
any one, though, of course, every one looked at me. My confused and
rather general good-morning was returned with much precision by all.
Somebody remarked that I did not look well. Somebody else remarked that
was surely because I went to bed so early; that it never had been known
to agree with any one. Some one else wanted to know why I had gone so
early, and that I had been hunted for in all directions for a dance
which had been a sudden inspiration.
“But as you had gone away, and the musician could not be found, we
had to give it up,” said Charlotte Benson, “and we owe you both a
“For my part, I am very sorry,” said Mr. Langenau. “I had no thought
that you meant to dance last night, or I should have stayed at the
piano; I hope you will tell me the next time.”
“The next time will be to-morrow evening,” said Mary Leighton. “Now,
Mr. Langenau, you will not forget—or—or get excited about anything
and go away?”
I dared not look at Mr. Langenau's face, but I am sure I should not
have seen anything pleasant if I had. I don't know what he answered,
for I was so confused, I dropped a plate of berries which I was just
taking from Kilian's hand, and made quite an uncomfortable commotion.
The berries were very ripe, and they rolled in many directions on the
table-cloth, and fell on my white dress.
“Your pretty dress is ruined, I'm afraid,” said Kilian, stooping
down to save it.
“I don't care about that, but I'm very sorry that I've stained the
table-cloth,” and I looked at Mrs. Hollenbeck as if I thought that she
would scold me for it. But she quite reassured me. Indeed, I think she
was so pleased with me, that she would not have minded seeing me ruin
all the table-cloths that she had.
“But it will make you late for church, for you'll have to change
your dress,” said Charlotte Benson, practically, glancing at the clock.
I was very thankful for the suggestion, for I thought it would save me
from the misery of trying to eat breakfast, but Kilian made such an
outcry that I found I could not go without more comments than I liked.
“You have no appetite either,” said Mary Leighton. “I am ashamed to
eat as much as I want, for here is Mr. Langenau beside me, who has only
broken a roll in two and drank a cup of coffee.”
“I am not perhaps quite used to your American way of breakfasting,”
he returned quickly.
“But you ate breakfasts when we first came,” said the sweet girl
“Was not the weather cooler then?” he answered, “and I have missed
my walk this morning.”
“Let me give you some more coffee, at any rate,” said Sophie, with
affectionate interest. Indeed, I think at that moment she absolutely
In a few minutes I escaped from the table; when I came down from my
room ready for church, I found that they were all just starting.
(Richard, I suppose, would have waited for me.) The church was in the
village, and not ten minutes' walk from the house. Kilian was carrying
Mary Leighton's prayer-book, and was evidently intending to walk with
Richard came up to me and said, “Sophie is waiting to know if you
will let her drive you, or if you will walk.”
I had not yet been obliged to speak to Richard since I had heard
what people said about us, and I felt uncomfortable.
“Oh, let me drive if there is room,” I said, without looking up.
Sophie sat in her little carriage waiting for me. Richard put me in
beside her, and then joined the others, while we drove away. Benny, in
his white Sunday clothes, sat at our feet.
“I think it is so much better for you to drive,” said Mrs.
Hollenbeck, “for the day is warm, and I did not think you looked at all
well this morning.”
“No,” I said faintly. And she was so kind, I longed to tell her
everything. It is frightful at seventeen to have no one to tell your
At the gate Benny was just grumbling about getting out to open it,
when Mr. Langenau appeared, and held it open for us. He was dressed in
a flannel suit which he wore for walking. After he closed the gate, he
came up beside the carriage, as Mrs. Hollenbeck very kindly invited him
to do, by driving slowly.
“Are you coming with us to church, Mr. Langenau?” asked Benny.
“To church? No, Benny. I am afraid they would not let me in.”
“Why, yes, they would, if you had your good clothes on,” said Benny.
Mr. Langenau laughed, a little bitterly, and said he doubted, even
then. “I am afraid I haven't got my good conscience on either, Benny.”
“But the minister would never know,” said Benny.
“That's very true; the ministers here don't know much about peoples'
consciences, I should think.”
“Do ministers in any other places know any more?” asked Benny with
“Why, yes, Benny, in a good many countries where I've been, they
“You are a Catholic, Mr. Langenau?” asked Mrs. Hollenbeck.
“I once was; I have no longer any right to say it is my faith,” he
“What is it to be a Catholic?” inquired Benny, gazing at his tutor's
face with wonder.
“To be a Catholic, is to be in a safe prison; to have been a
Catholic, is to be alone on a sea big and black with billows, Benny.”
“I think I'd like the prison best,” said Benny, who was very much
afraid of the water.
“Ah, but if you couldn't get back to it, my boy.”
“Well, I think I'd try to get to land somewhere,” Benny answered,
Mr. Langenau laughed, but rather gloomily, and we went on for a few
moments in silence. The road was bordered with trees, and there was a
beautiful shade. The horse was very glad to be permitted to go slow,
not being of an ambitious nature.
All this time I had been leaning back, holding my parasol very close
over my face. Mr. Langenau happened to be on the side by me: once when
the carriage had leaned suddenly, he had put his hand upon it, and had
touched, without intending it, my arm.
“I beg your pardon,” he had said, and that was all he had said to
me; and I had felt very grateful that Benny had been so inclined to
talk. I trusted that nobody would speak to me, for my voice would never
be steady and even again, I was sure, when he was by to listen to it.
Now, however, he spoke to me: commonplace words, the same almost
that every one in the house had addressed to me that morning, but how
differently they sounded.
“I am sorry that you are not well to-day, Miss d'Estree.”
Mrs. Hollenbeck at this moment began to find some fault with Benny's
gloves, and leaning down, talked very obligingly and earnestly with
him, while she fastened the gloves upon his hands.
Mr. Langenau took the occasion, as it was intended he should take
it, and said rather low, “You will not refuse to see me a few moments
this evening, that I may explain something to you?”
I think he was disappointed that I did not answer him, only turned
away my head. But I don't know in truth what other answer he had any
right to ask. He did not attempt to speak again, but as we turned into
the village, said, “Good-morning, I must leave you. Good-bye, Benny,
since I have neither clothes nor conscience fit for church.”
Sophie laughed, and said, at least she hoped he would be home for
dinner. He did not promise, but raising his hat struck off into a
little path by the roadside, that led up into the woods.
“What a pity,” said Mrs. Hollenbeck musingly, “that a man of such
fine intellect should have such vague religious faith.”
Mr. Langenau was at home for dinner, but he did not see me at that
meal, for my head ached so, and I felt so weary that when I came
up-stairs after church, it seemed impossible to go down again. I should
have been very glad to make the same excuse serve for the remainder of
the day, but really the rest and a cup of tea had so restored me, that
no excuse remained at six o'clock.
All families have their little Sunday habits, I have found; the
Sunday rule in this house was, to have tea at half-past six, and to
walk by the river till after the sun had set; then to come home and
have sacred music in the parlor. After tea, accordingly, we took our
shawls on our arms (it still being very warm) and walked down toward
I kept beside Mrs. Hollenbeck and Benny, where only I felt safe.
The criticism I had heard had given me such a shock, I did not feel
that I ever could be careful enough of what I said and did. And I
vaguely felt my mother's honor would be vindicated, if I showed myself
always a modest and prudent woman.
“It was so well that I heard them,” I kept saying to myself, but I
felt so much older and so much graver. My silence and constraint were
no doubt differently interpreted. Richard did not come up to me, except
to tell me I had better put my shawl on, as I sat on the steps of the
boat-house, with Benny beside me. The others had walked further on and
were sitting, some of them on the rocks, and some on the boat that had
been drawn up, watching the sun go down.
“Tell me a story,” said Benny, resting his arms on my lap, “a story
about when you were a little girl.”
“Oh, Benny, that wouldn't make a pretty story.”
“Oh, yes, it would: all about your mamma and the house you used to
live in, and the children you used to go to see.”
“Dear Benny! I never lived in but one old, dismal house. I never
went to play with any children. I could not make a story out of that.”
“But your mamma. O yes, I'm sure you could if you tried very hard.”
“Ah, Benny! that's the worst of all. For my mamma has been with God
and the good angels in the sky, ever since I was a little baby, and I
have had a dreary time without her here alone.”
“Then I think you might tell me about God and the good angels,”
whispered Benny, getting closer to me.
I wrapped my arms around him, and leaning my face down upon his
yellow curls, told him a story of God and the good angels in the sky.
Dear little Benny! I always loved him from that night. He cried over
my story: that I suppose wins everybody's heart: and we went together,
looking at the placid river and the pale blue firmament, very far into
the paradise of faith. My tears dropped upon his upturned face; and
when the stars came out, and we were told it was time to go back to the
house, we went back hand in hand, firm friends for all life from that
“There is Mr. Langenau,” said Benny; “waiting for you, I should
Mr. Langenau was waiting for me at the piazza steps. He fixed his
eyes on mine as if waiting for my permission to speak again. But I
fastened my eyes upon the ground, and holding Benny tightly by the
hand, went on into the house.
Chapter IX. A DANCE.
It is impossible to love and to be wise.
Niente piu tosto se secca che lagrime.
“This is what we must do about it,” said Kilian, as we sat around
the breakfast-table. “If you are still in a humor for the dance
to-night, I will order Tom and Jerry to be brought up at once, and Miss
Pauline and I will go out and deliver all the invitations.”
“Of which there are about five,” said Charlotte Benson. “You can
spare Tom and Jerry and send a small boy.”
“But what if I had rather go myself?” he said, “and Miss Pauline
needs the air. Now there are—let me see,” and he began to count up the
dancing inhabitants of the neighborhood.
“Will you write notes or shall we leave a verbal message at each
“Oh leave a verbal message by all means,” said Charlotte Benson, a
little sharply. “It won't be quite en regle, as Miss d'Estree
doesn't know the people, but so unconventional and fresh.”
“I do know them,” I retorted, much annoyed, “conventionally at
least: for they have all called upon me, though I didn't see them all.
But I shall be very glad if you will take my place.”
“Oh, thank you; I wasn't moving an amendment for that end. We have
made our arrangements for the morning, irrespective of the delivery of
“I shall have time to write the notes first, if Sophie would rather
have notes sent,” said Henrietta, who wrote a good hand and was very
fond of writing people's notes for them.
“Oh, thank you, dear; yes, perhaps it would be best, and save
Pauline and Kilian trouble.”
So Henrietta went grandly away to write her little notes: a very
large ship on a very small voyage.
“And how about your music, Sophie,” said Kilian, who was anxious to
have all business matters settled relating to the evening.
“Well, I suppose you had better go for the music-teacher from the
village; he plays very well for dancing, and it is a mercy to me and to
poor Henrietta, who would have to be pinned to the piano for the
evening, if we didn't have him.”
“As to that, I thought we had a music-teacher of our own: can't your
German be made of any practical account? Or is he only to be looked at
and revered for his great powers?”
“I didn't engage Mr. Langenau to play for us to dance,” said Sophie.
“Nor to lounge about the parlor every evening either,” muttered
Kilian, pushing away his cup of coffee.
“Now, Mr. Kilian, pray don't let our admiration of the tutor drive
you into any bitterness of feeling,” cried Charlotte Benson, who had
been treasuring up a store of little slights from Kilian. “You know he
can't be blamed for it, poor man.”
Kilian was so much annoyed that he did not trust himself to answer,
but rose from the table, and asked me if I would drive with him in half
During the drive, he exclaimed angrily that Charlotte Benson had a
tongue that would drive a man to suicide if he came in hearing of it
daily. “Why, if she were as beautiful as a goddess, I could never love
her. Depend upon it, she'll never get a husband, Miss Pauline.”
“Some men like to be scolded, I have heard,” I said.
“Well then, if you ever stumble upon one that does, just call me and
I'll run and fetch him Charlotte Benson.”
The morning was lovely, and I had much pleasure in the drive, though
I had not gone with any idea of enjoying it. It was very exhilarating
to drive so fast as Kilian always drove; and Kilian himself always
amused me and made me feel at ease. We were very companionable; and
though I could not understand how young ladies could make a hero of
him, and fancy that they loved him, I could quite understand how they
should find him delightful and amusing.
We delivered our notes, at more than one place, into the hands of
those to whom they were addressed, and had many pleasant talks at the
piazza steps with young ladies whom I had not known before. Then we
went to the village and engaged the music-teacher, stopped at the
“store” and left some orders, and drove to the Post-Office to see if
there were letters.
“Haven't we had a nice morning!” I exclaimed simply, as we drove up
to the gate.
“Capital,” said Kilian. “I'm afraid it's been the best part of the
day. I wish I had any assurance that the German would be half as
pleasant. I beg your pardon, I don't mean your surly Teuton, but the
dance that we propose to-night; I wish it had another name. Confound
it! there he is ahead of us. (I don't mean the dance this time, you
see.) I wish he'd turn back and open the gate for us. Holloa there!”
Kilian would not have dared call out, if the boys had not been with
their tutor. It was one o'clock, and they were coming from the
farm-house back to dinner. At the call they all turned; Mr. Langenau
stood still, and told Charles to go back and open the gate.
Kilian frowned; he didn't like to see his nephew ordered to do
anything by this unpleasant German. While we were waiting for the
opening of the gate, the tutor walked on toward the house with Benny.
As we passed them, Benny called out, “Stop, Uncle Kilian, stop, and
take me in.” Benny never was denied anything, so we stopped and Mr.
Langenau lifted him up in front of us. He bowed without speaking, and
Benny was the orator of the occasion.
“You looked as if you were having such a nice time, I thought I'd
like to come.”
“Well, we were,” said Kilian, with a laugh, and then we drove on
At the tea-table Mr. Langenau said to Sophie as he rose to go away:
“Mrs. Hollenbeck, if there is any service I can render you this evening
at the piano, I shall be very glad if you will let me know.”
Mrs. Hollenbeck thanked him with cordiality, but told him of the
provision that had been made.
“But you will dance, Mr. Langenau,” cried Mary Leighton, “we need
dancing-men terribly, you know. Promise me you'll dance.”
“Oh,” said Charlotte Benson, “he has promised me.” Mr. Langenau
bowed low; he got wonderfully through these awkward situations. As he
left the room Kilian said in a tone loud enough for us, but not for
him, to hear, “The Lowders have a nice young gardener; hadn't we better
send to see if he can't come this evening?”
“Kilian, that's going a little too far,” said Richard in a
displeased manner; “as long as the boys' tutor conducts himself like a
gentleman, he deserves to be treated like a gentleman.”
“Ah, Paterfamilias, thank you. Yes, I'll think of it,” and Kilian
proposed that we should leave the table, as we all seemed to have
appeased our appetites and nothing but civil war could come of staying
It was understood we had not much time to dress: but when I came
down-stairs, none of the others had appeared. Richard met me in the
hall: he had been rather stern to me all day, but his manner quite
softened as he stood beside me under the hall-lamp. That was the result
of my lovely white mull, with its mint of Valenciennes.
“You haven't any flowers,” he said. Heavens! who'd have thought he'd
ever have spoken in such a tone again, after the cup of tea I poured
out for the tutor. “Let's go and see if we can't find some in these
vases that are fit, for I suppose the garden's robbed.”
“Yes,” I said, following him, quite pleased. For I could not bear to
have him angry with me. I was really fond of him, dear, old Richard;
and I looked so happy that I have no doubt he thought more of it than
he ought. He pulled all the pretty vases in the parlor to pieces:
(Charlotte and Henrietta and his sister had arranged them with such
care!) and made me a bouquet of ferns, and tea-roses, and lovely,
lovely heliotrope. I begged him to stop, but he went on till the
flowers were all arranged and tied together, and no one came
down-stairs till the spoilage was complete.
All this time Mr. Langenau was in the library—restless, pretending
to read a book. I saw him as we passed the door, but did not look
again. Presently we heard the sound of wheels.
“There,” said Richard, feeling the weight of hospitality upon him,
“Sophie isn't down. How like her!”
But at the last moment, to save appearances, Sophie came down the
stairs and went into the parlor: indolent, favored Sophie, who always
came out right when things looked most against it.
In a little while the empty rooms were peopled. Dress improved the
young ladies of the house very much, and the young ladies who came were
some of them quite pretty: The gentlemen seemed to me very tiresome and
not at all good-looking. Richard was quite a king among them, with his
square shoulders, and his tawny moustache, and his blue eyes.
There were not quite gentlemen enough, and Mrs. Hollenbeck fluttered
into the library to hunt up Mr. Langenau, and he presently came out
with her. He was dressed with more care than usual, and suitably for
evening: he had the vive attentive manner that is such a
contrast to most young men in this country: everybody looked at him and
wondered who he was. The music-teacher was playing vigorously, and so,
before the German was arranged, several impetuous souls flew away in
waltzes up and down the room. The parlor was a very large room. It had
originally been two rooms, but had been thrown into one, as some
pillars and a slight arch testified. The ceiling was rather low, but
the many windows which opened on the piazza, and the unusual size of
the room, made it very pretty for a dance. Mary Leighton and the tutor
were dancing; somebody was talking to me, but I only saw that.
“How well he dances,” I heard some one exclaim.
I'm afraid it must have been Richard whom I forgot to answer just
before: for I saw him twist his yellow moustache into his mouth and
bite it; a bad sign with him.
Kilian was to lead with Mary Leighton, and he came up to where we
stood, and said to Richard, “I suppose you have Miss Pauline for your
Now I had been very unhappy for some time, dreading the moment, but
there was nothing for it but to tell the truth. So I said, “I hope you
are not counting upon me for dancing? You know I cannot dance!”
“Not dance!” cried Kilian, in amazement; “why, I never dreamed of
“You don't like it, Pauline?” said Richard, looking at me.
“Like it!” I said, impatiently. “Why, I don't know how; who did I
ever have to dance with in Varick-street? Ann Coddle or old Peter? And
Uncle Leonard never thought of such a thing as sending me to school.”
“Why didn't you tell me before, and we wouldn't have bothered about
this stupid dance,” said Kilian; but I think he didn't mean it, for he
enjoyed dancing very much.
Richard had to go away, for though he hated it, he was needed, as
they had not gentlemen enough.
The one or two persons who had been introduced to me, on going to
join the dance, also expressed regret. Even Mrs. Hollenbeck came up,
and said how sorry she was: she had supposed I danced.
But they all went away, and I was left by one of the furthest
windows with a tiresome old man, who didn't dance either, because his
legs weren't strong enough, and who talked and talked till I asked him
not to; which he didn't seem to like. But to have to talk, with the
noise of the music, and the stir, of the dancing, and the whirl that is
always going on in such a room, is penance. I told him it made my head
ache, and besides I couldn't hear, and so at last he went away, and I
was left alone.
Sometimes in pauses of the dance Richard came up to me, and
sometimes Kilian; but it had the effect of making me more
uncomfortable, for it made everybody turn and look at me. Bye and bye I
stole away and went on the piazza, and looked in where no one could see
me. I could not go away entirely, for I was fascinated by the dance. I
longed so to be dancing, and had such bitter feelings because I never
had been taught. After I left the room, I could see Richard was
uncomfortable; he looked often at the door, and was not very attentive
to his partner. No one else seemed to miss me. Mr. Langenau talked
constantly to Miss Lowder, with whom he had been dancing, and never
looked once toward where I had been sitting. A long time after, when
they had been dancing—hours it seemed to me—Miss Lowder seemed to
feel faint or tired, and Mr. Langenau came out with her, and took her
up-stairs to the dressing-room.
Ashamed to be seen looking in at the window, I ran into the library
and sat down. There was a student's lamp upon the table, but the room
had no other light. I sat leaning back in a large chair by the table,
with my bouquet in my lap, buttoning and unbuttoning absently my long
white gloves. In a moment I heard Mr. Langenau come down-stairs alone:
he had left Miss Lowder in the dressing-room to rest there: he came
directly toward the library.
He came half-way in the door, then paused. “May I speak to you?” he
said slowly, fixing his eyes on mine. “I seem to be the only one who is
forbidden, of those who have offended you and of those who have not.”
“No one has said what you have,” I said very faintly.
In an instant he was standing beside me, with one hand resting on
“Will you listen to me,” he said, bending a little toward me and
speaking in a quick, low voice, “I did say what you have a right to
resent; but I said it in a moment when I was not master of my words. I
had just heard something that made me doubt my senses: and my only
thought was how to save myself, and not to show how I was staggered by
it. I am a proud man, and it is hard to tell you this—but I cannot
bear this coldness from you—and I ask you to forgive me“
His eyes, his voice, had all their unconquerable influence upon me.
I bent over Richard's poor flowers, and pulled them to pieces while I
tried to speak. There was a silence, during which he must have heard
the loud beating of my heart, I think: at last he spoke again in a
lower voice, “Will you not be kind, and say that we are friends once
I said something that was inaudible to him, and he stooped a little
nearer me to catch it. I made a great effort and commanded my voice and
said, very low? but with an attempt to speak lightly, “You have not
made it any better, but I will forget it.”
He caught my hand for one instant, then let it go as suddenly. And
neither of us could speak.
There is no position more false and trying than a woman's, when she
is told in this way that a man loves her, and yet has not been told it;
when she must seem not to see what she would be an idiot not to see;
when he can say what he pleases and she must seem to hear only so much.
I did no better and no worse than most women of my years would have
done. At last the silence (which did not seem a silence to me, it was
so full of new and conflicting thoughts,) was broken by the
recommencement of the music in the other room. He had taken a book in
his hands and was turning over its pages restlessly.
“Why have you not danced?” he said at last, in a voice that still
“I have not danced because I can't, because I never have been
“You? not taught? it seems incredible. But let me teach you. Will
you? Teach you! you would dance by intention. And would love
it—madly—as I did years ago. Come with me, will you?”
“Oh, no,” I said, half frightened, shrinking back, “I am not going
“Perhaps that is as well,” he said in a low tone, meeting my eye for
an instant, and telling me by that sudden brilliant gleam from his,
that then he would be spared the pain of ever seeing me dancing with
“But let me teach you something,” he said after a moment. “Let me
teach you German—will you?” He sank down in a chair by the table, and
leaning forward, repeated his question eagerly.
“Oh, yes, I should like it so much—if—.”
“If—if what? If it could be arranged without frightening and
embarrassing you, you mean?”
“I wonder if you are not more afraid of being frightened and
embarrassed than of any other earthly trial. There are worse things
that come to us, Miss d'Estree. But I will arrange about the German,
and you need have no terror. How will I arrange? No matter—when Mrs.
Hollenbeck asks you to join a class in German, you will join it, will
“Anything? take care. I may fill up a check for thousands, if you
give a blank.”
“I didn't give a blank; anything about German's what I meant.”
“Ah, that's safer, but not half so generous. And yet you're one who
might be generous, I think.”
“But tell me about the German class.”
“I've nothing to tell you about it,” he answered, “only that you've
promised to learn.”
“But where are we to say our lessons, and what books are we to
“Would you like to say a lesson now and get one step in advance of
all the others?”
“O yes! I shall need at least as much grace as that.”
“Then say this after me: 'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH
LEHREN.' Begin. 'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'—”
“'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'—but what does it mean?”
“Oh, that is not important. Learn it first. Can you not trust me?
'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH LEHREN.'“
“'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'—ah, you look as if my pronunciation were
“I was not thinking of that; you pronounce very well. 'ICH WILL
“ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH LEHREN:—there now, tell
me what it means.”
“Not until you learn it; encore une fois.”
I said it after him again and again, but when I attempted it alone,
I made invariably some error.
“Let me write it for you,” he said, and pulling a book from his
pocket, tore out a leaf and wrote the sentence on it. “There—keep the
paper and study it, and say it to me in the morning.”
I have the paper still; long years have passed: it is only a
crumpled little yellow fragment; but the world would be poorer and
emptier to me if it were destroyed.
I had quite mastered the sentence, saying it after him word for
word, and held the slip of paper in my hand, when I heard steps in the
hall. I knew Richard's step very well, and gave a little start. Mr.
Langenau frowned, and his manner changed, as I half rose from my seat,
and as quickly sank back in it again.
“Is it that you lack courage?” he said, looking at me keenly.
“I don't know what I lack,” I cried, bending down my head to hide my
flushed face; “but I hate to be scolded and have scenes.”
“But who has a right to scold you and to make a scene?”
“Nobody: only everybody does it all the same.”
“Everybody, I suppose, means Mr. Richard Vandermarck, who is
frowning at you this moment from the hall.”
“And it means you—who are frowning at me this moment from your
All this time Richard had been standing in the hall; but now he
walked slowly away. I felt sure he had given me up. The people began to
come out of the parlor, and I felt ready to cry with vexation, when I
thought that they would again be talking about me. It was true, I am
afraid, that I lacked courage.
“You want me to go away?” he said, fixing his eyes intently on me.
“O yes, if you only would,” I said naively.
He looked so white and angry when he rose, that I sprang up and put
out my hand to stop him, and said hurriedly, “I only meant—that is—I
should think you would understand without my telling you. A woman
cannot bear to have people talk about her, and know who she likes and
who she doesn't. It kills me to have people talk about me. I'm not used
to society—I don't know what is right—but I don't think—I am
afraid—I ought not to have stayed in here and talked to you away from
all the others. It's that that makes me so uncomfortable. That, and
Richard too. For I know he doesn't like to have me pleased with any
one. Do not go away angry with me. I don't see why you do not
My incoherent little speech had brought him to his senses.
“I am not going away angry,” he said in a low voice, “I will promise
not to speak to you again to-night. Only remember that I have feelings
as well as Mr. Richard Vandermarck.”
In a moment more I was alone. Richard did not come near me, nor seem
to notice me, as he passed through the hall. Presently Mr. Eugene
Whitney came in, and I was very glad to see him.
“Won't you take me to walk on the piazza?” I asked, for everybody
else was walking there. He was only too happy; and so the evening ended
CHAPTER X. EVERY DAY FROM SIX TO
She wanted years to understand
The grief that he did feel.
Love is not love
That alters where it alteration finds.
This was how the German class was formed.
The next day, as we were leaving the dinner-table, Mr. Langenau
paused a few moments by Sophie, in the hall, and talked with her about
“Charley gets on very well with his German,” he observed, “but Benny
doesn't make much progress. He is too young to study much, and acquires
chiefly by the ear. If you only had a German maid, or if you could
speak with him yourself, he would make much better progress.”
“Yes, I wish I had more knowledge of the language,” she replied; “I
read it very easily, but cannot speak with any fluency.”
“Why will you never speak it with me?” he said. “And if you will
permit me, I shall be very glad to read with you an hour a day. I have
much leisure, and it would be no task to me.”
“I should like it very much, and you are very kind. But it is so
hard to find an hour unoccupied, particularly with so many people in
the house, whom I ought to entertain.”
“That is very true, unless you can make it a source of entertainment
to them. Miss Benson—is she not a German scholar? She might like to
Then, I think, the clever Sophie's mind was illuminated, and the
tutor's little scheme was revealed to her clear eye; she embraced it
with effusion. “An admirable idea,” she said, “and the others, too,
perhaps, would join us if you would not mind. It would be one hour a
day at least secure from ennui: I shall have great cause to
thank you, if we can arrange it. For these girls get so tired of doing
nothing; my mind is always on the strain to think of an amusement.
Charlotte! Come here, I want to ask you something.”
Charlotte Benson came, and with her came Henrietta. I was sitting on
the sofa between the parlor-doors, and could not help hearing the whole
conversation, as they were standing immediately before me.
“Mr. Langenau proposes to us to read an hour a day with him in
German. What do you think about it?”
“Charming,” said Charlotte with enthusiasm. “I cannot think of
anything that would give me greater pleasure. Henrietta and I have read
in German together for two winters, and it will be enchanting to
continue it with such a master as Mr. Langenau.”
Henrietta murmured her satisfaction, and then Charlotte rushed into
plans for the course, leaving me in despair, supposing I had been
forgotten. What place I was to find in such advanced society I could
not well imagine.
Mr. Langenau never turned his head in my direction, and talked with
Miss Benson with so much earnestness about the books into which they
were to plunge, that I could not convince myself that all this was
undertaken solely that he might teach me German. In a little while they
seemed to have settled it all to their satisfaction, and he had turned
to go away. My heart was in my throat. Mrs. Hollenbeck had not
forgotten me. She said something low to Mr. Langenau.
“Ah, true!” he said. “But does she know anything of German?” Then
turning to me he said, with one of his dazzling sudden glances, “Miss
d'Estree, we are talking of making up a German class; do you understand
“No,” I said, meeting his eye for a moment, “I have only taken one
lesson in my life,” and then blushed scarlet at my own audacity.
“Ah,” said he, as if quite sorry for the disappointment, “I wish you
were advanced enough to join us.”
Then Charlotte Benson, quite ignoring the interruption, began to ask
him about a book that she wanted very much to find. Mr. Langenau had it
in his room—a most happy accident, and there was a great deal said
about it. I again was left in doubt of my fate. Again Sophie
interposed. “We have forgotten Mary Leighton,” she said, gently.
“Does Miss Leighton know anything of German?”
“Not a thing,” said Henrietta.
“What does she know anything of, but flirting?” said Charlotte with
asperity, glancing out into the grounds where Kilian was murmuring
softest folly to her under her pongee parasol.
“Perhaps she'd like to learn,” suggested Sophie. “She and Pauline
might begin together; that is, if Mr. Langenau would not think it too
much trouble to give them an occasional suggestion. And you, Charlotte,
I am sure, could help them a great deal.”
Charlotte made no disguise of her disinclination to undertake to
Mr. Langenau expressed his willingness so unenthusiastically, that I
think Mrs. Hollenbeck was staggered. I saw her glance anxiously at him,
as if to know what really he might mean. She concluded to interpret
according to the context, however, and went on.
“But it will be so much better for all to undertake it, if one does.
Suppose they try and see how it will work, either before or after our
“De tout mon coeur,” said Mr. Langenau, as if, however, his
coeur had very little interest in the matter.
“Well, about the hour?” said Charlotte, the woman of business; “we
haven't settled that after all our talking.”
There was a great deal more, oh, a great deal more, and then it was
settled that five in the afternoon should be considered the German
hour—subject to alteration as circumstances should arise.
Mrs. Hollenbeck very discreetly ordered that a beginning should not
be made till the next day but one. “The gentlemen will all be here
to-morrow, and there may be something else going on.” I knew very well
she was afraid of Richard, and thought he would not approve her zeal
for our improvement.
The first lesson was very dull work for me. It was agreed that Mary
Leighton and I should take our lesson after the others, sitting beside
them, however, for the benefit of such crumbs of information as might
fall to us.
Mr. Langenau took no special notice of me then, and very little that
was flattering when Mary Leighton and I began our lesson proper. Mrs.
Hollenbeck, Charlotte, and Henrietta took up their books and left, when
the infant class was called. I do not think Mr. Langenau took great
pains to make the study of the German tongue of interest to Miss
Leighton. She was unspeakably bored, and never even learned the
alphabet. She was very much unused to mental application, undoubtedly,
and was annoyed at appearing dull. There was but one door open to her;
to vote German a bore, and give up the class. She made her exit by that
door on the occasion of the second lesson, and Mr. Langenau and I were
left to pursue our studies undisturbed. The rendezvous was the piazza
in fine weather, and the library when it was damp or cloudy. The
fidelity with which the senior Germans gathered up their books and
left, when their hour was over, was mainly due to the kind
thoughtfulness of Mrs. Hollenbeck, who was always prompt, and always
found some excuse for carrying away Charlotte and Henrietta with her
when she went.
It can be imagined what those hours were to me, those soft, golden
afternoons. Sometimes we took our books and went out under the trees to
some shaded seats, and sat there till the maid came out to call us in
to tea. Happy, happy hours in dreamland! But what peril to me, and
perhaps to him. It is vain to go over it all: it is enough that of all
the happy days, that hour from six o'clock till tea-time was the
happiest: and that with strange smoothness, day after day passed on
without bringing interruption to it. At six the others went to ride or
walk; I was never called, and did not even wonder at it.
All this time Richard had been going every day to town and coming
back by the evening train. It was pretty tiresome work, and he looked
rather pale and worn; but I believe he could not stay away. I sometimes
felt a little sorry when I saw how much he was out of spirits, but I
was in such a happy realm myself, it did not depress me long: in truth,
I forgot it when he was not actually before me, and sometimes even
then. “I do not think you are listening to what I say,” he said to me
one night as he sat by me in the parlor. I blushed desperately, and
tried to listen better. Ah! how often it happened after that. I blush
again to think how much I pained him, and how silently he bore it all.
The last days of July were very busy ones in the Wall-street office,
and Richard did not give himself a holiday, till one Saturday, much to
be remembered, the very last day of the month. I recall with penitence,
the impatient feeling that I had when Richard told me he was going to
take the day at home. I felt intuitively that it would spoil it all for
me. After breakfast, we all played croquet, and then I shut myself into
my room with my German books, and selfishly saw no one till dinner. At
dinner I was excited and half frightened, as I always was when Mr.
Langenau and Richard were both present, and both watching me; it was
impossible to please either.
Something was said about the afternoon, and Richard (who all this
time knew nothing of the German class) said to me, evidently afraid of
some other engagement being entered on, “I hope you will drive with me,
Pauline, at five. I ordered the horses when I was down at the stables;
I think the afternoon is going to be fine.” It was rather a public way
of asking one out of so many to go and take a drive; but in truth,
Richard was too honest and straightforward to care who knew what he was
in pursuit of, and too sore at heart and too indifferent an actor to
conceal it if he had desired. But the invitation struck me with such
consternation. At five o'clock! The flower and consummation of the day!
The hour that I had been looking forward to, since seven the day
before. I could not lose it. I would not go to drive. I hated Richard.
I hated going to drive. I grew very brave, and was on the point of
saying that I could not go, when I caught Sophie's eye. She made me a
quick sign, which I dared not disobey. I blushed crimson, and did not
lift my eyes again, but said in a low voice that I would go. Then my
heart seemed to turn to lead, and all the glory and pleasure of the day
was gone. It seemed to me of such vast importance, of such endless
duration, this penance that I was to undergo. O lovers! Foolish,
foolish men and women! I was like a child balked of its holiday; I
wanted to cry—I longed to get away by myself. I did not dare to look
at any one.
Mr. Langenau excused himself, and left the table before the others
went away. As we were leaving the table, Sophie, passing close by me,
said quite low, “I would not say anything about the German class,
Pauline. And it was a great deal better that you should go; you know
Richard has not many holidays.”
“Yes, but you don't give up all your pleasures for him,” I thought,
but did not say.
I went quickly to my room, and saw no one till I came down-stairs at
five o'clock. I had on a veil, for my face was rather flushed, and my
eyes somewhat the worse for crying. Richard was waiting for me at the
foot of the stairs, and accompanied me silently to the wagon, which
stood at the door. As we passed the parlor I could see, on the east
piazza, Mr. Langenau and Charlotte already at their books. Both were so
engrossed that they did not look up as we went through the hall. For
that, Richard, poor fellow! had to suffer. I was too unreasonable to
comprehend that Mr. Langenau's absorbed manner was a covering for his
pique. It was enough torture to have to lose my lesson, without seeing
him engrossed with some one else, whose fate was happier than mine.
Perhaps, after all, he was fascinated by Charlotte Benson. She was
bright, clever, and understood him so well. She admired him so much.
She was, I was sure, half in love with him. (The day before I had
concluded she liked Richard very much.) That was a very disagreeable
drive. I complained of the heat. The sun hurt my eyes.
“We can go back, if you desire it,” said Richard, with a shade of
sternness in his voice, stopping the horses suddenly, after two miles
of what would have been ill-temper if we had been married, but was now
perhaps only petulance.
“I don't desire it,” I said, quite frightened, “but I do wish we
could go a little faster till we get into the shade.”
After that, there was naturally very little pleasure in
conversation. I felt angry with Richard and ashamed of myself. For him,
I am afraid his feelings were very bitter, and his silence the cover of
a sore heart. We had started to take a certain drive; we both wished it
over, I suppose, but both lacked courage to shorten it, or go home
before we were expected. There was a brilliant sunset, but I am sure we
did not see it: then the clouds gathered and the twilight came on, and
we were nearly home.
“Pauline,” said Richard, hoarsely, not looking at me, and insensibly
slackening the hold he had upon the reins; “will you let me say
something to you? I want to give you some advice, if you will listen to
“I don't want anybody to advise me,” I said in alarm, “and I don't
know what right you have to expect me to listen to you, Richard, unless
it is that I am your guest; and I shouldn't think that was any reason
why I should be made to listen to what isn't pleasant to me.”
The horses started forward, from the sudden emphasis of Richard's
pull upon the reins; and that was all the answer that I had to my most
unjustifiable words. Not a syllable was spoken after that; and in a few
moments we were at the house. Richard silently handed me out; if I had
been thinking about him I should have been frightened at the expression
of his face, but I was not: I was only thinking—that we were at home,
and that I was going to have the happiness of meeting Mr. Langenau.
CHAPTER XI. SOPHIE'S WORK.
A nature half transformed, with qualities
That oft betrayed each other, elements
Not blent, but struggling, breeding strange effects
Passing the reckoning of his friends or foes.
High minds of native pride and force
Most deeply feel thy pangs, remorse!
Fear for their scourge, mean villains have,
Thou art the torturer of the brave.
This was what Sophie had done: she had invoked forces that she could
not control, and she felt, as people are apt to feel when they watch
their monster growing into strength, a little frightened and a little
sorry. No doubt it had seemed to her a very small thing, to favor the
folly of a girl of seventeen, fascinated by the voice and manner of a
nameless stranger; it was a folly most manifest, but she had nothing to
do with it, and was not responsible; a very small thing to allow, and
to encourage what, doubtless, she flattered herself, her discouragement
could not have subdued. It was very natural that she should not wish
Richard to many any one; she was not more selfish than most sisters
are. Most sisters do not like to give their brothers up. She would have
to give up her home (one of her homes, that is,) as well. She did not
think Richard's choice a wise one: she was not subject to the
fascination of outline and coloring that had subjugated him, and she
felt sincerely that she was the best judge. If Richard must marry
(though in thinking of her own married life, she could not help
wondering why he must), let him marry a woman who had fortune, or
position, or talent. Of course there was a chance that this one might
have money, but that would be according to the caprice of a selfish old
man, who had never been known to show any affection for her.
But money was not what Richard wanted: his sister knew much better
what Richard wanted, than he knew himself. He wanted a clever woman, a
woman who would keep him before the world and rouse him into a little
ambition about what people thought of him. Sophie was disappointed and
a little frightened when she found that Richard did not give up the
outline and coloring pleasantly. She had thought he would be
disillusionized, when he found he was thrown over for a German tutor,
who could sing. She had not counted upon seeing him look ill and worn,
and finding him stern and silent to her; to her, of whom he had always
been so fond. She found he was taking the matter very seriously, and
she almost wished that she had not meddled with the matter.
And this German tutor—who could sing—well, it was strange, but he
was the worst feature of her Frankenstein, and the one at which she
felt most sorry and most frightened. Richard was very bad, to be sure,
but he would no doubt get over it: and if it all came out well, she
would be the gainer. As to “this girl for whom his heart was sick,” she
had no manner of patience with her or pity for her.
“She must suffer: so do all;” she would undoubtedly have a hard
future, no matter to which of these men who were so absurd about her,
Fate finally accorded her: hard, if she married Richard without loving
him (nobody knew better than Sophie how hard that sort of marriage
was); hard, if she married the German, to suffer a lifetime of poverty
and ill-temper and jealous fury. But about all that, Sophie did not
care a straw. She knew how much women could live through, and it seemed
to be their business to be wretched.
But this man! And she could not gain anything by what he suffered,
with his dangerous nature, his ungovernable jealousy, his possibly
involved and unknown antecedents; what was to become of him, in case he
could not have this girl of whom six weeks ago he had not heard? A
pretty candidate to present to “mon oncle” of the Wall-street office,
for the hand of the young lady trusted to their hospitality—a very
pretty candidate—a German tutor—who could sing. If he took her, it
was to be feared he would have to take her without more dowry than some
very heavy imprecations. But could he take her, even thus? Sophie had
some very strange misgivings. This man was desperately unhappy: was
suffering frightfully: it made her heart ache to see the haggard lines
deepening on his face, to see his colorless lips and restless eyes. She
was sorry for him, as a woman is apt to be sorry for a fascinating man.
And then she was frightened, for he was “no carpet knight so trim,” to
whom cognac, and cigars, and time would be a balm: this man was
essentially dramatic, a dangerous character, an article with which she
was unfamiliar. He was frantic about this silly girl: that was plain to
see. Why then was he so wretched, seeing she was as irrationally in
love with him?
“If it only comes out right,” she sighed distrustfully many times a
day. She resolved never to interfere with anything again, but it came
rather late, seeing she probably had done the greatest mischief that
she ever would be permitted to have a hand in while she lived. She made
up her mind not to think anything about it, but, unfortunately for that
plan, she could not get out of sight of her work. If she had been a
man, she would probably have gone to the Adirondacks. But being a woman
she had to stay at home, and sit down among the tangled skeins which
she had not skill to straighten.
“If it only comes out right,” she sighed again, the evening of that
most uncomfortable drive, “If it only comes out right.” But it did not
look much like it.
I had gone directly in to tea, and so had Richard. Richard's face
silenced and depressed everybody at the table; and Mr. Langenau did not
“There is going to be a terrible shower,” said some one, and before
the sentence was ended, there was a vivid flash of lightning that made
the candles pale.
“How rapidly it has come up,” said Sophie. “Was the sky black when
you came in, Richard?”
“I do not know,” said Richard, and nobody doubted that he told the
“It had begun to darken before we came up from the river.” said
Charlotte Benson. “The clouds were rising rapidly as we came in. It
will be a fearful tempest.”
“Are the windows all shut?” said Sophie to the servant.
“I should think so,” exclaimed Kilian. “The heat is horrid.”
“Yes, it is suffocating,” said Richard, getting up.
As he went out of the dining-room, some one, I think Henrietta,
said, “Well, I hope Mr. Langenau will get in safely; he was out on the
river when we were on the hill.”
The storm was so sudden and so furious that everybody was concerned
at hearing this; even Kilian made some exclamation of alarm.
“Does he know anything about a boat?” he asked of Richard, who had
paused in the doorway, hearing what was said.
“I have no idea,” said Richard, shortly, but he did not go away.
“It isn't the sail-boat that he has, of course,” said Kilian,
thoughtfully. “He always goes out to row, I believe.”
“Why, no,” said Charlotte Benson, “he's in the sail-boat; don't you
remember saying, Henrietta, how bright the gleam of the sunset was on
the sail, and all the water was so dark?”
Kilian came to his feet very suddenly at these words.
“That's a bad business,” he said quickly to his brother. “I've no
idea he can manage her in such a squall.”
Sophie gave a little scream, and Charlotte and Henrietta both grew
very pale, as a frightful shock of thunder followed. The wind was
furious, and the unfastened shutters in various parts of the house
sounded like so many reports of pistols, and in an instant the whole
force of the rain fell suddenly and at once upon the windows. Somewhere
some glass was shattered, and all these sounds added to the sense of
danger, and the darkness was so great and so sudden, that it was
difficult to realize that half an hour before, the sunset could have
whitened the sails of a boat upon the river.
“I'm afraid it's too late to do much now,” said Kilian, stopping in
front of his brother in the doorway.
“What's the use of talking in that way,” returned Richard in a
hoarse, low voice. “If you hav'nt more sense than to talk so before
women, you can stay at home with them,” he continued, striding across
the hall, and picking up a lantern that stood in a corner near the
door. Charlotte Benson caught up one of the candles from the table, and
ran to him and lit the lamp within the lantern. Sophie threw a cloak
over Kilian's shoulders, and Henrietta flew to carry a message to the
kitchen. Richard pulled a bell that was a signal to the stable (the
stable was very near the house), and in almost a moment's time two men,
beside Kilian, were following him out into the tempest. We saw their
lanterns flicker for an instant, and then they were swallowed up in the
darkness. The fury of the storm increased every moment. The flashes of
lightning were but a few seconds apart, and the roll of thunder was
incessant. Every few moments, above this continued roar, would come an
appalling crash which sounded just above our heads. The children were
screaming with fear, the servants had come into the hall and seemed in
a helpless sort of panic. Sophie was very pale and Mary Leighton clung
hysterically to her. Charlotte Benson was the only one who seemed to be
self-possessed enough to have done anything, if there had been anything
to do. But there was not. All we could do was to try to behave
ourselves with fortitude in view of the personal danger, and with
composure in view of that of others. Presently there came a lull in the
tempest, and we began to breathe freer; some one went to the door and
opened it. A gust of cold wind swept through the hall and put out the
lamp, at which the children and Mary Leighton renewed their cries of
The respite in the tempest was but temporary; before the lamp was
relit and order restored, the storm had burst again upon us. This was,
if anything, fiercer, but shorter lived. After fifteen or twenty
minutes' rage, it subsided almost utterly, and we could hear it taking
itself off across the heavens. I suppose the whole storm, from its
beginning to its end, had not occupied more than three quarters of an
hour, but it had seemed much longer.
We were very glad to open the door and let the cool, damp air into
the hall. The children were taken up-stairs, consoled with the promise
that word should be sent to them when their uncles should return. The
servants went feebly off to their domain; one was sent to sweep the
piazza, for the rain had beaten in such torrents upon it that it was
impossible to walk there, till it should be brushed away. Wrapped in
their shawls, Henrietta and Charlotte Benson walked up and down the
space that the servant swept, and watched and listened for a long
half-hour. I took a cloak from the rack and, leaning against the
door-post, stood and listened silently.
From the direction of the river there was nothing to be heard. There
was still distant thunder, but that was the only sound, that and the
dripping of the rain off the leaves of the drenched trees. The wind was
almost silent, and in the spaces of the broken clouds there were
occasional faint stars. A fine, young tree, uprooted by the tempest,
lay across the carriage-way before the house, its topmost branches
resting on the steps of the piazza: the grass was strewed with leaves
like autumn, and the paths were simply pools of water. Sophie, more
than once, came to the door, and begged us to come in, for fear of the
dampness and the cold, but no one heeded her suggestion. Even she
herself came out very often, and looked and listened anxiously. Finally
my ear caught a sound: I ran down the steps, and bent forward eagerly.
There was some one coming along the garden-path that led up from the
river. I could hear the water plashing as he walked, and he was coming
rapidly. In a moment the others heard it too, and starting to the
steps, stood still, and waited breathlessly. He had no lantern, for we
could have seen that; he was almost at the steps before I could
recognize him. It was Richard. I gave a smothered cry, and springing
forward, held out my hands to stop him.
“Tell me what has happened.” He put aside my hands, and went past me
without a second look.
“There has nothing happened, but what he can tell you when he
comes,” he said, as he strode past me up the steps, and on into the
house. Then he was alive to tell me: the reaction was a little too
strong for me, and I sat down on the steps to try and recover myself,
for I was ill and giddy.
In a few moments more, more steps sounded in the distance, this time
slowly, several persons coming together. I started and ran up the
steps, I don't exactly know why, and stood behind the others, who were
crowding down, servants and all, to hear what was the news. Kilian came
first, very drenched, and spattered, and subdued looking, then Mr.
Langenau, leaning upon one of the men, very pale, but making an attempt
to smile and speak reassuringly to Sophie, who met him with looks of
great alarm. It evidently gave him dreadful pain to move, and when he
reached the house he was quite faint. Charlotte Benson placed a chair,
into which they supported him.
“Run, Pauline, and get some brandy,” said Sophie, putting a bunch of
keys into my hand without looking at me.
When I came back with the glass of brandy, he was conscious again,
and looked at me and took the glass from my hand. The other man had
been sent for the doctor from the village, who was expected every
moment, and Mr. Langenau, who was now revived by stimulants, was quite
reassuring, and attempted to laugh at us for being so much frightened.
Then the young ladies' curiosity got the better of their terror, and
they clamored for the history of the past two hours. This history was
given them principally by Kilian. I cannot repeat it satisfactorily,
for the reason that I don't know anything about jibs, and bowsprits,
and masts, and centre-boards, and I did not understand it at the time;
but I received enough out of the mass of evidence presented in that
language, to be sure that there had been considerable danger, and that
everybody had behaved well. In fact, Kilian's changed manner toward the
tutor of itself was quite enough to show that he had behaved
The unvarnished and unbowspritted and unjib-boomed tale was pretty
much as follows: Mr. Langenau had found himself in the middle of the
river, when the storm came on. I am afraid he could not have been
thinking very much about the clouds, not to have noticed that a storm
was rising; though every one agreed that they had never known anything
like the rapidity of its coming up. Before he knew what he was about, a
squall struck him, and he had great difficulty to right the boat. (Then
followed a good deal about luffing and tacking and keeping her taut to
windward; that is, I think that was where he wanted to keep her.) But
whatever it was, he didn't succeed in doing it, and Kilian vouchsafed
to say nobody could have done it. Then something split: I really cannot
say whether it was the mast, or the bowsprit, or the centre-board, but
whatever it was, it hurt Mr. Langenau so much that for a moment he was
stunned. And then Kilian cannot see why he wasn't drowned. When he came
to himself he was still holding the rudder in his hand.
The other arm was useless from the falling of—this thing that
split—upon it. And so the boat was floundering about in the gale till
it got righted, and it was Mr. Langenau's presence of mind that saved
him and the boat, for he never let go the rudder, and controlled her as
far as he could, though he did not know where he was going, the
blackness was so great, and the flashes did not show him the shore; and
he was like one placed in the midst of a frightful sea wakened out of a
dream, owing to the blow and the unconsciousness which followed.
Then Richard came upon the stage as hero; he and one of the men had
gone out in the only boat at hand, a very small one, toward the speck,
which, by the flashes of lightning, he saw out upon the river. It was
almost impossible to overhaul her, and it could not have been done at
the rate she was going, of course; but then occurred that accident
which rendered Mr. Langenau unconscious, and which brought things to a
standstill for a moment. Kalian said we did not know anything about the
storm up here at the house; that more than one tree had been struck
within a few feet of him on the shore. The river was surging; the wind
was furious; no one could imagine what it was who had not witnessed it,
and he, for his part, never expected to see Richard come back to land.
But Richard did come back, and brought back the disabled sail-boat and
the injured man. That was the end of the story; which thrilled us all
very much, as we knew the heroes, and had one of them before us,
ghastly pale but uncomplaining.
It seemed as if the doctor never would come! We were women, and we
naturally looked to the coming of the doctor as the end of all the
trouble. It was impossible to make the poor fellow comfortable. He
could not lie down, he could not move without excruciating pain, and
very frequently he grew quite faint. Charlotte Benson and Sophie
administered stimulants; endeavored to ease his position with pillows
and footstools; and did all the nameless soothing acts that efficient
and good nurses alone understand; while I, paralyzed and mute, stood
aside, scarcely able to bear the sight of his sufferings. I am sorry to
say, I don't think he cared at all to have me by him. He was in such
pain that he cared only for the attendance of those who could alleviate
it in a measure; and the strong firm hand and the skilled touch were
more to him than the presence of one who had nothing but excited and
unavailing sympathy to offer. It was rather a stern fact walking into
my dreamland, this.
By and bye Kilian went away to take off his wet clothes, and he did
not come back again, but sent down a message to his sister that he was
very tired and should go to bed, but if he were wanted for anything he
could be called. This was not heroic of Kilian, but, after the manner
of men, he was apt to keep away from the sight of disagreeable things.
After all, he could not do much good, but it was something to feel
there was a man to call upon, besides Patrick, who was stupid; and I
saw Charlotte Benson's lip curl when Kilian's message was brought down.
Richard was in his room: we all thought he had done enough for one
night, and had a right to rest.
At last, after the most weary waiting, wheels were heard, and the
doctor drove up to the door. The servants had begun to look very
sleepy. Mary Leighton had slipped away to her room, and Sophie had told
Henrietta and me to go, for we were really of no earthly use. We did
not take her advice as a compliment, and did not go. Henrietta opened
the door for the doctor, which was doing something though not much, as
two of the maids stood prepared to do it if she did not.
The doctor was a reassuring, quiet man, and became a pillar of
strength at once. After talking a few moments with Mr. Langenau, and
pulling and twisting him rather ruthlessly, he walked a little away
with Sophie, and told her he wanted him got at once to his room, and he
should need the assistance of one of the gentlemen. Would not Patrick
do? Besides Patrick. Mr. Langenau's shoulder was dislocated, badly, and
it must be set at once. It was a painful operation and he needed help.
I was within hearing of this, and I was in great alarm. Sophie looked
so too, and I don't think she liked disagreeable things any better than
her brother, but she was a woman, and could not shirk them as he could.
“Pauline,” she said, finding me at her side as she turned, “run up
and tell Richard that he must come down, quick. Tell him how it is, and
that he must make haste.”
I ran up the stairs breathlessly, but feeling all the time that it
was rather hard that I must be sent to Richard with this message.
Sophie did not want to ask him to come down herself, and she thought me
the most likely ambassador to bring him, but it was not a congenial
embassy. Perhaps, however, she only asked me because I happened to be
nearest her, and she was rather upset by what the doctor said.
I knocked at Richard's door.
“Oh, they want you to come down-stairs a minute. There's something
to be done,” panting and rather incoherent.
“What is to be done?”
“The Doctor's here, and he says he must have help.”
“Gone to bed.”
Some suppressed ejaculation, and he pushed back his chair, and rose,
and came across the room: at least it sounded so, and I ran down the
stairs again. He followed me in a moment. The Doctor came forward and
talked to him a little while, and then Richard called Patrick, and told
Sophie to see that Mr. Langenau's room was ready.
“How can he get up two pairs of stairs,” said Charlotte Benson,
“when he cannot move an inch without such suffering?”
“That's very true,” the Doctor said. “I doubt if he could bear it.
You have no room below?”
“Put a bed in the library,” said Charlotte Benson, and in ten
minutes it was done; the servants no longer sleepy when they had any
definite order to fulfill.
“In the meantime,” said Richard to his sister, “send those two to
bed,” pointing out Henrietta and me.
“I've told them to go, but they won't,” said Sophie, somewhat
Henrietta walked off, rather injured, but I would not go.
Mr. Langenau had another faint attack, and I was quite certain he
would die. Charlotte was making him breathe sal volatile and
Sophie ran to rub his hands. The Doctor was busy at the light about
“The room is all ready,” said the servant.
“Very well; now Mr. Richard, if you please,” the Doctor said.
“Pauline,” said Richard, coming to me as I stood at the foot of the
balusters, “You can't do any good. You'd better go up-stairs.”
“Oh, Richard,” I cried, “I think you're very cruel; I think you
might let me stay.”
I suppose my wretchedness, and youthfulness, and folly softened him
again, and he said, very gently, “I don't mean to be unkind, but it is
best for you to go. You need not be so frightened: there isn't any
I moved slowly to obey him, but turned back and caught his hand and
whispered, “You won't let them hurt him, Richard?” and then ran up the
stairs. No doubt Richard thought I went to my own room; but I spent the
next hour on the landing-place, looking down into the hall.
It was rather a serious matter, getting Mr. Langenau even into the
library, and it was well they had not attempted his own room. Patrick
was called, and with his assistance and Richard's, he began to move
across the hall. But half-way to the library-door, he fainted dead
away, and Richard carried him and laid him on the bed, Patrick being
worse than useless, having lost his head, and the Doctor being a small
man, and only strong in science.
Pretty soon the library-door closed, and Sophie and Charlotte were
excluded. They walked about the hall, talking in low tones, and looking
anxious. Later, there came groaning from within the closed door, and
Charlotte Benson wrung her hands and listened. The groans continued for
a long while: the misery of hearing them! After a while they ceased:
then Richard opened the door, hastily, it seemed, and called “Sophie.”
Sophie ran forward, and the door closed again. There was a long
silence, time enough for those who were outside to imagine all manner
of horrid possibilities. Then the Doctor and Richard came out.
“How is he, Doctor?” said Charlotte Benson, bravely, going to meet
them, while I hung trembling over the landing-place.
“Oh better, better, very comfortable,” said the Doctor, in his calm
I could not help thinking those groans had not denoted a very high
state of comfort; but maybe the Doctor knew best how people with
dislocated shoulders and broken ribs are apt to express their
sentiments of satisfaction.
I listened with more than interest to their plans for the night: the
Doctor was going away at once; two of the servants and Patrick were to
relieve each other in sitting by him, while Richard was to throw
himself on the sofa in the hall, to be at hand if anything were needed.
“Which means, that you are to be awake all night,” said Charlotte
Benson. “You have more need of rest than we. Let Sophie and me take
Richard looked gratefully and kindly at her, but refused. The Doctor
assured them again that there was no reason for anxiety; that Richard
would probably be undisturbed all night; that he himself would come
early in the morning. Then Richard came toward the stairs, and I
escaped to my own room.
CHAPTER XII. PRAEMONITUS,
The fiend whose lantern lights the mead,
Were better mate than I!
Fools, when they cannot see their way,
At once grow desperate,
Have no resource—have nothing to propose—
But fix a dull eye of dismay
Upon the final close.
Success to the stout heart, say I,
That sees its fate, and can defy!
Two weeks later, and things had not stood still; they rarely do,
when there is so much at hand, and ripe for mischief; seventeen does
not take up the practice of wisdom voluntarily. I do not think I was
very different from other girls of seventeen, and I cannot blame myself
very much that I spent all these days in a dream of bliss and folly;
how could it have been otherwise, situated exactly as we were? This is
the way our days were passed. Mr. Langenau was better, but still not
able to leave his room. He was the hero, as a matter of course, and
little besides his sufferings, his condition, and his prospects, was
talked of at the table; which had the effect of making Kilian stay away
two nights out of three, and of alienating Richard altogether. Richard
went to town on Monday morning after the accident occurred, and it was
now Friday of the following week, and he had not come back.
It was a little dull for Mary Leighton and for Henrietta, perhaps;
possibly for Charlotte Benson, but she did not seem to mind it much;
and I had never found R——so enchanting as that fortnight. Charlotte
Benson liked to be Florence Nightingale in little, it was very plain;
and naturally nothing made me so happy as to be permitted to minister
to the wants of the (it must be confessed) frequently unreasonable
sufferer. For the first few days, while he was confined to his bed, of
course Charlotte and I were obliged to content ourselves with the
sending of messages, the arranging of bouquets, the concocting of soups
and jellies, and all the other coddling processes at our command. But
when Mr. Langenau was able to sit up, Sophie (at the instance of
Charlotte Benson, for she seemed to have renounced diplomacy herself,)
arranged that the bed should be taken away during the daytime, and
brought back again at night, and that Mr. Langenau should lie on the
sofa through the day. This made it possible for us to be in the room,
even without Sophie, though we began to think her presence necessary.
That scruple was soon done away with, for it laid too great a tax on
her, and restricted our attentions very much. The result was, we passed
nearly the whole day beside him; Mary Leighton and Henrietta very often
of the party, and Sophie occasionally looking in upon us. Sometimes
when Charlotte Benson, as ranking officer, decreed that the patient
needed rest, we took our books and work and went to the piazza, outside
the window of his room.
He would have been very tired of us, if he had not been very much in
love with one of us. As it was, it must have been a kind of fool's
paradise in which he lived, five pretty women fluttering about him,
offering the prettiest homage, and one of them the woman for whom,
wisely or foolishly, rightly or wrongly, he had conceived so violent a
As soon as he was out of pain and began to recover the tone of his
nerves at all, I saw that he wanted me beside him more than ever, and
that Charlotte Benson, with all her skill and cleverness, was as
nothing to him in comparison. No doubt he dissembled this with care;
and was very graceful and very grateful and infinitely interesting. His
moods were very varying, however; sometimes he seemed struggling with
the most unconquerable depression, then we were all so sorry for him;
sometimes he was excited and brilliant; then we were all thrilled with
admiration. And not unfrequently he was irritable and quite morose and
sullen. And then we pitied, and admired, and feared him a la fois. I am sure no man more fitted to command the love and admiration of
women ever lived.
Charlotte Benson with great self-devotion had insisted upon teaching
the children for two hours every day, so that Mr. Langenau might not be
annoyed at the thought that they were losing time, and that Sophie
might not be inconvenienced. It was the least that she could do, she
reasoned, after the many lessons that Mr. Langenau had given us, with
so much kindness, and without accepting a return. Henrietta volunteered
for the service, also, and from eleven to one every day the boys were
caught and caged, and made to drink at the fountain of learning; or
rather to approach that fountain, of which forty Charlottes and
Henriettas could not have made them drink.
At that time Charlotte always decreed that Mr. Langenau should lie
on the sofa and go to sleep. The windows were darkened, and the room
was cleared of visitors. On this Friday morning, nearly two weeks after
the accident, as I was following Sophie from the room (Charlotte having
gone with Henrietta to capture the children), Mr. Langenau called after
me rather imperiously, “Miss d'Estree—Miss Pauline—”
It had been a stormy session, and I turned back with misgivings.
Sophie shrugged her shoulders and went away toward the dining-room.
“What are you going away for, may I ask?” he said, as I appeared
before him humbly.
“Why, you know you ought to lie down and to rest,” I tried to say
with discretion, but it was all one what I said: it would have
irritated him just the same.
“I am rather tired of this surveillance,” he exclaimed. “It is
almost time I should be permitted to express a wish about the
disposition of myself. As I do not happen to want to go to sleep, I beg
I may be allowed the pleasure of your society for a little while.”
“I don't think it would give you much pleasure, and you know you
don't feel as well to-day.”
“Again, may I be permitted to judge how I feel myself?”
“Oh, yes, of course, but—”
“But what, Miss d'Estree?—No doubt you want to go yourself—I am
sorry I thought of detaining you (with a gesture of dismissal). I beg
you to excuse me, A sick man is apt to be unreasonable.”
“Oh, as to that, you know entirely well I do not want to go. You are
unreasonable, indeed, when you talk as you do now. I only went away for
“Qui s'excuse, s'accuse.”
“But I am not excusing myself; and if you put it so I will go away
“Si vous voulez—”
“But I don't 'voulez'—Oh, how disagreeable you can be.”
“You will stay?”
“Pauline!” called Sophie from across the hall.
“There!” I exclaimed, interpreting it as the voice of conscience. I
left my work-basket and book upon the table, and went out of the room.
“You called me?” I said, following her into the parlor, where,
shutting the door, she motioned me to a seat beside her. She had a slip
of paper and an envelope in her hand, and seemed a little ill at ease.
“I've just had a telegram from Richard,” she said. “He's coming home
to-night by the eleven o'clock train. It's so odd altogether. I don't
know why he's coming. But you may as well read his message yourself,”
she said with a forced manner, handing me the paper. It was as follows:
Send carriage for me to eleven-thirty train to-night. Remember my
injunctions, our last conversation, and your promises.”
“Well?” I said, looking up, bewildered and not violently interested,
for I was secretly listening to the quick shutting of the library-door.
“Why, you see,” she returned, with a forced air of confidence that
made me involuntarily shrink from her; I think she even laid her hand
upon my sleeve, or made some gesture of familiarity which was unusual—
“You see, that last conversation was—about you. Richard is annoyed
at—at your intimacy with Mr. Langenau. You know just as well as I do
how he feels, for no doubt he's spoken to you himself.”
“He never has,” I said, quite shortly.
“No?” and she looked rather chagrined. “Well—but at all events you
know how he feels. Girls ar'nt slow generally to find out about those
things. And he is really very unhappy about it, very. I wish, Pauline,
you'd give it up, child. It's gone quite far enough; now don't you
think so yourself? Mr. Langenau isn't the sort of man to be serious
about, you know. It's all very well, just for a summer's amusement.
But, you know, you mustn't go too far. I'm sure, dear, you're not angry
with me: now you understand just what I mean, don't you?”
No: not angry, certainly not angry. She went on, still with the
impertinent touch upon my arm: “Richard made me promise that I would
look after you, and not permit things to go too far. And you
see—well—I'll tell you in confidence what I think his coming to-night
means, and his message and all. I think—that is, I am afraid—he's
found out something against Mr. Langenau since he's been away. I know
he never has felt confidence in him. But I've always thought, perhaps
that was because he was—well—a little jealous and suspicious. You
know men are so apt to be suspicious; and I was sure, when he went away
that last Monday morning, that he would not leave a stone unturned in
finding out everything about him. It is that that's kept him, I am
sure. Don't let that make you feel hardly toward Richard,” she went on,
noticing perhaps my look; “you know it's only natural, and besides,
it's right. How would he answer to your uncle?”
“It is I who should answer to my uncle,” I returned, under my
“Yes, but you are in our house, in our care. You know, my dear
child, you are very young and very inexperienced; you don't know how
very careful people have to be.”
“Why don't you talk that way to Charlotte and Henrietta and Mary
Leighton? Have I done anything so very different from them?” I
answered, with a blaze of spirit.
“No, dear,” she said, with a little laugh, “only there are one or
two men very much in love with you, and that makes everything so
I blushed scarlet, and was silenced instantly, as she intended.
“Now, maybe I am mistaken about his having discovered something,”
she went on, “but I can't make anything else out of Richard's message.
He is not one to send off such a despatch without a reason. Evidently
he is very uneasy; and I thought it was best to be perfectly frank with
you, dear, and I know you'll do me the justice to say I have been, if
Richard ever says anything to you about it. You mustn't blame me, you
know, for the way he feels. I wish the whole thing was at an end,” she
said, with the first touch of sincerity. “And now promise me one
thing,” with another caressing movement of the hand, “Promise me, you
won't go into the library again till Richard comes, and we hear what he
has to say. Just for my sake, you know, my dear, for you see he would
blame me if I did not keep a strict surveillance. You won't mind doing
that, I'm sure, for me?”
“I shall not promise anything,” I returned, getting up, “but I am
not likely to go near the library after what you've said.”
“That's a good child,” she said, evidently much relieved, and
thinking that the affair was very near its end. I opened the door, and
she added: “Now go up-stairs, and rest yourself, for you look as if you
had a headache, and don't think of anything that's disagreeable.” That
was a good prescription, but I did not take it.
Of course, I did not go near the library; that was understood. After
dinner, the servant brought in Mr. Langenau's tray untouched, and
Charlotte Benson started up, and ran in to see what was the matter.
Sophie went too, looking a little troubled. I think they were both
snubbed: for ten minutes after, when I met Charlotte in the hall, she
had an unusual flush upon her cheek, and Sophie I found standing at one
of the parlor-windows, biting her lip, and tapping impatiently upon the
carpet. Evidently the affair was not as near its placid end as she had
hoped. She started a little when she saw me, and tried to look
“How sultry it is this afternoon!” she said. “Are you going up to
your room to take a rest? stop in my room on your way, I want to show
you those embroideries that I was telling Charlotte Benson of last
“I did not hear you, and I do not know anything about them,” I said,
feeling not at all affectionate.
“No? Oh, I forgot: it was while you and Henrietta were sitting in
the library, and Charlotte and I were walking up and down the piazza
while it rained. Why, they are some heavenly sets that I got this
spring from Paris—Marshall picked them up one day at the Bon Marche
—and verily they are bon marche. I never saw anything so cheap,
and I was telling Charlotte that some of you might just as well have
part of them, for I never could use the half. Come up and look them
Now I loved “heavenly sets” as well as most women, but dress was not
the bait for me at that moment. So I said my head ached and I could not
look at them then, if she'd excuse me; and I went silently away to my
room, not caring at all if she were pleased or not. I disliked and
distrusted her more and more every moment, and she seemed to me so
mean: for I knew all her worry came from the apprehension of what she
might have to fear from Richard, not the thought of the suffering that
he or that any one else endured.
It was a long afternoon, but it reached its end, after the manner of
all afternoons on record, even those of Marianna. When I came
down-stairs they were all at tea and Kilian had arrived. A more
enlivening atmosphere prevailed, and the invalid was not discussed. A
drive was being canvassed. There was an early moon, and Kilian proposed
driving Tom and Jerry before the open wagon, which would carry four,
through the valley-road, to be back by half-past nine or ten o'clock.
“But what am I to do,” cried Kilian, “when there are five angels,
and I have only room for three?”
“Why, two will have to stay at home, according to my arithmetic,”
said Charlotte, good-naturedly, “and I've no doubt I shall be
“If you stay, I shall stay with you,” said Henrietta, dropping the
metaphor, for metaphors, even the mildest, were beyond her reach of
Everybody wanted to stay, and everybody tried to be quite firm; but
as no one's firmness but mine was based on inclination, the result was
that Sophie and I were “remainder,” and Mary Leighton, Charlotte, and
Henrietta drove away with Kilian quite jauntily, at half-past seven
o'clock. But before she went, Charlotte, who was really good-natured
with all her sharpness and self-will, went into the library to speak to
Mr. Langenau, and to show she did not resent the noonday slight,
whatever that had been. But presently she came back looking rather
anxious, and said to Sophie, ignoring me (whom she always did ignore if
“Do go and see what you can do for Mr. Langenau. He is really very
far from well. His tea stands there, and he hasn't taken anything to
eat. He looks feverish and excited, and I truly think he ought to see
the Doctor. You know he promised the Doctor to stay in his room, and
keep still all the rest of the week. But I am sure he means to come out
to-morrow, and he even talks of going down to town. It will kill him if
he does; I'm sure he's doing badly, and I wish you'd go and see to
“Does he know Richard is coming up to-night?” asked Sophie, sotto
voce, but with affected carelessness.
“I do not know; oh yes, he does, I mentioned it to him at
dinner-time, I remember now.”
“Well, I'll see if I can do anything for him; now go, they're
waiting for you. Have a pleasant time.”
After they were gone, Sophie went into the library, but she did not
stay very long. She came and sat beside me on the river-balcony, and
talked a little, desultorily and absent-mindedly.
Presently there was a call for “mamma,” a hubbub and a hurry—soon
explained. Charley, who had been running wild for the last two weeks,
without tutor or uncle to control him, had just fallen from the mow,
and hurt himself somewhat, and frightened himself much more. The whole
house was in a ferment. He was taken to mamma's room, for he was a
great baby when anything was the matter with him, and would not let
mamma move an inch away from him. After assisting to the best of my
ability in making him comfortable, and seeing myself only in the way, I
went down-stairs again, and took my seat upon the balcony that
overlooked the river.
The young moon was shining faintly, and the air was soft and balmy.
The house was very still; the servants, I think, were all in a distant
part of the house, or out enjoying the moonlight and the idleness of
evening. Sophie was nailed to Charley's bed up-stairs, trying to soothe
him; Benny was sinking to sleep in his little crib. It seemed like an
enchanted palace, and when I heard a step crossing the parlor, it made
me start with a vague feeling of alarm. The parlor-window by me, which
opened to the floor, was not closed, and in another moment some one
came out and stood beside me. It was Mr. Langenau. I started up and
exclaimed, “Mr. Langenau, how imprudent! Oh, go back at once.”
He seemed weak, and his hand shook as he leaned against the
casement, but his eyes were glittering with a feverish excitement. He
did not answer. I went on: “The Doctor forbade your coming out for
several days yet—and the exertion and the night-air—oh, I beg you to
“Alone?” he said in a low voice.
“No, oh no, I will go with you. Anything, only do not stay here a
moment longer; come.” And taking his hand (and how burning hot it was!)
and drawing it through my arm, I started toward the hall. He had to
lean on me, for the unusual exertion seemed to have annihilated all his
strength. When we reached the library, I led him to a chair—a large
and low and easy one, and he sank down in it.
“You are not going away?” he asked, as he gasped for breath, “For
there is something that must be said to-night.”
“No, I will not go,” I answered, frightened to see him so, and
agitated by a thousand feelings. “I will light the lamp, and read to
you. Let me move your chair back from the window.”
“No, you must not light the lamp; I like the moonlight better. Bring
your chair and sit here by me—here.” He leaned and half-pulled toward
him the companion to the chair on which he sat, a low, soft, easy one.
I sat down in it, sitting so I nearly faced him. The moon was
shining in at the one wide window: I can remember exactly the pattern
that the vine-leaves made as the moonlight fell through them on the
carpet at our feet. I had a bunch of verbena-leaves fastened in my
dress, and I never smell verbena-leaves at any time or place without
seeing before me that moon-traced pattern and that wide-open window.
“Pauline,” he said, in that low, thrilling voice, leaning a little
toward me, “I have a great deal to say to you to-night. I have a great
wrong to ask pardon for—a great sorrow to tell you of. I shall never
call you Pauline again as I call you to-night. I shall never look into
your eyes again, I shall never touch your hand. For we must part,
Pauline; and this hour, which heaven has given me, is the last that we
shall spend together on the earth.”
I truly thought that his fever had produced delirium, and, trying to
conceal my alarm, I said, with an attempt to quiet him, “Oh, do not say
such things; we shall see each other a great, great many times, I hope,
and have many more hours together.”
“No, Pauline, you do not know so well as I of what I speak. This is
no delirium; would to heaven, it were, and I might wake up from it. No,
the parting must be said to-night, and I must be the one to speak it.
We may spend days, perhaps, under the same roof—we may even sit at the
same table once again; but, I repeat, from this day I may never look
into your eyes again, I may never touch your hand. Pauline, can you
forgive me? I know that you can love. Merciful Heaven! who so well as
I, who have held your stainless heart in my stained hand these many
dreamy weeks; and Justice has not struck me dead. Yes, Pauline, I know
you've loved me; but remember this one thing, in all your bitter
thoughts of me hereafter: remember this, you have not loved me as I
have loved you. You have not given up earth and heaven both for me as I
have done for you. For you? No, not for you, but for the shadow of you,
for the thought of you, for these short weeks of you. And then, an
eternity of absence, and of remorse, and of oblivion—ah, if it might
be oblivion for you! If I could blot out of your life this short,
blighting summer; if I could put you back to where you were that fresh,
sweet morning that I walked with you beside the river! I loved you from
that day, Pauline, and I drugged my conscience, and refused to heed
that I was doing you a wrong in teaching you to love me. Pauline, I
have to tell you a sad story: you will have to go back with me very
far; you will have to hear of sins of which you never dreamed in your
dear innocence. I would spare you if I could, but you must know, for
you must forgive me. And when you have heard, you may cease to love,
but I think you will forgive. Listen.”
Why should I repeat that terrible disclosure? why harrow my soul
with going back over that dark path? Let me try to forget that such
sins, such wrongs, such revenges, ever stained a human life. I was so
young, so innocent, so ignorant. It was a strange misfortune that I
should have had to know that which aged and changed me so. But he was
right in saying that I had to know it. My life was bound involuntarily
to his by my love, and what concerned him was my fate. Alas! He was in
no other way bound to me than by my love: nor ever could be.
I don't know whether I was prepared for it or not: I knew that
something terrible and final was to come, and I felt the awe that
attends the thoughts that words are final and time limited. But when I
heard the fatal truth—that another woman lived to whom he was
irrevocably bound—I heard it as in a dream, and did not move or speak.
I think I felt for a moment as if I were dead, as if I had passed out
of the ranks of the living into the abodes of the silent, and benumbed,
and pulseless. There was such a horrible awe, and chill, and check
through all my young and rapid blood. It was like death by freezing. It
is not so pleasant as they say, believe me. But no pain: that came
afterward, when I came to life, when I felt the touch of his hand on
mine, and ceased to hear his cruel words.
I had shrunk back from him in my chair, and sat, I suppose, like a
person in a trance, with my hands in my lap, and my eyes fixed on him
with bewilderment. But when he ceased to speak—and, leaning forward on
one knee, clasped my hands in his, and drew me toward him, then indeed
I knew I was not dead. Oh, the agony of those few moments—I tried to
rise, to go away from him. But he held me with such strength—all his
weakness was gone now. He folded his arms around my waist and held me
as in a vise. Then suddenly leaning his head down upon my arms, he
kissed my hands, my arms, my dress, with a moan of bitter anguish.
“Not mine,” he murmured. “Never mine but in my dreams. O wretched
dreams, that drive me mad. Pauline, they will tell us that we must not
dream—we must not weep, we must be stocks and stones. We must wear
this weight of living death till that good Lord that makes such laws
shall send us death in mercy. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years of
suffering: that might almost satisfy Him, one would think. Pauline! you
and I are to say good-bye to-night. Good-bye! People talk of it as a
cruel word. Think of it: if it were but for a year, a year with hope at
the end of it to keep our hearts alive, it would be terrible, and we
should need be brave. The tears that lovers shed over a year apart; the
days that have got to come and go, how weary. The nights—the nights
that sleep flies off from, and that memory reigns over. Count
them—over three hundred come in every year. One, you think while it is
passing, is enough to kill you: one such night of restless torture, and
how many shall we multiply our three hundred by? We are young, Pauline.
You are a child, a very child. I am in the very flush and strength of
manhood. There is half a century of suffering in me yet: this frame,
this brain, will stand the wear of the hard years to come but too, too
well. There is no hope of death. There is no hope in life. That star
has set. Good God! And that makes hell—why should I wait for it—it
cannot be worse there than here. Don't listen to me—it will not be as
hard for you—you are so young—you have no sins to torture you—only a
little love to conquer and forget. You will marry a man who lives for
you, and who is patient and will wait till this is over. Ah, no: by
Heaven! I can't quite stand it yet. Pauline, you never loved him, did
you—never blushed for him—never listened for his coming with your
lips apart and your heart fluttering, as I have seen you listen when
you thought that I was coming? No, I know you never loved him: I know
you have loved me alone—me—who ought to have forbidden you.
A passion of tears had come to my relief, and I shook from head to
foot with sobs. I cannot feel ashamed when I remember that he held me
for one moment in his arms. He had been to me till that shock,
strength, truth, justice: the man I loved. How could I in one
instant know him by his sin alone, and undo all my trust? I knew only
this, that it was for the last time, and that my heart was broken.
I forgave him—that was an idle form; in my great love I never felt
that there was anything to be forgiven, except the wrong that fate had
done me, in making my love so hopeless. He told me to forget him; that
seemed to me as idle; but all his words were precious, and all my soul
was in his hand. When, at that moment, the sound of wheels upon the
gravel came, and the sound of laughter and of voices, I sprang up; he
caught me in his arms and held me closely. Another moment, the parting
was over, and I was kneeling by my bed up-stairs, weeping, sobbing,
CHAPTER XIII. THE WORLD GOES ON THE
Into my chamber brightly
Came the early sun's good-morrow;
On my restless bed, unsightly,
I sat up in my sorrow.
It is an amazing thing, the strength and power of pride. Pride, and
the law of self-respect and self-preservation in our being, is the
force that holds us in our course. When we reflect upon it, how few of
all the myriads fly out from it and are lost. That I ate my meals; that
I dressed myself with care; that I took walks and drives: that I did
not avoid my companions, and listened patiently to what they chose to
say: these were the evidences of that centripetal law within that was
keeping me from destruction. It would be difficult to imagine a person
more unhappy. Undisciplined and unfortified by the knowledge that
disappointment is an integral part of all lives, there had suddenly
come upon me a disappointment the most total. It covered everything;
there was not a flicker of hope or palliation. And I had no idea where
to go to make myself another hope, or in what course lay palliation. As
we have prepared ourselves or have been prepared, so is the issue of
our temptations. My great temptation came upon me, foolish, ignorant,
unprepared: the wonder would have been if I had resisted it to my own
The days went on as usual at R——, and I must hold my place among
the careless daughters and not let them see my trouble. Careless
daughters, indeed they were, and I shuddered at the thought of their
cold eyes: no doubt their eyes, bright as well as cold, saw that
something was amiss with me; with all my bravery, I could not keep the
signs of wretchedness out of my pale face. But they never knew the
story, and they could only guess at what made me wretched. It is
amazing (again) what power there is in silence, and how much you can
keep in your hands if you do not open them. People may surmise—may
invent, but they cannot know your secret unless you tell it to them,
and their imaginings take so many forms, the multitude of things that
they create blot out all definite design. Thus every one at R——had a
different theory about my loss of spirits and the relapse of Mr.
Langenau, but no one ever knew what passed that night.
Richard came. He was closeted with Sophie until after midnight, but
I do not think he told her anything that she desired to know. I think
he only tried to find out from her what had passed (and she did not
know that I had been in the library since she spoke to me). If Mr.
Langenau had been well, I have no doubt that it was his design to have
dismissed him on the following day, no matter at what hazard. How much
he knew I cannot tell, but enough to have warranted him in doing that,
perhaps. He probably would have put it in Mr. Langenau's power to have
gone without any coloring put upon his going that would have affected
his standing in the household. This was his design, no doubt; otherwise
he would have told his sister all. His delicate consideration for me
made him guard as sacred the fact that I had wasted my hope and love so
He was not going away again, I soon found; qui va a la chasse
perd sa place. He had lost his place, but he would stay and guard
me all the same; and the chase for gold seemed given up for good and
Kilian was in constant surprise, and made out many catechisms, but
he got little satisfaction.
Richard was going to have a few weeks' “rest,” unless something
should occur to call him back to town.
He sought no interview with me, was kind and silent, but his eye was
never off me. I think he watched his opportunity for saying what he had
to say to Mr. Langenau, but such an opportunity seemed destined not to
Mr. Langenau was ill the day after Richard came home—quite ill
enough to cause alarm. He had a high fever, and the Doctor even seemed
uneasy, and prescribed the profoundest quiet. After a day or two,
however, he improved, and all danger seemed averted.
As soon as he was strong enough, he was to be removed to his own
room above, for the sake of quiet, and to release the household from
its enforced tranquillity.
All these particulars I heard at table, or from morning groups on
the piazza: with stony cheeks, and eyes that looked unflinchingly into
all curious faces: so works the law of self-defence.
All but Richard, I am sure, were staggered, but he read with his
I never blushed now, I never faltered, I never said a word I did not
mean to say. It was a struggle for life: though I did not value the
life, and should have found it hard to say why I did not give up and
let them see that I was killed.
But I kept wondering how I should sustain myself if I should be
called upon to meet him once again.
CHAPTER XIV. GUARDED.
Forever at her side, and yet forever lonely,
I shall unto the end have made life's journey, only
Daring to ask for naught, and having naught received.
Duty to God is duty to her; I think
God, who created her, will save her too
Some new way, by one miracle the more
Without me. Then, prayer may avail, perhaps.
“Mr. Langenau is coming down to-day,” said Charlotte Benson in a
stage-whisper, as we took our places at the table, a week after this.
“I met him in the hall about an hour ago, looking like a ghost, and he
told me he was coming down to dinner.”
“Vraiment,” said Sophie, looking a little disconcerted.
“Well, he shall have Charley's place. Charley isn't coming.”
“I hope he's in a better temper than that last day we saw him,” said
“Poor fellow!” said Charlotte, “that was the day before the fever
began. It was coming on: that was the reason of it all, no doubt. He
looks ghastly enough now. You'll forgive all, the moment that you see
Charlotte had forgiven him herself, though she had never resumed the
role of Florence Nightingale. Since he had given up the library and
removed to his own room, he had been quite lost to all, and nobody
seemed to have gone near him, not even Sophie, who would have been glad
to forget that he existed, without doubt.
Richard's eyes were on me as Charlotte said “Hush!” and a step
crossed the hall in the pause that ensued. Kilian, sitting next me,
began to talk to me at that moment, the moment that Mr. Langenau
entered the room. And I think I answered quite coherently: though two
sets of words were going through my brain, the answer to his
commonplace question, and the words that Mr. Langenau had said that
night, “Pauline, I shall never look into your eyes again, I shall never
touch your hand.”
It seemed to me an even chance which sentence saw the day; but as
the walls did not fall down about me and no face looked amazement, I
found I must have answered Kilian's question with propriety.
There were many voices speaking at once; but there was such a
ringing in my ears, I could not distinguish who spoke, or what was
said: for a moment I was lost, if any one had taken advantage of it.
But gradually I regained my senses: one after another they each took up
their guard again: and I looked up. And met his eyes? No; but let mine
rest upon his face. And then I found I had not measured my temptation,
and that there was something to do besides defending myself from
others' eyes. For there was to defend myself from my own heart. The
passion of pity and tenderness that rushed over me as my eyes fell on
his haggard face, so strong and yet so wan, swept away for the moment
the defences against the public gaze. I could have fallen down at his
feet before them all and told him that I loved him.
A few moments more of the sound of commonplace words, and the
repulsion of every-day faces and expressions, swept me back into the
circle of conventionalities, and brought me under the force of that
current that keeps us from high tragedy.
All during the meal Mr. Langenau was grave and silent, speaking
little and then with effort. He had overrated his strength, perhaps,
for he went away before the end of the dinner, asking to be excused, in
a tone almost inaudible. After he had gone, a good many commentaries
were offered. Kilian seemed to express the sense of the assembly when
he said: “The man looks shockingly, and he's not out of the woods yet.”
Sophie looked troubled: she had some compunctions for the neglect of
the last few days, perhaps.
“What does the Doctor say?” pursued her brother.
“Nothing, I suppose—for he hasn't been here for a week, almost.”
“Well, then, you'd better send for him, if you don't want the fellow
to die on your hands. He's not fit to be out of bed, and you'll have
trouble if you don't look out.”
“As if I hadn't had trouble,” returned his sister, almost peevishly.
“Well, I beg your pardon, Sophie. But I fancied you and Miss
Charlotte were in charge; and I thought about ten days ago, your
patient was in a fair way to be killed with kindness, and it's a little
of a surprise to me to find he's being let alone so very
“Why, to tell you the truth,” cried Charlotte Benson, “we were
turned out of office without much ceremony, one fine day after dinner.
I am quite willing to be forgiving; but I don't think you can ask me to
put myself in the way of being snubbed again to that extent.”
“The ungrateful varlet! what did he complain of? Hadn't he been
coddled enough to please him? Did he want four or five more women
dancing attendance on him?”
“Oh, it was not want of attention he complained of. In fact,” said
Charlotte, coloring, “It was that he didn't like quite so much, and
wanted to be allowed more liberty.”
Kilian indulged in a good laugh, which wasn't quite fair,
considering Charlotte's candor.
“But the truth is,” said Charlotte, uneasily, “that he was too ill,
that day, to be responsible for what he said. He was just coming down
with the fever, and, you know, people are always most unreasonable
“I'm very glad I never gave him a chance to dispense with me,” said
Mary Leighton, with a view to making herself amiable in Kilian's eyes.
“I think he dispensed with you early in the season,” said Charlotte,
sharply. “Oh, hast thou forgotten that walk that he took, upon your
invitation? Ah, Miss Leighton, his look was quite dramatic. I know you
never have forgiven him.”
“I haven't the least idea what you are talking of,” returned Mary
Leighton, with bewildered and child-like simplicity.
“Ah, then it was not as unique an occurrence as I hoped,” said
Charlotte, viciously. “I imagined it would make more of an impression.”
“Charlotte,” interrupted Sophie, shocked at this open impoliteness,
“I hope you are forgiving enough to break it to him that he's got to
see the Doctor; for if he comes unexpectedly and goes up to his room,
he will be dramatic, and that is so unpleasant, as we know to our
“Indeed, I shan't tell him,” cried Charlotte, “you can take your
life in your hand, and try it if you please; but I cannot consent to
risk myself. There's Mary Leighton, she bears no malice. Perhaps she'll
go with you as support.”
“Ha, ha!” cried Kilian. “Richard, you and I may be called on to
bring up the rear. There's the General's old sword in the hall, and
I'll take the Joe Manton from the shelf in the library.”
“Richard looks as if he disapproved of us all very much,” said
Sophie, and in truth Richard did look just so. He did not even answer
these suggestions, but began after a moment to talk to Henrietta on
It was on this afternoon that a new policy was inaugurated at R——.
We were taught to feel that we had been quite aggrieved by the dullness
of the past two weeks or more, and that we must be compensated by some
Richard was at the head of the movement—Richard with his sober
cares and weary look. But the incongruity struck no one; they were too
glad to be amused. Even Sophie brightened up. Charlotte was ready to
throw her energies into any active scheme, hospital or picnic,
charity-school or kettle-drum.
“To-morrow will be just the sort of day for it,” said Richard, “cool
and fine. And half the pleasure of a picnic is not having time to get
tired of it beforehand.”
“That's very true,” said Charlotte; “but I don't see how we're going
to get everybody notified and everything in order for nine o'clock
“Nothing easier,” said Kilian; “we'll go, directly after tea, to the
De Witts and Prentices, and send Thomas with a note to the Lowders.
Sophie has done her part in shorter time than that, very often; and I
don't believe we should be starved, if she only gave half an hour's
notice to the cook.”
What is heavier than pleasure-seeking in which one has no pleasure?
I shall never forget the misery of those plans and that bustle. I dared
not absent myself, and I could scarcely carry out my part for very
heavy-heartedness. It seemed to me that I could not bear it, if the
hour came, and I should have to drive away with all that merry party,
and leave poor Mr. Langenau for a long, long day alone.
I felt sure something would occur to release me: it could not be
that I should have to go. With the exaggeration of youth, it seemed to
me an impossibility that I could endure anything so grievous. How I
hated all the careless, thoughtless, happy household! Only Richard,
enemy as he was to my happiness, seemed endurable to me. For Richard
was not merry-making in his heart, and I was sure he was sorry for me
all the time he was trying to oppose me.
Mr. Langenau was again in the Doctor's care, who came that evening,
and who said to Richard, in my hearing, he must be kept quiet; he
didn't altogether like his symptoms.
Richard had his hands full, with great matters and small. Sophie had
washed hers of the invalid; there had been some sharpish words between
the sister and brother on the matter, I imagine, and the result was,
Richard was the only one who did or would do anything for his comfort
That day, after appearing at dinner, he came no more. I watched with
feverish anxiety every step, every sound; but he came not. I knew that
the Doctor's admonitions would not have much weight, nor yet Richard's
opinion. I had the feeling that if he would only speak to me, only look
at me once, it would ease that horrible oppression and pain which I was
suffering. The agony I was enduring was so intolerable, and its real
relief so impossible, like a child I caught at some fancied palliation,
and craved only that. What would one look, one word be—out of a
lifetime of silence and separation.
No matter: it was what I raged and died for, just one look, just one
word more. He had said he would never look into my eyes again: that
haunted me and made me superstitious. I would make him look at
me. I would seize his hand and kneel before him, and tell him I should
die if he did not speak to me once more. Once more! Just once, out of
years, out of forever. I had thrown duty, conscience, thought to the
winds. I had but one fear—that we should be finally separated without
that word spoken, that look exchanged. I said to myself again and
again, I shall die, if I cannot speak to him again. Beyond that I did
not look. What better I should be after that speaking I did not care. I
only longed and looked for that as a relief from the insufferable agony
of my fate. One cannot take in infinite wretchedness: it is our nature
to make dates and periods to our sorrows in our imagination.
And so that horrid afternoon and evening passed, amid the racket and
babel of visitors and visiting. I followed almost blindly, and did as
the others did. The next morning dawned bright and cold. What a day for
summer! The sun was brilliant, but the wind came from over icebergs; it
seemed like “winter painted green.”
We were to start at nine o'clock. I was ready early, waiting on the
piazza for the aid to fate that was to keep me from the punishment of
going. No human being had spoken his name that morning. How should I
know whether he were still so ill or no.
The hour for starting had arrived. Richard, who never kept long out
of sight of me, was busy loading the wagon that was to accompany us,
with baskets of things to eat, and with wines and fruits. Kilian was
engrossed in arranging the seats and cushions in the two carriages
which had just driven to the door.
Mary Leighton was fluttering about the flower-bed at the left of the
piazza, making herself lovely with geranium and roses. Sophie, in a
beautiful costume, was pacifying Charley, who had had a difference with
his uncle Kilian. Charlotte and Henrietta were busy in their small way
over a little basket of preserves; and two or three of the neighboring
gentlemen, who were to drive with us, were approaching the house by a
In a moment or two we should be ready to be off. What should I do? I
was frantic with the thought that he might be worse, he might go away.
I was to be absent such a length of time. I must—I would see him
before we went. What better moment than the present, when everybody was
engaged in this fretting, foolish picnic. I would run up-stairs—call
to him outside his door—make him speak to me.
With a guilty look around, I started up, stole through the group on
the piazza, and ran to the stairs. But alas, Richard had not failed to
mark my movements, and before my foot had touched the stair his voice
recalled me. I started with a guilty look, and trembled, but dared not
meet his eye.
“Pauline, are you going away? We are just ready start.”
If I had had any presence of mind I should have made an excuse, and
gone to my own room for a moment, and taken my chance of getting to the
floor above; but I suppose he would have forestalled me. I could not
command a single word, but turned back and followed him. As we got into
the carriage, the voices and the laughing really seemed to madden me.
Driving away from the house, I never shall forget the sensation of
growing heaviness at my heart; it seemed to be turning into lead. I
glanced back at the closed windows of his room and wondered if he saw
us, and if he thought that I was happy.
The length of that day! The glare of that sun! The chill of that
unnatural wind! Every moment seemed to me an hour. I can remember with
such distinctness the whole day, each thing as it happened;
conversations which seemed so senseless, preparations which seemed so
endless. The taste of the things I tried to eat: the smell of the grass
on which we sat, and the pine-trees above our heads: the sound of fire
blazing under the teakettle, and the pained sensation of my eyes when
the smoke blew across into our faces: the hateful vibration of Mary
Leighton's laugh: all these things are unnaturally vivid to me at this
I don't know what the condition of my brain must have been, to have
received such an exaggerated impression of unimportant things.
“What can I do for you, Miss Pauline?” said Kilian, throwing himself
down on the grass at my feet. I could not sit down for very impatience,
but was walking restlessly about, and was now standing for a moment by
a great tree under which the table had been spread. It was four
o'clock, and there was only vague talk of going home; the horses had
not yet been brought up, the baskets were not a quarter packed. Every
one was indolent, and a good deal tired; the gentlemen were smoking,
and no one seemed in a hurry.
When Kilian said, “What can I do for you. Miss Pauline?” I could not
help saying, “Take me home.”
“Home!” cried Kilian. “Here is somebody talking about going home.
Why, Miss Pauline, I am just beginning to enjoy myself! only look, it
is but four o'clock.”
“Oh, let us stay and go home by moonlight,” cried Mary Leighton, in
a little rapture.
“Would it not be heavenly!” said Henrietta.
“How about tea?” said Charlotte. “We shall be hungry before
moonlight, and there isn't anything left to eat.”
“How material!” cried Kilian, who had eaten an enormous dinner.
“We shall all get cold,” said Sophie, who loved to be comfortable,
“and the children are beginning to be very cross.”
“Small blame to them,” muttered a dissatisfied man in my ear, who
had singled me out as a companion in discontent, and had pursued me
with his contempt for pastoral entertainments, and for this
entertainment in especial.
“Well, let the people that want to stay, stay; but let us go home,”
I said, hastily.
“That is so like you, Pauline,” exclaimed Mary Leighton, in a voice
that stung me like nettles.
“It is very like common-sense,” I said, “if that's like me.”
“Well, it isn't particularly.”
“Let dogs delight,” said Kilian, “I have a compromise to offer. If
we go home by the bridge we pass the little Brink hotel, where they
give capital teas. We can stop there, rest, get tea, have a dance in
the 'ball-room,' sixteen by twenty, and go home by moonlight, filling
the souls of Miss Leighton and Henrietta with bliss.”
A chorus of ecstasy followed this; Sophie herself was satisfied with
the plan, and exulted in the prospect of washing her face, and lying
down on a bed for half an hour, though only at a little country inn.
Even this low form of civilized life was tempting, after seven hours
spent in communion with nature on hard rocks.
Great alacrity was shown in getting ready and in getting off. I
could not speak to any one, not even the dissatisfied man, but walked
away by myself and tried to let no one see what I was feeling. After
all was ready, I got into the carriage beside one of the Miss Lowders,
and the dissatisfied man sat opposite. He wore canvas shoes and a
corduroy suit, and sleeve-buttons and studs that were all bugs and
bees. I think I could make a drawing of the sleeve-button on the arm
with which he held the umbrella over us; there were five different
forms of insect-life represented on it, but I remember them all.
“I'm afraid you haven't enjoyed yourself very much,” said Miss
Lowder, looking at me rather critically.
“I? why—no, perhaps not; I don't generally enjoy myself very much.”
Somebody out on the front seat laughed very shrilly at this: of
course it was Mary Leighton, who was sitting beside Kilian, who drove.
I felt I would have liked to push her over among the horses, and drive
“Isn't her voice like a steel file?” I said with great simplicity to
my companions. The dissatisfied man, writhing uncomfortably on his
seat, four inches too narrow for any one but a child of six, assented
gloomily. Miss Lowder, who was twenty-eight years old and very well
bred, looked disapproving, and changed the subject. Not much more was
said after this. Miss Lowder had a neuralgic headache, developed by the
cold wind and an undigested dinner eaten irregularly. She was too
polite to mention her sufferings, but leaned back in the carriage and
My vis-a-vis was at last relieved by the declining sun from his
task, and so the umbrella-arm and its sleeve-button were removed from
my range of vision.
We counted the mile-posts, and we looked sometimes at our watches,
and so the time wore away.
Kilian and Mary Leighton were chattering incessantly, and did not
pay much attention to us. Kilian drove pretty fast almost all the way,
but sometimes forgot himself when Mary was too seductive, and let the
horses creep along like snails.
“There's our little tavern,” cried Kilian at last, starting up the
“Oh, I'm so sorry,” murmured Mary Leighton, “we have had such a
My vis-a-vis groaned and looked at me as this observation reached
us. I laughed a little hysterically: I was so glad to be at the
half-way house—and Mary Leighton's words were so absurd. When we got
out of the carriage, the dissatisfied man stretched his long English
limbs out, and lighting his cigar, began silently to pace the bricks in
front of the house.
Kilian took us into the little parlor (we were the first to arrive),
and committed us to the care of a thin, tired-looking woman, and then
went to see to the comfort of his horses.
The tired woman, who looked as if she never had sat down since she
grew up, took us to some rooms, where we were to rest till tea was
ready. The rooms had been shut up all day, and the sun had been beating
on them: they smelled of paint and dust and ill-brushed carpets. The
water in the pitchers was warm and not very clear: the towels were very
small and thin, the beds were hard, and the pillows very small, like
the towels: they felt soft and warm and limp, like sick kittens. We
threw open the windows and aired the rooms, and washed our faces and
hands: and Miss Lowder lay down on the bed and put her head on a pile
of four of the little pillows collected from the different rooms. Mary
Leighton spent the time in re-arranging her hair, and I walked up and
down the hall, too impatient to rest myself in any way.
By-and-by the others came, and then there was a hubbub and a
clatter, and poor Miss Lowder's head was overlooked in the melee; for
these were all the rooms the house afforded for the entertainment of
wayfarers, and as there were nine ladies in our party, it is not
difficult to imagine the confusion that ensued.
Benny and Charley also came to have their hair arranged, and it
devolved on Charlotte and me to do it, as their mamma had thrown
herself exhausted on one of the beds, and with the bolsters doubled up
under her head, was trying to get some rest.
It was fully half-past seven before the tea-bell rang. I seized
Benny's hand, and we were the first on the ground. I don't know how I
thought this would be useful in hurrying matters, for Benny's tea and
mine were very soon taken, and were very insignificant fractions of the
There were kerosene lamps on the table, and everything was served in
the plainest manner, but the cooking was really good, and it was
evident that the tired woman had been on her feet all her life to some
purpose. Almost every one was hungry, and the contrast to the cold
meats, and the hard rocks, and the disjointed apparatus of the noonday
meal, was very favorable.
Richard had put me between himself and Benny, and he watched my
undiminished supper with disapprobation: but I do not believe he ate
much more himself. He put everything that he thought I might like,
before me, silently: and I think the tired woman (who was waitress as
well as cook), must have groaned over the frequent changing of my
“Do not take any more of that,” he said, as I put out my hand for
another cup of coffee.
“Well, what shall I take?” I exclaimed peevishly. But indeed I did
not mean to be peevish, nor did I know quite what I said, I was so
miserable. Richard sighed as he turned away and answered some question
of Sophie; who was quite revived.
Charlotte and Henrietta each had an admirer, one of the Lowders, and
a young Frenchman who had come with the Lowders.
It had evidently been a very happy day with all the young ladies
from the house. After tea the gentlemen must smoke, and after the
smoking there was to be dancing. The preparations for the dancing
created a good deal of amusement and consumed a great deal of time.
Kilian and young Lowder went a mile and a half to get a man to play for
them. When he came, he had to be instructed as to the style of music to
be furnished, and the rasping and scraping of that miserable instrument
put me beside myself with nervousness. Then the “ball-room” had to be
aired and lighted; then the negro's music was found to be incompatible
with modern movements; even a waltz was proved impossible, and nobody
would consent to remember a quadrille but Richard. So they had to fall
back upon Virginia reels, and everybody was made to dance.
The dissatisfied man was at my side when the order was given. He
turned to me languidly, and offered me his hand.
“No,” I exclaimed, biting my lips with impatience, and added, “You
will excuse me, won't you?”
He said, with grave philosophy, “I really think it will seem shorter
than if we were looking on.”
I accepted this wise counsel, and went to dance with him. And what a
dance it was! The blinking kerosene lamps at the sides of the room, the
asparagus boughs overhead, the grinning negro on the little platform by
the door: the amused faces looking in at the open windows: the romping,
well-dressed, pretty women: the handsome men who were trying to act
like clowns: the noise of laughing and the calling out of the figures:
all this, I am sure, I never shall forget. And, strange to say, I
somewhat enjoyed it after all. The coffee had stimulated me: the music
was merry: I was reckless, and my companions were full of glee. Even
the ennuye skipped up and down the room like a school-boy: I
never shall forget Richard's happy and relieved expression, when I
laughed aloud at somebody's amusing blunder.
Then came the reaction, when the dancing was over, and we were
getting ready to go home. It was a good deal after ten o'clock, and the
night was cold. There were not quite shawls enough, no preparations
having been made for staying out after dark. Richard went up to Sophie
(I was standing out by the steps to be ready the moment the carriages
should come), and I heard him negotiating with her for a shawl for me.
She was quite impatient and peremptory, though sotto voce. The
children needed both her extra ones, and there was an end of it.
I did not care at all, and feeling warm with dancing, did not dread
what I had not yet felt. I pulled my light cloak around me, and only
longed for the carriage to arrive. But after we had started and were
about forty rods from the door, quite out of the light of the little
tavern, just within a grove of locust-trees (the moon was under
clouds), Richard's voice called out to Kilian to stop, and coming up to
the side of the carriage, said, “Put this around you, Pauline, you
haven't got enough.” He put something around my shoulders which felt
very warm and comfortable: I believe I said, Thank you, though I am not
at all sure, and Kilian drove on rapidly.
By-and-by, when I began to feel a little chilly, I drew it together
round my throat: the air was like November, and, August though it was,
there was a white frost that night. I was frightened when I found what
I had about my shoulders. It was Richard's coat. I called to Kilian to
stop a moment, I wanted to speak to Richard. But when we stopped, the
carriage in which he was to drive was just behind us—and some one in
it said, Richard had walked. He had not come back after he ran out to
speak to us—must have struck across the fields and gone ahead. And
Richard walked home, five miles, that night! the only way to save
himself from the deadly chill of the keen air, without his coat.
When we drove into the gate, at home, I stooped eagerly forward to
get a sight of the house through the trees. There was a light burning
in the room over mine: that was all I wanted to know, and with a sigh
of relief I sank back.
When we went into the hall, I remembered to hang Richard's coat upon
a rack there, and then ran to my room. I could not get any news of Mr.
Langenau, and could not hear how the day had gone with him: could only
take the hope that the sight of the little lamp conveyed.
CHAPTER XV. I SHALL HAVE SEEN HIM.
Go on, go on:
Thou canst not speak too much; I have deserved
All tongues to talk their bitterest.
Of course, the night was entirely sleepless after such, a day. I was
over-tired, and the coffee would have been fatal to rest in any case. I
tossed about restlessly till three o'clock, and then fell into a heavy
The sun was shining into the room, and I heard the voices of people
on the lawn when I awoke. When I went down, after a hurried and nervous
half-hour of dressing, I found the morning, apparently, half gone, and
the breakfast-table cleared.
Mary Leighton, with a croquet mallet in her hand, was following
Kilian through the hall to get a drink of water. She made a great
outcry at me and my appearance.
“What a headache you must have,” she cried. “But ah! think what
you've missed, dear! The tutor has been down at breakfast, or rather at
the breakfast-table, for he didn't eat a thing. He is a, little paler
than he was at dinner day before yesterday—and he's gone up-stairs;
and we've voted that we hope he'll stay there, for he depresses us just
to look at him.”
And then, with an unmeaning laugh, she tripped on after Kilian to
get that drink of water, which was nothing but a ticket for a moment's
tete-a-tete away from the croquet party. Richard had seen me by
this time, and came in and asked how I felt, and rang the bell in the
dining-room, and ordered my breakfast brought. He did not exactly stay
and watch it, but he came in and out of the dining-room enough times to
see that I had everything that was dainty and nice (and to see, alas!
that I could not eat it); for that piece of news from Mary Leighton had
levelled me with the ground again.
That I had missed seeing him was too cruel, and that he looked so
ill; how could I bear it?
After my breakfast was taken away, I went into the hall, and sat
down on the sofa between the parlor doors. Pretty soon the people came
in from the croquet ground, talking fiercely about a game in which
Kilian and Mary had been cheating. Charlotte Benson was quite angry,
and Charley, who had played with her, was enraged. I thought they were
such, fools to care, and Richard looked as if he thought they were all
silly children. The day was warm and close, such a contrast to the day
before. The sudden cold had broken down into a sultry August
atmosphere. The sun, which had been bright an hour ago, was becoming
obscured, and the sky was grayish. Every one felt languid. We were all
sitting about the hall, idly, when a servant brought a note. It was an
invitation; that roused them all—and for to-day. There was no time to
The Lowders had sent to ask us all to a croquet party there at four
“What an hour!” cried Sophie, who was tired; “I should think they
might have let us get rested from the picnic.”
But Charlotte and Henrietta were so much charmed at the prospect of
seeing so soon the Frenchman and the young devoted Lowder, that they
listened to no criticism on the hour or day.
“How nice!” they said, “we shall get there a little before
five—play for a couple of hours—then have tea on the lawn, perhaps—a
little dance, and home by moonlight.” It was a ravishing prospect for
their unemployed imaginations, and they left no time in rendering their
For myself, I had taken a firm resolve. I would never repeat the
misery of yesterday; nothing should persuade me to go with them, but I
would manage it so that I should be free from every one, even Richard.
Croquet parties are great occasions for pretty costumes; all this
was talked over. What should I wear? Oh, my gray grenadine, with the
violet trimmings, and a gray hat with violet velvet and feather.
“You have everything so perfect for that suit,” said Mary Leighton,
in a tone of envy. “Cravat and parasol and gloves of just the shade of
“And gray boots,” I said. “It is a pretty suit.” No one but
Sophie had such expensive clothes as I, but I cannot say at that moment
they made me very happy. I was only thinking how improbable that the
gray suit would come out of the box that day, unless I should be
obliged to dress to mislead the others till the last.
The carriages (for we filled two), were to be at the door at four
o'clock punctually. The Lowders were five miles away: the whole thing
was so talked about and planned about, that when dinner was over, I
felt we had had a croquet party, and quite a long one at that.
Mr. Langenau did not come to dinner; Sophie sent a servant to his
room after we were at table, to ask him if he would come down, or have
his dinner sent to him; but the servant came back, saying he did not
want any dinner, with his compliments to Mrs. Hollenbeck.
“A la bonne heure” cried Kilian. “A skeleton always
interferes with my appetite at a feast.”
“It is the only thing, then, that does, isn't it?” asked Charlotte,
who seemed to have a pick at him always.
“No, not the only thing. There is one other—just one other.”
“And, for the sake of science, what is that?”
“A woman with a sharp tongue, Miss Charlotte.—Sophie, I don't think
much of these last soups. Your famous cook's degenerating, take my
And so on, while Charlotte colored, and was silent through the meal.
She knew her tongue was sharp; she knew that she was self-willed and
was not humble. But she had not taken herself in hand, religiously; to
take one's self in hand morally, or on grounds of expediency, never
amounts to much; and such taking in hand was all that Charlotte had as
yet attempted. In a little passion of self-reproach and mortification,
she occasionally lopped off ugly shoots; but the root was still
vigorous and lusty, and only grew the better for its petty pruning.
Richard looked very much displeased at his brother's rudeness, and
tried to make up for it by great kindness and attention.
About this time I had become aware of what were Sophie's plans for
Richard. In case he must marry (to be cured of me), he was to marry
Charlotte, who was so capable, so sensible, of so good family, so much
indebted to Sophie, and so decidedly averse to living in the country.
Sophie saw herself still mistress here, with, to be sure, a shortened
income, and Richard and his wife spending a few weeks with her in the
summer. I do not know how far Charlotte entered into these plans.
Probably not at all, consciously; but I became aware that, as a little
girl, Richard had been her hero; and he did not seem to have been
displaced by any one entirely yet. But I took a very faint interest in
all this. I should have cared, probably, if I had seen Richard devoted
to her. He seemed to belong to me, and I should have resented any
interference with my rights. But I did not dread any. I knew, though I
took little pleasure in the knowledge, that he loved me with all his
good and manly heart; and it never seemed a possibility that he could
The simple selfishness of young women in these matters is appalling.
Richard was mine by right of conquest, and I owed him no gratitude for
the service of his life. That other was the lord who had the right
inalienable over me. I bent myself in the dust before him. I would have
taken shame itself as an honor from his hands. I thought of him day and
night. I filled my soul with passionate admiration for his good deeds,
his ill deeds, his all. And the other was as the ground beneath my
feet, of which I seldom thought.
Richard met me at the foot of the stairs, after dinner, as I was
“Pauline, will you go in the carriage with Charlotte and Sophie? I
am going to drive.”
“Oh, it doesn't make any difference,” I answered, with confusion.
“Anywhere you choose.”
I think he had misgivings about my going from that moment; to allay
which, I called out something about my costume to Sophie as I went up
to my room. The day was growing duller, and stiller, and grayer. I sat
by the window and watched the leaden river. It was like an afternoon in
September, before the chill of the autumn has come. Not a leaf moved
upon the trees, not a cloud crept over the sky. It was all one dim,
gray, gloomy stillness overhead. I wondered if they would have rain.
They, not I, for I was going to stay at home, and before they came
back I should have seen him. I said that over and over to myself with
bated breath, and cheeks that burned like flame. Every step that passed
my door made me start guiltily. Once, when some one knocked, I pulled
out my gray dress, and flung it on the bed, before I answered.
It was approaching four o'clock. I undressed myself rapidly, put on
a dressing-sack, and threw myself upon the bed. What should I say when
they came for me? They could not make me go. I felt very brave.
At last the carriages drove up to the door. I crept to the window to
see if any one was ready. While I was watching through the half-closed
blinds, some one crossed the piazza. My heart gave a great leap, and
then every pulse stood still. It was Mr. Langenau. His step was slower
than it used to be, and, I thought, a little faltering. He crossed the
road, and took the path that led through the grove and garden to the
river. He had a book under his arm; he must be going to the boat-house
to sit there and read. My heart gave such an ecstasy of life to my
veins at the thought, that for a moment I felt sick and faint, as I
drew back from the window.
I threw myself on the bed as some one knocked. It was a servant to
tell me they were ready. I sent word to Mrs. Hollenbeck that I was not
well, and should not be able to go with them. Then I lay still and
waited in much trepidation for the second knock. I heard in a few
moments the rustle of Sophie's dress outside. She was not pleased at
all. She could scarcely be polite. But then everything looked very
plausible. There lay my dress upon the bed, as if I had begun to dress,
and I was pale and trembling, and I am sure must have looked ill enough
to have convinced her that I spoke the truth.
She made some feeble offer to stay and take care of me. “Oh, pray
don't,” I cried, too eagerly, I am afraid. And then she said her maid
should come and stay with me, for the children were going with them,
and there would be nothing for her to do. I stammered thanks, and then
she went away. I did not dare to move till after I had heard both
carriages drive off, and all voices die away in the distance.
Bettina came to the door, and was sent away with thanks. Then I
began to dress myself with very trembling hands. This was new work to
me, this horrible deception. But all remorse for that, was swallowed up
in the one engrossing thought and desire which had usurped my soul for
the days just passed.
It was a full half-hour before I was ready, my hands shook so
unaccountably, and I could scarcely find the things I wanted to put on.
When I went to the door I could hardly turn the key, I felt so weak,
and I stood in the passage many minutes before I dared go on. If any
one had appeared or spoken to me, I am quite sure I should have
fainted, my nerves were in such a shaken state.
CHAPTER XVI. AUGUST THIRTIETH.
Were Death so unlike Sleep,
Caught this way? Death's to fear from flame, or steel,
Or poison doubtless; but from water—feel!
I met no one in the hall or on the piazza. The house was silent and
deserted: one of the maids was closing the parlor windows. She did not
look at me with any surprise, for she had not probably heard that I was
Once in the open air I felt stronger. I took the river-path, and
walked quickly, feeling freed from a nightmare: and my mind was filled
with one thought. “In a few moments I shall be beside him, I shall make
him look at me, he cannot help but touch my hand.” I did not think of
past or future, only of the greedy, passionate present. My infatuation
was at its height. I cannot imagine a passion more absorbing, more
unresisted, and more dangerous. I passed quickly through the garden
without even noticing the flowers that brushed against my dress.
As I reached the grove I thought for one instant of the morning that
he had met me here, just where the paths intersected. At that moment I
heard a step; and full of that hope, with a quick thrill, I glanced in
the direction of the sound. There, not ten yards from me, coming from
the opposite direction, was Richard. I felt a shock of disappointment,
then fear, then anger. What right had he to dog me so? He looked at me
without surprise, but as if his heart was full of bitterness and
sorrow. He approached, and turned as if to walk with me.
“I want to be alone,” I said angrily, moving away from him.
“No, Pauline,” he answered with a sigh, as he turned from me, “you
do not want to be alone.”
Full of shame and anger, and jarred with the shock and fear, I went
on more slowly. The wood was so silent—the river through the trees lay
so still and leaden. If it had not been for the fire burning in my
heart, I could have thought the world was dead.
There was not a sound but my own steps; should I soon meet him,
would he be sitting in his old seat by the boat-house door, or would he
be wandering along the dead, still river-bank? What should I say to
him? O! he would speak. If he saw me he would have to speak.
I soon forgot that I had met Richard, that I had been angry; and
again I had but this one thought.
The pine cones were slippery under my feet. I held by the old trees
as I went down the bank, step by step. I had to turn and pass a clump
of trees before I reached the boat-house door.
I was there! With a beating heart I stepped up on the threshold.
There were two doors, one that opened on the path, one that opened on
the river. The house was empty. I had a little sinking pang of
disappointment, but I passed on to the door looking out on the river.
By this door was a seat, empty, but on this lay a book and a straw hat.
I could feel the hot blushes cover my face, my neck, as I caught sight
of these. I stooped down, feeling guilty, and took up the book. It was
a book which he had read daily to me in our lesson-hours. It had his
name on the blank page, and was full of his pencil-marks. I meant to
ask him to give me this book; I would rather have it than anything the
world held, when I should be parted from him. When! I sat down
on the seat beside the door, with the book lying in my lap, the straw
hat on the bench. I longed to take it in my hands—to wreathe it with
the clematis that grew about the door, as I had done one foolish, happy
afternoon, not three weeks ago. But with a strange inconsistency, I
dared not touch it; my face grew hot with blushes as I thought of it.
How should I meet him? Now that the moment I had longed for had
arrived, I wondered that I had dared to long for it. I felt that if I
heard his step, I should fly and hide myself from him. The recollection
of that last interview in the library—which I had lived over and over,
nights and days, incessantly, since then, came back with fresh force,
fresh vehemence. But no step approached me, all was silent; it began to
impress me strangely, and I looked about me. I don't know at what
moment it was, my eye fell upon the trace of footsteps on the bank, and
then on the mark of the boat dragged along the sand; a little below the
boat-house it had been pushed off into the water.
I started to my feet, and ran down to the water's edge (at the
boat-house the trees had been in the way of my seeing the river any
I stood still, the water lapping faintly on the sand at my feet; it
was hardly a sound. I looked out on the unruffled lead-colored river:
there, about quarter of a mile from the bank, the boat was lying: empty
—motionless. The oars were floating a few rods from her, drifting
slowly, slowly, down the stream.
The sight seemed to turn my warm blood and blushes into ice: even
before I had a distinct impression of what I feared, I was benumbed.
But it did not take many moments for the truth, or a dread of it, to
reach my brain.
I covered my eyes with my hands, then sprang up the bank and called
My voice was like a madwoman's, and it must have sounded far on that
still air. In less than a moment Richard came hurrying with great
strides down the path. I sprang to him, and caught his arm and dragged
him to the water's edge.
“Look,” I whispered—pointing to the hat and book—and then out to
the boat. I read his face in terror. It grew slowly, deadly white.
“My God!” he said in a tone of awe. Then shaking me from him, sprang
up the bank, and his voice was something fearful as he shouted, as he
ran, for help.
There were men laboring, two or three fields off. I don't know how
long it took them to get to him, nor how long to get a boat out on the
water, nor what boat it was. I know they had ropes and poles, and that
they were talking in eager, hurried voices, as they passed me.
I sat on the steps that led down the bank, clinging to the low
railing with my hands: I had sunk down because my strength had given
way all at once, and I felt as if everything were rocking and surging
under me. Sometimes everything was black before me, and then again I
could see plainly the wide expanse of the river, the wide expanse of
the gray sky, and between them—the empty, motionless boat, and the
floating oars beyond upon the tide.
The voices of the men, and the splashing of the water, when at last
they were launched and pulling away from shore, made a ringing,
frightful noise in my head. I watched till I saw them reach the
boat—till I saw one of them get over in it. Then while they groped
about with ropes and poles, and lashed their boats together, and leaned
over and gazed down into the water, I watched in a strange, benumbed
But, by-and-by, there were some exclamations—a stir, and effort of
strength. I saw them pulling in the ropes with combined movement. I saw
them leaning over the side of the boat, nearest the shore, and together
trying to lift something heavy over into it. I saw the water dripping
as they raised it—and then I think I must have swooned. For I knew
nothing further till I heard Richard's voice, and, raising my head, saw
him leaping from the boat upon the bank. The other boat was further
out, and was approaching slowly. I stood up as he came to me, and held
by the railing.
“I want you to go up to the house,” he said, gently, “there can be
no good in your staying here.”
“I will stay,” I cried, everything coming back to me. “I will—will
“There is no hope, Pauline,” he said, in a quick voice, for the boat
was very near the bank, “or very little—and you must not stay.
Everything shall be done that can be done. I will do all. But you must
“I will,” I said, frantically, trying to burst past him. He caught
my arms and turned me toward the boat-house, and led me through it, out
into the path that went up to the grove.
“Go home,” he said, in a voice I never shall forget. “You shall not
make a spectacle for these men. I have promised you I will do all. Mind
you obey me strictly, and go up to your room and wait there till I
I don't know how I got there. I believe Bettina found me at the
entrance to the garden, and helped me to the house, and put me on my
An hour passed—perhaps more—and such an hour! (for I was not for a
moment unconscious, after this, only deadly faint and weak), and then
Richard came. The door was a little open, and he pushed it back and
came in, and stood beside the bed.
I suppose the sight of me, so broken and spoiled by suffering,
overcame him, for he stooped down suddenly, and kissed me, and then did
not speak for a moment.
At last he said, in a voice not quite steady, “I didn't mean to be
hard on you, Pauline. But you know I had to do it.”
“And there isn't any—any—” I gasped for the words, and could
“No, none, Pauline,” he said, keeping my hand in his. “The doctors
have just gone away. It was all no use.”
“Tell me about it,” I whispered.
“About what?” he said, looking troubled.
“About how it happened.”
“Nobody can tell,” he answered, averting his face. “We can only
conjecture about some things. Don't try to think about it. Try to
“How does he look?” I whispered, clinging to his hand.
“Just the same as ever; more quiet, perhaps,” he answered, looking
I gave a sort of gasp, but did not cry. I think he was frightened,
for he said, uneasily, “Let me call Bettina; she can give you
something—she can sit beside you.”
I shook my head, and said, faintly, “Don't let her come.”
“I have sent for Sophie,” he said, soothingly. “She will soon be
here, and will know what to do for you.”
“Keep her out of this room,” I cried, half raising myself, and then
falling back from sudden faintness. “Don't let her come near
me,” I panted, after a moment, “nor any of them, but, most of all,
Sophie; remember—don't let her even look at me;” and with moaning, I
turned my face down on the pillow. I had taken in about a thousandth
fraction of my great calamity by that time. Every moment was giving to
me some additional possession of it.
Some one at that instant called Richard, in that subdued tone that
people use about a house in which there is one dead.
“I have got to go,” he said, uneasily. I still kept hold of his
hand. “But I will come back before very long; and I will tell Bettina
to bring a chair and sit outside your door, and not let any one come
“That will do,” I said, letting go his hand, “only I don't want my
door shut tight.”
I felt as if the separation were not so entire, so tremendous, while
I could hear what was going on below, and know that no door was shut
between us—no door! Bettina, in a moment more, had taken up her
station in the passage-way outside.
I heard people coming and going quietly through the hall below. I
heard doors softly shut and opened.
I knew, by some intuition, that he was lying in the library.
They moved furniture with a smothered sound; and when I heard two or
three men sent off on messages by Richard, even the horses' hoofs
seemed to be muffled as they struck the ground. This was the effect of
the coming in of death into busy, household life. I had never been
under the roof with it before.
About dusk a servant came to the door, with a tray of tea and
something to eat, that Mr. Richard had sent her with.
“No,” I said, “don't leave it here.”
But, in a few moments, Richard himself brought it back. I can well
imagine how anxious and unhappy he felt. He had, perhaps, never before
had charge of any one ill or in trouble, and this was a strange
“You must eat something, Pauline,” he said. “I want you to. Sit up,
and take this tea.”
I was not inclined to dispute his will, but raised my head, and
drank the tea, and ate a few mouthfuls of the biscuit. But that made me
too ill, and I put the plate away from me.
“I am very sorry,” I said, meekly, “but I can't eat it. I feel as if
it choked me.”
He seemed touched with my submissiveness, and, giving Bettina the
tray, stood looking down at me as if he did not know how to say
something that was in his mind. Suddenly my ear, always quick, now
exaggeratedly so, caught sound of carriage-wheels. I started up and
cried, “They are coming,” and hid my face in my hands.
“Don't be troubled,” he said, “you shall not be disturbed.”
“Oh, Richard,” I exclaimed, as he was going away, after another
undecided movement as if to speak, “you know what I want.”
“Yes, I know,” he said, in a low voice.
“And now they're come, I cannot. They will see him, and I cannot.”
“Be patient. I will arrange for you to go. Don't, don't, Pauline.”
For I was in a sort of spasm, though no tears came, and my sobs were
more like the gasps of a person being suffocated, than like one in
“If you will only be quiet, I will take you down, after a few hours,
when they are all gone to their rooms. Pauline, you'll kill me; don't
do so—Pauline, they'll hear you. Try not to do so; that's right—lie
down and try to quiet yourself, poor child. I can't bear to go away;
but there is Sophie on the stairs.”
He had scarcely time to reach the hall before Sophie burst upon him
with almost a shriek.
“What is this horrible affair, Richard? What a terrible disgrace and
scandal! we never shall get over it. Will it get in the papers, do you
think? I am so ill—I have been in such a state since the news came.
Such a drive home as this has been! Oh, Richard, tell me all about it
quickly. Where is Pauline? how does she bear it?” making for my door.
Richard put out his hand and stopped her. I had sprung up from the
bed, and stood, trembling violently, at the further extremity of the
room. I do not know what I meant to do if she came in, for I was almost
beside myself at that moment.
She was persistent, angry, agitated. How well I knew the curiosity
that made her so intent to gain admission to me. It was not so much
that I dreaded being a spectacle, as the horror and hatred I felt at
being approached by her coldness and hypocrisy, while I was so sore and
wounded. I was hardly responsible; I don't think I could have borne the
touch of her hand.
But Richard saved me, and sent her away angry. I crept back to the
bed, and lay down on it again. I heard the others whispering as they
passed through the hall. Mary Leighton was crying; Charlotte was
silent. I don't think I heard her voice at all.
After a long while I heard them go down, and go into the
dining-room. They spoke in very subdued tones, and there was only the
slightest movement of china and silver, to indicate that a meal was
going on. But this seemed to give me a more frantic sense of change
than anything else. I flung myself across the bed, and another of those
dreadful, tearless spasms seized me. Everything—all life—was going on
just the same; even in this very house they were eating and drinking as
they ate and drank before—the very people who had talked with him this
day; the very table at which he had sat this morning. Oh! they were so
heartless and selfish: every one was; life itself was. I did not know
where to turn for comfort. I had a feeling of dreading every one, of
shrinking away from every one.
“Oh!” I said to myself, “if Richard is with them at the table, I
never want to see him again.”
But Richard was not with them. In a moment or two he came to the
door, only to ask me if I wanted anything, and to say he would come
There was a question which I longed so frantically to ask him, but
which I dared not; my life seemed to hang on the answer. When were
they going to take him away? I had heard something about trains and
carriages, and I had a wild dread that it was soon to be.
I went to the door and called Richard back, and made him understand
what I wanted to know. He looked troubled, and said in a low tone,
“At four o'clock we go from here to meet the earliest train. I have
telegraphed his friends, and have had an answer. I am going down
myself, and it is all arranged in the best way, I think. Go and lie
down now, Pauline; I will come and take you down soon as the house is
Richard went away unconscious of the stab his news had given me. I
had not counted on anything so sudden as this parting. While he was in
the house, while I was again to look upon his face, the end had not
come; there was a sort of hope, though only a hope of suffering,
something to look forward to, before black monotony began its endless
CHAPTER XVII. BESIDE HIM ONCE AGAIN.
There are blind ways provided, the foredone
Heart-weary player in this pageant world
Drops out by, letting the main masque defile
By the conspicuous portal.
What is this world? What asken men to have?
Now with his love—now in his cold grave—
Alone, withouten any companie!
The tall old clock, which stood by the dining-room door, had struck
two, and been silent many minutes, before Richard came to me. I had
spent those dreadful hours in feverish restlessness: my room seemed
suffocating to me. I had walked about, had put away my trinkets, I had
changed my dress, and put on a white one which I had worn in the
morning, and had tried to braid my hair.
The quieting of the house, it seemed, would never come. It was
twelve o'clock before any one came up-stairs. I heard one door after
another shut, and then sat waiting and wondering why Richard did not
come, till the moments seemed to grow to centuries. At last I heard him
at the door, and I went toward it trembling, and followed him into the
hall. He carried a light, for up-stairs it was all dark, and when we
reached the stairway, he took my hand to lead me. I was trembling very
much; the hall below was dimly lit by a large lamp which had been
turned low. Our steps on the bare staircase made so much noise, though
we tried to move so silently. It was weird and awful. I clung to
Richard's hand in silence. He led me across the hall, and stopped
before the library-door. He let go my hand, and taking a key from his
pocket, put it in the lock, turned it slowly, then opened the door a
little way, and motioned me to enter.
Like one in a trance, I obeyed him, and went in alone. He shut the
door noiselessly, and left me with the dead.
That was the great, the immense hour of my life. No vicissitude, no
calamity of this mortal state, no experience that may be to come, can
ever have the force, the magnitude of this. All feelings, but a child's
feelings, were comparatively new to me, and here, at one moment, I had
put into my hand the plummet that sounded hell; anguish, remorse,
fear—a woman's heart in hopeless pain. For I will not believe that any
child, that any woman, had ever loved more absolutely, more
passionately, than I had loved the man who lay there dead before me.
But I cannot talk about what I felt in those moments; all that concerns
what I write is the external.
The—coffin was in the middle of the room, where the table
ordinarily stood—where my chair had been that night, when he told me
his story. Surely if I sinned, in thought, in word, that night,
I paid its full atonement, this. Candles stood on a small table
at the head of where he lay, and many flowers were about the room. The
smell of verbena-leaves filled the air: a branch of them was in a vase
that some one had put beside his coffin. The fresh, cool night-air came
in from the large window, open at the top.
His face was, as Richard said, much as in life, only quieter. I do
not know what length of time Richard left me there, but at last, I was
recalled to the present, by his hand upon my shoulder, and his voice in
a whisper, “Come with me now, Pauline.”
I rose to my feet, hardly understanding what he said, but resisted
when I did understand him.
“Come with me,” he said, gently, “You shall come back again and say
good-bye. Only come out into the hall and stay awhile with me; it is
not good for you to be here so long.”
He took my hand and led me out, shutting the door noiselessly. He
took me across the hall, and into the parlor, where there was no light,
except what came in from the hall. There was a sofa opposite the door,
and to that he led me, standing himself before me, with his perplexed
and careworn face. I was very silent for some time: all that awful time
in the library, I had never made a sound: but suddenly, some thought
came that reached the source of my tears, and I burst into a passion of
weeping. I am not sure what it was: I think, perhaps, the sight of the
piano, and the recollection of that magnificent voice that would never
be heard again, Whatever it was, I bless it, for I think it saved my
brain. I threw myself down upon the sofa, and clung to Richard's hand,
and sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed.
Poor fellow! my tears seemed to shake him terribly. Once he turned
away, and drew his hand across his brow, as if it were a little more
than he could bear. But some men, like many women, are born to
He tried to comfort and soothe me with broken words. But what was
there to say?
“Oh, Richard,” I cried, “What does it all mean? why am I so
punished? was it so very wicked to have loved him after I knew all? Was
all this allowed to come because I did that? Answer me, tell me; tell
me what you think.”
“No, Pauline, I don't think that was it. Don't talk about it now.
Try to be quiet. You are not fit to think about it now.”
“But, Richard, what else can it mean? I know, I know that it is the
truth. God wouldn't have sent such a punishment upon me if he hadn't
seen my sin.”
“It's more likely He sent it to—” and then he paused.
I know now he meant, it was more likely He had sent it to save me
from the sins of others; but he had the holy charity not to say it.
“Oh,” I cried, passionately, “When all the sin was mine, that he
should have had to die: when he never came near me, never looked at me:
when he would rather die than break his word to me. That night in the
library, after he had told me all, he said, 'I will never look into
your eyes again, I will never touch your hand;' and though we were in
the same room together after that, and in the same house all this time,
and though he knew I loved him so—he never looked at me, he never
turned his eyes upon me; and I—I was willing to sin for him—to die
for him. I would have followed him to the ends of the earth, not twelve
“Hush, Pauline,” said Richard huskily, “you don't know what you're
saying—you are a child.”
“No, I'm not a child—after to-day, after to-night—I am not a
child—and I know too well what I say—too well—too well. Richard, you
don't know what has been in my heart. That night, he held me in his
arms and kissed me—when he said good-bye. Then I was innocent, for I
was dazed by grief and had not come to my senses, after what he told
me. But to-day I said—to-day—to have his arms around me once
again—to have him kiss me once again as he kissed me then—I would go
away from all I ever had been taught of right and duty, and would be
“Then, thank God for what has come,” said Richard, hoarsely, wiping
from his forehead the great drops that had broken out upon it.
“No!” I cried with a fresh burst of weeping. “No, I cannot thank
God, for I want him back again. I want him. I had rather die
than be separated from him. I cannot thank God for taking him away from
me. Oh, Richard, what shall I do? I loved him, loved him so. Don't look
so stern; don't turn away from me. You used to love me. Could you thank
God for taking me away from you, out of your arms, warm, and strong,
and living, and making me cold, and dumb, and stiff, like that?”
“Yes, Pauline, if it had been to save us both from sin.”
“You don't know what love is, if you say that.”
“I know what sin is, better than you do, maybe. Listen, Pauline.
I've loved you ever since I saw you; men don't often love better than I
have loved you; but I'd rather drag you, to-night, to that black river
there, and hold you down with my own hands till the breath left your
body, than see you turn into a sinful woman, and lead the life of shame
you tell me you had it in your heart to lead, to-day.”
“Is it so very awful?” I whispered with a shiver, my own emotion
stilled before his. “I only loved him!”
“Forget you ever did,” he said, rising, and pacing up and down the
I put my hands before my face, and felt as if I were alone in the
world with sin. If this unspoken, passionate, sweet thought, that I had
harbored, were so full of danger as to force God to blast me with such
punishment, as to drive this tender, generous, loving man to wish me
dead, what must be the blackness of the sin from which I had been
saved, if I were saved? If there were, indeed, anything but shocks of
woe and punishment, and deadly despair and darkness, in this strange
world in which I found myself. There was a silence. I rose to my feet.
I don't know what I meant to do or where to go; my only impulse was to
hide myself from the eyes of my companion, and to go away from him, as
I had hidden myself from all others, since I was smitten with this
“Forgive me, Pauline,” he said, coming to my side. “It is the second
time I have been harsh with you this dreadful day. This is what comes
of selfishness. I hope you will forget what I have said.”
I still turned to go away, feeling afraid of him and ashamed before
him. He put out his hand to stop me.
“Pauline, remember, I have been sorely tried. I would do anything to
comfort you. I haven't another wish in my heart but to be of use to
“Oh, Richard,” I cried, bursting into tears afresh, and hiding my
eyes, “if you give me up and drive me away from you, I am all alone.
There isn't another human being that I love or that cares for me. Dear
Richard, do be good to me; do be sorry for me.”
“I am sorry for you, Pauline; you know that.”
“And you will take care of me?” I cried, stretching out my arms
toward him, with a sudden overwhelming sense of my loneliness and
“Yes, Pauline, to the end of my life or of yours; as if you were my
sister or almost my child.”
“Dear Richard,” I whispered, as I buried my face on his arm, “if it
were not for you I should not live through this dreadful time. I hope I
shall die soon; as soon as I am better. But till I do die, I hope you
will be good to me, and love me.” And I pressed his hand against my
cheek and lips, like the poor, frantic, grief-bewildered child that I
At this moment there came a sound of movement in the stables: I
heard one of the heavy doors thrown open, and a man leading a horse
across the stable-floor. (The windows were open and the night was very
still.) Richard started, and looked uneasily at his watch, stepping to
the door to get the light.
“How late is it?” I faltered.
“Half-past three,” he said, turning his eyes away, as if he could
not bear the sight of my face. I do not like to remember the dreadful
moments that followed this: the misery that I put upon Richard by my
passionate, ungoverned grief. I threw myself upon the floor, I clung to
his knees, I prayed him to delay the hour of going—another hour,
another day. I said all the wild and frantic things that were in my
heart, as he closed the library-door and led me to my room.
“Try to say your prayers, Pauline,” was all he could answer me.
I did try to say them, as I knelt by the window, and saw in the
dull, gray dawn, those two carriages drive slowly from the door.
Richard went away alone. Kilian indeed came down-stairs just as he
Sophie had awakened, and called him into her room for a few moments.
Then he came down, and I saw him get into the carriage alone, and
motion the man to drive on, after that other—which stood waiting a few
rods farther on.
CHAPTER XVIII. A JOURNEY.
He, full of modesty and truth,
Loved much, hoped little, and desired nought.
Fresh grief can occupy itself
With its own recent smart;
It feeds itself on outward things,
And not on its own heart.
A thing which surprises me very much in looking over those days of
suffering, is, that during that day a frightful irritability is the
emotion that I most remember—an irritability of feeling, not of
expression: for I lay quite still upon the bed all day, and only
answered, briefly and simply, the questions of Sophie and the maid.
I could not sleep: it was many hours since I had slept: but nothing
seemed further from possibility than sleeping. The lightest sound
enraged my nerves: the approach of any one made me frantic. I lay with
my hands crushed together, and my teeth against each other, whenever
Sophie entered the room.
She tried to be sympathetic and kind: but she was not much
encouraged. Toward afternoon, she left me a good deal alone. “I wonder
how people feel when they are going mad,” I said, getting up and
putting cold water on my head. I was so engaged with the strange
sensations that pursued me, that I did not dwell upon my trouble.
“Is this the way you feel when you are going to die? or what happens
if you never go to sleep?” My body was so young and healthy, that it
was making a good fight.
Just at dusk, Richard returned. In a little while, about half an
hour, Sophie came and told me Richard would like to see me in her
The day of panic and horror was over, and proprieties must begin
their sway. I felt I hated Sophie for making me go out of my own room,
but I pulled a shawl over my shoulders and followed her across the hall
into her little room. There Richard was waiting for me. He gave me a
chair, and then said, “You needn't wait, Sophie,” and sat down beside
Sophie went away half angry, and Richard looked at me uneasily.
“I thought you'd want to see me,” he said.
“Yes,” I answered; “I wish you'd tell me everything,” but in so
commonplace a voice, I know that he was startled.
“You do not feel well, do you? Maybe we'd better not talk about it
“Oh, yes. You might as well tell me all to-night.”
“Well, everything is done. The two persons to whom I telegraphed met
me at the station. There was very little delay. I went with them to the
“I am very glad of that. I thought perhaps you wouldn't go. Was
there a clergyman, or don't they have a clergyman when—when—”
“There was a clergyman,” said Richard, briefly.
“I hope you'll take me there some time,” I said dreamily. “Should
you know where to go—exactly?”
“Exactly,” he answered. “But, Pauline, I am afraid you havn't rested
at all to-day. Have you slept?”
“No; and I wish I could; my head feels so strangely—light, you
know—and as if I couldn't think.”
“Haven't you seen the Doctor?”
“No—and that's what I want to say. I won't have the Doctor
here; and I want you to take me home to-morrow morning, early, I have
put a good many of my clothes into my trunk, and Bettina will help me
with the rest to-night. Isn't there any train before the five o'clock?”
“No,” said Richard, uneasily. “Pauline, I think you'd better not
arrange to go away to-morrow.”
“If you don't take me out of this house I shall go mad. I have been
thinking about it all day, and I know I shall.”
Richard was silent for a moment, then, with the wise instinct of
affection, wonderful in man, and in a man who had had no experience in
dealing with diseased or suffering minds, he acquiesced in my plan to
go; told me that we would take the earliest train, and interested me in
thoughts about my packing. About nine o'clock he came to my room-door,
and I heard some one with him. It was the Doctor.
I turned upon Richard a fierce look, and said, very quietly, he
might go away, for I would not see the Doctor. After that, they tried
me with Sophie, but with less success; and, finally, Richard came back
alone, with a glass in his hand.
“Take this, Pauline, it will make you sleep.”
I wanted to sleep very much, so I took it.
Bettina had finished my packing, and had laid my travelling dress
and hat upon a chair.
“Shall Bettina come and sleep on the floor, by your bed?” asked
“No, I would not have her for the world.”
“Maybe you might not wake in time,” said Richard, warily.
That was very true: so I let Bettina come. Richard gave her some
instructions at the door, and she came in and arranged things for the
night, and lay down on a mattress at the foot of my bed.
The sedative which the Doctor sent did not work very well. I had
very little sleep, and that full of such hideous, freezing dreams, that
every time I woke, I found Bettina standing by my bed, looking at me
with alarm. I had been screaming and moaning, she said, The screaming
and moaning and sleeping (such as it was), were all over in about two
hours, and then I had the rest of the night to endure, with the same
strange, light feeling in my head—the restlessness not much, but
I was very glad that Bettina was in the room, for though she was
sleepy, and always a little stupid, she was human, and I was a coward,
both in the matter of loneliness and of suffering. I made her sit by
me, and take hold of my hand, and I asked her several times if she had
ever been with any one that died, or that—I did not quite dare to ask
her about going mad.
My questions seemed to trouble her. She crossed herself, and
shuddered, and said, No, she had never been with any one that died, and
she prayed the good God never to let her be.
“You'll have to be with one person that dies, Bettina. That's
yourself. You know it's got to come. We've all got to go out at that
gate,” and I moaned, and turned my face away.
“Let me call Mr. Richard,” said Bettina, very much afraid. I would
have given all the world to have seen Richard then; but I knew it was
impossible, and I said, No, it would soon be morning.
Long before morning, I heard Richard up and walking about the house.
We were to leave the house at half-past four. By four, all the trunks,
and shawls, and packages, were strapped and ready, and I was sitting
dressed, and waiting by the window.
Bettina liked very much better to pack trunks, and put rooms in
order, than to sit still and hold a person's hot hands, in the middle
of the night, and have dreadful questions asked her; and she had been
very active and efficient. Soon Richard called her to come down and
take my breakfast up to me. I could not eat it, and it was taken away.
Then the carriage came, and the wagon to take the baggage. Finally,
Richard came, and told me it was time to start, if I were ready.
Sophie came into the room in a wrapper, looking very dutiful and
patient, and said all that was dutiful and civil. But I suppose I was a
fiery trial to her, and she wished, no doubt, that she had never seen
me, or better, that Richard never had. All this I felt, through her
decently framed good-bye, but I did not care at all; to be out of her
sight as soon as possible, was all that I requested.
When we went down in the hall, Richard looked anxiously at me, but I
did not feel as if I had ever been there before; I really had no
feeling. I said good-bye to Bettina, who was the only servant that I
saw, and Richard put me into the carriage. When, we drove away, I did
not even look back. As we passed out of the gate, I said to him, “What
day of the month is it to-day?”
“It is the first of September,” he returned.
“And when did I come here?” I asked.
“Early in June, was it not?” he said. “You know I was not here.”
“Then it is not three months,” and I leaned back wearily in the
carriage, and was silent.
Before we reached the city, Richard had good reason to think that I
was very ill. He made me as comfortable as he could, poor fellow! but I
was so restless, I could not keep in one position two minutes at a
time. Several times I turned to him and said, “It is suffocating in
this car; cannot the window be put up?” and when it was put up, I would
seem to feel no relief, and in a few moments, perhaps, would be shaking
with a nervous chill. It must have been a miserable journey, as I
remember it. Once I said to Richard, after some useless trouble I had
put him to, “I am very sorry, Richard, I don't know how to help it, I
feel so dreadfully.”
Richard tried to answer, but his voice was husky, and he bent his
head down to arrange the bundle of shawls beneath my feet. I knew that
there were tears in his eyes, and that that was the reason that he did
not speak. It made me strangely, momentarily grateful.
“How strange that you should be so good,” I said dreamily, “when
Sophie is so hateful, and Kilian is so trifling. I think your mother
must have been a good woman.”
I had never talked about Richard's mother before, never even thought
whether he had had one or not, in my supreme and light-hearted
selfishness. But the mind, at such a point as I was then, makes strange
plunges out of its own orbit.
“And she died when you were little?”
“Yes, when I was scarcely twelve years old.”
“A woman ought to be very good when it makes so much difference to
her children. Richard, did my uncle ever tell you anything about my
mother—what sort of a woman she was, and whether I am like her?”
“He never said a great deal to me about it,” Richard answered, not
looking at me as he talked. “He thinks you are like her, very
strikingly, I believe.”
“Think! I haven't even a scrap of a picture of her, and no one has
ever talked to me about her. All I have are some old yellow letters to
my father, written before I was born. I think she loved my father very
much. The noise of these cars makes me feel so strangely. Can't we go
into the one behind? I am sure it cannot be so bad.”
“This is the best car on the train, Pauline. I know the noise is
very bad, but try to bear it for a little while. We shall soon be
there.” And so on, through the weary journey.
At one station Richard got out, and I saw him speaking to several
men. I believe he was hoping to find a doctor, for he was thoroughly
Before we reached the city I was past being frightened for myself,
for I was suffering too much to think of what might be the result of my
condition. When we left the cars, and Richard put me in a carriage, the
motion of the carriage and its jarring over the stones were almost
unendurable. Richard was too anxious now to say much to me. The
expression of relief on his face as we reached Varick-street was
unspeakable. He hurried up the steps and rang the bell, then came back
for me, and half carried me up the steps.
The door was opened by Ann Coddle, who was thrown into a helpless
state of amazement by seeing me, not knowing why in this condition I
did come, or why I came at all. She shrieked, and ejaculated, and
backed almost down the basement stairs. Richard sternly told her she
was acting like a fool, and ordered her to show him where Miss
Pauline's room was, that he might take her to it.
“But her room isn't ready,” ejaculated Ann, coming to herself, which
was a wretched thing to come to, as poor Richard found.
“Not ready? well, make it ready, then. Go before me and open the
windows, and I will put her on the sofa till you have the bed ready for
“The sofa—oh, Mr. Richard, it's all full of her dear clothes that
have come up from the wash.”
“Well, then, take them off—idiot—and do as you are told.”
“Oh, Miss Pauline—oh, my poor, dear lamb. Oh, I'm all in a flutter;
I don't know what to do. I'd better call the cook.”
“Well, call the cook, then,” said Richard, groaning, “only tell her
to be quick.”
All this time Richard was supporting me up the stairs. As we reached
the top, Richard called out, “Tell Peter I want him at once, to take a
message for me.”
Ann was watching our progress up the stairs, with groans and
ejaculations, forgetting that she was to call the cook. At the mention
of Peter she exclaimed,
“He's laid up with the rheumatism, Mr. Richard. Oh, whatever shall
When we reached the middle of the second pair of stairs, I was
almost helpless; Richard took me in his arms, and carried me.
“Is it this door, Pauline dear?” he said, opening the first he came
I should think the room had not been opened since I went away, it
was so warm and close.
Richard carried me to the sofa, and scattered the lingerie
far and wide as he laid me down upon it, and went to open the windows.
Then he went to the bell and pulled it violently. In a few moments the
cook came up (accompanied by Ann). She was a huge, unwieldy woman, but
she had some intelligence, and knew better than to whimper.
“Miss Pauline is ill,” he said, “and I want you to stay by her, and
not leave her for a moment, till I come back. Make that woman get the
room in order instantly, and keep everything as quiet as you can.” To
me: “I am going to bring a doctor, and I shall be back in a few
moments. Do not worry, they will take good care of you.”
When I heard Richard shut the carriage-door and drive away rapidly,
I felt as if I were abandoned, and by the time he returned with the
Doctor, I was in a state that warranted them in supposing me
unconscious, tossing and moaning, and uttering inarticulate words.
The Doctor stood beside me, and talked about me to Richard with as
much freedom as if I had been a corpse.
“I may as well be frank with you,” he said, after a few moments of
examination. “I apprehend great trouble from the brain. How long has
she been in this condition?”
“She has been unlike herself since yesterday; as soon as I saw her,
at seven o'clock last night, I noticed she was looking badly. She
answered me in an abstracted, odd way, and was unlike herself, as I
have said. But she had been under much excitement for some time.”
“Tell me, if you please, all about it; and how long she has been
under this excitement.”
“She has been often agitated, and quite overstrained in feeling for
some time. Three weeks ago I thought her looking badly. Two days ago
she had a frightful shock—a suicide—which she was the first to
discover. Since then I do not think that she has slept.”
“Ah! poor young lady. She has had a terrible experience, and is
paying for it. Now for what we can do for her. In the first place, who
takes care of her?” with a look about the room.
“You may well ask. I have just brought her home, and find here, the
man-servant ill, one woman too old and inactive to perform much
service, and another to whom I would not trust her for a moment. I must
ask you, who shall I get to take care of her?”
“You have no friend, no one to whom you could send in such a case?
One of life and death,—I hope you understand?”
“None,” answered Richard, with a groan. “There is not a person in
the city to whom I could send for help. All my family—all our friends,
are away. Is there no one that can be got for money—any money? no
nurse that you could recommend?”
“I have a list of twenty. Yesterday I sent to every one, for a
dangerous case of hemorrhage, and could not find one disengaged. It may
be to-morrow night before you get on the track of one that is at
liberty, if you hunt the city over. And this girl is in need of instant
care; her life hangs on it, you must see.”
“In God's name, then,” said Richard, with a groan, pacing up and
down the room, “what am I to do?”
“In His name, if you come, to that,” said the Doctor, who was
a good sort of man, notwithstanding his professional cool ways, “there
is a sisterhood, that I am told offer to do things like this. I never
sent to them, for I only heard of it a short time ago; but if you have
no objection to crosses, and caps, and ritualistic nonsense in its
highest flower, I have no doubt, that they will let you have a sister,
and that she'll do good service here.”
“The direction,” said Richard, too eager to be civil. “How am I to
The Doctor pulled over a pocket-case of loose papers, and at last
found one, which he handed his companion.
“I give you three quarters of an hour to get back,” he said. “I will
stay here till then, at all events. Do not waste any time—nor spare
any eloquence,” he added to himself, as Richard hurried from the room.
CHAPTER XIX. SISTER MADELINE.
Yes! it is well for us: from these alarms,
Like children scared, we fly into thine arms;
And pressing sorrows put our pride to rout
With a swift faith which has not time to doubt.
Learn by a mortal yearning to ascend
Towards a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven—-
That self might be annulled; her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.
The next thing that I recall, is rousing from slumber, or something
related to slumber, and seeing a tall woman in the dress of a sister,
standing by my bed. It was night, and there was a lamp upon a table
near. The unusual dress, and the unfamiliarity of her whole appearance,
made me start and stare at her, half raising myself in the bed.
“Why did you come here?” I said. “Who sent for you?”
“I came because you were sick and suffering, and I was sent in the
Name ——” and bending her head slightly, she said a Name too sacred
for these pages.
I gave a great sigh of relief, and sank back on my pillow. Her
answer satisfied me, for I was not able to reason. I let her hold my
hand; and all through that dark and troubled time submitted to her
will, and desired her presence, and was soothed by her voice and touch.
Sister Madeline was not at all the ideal sister, being tall and
dark, and with nothing peculiarly devotional or pensive in her cast of
feature. Her face was a fine, earnest one. Her movements were full of
energy and decision, though not quick or sharp. The whole impression
left was that of one by nature far from humility, tenderness, devotion;
but, by the force of a magnificent faith, made passionately humble,
devout from the very heart, more than humanly compassionate and tender.
I never felt toward her as if she were “born so”—but as if she were
rescued from the world by some great effort or experience; as if it
were all “made ground,” reclaimed from nature by infinite patience and
incessant labor. She lived the life of an angel upon the earth. I never
saw her, by look, by word, or tone, transgress the least of the
commandments, so wonderful was the curb she held over all her human
feelings. Nor was this perfection attained by a sudden and grand
sacrifice; the consecration of herself to the religious life was not
the “single step 'twixt earth and heaven,” but it was attained by daily
and hourly study—by the practice of a hundred self-denials—by the
most accurate science of spiritual progress.
Doubtless, saints can be made in other ways, but this is one way
they can be made, starting with a sincere intention to serve God. At
least, so I believe, from knowing Sister Madeline.
She made a great change in my life, and I owe her a great deal. It
is not strange I feel enthusiasm for her. I cannot bear to think what
my coming back to life would have been without her.
Of the alarming nature of my illness, I only know that there were
several days when Richard never left the house, but waited, hour after
hour, in the library below, for the news of my condition, and when even
Uncle Leonard came home in the middle of the day, and walked about the
house, silent and unapproachable.
One night—how well I remember it! I had been convalescent, I do not
know how long; I had passed the childish state of interest in my
bouilli, and fretfulness about my peignoir; my mind had
begun to regain its ordinary power, and with the first efforts of
memory and thought had come fearful depression and despondency. I was
so weak, physically, that I could not fight against this in the least.
Sister Madeline came to my bedside, and found me in an agony of
weeping. It was not an easy matter to gain my confidence, for I thought
she knew nothing of me, and I was not equal to the mental effort of
explaining myself; she was only associated with my illness. But at last
she made me understand that she was not ignorant of a great deal that
“Who has told you?” I said, my heart hardening itself against
Richard, who could have spoken of my trouble to a stranger.
“You, yourself,” she answered me.
“I have raved?” I said.
“And who has heard me?”
“No one else. I sent every one else from the room whenever your
delirium became intelligible.”
This made me grateful toward her; and I longed for sympathy. I threw
my arms about her and wept bitterly.
“Then you know that I can never cry enough,” I said.
“I do not know that,” she answered. After a vain attempt to soothe
me with general words of comfort, she said, with much wisdom, “Tell me
exactly what thought gives you the most pain, now, at this moment.”
“The thought of his dreadful act, and that by it he has lost his
“We know with Whom all things are possible,” she said, “and we do
not know what cloud may have been over his reason at that moment. Would
it comfort you to pray for him?”
“Ought I?” I asked, raising my head.
“I do not know any reason that you ought not,” she returned. “Shall
I say some prayers for him now?”
I grasped her hand: she took a little book from her pocket, and
knelt down beside me, holding my hand in hers. Oh, the mercy, the
relief of those prayers! They may not have done him any good, but they
did me. The hopeless grief that was killing me, I “wept it from my
heart” that hour.
“Promise me one thing,” I whispered as she rose, “that you will read
that prayer, every hour during the day, to-morrow, by my bed, whether I
am sleeping or awake.”
“I promise,” she said, and I am sure she kept her word, that day and
many others after it.
During my convalescence, which was slow, I had no other person near
me, and wanted none. Uncle Leonard came in once a day, and spent a few
minutes, much to his discomfort and my disadvantage. Richard I had not
seen at all, and dreaded very much to meet. Ann Coddle fretted me, and
was very little in the room.
Over these days there is a sort of peace. I was entering upon so
much that was new and elevating, under the guidance of Sister Madeline,
and was so entirely influenced by her, that I was brought out of my
trouble wonderfully. Not out of it, of course, but from under its
crushing weight. I know that I am rather easily influenced, and only
too ready to follow those who have won my love. Therefore, I am in
every way thankful that I came at such a time under the influence of a
mind like that of Sister Madeline.
But the time was approaching for her to go away. I was well enough
to do without her, and she had other duties. The sick-room peace and
indulgence were over, and I must take up the burden of every-day life
again. I was very unhappy, and felt as if I were without stay or
“To whom am I to go when I am in doubt?” I said; “you will be so far
“That is what I want to arrange: the next time you are able to go
out, I want to take you to some one who can direct you much better than
“A priest?” I asked. “Tell me one thing: will he give me
“I suppose he will, if he finds that you desire it.”
“What would be the use of going to him for anything else?” I said.
“It is the only thing that can give me any comfort.”
“All people do not feel so, Pauline.”
“But you feel so, dear Sister Madeline, do you not? You can
understand how I am burdened, and how I long to have the bands undone?”
“Yes, Pauline, I can understand.”
I am not inclined to give much weight to my own opinions, and as for
my feelings, I know they were, then, those of a child, and in many ways
will always be. I can only say what comforted me, and what I longed
for. There had always been great force to me, in the Scripture that
says, “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and
whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained,” even before I felt the
burden of my sins.
I had once seen the ordination of a priest, and I suppose that added
to the weight of the words ever after in my mind. I never had any doubt
of the power then conferred, and I no sooner felt the guilt and stain
of sin upon my soul, than I yearned to hear the pardon spoken, that
Heaven offered to the penitent. I had been tangibly smitten; I longed
to be tangibly healed.
Whatever shame and pain there was about laying bare my soul before
another, I gladly embraced it, as one poor means at my command of
showing to Him whom I had offended, that my repentance was actual, that
I stopped at no humiliation.
It may very well be that these feelings would find no place in
larger, grander, more self-reliant natures; that what healed my soul
would only wound another. I am not prepared to think that one remedy is
cure for all diseases, but I know what cured mine. I bless God for “the
soothing hand that Love on Conscience laid.” I mark that hour as the
beginning of a fresh and favored life; the dawning of a hope that has
not yet lost its power
The haughty brow, to curb the unchastened eye,
And shape to deeds of good each wavering aim.”
CHAPTER XX. THE HOUR OF DAWN.
Slowly light came, the thinnest dawn,
Not sunshine, to my night;
A new, more spiritual thing,
An advent of pure light.
All grief has its limits, all chastenings their pause;
Thy love and our weakness are sorrow's two laws.
The winter that followed seemed very long and uneventful. After
Sister Madeline went away, my days settled themselves into the routine
in which they continued to revolve for many months. I was as lonely as
formerly, save for the companionship of well-chosen books, and for the
direction of another mind, which I felt to be the truest support and
guidance. I was taught to bend to my uncle's wishes, and to give up
constant church-going, and visiting among the poor, which would have
been such a resource and occupation to me. And so my life, outwardly,
was very little changed from former years—years that I had found
almost insupportable, without any sorrow; and yet, strange to say, I
was not unhappy.
My hours were full of little duties, little rules. (I suppose my
heart was in them, or I should have found them irksome.) Above all, I
was not permitted to brood over the past: I was taught to feel that
every thought of it indulged, was a sin, and to be accounted for as
such: I could only remember the one for whom I mourned, on my knees, in
my prayers. This checked, as nothing else could have done, the morbid
tendency of grief, in a lonely, unoccupied, undisciplined mind. I was
thoroughly obedient, and bent myself with all simplicity to follow the
instructions given me. Sometimes they seemed very irrelevant and
useless, but I never rebelled against any, even one that seemed as hard
to flesh and blood as this. And I have, sooner or later, seen the
wisdom of them all, as I have worked out the problem of my correction.
Obedient as I was, though, and simple as the routine of my life
continued, sometimes there came crises that were beyond my strength.
I can remember one; it was a furious storm—a day that nailed one in
the house. There was something in the rage without that disturbed me; I
wandered about the house, and found myself unable to settle to any
task. Some one to speak to! Oh, it was so dreary to be alone. I went
into my uncle's room where there were many books. Among those that were
there I found one in French, (I have no idea how it came there, I am
sure my uncle had never read it.) I carelessly turned it over, and
finally became absorbed in it. I came upon this passage:
Quel plus noir abime d'angoisse y a-t-il an monde que le
coeur d'un suicide? Quand le malheur d'un homme est du a
quelque circonstance de sa vie, on pent esperer de l'en voir
delivrer par un changement qui pent survenir dans sa
position. Mais lorsque ce malheur a sa source en lui; quand
c'est l'ame elle-meme qui est le tourment de l'ame; la vie
elle-meme qui est le fardeau de la vie; que faire, que de
reconnaitre en gemissant qu'il n'y a rien a faire—rien,
selon le monde; et qu'un tel homme, plus a plaindre que ce
prisonnier que l'histoire nous peint dans les angoisses de la
faim, se repaissant de sa propre chair, est reduit a devorer
la substance meme de son ame dans les horreurs de son
desespoir. Et qu'imagine-t-il done pour echapper a lui-meme,
comme a son plus cruel ennemi? Je ne dis pas: 'Ou ira-t-il
loin de l'esprit de Dieu? ou fuira-t-il loin de sa face?' Je
demande, ou ira-t-il loin de son propre esprit? ou fuira-t-il
loin de sa propre face? Ou descendra-t-il qu'il ne s'y suive
lui-meme; ou se cachera-t-il qu'il ne s'y trouve encore?
Insense, dont la folie egale la misere, quand tu te seras
tue, on dira: 'Il est mort;' mais ce sont les autres qui le
diront; ce ne sera pas toi-meme. Tu seras mort pour ton
pays, mort pour ta ville, mort pour ta famille; mais pour
toi-meme, pour ce qui pense en toi, helas! pour ce qui
souffre en toi, tu vivras toujours.
Et comment ne sens-tu pas, que pour cesser d'etre malheureux,
ce n'est pas ta place qu'il faut changer, c'est ton coeur.
Que tu disparaisses sous les flots, qu'un plomb meurtrier
brise ta tete, ou qu'un poison subtil glace tes veines; quoi
que tu fasses, et ou que tu ailles, tu n'y peux aller qu'avec
toi-meme, qu'avec ton coeur, qu'avec ta misere! Que dis-je?
Tu y vas avec un compte de plus a rendre, a la rencontre du
grand Dieu qui doit te juger; tu y vas avec l'eternite de
plus pour souffrir, et le temps de moins pour te repentir!
A moins que tu ne penses peut-etre, parceque l'oeil de
l'homme n'a rien vu au-dela de la tombe, que cette vie n'ait
pas de suite. Mais non, tu ne saurais le croire! Quand tous
les autres le penseraient, toi, tu ne le pourrais pas. Tu as
une preuve d'immortalite qui t'appartient en propre. Cette
tristesse qui te consume, est quelque chose de trop intime et
de trop profond pour se dissoudre avec tes organes, et ce qui
est capable de tant souffrir ne pent pas s'aller perdre dans
la terre. Les vers heriteront de la poussiere de ton corps,
mais l'amertume de ton ame, qui en heritera? Ces extases
sublimes, ces tourments affreux; ces hauteurs des cieux, ces
profondeurs des abimes; qu'y a-t-il d'assez grand ou d'assez
abaisse, d'assez eleve ou d'assez avili pour les revetir en
ta place? Non, tu ne saurais jamais croire que tout meurt
avec le corps; ou si tu le pouvais tu n'en serais que plus
insense, plus miserable encore.
It is proof how child-like I had been, how obedient in suppressing
all forbidden thoughts, that these words smote me with such horror. I
had indulged in no speculation; I had never thought of him as haunted
by the self he fled; as still bound to an inexorable and
“With time and hope behind him cast,
And all his work to do with palsied hands and cold.”
The terrors I had had, had been vague. I had thought dimly of
punishment, more keenly of separation. If I had analysed my thoughts, I
suppose I should have found annihilation to have been my belief—death
forever, loss eternal. But this—if this were truth—(and it smote me
as the truth alone can smite), oh, it was maddening. To my knees! To my
knees! Oh, that I might live long years to pray for him! Oh, that I
might stretch out my hands to God for him, withered with age and shrunk
with fasting, and strong but in faith and final perseverance! Oh, it
could not be too late! What was prayer made for, but for a time like
this? What was this little breath of time, compared with the Eternal
Years, that we should only speak now for each other to our
merciful God, and never speak for each other afterward? Spirits are
forever; and is prayer only for the days of the body?
It was well for me that none of the doubts that are so often
expressed had found any lodgment in my brain; if I had not believed
that I had a right to pray for him, and that my prayers might help him,
I cannot understand how I could have lived through those nights and
days of thought.
CHAPTER XXI. APRSE PERDRE, PERD ON
What to those who understand
Are to-day's enjoyments narrow,
Which to-morrow go again,
Which are shared with evil men,
And of which no man in his dying
Taketh aught for softer lying?
It was now early spring: the days were lengthening and were growing
soft. Lent (late that year) was nearly over. I had begun to think much
about the summer, and to wonder if I were to pass it in the city. There
was one thing that the winter had developed in me, and that was, a sort
of affection for my uncle. I had learned that I owed him a duty, and
had tried to find ways of fulfilling it; had taken a little interest in
the house, and had tried to make him more comfortable. Also I had
prayed very constantly for him, and perhaps there is no way more
certain of establishing an affection, or at least a charity for
another, than that.
In return, he had been a little more human to me than formerly, had
shown some interest in my health, and continued appreciation of the
fact that I was in the house. Once he had talked to me, for perhaps
half an hour, about my mother, for which I was unspeakably grateful.
Several times he had given me a good deal of money, which I had cared
much less about. Latterly he had permitted me to go to church alone,
which had seemed to me must be owing to Richard's intervention.
Richard had been almost as much as formerly at the house: my uncle
was becoming more and more dependent on him. For myself, I did not see
as much of him as the year before. We were always together at the
table, of course. But the evenings that Richard was with my uncle, I
thought it unnecessary for me to stay down-stairs. Besides, now, they
almost always had writing or business affairs to occupy them.
It was natural that I should go away, and no one seemed to notice
it. Richard still brought me books, still arranged things for me with
my uncle (as in the matter of going to church alone), but we had no
more talks together by ourselves, and he never asked me to go anywhere
with him. At Christmas he sent me beautiful flowers, and a picture for
my room. Sophie I rarely saw, and only longed never to see Benny was
permitted to come and spend a day with me, at great intervals, and I
enjoyed him more than his mother or his uncle.
One day my uncle went down to his office in his usual health; at
three o'clock he was brought home senseless, and only lived till
midnight, dying without recovering speech or consciousness. It was a
sudden seizure, but what everybody had expected; everybody was shocked
for the moment, and then wondered that they were. It was very appalling
to me; I was so unhappy, I almost believed I loved him, and I certainly
mourned for him with simplicity and affection.
The preparations for the funeral were so frightful, and all the
thoughts it brought so unnerving, that I was almost ill. A great deal
came upon me, in trying to manage the wailing servants, and in helping
Richard in arrangements.
It was the day after the funeral; I was tired, out, and had lain
down on the sofa in the dining-room, partly because I hated to be alone
up-stairs, and partly because it was not far from lunch-time, and I
felt too weary to take any needless steps. I don't think ever in my
life before I had lain down on that sofa, or had spent two hours
except, at the table, in that room. It was a most cheerless room, and
no one ever thought of sitting down in it, except at mealtime. I closed
the shutters and darkened it to suit my eyes, which ached, and I think
must have fallen asleep.
The parlor was the room which adjoined the dining-room (only two
large rooms on one floor, as they used to build), and separated from it
by heavy mahogany columns and sliding-doors. These doors were half-way
open, and I was roused by voices in the parlor. As soon as I recovered
myself from the sudden waking, I recognized Sophie's and then
Richard's. I wondered what Richard was doing up-town at that hour, and
so Sophie did too, for she asked him very plainly.
“I thought I ought to come to see Pauline,” she said, “but I did not
suppose I should find you here in the middle of the day.”
“There is something that I've got to see Pauline about at once,” he
said, “and so I was obliged to come up-town.”
“Nothing has happened?” she said interrogatively.
“No,” he answered, evasively.
But she went on: “I suppose it's something in relation to the will;
I hope she's well provided for, poor thing.”
“Sophie,” said her brother, with a change of tone, “You'll have to
hear it some time, and perhaps you may as well hear it now. It is that
that I have come up-town about; there has been some strange mistake
made; there is no will.”
“No will!” echoed Sophie, “Why, you told me once—”
“That he had left her everything. So he told me twice last year; so
I have always believed to be the case. Since the day he died, the most
faithful search has been made; there is not a corner of his office, of
his library, of his room, that I have not hunted through. He was so
methodical in business matters, so exact in the care of his papers,
that I had little hope, after I had gone through his desk. I cannot
understand it. It is altogether dark to me.”
“What can have made him change his mind about it, Richard? Can he
have heard anything about last summer?”
“Not from me, Sophie. But I have sometimes thought he knew, from
allusions that he has made to her mother's marriage, more than once
“He was very angry about that, at the time, I suppose?”
“Yes, I imagine so. The man she married was poor, and a foreigner:
two things he hated. I never heard there was anything against him but
“How can he have heard about Mr. Langenau?” said Sophie, musingly.
“I think Pauline must have told him,” said Richard.
“Pauline? never. She is much too clever; she never told him. You may
be quite sure of that.”
“Pauline clever! Poor Pauline!” said Richard, with a short,
sarcastic laugh, which had the effect of making Sophie angry.
“I am willing,” she said, “that she should be as stupid and as good
as you can wish—. To whom does the money go?” she added, as if she had
not patience for the other subject.
“To a brother, with whom he had a quarrel, and whom he had not seen
for over sixteen years.”
“But there had been some sort of a reconciliation, at least an
exchange of letters, within these three months past.”
“And it is in consequence of hearing from him, and being pressed by
his lawyer for an immediate settlement of the estate, that I have come
up to tell Pauline, and to prepare her for her changed prospects.”
“And what do you propose to advise?” asked Sophie, with a chilling
“Heaven knows, Sophie,” answered her brother, with a heavy sigh. “I
see nothing ahead for the poor girl, but loneliness and trial. She is
utterly unfit to struggle with the world. And she has not even a
shelter for her head.”
“Richard,” interrupted his sister, with intensity of feeling in her
voice, “I see what you are trying to persuade yourself: do not tell me,
after what has passed, you still feel that you are bound to her—”
“Bound!” exclaimed Richard, with a vehemence most strange in
him, as, pacing the room, he stood still before his sister. His back
was toward me. She was so absorbed she did not see me as I darted past
the folding-doors into the hall. As I flew panting up to my own room, I
remember one feeling above all others, the first feeling of affection
toward the house that I had ever had. It was mine no longer, my home
never again; I had no right to stay in it a moment: my own room was not
mine any more—the room where I had learned to pray, and to try to lead
a good life—the room where I had lain when I was so near to death—the
room where Sister Madeline had led me to such peaceful, quiet thoughts.
I had but one wish now, not to see Richard, to escape Sophie, to get
away forever from this house to which I had no right. I pulled down my
hat and my street things, and dressed so quickly, that I had slipped
down the stairs, and out into the street, before they had ceased
talking in the parlor. I heard their voices, very low, as I passed
through the hall. I fully meant never to come back to the house
again—not to be turned out.
My heart swelled as the door closed behind me. It was dreadful not
to have a home. I was so unused to being in the street alone, that I
felt frightened when I reached the cars and stopped them.
I was going to Sister Madeline. She would take me, and keep me, and
teach me where to live, and how. I was a little confused, and got out
at the wrong street, and had to walk several blocks before I reached
The servant at the door met me with an answer that made me wonder
whether there were anything else to happen to me on that day.
Sister Madeline had been called away—had gone on a long
journey—something about the illness of her brother; and I must not
come inside the door, for a contagious disease was raging, and the
orders were strict that no one be admitted. I had walked so fast, and
in such excitement of feeling, that I was weak and faint when I turned
to go down the steps. Where should I go? I walked on slowly now, and
undecided, for I had no aim.
The clergyman to whom I had gone for direction in matters spiritual,
was ill—for two weeks had given up even Lenten duties. Anything—but I
could not go home, or rather where home had been. I walked and walked
till I was almost fainting, and found myself in the Park. There the
lovely indications of spring, and the quiet, and the fresh air, soothed
me, and I sat down under some trees near the water, and rested myself.
But the same giddy whirl of thoughts came back, the same incompetency
to deal with such strange facts, and the same confusion. I do not know
how long I wandered about; but I was faint and weary and hungry, and
frightened too, for people were beginning to look at me.
It began to force itself upon me that I must go back to
Varick-street after all, and take a fresh start. Then I began to think
how I should get back, on which side must I go to find the cars—where
was I, literally. Then I sat down to wait, till I should see some
policeman, or some kind-looking person, near me, to whom I could apply
for this very necessary information. In the meantime I took out my
purse to see if I had the proper change. Verily, not that, nor any
change at all! My heart actually stood still. Yes, it was very true: I
had given away, right and left, during this Lent: caring nothing for
money, and being very sure of more when this was gone. I was literally
penniless. I had not even the money to ride home in the cars.
Till a person has felt this sensation, he has not had one of the
most remarkable experiences of life. To know where you can get money,
to feel that there is some dernier ressort however hateful to
you, is one thing; but to know that you have not a cent—not a
prospect of getting one—not a hope of earning one—no means of
living—this is suffocation. This is the stopping of that breath that
keeps the world alive.
The bench on which I happened to be sitting was one of those pretty,
little, covered seats, which jut out into the lake. I looked down into
the water as I sat with my empty purse in my lap, and remembered
vaguely the many narratives I had seen in the newspapers about
unaccounted-for and unknown suicides. I could see how it might be
inevitable—a sort of pressure, a fatality that might not be resisted.
Even cowardice might be overcome when that pressure was put on.
It is a very amazing thing to feel that you have no money, nor any
means of getting even eightpence: it chokes you: you feel as if the
wheel had made its last revolution, and there was no power to make it
turn again. It is not any question of pride, or of independence, when
it comes suddenly; it is a feeling of the inevitable; you do not turn
to others. You feel your individual failure, and you stand alone.
For myself, this was my reflection: I had not even a shelter for my
head; Richard had said so. I had not a cent of money, and I had no
means of earning any. The uncle who was coming to take possession of
the house and furniture, was one whom I had been taught to distrust and
dread. He would, perhaps, not even let me go into my room again, and
would turn me out to-morrow, if he came: my clothes—were they
even mine, or would they be given to me, if they were? This uncle had
reproached Uncle Leonard once for what he had done for me. I had even
an idea that it was about my mother's marriage that the quarrel had
occurred. And hard as I had regarded Uncle Leonard, he had been the
soft-hearted one of the brothers, who had sheltered the little girl
(after he had thrown off the mother, and broken her poor heart).
The house in Varick-street would be broken up. What would become of
the cook, and Ann Coddle? It would be easier for them to live than for
They could get work to do, for they knew how to work, and people
would employ them. I—I could do nothing, I had been taught to do
nothing. I had never been directed how to hem a handkerchief. I had
tried to dust my room one day, and the effort had tired me dreadfully,
and did not look very well, as a result. I could not teach. I had been
educated in a slipshod way, no one directing anything about it—just
what it occurred to the person who had charge of me to put before me.
I had intended to throw myself upon Sister Madeline. But what then?
What could she have done for me? I had asked her months before if I
could not be a sister, and had been discouraged both by her and by my
director. I believe they thought I was too young and too pretty, and,
in fact, had no vocation. No doubt they thought I might soon look upon
things differently, when my trouble was a little older.
And Richard—I did not give Richard many thoughts that day, for my
heart was sore, when I remembered all his words. He had always thought
that I was to be rich; perhaps that had made him so long patient with
me. He had said I was not clever; he had seemed to be very sorry for
me. He might well be. Sophie had asked him if he were still bound to
me. I had not heard all his answer, but he had spoken in a tone of
scorn. I did not want to think about him.
There was no whither to turn myself for help. And the clergyman, who
had been more than kind to me, who had seemed to help me with words and
counsel out of heaven,—he was cut off from my succor, and I stood
alone—I, who was so dependent, so naturally timid, and so easily
It was a dreary hour of my life, that hour that I sat looking over
at the water of the pretty placid lake. I don't like to recall it. Some
one passed by me, gave an exclamation of surprise, and came back
hastily. It was Richard. He seemed so glad, and so relieved to see
me—and to me it was like Heaven opening; notwithstanding my vindictive
thoughts about him, I could have sprung into his arms; I felt
protected, safe, the moment he was by me. I tried to speak, and then
began to cry.
“I've been looking for you these last two hours,” he said, sitting
down beside me. “I came up-town to see you, and found you had gone out.
I thought you would not be likely to go anywhere but to see Sister
Madeline, and there the servant told me you had come this way. I could
not find you here, and went back to Varick-street, then was frightened
at hearing you had not come back, and returned again to look for you.
What made you stay so long? Something has happened. Tell me what you
are crying for.”
I had no talent for acting, and not much discretion when I was
excited; and he found out very soon that I knew what had befallen me.
(I think he believed that Sophie had told me of it.)
“Were you very much surprised?” he said. “Had you supposed that you
would be his heiress?”
“Why, no. I had not thought anything about it. I am afraid I have
not thought much about anything this winter. I must have been very
ungrateful, as well as childish, for I never have felt as if it were
fortunate that I had a home, and as much money as I wanted. I did not
care anything about being rich, you know—ever.”
“No, I know you did not. I was sure you would have been satisfied
with a very moderate provision.”
“Oh, Richard,” I cried, clasping my hands together, “if he had left
me a little—just a little—just a few hundred dollars, when he had so
much, to have kept me from having to work, when I don't know how to
work, and am such a child.”
“Work!” he exclaimed, looking down at me as if I were something so
exquisite and so precious, that the very thought was profanation.
“Work! no, Pauline, you shall not have to work.”
“But what can I do?” I said, “I have nothing—and you know it; not a
shelter; not the money to pay for my breakfast to-morrow morning. Not a
person to whom I have a right to go for help; not a human being who is
bound to care for me. Oh, I don't care what becomes of me; I wish that
it were time for me to die.”
Richard got up, and paced up and down the little platform with an
“It was so strange,” I went on, “when he seemed this winter to take
a little notice of me, and to want to have me near him. I really almost
thought he cared for me. And when I was so ill last Fall, don't you
remember how often he used to come up to my room?”
“I remember—yes. It is all very strange.”
“And some days early in the winter, when I could scarcely speak at
table, I was so unhappy, he would look at me so long, and seem to
think. And then would be very kind and gentle afterward, and do
something to show he liked me—give me money, you know, as he always
“Tell me, Pauline: did he ever ask you anything about last summer,
or did you ever tell him?”
“No, Richard, I could never have spoken to him about it; and he
never asked me. But I know he saw that I was not happy.”
“Pauline,” said Richard, after a pause, and as if forcing himself to
speak, “there is no use in disguising from you what your position is:
you know it yourself, enough of it, at least, to make you understand
why I speak now. I don't know of any way out of it, but one; and I feel
as if it were ungenerous to press that on you now, and, Heaven knows, I
would not do it if I could think of anything else to offer to you. You
know, Pauline, that if you will marry me, you will have everything that
you need, as much as if your uncle had left you everything.”
He did not look at me, but paced up and down the platform, and spoke
with a thick, husky voice.
“You know it's been the object of my life, ever since I knew you,
but I don't want that to influence you. I know it is too soon, a great
deal too soon. And I would not have done it, if I could have seen
anything else to do, or if you could have done without me.”
I must have been deadly pale, for when at last he looked at me, he
“I don't know how it is,” he said, with a groan, “I always have to
give you pain, when, Heaven knows, I'd give my life to spare you every
suffering. I can't see any other way to take care of you than the way I
tell you of, and yet, I have no doubt you think me cruel, and selfish,
to ask you to do it now. It does seem so, and yet it is not. If you
knew how much it has cost me to speak, you would believe it.”
“I do believe it,” I said, trying to command my voice. “I think you
have always been too good and kind to me. But I can't tell you how this
makes me feel. Oh, Richard, isn't there any, any other way?”
“Perhaps there may be,” he said, with a bitter and disappointed
look, “but I do not know of it.”
“Oh, Richard, do not be angry with me. Think how hard it is for me
always to be disappointing you. I have a great deal of trouble!”
“Yes, Pauline, I know you have,” he said, sitting down by me, and
taking my hand in a repentant way. “You see I'm selfish, and only
looked at my own disappointment just that minute. I thought I had not
any hope that you might not mind the idea of marrying me; but you see,
after all, I had. I believe I must have fancied that you were getting
over your trouble: you have seemed so much brighter lately. But now I
know the truth; and now I know that what I do is simply sacrifice and
duty. A man must be a fool who looks for pleasure in marrying a woman
who has no love for him. And I say now, in the face of it all, marry
me, Pauline, if you can bring yourself to do it. I am the only approach
to a friend that you have in the world. As your husband, I can care for
you and protect you. You are young, your character is unformed, you are
ignorant of the world. You have no home, no protection, literally none,
and I am afraid to trust you. You need not be angry if I say so. I
think I've earned the right to find some faults in you. I don't expect
you to love me. I don't expect to be particularly happy; but there are
a good many ways of serving God and doing one's duty; and if we try to
serve him and to live for duty, it will all come out right at last. You
will be a happier woman, Pauline, if you do it, than if you rebel
against it, and try to find some other way, and put yourself in a
subordinate place, or a place of dependence, and waste your life, and
expose yourself to temptation. No, no, Pauline, I cannot see you do it.
Heaven knows, I wish you had somebody else to direct you. But it has
all come upon me, and I must do the best I can. I think any one else
would advise the same, who had the same means of judging.”
“I will do just what you think best,” I said, almost in a whisper,
“That is right,” he answered, in a husky voice, rising too, and
putting my cloak about my shoulders, which had fallen off. “You will
see it will be best.”
CHAPTER XXII. A GREAT DEAL TOO SOON.
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governed with a goodly modesty,
That suffers not a look to glance away,
Which may let in a little thought unsound.
Vouloir ce que Dieu veut est la seule science
Qui nous met en repos.
Richard had obtained for me (with difficulty), from the lawyer of
the new uncle who had arisen, the privilege of remaining in the house
for another month, undisturbed in any way. At the end of those four
weeks I was to be married to him, one day, quietly in church, and to go
away. It was very hard to have to see Sophie, and be treated with
ignominy, for doing what I did not want to do; it was very hard to make
preparations to leave the only place I wanted to stay in now; it was
very hard to be tranquil and even, while my heart was like lead. But I
had begun to discover that that was the general order of things here
below, and it did not amaze me as it had done at first. I was doing my
duty, to the best of my discernment, and was not to be deterred by all
the lead in the world.
It was very well for Richard to say, he did it for sacrifice and for
duty. I have no doubt at first he did it greatly for those two things:
but he grew happier every day, I could see. He was very considerate of
my sadness, and always acted on the basis on which our engagement was
begun, never keeping my hand in his, or kissing me, or asking any of
the trifling favors of a lover.
He was grave and silent: but I could see the change in his face; I
could see that he was more exacting of every moment that I spent away
from him; he kept near me, and followed me with his eyes, and seemed
never to be satisfied with his possession of me.
He bought me the most beautiful jewels, (he had made great strides
toward fortune in the last six months, and was a rich man now in
earnest,) and though he never clasped them on my throat or wrist, nor
even fitted a ring on my finger, I could feel his eyes upon me,
hungering for a smile, a word of gratitude.
And who would not have been grateful? But it was “too soon, a great
deal too soon,” as he had said himself. I was very grateful, but I
would have been glad to die.
I have wondered whether he saw it or not, I rather think not. I was
very submissive and gentle, and tried to be bright, and I think he was
so absorbed in the satisfaction of my promise, so intent upon his plans
for making me happy, and for making me love him, that he made himself
believe there was no heart of lead below the tranquillity he saw.
It was the third week since my uncle's death. The next week was to
come the marriage, on Wednesday, the 19th of May.
“Marriages in May are not happy,” said Ann Coddle.
“I did not need you to tell me that,” I thought.
It was on Thursday, the 13th; Richard had come up a little earlier,
in the evening. It grew to be a little earlier every evening.
“By-and-by he will not go down-town at all, at this rate,” I said to
myself, when I heard his ring that night.
I was sitting by the parlor-lamp, with the evening paper in my lap,
of which I had not read a word. He came and sat down by the table, and
we talked a little while. I tried to find things to talk about, and
wondered if it always would be so. I felt as if some day I should give
out entirely, and have to go through bankruptcy. (And take a fresh
He never seemed to feel the want of talking; I suppose he was quite
satisfied with his thoughts, and with having me beside him.
By-and-by, he said he should have to go up to the library, and look
over the last of some books of my uncle's, and finish an inventory that
he had begun. Could I not bring my work and sit there by him? I felt a
little selfish, for we were already on the last week, and I said I
thought I would sit in the parlor. I had to write a letter to Sister
Madeline. I had not heard a word from her yet, though I had written
Why could not I write in the library?
I always liked to be alone when I wrote letters: I could not think,
when any one was in the room. Besides, trying to smile, he would be
sure to talk.
He looked disappointed, and lingered a good while before he went
away. As he rose to go away he threw into my lap a little package,
“There is some white lace for you. Can't you use it on some of your
clothes? I don't know anything about such things: maybe it isn't pretty
enough, but I thought perhaps it would do for that lilac silk you
I opened the package: it was exquisite, fit for a princess; and as I
bent over it, I thought, how dead I must be, that it gave me no
pleasure to know it was my own, for I had loved such baubles so, a year
“What a mass of it!” I exclaimed, unfolding yard on yard.
“You must always wear lace,” he said, throwing one end of it over my
black dress around the shoulder. “I like you in it. I am tired of those
stiff little linen collars.”
The lace had given me a little compunction about not spending the
evening with him: but as I had said so, I could not draw back; so I
compromised the matter by going up to the library with him, to see that
he was comfortable, before I came down to write my letter.
I brought the little student-lamp from my own room and lit it, and
put it on the library-table, and brought him some fresh pens, and
opened the inkstand for him, even pushed up the chair and put a little
footstool by it. Though he was standing by the bookshelves, and seemed
to be engrossed by them, I knew that he was watching me, filled with
content and satisfaction.
“Do you remember where that box of cigars was put?” he said, turning
to me as I paused. That was to keep me longer; for they were on the
shelf, half a yard from where he stood.
I got the cigar-box and put it on the table.
“Now you will want some matches, and this stand is almost empty.” So
I took it away with me to my room, and came back with it filled.
“Is there anything else that I can do?” I said, pausing as I put it
on the table.
“No, Pauline. I believe not. Thank you.”
I think that moment Richard was nearer to happiness than he had ever
been before. Poor fellow!
I went down-stairs, feeling quite easy in mind, and sat down to my
letter. That threw me back into the past, for to Sister Madeline I
poured out my heart. An hour went by, and I had forgotten Richard and
the library. I was recalled to the present by hearing some books fall
on the floor (the library was over the parlor); and by hearing
Richard's step heavily crossing the room. I started up, pushed my
letter into my portfolio, and wiped away my tears, quite frightened
that Richard should see me crying. To my surprise, he came hurriedly
down the stairs, passed the parlor-door, opened the hall-door, and
shutting it heavily after him, was gone, without a word to me. This
startled me for a moment, it was so unusual. But my heart was not
enough engaged to be wounded by the slight, and I very soon returned to
my letter and my other thoughts.
When I went up to bed, I stopped in the library, and found the lamp
still burning, the pens unused, a cigar, which had been lighted, but
unsmoked, lying on the table. A book was lying on the floor at the foot
of the bookshelf, where I had left Richard standing. I picked it up.
“This was the last book that Uncle Leonard ever read,” I said to
myself, turning its pages over. I remembered that he had it in his hand
the last night of his life, when I bade him goodnight. I was not in the
room the next day, till he was brought home in a dying state.
Ann had put the books in order, and arranged them, after he went
down-town in the morning.
I wondered whether Richard knew that that was the last book he had
been reading, and I put it by, to tell him of it in the morning when he
came. But in the morning Richard did not come. Unusual again; and I was
for an hour or two surprised. He always found some excuse for coming on
his way down-town: and it was very odd that he should not want to
explain his sudden going away last night. But, as before, my lack of
love made the wound very slight, and in a little time I had forgotten
all about it, and was only thinking that this was Friday—and that
Wednesday was coming very near.
CHAPTER XXIII. A REVERSAL
All this is to be sanctified,
This rupture with the past;
For thus we die before our deaths,
And so die well at last.
Dinner-time came, and passed, and still Richard did not come. At
eight o'clock Ann brought the tea, as usual, and it stood nearly an
hour upon the table; and then I told her to take it away.
By this time I had begun to feel uneasy. Something must have
happened. It would necessarily be something uncomfortable, perhaps
something that would frighten me, and give me another shock. And I
dreaded that so; I had had so many. But perhaps, dreadful though it
might be, it would bring me a release. Perhaps Richard was only angry
with me, and that might bring me a release.
At nine o'clock I heard a ring at the bell, and then his step in the
hall. He was slower than usual in coming in; everything made me feel
confused and apprehensive. When he opened the door and entered, I was
trying to command myself, but I forgot all about myself when I saw
him. His face was white, and he looked haggard and harassed, as if
he had gone through a year of suffering since last night, when I left
him with the lamp and cigar in the library.
I started up and put out my hand. “What is it, Richard? You are in
He said no, and tried to speak in an ordinary tone, sitting down on
the sofa by my chair.
I was confused and thrown back by this, and tried to talk as if
nothing had been said.
“Will you have a cup of tea?” I asked; “Ann has just taken it away.”
He said absently, yes, and I rang for Ann to bring the tea, and then
went to the table to pour it out.
He sat with his face leaning on his hand on the arm of the sofa, and
did not seem to notice me till I carried the cup to him, and offered
it. Then he started, and looked up and took it, asking my pardon, and
“Are you not going to have one yourself?” he said, half rising.
“No, I don't want any to-night. Tell me if yours is right.”
“Yes, it is very nice,” he said absently, drinking some. Then rising
suddenly, he put the cup on the mantleshelf, and said to me, “Send Ann
away, I want to talk to you.”
I told Ann I would ring for her when I wanted her, and sat down by
the lamp again, with many apprehensions.
“You asked me if anything had happened, Pauline, didn't you?” he
“No,” I answered. “But I was sure that something had, from the way
you looked when you came in.”
“It is something that—that changes things very much for you,
Pauline,” he resumed, with an effort, “and makes all our arrangements
unnecessary—that is, unless you choose.”
I looked amazed and frightened, and he went on.
“I made a discovery last night in the library. The will is found,
I started to my feet, with my hands pressed against my heart,
waiting breathlessly for his next word.
“Everything is left to you—and I have come to tell you, you are
free—if you desire to be.”
“Oh, thank God! Thank God!” I cried; then covering my face with my
hands, sank back into my seat, and burst into tears.
He turned from me and walked to the other end of the room; each of
us lived much in that little time.
For myself, I had accepted my bondage so meekly, so dutifully, that
I did not know the weight it had been upon me till it was suddenly
taken off. I did not think of him—I could only think, there was no
next Wednesday, and I could stay where I was. It was like the sudden
cessation of dreadful and long-continued pain: it was Heaven. I was
crying for joy. But at last the reaction came, and I had to think of
“Oh, Richard,” I cried, going toward him, (he was sitting by the
window, and his hand concealed his eyes.) “I don't know what you think
of me, I hope you can forgive me.”
He did not speak, and I felt a dreadful pang of self-reproach.
“Richard,” I said, crying, and taking hold of his hand, “I am
ashamed of myself for being glad. I will marry you yet, if you want me
to. I know how good you have been to me. I know I am ungrateful and
Still he did not speak. His very lips were white, and his hand, when
I touched it, did not meet mine or move.
“You are angry with me,” I cried, bursting into a flood of tears.
“Oh, how you ought to hate me. Oh, I wish we had never seen each other.
I wish I had been dead before I brought you all this trouble. Richard,
do look at me—do speak to me. Don't you believe that I am sorry? Don't
you know I will do anything you want me to?”
He seemed to try to speak—moved a little, as a person in pain might
do, but, bending his head a little lower on his hand, was silent still.
“Richard,” I said, after several moments' silence, speaking
thoughtfully—“it has all come to me at last. I begin to see what you
have been to me always, and how badly I have treated you. But it must
have been because I was very young, and did not think. I am sure my
heart was not so bad, and I mean to be different now. You know I have
not had any one to teach me. Will you let me try and make you happy?”
“No, Pauline,” he said at last, speaking with effort. “It is all
over now, and we will never talk of it again.”
I was silent for many minutes—standing before him with
irresolution. “If it was right for me to marry you before,” I said at
last, “Why is it not right now, if I mean to do my duty?”
“No, it is no longer right, if it ever was,” he answered. “I will
not take advantage of your sense of duty now, as I was going to take
advantage of your necessity before. No, you are free, and it is all at
“You are unjust to yourself. You were not taking advantage of my
necessity. You were saving me, and I am ashamed of myself when I think
of everything. Oh, Richard, where did you learn to be so good!”
A spasm of pain crossed his face, and he turned away from me.
“If you give me up,” I said timidly, “who will take care of me?”
“There will be plenty now,” he answered bitterly.
“There wasn't anybody yesterday.”
“But there will be to-morrow. No, Pauline,” he said, lifting his
head and speaking in a firmer voice, “What I thought I was doing, till
this showed me my heart, and how I had deceived myself, I will do now,
even if it kills me. I thought I was acting for your good, and from a
sense of duty: now that I know what is for your good, and what is my
duty, I will go on in that, and nothing shall turn me from it, so help
“At least you will forgive me,” I said, with tears, “for all the
things that I have made you suffer.”
“Yes,” he said, with some emotion, “I shall forgive you sooner than
I shall forgive myself. I cannot see that you have been to blame.”
“Ah,” I cried, hiding my face with shame, when I thought of all my
selfishness and indifference, and the return I had made him for his
devoted love. “I know how I have been to blame; and I am going to pay
you for your goodness and care by breaking your heart for you—by
upsetting all your plans. Oh, Richard! You had better let it all go on!
Think how everybody knows about it!”
He shook his head. “I don't care a straw for that,” he said. And I
am sure he did not.
“No,” he said firmly, getting up, and walking up and down the room;
“it is all over, and we must make the best of it. I shall still have
everything to do for you under the will; and while you mustn't expect
me to see you often, just for the present time, at least, you know I
shall do everything as faithfully as if nothing had occurred. You must
write to me whenever you think my judgment or advice would do you any
good. And I shall be always looking after things that you don't
understand, and taking care of your interests, whether you hear from me
or not. You'll always be sure of that, whatever may occur.”
“Oh,” I faltered, with a sudden frightened feeling of loneliness and
loss, in the midst of my new freedom, “I can't feel as if it were all
“I don't know how this terrible mistake about the will occurred,” he
went on, without noticing what I said: “it was only a—mercy that I
found it when I did. It was between the leaves of a book, an old volume
of Tacitus; I took it down to look at the title for the inventory, and
it fell out.”
“That was the book he had in his hand when I saw him last, that
night before he died.”
“Yes? Then after you went up-stairs I suppose he was thinking of
you, and he took out the will to read it over, and maybe left it out,
meaning to lock it up again in the morning.”
“And in the morning he was not well,” I said, “and perhaps went away
leaving it lying on the book; I remember, Ann said there were several
papers lying on the table, when she arranged the room.”
“No doubt,” said Richard, “she shut it up in the book it laid on,
and put it on the shelf. But it is all one how it came about. The will
is all correct and duly executed. One of the witnesses was a clerk, who
returned yesterday from South America, where he had been gone for
several months. The other is lying ill at his home in Westchester, but
I have sent to-day and had his deposition taken. It is all in order,
and there can be no dispute.”
I think at that moment I should have been glad if it had been found
invalid. There was something so inevitable and final in Richard's plain
and practical words.
Evidently a great change had come in my life, and I could not help
it if I would. I could not but feel the separation from the person upon
whom I had leaned so long, and who had done everything for me, and I
knew this separation was to be a final one; Richard's words left no
doubt of that.
“What you'd better do,” he said, leaning by the mantelpiece, “is to
tell the servants about this—this—change in your plans, to-morrow;
unpack, and settle the house to stay here for the present. In the
course of a couple of months it will be time enough to make up your
mind about where you will live. I think, till the will is admitted and
all that, you had better keep things as they are, and make no change.”
He had been so used to thinking for me, that he could not give it up
at once. “I will tell Sophie to-morrow,” he went on. “It will not be
necessary for you to see her if she should come before she hears of it
from me.” (Sophie had an engagement with me to go out on the following
morning. He seemed to to have forgotten nothing.)
“What will Sophie think of me?” I said, with my eyes on the floor.
“Richard, it looks very bad for me; when I was poor, I was going to
marry you, and now that I have money left me, I am going to break it
“What difference does it make how it looks,” he said, “when you know
you have done right? I will tell Sophie the truth, that it was my doing
both times, and that you only yielded to my judgment in the matter.
Besides, if she judges you harshly, it need not make much matter to
you. You will never again be thrown intimately with her, I suppose.”
“No, I suppose not,” I said faintly. I was being turned out of my
world very fast, and it was not very clear what I was going to get in
exchange for it (except freedom).
“I will send you up money to-morrow morning,” he went on, “to pay
the servants, and all that. The clerk I shall send it by, is the one
that I shall put in charge of your matters. You can always draw on him
for money, or ask him any questions, or call on him for any service, in
case I should be away, or ill, or anything.”
“You are going away?” I said interrogatively.
“It is possible, for a while—I don't know. I haven't made up my
mind definitely about what I am going to do. But in case I should
be away, I mean, you are to call on him.”
“Anything he tells you, about signing papers, and such things, you
may be sure is all right.”
“But don't do anything, without consulting me, for anybody else,
“I'll remember,” I said absently and humbly. It was no wonder
Richard felt I needed somebody to take care of me!
“I believe there's nothing else I wanted to say to you,” he said at
last, moving from the mantelpiece where he had been standing; “at
least, nothing that I can't write about, when it occurs to me.”
“Oh, Richard!” I said, beginning to cry again, as I knew that the
moment of parting had come, “I don't understand you at all. I think you
take it very calm.”
“Isn't that the way to take it?” he said, in a voice that was,
certainly, very calm indeed.
I looked up in his face: he was ten years older. I really was
frightened at the change in him.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, putting my face down in my hands, “I wasn't worth
all I've made you suffer.”
“Maybe you weren't,” he said simply, “But it wasn't either your
fault or mine—and you couldn't help it—that I wanted you.”
He made a quick movement as he passed the table, and my work-basket
fell at his feet, and a little jewel-box rolled across the floor. It
was a ring he had brought me, only three days before.
He stooped to pick it up, and I saw his features contract as if in
pain, as he laid it back upon the table. And his voice was unsteady, as
he said, not looking at me while he spoke, “I hope you won't send any
of these things back. If there's anything you're willing to keep,
because I gave it to you, I'd like it very much. The rest send to your
church, or somewhere. I don't want to have to look at them again.”
By this time I was sobbing, and, sitting down by the table, had
buried my face on my arms.
“I'm sorry that it makes you feel so,” he said, “but it can't be
helped. Don't cry, I can't bear to see you cry. Good-bye, Pauline; God
And he was gone. I did not realize it, and did not lift my head,
till I heard the heavy sound of the outer door closing after him.
Then I knew it was all over, and that things were changed for me
“I cannot cry and get over it as you can,” he had said.
And if tears would have got me over it, I should have been cured
CHAPTER XXIV. MY NEW WORLD.
Few are the fragments left of follies past;
For worthless things are transient. Those that last
Have in them germs of an eternal spirit,
And out of good their permanence inherit.
Nor they unblest,
Who underneath the world's bright vest
With sackcloth tame their aching breast,
The sharp-edged cross in jewels hide.
From eighteen to twenty-four—a long step; and it covers the ground
that is generally the brightest and gayest in a woman's life, and the
most decisive. With me it was, in a certain sense, bright and gay; but
the deciding events of my life seemed to have been crowded into the
year, the story of which has just been told. Of the six years that came
after, there is not much to tell. My character went on forming itself,
no doubt, and interiorly I was growing in one direction or the other;
but in external matters, there is not much of interest.
I had “no end of money,” so it seemed to me, and to a good many
other people, I should think, from the way that they paid me court. I
don't see why it did not turn my head, except that I was what they call
religious, and dreadfully afraid of doing wrong. I was not my own
mistress exactly, either, for I had some one to direct my conscience,
though that was the only direction that I ever had. I had not the
smallest restriction as to money from Richard (to whom the estate was
left in trust); and it had been found much to exceed his expectations,
or those of anybody else.
I had the whole world before me, where to go and what to choose; not
very much stability of character, and the greatest ignorance; a
considerable share of good looks, and the love of pleasure inseparable
from youth and health; absolutely no authority, and any amount of
flattery and temptation. I think it must be agreed, it was a happy
thing for me that I was brought under the influence of Sister Madeline,
and that through her I was made to feel most afraid of sin, and of
myself; and that the life within, the growth in grace, and the keeping
clear my conscience, was made to appear of more consequence than the
life without, that was so full of pleasures and of snares.
I often think now of the obedience with which I would give up a
party, stay at home alone, and read a good book, because I had been
advised to do it, or because it was a certain day; of the simplicity
with which I would pat away a novel, when its interest was at the
height, because it was the hour for me to read something different, or
because it was Friday, or because I was to learn to give up doing what
I wanted to.
These things, trivial in themselves, and never bound upon my
conscience, only offered as advice, had the effect of breaking up the
constant influence of the world, giving me a little time for thought,
and opportunity for self-denial. I cannot help thinking such things are
very useful for young persons, and particularly those who have only
ordinary force and resolution. At least, I think they were made a means
of security to me. I was so in earnest to do right, that I often
thought, in terror for myself, in the midst of alluring pleasures and
delights, it was a pity they had not let me be a Sister when I wanted
to at first. (I really think I had more vocation than they thought: I
could have given up, to the end of life, without a murmur, if
that is what is necessary.) As to the people who wanted to marry me, I
did not care for any of them, and seemed to have much less coquetry
than of old. They simply did not interest me, (of course, in a few
years, I had outgrown the love that I had supposed to be so immortal.)
It was very pleasant to be always attended to, and to have more
constant homage than any other young woman whom I saw. But as to liking
particularly any of the men themselves, it never occurred to me to
think of it.
I was placed by my fortunate circumstances rather above the
intrigue, and detraction, and heart-burning, that attends the social
struggle for life in ordinary cases. If I were envied, I did not know
it, and I had small reason to envy anybody else, being quite the queen.
I enjoyed above measure, the bright and pleasant things that I had
at my command: the sunny rooms of my pretty house: the driving, the
sailing, the dancing: all that charms a healthy young taste, and is
innocent. I took journeys, with the ecstasy of youth and of good
health. I never shall forget the pleasure of certain days and skies,
and the enjoyment that I had in nature. In society, I had a little more
weariness, as I grew older, and found a certain want of interest, as
was inevitable. Society isn't all made up of clever people, and even
clever people get to be tiresome in the course of time. But at
twenty-four I was by no means blase, only more addicted to books
and journeys, and less enthusiastic about parties and croquet, though
these I could enjoy a little yet.
I had a pretty house (and re-furnished it very often, which always
gave me pleasure). I had no care, for Richard had arranged that I
should have a very excellent sort of person for duenna, who had a good
deal of tact, and didn't bore me, and was shrewd enough to make things
very smooth. I liked her very much, though I think now she was
something of a hypocrite. But she had enough principle to make things
very respectable, and I never took her for a friend. We had very pretty
little dinners, and little evenings when anybody wanted them, though
the house wasn't very large. My duenna (by name Throckmorton) liked
journeys as well as I did, and never objected to going anywhere.
Altogether we were very comfortable.
The people whom I had known in that first year of my social
existence, had drifted away from me a good deal in this new life.
Sophie I could not help meeting sometimes, for she was still a gay
woman, but I naturally belonged to a younger set, and did not go very
long into general society. We still disliked each other with the
cordiality of our first acquaintance, but I was very sorry for it, and
had a great many repentances about it after every meeting. Kilian I met
a good deal, but we rather avoided each other, at short range, though
exceedingly good friends to the general observation.
Mary Leighton I seldom saw; no doubt she was consumed with envy when
she heard of me, for they were poor, and not able to keep up with gay
life as would have pleased her. She still maintained her intimacy with
Kilian, for he had not the resolution to break off a flirtation of
which, I was sure, he must be very tired.
Henrietta had married very well, two years after I saw her at R——,
and was the staid, placid matron that she was always meant to be.
Charlotte Benson was the clever woman still: a little
stronger-minded, and no less good-looking than of old, and no more.
People were beginning to say that she would not marry, though she was
only twenty-six. She did not go much to parties, and was not in my set.
She affected art and lectures, and excursions to mountains, and
campings-out, and unconventionalities, and no doubt had a good time in
her way. But it was not my way: and so we seldom met. When we did, she
did not show much more respect for me than of old, which always had the
effect of making me feel angry.
And as for Richard, we could not have been much further apart, if he
had lived “in England and I at Rotterdam.” For a year, while he was
settling up the estate, he was closely in the city. I did not see him
more than once or twice, all business being transacted through his
lawyer, and the clerk of whom he had spoken to me. After the business
matters of the estate were all in order, he went away, intending, I
believe, to stay a year or two. But he came back before many months
were over, and settled down into the routine of business life, which
now seemed to have become necessary to him.
Travel was only a weariness to him in his state of mind; and work,
and city-life, seemed the panacea. He did not live with Sophie, but
took apartments, which he furnished plainly; and seemed settling down,
according to his brother, into much of the sort of life that Uncle
Leonard had led so many years in Varick-street.
Sophie still went to R——, and I often heard of the pleasant
parties there in summer. But Richard seldom went, and seemed to have
lost his interest in the place, though I have no doubt he spent more
money on it than before. I heard of many improvements every year.
And Richard was now a man of wealth, so much so that people talked
about him; and the newspapers said, in talking about real-estate, or
investments, or institutions of charity—“When such men as Richard
Vandermarck allow their names to appear, we may be sure,” etc., etc. He
was now the head of the firm, and one of the first business men of the
city. He seemed a great deal older than he was; thirty-seven is young
to occupy the place he held.
Such a parti could not be let alone entirely. His course was
certainly discouraging, and it needs tough hopes to live on nothing.
But stranger things had happened; more obdurate men had yielded; and
unappropriated loveliness hoped on. The story of an early attachment
was afloat in connection with his name. I don't know whether I was made
to play a part in it or not.
I saw him, perhaps, twice a year, not oftener. His manner was
always, to me, peculiarly grave and kind; to every one, practical and
unpretending. I had many letters from him, particularly when I was away
on journeys. He seemed always to want to know exactly where I was, and
to feel a care of me, though his letters never went beyond business
matters, and advice about things I did not understand.
As my guardian, he could not have done less, nor was it necessary
that he should do more; still I often wished it would occur to him to
come and see me oftener, and give me an opportunity of showing him how
much I had improved, and how different I had become. I had the greatest
respect for his opinion; and he had grown, unconsciously to myself, to
be a sort of oracle with me, and a sort of hero, too.
I was apt to compare other men with him, and they fell very far
short of his measure in my eyes. That may have been because I saw him
much too seldom, and the other men much too often.
CHAPTER XXV. BIEN PERDU, BIEN CONNU.
Keep, therefore, a true woman's eye,
And love me still, but know not why;
So hast thou the same reason still
To doat upon me ever!
“It's very nice to be at home again,” I said to Mrs. Throckmorton,
as I broke a great lump of coal in pieces, and watched the flames with
“Yes,” said Mrs. Throckmorton, putting another piece of sugar in her
coffee, for she was still at the table. “That is, if you call this
home; I must confess it doesn't feel so to me altogether.”
“Well, it's our own dear, noisy, raging, racketing, bustling old
city, if it isn't our own house, and I'm sure we're very comfortable.”
“Very,” said Mrs. Throckmorton, who was always pleased.
“Every time I hear the tinkle of a car-bell, or the roar of an
omnibus, I feel a thrill of pleasure,” I said; “I never was so glad to
get anywhere before.”
“That's something new, isn't it?” said Mrs. Throckmorton, briefly.
“I don't know; I think I am always glad to get back home.”
“And very glad to go away again too, my dear.”
“I don't think I shall travel any more,” I returned. “The fact is, I
am getting too old to care about it, I believe.”
Mrs. Throckmorton laughed, being considerably over forty, and still
as fond of going about as ever.
We were only de retour two days. We had started eighteen
months ago, for at least three years in Europe, and I had found myself
unaccountably tired of it at the end of a year and a half; and here we
Our house was rented, but that I had not allowed to be any obstacle,
though Mrs. Throckmorton, who was very well satisfied with the easy
life abroad, had tried to make it so. I had secured apartments which
were very pretty and complete. We had found them in order, and we had
come there from the steamer. I was eminently happy at being where I
wanted to be.
“How odd it seems to be in town and have nobody know it,” I said,
thinking, with a little quiet satisfaction, how pleased several people
I could name would be, if they only knew we were so near them.
“Nobody but Mr. Vandermarck, I suppose,” said Mrs. Throckmorton.
“Not even he,” I answered, “for he can't have got my letter yet; it
was only mailed the day we started. It was only a chance, you know, our
getting those staterooms, and we were in such a hurry. I was so much
obliged to that dear, old German gentleman for dying. We shouldn't have
been here if he hadn't.”
“Pauline, my dear!”
“Well, I can't think, as he's probably in heaven, that he can have
begrudged us his tickets to New York.”
“I should think not,” said Mrs. Throckmorton, with a little sigh.
For New York was not heaven to her, and she had spent a good deal of
the day in looking up the necessary servants for our establishment,
which, little as it was, required just double the number that had made
us comfortable abroad.
She had too much discretion to trouble me with her cares, however,
so she said cheerfully, after a few moments, by way of diverting my
mind and her own—
“Well, I heard some news to-day.”
“Ah!”—(I had been unpacking all day; and Mrs. Throckmorton in the
interval of servant-hunting had not been able to refrain from a visit
or two, en passant to dear friends.)
“Yes: Kilian Vandermarck was married yesterday.”
“Yesterday! how odd. And pray, who has he married? Not Mary
Leighton, I should hope.”
“Leighton. Yes, that's the name. No money, and a little passe. Everybody wonders.”
“Well, he deserves it. That is even-handed justice, I'm not sorry
for him. He's been trifling all his days, and now he's got his
punishment. It serves Sophie right, too. I know she can't endure her.
She never thought there was the slightest danger. But I'm sorry for
Richard, that he's got to have such a girl related to him.”
“Oh, well,” said Mrs. Throckmorton, “I don't know whether that'll
affect him very much, for they say he's going to be married too.”
“Yes; and to that Benson girl, you know.”
“Who told you?”
“Mary Ann. She's heard it half a dozen times, she says. I believe
it's rather an old affair. His sister made it up, I'm told. The young
lady's been spending the summer with them, and this autumn it came
“I don't believe it.”
“I'm sure I don't know; only that's the talk. It would be odd,
though, if we'd just come home in time for the wedding. You'll have to
give her something handsome, being your guardian, and all.”
I wouldn't give her anything, and she shouldn't marry Richard, I
thought, as I leaned back in my chair and looked into the fire; a great
silence having fallen on us since the delivery of that piece of news.
I said I didn't believe it, and yet I'm afraid I did. It was so like
a man to give in at last; at least, like any man but Richard. He had
always liked Charlotte Benson, and known how clever she was, and Sophie
had been so set upon it, (particularly since Richard had had so much
money that he had given her a handsome settlement that nothing would
affect.) And now that Kilian was married and would have the place,
unless Richard wanted it, it was natural that Sophie should approve
Richard having his wife there instead of Kilian having his;
Kilian's being one that nobody particularly approved.
Yes, it did sound very much like probability. I wasn't given to
self-analysis; but I acknowledged to myself, that I was very much
disappointed, and that if I had known that this was going to happen, I
should have stayed in Europe.
I had never felt as if there were any chance of Richard marrying any
one; I had not said to myself, that his love for me still had an
existence, nor had I any reason to believe it. But the truth had been,
I had always felt that he belonged to me, and was my right, and I felt
a bitter resentment toward this woman, who was supposed to have usurped
my place. How dared Richard love anybody else! I was angry with
him, and very much hurt, and very, very unhappy.
Long after Mrs. Throckmorton went to her middle-aged repose, I sat
up and went through imaginary scenes, and reviewed the situation a
hundred times, and tried to convince myself of what I wanted to
believe, and ended without any satisfaction.
One thing was certain. If Richard was going to marry Charlotte
Benson, he was not going to do it because he loved her. He might not be
prevented from doing it because he loved me; but he did not love her. I
could not say why exactly. But I knew she was not the kind of woman for
him to think of loving, and I would not believe it till I heard it from
himself, and I would hear it from himself at the earliest possible
date. I did not like to be unhappy, and was very impatient to get rid
of this, if it were not true, and to know the worst, at once, if it
“My dear Throcky,” I said to my companion, at the breakfast-table,
“I think you'd better go and take dinner with your niece to-day. I've
sent for Mr. Vandermarck to come and dine, and I thought perhaps you'd
rather not be bored; we shall have business to talk about, and business
is such a nuisance when you're not interested in it.”
“Very well, my dear,” said Mrs. Throckmorton, with indestructible
“Or you might have a headache, if you'd rather, and I'll send your
dinner up to you. I'll be sure Susan takes you everything that's nice.”
“Well, then, I think I'll have a headache; I'm afraid I'd rather
have it than one of Mary Ann's poor dinners. (I'd be sure of one
to-morrow if I went.)”
“Paris things have spoiled you, I'm afraid,” I said. “Only see that
I have something nice for Richard, won't you?—How do you think the
cook is going to do?” This was the first sign of interest I had given
in the matter of menage; by which it will be seen I was still a
little selfish, and not very wise. But Throckmorton was a person to
cultivate my selfishness, and there had not been much to develop the
wisdom of common life.
She promised me a very pretty dinner, no matter at what trouble, and
made me feel quite easy about her wounded feelings. One of the best
features of Throckmorton was, she hadn't any feelings; you might treat
her like a galley-slave, and she would show the least dejection. It was
a temptation to have such a person in the house.
I had sent a note to Richard which contained the following:
“I am sure you will be surprised to know we have returned.
But the fact is, I got very tired of Italy; and we were
disappointed in the apartments we wanted in Berlin, and some
of the people we expected to have with us had to give it up,
and altogether it seemed dull, and we thought it would be
just as pleasant to come home. We were able to get staterooms
that just suited us, and it didn't seem worth while to lose
them by waiting to send word. We had a very comfortable
voyage, and I am glad to find myself at home, though Mrs.
Throckmorton doesn't think the rooms are very nice. I want to
know if you won't come to dinner. We dine at six. Send a line
back by the boy. I want to ask you about some
And I had received for answer:
“MY DEAR PAULINE:
“Of course I am astonished to think you are at home. I
enclosed you several letters by the steamer yesterday, none
of them of any very great importance, though, I think. I will
come up at six.
“P.S. I am very glad you wanted to come home.” #/
I read this letter over a great many times, but it did not enlighten
me at all as to his intentions about marrying Charlotte Benson. It was
very matter-of-fact, but that Richard's letters always were. Evidently
he had thought the same of it himself, as he read it over, and had
added the postscript. But that did not seem very enthusiastic.
Altogether I was not happy, waiting for six o'clock to come.
CHAPTER XXVI. A DINNER
Time and chance are but a tide,
Slighted love is sair to bide.
The dining-room and parlor of our little suite adjoined; the door
was standing open between them, as I walked up and down the parlor,
waiting nervously for Richard to arrive. The fire was bright, and the
only light in the parlor was a soft, pretty lamp, which we had brought
from Italy. There were flowers on the table, and in two or three vases,
and the curtains were pretty, and there were several large mirrors.
Outside, it was the twilight of a dark autumnal day; almost night
already, and the lamps were lit. It lacked several minutes of six when
Richard came. I felt very much agitated when he entered the room. It
was a year and a half since I had seen him: besides, this piece of
news! But he looked just the same as ever, and I had not the
self-possession to note whether he seemed agitated at meeting me. I do
not know exactly what we talked about for the first few moments,
probably I was occupied in trying to excuse myself for coming home so
suddenly, for I found Richard was not altogether pleased at not having
been informed, and thought there must be something yet to tell. He was
not used to feminine caprice, and I began to feel a good deal ashamed
of myself. I had to remind myself, more than once, that I was not
responsible to any one.
“I just felt like it,” was such a very weak explanation to offer to
this grave business-man, for disarranging two years of carefully-laid
I found I was getting to be a little afraid of Richard: we had been
so long apart, and he had grown so much older.
“I hope, at least, you are not going to scold me for it,” I said at
last, with a little laugh, feeling that was my best way out of it. “I
shall think you are not glad, to see me.”
“I am glad to see you,” he said, gravely; “and as to scolding, it's
so long since you've given me an opportunity, I should not know how to
go to work.”
“Do you mean, because I've been away so long, or because I've been
Susan, who had been watching her opportunity, now appeared in the
dining-room door, and said that dinner was on the table.
Richard asked for Mrs. Throckmorton when we sat down to dinner. I
told him she was dining with her niece. (She had reconsidered the
question of the headache, and had gone to hear more news.) The dinner
was very nice, and very nicely served; but somehow, Richard did not
seem to enjoy it very much, that is, not as I had been in the habit
lately of seeing men enjoy their meals.
“I am afraid you are getting like Uncle Leonard, and only care about
Wall-street,” I said. “I shouldn't wonder if you forgot to order your
dinner half the time, and took the same thing for breakfast every
morning in the year.”
“That's just exactly how it is,” he said. “If Sophie did not come
down to my quarters every week or two, and regulate affairs a little, I
don't know where I should be, in the matter of my dinners.”
“How is Sophie?” I said.
“Very well. I saw her yesterday. I went to put Charley in College
“I can't think of Charley as a young man.”
“Yes, Charley is a strapping fellow, within two inches of my
“Impossible! And where is Benny?”
“At school here in town. His mother will not let him go to
boarding-school. He is a nice boy: I think there's more in him than
“And I hear Kilian is married!”
“Yes. Kilian is married—the very day you landed, too.”
“Well,” I said, with a little dash of temper, “I'm very sorry for
you all. I did not think Kilian was going to be so foolish.”
“He thinks he's very wise, though, all the same,” said Richard, with
a smile, which turned into a sigh before he had done speaking.
“I do dislike her so,” I exclaimed, warmly. “There isn't an honest
or straightforward thing about her. She is weak, too; her only strength
is her suppleness and cunning.”
“I know you never liked her,” said Richard, gravely; “but I hope
you'll try to think better of her now.”
“I hope I shall never have to see her,” I answered, with angry
Richard was silent, and I was very much ashamed of myself a moment
after. I had meant him to see how much improved I was, and how well
disciplined. This was a pretty exhibition! I had not spoken so of any
one for a year, at least. I colored with mortification and penitence.
Richard evidently saw it, and felt sorry for me, for he said, most
“I can understand exactly how you feel, Pauline. This marriage is a
great trial to me. I have done all I could to keep Kilian from throwing
himself away, but I might as well have argued with the winds.”
“I don't care how much Kilian throws himself away,” I said,
impulsively. “He deserves it for keeping around her all these years.
But I do mind that she is your sister, and that she will be mistress of
the house at R——.”
There was an awful silence then. Heavens! what had I been thinking
about to have said that! I had precipitated the denouement, and
I had not meant to. I did not want to hear it that moment, if he were
going to marry Charlotte Benson, nor did I want to hear it, if he were
saving the old place for me. I felt as if I had given the blow that
would bring the whole structure down, and I waited for the crash in
In the meantime the business of the table went on. I ate half a
chicken croquette, and Susan placed the salad before Richard, and
another plate. He did not speak till he had put the salad on his plate;
then he said, without looking at me, in a voice a good deal lower than
was usual to him,
“She is not to be mistress of that house. They will live in town.”
Then I felt cold and chilled to my very heart; it was well that he
did not expect me to speak, for I could not have commanded my voice
enough to have concealed my agitation. I knew very well from that
moment that he was going to marry Charlotte Benson. Something that was
said a little later was a confirmation.
I had recovered myself enough to talk about ordinary things, and to
keep strictly to them, too. Richard was talking of the great heat of
the past summer. I had said it had been unparalleled in France; had he
not found it very uncomfortable here in town?
“I have been out of town so much, I can hardly say how it has been
here,” he answered. “I was all of August in the country; only coming to
the city twice.”
My heart sank: that was just what they had said; he had been a great
deal at home this summer, and she had been there all the time.
The dinner was becoming terribly ennuyant, and I wished with
all my heart Throckmorton had been contented with just half the
courses. Richard did not seem to enjoy them, and I—I was so wretched I
could scarcely say a word, much less eat a morsel. It had been a great
mistake to invite him to take dinner; it was being too familiar, when
he had put me at such a distance all these years: I wished for Mrs.
Throckmorton with all my heart. Why had I sent her off? Richard was
evidently so constrained, and it was in such bad taste to have asked
him here; it could not help putting thoughts in both our minds, sitting
alone at a table opposite each other, as we should have been sitting
daily if that horrid will had not been found. He had dined with us just
twice before, but that was at dinner-parties, when there had been ever
so many people between us, and when I had not said six words to him
during the whole evening.
The only excuse I could offer, and that he could understand, would
be that I wanted to talk business to him; I had said in my note that I
wanted to consult him about something, and I must keep that in mind. I
had wanted to ask him about a house I thought of buying, adjoining the
Sisters' Hospital, to enlarge their work; but I was so wicked and
worldly, I felt just then as if I did not care whether they had a house
or not, or whether they did any work. However, I resolved to speak
about it, when we had got away from the table, if we ever did.
Susan kept bringing dish after dish.
“Oh, we don't want any of that!” I exclaimed, at last, impatiently;
“do take it away, and tell them to send in the coffee.”
I was resolved upon one thing: Richard should tell me of his
engagement before he went away; it would be dishonorable and unkind if
he did not, and I should make him do it. I was not quite sure that I
had self-control enough not to show how it made me feel, when it came
to hearing it all in so many words. But in very truth, I had not much
pride as regarded him; I felt so sore-hearted and unhappy, I did not
care much whether he knew it or suspected it.
I could not help remembering how little concealment he had made of
his love for me, even when he knew that all the heart I had was given
to another. I would be very careful not to precipitate the disclosure,
however, while we sat at table; it is so disagreeable to talk to any
one on an agitating subject vis-a-vis across a little
dinner-table, with a bright light overhead, and a servant walking
around, able to stop and study you from any point she pleases.
Coffee came at last, though even that, Susan was unwilling to look
upon as the legitimate finale, and had her views about liqueur,
instructed by Throckmorton. But I cut it short by getting up and
saying, “I'm sure you'll be glad to go into the parlor; it gets warm so
soon in these little rooms.”
The parlor was very cool and pleasant; a window had been open, and
the air was fresh, and the flowers were delicious, and the lamp was
softer and pleasanter than the gas. I went to break up the coal and
make the fire blaze, and Richard to shut the window down.
When I had pulled a chair up to the fire and seated myself, he stood
leaning on the mantelpiece, on the other side from me. I felt sure he
meant to go, the minute that he could get away—a committee meeting, no
doubt, or some such nauseous fraud. But he should not go away until he
had told me, that was certain.
“What is it that you wanted to ask me about, Pauline?” he said,
My heart gave a great thump; how could he have known? Oh, it was the
business that I had spoken of in my stupid note. Yes; and I began to
explain to him what I wanted to do about the hospital.
He looked infinitely relieved. I believe he had an idea it was
something very different. My explanation could not have added much to
his reverence for my business ability. I was very indefinite, and could
not tell him whether it was hundreds or thousands that I meant.
He said, with a smile, he thought it must be thousands, as city
property was so very high. He was very kind, however, about the matter,
and did not discourage me at all. He always seemed to approve of my
desire to give away in charity, and, within bounds, always furthered
such plans of doing good. He said he would look into it, and would
write me word next week what his impression was; and then, I think, he
meant to go away.
Then I began talking on every subject I could think of, hoping some
of the roads would lead to Rome. But none of them led there, and I was
“Oh, don't you want to look at some photographs?” I said, at last,
thinking I saw an opening for my wedge. I got the package, and he came
to the table and looked at them, standing up. They were naturally of
much more interest to me than to him, being of places and people with
which I had so lately been familiar.
But he looked at them very kindly, and asked a good many questions
“Look at this,” I said, handing him an Antwerp peasant-woman in her
hideous bonnet. “Isn't that ridiculously like Charlotte Benson? I
bought it because it was so singular a resemblance.”
“It is like her,” he said, thoughtfully, looking at it long. “The
mouth is a little larger and the eyes further apart. But it is a most
striking likeness. It might almost have been taken for her.”
“How is she, and when have you seen her?” I said, a little choked
“She is very well. I saw her yesterday,” he answered, still looking
at the little picture.
“Was she with Sophie this summer?”
“Yes, for almost two months.”
“I hope she doesn't keep everybody in order as sharply as she used
to?” I said, with a bitter little laugh.
“I don't know,” he said. “I think, perhaps, she is rather less
decided than she used to be.”
“Oh, you call it decision, do you? Well, I'm glad I know what it is.
I used to think it hadn't such a pretty name as that.”
Richard looked grave; it certainly was not a graceful way to lead up
“But then, you always liked her,” I said.
“Yes, I always liked her,” he answered, simply.
“I'm afraid I'm not very amiable,” I retorted, “for I never liked
her: no better even than that fraudulent Mary Leighton, clever and
sensible as she always was. There is such a thing as being too clever,
and too sensible, and making yourself an offence to all less admirable
Richard was entirely silent, and, I was sure, was disapproving of me
“Do you know what I heard yesterday?” I said, In a daring way. “And
I hope you're going to tell me if it's true, to-night?”
“What was it that you heard yesterday?” he asked, without much
change of tone. He had laid down the photograph, and had gone back, and
was leaning by the mantelpiece again.
“Why, I heard that you were going to marry Charlotte Benson. Is it
I had pushed away the pile of photographs from me, and had looked up
at him when I began, but my voice and courage rather failed before the
end, and my eyes fell. There was a silence—a silence that seemed to
“Why do you ask me that question?” he said, at last, in a low voice.
“Do you believe I am, yourself?”
“No,” I cried, springing up, and going over to his side. “No, I
don't believe it. Tell me it isn't true, and promise me you won't ever,
ever marry Charlotte Benson.”
The relief was so unspeakable that I didn't care what I said, and
the joy I felt showed itself in my face and voice. I put out my hand to
him when I said “promise me,” but he did not take it, and turned his
head away from me.
“I shall not marry Charlotte Benson,” he said; “but I cannot
understand what difference it makes to you.”
It was now my turn to be silent, and I shrank back a step or two in
He raised his head, and looked steadily at me for a moment, and then
“Pauline, you did a great many things, but I don't think you ever
willingly deceived me. Did you?”
I shook my head without looking lip.
“Then be careful what you do now, and let the past alone,” he said,
and his voice was almost stern.
I trembled, and turned pale.
“Women sometimes play with dangerous weapons,” he said; “I don't
accuse you of meaning to give pain, but only of forgetting that some
recollections are not to you what they are to me. I never want to
interfere with any one's comfort or enjoyment; I only want to be let
alone. I do very well, and am not unhappy. About marrying, now or ever,
I should have thought you would have known. But let me tell you once
for all: I haven't any thought of it, and shall not ever have. It is
not that I am holding to any foolish hopes. It would be exactly the
same if you were married, or had died. It simply isn't in my nature to
feel the same way a second time. People are made differently, that is
all. I'm very well contented, and you need never let it worry you.”
He was very pale now, and his eyes had an expression I had never
seen in them before.
“Richard,” I said, faintly, “I never have deceived you:
believe me now when I tell you, I am sorry from my heart for all that's
“You told me so before, and I did forgive you. I forgave you fully,
and have never had a thought that wasn't kind.”
“I know it,” I said. “But you do not trust me—you don't ever come
near me, or want to see me.”
“You do not know what you are talking of,” he answered, turning from
me. “I forgive you anything you may have done at any time to give me
pain. I will do everything I can to serve you, in every way I can; only
do not stir up the past, and let me forget the little of it that I can
I burst into tears, and put my hands before my face.
“What is it?” he said, uneasily. “You need not be troubled about
Seeing that I did not stop, he said again, “Tell me: is it that that
I shook my head.
“What is it, then? Something that I do not know about? Pauline, you
are unhappy, and yet you've everything in the world to make you happy.
I often think, there are not many women have as much.”
“The poorest of them are better off than I,” I said, without raising
“Then you are ungrateful,” he said, “for you have youth, and health,
and money, and everybody likes you. You could choose from all the
“No, I couldn't,” I exclaimed, like a child; “and everybody doesn't
like me,”—and then I cried again, for I was really in despair, and
thought he meant to put me away, memory and all.
“Well, if that's your trouble,” he said, with a sigh, “I suppose I
cannot help you; but I'm very sorry.”
“Yes, you can help me,” I cried imploringly, forgetting all I
ought to have remembered; “if you only would forgive me, really and in
earnest, and be friends again—and let me try—” and I covered my face
with my hands.
“Pauline,” he said, standing by my side, and his voice almost
frightened me, it was so strong with feeling; “is this a piece of
sentiment? Do you mean anything? Or am I to be trifled with again?”
He took hold of my wrists with both his hands, with such force as to
give me pain, and drew them from my face.
“Look at me,” he said, “and tell me what you mean; and decide
now—forever and forever. For this is the last time that you will have
a chance to say.”
“It's all very well,” I said, trying to turn my face away from him.
“It's all very well to talk about loving me yet, and being just the
same; but this isn't the way you used to talk, and I think it's very
“That isn't answering me,” he said, holding me closer to him.
“What shall I say,” I whispered, hiding my face upon his arm.
“Nothing will ever satisfy you.”
“Nothing ever has satisfied me,” he said, “—before.”