It is wonderful how Nature provides for the taking off and keeping down
of her monsters,—creatures that carry things only by force or fraud:
your foxes, wolves, and bears; your anacondas, tigers, and lions; and
your cunning or ferocious men of prey, of whom they are the types.
Storms may and must now and then rage and ravage, volcanoes must have
their destructive fits, and the darkness must do its mean and tyrannical
things while men are asleep; but calmness and sunshine triumph
immeasurably on the whole. Of the cubs of iniquity, only here and there
an individual escapes the crebrous perils of adolescence, develops into
the full beast, and occupies a sublime place in history; whereas the
genial men of sunshine, plenty as the fair days of summer, pass quietly
over from the ruby of life's morning to the sapphire of its evening, too
numerous to be written of or distinctly remembered. There are, it is
quite true, enough biographies of such in existence to read the world to
sleep by for ages. It can hardly keep awake at all, except over lives of
the other sort; hence, one of great and successful villany is a prize
for the scribe. In the dearth of such, let us content ourselves with
briefly noticing one of the multitude of abortive cubs, its villany
nipped—as Nature is wont to nip it—in the promising bud of its
tenderness. Many a flourishing young rogue suddenly disappears, and the
world never knows how or why. But it shall know, if it will heed our
one-story tale, how Chip Dartmouth of these parts was turned down
here,—albeit we cannot at present say whether he has since turned up
Our hero was baptized simply Chipworth, in compliment to a rich uncle,
who was expected on that account to remember him more largely in his
will,—as he probably did; for he soon left him a legacy of twenty
thousand dollars, on the express condition that it should accumulate
till he was of age, and then be used as a capital to set the young man
up in business. As the inheritance of kingdoms spoils kings, so this
little fortune, though Chip could not finger a mill of it during his
minority, all the while acted on him like a controlling magnet, inducing
a strong repellency to good advice and a general exaltation of views, so
that, when he came into possession of it, he was already a fast young
man in almost every respect. He had settled it as the maxim of his life
to gain fast and spend fast; and having had considerable opportunity to
spend before he had any to gain, he had on becoming a business man, some
secret deficits to make good before he could really be as rich as people
supposed him. As his deficits had not been made by daylight, so daylight
must have nothing to do in wiping them out; and hence darkness became
more congenial than its reverse to all his plans, and he studied, as he
thought, with singular success, the various tricks of blinding people
to the state of his finances, as well as of bettering it. While he was
supposed to be growing rich very rapidly, he really was doing so about
half as fast as everybody thought. Chip would not steal,—that was
vulgar. But he would take every possible advantage of other people by
keeping close his own counsels and pumping out theirs. He would slander
a piece of property and then buy it. He would monopolize on a short
market, and fill his purse by forestalling. Indeed, he was, altogether,
one of the keen, and greatly admired in business circles.
It was not easy for Chip to love any being but himself,—not even a
woman. But his smart figure, for which Nature and the tailors had done
their best, set the general female imagination into the most
lively action. Many were the dreams about him,—day-dreams and
night-dreams,—that were dreamed in front of all manner of little
filigree bird nest bonnets and under snowy nightcaps; and at the
slightest encouragement on his part, no doubt, the idea of himself which
had been manufactured in many minds would have been fallen in love with.
The reality certainly would not have been. Miss Millicent Hopkins wore
one of the caps set for Chip, and her he professed vehemently to love.
But she was the daughter of a millionnaire of a very set temper, who had
often said and sworn that his daughter should not have any man who had
not proved by more than mushroom or retail success in business that he
was able and likely to better her fortune. Miss Millicent must plainly
either be run away with, or fairly won on old Hopkins's plan of
wholesale, long-winded business success. Miss Millicent's good looks,
if they did not amount to beauty, did, nevertheless, add something to
the attractiveness of her vast pecuniary prospects. Chip had obtained
the young lady's decided favor without absolutely crossing the Rubicon
himself, for he had no notion of taking her without any of the funds her
father had to bestow. It was arranged between them that his paternal
consent should be asked, and the die or live of matrimony should depend
on that. But, with confidence, or what is sometimes called brass, enough
to put any sort of question, it was impossible for Chip Dartmouth to
state the case to old Mr. Hopkins as it was. Having obtained a private
interview, he grasped the old gentleman by the hand with an air as
familiar as it was apparently cordial.
"Ah! I am very glad to see you, Mr. Hopkins, for I have been thinking
what a fool I must be not to pay my addresses to Miss Millicent; and I
can take no steps, you know, without your consent."
"You can take none with it, Sir," was the emphatic reply of the severe
parent, with a sort of annihilating look. "I admire your prudence and
frankness, my young friend; but, till you show yourself a merchant, of
my own sort, I beg you will excuse me and my family from any of the
steps you contemplate. Good-morning, Sir,—good-morning!"
The showing-out was irresistible, leaving nothing more to be said.
Chip now resolved that he would double his diligence in making money,
out of spite to the father, if not love for the daughter. The old fogy's
wealth he would have at any rate, and Millicent with it, if possible, as
a sort of bonus. So, obtaining an interview with his fair intended and
intending, at the earliest moment, without revealing a hint of his own
diplomatic blunder, he told her that her father had refused his consent
to their union because his fortune was not sufficient, and she must not
expect to see him again till it was so, which he fancied would be in a
much shorter time than the old gentleman supposed.
Chip had not long to wait for a chance to strike the first blow in
carrying out his new resolution of fast trading. The day after his
memorable rebuff, he was sitting in the choky little counting-room of a
crammed commission-warehouse in India Street, musing and mousing over
the various schemes that occurred to his fertile brain for increasing
the profits of his business. He had already bought cotton pretty largely
on speculation. Should he monopolize further, make a grand rush in
stocks, or join the church and get large trust-funds into his hands on
the strength of his reputation for piety? All these and a hundred other
questions were getting rapidly and shrewdly discussed in his mind, when
a rather stubbed man, with a square, homely face and vinegar expression,
opened, or partly opened, the little glass door of the counting-room,
and, looking round it more greedily than hopefully, said,—
"You don't want the cargo of the 'Orion' at a bargain?"
"Can't say I do. But walk in, Captain Grant,—walk in!"
Captain Grant did walk in, though he said it was no use talking, if Chip
didn't want the cotton. Chip saw instinctively, in the sad, acid look of
his visitor, that he was anxious to sell, and could be made to take a
despondent view of the market. Taking him by the button, he said, rather
"I know, Captain, you ship-owners want to keep your ships at work at
something besides storage. But look there," pointing to the bales of
cotton filling the immense floor; "multiply that pile by four and add
the basements of two churches, and you see a reason why I should not buy
above the level of the market. Now, taking that into consideration, what
do you ask for your two hundred and fifty bales in the 'Orion?'"
"I know somebody who would feel rich, if he could sell at that,"
returned Chip, with a queer grin. "No, no, Captain Grant, that won't do
at all. Prices are sinking. If I should buy at that figure, every sign
of margin would fade out in a fortnight. I haven't five bales that have
been bought at any such price."
It was true, he had not; for they had been bought at seven-and-a-half
"Well, I will say six-and-a-half at sixty days, to you," said the
"My dear Sir," replied Chip, "you don't begin to tempt me. I must burn
all my foreign correspondence and forget the facts before I can begin to
look at anything beyond six cents and ninety days."
"Ninety days won't do," said Mr. Grant, tersely. "If we must sacrifice,
it must be for something a bank will look at, Mr. Dartmouth. But I want
the ship cleared, and if you will say six at two months for the whole,
it's a bargain, bad as it is for me."
"Not a bargain for me to be in a hurry about; but I'll think of it. Hold
on till to-morrow. But, on the whole, you needn't do that. It wouldn't
be an object."
"But I will do it, if you say so, till noon to-morrow."
"Better say five-and-three-fourths and have it done to-day," said Chip,
"for I may not give that to-morrow. But if you hold on, and I buy
anything at six, it shall be your lot."
Captain Grant, beginning to believe that he should, after all, sell a
little above the bottom of the market, took his leave for his home among
the Waltham hills, a little less grouty than when he entered.
That same night, Chip, after having dropped in at numerous resorts of
the fast men, in most of which somewhat of his conscience, such as it
was, dropped out, was proceeding homeward through Devonshire Street,
with the brightest of his wits still about him. It was a raw night, one
of the rawest ever got up by a belated equinoctial, with almost nothing
stirring in the streets but the wind, and the loose shutters and old
remnants of summer awnings left to its tender mercies. Aeolus, with
these simple instruments of sound, added to the many sharp corners of
city architecture, managed to get up something of a symphony, enough
almost to make up for the nocturnal cats, now retired to silence and the
snuggest attainable quarters. The hour was one of the short ones
ayont the twal, and sleep reigned everywhere except in the
daily-newspaper-offices and in the most fashionable of the grog-shops.
Besides Chip, the only living thing in Devonshire Street was a
thinly-clad stripling, with a little roll of yellowish tissue-paper in
his hand, knocking and shaking feebly at a door which grimly refused to
open. His powers of endurance were evidently giving way, and his grief
had become both vocal and fluent in the channel of his infant years.
"What's the matter, my boy?" asked Chip,—"locked out, hey?"
"No,—bo-hoo. No, Sir, the door's blowed to and froze up, and I can't
git this pos'crip' up to the office."
"Oh, oh! you're the telegraph-boy, are you?"
"Most froz'n, aren't you?"
"O-oo-oo, that I be, Sir."
Here a very bright idea struck Chip, and he inquired,—
"Is this all that's coming?"
"Boo-hoo. Yes, Sir. They've sent good-night once before, and this is the
pos'crip'. The wires is shut off now, and some of the papers is shut
off, too; for I've been to three before this, and can't git into nary
one on 'em."
"Never mind, my poor fellow; I belong up here. I'll take the sheets and
send 'em round to all the other papers that are open. Never mind; you
take that, and go right home to your mother."
"Thank you, Sir," said the shivering lad, and, giving up the yellow roll
and taking the loose coppers offered him in the quickest possible time,
he scampered off around the corner of Water Street and left Chip in
company with two temptations.
"Now," thought Chip, "it will be certainly a clean and gentlemanly
thing, if, after having relieved this poor little devil of his trouble
and responsibility, I should oblige the still poorer devil of a concern
up-stairs by giving 'em this postcript of foreign news, which, by
working so late, they will probably have exclusively. That would be most
truly honest, benevolent, and philanthropic. It would make at least one
newspaper my friend, and, on the whole, it is something of a temptation.
But let me see what it will cost."
Giving the black door a vigorous push, he entered, and by the gas-burner
on the first landing discovered that the postcript in his possession
gave the state of the Liverpool cotton-market a day later than the body
of the dispatch, which had already gone into type, and, what was more to
the purpose, announced a rise of a penny-and-a-half on the pound. Chip
clutched the gauzy sheets in his fist, closed the door as softly as
possible, and yielded himself a doomed captive to temptation number two.
Here was a little fortune on the cotton he had in store at any rate,
and, if he really had in his grasp all the news of the rise, he might
make by it a plump ten thousand dollars out of Captain Grant's "Orion."
But to this end he must be sure that not a lisp of the rise would be
published in the morning papers, and he must see Captain Grant and close
his bargain for the "Orion's" cargo before the wires should begin to
furnish additional news by the "Africa" to the evening papers. They
would not, after obtaining such news, lose a moment in parading it on
their bulletin-boards, and Captain Grant might get hold of it before
reaching the little counting-room in India Street. Chip, of course,
saw what to do, and did it. Waiting in one of the little
"meals-at-all-hours" saloons till he heard the churning of the
press-engines, he sallied out and bought of the overloaded carriers the
earliest copies of the morning papers, and made himself sure that the
foreign news did not disclose any change of the cotton-market. The
next thing was to transfer himself to Captain Grant's residence in
Waltham,—exactly whereabout in Waltham he did not know, but, of course,
he could easily find out,—and, without exciting the grouty old salt's
suspicions of false play, make sure of the cotton at his own price. On
the whole, he thought it safer, as well as cheaper, to use the early
train than to hire a special team.
Arrived in Waltham, to his great vexation, it appeared, after
much inquiry, that Captain Grant lived full three miles from the
station,—and what was worse, every omnibus, hack, buggy, and dog-cart
was engaged for a muster in one direction or a cattle-show in another.
Nothing on wheels could be hired at any price,—at least, none could be
found in an hour's search from one hotel or livery-stable to another.
Chip, whose sleepless night and meditated fraud had not left much of the
saint in him, swore the whole of Waltham as deep as the grimmest view of
predestination would allow. And he restrained himself from being still
more profane only lest his wrath should awaken inconvenient suspicions.
After all, there was one old tavern a little way out, where possibly a
one-horse affair could be raised. The Birch House was a sort of seedy,
dried-up, quiet, out-of-the-way inn, whose sign-post stood forth like a
window without sash, the rectangular ligneous picture of a man driving
cattle to Brighton having long ago been blown out of its lofty setting
and split to pieces by the fall. What was the use of replacing it? No
one was likely to call, who did not already know that the Widow Birch
still kept tavern there, and just how she kept it. It was doubtful if a
new sign would attract a single new customer. Indeed, since the advent
of railroads, a customer was not a common occurrence any way, though
there still remained a few that could be depended on, like the Canada
geese, in their season, and their custom was handsomely profitable. The
house, a white wooden one, with greenish blinds, had two low stories,
the first of which was nearly level with the ground. There was a broad,
low entry running through the middle, and on either side two rather
spacious square rooms. One of those in front had a well-sanded,
well-worn pine floor, with a very thirsty-looking counter across one
corner, supporting a sort of palisade that appeared to fortify nothing
at all,—a place, however, which had evidently been moist enough in
the olden times. In the other front room was a neat carpet, plain,
old-fashioned furniture, and a delightful little plantation of fresh and
cozy flower-pots, surrounding a vase full of gold-fishes, and overhung
by a bright-eyed, mellow-throated canary, the whole of that paradise
being doubtless under the watch and care of little Laura Birch. This was
the ladies' parlor,—the grand reception-room, also, of any genteel male
guest, should one for a wonder appear. Little Laura, however, was no
longer as little as she had been,—though just as innocent, and ten
times as bewitching to most people who knew her. You could not but
particularly wish her well, the moment her glad, hopeful, playful,
confiding, half-roguish eye met yours. With the most conscientious
resolution to make herself useful, under her mother's thrifty
administration, in the long, clean New England kitchen which stretched
away behind the square dining-room, interposed between it and the dry
bar-room, she had a taste for books and a passion for flowers, which
absorbed most of her thoughts, and gained her more chidings from her
mother for their untimely manifestations than her handiest services
gained thanks or any signs of grateful recognition. She and the flowers,
including the bird and the fishes, seemed to belong to the same
sisterhood. She had copied their fashion of dress and behavior, rather
than the Parisian or any imported style,—and so her art, being all
learned from Nature, was quite natural. On the very morning in question,
she was engaged in giving this little conservatory the benefit of her
thorough skill and affectionate regard, when good Dame Birch broke in
upon her with,—
"Why, Laury, what are you thinking about? It's always just so. Here is a
gentleman in the bar-room, and he's a'most sure to order breakfast, and
them eels isn't touched, and not a thing ready but cold victuals and
pie. Them eels would be so nice and genteel! and you know they won't
"But you didn't tell me to fry them now, mother," said Laura.
"But I told you to fix 'em all ready to fry."
"Well, mother," replied Laura, "I'll come as soon as these things are
set to rights. It won't do to leave them just so."
"Well, it's always just so," said the maternal Birch. "I must do it
myself, I see. Don't be all day, Laury,—now don't!"
She disappeared, muttering something about "them plaguy flower-pots."
In point of fact, Chip Dartmouth was all this while in the aforesaid dry
bar-room, engaged in an earnest colloquy with Frank Birch, a grown-up
son of the landlady, a youth just entered on the independent platform of
twenty-one, Laura being three years younger. Chip had arrived rather out
of breath and excited, having got decidedly ahead of the amenities
that would have been particularly expedient under the circumstances.
Approaching a door of the bar-room, which opened near its corner towards
the barn, and which stood open at the time, he descried Frank within
busily engaged mending harness.
"Hallo! young man, I say, hurry up that job, for I've no time to lose."
"Well, I'm glad on't," retorted Frank, hardly looking up from his work,
"for I ha'n't."
"Look here!" said Chip, entering, "you're the man I've been looking for.
I must have a ride to Captain Grant's, straight off, at your own price."
"Maybe you must, but I'm goin' to the Concord cattle-show, and Captain
Grant's is four miles out of the way. I can't think of goin' round, for
I shall be too late, any way."
"Never mind that, my young friend, if you 'r' 'n such a hurry, put on
the string and look to me for the damage."
"Maybe you can't pay it," replied Frank, looking rather scornful.
"The Devil!" exclaimed Chip, "are all the Waltham people born idiots?"
"No! some of 'em are born governors," said Frank, "and Boston people may
find it out one of these days."
On this, Landlady Birch intervened, taking the bar-room in her way from
the parlor to the kitchen.
"What is that you say, Frank? The gentleman can have as good a breakfast
here as he can have anywhere out of Boston, I'm sure, though I say it
myself. We don't have so many to cook for, and so, perhaps, we take a
little more pains, Sir,—ha! ha!"
And with that good Mrs. Birch put on a graciousness of smile worthy of
the most experienced female Boniface in Anglo-Saxondom.
"The gentleman don't want any breakfast, mother; he only wants a ride
round to Captain Grant's, and he ha'n't got the manners to ask for it,
like a gentleman;—he must have it. I say he mus'n't in my buggy, for
I a'n't goin' that way."
"Why, son, the gentleman of course expects to pay for it."
"Yes, Madam," said Chip, "I am willing and expect to bleed freely."
Frank. "Well, I should like to know what you mean by that? I don't
want your blood, or that of any other Boston squirt."
Mrs. Birch (to Chip, after a reproving glance at Frank). "I think we
can accommodate you, Sir. The buggy is at the blacksmith's, and will be
done in half-an-hour. If you want, you can have breakfast while you are
waiting; and you will find a comfortable fire in the parlor to sit by,
at any rate."
With this, Mrs. Birch made her exit, to hurry matters on the cook-stove.
"There! that's her, all over!" grumbled Frank. "If she can sell a meal
of victuals, she don't care what becomes of me. But I'll let her know
the mare's mine, and the buggy's mine, all but the harness; and I tell
you, Sir, I'll see the mare drowned in Charles River and the buggy
split into kindling-wood, before you shall have a ride to Captain
Grant's this day."
"But here's a five-dollar-bill," quoth Chip, displaying a small handful
Frank. "You may go to thunder with the whole of 'em! I tell you I've
set my foot down, and I won't take it up for my own mother,—and I'm
sure I won't for anything that ever was or will be under your clo'es."
With this, he jerked up the harness and went off to the barn, with an
air that convinced Chip that the controversy between mother and son was
not likely to be decided in his favor at a sufficiently early hour to
answer his purpose. But where else should he go, or what else should
he do? As he was a little more inclined now to bet on calmness than on
passion, he decided to take a seat in the parlor, and keep it, at
least, till he could dispose of his present doubt. Easily might he have
measured three miles over the Waltham hills, in the bracing morning-air,
with his own locomotive apparatus, while he had been looking in vain for
artificial conveyance. But if that plan had occurred to him at all at
first, it would have been dismissed with contempt as unbusinesslike. He
must not, by any possibility, appear to Captain Grant to be so madly
anxious to close the bargain. He did a little regret neglecting the
service of his own proper pegs, but it was now entirely too late to
walk, and he must ride, and at a good pace, too, or lose the entire
benefit of the news which the lightning had so singularly confided to
his honest hands. The feeling with which he flung himself into that
quiet, little, economical parlor was, probably, even more desperate than
Richard's, when he offered his kingdom for a horse. It was, in fact,
just the feeling, of all others in the world, to prevent a man's getting
a horse. Had he carried it into a pasture full of horses, it would have
prevented him from catching the tamest of them. But the good influences
of the Universe, that encourage and strengthen the noble martyrs of
truth and workers of good in their arduous labors, do sometimes also
help on villains to their bad ends. Never were troubled waters more
quickly smoothed with oil, never were the poles of a magnet more quickly
reversed, than Chip's rage and rancor abated after he entered that door.
Not that he relaxed his purpose at all, or felt any essential change of
his nature, but his temper was instantly turned the right side up
for success. He was, of course, unconscious of the cause,—for it is
certainly nothing wonderful, even in the neighborhood of Boston, to see
a neat Yankee lass, in her second or third best dress, putting things
to rights of a morning, with a snowy handkerchief over her head, its
corners drawn into a half-knot under her sweet chin, and some little
ruddy outposts on her cheeks, ready, on the slightest occasion, to
arouse a whole army of blushes. Laura had just given the finishing touch
to her flower culture, changed the water of her fishes, replenished the
seed-bucket of the canary, and was about leaving the room. Almost any
man would have been glad of an excuse to speak to her. Chip could have
made an excuse, if one had not been ready-made, that was to him very
important, as well as satisfactory.
"Miss Birch, I presume?"
"Yes, Sir," said Laura, with a curtsy, not quite so large as those that
grow in dancing schools, but, nevertheless, very pretty.
"Well, Miss Birch," said Chip, blandly advancing and taking her nice
little hand, half covered with her working-mitts,—whereat the
aforesaid outposts promptly did their duty,—"or shall I call you Miss
"No, Sir, my name is Laura," said the girl, shrinking a little from a
contact which rather took her by surprise.
"Oh, Laura!—that is better yet," proceeded Chip. "Now, Miss Laura, I
have got myself into a terrible scrape; can you help me out of it?"
"I can't tell, indeed, Sir, till I know what it is," said Laura, with a
bright twinkle of reassurance.
"Well, it is this:—I have mortally offended your brother,—for so I
take him to be by his looks,—and I most sincerely repent it, for he
owns the only team left in Waltham. If I cannot hire that team for an
hour, I lose money enough to buy this house twice over. I want you to
reconcile us. Will you offer my apology and prevail on him to take this
and be my coachman for an hour?" asked Chip,—slipping a gold eagle
into her hand with the most winning expression at his command.
"Oh, yes, Sir,—I'm sure I'll try without that, Sir. He will be glad to
oblige you, when he knows how you need it," she said, offering to return
"No, no, Miss Laura, I want to pay him well; and if you succeed,—why,
no money can pay you, Miss Laura; I don't profess to be rich enough to
Here the outposts gave another alarm, and again the hosts of the ruby
uniform were gathering hurriedly in their two muster-fields.
"Why, I will go and try, Sir," said Laura, so much confused by the
novelty and magnitude of the circumstances that she opened the
closet-door before opening the only one that led out of the room.
Fairly out of Chip's presence, she saw instantly and instinctively the
worthlessness of that gold eagle, however genuine, compared with her
sisterly love, in her mission to Frank. So she ran directly to her
mother in the long kitchen, and, planking the American eagle upon the
sloppy little table where the eels were rapidly getting dressed, said,—
"Why, mother, that gentleman wants to hire Frank to carry him to Captain
Grant's, and I'm sure he ought to go without hiring. I'll go right out
and see him."
"That's right, Laury; tell him he ought to be ashamed of himself!"
"Oh, no, mother, I won't tell him any such thing," said Laura,
laughingly, as she hopped and skipped towards the barn.
"Well, Frank, how's Nell Gwyn, this morning?" cheerily cried Laura to
Frank, who seemed to be getting his harness into a worse snarl, in his
grouty attempts to get it out of one.
"The mare's well enough, if she hadn't been insulted."
"Why, that's abominable, Frank! But let me get that snarl out."
"You get it out! You get out yourself, Laule."
"Why, that's all I'm good for, Frank; I always pick out the snarls in
the house, you know, and I should like to try it once in the barn."
"The tarnal old thing's bewitched, I believe," said Frank, allowing his
sister to interfere and quietly untwist and turn right side out the
various parts which he had put wrong by all sorts of torsion. "I'll
teach Boston chaps to know that there are some things they can't have
for money! When Nell and I have agreed to have a good time, we a'n't
goin' to be ordered off nor bought off;—we'll have it."
"So I say, Frank. But suppose I wanted you to give me a ride,
"Why, Laule, you know I would go to the North Pole with you. If Mam
would only let you go to Concord with me, I'd wait till noon for you."
"Well, maybe she will, Frank. She wants you to carry that man to
Captain Grant's bad enough to let me go in the afternoon."
"But I told him I wouldn't carry him,—and, gol darn it, I won't!"
"Of course you won't carry him on his own account, or for the sake of
his money,—but for my sake perhaps you will."
"Well, Sis, perhaps I will. But, mind, before I do, Mam shall promise,
sartin sure, to let you go by half-past twelve o'clock, and not a minit
"Well, I'll see she does; you harness Nell, and get the buggy. The man
says he's sorry he spoke to you so. If he's carried to Captain Grant's
and back, I'll answer for it's being the best for all of us."
She was off to the house like a bird, and the rest of her diplomacy was
too simple and straightforward to need special record.
As the buggy was at the door before the table presented the savory
temptation of fried eels, Chip declined breakfast at present, but
decidedly promised to take it on his return. He dropped in on Captain
Grant, as he was careful to tell that gentleman, having had business in
Waltham that morning, and thinking he might perhaps save him a journey
to town. The ship-owner had just finished the news of the morning
papers, for which he had sent a messenger express to the post-office,
and said, after the cordial salutation which a rough sort of man always
gives in his own house,—
"Well, Mr. Dartmouth, I see the market is as close-reefed as ever.
Maybe you think I will sell at five and three-fourths to-day, but I've
concluded to make a floating warehouse of the 'Orion' for the winter,
rather than do that."
"I don't blame you for that, my friend; but in the present state of
advices, six at two months is the highest mill that will do. If you will
close the 'Orion's' cargo at that, I am your man."
"What I've said, I'll do, Sir, of course," said the tough old salt; "and
since you've taken the trouble to come out here and save my lame toes,
let's nail the bargain with a bottle of my old Madeira,—some of the
ripest this side of the herring-pond, I'll be bound."
"Not a drop, I thank you; for, besides being a teetotaller, Captain, I'm
behind time to-day, and must bid you good-morning."
"Well, Sir, I'm much obliged to you; the bill of sale shall be at your
counting-room directly; the clerk will receive the notes and deliver the
cotton. Good-morning, Sir,—good-morning!"
In truth, Chip had not the slightest objection to wine, as wine, even
had it not been the ripest on this continent; but, like any other
mitigated villain, he did not quite relish taking wine with the man he
was basely cheating. He would much rather partake of Ma'am Birch's fried
eels and coffee, especially if Laura Birch should, peradventure, be the
Hebe of such an ambrosial entertainment. She was not, however,—and the
disappointment considerably overclouded the commercial victory of the
morning. Madam Birch herself did the honors of whatever sort, while Chip
played a fantasia solo at the table d'hôte. The good lady enlarged
volubly on her destitution of help, and how, if she had any such as
we get now-a-days, they were more plague than profit,—how Laura was
getting ready to go with Frank to the cattle-show, and she herself was
likely to be the only living mortal in the house for the rest of the
"Such a son as you have is a fortune, Madam; and as for the daughter,
she is a gem, a genuine diamond, Madam."
"Ha! ha! do you really think so, Sir?" said the mother, evidently
gratified with the superlativeness of the compliment. "Well, they do say
children are jewels.—but I've found, Sir, they are pretty
troublesome and pretty costly jewels. Mine, as you say, are very good
children,—though Frank is pretty wilful, and Laury is always gettin'
her head above the clouds. Oh, dear! they want a great deal done for
'em,—and the more you do, the more you may do. Frank is bewitched to
sell out and go to Kansas or Californy, or, if he stays here, he must go
to college or be a merchant. And Laury, even she isn't contented; she
wants to be some sort of artist, make statters or picters,—or be a
milliner, at least. So you see I haven't a minute's peace of my life
Of course Chip saw it, and the more's the pity.
"All the better, Madam," said he. "Young America must go ahead. There's
nothing to be had without venturing. If I can ever be of service to
either of your children in forwarding their laudable ambition, I am sure
it will give me the greatest pleasure."
"You are very kind, Sir, but I only wish you could persuade 'em to let
well alone, and at least not try the world till they know more of it."
"Not touch the water till they have learned to swim, eh? That's not
quite so easy, Madam. Never fear; I'll be bound, a boy that can say No
like yours is perfectly safe anywhere; and as to Laura, why, Madam, I
never heard of an angel getting into difficulty in the wickedest of
"Our old minister, Parson Usher that was, used to say some of the Bible
angels fell,—and I am sure, Sir, the human angels have a worse chance.
They are about the only ones that run any risk at all."
"True, true enough, Ma'am, in one point of view. Too much care cannot be
taken to select the society in which young people are to move. In the
right society, such a girl as Laura would win homage on every side, and
make herself happy by making everybody else so."
"I believe you are right there, Sir," said Mrs. Birch, quite charmed
with such beautiful appreciation of what she felt to be Laura's
excellence; "and I don't wonder sometimes that she should be
discontented with the society she has here, poor girl!"
"When you see the sun begin to shine in the morning, you may be sure
enough it will keep rising all the forenoon," said Chip, with the air
of a great moral philosopher, conscious of having made a decided
impression. And suddenly recollecting how valuable was his time in town,
and that the train would be due in five minutes, he swallowed the last
of his coffee, paid his bill, told the landlady how happy he was to have
made her acquaintance and that of her interesting family, promised he
would never stop in Waltham without calling, and strode away.
The lightning flashed from a good many eyes in the telegraph-office when
the morning members of the associated press inquired why they had not
been served with the latest news,—why, in fact, the only item of any
significance was reserved for the evening papers of the day. Not a press
of all the indignant complainants was ready to admit that it had locked
up its forms and gone to bed before the wires had completed their task.
Very bitter paragraphs testified, the next day, that, in the opinion of
many sage and respectable editors, the wires had been tampered with
by speculators. The poor little half-frozen telegraph-boy was closely
catechized, first by the officers of the telegraph-company, and
afterwards by certain shrewd detectives, but no clue could be got to the
fine gentleman who so generously relieved him of his responsibility, and
no result followed, except his dismissal and the employment of another
lad of more ability and probably less innocence. Captain Grant was the
man most likely to have come to a discovery in the matter, and most
heartily did he curse his luck—his "usual luck"—of giving away a
fortune by selling a cargo a day too soon. But being kept at home
by uncomfortable toes, no suspicious mortal, such as abound in the
lounging-rooms of insurance-offices and other resorts of business-men in
town, happened ingeniously to put his suspicions on a scent, and he did
not come within a league of the thought that Chip Dartmouth could have
had anything to do with the strange and blamable conduct of the wires.
As he made no proclamation of his loss, and no other case of sale
during the abeyance of the news came to the knowledge of the parties
interested, the matter, greatly to Chip's comfort, fell into entire
oblivion before a fortnight had passed. The understanding was, that,
though great mischief might have been done, none had been,—and
that somebody had simply made waste-paper of the little yellow
For the first fortnight, Chip's nervousness, not to say conscience, very
much abated the pleasure of the many congratulations he received from
his friends, and from hundreds of people whom he had never before known
as his friends. He couldn't get through the streets any day without
meeting the solidest sort of men, with whom he had never exchanged
a word in his life, but whose faces were as familiar as that of the
Old-South clock, who took him by the hand quite warmly, and said,—
"Ah, Mr. Dartmouth, permit me to congratulate you on your good-fortune.
You have well deserved it. I like to see a young man like you make such
a ten-strike, especially when it comes in consequence of careful study
of the market."
The truth was, Chip had been playing a pretty hazardous game in the
cotton-market, chiefly at the risk of other parties; and the slice he
had so feloniously carved out of poor Captain Grant was quite small
compared with the gains he had managed to secure by thus venturing a
little of his own and a great deal of other people's money. The shrewd
minds in the secrets of the business world were not slow to see that
he must have realized at least a hundred thousand units of commercial
omnipotence by the operations of the first week after the rise.
Everybody was glad of an opportunity to speak to such a man. Even Mr.
Hopkins, immensely retired as he was, driving into State Street
about noon one genial day to receive a bank dividend or two, stepped
considerably out of his way, in walking from his low-hung turnout to the
door of one of the banks, in order to catch Mr. Dartmouth's notice, and
say to him, "Good-morning, Mr. Dartmouth! I hope you are very well,
Sir!" Chip recognized the salutation with a superb nod, but without the
accompaniment of any verbal rhetoric which was audible above the buzz of
the pavement; and the retired millionnaire passed on about his business.
"Ah!" thought Chip, "I am getting to be a merchant of the right sort, I
see,—and by the time he is ready to change that low-hung little chariot
for the hard, angular ebony with raven plumes, I shall be ready to step
into the other plump little vehicle, which is really so nice and cozy."
But we must leave Chip to the easy task of ballooning upward in public
estimation, with his well-inflated bank-account. He was, in fact,
reformed by his great commercial success to this extent, that his vices
had become of the most distinguished and unvulgar grade. He was now
courted by the highest artists in iniquity, and had the means of
accomplishing results that none but men who are known to be really rich
can command. He, therefore, now quitted all vulgar associations, and
determined not to outrage any of the virtues, except under varnish,
gilding, and polish that would keep everything perfectly respectable.
Let him trust to that as long as he can.
Don't talk of the solitude of a night in the primeval forests, however
far from the abodes of man;—the squirrels and the partridges may be
asleep then and there, but the katydids are awake, and, with the support
of contralto and barytone tree-toads, manage to keep up a concert which
cannot fail to impress on you a sense of familiar and friendly company.
Don't talk of the loneliness of a deserted and ruinous castle;—the
crickets have not left it, and, if you don't have a merry time with
their shrill jokes, it will be your own fault. But if you would have a
sense of being terribly alone, come from long residence in some quiet
country-home on the border of a quiet country-village, into the
hurry-skurry of a strange city, just after nightfall. Here is an
infinite brick-and-stone forest, stern, angular, almost leafless. Here
is a vast, indistinguishable wilderness of flitting human shapes, not
one of which takes half so much notice of you as a wild bush would.
Speak to one; it answers without the slightest emotion, and passes on.
Your presence is absolutely no more to any soul of them, provided they
have souls, than if you were so much perfectly familiar granite. You
feel, that, with such attention as you receive, such curiosity as you
excite, you must be there hundreds of years to be either recognized or
Had you been a stranger in Boston, one moist and rather showery
summer-evening, not a year after the events we have narrated, you might
have been recovered from the sense of loneliness we have described by
observing one pretty female figure hurrying along the crowded sidewalk
with a very large and replete satchel, and without any of the
sang-froid which characterizes city pedestrianism. You might have
noticed that this one human being, like yourself, was evidently not at
home. Every glare of gas-light revealed a deeply-flushed face, eyes that
had been weeping and which were now flashing with a wild earnestness
and an altogether preternatural resolution. A gazelle, started by the
huntsman's pack, could not have thrown more piercing glances at every
avenue of escape than this excited girl did at every cross street, and
indeed at everything but the human faces that passed her. All of them
she shunned, with a look that seemed equally anxious to avoid the known
and the unknown. She should seem to have narrowly escaped some peril,
and was carrying with her a secret not to be confided to friend or
stranger, certainly not to either without due consideration. Had you
watched her, as the crowds of people, returning from the various evening
amusements, died away in the streets, you would have seen the deep
color of her cheeks die away also to deadly paleness; had you been
sufficiently clairvoyant, you might have seen how two charming rows of
pearls bit the blanched lips till the runaway blood came back into the
sad gashes, how the tears welled up again, and with them came relief and
fresh strength just as she was about to faint and drop in the street.
Then returned again the throb of indignant resolution, as her mind
recurred to the attempted ruin of her paradise by a disguised foe;
then succeeded shame and dread lest the friends she had left in her
childhood's rural home should know how differently from her fond
anticipations had turned out the first week of her sojourn in the great
city. She was most thoroughly resolved, that, if possible, they should
not know anything of the wreck of her long-cherished hopes till she had
found some foothold for new ones. She felt that she was a Yankee girl in
the metropolis of New England, with wit, skill, and endurance equal to
any employment that ever falls to the lot of Yankee women; but having
given up the only chance which had ever opened to her, how could she
find another? Were she of the other sex, or only disguised in the outer
integuments of it, with the trifling sum in her purse, she would get
lodgings at the next hotel, and seek suitable employment without
suspicion. In the wide wilderness of a city there was not an
acquaintance she did not dread to meet, in her present circumstances,
even worse than death itself, or, what is next door to it, a
The streets had emptied themselves of their rushing throngs, the patter
of feet and the murmur of voices had given place to measured individual
marches here and there, the dripping of cave-spouts and the flapping of
awnings could be heard tattling of showers past and future, and the last
organ-grinder had left the ungrateful city to its slumbers, when the
poor girl first became conscious that she had been lugging hither
and thither her entire outfit of wardrobe, valuables, and keepsakes.
Aggravated by fatigue, her indecision as to how she should dispose of
herself was gradually sinking into despair, and the official guardians
of the night, who had doubtless noticed her as she passed and repassed
through their beats, were beginning to make up their official minds,
generally and severally, that the case might by-and-by require their
benevolent interference, when she was startled by a female voice from
"Arrah, stop there, ye rinaway jade! I know ye by yer big bag, ye big
thafe, that ye are!"
Glad at any voice addressed to her, and gladder at this than if it had
been more familiar or more friendly, our forlorn maiden turned and said,
in the sweetest voice imaginable,—
"Oh, no, my friend, I am not a thief."
"Och, I beg your pardon, honey! I thought sure it was Bridget, that's
jist rin away wid a bagful of her misthress's clo'es and a hape o' mine,
and it's me that's bin all the way down to Pat Mahoney's in North Street
to git him to hunt her up; and the Blessed Mother forgive me, whin I
seen you in the dark, stalin' along like, wi' that bag, I thought it
was herself it was, sure. Och, ye're a swate lass, I see, now; but what
makes ye out this time o' night, dear?"
"Well, I'm too late for the train, you see, and I really don't know what
to do or where to go," said the Yankee girl, putting on the air natural
to such circumstances, with the readiness of her race.
"Och, I see, that's the mailing o' the bag, thin. Poor thing! ye jist
come along wid me. I'll lift the bag for ye, me darlint, an' I'll pit
clane sheets on Bridget's bed, and ye're welcome to slape there as long
as ye like; for the Blessed Mother knows it's powerful tired ye're
lookin', it is. I'm cook for more nor twinty years for the Hopkinses in
Bacon Street, and I can make ye jist as welcome in my quarthers as if it
was nobody but meself that owned it at all at all."
"Oh, my dear woman, I thank you kindly! That bag was beginning to grow
heavy," replied the overjoyed outcast; and presently, with a ready eye
to business, she added, "And since Bridget is gone, who knows but I can
take her place? I came to the city on purpose to find something to do,
and I can do anything that is not dishonest."
"Och! the likes o' ye take her place? Niver a bit of it! Why! I see by
the gas-light ye're a leddy as iver was at all at all; and ye could
niver come in the shoes of sich a thafe as Bridget Maloney, as is gone,
and the Divil catch her!"
"No, no, not in her shoes to steal anything, I hope; but I can do
housework, sweep, make beds, sew, and make myself useful,—as I will
show, if I can have a trial."
"An' ye may well say that's a hape more nor she iver could. But if
it's a thrial ye want, it's me that'll give't ye as soon as ye plase.
I'll answer for ye's to Misthress Millicent,—and that's what I niver
did for Bridget, and it's right glad I am of that. Now niver fear, me
darlint, it's a powerful good place, it is too, to thim as kapes the
right side o' Misthress Millicent; for she's the only daughter, and the
mother is dead and gone, poor soul!"
They were now approaching the opulent mansion over the cuisine of
which our special police-woman had so long had the honor of presiding.
Almost delighted enough with her capture to forget, if not forgive, her
fugitive fellow-servant Bridget, the florid and fat Aunt Peggy Muldoony
hurried along as if the bag were a feather, her words flowing like a
spring flood, and introduced her charge at a postern-door into her own
house, as she called it. This was, in fact, a very comfortable and
somewhat spacious dwelling, which stood almost distinct in the rear of
the mansion in which the Hopkins family proper resided, so that there
should be ample accommodations for servants, and the steam of cooking
could not annoy the grand parlors. Here we might leave the beautiful
waif, so strangely picked up in the dark street, to the working of her
own genius. She had fallen into a place which had control of all the
chamber-work of a modern palace, with ample assistance. Aunt Peggy, her
guardian angel, at once instructed her in the routine of the duties, and
she very soon had occasion to wonder how the care of so many beautiful
flowers, vases, statues, pictures, and objects of splendor and taste,
not to speak of beds that the Queen of Sheba might have envied, could
have been committed to a domestic who could be tempted to run away with
a few hundred dollars' worth of silks and laces. The legal owner himself
could hardly enjoy his well-appointed paradise better than she did, in
keeping every leaf up to its highest beauty. It must require a pretty
strong dose of tyranny to drive her away, she thought.
But tyranny, if it were there, did not show itself. After a number of
serious, but vain attempts, on the part of Miss Millicent, to gratify
her curiosity by unravelling the mystery of her new servant, whose
industry, skill, and taste produced visible and very satisfactory
effects in every part of the mansion, she settled down to the
conclusion, that, finally, a treasure had fallen to her lot which it was
best for her to keep as carefully as possible and make the most of. She
could now smile and assume airs of great condescension when her worthy
female friends complained of careless, incompetent, and unfaithful
domestics, and have the pleasure of being teased in vain to know what
she did to be so well served.
The satisfaction of Miss Millicent at having found and attached to her
service a young woman of such superlative domestic genius and taste, who
seemed to be so thoroughly contented with her situation, was especially
enhanced by the fact, that her own marriage was approaching, an occasion
which any bride of good sense would wish to have free from the annoyance
of slack and untrustworthy Bridgets.
A few months after the period of which we have been speaking, the
long-expected event of the last paragraph was evidently on the eve of
accomplishment. There was sitting in the distinguished parlor of Mr.
Hopkins, himself, occupying an easy-chair of the most elaborate design
and costly materials. It had all manner of extensibilities,—conveniences
for reclining the trunk or any given limb at any possible
angle,—conveniences for sleeping, for writing, for reading,
for taking snuff,—and was, withal, a marvel of upholstery-workmanship
and substantial strength. Another still more exquisite combination
of rosewood, velvet, spiral springs, and cunning floral carving,
presenting a striking resemblance to that great ornament of
the English alphabet, the letter S, held Miss Millicent Hopkins, in
one curve, face to face with Mr. Chipworth Dartmouth, already known to
the reader, in the other. Near by the half-recumbent millionnaire, at a
little gem of a lady's writing-desk, sat Mr. Frank Sterling, the junior
partner of the distinguished law-firm of Trevor and Sterling, engaged in
reading to all the parties aforesaid a very ingenious and interesting
document, which he had drawn up, according to the general dictation of
Mr. Hopkins aforesaid. It was, in fact, a marriage-settlement, of which
the three beautifully engrossed copies were to be signed and sealed
by all the parties in interest, and each was to possess a copy. Frank
Sterling read over the paragraphs which settled enormous masses of funds
around the sacred altar where Hymen was so soon to apply his torch, with
great professional coolness, as well as commendable rapidity; but when
he came to the conclusion, and, looking at both father and daughter,
said, that all that remained, if the draught now met their approbation,
was, to have witnesses called in and add the signatures, he betrayed a
little personal feeling, which it behooves the reader to understand.
Frank Sterling, though one of the best fellows in the world, with a
joyous face, a bright eye, a hearty laugh, and the keenest possible
relish for everything beautiful and good, was a bachelor, because a mate
quite to his judgment and taste had never fallen in his way. With Mr.
Hopkins, he had been, for a year or two, a favorite lawyer. Professional
business had often brought him to the house, and at Miss Millicent's
parties he had often been a specially licensed guest. There had been a
time, he felt quite sure, when, if he had pushed a suit, he could have
put his name where that of Dartmouth stood in the marriage-settlement,
and, as he glanced at Miss Millicent, as she sat in the mellow light of
the purplish plate-glass of that superb parlor, she seemed so beautiful
and queenly that he almost wished he had done it. Was it quite fit that
such a woman should be thrown away upon one of the mere beasts of the
stock-market? The air with which Chip took his victory was so exactly
like that matter-of-course chuckle with which he would have tossed over
the proceeds of a shrewd bargain into his bank-account, that the young
lawyer's soul was shocked at it, and he almost wished he had prevented
such a shame. However, his discretion came to the rescue, and told him
he had done right in not linking his fortunes to a woman who, however
beautiful, was too passive in her character to make any man positively
happy. Had it been his ambition to spend his life in burning incense to
an exquisitely chiselled goddess, here was a chance, to be sure, where
he could have done it on a salary that would have satisfied a pontifex
maximus; but, with a fair share of the regard for money which
characterizes his profession, Mr. Sterling never could make up his mind
to become a suitor for the hand of Miss Millicent, nor get rid of the
notion that he was to bless and be blessed by some woman of positive
character and a taste for working out her own salvation in her own
way,—some woman who, not being made by her wealth, could not be unmade
by the loss of it. It was, therefore, only a momentary sense of choking
he experienced, as he laid the manuscripts on the leaf of Mr. Hopkins's
chair, and said,—
"Shall I ring the bell, Sir?"
"If you please, Mr. Sterling. Now, Millicent, dear, whose name shall
have the honor of standing as witness on this document? There is Aunt
Peggy,—is good at using pothooks, but not so good at making them. Her
mark won't exactly do."
"Why, father! I shall, of course, have my little favorite, Lucy
Green; her signature will be perfectly beautiful. And by the way, Mr.
Dartmouth, here is a thing I haven't thought of before. With this Lucy
of mine for an attendant, I am worth about twice as much as I should
have been without her, and yet no mention has been made of this in the
"Ha! ha!" said Chip. "Thought of in good time. Let Mr. Sterling add the
item at once. I am content."
"First, however, you shall see the good girl herself, Mr. Dartmouth,
and then we can have a postscript—or should I say a codicil?—on her
account. John, please say to Lucy, I wish her to come to me. After all
the stocks and bonds in the world, Mr. Dartmouth, our lives are what our
servants please to make them."
"True, indeed, my love; but the comfort is, if we are well stocked with
bonds of the right sort, servants that don't suit can be changed for
those that do."
"And the more changes, the worse, commonly;—an exception is so rare,
I dread nothing like change. The chance of improving a bad one is even
better, I think."
"I don't believe there is anything good in the flunkey line that money
won't buy. I have always found I could have anything I wanted, if I saw
fit to pay its price. Money, no matter what simpletons preach, money, my
"Why, Lucy, what is the matter?" exclaimed Miss Millicent, with some
surprise and anxiety, as she saw the girl, who had just entered, instead
of advancing, awkwardly shrink on one side into a chair behind the door,
with a shudder, as if she had trod on a reptile. The next moment she was
at her side, earnestly whispering something in her ear, evidently an
explanation of the circumstances of the case, to which Lucy had hitherto
been an entire stranger.
"Pray, excuse me, Ma'am," was the girl's scarce audible response to some
"It is only to write your name, Lucy."
"Not to such a paper, for the world!"
"Not to oblige me?"
"I would do anything, Ma'am, to oblige you, but that would not. Never!
never!" said the excited girl, catching another glimpse of Chip, who was
now looking obliquely at the whispering couple, and drumming with his
fingers on the rosewood of that part of the letter S from which his
intended had just risen, as if he were hurriedly beating a reveille
to rally his faltering impudence. "No, Ma'am;—it is too bad, it is too
bad, it is too"——Here her utterance became choked, her cheeks pallid
as death, and her form wilted and fell like a flower before the mower's
scythe. Millicent prevented the fall, while Sterling rang for water,
and Chip, peering about with more agitation than any one else, finally
"The girl must be sick;—better take her out."
The young lawyer, with the aid of a servant, did bear her to another
apartment, where, after the usual time and restoratives, she recovered
her consciousness, and the maiden blood again revealed tints that the
queen of flowers might envy. Chip and the millionnaire remained in the
parlor, while the others were taking care of the proposed witness, and
great was the anxiety of the former that their absence should not be
prolonged. Suddenly he recollected a forgotten engagement of great
importance, pulled out his watch, fidgeted, suggested that the lawyer
and Miss Millicent should be recalled, that the papers might be signed
before he went. Mr. Hopkins was of that opinion, and sent a servant to
call them. Miss Millicent came, but could not think of completing the
contract without the signature of her favorite domestic. Argument enough
was ready, but she was fortified by a sentiment that was more than a
match for it. Mr. Hopkins was all ready, and would have the matter
closed as soon as the lawyer arrived, affirming that his daughter would
have too much sense, at last, to stand out on such a trifle.
In the mean time, the supposed Miss Lucy having had time to collect her
scattered senses, there occurred the following dialogue between her and
Frank Sterling, whose curiosity, not to speak of any other interest, had
been thoroughly roused by the strange patient for whom he had just been
acting in a medical, rather than legal capacity.
Frank. "We are all right, now, I think, Miss Lucy,—and they are
waiting for us in the parlor, you know."
Lucy. "That paper must not be signed, Sir. If Miss Millicent knew what
I do about that man, he would be the last man in the world she would
think of for a husband."
Frank. "But he is one of the merchant princes,—respectable, of
course. What harm can you know of him?"
Lucy. "If he is not so great a villain as he might be, let him thank
my escape from Mrs. Farmthroy's the night I came here. If he is to be
at home here, I shall not be; but before I leave, I wish to restore him
what belongs to him. Excuse me a moment, Sir, and I will fetch it."
"A regular previous love-affair," thought Frank, and expected her
to return, bringing a small lot of erotic jewelry to be returned to
Chipworth, as the false-hearted donor thereof. Great was his surprise,
when, instead of that, she brought a small parcel or wad of yellowish
paper, variegated with certain scrawls of rapid writing, of the manifold
"Why, that," said Frank, after unfolding the half-dozen sheets, all of
the same tenor, "is a set of news-dispatches, and of a pretty ancient
Lucy. "But it is his property, Sir; and though worthless itself, being
worth as much as he is, it may be valuable to him."
Frank. "Yes, yes. I begin to see. Cotton-Market. This reminds me of
the case of our client Grant. Why, pray, how did you come by these?"
Lucy. "Perhaps I ought not to tell you all. But if I may rely on your
honor as a gentleman, I will."
Frank. "As a gentleman, a man, and a lawyer, you may trust me that
every word shall be sacredly confidential."
Lucy. "Well, Sir, my name is not Lucy Green, but Laura Birch. My
mother keeps the Birch House in Waltham; and this man, whom you call a
merchant prince, came to my mother's the very day after the date on them
papers, and hired my brother to carry him to Captain Grant's. When he
took out his pocketbook to pay, which he did like a prince, perhaps,
he probably let these papers fall. At any rate, no one else could have
dropped them; and I saved them, thinking to give them to him when he
should call again. I have seen him but once since, at a place where,
through his interest, I supposed I had obtained a situation to learn the
milliner's trade. I needn't say why I did not return his property then.
If, now, I had in my possession even an old shoestring that had ever
been his, I would beg you to return it to him, and find out for me where
I can go never to see him."
Frank. "But I shall take care of these dispatches. There's a story
about these papers, I see. Here's a ray of daylight penetrating a dark
spot. Two links in the chain of circumstances, to say the least. Captain
Grant's unfortunate sale of cotton to Dartmouth just before the rise,
and the famous lost dispatch found on Dartmouth's track to Grant. Did
you see him have these papers, Miss Lucy—I beg your pardon—Miss
Lucy. "No, Sir; but I know he left them, just as well as if I had seen
them in his hands."
Frank. "True, true enough in fact, but not so good in law."
Lucy. "Is there anything by which the law can reach him, Sir? Oh, I
should be so glad, if the law could break off this match, even if it
cannot break his neck; and he deserves that, I am afraid, if ever a
Frank. "Yes,—there's enough in this roll to banish such a fellow, if
not to hang him. And it shall be done, too."
Lucy. "And Miss Millicent be saved, too? Delightful!"
Sterling, with the roll of yellow paper in his fist, now returned to the
parlor, where Mr. Hopkins impatiently opened upon him, before he could
close the door.
"Well, Mr. Counsellor, we are all waiting for you. Mr. Dartmouth has
urgent business, and is in haste to go. We shall be holden in heavy
damages, if we detain him."
"He will be in more haste to go by-and-by, Sir. I have some papers here,
Sir, which make it necessary that this marriage-contract should stand
aside till some other matters can be settled, or at least explained. I
refer to these manifold dispatches, detailing the latest news of the
Liverpool cotton-market, by the fraudulent possession of which on the
part of somebody, a client of mine, Captain Grant of Waltham, was
cheated out of a small fortune. Perhaps Mr. Dartmouth knows who went to
Waltham one morning to close a bargain before the telegraph-news should
transpire. It is rather remarkable that certain lost dispatches should
have been found in that man's track."
Whether Chip Dartmouth heard three words of this harangue may be
doubted. The sight of that yellowish paper did the business for him. His
expression vibrated from that of a mad rattlesnake to that of a dog with
the most downcast extremities. At last he rushed to the door, saying he
"would stand no such nonsense."
"But you will have to stand it!"
Chip was gone. Mr. Hopkins was in a state of amazement; and Millicent,
if she did not swoon, seemed to herself in a trance. Neither of them
could see in the cause anything to account for the effect. How could a
merchant prince quail before so flimsy a piece of paper? Mr.
Sterling explained. Mr. Hopkins begged the matter might not be made
public,—above all things, that legal proceedings should be avoided.
"No," said Sterling,—"I shall punish him more effectually. The proof,
though strong as holy writ, would probably fail to convict him in court.
Therefore I shall let him off on these conditions: He shall disgorge to
Captain Grant his profits on that cotton with interest, relinquish Miss
Millicent's hand, if she so pleases, and, at any rate, relieve Boston of
his presence altogether and for good. He may do it as soon as he likes,
and as privately."
This course at once met the approbation of all parties, and was carried
What became of Squire Sterling, whether he married the mistress of that
mansion or her maid, this deponent saith not; though he doth say that he
did marry one of them, and had no cause to regret the same.