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Chip Dartmouth

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 elsewhere.

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 patronizingly,—

"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?'"

"Seven cents."

"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 and eight.

"Well, I will say six-and-a-half at sixty days, to you," said the humiliated Grant.

"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?"

"Yes, Sir."

"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 keep."

"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 of banknotes.

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 Susan Birch?"

"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 the coin.

"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 do it."

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,
Frank?"

"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 later."

"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 day.

"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 with 'em."

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 worlds."

"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 thunderbolt-scrawls.

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 missed.

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 police-station.

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 behind.

"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 bargain."

"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 dear, is"——

"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 request.

"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 remarked,—

"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 sort.

"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 date, too."

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 Laura?"

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 villain did."

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 out.

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.