Bullock was put under a sharp cross-examination, but his story was not shaken. He had a plenty of good-natured, lazy force, and took care of himself. A witness brought in a short section of one of the apple trees, which had twenty-nine rings showing its age, which made a sensation.
Several other witnesses swore that when they were boys, they used to hunt for cattle, on the bottoms, to the north of Cole's land, and often got on to the old tree fences, to listen for the cow-bells. And Bart rested his case.
One branch of this defence looked ugly. The defendant had not clearly proven that he in person took possession of the land in time to perfect his title by adverse possession. But he had shown another man in possession, of some of the property, at least, and claiming it, and he had purchased this right, whatever it was, had gone in under him, and so succeeded to his possession, and right, if he had any.
This took the plaintiff by surprise, and when the defendant rested, he and his counsel were on the alert to meet it. A note came in from the outside, and the plaintiff and his counsel retired under leave of the Court, for consultation. Meanwhile Judge Markham and the President, who had taken much interest in the case, engaged in an earnest conversation. Then Judge Markham came down from the bench, and calling Bart to him, shook him warmly by the hand, and introduced him to Judge Humphrey, and his associates. All of which the jury observed.
Upon resuming the case, the plaintiff produced his depositions, and proved that the defendant's grantor, John Williams, Junior, was the reputed natural son of Williams, of the Land Company, &c.; also called witnesses to show that Cole came into the county in 1818. An attempt was then made to impeach Bullock, which failed. Ward was then put on the stand, and swore that he met Basil Hall, on a certain time, who told him that he had no claim, right or title to the land whatever. He also swore that he saw Hiram Fowler at work, mending the tree fence, on the north, the summer that Cole came in.
Bart, who had evinced rare skill in the examination of his own witnesses—a more difficult thing, by the way, than to cross-examine those of an adversary—put him through a sharp and stinging cross-examination. Under pretence of testing his memory, and of showing bias, he took him over the whole course, and it appeared that if he ever had the conversation he claimed with Basil, it must have been after his sale to Cole; and got from him such damaging statements, that it could be fairly claimed to the jury that the whole case was prosecuted in the interest of Ward. If so, this would exclude his testimony wholly. This was in the dark legal days, when not only were parties excluded from giving evidence, but a pecuniary interest in the result of the suit to the value of one mill, would render a man incompetent as a witness.
Ward had not expected to appear as a witness at all, and though a shrewd man, he came upon the stand not well knowing the legal ground he was upon; and the questions came so thick upon each other, that they fairly took his breath. If plaintiff objected to a question, it was at once withdrawn, and another instantly put, so that he was rather confused, than aided, by his counsel's interference.
It was certainly a relief to both Kelly and Ward, when the latter, tattered and battered, was permitted, with the ironical thanks of Bart, to retire; and the plaintiff's rebutting evidence closed. Bart called two or three to sustain Bullock, and rested also. This was near the close of Wednesday.
Mr. Kelly then arose, and delivered the opening of the final argument to the jury, contenting himself with presenting his own case. He only glanced at the case of defense, and said he would reserve full argument on this, as he might, until he had heard from the other side. As Bart arose to commence, the Court said:
"Mr. Ridgeley, we will hear you in the morning. Mr. Sheriff, adjourn the Court until to-morrow morning."
At the opening of the Court on Thursday, the court room was crowded. The interest in the case was general, and the character of the facts, and principal witnesses for the defense, was such as appealed powerfully to the memories and early associations of the people, and there was an earnest desire to hear the speech of the young advocate, whose management of the case had so far, won for him the heartiest admiration.
When the jury had answered to their names, "Mr. Ridgeley, proceed with your argument," said Judge Humphrey. The young man rose, bowed to the Court and jury, and stood silent a moment, with his eyes cast down, and it was at first thought on his rising for his speech, that he was laboring under embarrassment. When he raised his eyes, however, embarrassed as he certainly was, and commenced with a low sweet voice, it was discovered that his faltering was due mainly to the emotions of sensibility. Nature had been liberal in bestowing many of the qualifications of a great advocate upon him. He had a strong compelling will, when he chose to exercise it, which in the conflicts of the bar often prevails, and courage of a chivalrous cast, which throws a man impetuously and audaciously upon strong points, and enables him to gain a footing by the boldness and force of his onset. Barton was one to lead a forlorn hope, or defend a pass single handed, against a host. Without something of this quality, a great advocate is impossible.
With a warm, poetic imagination, Nature had given him quick perceptive powers, and the faculty of expressing his thoughts without apparent effort, in simple, strong language, as well defined, and sharply cut as a cameo. Beyond this, and better than all, was a tender, sympathetic sensibility; which, if it sometimes overmastered him, made him the master of others. The commonest things in his hands took the motion and color of living things. It was not the mere sensuous magnetism of powerful physical nature; but it excited the higher intellectual sympathies, which in turn awoke and captivated the reasoning and reflective organs, that found themselves delightfully conducted along a natural and logical course, that led them unconsciously to inevitable conclusions and convictions, ere the danger was perceived, or an alarm was sounded.
On the present occasion, he had not been on his feet five minutes ere it was felt that a real power, of an unusual order, was manifesting itself.
The case was not one framed or arranged with any vulgar reference to a forensic display. Cases never will get themselves up for any such occasion; and if the lawyer waits for such a case, he will die unknown. Cases spring out of dry, hard contentions, with nothing but vulgar surroundings; and it is to these, that the real advocate applies himself, breathes upon them the breath of genius and creative power, and clothes them with life, and interest, and beauty, endows them with his own soul and imagination, and lifts them from the level of the common to the height of the remarkable, the unusual, and sometimes of the wonderful; and endeavors to establish between them, and a jury and himself, the bonds of intense sympathy, upon which their emotions and sensibilities will come and go, as did the angels on the dream-ladder of the patriarch.
In the advocate's hour of strength and glory, the formulas of the law burst their mouldy cerements and leap forth into life, tender and beautiful to protect, or awful to warn or punish. Mysteries are unfolded, secrets reveal themselves, hidden things are proclaimed, and courts and juries, awed and abashed, yet elevated and inspired, accept and act upon his conclusions as infallible. For one hour he touches the pinnacle of human achievement.
After all, the effectiveness of the advocate is not so much in what he says, as in the way he says it. One man with real strength arises outside, and batters and bangs with real power, deals forcible blows, and yet does not carry his point; while another, with less intellect, gets up within the charmed circle of the sympathies, by the warm, human side of a jury, whom they don't think of resisting, and could not if they tried.
The speaker usually rises a little outside of the subject, on a sort of neutral ground, and Bart made the transit of this, naturally and simply. He graphically explained to the jury those legal phantoms, John Doe and Richard Roe; how Richard was always maltreating and dispossessing John, and how John was always going to law with Dick, and was hence an immense favorite with lawyers; and how, when Dick is sued, he always, having got up a muss, notifies the actual party in possession, and who ought to have been sued; tells him he must look out for himself, and hurries off to find where John has squat himself into other property; and thereupon he thrusts him out again, and so on. It was a fiction invented by the English lawyers to try the right of two parties to the possession of real estate; because they could do it in no other way, and the 4th of July had not freed us from this relic of antiquity. The issue here was, whether Fisk had a better right to the possession of this land, than had Cole; and whatever did not in some way help to enlighten them on that issue, had no business to be said at all.
In a few happy strokes, he sketched the defendant buying this land, packing up, bidding adieu to the dear down-country home, and his toilsome journey into the woods, arrival, and purchase, and poor, hard life of toil and deprivation: here was his all. He sketched the plaintiff as a well or ill-to-do gentleman, of a speculative turn of mind, whose eye coveted the rich bottom-lands of the defendant; and finding him helpless and poor, searched out the weak place in his title, hunted up obscure relatives, and procured for a song sung by themselves, their signatures to a deed of property of which they had never heard; he had proven that John Williams, Junior, son of John Williams, Senior, was born out of wedlock, had gone grubbing back into forgotten burying-places, and disinterred the dead, searched out the weakness of their lives; had raked out a forgotten scandal, carefully gathered it up in its rottenness, and had poured it out, before the jury; and the frailty and infamy of an unhappy woman, and the crime of one wretched man, were the sole virtue and strength of his case—sole source of his title to the land in dispute. And the plaintiff demanded that the law in its honor should now rob poor Cole of his homestead, and of the graves of his children, that John Fisk—or rather, Sam Ward—might possess that to which he had just the same moral right, that Dr. Myers had to the horses he stole. And this learned Court, and gentlemen of the jury, pioneers in these receding woods, are to be the instruments of this transfer.
The language was simple and plain, the imagery bold and striking, and the closing sentences were pronounced with great fervor. The jury shrank from the issue, which might have a possible conclusion, and looked eagerly for any escape, as jurors will.
The young advocate clearly opened out the nature of the defence of adverse possession, and the philosophy upon which it rested; and explained that the defendant, to meet the plaintiff's paper case, must show that he and those under whom he claimed, had been in the open, continued, and notorious possession of the property for twenty years, before suit was brought, claiming to be the owners. This the defendant was to show, at the peril of destruction; and in a few happy sentences he brought the jury to feel an intense anxiety that he should succeed.
Then he turned back the years, blotted out the highways, re-planted the forests, till the court house dissolved, and a wondrous maple wood crowned the hill on which it stood. And so back, till the Indians returned, and elk and panthers roamed at will. Then he pointed out a sorrow-stricken, moody, brooding man, seeking a "lodge in the vast wilderness," hunting the spring, and building his shanty, making his clearing, and planting a few apple seeds, brought from his old home; and picking up the section of the tree trunk, he read off from its end, "twenty-nine years ago!"
He sketched in rapid, natural lines, the life of the recluse, the necessities of his situation, his keeping cows, and the means of restricting their range; dwelt upon the evidence of the tree fences, and argued that the fact that two of them were used for that purpose, was conclusive that the other sides were also fenced, for without them no enclosure could exist. And he referred to the well known universal custom of that early day.
Lord! how those old and somewhat mythical tree fences grew, and came out under his hands! The hunters had herded elk in their angles; bears had been trapped in their jungles; the doe hid her fawn in their recesses; wolves and foxes had found lairs in them; birds had built nests in them; men in search of strayed cattle had climbed upon them to listen for the tinkling bell; balm and thyme, wild sun-flowers and celandine had made them fragrant with perfume, and bright with color.
Basil Hall went to that spring, and built and occupied, because he owned it. His very settlement and occupancy was a proclamation of ownership—an assertion of right—the most satisfactory, and so the Court would say. Here he read from the Ohio Reports, to show that a parol claim, without any written color of title, was sufficient to make the claim. He then referred to the evidence of Bullock, that Hall did by word claim such right; that the claim was acknowledged by Cole, who bought and paid for it. If Hall had been without claim of right, Cole would have turned him out; but he acknowledged it, bought, got it, and held it. The word of Ward could not be taken; he was interested; if taken, it could not be believed; if believed, it proved nothing, for the admission of Hall to him, that he had no right, was made after Hall had sold out, and hence not evidence against the purchaser, all of which he forcibly illustrated; and the proposition was conceded to be law. He claimed that this defence under the purchase from Hall, was perfect in itself.
His defence of Bullock from the attack on him, was forcible and beautiful. The old man was a hunter, had been a soldier, etc., and the unforgotten Indian battles of the recent war flashed before the jury, and all the sylvan romance of a hunter's life was reproduced as by magic.
In the second place he contended that Cole made an absolute defense on his claim of title under his deed; no matter though John Williams, Junior, was the bastard of a bastard; his deed was good to make a claim of title under, by the common law of England, and that of every State of the United States; and he read authorities to the Court.
He then showed pretty conclusively that Cole left Connecticut in the spring of 1817, and was not a year and two months on the road; that he came in in 1817, and not in 1818; and this, he said he would demonstrate. John Fowler, Hiram Fowler's son, had sworn positively that his father worked for Cole, repairing the fence on the north. Ward swore to the same; he had told this one bit of truth by some unaccountable accident; so that the plaintiff had also proven that Hiram Fowler had worked for Cole on this land, and hence Cole was in possession of it in the lifetime of Fowler. When did Fowler die?
"Now," said Bart, "I will read from this probate record, already put in evidence, but not read," and he opened and read from the record of the Court, begun and held in the court house at Chardon, for the county of Geauga, commencing April 17, 1818, the appointment of an administrator on the estate of "Hiram Fowler, late deceased, of the township of Newbury, in said county," and closed the book with a clap. "Thus this record of absolute verity declares that Hiram Fowler had died before April, 1818, and the plaintiff and defendant both prove that he was alive, after Cole came into this State. Beyond the possibility of doubt then, Cole came to the possession of this land in 1817, and his title is perfect in law, equity and morality."
When he closed this part of his case, a murmur almost of open applause ran through the densely packed house. Here he rested the argument.
In a rapid resume of the case, he seemed to have stumbled upon the two little grass-grown graves of Cole's children, up under the old maples. He paused, hesitated, faltered, and stopped, tears came to his eyes, and his lips quivered. No art could have produced this effect, and a sob broke from many in the court room. Suddenly resuming, he finished his grouping in a saddened voice, and paused for a moment, sending his eager glance through the court room, till it finally rested on the face of Sam Ward. Looking at him, in half a dozen sentences, he pilloried him for the scorn and derision of the jury; and then turning to them, in a voice of wonderful sweetness, half sad and regretful, he committed the case to them, and sat down.
A great hum like that of swarming bees, ran through the court house, and men who had looked often into each other's eyes, looked again, with a joyous sense of relief.
During some parts of his speech, which occupied an hour and a half, men at times leaned from all parts of the room towards him, open-eyed and open-mouthed. At others they swayed gently to and fro, like tree tops in a breeze; and when he sat down, the oldest at the bar—the President on the bench—felt that it was among the best speeches they had ever heard, if not the best. The youthfulness of the orator of course enhanced its effect. It had some faults of redundancy, both of words and imagery, but its tone and manner were admirable. At times his delivery was very rapid and vehement, but his voice, always rich and full, never broke, or seemed strained; while in the moments of excitement, every nerve and fibre of his form quivered with the intensity of his emotion. His form was lithe and elastic, and admitted of easy, rapid and forcible action, which was never more than was allowable to one of his passionate temperament.
When he closed, almost everybody supposed the case was ended. Wade arose with a radiant face, and said the defense rested the argument on that which had just been delivered.
Kelly was taken by surprise again, both by the quality and force of Bart's speech, and the submission of the case. The first carried him off his feet, and he hoped to recover during the delivery of another on the same side. He was a good chancery and real estate lawyer, but he was not the man to reply to Barton's argument. He followed him, however—that is, he spoke after him, and on the other side, for a half hour, and submitted the case.
The Court gave the case to the jury on the law, as the defense claimed it. Indeed there was no dispute about the law. He explained fully and clearly the case, which arose on the defense; and saying, in a very graceful and gracious way, that the merits of the case had been presented with a force and beauty rarely equalled, and which might tend to aid the jury in coming to their conclusion, he submitted it to them, and took a recess for dinner.
At the recess, the lawyers crowded about Bart to congratulate him for his defense, among whom Kelly was the foremost. Judge Markham came up, and with moisture in his eyes, took him by both hands and drew him away to Judge Humphrey, who complimented him in the highest terms, and insisted upon his dining with him, which invitation Bart accepted. The Judge was as much taken with his modest, quiet, gentlemanly manners, and quick, happy wit, as with his splendid speech in the court room. The fact was, his exertions had fully awakened his intellectual forces, and they were all in the field, armed and with blades drawn. He could not eat, and never drank, save water or milk; and now between the two Judges, and surrounded by lawyers, with a glass of milk and a plate of honey, petted and lionized for the moment, he gave himself up to sparkling and brilliant answers to the numerous questions and remarks addressed to him, and showed that, whatever draft had been made upon him, he had plenty of resources in reserve.
Upon a return to the court house, at half past one, the jury, who had made up and sealed their verdict, were called; it was opened and read, and as anticipated, was for the defendant. This announcement was received with scarcely suppressed applause. The verdict was recorded by the clerk, and in due time followed by the judgment of the Court, and so ended Fisk vs. Cole. Cole went out of the court room, with one exception, the most observed man in the crowd.
Very naturally Barton and his last performance was the common theme of conversation in the region round about for many days. All over Newbury, as witnesses and other spectators returned, the whole thing was talked over, with such various eulogies as suited the exaggerated estimate his various admirers put upon his merits.
"What do you say now?" said Uncle Jonah to Uncle Josh, as the two had just listened to an account of the trial, in Parker's bar room.
"It does beat hell amazingly!" answered that accomplished rhetorician.
"What did I tell you?" said Jo, at Jugville, to Uncle Cal, and that set.
"Oh, I was there," said Uncle Cal. "I always said, ever since the trial here, that he had the stuff in him. But he went beyond anything I ever hearn," and Uncle Cal relapsed into admiring silence.
Julia sat alone that evening in an elegantly, and, for that day, luxuriously furnished room, around which she had many times glanced, and in which her own hands had several times arranged and re-arranged the various articles. There was a bed in the room, which was large and airy, a vase filled with wild and hot-house flowers; yet it was evidently not a lady's room, and unoccupied save at this moment by the fair Julia, who with an abundance of color in her cheeks and lips, and a liquid light in her eyes, was nevertheless pensive and seemingly not quite at ease. She held two letters in her hands, which she many times re-read. They ran as follows:
"CHARDON, Wednesday P.M.
"My Dear Wife:—Barton reached here on Monday P.M. I did not think it best to call upon him, and did not see him till yesterday morning in the court room, when, without looking me in the face save for a second, he bowed to me. He had so changed that I did not at first recognize him, and did not acknowledge his bow as I would. Later, when his case was called and he came to make a remark to the court, he looked me in the eye, calmly and steadily, and I thought I could see in his face regret, the shadow of suffering, and a very kindly, but sad expression, which seemed almost like a revelation.
"He is much changed and improved. The old boyish recklessness and dash is gone. His face is thinner, has much character, and is disfigured, as I think, with a moustache, which gives him the look of a foreigner. He is, of course, well dressed, and has the quiet, high-bred air of a thorough gentleman.
"Judge Humphrey is immensely taken with him, and he has so far managed his case admirably, and like an experienced lawyer. We cannot keep our eyes from him, but watch every word and movement with great interest. Though Wade and Ford are with him, he tries the case alone, thus far.
"I shall see him—if he will see me—as of course he will, the moment he is free from his case.
"Of course you will show this to Julia.
"Ever yours, EDWARD."
"CHARDON, Thursday P.M.
"My Dear Wife:—I cannot in sober language express my astonishment and admiration for Barton's masterly speech this forenoon. As much as I expected from him, I was completely taken by surprise. Judge Humphrey is unbounded in his praises of him; but I will tell you about all this when I return.
"At the recess, among others I went to congratulate him, which was the second time I had been where I could give him my hand. He held out both of his, and seemed unable to speak. As soon as he could extricate himself from the ovation, he went with me to Judge Humphrey, who took him to dine with us. His conversation at the dinner table was more brilliant than his speech. He ate nothing but a little honey, and drank a glass of milk. I confess I was a little alarmed at some of his sallies.
"On our way back to court, I observed he began to grow serious, and I arranged to see him as soon as his case was at an end. The jury returned a verdict for Cole, on the coming in after dinner, and that case, thanks to Bart, is finally ended.
"After this, I left the bench and was joined by Bart. It was difficult for him to escape from the crowd who followed him out; when he did, he joined me, and we walked off down the hill toward Newbury. Bart was evidently depressed. The re-action had come; the great strain of the last three days was removed, and the poor boy was sad and melancholy.
"We went on in silence, I not knowing just how to commence.
"' Judge Markham,' said he, turning frankly to me, 'you know I am a born fool, and just now I feel like breaking entirely down, and crying like a woman. For these last four years I have lived utterly alone, confiding nothing to any one, and I am too weak to go so, always.'
"Oh, how I wished you had been there, with your sweet woman's heart, and voice, and tact.
"'My dear boy,' said I, 'if there is anything in the wide world that I can say and do_ only let me know what it is. I am more anxious to help you, than you are to be helped, if I only may.'
"'I don't know how I ought to meet you, Judge Markham. You wrote me a manly letter, full of kindness, and I answered—God knows what—I was so wretched.'
"'I could not blame you,'I said, 'I am much in fault towards you, but it was from my not knowing you. I regret it very much.'
"'I don't know,' he answered, 'that you should say that to me. I feel sorry and hurt that anybody should make apologies to me. Why should you have known me"? I did not not know myself, and don't now. I know I can not hate or even dislike anybody, and I always liked you, and I do now.'
"'Barton,' said I, 'God bless you! you never can have cause of complaint against me or mine again: only give us your confidence, and trust us.'
"'I am sure you are very kind,' said he, 'and it is very pleasant to hear it said. I want to see Mrs. Markham, and in some way say how grateful I am for her kind expressions towards me, and she and—and you all, have been very kind to my poor dear mother for the past year.'
"'You would not let us be kind to you,' said I.
"'No. How could I?' he answered.
"'I don't know,'said I. 'I only hope now that there may be no more misunderstandings; that you will now let us—will give Julia an opportunity, at least to express her gratitude to you, and that we may all unite in so doing.'
"He was silent a moment, and then went on as if thinking aloud:
"'Julia! Good Heavens! how can I ever meet her!—Pardon me; I mean Miss Markham. I shall certainly call upon the ladies at a very early day,' he said, coldly. 'The fact is, Judge Markham,' continued he, 'I have been under a little strain, and I am not used to it. I come back here near home, and see so many old Newbury people, who make me forget how they used to dislike me, and all the old, and all the more recent things, come back upon me so strongly, and I find I am as weak and boyish and foolish as ever.'
"He did not say much more—he finally asked about you, and after much hesitation, about Julia. It is so easy to see that his heart is full of her, that I could not help feeling almost wretched for him. I then asked him when he was going to Newbury. He thought of going to-morrow in the stage, but said some parties wanted to see him Friday evening. He has finally consented to wait and ride down with us on Saturday, after the term closes.
"Now, my dear wife, come and bring Julia, if you think it best. I confess I wish that they might meet at an early day—but be governed by your better judgment in this—and you will show her this letter of course.
"Ever, with love and kisses to you both,
"Mother," she said afterwards, "let me suggest that you send up a carriage to-morrow evening, which Papa Judge may take as an invitation to come early on Saturday morning. If Mr. Ridgeley sees me, had he not better find me in my mother's and father's house?"
"If he sees you, Julia?"
"Of course if he wishes to, he will."
And she was not conversational, and wandered about, and if possible would have been a little pettish.
"Are you not glad, Julia, that he has acquitted himself so well? He seems to have carried the Court and jury and all by storm."
"Of course he did. Does that surprise you? But it is all so stupid, staying there to try that pokey old case."
"Julia, what under the sun is the matter?" looking at her in surprise.
The girl turned and knelt by her mother, and laid her face down in her lap, and burst into violent sobbings.
On the morrow Julia arose, sweet and composed, with the old light in her eyes, and her wonted color coming and going with the mysterious emotions within. She was almost gay and joyous at breakfast, and then grew fitful and restless, and then became pensive again.
The day was a marvel of the forward spring, and the sun filled the whole heavens with its wondrous light. The blue bird called down in his flight, with his trill of gladness, and the robins flooded the leafless trees and the lawn with gushes of purest melody. Julia could not remain in the house; she could not remain anywhere; and as the morning deepened, she took a sudden resolution and ordered Prince to be saddled at once.
"Mother," said she, "I have the whole of this long, long day. I must gallop off through the woods, around to Wilder's. I haven't been there since last fall; and then I will come around by Mrs. Ridgeley's and tell her, and so home. Don't gay a word, mother; I must go. I cannot stay here. I'll be back in good time."
So mounting Prince she bounded off. When she felt herself going with the springy, elastic leap of her splendid steed, she thought she had found what she most wanted—to go to that little blessed nook of shelter and repose under the rocks by the running stream, in the sun. Something seemed to call her, and the day, the rapid motion, the exhilaration of the atmosphere, as she dashed through it, softened her excitement, and a calm, elevated, half-religious extasy possessed her; and the sky and air, and brown, desolate earth, just warming with the April sun, all glowed with hope. How near to her seemed Heaven and all holy, sweet influences; and the centre of it all was one radiant, beautiful face, looking with sad, wistful eyes to her for love and life which she so wanted to give. She felt and knew that to this one in some way, she would be fully revealed, and misconception and absence and doubt would vanish. She should meet him, but just how he would look, or what he would say, or how she should or could answer him, she could not shadow out, and would not try. All that, she was sure, would take care of itself, and he would know and understand her finally.
Prince seemed fully to appreciate the day, and to be inspired with its subtle and exhilarating elixir; but after a mile or two of over-spirit, he sobered down into his long, easy, springy, untiring gallop. They passed the fields and went along the hard and dry highway, till she reached the diverging trail that struck off through the woods toward the settlement on the other side, the nearest house of which was Wilder's.
On she went among the trees, past recently deserted sugar camps, away from human habitations, into and through the heart of the forest, joyous and glad in her beauty and young life and hope, and happy thoughts; and finally she came to the creek; here she drew up her still fresh horse, and rode slowly through its clear, rapid waters, and turned down on its other bank. How glad it seemed, gurgling and rippling, and swirling, with liquid music and motion! Slowly she rode down and with a half timid feeling, as somehow doubting if she would not return. But it was all silent and quiet; the sunshine and the voice of the stream seemed to re-assure her, and the strange feeling passed away, as she entered the little nook so dear to her memory. How silent and empty it was, in the rich, bright light of the mid-forenoon! She dismounted, and taking her skirt upon her arm, was about to step under the rude shed, with the thought of the birds who had reared their young there the year before, when Prince lifted his head with a forward movement of his ears, and turning her eyes down the stream, they fell upon Barton, who had just passed around the lower angle of the rocks, and paused in speechless surprise, within a few feet of her.
With a little cry of joy, she threw out her hands and sprang towards him. Her forgotten skirt tripped her, and she would have fallen, but the quick arms of Barton were about her, and for an exquisite moment she abandoned herself fully to him.
"Oh, Arthur, you have come to me!"
Their lips found each other, the great mass of dark brown hair almost overflowed the light brown curls, and their glad tears mingled.
"Julia! I am alive—awake! and you are in my arms! Your kiss has been on my lips! You love me!"
"With my whole heart and soul!"
"Oh, how blessed to die at this moment!" murmured Bart.
"Would it not be more blessed to live, love?" she whispered.
"And you have always loved me?"
"Always—there—there!" with a touch of her lips at each word.
"I know you did. You shall never, never think again—there!"
She withdrew from his arms, and adjusted her skirt, and stood by him in her wondrous beauty, radiant with the great happiness that filled her heart.
Barton was still confused, and looked with eyes wide open with amazement, partly at seeing her at all, partly at her marvellous beauty, which to him was seraphic, and more and most of all, at the revelation of her great love.
"Oh Julia! How was this? how is this—this coming of Heaven to me; this marvel of your love?"
"Did you really think, Arthur, that I had no eyes; that I had no ears; that I had no woman's heart? How could you think so meanly of me, and so meanly of yourself?"
"But you so scorned me."
"Hush! that was your word: it was not true; you were even then in my foolish girl's heart. Don't speak of that to me now; surely you must have known that that was all a mistake."
"And you always loved me? How wonderful that we should meet here and to-day!" he said, unable to take his eyes from her.
"You know the place and remember the day? Is it more marvellous, than that we should have been here before? I never knew how you found me then, and I am as much puzzled about your being here now. Father wrote us that you would come down with him to-morrow."
"Tell me how you come to be here, to-day, of all the things in the world?" said Bart.
"Am I to tell first? Well, you see, I wanted to see Mrs. Wilder and Rose; I have not been to their house since last fall, and so, having nothing else to do, I rode over, and just thought we would come down here—didn't we, Prince?"
"And so you call him Prince?" said Bart, who had recognized the horse.
"Yes, and I will sometime tell you why, if you will tell me how you came here to-day."
"I came on purpose, because I wanted to. Because you had hallowed the place, I knew that I should find your haunting presence in it. Oh, when that case was over, and I got out, all the old dreams, and visions, and memories, and voices came to me. And your face never absent, not with the old look of scorn that it seemed to wear, but sweet, and half reproachful, haunted me, and made me half believe what poor Henry's smitten love said to me of you, when I told her my story."
"Bless her," murmured Julia.
"And I walked, and mused, and dreamed all the night; and this morning I sent your kind, good father a note, and came off. I came as directly here as I could, and now indeed I believe God sent me."
His arm was about her, and he held both her hands. The frank confession, so sweet to her, had its immediate reward from her lips.
"Arthur," she said, "I, too, came to see this place, with its sweet and sacred memories. I have been here three times before. You may know every thought and feeling of my heart. I could not have got through the day without coming: and how blessed I am for coming. Do you remember, when you had done all you could for my rest and comfort, how, on that awful yet precious night, you asked me if I had said a prayer, and I asked you to pray? Do you know that my mother and I both believe that that prayer was answered, and that she was impressed with my safety in answer to it? Oh, how grateful to our Father for his goodness to us we should be. Arthur, can you thank Him for us, now?" And they knelt in the forest solitude, with God and his blessed sun and blue sky, and their two young, pure, loving hearts joined in a fervent outpouring of gratitude.
"Our Father, for the precious and blessed revelation of our hearts, each to the other, we thank Thee. Let this love be as pure, and sacred, and holy, and eternal, as we now feel it to be. Grant, dear Father, that it may be sanctified by holy marriage; and that through Thy gracious providence, this union of hearts and souls may ever be ours. Hear us, thy young, helpless, yet trusting, believing, and loving children."
And she: "Sweet and blessed Saviour; let Thy precious love and presence be also about us, to keep us, help us, and bless us; and Father, let the maiden's voice also join in the prayer that Thou wilt bless us, as one."
They arose, and turned to each other, with sweet, calm, restful, happy faces; with souls full of trust and confidence, that was to know no change or diminution.
THE GOSPEL OF LOVE.
Julia pointed out the bird's nest under the roof, and to a faded garland of flowers, hung upon the rough bark of the old hemlock, against which Barton had reclined, and another upon the rock just over where she had rested. In some way these brought to Bart's mind the flowers on Henry's grave; and in a moment he felt that her hand had placed them there; the precious little hand that lay so willingly in his own. Raising it to his lips, he said: "Julia, this same blessed hand has strewn my poor dear brother's grave with flowers."
"Are you glad, Arthur?"
"Oh, so glad, and grateful! And the same hand wrote me the generous warning against that wretched Greer?"
"Yes, Arthur. Father came home from that first trial distressed about you, and I wrote it. I thought you would not know the hand."
"I did not—though when your letter came to me in Jefferson, the address reminded me of it. But I did not think you wrote it. And when rumors were abroad of my connection with these men, after I went to Albany, who was it who sent somebody to Ravenna, to get a contradiction from Greer, himself?"
"No one sent anybody: some one went," in the lowest little voice.
"Oh, Julia! did you go, yourself?"
"With the love of such a woman, what may not a man do?" cried Bart, with enthusiasm. "Julia, I suspect more—that I owe all and everything to you."
"You saved my life, Arthur, and will you not take little things from me?"
"I owe you for all the love and happiness of all my future, Julia, and for the stimulus that has made me work these three years. You love me; and love takes from love, and gives all it can and has, and is content."
"Bless you, Arthur!" and affecting to notice the passage of the sun towards the meridian—she turned to him a little anxiously—"What time is it, Arthur?"—as if she cared! He told her, and she extended her hand and took the watch, and toyed with it a moment; "it is a pretty watch, open it, please," which he did. Looking at it intently, with heightened color, she pointed with the rosy tip of a finger, to an almost hidden inscription, which Bart had never seen before, and which he saw were letters spelling "Julia." He started up amazed, and for the moment trembled.
"Oh, Julia! all that I have and am, the food I have eaten, the clothes I wear, all came from you! Old Windsor is a fraud—an instrument—and I have carried your blessed name these long months, not knowing it."
"Arthur, 'you love me, and love takes from love. It gives all it has and can, and is content.' It is a blessed gospel, Arthur. Think how much I owe you—gladly owe you;—the obligation was not a burthen; but you would not even let me express my gratitude. Think of your dreadful letter. When you knelt and prayed for me, I would have put my lips to yours, had you been near me. I let you see my very heart in every line I wrote you, and you turned from me so coldly, and proudly, and blindly, and I could see you were so unhappy. Oh, I would not have been worthy to be carried a step in your arms, if I had not done the last thing in my power. I went and saw Mr. Wade, and father promised me the money, and Mr. Wade arranged it all for me; and dear, blessed Mr. Windsor is not a fraud; he loves you himself, and loved your brother."
"Forgive me, forgive me, Julia," said Bart, who had sunk on the leaves at her feet, and was resting his head against her bosom, with one arm of hers about his neck; "and this watch?"
"That I purchased and had engraved, and perhaps—what would you have done had you seen my name?"
"Come straight to you at once."
"And you are content?"
"Perfectly; you love me, and I accept the gospel of love," and he looked up with his clear, open brow and honest, transparent eyes, and gazing down into them and into the depths of his soul, seeming to see great happiness, dimmed a little with regret, she bent her head and put her lips to his, and tears fell from her eyes once again upon his face.
"Arthur," again lifting her head, "how glad I am that this is all told you now, when you are tenderest to me, and I have no secret to carry and fear, nothing to do now but to make you happy, and be so happy. Sometime, soon, you will tell me all your precious heart history, keeping nothing from me."
"Everything, everything, Julia! and something I may say now—I don't want to leave this sweet, sacred place, without a word about my letter. It was written in utter hopelessness of your love. The occurrences of that strange night had replaced me within the reach of my own esteem."
"How had you ever lost that, Arthur?"
"By my own folly. I loved you when I came back—before I went away—always. It was a dream, a sweet, delicious dream—that inspired poetry, and kindled ambition, but was purely unselfish. I had not a thought or a hope of a return. This passion came to possess me, to occupy my mind, and absorb my whole being. I knew it could not in the nature of things be returned."
"And I rushed into your presence, and declared it, and received what I expected and needed—though it paralyzed me, but my pride came to my rescue, and what strength I had; I went away humiliated, and aroused myself and found places on which I could stand, and strength to work. So far as you were concerned, Julia, I only hoped that in the far future, if you ever recalled my mad words—"
"That did not fall in the dust under my feet, and were not forgotten, sir," interrupted Julia.
"Thank you, dearest—but if they should come to you, you would feel that they had not insulted you. I avoided you, of course, and had to avoid your mother. I would not see you, but you were ever about me, and became an inspiring power. I burned all the sketches I had made of you, but one, and that I mislaid."
"I found it. I am glad you lost it, you naughty child."
"Did you? Well, I went through the winter and spring, and the awful calamity of Henry's death, and the next fall and winter, and you wore away, and although I might not see you, your absence made Newbury a desert. And I felt it, when you came back. And when I got ready to go I could not. I set the time, sent off my trunk, and lingered. I even went one night past your father's house, only to see where you were, and yet I lingered; I found flowers on my brother's grave, and thought that some maiden loved him."
"When she loved you."
"That Wednesday night I would go, but couldn't."
"Tell me all that happened to you that night; it is a mystery to us all; you did not even tell your mother."
"It is not much. I had abandoned my intention of going that night, and was restless and uneasy, when George rushed in and told me you were lost. He had learned all that was known, and told it very clearly. I knew of the chopping, and where the path led up to it, and I thought you would tarn back to the old road, and might enter the woods, on the other side. Everything seemed wonderfully clear to me. My great love kindled and aroused every faculty, and strung every nerve. I was ready in a moment. George brought me two immense hickory torches, that together would burn out a winter night; and with one of our sugar camp tapers. I lighted one, as I went. I must have reached the point where you left the old road, in ten minutes. I was never so strong, I seemed to know that I would find you, and felt that it was for this I had staid, and blamed myself for the selfish joy I felt, that I could serve and perhaps save you.
"I examined the old road, and in one wet place, I found your track going north, and a little further was the old path, that led to the slashing. At the entrance to it, the leaves had been disturbed, as if by footsteps; I saw many of them, and thought you had become lost, and would follow the path; so I went on. When I reached the slashing, I knew you would not enter that, but supposed you would skirt around on the east and south side, as the path led southwesterly to it. Of course I looked and searched the ground, and could occasionally see where a footfall had disturbed the leaves.
"I concluded that sooner or later, you would realize that you were lost; and then—for I knew you were strong and brave—would undertake to strike off toward home, without reference to anything; and I knew, of course, that you would then go exactly the wrong way, because you were lost. After skirting about the slashing, I could find no foot-marks in the leaves; and I struck out southerly, and in a little thicket of young beeches and prickly ash, hanging to a thorn, I found your hood. Oh, God! what joy and thankfulness were mine; and there in the deep leaves, going westerly, was your trail."
"I thought I saw that awful beast, just before I reached that place, and fled, not knowing where," said Julia.
"Did you call, Julia?"
"I had called before that, many times."
"You were too far to be heard by your father and friends; and I was too late to hear you. I called several times, when I found the hood. Of course no answer came, and following the trail where it could be seen, I went on. I missed it often, and circled about until I found it, or something like it, always bearing away deeper and deeper into the wood. Then the wind blew awfully, and the snow began to sift down. My first torch was well burned out, and I knew I had been out some hours. I lighted the other and went on; soon I struck this creek, and fancied that you, if you had reached it, would follow it down."
"Soon after, at a soft place where a little branch came in, I found your tracks again, several of them; and I knew I was right, and was certain I should find you. In my great joy, I thanked God, with my whole heart. It was storming fearfully; and trees were cracking, and breaking, and falling, in the fury of the wind. I called, but I knew nobody could hear me a dozen rods away. It had become intensely cold, and I feared you would become exhausted and fall down, and perhaps perish ere I could reach you. I hurried on, looked by every tree and log, calling and searching. I don't know where I struck the creek, though I knew every rood of the woods: I am, as you know, a born woodsman, and know all wood craft. Although I was certain I would find you, I began to grow fearfully anxious, and almost to doubt. As I went I called your name, and listened. Finally a faint sound came back to me, and I sprang forward—when you rose partly up before me. Oh, God! oh, God!" and his voice was lost in emotion. "For one moment I was overcome, and did, I know not what, save that I knelt by you and kissed your hands. Their chilly touch recalled me. I felt that I had saved you not only for your father and mother, but for your pure self, and to be the bride of some unknown man; and I was resolved that no memory of yours, and no thought of his, should ever occasion a blush for what should occur between us."
"How noble and heroic you were—"
"You know all that happened after."
"And in your anxiety to save me from myself, you would not even let me thank you. And when I slept, you stole away."
"What could I do. Julia? I had saved you, I had redeemed myself; and found a calm, cold peace and joy in which I could go. In view of what had happened between us before, how hard and embarrassing for you to meet and thank me, and I feared to meet you. It was better that I should go, and with one stolen look at your sweet, sleeping face, I went."
"Arthur, my poor best will I do to repay you for all your pain and anguish."
"Am I not more than repaid, proud and happy? It was for the best. I needed to suffer and work; and yet how blessed to have carried the knowledge of your love with me!"
"Oh, I wanted to whisper it to you, to have you know; and I was unhappy because I knew you were," she murmured.
"My poor letter in answer to yours I fear was rude and proud and unmanly. What could I say? The possibility that I could be more than a friend to you never occurred to me, and when Ida tried to persuade me that you did love me, her efforts were vain; I could hardly induce her to abandon the idea of writing you."
"There is a blessed Providence in it all, Arthur; and in nothing more blessed than in bringing us together here, where we could meet and speak, with only the sunshine and this bright stream for witnesses."
"And what a sweet little story of love and hope and joy it carries murmuring along!" said Bart, struck with the poetry of her figure.
"But we must not always stay here," said the practical woman. "We must go home, must not we, Prince?" addressing the horse, which had stood quietly watching the lovers, and occasionally looking about him.
"You have changed his name?" said Bart.
"Yes. You see he is your horse, and I called him Prince Arthur the very day I received him, which was the day your letter came. I call him Prince. He is a prince—and so is his namesake," she added, playfully pulling his moustache. "You don't like that?" said Bart; "the moustache? I can cut it away in a moment."
"I do like it, and you must not cut it away. Stand out there, and let me have a good look at you; please turn your eyes away from me—there so."
"You find me changed," he said, "and I find you more lovely than ever," rushing back to her.
"You spoilt my view, sir."
"You will see enough of me," he said, gaily.
"You are changed," she went on, "but I like you better. Now, sir, here is your horse. I deliver you, Prince, to your true lord and master; and you must love him, and serve him truly."
"And I have already dedicated you to your lady and mistress," said Bart, "and you must forever serve her."
"And the first thing you do, will be to carry Wilder down to my dear mother, with a letter—how blessed and happy she will be!—asking her to send up a carriage—unless you have one somewhere?"
"Me? I haven't anything anywhere, but you. A carriage brought me into this region, and I sent it back. Keep and ride the Prince, as you call him; I can walk. I've done it before."
"You shall never do it again; if you do I will walk with you. We will go to Wilder's, and see Mrs. Wilder, who is a blessed woman, and who knew your secret, and knows mine; and Rose, who took me into her bed; and we will have some dinner, unromantic ham and eggs; and when the carriage comes, I will drive you to your mother's, and then you shall drive me home—do you understand?"
"Perfectly; and shall implicitly obey. Do you know, I half suspect this is all a dream, and that I shall wake up in Albany, or Jefferson, or somewhere? I know I am not in Chardon, for I could not sleep long enough to dream there."
"I was too near Newbury, and under the spell of old feelings and memories; and I don't care to sleep again."
As they were about to leave the dear little nook, "Arthur," said Julia, "let us buy a bit of this land, and keep this little romantic spot from destruction." So they went out through the trees in the warm sun, Bart with Prince's bridle in his hand, and Julia with her skirt over one arm and the other in that of her lover.
"I hold tightly to your arm," said Bart, laughing, "so that if you vanish, I may vanish with you."
"And I will be careful and not go to sleep while we are at Wilder's, for fear you will steal away from me, you bad boy. If you knew how I felt when I woke and found you had gone—"
"I should not have gone," interrupted Bart.
Thus all the little sweet nothings that would look merely silly on paper, and sound foolish to other ears, yet so precious to them, passed from one to the other as they went.
Wilder had eaten his dinner, and lounged out into the sun, with his pipe, as they walked up. He knew Julia, of course, and Prince, and looked hard at Bart, as they passed; when the comely wife came running out.
"Oh," she exclaimed, taking Julia's hand, "and this—this is Mr. Ridgeley."
"It is indeed," said Bart, brightly.
"And you are not—not—Oh! your two hearts are happy I see it in both your faces. I am so glad."
Julia bent and kissed her.
"Oh, I knew when he went off so heart-broken, that it wasn't your fault, and I always wished I had kept him."
Sweet, shy, blushing Rose came forward, and Bart took her hands and hoped she would look upon him as an older brother long absent, and just returned. And little lisping George, staring at him curiously, "Are you Plinth Arthur?"
"Prince Arthur?" cried Bart, catching him up, "do I look like a prince?"
"Take that," said Bart, laughing, giving him a gold coin.
"He is a prince," said Julia, "and you see he gives like a prince."
"Exactly," answered Bart; "princes always give other peoples' gold for flattery."
"And now, Mr. Wilder, I want you to put your saddle on Prince, and gallop straight to my mother, and drive back a carriage. I found this unhappy youth wandering about in these same woods, and I am going to take him with me this time."
When Wilder was ready, she gave him the following note:
"Dear Mother:—I am so blessed and happy. Arthur and I met this morning in the dear old nook under the rocks, and we are the happiest two in the world.
"P.S. I forgot. Send a carriage by Wilder. I don't want a driver. We will go round by Arthur's mother's, and be with you this evening. J.
"P.S. Send me a skirt."
And whether the sun stood still or journeyed on, they did not note, nor could they remember what Mrs. Wilder gave them for dinner, or whether they tasted it. At last Wilder appeared with a light carriage and pair. Julia's saddle was put on board, and the lovers, Julia holding the reins, drove away.
Spring came with its new life and promise, sweetly and serenely to the home and heart of Barton's mother, who was looking and hoping for his return, with a strong, intense, but silent yearning. For herself, for his brothers, and more for Julia, whom she now understood, and tenderly loved, and whose secret was sacred to her woman's heart; and most of all for Barton's own sake; for she knew that when these two met, the shadow that had surrounded them would disappear. Some pang she felt that there should be to him a dearer one; but she knew that Julia did not come between them, and that nothing would chill that side of his heart—the child side—that was next her own.
On Wednesday morning Julia had galloped up and given her Bart's letter of Tuesday, so that she knew he was in Chardon, well and hopeful, and would return to her as soon as he escaped from his trial.
Thursday evening Dr. Lyman came all aglow from Chardon. He had seen Bart and heard his argument, and all the enthusiasm of his nature was fully excited.
Now on this long, warm Friday—the anniversary of his departure—he was to come; and naturally enough she looked to see him come the way he went—from the east. Often, even before noon, she turned her eyes wistfully down the road, and until it met the rise the other side of the little valley, so on up past the red school house, and was lost over the summit; but the road was empty and lonely.
As the afternoon ran toward evening, she began to grow anxious. Suddenly the sound of wheels caught her ear, and she turned as Judge Markham's grays headed up to her gate. She recognized Julia, who, without waiting to be helped, sprang lightly from the carriage, with her face radiant, and bounding to her threw her arms about her neck.
"Oh, mother—my mother now—he is here. I met him in those blessed woods and brought him to you."
Then she made room for him, and for a moment the mother's arms encircled them both. How glad and happy she was, no man may know; as no man understands, and no woman can reveal, the depth and strength of mother love.
The three in happy tears—tears, that soon vanish, went into the dear old house, into whose every room Bart rushed in a moment, calling for the boys, and asking a thousand unanswered questions, and coming back, with a flood of words, half tears and half laughs.
"So, Bart," said the proud and happy mother, "it is all right," with a look towards Julia. "I knew it would be."
"And, mother, you knew it, too?"
"A woman sees where a man is blind, sometimes," she answered. "And boys must find these things out for themselves. Poor boy, I wanted somebody to whisper it to you."
"Somebody has done so, mother, and I am now so glad that it was left for that one to tell me."
The boys came in, and were a little overwhelmed, even George, with the warmth of their brother's reception. Julia went straight to George, saying, "Now, sir, you belong to me; you are to be my dear youngest brother! What a row of handsome brothers I shall have—there!—there!"—with a kiss for each word.
George at first did not quite comprehend: "Julia, are you going to be Bart's wife?"
"Yes," with a richer color.
"Hush! That isn't a question for you to ask." And she bent over him with another low sweet "hush," that he understood.
Soon the Colonel and his sweet young wife came in, and they all came to know that Julia was one of them; and she knew what warm, true hearts had come so suddenly about her with their strong, steady tenderness.
Then, as the sun fell among the western tree tops, Julia said to Mrs. Ridgeley, "Now Arthur must drive me home; his other mother has not seen him; and to-morrow I will bring him to you. He is to remain with us, and we will come and go between our two homes for, I don't know how long; until he grows stout and strong, and has run through all the woods, and visited all the dear old places, and grows weary of us, and sighs for Blackstone, and all those horrid books."
She took her happy place by his side in the carriage, after kissing them all, including Ed, and they drove leisurely away.
As they went, he told her gaily of the lonely walk, in darkness, when he last went over this road. The sketch brought new tears to the tender eyes at his side.
"Oh, Arthur! if you could have only known! if you had come to me for one moment."
"Today could never have come," he interrupted. "I like it as it is. How could I ever have had the beautiful revelation of your high and heroic qualities, Julia? And we could not have met as we did this morning. The very memory of that meeting equals the hope and blessedness of Heaven."
Down past the quiet houses they rode; through bits of woods that still fringed parts of the road; down past the old saw mill; up over the hill, where they paused to look over the beautiful pond, full to its high banks; then to the State road, and south over the high hills, overlooking the little cemetery, towards which Bart looked tenderly.
"Not to-night, love," said Julia; "their beautiful spirits see and love, and go with us."
So in the twilight, and with a pensive and serene happiness, they passed up through the straggling village, Julia and her lover, to her own home.
It had somehow been made known that Bart would that evening arrive. His trunk had been received by the stage, at the stage house, and a group of curious persons were on the look out in front of Parker's, as they drove past. When Bart lifted his hat, they recognized and greeted him with a hearty cheer; which was repeated when the carriage passed the store. Bart was deeply touched.
"You see," said the happy Julia, "that everybody loves you."
"You see they greet us on your account," he answered.
A little group was also at her father's gate, and as Bart sprang out, Julia's mother took him by both hands.
"So you have come at last, and will be one of us."
Just how he answered, or how Julia alighted, he could never tell. This was the final touch and test, and if the whole did not vanish, he should certainly accept it all as real.
"What a sweet and wonderful little romance it all is," said the happy mother; "and to happen to us here, in this new, wild, humdrum region! Who shall say that God does not order, and that heroism does not exist; and that faithful love is not still rewarded."
"Call me mother!" said that lady; "I have long loved you, and thought of you as my son."
"And your husband?" said Bart.
"Is here to answer for himself," said the Judge, entering. He came forward and greeted Bart warmly.
"Judge Markham," said Bart, holding each parent by a hand; "Julia and I met by accident this morning, at the place where we were sheltered a year ago. We found that no explanation was needed, and we there asked God to bless our love and marriage. Of course we may have taken too much for granted."
"No, no!" said the Judge, warmly, placing Julia's hand within his. "We will now, and always, and ever, ask God to bless your love, and crown it with a true and sacred marriage. Such as ours has been, my love, won't we?"
"Certainly," answered Mrs. Markham. "And we take him to our home and hearts as our true son."
Then all knelt, and the father's voice in reverent prayer and thanksgiving, was for a moment lifted to the Great Father.
Later, they were quiet and happy, around a tea, or rather a supper table. But Bart toyed with his fork, and sparkled with happy, brilliant sallies. Julia watched him with real concern.
"Arthur," she said, "I am a woman; and a woman likes to see even her lover eat. It is the mother part, isn't it, mamma?" blushing and laughing, "that likes to see children feed. Now he has not eaten a mouthful to-day; and I shall be anxious."
"For that matter he dined on a gill of milk, and one ounce of honey yesterday," said the Judge, "Don't you ever eat?"
"And I shall shock him;" said Julia, "he will soon find that I am only common vulgar flesh and blood, to be fed and nourished."
"Don't fear," said Bart; "I like a strong, healthy, deep chested woman, who can live and endure. I am not the least bit of a Byron. And now let me get used to this new heaven, into which you have just taken me; let my heart get steady, if it will, in its great happiness. Let me have some good runs in the woods, some good rows on the ponds, some hard gallops. Let me get tired, and I'll astonish you with a famine."
"I shall be glad to see it," said Julia.
There came pleasant talk of trifles, that only lay about on the surface, and near the great joy of their new happiness; and little pleasantries of the Judge. He asked Julia, "how she liked the moustache, suggesting that it might be in the way.
"I like it," said Julia, "and it isn't a bit in the way."
Then he referred to a certain other grave matter, and wanted to know when?
"That isn't for you to ask, Papa Judge—is it, mamma?"
FINAL DREAM LAND.
Later still, when the elders had left the lovers to each other, Bart found himself reclining on the sofa, with his head in Julia's lap. And those little rosy tipped fingers toyed caressingly with that coveted moustache, and were kissed for it, and went and did it again, and so on; and then tenderly with the long light brown wavy curls.
"Julia, these blessed moments of love and rest, though they run into days or weeks, will end."
"Time will not stand and leave us to float, and come and go on a sweet shaded river of delight; sometime I must go out to show that I am not unworthy of you, to find, and to make. You shall have your own sweet way, and will, and yet you will also—will you not?—tell me when this happiness shall be lost in the greater, merely that I may do my man's part."
"Arthur, I take you at your word. My will is that for two blessed months, of which this shall not be counted as one day, for it must stand forever apart, you shall say nothing of books, or wanting them; or of business, or cases, or location, but shall stay with us, our mothers and father, with me, and run, and ride, and hunt, and fish, and grow strong, and eat, and I will let you go, and alone, when you wish; and at the end of two months, I will tell you when."
"And Arthur," stooping low over him, "a young girl's heart and ways are curious, and not worth a man's knowing, or thought, perhaps. Let me know you, let me be acquainted with you, and I would like you to know me also, though it may not repay you; and let me grow to be your wife. We have such funny notions, such weak girl ways and thoughts. I have not had my lover a full day yet. A young girl wishes to be courted and sought, and made believe that she is supreme; and she likes to have her lover come at a set time, and sit and wait and think the clock has been turned back, and that he won't come, and yet he must come, at the moment; and she will affect to have forgotten it. She likes to be wooed with music, and flowers, and poetry, and to remain coy and only yield when her full heart had gone long before; and then to be engaged, and wear her ring, and be proud of her affianced, and to be envied—oh, it is a thousand, thousand times more to us than to you. It is our all, and we can enjoy it but once, and think what is lost out of the life of the young girl who has not enjoyed it at all. See, Arthur, what poor, petty, weak things we are, not worth the understanding, and not worth the winning, as we would be won."
Arthur had started up, and glided to the floor, on his knees, had clasped his hands about her slender waist, and was looking earnestly and tenderly into her coy, half-averted face, as, half seriously and half in badinage, she made her plaint.
"Nay, Arthur, I like it as it is. It was in your nature to have known me, and to have courted me in the old way; but it would have been poor and tame, and made up of a few faded flowers and scraps of verses; and think what I have had—a daring hero between me and a wild beast—a brave, devoted and passionate lover, who, in spite of scorn and rejection, hunted for me through night and tempest, to rescue me from death, who takes me up in his strong arms, carries me over a flood, and nourishes me back to life, and goes proudly away, asking nothing but the great boon of serving me. Oh! I had a thousand times rather have this! It is now a beautiful romance. But I am to have my ring, and"—
"Be my sweet and blessed sovereign lady; to be served and worshipped, and to hear music and poetry; whose word and wish is to be law in all the realm of love."
"From which you are not to depart for two full months of thirty-one days each."
Then she conducted him to the apartment in which we beheld her the night before.
"This," pushing open the door, into the room, warm and sweet with the odor of flowers, "is your own special room, to be yours, always."
"Always?" a little plaintively.
"Always—until—until—I—we give you another."
"Good night, Arthur."
"Good night, Julia."
She tripped down the hall, and turned her bright face to catch a kiss, and throw it back.
With a sweet unrest in her full heart, the young maiden on her couch, set herself to count up the gathered treasures of the wonderful day.
How was it? Did her riding skirt really get under her feet? Would he have caught her in his arms if she had not fallen? She thought he would.
And so she mused; and at last in slumber dreamed sweet maiden's dreams of love and heaven.
And Bart found himself in a marvellous forest, wandering with Julia, wondrous in her fresh and tender beauty, on through endless glades, amid the gush of bird-songs, and the fragrance of flowers.
And there in the dream land whence I called them, I leave them. Why should I awake them again? For them can another day so bright and happy ever dawn? I who love them, could have kept them for a bright brief space longer. I could have heard the sparkling voice of Bart, and the answering laugh of Julia—and then I should listen and not hear—look anxiously around and not see!
I part in real sorrow with these bright children of my fancy, sweet awakeners of old time memories, placed amid far off scenes, to win from others, tenderness and love if they may. And may they be remembered as forever lingering in perennial youth and love, in the land of dreams.