"It gives me a great feeling of pain, I know," I said, trying to rally.
"It does that, I see. I did not know the power of imagination was so strong in you. I thought you were rather a literalist."
"And I think I am," I answered as calmly as I could. "It does not require much imagination. It did not, when I was in Washington."
"It does not now," said the doctor; "for your cheeks have not got back their colour yet. What banished it, Daisy?"
It was the old tone and look I used to meet in my childhood, and to which I always then rendered obedience. For an instant the spell was upon me now; then I threw it off, shook hands with the doctor and parted from him with a bow and smile which told him nothing. And he succumbed in his turn; made me a profound reverence and left the room.
My first feeling was of gladness that he was gone. My next was, the sense that I was under my natural guardians once more. I felt it with a thrill of delight, even though I had a full consciousness that I was going to be far less my own mistress than for some time I had been accustomed to find myself. Dr. Sandford rather took laws from me, in most things. This however did not give me much concern. I went round the rooms to quiet myself, for I was growing more and more excited. I went studying one by one the objects in the little home museum, for such those drawing-rooms were to me. I read, not natural history but family history in them; here my father's hand had been, here By mother's, leaving some token of study, or luxury, or art, or feeling. A very handsome meerschaum seemed to give also a hint of my brother's presence. The home review did not quiet me; I found it would not do; I went to the window. And there I sat down immediately, to hear all that nature said to me; as once Miss Cardigan's flowers.
I had expected to see the town; and it was part of the town no doubt that stretched away before me, but it had rather the beauty of the country. There was nothing regular in streets or buildings, nor compact; the houses scattered away down the hill, standing here and there, alone and in groups, with fields or pieces of fields intermingling. Pretty houses, with quaint dormer windows and high sloping roofs. We were on a height, I found, from which the eye went down delightfully over this bit of the rambling old town. A courtyard, with grass and young trees, was the first thing next the house on this side; which I found was not the front; then the ground fell sharply, and most of the houses stood upon a level below bordering the lake. A stretch of the lake lay there, smooth, still, bearing the reflection of some houses on its opposite edge; where softened under a misty atmosphere another little town seemed to rest on a rising bank. And then, just behind it, rose the mountain, looking down upon lake and towns as if to forbid a thought of foolishness in any one who should ever live there. So, in its beautiful gravity, Mont Pilatte seemed to me, then and always. Are not mountains always witnesses for God? This first time I saw it, a misty cloud had swept across the breast of the mountain and hid part of the outline; but the head lifted itself in sunlight just above the veiling cloud, and looked down in unspeakable majesty upon the lower world. Always my eyes went back to that wonderful mountain head; then fell to the placid lake and the little town sleeping in misty sunlight on its further border; then caught the sharp pointed towers of a church or cathedral close by at my left hand, just within my picture; I could not see the whole church; then back to the soft veiled mountain. A more picturesque combination never went into a view. I sat still in a trance of pleasure, only my eyes moving slowly from point to point, and my heart and soul listening to the hidden melodies which in nature's great halls are always sounding. I do believe, for the matter of that, they are always sounding in nature's least chambers as well; but there is the tinkle of a silver bell, and there is the thunder of the great organ. At any rate I was quieted, comforted, soothed, and entirely myself again, by the time I had listened to Mont Pilatte for a couple of hours.
The day wore on, and the lights changed, and the cloud deepened on the mountain. The lights had not begun to fade yet, though it was the time of long shadows, when a little bustle below and steps on the stairs drew me away from the window and brought me to my feet; but I stood still. The first one was mamma, and her first word of course broke the spell under which I had been standing and brought me into her arms. And that word I pondered many a time afterwards. It was simply, "Why, Daisy!" - but the letters put together tell nothing of what was in the expression. Pleasure and affection there were, of course; and there was something beside, which I could not help thinking gave token of gratified surprise. What should have excited it I do not know, unless it were that my appearance pleased her better than she had expected. It was not surprise at my being there, for the servants had told of that. My father, who was next, said exactly the same words; but his "Why, Daisy!" had an altogether different expression. I flung myself into his arms, and then almost broke my heart with the thought that I had been so long out of them. My father pressed me very close, and kept very still. I felt my mother touch me on the shoulder, and heard her tell me not to be so excited; but I could not mind her. And papa, sitting down, kept me in his arms and held me fast and kissed me, and I sobbed myself into content.
"Is that Daisy?" said mamma. I was sitting on papa's knee yet. I looked up at her. She was standing beside us.
"Doesn't she look like it?" my father said, fondly, stroking my hair.
"She does not act like it," said my mother.
But I hid my face in papa's neck at that, and he kissed me again.
"Don't you mean to speak to anybody else?" said mamma, with an amused voice.
"Nobody else has any right," said papa. I looked up however, eagerly, and saw what I could only guess was Ransom, he had so grown and changed. He was looking curious and pleased. I got up to salute him.
"Why, Daisy!" said he, returning my embrace with more new than old emotion as it seemed to me, - "you are a sister of whom a fellow may be proud."
"Can't you say as much for him, Daisy?" said my mother.
"As far as looks go -" I answered slowly, surveying him. He was excessively handsome, and his mother's own boy in grace of person and manner. I could see that in the first moment.
"As far as looks go" - my mother repeated. "That is like Daisy. Is it the very same Daisy?"
I looked up at her, and they looked at me. Oddly enough, we were all silent. Had I changed so much?
"Mamma, there is the difference between ten and seventeen," I said. "I don't think there is much other."
"And between formed and unformed," said my brother Ransom; for my father and mother were still silent, and I could hardly bear to meet their eyes.
"What is formed, and what is unformed?" I asked, trying to make it a light question.
"My opinion is not unformed," said Ransom, - "and your destiny is - formed."
"Papa," said I, "Ransom is very quick in deciding upon my destiny." But with that look into each other's eyes, Ransom's words were forgotten; my father clasped me in a fresh fond embrace and my head went down upon his shoulder again. And we were all still. Words are nothing at such times. I think one rather speaks light words, if any; thoughts are too deep to come out. At last my mother remarked that our toilettes were among the unformed things, and suggested that we should go to our rooms for a little while before dinner. I got up from papa's knee and followed mamma; and passing Ransom with a smile, he suddenly clasped me in his arms and kissed me.
"I am proud of you, Daisy," he whispered.
Arrived in mamma's room, her tenderness came out after her own fashion. She examined me; her hands touched me caressingly; she helped me to dress, although her maid was at hand.
"You did not tell me you had such beautiful hair," she said, when I had unbound it to put it in order.
"Mamma!" I laughed. "Why should I?"
"And there are a great many other things you have not told me," she went on. I had to control myself to prevent a start, though her words meant nothing.
"Of course, mamma," I answered.
"Yes; you could hardly have been expected to give me a catalogue raisonn of your advantages. Do you know them yourself, Daisy?"
"Mamma, - I suppose I know some of them."
"Do you know, for instance, that your skin is exquisite, in colour and texture?"
"Mrs. Sandford used to tell me so," I said.
My mother drew the tips of her fingers over my cheek.
"And now, at my saying that, comes a little rose hue here, as delicate as the inside of a shell. But you have lost all the look of delicate condition, Daisy; this is the colour of perfect health."
"Dr. Sandford has taken care of me, mamma."
"Your father trusted a great deal to Dr. Sandford. Do you think his trust was well placed?"
"Nobody could have taken more care of me, mamma. Dr. Sandford has been very good."
"He always was your favourite," she remarked.
"Well, mamma, he deserved all I have given him."
"Don't give anybody much, - unless I bid you," my mother said, laughingly. "Daisy, you have matured better even than I ever thought you would, or than your aunt Gary told me. Your figure is as good as ever mine was."
She took up one of my hands, looked at it, kissed it, and as she let it drop asked carelessly, -
"What has become of Preston now?"
I felt as if breakers were all around me. "He has joined the Southern army," I said.
"When did you see him?"
"Not since a year ago."
"At West Point, mamma. He only graduated this spring."
"Were you long at West Point?"
"Yes, ma'am - some weeks."
"Dr. Sandford did not show remarkable care in that."
"He thought so, mamma, for he found me not well, and took me away immediately from school, without waiting for the term to close. Mrs. Sandford and he, were going to West Point - and so -"
"West Point did you good?"
"I grew well there."
"Your aunt tells me, your voice is very uncommon, Daisy. Is she right in that?"
"Mamma - you can judge better than I. It is not so easy for me to judge how it sounds."
"You know how it sounds to you."
"Yes, but then I am thinking of the music. I cannot tell, mamma, how it sounds to other people."
"Well, we shall be able to judge by and by," my mother said, in a satisfied tone. "Your speaking voice is as calm and sweet as I ever heard."
"Calm? mamma," I said, laughing.
"Yes, child. Don't you know most people's voices have a little thread, if it is not more, of sharpness or roughness, coming out somewhere. It is sure to come out somewhere; in one form of speech or another; with some people it only appears in the laugh, and they should never laugh. Your voice is like a chime of bells." And my mother took me in her arms, half-dressed as I was, and pressed her lips full upon mine; looking into my face and playing with me and smiling at me; finishing with another pressure of her mouth to mine.
"Your lips are very sweet," she said, with a half sigh. "I wonder who else will think so!"
And if one bit of vanity or self-exaltation could have been stirred in my thoughts, though it were by my mother's praises, these last words banished it well. I was sobered to the depths of my heart; so sobered, that I found it expedient to be busy with my dressing, and not expose my face immediately to any more observations. And even when I went down stairs, my father's first remark was, -
"It is the same Daisy!"
"Did you doubt it, papa?" I asked, with a smile.
"No, my pet."
"Then why do you say that as soon as I make my appearance!"
"I can hardly tell - the consciousness forced itself upon me. You are looking at life with a microscope, - as of old."
"With a microscope, papa!"
"To pick up invisible duties and find out indiscernible dangers -"
"When one is as old as I am," I said, "there is no need of a microscope to find out either dangers or duties."
"Ha!" said my father, folding me in his arms - "what dangers have you discovered, Daisy?"
"I believe they are everywhere, papa," I said, kissing him.
"Not here," he said, fondly; "there shall be none here for you."
"Mr. Randolph," said mamma, laughing, "if Daisy is to be meat and drink as well as scenery to you, we may as well dispense with the usual formalities; but I hope you will condescend to look at dinner as usual."
That first dinner at home! how strange and sweet it was. So sweet, that I could scarcely hear the note of the little warning bell down in the bottom of my heart. But mamma had struck it up stairs, and its vibrations would not quite be still. Yet there was a wonderful charm in my own home circle. The circle was made larger in the evening, by the coming in of two of Ransom's friends, who were also, I saw, friends of my father and mother. They were two Southern gentlemen, as I immediately knew them to be; MM. de Saussure and Marshall, Ransom's worthy compeers in the line of personal appearance and manner. De Saussure especially; but I liked Marshall best. This I found out afterward. The conversation that evening naturally went back to America which I had just come from, and to the time of my leaving it, and to the news then new there and but lately arrived here. I had to hear the whole Bull Run affair talked over from beginning to end and back again. It was not so pleasant a subject to me as to the rest of the company; which I suppose made the talk seem long.
"And you were there?" said Mr. de Saussure, suddenly appealing to me.
"Not at Manasses," I said.
"No, but close by; held in durance in the capital, with liberators so near. It seems to me very stupid of Beauregard not to have gone in and set you free."
"Free?" said I, smiling. "I was free."
"There will be no freedom in the country, properly speaking, until that Northern usurper is tossed out of the place he occupies."
"That will be soon," said my mother.
"In what sense is Mr. Lincoln a usurper?" I ventured to ask. "He was duly elected."
"Is it possible Daisy has turned politician?" exclaimed my brother.
"He is not a usurper," said Mr. Marshall.
"He is, if being out of his place can make him so," said De Saussure; "and the assumption of rights that nobody has given him. By what title does he dare shut up Southern ports and send his cut-throats upon Southern soil?"
"Well, they have met their punishment," my father remarked. And it hurt me sorely to hear him say it with evident pleasure.
"The work is not done yet," said Ransom. "But at Bull Run rates - 'sixty pieces of splendid cannon' taken, as Mr. Davis says, and how many killed and prisoners? - the mud-sills will not be able to keep it up very long. Absurd! to think that those Northern shopkeepers could make head against a few dozen Southern swords."
"There were only a few dozen swords at Manasses," said De Saussure. "Eighteen thousand, Mr. Davis puts the number in his Richmond speech; and the Northern army had sixty thousand in the field."
"A Richmond paper says forty thousand instead of eighteen," Mr. Marshall remarked.
"Mr. Russell, of the London Times, estimated Beauregard's force at sixty thousand," I said.
"He don't know!" said De Saussure.
"And Mr. Davis does not know," I added; "for the whole loss of cannon on the Northern side that day amounted to but seventeen. Mr. Davis may as well be wrong in one set of facts as in another. He said also that provisions enough were taken to feed an army of fifty thousand men for twelve months."
"Well, why not?" said Ransom, frowning.
"These gentlemen can tell you why not."
"Pretty heavy figures," said Mr. Marshall.
"Why are they not true, Miss Randolph?" Mr. de Saussure asked, bending as before a most deferential look upon me.
"And look here, - in what interest are you, Daisy?" my brother continued.
"Nothing is gained by blinking the truth anywhere, Ransom."
"No, that is true," said my father.
"Daisy has been under the disadvantage of hearing only one side lately," my mother remarked very coolly.
"But about the provisions, Miss Randolph?" Mr. De Saussure insisted, returning to the point with a willingness, I thought, to have me speak.
"Mamma says, I have heard only one side," I answered. "But on that side I have heard it remarked, that twelve thousand wagons would have been required to carry those provisions to the battlefield. I do not know if the calculation was correct."
Mr. De Saussure's face clouded for an instant. My father seemed to be pondering. Ransom's frowns grew more deep.
"What side are you on, Daisy?" he repeated.
"She is on her own side, of course," my mother said.
"I hope there is no doubt of that, Mrs. Randolph," said Mr. Marshall. "Such an enemy would be very formidable! I should begin to question on which side I was myself."
They went off into a long discussion about the probable movements of the belligerent parties in America; what might be expected from different generals; how long the conflict was likely to last, and how its certain issue, the discomfiture of the North and the independence of the South, would be attained. Mingled with this discussion were laudations of Jefferson Davis, scornful reviling of President Lincoln, and sneers at the North generally; at their men, their officers, their money, their way of making it and their way of spending it. Triumphant anticipations, of shame and defeat to them and the superb exaltation of the South, were scattered, like a salt and pepper seasoning, through all the conversation. I listened, with my nerves tingling sometimes, with my heart throbbing at other times; sadly inclined to believe they might be right in a part of their calculations; very sadly sure they were wrong in everything else. I had to keep a constant guard upon my face; happily my words were not called for. My eyes now and then met papa's, with a look that gave and received another sort of communication. When the evening was over, and papa was folding me in his arms to bid me good-night, he whispered, -
"You and I cannot be on two sides of anything, Daisy?"
"Papa - you know on what side of most things I am -" I replied to this difficult question.
"Do I? No, I do not know that I do. What side is it, Daisy?"
"On the Lord's side, papa, when I can find out what that is."
"Make me sure that you have found it, and I will be on that side too," he said, as he kissed me.
The words filled me with a great joy. For they were not spoken in defiance of the supposed condition, but rather, as it seemed to me, in desire and love of it. Had papa come to that? The new joy poured like a flood over all the dry places in my heart, which had got into a very dry state with hearing the conversation of the evening. I went to bed tired and happy.
Nevertheless I awoke to the consciousness that I had a nice piece of navigation before me, and plenty of rough water in all probability. The best thing would be for me to be as silent as possible. Could I be silent? They all wanted to hear what I would say. Every eye had sought mine this past evening.
I was the first in the breakfast-room, and papa was the next. We were alone. He took me tenderly in his arms and held me fast, looking at me and kissing me by turns.
"Are you well now, papa?" I asked him. "Are you quite well again?"
"Well enough," he answered; "not just as I was once."
"Why not, papa?"
"I have never quite got over that unlucky fall. It has left my head a little shaky, Daisy; and my strength - Never mind! you are my strength now, my pet. We should have gone home before this, only for the troubles breaking out there."
I leaned my head upon his breast, and wished the troubles were not! What a division those troubles made, unknown to him, between his heart's happiness and mine - yes, between him and me. Mamma came in and looked at us both.
"It is a very pretty picture," she said. And she kissed me, while papa did not let me out of his arms. "Daisy, you are a beauty."
"She is a great deal better than a beauty," said my father. "But, now I look at you, Daisy - yes, you are a beauty, certainly."
They both laughed heartily at the colour which all this raised in my face.
"Most exquisite, her skin is," said my mother, touching my cheek. "Did you ever see anything superior to it, Mr. Randolph? Rose leaves are not any better than that. Pshaw, Daisy! - you must get accustomed to hear people say it."
"Nobody shall say it to me, mamma, but you."
"No," said my father. "That is my view of it, too."
"Nonsense!" said mamma - "there are a thousand ways of doing the same thing, and you cannot stop them all. Your hair is as fine as possible, too, Daisy, although it has not had me to take care of it."
"But I did just as you told me with it, mamma," I said.
She kissed me again. "Did nobody ever tell you you were beautiful?" she asked archly. "Yes, I know that you did just as I told you. You always did, and always will. But did you not know that you were beautiful?"
"Speak, Daisy," said papa. Said as it was with a smile, it brought childish memories vividly back.
"Mamma," I said, "I have heard something of it - and I suppose it may be true."
They laughed, and mamma remarked that I was human yet. "There is a difference between the child and the woman, you will find, Mr. Randolph."
Papa answered, that it was no very remarkable token of humanity, to have eyes and ears.
"Daisy's eyes were always remarkable," said my mother.
"But, mamma," said I, "in other things there is no difference between the child and the woman. My outside may have altered - my mind is not changed at all; only grown."
"That will do," said mamma.
I was obliged to leave it to time, and hoped to make myself so pleasant that what I could not change in me might be at least tolerated, if it were not approved. It seemed an easy task! I was such a manifest subject of joy, to father and mother, and even Ransom too. A newly discovered land, full of gold, is not more delightfully explored by its finders, than I was watched, scrutinised, commented on, by my family.
That first day, of course, they could not let me out of their sight. It was nothing but talk, all day long. In the evening however our last evening's guests reappeared. The conversation this time did not get upon American politics, so everybody showed to better advantage; I suppose, myself included. We had music; and the gentlemen were greatly delighted with my voice and my singing. Mamma and papa took it very coolly until we were left alone again; then my mother came up and kissed me.
"You have done your duty, Daisy, in improving your voice," she said. "You are a Daisy I am perfectly satisfied with. If you can sing as well in public as you have done to-night in private, papa will be proud of you."
"In public, mamma?" I said.
"Yes. That does not frighten you. Nothing does frighten you."
"No, mamma, but - what do you mean by 'in public'?"
"Not on the stage," said mamma.
"But mamma, - papa," - I said, anxiously, "this is what I want you to understand. I will do anything in the world you wish me to do; only, I am - I must be, - you know, - a servant of Christ."
"I said nothing against that," my mother replied. But my father, clasping me in his arms, whispered, -
"We will be servants together, Daisy."
That word sent me to bed with a whole heartful of thankfulness. I could bear anything now, if his words meant what I hoped they did. And I should have security, too, against any too great trial of my affection and duty to him and to mamma.
An expedition had been arranged for the next day; in which my brother and his friends were to take me upon the lake. Mamma and papa would not go. It was a day, in one sort, of such pleasure as I had never known till then. The beautiful water, the magnificent shores of the lake, the wonderful lights on the mountains, almost took me out of this world; to which they seemed scarcely to belong. I cannot tell what a pang in the midst of this pleasure the thought of Mr. Thorold brought with it. The life I was living now was so very far from his life, and so unlike; my part of the world was now so very distant from his, - there was such an abyss between; - and yet the Swiss hills were so glorious, and I was enjoying them. I began to wonder, as we were sailing towards home in the end of the day, what work I had to do in this new and strange place; why was I here? Perhaps, to learn patience, and have faith grow strong by trial, while all my life hopes waited upon a will that I did not know and must trust. Perhaps, to stand up for Christian truth and simplicity in the face of much opposition. Perhaps, to suffer, and learn to bear suffering.
"You are fatigued, Miss Randolph?" said the soft voice of De Saussure.
"Or beauty of scenery, so much beauty, makes you melancholy," said Mr. Marshall. "It always makes me so, if I let myself think of it."
"Why should it make any one melancholy?" I asked. "I think beauty has the contrary effect."
"A little beauty. But very great and wonderful loveliness - I don't know why, it always moves me so. It is something too far beyond me; it is unlike me; it seems to belong to another stage of being, while I am held fast in this. It mocks me, - somehow."
"It does not do so with me," I said.
"Ah, it is your world!" De Saussure said, laughing. "It could not do so with you very well."
"But look at Mont Pilatte now," resumed Mr. Marshall, - "with that crown of light on its brow; - does it not give you the feeling of something inapproachable - not literally but spiritually, - something pure, glorious, infinite - something that shames us mortals into insignificance?"
I looked, and I thought I knew why he felt as he did; but I did not think I could explain it to him just then.
"Have you a little of my feeling?" he said again. "Do you understand it?"
"I understand it, I think," I said.
"And do not share it at all?"
"No, Mr. Marshall. Of course, the mountain is great, and I am small; but the purity, and the glory, - that is not beyond reach; and no human being ought to be insignificant, and none need be."
"Not if his life is insignificant?"
"Nobody's life ought to be that," I answered.
"How can it be helped, in the case of many a one?"
"Yes indeed," said De Saussure; "there is a question. I should like to hear Miss Randolph answer it."
One spoke lightly and the other earnestly. It was not easy to answer them both.
"I should like to have you define insignificance first," I said.
"Can there be a more significant word?" said Mr. De Saussure. "It defines itself."
"A life of insignificance, is a life that does not signify anything," Mr. Marshall added.
"Most people's lives signify something," I said, stupidly, my thoughts running on far ahead of my words.
"Yes, to somebody in the corner at home," Mr. Marshall said, "whose affection cannot make a true estimate. But do most people's lives signify anything, except to some fond judgment of that sort?"
"Who is estimating you, in a corner at home?" said Mr. de Saussure.
"Nobody - and that you know. Nobody, except my old mammy."
"You are a lucky fellow, Hugh. Free as air! Now I have five or six dear appraisers at my home; who are of opinion that an epaulette and a commission would add to my value; or rather, to do them justice, they are very desirous to have my life - or my death - tell for something, in the struggle which occupies all their, thoughts at present. I do not mean that they have no choice, but, one or the other. And so am I desirous; but - Lucerne is so very captivating! And really, as, I said, one signifies so little."
"One is half of two," said Ransom - "and a hundredth part of a hundred."
"I should like, I think, to be half of two," said De Saussure, comically. "I don't care about being the hundredth part of anything."
"But you are going when I go?" said Ransom.
"Mrs. Randolph says so; and I suppose she will command me. What does Miss Randolph say?"
"Yes, to my question," said Hugh Marshall.
"I do not quite know what is either question," I replied; "and a judge ought to understand his cause."
"Is it my duty to go and plunge into the mle at home, because my mother and two aunts and three sisters are all telling me they will renounce me if I do not? I say, what does one signify?"
"And I say, how may one escape from insignificance? - anyhow?"
"A man with your income need not ask that," said Ransom.
"What does Miss Randolph say?" De Saussure insisted.
"If you will tell me, Mr. De Saussure, what the South is fighting for, I can better answer you."
"That speech is Daisy all over!" said Ransom impatiently. "She never will commit herself, if she can get somebody to do it for her."
"Fighting for freedom - for independence, of course!" Mr. De Saussure said, opening his eyes. "Is there any question?"
"How was their freedom threatened?"
"Why," said Ransom, hotly, "what do you think of armies upon the soil of Virginia? - invading armies, come to take what they like? What do you think of Southern forts garrisoned by Northern troops, and Southern cities in blockade? Is that your idea of freedom?"
"These are not the cause, but the effect, of the position taken by the South," I said.
"Yes, we fired the first gun, Randolph," said Mr. Marshall.
"Sumter was held against us," said Ransom.
"Not till South Carolina had seceded."
"Well, she had a right to secede!" cried Ransom. "And this right the Northern mudsills are trying to trample out. If she has not a right to be governed as she likes, she is not free."
"But why did she secede?" I asked. "What wrong was done her?"
"You are a girl, and cannot understand such matters!" Ransom answered, impatiently. "Just ask mamma to talk to you; - or I will!"
"Miss Randolph's question is pertinent though," said Mr. Marshall; "and I am ashamed to confess I am as little able to answer it as she. What wrong had they to complain of?"
"Why, Hugh, you certainly know," his companion answered, "that Lincoln was elected; and that if the government is to be in the hands of those who do not think and vote with us - as this election shows it will - we shall be pushed to the wall. The South and her institutions will come to nothing - will be in a contemptible minority. We do not choose that."
"Then the wrong done them was that they were out-voted?" Mr. Marshall said.
"Put it so!" De Saussure replied, with heat; "we have a right to say we will govern ourselves and sail our own boat."
"Yes, so I think we have," said the other. "Whether it is worth such a war, is another question, Such a war is a serious thing."
"It would be mean-spirited to let our rights be taken from us," said Ransom. "It is worth anything to maintain them."
"It will not be much of a war," resumed De Saussure. "Those poor tailors and weavers will find their workshops are a great deal more comfortable than soldiers' tents and the battle- ground; and they won't stand fire, depend upon it."
"Cowardly Yankees!" said Ransom.
"That is Preston's favourite word," I remarked. "But I am not clear that you are not both mistaken."
"You have lived among Yankees, till it has hurt you," said Ransom.
"Till I have learned to know something about them," I said.
"And is your judgment of the probable issue of the war, different from that I have expressed, Miss Randolph?" Mr. De Saussure asked.
"My judgment is not worth much," I said. "I have doubts."
"But you agree with us as to the right of preserving our independence?" Mr. Marshall said.
"Does independence mean, the governing power? Does every minority, as such, lose its independence?"
"Yes!" said De Saussure - "if it is to be permanently a minority."
"That would be our case, you see," Mr. Marshall went on. "Are we not justified in endeavouring to escape from such a position?"
I was most unwilling to talk on the subject, but they were all determined I should. I could not escape.
"It depends," I said, "the settlement of that question, upon the other question, whether our government is one or twenty."
"It is thirty!" said Ransom.
I had thrown a ball now which they could keep up without me. To my joy, the whole three became so much engaged in the game, that I was forgotten. I could afford to forget too; and quitting the fair lake and the glorious mountain that looked down upon it, ceasing to hear the eager debate which went on at my side, my thoughts flew over the water to a uniform and a sword that were somewhere in that struggle of rights and wrongs. My heart sank. So far off, and I could not reach him; so busy against the feelings and prejudices of my friends, and I could not reconcile them; in danger, and I could not be near; in trouble, perhaps, and I could not help. It would not do to think about. I brought my thoughts back, and wondered at old Mont Pilatte which looked so steadily down on me with the calm of the ages.
For weeks after this sail on the lake my life was like a fte day. Expeditions of all sorts were planned and carried out for my pleasure. One day we were exploring the lake shores in a boat; the next, we went back into the country, as far as we could go and return before evening; a third day we climbed the mountains somewhere and got glorious new views of what the world is. Nothing could hinder, in those days, but that my draught of pleasure was very full. Whatever weight might lie at my heart, when I found myself high, high up above the ordinary region of life, resting on a mountain summit from which I looked down upon all that surrounded me other days; a little of that same lifting up befel the thoughts of my heart and the views that have to do with the spirit's life. I stood above the region of mists for a little. I saw how the inequalities of the lower level, which perplex us there, sink into nothing when looked upon from a higher standpoint. I saw that rough roads led to quiet valleys; and that the blessed sunlight was always lying on the earth, though down in one of those depths one might lose sight of it for a time. I do not know how it is, but getting up into a high mountain has a little the effect of getting out of the world. One has left perplexities and uncertainties behind; the calm and the strength of the everlasting hills is about one; the air is not defiled with contentions or rivalries or jealousies up there; and the glory of creation reminds one of other glory, and power, and wisdom and might; and one breathes hope and rest. So I used to do. Of all our excursions, I liked best to go up the mountains. No matter how high, or by how difficult a road.
Mamma and papa were only now and then of the party. That I was very sorry for, but it could not be helped. Mamma had seen it all, she said; and when I urged that she had not been to this particular "horn," she said that one "horn" was just like another, and that when you had seen one or two you had seen them all. But I never found it so. Every new time was a new revelation of glory to me. If I could have had papa with me, my satisfaction would have been perfect; but papa shunned fatigue, and never went where he could not go easily. I was obliged to be content with my brother and my brother's friends; and after I had made up my mind to that, the whole way was a rejoicing to me, from the time I left the house till we returned, a weary and hungry party, to claim mamma's welcome again. Our party was always the same four. Mr. de Saussure and Hugh Marshall were, I found, very intimately at home with my father and mother, and naturally they were soon on the same footing with me. As far as care went, I had three brothers to look after me, of whom indeed Ransom was not the most careful; and as to social qualifications, they were extremely well-bred, well-educated, and had a great deal of general and particular cultivation. In the evenings we had music and conversation; which last was always very pleasant except when it turned upon American affairs. Then I had great twinges of heart, which I thought it wise to keep to myself as closely as possible.
I remember well the twinge I had, when one evening early in September De Saussure came in, the utmost glee expressed in his eyes and manner, and announced his news thus; -
"They have had a battle at Springfield, and Lyon is killed."
"Who is Lyon?" I could not help asking, though it was incautious.
"You should not ask," he said more gently as he sat down by me; "you have no relish for these things. Even the cause of liberty cannot sweeten them to you."
"Who is Lyon, De Saussure?" my father repeated.
"A Connecticut fellow." The tone of these words, in its utter disdain, was inexpressible.
"Connecticut?" said my father. "Has the war got into New England? That cannot be."
"No, sir, no, sir," said Ransom. "It is Springfield in Missouri. You find a Yankee wherever you go in this world."
"Wilson's Creek is the place of the battle," Mr. De Saussure went on. "Near Springfield, in Missouri. It was an overwhelming defeat. Lyon killed, and the next in command obliged to beat off."
"Who on our side?" asked my mother.
"Ben McCulloch and Price."
"How many engaged? Was it much of an affair?"
"We had twenty thousand or so. Of course, the others had more."
"It doesn't take but one or two Southerners to whip a score of those cowards," said Ransom.
"Why should not the war have got into New England, Mr. Randolph?" my mother asked. "You said, 'That cannot be.' Why should it not be?"
"There are a few thousand men in the way," said my father; "and I think they are not all cowards."
"They will never stand before our rifles," said De Saussure.
"Our boys will mow them down like grass," said Ransom. "And in New Orleans the fever will take care of them. How soon, mother, will the fever be there?"
Mamma and Ransom compared notes upon the probable and usual time for the yellow fever to make its appearance, when it would wield, its scythe of destruction upon the fresh harvest of life made ready for it, in the bands of the Northern soldiers in Louisiana. My whole soul was in a stir of opposition to the speakers. I had to be still, but pain struggled to speak.
"You do not enjoy the prospect -" Hugh Marshall said, softly.
I only looked at him.
"Nor do I," said he, shaking his head. "A fair fight is one thing. - It is a terrible state of affairs at home, Miss Randolph."
I had the utmost difficulty to keep quiet and give no sign. I could have answered him with a cry which would have startled them all. What if Thorold were ordered down there? He might be. He would go where he was ordered. That thought brought help; for so would I! A soldier, in another warfare, I remembered my ways were appointed, even as his; only more wisely, more surely, and on no service that could by any means be in vain. But yet the pain was very sharp, as I looked at the group who were eagerly discussing war matters; my father, my mother, my brother, and De Saussure, who in the interest of the thing had left my side; how keen they were! So were others keen at home, who had swords in their hands and pistols in their belts. It would not do to think. I could but repeat to myself, - "I am a soldier - I am a soldier - and just now my duty is to stand and bear fire."
There was little chance in those days at Lucerne for me to be alone with papa. The opportunities we had we both enjoyed highly. Now and then mamma would be late for breakfast, or even take hers in bed; once in a while go out to a visit from which I begged off. Then papa and I drew together and had a good time. One of these chances occurred a few days after the news came of General Lyon's death. We were alone, and I was drawing, and papa had been watching me a little while in silence.
"Daisy," he began, "am I wrong? It seems to me that you do not look upon matters at home with just the eye that the rest of us have for them?"
"What matters, papa?" I said, looking up, and feeling troubled.
"You do not like the war."
"Papa, - do you?"
"Yes. I think our countrymen are right, and of course I wish that they should have their rights."
"Papa," said I, "don't you think it must be very strong reasons that can justify so dreadful a thing as a war?"
"Undoubtedly; but the preservation of liberty is one of the strongest that can be conceived."
"Papa - you know I want liberty for the blacks."
"It is like you, my dear child," my father said, after pausing a minute; "it is like your generous nature; but Daisy, I think those people do not want it for themselves."
"Papa, if they did not, I should think it would be one of the strongest arguments on my side; but I am sure they do. I know a great many of them that do."
"Did not you, perhaps, bring about that desire in them, by your kind and possibly somewhat misjudged indulgences?"
"No indeed, papa; it was our overseer, with his wicked ways. That Mr. Edwards is dreadful, papa!"
"All overseers are not good," said my father with a sigh. "The people at Magnolia are as well treated, on the whole, - as they can be anywhere, I think, - I hope."
"You do not know, papa. If they are, you have said all. And there is our old Maria, who has nothing to do with Mr. Edwards; she has no hope nor anticipation which does not go beyond this world; and it is so with a great many of them. They have that hope; but they sing, "I am bound for the promised land!" - in a minor key; and to a plaintive air that makes your heart ache."
"Yours, Daisy," said my father with a somewhat constrained smile.
"Papa," I went on, trembling, but I thought it best to venture, - "if the issue of this war could be to set all those people free, I could almost be glad."
"That will not be the issue, Daisy," he said.
"Papa, what do you think will?"
"It can have but one issue. The Southern people cannot be put down."
"Then, if they succeed, what will be the state of things between them and the North?"
"It is impossible to tell how far things will go, Daisy, now that they have actually taken up arms. But I do not think the Southern people want anything of the North, but to be let alone."
"How would it be, if the North succeeded, papa?"
"It cannot succeed, Daisy. You have heard a different language, I suppose; but I know the men, - and the women, - of the South. They will never yield. The North must, sooner or later."
I could not carry this on, and turned the conversation. But I had to listen to a great deal of the same sort of thing, in which I took no part. It came up every day. I discovered that my mother was using her influence and all her art to induce our two young friends to return home and enter the Southern army. She desired with equal vehemence that Ransom should take the same course; and as they all professed to be strong in the interests and sympathies that moved her, I was a little puzzled to understand why they delayed so long. For they did delay. They talked, but nothing came of it. Still we went on fresh excursions and made new expeditions; spending days of delight on the mountain sides, and days of enchantment in the mountain valleys; and still our party was of the same four. It is true that papa did not at all share mamma's eagerness to have Ransom go; but Ransom did not greatly care for papa's likings; and in the case of the others, I did not see what held them.
The printed news from home we had of course, regularly; and as far as I could without being watched, I studied them. The papers after all were mostly Southern, and so filled with outrageous invective and inflated boasting, that I could not judge anything very certainly, from what they said. Nothing of great importance seemed to be transpiring between the belligerent parties. I supposed that it wanted but some such occurrence or occasion to send off our three young men like a ball from a rifle, straight to the seat of war. Meanwhile we enjoyed ourselves. Others did, and I did also, whenever I could put down fear and lift up hope; and I was young, and that happened to me sometimes. So the weeks ran on.
"I really don't see why I should be in a hurry to plunge myself into that angry confusion of things at home," Hugh Marshall said one day. "It seems to me, they can get through it without my help."
"Well, you are not in a hurry." I answered.
We were out as usual for a day's pleasure among the mountains, and Hugh and I were resting on a sunny bank waiting for the others to come up. We had distanced them.
"What do you think about it?" he said, suddenly drawing himself up from the grass and looking in my face.
"Men do not rule their course by what women think," - I answered.
"No, you are wrong; they do! Sometimes they do," - he said. "I have no mother nor sister to counsel me; only Mrs. Randolph bids me go home and be a soldier; but I would as lieve take advice from you. What would you tell me to do - if I were your brother?"
"I do not tell Ransom anything."
"He is under his mother's tutelage; but I am not. Tell me what to do, Miss Randolph. I am sure your counsel would be good. Do you wish me to go and fight the North, as your mother says I ought?"
"I wish people would not fight at all," I said, with my heart straitened.
"Of course; but here we are in it, or they are; and it is the same thing. Don't you think they can get through it without me? or do you say as your mother, - 'Every one go!' "
He looked at me more earnestly than was pleasant, and I was greatly at a loss what to answer. It was wisest for me not to commit myself to a course opposed to my mother's; and yet, truth is wisest of all. I looked to see Ransom and Mr. De Saussure, but they were not in sight.
"You are not speaking in jest," I said; "and I have no business to speak in earnest."
"You never speak any other way," he rejoined. "Tell me your mind. You are never violent; do you feel as Mrs. Randolph does about it? Would you like me better if I went heart and soul into the fray at home?"
"That would depend upon the-views and motives with which you went into it."
"Well - if I did it for love of you?" he said smiling.
"I cannot imagine that anybody should do such a thing for love of me. Nothing but the strongest and purest convictions of duty can justify such a thing as fighting."
"I suppose I know what that means," he said somewhat gloomily.
"No," said I hastily, "I don't think you do."
"What does it mean, then?" he asked.
"Permit me to ask first, Are your convictions strong and clear, that it is your duty to go home and enter the war for the South?"
"That's a searching question," he said laughing. "To say yes, would be to condemn myself at once. To say no, - what would that do for me with Mrs. Randolph?"
"You are not speaking to Mrs. Randolph," I said, half under my breath.
He looked up eagerly in my face. "You do not think as she does!" he said. "You do not believe in fighting, under any circumstances?"
"Yes, I do, Mr. Marshall," I said; and I felt myself colour. "I do believe in fighting, when it is to relieve the oppressed, to deliver those who are trampled upon, or to save ourselves or others from worse than death."
"Our friends at the South can hardly be said to be in such extremity," he said, looking rather perplexed; "unless you believe all that the papers say about Yankee invaders; and I for one am not ready to do that."
"Nor I," I said; "I know them too well."
"Then who is so bitterly oppressed just now, Miss Randolph?"
"If you do not know of anybody, I would not fight, Mr. Marshall."
"Really?" said he. "Perhaps I ought to go home and take care of my twelve hundred people at Vincennes. Is that your thought?"
"Are they in need of care?" I asked.
" 'Pon my word, I don't know. Perhaps it would be nearer right to say, take care of myself; for if the war should come the way of Vicksburg, and Yankee arms have a little success, there might be the mischief to pay at Vincennes. On reflection, I don't see how I could take care of myself, either. Then you do not bid me go?" he asked again.
"You remember our words one day about insignificant lives?"
"Yes!" he cried eagerly; "and I have been longing ever since to ask you to explain more fully what interested me so much. I never could get a chance. I assure you, I have felt to the bottom of my heart what it is to have one's existence really worth nothing, to anybody. How may it be better? My life has to do with nothing but insignificant things."
"But you must define insignificance," I said.
"Is it needful?"
"I think so. What makes things insignificant? Not their being small, - or common?"
"What then, Miss Randolph?"
"Small things, and common things, are often to the last degree important, you know, Mr. Marshall."
"Yes; but however small and common, I cannot feel that I am important, in any degree," he said, half laughing.
"We were talking of lives, and things."
"Yes. Excuse me. Well?"
"I think I see the crowns of two hats, down below, which belong to some people that we know."
"Is it they?" he exclaimed; - "and I wish they were farther off. Finish what you were going to say, Miss Daisy! Do not leave me in ignorance now, after bringing me so far."
"I can only tell you what I think," I said.
"And that is precisely what I want to hear," he answered earnestly.
"You will not agree to it, though, and I do not know that you will even understand me. Mr. Marshall, I think that nothing is insignificant which is done for God; and that everything which is not done for Him, directly or indirectly, is insignificant or worse."
"I do not understand -" he said thoughtfully. "In what sense can a thing be 'done for God?' Unless it is building a church or founding a hospital."
"Very few churches have been built for God," I said. "At least I think so."
"Why, the old monks -" Mr. Marshall began. But just then our missing companions came up, and he stopped. They had been lured aside from the way by the sight of some game. We had no more private talk; but Hugh Marshall was sober and thoughtful all the rest of the day.
He sought such talks with me now whenever he could; and seemed to enter into them like a man, with an earnest purpose to know the truth and to do his work in the world if he could find it. I grew, in a way, very fond of him. He was gentle, well-bred, happy-tempered, extremely careful of my welfare and pleasure, and regardful of my opinions, which I suppose flattered my vanity; well-read and sensible; and it seemed to me that he grew more agreeable every day.
The accounts from the seat of war in America were not very stirring just then; nothing great was done or expected; and the question of our young men's return to take part in what was going on, was suffered for a time to fall out of sight. Meanwhile we left Lucerne and went to Geneva. There was more society, in a quiet way; and there was a fresh harvest of pleasure to be reaped by me and for me in the domains of nature.
"Daisy, - you are very happy!" my father said one day when I was sitting with him. We were looking out upon the lake, which our windows commanded; but I found papa's look had come back from the window to me.
"You are very happy!" he said.
"Yes, papa, - pretty happy."
"Pretty happy?" said he, putting his hand under my chin and turning my face again round to him, and then kissing me. "Pretty and happy, you mean."
"No, papa," I said laughing; - "I don't mean that."
"It is true, though," said he. "There was a bit of a smile upon your mouth just now - before I spoke; - what were you thinking of?"
"Papa, it is so glorious, - the lake and its shores in this sunlight."
"That was all?"
"No, not quite all, papa."
"I thought not. What was the rest of it, Daisy?"
"Papa, I was thinking with joy, that I belong to the wonderful One who made all that; and so, that the riches of his power and glory are in a certain sense mine; - just as everything good in you is mine, papa."
He folded me in his arms and kissed me again, very fondly.
"There is not much good in me, Daisy."
"Yes, papa, - for me."
"But there is a great deal in you, - for somebody."
"For you, papa."
"Nobody else, Daisy?"
He was holding me close in his arms and looking down into my face. I believe the colour must have come into my cheeks.
"Ah, I thought so!" he said. "Even so soon, Daisy, you are leaving me for somebody else."
"Papa!" I exclaimed, hiding my face in his neck, - "I will never leave you, till you say so."
"Till I say so? I will not be over selfish, my dear child. I do not mean that."
"Who is it to be, Daisy?" my mother's voice said behind us.
I started up in absolute terror. What had I said? and what did she mean? I looked at her, speechless.
"Well?" she said laughing, "what is the matter? You need not turn white about it. Is your father the only one to be in your confidence? I will withdraw then."
"Stop! - Mamma!" I cried; "what are you saying? There is no confidence. What are you talking about?"
"I only asked, who it was to be, Daisy? I thought you were talking of leaving us, and naturally concluded it was to be with somebody."
"Mamma - oh, mamma, I was speaking only in the abstract."
Mamma laughed. "In the abstract! Well, you will have to come from generals to particulars, Daisy. Abstractions will not satisfy anybody long."
I was in great difficulty and great confusion. Papa drew me into his arms again and kissed my lips and cheeks and eyes, as if he would have hid my blushes.
"You shall be as abstract as you like," he said; "and as long as you like. I give you leave."
"That's nonsense, though, Mr. Randolph," said my mother, standing at the back of his chair. "Daisy cannot live in abstractions for ever. She must choose, and let her choice be known; and the sooner the better. Nobody can guess it now. She has been abstract enough."
I was in the greatest perplexity at this speech, which conveyed to me no meaning whatever. Let my choice be known? Did mamma know about Mr. Thorold? I knew she could not; but then, what did she mean?
"There is no hurry, Felicia," said papa.
"I will not have Daisy marry any but an American, Mr. Randolph."
"Agreed. There is no present likelihood that she will."
"But when we get to Florence, Mr. Randolph, and she is seen in the great world, things may not absolutely be within your control - or mine."
Mamma stood tapping her fingers upon the back of my father's chair, and I thought her very odd indeed. Her last sentence, however, had a word that I could answer. I stood up and faced her.
"Mamma," I said, "I am going to say something that you will not like."
"Then do not say it, Daisy."
"I would not, if I could help it. But you know, mamma, I am a servant of God - I have not changed, - and I and the 'great world' have nothing in common."
"Well? -" said mamma calmly.
"I do not belong to it. I have no place in it."
"No, of course. You are just out of school. A few months more will change all that."
"No, mamma, - please!"
"Yes, Daisy, - please!" she said, tapping my cheek with her finger, and then leaning forward to kiss me with smiling lips. "You do not know what you are talking about, my love. You are made for the great world, Daisy. There is no danger of turning your head; so I have no objection to explain to you that you are magnificent."
"Mamma, what difference can that possibly make?"
They both laughed at me, and mamma said I would soon see.
"But, mamma," I urged, "that world and I have nothing in common. I should be out of my place in it, and it would find me something strange."
"It is quite time to have that altered then," she said. "You may be a nun if you choose afterward; but you shall know what the great world is, before you give it up; and it shall know you. You may spend your odd minutes in considering what dress you will wear for your first appearance, Daisy. Don't ask me for a white cambric and an apron with pockets."
I stood in much perplexity, not resolved what I ought to say next. Papa took my hand.
"It is not much, to show yourself," he said kindly. "What is the difficulty, Daisy?"
"You mean, show myself in a fine dress and in a fine assembly, papa?"
"I don't care about the dress," he answered.
"Yes, but you do, Mr. Randolph," said my mother. "Daisy would not wear a print, for instance, to the Grand Duke's ball. Your complexion, Daisy, will take any sort of colour; but rubies will look especially well on this skin, and pearls." She touched my face caressingly as she spoke, pushing back the hair from my temple and then bringing her hand down to take hold of my chin. "Little fool!" said she laughing - "does it dismay you?"
"Yes, mamma, - the thought of crossing your pleasure."
"You shall not do that. Good children always obey their mothers, I am not going to have you settled down on a plantation at home, east or west, without at least letting the world see you first."
"Daisy does not want jewels," said my father. "She is too young."
"One day she will," said mamma; "and an occasion might make it proper, even now. I hope so; for I want to see the effect."
Mamma went away, with that; and I sat down again by papa's side. Not to dream over the sunlight on the lake any more; I was busy with cloudy realities. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." Oh, why did duty bid me go contrary to the pleasure of mine! I would have so gladly pleased them to the utmost limits of my power. Papa was watching me, though I did not know it, and presently said very gently, -
"What is it, Daisy?"
"Papa, I want to please you and mamma so much!"
"And cannot you?"
"Not in this, papa."
"Why? Explain to me. I do not understand your position, Daisy."
"Papa, I am a servant of Christ; and a servant is bound to do his Master's will."
"But you are begging the question."
"If you will have patience, papa, I will try to tell you how it is. You know the Lord said, 'If any man serve me, let him follow me.' You know how He lived and what He lived for. Should I be following in his footsteps, when I was dressing and dancing and talking nonsense or nothings and getting so tired that I could do nothing but sleep all the next day? And papa, that is not all. It is so difficult, when one is dressed to look well and others are dressed in like manner, or for the same object, I mean, - it is very difficult not to wish to look well, and to wish to look better than other people, and to be glad if one does; and then comes the desire for admiration, and a feeling of pride, and perhaps, emulation of somebody else; and one comes home with one's head filled with poor thoughts, and the next day one is fit for nothing. And is that, following Christ? who went about doing good, who sought not His own, who was separate from sinners. And He said to His people, 'Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.' "
"Why, Daisy," said my father, passing over the last part of my speech, "how do you know all this? Have you been out into the great world already?"
"No, papa; but if the little world has such effects what must the great one do?"
"Pray, what little world have you seen?"
"The little world of West Point, papa. And something of the world of Washington."
"That is not much like a European court," said my father. "How did you like West Point?"
"Very much indeed."
"Did you go to balls there?"
"Oh, no, sir! only little hops, that the cadets have in the evenings."
"Was Preston there then?"
"He was entering upon his last year at the Academy."
"Had he improved?"
"Papa. - I thought he had not."
My father smiled. "Which of these young friends of ours do you like the best, Daisy?"
"Mr. Marshall and Mr. De Saussure, do you mean?"
"I mean them."
Something in papa's tone made my answer, I was conscious, a little constrained. I was very sorry, and could not help it.
"Papa - I think - Don't you think, Mr. Marshall has the most principle?"
"Do you always like people best that are the best, Daisy?" said papa laughing. "Because, I confess I have a wicked perverseness to do the other way."
After this conversation I seemed to see several clouds rising on my horizon in different quarters. I thought it was wisest not to look at them; but there was one that cast a shadow always on the spot where I was. It was so long since I had heard from Mr. Thorold! I had told him he must not write to me; but at the same time he had said that he would, and that he would enclose a letter to my father. Neither letter had come. It was easy to account for; he might not have had a chance to write; or in the confusions at home, his despatch might have been detained somewhere; it might reach me after a long interval, or it might never reach me! There was nothing strange about it; there was something trying. The hunger of my heart for one word from him or of him, grew sometimes rapacious; it was a perpetual fast day with me, and nature cried out for relief. That cloud cast a shadow always over me now; only except when now and then a ray from the eternal sunshine found a rift in the cloud, or shot below it, and for a moment my feet stood in light. I had letters from the Sandfords; I had even one from Miss Cardigan; it did me a great deal of good, but it broke my heart too.
Mamma and I kept off the subject of the great world for a while; I think my father purposely prolonged our stay at Geneva, to favour my pleasure; and I hoped something after all might prevent the discussion of that subject between mamma and me, at least for the present. So something did.
I came down one afternoon to the green bank behind the house, where a table stood, and where we took our meals when the weather was fine. Our three young men were around it and the air was fragrant with the fumes of their cigars. The cigars of two of them were tossed away on my appearance. Ransom held his in abeyance.
"I did not know you were here," I said, "or I should have scrupled about interrupting anything so pleasant."
"You do not think it pleasant, confess, Miss Randolph," said De Saussure, drawing near to look over the progress of my work.
"Do you dislike it, honestly, Miss Randolph?" said Hugh Marshall.
"I don't dislike sugar-plums," I said.
"Daisy likes nothing that ordinary people like," cried Ransom. "I pity the man that will marry you, Daisy! He will live within a hedge-row of restrictions. You have lived among Puritans till you're blue."
I lifted my eyes to Ransom without speaking. What there was in my look, I do not know; but they all laughed.
"What connection is there between cigars and sugar-plums?" Hugh Marshall asked next.
"None, I suppose," I said. "Only, - what would you think of a lady who sat down regularly to eat sugar-plums three or four times a day and the last thing before going to bed? and who evidently could not live without them."
"But why not take a sugar-plum, or a cigar, as well as other things - wine, or fruit, for instance?" said Marshall.
"It is an indulgence - but we all allow ourselves indulgences of one sort or another."
"Besides, with a lady it is different," said De Saussure. "We poor fellows have nothing better to do, half the time."
I had no wish to lecture Mr. De Saussure, but I could not help looking at him, which again seemed to rouse their amusement.
"You seem to say, that is an insignificant way of life," Hugh Marshall added.
"We'll try for something better to-morrow," said De Saussure. "We have laid a plan to go to see the lake of Annecy, Miss Randolph, if we can secure your company and approbation. It will just take the day; and I propose that each one of us shall go prepared to instruct the others, at luncheon, as to his or her views of the worthiest thing a man can do with his life; - cigars being banished."
"Cigars are not banished yet," said Ransom, taking delicate whiffs of his own, which sent a fragrant wreath of blue smoke curling about his face.
"What do you say, Miss Randolph?" Hugh asked.
"Wouldn't you like to see the house of Eugene Sue?" said De Saussure.
"Who was Eugene Sue?" was my counter question; and they laughed again, our two friends with sparkling eyes.
"Look here, Daisy!" said Ransom, suddenly bringing down his chair on four feet and sitting upright, - "I wish you would put an end to this indulgence of sight-seeing and your society, and send these gentlemen home with me. I must go, and they ought to go too and do their duty. A word from you would send either of them straight to Beauregard's headquarters. Talk of indulgences!"
"I do not wish to send either of them there," was my incautious answer.
"Do you think it is always wrong to fight?" De Saussure asked.
I said no, with an internal shiver running through me from head to foot. They went into a mutual gratulation on the causes for fighting that existed on the part of the Southern States, and the certainty that the warlike spirit of the North would "die off like a big fungus," as one of them phrased it. I could not discuss the point with them, and I got away as soon as it could gracefully be done.
But something in this little talk, or in what went before it, had unsettled me; and I slept little that night. Anxieties which had lain pretty still, and pain which had been rather quiet, rose up together and shook me. My Bible reading had given me a word which for a time helped the confusion. "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
Not to be entangled with the affairs of this life! - and my heart and soul were in a whirl of them; I might say, in a snarl. And true the words were. How could I please Him who had chosen me to be a soldier, with my heart set on my own pleasure, and busy with my own fears? I knew I could not. The quiet subjection of spirit with which I left Washington, I had in a measure lost at Lucerne. Somehow, opposition had roused me; and the great distance and the impossibility of hearing had made my imagination restless; and the near probability that mamma would not favour our wishes had caused me to take a sort of life and death grasp of them. The management of myself, that I had resigned, I found I had not resigned it; but my heart was stretching out yearning hands to Thorold and crying for a sight of him. Meanwhile, the particular work that I had to do in Switzerland had been little thought of. What was it?
I spent that night waking. My room looked not to the lake, but over an extent of greensward and orchards, lit up now by a bright moon. I knelt at my window, with a strong recollection of former times, and a vain look back at my little old self, the childish Daisy, whose window at Melbourne, over the honeysuckles, had been so well used and had entertained such a quiet little heart. Then there had been Miss Pinshon's Daisy; but all the Daisies that I could remember had been quiet compared to this one. Must joy take such close hold on sorrow? Must hopes always be twin with such fears? - I asked amid bitter tears. But tears do one good; and after a little indulgence of them, I brought myself up to look at my duty. What was it?
I might love, and fear, and hope; but I must not be "entangled." Not so concerned about myself, either for sorrow or joy, that I should fail in anything to discern the Lord's will, or be unready, or be slow, to do it. Not so but that my heart should be free, looking to God for its chief strength and joy always and everywhere, - yes, and holding my hopes at his hand, to be given up if he called them back. With Thorold parted from me, in the thick of the war struggle, almost certain to be rejected by both my father and my mother, could I have and keep such a disentangled heart? The command said yes, and I knew there were promises that said yes too; but for a time I was strangely unwilling. I had a sort of superstitious feeling, that the giving up of my will about these things, and of my will's hold of them, would be a preliminary to their being taken away from me in good earnest. And I trembled and wept and shrank, like the coward I was.
"And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."
"God's way is the way," I said to myself, - "and there is no other. I know, in what I said to mamma that afternoon about dressing and going into the world, it was not all principle. There was a mixture of selfish disinclination to go into society, because of Mr. Thorold and my feeling about him. My thoughts and will are all in a tangle; and they must be disentangled."
The struggle was long and sore that night. Worse than in Washington; because here I was alone among those who did not favour Mr. Thorold, and were opposed in everything to his and my views and wishes. Temptation said, that it was forsaking their cause, to give up my will about them. But there is no temptation that takes us and God has not provided a way of escape. The struggle was sharp; but when the dawn broke over the orchards and replaced the glory of the moonlight, my heart was quiet again. I was bent, before all things, upon doing the will of God; and had given up myself and all my hopes entirely to His disposal. They were not less dear hopes for that, though now the rest of my heart was on something better; on something which by no change or contingency can disappoint or fail. I was disentangled. I stood free. And I was happier than I had been in many a long day. "The peace of God." If people could only possibly know what that means!
The expedition to Annecy had been determined on, and papa and mamma were to go. I went in a carriage with them, while the others were on horseback; so I had a nice quiet time, which suited me; a time of curious secret enjoyment. It seemed as if a gratulation came to me from every blade of grass and every ray of sunlight; because I was a servant of God, and as wholly given up to do His will as they were. There was communion between them and me. Of those "ministers of His, that do His pleasure," I would be one; to do what He had for me to do in the world, should be my care and joy at once; and the care of myself - I left it to Him. One goes light when one does not carry that burden.
"Daisy, you are dreadfully sober," said mamma.
"Not dreadfully, mamma, I hope," I said with a smile.
"You are pale too," she went on. "Mr. Randolph, Daisy thinks too much."
"It is an old weakness of hers," said papa. "I am afraid it is beyond our reach, Felicia."
"I will break it up for to-day," said mamma as the carriage stopped and Mr. De Saussure came to the steps. "Charles, Daisy has got into a brown study. I give her to you in charge, not to allow anything of the sort again till we get home. And order luncheon at once, will you. I can't go walking or sight- seeing without that."
Mr. de Saussure gave me his arm and took me with him, as he said, to help about the luncheon. It was soon spread out of doors, beneath the shade of some large trees, and we gathered round it in holiday mood. Bread was sweet, with that page of beauty spread out before my eyes all the time; - for between the boles of the trees and under their hanging branches I could see the glittering waters of the lake and a bit of its distant shore. I did not go into a brown study, however, not wishing to give occasion to Mr. De Saussure's good offices. I thought he had quite enough enjoyed his charge during the business before luncheon. To my disappointment, after the meal papa declared himself tired and went to lie down.
"We have forgotten our agreement," said Mr. De Saussure. "At luncheon, we were all to tell, Mrs. Randolph, what we think the worthiest thing to live for."
"Were we?" said mamma. "That sounds like one of Daisy's problems."
"It is not hers, however," he rejoined; "any further than that I am mainly curious to know what she will say about it."
"You ought to be equally anxious about my opinion, it seems to me," mamma said.
"Do I not know it already? Pour la patrie, - does anything go before that in your mind? Honestly, Mrs. Randolph, - is it not in your opinion the worthiest thing anybody can do, to fight, or to die - still better, - for the independence of the South?"
"You do not think so," said mamma, "or you would be there."
"I am selfish, and have selfish hopes and fears. But you think so?"
"Let us hear what you consider the worthiest object of life," said mamma.
"It is not my turn. Miss Randolph, your mother has spoken - the next honour belongs to you."
"The worthiest object of life?" I said. "Is that the question?"
"It will not be a question, when you have answered it," De Saussure said gallantly.
"You will not like my answer," I said. "I should think it would be, To please God."
"But that is not an answer, pardon me. Of course, the Supreme Being is pleased to see people following the worthiest object; and the question is, What is the worthiest?"
I did not like to hear Mr. De Saussure's tongue touch themes where it was not at home. The conversation was too serious for light handling; but I could not get out of it.
"You will find that my answer includes all," I said. "It is impossible to lay down a rule, as to particulars, that will fit all cases. It is the best thing one man can do, to lay down his life for his country; the best thing another man can do is to stay at home and devote himself to the care of an infirm mother or father; but in either case, for God."
"I do not understand -" said Mr. Marshall.
"Suppose the one goes to the battlefield for his own glory, and the other stays at home for his own ease?"
"Don't you think glory is a thing to live for?" said Ransom, with an indignant expression that reminded me painfully of our childish days.
"Yes," I said slowly, - "I do; but not the praise of men, which is so often mistaken. The glory that comes from God, - that is worth living for."
"What an incomprehensible girl you are!" Ransom answered impatiently.
"She'll mend -" said mamma.
"But, Miss Randolph," said Mr. Marshall, "the care of infirm relatives, a father or a mother, can anything make that unworthy?"
"Not in itself," I said; "but suppose a man's duty calls him away? It might. You can suppose such a case."
"I see what I have to expect," mamma said with a laugh. "Daisy will take care of me, until some duty calls her away. I will not count upon you, Daisy, any longer than that. De Saussure, what is your estimate of life's objects? On honour, now!"
"I can think of nothing better than to live for somebody that one loves," he said.
"I knew you would say that," she rejoined. "Hugh, what do you say?"
"I need to go to school, Mrs. Randolph."
"Well, go to school to Daisy," said mamma with another light laugh. "And come, let us walk, or we shall not have time. Eugne Sue, is it, that we are going to see?"
"Only his house, madam. Miss Randolph, I am charged, you know, with your studies to-day."
I was not in the mood of accepting Mr. De Saussure's arm, but just then it was the only thing to do. My mother and Ransom and Hugh Marshall were presently some little distance behind, an interval separating us; and Mr. De Saussure and I followed the shores of the lake, taking such counsel together as our somewhat diverse moods made possible. I was thinking, what a life of hard work the two prophets Elijah must have known in their time; he who was first of the name, and his greater successor, John the Baptist. Each of them worked alone, against a universal tide of adverse evil that flooded the land. If I found it so sorrowful to be alone in my family and society, what must they have felt with the whole world against them. And Elijah's spirit did once give out, brave as he was: "It is enough, O Lord; take away my life." I thought I could understand it. To be all alone; to have no sympathy in what is dearest to you; to face opposition and scorn and ridicule and contumely while trying to do people good and bring them to good; to have only God on your side, with the bitter consciousness that those whom you love best are arrayed against him; your family and country; - I suppose nobody can tell how hard that is to endure, but he who has tasted it. My taste of it was light indeed; but a half hour with Miss Cardigan would have been inexpressibly good to me that day. So I thought, as I walked along the bank of the lake with Mr. De Saussure; and then I remembered "my hiding-place and my shield."
"You are very silent to-day, Miss Randolph," said my companion at length. I may remark, in passing, that he had not been.
"It is enough to look, and to think," I answered, "with such a sight before one's eyes."
"Do you know," said he, "such independence of all the exterior world, - of mortals, I mean, - is very tantalising to those disregarded mortals?"
"Do you find it so? It is fair then to presume, in a place like this, that what takes up my attention has not so much charm for you."
"That is severe!" he said. "Do you think I do not see all this beauty before us? But pardon me, - have you seen it?"
"I have tasted it every step of the way, Mr. De Saussure."
"I am rebuked," he said. "You must excuse me - I had counted upon the pleasure of seeing you enjoy it."
"One's enjoyment is not always heightened by giving it expression," I said.
"No, I know that is your theory - or practice," he said. "My sisters are always so vehement in their praises of anything they like, that nobody else has a chance to know whether he likes it or not. I generally incline to the not."
I added no remark upon Mr. De Saussure's or his sisters' peculiar way of enjoying themselves.
"But you are uncommonly silent," he went on presently; - "triste, rveuse. It is impossible not to suffer from it, - in one who values your words as much as I do."
"Why, I thought you were apt to look upon things from a different point of view, - not from mine," I said.
"I must be wrong then - always. Miss Randolph, you are of a gentle and kind disposition, - I wish you would be my Mentor!"
"I am not old enough to be Mentor," I said.
"To be mine! Yes, you are," he rejoined eagerly. "I would not have you a day older."
"I shall be that to-morrow," I said, laughing.
"But if you were mine," he said, changing his tone, "every day would only add to your power and your qualifications for doing me good. And I know that is what you love."
"I cannot see that I have done you the least good, so far, Mr. De Saussure," I said, amused. "I think you must be mistaken."
"Will you try, Daisy?" he said insinuatingly, and stopping short in our walk.
"Try what, Mr. De Saussure?" I said, beginning to be bewildered.
"Surely you know! You are a little cruel. But you have the right. Be my Mentor - be my darling - promise to be, one of these days, my wife."
I dropped my arm from Mr. De Saussure's and stood in a maze, I might say with truth, frightened. Up to that minute, no suspicion of his purpose or mind regarding me had entered my thoughts. I suppose I was more blind than I ought to have been; and the truth was, that in the utter preoccupation of my own heart, the idea that I could like anybody else but Mr. Thorold, or that anybody else could like me, had been simply out of sight. I knew myself so thoroughly beyond anybody's reach, the prior possession of the ground was so perfect and settled a thing, that I did not remember it was a fact hidden from other eyes but mine. And I had gone on in my supposed walled-in safety; - and here was somebody presuming within the walls, who might allege that I had left the gate open. However, to do Mr. De Saussure justice, I never doubted for a moment that his heart might be in any danger of breaking if I thrust him out. But for all that, I lost my breath in the first minute of discovery of what I had been doing.
"You hesitate," said he. "You shall command me, Daisy. I will go instantly, hard as it would be, and give all my power to furthering the war at home; - or, if you bid me, I will keep out of it, which would be harder still, were you not here instead of there. Speak, won't you, -a good word for me?"
"You must do nothing at my command, Mr. de Saussure," I said. "I have known you only as mamma's and my brother's friend; - I never thought you had any other feeling; and I had no other towards you."
"Mrs. Randolph is my friend," he said eagerly. "She does me the honour to wish well to my suit. She looks at it, not with my eyes, but with the eyes of prudence; and she sees the advantages that such an arrangement would secure. I believe she looks at it with patriotic eyes too. You know my estates are nearly adjoining to yours. I may say too, that our families are worthy one of another. But there, I am very conscious, my worthiness ends. I am not personally deserving of your regard - I can only promise under your guidance to become so."
A light broke upon me.
"Mr. De Saussure" - I began; but he said hastily, "Let us go on - they are coming near us;" and I took his offered arm again, not wishing more than he to have spectators or hearers of our talk; and now that the talk was begun, I wished to end it.
"Mr. de Saussure," I said, "you are under a serious mistake. You speak of my estates; I must inform you that I shall never, under any circumstances, be an heiress. Whoever marries me - if I ever marry - will marry a poor girl."
"Pardon me -" he began.
"Yes," said I interrupting him; - "I know of what I speak."
"What can you mean, Miss Randolph?"
"I assure you, I mean exactly what I say. Pray take it so."
"But I do not understand you."
"Understand this, - that I shall be a penniless woman; or something very like it. I am making no jest. I am no heiress - as people think."
"But you confound me, Miss Randolph," he said, looking both curious and incredulous. "May I ask, what can be the explanation of your words? I know your Magnolia property - and it is, I assure you, a very noble one, and unencumbered. Nothing can hinder you from inheriting it - at some, we hope, of course, very distant day."
"Nevertheless," I said, "if I live to see that day, I shall be very poor, Mr. De Saussure."
"You will condescend to explain so extraordinary a statement?"
"Is not my word sufficient?"
"Pardon me, a thousand times; but you must see that I am in a difficulty. Against your word I have the word of two others - your mother and your brother, who both assure me of the contrary. May it not be, that they know best?"
"No, Mr. De Saussure; for the fact depends on something out of their knowledge."
"It is out of my knowledge too," he said.
I hesitated a little, and then said, -
"I will explain myself, Mr. De Saussure, trusting to your honour to keep silence about it. I am a friend of the coloured people."
"Oh! - So are we all," he said.
"And I will never be rich at their expense."
"By their means, is not necessarily at their expense," he said gently.
"It is at their expense," I repeated. "I do not choose to be rich so. And the religion I live by, forbids me to do to others as I would not like they should do to me."
"I am sure, by that rule, your dependants at Magnolia would implore you not to give them over to other hands. They will never have so kind a mistress. Don't you see?" he said with the same insinuating gentleness.
"I shall give them over to no other hands. I would make them as free as myself."
"Make them free!"
"That is what I would do."
"You cannot mean it," he said.
"You see, Mr. De Saussure, that I shall be very poor."
"You are playing with me."
"I am very serious."
"It is rank Northern madness!" he said to himself. "And it is Mrs. Randolph's daughter. The thing is impossible."
"It is Mrs. Randolph's daughter," I said, withdrawing my hand from his arm. "I pray you not to forget it."
"Pray, forgive me!" he said eagerly. "I was bewildered, and am yet. I did not know where I was. It seems to me I cannot have heard you aright."
"Quite right, Mr. De Saussure."
"But just reflect!" he said. "These creatures, whose cause you are advocating, they are but half human; they cannot take care of themselves; their very happiness is identified with their present position."
"It is not the view they take of it."
"They are incapable of forming any judgment on the matter."
"At least they know what they mean by happiness," I said; "and in their mouths it is not a synonym with slavery. And if your words are true, Mr. De Saussure, in the case of some of those poor people, - and I know they are, - it is one of the worst things that can be said of the system. If some of them are brought so low as to be content with being slaves, we have robbed them of their humanity."
"It is absolutely Northern radicalism!" said Mr. De Saussure to himself.
"No," I said, - "it is Christian justice and mercy."
"You will allow me to represent to you, without any presumption, that there are very many Christians, both at the South and North, who do not look at the matter with your eyes."
"I suppose they have never really seen it," I answered sadly. "People that have always lived close to something, often do not know what it is. My father has never seen it - nor, my mother. I have."
"They would not agree with you; your views would not harmonise with theirs."
"And therefore I trust to your honour to keep silence respecting mine."
"I am bound," he answered gloomily; and we walked a few minutes in silence.
"You will change your manner of thinking, Miss Randolph," he began again. "Yours is the vision of inexperienced eyes and of impulsive generosity. It will not remain what it is."
"Inexperienced eyes see the clearest," I answered. "The habit of wrong is no help towards judging of the right."
"You will think differently by and by."
"Not while I am a servant of God and He commands me to break every yoke, to do as I would be done by, to look not on my own things, but also on the things of others. We owe our poor people not liberty only, but education, and every advantage for restored civilisation; - a great long debt."