"And is this the reason why you will not look favourably on my suit?" he said after another interval.
"It is a reason why you will not wish to prosecute it, Mr. De Saussure."
"You are very severe!" he said. "Do you really think that?"
"You know it is true. I do not wish to be severe."
"Have you then no kindness for me?"
"Why do you ask?"
"You are so dreadfully calm and cool!" he said. "One has no chance with you. If this matter were not in the way, would you have any kindness for me, Daisy? Is this all that separates us?"
"It is quite enough, Mr. De Saussure. It is as powerful with you as with me."
"I am too late, I suppose!" he said, as it seemed to me, rather spitefully. As he was too late, it was no use to tell him he could never have been early enough. I was silent; and we walked on unenjoyingly. Vexation was working in his countenance, and a trace of that same spite; I was glad when we came to the end of our way and the other members of our party closed up and joined us.
As I cared nothing for the house they had come to see, I excused myself from going any nearer, and sat down upon the bank at a little distance while they gratified their curiosity. The view of the lake and lake shores here was very lovely; enough to satisfy any one for a long while; but now, my thoughts only rested there for a minute, to make a spring clear across the Atlantic. Mr. Thorold was very close to me, and I was very far from him; that was the burden of my heart. So close to me he had been, that I had never dreamed any one could think of taking his place. I saw I had been a simpleton. Up to that day I had no suspicion that Mr. De Saussure liked me more than would be convenient; and indeed I had no fear now of his heart being broken; but I saw that his unlucky suit made a complication in my affairs that they certainly did not need. - Mamma approved it; yes, I had no doubt of that. I knew of a plantation of his, Briery Bank, only a few miles distant from Magnolia and reputed to be very rich in its incomings. And, no doubt Mr. De Saussure would have liked the neighbourhood of Magnolia, and to add its harvest to his own. And all the while I belonged to Mr. Thorold, and nobody else could have me. My thoughts came back to that refrain with a strong sense of pain and gladness. However, the gladness was the strongest. How lovely the lake was, with its sunlit hills!
In the midst of my musings, Hugh Marshall came and threw himself on the ground at my side. I welcomed him with a smile; for I liked him; he was a friend; and I thought, - This one does not want me at any rate. I was a great simpleton, I suppose.
"I was afraid you had deserted me to-day," he said.
"I am sure, it is I who might rather have thought that of you," I answered; and indeed I had wished for his company more than once.
"You could not have thought it!" he said.
"Have you satisfied your curiosity with Eugene Sue's house?"
"I do not care to look at anything that you don't like," he replied.
"Cigars? -" I suggested.
"No indeed. If you disapprove of them, I shall have no more fellowship with them."
"That is going quite too far, Mr. Marshall. A man should never give up anything that he does not disapprove of himself."
"Not to please somebody he wishes to please?"
"Of course," I said, thinking of Mr. Thorold, - "there might be such cases. But in general."
"This is one of the cases. I wish to please you."
"Thank you," I said earnestly. "But indeed, I should be more pleased to have you follow your own sense of right than any notion of another, even of myself."
"You are not like any other woman I ever saw," he said smiling. "Do you know, they all have a passion for command? There are De Saussure's mother and sisters, - they do not leave him a moment's peace, because he is not at home fighting."
I was silent, and hoped that Mr. De Saussure's friends might now perhaps get him away from Geneva at least.
"You think with them, that he ought to go?" Hugh Marshall said presently with a shadow, I thought, on his words.
"I would not add one more to the war," I answered.
"Your mother does not think so."
"Mrs. Randolph has almost signified to me that her favour will depend on my taking such a course, and doing all I can to help on the Confederacy."
"Yes, I know," I said rather sadly; "mamma feels very strongly about it."
"You do not?"
"Yes, Mr. Marshall, I do; but it is in a different way."
"I wish you would explain," he said earnestly.
"But I do not like to set myself in opposition to mamma; and you ought to do what you yourself think right, Mr. Marshall; not what either of us thinks."
"What do you think is right?" he repeated eagerly.
"My thoughts do not make or unmake anything."
"They make - they will make, if you will let them - the rule of my life," he answered. "I have no dearer wish."
I was struck with dismay.
"Please do not say that!" I said trembling. "My thoughts should rule only my own life; not anybody, else's."
"One more!" said Hugh Marshall. "They must rule one more. There will be one, somewhere, whose highest pleasure will be to please you, as long as he has a life to give to it. - Will you take mine?" he said after a pause and in a lower tone. "I offer it to you undividedly."
It cannot be told, the sickness of heart which came over me. The mistake I had made in my blindness, the sorrowfulness of it, the pain I must give, the mischief it might do, I saw it all at once. For a while, I could not find words to speak. Hugh studied my face, and must have seen no ground of hope there, for he did not speak either. He was quite silent and left it to me. Oh, Lake of Annecy! what pain comes to me now with the remembrance of your sweet waters.
I turned at last and laid my hand upon Hugh's arm. He did not mistake me; he took my hand in his, and stood looking at me with a face as grave as my own.
"What is the matter, Daisy?" he said sorrowfully.
"I have made a miserable mistake!" I said. "Cannot we be friends, Mr. Marshall? - dear friends, and nothing more?"
"Why 'nothing more'?"
"I can be no more to you," I answered.
"I have not the feeling. I have not the power. I would, if I could."
"It is I who have made a mistake," he said, as he dropped my hand.
"No, it is I," I said bitterly. "I have been childishly wrong. I have been foolish. It never entered my thought, that you - or anybody - liked me, except as a friend."
"And he got your heart without your knowing it?"
"Who?" said I, frightened.
"De Saussure, of course."
"De Saussure! No indeed. I would a thousand times rather give it to you, Hugh. But, I cannot."
"Then it will come," said he, taking my hand again; "if you can say that, it will come. I will wait."
"No, it will not come," I said, as we looked one another in the face. "I can be only a friend. May I not be that?"
He eyed me keenly, I saw, and my eyes for a moment fell. He let go my hand again.
"Then, I understand," - he said. "Shall we go? I believe it is time."
"Where is mamma?" I asked, looking about in some bewilderment now.
"Mrs. Randolph and the rest have gone on; they are some distance ahead of us by this time."
And what were they all thinking too, by this time! In great dismay I turned to go after them with my unwelcome companion. We walked in silence; I blaming myself greatly for stupidness and blindness and selfish preoccupation, which had made me look at nobody's affairs but my own; and grieving sadly too for the mischief I had done.
"Mayn't we be friends, Mr. Marshall?" I said somewhat timidly at last; for I could not bear the silence.
"I can never be anything else," he said. "You may always command me. But I have not misunderstood you, Daisy? You meant to tell me that - some one has been more fortunate than I, and been beforehand with me ?"
"I did not mean to tell you that," I said in a good deal of confusion.
"But it is true ?" he said, looking searchingly at me.
"Nobody knows it, Hugh," I said. "Not my mother nor my father."
The silence fell again and again became painful. The others of our party were well in advance. - We caught no glimpse of them yet.
"We will be friends, Mr. Marshall?" - I said anxiously.
"Yes, we will be friends, Daisy; but I cannot be a friend near you. I cannot see you any longer. I shall be a wreck now, I suppose. You might have made me - anything !"
"You will make yourself a noble name and place in the world," I said, laying my hand on his arm. "The name and the place of a servant of God. Won't you, Hugh? Then you will come to true joy, and honour - the joy and honour that God gives. Let me have the joy of knowing that! I have done so much mischief, - let me know that the mischief is mended."
"What mischief have you done?" he asked, with his voice roughened by feeling.
"I did not know what I was leading you - and others - into."
"You led to nothing; except as the breath of a rose leads one to stretch out one's hand for it," he answered. "The rose has as much design!"
He turned aside hastily, stooped for a little twig that lay on the roadside, and began assiduously breaking it up. And the silence was not interrupted again, till we came in sight of our friends in advance of us, leisurely walking to let us come up. Then Hugh and I plunged into conversation; but what it was about I have not the least remembrance. It lasted though, till we joined company with the rest of our party, and the talk became general. Still I do not know what we talked about. I had a feeling of thunder in the air, though the very stillness of sunlight beauty was on the smooth water and the hilly shore; and I saw clouds rising and gathering, even though Mont Blanc as we returned that evening showed rosy hues to its very summit in the clear heaven. I can hardly tell how, my mother's manner or something in it, made me sure both of the clouds and the thunder. It was full of grace, tact and spirit, to such a point of admiration. Yet I read in it, yes, and in that very grace and spirit, a certain state of the nervous powers which told of excitement at work, or a fund of determination gathering; the electric forces massing somewhere; and this luminous play only foretold the lightning.
It is odd with what significance little things become endued, from their connection with other things which are not little. I remember the white dress mamma wore the next day, and the red cashmere scarf she had wrapped round her. I remember how happy and easy the folds of her drapery were, and how I noticed her graceful slow movements, Surely grace is a natural attribute of power, even though power be not always graceful; at least any uncertainty of meaning or manner is fatal to gracefulness. There was no uncertainty about mamma ever, unless the uncertainty of carelessness; and that itself belonged to power. There was no uncertainty in any fold of her cashmere that morning; in any movement of her person, slow and reposeful as every movement was. I knew by a sort of instinct what it all meant. Indeed these were mamma's ordinary characteristics; only appearing just now with the bloom of perfection upon them. She was powerful and she knew it; I knew myself naturally no match for her. It was always very hard for me to withstand mamma. Nothing but the sense of right ever gave me courage to do it. But striving for the right, the Christian is not at his own charges, and has other strength than his own to depend upon.
"You do not eat, my darling," papa said to me.
"Daisy has too much to think of," said mamma with a sort of careless significance. "I will have another bit of chicken, if you please, Mr. Randolph."
"What is she thinking of?"
"Girls' thoughts are unfathomable," said mamma.
"Is it thoughts, Daisy?" said my father.
"I suppose it may be, papa."
"Then I shall do something to break up thinking," he said.
But I knew I must not look for help so. To appeal to one of my parents against the other, was what it would never answer to do, even if I could have done it. I felt alone; but I was as quiet as mamma. I had not so good an appetite.
In the course of the morning she had me up stairs to consider the matter of dresses and fashions; and we were turning over a quantity of laces and jewels. Mamma tried one and another set of stones upon me and in my hair.
"Rubies and pearls are your style," she said at length. "Diamonds are out of harmony, somehow. You are magnificent, Daisy; and pearls make you look like the Queen of Sheba. I cannot imagine why diamonds do hot suit you."
"I do not suit them, mamma."
"Pardon me. You do not know yourself. But girls of your age never do. That is where mothers are useful, I suppose. Which is it to be, Daisy?"
"I do not want either, mamma."
"Yes; that is of course too. But which do you like best, of the two? I suppose you have some preference."
"Mamma, I think I prefer the pearls, but you know -"
Mamma stopped my mouth with a kiss. "Little goose!" she said, - "I am not talking of pearls. Did I not say what I was thinking of? I supposed we both had the same thought, Daisy, and that you would understand me."
"I thought it was pearls and rubies, mamma."
"Well, now you know it is not; and again I come back to my question, - Which is it to be?"
"Which - of what, mamma?"
"Nonsense, Daisy; - you know."
"I know nothing of any choice that I have to make, ma'am, if you do not mean about jewels; and of them, as I said, I should prefer neither."
"You may choose and refuse among jewels," said my mother, - "and refuse and choose; but among some other things it is necessary to make a choice and stick to it."
"Yes, mamma; but I am not in such a necessity."
"What choice have you made, then? It is the same thing, Daisy; only I want to know. Do you not think it is reasonable that I should know?"
"Please explain yourself, mamma."
"Hugh Marshall, then, and Charles De Saussure. What is your mind about them?"
"I like them, mamma, as your friends and as mine, - very well, - but no more."
"Only very well."
"No more, mamma."
"Very well, is a good deal," said mamma coolly. "Which of them must I like a little more than very well, Daisy?"
"Whoever owns and possesses you, I should wish to like very much. Which is it to be, Daisy?"
"Neither of these gentlemen, mamma."
"Did De Saussure propose to you yesterday?"
"What did you say to him?"
"I made him understand that he was nothing to me."
"He is something to me," said mamma. "He is one of the first young men I know, and has one of the finest estates - close by yours, Daisy."
"Estates are nothing in such a matter, mamma."
"That is like saying that pearls and rubies are nothing on such a skin as yours," said mamma laughing. "But you may think of the men, Daisy, and I will think of the estates; that is all en rgle."
"I do not wish to think of these men, mamma."
"It is late in the day to say that. You must have thought of them both, Daisy, and long ago."
"It never entered my head till yesterday, mamma, that either of them liked me."
"You must have seen it for weeks past."
"I did not, mamma, - I never thought of such a thing as possible, till yesterday."
"Is it a possible thing," said mamma, "that a daughter of mine can be such a simpleton? It is time you were married, Daisy, if you can break hearts like that, without knowing it."
"Better be a simpleton than wicked," I said.
"And that comes to the point," said mamma. "You have most unaccountably encouraged the addresses of these gentlemen - and seeing that you did, so have I; - now, to clear both yourself and me, let your preference be made known. It need not take you long to make your mind up, I suppose."
"I am very sorry, mamma. I have done wrong; I have been very foolish; but I cannot do worse. I do not like either of these gentlemen well enough for what you mean."
"If you have done wrong, you can mend it," said mamma. "Liking will come fast enough, Daisy; a girl like you does not think she can like anybody but her father and mother; she finds out her mistake in time. So will you. I will decide for you, if you have no choice. Charles De Saussure is my friend, and I think he is most of a man of the two. I will tell Charles that you will make him happy by and by."
"No, mamma, I will not. Do not tell him so."
"Do you like Hugh Marshall better?"
"I do not like either of them in the way you mean."
"Do you like Hugh better? Answer me."
"No, answer me. A plain answer. Do you like Hugh better?"
"A great deal better; but -"
"That settles it," said mamma. "You shall be Hugh Marshall's wife. Don't tell me a word against it, Daisy, for I will not hear you. I do not like Marshall as well, myself, but his property is even larger, I believe; and as I am not in love, I may be allowed to think of such things. It is away over on the Mississippi; but we cannot help that. I will make Hugh happy to-day, and then - you shall, Daisy."
"No, mamma, - never. It cannot be."
"It must, Daisy. You have compromised yourself, and me. You have allowed these gentlemen's attentions; you have been seen everywhere with them; you owe it to yourself and them to declare your choice of one of them now. You must make up your mind to it. If you are not in love, it cannot be helped; that will come in time; but I think you are. Hey, Daisy?" she said, lifting my chin with her forefinger and looking into my face, - "isn't it true? Isn't it true? Ah, silly thing! - Eyes that are wells of sweetness for somebody - for all down they go, - a mouth that has smiles enough for somebody, - though it trembles, - and what does this rose leaf mean, that is stealing over every one of your two cheeks? it is a witness to somebody, who has brought it there. Go - I know all about it. You may make your confession to Hugh, if you like it best."
I thought mamma would have broken my heart. I rose up in despair.
"To-day, Daisy," mamma repeated. "It must be done to-day."
What could I say? I did not know.
"Mamma, it is not as you think. I do not care for Hugh Marshall."
"Is it De Saussure, then?" she asked, turning quickly upon me.
"Is it Preston Gary?" she asked, with a change in her voice.
"No, Oh, no, mamma!"
"Then it is one of these. Daisy, I protest I have not skill enough to find out which of them; but you know, and that is sufficient. And they must know too; there can be no more of this three-cornered game. It is time to put an end to it. I have read you, if you have not read yourself; and now, my child, you must be content to let the rose blossom, that you keep so carefully folded up in its green leaves. One of these gentlemen will leave us presently; and the other, whichever it is, I shall consider and treat as your acknowledged suitor; and so must you, Daisy. He will be going home to the war, he too, in a short time more; and he must go with the distinct understanding that when the war is over, you will reward him as he wants to be rewarded. Not; till then, child. You will have time enough to think about it."
My mother had shut my lips. I was afraid to say anything good or bad. She had read me; yes, I felt that she had, when she looked into my face and touched my cheeks and kissed my lips, which I knew well enough were trembling, as she had said. She had read me, all but the name in my heart. What if she had read that? The least movement now on my part might bring it to the light; what if it came? I did not know what then, and I was greatly afraid. An old awe of my mother and sense of her power, as well as knowledge of her invincible determination, filled me with doubt and fear. She might write to Mr. Thorold at once and forbid him ever to think of me; she might send him word that I was engaged to Mr. De Saussure. And indeed I might also possibly clear my own action to Mr. Thorold; but change hers, never. My faith failed, I believe. I was like Abraham when he went into Egypt and feared somebody would kill him to get possession of his wife. I did not, like him, resort to a fiction for my safety; but neither did I trust God and dare tell the truth.
My own will was as good as mamma's. I was not afraid of weakly yielding some time or other; I was only afraid of her outside measures.
She resumed her occupation of trying laces and jewels on me; finally laughed, chucked me under the chin, kissed me, called me a pretty goose, and bade me go and dress myself "for whomever I liked best." I went to my room to have the heartache.
I had given up the management of myself; I was not struggling now; I knew there would be a way out of all my perplexities some time; but nevertheless my heart ached. I did dress myself, however, for that is an important part of a woman's work; and I went down stairs with a vague hope in my heart that I might see Hugh and somehow enlist him on my side, so far at least as to make him delay his departure; though I could not imagine how I could ask it, nor what I could say to him of any sort that would benefit me or that would not do him harm. But I thought in vain. I did not see him. Mr. De Saussure came, and played chess with me all the evening. I played very ill, and he won every game, till I thought he would stop for the very stupidness of it.
Some painful days followed that day; during which mamma managed to make me accept Mr. De Saussure's attentions in public and in private. She managed it; I could not escape them without making a violent protest, and I did not of course choose that. Hugh Marshall was gone; he had come only to take a hurried leave of us; suddenly obliged to return home, he said; "he had lingered too long." Mr. De Saussure's eyes flashed with I triumph; every line of mamma's face (to me) expressed satisfaction, of course gracefully concealed from everybody else. But Hugh and I parted with a great grasp of the hand, which I am sure came from both our hearts and left mine very sore. Then he was gone. After that, Mr. De Saussure took Hugh's place and his own too in our little society; and for a few days things went on in a train which I knew was preparing mischief.
Then one night the explosion came. We were out on the lake in a boat; mamma, Mr. De Saussure, and I; we had gone to see the colours come and go on the great head of Mont Blanc. In the glory of the sight, I had forgotten who was with me and where I was, for the moment; and I was thinking of the colours and lights of the New Jerusalem, than which those before me seemed scarcely less unearthly. Thinking, with a pang at the distance between; with a longing for those pure heights where human life never casts its flickering shadow; with a cry for Thorold in my heart, whom every sight of joy or beauty was sure to bring before me. I was rudely recalled from my momentary dream, though it was by my mother's soft voice.
I started and came back to earth and the Lake of Geneva.
"Mr. De Saussure is going soon to leave us and return home - you know for what. Before he goes, he desires the satisfaction of kissing your hand. I suppose he would have liked a little more, but I have only promised the hand."
"I have explained myself to Mr. De Saussure, mamma; he is under no mistake."
"So I have told him. He could not ask more than you have given him; but leaving us for a long while, Daisy, and on such a service, a little further grace would not be ill bestowed. I shall give him leave, if you do not," she added laughing; "and I may give him more than you would like, Daisy."
I think at that minute I felt as if I would like to make one spring out of this world and all its confusions into that other world I had been thinking of; but one does not get quit of one's troubles so easily. That minute on the Lake of Geneva was one of the ugliest I have ever known. Mamma was smooth and determined; Mr. De Saussure looked triumphant and expectant; for a moment my heart shrank, but I do not think I showed it outwardly.
"Daisy -" said mamma, smiling.
"Mr. De Saussure is waiting. Will you speak the word? - or shall I?"
"I have spoken to Mr. De Saussure," I said, coldly.
"Not very clearly. He understands you better now."
"Permit me to say," put in blandly Mr. De Saussure, - "that I am rejoiced to find I did not understand you at a former conversation we held together. Mrs. Randolph has been my kind interpreter. You will not now refuse me?" he said, as he endeavoured to insinuate his fingers into mine.
"Kiss her, Charles!" said mamma; "she is a coy girl. I give you leave."
And before I could anticipate or prevent it, Mr. De Saussure's arm was round me and the salute was given. I think mamma really thought she could bestow me away as she pleased. I am sure she had no idea of the nature she was combating. Nobody had ever withstood her successfully; she did not think that I could be the first. But this little thing - it was not a little thing to me at the time - cut the knot of my difficulties. Released from Mr. De Saussure's encircling arm, I removed myself to the other side of the boat and drew my shawl round me. I do not know what significance was in my action, but mamma said, "Nonsense!"
"I have not offended, have I?" said Mr. De Saussure. "Remember, I had liberty."
"Mamma," I said, "if you will sit a little further that way, you will restore the balance of the boat."
"Which you have entirely disarranged, Daisy," she said as she moved herself.
"Daisy will acknowledge I had liberty," Mr. De Saussure repeated.
"Mamma," I said, "don't you think it is growing chill?"
"Row us home, Charles," said my mother. "And, Daisy, don't be a fool. Mr. De Saussure had liberty, as he says."
"I do not acknowledge it, ma'am."
"You must give her line, Charles," mamma said, half laughing but vexed. "She is a woman."
"I hope she will grant me forgiveness," he said. "She must remember, I thought I had liberty."
"I shall not forget," I answered. "I understand, that respect for me failed before respect for my mother."
"But! -" he began.
"Be quiet, Charles," my mother interrupted him. "Pull us to shore; and let fits of perverseness alone till they go off. That is my counsel to you."
And the remainder of our little voyage was finished in profound silence. I knew mamma was terribly vexed, but at the same time I was secretly overjoyed; for I saw that she yielded to me, and I knew that I should have no more trouble with Mr. De Saussure.
I did not. He lingered about for a few days longer, in moody style, and then went away and I saw him no more. During those days I had nothing to do with him. But my mother had almost as little to do with me. She was greatly offended; and also, I saw, very much surprised. The woman Daisy could not be quite the ductile thing the child Daisy had been. I took refuge with papa whenever I could.
"What is all this about De Saussure and Marshall?" he asked one day.
"They have both gone home."
"I know they have; but what sent them home?"
"Mamma has been trying to make them go, this long while, you know, papa. She wanted them to go and join Beauregard."
"And will they? Is that what they are gone for?"
"I do not know if they will, papa. I suppose Mr. De Saussure will."
"And not Marshall?"
"I do not know about him."
"What did you do, Daisy?"
"Papa - you know I do not like the war."
"How about liking the gentlemen?"
"I am glad they are gone."
"Well, so am I," papa answered; "but what had you to do with sending them home?"
"Nothing, papa, - only that I unfortunately did not want them to stay."
"And you could not offer them any reward for going?"
"Papa, a man who would do such a thing for reward, would not be a man."
"I think so too, Daisy. Your mother somehow takes a different view."
"She cares only for the soldier, papa; not for the man."
Papa was silent and thoughtful.
There were no other intimate friends about us in Geneva; and our life became, I must confess, less varied and pleasant after the young men had gone. At first I felt only the relief; then the dulness began to creep in. Papa led the life of an invalid, or of one who had been an invalid; not an active life in any way; I thought, not active enough for his good. Some hours I got of reading with him; reading to him, and talking of what we read; they did my father good, and me too; but they were few, and often cut short. As soon as mamma joined us, our books had to be laid aside. They bored her, she said, or hindered her own reading; and she and papa played draughts and chess and piquet. Mamma was not in a bored state at other times; for she was busy with letters and plans and arrangements, always in a leisurely way, but yet busy. It was a sort of business with which I had no sympathy, and which therefore left me out. The cause of the South was not my cause; and the discussion of toilettes, fashions, costumes and society matters, was entirely out of my line. In all these, mamma found her element. Ransom was no resource to anybody; and of course not to me, with whom, now as ever, he had little in common. Mamma held me aloof, ever since Mr. De Saussure's departure; and I only knew indirectly, as it were, that she was planning a social campaign for me and meditating over adornments and advantages which should help to make it triumphant. Life in this way was not altogether enjoyable. The only conversation which could be said to be general among us, was on the subject of home affairs in America. That rung in my ears every day.
"Glorious news, sir!" cried Ransom one day as he came in to dinner. "Glorious news! The first real news we have had in a long time."
"What is it?" said my father; and "What, Ransom?" my mother asked, with a kindling eye. My heart sank. Those know who remember those times, how one's heart used to sink when news came.
"What is it, Ransom?"
"Why, a large body of them, the Yankees, got across the Potomac the night of the 20th; got in a nest of our sharpshooters and were well riddled; then, when they couldn't stand it any longer, they fell back to the river and tried to get across again to the other side, where they came from; and they had no means of getting across, nothing but a couple of old scows; so they went into the water to get away from the fire, and quantities of them were drowned, and those that were not drowned were shot. Lost a great many, and their commanding officer killed. That's the way. They'll have enough of it in time. The war'll be over in a few weeks or months more. De Saussure will not have time to raise his regiment. I don't think, mamma, it's any use for me to go home, it'll be over so soon."
"Where was this?" inquired my father.
"Some place - Ball's Bluff, I believe. It was a grand affair."
"How many did they lose?" my mother said.
"Oh, I don't know - some thousands. We lost nothing to speak of. But the thing is, they will lose heart. They will never stand this sort of thing. They have no officers, you know, and they can have no soldiers. They will be obliged to give up."
Words were in my heart, but my lips knew better than to speak them. Had they no officers? Had Christian no soldiers under him? My head was ready to believe it; my heart refused. Yet I thought too I had seen at the North the stuff that soldiers are made of.
"If I were you," said my mother, "I would not let it all be over before I had a part in it."
"The war is not ended yet, Felicia," my father remarked; "and it will take more than a few hard knocks to make them give up."
"They have had nothing but hard knocks, sir, since it began," Ransom cried.
"Your father always takes a medium view of everything," my mother said. "If it depended on him, I believe there would be no war."
"I should have one other vote for peace," papa said, looking at me.
"It is well Daisy was not born a boy!" Ransom said.
"I hope you will not make me wish you had been born a girl," my father replied. "Strength is no more noble when it ceases to be gentle."
"Must not every woman wish for peace?" I said. It was an unhappy attempt at a diversion, and if I had not been in a hurry I should not have made it.
"No," my mother answered, not sharply, but with cold distinctness. "Before the South should submit to the dictation or reproof of Northern boors and fanatics, I would take a musket myself and die in the trenches."
"It is an ugly place to die in, my dear," answered my father.
"See Daisy shiver!" Ransom exclaimed; and he burst into a laugh, "Mamma, Daisy's blood has grown thin at the North. She is not a true Southern woman. There is no fire in you, Daisy."
Not at that moment, for I was sick and cold, as he said. I could not get accustomed to these things, with all the practice I had.
"No fire in her?" said papa, calmly. "There is ammunition enough, Ransom. I don't want to see the fire, for my part. I am glad there is one of us that keeps cool. My darling, you look pale - what is it for?"
"Fire that burns with a blue flame," said mamma.
"Blue?" - said papa, with a look at me which somehow set us all to laughing.
"The carmine is coming in again," said mamma. "I profess I do not understand you, Daisy."
I was afraid she began to suspect me.
It was very true that mamma did not understand me; and it was the unhappiness of my life. I tried hard to narrow the distance between us, by every opportunity that the days or the hours gave; and a certain accord was after a time established anew in our relations with each other. Mamma again took to adorning and playing with me; again studied my toilettes and superintended my dressing; made me as exquisite as herself in all outward paraphernalia. I let her alone; in this at least I could gratify her; and no occasion of gratifying her was to be lost. Papa was pleased too, though I think it made less difference to him what I was dressed in; yet he observed me, and smiled in a way to show his pleasure whenever a new device of mamma's produced a new effect. She sought society for herself and me now. We removed from Geneva and went to Florence. I was thankful it was not to Paris. Every foot of Italy had great charms for me; and I dreamed over Florence, with a delighted fancy that never grew tired or tame. That my evenings were spent in what I did not care for, could not spoil my days. Our walks and drives, which papa and I often now took alone, were delicious beyond expression. I forgot the whirl of the night before and of the evening to come, and I was the child Daisy again, I think, in very much. At night mamma had me.
There was a lull at this time in the news from home. Both parties in America were gathering up their strength; and in the mean time the only affairs we heard of were inconclusive skirmishes, sometimes turning out for the advantage of one side, sometimes of the other; but not to signal advantage for anybody. I hoped, with such a lull, that things might subside into a state susceptible of composition. I might have reasoned, if I looked at home, upon the unlikelihood of any such thing. No news of advantages lost or gained had any effect upon my mother and brother but to make them more keen in the cause and more relentless in pursuit of their end. The hearing of a trifling success was like a taste of blood to the lion; the loss of Beaufort and its forts was turned into an occasion of triumph because "the great naval expedition" had accomplished no greater things. They laughed at McClellan's review of troops; and counted up the gains his adversaries were to realise from the co-operation of foreign well-wishers. And then the taking of Mason and Slidell put them into a fume of indignation and scorn. My father shared, though more gently, in all this. I was alone. Could I tell them that my heart was with the Northern army; and how it went out after every gleam of one particular sabre?
My mother drew me into society by degrees. I hardly knew where the line was passed, between quiet conversaziones and brilliant and courtly assemblies. It was passed when I was unwitting of it, or when I felt unable to help it. My mother had been so much alienated by my behaviour toward Marshall and De Saussure, that I thought it needful to please her by every means in my power, short of downright violation of conscience. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord," - I did not forget; I thought I was doing the very thing. For it was not to please myself, that I let my mother make me look as she chose and let her take me - where she would. My heart was too sore to be ambitious and too sober to feel the flutterings of vanity. I knew the effect of her doings was often what satisfied her; but the nearest approach to a thrill of vanity in myself was, I think, the wish that Christian could see me. And as he could not, I seemed to wear an armour of proof against other eyes. I did not care for them.
Nevertheless, I began to be sensible that they cared for me. I obeyed my mother at first because she signified her will very absolutely, and allowed me to see that any refusal on my part would make a breach between us. I left myself in her hands, to dress and adorn and lead about as she liked; I could not help it without an effort that would have parted us. And besides, I believe I accepted these engrossments of society as a sedative to keep me from thinking. They took a great deal of tine and occupied my attention while they lasted.
By degrees there came a change. As I said, I was admired. At first I cared little for any eyes but those which could not see me; but that did not last. I began to like to be admired. Soon after that, it dimly dawned upon me, that some of those whom I saw now every day, might come to admire me too much. I had learnt a lesson. There were several gentlemen, whose society I liked very well, who gave us, I began to perceive, a great deal of it. I saw them at night; I saw them by day; they met us in our walks; they even joined us in our rides. One was a German; a very cultivated and agreeable talker, well-bred, and in high position at Florence. Another was a delightful Italian; poor I think. A third was a young English nobleman; rich, but nothing more that I could discover. The German talked to me; the Italian sang with me; the Englishman followed me, and was most at home in our house of them all. I had been taking the good of all this, in a nice society way, enjoying the music and the talk and the information I got from the two first, and I am afraid enjoying too the flowers and the attentions of the third, as well as of still others whom I have not mentioned. I was floating down a stream and I had not thought about it, only enjoyed in a careless way; till a little thing startled me.
"We do not have so much time for our walks as we used, Daisy," papa said one day when he came into the drawing-room and found me with my habit on. "Where are you going now?"
"To ride, papa, with Lord Montjoy."
"My Daisy is not a daisy any longer," said papa, folding me in his arms. "She has grown into a white camellia. Going to ride with Lord Montjoy! -"
I cannot say what in these last words of papa gave me a whole revelation.
"I think you are mistaken, papa," I said. "I am Daisy yet."
"I was mistaken," said papa smiling, but rather shadowedly, I thought; - "I should have said a rose camellia. Here is Lord Montjoy, my dear. Go."
I am sure Lord Montjoy had little satisfaction in that ride; at least I am sure I had little. I was longing for time to think, and frightened besides. But when the ride was over, mamma wanted me; the evening claimed me for a grand reception; the morning held me in sleep; we had company at luncheon; I was engaged with another riding party in the afternoon, and another assembly expected me at night. I could not rest or think, as I wanted to think, till night and morning had again two or three times tossed me about as a society ball. I think one's mind gets to be something like a ball too, when one lives such a life; all one's better thoughts rolled up, like a hybernating hedgehog, and put away as not wanted for use. I had no opportunity to unroll mine for several days.
But I could not bear this state of things long; and at last I excused myself from a party one morning and went to walk with papa; and then that hedgehog of thoughts began to stir and unfold and come to life. Still I wanted quiet. We had been going through a picture gallery, where I did not see the pictures; then, as often before, I persuaded papa to walk on further and take post where we could look at our leisure on the beautiful Dome. This was an unceasing pleasure to me. Papa was not so fond of it; he came for my sake, as he often was accustomed to do. To-day, instead of soothing, its majestic beauty roused all there was to rouse within me. I suppose we were a long time silent, but I do not know.
"Daisy, you are very quiet," papa said at length.
"Yes papa," I said, rousing myself. "I was thinking."
"That is an old disease of yours, my pet. I wish I could enjoy that great Dome as much as you do."
"Papa, it is so perfect!"
"The Grecian temples suit me better, Daisy."
"Not me, papa."
"Why do they not? What can equal their grace and symmetry?"
"It is cold beauty, papa; there is nothing to lift the thoughts up; and I don't believe those who built them had any high thoughts - spiritual thoughts, I mean, papa."
"And you think the builder of the Dome of Florence had?"
"Yes, sir - I think so."
"The one means no more to me than the other, Daisy."
"Papa," I said, "don't you remember, when you sent me word I must stay two years longer in school without seeing you and mamma, you sent me a promise too? - by Aunt Gary."
"I remember very well, Daisy. Are you going to claim the promise?"
"Papa, may I?"
"But, papa, -does the promise stand good, like Herod's promise to that dancing woman? is it to be whatever I ask?"
"I believe I said so, Daisy. By the way, why do you not like dancing?"
"I suppose I should like it, papa, if I let myself do it."
"Why not let yourself do it? You do not want to make yourself singular, Daisy."
"No more than I must, papa. But about your promise."
"It stands good, papa? if it is 'to the half of your kingdom.' "
"That was a rash promise of Herod, Daisy."
"Yes, papa; but I am not a dancing girl."
Papa laughed, and looked at me, and laughed again, and seemed a good deal amused.
"What put that argument into your mouth?" he said. "And what is the reason that it is an argument? You are very absurd, Daisy! You are very absurd not to dance; so your mother says; and I am absurd too, by that reasoning; for I like you better than if you did. Well, not being a dancing girl, what is your petition? I reckon it will stand good, even to the half of my kingdom. Though indeed I do not know how much of a kingdom will remain to me, by the time matters are composed at home. There will be no crops grown at the South this year."
"It would not cost more to go to Palestine, would it, papa, than to live as we are doing now?"
"Palestine!" he exclaimed. "Your mother would never go to Palestine, Daisy."
"But you and I might, papa, - for a few months. You know mamma wants to go to Paris, to be there with Aunt Gary, who is coming."
"She wants you there too, Daisy, I much suspect; not to speak of me."
"What better time can we ever have, papa?"
"I do not know. I am afraid your mother would say any other would be better."
"Papa, I cannot tell you how glad I should be to go now."
"Why, Daisy?" said papa, looking at me. "To my certain knowledge, there are several people who will be desolate if you quit Florence at this time - several besides your mother."
"Papa, - that is the very reason why I should like to go - before it becomes serious."
Papa became serious immediately. He lifted my face to look at it, flushed as I suppose it was; and kissed me, with a smile which did not in the least belie the seriousness.
"If we go to Paris, Daisy? - we should leave your enemies behind."
"No papa - two of them are going to Paris when we go."
"That is serious," said my father. "After all, why not, Daisy?"
"Oh, papa, let us get away while it is time!" I said. "Mamma was so displeased with me because of Mr. De Saussure and Mr. Marshall; and she will be again - perhaps."
"Why, Daisy," said papa, lifting my face again for scrutiny, - "how do you know? Are you cased in proof armour? are you sure? Do you know what you are talking of, Daisy?"
"Yes, - I know, papa."
"I see you do. Whenever your eyes are deep and calm like that, you are always in your right mind and know it. That is, you are thoroughly yourself; and so far as my limited acquaintance with you goes, there is no other mind that has the power of turning you. Yes, Daisy; we will go to Palestine, you and I."
I kissed his hand, in the extremity of my joy.
"But this is not a proper season for travelling in Syria, my pet. I am afraid it is not. The winter rains make the roads bad."
"Oh, yes, papa. - We will be quiet when it rains, and travel on the good days. And then we shall be in time to see the spring flowers."
"How do you know anything about that, Daisy?"
"Papa, I remember when I was a child, at Melbourne, Mr. Dinwiddie told me some of these things; and I have never forgotten."
"Have you wanted to go to Palestine ever since you were ten years old?"
"Oh, no, papa; only of late. When your promise came, then I thought very soon what I would ask you. And now is such a good time."
"There will be different opinions about that," said my father. "However, we will go, Daisy. To the half of my kingdom. Your mother has the other half. But allow me to ask you just in passing, what do you think of our young English friend?"
"He has no head, papa."
Papa looked amused.
"Signor Piacevoli - what do you think of him?"
"He is very nice and kind and full of good things; but he has no principles, papa; no settled principles."
"He has a head," said papa.
"Yes, sir; out of order."
"How do you estimate Mr. Leypoldt, then? - his head is in order, and a good deal in it."
"Only the truth left out, papa."
"The truth?" said my father. "He is fuller of truth, of all sorts, than any one else I know, Daisy."
"Truth of all sorts, papa, but not the truth. He understands the world, and almost everything in it; but not who made it nor what it was made for; and he knows men; but not their work, or place, or destiny in the universe. He knows what they are; he has no idea what they ought to be, or what they may be."
"He is not a religious man, certainly. Do you carry your principles so far, Daisy, that you mean you would not let anybody approach you who is not of your way of thinking?"
A pang shot through my heart, with the instant sense of the answer I ought to give. I might have evaded the question; but I would not. Yet I could not immediately speak. I was going to put a bond upon myself; and the words would not come.
"Do you mean that, Daisy?" papa repeated. "Seriously. Is it your rule of supposed duty, that a man must be a Christian after your sort, to obtain your favour?"
"Papa," I said struggling, - "one cannot control one's liking."
"No," said papa, laughing; "that is very true. Then if you liked somebody who was not that sort of a Christian, Daisy, you would not refuse to marry him?"
"Papa," I said with difficulty, - "I think I ought."
The words struck upon my own heart, I cannot tell how heavily. But they were forced from me. When the question came, it had to be answered. I suppose the matter had really been in my mind before, vaguely, and I had refused to look at it, while yet I could not help seeing its proportions and bearing; so that when papa asked me I knew what I must say. But the spoken words stunned me, for all that.
"I suppose," said papa, not lightly, "you will think so till you are tried; and then you will take a woman's privilege of changing your mind. But if the trial is to come in that shape, Daisy, it is very far off. There are no men of your way of thinking, my pet."
He kissed me as he said it; and I could not for a moment speak.
"But we will go to Palestine, papa?"
"Yes, we will go to Palestine. That is fixed. You and I will take a holiday, and for a while give up all thoughts of marrying and giving in marriage."
I am coming to the holiday of my life; a time that seems, as I look back to it, like a chequered mosaic of pleasure pieces laid in bright colours, all in harmony, and making out a pattern of beauty. It is odd I should speak so; for I have known other holidays, when fewer clouds were in my sky and fewer life-shadows stretching along the landscape. Nevertheless, this is how it looks to me in the retrospect; and to write of it, is like setting the pins of that mosaic work over again. Not one of them is lost in my memory.
Truly I have known other holidays; yet never one that took me out of so much harassment and perplexity. And I could not get rid of all my burdens, even in Palestine; but somehow I got rid of all my anxious trouble about them. I had left behind so much, that I accepted even thankfully all that remained. I was free from mamma's schemes for me, and cleared from the pursuit of those who seconded her schemes; they could not follow me in the Holy Land. No more angry discussions of affairs at home, and words of enmity and fierce displeasure toward the part of the nation that held my heart. No more canvassing of war news; not much hearing of them, even; a clean escape from the demands of society and leisure for a time to look into my heart and see what condition it was in. And to my great astonishment I had found the love of admiration and the ambition of womanly vanity beginning to stir again; in me, who knew better things, and who really did not value these; in me, who had so much to make me sober and keep down thoughts of folly. I found that I had a certain satisfaction when entering a room, to know that the sight of me gave pleasure; yes, more; I liked to feel that the sight of no one else gave so much pleasure. I could hardly understand, when I came to look at it, how so small a satisfaction could have taken possession of my mind; I was very much ashamed; but the fact remained. When we set sail for Palestine I got clear, at least for the time, from all this. I hoped for ever. - And it was exceedingly sweet to find myself alone with papa.
How mamma ever consented to the plan, I do not know. Because papa had settled it and given his word, perhaps; for in those cases I know she never interfered; necessity made her yield. She would not go with us; she went to Paris, where Aunt Gary was come for the winter. Ransom went home to join the army; and papa and I took our holiday. I ought not to have been so happy, with so many causes of anxiety on my mind; Ransom in the war on one side, and Christian already engaged on the opposite side; both in danger, not to speak of other friends whom I knew; and my own and Mr. Thorold's future so very dark to look forward to. But I was happy. I believe, the very enormous pressure of things to trouble me, helped me to throw off the weight. In fact, it was too heavy for me to bear. I had trusted and given up myself to God; it was not a mock trust or submission; I laid off my cares, or in the expressive Bible words, "rolled them" upon him. And then I went light. Even my self-spoken sentence, the declaration that I ought not to marry a person who was not a Christian, did not crush me as I thought it would. Somebody has said very truly, "There is a healing power in truth." It is correct in more ways than one. And especially in truth towards God, in whole-hearted devotion to him, or as the Bible says again, in "wholly following the Lord," there is strength and healing; "quietness and assurance for ever." I was no nearer despair now than I had been before. And I was more ready for my holiday.
My holiday began on board the steamer, among the novel varieties of character and costume by which I found myself surrounded. I was certainly getting far away from the American war, far from Parisian saloons; I could not even regret the Dome of Florence. And I shall never forget the minute when I first looked upon the coast of Jaffa. I had been in the cabin and papa called me; and with the sight, a full, delicious sensation of pleasure entered my heart, and never left it, I think, while I stayed in the land. The picture is all before me. The little white town, shining in the western sun on its hill, with its foot in the water; the surf breaking on the rocks; and the long line of high land in the distance, which I knew was the hill country of Palestine. I was glad, with a fulness of gladness. Even the terrors of landing through the surf could not dash my pleasure, though the water was not quiet enough to make it safe, and I did not see how we were possibly to get through. I thought we would, and we did; and then out of the confusion on the quay we found our way to a nice little hotel. Few things I suppose are nice in Jaffa; but this really seemed clean, and I am sure it was pleasant. The Oriental style of the house - the courtyard, and alcove rooms, stone floors and cushioned divans, - were delightful to me. And so was our first dinner there; papa and I alone, tired and hungry, and eating with the Mediterranean full in sight, and the sun going down "ayont the sea." I established a truce with sorrowful thoughts that evening, and slept the night through in peace. The next morning papa found me standing at the window of one of our rooms that looked inward from the sea.
"Well, Daisy," said he, putting his hands on my shoulders - "I have got my Daisy of ten years old back again. What is it now?"
"Oh, papa," I exclaimed, "look at the housetops! I have read of housetops all my life; and now here they are!"
"They have been here all the time, Daisy."
"But - it is so impossible to realise without seeing it, papa. It was on such a housetop that Peter was when he had his vision. You can see, it is the pleasantest part of the house, papa. I should like to sleep on the housetop, as they do in summer; with only the stars over me. How nice!"
"What was Peter's vision, besides the stars?"
"Papa! Not the stars; his vision was at noonday. I have just been reading about it. How delicious the Bible will be here!"
"It is always delicious to you, I think," papa said; I fancied rather sadly. "It is a taste you were born with. Sit down and read me about that vision."
But it was papa that sat down, and I stood by the window, and we read together those chapters of the Acts; and papa grew very much interested, and we had an excellent talk all breakfast time. The strange dishes at breakfast helped the interest too; the boiled rice and meat, and the fish and the pomegranates. I seemed to have my living in Bible times as well as places. The Mediterranean lay sparkling before us; as it was before Peter no doubt when he went up to that housetop to pray. The house is gone; but it is the same sea yet.
"I shall always look upon Jaffa with respect," said papa, at last; "since here it was that the gates of religion were publicly set open for all the world, and the key taken out of the hands of the Jews. It is a little place too, to have anything of so much interest belonging to it."
"That is not all, papa," I said. "Solomon had the cedar for the Temple, and for all his great buildings, floated down here."
"Solomon!" said papa.
"Don't you remember, sir, his great works, and the timber he had to get from Lebanon?"
"Did it come this way?"
"The only way it could come, papa; and then it had to go by land up to Jerusalem - the same way that we are going; thirty- three miles."
"Where did you learn so much about it?"
"That isn't much, papa; all that is in Murray; but now may I read you about Solomon's floats of timber, while you are finishing that pomegranate?"
"Read away," said papa. "Pomegranates are not ripe now, are they?"
"They keep, papa."
Papa laughed at me, and I read to him as much as I liked; and he was almost as much engaged as I was.
"We'll go out and look at this famous harbour for lumber," he said. "It is not good for much else, Daisy; I thought yesterday we should certainly make shipwreck on that reef. Is it possible there is no better along the coast."
"It is not what we would call a harbour at all, papa. Nothing but little boats can get through that narrow opening in the reef; and I suppose, Solomon's cedar timber got through."
"The ships of old time were not much more than our boats, many of them," said my father. "How delightfully you realise everything, Daisy!"
"Well, papa, - don't you?"
"Not the past, child. I realise you by my side."
"Papa, if you think about it a little, you will realise Joppa too."
"I have not your imagination, Daisy. About Solomon's temple, - there is nothing of it left now, I suppose?"
"Oh, no, papa!"
"It might, Daisy. Thebes is vastly older."
"But, papa, - don't you remember, there was not one stone of all those buildings to be left upon another stone. Nothing is left - only some of the foundation wall that supported the floor, or the platform, of the Temple."
"Well, we shall see, when we go to Jerusalem," my father said.
In the meantime we went out and took a great walk about the environs of Joppa. Through the miles of gardens; the grand orange groves, and pomegranate, lemon, fig, apricot and palm orchards. The oranges and lemons getting their great harvests ready; cultivation going on beneath the trees; the water- wheels working; the curious hedges of prickly pear, four and six feet high, reminding us all the while, if nothing else did, that we were in a very strange land. What endless delight it was! The weather had just cleared the day before; and to- day, the fifteenth of January, the sun shone still and fair and warm. I saw that papa was getting good with every step, and growing interested with every hour. We went down to the beach, and strolled along as far as the tanneries; every wave that broke at my side seeming to sing in my ears the reminder that it broke on the shores of Palestine. Papa wished the oranges were ripe; I wished for nothing.
Then we entered the city again, and examined the bazars; lingering first a good while to watch the motley, picturesque, strange and wild crowd without the city gate. It was my first taste of Oriental life; papa knew it before, but he relished it all afresh in my enjoyment of it. Of course we were taken to see Simon's house and the house where Tabitha died.
"Do you realise anything here, Daisy?" papa asked, as we stood on the flat roof of the first of these two.
"Pray, what? St. Peter never saw this building, my dear."
"No, papa, I don't think it. But he saw the Mediterranean - just so, - and he had the same sky over him, and the same shores before him."
"The same sky, Daisy? What is the sky?"
"Yes papa, I know; but there is a difference. This Syrian sky is not like the sky over Florence nor like the sky over Melbourne. And this is what Peter saw."
"You are a delicious travelling companion, Daisy," said papa. "Your mother is good, but you are better. Well, take me with you now in your journey into the past."
We sat down there on the roof of the so-called house of Simon, papa and I; he gave the guide a bonus to keep him contented; and we read together chapters in the Old Testament and chapters in the New. It was drinking water from wells of delight. Bible words never seemed so real, nor so full. And then when I thought that I was going on to Jerusalem - to Jericho - to Mount Tabor, and the Sea of Galilee, and Lebanon, - that Joppa was only the beginning, - I could hardly contain my joy. I could only give thanks for it all the time. True, I did remember, as I looked over that bright sea of the Levant, I did remember that far away there was a region of conflict where the interests nearest to me were involved; a strife going on, in which the best blood in the world, the dearest in my account, might be shed or shedding. I remembered it all. But the burden of that care was too heavy for me to carry; I was fain to lay it down where so many a load has been laid before now; and it was easier for me to do it in Syria than anywhere else; God's own land, where His people had had so many tokens to trust Him. Where Peter's doubts of conscience were resolved by a vision, where the poor worker of kindness was raised from the sleep of death, it was not there the place for me to doubt whether the Lord looked upon my trouble, or whether he cared about it, or whether he could manage it. I laid care and doubt to sleep; and while I was in the Lord's land I walked with the Lord's presence always before me. There is no want to them that fear him.
We were detained at Joppa three days by a most pouring rain, which kept us fast prisoners in doors. The time was however not lost. We had despaired of making arrangements at Joppa for our journey, any further than such as would take us to Jerusalem. Joppa is no place for such arrangements. But while we waited there in the rain, a party of English people arrived who came to take the steamer for home. They had just ended their travels in the Holy Land; and while waiting for the steamer, one of them who was an invalid sought the shelter of our hotel. We came to know each other. And the end was, we secured their travelling equipment. Tents, servants and all, were made over to papa, with mutual pleasure at the arrangement. So when the sun shone out on the fourth day, we were ready to start in great comfort. I had a dear little Syrian pony, which carried me nicely through my whole journey; papa had another that served him well. The tents and tent fittings were in the English style of perfection; cook and interpreter and other servants knew their business, and we had no reason to complain of them from the beginning to the end of our tour. Moreover, in those days of waiting at Joppa, and intercourse with the ladies of the party, I got from them some useful hints and details which were of great service to me afterwards. I had always wished to go through Palestine living in our own tents; papa had been a little uncertain how he would do. Now it was settled. I had my maid, of course; but she was the greatest trouble I had, all the way.
The morning of our setting out from Joppa is never to be forgotten. It was clear and balmy. For miles we rode through the orange gardens, getting ready fast for their superb harvest, which would be ripe a month later. Then through a pleasant open country; - cornfields and meadows interspersed with trees in patches. It was easy riding, and I liked my pony, and my heart was full of exhilaration.
"Well?" said papa, as my eye met his one time in the course of its wanderings.
"Papa, it is the plain of Sharon!"
"You speak as if it were a place where you had played, when you were a child."
"Papa, in some measure it is like that; so often I have read about the old things that were done here."
Papa smiled at me? and asked what? But I could not tell him while we were going at a canter.
"It would be pretty in spring," he said. "Where are we to stop to-night, Daisy? I have left all that to you. I do not know the country as you do."
"Papa, we set off so late, we shall not be able to get further than Latron to-night."
"What place is that? is it any place?"
"Supposed to be the Modin of the Maccabees."
"Have you brought any books, Daisy?" was papa's next question.
"No, papa, except 'Murray' and the Bible."
"We ought to have more," he said. "We must see if we cannot supply that want at Jerusalem."
Papa's interest in the subject was thoroughly waking up. We lunched at Ramleh. How present it is to me, those hours we spent there. The olive groves and orchards and cornfields, the palms and figs, the prickly-pear hedges, the sweet breath of the air. And after our luncheon we stayed to examine the ruins and the minaret. Our master of ceremonies, Suleiman, was a little impatient. But we got off in good time and reached our camping ground just before sunset. Tiere too, the sunlight flashing on those rocks of ruin comes back to me, and the wide plain and sea view which the little hill commands. Papa and I climbed it to look at the ruins and see the view while dinner was getting ready.
"What is it, Daisy?" he said. "You must be my gazetteer and interpreter for the land; Suleiman will do for the people."
"It is an old Crusaders' fortress, papa; built to command the pass to Jerusalem."
That was enough for papa. He pored over the rough remains and their associations; while I sat down on a stone and looked over the Philistine plain; scarce able to convince myself that I was so happy as to see it in reality. Papa and I had a most enjoyable dinner afterwards; he enjoyed it, I knew; and our night's rest was sweet, with a faint echo of the war storms of the ages breaking upon my ear.
To my great joy, there was no storm of the elements the next morning, and we were able to take up our march for Jerusalem. The road soon was among the hills; rough, thickety, wild; from one glen into another, down and up steep ridge sides, always mounting of course by degrees. Rough as it all was, there were olives and vineyards sometimes to be seen; often terraced hillsides which spoke of what had been. At last we came up out of a deep glen and saw at a distance the white line of wall which tells of Jerusalem. I believe it was a dreary piece of country which lay between, but I could hardly know what it was. My thoughts were fixed on that white wall. I forgot even papa.
We had pouring rains again soon after we got to Jerusalem. I was half glad. So much to see and think of at once, it was almost a relief to be obliged to take things gradually. I had been given numerous good bits of counsel by the kind English ladies we had seen at Jaffa; and according to their advice, I persuaded papa that we should go down at once to Jericho and the Dead Sea, without waiting till the weather should grow too hot for it; then Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives and all the neighbourhood would be delightful. Now, they were very gray and forlorn to a stranger's eye. I wanted papa to be pleased. I could have enjoyed Jerusalem at any time. But I knew that by and by Jericho would be insupportable.
So papa and Suleiman made their arrangements. All that we wanted was a guard of Arabs; everything else we had already. The rain ceased after the third day; and early in the morning we went out of the eastern gate of the city and moved slowly down the slope of the Kedron valley and up the side of Mount Olivet.
It was my first ride in the environs of Jerusalem; and I could hardly bear the thoughts it brought up. Yet there was scant time for thoughts; eyes had to be so busy. The valley of the Kedron! I searched its depths, only to find tombs everywhere, with olive trees sprinkled about among them. Life and death; for if anything is an emblem of life in Palestine, I suppose it is the olive. They looked sad to me at first, the olives; their blue-gray foliage had so little of the fresh cheer of our green woods. Afterwards I thought differently. But certainly the valley of the Kedron was desolate and mournful in the extreme, as we first saw it. Nor was Olivet less so. The echo of forfeited promises seemed to fill my ear; the shades of lost glory seemed to tenant all those ways and hillsides. I could but think what feet had trod those paths; what hands of blessing had been held out on these hills; turned back and rejected, to the utter ruin of those who rejected them. The places of Solomon's splendour and David's honour, in the hands of the Moslem; or buried beneath the ruins of twenty desolations. And in the midst of such thoughts which possessed me constantly, came thrills of joy that I was there. So we mounted over the shoulder of the Mount of Olives, and the day cleared and brightened as we went on. Then came the ruins of Bethany. I would have liked to linger there; but this was not the time. I left it for the present.
"We must dismount here, Daisy," said papa the next minute. And he set me the example. "Our own feet will do this next piece of road most satisfactorily."
We scrambled down, over the loose stones and rock, the very steep pitch just below Bethany. I do not know how deep, but hundreds of feet certainly. Our mules and horses came on as they could.
"Is this to be taken as a specimen of Palestine roads, Daisy?"
"I believe they are pretty bad, papa."
"How do you like it?"
"Oh, papa," said I, stopping, "I like it. Look - look yonder - do you see that glimmer? do you know what that is, papa?"
"It is water -"
"It is the Dead Sea."
"Thirty-six hundred feet below. We have a sharp ride before us, Daisy."
"Not quite so much below us - we have come down some way. Papa, don't you enjoy it?"
"I enjoy you," he said, smiling. "Yes, child, I enjoy it; only I don't enjoy such villainous roads."
"But then, papa, you know it is the only possible way the road can go, and always has been; and so we are sure that Christ was here many a time. Here, papa, where our feet are treading."
Papa looked at me and said nothing.
The way was so pleasant, that we walked on ahead of our mules, till we came to the spring about a mile from Bethany. It was strange to look at the water pouring out its never failing stream, and to remember it had been doing just so ever since nineteen hundred years ago.
"How often travellers have rested here and drunk of the water, papa; how often Christ was here."
"That arch was not over the spring in those days, though," said papa.
But papa stood and looked at the spring and at the ravine, and I saw that he was catching something of my feeling. We mounted there, and the rest of the way we had no more talk. I did not want to talk. There was too much to think about, as we wound down the rough valleys or watercourses among the desolate hills; while the air grew constantly warmer as we got lower. No trees, no life, no vine terraces; and this was the way to Jericho. At the ruined khan, a good distance from the top, we dismounted and stopped to rest and take our lunch.
"Well, Daisy," said papa, "are you enjoying yet?"
"Every minute, papa."
"I am very glad. But I am very tired."
"Papa, you must take a good rest here; and here is an orange for you. I will give you something else directly."
Papa stretched himself out wearily on the stones.
"What is the source of your pleasure just now, Daisy? It is as barren a landscape as ever I traversed."
"Papa, David went this way when he fled from Absalom."
"Humph!" said papa, as if there were not much pleasure in that association.
"And Jesus and His apostles came this way, up from Jericho; up and down, I suppose, many a time; they have rested here, papa."
"And I see, Daisy, you love the ground where those feet have trod. I never could understand it before. I fancy, I could never attain power of realisation to get near enough to the subject."
"Do you now, papa?"
"Hardly. By sympathy with you, Daisy."
"A little below, papa, we shall come to the Valley of Achor, where Achan was stoned."
"I don't know that story, Daisy. You may read it to me."
We had a long reading and resting there by the ruined khan. Papa was ready to listen and talk; and I saw that so long as we were in Palestine he would read the Bible as much as I liked. Then we made the rest of our way. I knew he could not but be interested with that. The scenery became so wild and grand as to satisfy even him. We got the glorious view of the plains of Jericho from the top of the steep descent, and stood still for some time to look. Papa said it was a noble view; but to me it was so full of the riches of association that I could hardly feast upon it enough. Down there, Jericho of old had stood and fallen; when the priests and the people of Israel compassed it about with trumpets of victory. There, or over against it, the Jordan had been divided to let the people pass over. In later days Elijah and Elisha had gone over single-handed. Down on that plain had stood Herod's Jericho, which Christ had gone through time and again; where Zaccheus climbed the tree to see Him, and Bartimeus sitting by the wayside had cried out for his mercy and got it. What was there before me in all that scene that did not tell of the power of faith - of the grace of God - of the safety and strength of His children - of the powerlessness of their enemies. My heart sang hymns and chanted psalms of rejoicing, while my little Syrian pony stood still with me at the top of the pass of Adummim. I even forgot papa.
At the bottom we found ourselves in a new world. Water and wood, luxuriant vegetation of many kinds; a stream even to ford, the brook which comes down from Wady Kelt, now full with the rains; a warm delicious atmosphere, and the sun shining on the opposite Moab mountains.
And then came another sight which is very pleasant at the close of a long day of fatigue and excitement; our tents, up and ready for us. Our Syrian cook gave us a good dinner; and papa was satisfied to see me so happy. I thought he was a little happy himself.
The next day papa was so tired that he would not go anywhere. So I had to be quiet too. It was no hardship. I was rather glad, to take in leisurely the good of all I had before and around me, and have time for it. Our tents were pitched by the beautiful fountain Aines-Sultn; which the books told me was Elisha's fountain. I wandered round it, examining the strange trees and bushes, gathering flowers; I found a great many; studying the lights and shades on the Moab mountains, and casting longing looks towards the Dead Sea and the Jordan. I took my maid with me in my wanderings, and Suleiman also kept near me like a shadow; but nobody of all our caravan behaved to me with anything but the most observant politeness. The Arabs, taught, I suppose, by other travellers whom they had attended, were very eager to bring me natural curiosities; birds and animals and shells and plants. I had no lack of business and pleasure all that day. I wanted only some one to talk to me who could tell me things I wanted to know.
The day had come to an end, almost; the shadow of Quarantania had fallen upon us; and I sat on a rock by the spring, watching the colours of the sunset still bright on the trees in the plain, on the water of the sea, and on the range of the Moab hills. From all these my thoughts had at last wandered away, and were busy at the other end of the world; sad, with a great sense that Mr. Thorold was away from me; heavy, with a moment's contrast of pleasures present and pleasures past. My musings were suddenly broken by seeing that some one was close by my side, and a single glance said, a stranger. I was startled and rose up, but the stranger stood still and seemed to wish to speak to me. Yet he did not speak. I saw the air of a gentleman, the dress of a European in Syria, the outlines of a personable man; one glance at his face showed me a bronzed complexion, warm-coloured auburn hair, and a frank and very bright eye. I looked away, and then irresistibly was driven to look back again. He smiled. I was in confusion.
"Don't you know?" he said.
"Can it be, - Mr. Dinwiddie?"
"Is it possible it is Daisy?" he said, taking my hand.
"Oh, Mr. Dinwiddie, I am so glad to see you!"
"And I am so glad to see you - here, of all places, at Elisha's fountain. The first question is, How came we both here?"
"I persuaded papa to bring me. I wanted to see Palestine."
"And I heard of you in Jerusalem, and felt sure it must be you, and I could not resist the temptation to take a little journey after you."
"And you are travelling through Palestine too?"
"In one way. I am living here - and life is a journey, you know."
"You are living in Palestine?"
"In Jerusalem. I came here as a missionary, five years ago."
"How very nice!" I said. "And you can go with us?"
He shook my hand heartily, which he had not yet let go, laughing, and asked where we were going?
"I want to see the Dead Sea, very much, Mr. Dinwiddie; and papa was in doubt; but if you were with us there would be no more difficulty."
"I shall be most happy to be with you. Do you know where you are now?"
"I know a little. This is Elisha's fountain, isn't it?"
"Yes; and just hereabouts are the ruins of old Jericho."
"I did not know. I wondered, and wanted to know. But, Mr. Dinwiddie, have you got a tent?"
"I never travel without one."
"Then it is all right," I said; "for we have a cook."
"I should not miss that functionary," he said, shaking his head. "I am accustomed to act in that capacity myself. It is something I have learned since I came from Virginia."
We were called to dinner and had no time then for anything more. Our table was spread in front of the tents, in a clear spot of greensward; in the midst, I thought, of all possible delights that could be clustered together - except one. The breeze was a balmy, gentle evening zephyr; the sunlight, hidden from us by the Quarantania, shone on the opposite mountains of Moab, bringing out colours of beauty; and glanced from the water of the Dead Sea, and brightened the hues of the green thickets on the plain. Jericho behind us, the Jordan in front of us, the confusions of the world we live in thrust to a great distance out of the way, - I sat down to the open-air meal with a profound feeling of gratitude and joy. It was also a relief to me to have Mr. Dinwiddie's company with papa; he knew the land and the people and the ways of the land, and could give such good help if help were needed. He could be such good society too.
I fancied that papa's reception of Mr. Dinwiddie was rather slack in its evidence of pleasant recollection; but however, every shadow of stiffness passed away from his manner before dinner was over. Mr. Dinwiddie made himself very acceptable; and there, where we had so much to talk about, talk flowed in full stream. It was arranged that the new member of our party should be our guest and our travelling companion during as much of our journey as his duties allowed; and I went to sleep that night with a deep and full sense of satisfaction.
Papa declared himself still the next day unable for a very long and exciting day's work; so it was decided that we should put off till the morrow our ride to the Jordan and the Dead Sea, and Mr. Dinwiddie proposed to conduct me to Mount Quarantania to see the hermits' caves which are remaining there. Of course they remain; for the walls of caves do not crumble away; however, the staircases and rock ways which led to the upper ones have many of them suffered that fate.
We had a delicious walk. First along the foot of the mountain, skirting a little channel of running water which brings the outflow of another fountain to enrich a part of the plain. It was made good for the cultivation of a large tract; although very wild and disorderly cultivation. As we went, every spot within sight was full of interest; rich with associations; the air was warm but pleasant; the warble of the orange-winged blackbird - I don't know if I ought to call it a warble; it was a very fine and strong note, or whistle, - sounding from the rocks as we went by, thrilled me with a wild reminder of all that had once been busy life there, where now the blackbird's cry sounded alone. The ruins of what had been, - the blank, that was once so filled up, - the forlorn repose, where the stir of the ages had been so restlessly active. I heard Mr. Dinwiddie's talk as we went, he was telling and explaining things to me. I heard, but could not make much answer. Thought was too full.
A good distance from home, that is, from the tents, we reached the source of all that fertilising water the channel of which we had followed up. How wild the source was too! No Saracenic arch over that; the water in a full flow came out from among the roots of a great tree - one of the curious thorny dm trees that grow in thickets over the plain. I believe our Arabs called them dm; Mr. Dinwiddie said it was a Zizyphus. It was a very large tree at any rate, and with its odd thorny branches and bright green foliage canopied picturesquely the fine spring beneath it. All was wild and waste. The Arabs do not even root out the dm or nubk trees from the spots they irrigate and cultivate; but the little channels of water flow in and out among the stems and roots of the trees as they can. Times are changed on Jericho's plain.
I thought so, as we turned up the slope of rock rubbish which leads to the foot of the cave cliffs. The mountain here is a sheer face of rock; and the caves, natural or artificial, pierce the rock in tiers, higher and lower. The precipice is spotted with them. The lowest ones are used now by the Arabs to pen their sheep and quarter their donkeys; Mr. Dinwiddie and I looked into a good many of them; in one or two we found a store of corn or straw laid up. Many of the highest caves could not be got at; the paths and stairs in the rock which used to lead to them are washed and worn away; but the second tier are not so utterly cut off from human feet. By a way chiselled in the rock, with good nerves, one can reach them. My nerves were good enough, and I followed Mr. Dinwiddie along the face of the precipice till we reached some sets of caves communicating with each other. These were partly natural, partly enlarged by labour. Places were cut for beds and for cupboards; there was provision of a fine water tank, to which, Mr. Dinwiddie told me, there were stone channels leading from a source some hundreds of feet distant; cistern and tubes both carefully plastered. A few Abyssinian Christians come here every spring to keep Lent, Mr. Dinwiddie said. How much more pains they take than we do, I thought.
"Yes," said Mr. Dinwiddie, when I said my thought aloud, - " 'Skin for skin; all that a man hath will he give for his life.' But when the conscience knows that heaven is not to be bought that way, then there is no other motive left that will use up all a man's energies but the love of Christ constraining him."
"The trouble is, Mr. Dinwiddie, that there is so little of that."
"So little!" he said, - "even in those of us who love most. I do not mean to say that this love had no share in determining the actions of those who used to live here; perhaps they thought to get nearer to Christ by getting nearer to the places of His some time presence and working in human flesh."
"And don't you think it does help, Mr. Dinwiddie?" I said.
He turned on me a very deep and sweet look, that was half a smile.
"No!" he answered. "The Lord may use it, - He often does, - to quicken our sense of realities and so strengthen our apprehension of spiritualities; but just so He can use other things, even remote distance from such and all material helps. Out of that very distance He can make a tie to draw the soul to Himself."
"There must have been a great many of those old Christians living here once?" I said.
"Yes," said Mr. Dinwiddie. "On this face of the mountain there are thirty or forty caves - I think there are many more in the gorge of the Kelt, round on the south face. Do you see that round hole over your head?"
We were standing in one of the caverns. I looked up.
"I cannot get you up there," he went on, - "but I have climbed up by means of a rope. There are other rooms there, and one is a chapel - I mean, it was one, - with arches cut to the windows and doorways, and frescoed walls, full of figures of saints. Through another hole in another ceiling, like this, I got up into still a third set of rooms, like the ones below. Into those nobody had come for many a year; the dust witnessed it. Back of one room, the chapel, was a little low doorway; very low. I crept through - and there in the inner place, lay piled the skeletons of the old hermits; skulls and bones, just as they had been laid while the flesh was still upon them; the dust was inches deep. A hundred feet higher up there are more caverns. No, I should not like to take you - though the Abyssinian devotees come to them every spring. Yet higher than those, far up, near the top of the mountain, I have explored others, where I found still more burial caves like the one just here above us. Chapels and frescoes were up there too."
"And difficult climbing, Mr. Dinwiddie."
"Very difficult. Broken stairs and dizzy galleries, and deep precipices, with the vultures floating in air down below me."
"What a place for men to live!"
"Fitter for the doves and swallows which inhabit the old hermits' houses now. Yet not a bad place to live either, if one had nothing to do in the world. Sit down and rest and let us look at it."
"And I have got some luncheon for you, Mr. Dinwiddie. I should have missed all this if you had not been with me. Papa would never have come here."
There were many places in front of the cells where seats had been cut out in the rock; and in one of these Mr. Dinwiddie and I sat down, to eat fruit and biscuit and use our eyes; our attendant Arab no doubt wondering at us all the while. The landscape in view was exceedingly fine. We had the plains of Jericho, green and lovely, spread out before us; we could see the north end of the Dead Sea and the mouth of the Jordan; and the hills of Moab, always like a superb wall of mountain rising up over against us.
"Do you know where you are?" said Mr. Dinwiddie.
"The site of old Jericho is marked by the heaps and the ruins which lie between us and our camp."
"Yes. That is old Jericho."
"Over against us, somewhere among those Moab hills, is the pass by which the hosts of the 'sons of Israel' came down, with their flocks and herds, to the rich plains over there, - the plains of Moab."
"And opposite us, I suppose, somewhere along there in front of old Jericho, is the place where the waters of the river failed from below and were cut off from above, and the great space was laid bare for the armies to pass over."
"Just over there. And there - Elijah and Elisha went over dry shod, when Elijah smote with his mantle upon the waters; and there by the same way Elisha came back alone, after he had seen his master taken from him."
"Those were grand times!" I said, with a half breath.
"They were rough times."
"Still, they were grand times."
"I think, these are grander."
"But, Mr. Dinwiddie, such things are not done now as were done then."
"Why, how can you ask?"
"How can you answer?"
"Why, Mr. Dinwiddie, the river is not parted now, this river nor any other, for the Lord's people to go over without trouble."
"Are you sure?" said he, with the deep sweet look I had noticed. "Do they never come now, in the way of their duty, to an impassable barrier of danger or difficulty, through which the same hand opens their path? Did you never find that they do, in your own experience?"
A little, I had; and yet it seemed to me that a very Jordan of difficulty lay before me now, rolling in full power. Mr. Dinwiddie waited a moment and went on.
"That old cry, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' - will bring down His hand, now as then; mighty to hold back worse waves than those of the 'Descender.' Aaron's rod, and the blast of the priests' trumpets, were but the appeal and the triumph of faith. And before that appeal stronger walls than those of Jericho fall down, now as well as then."
"Then it must be the faith that is wanting," I said.
"Sometimes" - Mr. Dinwiddie answered; "and not sometimes. That earnest Sunday-school teacher, who prayed that the Lord would give him at least one soul a week out of his Bible class, and who reported at the end of the year, fifty-two brought to God, - what do you think of his faith? - and his Jericho?"
"Is it true?" I said.
"It is true. What are the walls of stone and mortar to that? We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world. - But our Captain is stronger."
I think we were both silent for some time; yet there was a din of voices in my ear. So it seemed. Silence was literally broken only by the note of a bird here and there; but the plain before me, the green line which marked the course of the Jordan, the Moab mountains, the ruins at my feet, the caves behind me, were all talking to me. And there were voices of my own past and present, still other voices, blending with these. I sat very still, and Mr. Dinwiddie sat very still; until he suddenly turned to me and spoke.