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John Gayther's Garden and the Stories Told Therein
by Frank R. Stockton
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"There was a burst of astonishment from the rest of the party as Sam thus seated himself at bay. Even the girl of the buggy did not laugh.

"'But I must go home,' she cried, 'before it is any later. My friends will be waiting supper for me.'

"'Don't matter,' said Sam. 'Supper can wait.'

"'Look a' here,' said Captain Abner.

"'I don't want to look a' here,' said Sam. 'I'm a-lookin' a different way, and it's Mrs. Sickles I'm lookin' at. And you needn't none of you look cross at me. I'm to steer this boat home, that's settled, and I don't steer her an inch till I'm a married man.'

"The others gathered together on the beach and gazed with varied emotions upon the determined figure of Sam as he sat in the stern, his arm resting upon the tiller and one leg crossed leisurely over the other, his protruding slipper lighted up by the rays of the setting sun.

"'What is the matter with him?' asked Mr. Rippledean. 'Is he crazy? Does he really think of forcing us to remain here until he shall be married? I never heard anything—'

"'So delightfully absurd,' interrupted Miss Denby.

"'There's nothin' crazy about Sam Twitty,' said Captain Abner. 'He's as sound as a nut, body and soul. But when Sam makes up his mind he sticks to it. Now sometimes when I make up my mind I don't stick to it. He's a good man all around, and he's got enough to live on, though he never was a cap'n; but you couldn't find a better fust mate than him, or a better sailor, except perhaps somebody what's had a leetle more experience. Sam made up his mind that we was all comin' out here for a weddin', everything fallin' together exactly to suit, wind and tide and everything else. But Sam ain't goin' to force nobody to do nothin'; he ain't that kind. All he's goin' to do is to stay here till he's married.'

"The girl of the buggy clapped her hands. 'Oh, that is fine!' she cried. 'It is like lifting you up on a horse and dashing away with you. Oh, dear Mrs. Sickles, take pity on him and on all of us. If you do not, I shall have to talk to him myself and see if I—'

"Mrs. Sickles was not inclined to give attention to any such idle words as these, and she stepped up to Captain Abner.

"'You seem to think very well of Mr. Twitty, sir,' she said.

"'Indeed I do,' he answered. 'There ain't nobody I think more of, on watch or below, in storm or fine weather, take him as you find him, than I do of him.'

"Sam Twitty had not heard any of the remarks which had been made on shore; he had been communing with himself: but now his active mind would no longer permit him to sit still. Springing to his feet, he stepped forward and stood up in the bow of the boat, and cast his eye over the little party in front of him. Then he spoke:

"'Mrs. Sickles, I want to put a p'int to you that's been put to you afore, but I want to put it a little different. If there was a gilded idol and a king conch-shell that you knowed of, and you was asked which of them you would like to have for your own, and you only could have one—'

"'Oh, dear!' exclaimed Miss Denby, 'here is that delightful gilded idol and conch-shell again! I wonder what they will do now!'

"The toll-gate woman was paling and flushing, and these changes of countenance, combined with her becoming summer dress and her straw hat, made her very attractive to the eye. Without waiting for Sam to finish his remarks, she spoke:

"'I am very sure, Mr. Twitty, that both the things you mention, from what I have heard of them, would be very nice and pleasant; but you see, Mr. Twitty, I don't—'

"Sam suddenly stepped upon the rail, steadying himself by the mast. 'Mrs. Sickles,' he cried, 'I'll put it plainer to you: supposing you couldn't get the gilded idol?'

"Mrs. Sickles now saw very clearly that there was no more time for hesitation. She stepped a little forward.

"'In that case,' she said, 'I'd take the conch-shell.'

"With a bound, Sam Twitty sprang from the shore, and the next moment he had seized the blushing Mrs. Sickles by the hand. For a moment he gazed proudly around, the sunset light casting a ruddy glow upon his countenance which made it almost as rosy as that of his companion. Then he tucked her under his arm and turned toward the minister.

"'Please step this way, Mr. Rippledean,' he said. 'That little bluff there, with grass on it, is the place I've picked out for the ceremony. And, Cap'n Abner, I'll ask you and that young woman to follow along after us and stand up for witnesses.'

"Just as the upper edge of the sun disappeared beneath the glowing sea, the name of Sickles departed from observation and recognition on that line of longitude. But in the glow upon the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Twitty there was nothing to remind one of a sunset sky. It might have been supposed, rather, that they were gazing eastward, and that the morn was glorious.

"Having gravely saluted his bride, Sam lifted up his voice. He was used to that sort of thing, for he had been a boatswain. 'Cap'n Abner Budlong,' he exclaimed, 'step aft and kiss the bride!'

"When this command had been obeyed with urbane alacrity, Sam called out again, very much as if he were piping all hands to osculation: 'Rev. Mr. Rippledean, step aft and kiss the bride!'

"When the minister had retired from the performance of his duty, Sam cast a speaking glance in the direction of Miss Denby. He looked as if he would say that on this occasion it was a great pity that any one should be left out. The girl of the buggy understood his glance, and lifted up her voice in laughter.

"'Oh, no, Mr. Twitty,' said she, 'it is not the custom to kiss witnesses.'

"'Oh, no,' answered Mrs. Twitty, in tones of approbation; and these were the first words she spoke after she had ceased to be Sickles.

"As that boat of blissfulness sped across the bay, speeding along under a strong breeze from the west, under a sky full of orange-colored clouds, Sam Twitty's strong hand grasped the tiller with an energy which would have been sufficient for the guidance of a ship of the line. As the thin sheets of water curled over the lee scuppers of the boat, the right hand which held Sam's left never trembled nor tightened its hold; and when the clergyman, sitting by Miss Denby, asked her if she felt at all afraid, she cheerily replied:

"'Not with the gilded idol and the king conch-shell both on board—no, not I!'

* * * * *

"The honeymoon of Mr. and Mrs. Twitty was spent in Thompsontown, and lasted three days; for at the end of that time the bride's brother demanded to be released from the care of the toll-gate, having other duties which were incumbent upon him. But when Sam and his wife spoke of leaving the Spinnaker Boom, Captain Abner was perfectly willing to go with them. His face bore an expression of contented resignation.

"'I will drive you two back, Sam,' said he. ''Tain't no more use for me to stay here. I don't believe I'll find her, and I give it up.'

"On the way home the happy Mr. Twitty burst out laughing. 'It do seem awful comical, Cap'n Abner,' said he, 'that, after all we said about comin' home, that me and her should be a-settin' on the back seat and you a-drivin' in front alone.' And when this remark was explained to Mrs. Twitty she laughed very heartily indeed.

"Sam did not go directly back to Shamrick. His wife had a good house, and could not, without due notice, give up her public office, and so he determined to remain, for the present, in the very pleasant quarters thus afforded him. But he vowed with considerable vehemence that Mrs. Twitty should keep the toll-gate no more; this duty, so long as it had to be performed, he would take upon himself, and he found it a most congenial and interesting occupation.

"'Like it!' he exclaimed to his wife, after his first day's experience. 'It's as interestin' as readin' the weekly paper. Everybody that comes along seems ready for some different kind of chat. And when that young woman with the buggy happens to be drivin' this way, she don't pay no toll. I'll pay for her myself, every time, on account of her services as witness.'

"'No, you don't, Sam Twitty,' remarked his consort; 'that young woman pays her own toll, every time. While I'm here I don't want no changes in the customs of this toll-gate.'

* * * * *

"It was about a fortnight after Sam Twitty's wedding that that well-satisfied individual, being called to the gate by the sound of wheels, beheld a buggy, and Miss Denby sitting therein. In answer to Sam's cheerful greeting, she did not laugh, nor even smile.

"'I saw your friend Captain Abner about a week ago,' she said, 'as I drove through Shamrick, and he looked dreadfully solemn. I think his disappointment is wearing on him. It is a great pity that a man who can sail a boat as he can should have a moment's sorrow on this earth. It almost made me feel sorry he found out I wanted to learn to steer. I think that was the only barrier between us. And he would have taken me out sailing every fine day!'

"'Oh, no, no,' said Sam; 'that would never have done. You could never have kept your hands off the tiller. If he had known what was good for him he would have married her.' These words he spoke in a confidential tone, and pointed with his thumb behind him. 'But he had the chance, and he didn't take it, and now I don't wonder he's doleful.'

"'You ought to go and try to cheer him up,' said Miss Denby, gathering up the reins. 'Do you expect to go on keeping this toll-gate, Mr. Twitty?'

"'I'd like to,' said Sam, 'if you're goin' to keep on travellin' this way.'

"'Oh!' said Miss Denby, with a reproving smile.

"'Yes, indeed,' said Sam; 'for it reminds me of such a happy day.'

"'Oh!' said Miss Denby, as she drove away with her nose in the air.

"A few days after this Sam did go to Shamrick, and walking on the street he met Captain Abner; but, to his surprise, that individual did not look at all doleful. There was a half-smile on his lips, and his step was buoyant. The two old friends clasped hands with much heartiness.

"'You are as gay as a pot of red paint,' said Sam. 'You must be feelin' well.'

"'I should say so,' said Abner; and then, after a portentous pause, he added: 'I've got her.'

"'Got her!' exclaimed Sam, in amazement. 'Where did you get her?'

"'Got her here.'

"'And who is it you've got?'

"'Susan Shellbark.'

"'Susan Shellbark!' cried Sam. 'You don't mean to say that!'

"'It's Susan Shellbark, and I do mean to say that.'

"'Why, you've known her all your life,' said Sam.

"'All my life,' was the answer.

"'Then why didn't you take her afore?' asked his friend.

"'Because I hadn't been to Thompsontown to see what I could get there. Of course I didn't want to take anybody here until I found out what there was in Thompsontown. Now I know there ain't nothin' for me there.'

"'And so you take Susan Shellbark!' interrupted Sam.

"'And so I take Susan Shellbark.'

"Sam looked at his friend for a moment, and then burst out laughing. 'Give me your hand,' he cried. 'I'm mighty glad you've got Susan Shellbark, and I'm mighty glad you went to Thompsontown.'

"'So am I,' said Captain Abner. 'If I hadn't gone to Thompsontown I'd never have got Susan Shellbark.'

"'That's so,' cried Sam. 'And if you hadn't made up your mind to go to Thompsontown, you and me'd never got stuck at the toll-gate with nothin' but a five-dollar note. I'm mighty glad we was stuck, Cap'n Abner; I'm mighty glad we was stuck!'

"Thereupon the two friends shook hands again.

"'But there is one thing I want to ask,' said Sam. 'What about the gilded idol and the king conch-shell?'

"'Oh, that's all right,' said Captain Abner; 'they're both to go on to the mantelpiece, one on one end, and t'other on the other. That's to be the way with everything we've got. You've knowed Susan Shellbark as long as I have, Sam, and you know she'll stick to that bargain.'

"'That's so,' said Sam; 'she'll stick to that bargain. Both of you'll be on the mantelpiece, one on one end, and the other on t'other.'"

"And what became of the girl in the buggy?" asked the Mistress of the House.

"Her later history is unknown to me," said the Master of the House.

"I have not made up my mind about that story, papa," said the Daughter of the House. "It is not altogether satisfactory."

"But very much what usually happens," said John Gayther, in an undertone.



THIS STORY IS TOLD BY

THE FRENCHMAN

AND IS CALLED

MY BALLOON HUNT



VI

MY BALLOON HUNT

The next morning, after breakfast, the Mistress of the House and John Gayther were walking through the garden together, for her quick eye had detected much that needed attention. Some things she had already decided upon, but there were others in which she thought it best to ask John's advice. They did not always agree; in fact, they were seldom in exact accord: but both were sensible, and he reasoned that, as mistress, she ought to do as she pleased; and she reasoned that, as he had learned the business and she had not, it was just to him and to herself that he should, on many points, be allowed his own way.

The orchard was really a continuation of the lower terrace of the garden, but the Mistress had not been there for some time. "A great many pears, John," she commented as they strolled under the trees; "a fair show of apples: but there are no plums at all."

"Plums have their seasons," said John, sententiously. "They are not always falling in one's way; and these are choice plums and don't come promiscuous—sorter scattered like."

"I wonder if John means that for philosophy," thought the Mistress. Then aloud: "My daughter brought me a luscious one yesterday, and, really, it looks as if she had gathered the only one."

"Bless her heart!" said John, fervently, "I hope she's goin' to pick them up all along the way she goes."

"That is too much to hope for any one, John," said the Mistress, as they turned to go up into the garden; but in her heart she had the very same hope.

They walked through two terraces filled with luxuriant vegetables and bordered by small fruits, now out of season; then on to the third terrace, bordered by currant-bushes, beautiful now to look upon, hung as they were with a profusion of red tassels. And here there came to them an almost overpowering fragrance; for on the terrace above were great beds of lilies, now in their glory—lilies from many climes, lilies of many hues: great white spikes, small pink clusters, spotted, striped, variegated, white with borders of all colors, even black (or purple so dark it looked black), all standing proudly in the sunshine, and sending to heaven their incense of gratitude.

It was a gorgeous sight, and the two looked at it with delight and a good deal of pride, for it was the design and the handiwork of both.

Then they saw, behind all this glory, a group of people disposed in various comfortable positions about the little summer-house on the upper terrace, where the view was finest.

There was the Master of the House in the big garden-chair; there was the Frenchman, seated on a low grassy knoll; there was the Daughter of the House on the bench she liked; and beside her was the Next Neighbor, who was an intimate friend of the Daughter of the House, and, therefore, a frequent visitor. The nearest house was not in sight, but it could be reached in a moderate walk. Its mistress was a young married woman, very pretty to look at and of a lively turn of mind. She waved her hand to the Mistress, while the Master called out: "Come up here, you two! We are waiting for you." When the two complied with the command, the Master continued: "Now make yourselves comfortable and listen to a story our guest has promised us."

The Mistress of the House willingly took the rustic chair the Frenchman brought forward, but John Gayther had no wish to hear the Frenchman's story. He had no fancy for the man, and he did not believe he would fancy his story. "Excuse me," he said to the Master of the House, "but I see that boy Jacob coming through the gate, and I must go with him to weed the melon-bed."

"You will do nothing of the kind," said the Master of the House; "let the boy weed it alone."

"Never!" cried John, in horror. "He will trample on all the vines!"

"Then tell him to do something else." And, without waiting for John to give the order, he called out: "Ahoy, there, boy! Clear out of this garden!"

The boy vanished with celerity, and John Gayther sank upon his stool with an air of resignation. But no sooner had the Frenchman uttered a few sentences than he brightened up, and not only listened attentively but put aside the disagreeable feeling he had had for him. The beginning of the narrative lifted a load from his mind.

The Frenchman, having again betaken himself to the grassy mound, began in an easy, airy way:

"I am a sportsman as well as a Frenchman. It seems hardly necessary to mention both of these things at once, for in my mind they naturally go together. I am expert in many kinds of sports, and it pleases me much, when engaged in such recreations, to employ my mind as well as my body, and in so doing I frequently devise methods of pursuing my favorite sports which are never made use of by ordinary and unimaginative persons.

"My Irene—she is my wife—is also addicted to sport. It was partly for this reason that I married her. It is not always by sharing my dangers and my glories that my dear Irene shows her passion for the outdoor sports which are so fascinating to me; it is often that she does this merely by sympathy. She can remain at home and think of me in the field or on the stream, and be happy. When I return she welcomes, she appreciates. If I overstay my time I do not give myself worry—I know that she will understand that there are contingencies. When she greets me there are no reproaches. She is the wife for a sportsman!

"But it is not always that I rely simply upon the sympathy of my Irene. It was not so when I went in a balloon to hunt tigers. She was then at my side, for there was no other place where she would have been satisfied, or where I would have had her. There are vicissitudes which should be faced together by those who love.

"I had long wished to hunt tigers, and it had come into my head that it would be a grand and novel idea, and also extremely practicable, to shoot at these savage creatures from a balloon. This would be an exhilarating sensation, and it would be safe. In no other way would I take my Irene with me when tiger-hunting; and in no other way, I freely admit, would I be very desirous of going myself.

"I have heard that one of my countrymen had himself shut up in a stout cage and conveyed to a region infested by tigers. There, with his rifle, he sat comfortably in a chair, with a lantern on a table near by. When, at night, the tigers crowded round his cage, he shot them. But this would not have suited me. Suppose a bar of the cage should have been broken!

"But in a balloon it would be different. Poised in the air a moderate distance above the ground, I could shoot at tigers beneath me and laugh at their efforts to reach my height. Therefore it was that I determined to hunt my tigers in a balloon. Irene screamed when I mentioned this plan, but she did not refuse to go with me. She had been in balloons, but she had never seen an unrestricted tiger. Now she could enjoy these two pleasures at once, and be with me.

"This happened in French Tonkin. We were in a little outlying town where there was a garrison, and some engineers who made military observations in a balloon. This was a captive balloon not employed for independent ascensions, and from some of the officers, who were my friends, I procured it for my projected tiger hunt. They were all much interested in my expedition, for if it succeeded there would be a new variety of sport in this monotonous region.

"The balloon was supplied with gas sufficient to carry myself and my Irene, with rifles, provisions, and various necessities, and its lifting power was so proportioned to the weight it carried as to keep it at the height of an ordinary church steeple above the earth.

"About ten miles from the town there was a long stretch of desert and barren land, extending for about a quarter of a mile from a jungle and forest to a river; and here, I was told, tigers were often to be found, sometimes crossing the open country to slake their thirst at the stream, but more frequently to prevent antelopes and other tender animals from slaking their thirst. There could be no better spot than this for my experiment.

"Our journey to the hunting-ground was most delightful. Seating ourselves in the commodious car which hung beneath the balloon, we rose to the height of the rope which restrained its ascent. The lower end of this rope was then seized by natives, active and strong, who ran along, pulling the balloon above them. It was the most comfortable method of progression that I had ever known. There were no jars, scarcely any sense of motion. The great overhanging balloon sheltered us from the sun; we leaned over the side of the car, surveyed the landscape, and breathed the fresh morning air. Then we breakfasted and smoked our cigarettes. I was happy; my Irene was happy. We could have journeyed thus for days.

"But when we came to the appointed place we prepared for business. We had with us a machine for anchoring the balloon, and the natives immediately went to work to drive this deeply into the soil, about half-way between the water and the jungle, so that we might be moored at a proper distance above the ground. There was no wind; the balloon hung almost motionless. It had been arranged that when it should be properly attached the natives should leave us, and return in the evening to pull us back to the town, and to carry away the skins of the tigers we had killed.

"It was truly luxurious hunting! The rifle of my Irene was light and suitable for a lady; mine was of the most improved pattern. We had another one in case of emergencies. We sat and looked down upon the men, urging them to hasten their work and be gone; we were longing for our sport.

"Suddenly there was a cry from one of the natives. Gazing toward the jungle, he yelled: 'A tiger! a tiger!' Instantly our hearts stopped beating and our eyes were turned toward the jungle. There, against the matted leaves and stalks, was a mass of yellow and black—half a tiger. In the bright sunlight we could see it plainly. It had been roused by the noise of the pounding, and was gazing out to see what was the matter. With one united scream, the natives shot away. They scattered; they disappeared utterly and at once. Where they went I know not. We never saw them again. We did not even think of them. Our eyes were set fast upon the black and yellow stripes and the great head. Without volition I grasped my rifle. Irene put her hand upon her weapon, but I whispered to her not to move.

"The tiger came slowly out of the jungle so that we could see him clearly; then he walked toward us. I clutched my rifle still more tightly.

"Suddenly Irene whispered to me: 'We are not fastened; those men did not attach the rope; and we may drift away from him, perhaps across the river, and so lose him. Is it too far for a shot?'

"'Entirely, entirely,' I answered; 'we must wait: and if we do drift across the river we may find some other game there. Be quiet!'

"So we both were quiet; but the balloon did not drift: there was no wind.

"The tiger moved gently toward us; it was dreadful to remain thus motionless and see him come on. He had paid no attention to the escaping natives: he was giving his mind entirely to our balloon. He looked up at us, and he looked down at the end of the rope, a yard or two of which was moving about like a snake as the balloon veered a little this way and that.

"This seemed to interest the tiger. He stopped for a few moments and looked at it. He was now near enough for us to observe him closely. We did so with breathless interest. He was a long tiger, and very thin; his flabby flanks seemed to indicate that he was hungry. Suddenly he gave a quick bound; he ceased to regard the balloon; his eyes were fixed upon the end of the rope. With great leaps he reached it. He arched his back and looked at it as it moved, then he put one paw upon it. We leaned over the edge of the car and watched him.

"The rope was so attached that by putting out her arm Irene could reach it. She seized it and made the lower end of it move more quickly on the ground. The tiger gave a jump, with his eyes on the rope. Then he leaped forward, and over and over again he put his foot upon it and quickly jerked it away.

"'What are you doing?' I whispered. 'Are you mad? You may enrage him. Do not touch the rope! Do not touch it again!' Oh, the recklessness, the unthinking playfulness of woman! How can we guard against it? How can we be safe from it?

"The rope was now still for a moment. It ceased to interest the tiger, and he looked upward. Suddenly an idea came into his head. He seized the rope in his great jaws, and gave a powerful jump backward. Oh, what a jerk, what a shock! It was worse than an earthquake. It was like a great throb from the heart of the tiger to the heart of the man. I must have turned pale. Did he intend to haul us down? This fearsome thought vented itself in smothered ejaculations, and Irene turned to me and spoke in her usual voice:

"'He cannot do that, for it is impossible for him to haul us down hand over hand or paw over paw. He is only playing. The rope amuses him. And we need not speak in whispers; even if he hears us he cannot understand us. Is it not time to shoot?'

"She is so precipitate, my Irene. I love her, but she lacks that prudent hesitancy which so often gives a man his power over circumstances.

"Still I considered the case: if I were going to shoot at all, this was surely a good time. Everything had come so suddenly that I had not had time to collect myself, to prepare for action.

"I looked steadfastly down at the beast, and so did my Irene. I was becoming calmer. He looked up at us with an air of concentration; he paid no more attention to the rope.

"I lifted my rifle; I scrutinized its every portion; it was in order. Then I leaned over the edge of the car and pointed it downward. I aimed it between his great, earnest eyes, into the very middle of his thoughtful and observant countenance. I pulled the trigger; the explosion shook the car.

"Up from the ground there came a sudden, startling roar. At first I could not see the tiger, but when the smoke moved away I found myself gazing down into his savage, blazing eyes. Roar after roar came up; he sprang from side to side; his tail stiffened and curled, and when he opened his vast mouth, showing the cavern of his throat, his red tongue, and his long white teeth, a shiver ran through me. Instinctively I grasped my Irene by the arm.

"'I do not believe you hit him,' said she. 'See how he bounds! He cannot be hurt. It must be difficult to aim directly downward, but let me try.'

"I did not forbid her. Even by chance she might strike that awful beast in some vital part. She took a long, deliberate aim, and as she fired the tiger gave a veritable scream.

"'Ah, ha!' I cried, 'you hit him. Truly, my Irene, you hit him.'

"'But it was only in the toe,' she said. 'See how he has stopped to lick it with his tongue. I think it is his littlest toe. It is not much.'

"Large toe or small one, that tiger was now an angry beast. Hopping backward a little way, he now crouched to the ground, and then gave a wild spring upward. It was heart-sickening as his great form, with its yellow skin and black stripes, his blazing eyes, his flashing teeth, and his outspread claws, rose toward us through the air. Of course he could not hurt us; we were too high up. Irene's face flushed. 'That was a great leap,' she said.

"I took up my rifle again. It comforted me to see what a small jump the beast had made compared to our distance from the ground. Again I fired, and this time also I did not hit him. I had never practised shooting at things almost beneath me; the slightest motion of Irene disturbed my aim. The report seemed to infuriate the tiger until he was on the verge of madness. He jumped from side to side, he roared, he gnashed his teeth, and it seemed to me that I could smell his horrid breath coming up toward us.

"Suddenly he ceased all motion; he crouched upon the ground; he made no sound; he shut his mouth; he partly shut his eyes, but they were fixed upon me immovably, and they were green as emerald.

"'Now,' said Irene, 'is a good time to take another shot. Shall I try?'

"I raised my hand that she might not move. There was a change coming over the sun. At first I thought my sight was affected and I did not see well, but it was not that. Instinctively I gazed upward. A wandering cloud was slowly moving under the sun. Then I looked down. The tiger's yellow was not so bright, his black stripes were not so clear and sharp-cut, and, more than that, he was coming nearer. The balloon was slowly descending. The truth flashed upon me. Deprived of the direct rays of the sun, the gas was condensing. We were going down, down, slowly but surely down!

"A chill ran through me, an awful premonitory chill. I knew what to do, but there was little I could do. We carried no ballast, for this was a captive balloon. What could I throw out? The extra rifle! Out it went, and fell not far from the tiger; but he did not move; with his green eyes fixed upon the car, he watched it slowly descend. The rifle had relieved it of a little of its weight, but the middle of the cloud was thicker than its edge. The gas was still condensing, the balloon was slowly descending. I became almost frantic. If my Irene had been any one else I believe I would have thrown her out. But I could not throw out my Irene. Besides, she was so vigorous.

"It was awful, this steady, this merciless descent. It was like entering a tomb with a red tongue and flashing teeth waiting within. The green eyes gleamed with the malice of a waiting devil biding his time and knowing that it was drawing near.

"Down, down we went, and the smell of his horrid breath came up like the forerunner of a cruel death. Now a tremor ran through the whole body of the crouching beast; even his tail trembled like a feather in the wind. He seemed to press himself nearer and nearer to the earth. His eyes were fixed steadily upon the car.

"I knew what this meant. He was about to spring. The moment that we should descend sufficiently low, he would hurl himself into the car; he would not wait for it to touch the ground.

"My thoughts raced through my brain. If anything could be done, it must be done in the next half-minute. I spoke quickly to Irene.

"'Do not lose a second,' I said. 'Get out on the outside of the car; rest lightly upon its edge; hold by the ropes. I will do the same. At the moment I give the word you must jump. Both together; do not hesitate. It will not be much of a fall. We cannot stay here and have him—'

"At this instant the tiger gave a tremendous bound upward, his fore paws, bristling with claws, stretched over the edge of the car. In that instant I jumped!

"It was a great leap, and as my feet struck the ground and my eyes glanced rapidly about me a feeling of great joy filled my breast. I was on the earth again, master of myself, and the tiger was not there. I looked upward. The great beast was drawing up his hind legs and was climbing into the car, and there was Irene, my Irene, outside of the car, sitting on the edge and holding on to the ropes. I had forgotten to give her the word! How my heart sank! It was terrible!

"I now perceived something that almost paralyzed my every faculty. That balloon was rising. I was a large man and I was heavier than the tiger; with its reduced weight the balloon was slowly going upward. I clasped my hands, I gasped for breath. If I should call to Irene to jump now she would be dashed to pieces, the car was already so high. And then the great truth flashed upon me: 'What matters it? If she leaps she will be killed; if she does not leap—' I could not think of it!

"To be sure, I might seize the rope and pull her down low enough so that she might safely drop; but if I did that the tiger might also jump. Oh, what a position to be in, for one who loves!

"It was now absolutely impossible for either of them safely to leap from the car unless I pulled it down, and my mind was not capable of even considering such an alternative. To meet him here upon the ground, in this awful solitude! To die together, but not in each other's arms; to perish from this bright earth; to reach out to my Irene; to call to her as she reached out and called to me, when the terrible monster— It was too much!

"But even in my despair I remembered to be humane. I seized the end of the rope. I would not let my Irene float away altogether. I could not. The soul of the husband asserted itself. The cloud had now passed from the face of the sun. The balloon was rising with considerable force, but I could hold it; I was very heavy. I would not desert my Irene.

"As I stood thus, looking upward and holding fast to all that was dear to me in life, I saw Irene, still sitting on the edge of the car, raise one hand and put it to her head. I could see that she was feeling faint; the strain of her position was beginning to tell upon her; at any moment she might fall. Then my quick glance sought the tiger. He was in the car, his great head and two front paws hanging over the edge; his green eyes were steadily fixed on me. Just then Irene, evidently unable to hold any longer to the ropes, gave herself a dexterous twist, and in an instant she was inside the car, her head sinking down out of sight. Oh, noble, most beloved Irene! Sooner than let herself drop and fall at my feet a mangled corpse, she would do anything. She well understood my too sensitive soul, this dear Irene!

"In spite of my emotion I still held firmly to the rope, and the tiger still glared down upon me. It was too far for him to jump; he knew that if he did he would be dashed to pieces. This gave me strength and courage.

"Irene now raised herself and looked over the edge of the car; the tiger by her side did not regard her. I have often read of wild animals, of different kinds and degrees of fierceness, who, having fallen into a pit together, did not attack each other, but remained as gentle as sheep, being cowed by their fear. Plainly this tiger was cowed. He had never been so far above the earth; he knew that he would die if he leaped; but he kept his sinister green eyes steadily fixed on me.



"Now Irene called down to me. I could not hear what she said, I was in such terrible agitation. And besides, I think she was afraid to speak too loudly, for fear she might startle the black-and-yellow beast. How I longed to hear her dear words, perhaps her last! Mayhap she was bidding me a fond farewell; perhaps she was trying to encourage me and uphold my heart in this terrible trial. It would be like her; she knows my love for her, my dear Irene!

"And then, ah yes! it might be that she was asking my permission to throw herself from the car: that she was beseeching me to turn away my head that she might leap to the ground, and thus end her anxieties and her miseries—I might say our miseries; for if the tiger should follow her he, too, would be killed. I should be left to weep over my dearest, the joy of my life and my heart. The tiger would be dead. In her last breath Irene would know that I was safe. That would be like Irene, my dear Irene! But I would not suffer it. I could not speak, but I shook my head.

"She did not try to say anything more, but she looked down upon me, and so did the tiger. The two heads were not far from each other; they were both regarding me. I grew almost crazy. Never was man placed in more terrible straits than this.

"Suddenly a thought struck me. I seized more tightly the end of the rope, and I ran. I ran to the river. I plunged, I bounded, I made such great haste that sometimes I stumbled over obstacles, and sometimes the balloon seemed to lift me from the ground; but on, on I went, on to the river!

"When I reached the edge of the water I took courage to stop and look up. They were both still gazing over the edge of the car, both with their eyes strained upon me.

"Then boldly and fearlessly I walked into the river. I walked until the water was up to my knees; until it reached my waist. I walked until the surface of the water lapped my shoulders. I was not afraid; I am a good swimmer. Irene now called down to me. It was plain she was becoming reckless; she would know what I was going to do, no matter what effect her words would have upon the tiger. If she thought I was about to commit suicide, not daring to bear up under her coming fate, she would dissuade me. It would be like her, that dear Irene!

"'What are you going to do?' she cried. And as I looked upward her eyes and those of the tiger were steadily fixed on me.

"'You must get on the outside of the car again,' I cried. 'Do it quickly, without disturbing him. Then I will pull you down, down, a little at a time. When you are far enough down—and I will be the judge of that—I will give you the word; then you must jump. It will not hurt you; the water will break your fall, and I will save you. Think of nothing else but your trust in me, and jump. The moment you leave the car I let go the rope; then it will instantly be too far for him to jump. Quick! Be ready when I give the word.' And as I spoke I hauled steadily upon the rope.

"Irene looked at me for an instant, and then she stood up in the car. I saw her put one foot upon the seat which surrounds it; then quickly appeared the other foot upon the edge of the car. She raised both arms and joined her hands above her head; she pushed herself between the ropes and leaped. It was all the work of a second.

"She came down beautifully, head foremost. It was a splendid dive. Relieved of her weight, the balloon gave a great jerk, and I let go the rope.

"Irene went down into the water as cleanly and smoothly as if she had been a diving duck. She scarcely made a splash. She was a magnificent swimmer.

"As my dear Irene disappeared beneath the surface of the water I made use of the rapid moments in which I could not expect to see her in glancing upward. The tiger was rising rapidly. His head was stretched out over the edge of the car; I could see his wild and frightened eyes. He was afraid to jump.

"Then I turned to the water. The head of Irene had risen above it; she was striking out bravely for the shore. She did not need my help. She is a grand woman! In a few moments we stood beside each other on the shore. I would have thrown myself into her arms; I would have embraced this dear one, now my own again: but she was so wet; I was so wet. We seized each other by the hands. It is impossible to say whether she wept or not, her face was so wet.

"Then by a sudden instinct we looked upward. The balloon was high above us, rising steadily. We could see the head of the tiger projecting from the car—now such a little head, but I knew that he was gazing at me. Then we heard a sound which came down from above. It was the tiger's roar, but it was such a little roar! I clasped more tightly the hand of my Irene; we did not speak, but gazed steadily upward at the balloon, which had reached a current of air which was carrying it across the country. The sun was now very hot; the gas was expanding; the balloon was rising higher and higher and higher.

"We stood holding each other's hands and gazing. At last there was but a little black spot in the sky; then it faded and shivered, and was gone. Side by side we moved away. We were very wet, but the sun was hot.

"Suddenly I spoke. I could not restrain my burning desire to look deep into the soul of Irene. I owed it to my love of her to know the extent of her love for me. Those words which she called down from the car, which might have been her last words on earth, what were they? I asked her.

"'I said,' she answered, 'that if you would pick up that rifle you threw out, and stand ready, I would jerk open the safety-valve. I would then take up my rifle, and when the car came down we would both shoot him. But you shook your head, and I said no more.'

"I did not answer, but in my heart I said: 'O woman! What art thou, and of what strange feelings art thou made! Thou hast the beauty of the flower and the intellect of the leaf. To let that awful black-and-yellow fiend descend to the earth! To call up to a cruel death and ask it to come down-stairs and meet you on the lowest step! Skies! How can the mind of man conceive of it?'

"And leaving the shores of the river, we toiled homeward over the dreary wastes."

The company were all much interested in this narrative—almost painfully interested. They said as much to the Frenchman, and he was pleased at the impression he had felt sure he would make, and which he always did make, when he told that story. They talked of hunts and wild beasts, but there were no comments upon the story itself. Each one had his or her own thought, however. The Master of the House thought: "What a clever woman!" The Mistress of the House thought: "Just like a Frenchman!" The Next Neighbor wished she had been in the balloon to pitch the tiger on him. The Daughter of the House was fascinated at the idea of the vicinity of the beautiful, ferocious tiger. And John Gayther thought, as he looked wistfully at the Daughter of the House: "I am glad he has a wife!"



THIS STORY IS TOLD BY

POMONA AND JONAS

AND IS CALLED

THE FOREIGN PRINCE AND THE HERMIT'S DAUGHTER



VII

THE FOREIGN PRINCE AND THE HERMIT'S DAUGHTER

The Frenchman went away; and after him there was a succession of visitors to the house who were not interested in gardens and were therefore not introduced within the sacred precincts of the summer-house on the upper terrace. The young people took a fancy to a pretty rustic arbor in a secluded spot; but whether it was because they especially admired that part of the garden did not transpire.

But the guests left, one after another; and finally there came to visit the family Euphemia and her Husband. They were old and intimate friends of the family, and the very morning after their arrival they all repaired to the summer-house which overlooked the garden. There was some conversation about the garden,—its beautiful things, and its useful products, and its antiquity,—for Euphemia loved the old garden and its traditions.

The two gentlemen, provided with comfortable chairs, smoked their cigars in peacefulness and content, and the Daughter of the House seemed absorbed in some fancy work. But after some time the Master of the House, turning suddenly to Euphemia's Husband, asked: "What has become of Jonas and Pomona?"

"Here they are to answer for themselves!" cried the Daughter of the House, springing up, as John Gayther ushered into the garden the Next Neighbor, followed by Pomona and Jonas. The Next Neighbor was also on intimate terms with Euphemia and her Husband, and a devoted and rapturous admirer of Pomona. The couple had descended upon her the night before in a most unexpected fashion, but she gave them a hearty welcome, and rejoiced in them, even after she discovered that she owed the visit to a desire on the part of her guests to see Euphemia's Husband. They knew where he was visiting, but had thought it wiser to go to the Next Neighbor to pay their little visit. And so the explanation of this apparently strange meeting of so many old friends was simple enough.

Chairs and benches were found, and John Gayther brought his stool unasked and joined the party. He had no idea of missing that conversation.

It was soon evident that, while Jonas was as tranquil as usual, Pomona had something on her mind—that she had come with a purpose; and as soon as the inquiries and explanations were over, she addressed the Husband of Euphemia with great earnestness:

"Jone and me came to see you, sir, about something particular; and as we are all friends here, I may as well say it right out."

"The more you say the better we shall be pleased!" the Master of the House exclaimed.

Pomona nodded to him, but turned again to the Husband of Euphemia.

"We've been told, sir, that some editors have been asking you to get us to enter fiction again; and what we want to say is that we don't want to enter it no more. What we did when we was in it was all very well, but that's past and gone, although I've said to Jone a good many more times than once that if I had to do this or that thing now, that's set down in the book, I'd do it different. But then he always answers that if I'd done that I'd have spoiled the story, and so there was no more to say on that subject. What we've done we gladly did, and we're more than glad we did it for you, sir. But as for doing it again, we can't do it, for it ain't in us. Even if we tried to do the best we could for you, all you'd get would be something like skim-milk—good enough for cottage cheese and bonnyclabber, but nothing like good fresh milk with the cream on it."

"I think you are perfectly right," said Euphemia. "If you don't want to go into fiction again you ought not to be made to do it."

"I would not do such a wicked thing as to put anybody in fiction who did not want to go there," gravely replied the Husband of Euphemia.

At these words the load that was on Pomona's mind dropped from it entirely.

"Now, sir," said she, "we've got another thing to say; and it will seem queer to you after what we've said already. We do want to go into fiction, but not the way we was in it before. The fact is that between us we've written a story, and we've brought it with us, hoping you wouldn't mind letting Jone read it to you. Of course we was expecting to read it to only two; but as we've got to go back to-day, if the rest of the folks don't mind, Jone can read it anyway."

"I should like it above all things!" exclaimed the Next Neighbor.

"We will not let you go away until it is read," said the Mistress of the House.

"Oh, I do want to hear it!" cried the Daughter of the House.

"Of course Jonas must read it," was Euphemia's quiet comment.

"Heave ahead!" called out the Master of the House.

Pomona smiled gratefully. "It isn't a very long story, but we've been a long time working at it, and we wouldn't think of such a thing as calling it finished until our friends has heard it."

The quiet and good-natured Jonas now drew a manuscript from his pocket and began.

"The name of my story," said he, "is 'The Foreign Prince and the Hermit's Daughter.'"

"We thought of a good many other names for it," said Pomona, "and I wanted to call it 'The Groundless Prince'; but Jone he said that groundless applies to things there is no reason for, and as so many princes are of that kind, somebody's feelings might be hurt. And so I gave in."

"Now this is the way the story begins," said Jonas. "In that period of time which is not modern, and yet is not too far back, and in which a great many out-of-the-way things have happened, a certain young Prince went travelling in foreign parts of the world with the general purpose of broadening his mind. He wanted to study the manners and customs of other nations in order that he might better know how to govern his own people.

"But when, after several years' absence, he came back to the place of his nativity, he found that neighboring nations had made war upon his country—that they had conquered his army and subjugated his people, and had partitioned his principality among themselves. Consequently he found himself in a strange position: he had gone forth to visit foreign lands, and now he returned to find himself a foreigner on the very spot where he was born. In fact, his nationality had been swept away; his country had disappeared.

"But he was still a prince. Nothing could deprive him of his noble birth. But to all the world, save to one person, he was an alien prince, and must always so continue. The exception was a Single Adherent, who had followed him when he began his travels, and whose loyal spirit would not suffer him to leave his master now.

"Slowly, with crossed arms and head bent low, the Prince strode away from the place that had once been his home, his Single Adherent following his footsteps.

"After a long day's journey they came to a little valley chiefly remarkable for streams and rocks. Here, at the entrance of a commodious cave, he beheld an elderly hermit seated upon a stone, calmly surveying the sunset sky. The hermit looked up with a pleasant smile, for it had been long since a traveller had passed that way; and, perceiving that the stranger was not only well-bred but tired, invited him to take a seat upon a stone near by his own, at the same time motioning the Adherent to a smaller stone at a little distance.

"In reply to the numerous questions of the hermit, the Prince soon told his story.

"'Well, well!' exclaimed the hermit. 'Then you are the Prince Ferrando. I might have known it, for you so closely resemble your father.'

"'You knew him, then?' inquired the Prince.

"'I have often seen him,' the hermit replied. 'The likeness is wonderful. And so you have come back to find that your principality does not exist. It is a strange condition of things; but believe me—I mingled a great deal with the world before I came to this cave, and I know what I am talking about—when I tell you that there are many potentates who would be glad to come back from a journey and to find that their dominions had ceased to exist, and that with them had disappeared all the trials, responsibilities, and dangers of sovereignty.'

"'But I am not that sort of person,' said Ferrando. 'I do not allow care to oppress me; I do not shrink from responsibility; I am not afraid of danger. I travelled far to broaden my mind; I came back prepared to reign wisely over my subjects. But I have no subjects, and therefore I cannot exercise that enlightened rule for which I have, with so much toil and study, prepared myself. Wherever I go I must always be an absolute alien, and as such I must try to learn to consider myself.'

"'Cheer up, my friend,' said the hermit. 'You are too young to give up things in that way. And now allow me, sir, to introduce you to my daughter.'

"Ferrando sprang up quickly, and beheld standing near him a very handsome young woman carrying a large basket filled with water-cress. The Prince bowed low. 'It is very unusual, I think,' said he, 'for a hermit to have a daughter.'

"The hermit smiled. 'Yes,' said he; 'it is rather out of the common; but when I came here to seek rest and peace within these rocky walls, my daughter could not be dissuaded from accompanying me.'

"'It is plain that she possesses a noble soul,' said the Prince, again bowing low.

"'I wonder if he ever thinks that of me?' the Single Adherent asked himself, as he stood respectfully by his low stone.

"When the hermit's daughter had been made aware of Ferrando's former station and his misfortunes, she went away to prepare supper. The meal was soon ready, and consisted of cress fresh from the spring, fried cress, and toasted cress, with cress tea, and also freshly drawn water from a spring."

"Poor young man!" exclaimed the Next Neighbor. "So tired and hungry! Was that all they had to give him?"

"Of course," explained Pomona; "hermits never eat anything but water-cress."

"After supper," continued Jonas, "the hermit filled a pipe with dried water-cress, and offered another to his guest, and the three sat at the entrance of the cave and discussed the Prince's affairs, in which the hermit and his daughter seemed to take a lively interest. At a little distance on the small stone sat the Single Adherent, also smoking a pipe of water-cress, and his inability to enjoy this novel sensation was plainly evident in the radiant beams of the full moon. In the course of an hour the Prince and his Adherent retired to a guest-cave near by; but the hermit and his daughter sat up far into the night discussing the Prince and the peculiar circumstances in which he found himself.

"The next morning after breakfast, the principal dish of which was a salmi of water-cress, the hermit, his daughter, and their guest held council together; while the Adherent stood at a respectful distance, and listened with earnest attention to all that was said.

"'My daughter and I,' said the hermit, 'agree that it is a lamentable thing that a prince such as yourself, so eminently qualified to rule, should have no opportunity to exercise his abilities for sovereignty; therefore we think the best thing you can do is to rent a principality for a term of years. In some ways this would be better than inheriting one, for if you do not like it you can give it up at the end of the term.'

"'But where could I find a principality to let?' exclaimed the Prince. 'I never heard of anything like that!'

"'Very likely,' said the hermit; 'but if you were to look around I think you might find something to suit you which the reigning potentate might be willing to lease.'

"'I am of my father's opinion,' said the hermit's daughter; 'and if you will take my advice you will investigate the country north of this valley. There are several principalities in that direction, and it would not at all surprise me if, before the end of a day's journey, you were to find something that could be rented.'

"The Prince was very much pleased with the interest taken in his affairs by the hermit and his daughter, and he decided to follow their advice. As he and his Single Adherent were about to depart, the hermit said to him: 'I shall be very glad to hear from you, and, if you should succeed in renting a principality, I will willingly give you any advice and assistance in my power. When I mingled with the general world I saw a great deal of governing and all that sort of thing, and it may be I can give you some points which will be of advantage to you.'

"The Prince accepted with thankfulness the kind offer of his host, and when he approached the daughter to take leave of her, she graciously stuck a sprig of water-cress in his buttonhole.

"After walking a few miles the Prince and his Adherent stopped at a roadside inn, where they ate an abnormal breakfast, and then, with invigorated bodies, they continued their journey.

"Late in the afternoon the Prince became a little tired, and suggested that they stop at a farm-house which stood near the road, and sojourn there for the night. The Adherent, however, was of the opinion that they should go on until they reached the crest of a hill before them; they would then be able to survey the country. He placed a high opinion on the statement of the hermit's daughter that they would be likely to find what they wanted before nightfall.

"When they reached the crest of the hill they were delighted to see before them, at no great distance, a small city. When they had approached it nearer they perceived by the side of the great gate a sign-board which bore the inscription:

PRINCIPALITY TO LET—FURNISHED APPLY TO DOWAGER AT THE PALACE

"The Single Adherent nodded his head as he said to himself: 'This is just about what I expected.'

"'That hermit's daughter,' said the Prince, 'is a remarkable young woman, and her suppositions should not be disregarded.'

"After passing the night at an inn near the gate, the Prince and his Single Adherent repaired to the palace to make inquiries regarding the principality.

"The Dowager was a middle-aged woman dressed in rusty black, with a quick eye and an eager expression. Having demanded references of Ferrando, she declared herself perfectly satisfied with his statements, for she had met his father, and the likeness was unmistakable. She told him she would be very much pleased to have him for a tenant, and that she was quite sure the principality would suit him exactly. She then showed him all over the palace, the Adherent following and taking notice of everything.

"The furniture and appointments of the princely mansion were somewhat time-worn and shabby, and the Dowager, noticing the scrutinizing glances of the Adherent, thought it wise to state that during the life of her late husband everything in the palace had been kept in the most admirable order; but of course it could not be supposed that she, by herself, could go to the expense of new carpets and furniture-coverings. She assured the Prince, however, that a very little expenditure of money would make the palace look as bright and clean as if it had been recently furnished.

"'Of course you have an army,' remarked the Prince.

"'Oh, yes,' said the Dowager; 'an excellent army—that is, considering the size of my principality. The infantry is very good indeed. In fact, I heard my late husband say, on an occasion when the infantry corps had just been furnished with new uniforms, that he never saw a finer-looking set of men. The cavalry is also in excellent condition. Of course in time of peace it is not necessary to keep these men supplied with horses, but in an agricultural country it is not difficult to obtain horses whenever they are really needed.'

"'And the artillery?' inquired the Prince.

"'I am sorry to say,' replied the Dowager, 'that the artillery is not yet supplied with cannon. It was the intention of my late husband to furnish them with the necessary cannon, ammunition, horses, and all that, but he never did so. And of course, being a woman, I could not be expected to attend to such things. But I have no doubt whatever that you can easily and inexpensively put this branch of the army on a proper footing; that is, if you care for artillery.'

"The Prince asked no further questions about the army, but inquired if the principality was furnished with a navy.

"'Oh, no,' said the Dowager; 'we have no waterfront, and my late husband used often to say that this impossibility of having a navy saved him a great deal of expense, to say nothing of the trouble warships might get him into when they are out of sight in distant parts of the world.'

"At this point the Dowager was called out by a servant, who in a whisper asked her if the visitors were going to stay to dinner. The Adherent seized this opportunity to say in a low voice:

"'If your Royal Highness will excuse me, I will suggest that you ask if there is a legislative body, and a judiciary.'

"The Dowager, having shaken her head at the servant, returned to the Prince.

"'Have you a legislature?' asked the Prince.

"'Certainly,' she said. 'I cannot say that I think it is a very good one, for I have more trouble with it than with anything else in the principality; but it has now less than a year to run, and my advice would be that you should not convene it again. My experience has taught me that one can get along a great deal better without a legislative body than with one. For my part, I do not approve of them at all.'

"'And a judiciary?' remarked the Prince. 'I suppose you have that.'

"The Dowager hesitated a moment as if she did not exactly understand; but she recovered herself, and answered quickly: 'Oh, yes, we have one; but I have so little to do with it that for the moment I forgot it. It has been a very good one indeed, but it has been little used of late, and it may be out of order. I have found that plain, straightforward decrees from the throne are a great deal cheaper and a great deal quicker in their operation than a judicial decision. But if you desire a regularly organized judiciary, it will not cost you much to establish one, if you do not employ your judges by the month or year. I find piece-work a great deal more satisfactory, and you can get so much law for nothing in this country that it is not worth while giving much for it when you have to pay.'

"The countenance of the Single Adherent had been growing darker and darker, and he now stepped up to the Prince.

"'Your Royal Highness,' said he, 'it might be well to speak of the rent.'

"When the Prince asked the Dowager how much she wanted per year for her principality, she did not immediately answer, but reflected, with her chin in her hand; and then, turning to the Prince, she stated the amount.

"'You must understand,' she added, 'that I would not rent this principality to every one for such a sum as that; but as I know you to be a regular prince who will appreciate the advantages and responsibilities of a place like this, and, as you are unmarried, without encumbrances of any sort, I presume, I would much prefer to let it to you, even at a lower price, than to rent it to a perfect stranger.'

"When the Adherent heard the sum mentioned by the Dowager his countenance grew almost black, and Prince Ferrando stood in silent amazement.

"'It would be impossible for me to pay such a sum as that,' he said at last. 'I have studied political economy, and am familiar with the principles of internal revenue, and the income to be derived from ordinary taxes and imposts in a principality of this size would not enable me to pay that sum.'

"'Oh, you are very much mistaken!' cried the Dowager. 'Of course, as a woman, I have not been able to make the principality pay me what it ought to; but my late husband received a very good revenue from it, and I am sure you could do the same, if not a great deal better: for my late husband was not a good business man; he thought too much of other people and not enough of his family.'

"The Prince looked at his Adherent, and the latter shook his head violently.

"'It is impossible,' said Prince Ferrando; 'I cannot pay such a sum as that'; and he rose to go.

"'Of course,' said the Dowager, hastily, 'if you think that is too much, and that you would not be able to pay it, I might take off something in your case. I would not do this for everybody, but as it is you, I will take off one per cent. of the amount I have named.'

"For a moment Ferrando stood undecided. He greatly wanted the principality; he would be homeless and forlorn without one; and yet this Dowager was asking him a most outrageous price.

"'I will consider this matter,' said he, 'and if you will give me the refusal of the principality for twenty-four hours I will see you again to-morrow.'

"The Dowager considered this request as favorable to her interests, and, fearing that she had asked him too little, she added: 'Of course, in case of a reduction like this, it must be stipulated in the lease that I reserve some rooms in the palace where I shall board at your expense. You cannot expect me to accept a reduced rent, and to be turned out of my house besides.'

"The Prince bowed; and, without reply, he and his Adherent left the palace, followed by the eager, wistful glances of the Dowager. When they reached the inn the Prince said to his Single Adherent:

"'I am greatly troubled, and I wish I had the advice of that good hermit. I will write a letter to him, and you shall take it. But you must not walk that long distance; to-morrow you will hire a vehicle and go to the hermit.'

"The Prince wrote his letter, and the Adherent took it to the hermit. The good man and his daughter read it with the greatest interest, and retired to the back of the cave to consider it. Presently the hermit approached the Single Adherent. 'Is there room in your vehicle for three persons?' said he. Receiving an affirmative answer, he continued: 'Then my daughter and I will go back with you. We think the Prince is in danger of making a very bad bargain; and as we know a great deal about these things, we believe that our presence and advice will be of great advantage to him.'

"So, after the horse had all the water-cress it could eat, the little party started back to the city."

"They must have been the first real-estate agents," remarked the Master of the House.

Pomona was about to reply, but Jonas gave no time:

"When the Prince heard the sound of the wheels, and came down to the door of the inn, he was amazed and delighted to see the hermit and his daughter, and welcomed them with unusual ardor.

"'Of all the people in the world,' he exclaimed, 'I am most happy to see you! I am in great trouble and difficulty, and I want your advice and counsel.'

"'Which is what we came to give you,' said the good hermit, as he warmly pressed the hand of the Prince.

"After supper the Prince and his guests retired to an inner room for consultation, while the Adherent stood in the background. After some discussion it was decided that early in the morning the Prince should go to the palace, and should agree to lease the principality for five years, provided the Dowager would accept one half the sum she had originally asked; and that he should also absolutely refuse to board the Dowager, or to allow her to reserve any part of the palace for her own use. He would promise to pay one quarter's rent in advance if these terms were agreed upon on the spot.

"It was nearly high noon on the following day that the Dowager left the palace, taking with her all her belongings. As she departed she turned and cast a black look at the Adherent.

"'It is to his advice,' she said to herself, 'that I owe this very bad bargain that I have made. If that young fellow had been left to himself he would have agreed to everything I demanded.'

"For an hour or two before she left the Prince had been wandering around the premises, impatiently waiting for her departure. As soon as she was gone, he called to his Adherent, and sent him to the inn to summon the hermit and his daughter to his presence. He wished to be grateful to these good friends, but, as he had a respect to appearances, he did not desire the Dowager to know that these humble persons were to be his first guests in the palace.

"When the hermit and his daughter arrived at the palace they received a princely welcome, and Ferrando informed them that he wished them to make him a visit of at least a week.

"'You have been so good to me that I wish to do the best for you; and so I have arranged that you shall occupy the state suite in the right wing.'

"'We are thankful for this great honor,' said the hermit; 'but, if it would please your Royal Highness, we should prefer the corresponding rooms in the left wing. We think they will suit us better.'

"The Prince raised his eyebrows in surprise, but he gave orders that his guests' wishes should be gratified. The Adherent, who was standing in the background, raised his eyebrows also; but he was not surprised.

"In about half an hour the hermit and his daughter rejoined the Prince in the grand hall. To his utter amazement, Ferrando beheld his guests dressed in rich and handsome garments.

"'Did they bring any trunks with them?' he whispered to his Adherent, as they approached.

"'No, your Royal Highness,' was the answer. 'They brought nothing but a basket of water-cress, which the lady said had been freshly picked and ought not to be wasted.'

"With great dignity the hermit advanced to the Prince, and by his side walked his daughter, who was so beautiful in her silks and laces that the Prince found it impossible to remove his eyes from her.

"'In order to explain this change in our appearance,' said the hermit, 'I will state that the Dowager from whom you rented this principality is my brother's widow. Before he died he arranged that the Dowager should reign over the principality as long as she lived, and that my daughter should then succeed her. At the same time, knowing that his wife did not understand the governing of principalities, he appointed me Assistant Prince, with a salary. This seemed like a very good plan, but it did not work. The Dowager soon showed such a disposition to meddle with everything that was going on that my position gradually became so intolerable that I determined to retire to a hermit's cell, to which my daughter accompanied me.'

"With his mind scarcely able to grasp the situation, the Prince gazed from the one to the other of his guests. 'Can it be possible,' he said presently, 'that in renting this principality I have interfered with your prospects?'

"'Oh, not at all, not at all,' replied the hermit. 'In the first place, you have given us the great honor of visiting you and of occupying our old suite of apartments. I cannot describe to your Royal Highness the pleasure I felt when I saw my dressing-gown hanging on its accustomed hook, with my favorite slippers beneath it.'

"'I take back my invitation for a week!' cried the Prince. 'Now that I know who you are, you must stay with me for a long time. I wish you could stay always,' he added, his eyes still fixed upon the beautiful young woman. Then, as if to explain this outburst of interest, he said: 'You know, I rely so much on your advice and counsel, and there is no knowing what that Dowager may do next.'

"'You are right,' said the ex-hermit; 'there is no possible way of knowing. But a plan has suggested itself to me which I think may relieve you of any possible annoyance or molestation. My idea is that you shall marry my daughter. Then, in virtue of your lease, you will reign over the principality, and she will be your consort. After a time, when the Dowager departs this life, my daughter, by virtue of inheritance, will reign over the principality, and you will be her consort. Thus you see the Dowager will have no show at all.'

"The countenance of the Prince shone like the sun. 'A heaven-born plan!' he cried. 'From the moment I saw your daughter with the basket of water-cress, I loved her. By your permission, I will embrace her.'

"The permission was given, and he embraced her. She might have said that, from the moment she had understood the peculiar circumstances in which the Prince had found himself, her heart had gone out to him like a dove seeking the nest of its partner; but she did not think it needful to occupy the time with unnecessary statements.

"'Your Royal Highness,' said the Adherent, approaching with a bow, 'I think it is only right to inform you that the Dowager, when she left, said to me that she would return early in the afternoon to superintend the removal of her parrots.'

"'What!' cried the Prince. 'Haven't those beastly birds gone yet? Send them after her without the loss of a minute. I don't want to see her back here again.'

"The ex-hermit, who had drawn his daughter aside for a few words of consultation, now advanced with uplifted hands. 'Nay,' said he; 'if you will excuse me, I think I can suggest a better plan than that. The old lady is bound to come back, and the sooner she comes and goes, the better; but we should be prepared for her. I suggest that a priest be summoned, and that you and my daughter be married immediately. Our position in the palace will then be assured, and the Dowager will have nothing to say, either about our presence here or about anything else. How does my plan suit your Royal Highness?'

"Ferrando did not answer, but, turning to the Adherent, he ordered him to summon a priest without delay, and to order the assemblage in the great hall of all the courtiers and servants who could be found. The Adherent sped away on his errand, and as he did so he smiled and said to himself: 'She is a better manager than the old woman! And her views are broader!'

"When the marriage ceremony had been concluded, the Prince ordered a sumptuous wedding-feast to be spread. But he was soon informed that there was nothing to eat in the house, for the Dowager had not thought it at all incumbent upon her to provide eatables for her tenant.

"'It matters not!' cried the ex-hermit, his face glowing with pleasure. 'There will be time enough to provide a good supper. And, in the meantime, what could be more appropriate for a wedding-repast than the basket of cress which my daughter brought with her?'

"A table was spread, with a great dish of water-cress in the centre. And it may be remarked that the Prince was so wild with delight that if this had been suddenly changed to one containing fried chicken with cream gravy he would not have perceived the difference.

"Early in the afternoon the Dowager returned to the palace to superintend the removal of her parrots. As she entered the great hall she perceived the wedding-party waiting to receive her; and her amazement was such that her toes turned upward and she sat down with great suddenness in a chair which the Adherent thoughtfully placed behind her.

"'How do you do, my dear sister-in-law?' said the ex-hermit. 'I do not wonder you are surprised to see us here, and in order to relieve your mind I will instantly explain the state of affairs.' Whereupon he explained them.

"The Dowager then found her voice and her strength. Springing to her feet, she cried: 'This is a plot! I have been deceived, and the lease is void. Not one of you has any right in this palace, and I hereby order you out.'

"The ex-hermit smiled, and drew a paper from his pocket. 'Before we obey your orders, my dear sister-in-law,' he remarked, 'I wish to call your attention to a little business matter. You will remember that when I was here with you, acting as your assistant, you found great difficulty in paying me my salary. The first year you told me to take it out of the customs duties. The sum I received was not equal to the amount due me, but I made no complaint. The second year I was obliged to rely on the taxes on internal production; but as you required most of the income from this source, I found myself very short of money at the end of the year. The third year I was obliged to rely upon the taxes on pew-rents; and that, as you are aware, yielded me almost nothing. After that you paid me no salary at all. Here is my bill for the money due me. But if you cannot conveniently pay me, I will agree, in the presence of these good friends, to postpone the settlement until the next time I lay my eyes upon you. If you do not then pay me, I shall then levy upon your personal possessions.'

"The Dowager glared at the Princess Ferrando, and, having shaken her long forefinger at that beautiful young lady, she departed, and was never seen in the palace again."

Here Jonas folded the paper.

"Is that the end?" asked the Daughter of the House.

"That is all there is of it," said Jonas, sententiously.

"I thought," said the Daughter of the House, "that the story would tell how he governed his rented principality, and if he ever got his own. I worked it out in my mind like a flash that he would govern so well that his own people would go to him and beg him to govern them."

"I think," said the Next Neighbor, "that if that principality was governed at all, it was by that scheming wife."

"There's two ways of ending a story," said Pomona. "One is to wind it up, and the other is to let it run down. Now when a story is running down as if it was a clock, it's often a good deal longer than you think before it stops; so we thought we would wind this one up right there."

Euphemia laughed. "But if you wind it up," she said, "you help it to keep on going."

For a moment Pomona looked embarrassed; but she quickly recovered herself. "I don't mean to wind it up like a clock," she said, "but to wind it up like an old-fashioned clothes-line which isn't wanted again until you have some more things to hang on it."

The Husband of Euphemia stated it as his opinion that that was an excellent way to stop a story; but Euphemia did not agree with him. "I think," she said, "that a story of that kind ought to end with a moral. They nearly always do."

Pomona now looked at Jonas, and Jonas looked at Pomona.

"Several times, when we was writing the story," said Pomona, "I had a notion that Jone was trying to squeeze a moral into it here and there; but he didn't say nothing about it, and I didn't ask him, and if there's anything more to say about it, it's for him to do it."

Jonas smiled. "My opinion about morals to stories is that the people who read them ought to work them out for themselves," said he. "Some people work out one kind of moral, and others work out another kind. It was a pretty big job to write that story, which I had to do the most of, and I don't think I ought to be called on to put in any moral, which is a good deal like being asked to make bread for the man who buys my wheat."

Pomona looked down at the ground, then up to the sky, and then she remarked:

"If you wouldn't mind hearing a little bit of a story, I'd like to tell you one." No one had any wish to object, and she began: "Once there was a young married man who went to his business in a canoe; every morning he paddled himself down to his business, and every afternoon he paddled himself back. About half-way down the beautiful stream on which he lived there was a little point of rocks projecting out into the water, and the young man was obliged to paddle his canoe very near the opposite shore in order to get out of the way. This was troublesome, and after a while he got tired of it. It would be very much pleasanter, he thought, if he could paddle along the middle of the stream, without thinking about the rocks. So when, one morning, he was in a great hurry, he said to himself that he would steer his canoe right straight against that point of rocks and break it off. After that he would have a clear passage up and down the stream. So as soon as he got near enough he carried out his plan. That young man did not go to his office that morning, and the fragments of his canoe was picked up by a poor family and used for kindling-wood. Now," she added, looking deliberately at Jonas, "if you can find a good moral to that story we'd be glad to hear it."

It was very evident to the listeners that Pomona had given a shrewd guess as to the moral of the story Jonas had read, if, indeed, he had had in his mind any moral at all—and that her own was an offset to it, or so intended. So the Next Neighbor came to the rescue.

"I have a great dislike," she announced, "to morals of all sorts. I prefer never to think of morals. They are very perplexing, and often worse than useless. But if there are any morals to those two stories, I should say that the first story has something to do with women who manage too much; and the second, in some occult manner, deals with men who try to reform their wives."

Here every one laughed. And then there followed a lively criticism of the story Jonas had read; but they all agreed that it was worthy of Pomona and Jonas, and should be published. When they had reached this conclusion they were summoned to luncheon.



THIS STORY IS TOLD BY

THE DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE

AND IS CALLED

THE CONSCIOUS AMANDA



VIII

THE CONSCIOUS AMANDA

One morning, as John Gayther was working in the melon-bed, the Daughter of the House came to him, and greeted him with such a glow on her face that John knew she had something pleasant to tell him.

"Yes, miss," John replied to her greeting; "it is a beautiful morning, and I know of something more beautiful than the morning."

"I do not see any very great beauty in muskmelons," said the Daughter of the House, demurely.

"Muskmelons are not in my mind at this minute," John replied, letting the hoe fall upon the ground as he looked at her pretty face, all aglow.

"I have something in my mind, John—a very original story. Papa said yesterday I must tell a story, and I have one all ready. I do not believe you ever heard one like it. Come to the summer-house; mamma and papa are already there."

She tripped away, and John followed her, stopping on the way to pick up a basket of seed-pods. He had just established himself on his stool, facing the family group, and had taken some pods to shell as he listened, when his hand was arrested and all the party silenced by a burst of song from the tall lilac-bushes near the hedge. They could not see the bird, but it was evident that he was enjoying his own melody. Such pure, sweet notes—now rippling softly, now with a gay little quiver of joy, now a tender prolonged note, now a succession of trills, high and low, that set the air throbbing, and every now and then a great burst of seraphic music, as if his little heart was so full of happiness he was compelled to pour it forth to all who chose to listen. Our party would gladly have listened for a long time, and have omitted the story altogether; but after some minutes of delicious song the strains suddenly ceased, and a little whirring noise in the lilacs indicated that the bird had flown away.

The Daughter of the House gave a deep sigh. "I was afraid to breathe," she said, "lest he might fly away."

"I have heard nothing like that this summer," said the Mistress of the House.

"It is the red thrush," said John Gayther, who had listened rapturously. "A pair of them were here in the early spring. I wonder why this one has come back."

"Perhaps," said the Daughter of the House, "it is one of the young ones come back to visit his birthplace. I am afraid, after that ravishing performance, that my story will sound tame enough."

"It will be a different sort of melody," said the Mistress of the House, looking fondly at her daughter.

"My heroine," began the young lady, "cannot appear in the first person, as if she were telling the story; nor in the second person, as if she were listening to one; nor in the third person, as if she were somewhere else; for, in fact, she was not anywhere. And as there is no such thing as a fourth person in grammar, she cannot be put into any class at all."

The captain turned and looked at his daughter. "There seems to be something very foggy about this statement," said he. "I hope the weather will soon clear up, so we can get our bearings."

"We shall see about that," said the young lady. "This heroine of mine, Miss Amanda, never went to sleep. To be sure, she sank into slumber about as often as most people; but when she spoke of having done so she always said she had 'lost consciousness.' She was very methodical about going to sleep and waking up; and at night, just as she was about to lose consciousness, she always said to herself, 'Seven o'clock, seven o'clock, seven o'clock,' over and over again until she was really asleep; and in the morning she woke up at seven precisely. She was not married, and so she was able to live her own life much more independently than if the case had been different. She liked to be independent; and she liked to know as much as she could about everything. In these two things she was generally very successful. But you must not think she was prying or too inquisitive; she was really a very good woman, and very fond of her family, which was composed entirely of brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces.

"She was a very active person, but she was not very strong; and when she was nearly forty years old something happened to her lungs, and her health gave way more and more, until at last there was no hope for her, and she knew she must die."

"Oh, this is an awful way to begin a story!" said the captain. "I don't like it. You ought not to kill your heroine just as you begin."

"If you want to make any remarks about this story, papa," said the Daughter of the House, "which shall be worth anything, you ought to wait until you hear more of it and begin to understand it. When Miss Amanda found she had a very little while to live, she composed herself comfortably, and began to repeat to herself the words, 'Fifty years, fifty years, fifty years,' over and over again. This she did until at last she died; and then there was her funeral; and she was buried; and there was a stone put up over her head with her name on it."

John Gayther smiled with approbation. He felt sure he was going to hear a story to his liking. The captain smoked steadily. As he had been advised, he would wait until he felt firm ground beneath him before he made any further remarks. As for the Mistress of the House, she looked at her daughter, and wondered. The story continued:

"All this happened a few years before the middle of a century, and a few years before the end of a century Miss Amanda regained consciousness. That is to say, she woke up at the end of fifty years, exactly as she had been in the habit of waking up at seven o'clock in the morning. But although she was conscious she did not understand how it was possible she should be so. She did not see; she did not hear; she did not feel. She had no body; no hands or feet; no eyes or ears: she had nothing; and she knew she had nothing. She simply was conscious, and that was all there was about it. She was not surprised; she seemed to take her state and condition as a matter of course, and, to a certain degree, she comprehended it. She remembered perfectly well that she had lost consciousness as she was saying 'Fifty years, fifty years, fifty years' over and over again; and now she knew that, as she had regained consciousness, the fifty years must have passed; so, instead of wondering how things had come to be as they were, she, or rather her consciousness, set itself to work to observe everything around it and about it. This had always been Miss Amanda's habit of mind.

"Now I want to explain," said the young lady, "that in one way it will be troublesome for me to express myself exactly as I tell this story. Of course Miss Amanda did not exist; it was only her consciousness which observed things: but I think it will be a great deal less awkward for me if I speak of that consciousness as Miss Amanda. None of us really understands consciousnesses with their outsides all hulled off as John is doing with those seeds which he drops into the basin. Each one of those little seeds has within it a power which we do not understand. And that is the way with Miss Amanda's consciousness."

"There," said the captain; "I agree with you. Nobody can object to that."

"The first thing of which Miss Amanda became conscious was the smell of sweet peas. She had always been very fond of these flowers. The air was soft and warm, and that, too, was pleasant to her. She observed a good many other things, such as trees and grass; but she did not know where she was, and she did not see anything she could recognize. You must not forget that when I say she saw anything, I mean she became conscious of it. Presently, however, she did perceive something that was familiar, and if such a thing had been possible her face would have flushed with pleasure. This familiar object was a sun-dial in the middle of a wide grass-mound. The sun-dial was of brass. It was very old, and some of the figures on the round plate were nearly obliterated by time and weather; but Miss Amanda recognized it. It was the same sun-dial she had always known in the home where she had been born. But it was not mounted on a round brick pillar, as when she had known it: now it rested on a handsome stone pedestal; but it was the same sun-dial. She could see the place where the upright part had been mended after her nephew John, then only fourteen, had thrown a stone at it, being jealous of it because it would never do any work in bad weather, whereas he had to go to school, rain or shine.

"'Now,' thought Miss Amanda, 'if this is the old sun-dial, and if this is the mound in front of our house, although it is so much smaller than I remember it, the dear old house must be just behind it.' But when she became conscious in that direction, the dear old house was not there. There was a house, but it looked new and handsome. It had marble steps, with railings and a portico, but it was another house altogether, and everything seemed to be something else except the sun-dial, and even that did not rest on the old brick pillar with projections at the bottom, on which she used to stand, when she was a little girl, in order to see what time it was.

"Now Miss Amanda felt lonely, and a little frightened. She had never been accustomed to finding herself in places entirely strange to her. She felt, too, that she was there in that place, and could not be anywhere else even if she wanted to, and this produced in her a condition which, half a century before, would have been nervousness. But suddenly she perceived something which, although strange, was very pleasant. It was a young girl upon a bicycle coming swiftly toward her over a wide, smooth driveway. Miss Amanda had never been conscious of a bicycle; and as the girl swept rapidly on, it seemed as if she were skimming over the earth without support. At the foot of the marble steps the girl stopped and seemed to fall to the ground; but she had not fallen: she had only stepped lightly from the machine, which she leaned against a post, and then walked rapidly toward the place where the sweet peas grew.

"Miss Amanda greatly admired this girl. She was dressed in an extremely pretty fashion, with a straw hat and short skirts, something like the peasants in southern Europe. She began to pick the sweet-pea blossoms, and soon had a large bunch of them. Now steps were heard coming round the house, and the girl, turning her head, called out: 'Oh, grandpa, wait a minute. I am picking these flowers for you.' From around one end of the house, which was a large one, Miss Amanda saw approaching an elderly gentleman who was small, with short gray hair and a round, ruddy face. He walked briskly, and with a light switch, which he carried in his hand, he made strokes at the heads of a few fluffy dandelions which appeared here and there; but he never hit any of them.

"Instantly Miss Amanda knew him: it was her nephew John—the same boy who had broken the sun-dial! No matter what his age might happen to be, he had the same bright eyes, and the same habit of striking at things without hitting them. Yes, it was John. There could be no possible mistake about it. It was that harum-scarum young scapegrace John. If Miss Amanda had had a heart, it would have gone out to that dear old boy; if she had had eyes they would have been filled with tears of affection as she gazed on him. Of all her family he had been most dear to her, although, as he had often told her, there was no one in the world who found so much fault with him.

"The old gentleman sat down on a rustic seat beneath a walnut-tree, and his granddaughter came running to him, filling the air with the odor of sweet peas. She seated herself at the other end of the bench, and let the flowers drop into her lap. 'Grandpa,' said she, 'these are for you, but I am only going to give you one of them now for your buttonhole. The rest I will put in a vase in your study. But I wanted you to stop here anyway, for I have something to tell you.'

"'Tell on,' said he, when the girl had put a spray bearing three blossoms into his buttonhole. 'Is it anything you want me to do this afternoon?'

"'It isn't anything I want you to do ever,' she said. 'It is about something I must do, and it is just this: grandpa, there are two gentlemen who are about to propose to me, and I think they will do it very soon.'

"'How in the world do you know that?' he exclaimed. 'Have they sent you printed notices?'

"'How is it that anybody knows such a thing?' she answered. 'We feel it, and we can't be expected to explain it. You must have felt such things when you were young, for I have been told you were often in love.'

"'Never in my life,' said her grandfather, 'have I felt that a young woman was about to propose to me.'

"'Oh, nonsense!' said the girl, laughing. 'But you could feel that she would like you to propose to her. That's the way it would be in your case.'

"Miss Amanda listened with the most eager and overpowering attention. Often in love! That young scapegrace John! But she had no doubt of it. When she had last known him he was not yet eighteen, and he had had several love-scrapes. Of course he must have married, for here was his granddaughter; and who in the world could he have taken to wife? Could it have been that Rebecca Hendricks—that bold, black-eyed girl, who, as everybody knew, had tried so hard to get him? With all the strength of her consciousness Miss Amanda hoped it had not been Rebecca. There was another girl, Mildred Winchester, a sweet young thing, and in every way desirable, whom Miss Amanda had picked out for him when he should be old enough to think about such things, which at that time he wasn't. Rebecca Hendricks ought to have been ashamed of herself. Now she did hope most earnestly that she would hear something which would let her know he had married Mildred Winchester.

"'Well,' said the old gentleman, 'if they do propose, as you seem to have some occult reason for suspecting, have you made up your mind which of them you are going to take?'

"'That is the trouble,' said the girl, a very serious look coming over her face. 'I have not made up my mind what I ought to do. I know I ought to be prepared to give the proper answer to the one who speaks first, whichever one he may be; but I cannot come to a decision which satisfies me, and that is the reason, grandpa, I wanted to talk to you about it. Of course you know who they are—George and Mr. Berkeley.'

"'My dear Mildred,' said the old gentleman, turning quickly around so that he could face her, 'just listen to me.'

"'Mildred, Mildred!' thought Miss Amanda, and her consciousness was pervaded by a joyful thankfulness which knew no limits. 'She must have been named after her grandmother. He surely married Mildred.' And Miss Amanda gazed on the scapegrace John with more affection than she had ever known before. But in the midst of her joy she could not help wondering who it was that that Rebecca Hendricks had finally succeeded in getting. That she got somebody Miss Amanda had not the slightest doubt.

"'Mildred,' said the old gentleman, 'just listen to me. This is a most important thing you have told me, and I have only this to say about it: if you can't make up your mind which one of those young men you will take when they propose, make up your mind now, this minute, not to have either of them. If you love either one of them as you ought to love the man who shall be your husband, you will have no difficulty in deciding. Therefore, if you have a difficulty, you do not really love either of them.'

"For a few minutes the girl sat quietly looking down at the flowers in her lap, and then she said: 'But, grandpa, suppose I do not understand myself properly? Perhaps after a while I might come to a—'



"'After a while,' interrupted her grandfather. 'That will not do. You want to understand yourself before a lover proposes to you, not afterwards.'"

The captain sat up straight in his chair. "Now look here," he said; but he addressed the Mistress of the House, not the story-teller. "How does this daughter of ours come to know all these things about lovers, and the weather-signs which indicate proposals of marriage, and all that? Has she been going about in society, making investigations into the rudiments of matrimony, during my last cruise? And would you mind telling me if any young men have been giving her lessons in love-affairs? John Gayther, have you seen any stray lovers prowling about your garden of late?"

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