"Just you and I!" she echoed. "Oh, bliss to be together!"
"Let us go," he whispered. "Let us go back to the house," and with his arm around her, they moved up the path between the flowers that had closed with the night.
THE THREE-NOTCHED ROAD
Lewis Rand and his wife dwelt that summer and autumn in the house on the Three-Notched Road, and were happy there. If the ghost of Gideon Rand walked, the place, renovated, clean, bright, and homely sweet, showed no consciousness of any influence of the dark. Passers-by on the dusty road looked curiously at the gay little yard and the feathery mimosa and the house behind the pines. "Lewis Rand lives there," they said, and made their horses go more slowly.
The pines hid the porch where Jacqueline sat with her work, or, hands about her knees, dreamed the hours away. She was much alone, for after the first week Rand rode daily to his office in Charlottesville. There was no reconciliation with her people. All her things had been sent from Fontenoy. Linen that had been her mother's lay with bags of lavender in an old carved chest from Santo Domingo, and pieces of slender, inlaid furniture stood here and there in the room they called the parlour. Her candlesticks were upon the mantel, and her harp made the room's chief ornament. Her fortune, which was fair, had been formally made over to her and to Rand. She was glad it was no less; had it been vastly greater, she would only have thought, "This will aid him the more." The little place was very clean, very sweet, ordered, quiet, and lovable. She was a trained housewife as well as the princess of his story, and she made the man she loved believe in Paradise. Each afternoon when he left the jargon and wrangling of the courtroom his mind turned at once to his home and its genius. All the way through the town, beckoning him past the Eagle and past every other house or office which had for him an open door, he saw Jacqueline waiting beneath the mimosa at the gate, clad in white, her dark hair piled high, about her throat a string of coral or of amber. Out on the road, beneath the forest trees, in the radiance of the evening, he rode with his head high and a smile within his eyes. All the scheming, all the labour and strife of the day, fell from him like rusty armour, and his spirit bathed itself in the thought of that meeting. She did not always await him at the gate; sometimes he found her half a mile from home, sitting in the sunset light upon a stone beside the road. Then he dismounted, kissed her, and they walked together back to their nest in the tree of life. Supper-time would follow, with the lighted candles and the fragrance from Hannah's kitchen, and the little humorous talk with the old, fond, familiar servants, and the deeper words between husband and wife of things done or to be done; then quiet upon the porch, long silences, broken sentences of deep content, while the glow faded and the stars came out; then the candles again and his books and papers, while she read or sewed beside him. When his task was done she sang to him, and so drew on the hour when they put out the lights and entered the quiet, spotless chamber where the windows opened to the east.
Rand worked as he had not worked before. All the springs were running, all the bitter wells were sweet; to breathe was to draw in fulness of life, and all things were plastic to his touch. Love became genius, and dreaming accomplishment. In Albemarle, in Virginia, in the country at large, the time was one of excitement, fevered labour, and no mean reward. The election for President was drawing on. Undoubtedly the Republicans and Jefferson would sweep the country, but it behooved them to sweep it clean. The Federalist point of view was as simple. "Win! but we'll not make broad the paths before you! Winning shall be difficult." The parties worked like Trojans, and he who could speak spoke as often as any leader of heroic times.
At court house and at tavern banquets, at meetings here and meetings there, barbecues, dinners, races, militia musters, gatherings at crossroads and in the open fields, by daylight and by candlelight and by torchlight, Republican doctrine was expounded, and Federalist doctrine made answer. The clash of the brazen shields was loud. It was a forensic people and a plastic time. He who could best express his thought might well, if there were power in the thought, impress it so deeply that it would become the hall-mark of his age. His chance was good. Something more than fame of a day shone and beckoned before every more than able man. To stamp a movement of the human mind, to stamp an age, to give the design to one gold coin from the mint of Time,—what other prize worth striving for? The design?—one thought of moderate Liberty and the head of Washington, another thought of Liberty and the head of Jefferson, another of License and a head like Danton's, another of Empire and a conqueror's head.
In Albemarle, at all Republican gatherings the man most in demand was Lewis Rand; and the surrounding counties of Fluvanna, Amherst, Augusta, and Orange considered themselves happy if he could be drawn to this or that mass meeting. It was not easy to attract him. He never consciously said to himself, "Be chary of favours; they will be the more prized"; he said instead, "I'll not waste an arrow where there's no gold to hit." When he saw that it was worth his while to go, he went, and sent an arrow full into the gold. Amherst and Augusta, Fluvanna and Orange, broke into applause and prophecy, while upon each return home Republican Albemarle welcomed him with added rapture, and Federalist Albemarle hurled another phrase into its already comprehensive anathema. His reputation grew amain, both in his native section and in the state at large. Before the autumn his election to the House of Delegates, which in April seemed so great a thing, began to assume the appearance of a trifle in his fortunes. He would overtop that, and how highly no man was prepared to say. Through all the clashing of shields, through Republican attack and Federalist resistance, through the clamour over Hamilton's death, the denunciation and upholding of Burr, the impeachment of Chase, the situation in Louisiana, the gravitation towards France, and the check of England, the consciousness of Pitt and the obsession of Napoleon,—through all the commotion and fanfaronade of that summer Rand kept a steady hand and eye, and sent his arrows into the gold. In the law, as in politics, he was successful. A comprehensive knowledge and an infinite painstaking, a grasp wide and firm, a somewhat sombre eloquence, a personal magnetism virile and compelling,—these and other attributes began to make his name resound. He won his cases, until presently to say of a man, "He has Lewis Rand," was in effect to conclude the matter. He had no Federalist clients; that rift widened and deepened. Federalist Albemarle meant the Churchills and the Carys, their kinsmen, connections, and friends. The gulf seemed fixed.
Jacqueline, keeping at home in the house on the Three-Notched Road, saw very few from out her old life. Those who had been her girlhood friends kept aloof. If their defection pained her, she gave no sign—she had something of her father's pride. Among the Republican gentry she was of course made much of, and she saw something of the plainer sort of her husband's friends. Tom Mocket came occasionally on business with Rand, and once he brought Vinie with him. Jacqueline liked the sandy-haired and freckled scamp, and made friends with Vinie. In the first July days Adam Gaudylock often sat upon her porch, but now for weeks he had been wandering in the West. Once or twice Mr. Pincornet, straying that way, had delicately looked his pity for a lovely woman in a desert waste. Cousin Jane Selden remained her good neighbour and kind friend, and once Mr. Ned Hunter brought a message from Unity. Her old minister came to see her, and Dr. Gilmer, when illness called him in that direction, always drew rein at her gate. Ludwell Cary was out of the county, and Fairfax Cary never rode that way. Unity came whenever it was possible, and thrice, between July and October, Deb and Miranda and a horsehair trunk arrived for a blissful week. To Deb they were unshadowed days. The log house, the pine wood and singing stream, an owl that hooted each night, a row of tiger lilies and a thicket of blackberries, Jacqueline to tell her stories, Mammy Chloe and Hannah, the new brother who came home every evening riding a great bay horse and kissing Jacqueline beneath the mimosa tree, the brother who showed her twenty unguessed treasures and gave her the Arabian Nights,—Deb thought the week on the Three-Notched Road a piece out of the book, and wept when she must go back to Fontenoy.
But Colonel Churchill and Major Edward never came, never wrote, never sent messages to Jacqueline, never, she forced Unity to tell her, mentioned her name or would hear it mentioned at Fontenoy. Only Aunt Nancy, lying always in the chamber, her key-basket beside her on the white counterpane, talked of her when she chose. "But she talks as though you were dead," acknowledged Unity; then, "Oh, Jacqueline, it must all come right some day! And as for him, he's talked of more and more,—everywhere one goes, one hears his name! He's head and front of his party here. Oh, what a party! Mrs. Adams writes that at Washington they eat soup with their fingers and still think Ca Ira the latest song! Cannot you convert him? They say the Mammoth's jealous, and that your husband and Colonel Burr correspond in cipher. Is that so?"
"I don't know," said Jacqueline. "I shall not try to convert him. I would have a man loyal to his beliefs—so would you, Unity! Suppose yourself of another party—would you change Fairfax Cary? You would wish him to stay always the Federalist that he is! So with me. I love my great Republican."
"I love you," said Unity. "Kiss me. Now, when do you go to Richmond?"
"Next month. Oh, Unity, if Uncle Dick and Uncle Edward would but make friends before we go!"
Unity, stopping for an hour at Cousin Jane Selden's, remarked to that lady, "Ah, she is happy! She does not know and she does not care what is said of Lewis Rand. They say dreadful things. The last Gazette—"
"She doesn't hear a Federalist upon the subject," replied Cousin Jane. "The last Gazette! Pooh! who believes what a Federalist paper says of a Republican, or a Republican paper says of a Federalist? Most men and all newspapers are liars."
"It says that he is a Buonaparte ready to break the shell."
"Buonaparte's a great man, my dear."
"And that the Mammoth's alarmed—"
"Like the hen that hatched the eaglet—"
"And that Lewis Rand's no more Republican at heart than he is Federalist. He's just for Lewis Rand."
"And that his name's known as far west as the Mississippi."
"There's no law against a man's name spreading. It's what every man strives for. One succeeds, and the birds that carried the news are indignant."
"And that he's an Atheist."
"Lewis Rand's no saint, child, but he's no fool either. You'll be telling me next that he mistreats his wife."
"Ah, he does not do that!" exclaimed Unity. "She's deep in love. He can't be so very bad, can he, Cousin Jane?"
"He's not a monster, child: he's just a man.—And now, Unity, I am making damson preserves to-day."
"I'll go," said Unity, rising. "But they believe these things at Fontenoy."
"Do they believe them at Greenwood?"
"I don't know. Ludwell Cary is still away—"
"When are you going to marry his brother?"
"Why, I don't know that I am going to marry his brother at all," answered Unity, her foot upon the coach step. "Good-bye, Cousin Jane. I wish I could make pot-pourri like yours."
"You must know what spices to use, and when to gather the roses," said Cousin Jane. "Good-bye, child! You read too many romances, but you're a loyal soul and one of your gowns is prettier than another. Don't you believe all the world says of Lewis Rand. It's mighty prone to make mistakes. The man's just a sinner like the rest of us."
At Fontenoy, that September afternoon, Fairfax Cary, riding over from Greenwood, found Miss Dandridge seated upon the steps which ran down to the garden from the glass doors of the library. Her chin was in her hands, and her black eyes were suspiciously bright. "You were crying," exclaimed the younger Cary. "Why?"
"I've been reading about the Capulets and the Montagues."
"You are not one to cry for the dead," said the young man. "Tell me truly."
"No; I'm crying for the living. I've been talking to the Capulets. I've been giving Uncle Edward a piece of my mind."
"Which he would not take?"
"Just so. Oh, it was a battle royal! But I lost—I always lose. He is sitting there in triumphant misery, reading Swift. I brought my defeat out here. Now and then I am glad I am a woman."
"I'm glad all the time," said Fairfax Cary. "Don't dwell on lost battles. Unity, when are you going to let me fight all your battles?"
"I don't know," answered Miss Dandridge promptly. "I don't even know that I would like to have all my battles fought for me. I'm not lazy, and I believe my ancestors fought their own. Besides—would you fight this one?"
There was a pause; then, "Do you love your cousin so?" asked the young man.
"Love Jacqueline? Jacqueline is like my sister. If she is not happy, then neither am I!"
"But she is happy. She loved Lewis Rand, and she married him."
"Yes, yes. But a woman may marry her lover and yet be unhappy. If he takes her to a strange country, she may perish of homesickness."
"Has he taken her to a strange country?"
"Yes," cried Unity, with fire. "How can it but be a strange country?" Her eyes filled with tears. "Why, why did she not love your brother!"
"That," said the younger Cary grimly, "is what I do not profess to understand. And I would fight for your cousin, but I will not fight for Lewis Rand. My brother's enemies are mine."
"You see. You wouldn't fight this battle, after all."
"Would Miss Dandridge wish me to?"
Unity regarded the sunset beyond the snowball bushes. "No," she said at last, with a sigh and a shake of her head, "no, I wouldn't. I had rather a man behaved like a man than like an angel."
"You are the angel. At least your cousin will not live much longer in that log house, with the pines and the tobacco and the ghost of old Gideon. Lewis Rand has bought Roselands."
"You knew it was for sale. Well, he's bought it. I had the news from the agent. It's to be put in order this winter, and in the spring Rand will come back from Richmond and take possession. It is strange to think of a Rand owning Roselands!"
"A Churchill will own it, too! It will have been bought with Churchill money. I am so glad! It can be made a lovely place. Jacqueline will have the garden and the old, long drawing-room! Deb and I can go there easily. It is all more fitting—I am glad!"
"It is too near Greenwood," said the other gloomily. "I think that Ludwell will stay in Richmond."
"I'm sorry," said Unity softly and brightly. "I wish, I wish—but what's the use in wishing? There! the sun has gone, and it is growing cold. I have sat here until I'm no longer angry with Uncle Edward. Poor man! to be reading Swift all this time!—I'll walk with you to the front porch."
"I thought," ventured the young man, "I thought that perhaps you might ask me to stay to supper. It's so lonely at Greenwood."
"You stayed to supper last night," said Miss Dandridge pensively, "and you were here to dinner the day before, and you rode over the preceding afternoon, and the morning before that you read me Vathek.—Oh, stay to supper by all means!"
Cary picked up her scarf and handed her down the steps to the path that was beginning to be strewn with autumn leaves. "Miss Dandridge—Unity—it has been fourteen mortal days since I last asked you to marry me! You said I might ask you once a month—"
"I didn't," said Unity serenely. "I said once a month was too often."
"Aren't you ever going to love me?"
"Why, some day, yes!" replied Miss Dandridge. "When you've swum the Hellespont like Leander, or picked a glove out of the lion's den like the French knight, or battered down a haunted castle like Rinaldo, or taken the ring from a murderer's hand like Onofrio, or set free the Magician's daughter like Julio—perhaps—perhaps—"
"I must cast about to win my spurs!" said the younger Cary. "In the mean time I'll ask you again, come fourteen days."
Late September passed into October. The nuts ripened, the forests grew yellow and red, and the corn was stacked in the long, sere fields, above which, each morning, lay a white mist. Goldenrod and farewell-summer faded, but sumach and alder-berry still held the fence corners. The air was fragrant with wood smoke; all sound was softened, thin, and far away. A frost fell and the persimmons grew red gold. The song birds had gone south, but there were creatures enough left in the trees. Sometimes, through the thin forest, in the blue distance, deer were seen; bears began to approach the corn-cribs, and in the unbroken wilderness wolves were heard at night. Early and late the air struck cold, but each midday was a halcyon time. In the last of October, on a still and coloured morning, Rand and Jacqueline, having shaken hands with the overseer and the slaves they were leaving, caressed the dogs, and said good-bye to the cat, quitted the house on the Three-Notched Road. At the gate they turned, and, standing beneath the mimosa, looked back across the yard where the flowers had been touched by the frost, to the house and the sombre pines. They stood in silence. Jacqueline thought of the first evening beneath the mimosa, of the July dusk, and the cry of the whip-poor-will. Rand thought, suddenly and inconsequently, of his father and mother, standing here at the gate as he had often seen them stand. There was no mimosa then.—Jacqueline turned, caught his hand, and pressed it to her lips. He strained her in his arms and kissed her, and they entered the chaise which was to carry them to Richmond. Before them lay a hundred miles of sunny road, three days' companionship in the blue, autumnal weather. A few moments, and the house, the pines, and the hurrying stream were lost to view. "A long good-bye!" said Rand. "In the spring we'll enter Roselands!"
"You value it more than I," answered Jacqueline. "I loved the house behind us. Loved! I am speaking as though it were a thing of the long past. Farewells are always sad."
"I value it for you," said Rand. "Have I not chafed, ever since July, to see you in so poor a place? Roselands is not ideal, but it is a fairer nest for my bird than that we've left!"
Jacqueline laughed. "'Roselands is not ideal!' I think Roselands quite grand enough! Oh, Lewis, Lewis, how high you build! Take care of the upper winds!"
"I'll build firmly," he answered. "The winds may do their worst. Here is the old road to Greenwood. Now that the trees are bare, you can see the house."
They drove all day by field and woodland. At noon they paused for luncheon beside a bubbling spring in a dell strewn with red leaves, then drove on through the haze of afternoon. There were few leaves left upon the boughs. In the fields that they passed the stacked corn had the seeming of silent encampments, deserted tents of a vanished army, russet and empty wigwams drawn against a deep blue sky. Now and then, in the darker woods, there was a scurry of partridges, the red gleam of a fox, or a vision of antlers, and once a wild turkey, bronze and stately, crossed the road before the chaise. When they passed a smithy or a mill, the clink of iron, the rush of water, came to them faintly in the smoky air. That night they slept at the house of a wealthy planter and good Republican, where, after supper, all sat around a great fire, the children on footstools between the elders, and stories were told of hunting, of Indian warfare, and of Tarleton's raid. At ten they made a hall and danced for an hour to a negro's fiddling, then a bowl of punch was brought and the bedroom candles lighted.
In the morning Rand and Jacqueline went on towards Richmond, and at sunset they found themselves before a country tavern, not over clean or comfortable, but famous for good company. The centre of a large neighbourhood, it had been that day the scene of some Republican anniversary, and a number of gentlemen, sober and otherwise, had remained for supper and a ride home through the frosty moonlight. Among them were several lawyers of note, and a writer and thinker whose opinion Rand valued. Besides all these there were at the inn a group of small farmers, a party of boatmen from the James, the local schoolmaster and the parson, a Scotch merchant or two, and the usual idle that a tavern draws. All were Republicans, and all knew their party's men. Rand descended from the chaise amidst a buzz of recognition, and after supper came a demand that he should speak from the tavern porch to an increasing crowd. He did not refuse. To his iron frame the fatigue of the day was as naught, and there were men in the throng whom he was willing to move. It came to him suddenly, also, that Jacqueline had never heard him speak. Well, he would speak to her to-night.
His was an universal mind. On occasion he could stoop to praise one party and vituperate another, but that was his tongue serving his worldly interest. The man himself dealt with humanity, wherever found and in whatever time, however differentiated, however allied, with its ancestry of the brute and its destiny of the spirit; with the root of the tree and the far-off flower and every intermediate development of stem and leaf; with the soil that sustained the marvellous growth, and with the unknown Gardener who for an unfathomable purpose had set the inexplicable seed in an unthinkable universe. From the ephemera to the star he accepted and conjectured, and while he often thought ill of the living, he had never yet thought ill of life. He had long been allied with a thinker who, with a low estimate of at least so much of human nature as ran counter to his purposes, yet believed with devoutness in the perfectibility of his species, and had of the future a large, calm, and noble vision. If Lewis Rand had not Jefferson's equanimity, his sane and wise belief in the satisfying power of common daylight, common pleasures, all the common relations of daily life; if some strangeness in his nature thrilled to the meteor's flight, craved the exotic, responded to clashing and barbaric music, yet the two preached the same doctrine. He believed in the doctrine, though he also believed that great men are not mastered by doctrine. They made doctrine their servant, their useful slave of the lamp. He knew—none better—that the genie might turn and rend; that there was always one last, one fatal thing that must not be asked. But his mind was supple, and he thought that he could fence with the genie. Usually, when he spoke, he believed all that he said, believed it with all the strength of his reason, and yet—he saw the kingdoms of the world. To-night, in the autumn air, pure and cold beneath the autumn stars, with the feeling and the fragrance of the forest day about him, in sympathy with his audience, and conscious in every fibre of the presence of the woman whom he loved, he saw no other kingdom than that of high and tranquil thought.
Jacqueline, seated at her open window, listened for the first time to any public utterance of her husband's. He was not a man who often spoke of the processes of his thought. Sometimes, in the house on the Three-Notched Road, he told her, briefly, his conclusions on such and such a matter, but he rarely described the road by which he travelled. She knew the conservative, the British, the Federal side of most questions. That was the cleared country, familiar, safe, and smiling; her husband's side was the strange forest which she had entered and must travel through. She was yet afraid of the forest, of its lights and its shadows, the rough places and the smooth, the stir of its air and the possibility of wild beasts. To her it was night-time there, and where the ground seemed fair and the light to play, she thought of the marsh and the will-o'-the-wisp. She could not but be loyal to the old, trodden ways. She had married Lewis Rand, not his party or its principles. But to-night, as she listened, the light seemed to grow until it was dawn in the forest, and the air to blow so cold, strong, and pure that she thought of mountain peaks and of the ocean which she had never seen. She was no longer afraid of the country in which she found herself.
Rand, standing in the red torchlight above the attentive crowd, preached a high doctrine, preached it austerely, boldly, and well. He did not speak to-night of the hundred party words, the flaunting banners, systems, expedients, and policies fit for this turn of the spiral, born to be disavowed, discarded, and thrown down by a higher, freer whorl; but he gave his voice for the larger Republicanism, for the undying battle-cry, and the ever-streaming battle-flag. He had no less a text than the Liberty and Happiness of the human race, and he made no straying from the subject.
Freedom! Happiness! What is freedom? What is happiness? Freedom is the maximum of self-government finally becoming automatic, and the minimum of government from without finally reduced to the vanishing-point. Happiness is the ultimate bourne, the Olympian goal, the intense and burning star towards which we travel. Does not its light even now fall upon us? even now we are palely happy. And how shall we know the road? and what if, in the night-time, we turn irremediably aside? How are they to be attained, true Liberty and true Happiness? Learn! Light the lamp, and the shadows will flee.—Self-government. Teach thyself temperance, foresight, and wise memory of the past. Thou thyself, in thine own body, art a community. See, then, that thy communal life is clean, that thy will is in right operation, and thy minds divide thee not to disaster. Thy very ego, is it not but thy president, the voice of all thy members, representative of all that thy race has made thee to be, effect of ten million causes, and cause of effects thou canst not see? Let thy ego strengthen itself, deal justly, rule wisely, that thy state fall not behind in this world-progress and be lost out of time and out of mind, in a night without a dawn. There have been such things: over against immortal gain there lies immortal loss. Work, then, while it is day, for if thou work not, the night will make no tarrying. Know thyself, and, knowing, rule that strange world of thine. Were it not a doom, were it not a frightful doom, that it should come to rule thee? ... Government from without! Government of to-day, Government abroad as we see it in every journal, in every letter that we open—how heavy, how heavy is the ball and chain the nations wear! If we alone in this land go free, if for four golden years we have moved with lightness, look to it lest a gaoler come! Government! What is the ideal government? It is a man of business, worthy and esteemed, administering his client's affairs with thoroughness, economy, and honour. It is a wise judge, holding the balances with a steadfast hand, sitting there clothed reverently, to judge uprightly and to do no more. It is a skilled council, a picked band, an honourable Legion, chosen of the multitude, to determine the line of march for an advancing civilization; to make such laws as are according to reason and necessity and to make none that are not, and to provide for the keeping of the law that is made. The careful man of affairs, the upright judge, the honest maker of honest laws must needs present an account for maintenance and for that expenditure which shall give offence neither to generosity nor to justice; and the account must be paid, yea, and ungrudgingly! Let us pay, then, each man according to his ability, the tax that is right and fitting; and let us, moreover, give due honour to the vanguard of the people. It is there that the great flag waves with all the blazonry of the race. But we want no substituted banner, no private ensign, no conqueror's flapping eagles! Government! Honour the instrument by which we rule ourselves; but worship not a mechanical device, and call not a means an end! Admirable means, but oh, the sorry end! Therefore we'll have no usurping Praetorian, no juggling sophist, no bailiff extravagant and unjust, no spendthrift squandering on idleness that which would pay just debts! A ruler! There's no halo about a ruler's head. The people—the people are the sacred thing, for they are the seed whence the future is to spring. He who betrays his trust, which is to guard the seed,—what is that man—Emperor or President, Louis or George, Pharaoh or Caesar—but a traitor and a breaker of the Law? He may die by the axe, or he may die in a purple robe of a surfeit, but he dies! The people live on, and his memory pays. He has been a tyrant and a pygmy, and the ages hold him in contempt.... War! There are righteous wars, and righteous men die in them, but the righteous man does not love war. Conquest! Conquest of ignorance, superstition, and indolence, conquest of the waste and void, of the forces of earth, air, and water, and of the dying beast within us, but no other conquest! We attained Louisiana by fair trade, for the benefit of unborn generations. Standing armies! We want them not. Navies! The sea is the mother of life; why call her that of death? Her highways are for merchant ships, for argosies carrying corn and oil, bearing travellers and the written thought of man; for voyages of discovery and happy intercourse, and all rich exchange from strand to strand. Why stain the ocean red? Is it not fairer when 'tis blue? Guard coast-line and commerce, but we need no Armada for that. Make no quarrels and enter none; so we shall be the exemplar of the nations.... Free Trade. We are citizens and merchants of the world. No man or woman but lives by trade and barter. Long ago there was a marriage between the house of Give and the house of Take, and their child is Civilization. Sultan or Czar may say, "Buy here, sell there, and at this price. You are my slave. Obey!" But who, in this century and this land, shall say that to me—or to you? Are we free men? Then let us walk as such through the marts of the earth. "Trade where you will," saith Nature. "It was so I brought the tree to the barren isle, and scattered the life of the seas." Authority of law! Respect the law, and to that end let us have laws that are respectable. Laws are made to be kept, else we live in a house of chicane. But there is a danger that decrees may thicken until they form a dungeon grate for Freedom, until, like Gulliver, she is held down to earth by every several hair. Few laws and just, and those not lightly broken. The Contract between the States—let it be kept. It was pledged in good faith—the cup went around among equals. There is no more solemn covenant; we shall prosper but as we maintain it. Is it not for the welfare and the grandeur of the whole that each part should have its healthful life? The whole exists but by the glow within its parts. Shall we become dead members of a sickly soul? God forbid! but sister planets revolving in their orbits about one central Idea, which is Freedom by Cooeperation. To each her own life, varied, rich, complete, and her communal life, large with service rendered and received! Each bound to other and to that central Thought by primal law, but each a sovereign orb, grave mistress of her own affairs! Slavery! Ay, I will give you that though you want it not! Slavery is abominable. There is a tree that grows in the tropics which they call the upas tree. All who lie in the shadow of its branches fall asleep, and die sleeping. To-day we lie under the upas tree—would that we were awake! I have heard that—in the tropics—the sons sometimes hew down that which the fathers have planted. I would that it were so in Virginia! Freedom of thought, of speech, and of pen. I will away with this cope of lead, this Ancient Authority, which is too often an Ancient Iniquity. Did it not have once a minority? was it not once a New Thought? Is not a man's thought to-day as potent, holy, and near the right as was his great-grandfather's thought which was born in a like manner, of the brain of a man, in a modern time? I will think freely and according to reason. When it seems wise to tell my mind I will speak; and with judgment I will write down my thought; and fear no man's censure. Knowledge! I was a poor boy, and I strove for learning, strove hard, and found it worth the striving. I know the hunger, and I know the rage when one asks for knowledge and asks in vain. Is it not a shameful thing that happy men, lodged warm and clear in the Interpreter's house, should hear the groping in the dark without, know that their fellows are searching, in pain and with shortness of breath, for the key which let the fortunate in, and make no stir to aid those luckless ones? Give of your abundance, or your abundance will decay in your hands and turn to that which shall cause you shuddering!
His words went on, magnetic as the man. He spoke for an hour, coming at the last to a consideration of those particular questions which hung in Virginian air. He dealt with these ably, and he subtly conciliated those of his audience who might differ with him. None could have called him flatterer, but when he ceased to speak his hearers, feeling for themselves a higher esteem, had for him a reflex glow. It was what he could always count upon, and it furthered his fortunes. Now they crowded about him, and it was late before, pleading the fatigue of his journey, he could escape from their friendly importunity. At last, it being towards midnight and the moon riding high, the neighbouring planters and their guests got to saddle and, after many and pressing offers of hospitality to Rand and his wife, galloped off to home and bed. The commonalty and the hangers-on faded too into the darkness, and the folk who were sleeping at the inn took their candles and said good-night. All was suddenly quiet,—a moonlit crossroads in Virginia, tranquil as the shaven fields and the endless columns of the pine.
Upstairs, in the low "best room," Rand found his wife still seated by the open window, her folded arms upon the sill, her eyes raised to the stars that shone despite the moon. He crossed to her and closed the window. "The night is cold. Dearest, have you been sitting here all this time?"
She rose, turning upon him a radiant face. "All this time. I was not cold. I was warm. I am so happy that I'm frightened."
"Did you like it?" he asked. "I hoped that you would. I thought of you—my star, my happiness!"
"I used to wonder," she said; "when they would come home to Fontenoy and say, 'Lewis Rand spoke to-day,' I used to wonder if I should ever hear you speak! And when they blamed you I said to my aching heart, 'They need not tell me! He's not ambitious, self-seeking, a leveller, a demagogue and Jacobin!-he is the man I met beneath the apple tree!' And I was right—I was right!"
"Am I that man?" he asked. "I will try to be, Jacqueline. Leveller, demagogue, and Jacobin I am not; but for the rest, who knows—who knows? Men are cloudy worlds—and I dream sometimes of a Pursuer."
The next morning the skies had changed, and Rand and Jacqueline fared forward through a sodden, grey, and windy day. The rain had ceased to fall when at twilight they came into Richmond by the Broad Street Road. Lights gleamed from the wet houses; high overhead grey clouds were parting, and in the west was a line of red. The wind was high, and the sycamores with which the town abounded rocked their speckled arms. The river was swollen and rolled hoarsely over the rocks beneath the red west. Rand had taken a house on Shockoe Hill, not far from the Chief Justice's, and to this he and Jacqueline came through the wet and windy freshness of the night. Smiling in the doorway were the servants—Joab and Mammy Chloe and Hannah—who had set out from Albemarle the day before their master and mistress. Rand and Jacqueline, leaving the mud-splashed chaise, were welcomed with loquacity and ushered into a cheerful room where there was a crackling fire and a loaded table.
"Mrs. Leigh's compliments, Miss Jacqueline, an' she done sont de rolls. Mrs. Fisher's best wishes, an' she moughty glad to hab a neighbour, an' she done sont de broiled chicken. An' Mr. Hay, he done sont de oysters wid he compliments—an' de two bottles Madeira Mr. Ritchie sont—an' Mr. Randolph lef' de birds, an' he gwine come roun' fust thing in de mawnin'—"
"We shall have friends," said Rand. "I am glad for you, sweetheart. But I wish that one Federalist had had the grace to remember that Jacqueline Churchill came to town to-day."
"Ah, once I would have cared," answered Jacqueline. "It does not matter now."
"There's a tear on your hand—"
Jacqueline laughed. "At least, it doesn't matter much.—Is that all, Joab?"
"An' Marse Ludwell Cary, he ride erroun in de rain an' leave he compliments for Marse Lewis, an' he say will Miss Jacqueline 'cept dese yer flowers—"
"One remembered," said Rand, and watched his wife put the flowers in water.
THE LAW OFFICE
"If you were not so damned particular—" said the weasel disconsolately.
"I'm not damned particular," answered Rand. "I've wanted wealth and I've wanted power ever since I went barefoot and suckered tobacco—as you know who know me better than almost any one else! But this"—he tapped the papers on the table before him—"this is cheating."
"Oh, you!" complained the scamp. "You are of the elect. What you want you'll take by main force. You are a strong man! You've taken a deal since that day we went into the bookshop by the bridge. But I'm no Samson or David—I'm just Tom Mocket—and still, why shouldn't I have my pennyworth?"
Rand paused in his walking up and down the office in Main Street. It was the late winter, a year and more from that evening when he and Jacqueline had first come to the house on Shockoe Hill. Standing by the rough deal table, he laid an authoritative hand upon the documents with which it was strewn. "You'll never get your pennyworth here. The scheme these gentry have afoot is just a Yazoo business. If these lands exist, they're only a hunting-ground of swamp, Indians, and buffalo. The survey is paper, the cleared fields a fable, the town Manoa, the scheme a bubble, the purchasers fools, and the sellers knaves,—and there's your legal opinion in a nutshell!"
"I didn't ask for a legal opinion," said Mocket. "I'm a lawyer myself. There's land there, you'll not deny, and a river, and plenty of game If a Yankee doesn't find it Paradise, he had no chance anyhow, and a Kentuck can care for himself! There's no sense in calling it a bubble, or being so damned scrupulous!"
Rand made a gesture of contempt. "You let Yazoo companies and the Promised Land alone! People are ceasing to be fools. To-day they demand a hair of the mammoth or a sample of the salt mountain."
Mocket ceased rustling the papers on the table, and turned to regard his chief more closely. "Lewis, I've heard you say things like that more than once lately. A year ago you were mighty respectful to Mr. Jefferson's salt mountain and strange bones and great elk and silk grass and all the rest of it. That was a curious letter of yours in the Examiner. If't was meant to defend his neutrality doings, 'twas a damned lukewarm defence! If I hadn't known 'twas yours, sink me if I wouldn't have thought it a damned piece of Federal sarcasm!—Did you send that paper to the President?"
"No, I did not send it."
"Lewis," said the scamp slowly, "are you breaking with Mr. Jefferson?"
Rand walked to the window and stood looking out upon the winter afternoon. It was snowing hard, and through the drifting veil the trees across the way could hardly be discerned. "Yes," he said deliberately. "Yes,—if you call it breaking with a man to have grown away from him. If he served me once—yes, and greatly!—have I not worked for him since, hand and foot? We are quits, I think. I shall not cease to esteem him."
Mocket breathed hard with excitement. "You haven't been natural for a long time—but I didn't know 't was this—"
"I am being natural now," said Rand somewhat sternly. "I've told you, Tom, and now let it alone. Least said is soonest mended."
"But—but—" stammered the scamp, "are you going over to the other camp?"
Rand did not at once answer. From a plate on the windowsill he took a crust of bread, and, raising the sash, crumbled it upon the snow without. The sparrows came at once, alighting near his hand with a tameness that spoke of pleasing association with the providence above them. "No," said Rand at last, "I am not going over to the other camp—if by that you mean the Federalist camp. Must one forever sign under a captain? It is not my instinct to serve.—Now let it alone."
He closed the window and, turning again to the table, bent over an unrolled map which covered half its surface. The chart was a large one, showing the vast territory drained by the Ohio, the Missouri, and the Mississippi, and the imagination of the cartographer had made good his lack of information. Rivers and mountains appeared where nature had made no such provision, while the names, quaint and uncouth, with which Jefferson proposed to burden states yet in embryo sprawled in large letters across the yellow plain. "Assenispia—Polypotamia—Chersonesus—Michigania," read Rand. "Barbarous! I could name them better out of Ossian!" He traced with his finger the lower Ohio. "This is where Blennerhasset's island should be." The finger went on down the Mississippi. "What a river! When it is in flood, it is a sea. And the rich black fields on either side! Cotton! Our Fortunatus purse shall be spun of that. They call the creeks bayous. All these little towns—French and Spanish. To speak to them of Washington is to speak of the moon—so distant and so cold. Here are Indians. Here are settlers from the East, and the burden of their song is, 'We are so far from the Old Thirteen that we care not if we are farther yet!'"
"Hey!" exclaimed Mocket. "That's treason!"
"Here Adam Gaudylock met Wilkinson. The river narrows here, and runs deep and strong." Rand's hand rested on the coast-line. "New Orleans," he said, "but capable of becoming a new Rome. Here to the westward is the Perdido that they call the boundary,—then Mexico and the City of Mexico. If not New Orleans, then Mexico!" He straightened himself with a laugh. "I am dreaming, Tom—just as I used to dream in the fields! Ugh! I feel the hot sun, and the thick leaves draw through my hands! Let's get back to every day. To-morrow in the House I am going to carry the Albemarle Resolutions. The last debate is on. Wirt speaks first, and then I speak."
"Ludwell Cary is fighting you," said Mocket. "Fighting hard."
"Well, I'll be there to hear you speak. Lord! if I could speak like you, Lewis, and plan like you, and if whiskey would let me alone, and if I wasn't afraid of the dark, I'd make a stir in the country—I'd go higher than a Franklin kite!"
"You might manage the rest," said Rand, with good-natured scorn; "but it doesn't do to be afraid of the dark."
From the pegs behind the door he took his greatcoat and beaver. "I am going home now," he said. "I have company to supper."
"Who, then?" asked Mocket. "Adam Gaudylock? He's in town."
Rand laughed. "Who, then?' Tom, Tom, you've the manners of the West Indian skippers you consort with! No, it's not Adam Gaudylock. It is—" He hesitated, then took up a pen and wrote two words. "That's his name—but you are to keep it dark."
Mocket's tilted chair came noisily to the floor. "What! In Richmond!—he in Richmond! When did he come? Where's he staying?"
"He came last night, and he's staying quietly at Bowler's Tavern. It isn't known that he's here, and he is not anxious that it should be known. He's here on business, and he goes to-morrow. That is all—and you're to say no word of what I tell you."
"All right," quoth Tom. "I won't blab. But I'd mightily like to see the man who shot Alexander Hamilton."
"I've told you he's not anxious for company."
"Oh, I know!" said Tom, not without humility. "I'm small fry. Well, there are curious things said about him, and you and he are strange bedfellows! How did it happen?"
"Tom, Tom," answered Rand, "you ask too many questions! It was an accident, or it was predestined and foreordained when I was dust blown about by the wind. You may take your choice according to your theology! I'm going now. Be at the House early to-morrow."
"Are you going to take that Mathews case? Young Mathews was here yesterday, swearing that if he couldn't get you, he would hang himself."
"I've said that I would take it."
"Ludwell Cary's for the other side."
"Yes, I know. I'll win."
"Well, you're fairly pitted. Half the town backs one and half the other. That letter signed 'Aurelius' in the Gazette—did you know 'twas his?"
Rand dropped his hand from the latch. The colour rushed to his face, then ebbed as quickly. "No, I did not know," he said, in a voice that was not quite steady. "I thought of quite another man."
"It is Ludwell Cary's, and every Black Cockade in Richmond, and not a few Republicans, are quoting it. My certie! it was a commentary in caustic—and so damned courteous all the time!"
"I don't care for such courtesy," answered Rand "Ludwell Cary had best look where he treads."
"Well, I thought I'd tell you," said his colleague "I don't like the Carys, either!—And so I'm not to go into that land scheme?"
"No. It's a small thing, and not honest. Some day, Tom, I'll help you to a larger thing than that."
"And honest?" said Mocket shrewdly.
The other turned upon him with anger, black as it was sudden. "Honest! Yes, honest as this storm, honest as any struggle for any piece of earth wider than a coffin space! Who are you to question me? I give you warning—"
"Gently, gently!" exclaimed the scamp, and started back. "Lord, how Gideon peeps out of you now and then!"
"You need not say that, either," retorted Rand grimly. He stood for a moment, a cloudy presence in the darkening room, then with a short laugh recovered himself. "I thought the black dog was dead," he said. "It's this gloomy day—and I did not sleep last night. Honest! We're all indifferent honest!"
"Well, well," answered the pacific Tom, "I'll sink or swim with you. I've followed where you have led this many a day."
Outside the red brick office the snow lay deep. It was still falling steadily, in large flakes, grey in the upper air, feathery white and pure against the opposite houses and the boles of leafless trees. The day was closing in. Up and down the street merchants were putting up their shutters; customers had been few on such a snowy day. Here and there appeared a figure, booted and greatcoated, emerging from a tavern or from a law office such as Rand's. A sledge passed, laden with pine and hickory, drawn by mules with jangling bells; and a handful of boys loosed from school threw down their bags of books and fell to snowballing. A negro shuffled by with a spade on his shoulder, singing as he went,—
"Didn't my Lawd deliber Daniel, Didn't my Lawd deliber Daniel, An' why not ebery man? He delibered Daniel from de lions' den, An' de Hebrew Chillern from de furnace, He delibered David from de han' of Saul, An' why not ebery man?"
Rand turned into Governor Street, climbed its white ascent, and struck across the Capitol Square. Above him every bough had its weight of snow, and seen through the drifting veil the pillared Capitol looked remote as that building of which it was a copy. He walked quickly, with a light and determined step, a handsome figure in a many-caped coat of bottle green, striding through the snow toward the cheer of home. In his outer man, at least, the eighteen months since his marriage had wrought a change. What was striking then was more striking now,—his ease and might of frame, the admirable poise of his head, and the force expressed in every feature, the air of power that was about him like an emanation. The difference was that what had been rude strength was now strength polished and restrained. The deeps might hide abrupt and violent things, but the surface had assumed a fine amenity. Where he wished to learn he was the aptest pupil, and from the days of the tobacco-field he had longed for this smooth lustre. Not Gideon, but the mother, spoke in the appreciation and the facility. Manner counted for much in Lewis Rand's day; the critical point was not what you did, but the way you did it. Rand set himself to learn from his wife all the passwords of the region native to her, but into which he had broken. She taught him that code with a courtesy and simplicity exquisitely high-minded and sweet, and he learned with quickness, gratitude, and lack of any false shame. What else he might have learned of her he dimly felt, but he had not covenanted with existence for qualities that would war with a hundred purposes of his brain and will. He and Jacqueline were lovers yet. At the sight of each other the delicate fire ran through their veins; in absence the mind felt along the wall and dreamed of the gardens within. If the woman who had given all was the more constant lover; if the man, while his passion sweetened all his life, yet bowed before his great idol and fought and slaved for Power, it was according to the nature of the two, and there was perhaps no help.
He left the Capitol Square and went on toward the house he had retaken for the second winter in Richmond. Few were afoot, though now and then a sleigh went by. Rand's mind as he walked was busy, not with the debate of to-morrow or the visitor of to-night, the Mathews trial or Tom Mocket's puerile schemes, but with the letter in the Gazette signed "Aurelius." It had been an attack, able beyond the common, certainly not upon Lewis Rand, but upon the party which, in the eyes of the generality, he yet most markedly represented. In the inflamed condition of public sentiment such attacks were of weekly occurrence; the wise man was he who put them by unmoved. For the most part Rand was wise. Federal diatribes upon the Tripoli war, the Florida purchase, the quarrel with Spain, Santo Domingo, Neutral Trade, and Jefferson's leanings toward France left him cold. This letter in the Gazette had not done so. It had gone to the sources of things, analyzing with a coolness and naming with a propriety the more remarkable that it acknowledged, on certain sides, a community of thought with the party attacked. The result was that, as in civil war, the quarrel, through understanding, was the more determined. The man who signed "Aurelius" had not spared to point out, with a certain melancholy sternness, the plague spots, the defenceless places. Moreover, throughout his exposition there ran a harsh and sombre thread, now felt in denunciation and now in ironic praise. There was more than unveiling of the weakness of any human policy or party; the letter was in part a commination of individual conduct. No name was used, no direct reference given or example quoted; but one with acumen might guess there was a man in mind when the writer sat in judgment. The writer himself was perhaps not aware of the fulness of this betrayal, but Lewis Rand was aware. The paper had angered him, and he had not lacked intention of discovering at whose door it was to be laid. He had enemies enough—but this one was a close observer. The subtlety of the rebuke shook him. How had the writer who signed "Aurelius" known or divined? He thought of Major Edward Churchill, but certain reasons made him sure the letter was not his. And now it seemed that it was Ludwell Cary's.
Rand's lips set closely. Ludwell Cary might not know where all his shafts were striking, but Rand felt the sting. Fair fight in the courtroom,—that was one thing,—but this paper was wrought of sterner stuff. There was in it even a solemnity of warning. Rand's soul, that was in the grasp of Giant Two-Ways, writhed for a moment, then lay still again. With his characteristic short laugh, he shook off the feeling that he mistook for weakness, dismissed the momentary abashment, and pursued his way through the snowy streets. The question now in his mind was whether or no he should make his resentment plain to Ludwell Cary. At long intervals, three or four times in the winter, perhaps, it was the latter's custom to lift the knocker of Rand's door, and to sit for an hour in Jacqueline's drawing-room. Sometimes Rand was there, sometimes not; Cary's coming had grown to be a habit of the house, quiet, ordered, and urbane as all its habits were. Its master now determined, after a moment's sharp debate, to say nothing that he might not have said before he knew the identity of that writer to the Gazette. He was conscious of no desire for immediate retaliation; these things settled themselves in the long run. He did not intend speaking of the matter to Jacqueline. Pride forbade his giving Cary reason to surmise that he had hit the truth. Rand was willing to believe that many of the shafts were chance-sent. The reflection hardly lessened his anger, but it enabled him to thrust the matter behind him to the limbo of old scores.
He was crossing Broad Street when the door of a house before him opened, and a young man, with a gay word of farewell to some one in the doorway, ran down the steps and into the snowy street. It was Fairfax Cary. Rand and he, passing, lifted their hats, but they did not speak. Had it been the elder Cary, there would have been a moment's tarrying, an exchange of courteous speech. But Fairfax Cary made no secret of his enmity. If he did not offensively publish it, if he was, indeed, for so young a man, somewhat grimly silent upon those frequent occasions when Rand was talked of, the hostility was defined, and at times frank. He went on now with his handsome head held high. Rand looked after him with a curious, even a wistful smile upon his lips. He was himself a man young in years and strength of passion, but older far in experience and in thought. He did not dislike Fairfax Cary; he thought indeed that the young man's spirit, bearing, and partisanship were admirable. His smile was for the thought that had lightened through his mind: "If in after years I could have a son like that!" He wanted children; he wanted a son. Rand sighed. The day had been vexatious, and there were heavy questions yet to settle before the evening closed. After all, what was the use, since Jacqueline cared nothing for baubles, and there was no child! Better live out his days at Roselands, a farmer and a country lawyer! He shook off the weight, summoned all his household troop of thoughts, and went on homewards through the falling snow.
COMPANY TO SUPPER
Jacqueline arranged the flowers, cut from her window stand, in the porcelain vase, and set the vase with care in the centre of the polished table. All was in order, from the heavy damask napkins and the Chelsea plates to the silver candlesticks and the old cut-glass. She turned her graceful head, and called to her husband, whose step she heard in the adjoining room. He came, and, standing beside her, surveyed the mahogany field. "Is there anything lacking?" she asked.
He turned and kissed her. "Only that you should be happy!" he said.
"If I am not," she answered, "he will never find it out! But when I see him, I shall hear that fatal shot!"
"He will make you quite forget it. All women like him."
"Then I shall be the exception. General Hamilton was Uncle Edward's friend. At Fontenoy they'll call it insult that I have talked with this man!"
"They will not know," Rand replied. "It was an honest duel fought nigh two years ago. Forget—forget! There's so much one must forget. Besides, others are forgiving. There is not now the old enmity between him and the Federalists." "No?" said Jacqueline. "Why is that?"
"I cannot tell you, but old differences are being smoothed over. It is rather the Republicans who are out with him."
"I know that he is no friend to Mr. Jefferson."
"No, he is no friend to Mr. Jefferson. The room looks well, sweetheart. But some day you shall have a much grander one, all light and splendour, and larger flowers than these—"
His wife rested her head against his shoulder. "I don't want it, Lewis. It is only you who care for magnificence. Sometimes I wonder that you should so care."
"It is my mother in me," he answered. "She cared—poor soul. But I don't want magnificence for myself. I want it for you—"
"You must not want it for me," cried Jacqueline, with wistful passion. "I am happy here, and I am happy at Roselands—but I was happiest of all in the house on the Three-Notched Road!"
There was a moment's silence, then Rand spoke slowly. "I was not born for content. I am urged on—and on—and I cannot always tell right from wrong. There is a darkness within me—I wish it were light instead!" He laughed. "But if wishes were horses, beggars might ride!—And you've cut all your pretty bright flowers! After supper, before we begin our talk, you must sing to him. They say his daughter is an accomplished and beautiful woman. But you—you are Beauty, Jacqueline!"
The knocker sounded. "That is he," exclaimed Rand, and went into the hail to welcome his guest. Jacqueline returned to the drawing-room, and waited there before the fire. She was dressed in white, with bare neck and arms and her mother's amethysts around her throat. In a moment the two men entered. "This is my wife, Colonel Burr," said Rand.
Jacqueline curtsied. A small, slight, black-eyed, and smiling gentleman bowed low, and with much grace of manner took and kissed her hand. "Mr. Rand, now I understand the pride in your voice! Madam, I wish my daughter Theodosia were with me. She is my pride, and when I say that you two would be friends, I pay you both a compliment!"
"I have heard much of her," answered Jacqueline, "and nothing but good. My husband tells me that you have been in the South—and in Virginia we are welcoming you with a snowstorm!"
"The cold is all outside," said Colonel Burr. "Permit me—"
He handed his hostess to the green-striped sofa, and seated himself beside her with a sigh of appreciation for the warmth and soft light of the pleasant room, and the presence of woman. "Your harp!" he exclaimed. "I should have brought a sheaf of Spanish songs such as the ladies sing to the guitar in New Orleans!—My dear sir, your fair wife and my Theodosia must one day sing together, walk hand in hand together, in that richer, sweeter land! They shall use the mantilla and wield the fan. Crowns are too heavy—they shall wear black lace!"
He spoke with not unpleasant brusqueness, a military manner tempered with gallantry, and he looked at Rand with quick black eyes. "Yes, they must meet," said Rand simply. He spoke composedly, but he had nevertheless a moment's vision of Jacqueline, away from the snow and the storm, walking in beauty through the gardens of a far country. He saw her with a circlet of gold upon her head, a circlet of Mexican gold. Crowns were heavy, but men—ay, and women, too!—fought for them. Hers should be light and fanciful upon her head. She should wear black lace if she chose,—though always he liked her best in white, in her kingdom, in the kingdom he was going to help Aaron Burr establish.—No! in the kingdom Aaron Burr should help Lewis Rand establish! His dream broke. He was not sure that he meant to come to an understanding with Burr. It depended—it depended. But still he saw Jacqueline in trailing robes, with the gold circlet on her head.
Joab at the door announced supper, and the three went into the dining-room, where the red geraniums glowed between the candles. Jacqueline took her place behind the coffee-urn, and Joab waited.
The meal went pleasantly on. Colonel Burr was accomplished in conversation, now supple and insinuating as a courtier, now direct, forceful, even plain, as became an old soldier of the Revolution, always agreeable, and always with a fine air of sincerity. The daughter of Henry Churchill did not lack wit, charm, and proper fire, and the Virginia hostess never showed her private feelings to a guest. She watched over the stranger's comfort with soft care, and met his talk with graceful readiness. He spoke to her of her family: of her grandfather, whose name had been widely known, of her father, whose praises he had heard sung, of Major Churchill, whom he had met in Philadelphia in General Washington's time. He spoke of her kinsmen with an admiration which went far toward including their opinions. Jacqueline marvelled. Surely this gentleman was a Democrat-Republican, lately the Vice-President of that party's electing. It was not two years since he had slain General Hamilton; and now, in a quiet, refined voice, he was talking of Federalists and Federal ways with all the familiarity, sympathy, and ease of one born in the fold and contented with his lot. She wondered if he had quarrelled with his party, and while he was talking she was proudly thinking, "The Federalists will not have him—no, not if he went on his knees to them!" And then she thought, "He is a man without a country."
Rand sat somewhat silent and distrait, his mind occupied in building, building, now laying the timbers this way and now that; but presently, upon his guest's referring to him some point for elucidation, he entered the conversation, and thenceforth, though he spoke not a great deal, his personality dominated it. The acute intelligence opposite him took faint alarm. "I am bargaining for a supporter," Burr told himself, "not for a rival," and became if possible more deferentially courteous than before. The talk went smoothly on, from Virginia politics to the triumphal march of Napoleon through Europe; from England and the death of Pitt to the Spanish intrigues, and so back to questions of the West; and to references, which Jacqueline did not understand, to the Spanish Minister, Casa Yrujo, to the English Mr. Merry, and to Messieurs Sauve, Derbigny, and Jean Noel Destrehan of New Orleans.
Joab took away the Chelsea plates and dishes, brushed the mahogany, and placed before his master squat decanters of sherry and Madeira. The flowing talk took a warmer tone, and began to sing with the music of the South and the golden West; to be charged with Spanish, French, and Indian names, with the odour of strange flowers, the roll of the Mississippi, and the flashing of coloured wings. It was the two men now who spoke. Jacqueline, leaning back in her chair, half listened to the talk of the Territory of Orleans, the Perdido, and the road to Mexico, half dreamed of what they might be doing at Fontenoy this snowy night. The knocker sounded. "That is Adam Gaudylock," exclaimed Rand. "Joab, show Mr. Gaudylock in."
Jacqueline rose, and Colonel Burr sprang to open the door for her. "We may sit late, Jacqueline," said Rand, and their guest, "Madam, I will make court to you in a court some day!"
Gaudylock's voice floated in from the hall: "Is a little man with him?—a black-eyed man?" She passed into the drawing-room, and, pressing her brow against the window-pane, looked out into the night. The snow had ceased to fall, and the moon was struggling with the breaking clouds. The door opened to admit her husband, who came for a moment to her side. "It is not snowing now," he said. "A visitor will hardly knock on such a night. If by chance one should come, say that I am engaged with a client, make my excuses, and as soon as possible get rid of him. On no account—on no account, Jacqueline, would I have it known that Aaron Burr is here to-night. This is important. I will keep the doors shut, and we will not speak loudly." He turned to go, then hesitated. "On second thoughts, I will tell Joab to excuse us both at the door. For you—do not sit up, dear heart! It will be late before our business is done."
He was gone. Jacqueline went back to the fire and, sitting down beneath the high mantel, opened the fifth volume of Clarissa Harlowe. She read for a while, then closed the book, and with her chin in her hand fell to studying the ruddy hollows and the dropping coals. Perhaps half an hour passed. The door opened, and she looked up from her picture in the deep hollows to see Ludwell Cary smiling down upon her and holding out his hand. "Perhaps I should have drifted past with the snow," he said, "but the light in the window drew me, and I heard to-day from Fontenoy. Mr. Rand, I know, is at home."
"Yes," answered Jacqueline, rising, "but he is much engaged to-night with—with a friend. Did Joab not tell you?"
"Mammy Chloe let me in. I did not see Joab. I am sorry—"
He hesitated. There came a blast of wind that rattled the boughs of the maple outside the window. The fire leaped and the shadows danced in the corners of the room. Jacqueline knew that it was cold outside—her visitor's coat was wet with snow. Sitting there before the fire she had been lonely, and her heart was hungry for news from home.
"May I stay a few minutes?" asked Cary. "I will read you what Major Edward says of Fontenoy."
She was far from dreaming how little Rand would wish this visitor to know of his affairs that night. Her knowledge extended no further than the fact that for some reason Colonel Burr did not wish it known that he was in Richmond. She listened, but the walls were thick, and she heard no sound from the distant dining-room. Cary would know only what she told him, and in a few minutes he would be gone. "I should like to hear the letter," she said, and motioned to the armchair beside the hearth. He took it, and she seated herself opposite him, upon an old, embroidered tabouret. Between them the fire of hickory logs burned softly; without the curtained windows the maple branches, moved by the wind, struck at intervals against the eaves. Jacqueline faced the door. It was her intention, should she hear steps, to rise and speak to Lewis in the hail without.
The letter which Cary drew from his breast pocket was from Major Churchill. That he did not read it all was due to his correspondent's choice of subjects and great plainness of speech; but he read what the Major had to say of Fontenoy, of the winter weather and the ailing slaves, of Mustapha, of county deaths and marriages, of the books he had been reading, and the men to whom he wrote. Major Edward's strain was ironic, fine, and very humanly lonely. Jacqueline's eyes filled with tears, and all the flames of the fire ran together like shaken jewels.
"Almost all the rest," said Cary, "has to do with politics. I will not read you what he has to say of us slight, younger men and the puny times in which we live. But this will interest you—this is of general import."
He turned the page and read: "I have to-day a letter from G. Morris with the latest mischief from the North. Aaron Burr is going West, but with, I warrant you, no thought of the setting sun. The Ancient Iniquity in Washington smiles with thin lips and pronounces that all men and Aaron Burr are unambitious, unselfish, and peace-loving—but none the less, he looks askance at the serpent's windings. The friends of Burr are not the friends of Jefferson. There are Federalists—'tis said they increase in numbers—who do not wish the former ill; myself I am not of them. Colonel Burr desired that duel; he lay in wait for the affront which should be his opportunity; he murdered Hamilton. He risked his own life—very true, the majority of murderers do the same. The one who does not is a dastard in addition—voila tout!
"Burr quits the East, and all men know that the West, like Israel of old, is weary of an Idea and would like to have a King. If the world revolves this way much longer, the Man of the People will not be asked to write the next Declaration of Independence, and the country west of the Ohio will be celebrating not the Fourth of July but an eighteenth Prairial. Aaron Burr and his confederates intend an Empire. 'Tis said there are five hundred men in his confidence here in the East, and that the chief of these wait but for a signal from him or from Wilkinson—whereupon they'll follow him and he'll make them dukes and princes.
"Like Macbeth, he has done his murder and is on his way to be crowned at Scone. He has not a wife, but he has a daughter ambitious as himself. She has a son. He sees his line secured. He has suborned other murderers and made traitors of honest men—and our Laputa philosopher at Washington smiles and says there is nothing amiss!
"May I be gathered soon out of this cap-and-bells democracy to some Walhalla where I may find Hamilton and General Washington and be at peace! This world is growing wearisome to me.
"G. Morris speaks of the bulk of his news as report merely, but I'll stake my head the report is true."
Cary ceased to read. Jacqueline sat motionless, and in the silence of the room they heard the wind outside and the tapping of the maple branches.
"If I were Mr. Jefferson," said Cary presently, "I would arrest Colonel Burr this side of the Ohio. He has been West too often; he is in the East now, and I would see to it that he remained here. But Mr. Jefferson will temporize, and Burr will make his dash for a throne. Well! he is neither Caesar nor Buonaparte; he is only Aaron Burr. He is the adventurer, not the Emperor. The danger is that in all the motley he is enlisting there may be a Buonaparte. Then farewell to this poor schemer and any delusions he may yet nourish as to a peaceful, federated West! War and brazen clamour and the yelling eagles of a conqueror!"
He spoke with conviction, but now, as though to lighten his own mood, he laughed. "All this may not be so," he said. "It may be but a dream of our over-peaceful night."
Jacqueline rose, motioned him with a smile to keep his seat, and, moving to an escritoire standing near the door, wrote a line upon a sheet of paper, then rang the bell and when Joab appeared, put the paper into his hand. "Give this to your master," she said, and came back to Cary beside the fire. She smiled, but he saw with concern that she was very pale, and that the amethysts were trembling at her throat. "I should not have read you this letter," he exclaimed. "It is over-caustic, over-bitter. Do not let it trouble you. You have grown pale!"
She bent over the fire as if she were cold. "It is nothing. Yes, I was troubled—I am always troubled when I think of Fontenoy. But it is over now—and indeed I wanted to hear Uncle Edward's letter." She straightened herself and turned to him a smiling face. "And now tell me of yourself! You are looking worn. Men work too hard in Richmond. Oh, for the Albemarle air! The snow will be white to-morrow on my fir tree, and Deb will have to throw crumbs for the birds. I have learned a new song. When next you come, I will sing it to you."
"Will you not," asked Cary,—"will you not sing it to me now?"
She shook her head. "Not now. How the branches strike against the roof to-night!"
As she spoke she moved restlessly, and Cary saw the amethysts stir again. A thought flashed through his mind. It had to do with Lewis Rand, of whom he often thought, sometimes with melancholy envy, sometimes with strong dislike, sometimes with unwilling admiration, and always with painful curiosity. Now, the substance of Major Churchill's letter strongly in mind, with senses rendered more acute and emotions heightened as they always were in the presence of the woman he had not ceased to love, troubled, too, by something in her demeanor, intangibly different from her usual frank welcome, he suddenly and vividly recalled a much-applauded speech that Rand had made three days before in a public gathering. It had included a noteworthy display of minute information of western conditions, extending to the physical features of the country and to every degree of its complex population. One sentence among many had caught Cary's attention, had perplexed him, and had remained in his memory to be considered afterwards, closely and thoughtfully. There was one possible meaning—
Cary crumpled the letter in his hand. Rand's speech perplexed him no longer. That was it—that was it! His breath came quickly. He had builded better—he had builded better than he knew, when he wrote that paper signed "Aurelius"!
With fingers that were not quite steady he smoothed and refolded Major Churchill's letter He was saying to himself, "What does she know She grew pale Thou suspicious fool! That was for thought of home He will have told her nothing—nothing! Her soul is clear."
He pocketed his letter and, rising, spoke to her with a chivalrous gentleness "I will go now Do not let the thought of Fontenoy distress you Do you remember the snow man we made there once, wreathing his head with holly? But I'll tell you a strange thing,—even on such a night as this, I always see Fontenoy bathed in summer weather!"
"Yes, yes," she answered "I, too. Oh, home!"
He held out his hand "You'll give my compliments to Mr. Rand?"
"Yes," she said. "He is busy to-night with a client from the country. He works too hard."
"Take him soon to Roselands and tie him there. Sing him To Althea and make him forget." He bent and kissed her hand. "Good-night—good-night!"
"Good-night," she answered, and moved with him to the door. Standing there, she watched him through the hail and out of the house, then turned and, going to the window, pressed her brow against the pane and watched him down the street. The night had cleared; there was a high wind and many stars.
In Rand's dining-room the three men sat late over the wine and the questions that had brought them together, but at last the conference was somewhat stormily over. Burr and Adam Gaudylock left the house together, the hunter volunteering to guide the stranger to his inn. It was midnight, and Colonel Burr did not see his hostess. He sent her courtly messages, and he pressed Rand's hand somewhat too closely, then with his most admirable military air and frankest smile, thrust his arm through Gaudylock's and marched away. Rand closed the door, put down the candle that he held, and turned into the drawing-room.
Before the dying fire he found Jacqueline in her white gown, the amethysts about her throat, and her scarf of silver gauze fallen from her hand upon the floor. In her young face and form there should have been no hint, no fleeting breath of tragedy, but to-night there was that hint and that breath. The fire over which she bent and brooded seemed to leave her cold. The room was no longer brightly lighted, and she appeared mournfully a part of the hovering shadows. Her spirit had power to step forth and clothe the flesh. Almost always she looked the thing she felt. Now, in the half light, bent above the fading coals, she looked old. Her husband, with his hand upon the mantel-shelf, gazed down upon her. "It was wise of you to send me that note. Burr and I might have walked in here, or we might have spoken loudly. I heard Cary when he went out. How did you manage?"
"He asked for you. I told him that you were engaged with a client from the country. Oh, Lewis!"
Rand stooped and kissed her. "It was the best thing you could say. I would not have had him guess our visitor to-night. You are trembling like a leaf!"
"The best that I could say!—I don't know that. I feel like a leaf in the wind! I did not understand—but I was afraid for you. It is done, but I prefer to tell the truth!"
"I prefer it for you," said Rand. "To-night was mere unluckiness. And he suspected nothing?"
"He went without knowing who was in the dining-room. Lewis, what is there to suspect?"
He stood looking down upon her with a glow in his dark eyes and an unwonted red in his cheek. "Suspect? There is nothing to suspect. But to expect—there might be expectations, my Queen!"
"As long as you live you are my King" she said. "To-night I am afraid for my King. I do not like Colonel Burr!"
"I am sorry for that. He is said to be a favourite with women."
"Lewis!" she cried, "what does he want with you? Tell me!"
So appealing was her voice, so urgent the touch of her hand, that with a start Rand awoke from his visions to the fact of her emotion. His eye was hawklike, and his intuition unfailing. "What did Ludwell Cary say to you?" he demanded.
She took her scarf from the floor, wound her hands in it, and clasped them tightly before her. "When I told him,—Mammy Chloe let him in,—when I told him that you were busy with your client, he thought no more of it. And then we talked of Fontenoy, and he read me a letter from Uncle Edward. Much of the letter was about Colonel Burr, and—and suspicions that were aroused. Uncle Edward called him a traitor and a maker of traitors. That is an ugly name, is it not? Ludwell Cary did not think the rumour false. He said that if he were Mr. Jefferson, he would arrest Colonel Burr. He, also, called him traitor. I can tell you what he said. He said, 'But Mr. Jefferson will temporize, and Burr will make his dash for a throne. Well! he is neither Caesar nor Buonaparte; he is only Aaron Burr. The danger is that in all the motley he is enlisting there may be a Buonaparte. Then farewell to this poor schemer and any delusions he may yet nourish as to a peaceful, federated West! War and brazen clamour and the yelling eagles of a conqueror!' That is what he said."
There was a silence, then Rand spoke in a curious voice, "Saul among the prophets! In the future, let us have less of Ludwell Cary."
"Lewis, why did Colonel Burr come here to-night?"
Rand turned from the fire and began to pace the room, head bent and hand at mouth, thinking rapidly. His wife raised her hands, still wrapped in the silver scarf, to her heart, and waited. As he passed for the third time the tall harp, he drew his hand heavily across the strings. The room vibrated to the sound. Rand came back to the hearth, took the armchair in which Cary had sat, and drew it closer to the glowing embers. "Come," he said. "Come, Jacqueline, let us look at the pictures in the fire."
She knelt beside him on the braided rug. "Show me true pictures! Home in Virginia, and honourable life, and noble service, and my King a King indeed, and this Colonel Burr gone like a shadow and an ugly dream!—that is the picture I want to see."
For a moment there was silence before the white ash and the dying heart of the wood, then Rand with the tongs squared a flaky bed and drew from top to bottom a jagged line. "This," he said, "is the great artery; this is the Mississippi River." He drew another line. "Here to the southwest is Mexico, and that is a country for great dreams. There the plantain and the orange grow and there are silver and gold—and the warm gulf is on this side, and the South Sea far, far away, and down here is South America. The Aztecs lived in Mexico, and Cortez conquered them. He burned his ships so that he and his Spaniards might not retreat. Here is the land west of the Mississippi, unknown and far away. There are grassy plains that seem to roll into the sun, and there are great herds of game, and warlike Indians, and beyond the range of any vision there are vast mountains white with snow. Gold, too, may be there. It is a country enormous, grandiose, rich, and silent,—a desert waiting dumbly for the strong man's tread." He turned a little and drew another line. "To this side, away, away to the east, here where you and I are sitting, watching, watching, here are the Old Thirteen,—the Thirteen that the English took from the Indians, that the children of the English took from England. It is the law of us all, Jacqueline, the law of the Three Kingdoms: the battle is to the strong and the race to the swift. The Old Thirteen are stable; let them rest! Together they make a great country, and they will be greater yet But here is the Ohio—la belle Riviere, the Frenchmen call it. And beyond and below the Ohio, through all the gigantic valley of a river so great that it seems a fable, south to New Orleans, and westward to the undiscovered lies the country that is to be! And Napoleon, in order that he may brandish over England one thunderbolt the more, sells it for a song!—and we buy it for a song—and not one man in fifty guesses that we have bought the song of the future! The man who bought it knows its value—but Mr. Jefferson cares only for Done lays. He'll not have the Phrygian. He dreams of cotton and olives, of flocks and herds, rock salt and peaceful mines, and the manors of the Golden Age,—all gathered, tended, worked, administered by farmers, school-teachers, and philosophers! The ploughshare (improved) and the pruning-hook, a pulpit for Dr. Priestley, and a statue of Tom Paine, a glass house where the study of the mastodon may lead to a knowledge of man, slavery abolished, and war abhorred, the lion and the lamb to lie down together and Rousseau to come true—all the old mirage—perfectibility in plain sight! That is his dream, and it is a noble one. There is no room in it for the wicked man. In the mean time he proposes to govern this land of milk and honey, this bought-and-paid-for Paradise, very much as an eastern Despot might govern a conquered province. The inconsistencies of man must disconcert even the Thinker up in the skies. Well—it happens that the West and this great new city of ours, there at the mouth of the river, with her levees and her ships, her merchants, priests, and lawyers, do not want government by a satrap. They want an Imperial City and a Caesar of their own. Throughout the length and breadth of this vast territory there is deep dissatisfaction—within and without, for Spain is yet arrogant upon its borders. The Floridas—Mexico—fret and fever everywhere! It is so before all changes, Jacqueline. The very wind sighs uneasily. Then one comes, bolder than the rest, sees and takes his advantage. So empires and great names are made."
"So good names are lost!" she cried. "It is not thus that you spoke one October evening on our way from Albemarle!"
Rand dropped the iron from his hand. "That was a year and a half ago, and all things move with rapidity. A man's mind changes. That evening!—I was in Utopia. And yet, if we reigned,—if we two reigned, Jacqueline,—we might reign like that. We might make a kingdom wise and great."
"And Mr. Jefferson, and all that you owe to him? And your letter to him every month with all the public news?"
"That was before this winter," he answered. "We have almost ceased to write. I am not like James Madison or James Monroe. I cannot follow always. Mr. Jefferson is a great man—but it is hungry dwelling in the shadow of another."
"Better dwell in the shadow forever," cried Jacqueline, with passion, "than to reign with faithlessness in the sun!"
"I am not faithless—"
"So Benedict Arnold thought! Oh, Lewis!"
"You speak," said Rand slowly, "too much like the Churchills and the Carys."
In the silence that followed, Jacqueline rose and stood over against him, the scarf trailing from her hand and the amethysts rising and falling with her laboured breathing. He glanced at her and then went on: "Burr leaves Richmond to-morrow. He does not go West till summer, and all his schemes may come to naught. What he does or does not do will depend on many things, chiefly on whether or not we go to war with Spain. I am not going West with him—not yet. I have let him talk. I have brought him and Adam Gaudylock together; I have put a little money in this land purchase of his upon the Washita, and I have given him some advice. That is all there is of rebellion, treason, and sedition,—all the cock-a-hoop story! Ludwell Cary may keep his own breath to cool his own porridge. And you, Jacqueline, you who married me, you have not a soul to be frighted with big words! You and I shall walk side by side."
"Shall we?" she said. "That will depend. I'll not walk with you over the dead—dead faith, dead hope, dead honour!"
"I shall not ask you to," he answered. "You are not yourself. You are using words without thought. It is the cold, the lateness, and this dying fire—Ludwell Cary's arrogance as well. Dead faith, hope, honour!—is this your trust, your faith?"
He rose, crossed the shadowy space between them, and took her hands. "Don't fear—don't fear! We two will always love. Jacqueline, there is that within me that will not rest, that cries for power, and that overrides obstacles! See what I have overridden since the days beneath the apple tree! I am not idly dreaming. Conditions such as exist to-day will not arise again. Upon this continent it is the time of times for the bold—the wisely bold. This that beckons is no mirage in the West; it is palpable fact. Say that I follow Burr—follow! overtake and pass him! He has a tarnished name and fifty years,—a supple rapier but a shrunken arm. He's daring; but I can be that and more. He plans; I can achieve. I am no dreamer and no braggart when I say that in the West I can play the Corsican. What can I do here? Become, perhaps, Governor of Virginia; wait until Mr. Jefferson is dead, and Mr. Madison is dead, and Mr. Monroe is dead, and then, if the world is yet Republican, become President? The governorship I do not want; the presidency is but a chance, and half a lifetime off! But this—this, Jacqueline, is real and at hand. Say that I go, say that I gain a throne where you and I may sit and rule, wise and great and sovereign, holding kingdoms for our children—"