"Were you glad to recover?"
"Well, I can't remember that I had any feelings in particular when I first struck the up-track. It was hard work fighting for life, and I don't think I cared much one way or the other. But when I got well enough to sit up it began to grow interesting. I used to sit at the window in a very infantile frame of mind and watch everything that went by. It wasn't a very rowdy life, as the prisoner in solitary confinement said to Dickens. We live in a back street, where there's not much passing. The advent of the baker's cart used to be the chief excitement. It was painted red and yellow, and he baked very nice leaf-cookies. My mother would hang a napkin in the door-knocker when she wanted him to stop; and as I couldn't see the knocker from my window, I used to make bets with Dummy as to whether the wagon would stop or not."
"Your mother is living, then?"
"Yes: my father died when I was a boy."
She asked no further questions, but a few minutes after rose and said, "I think I will go now. Good-evening."
He had never before outstayed her. He looked at his watch and found that it was only half-past four.
"I hope," he began anxiously, "that you are not feeling sick: you spoke just now of being oppressed by the heat. Excuse me for staying so long."
"Oh no," she answered, "I'm not sick. I reckon I need a little rest. Good-evening."
Putnam lingered after she was gone. He found his way to his old bench under the cedars and sat there for a while. He had not occupied this seat since his first meeting with Miss Pinckney in the summer-house, and the initials which he had whittled on its edge impressed him as belonging to some bygone stage of his history. This was the first time that she had questioned him about himself. His sympathy had won her confidence, but she had treated him hitherto in an impersonal way, as something tributary to her brother's memory, like the tombstone or the flowers on his grave. The suspicion that he was seeking her for her own sake had not, so far as Putnam could discover, ever entered her thoughts.
But in the course of their next few interviews there came a change in her behavior. The simplicity and unconsciousness of her sorrow had become complicated with some other feeling. He caught her looking at him narrowly once or twice, and when he looked hard at her there was visible in her manner a soft agitation—something which in a girl of more sanguine complexion might have been interpreted as a blush. She sometimes suffered herself to be coaxed a little way into talking of things remote from the subject of her sorrow. Occasionally she questioned Putnam shyly about himself, and he needed but slight encouragement to wax confidential. She listened quietly to his experiences, and even smiled now and then at something that he said. His heart beat high with triumph: he fancied that he was leading her slowly up out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
But the upward path was a steep one. She had many sudden relapses and changes of mood. Putnam divined that she felt her grief loosening its tight hold on her and slipping away, and that she clung to it as a consecrated thing with a morbid fear of losing it altogether. There were days when her demeanor betokened a passionate self-reproach, as though she accused herself secretly of wronging her brother and profaning his tomb in allowing more cheerful thoughts to blunt the edge of her bereavement. He remarked also that her eyes were often red from weeping. There sometimes mingled with her remorse a plain resentment toward himself. At such times she would hardly speak to him, and the slightest gayety or even cheerfulness on his part was received as downright heartlessness. He made a practice, therefore, of withdrawing at once whenever he found her in this frame of mind.
One day they had been sitting long together. She had appeared unusually content, but had spoken little. The struggle in her heart had perhaps worn itself out for the present, and she had yielded to the warm current of life and hope which was bearing her back into the sunshine. Suddenly the elderly woman who had formed one of the company in the summer-house on the day of the thunderstorm passed along the walk with her trowel and watering-pot. She nodded to Miss Pinckney, and then, pausing opposite the pair, glanced sharply from one to the other, smiled significantly and passed on. This trifling incident aroused Putnam's companion from her reverie: she looked at him with a troubled expression and said, "Do you think you ought to come here so much?"
"I don't know. How well did you know my brother Henry?"
"If I didn't know him so very intimately when he was living, I feel that I know him well now from all that you have told me about him. And, if you will pardon my saying so, I feel that I know his sister a little too, and have some title to her acquaintance."
"You have been very kind, and I am grateful for it, but perhaps you ought not to come so much."
"I'm sorry if I have come too much," rejoined Putnam bitterly, "but I shall not come much more. I am going away soon. The doctor says I am not getting along fast enough and must have change of air. He has ordered me to the mountains."
There was silence for a few minutes. He was looking moodily down at the turf, pulling a blade of grass now and then, biting it and throwing it away.
"I thank you very much for your sympathy and kindness," she said at length, rising from her chair; "and I hope you will recover very fast in the mountains. Good-bye."
She extended her hand, which Putnam took and held. It was trembling perceptibly. "Wait a moment," he said. "Before I go I should like to show some little mark of respect to your brother's memory. Won't you meet me at the green-house to-morrow morning—say about nine o'clock—and select a few flowers? They will be your flowers, you know—your offering."
"Yes," she answered, "I will; and I thank you again for him."
The next morning at the appointed hour Putnam descended the steps into the green-house. The gardener had just watered the plants. A rich steam exhaled from the earth and clouded all the glass, and the moist air was heavy with the breath of heliotropes and roses. A number of butterflies were flying about, and at the end of a many-colored perspective of leaves and blossoms Putnam saw Miss Pinckney hovering around a collection of tropical orchids. The gardener had passed on into an adjoining hot-house, and no sound broke the quiet but the dripping of water in a tank of aquatic plants. The fans of the palms and the long fronds of the tree-ferns hung as still as in some painting of an Indian isle.
She greeted him with a smile and held out her hand to him. The beauty of the morning and of the place had wrought in her a gentle intoxication, and the mournful nature of her errand was for the moment forgotten. "Isn't it delicious here?" she exclaimed: "I think I should like to live in a green-house and grow like a plant."
"A little of that kind of thing would do you no end of good," he replied—"a little concentrated sunshine and bright colors and the smell of the fresh earth, you know. If you were my patient, I would make you take a course of it. I'd say you wanted more vegetable tissue, and prescribe a green-house for six months. I've no doubt this man here would take you. A young-lady apprentice would be quite an attractive feature. You could pull off dead leaves and strike graceful attitudes, training up vines, like the gardener's daughter in Tennyson."
"What are those gorgeous things?" she asked, pointing to a row of orchids hung on nails along the wall.
"Those are epiphytic orchids—air-plants, you know: they require no earth for their roots: they live on the air."
"Like a chameleon?"
"Like a chameleon."
He took down from its nail one of the little wooden slabs, and showed her the roots coiled about it, with the cluster of bulbs. The flower was snow-white and shaped like a butterfly. The fringe of the lip was of a delicate rose-pink, and at the base of it were two spots of rich maroon, each with a central spot of the most vivid orange. Every color was as pronounced as though it were the only one.
"What a daring combination!" she cried. "If a lady should dress in all those colors she'd be thought vulgar, but somehow it doesn't seem vulgar in a flower."
She turned the blossom over and looked at the under side of the petals. "Those orange spots show right through the leaf," she went on, "as if they were painted and the paint laid on thick."
"Do you know," said Putnam, "that what you've just said gives me a good deal of encouragement?"
"Well, it's the first really feminine thing—At least—no, I don't mean that. But it makes me think that you are more like other girls."
His explanation was interrupted by the entrance of the gardener.
"Will you select some of those orchids, please—if you like them, that is?" asked Putnam.
A shade passed over her face. "They are too gay for his—for Henry," she answered.
"Try to tolerate a little brightness to-day," he pleaded in a low voice. "You must dedicate this morning to me: it's the last, you know."
"I will take a few of them if you wish it, but not this one. I will take that little white one and that large purple one."
The gardener reached down the varieties which she pointed out, and they passed along the alley to select other flowers. She chose a number of white roses, dark-shaded fuchsias and English violets, and then they left the place. Her expression had grown thoughtful, though not precisely sad. They walked slowly up the long shady street leading to the cemetery.
"I am dropping some of the flowers," she said, stopping: "will you carry these double fuchsias a minute, please, while I fasten the others?"
He took them and laughed. "Now, if this were in a novel," he said, "what a neat opportunity for me to say, 'May I not always carry your double fuchsias?'"
She looked at him quickly, and her brown cheek blushed rosy red, but she started on without making any reply and walked faster.
"She takes," he said to himself. But he saw the cemetery-gate at the end of the street. "I must make this walk last longer," he thought. Accordingly, he invented several cunning devices to prolong it, stopping now and then to point out something worth noting in the handsome grounds which lined the street. And so they sauntered along, she appearing to have forgotten the speech which had embarrassed her, or at least she did not resent it. They paused in front of a well-kept lawn, and he drew her attention to the turf. "It's almost as dark as the evergreens," he said.
"Yes," she answered, "it's so green that it's almost blue."
"What do you suppose makes the bees gather round that croquet-stake so?"
"I reckon they take the bright colors on it for flowers," she answered, with a certain quaintness of fancy which he had often remarked in her.
As they stood there leaning against the fence a party of school-girls came along with their satchels and spelling-books. They giggled and stared as they passed the fence, and one of them, a handsome, long-legged, bold-faced thing, said aloud, "Oh my! Look at me and my fancy beau a-takin' a walk!"
Putnam glanced at his companion, who colored nervously and looked away. "Saucy little giglets!" he laughed. "Did you hear what she said?"
"Yes," almost inaudibly.
"I hope it didn't annoy you?"
"It was very rude," walking on.
"Well, I rather like naughty school-girls: they are amusing creatures. When I was a very small boy I was sent to a girls' school, and I used to study their ways. They always had crumbs in their apron-pockets; they used to write on a slate, 'Tommy is a good boy,' and hold it up for me to see when the teacher wasn't looking; they borrowed my geography at recess and painted all the pictures vermilion and yellow." He paused, but she said nothing, and he continued, talking against time, "There was one piece of chewing-gum in that school which circulated from mouth to mouth. It had been originally spruce gum, I believe, but it was masticated beyond recognition: the parent tree wouldn't have known her child. One day I found it hidden away on a window-sill behind the shutter. It was flesh-colored and dented all over with the marks of sharp little teeth. I kept that chewing-gum for a week, and the school was like a cow that's lost her cud."
As Putnam completed these reminiscences they entered the cemetery-gate, and the shadow of its arch seemed to fall across the young girl's soul. The bashful color had faded from her cheek and the animation from her eye. Her face wore a troubled expression: she walked slowly and looked about at the gravestones.
Putnam stopped talking abruptly, but presently said, "You have not asked me for your fuchsias."
She stood still and held out her hand for them.
"I thought you might be meaning to let me keep them," said Putnam. His heart beat fast and his voice trembled as he continued: "Perhaps you thought that what I said a while ago was said in joke, but I mean it in real earnest."
"Mean what?" she asked faintly.
"Don't you know what I mean?" he said, coming nearer and taking her hand. "Shall I tell you, darling?"
"Oh, please don't! Oh, I think I know. Not here—not now. Give me the flowers," she said, disengaging her hand, "and I will put them on Henry's grave."
He handed them to her and said, "I won't go on now if it troubles you; but tell me first—I am going away to-morrow, and sha'n't be back till October—shall I find you here then, and may I speak then?"
"I shall be here till winter."
"And may I speak then?"
"And will you listen?"
"Then I can wait."
They moved on again along the cemetery-walks. Putnam felt an exultation that he could not suppress. In spite of her language, her face and the tone of her voice had betrayed her. He knew that she cared for him. But in the blindness of his joy he failed to notice an increasing agitation in her manner, which foretold the approach of some painful crisis of feeling. Her conflicting emotions, long pent up, were now in most delicate equilibrium. The slightest shock might throw them out of balance. Putnam's nature, though generous and at bottom sympathetic, lacked the fineness of insight needed to interpret the situation. Like many men of robust and heedless temperament, he was more used to bend others' moods to his own than to enter fully into theirs. His way of approaching the subject had been unfortunate, beginning as he had with a jest. The sequel was destined to be still more unlucky.
They had reached a part of the cemetery which was not divided into lots, but formed a sort of burial commons for the behoof of the poor. It was used mainly by Germans, and the graves were principally those of children. The headstones were wooden, painted white, with inscriptions in black or gilt lettering. Humble edgings of white pebbles or shells, partly embedded in the earth, bordered some of the graves: artificial flowers, tinsel crosses, hearts and other such fantastic decorations lay upon the mounds. Putnam's companion paused with an expression of pity before one of these uncouth sepulchres, a little heap of turf which covered the body of a "span-long babe."
"Now, isn't that echt Deutsch?" began Putnam, whom the gods had made mad. "Is that glass affair let into the tombstone a looking-glass or a portrait of the deceased—like that 'statoot of a deceased infant' that Holmes tells about? Even our ancestral cherub and willow tree are better than that, or even the inevitable sick lamb and broken lily."
"The people are poor," she murmured.
"They do the same sort of thing when they're rich. It's the national Geschmack to stick little tawdry fribbles all over the face of Nature."
"Poor little baby!" she said gently.
"It's a rather old baby by this time," rejoined Putnam, pointing out the date on the wooden slab—"Eighteen fifty-one: it would be older than I now if it had kept on."
Her eyes fell upon the inscription, and she read it aloud. "Hier ruht in Gott Heinrich Frantz, Geb. Mai 13, 1851. Gest. August 4, 1852. Wir hoffen auf Wiedersehen." She repeated the last words softly over to herself.
"Are those white things cobblestones, or what?" continued Putnam perversely, indicating the border which quaintly encircled the little mound. "As I live," he exclaimed, "they are door-knobs!" and he poked one of them out of the ground with the end of his cane.
"Stop!" she cried vehemently: "how can you do that?"
He dropped his cane and looked at her in wonder. She burst into tears and turned away. "You think I am a heartless brute?" he cried remorsefully, hastening after her.
"Oh, go away, please—go away and leave me alone. I am going to my brother: I want to be alone."
She hurried on, and he paused irresolute. "Miss Pinckney!" he called after her, but she made no response. His instinct, now aroused too late, told him that he had better leave her alone for the present. So he picked up his walking-stick and turned reluctantly homeward. He cursed himself mentally as he retraced the paths along which they had walked together a few moments before. "I'm a fool," he said to himself: "I've gone and upset it all. Couldn't I see that she was feeling badly? I suppose I imagined that I was funny, and she thought I was an insensible brute. This comes of giving way to my infernal high spirits." At the same time a shade of resentment mingled with his self-reproaches. "Why can't she be a little more cheerful and like other girls, and make some allowance for a fellow?" he asked. "Her brother wasn't everybody else's brother. It's downright morbid, this obstinate woe of hers. Other people have lost friends and got over it."
On the morrow he was to start for the mountains. He visited the cemetery in the morning, but Miss Pinckney was not there. He did not know her address, nor could the gatekeeper inform him; and in the afternoon he set out on his journey with many misgivings.
It was early October when Putnam returned to the city. He went at once to the cemetery, but on reaching the grave his heart sank at the sight of a bunch of withered flowers which must have lain many days upon the mound. The blossoms were black and the stalks brittle and dry. "Can she have changed her mind and gone South already?" he asked himself.
There was a new sexton in the gate-house, who could tell him nothing about her. He wandered through the grounds, looking for the old woman with the watering-pot, but the season had grown cold, and she had probably ceased her gardening operations for the year. He continued his walk beyond the marshes. The woods had grown rusty and the sandy pastures outside the city were ringing with the incessant creak of grasshoppers, which rose in clouds under his feet as he brushed through the thin grass. The blue-curl and the life-everlasting distilled their pungent aroma in the autumn sunshine. A feeling of change and forlornness weighed upon his spirit. As with Thomas of Ercildoune, whom the Queen of Faery carried away into Eildon Hill, the short period of his absence seemed seven years long. An old English song came into his head:
Winter wakeneth all my care, Now these leaves waxeth bare: Oft in cometh into my thought, Of this worldes joy how it goeth all to naught.
Soon after arriving at the hills he had written to Miss Pinckney a long letter of explanations and avowals; but he did not know the number of her lodgings, or, oddly enough, even her Christian name, and the letter had been returned to him unopened. The next month was one of the unhappiest in Putnam's life. On returning to the city, thoroughly restored in health, he had opened an office, but he found it impossible to devote himself quietly to the duties of his profession. He visited the cemetery at all hours, but without success. He took to wandering about in remote quarters and back streets of the town, and eyed sharply every female figure that passed him in the twilight, especially if it walked quickly or wore a veil. He slept little at night, and grew restless and irritable. He had never confided this experience even to his mother: it seemed to him something apart.
One afternoon toward the middle of November he was returning homeward weary and dejected from a walk in the suburbs. His way led across an unenclosed outskirt of the town which served as a common to the poor people of the neighborhood. It was traversed by a score of footpaths, and frequented by goats, and by ducks that dabbled in the puddles of rain-water collected in the hollows. Halfway across this open tract stood what had formerly been an old-fashioned country-house, now converted into a soap-boiling establishment. Around this was a clump of old pine trees, the remnant of a grove which had once flourished in the sandy soil. There was something in the desolation of the place that flattered Putnam's mood, and he stopped to take it in. The air was dusk, but embers of an angry sunset burned low in the west. A cold wind made a sound in the pine-tops like the beating of surf on a distant shore. A flock of little winter birds flew suddenly up from the ground into one of the trees, like a flight of gray leaves whirled up by a gust. As Putnam turned to look at them he saw, against the strip of sunset along the horizon, the slim figure of a girl walking rapidly toward the opposite side of the common. His heart gave a great leap, and he started after her on a run. At a corner of the open ground the figure vanished, nor could Putnam decide into which of two or three small streets she had turned. He ran down one and up another, but met no one except a few laborers coming home from work, and finally gave up the quest. But this momentary glimpse produced in him a new excitement. He felt sure that he had not been mistaken: he knew the swift, graceful step, the slight form bending in the wind. He fancied that he had even recognized the poise and shape of the little head. He imagined, too, that he had not been unobserved, and that she had some reason for avoiding him. For a week or more he haunted the vicinity of the common, but without result. December was already drawing to an end when he received the following note:
"DEAR MR. PUTNAM: You must forgive me for running away from you the other evening: I am right—am I not?—in supposing that you saw and recognized me. It was rude in me not to wait for you, but I had not courage to talk with any one just then. Perhaps I should have seen you before at the cemetery—if you still walk there—but I have been sick and have not been there for a long time. I was only out for the first time when I saw you last Friday. My aunt has sent for me, and I am going South in a few days. I shall leave directions to have this posted to you as soon as I am gone.
"I promised to be here when you came back, and I write this to thank you for your kind interest in me and to explain why I go away without seeing you again. I think that I know what you wanted to ask me that day that we went to the green-house, and perhaps under happier circumstances I could have given you the answer which you wished. But I have seen so much sorrow, and I am of such a gloomy disposition, that I am not fit for cheerful society, and I know you would regret your choice.
"I shall think very often and very gratefully of you, and shall not forget the words on that little German baby's gravestone. Good-bye.
Putnam felt stunned and benumbed on first reading this letter. Then he read it over mechanically two or three times. The date was a month old, but the postmark showed that it had just been mailed. She must have postponed her departure somewhat after writing it, or the person with whom it had been left had neglected to post it till now. He felt a sudden oppression and need of air, and taking his hat left the house. It was evening, and the first snow of the season lay deep on the ground. Anger and grief divided his heart. "It's too bad! too bad!" he murmured, with tears in his eyes: "she might have given me one chance to speak. She hasn't been fair to me. What's the matter with her, anyhow? She has brooded and brooded till she is downright melancholy-mad;" and then, with a revulsion of feeling, "My poor darling girl! Here she has been, sick and all alone, sitting day after day in that cursed graveyard. I ought never to have gone to the mountains: I ought to have stayed. I might have known how it would turn out. Well, it's all over now, I suppose."
He had taken, half unconsciously, the direction of the cemetery, and now found himself at the entrance. The gate was locked, but he climbed over the wall and waded through the snow to the spot where he had sat with her so many summer afternoons. The wicker chair was buried out of sight in a drift. A scarcely-visible undulation in the white level marked the position of the mound, and the headstone had a snow-cap. The cedars stood black in the dim moonlight, and the icy coating of their boughs rattled like candelabra. He stood a few moments near the railing, and then tore the letter into fragments and threw them on the snow. "There! good-bye, good-bye!" he said bitterly as the wind carried them skating away over the crust.
But what was that? The moon cast a shadow of Henry Pinckney's headstone on the snow, but what was that other and similar shadow beyond it? Putnam had been standing edgewise to the slab: he shifted his position now and saw a second stone and a second mound side by side with the first. An awful faintness and trembling seized him as he approached it and bent his head close down to the marble. The jagged shadows of the cedar-branches played across the surface, but by the uncertain light he could read the name "Imogen Pinckney," and below it the inscription, "Wir hoffen auf Wiedersehen."
HENRY A. BEERS.
STUDIES IN THE SLUMS.
VI.—JAN OF THE NORTH.
"You're wanted at 248, and they said go quick. It's Brita, I shouldn't wonder. Lord pity her, but it's a wild night to go out! Seems like as if the Lord would have hard work to find anybody, with the rain an' sleet pourin' an' drivin' so't you can't see a foot before your face. But He will."
"Yes, He will," the doctor's quiet voice answered. "Poor little Brita! I am glad her trouble is almost over. Will you come? Remember how dreadful the place is."
"More so for me than for you?"
"Surely, for I have been in the midst of such for twenty years, and among them all have never known a worse den than that in which these poor souls are stranded. If I could only see a way out for them!"
The doctor had not been idle as she spoke, and stood ready now in thick gray waterproof and close bonnet, her face a shade graver than its always steady, gentle calm. Jerry followed, his badge of deputy sheriff hastily put on, for the alley was one of the worst in the Fourth Ward, and, well as she was known through its length and breadth, here the bravest might shrink from going unattended. Out into the night, the wild wind and beating rain seeming best accompaniments to the brutal revelry in the dance-houses and "bucket-shops" all about. Here, one heard the cracked and discordant sounds from the squeaking fiddles or clarionets of the dance-music, and there, were shouts and oaths and the crash of glass as a drunken fight went on, undisturbed by policeman and watched with only a languid interest by the crowd of heavy drinkers. Up Cherry street, past staggering men, and women with the indescribable voice that once heard is never forgotten, all, seemingly regardless of the storm, laughing aloud or shrieking as a sudden gust whirled them on. Then the alley, dark and noisome, the tall tenement-houses rising on either side, a wall of pestilence and misery, shutting in only a little deeper misery, a little surer pestilence, to be faced as it might be.
"It's hell on earth," said Jerry as we passed up the stairs, dark and broken, pausing a moment as the sound of a scuffle and a woman's shrill scream came from one of the rooms. "Do you wonder there's murder, an' worse than murder, done in these holes? Oh, what would I give to tumble them, the whole crop of the devil's own homes, straight into the river!"
"Hush," the doctor said. "Stay, Jerry, a few minutes. You may be wanted, but there is not room for all in there."
As she spoke the door had opened, and a tall, gaunt woman in the distinctive Swedish dress stood before us and mutely pointed us in. It was hard to distinguish anything in the dim light of a flickering tallow candle placed in a corner to screen it from the wind, which whistled through cracks and forced the rain through the broken roof. On a pile of rags lay three children, sleeping soundly. By the table sat a heavy figure, the face bowed and hidden in the arms folded upon it, and on the wretched bed lay the wasted figure of the girl whose life was passing in the storm.
"Poor little Brita!" I said again, for as the doctor bent over her and took her hand the eyes opened and a faint smile came to the sweet, child-like face. Long braids of fair hair lay on the pillow, the eyes were blue and clear, and the face, wearing now the strange gray shadow of death, held a delicate beauty still, that with health and color would have made one turn to look at it again wherever encountered. The mother stood silent and despairing at the foot of the bed. The motionless figure at the table did not stir. There was no fire or sign of comfort in the naked room, and but the scantiest of covering on the bed.
The girl looked up faintly and put out her hand. "Pray," she said in a whisper—"pray for the mother;" but even as she spoke she gasped, half rose, then fell back, and was gone, the look of entreaty still in the eyes. The doctor closed them gently, the poor eyes that would never need to beg for help any more, and then the mother, still silent, came softly and touched the girl's face, sinking down then by the side of the bed and stroking the dead hands as if to bring back life.
The man had risen too and came slowly to her side. "I thank God she iss gone away from all trouble," he said, "but oh, my doctor, it iss so hard!"
"Hard!" the woman echoed and rose. "I will not hear of God: I hate God. There iss no God, but only a deffil, who does all he vill. Brita iss gone, and Lars and little Jan. Now it must be de oders, and den I know vat you call God vill laugh. He vill say, 'Ah, now I haf dem all. De fool fader and de fool moder, dey may live.'"
"Brita! poor Brita!" the man said softly, and added some words in his own tongue. She pushed him away, then burst into wild weeping and sank down on the floor.
"He will be her best comforter," the doctor said. "We will go now, and I will see them all to-morrow. That money will get the coffin," she added as she laid a bill on the table and then went softly out, "but the coffin would not have been needed if help could have come three months ago."
"I thought it was some drunken home," I said, "but that man can never have gone very far wrong. He has a noble head."
"No, it is only hard times," she answered. "Go again, and you will learn the whole story, unless you choose to hear it from me."
"No," I said as we stood under the shelter of the still unfinished Franklin Square Station on the elevated road, "I will hear it for myself if I can."
The time came sooner than I thought. A month later I went up the dark stairs, whose treacherous places I had learned to know, and found the room empty of all signs of occupation, though the bed and table still stood there.
"They're gone," a voice called from below. "They've come into luck, Pat says, but I don't know. Anyhow, they turned out o' here yesterday, an' left the things there for whoever 'd be wantin' 'em."
"Bad 'cess to the furriner!" said another voice as I passed down. "Comin' here wid his set-up ways, an' schornin' a bit of dhrink!"
"An' if ye'd take patthern of him yerself—" the woman's voice began, and was silenced by a push back into her room and the loud slam of the door.
"They have come to better times surely," the janitor said as I asked their whereabouts at the mission, "an' here's their new number. It's a quiet, decent place, an' he'll have a better soon."
After Cherry and Roosevelt and Water streets, Madison street seems another Fifth Avenue. The old New Yorker knows it as the once stately and decorous abode of old Dutch families, a few of whom still cling to the ancient homes, but most of these are now cheap boarding-Pouses and tenements, while here and there a new genuine tenement-house is sandwiched between the tiled roofs and dormer-windows which still hold suggestions of former better days. The more respectable class of 'longshoremen find quarters here, and some of the mission-people, who, well-to-do enough to seek quieter homes, choose to be as near as possible to the work waiting for them, and for more like them, in that nest of evil and outrage and slime, the Fourth Ward.
Brita's head was bowed on the table as I went in, and Jan's face was sorrowful as he looked toward her. "It iss not so alvay," he said. "She hass made it all so good, and now she dinks of Brita, dat vill not see it, and she say still, 'God iss hard to take her avay.'"
"How is it, Jan? Did work come all at once?"
"No, and yet yes. Shall I say it all, my lady?"
"Surely, Jan, if you have time."
"It iss de last day I vill be here in my home all day," he began, drawing one of the children between his knees and holding its hands fondly. "But see on de vall! It iss dat hass done some vork for me."
I looked to where he pointed. On the wall, near the small looking-glass, hung a round cap with hanging fox's tail—such a cap as the half-bloods of our north-western forests wear, and the peasants of the European North as well.
Jan smiled as he saw my puzzled look. "It iss vy I say I vill tell it all," he went on in his grave, steady voice. "Ven I see dat it iss to see de North. For, see, it vas not alvays I am in de city. No. It iss true I am many years in Stockholm, but I am not Swede: I am Finn—yes, true Finn—and know my own tongue vell, and dat iss vat some Finns vill nefer do. I haf learn to read Swedish, for I must. Our own tongue iss not for us, but I learn it, and Brita dere, she know it too. Brita iss of Helsingfors, and I am of de country far out, but I come dere vid fur, for I hunt many months each year. Den I know Brita, and ve marry, and I must stay in de city, and I am strong; and first I am porter, but soon dey know I read and can be drusted, and it iss china dat I must put in boxes all day, and I know soon how to touch it so as it nefer break.
"But dere is not money. My Brita iss born, and little Jan, and I dink alvay, 'I must haf home vere dey may know more;' and all de days it iss America dat dey say iss home for all, and much money—so much no man can be hungry, and vork iss for all. Brita iss ready, and soon ve come, and all de children glad. Yes, dere are six, and good children dat lofe us, and I say efery day, 'Oh, my God, but you are so good! and my life lofes you, for so much good I haf.' Brita too iss happy. She vork hard, but ve do not care, and ve dink, 'Soon ve can rest a little, for it iss not so hard dere as here;' and ve sail to America.
"But, my lady, how iss it it vas all so bad? For vork iss not. It iss true I haf a little in de beginning. It iss three year ago. I know some English I haf learn in sailing once to England, for de Finns go eferyvere to sail. I am not helpless so, and I am large and strong, and soon I go to de many, many china-stores—so many, I say, dat can nefer be to vant vork—and in one dey take me. But it iss not much money, dough I dink it so, for it iss alvay de rent—so much, and ve are strange and dey cheat us. And ven I am troubled most, and dink to ask for more, den quick it iss dat I haf none. De place iss failed—dat iss vat iss tell me—and I go home to Brita to say vat shall to do? I could dig, I vould go far off, but I haf not money; but I say, 'Ven I get plenty it shall be ve go to vere earth shall gif us to eat, and not starve us as here.' For soon it iss little to eat, and it iss dat ve sell clothes and such as ve must. I get vork—a little on de docks. I unload, and see men dat can steal all day from coffee-bags and much sugar, and soon time iss come dat ve are hungry, and men say, 'Steal too. It's hard times, and you haf to steal.'
"Oh, dere iss one day! It iss here now. My little Jan iss dead, and Carl so sick, and all dat he must be vidout enough to eat, and my Brita vill get a dollar and a half a veek to sew—alvays sew and she is pale and coughs. I pray, 'O God, you know I vill not do wrong, but vat shall I do? Show me how, for I am afraid.' But it vas all dark. I cannot go home, for I haf not money. I cannot vork but one, maybe two, times a veek. And alvays I see my own hungry! I dink I could kill myself; but dat helps not, and I go avay, oh, eferyvere about New York, and beg for vork. And den eferyvere it iss said, 'He is a tramp,' and alvays dey tell me, 'No, ve gif not to tramps. Go to vere you came from.' I say, 'I am not tramps. My children are hungry. Gif me vork: I vant to eat for dem—not money, but to eat if you vill. Gif me a little vork.'
"I am dirty: Brita iss not dere to haf me clean. I vash as I can, in vater anyvere, but I sleep on de ground. I eat not often. I am vild truly, I know, and soon peoples are afraid. Den, my lady, I haf no more faith. I say, 'God, you haf forgotten me: you haf forgotten vat you promise. It may be God iss not anyvere.' So I come back, and I find dat my little Brita iss sick—so sick she cannot vork—and Brita my vife; she sew all she can, but it iss not enough. I go on de docks once more. 'No vork! no vork!' It iss de vord eferyvere. And one day, all de day long, ve haf nothing—no fire, nothing to eat, and dere iss no more anything to pawn, and I say, 'At last I vill steal, for vat else shall be to do?' And I go out and down to de dock, for I know a boat going out in de night, and I say, 'I too vill go.' But I go down Vater street. I know it not much, for first my home iss on de odder side, but ve are so poor at last ve are in Cherry street, and den vere you see us first. But den I am just come, and I go by de mission and hear all sing, and I say, 'I vill stay a minute and listen, for soon nefer again shall I sit vid any dat sing and pray and haf to do vid God.' So I go in, and listen not much till soon one man stands up, an' he say, 'Friends, I came first from prison, and I meant not efer to do more vat vould take me dere again. But dere iss no vork, even ven I look all day, and I am hungry; and den I dink to steal again. I vait, because perhaps vork come, but at night I go out and say, "I know my old ground. Dere's plenty ready to velcome me if I'm a mind to join 'em." And den, as I go, one says to me, "Come in here;" and I come in and not care, till I hear many tell vat dey vere, and I say, "I vill vait a leetle longer: I cannot steal now." And now vork has come, and if God help me I shall never steal again.'
"I stood up den. I said loud, 'I haf nefer steal. I belief in God, but now how shall I? My heart's dearest, dey starve, dey die before me. Dere iss no vork, dere iss no help. If I steal not, how shall I do?' I vas crying: I could not see. Then Jerry came. 'You shall nefer starve,' he said. 'Stay honest, for God vill care for you, and ve'll all pray Him to keep you so.'
"And so, when meeting iss done, dey go vid me to see, and dere iss food and all dey can. Dey are God's angels to me and to mine.
"But, my lady, you know: you haf seen my little Brita. And efery day I look at her and see her going avay, so fast, so fast, and my heart breaks, for she is first of all. And den she iss gone, and still vork is not. You haf seen us. All de days dey say. 'Dere vill come vork soon,' but it comes not efer. And one morning I look in de chest to see if one thing may still be to pawn, and dere iss only my cap dat I keep—not to vear, no, but only to remember. And I sit, and it iss on my hand, and I hold de fox's tail, and again I am in Finland, and I see de foxes run on de ice, and I know vell dis one dat I hold de tail. Den quick I haf a thought. I look for a stick all about: dere iss but a little one for de fire, and no knife, but I get a knife from a man dat iss at de odder room, and I cut it and tie it. I vill not tell Brita vat I do, but soon I haf de tail vid a handle, and I put it inside my coat, and go to a store vere iss a man I haf seen dat vill make many things, and money sometimes.
"'Ha, Jan,' he said ven I show it, 'dis iss a notion! I'll gif you ten dollar for dat notion.'
"'No,' I say. 'If you say ten dollar I know it vorth more, for I know vat you can do. But let it be more, and I may sell it.'
"Den he talk. Dere is risk, he say, and he must spend much money, but he say it vill take. Oh, I know dat vord, and ven he has talked so much at last he say he vill write a paper and gif me one hundred dollar, and make me a foreman ven he shall make dem. For he says, 'It iss vat all ladies vill vant—so soft to make clean in de beautiful cabinets, and de china on de vall so as dey hang it in great houses. Vid its handle for stiffness, den de soft tail vill go eferyvere and nefer break. It iss a duster, and best of all duster too, for nothing can efer break.'
"So now he hass rooms—dree rooms—and many people are to take dem, and to-morrow I go to show how one must hold all de tails, and dere is vork, all I can do; and ven money iss come I dink to go avay, but not soon, for I must help some dat haf no help. But oh, I dink of de little ones, and of Brita dat iss gone; and de moder she cannot haf rest, for all day she say, 'Vy must it be dey are gone, ven now iss plenty?'—'My God, it iss your vill. And not fery long, and you vill make us a home vid her.' It iss all right, my lady."
Jan lingers still in his last quarters. The mission holds him fast, and his grave, steady face is known to many a poor wretch just out of prison—many a tramp who has returned despairing of work and been helped to it by this man, himself a workman, but with a sympathy never failing for any sad soul struggling toward a better life or lost in the despair of waiting. Their name is legion, and their rescue must come from just such workers—men who have suffered and know its meaning. Men of this stamp hold the key to a regeneration of the masses, such as organized charities are powerless to effect; and already some who believe in this fact are seeking to make their work easier and to give the substantial aid that it demands. The poor are the best missionaries to the poor, and he who has gone hungry, suffered every pang of poverty and known sharpest temptation to sin can best speak words that will save men and women entering on the same path.
To this end Jan lives—as truly a priest to the people as if hands laid upon him had consecrated him to the work, but all unconscious what power it holds to the on-lookers, and only sure of the one word, the mission watchword—"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto Me."
UNDER THE GRASSES.
What do you hide, O grasses! say, Among your tangles green and high? "Warm-hearted violets for May, And rocking daisies for July."
What burden do you keep beneath Your knotted green, that none may see? "The prophecy of life and death, A hint, a touch, a mystery."
What hope and passion should I find If I should pierce your meshes through? "A clover blossoming in the wind, A wandering harebell budded blue."
DORA READ GOODALE.
The Idler was hopelessly becalmed off Thomas's Point. Not a ripple could be seen down the Chesapeake, and the locusts and pines along the shore were shuddering uncomfortably with the heat of a July afternoon, hidden halfway to their tops in the summer haze. What was to be done? Five miles from home in a large sloop yacht filled with strangers from the North, the crew left behind to be out of the way, and every one thoroughly convinced that his neighbor was horribly bored!
Thornton gave the tiller a vicious shove, as if that would wake the yacht up, and glared forward along the row of parasols protecting fair faces from the sun and of hats cocked over noses that were screwed up with feelings too deep for words, and more intense than those produced by heat, he thought. By five o'clock we had sung every song that ever was written, and flirtations were becoming desperate. Mollie Brogden, comfortably lodged against the mast, was dropping her blue parasol lower and lower over one of the New York men as their conversation grew more and more intense with the heat, and Mrs. Brogden was becoming really alarmed.
The situation was maddening! Nothing on board to eat; soft-shell crabs and the best bill of fare of a Southern kitchen ordered at home for seven o'clock; a couple of fiddlers coming from "the Swamp" at nine; and Cousin Susan, the cook, even then promising little Stump Neal "all de bonyclaba he cu'd stow ef he'd jest friz dis yar cream fo' de new missis."
"It is too provoking for anything!" the new missis whispered to Thornton, as he stopped by his wife's side for an instant and moved on to consult with some of the married men who were smoking in luxuriant carelessness forward. Very little consolation he got there. Ellis from Annapolis said he had known calms last two days, and sundry forcible remarks were made when it was discovered that the last cigars were then in our mouths. This was the last straw. Thornton felt furious with every one, and muttered dark wishes that ante-war power might be restored to him over the person of Uncle Brian when we got home—if we ever did—as he reflected that that ancient African had guaranteed a breeze.
Mollie Brogden smiled lazily at him as Donaldson fanned her slowly, and waited until Thornton should pass, so that the talk which was leading up to the inscription of a clever piece of poetry on her fan might be continued.
"By the way, Donaldson," as a sudden inspiration seemed to strike Thornton, "did you ever hear anything more of Kitty after I left you at Christmas?"
The sweetness of that piece of poetry on the fan was never revealed. The blue parasol went up with a jump, and a look assured Donaldson that certain words had better have been left unsaid that afternoon if "Kitty" should not be satisfactorily explained. I felt sorry for him, for every one caught at the idea of something new, and the thought of an explanation to the whole of that boatload, keen for all sorts of badinage, would have tempted me overboard, I am sure. However, Donaldson smiled very composedly, and said he believed the family were still in Texas, although he had heard nothing more than Thornton already knew of their history.
Well, that simply made matters worse: Texas and Kitty were suggestive enough for anything, and I caught a whisper from Miss Brogden that seemed to imply that she doubted whether he had really been so inconsolable for last summer's diversions as he had tried to make her believe. That settled him, for I knew he had come down to Thornton's expressly to see her, and he assured us it was a very small story, but if we cared to hear it perhaps the breeze would come meanwhile, and he would try to give the facts exactly as they had come to his knowledge.
"We were a few hours out from Liverpool," he began, "and the smoking-room of the Russia was pretty well filled with all sorts of men, none of whom of course felt much at home yet, but who were gradually being shaken together by the civilizing influence of tobacco and the occasional lurches that the cross-chop of the Channel was favoring us with. I was sitting near the door with a man from Boston whom I found on board returning from a wedding-trip, and who, I discovered, had taken orders since leaving Harvard, where I had known him slightly as a bookish sort of fellow and not very agreeable; but as I was alone and his wife was quite pretty, I was glad to meet him.
"Well, we were running over old times, without paying much attention to the guide-book talk that was being poured out round us, when somebody laid a hand on my shoulder and one of the most attractive voices I ever heard asked 'if there was room for a stranger from Texas?' This formal announcement of himself by a newcomer made a little lull in the conversation, but my friend made room for him in our corner, and he quietly enveloped himself in smoke for the rest of the evening.
"He was not inattentive, though, to the drift of our talk, for when Hamilton mentioned having been at the Pan-Anglican, and spoke of the effect such conventions should produce, the Texan's cigar came out of his mouth and his blue eyes grew deeper in their sockets as he interrupted us with the remark: 'The conventions of all the Bible-men in the world would not have made La Junta any better if it had not been for Kitty. You know what Junta was before she came?' he continued, seeing us look a little surprised—'nothing but cards and drink, and—worse; and now'—and he laid his hand on his hip as if from habit—'now we have no trouble there any more.'
"The oddness of the expression 'Bible-men,' I remember, struck me at the time, but Hamilton made some explanatory reply, for the quiet force of the soft voice had a certain persuasiveness about it without the aid of his gesture, although the smoke was so thick that we could not see whether he carried the instruments of his country or not.
"Standing by the aft wheel-house, I found the Texan the next morning throwing biscuits to the gulls and gazing wistfully seaward.
"'Your first visit to Europe?' I said, steadying myself by the rail.
"'Yes, but I would give all last year's herd if I had never come, for Kitty is ill. I have travelled night and day since the telegram reached me, but La Junta is so far away I am afraid I shall be too late.'
"I wish I could give you an idea of his manner: it was more like that of a person who had just learned the language and was afraid of making mistakes, so hesitated before each word, giving every syllable its full value. He explained this simply enough afterward—that Kitty had broken him of swearing by making him think before he spoke."
"But you haven't told us who Kitty was," interrupted the blue parasol. "Was she light or dark?"—"his wife?"—"he wouldn't have dared!"—"a Texan wife?" and Mrs. Brogden looked very grave at the possibilities the flying questions aroused.
"No, she wasn't his wife; only the Yankee schoolmistress of La Junta. I never saw her. She must have been an angel, though, from his description; so I will leave the details for your acquaintance hereafter, Miss Brogden;" which outrageous flattery was received with contemptuous silence.
"She lived at Junta, and would canter over on Saturdays to Trocalara, the Texan's ranch, to teach his herdsmen's families. His partner, Parker, and he had a large cattle-ranch not far from the Mexican frontier, and Kitty could not have lived on a bed of roses, I fancy. Raids, stampedes and other border pleasantries were constantly occurring. I remember we thought him too gentle at first to have really hailed from the Plains; but one night, when Hamilton remonstrated with a man who, I believe, had allowed himself to get in that state described by the sailors as 'three sheets in the wind, and the fourth fluttering,' and was met with rather an uncivil reply, the Texan shut the offender up like a jack-knife with his heavy grip and the intimation that 'he proposed to settle the Bible-man's scores.'
"He grew quite intimate with Hamilton and me, and proved a delightful companion. He would quote readily from many of the later poets, and knew whole pages of Milton and Shakespeare by heart. Kitty had taught him these, he said, after she married Parker and came to live with him.
"'She made us read history-books first,' he said—'many, many volumes—but we soon got to like them better than anything else. The poetry she read to us; and so we never went to the shows in Junta after she came. Kitty has a good husband, as fine a fellow as ever lassoed a steer, but she is too pure for Junta. Parker loves her, and I love her too, but both of us do not make up for her Eastern comforts. And so last year, as we made a good herd and there were no raids to speak of, I came to New York to get a few luxuries for her. She wrote me then to go to Paris and see the Exposition; so I went because I thought she knew best, and that if I had seen the world a little I should be nearer to her, and it would not be quite so hard for her out there. And now she is ill, and—I am here!'
"He turned impatiently away to ask the quartermaster what we were doing by the last log. The speed appeared to satisfy him, for he sat quietly down again and told us how it was that Kitty had come to live with them.
"'For two years, you know'—assuming that we did know—'she spent Saturdays at Trocalara, teaching our people how to read and write. They were very rough at first—we all are out there—and did not care much; but she interested them, and brought picture-books for the little ones, and by and by she said she would come out on Sunday and we should have church!' with a triumphant look at Hamilton and his Pan-Anglican attendance. 'Yes, we had had a priest there before, but he was shot in a row at Bowler's Paradise, and no one cared to apply for a new one.
"'Kitty came up to the ranch the first Sunday, and asked us to come with her. We refused at first, but after a while, when we heard the singing, we went down to the quarters, and found her sitting under one of the trees with all the young ones clustered round her; and we waited there and listened until we began to feel very sorry that we had played so late at Bowler's the night before.
"'But Parker had been in luck, and he swore he would get her as fine a piano as could be brought from the States (he was a half-Mexican by birth) if she would sing like that for us at the ranch.
"'She stood up then, with all the young ones looking on in amazement, the light and shade playing over her through the cool, dark leaves, and, turning her large gray eyes full on Parker's face, said she would if we would promise never to go to Bowler's again.
"'I think Parker expected her to refuse to come altogether, because we had no women there, and we had heard the people in Junta talking of her quiet, modest ways. But no, she never thought of herself: she only thought of the nights at Bowler's, and wanted to save us from the end she had seen often enough in two years in Junta. At any rate, the piano came, and Parker had it sent as a sort of halfway measure to her house in Junta, where she and her mother lived, and we were as welcome as the light there always.
"'You have no idea of her music. They told me at concerts in Paris that I was hearing the finest musicians in Europe, but they were not like Kitty. They played for our money—Kitty played for our pleasure: it makes so much difference,' he added as his fingers drummed an accompaniment to the air he whistled.
"'One night Parker and I were sitting in a corner at Bowler's when we heard a Greaser—a Mexican, you know—that Parker had refused to play poker with the night before ask who the senorita was that had taken the spirit out of Parker.
"'We both started forward instantly, but as the man was evidently ignorant of our presence, Parker checked me with a fierce look in his eyes that showed that the spirit of his former days would be very apt to put a different ending on the conversation if it continued in that tone.
"'"Kitty," came the reply, as if that settled the matter.
"'"Kitty? Ah, your American names are so strange! Kitty! But she is beautiful, is this Kitty! I met her in the Gulch road this afternoon this side of Trocalara. Caramba! how she can ride! The Parker has good taste: I drink to my future acquaintance with her."
"'As he raised the glass to his lips Parker stood behind his chair and whispered, "If you drink that liquor, by God it will be the last drop that shall ever pass your lips!"
"'The next morning they sold the Mexican's horse and traps to pay for burying him and for the damage done, and Parker lay in bed at Kitty's with that in his side you would not have cared to see.
"'Kitty never knew why he fought, and never even looked a reproach. It was not much—I had seen him cut much worse in the stockyard at home—but somehow he did not get well. The weeks slipped by, and each time I called Kitty would say he was a little better, and a little better, and oh yes, he would be back next week; but next week came so often without Parker that at last, when the time came for changing pastures, I went with the herd and left him still at Junta.
"'I would willingly have taken his place, look you, if I had known the result, but perhaps the other way was the best, after all; for now Kitty has two men to serve her,' he added meditatively.
"'When I got back to Junta in October, Parker was quite recovered, I found out at the ranch, but was in town that evening, so I went quietly into Kitty's house to surprise them. As I crossed the hall I heard Parker's voice. Could I have mistaken the house? was it really his voice I heard? Yes: he was telling Kitty how he had broken the three-year-old colt to side-saddle, so when she came to Trocalara she must give up her old pony. I knew then why Kitty had kept him there so long: he had lost his reason and she wished to keep me from knowing it!
"'But no. I stood still and listened, and heard him tell her how he had always loved her, apparently going over an old story to her. My God! I would as soon have told the Virgin I loved her! And then I heard her voice. "When I am your wife—" she began.
"'It all flashed on me in an instant then. I slipped noiselessly out, and if they heard "Odd Trick's" gallop on the turf it was not because his hoofs lingered too long there.
"'I can't remember how I passed that night. The revelation had been so sudden that the words seemed to be written in my heart and to be carried through every vein with each beat. "When I am your wife—" What would the result be? Our Kitty was to be his wife? Could I still stay at the ranch? "When I am your wife—" and I loved her!
"'The next day I went into Junta and saw them both. I told Parker how the herd stood, and how the shooting had been in the mountains, but I never had the courage to look at her.
"'After a while she went to the piano and played "Home:" then she came and sat down by me and said, "I have told Parker I will go home with him: I will try to be a sister to you."
"'I believe I only stared at her, and then wrung Parker's hand and went out.
"'He married her the next month, and—and—Trocalara has been heaven ever since.
"'I never knew what a Christian was before she came: you know we have no faith in Texas in things we can't draw a bead on. But when she read me the story of the Scribes and Pharisees and Christ I felt ashamed to be like those Flat-heads and Greasers in the New Testament who did not believe in him; and now I feel sure of knowing some one in heaven, for Kitty has promised to find me there.'
"I forget a great many of the incidents he told us," Donaldson went on in the quiet that was almost equal to the calm around us; "and I dare say it would bore you to listen. But he certainly was the most extraordinary man I ever met. I can't do justice to his expressions, for they lack his soft voice and curious hesitation. I wish we had him here, though."
"Did you never hear of him again?" some one asked.
"Yes. When we reached New York I found him standing in his old place by the aft wheel-house in a dazed sort of way, with apparently no intention of going ashore; so I asked him what hotel he intended to stop at. His only answer was to hand me a letter dated some days before:
"'Kitty died last night. It is a boy, and is named after you—her last wish.
That was all the letter said, but as I looked at his white face and burning eyes I saw it was what he had feared.
"As I bade him good-night at the hotel that evening he asked me, 'Do you really feel sure that I could find her—there?'
"'Yes: she said so, did she not?' I replied.
"'I will try,' he said simply.
"The next morning they found him with a bullet-hole in his temple. He had gone to find Kitty."
* * * * *
"Heads!" said Thornton as the boom swung over and the swirl from the Idler's bow told us the wind had come. As I changed my place I caught Miss Brogden's eye, and felt satisfied that Donaldson was forgiven.
A GREAT SINGER.
There are so few of them! The next generation will hardly understand how great were some of the lately-vanished kings and queens of the lyric drama. We who have passed middle age, who have heard Lablache, and Tamberlik, and Jenny Lind, and Viardot Garcia, and Alboni, and Giuglini in their prime, and Grisi, Mario, Sontag and Persiani with voices but a little the worse for wear, can sadly contrast the vocal glories of the past with those of the present. Who are the great singers of to-day? Two or three prime donne and as many baritones. There is not a single basso living to suggest Lablache, not a tenor to revive the triumphs of Rubini, Mario, Giuglini or the subject of the present article.
Gustave Roger, the celebrated French tenor, who so long reigned a king at the Grand Opera of Paris, was a born Parisian. He was of gentle blood, his uncle being Baron Roger, who was a member of the Chamber of Deputies in the days of Louis Philippe. He was born in 1815, and was originally destined for the legal profession. But the boy's destiny was the stage. It is on record that, being sent to a provincial town where there was no theatre to complete his studies, he got up a representation on his own account, playing the principal roles in three comedies. The notary in whose office he had been placed was present on the occasion, and warmly applauded the young actor, but the next day sent his refractory pupil back to Paris. Finally, Roger's relatives decided that his vocation for the stage was stronger than their powers of combating it, and they placed him at the Conservatoire. He remained there for one year only, at the end of which time he carried off two first prizes—one for singing and the other for declamation.
And here a curious fact must be remarked. Side by side with the great lyric or dramatic celebrities that have won their first renown at the concours of the Conservatoire there is always some other pupil of immense promise, who does as well as, if not better than, the future star at the moment of the competition, but who afterward disappears into the mists of mediocrity or of oblivion. Thus, in the year in which the elder Coquelin obtained his prize the public loudly protested against the award of the jury, declaring that the most gifted pupil of the class was a certain M. Malard, who now holds a third-rate position on the boards of the Gymnase. When Delaunay, the accomplished leading actor of the Comedie Francaise, left the Conservatoire, it was with a second prize only: the first was carried off by M. Blaisot, who now plays the "second old men" at the Gymnase. So with Roger as first prize was associated one Flavio Ping, a tall, handsome young man with a superb voice. So far as physical advantages were concerned, he was better fitted for a theatrical career than was the future creator of John of Leyden, as Roger was not tall and had a tendency to embonpoint. M. Ping, however, went to Italy, accepted engagements at the opera-houses of Rome, Naples and Milan, sang there with success for a few years, lost his voice, and finally disappeared.
In 1838, Roger made his debut at the Opera Comique in L'Eclair, by Auber. His success was immediate and complete. He remained at that theatre for some years, his favorite character being George Brown in La Dame Blanche. But his greatest triumphs at this period were those which awaited him in the great opera-houses of London, where he sang the leading tenor roles in the operas of Bellini and Donizetti. In his recently-published diary he gives some interesting details respecting Jenny Lind, then at the height of her fame and the very zenith of her powers. His first impression, after hearing her in Norma, was one of disappointment. It was in June, 1847. The great tenor thus records his impressions of the great prima donna: "She is well enough in Casta Diva—that invocation to the moon suits her dreamy Teutonic nature—but the fury of the loving woman, the deserted mother—No, no! a thousand times no!" But the next season he goes to hear her in Lucia, and at once the verdict is reversed. "She is one of the greatest artists it has ever been my lot to hear," he writes. "Her voice, though charming in the upper notes, is unfortunately a little weak in the middle register; but what intelligence and invention! She imitates no one, she studies unceasingly, both the dramatic situation and the musical phrase, and her ornamentation is of a novelty and elegance that reconcile me to that style of execution. I do not love roulades, I must confess, though I may learn to do so later. Jenny Lind does one thing admirably: during the malediction, instead of clinging to her lover as all the other Lucias never fail to do till the act is ended, as soon as Edgar throws her from him she remains motionless: she is a statue. A livid smile contracts her features, her haggard eyes are fixed on the table where she signed the fatal contract, and when the curtain falls one sees that madness has already seized upon her."
During this season in London, Roger, while singing at the Ancient Concerts, saw in the audience one evening the duke of Wellington, and thus writes of the event: "I had Wellington before me. I heard the voice that commanded the troops at Waterloo. I looked into the eyes that saw the back of the emperor. I cannot express the rage that seized upon me at beholding him. To sing to and give pleasure to that man whom I would fain annihilate!—him, and his past, and his country! As a Frenchman I hate him, but I am forced also to admire him."
The next year Roger, while fulfilling an engagement in London, was requested to sing at a garden-fete given, under the patronage of the queen, at Fulham, for the benefit of the poor. After the concert Roger, leaning against an acacia, was watching the departure of the royal carriages. "Lavandy came to me," he writes, "and said in a whisper, 'Do you know who is at the other side of this tree?'
"I turned round, and saw a man with an aquiline nose and blue eyes, whose deep yet gloomy gaze was fixed upon the splendors of royalty. 'Who is it?' I asked of Lavandy.
"He had just been elected member of the Chamber of Deputies. As his name appeared to be dangerous, he had been requested to take a vacation, and he had returned to London, where he had formerly lived. I am glad that I saw him: he may be somebody some day."
It was in April of the previous year (1847) that Roger went to a concert, where he records how he heard a comic opera called The Alcove, by Offenbach and Deforges: "A little inexperience, but some charming things. Offenbach is a fellow who will go far if the doors of the Opera Comique are not closed against him: he has the gift of melody and the perseverance of a demon." It is rather curious to note, in connection with this prophecy, that the doors of the Opera Comique, which were closed against Offenbach after the failure of his Vert-Vert some years before the war, are to be reopened to him next season, his Contes de Hoffman having proved the "Open, sesame!" to those long-barred portals.
But to return to Roger's reminiscences of Jenny Lind, which are, after all, the most interesting for music-loving readers. We find him writing in July, 1848: "I have again been to see Jenny Lind in Lucia. She is indeed a great, a sublime artist, in whom are united inspiration and industry."
It was during this season that he concluded an engagement with the English impresario Mitchell to become the tenor of the travelling opera-troupe in which Jenny Lind was to be the prima donna, and which was to undertake a tour through Scotland, Ireland and the provincial towns of England. "I am delighted," he writes: "I shall now be able to study near at hand this singular woman, whom Paris has never possessed, but whose reputation, fostered at first in Germany under the auspices of Meyerbeer, has attained in England such proportions that upon her arrival in a certain city the bells were rung and the archbishop went out to meet her and to invite her to his house. She is a noble-hearted creature, and her munificence is royal: she founds hospitals and colleges. In her blue eyes glows the flame of genius. Deprived of her voice, she would still be a remarkable woman. Believing in herself, she is full of daring, and achieves great things because she never troubles herself about the critics. She lives the life of a saint: one would say that she imagines herself sent by God to make the happiness of humanity by the religion of art. Thus she remains cold and chaste in private life, never permitting her heart to become inflamed by the ardent passions wherewith she glows upon the stage. She told me that she could never comprehend the lapse from virtue of Mademoiselle R——, a woman of such lofty talent: 'To fail thus in what was due to one's self!'"
It is pleasing to note how Roger's admiration for this great artist extinguishes all the usual petty jealousy of a fellow-singer. He writes thus frankly respecting a concert which they gave during their tour at Birmingham: "It was a brilliant success, but the final triumph was borne off by Jenny Lind, who fairly carried the audience away with her Swedish melodies, the effect of which is really remarkable. She has a strength of voice in the upper notes that is vast and surprising: without screaming she produces echoes, the loud and soft notes being almost simultaneous. In the artist's green-room she is kind and courteous without being either mirthful or expansive. Moreover, she is indefatigable, which is a precious quality for the manager. She never stays at the same hotel with the rest of the troupe, which is a rather imperial proceeding; but it is better so: we are more at our ease. She lives her own concentrated life like some old wine that never sees the light excepting on great occasions. I have at last found in Jenny Lind a partner who understands me. On the stage she becomes animated; her hands clasp mine with energy, and the thrill of dramatic fervor possesses her whole being: she becomes thoroughly identified with her part, and yet she never permits herself to be so carried away as to cease to be entirely mistress of her voice."
Roger gives us some brief glimpses of Jenny Lind in private life—her love of dancing, of which she seems to have been as passionately fond as was Fanny Kemble in her youth, and her delight in horseback riding. He gives a comical account of an improvised ball, in which he figured as the prima donna's partner, on board of the steamboat going from Dublin to Holyhead: "Unfortunately, our orchestra fell off one by one; the music finally ceased; and when we stopped waltzing and cast an uneasy glance around us, we beheld all our musicians, their chests pressed against the railings, their arms extended toward the ocean, in the pitiable attitude of Punch when knocked down by the policeman." Some days later, during a performance of La Fille du Regiment at Brighton, in the last act, while the orchestra was playing the prelude to the final rondo, "Jenny Lind said to me in a whisper, 'Listen well to this song, Roger, for these are the last notes of mine that you will hear in any theatre.'"
The next day a farewell ball, to which a supper succeeded, was given by the manager at the Bedford Hotel to celebrate the conclusion and brilliant success of the tour: "That dear Jenny drew from her finger a ring set with a diamond of the finest water, and presented it to me with the words, 'May every sparkle of this stone, Roger, recall to you one of my wishes for your happiness!' In this phrase there was all the woman and a tinge of the Swede."
The next day he takes a final ride with the prima donna and Madame Lablache. "I was very sad," he writes: "the idea of ending this happy day has spoiled my pleasure. How well she looks on horseback, with her great blue eyes and her loosened fair hair! And why does she quit the stage? Is she tired of doing good? As long as she has been an artist she has lived the life of a saint. They tell me of a bishop who has put certain scruples into her head. May Heaven be his judge!
"I know that in Paris people say, 'Why does she not come here to consecrate her reputation? She is afraid, doubtless, of comparisons and recollections.' No, no! she has nothing to fear. She preserves in her heart of hearts, doubtless, some resentment for the indifference—to call it no more—wherewith the last manager of the Opera received her advances for a hearing when her fresh young talent had just left the hands of Manuel Garcia. But since then Meyerbeer has composed operas for her; Germany, Sweden, England have set the seal upon her reputation: we can add nothing to it. As to homage, what could we give her? Wherever she goes, as soon as she arrives in a city its chief personages hasten to meet her; when she leaves the theatre five or six hundred persons await her exit with lighted torches; every leaf that falls from her laurel-wreaths is quarrelled over; crowds escort her to her hotel; and serenades are organized under her windows. At Paris, when once the curtain falls the emotion is over, the artist no longer exists. A serenade! Who ever saw such a thing outside of the Barber of Seville? It is in bad taste to do anything singular. As to escorting a prima donna home, Malibran could find her way alone very well."
Roger returned to Paris, recording as he did so the fact that he was by no means overjoyed at finding himself at home: "And why? I cannot tell. Perhaps I regret the life of excitement, those great theatres, the audiences that changed every day, the struggle of the singer with new partitions, the boundless admiration I experienced for that strange being, that compound of goodness and coldness, of egotism and benevolence, whom one might not perhaps love, but whom it is impossible to forget."
The next prominent event in the great tenor's career was his creation of the character of John of Leyden in Meyerbeer's Prophete. There is something very charming in the naive delight and enthusiasm with which he speaks of this, the crowning glory of his life. Contrary to the usual theory respecting the production of a great dramatic effect, he declares that the grand scene between the prophet and Fides in the third act, where John of Leyden, by the sheer force of intonation of voice and play of feature, forces his mother to retract her recognition of him and to fall at his feet, was created, so to speak, by Madame Viardot and himself on the inspiration of the moment and without any preliminary conference or arrangement. How wonderful this fine dramatic situation appeared when interpreted by these two great artists, I, who had the delight of seeing them both, can well remember. To this day it forms one of the great traditions of the French lyric stage.
In the month of July, 1859, just ten years after that crowning triumph, Roger one day, being then at his country-seat, took his gun and went out to shoot pheasants: an hour later he was brought I back to the house with his right arm horribly shattered by the accidental discharge of his gun. His first action after having the wound dressed was to sing. "My voice is all right," he remarked to his wife: "there is no harm done." Unfortunately, the bones were so shattered that amputation was judged necessary. That accident brought Roger's operatic career to a close. Notwithstanding the perfection of the mechanical arm that replaced the missing limb, he was oppressed by the consciousness of a physical defect. He imagined that the public ridiculed him, and that the critics only spared him out of pity. He retired from the stage, and devoted himself to teaching, his amiable character and great artistic renown gaining him hosts of pupils. In the autumn of 1879 the kindly, blameless life came to a close.
A devoted husband, a generous and unselfish comrade in his profession even to his immediate rivals, and a true and faithful friend, he left behind him a record that shows a singular blending of simple domestic virtues with great artistic qualities, the union adorning a theatrical career which was one series of dazzling triumphs.
LUCY H. HOOPER.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
CONSERVATORY LIFE IN BOSTON.
Our aspiring young friend from the rural districts who comes to Boston, the great musical centre, for the art-training she cannot enjoy at home, is full of enthusiasm as she crosses the threshold of that teeming hive, the New England Conservatory of Music. The conflicting din of organs, pianos and violins, of ballad, scale and operetta, though discordant to the actual ear have a harmony which is not lost to her spiritual sense. It is a choral greeting to the new recruit, who gathers in a moment all the moral support humanity derives from sympathy and companionship in a common purpose. Devoutly praying that this inspiration may not ooze out at her fingers' ends, she goes into the director's sanctum to be examined. This trial has pictured itself to her active imagination for weeks past. Of course he will ask her to play one of her pieces, perhaps several. Has she not, ever since her plans for coming to the Conservatory were matured, been engaged in carefully training, manipulating, her battle-horse for this critical experiment? As the door of that little room closes upon her her knees begin to tremble. But how easy and reassuring is the director's manner! He requests her to be seated at the piano. Will she be able to remember a note at all? That is now the question. Her musical memory is for the nonce obliterated. He may have an intuition of this, for he says quietly, "Now play me a scale and a five-finger exercise." Cecilia does this mechanically, and feels encouraged. Now for the piece, the battle-horse, to be brought out and shown off. She waits quietly a minute. But he asks for nothing more. Her mere touch expresses to his practised ear her probable grade of acquirement, and he assigns her to the instructor he deems best suited to test her abilities and classify her in accordance with them.
In a day or two she finds herself in regular working order, one of a class of four. "And am I only to have fifteen minutes for my lesson," she asks herself, "when I always had an hour from the professor at Woodville?" She knows that recitation is the cream of the lesson. In the actual rendering of her task she can, in justice to her companions, consume but a quarter of the allotted hour, but she soon discovers that she is to a great extent a participant in Misses A——, B—— and C——'s cream. After the master's correction of her own performance, to see and hear the same study played by others with more or less excellence—to compare their faults with her own—is perhaps of greater benefit to her, while in this eminently receptive frame, than a mere personal repetition would be. The horizon is broader: she gets more light on the work in hand.
"And now," she asks of her teacher, "how much would you advise, how much do you wish, me to practise?"
He smiles: memory reverts to his own six hours at Leipsic or Stuttgart, but "milk for babes:" "Certainly not less than two hours a day under any circumstances or obstacles, if you care to learn at all. If you have fair health, and neither onerous household duties nor educational demands upon your time outside of music, let me earnestly recommend you to practise four hours. Less than this cannot show the desired result."
The new pupil accepts the maximum of four hours' daily practice. "I should be ashamed to give less," she generously confides to herself and her room-mate: "it is but a small proportion, after all, of the twenty-four."
But this is not all. There are exercises at the Conservatory apart from her special lessons which are too valuable to a broad musical education to be neglected—the instruction in harmony, sight reading, the art of teaching, analyses of compositions, as well as lectures and concerts. One of the Conservatory exercises strikes her as being alike novel and edifying. This is called "Questions and Answers." A box in one of the halls receives anonymous questions from the pupils from day to day, and once a week a professor of the requisite enlightenment to satisfy the miscellaneous curiosity of six or seven hundred minds devotes a full hour to the purpose. These questions are presumed to relate solely to musical topics, and the custom was instituted for the relief of timid yet earnest inquirers. A motley crew, however, frequently avail themselves of the masquerade privilege to steal in uninvited. Cecilia illustrates these fantastic ramifications of the young idea for the benefit of friends in the interior. She jots down some of these questions and their answers in her note-book:
"How does a polka differ from a schottisch?"—"A schottisch is a lazy polka. A polka is the worst thing in the world: the next worst is a schottisch. A schottisch is so lazy, so slow, that a fire would hardly kindle with it."
"In preparing to play a piece in public should one practise it up to the last moment?"—"Try it and see: you will soon decide in the negative. Lay it aside some time before if you would avoid nervousness."
"What would you give as a first piano-lesson to a young lady who had never taken a lesson before?"—"Make her get the piano-stool at exactly the right height and place: then ensure a good position of her hands and easy motion of the fingers. Let her practise this for three days."
"How far advanced ought a person to be in music to begin to teach?"—"Teaching involves three things: first, a knowledge of something on the part of the teacher; second, a corresponding ignorance on the part of the learner; third, the ability to impart this knowledge. These conditions fulfilled might sometimes allow a person to begin to teach with advantage at a very early age and with a very moderate range of acquirements, though, as every instructor knows, his earlier methods were very different from his later ones. The difficulty with young teachers in general is that they try to teach too much at once, like the young minister who preached all he knew in his first sermon. Never introduce more than two principles in any one lesson, and as a rule but one."
"Is a mazourka as bad as a polka?"—"No. I think it is not morally so bad as a polka: it has somewhat the grace of the waltz."
"Who is the best music-teacher in Boston?"—"As there are twenty-five hundred persons teaching music in and about this city, and seventy-five regular teachers at this Conservatory alone, both ignorance and delicacy on my part should forbid a definite reply. It were well to remember Paris, the apple of discord and the Trojan war."
"Is Mr. A—— (a young professor at the Conservatory, voted attractive by the feminine pupils in general) married?"—"This being Leap Year, a personal investigation of the subject might be more satisfactory and effectual than a public decision of this point."
At the expiration of her first term Cecilia realizes that her condition is one of constant growth: quickening influences are in the air. She came to Boston to learn music: she is also learning life. She perceives, moreover, that in her musical progress the aesthetic part of her nature has not been permitted to keep in advance of technique. Heretofore she was ever gratifying herself and her friends by undertaking new and more elaborate pieces, not one of which ever became other than a mere superficial possession. Now her taste is inexorably commanded to wait for her muscles: the discipline has been useful to her. After a few more such winters she will return to Woodville a teacher, herself become a quickening influence to others. Musical thought will be truer, will find a more adequate expression, in her vicinity. She will act as a reflector, sending forth rays of light into dark corners farther than she can follow them.
And this is the motive, the mission, of the conservatory system in this country, inasmuch as organized is more potent than individual effort to elevate our national taste, to prepare the way for the future artist, that he may be born under the right conditions, his divine gift fostered and directed to become worthy of its exalted destiny. Already centuries old in Europe, the conservatory is a young thing of comparatively limited experience on our soil. It was introduced here twenty-five years ago by Eben Tourjee. He had longed and vainly sought for the advantages to perfect his own talent, and resolved while a mere boy that those of like tastes who came after him should not have to contend with the obstacles he had fought—that instruction should be brought within the reach of all by a college of music similar to those in Europe, embracing the best elements, attaining the most satisfactory results at the least possible cost to the student. This project, for a youth without capital, dependent upon his abilities for his personal support, was regarded even by sympathetic friends as visionary. But nothing progressive is accepted as a mere optimistic vision by the predestined reformer. Remote Huguenot and immediate Yankee ancestry is perhaps a good combination for pioneer material. However this may be, his efforts were crystallized, shaped, sooner than most schemes of such magnitude. Continuing his classes in piano, organ and voice for a year or two with successful energy, Mr. Tourjee found in 1859 the desired opportunity for his experiment. The principal of a seminary in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, accorded him the use of his building, and more students presented themselves ultimately than could be accommodated on the grounds of the institution. After a visit to Europe for the purpose of examining the celebrated German, French and Italian schools, Mr. Tourjee returned, and, fired with new zeal, started in 1864 a chartered conservatory at Providence. This proved eminently successful. But Boston was the ideal site: talent gravitates toward large cities, and Boston's acknowledged "love of the first rate" would be the best surety for a lofty standard and approximate fulfilment. In 1867, under a charter from the State, he finally transplanted his school to this metropolis under the name of the New England Conservatory of Music, which it retains to the present date. It has, with characteristic American rapidity, become the largest music-school in the world, having within fifteen years instructed over twenty thousand pupils: in a single term it frequently numbers between eight and nine hundred. It has a connection with Boston University, the only one in the country where music is placed on the same basis with other intellectual pursuits, and the faculty numbers some of the most renowned artists and composers in the land. Eben Tourjee was appointed dean of the College of Music in the University, with the title of Mus. Doctor.
The New England Conservatory deserves this special mention as the parent school in America, and it has been promptly and ably followed by the establishment of others in most of our large cities.
CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE IN THE WEST OF IRELAND.
[The following extract from a private letter just received from Ireland gives a glimpse of the state of affairs in that country which may interest our readers, as indicating, better than any mere partisan statements or newspaper reports, the solid grounds that exist for apprehension in regard to impending disturbances:]
"I have just returned from a tour in the west of Ireland, and I wish I could describe the horrors I have seen—such abject misery and such demoralization as you, no doubt, never came in contact with in your life. The scenery of Connemara beats Killarney in beauty and the Rhine in extent and magnificence, but no tourist could face the hotels: the dirt, the incompetence, the abominableness of every kind are awful. As these people were two hundred years ago, so they are now—ignorant, squalid savages, half naked, living on potatoes such as a Yankee pig would scorn, speaking only their barbarous native tongue, lying and thieving through terror and want, with their children growing up in hopeless squalor. Very few savages lead such lives, while few people are so oppressed and harassed by the pains and penalties of civilization. For they are chin-deep in debt. I saw promissory notes five and six times renewed, with the landlord, away on the Continent, threatening eviction. The selfishness of the landlords is too revolting. They live in England or on the Continent, and confine their duties in life to giving receipts for their rent. Imagine the whole product of the land, in a country destitute of manufactures and commerce, remitted to England, and the utmost farthing of rent exacted from these wretches, no matter what the season is, a valuation of fifty shillings, for example, paying a rent of seven pounds—three hundred per cent.! Some great catastrophe is imminent. Not a gun is left in the gunsmiths' shops in Dublin, and I am told that shiploads are brought in from America weekly. The people are perfectly right in resisting eviction, but Parliament ought to interpose. We must get rid of the landlords, and we must establish compulsory education. Then the priests will go like smoke before the wind. Free trade is another cause of the troubles. That is one of the most specious humbugs extant, and has ruined the Irish farmers. It may be all right in principle, but now and here it is simply mischievous. Professor ——, who is a member of the new Land Commission, went round with me in Connemara, and implored me to write up the state of the district; but before anything can be published and reach the English ear the autumn rent-day will have come, and the gale will be at its height."
HIGH JINKS ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI.
To the Editor of Lippincott's Magazine:
It is a remarkable historical fact that the latest visitor to the Upper Mississippi has always felt it his duty to assail the good faith of every previous traveller. Beltrami (1823) attacked Pike (1806); Schoolcraft (1832) fleshed his pen in Beltrami; Allen, who accompanied Schoolcraft, afterward became his enemy and branded him as a geographical quack; Nicollet (1836) arraigned both Schoolcraft and Allen for incompetency; and so on. And now, at this late day, in a mild way tradition repeats itself. Your great original geographer, Mr. Siegfried, concluded his two essays on the "High Mississippi" by saying, "Beyond reasonable doubt our party is the only one that ever pushed its way by boat up the entire course of the farthermost Mississippi. Beyond any question ours were the first wooden boats that ever traversed these waters." Then, after a slap at poor Schoolcraft, he declares that although I claimed the entire trip in my canoe five years ago, my guide and others told him that my Dolly Varden never was above Brainerd, and that my portages above were frequent. Except that, by implication, he questions my veracity, I would not have taken any notice of the feat on which he prides himself. To the general reader the word "Brainerd" conveys no idea further than the one which the author adroitly tries to convey (without saying so), that I did not travel the entire Upper Mississippi: his use of the word "High" is another trick to cover a very small job, as I shall hereafter show. But the fact is, that Mr. Siegfried has discovered a mare's nest. By stating one fact which has never been disguised, and repeating an allegation which is absolutely false, he would dispose utterly of the very trip that made his journey so easy of accomplishment.
I laid out for myself just one task and no more: I started in May, 1872, for the sources of the Mississippi, thence to descend the entire river. After days of inquiry and two trips over the Northern Pacific Railroad, I decided upon a route to Itasca Lake which no white man had ever traversed. I made an entirely successful journey, marking out the White Earth route so clearly that any child could follow it thereafter. What feat is there to go over ground which I described so explicitly as follows?—First stage, to White Earth; second stage, to the Twin Lakes; third stage, across the prairie to the Wild Rice River; fourth stage, up that stream to the Lake of the Spirit Isle; and fifth stage, of half a day, by the Ah-she-wa-wa-see-ta-gen portage, to the Mississippi, at a point twenty-six miles north of Itasca. The same afternoon and the following day, energetically employed, will suffice to put anybody at the sources of "the Father of Rivers." Anybody could take a tissue-paper boat to Itasca after 1872. Had I had a predecessor over this route to Itasca, as Mr. Siegfried had, and could I have travelled as he did with a roll of newspaper letters telling me where to stop and when, how to go and where, I should have been the first to acknowledge my indebtedness to the man who showed me the way. Why did not Mr. S. take Nicollet's or Schoolcraft's route, or seek a new one? Simply for the reason that my itinerary was so clearly laid down that the journey became merely a Cook's excursion. I had built and took with me to Minnesota a paper boat for the descent of the river, but I have never made any secret of the fact that I bought another one (a twin in name and fitted with the appliances of the New York craft) for the tramp of seventy miles through the wilderness from the railroad to the sources. In this I merely followed the example frequently set by Mr. MacGregor, who is the father of canoeing, and the advice of George A. Morrison, government storekeeper at White Earth, the Hon. Dr. Day, United States Indian commissioner, and other gentlemen of equal prominence. Neither of these gentlemen had been over the ground, but they represented the country as awful in the extreme. I acquainted everybody who asked with my decision, and, were it desirable to involve others in this matter, could name fifty persons to whom every detail of this initial stage of my trip has been explained. Not a particle of accurate information regarding the road, the number of days required or the distance could be obtained. It was not possible then to contract for forty-one dollars to be landed on the Mississippi! Mr. Siegfried might have seen at every camping-ground and meal-station along the route the blazed trees bearing the deeply-cut Greek "delta," which seven years' precedence cannot have effaced. His descriptions and mine are identical throughout: therefore, he has either not been over the course at all (which I do not insinuate) or he only proves the accuracy of my reports. He disposes of my fourteen hundred and seventy-one miles of canoeing on the Mississippi because, forsooth! I did not make a small part of it in a craft to suit his liking. He claims that his was the first wooden boat that ever pushed up to Itasca. This is something that I don't know anything about: several parties have been there since 1832. What will he do with the claimant of the first sheet-iron boat?