But Margaret took her time before giving a hint of her heart's condition. She was the same old comrade to us, she confided to us her adverse opinions of other people, laughed with us, and often at us (when it was like as not that she herself had made us ridiculous), told us her little secrets, let us share her gaiety and her dejection alike, teased us, soothed us, made us serve her, and played the spoiled beauty with us to the full of the part. And a beauty she was, indeed; ten times more than in her childhood. The bud was approaching its full bloom. She was of the average tallness; slender at neck, waist, wrist, and ankle, but filling out well in the figure, which had such curves as I swear I never saw elsewhere upon earth. She had the smallest foot, with the highest instep; such as one gets not often an idea of in England. Her little head, with its ripples of chestnut hair, sat like that of a princess; and her face, oval in shape, proud and soft by turns in expression—I have no way of conveying the impression it gave one, but to say that it made me think of a nosegay of fresh, flawless roses, white and red. Often, by candle-light, especially if she were dressed for a ball, or sat at the play, I would liken her to some animate gem, without the hardness that belongs to real precious stones; for indeed she shone like a jewel, thanks to the lustre of her eyes in artificial light. Whether from humidity or some quality of their substance, I do not know, but they reflected the rays as I have rarely seen eyes do; and in their luminosity her whole face seemed to have part, so that her presence had an effect of warm brilliancy that lured and dazzled you. To see her emerge from the darkness of the Faringfield coach, or from her sedan-chair, into the bright light of open doorways and of lanterns held by servants, was to hold your breath and stand with lips parted in admiration, until she made you feel your nothingness by a haughty indifference in passing, or sent you glowing to the seventh heaven by a radiant smile.
While we were waiting for the heart of our paragon to reveal itself, life in Queen Street was diversified, in the Fall of 1773, by an unexpected visit.
Mr. Faringfield and Philip, as they entered the dining-room one evening after their return from the warehouse, observed that an additional place had been made at the table. Without speaking, the merchant looked inquiringly, and with a little of apprehension, at his lady.
"Ned has come back," she answered, trying to speak as if this were quite cheerful news.
Mr. Faringfield's face darkened. Then, with some sarcasm, he said:
"He did not go out of his way to stop at the warehouse in coming from the landing."
"Why, no doubt the ship did not anchor near our wharf. He came by the Sophy brig. He took some tea, and changed his clothes, and went out to meet a fellow passenger at the coffee-house. They had some business together."
"Business with a pack of cards, I make no doubt; or else with rum or madeira."
'Twas the second of these conjectures that turned out right. For Mr. Edward did not come home in time to occupy at supper the place that had been set for him. When he did appear, he said he had already eaten. Perhaps it was to strengthen his courage for meeting his father, that he had imbibed to the stage wherein he vilely smelt of spirits and his eyes and face were flushed. He was certainly bold enough when he received his father's cold greeting in the parlour, about nine o'clock at night.
"And, pray, what circumstance gives us the honour of this visit?" asked Mr. Faringfield, not dissembling his disgust.
"Why," says Mr. Ned, quite undaunted, and dropping his burly form into an armchair with an air of being perfectly at home, "to tell the truth, 'tis a hole, the place you sent me to; a very hell-hole."
"By what arrangement with Mr. Culverson did you leave it?" Mr. Culverson was the Barbadoes merchant by whom Edward had been employed.
"Culverson!" echoed Ned, with a grin. "I doubt there was little love lost between me and Culverson! 'Culverson,' says I, 'the place is a hole, and the next vessel bound for New York, I go on her.' 'And a damned good riddance!' says Culverson (begging your pardon! I'm only quoting what the man said), and that was the only arrangement I remember of."
"And so that you are here, what now?" inquired Mr. Faringfield, looking as if he appreciated Mr. Culverson's sentiments.
"Why, sir, as for that, I think 'tis for you to say."
"Yes, sir, seeing that I'm your son, whom you're bound to provide for."
"You are twenty-two, I think," says Mr. Faringfield.
"I take it, a few paltry years more or less don't alter my rights, or the responsibilities of a parent. Don't think, sir, I shall stand up and quietly see myself robbed of my birthright. I'm no longer the man to play the Esek, or Esock, or whatever—"
"Esau," prompted Fanny, in a whisper.
"And my mouth isn't to be stopped by any mess of porridge."
"Pottage," corrected Fanny.
"Well, sir," said Mr. Faringfield, rising, and holding himself very stiffly, "I'll think upon it." Whereupon he went into the library, and closed the door after him.
'Tis certain that he had both the strength and the inclination to chastise his son for these insulting rum-incited speeches, and to cast him out to shift for his own future; instead of enduring heedlessly the former, and offering to consider the latter. His strength was equal to his pride, and he was no colder without than he was passionate within. But there was one thing his strength of mind fell short of facing, and that was the disgrace to the family, which the eldest son might bring were he turned looser, unprovided for, in New York. 'Twas the fear of such disgrace that always led Mr. Faringfield to send Ned far away; and made him avoid any scene of violence which the youth, now that he was a man and grown bold, might precipitate in discussions such as the father had but now cut short.
"Now I call that frigid," complained Edward to his mother, staring at the door behind which Mr. Faringfield had disappeared. "Here was I, in for a pleasant confab with my father, concerning my future; and before I can put in a word, out he flings, and there's an end of it. 'Tisn't fatherly, I protest! Well, well, I might have known! He was always stony-hearted; never would discuss matters. That's the gratitude I get for putting the case to him in a reasonable, docile, filial fashion. However, he said he'd think upon it. That means I shall stay here, and take a holiday, till he makes up his mind where to ship me to next. 'Twon't be England, I fancy, mother. I wouldn't object to France, egad! I could learn to eat frogs as soon as another man, if it came to that. Well, I need a holiday, after working so hard in that cursed devil's paradise I've just come from. I suppose I can depend on you for a little pocket-money, ma'am, till dad comes to a conclusion?"
During the next fortnight, as he passed most of his time in the taverns and the coffee-house, save when he attended horse-races on Long Island, or chased foxes upon Tom's horse, or lent the honour of his presence to cock-fights; Mr. Edward found his mother's resources inadequate to his demands, and so levied tribute not only upon Fanny and Tom but also upon Mr. Cornelius, who still abode in the Faringfield house, and upon Philip Winwood. To Phil his manner was more than civil; 'twas most conciliating and flattering, in a pleasantly jocular way.
Ere Mr. Faringfield had announced his mind, the visitor had worn out his welcome in most of his tavern haunts, and become correspondingly tired of New York. One evening, as Philip was leaving the warehouse, a negro boy handed him a note, in which Mr. Ned begged him to come immediately, on a matter of importance, to the King's Arms tavern. There he found Edward seated at a small table in a corner of the tap-room. Ned would have it that Phil should send home his excuses, by the negro, and sup at the tavern; which, for the sake of peace, though unwillingly, Philip finally consented to do.
Edward was drinking rum, in a kind of hot punch of his own mixing. Phil, though fond of madeira at home, now contented himself with ale; and the two were soon at work upon a fried chicken prepared in the Maryland fashion.
"You know, Phil," says Ned at last, having talked in a lively strain upon a multitude of matters, none of which Philip perceived to be important, "'fore gad, I always liked you! Tis so, as the Lord's my judge. Nay, you think I took a damned odd way of showing it. But we're not all alike. Now look you! Hearken unto me, as the parson says. I can say a good word for you in a certain ear."
"Whose?" queried Phil, wondering in what ear he needed a good word said.
"Whose, eh? Now whose would it be? Come, come, I'll speak to the point. I'm no man for palaver. 'Tis an ear you've whispered more than one sweet thing into, I'll warrant. You're young, Philip, young: you think you can fall in love and nobody find it out. Why, I hadn't been landed two hours, and asked the news, when I was told that you and Bert Russell were over ears in love with my sister."
Phil merely looked his astonishment.
"Now, sir, you mayn't think it," says Mr. Ned, "but my word has some weight with Fanny."
"Fanny?" echoed Philip. "What has she to do with it?"
"Why, everything, I fancy. The lady usually has—"
"But Fanny isn't the lady."
"What? Then who the devil is?"
"I don't think 'tis a matter need be talked of now," said Phil.
"But I'd like to know—'gad, it can't be the other sister! Madge—that spitfire! Well, well! Your face speaks, if your tongue won't. Who'd have thought any man would go soft over such a vixen? Well, I can't help you there, my lad!"
"I haven't asked your help," says Phil with a smile.
"Now, it's a pity," says Ned, dolefully, "for I thought by doing you a good turn I might get you to do me another."
"Oh, I see! Why, then, as for my doing you a good turn if it's possible, speak out. What is it?"
"Now, I call that noble of you, Phil; damned noble! I do need a good turn, and that's a fact. You see I didn't tell my father exactly the truth as to my leaving the Barbadoes. Not that I don't scorn a lie, but I was considerate of the old gentleman's feelings. I couldn't endure to shock him in his tenderest place. You understand?"
"I probably shall when you've finished."
"Why, I dare say you know what the old man's tenderest place is. Well, if you won't answer, 'tis his pride in the family name, the spotless name of Faringfield! Oh, I've worked upon that more than once, I tell you. The old gentleman will do much to keep the name without a blemish; I could always bring him to terms by threatening to disgrace it—"
"What a rascal you've been, then!"
"Why, maybe so; we're not all saints. But I've always kept my word with father, and whenever he gave me the money I wanted, or set me up in life again, I kept the name clean—comparatively clean, that is to say, as far as any one in New York might know. And even this time—at the Barbadoes—'twasn't with any purpose of punishing father, I vow; 'twas for my necessities, I made myself free with a thousand pounds of Culverson's."
"The devil! Do you mean you embezzled a thousand pounds?"
"One cool, clean thousand! My necessities, I tell you. There was a debt of honour, you must know; a damned unlucky run at the cards, and the navy officer that won came with a brace of pistols and gave me two days in which to pay. And then there was a lady—with a brat, confound her!—to be sent to England, and looked after. You see, 'twas honour moved me in the first case, and chivalry in the second. As a gentleman, I couldn't withstand the promptings of noble sentiments like those."
"Well, what then?"
"Why, then I came away. And I hadn't the heart to break the truth to father, knowing how 'twould cut him up. I thought of the old gentleman's family pride, his gray hairs—his hair is gray by this time, isn't it?—"
"And what is it you wish me to do?"
"Why, you see, Culverson hadn't yet found out how things were, when I left. I pretended I was ill—and so I was, in a way. But he must have found out by this time, and when he sends after me, by the next vessel, I'm afraid poor father will have to undergo a severe trial—you know his weakness for the honoured name of Faringfield."
"By the Lord, Ned, this is worse than I should ever have thought of you."
"It is a bit bad, isn't it? And I've been thinking what's to be done—for father's sake, you know. If 'twere broken to him gently, at once, as nobody but you can break it, why then, he might give me the money to repay Culverson, and send me back to Barbadoes by the next ship, and nothing need ever come out. I'm thoroughly penitent, so help me, heaven, and quite willing to go back."
"And incur other debts of honour, and obligations of chivalry," says Phil.
"I'll see the cards in hell first, and the women too, by gad!" whereat Mr. Edward brought his fist down upon the table most convincingly.
He thought it best to spend that night at the tavern; whither Phil went in the morning with news of Mr. Faringfield's reception of the disclosure. The merchant had listened with a countenance as cold as a statue's, but had promptly determined to make good the thousand pounds to Mr. Culverson, and that Ned should return to the Barbadoes without the formality of bidding the family farewell. But the money was to be entrusted not to Mr. Edward, but to Mr. Faringfield's old clerk, Palmer, who was to be the young man's travelling companion on the Southward voyage. At word of this last arrangement, Edward showed himself a little put out, which he told Phil was on account of his father's apparent lack of confidence. But he meditated awhile, and took on a more cheerful face.
It happened—and, as it afterward came out, his previous knowledge of this had suggested the trick he played upon Phil and Mr. Faringfield—that, the same day on which the next Barbadoes-bound vessel sailed, a brig left port for England. Both vessels availed themselves of the same tide and wind, and so went down the bay together.
On the Barbadoes vessel, Ned and Mr. Palmer were to share the same cabin; and thither, ere the ship was well out of the East River, the old clerk accompanied Ned for the purpose of imbibing a beverage which the young gentleman protested was an unfailing preventive of sea-sickness, if taken in time. Once in the cabin, and the door being closed, Mr. Ned adroitly knocked Palmer down with a blow from behind; gagged, bound, and robbed him of the money, and left him to his devices. Returning to the deck, he induced the captain to put him, by boat, aboard the brig bound for England, which was still close at hand. Taking different courses, upon leaving the lower bay, the two vessels were soon out of hail, and that before the discovery of the much puzzled Palmer's condition in his cabin.
The poor old man had to go to the Barbadoes, and come back again, before a word of this event reached the ears of Mr. Faringfield. When Palmer returned with his account of it, he brought word from Mr. Culverson that, although Ned had indeed settled a gambling debt at the pistol's point, and had indeed paid the passage of a woman and child to England, his theft had been of less than a hundred pounds. Thus it was made manifest that Ned had lied to Philip in order to play upon his father's solicitude concerning the name of Faringfield for integrity, and so get into his hands the means of embarking upon the pleasures of the Old World. Very foolish did poor Philip look when he learned how he had been duped. But Mr. Faringfield, I imagine, consoled himself with the probability that New York had seen the last of Mr. Edward.
I think 'twas to let Mr. Faringfield recover first from the feelings of this occasion, that Philip postponed so long the announcement of his intention to go to England. Thus far he had confided his plans to me alone, and as a secret. But now he was past twenty-one years, and his resolution could not much longer be deferred. Nevertheless, not until the next June—that of 1774—did he screw up his courage to the point of action.
"I shall tell him to-day," said Philip to me one Monday morning, as I walked with him part of the way to the warehouses. "Pray heaven he takes it not too ill."
I did not see Phil at dinner-time; but in the afternoon, a little before his usual home-coming hour, he came seeking me, with a very relieved and happy face; and found me trimming a grape-vine in our back garden, near the palings that separated our ground from Mr. Faringfield's. On the Faringfield side of the fence, at this place, grew bushes of snowball and rose.
"How did he take it?" I asked, smiling to see Phil's eyes so bright.
"Oh, very well. He made no objection; said he had not the right to make any in my case. But he looked so upset for a moment, so deserted—I suppose he was thinking how his own son had failed him, and that now his beneficiary was turning from him—that I wavered. But at that he was the same haughty, immovable man as ever, and I remembered that each of us must live his own life; and so 'tis settled."
"Well," said I, with a little of envy at his prospect, and much of sorrow at losing him, and some wonder about another matter, "I'm glad for your sake, though you may imagine how I'll miss you. But how can you go yet? 'Tis like leaving the field to me—as to her, you know." I motioned with my head toward the Faringfield house.
"Why," he replied, as we both sat down on the wooden bench, "as I shall be gone years when I do go, Mr. Faringfield stipulated only that I should remain with him here another year; and I was mighty glad he did, or I should have had to make that offer. 'Twasn't that I was anxious to be off so soon, that made me tell him I was going; 'twas that in harbouring the intention, while he still relied upon my remaining always with him, I seemed to be guilty of a kind of treachery. As for—her, if she gives no indication within a year, especially when she knows I'm going, why, 'twill be high time to leave the field to you, I think."
"She doesn't know yet?"
"No; I came first to you. Her father isn't home yet."
"Well, Phil, there's little for me to say. You know what my feelings are. After all, we are to have you for a year, and then—well, I hope you may become the greatest architect that ever lived!"
"Why, now, 'tis strange; you remind me of my reason for going. Since Mr. Faringfield gave me his sanction, I hadn't thought of that. I'm afraid I've been something of a hypocrite. And yet I certainly thought my desire to go was chiefly on account of my architectural studies; and I certainly intend to pursue them, too. I must have deceived myself a little, though, by dwelling on that reason as one that would prevail with Mr. Faringfield; one that he could understand, and could not fairly oppose. For, hearkee, all the way home, when I looked forward to the future, the architectural part of it was not in my head. I was thinking of the famous historic places I should see; the places where great men have lived; the birthplace and grave of Shakespeare; the palaces where great pageants and tragedies have been enacted; the scenes of great battles; the abbey where so many poets and kings and queens are buried; the Tower where such memorable dramas have occurred; the castles that have stood since the days of chivalry; and Oxford; and the green fields of England that poets have written of, and the churchyard of Gray's Elegy; and all that kind of thing."
"Ay, and something of the gay life of the present, I'll warrant," said I, with a smile; "the playhouses, and the taverns, and the parks, and Vauxhall, and the assembly-rooms; and all that kind of thing."
"Why, yes, 'tis true. And I wish you were to go with me."
"Alas, I'm tied down here. Some day, perhaps—"
"What are you two talking of?" The interruption came in a soft, clear, musical voice, of which the instant effect was to make us both start up, and turn toward the fence, with hastened hearts and smiling faces.
Margaret stood erect, looking over the palings at us, backed by the green and flowered bushes through which she and Fanny had moved noiselessly toward the fence in quest of nosegays for the supper-table. Fanny stood at her side, and both smiled, Margaret archly, Fanny pleasantly. The two seemed of one race with the flowers about them, though Margaret's radiant beauty far outshone the more modest charms of her brown-eyed younger sister. The elder placed her gathered flowers on the upper rail of the fence, and taking two roses, one in each hand, held them out toward us.
We grasped each his rose at the same time, and our motions, as we touched our lips with them, were so in unison that Margaret laughed.
"And what were you talking of?" says she.
"Is it a secret any longer?" I asked Philip.
"Then we were talking of Phil's going to England, to be a great architect."
"Going to England!" She looked as if she could not have rightly understood.
"Yes," said I, "in a year from now, to stay, the Lord knows how long."
She turned white, then red; and had the strangest look.
"Is it true?" she asked, after a moment, turning to Phil.
"Yes. I am to go next June."
"But father—does he know?"
"I told him this afternoon. He is willing."
"To be sure, to be sure," she said, thoughtfully. "He has no authority over you. 'Tis different with us. Oh, Phil, if you could only take me with you!" There was wistful longing and petulant complaint in the speech. And then, as Phil answered, an idea seemed to come to her all at once; and she to rise to it by its possibility, rather than to fall back from its audacity.
"I would gladly," said he; "but your father would never consent that a Faringfield—"
"Well, one need not always be a Faringfield," she replied, looking him straight in the face, with a kind of challenge in her voice and eyes.
"Why—perhaps not," said Phil, for the mere sake of agreeing, and utterly at a loss as to her meaning.
"You don't understand," says she. "A father's authority over his daughter ceases one day."
"Ay, no doubt," says Phil; "when she becomes of legal age. But even then, without her father's consent—"
"Why, now," she interrupted, "suppose her father's authority over her passed to somebody else; somebody of her father's own preference; somebody that her father already knew was going to England: could her father forbid his taking her?"
"But, 'tis impossible," replied mystified Phil. "To whom in the world would your father pass his authority over you? He is hale and hearty; there's not the least occasion for a guardian."
"Why, fathers do, you know."
"Upon my soul, I don't see—"
"I vow you don't! You are the blindest fellow! Didn't Polly Livingstone's father give up his authority over her the other day—to Mr. Ludlow?"
"Certainly, to her husband."
"Margaret—do you mean—? But you can't mean that?" Phil had not the voice to say more, emerging so suddenly from the clouds of puzzlement to the yet uncertain sunshine of joy.
"Why shouldn't I mean that?" says she, with the prettiest laugh, which made her bold behaviour seem the most natural, feminine act imaginable. "Am I not good enough for you?"
"Madge! You're not joking, are you?" He caught her hands, and gazed with still dubious rapture at her across the fence.
My sensations may easily be imagined. But by the time she had assured him she was perfectly in earnest, I had taught myself to act the man; and so I said, playfully:
"Such a contract, though 'tis made before witnesses, surely ought to be sealed."
Philip took my hint; and he and Margaret laughed, and stretched arms across the paling tops; and I lost sight of their faces. I sought refuge in turning to Fanny, who was nearer to me than they were. To my surprise, she was watching me with the most kindly, pitying face in the world. Who would have thought she had known my heart regarding her sister?
"Poor Bert!" she murmured gently, scarce for my hearing.
And I, who had felt very solitary the moment before, now seemed not quite so lonely; and I continued to look into the soft, compassionate eyes of Fanny, so steadily that in a moment, with the sweetest of blushes, she lowered them to the roses in her hand.
We Hear Startling News, Which Brings about a Family "Scene".
I have characterised Margaret's behaviour in the matter of this marriage proposal as forward; though I have admitted that it scarce looked so, so graceful and womanlike was her manner of carrying it off, which had in it nothing worse than the privileged air of a spoiled beauty. Now that writing of it has set me thinking of it, I see that 'twas a more natural act than it appears in the cold recital. For years she had been our queen, and Phil and I her humble subjects, and the making of the overtures appeared as proper in her, as it would have seemed presumption in either of us. And over Phil, from that bygone day when she had gone across the street to his rescue, she had assumed an air of authority, nay of proprietorship, that bade him wait upon her will ere ever he acted or spoke. And, again, though out of consideration for his rival he had been purposely silent while awaiting a sign from her, she had read his heart from the first. His every look and tone for years had been an unconscious act of wooing, and so when she brought matters to a point as she did, 'twas on her part not so much an overture as a consent. As for marriage proposal in general, all men with whom I have discussed it have confessed their own scenes thereof to have been, in the mere words, quite simple and unpoetical, whether enacted in confusion or in confidence; and to have been such as would not read at all finely in books.
The less easy ordeal awaited Philip, of asking her father. But he was glad this stood yet in his way, and that 'twas not easy; for 'twould make upon his courage that demand which every man's courage ought to undergo in such an affair, and which Margaret's conduct had precluded in his coming to an understanding with her.
But however disquieting the task was to approach, it could be only successful at the end; for indeed Mr. Faringfield, with all his external frigidity, could refuse Phil nothing. In giving his consent, which perhaps he had been ready to do long before Phil had been ready to ask it, he made no allusion to Phil's going to England. He purposely ignored the circumstance, I fancy, that in consenting to the marriage, he knowingly opened the way for his daughter's visiting that hated country. Doubtless the late conduct of Ned, and the intended defection of Philip, amicable though that defection was, had shaken him in his resolution of imposing his avoidance of England upon his family. He resigned himself to the inevitable; but he grew more taciturn, sank deeper into himself, became more icy in his manner, than ever.
Philip and Margaret were married in February, four months before the time set for their departure. The wedding was solemnised in Trinity Church, by the Rev. Mr. Barclay, on one of those white days with a little snow in the air, which I for one prefer over sunny days, in winter, as far more seasonable. The young gentlemen of the town wondered that Miss Faringfield had not made a better match (as she might have done, of course, in each one's secret opinion by choosing himself). The young ladies, though some of them may have regretted the subtraction of one eligible youth from their matrimonial chances, were all of them rejoiced at the removal of a rival who had hitherto kept the eyes of a score of youths, even more eligible, turned away from them. And so they wished her well, with smiles the most genuine. She valued not a finger-snap their thoughts or their congratulations. She had, of late, imperceptibly moved aloof from them. Nor had she sought the attentions of the young gentlemen. 'Twas not of her will that they dangled. In truth she no longer had eyes or ears for the small fashionable world of New York. She had a vastly greater world to conquer, and disdained to trouble herself, by a smile or a glance, for the admiration of the poor little world around her.
All her thoughts in her first months of marriage—and these were very pleasant months to Philip, so charming and sweet-tempered was his bride—were of the anticipated residence in England. It was still settled that Philip was to go in June; and her going with him was now daily a subject of talk in the family. Mr. Faringfield himself occasionally mentioned it; indifferently, as if 'twere a thing to which he never would have objected. Margaret used sometimes to smile, thinking how her father had put it out of his power to oppose her wishes: first by his friendly sanction to Phil's going, to refuse which he had not the right; and then by his consent to her marriage, to refuse which he had not the will.
Naturally Philip took pleasure in her anticipations, supposing that, as to their source and object, they differed not from his. As the pair were so soon to go abroad, 'twas thought unnecessary to set up in a house of their own in New York, and so they made their home for the time in the Faringfield mansion, the two large chambers over the great parlour being allotted to them; while they continued to share the family table, save that Margaret now had her morning chocolate abed.
"I must initiate myself into London ways, dear," she said, gaily, when Fanny remarked how strange this new habit was in a girl who had never been indolent or given to late rising.
"How pretty the blue brocaded satin is!" quoth Fanny, looking at one of Margaret's new gowns hanging in a closet. "Why didn't you wear it at the Watts' dinner yesterday? And your brown velvet—you've not had it on since it came from the dressmaker's."
"I shall wear them in London," says Margaret.
And so it was with her in everything. She saved her finest clothes, her smiles, her very interest in life, her capacity for enjoyment, all for London. And Philip, perceiving her indifference to the outside world, her new equability of temper, her uniform softness of demeanour, her constant meditative half-smile due to pleasurable dreams of the future, read all these as tokens of blissful content like that which glowed in his own heart. And he was supremely happy. 'Tis well for a man to have two months of such happiness, to balance against later years of sorrow; but sad will that happiness be in the memory, if it owe itself to the person to whom the sorrow in its train is due.
She would watch for him at the window, in the afternoon, when he came home from the warehouse; and would be waiting at the parlour door as he entered the hall. With his arm about her, he would lead her to a sofa, and they would sit talking for a few minutes before he prepared for supper—for 'twas only on great occasions that the Faringfields dined at five o'clock, as did certain wealthy New York families who followed the London mode.
"I am so perfectly, entirely, completely, utterly happy!" was the burden of Phil's low-spoken words.
"Fie!" said Margaret, playfully, one evening. "You must not be perfectly happy. There must be some cloud in the sky; some annoyance in business, or such trifle. Perfect happiness is dangerous, mamma says. It can't last. It forbodes calamity to come. 'Tis an old belief, and she vows 'tis true."
"Why, my poor mother held that belief, too. I fear she had little perfect happiness to test it by; but she had calamities enough. And Bert Russell's mother was saying the same thing the other day. 'Tis a delusion common to mothers, I think. I sha'n't let it affect my felicity. I should be ungrateful to call my contentment less than perfect. And if calamity comes, 'twill not be owing to my happiness."
"As for that, I can't imagine any calamity possible to us—unless something should occur to hinder us from going to London. But nothing in the world shall do that, of course."
'Twas upon this conversation that Tom and I broke in, having met as I returned from the custom-house, he from the college.
"Oho!" cried Tom, with teasing mirth, "still love-making! I tell you what it is, brother Phil, 'tis time you two had eyes for something else besides each other. The town is talking of how engrossed Margaret is in you, that she ignores the existence of everybody else."
"Let 'em talk," said Margaret, lightly, with an indifference free from malice. "Who cares about their existence? They're not so interesting, with their dull teas and stupid gossip of one another! A set of tedious rustics."
"Hear the countess talk!" Tom rattled on, at the same time looking affectionate admiration out of his mirthful eyes. "What a high and mighty lady is yours, my lord Philip! I should like to know what the Morrises, and Lind Murray, and the Philipse boys and girls, and our De Lancey cousins, and the rest, would think to hear themselves called a set of rustics."
"Why," says Phil, "beside her ladyship here, are they not a set of rustics?" With which he kissed her, and rose to go to his room.
"Merci, monsieur!" said Margaret, rising and dropping him a curtsey, with the prettiest of glances, as he left the parlour.
She hummed a little French air, and went and ran her fingers up and down the keys of the pianoforte, which great new instrument had supplanted the old harpsichord in the house. Tom and I, standing at the fireplace, watched her face as the candle-light fell upon it.
"Well," quoth Tom, "Phil is no prouder of his wife than I am of my sister. Don't you think she grows handsomer every day, Bert?"
"'Tis the effect of happiness," said I, and then I looked into the fireplace rather than at her. For I was then, and had been for long months, engaged in the struggle of detaching my thoughts from her charms, or, better, of accustoming myself to look upon them with composure; and I had made such good success that I wished not to set myself back in it. Eventually my success was complete, and I came to feel toward her no more than the friendship of a lifelong comrade. If a man be honest, and put forth his will, he can quench his love for the woman that is lost to him, unless there have existed long the closest, tenderest, purest ties between them; and even then, except that 'twill revive again sometimes at the touch of an old memory.
"You dear boys!" says Margaret, coming over to us, to reward Tom with a kiss on the cheek, and me with a smile. "What a vain thing you will make me of my looks!"
"Nay," says candid Tom, "that work was done before ever we had the chance of a hand in it."
"Well," retorted Margaret, with good-humoured pertness, "there'll never be reason for me to make my brother vain of his wit."
"Nor for my sister to be vain of hers," said Tom, not in nettled retaliation, but merely as uttering a truth.
"You compliment me there," says Margaret, lightly. "Did you ever hear of a witty woman that was charming?"
"That is true," I put in, remembering some talk of Phil's, based upon reading as well as upon observation, "for usually a woman must be ugly, before she will take the trouble to cultivate wit. The possession of wit in a woman seems to imply a lack of other reliances. And if a woman be pretty and witty both, her arrogance is like to be such as drives every man away. And men resent wit in a woman as if 'twere an invasion of their own province."
"Sure your explanation must be true, Mr. Philosopher," said Margaret, "'tis so profound. As for me, I seek no reasons; 'tis enough to know that most witty women are frights; and I don't blame the men for refusing to be charmed by 'em."
"Well, sis," said Tom, "I'm sure even the cultivation of wit wouldn't make you a fright. So you might amuse yourself by trying it, ma'am. As for charming the men, you married ladies have no more to do with that."
"Oh, haven't we? Sure, I think 'tis time little boys were in bed, who talk of things they know nothing about. Isn't that so, Bert?"
"Why," said I, "for my part, I think 'tis unkind for a woman to exercise her charms upon men after she has destroyed the possibility of rewarding their devotion."
"Dear me, you talk like a character in a novel. Well, then, you're both agreed I mustn't be charming. So I'll be disagreeable, and begin with you two. Here's a book of sermons Mr. Cornelius must have left. That will help me, if anything will." And she sat down with the volume in her hands, took on a solemn frown, and began to read to herself. After awhile, at a giggle of amusement from schoolboy Tom, she turned a rebuking gaze upon us, over the top of the book; but the very effort to be severe emphasised the fact that her countenance was formed to give only pleasure, and our looks brought back the smile to her eyes.
"'Tis no use," said Tom, "you couldn't help being charming if you tried."
She threw down the book, and came and put her arm around him, and so we all three stood before the fire till Philip returned.
"Ah," she said, "here is one who will never ask me to be ugly or unpleasant."
"Who has been asking impossibilities, my dear?" inquired Philip, taking her offered hand in his.
"These wise gentlemen think I oughtn't to be charming, now that I'm married."
"Then they think you oughtn't to be yourself; and I disagree with 'em entirely."
She gave him her other hand also, and stood for a short while looking into his innocent, fond eyes.
"You dear old Phil!" she said slowly, in a low voice, falling for the moment into a tender gravity, and her eyes having a more than wonted softness. The next instant, recovering her light playfulness with a little laugh, she took his arm and led the way to the dining-room.
And now came Spring—the Spring of 1775. There had been, of course, for years past, and increasing daily in recent months, talk of the disagreement between the king and the colonies. I have purposely deferred mention of this subject, to the time when it was to fall upon us in its full force so that no one could ignore it or avoid action with regard to it. But I now reach the beginning of the drama which is the matter of this history, and to which all I have written is uneventful prologue. We young people of the Faringfield house (for I was still as much of that house as of my own) had concerned ourselves little with the news from London and Boston, of the concentration of British troops in the latter town in consequence of the increased disaffection upon the closing of its port. We heeded little the fact that the colonies meant to convene another general congress at Philadelphia, or that certain colonial assemblies had done thus and so, and certain local committees decided upon this or that. 'Twould all blow over, of course, as the Stamp Act trouble had done; the seditious class in Boston would soon be overawed, and the king would then concede, of his gracious will, what the malcontents had failed to obtain by their violent demands. Such a thing as actual rebellion, real war, was to us simply inconceivable. I believe now that Philip had earlier and deeper thoughts on the subject than I had: indeed events showed that he must have had: but he kept them to himself. And far other and lighter subjects occupied our minds as he and I started for a walk out the Bowery lane one balmy Sunday morning in April, the twenty-third day of the month.
Mr. and Mrs. Faringfield, Fanny, and Tom, had gone to church. Philip and I boasted of too much philosophical reading to be churchgoers, and I had let my mother walk off to Trinity with a neighbour. As for Margaret, she stayed home because she was now her own mistress and had a novel to read, out of the last parcel received from London. We left her on the rear veranda, amidst the honeysuckle vines that climbed the trellis-work.
"I've been counting the weeks," she said to Phil, as we were about to set forth. "Only seven more Sundays." And she stopped him to adjust the ribbon of his queue more to her taste. "Aren't you glad?"
"Yes; and a thousand times so because it makes you happy, my dear," said he.
She kissed him, and let him go. "Don't walk too far, dear!" she called after us.
We looked back from the gateway, and saw that she had come to the end of the veranda to see us from the garden. We doffed our hats, and Phil threw her a kiss; which she returned, and then waved her hand after us, softly smiling. Philip lingered a moment, smiling back, to get this last view of her ere he closed the gate.
We had just passed the common, at the Northern end of the town, when we heard a clatter of galloping hoofs in the Bowery lane before us. Looking up the vista of road shaded by trees in fresh leafage, we saw a rider coming toward us at a very severe pace. As he approached, the horse stumbled; and the man on its back, fearing it might sink from exhaustion, drew up and gave it a moment in which to recover itself. He evidently wished to make a decent entrance into the town. He was in a great panting and perspiration, like his trembling steed, which was covered with foam; and his clothes were disturbed and soiled with travel. He took off his cocked felt hat to fan himself.
"You ride fast, for Sunday, friend," said Phil pleasantly. "Any trouble?"
"Trouble for some folks, I guess," was the reply, spoken with a Yankee drawl and twang. "I'm bringing news from Massachusetts." He slapped the great pocket of his plain coat, calling attention to its well-filled condition as with square papers. "Letters from the Committee of Safety."
"Why, has anything happened at Boston?" asked Phil, quickly.
"Well, no, not just at Boston. But out Concord way, and at Lexington, and on the road back to Boston, I should reckon a few things had happened." And then, leaving off his exasperating drawl, he very speedily related the terrible occurrence of the nineteenth of April—terrible because 'twas warlike bloodshed in a peaceful land, between the king's soldiers and the king's subjects, between men of the same race and speech, men of the same mother country; and because of what was to follow in its train. I remember how easily and soon the tale was told; how clearly the man's calm voice, though scarce raised above a usual speaking tone, stood out against the Sunday morning stillness, with no sound else but the twittering of birds in the trees near by.
"Get up!" said the messenger, not waiting for our thanks or comments; and so galloped into the town, leaving us to stare after him and then at each other.
"'Faith, this will make the colonies stand together," said Philip at last.
"Ay," said I, "against the rebellious party."
"No," quoth he, "when I say the colonies, I mean what you call the rebellious party in them."
"Why, 'tis not the majority, and therefore it can't be said to represent the colonies."
"I beg your pardon—I think we shall find it is the majority, particularly outside of the large towns. This news will fly to every corner of the land as fast as horses can carry it, and put the country folk in readiness for whatever the Continental Congress may decide upon."
"Why, then, 'twill put our people on their guard, too, for whatever the rebels may attempt."
Philip's answer to this brought about some dispute as to whether the name rebels, in its ordinary sense, could properly be applied to those colonists who had what he termed grievances. We both showed heat, I the more, until he, rather than quarrel, fell into silence. We had turned back into the town; choosing a roundabout way for home, that we might observe the effect of the messenger's news upon the citizens. In a few streets the narrow footways were thronged with people in their churchgoing clothes, and many of these had already gathered into startled groups, where the rider who came in such un-Sabbath-like haste had stopped to justify himself, and satisfy the curiosity of observers, and ask the whereabouts of certain gentlemen of the provincial assembly, to whom he had letters. We heard details repeated, and opinions uttered guardedly, and grave concern everywhere expressed.
By the time we had reached home, Mr. and Mrs. Faringfield were already there, discussing the news with my mother, in the presence of the two daughters and Tom. We found them all in the parlour. Margaret stood in the library doorway, still holding her novel in her hand, her finger keeping the page. Her face showed but a languid interest in the tragedy which made all the others look so grave.
"You've heard the news, of course?" said Mr. Faringfield to us as we entered, curiously searching Philip's face while he spoke.
"Yes, sir; we were the first in the town to hear it, I think," replied Phil.
"Tis a miracle if we do not have war," said Mr. Faringfield.
"I pray not," says my mother, who was a little less terrified than Mrs. Faringfield. "And I won't believe we shall, till I see it at our doors."
"Oh, don't speak of it!" cried Mrs. Faringfield, with a shudder.
"Why, ladies," says Philip, "'tis best to think of it as if 'twere surely coming, and so accustom the mind to endure its horrors. I shall teach my wife to do so." And he looked playfully over at Margaret.
"Why, what is it to me?" said Margaret. "Tis not like to come before we sail, and in England we shall be well out of it. Sure you don't think the rebels will cross the ocean and attack London?"
"Why, if war comes," said Phil, quietly, "we shall have to postpone our sailing."
"Postpone it!" she cried, in alarm. "Why? And how long?"
"Until the matter is settled one way or another."
"But it won't come before we sail. 'Tis only seven weeks. Whatever happens, they'll riddle away that much time first, in talk and preparation; they always do."
"But we must wait, my dear, till the question is decided whether there's to be war or peace. If we come round to the certainty of peace, which is doubtful, then of course there's naught to hinder us. But if there's war, why, we've no choice but to see it out before we leave the country."
I never elsewhere saw such utter, indignant consternation as came over Margaret's face.
"But why? For what reason?" she cried. "Will not vessels sail, as usual? Are you afraid we shall be harmed on the sea? 'Tis ridiculous! The rebels have no war-ships. Why need we stay? What have we to do with these troubles? 'Tis not our business to put them down. The king has soldiers enough."
"Ay," said Phil, surprised at her vehemence, but speaking the more quietly for that, "'tis the colonies will need soldiers."
"Then what folly are you talking? Why should we stay for this war."
"That I may take my part in it, my dear."
"Bravo, brother Phil!" cried Tom Faringfield. "You nor I sha'n't miss a chance to fight for the king!"
"Nor I, either," I added.
"'Tis not for the king, that I shall be fighting," said Phil, simply.
A silence of astonishment fell on the company. 'Twas broken by Mr. Faringfield:
"Bravo, Phil, say I this time." And, losing no jot of his haughty manner, he went over, and with one hand grasping Phil's, laid the other approvingly on the young man's shoulder.
"What, have we rebels in our own family?" cried Mrs. Faringfield, whose horror at the fact gave her of a sudden the needful courage.
"Madam, do your sentiments differ from mine?" asked her husband.
"Sir, I am a De Lancey!" she replied, with a chilling haughtiness almost equal to his own.
Tom, buoyed by his feelings of loyalty above the fear of his father's displeasure, crossed to his mother, and kissed her; and even Fanny had the spirit to show defiantly on which side she stood, by nestling to her mother's side and caressing her head.
"Good, mamma!" cried Margaret. "No one shall make rebels of us! Understand that, Mr. Philip Winwood!"
Philip, though an ashen hue about the lips showed what was passing in his heart, tried to take the bitterness from the situation by treating it playfully. "You see, Mr. Faringfield, if we are indeed rebels against our king, we are paid by our wives turning rebels against ourselves."
"You cannot make a joke of it, sir," said Margaret, with a menacing coldness in her tone. "'Tis little need the king has of my influence, I fancy; he has armies to fight his battles. But there's one thing does concern me, and that is my visit to London.—But you'll not deprive me of that, dear, will you, now that you think of it better?" Her voice had softened as she turned to pleading.
"We must wait, my dear, while there is uncertainty or war."
"But you haven't the right to make me wait!" she cried, her voice warming to mingled rage, reproach, and threat. "Why, wars last for years—I should be an old woman! You're not free to deny me this pleasure, or postpone it an hour! You promised it from the first, you encouraged my anticipations until I came to live upon them, you fed my hopes till they dropped everything else in the world. Night and day I have looked forward to it, thought of it, dreamt of it! And now you say I must wait—months, at least; probably years! But you can't mean it, Phil! You wouldn't be so cruel! Tell me!"
"I mean no cruelty, dear. But one has no choice when patriotism dictates—when one's country—"
"Why, you sha'n't treat me so, disappoint me so! 'Twould be breaking your word; 'twould be a cruel betrayal, no less; 'twould make all your conduct since our marriage—nay, since that very day we promised marriage—a deception, a treachery, a lie; winning a woman's hand and keeping her love, upon a false pretence! You dare not turn back on your word now! If you are a man of honour, of truth, of common honesty, you will let this miserable war go hang, and take me to England, as you promised! And if you don't I'll hate you!—hate you!"
Her speech had come out in a torrent of increasing force, until her voice was almost a scream, and this violence had its climax in a hysterical outburst of weeping, as she sank upon a chair and hid her face upon the back thereof. In this attitude she remained, her body shaking with sobs.
Philip, moved as a man rarely is, hastened to her, and leaning over, essayed to take her hand.
"But you should understand, dear," said he, most tenderly, with what voice he could command. "God knows I would do anything to make you happy, but—"
"Then," she said tearfully, resigning her hand to his, "don't bring this disappointment upon me. Let them make war, if they please; you have your wife to consider, and your own future. Whatever they fight about, 'tis nothing to you, compared with your duty to me."
"But you don't understand," was all he could reply. "If I could explain—"
"Oh, Phil, dear," she said, adopting again a tender, supplicating tone. "You'll not rob me of what I've so joyously looked forward to, will you? Think, how I've set my heart on it! Why, we've looked forward to it together, haven't we? All our happiness has been bound up with our anticipations. Don't speak of understanding or explaining,—only remember that our first thought should be of each other's happiness, dear, and that you will ruin mine if you don't take me. For my sake, for my love, promise we shall go to England in June! I beg you—'tis the one favour—I will love you so! Do, Phil! We shall be so happy!"
She looked up at him with such an eager pleading through her tears that I did not wonder to see his own eyes moisten.
"My dear," said he, with an unsteady voice, "I can't. I shouldn't be a man if I left the country at this time. I should loathe myself; I should not be worthy of you."
She flung his hand away from her, and rose in another seizure of wrath.
"Worthy!" she cried. "What man is worthy of a woman, when he cheats her as you have cheated me! You are a fool, with your talk of loathing yourself if you left the country! In God's name, what could there be in that to make you loathe yourself? What claim has the country on you, equal to the claim your wife has? Better loathe yourself for your false treatment of her! You'd loathe yourself, indeed! Well, then, I tell you this, 'tis I that will loathe you, if you stay! I shall abominate you, I shall not let you come into my sight! Now, sir, take your choice, this instant. Keep your promise with me—"
"'Twas not exactly a promise, my dear."
"I say, keep it, and take me to London, and keep my love and respect; or break your promise, and my heart, and take my hate and contempt. Choose, I say! Which? This instant! Speak!"
"Madge, dear, you are not yourself—"
"Oh, but I am, though! More myself than ever! And my own mistress, too! Speak, I bid you! Tell me we shall go. Answer—will you do as your wife wishes?"
"I will do as your husband ought."
"Will you go to England?"
"I will stay till I know the fate of the colonies; and to fight for them if need be."
"You give me up, for the sake of a whim, of some silly fustian about patriotism, some fool's rubbish of high-sounding words! Me, you balance against a crazy notion! Very well, sir! How I shall hate you for it! Don't come near me—not a step! Cling to your notion; see if it will fill my place! From this moment, you're not my husband, I'm not your wife—unless you promise we shall sail in June! And don't dare speak to me, except to tell me that!"
Whereupon, paying no heed to his reproachful cry of "Madge," she swept past him, and across the parlour, and up the hall staircase to her room; leaving us all in the amazement which had held us motionless and silent throughout the scene.
Philip stood with his hand upon the chair-back where she had wept; pale and silent, the picture of abandonment and sorrow.
Ned Comes Back, with an Interesting Tale of a Fortunate Irishman.
Before any of us knew what to say, a soft tread in the library announced the approach of Mr. Cornelius. He entered unaware of the scene that had just terminated, and with the stormy character of which on Margaret's part, nothing could have been in greater contrast than the quiescent atmosphere that ever accompanied the shy, low-speaking pedagogue. His presence diffused peace and quietude; and more than formerly was this the case of late, since he had resumed an intention of entering the Presbyterian ministry.
He had qualified himself for this profession at Princeton. But after his full preparations, a conscientious scruple had arisen from a sense of his diffidence, which he despaired of conquering, and by which he believed his attempts at pulpit eloquence were sure to be defeated. Though he could compass the hardihood to discourse to an assemblage of distracting schoolboys several hours every week-day, he could not summon the courage to address an audience of somnolent adults two hours on Sunday.
But latterly he had awakened to a new inward call, and resolved upon a new trial of his powers. By way of preliminary training, he had set about practising upon the sailors and wharfmen who ordinarily spent their Sundays in gaming or boozing in low taverns along the water-front. To as many of these as would gather in some open space, at the sound of his voice raised tremulously in a hymn, he would preach as a layman, thus borrowing from the Methodists a device by which he hoped not only his present hearers, but also his own future Presbyterian congregations, should benefit. It was from one of these informal meetings, broken up by the news from Massachusetts, that he was but now returned.
The stupefaction in which we all sat, did not prevent our noting the excitement in which Cornelius came; and Mr. Faringfield looked a mute inquiry.
"Your pardon, friends," said the pedagogue to the company; and then to Mr. Faringfield: "If I might speak with you alone a moment, sir—"
Mr. Faringfield went with him into the library, leaving us all under new apprehension.
"Dear bless me!" quoth Mrs. Faringfield, looking distressed. "More calamity, I vow."
In a moment we heard Mr. Faringfield's voice raised in a vehement "No, sir!" Then the library door was reopened, and he returned to us, followed by Cornelius, who was saying in his mildest voice: "But I protest, sir—I entreat—he is a changed man, I assure you."
"Changed for the worse, I make no doubt," returned the angry merchant. "Let him not darken my door. If it weren't Sunday, I should send for a constable this moment."
"What is it?" cried Mrs. Faringfield. "Sure it can't be—that boy again!"
"Mr. Edward, madam," said the tutor.
"Dear, dear, what a day! What a terrible day! And Sunday, too!" moaned the lady, lying back in her chair, completely crushed, as if the last blow of fate had fallen.
"He arrived in the Sarah brig, which anchored yesterday evening," explained Mr. Cornelius, "but he didn't come ashore till this morning."
"He thought Sunday safer," said Mr. Faringfield, with scornful derision.
"I was returning from my service, when I met him," continued the tutor. "He was at the Faringfield wharf, inquiring after the health of the family, of Meadows the watchman. I—er—persuaded him to come home with me."
"You mean, sir, he persuaded you to come and intercede for him," said Mr. Faringfield.
"He is now waiting in the garden. I have been telling Mr. Faringfield, ma'am, that the young man is greatly altered. Upon my word, he shows the truest signs of penitence. I believe he is entirely reformed; he says so."
"You'd best let him come in, William," counselled Mrs. Faringfield. "If you don't, goodness knows what he may do."
"Madam, I resolved long ago to let the law do its utmost upon him, if he should ever return."
"Oh, but think what scandal! What will all my relations say? Besides, if he is reformed—"
"If he is reformed, let him show it by his conduct on my refusing to take him back; and by suffering the penalty of his crime."
"Oh!—penalty! Don't speak such words! A jailbird in the family! I never could endure it! I shouldn't dare go to church, or be seen anywhere in public!"
"The same old discussion!" said Mr. Faringfield, with a wearied frown.
"Papa, you won't send him to jail, will you?" ventured Fanny, with eyes rapidly moistening, and lips turning to a pout in spite of herself.
"Really, sir," put in Cornelius, trembling at his own temerity, "if you could but see him—take my word, sir, if ever there was a case where forgiveness—"
After much more of this sort of talk, and being shaken in will by the day's previous excitements, Mr. Faringfield at length gave in so far as to consent to an interview with the penitent, to whom thereupon Cornelius hastened with the news.
It was indeed a changed and chastened Ned, to all outward appearance, that entered meekly with the pedagogue a few minutes later. His tread was so soft, his demeanour so tame, that one would scarce have known him but for a second look at his shapely face and burly figure. The face was now somewhat hollowed out, darkened, lined, and blotched; and elongated with meek resignation. His clothes—claret-coloured cloth coat and breeches, flowered waistcoat, silk stockings, lace ruffles, and all—were shabby and stained. He bowed to the company, and then stood, furtively watching for some manifestation from the rest before he dared proceed to warmer greetings.
Fanny stepped softly forward and kissed him, in a shy, perfunctory manner; and then good-natured Tom shook his hand, and Philip followed suit; after which Mrs. Faringfield embraced him somewhat stiffly, and I gingerly held his fingers a moment, and my mother hoped he found himself well.
"Quite well, I thank you, considering," said he; and then gazed in a half-scared way at his father. All the old defiance had disappeared under the blows of adversity.
"Well, sir," said his father, coldly, "we had scarce looked for you back among us."
"No, sir," said Ned, still standing. "I had no right to be looked for, sir—no more than the prodigal son had. I'm a bit like him, sir."
"Don't count upon the fatted calf, however."
"No, sir; not me. Very plain fare will do for me. I—I ask your pardon, sir, for that—that business about Mr. Palmer."
"The world has put you into a humble mood," said Mr. Faringfield, with sarcastic indifference.
"Yes, sir; the way of transgressors is hard, sir."
"Why don't you sit down?" put in Mrs. Faringfield, who was made uncomfortable by the sight of others being so.
"Thank you, mother," said Ned, availing himself of the implied permission.
"I hear you've undergone a reformation," said his father.
"I hope so, sir. They tell me I've got religion."
"Who tells you?"
"The Methodists. I went to their meetings in London. I—I thought I needed a little of that kind of thing. That's how I happened to—to save my soul."
"And how do you conceive you will provide for your body?"
"I don't know yet—exactly. If I might stay here till I could find some employment—"
Mr. Faringfield met the pleading look of Fanny, and the prudent one of his wife. The latter reflected, as plainly as words, what had manifestly entered his own mind: that immunity from future trouble on Ned's account might indeed be had without recourse to a step entailing public disgrace upon the family. So he said:
"My intention was, if you should ever show your face in New York again, to see you punished for that matter of the money and Mr. Palmer. I don't give up that intention; I shall only postpone carrying it out, during your good behaviour."
"Thank you, sir; I dare say it's better than I deserve."
And so was Mr. Ned established home again, to be provided for by his father until he should obtain some means of self-support. In this task his father offered no assistance, being cautious against vouching for a person hitherto so untrustworthy; and it soon became evident that Ned was not very vigorously prosecuting the task himself. He had the excuse that it was a bad time for the purpose, the country being so unsettled in the expectation of continued war. And he was content to remain an idle charge upon his father's bounty, a somewhat neglected inmate of the house, his comings and goings not watched or inquired into. His father rarely had a word for him but of curt and formal greeting. His mother found little more to say to him, and that in a shy reserved manner. Margaret gave him no speeches, but sometimes a look of careless derision and contempt, which must have caused him often to grind his teeth behind his mask of humility. Philip's courtesy to him was distinctly chilly; while Tom treated him rather with the indifferent amiability of a new and not very close acquaintance, than with any revival of old brotherly familiarity. I shared Phil's doubts upon Ned's spiritual regeneration, and many people in the town were equally skeptical. But there were enough of those credulous folk that delight in the miraculous, who believed fully in this marvellous conversion, and never tired of discussing the wonder. And so Ned went about, posing as a brand snatched from the burning, to the amusement of one-half the town, the admiration of the other half, and the curiosity of both.
"'Tis all fudge, says I," quoth lean old Bill Meadows, the watchman at the Faringfield wharves. "His story and his face don't hitch. He declares he was convarted by the Methodies, and he talks their talk about salvation and redemption and the like. But if he really had religion their way, he'd wear the face o' joy and gladness. Whereas he goes about looking as sober as a covenanter that expected the day of judgment to-morrow and knew he was predestinated for one O' the goats. Methodie convarts don't wear Presbyterian faces. Ecod, sir" (this he said to Phil, with whom he was on terms of confidence), "he's got it in his head that religion and a glum face goes together; and he thereby gives the lie to his Methodie convarsion."
Ned was at first in rather sore straits for a companion, none of his old associates taking well to his reformation. He had to fall back upon poor Cornelius, who was always the most obliging of men and could never refuse his company or aught else to any tolerable person that sought it. But in a week or so Ned had won back Fanny to her old allegiance, and she, in the kindness of her heart, and in her pity that the poor repentant fellow should be so misunderstood, his amendment so doubted, gave him as much of her time as he asked for. She walked with him, rode with him, and boated with him. This was all greatly to my cost and annoyance; for, ever since she had so gently commiserated my loss of Margaret, I had learned more and more to value her sweet consolation, rely upon her sympathy in all matters, and find serenity and happiness in her society. It had come to be that two were company, three were none—particularly when the third was Ned. So, if she would go about with him, I left her to go with him alone; and I suffered, and pined, and raged inwardly, in consequence. 'Twas this deprivation that taught me how necessary she was to me; and how her presence gave my days half their brightness, my nights half their beauty, my taste of everything in life half its sweetness. Philip was unreservedly welcome to Madge now; I wondered I had been so late in discovering the charms of Fanny.
But one day I noticed that a coolness had arisen between her and Ned; a scarce evident repulsion on her part, a cessation of interest on his. This was, I must confess, as greatly to my satisfaction as to my curiosity. But Fanny was no more a talebearer than if she had been of our sex; and Ned was little like to disclose the cause intentionally: so I did not learn it until by inference from a passage that occurred one night at the King's Arms' Tavern.
Poor Philip, avoided and ignored by Madge, who had not yet relented, was taking an evening stroll with me, in the soothing company of the pedagogue; when we were hailed by Ned with an invitation to a mug of ale in the tavern. Struck with the man's apparent wistfulness for company, and moved by a fellow feeling of forlornness, Philip accepted; and Cornelius, always acquiescent, had not the ill grace to refuse. So the four of us sat down together at a table.
"I wish I might offer you madeira, gentlemen; or punch, at least," said Ned regretfully, "but you know how it is. I'm reaping what I sowed. Things might be worse. I knew 'em worse in London—before I turned over a new leaf."
The mugs being emptied, and the rest of us playing host in turn, they were several times replenished. Ned had been drinking before he met us; but this was not apparent until he began to show the effect of his potations while the heads of us his companions were still perfectly clear. It was evident that he had not allowed his conversion to wean him from this kind of indulgence. The conversation reverted to his time of destitution in London.
"Such experiences," observed Cornelius, "have their good fruits. They incline men to repentance who might else continue in their evil ways all their lives."
"Yes, sir; that's the truth!" cried Ned. "If I'd had some people's luck—but it's better to be saved than to make a fortune—although, to be sure, there are fellows, rascals, too, that the Lord seems to take far better care of than he does of his own!"
Mr. Cornelius looked a little startled at this. But the truth was, I make no doubt, that the pretence of virtue, adopted for the purpose of regaining the comforts of his father's house, wore heavily upon Ned; that he chafed terribly under it sometimes; and that this was one of the hours when, his wits and tongue loosened by drink, he became reckless and allowed himself relief. He knew that Philip, Cornelius, and I, never tattled. And so he cast the muzzle of sham reformation from his mouth.
He was silent for a while, recollections of past experience rising vividly in his mind, as they will when a man comes to a certain stage of drink.
"Sure, luck is an idiot," he burst out presently, wrathful from his memories. "It reminds me of a fool of a wench that passes over a gentleman and flings herself at a lout. For, lookye, there was two of us in London, a rascal Irishman and me, that lived in the same lodgings. We did that to save cost, after we'd both had dogs' fortune at the cards and the faro-table. If it hadn't been for a good-natured woman or two—I spoke ill of the breed just now, but they have their merits—we'd have had no lodgings at all then, except the Fleet, maybe, or Newgate, if it had come to that. Well, as I was saying, we were both as near starvation as ever I wish to be, the Irishman and me. There we were, poverty-stricken as rats, both tarred with the same stick, no difference between us except he was an ugly brute, and a scoundrel, and a man of no family. Now if either of us deserved good fortune, it certainly was me; there can't be any question of that. And yet, here I am, driven to the damnedest tedious time of it for bare food and shelter, and compelled to drink ale when I'm—oh, curse it, gentlemen, was ever such rotten luck?"
Cornelius, whom disillusion had stricken into speechlessness at this revelation of the old Ned under the masquerade, sighed heavily and looked pained. But Philip, always curious upon matters of human experience, asked:
"What of the Irishman?"
"Driving in his chariot, the dog! Swaggering in Pall Mall; eating and drinking at taverns that it makes my mouth water to think of; laying his hundred guineas a throw, if he likes. Oh, the devil! The fat of London for that fellow; and me cast off here in New York to the most hellish dull life! 'Tisn't a fair dispensation; upon my soul it isn't!"
"And what made him so fortunate?" inquired Philip.
"Ay, that's the worst of it! What good are a man's relations? What good are mine, at least? For that knave had only one relation, but she was of some use, Lord knows! When it came to the worst with him, he walked to Bristol, and begged or stole passage to Ireland, and hunted up his sister, who had a few pounds a year of her own. He had thought of borrowing a guinea or two, to try his fortune with again. But when he saw his sister, he found she'd grown up into a beauty—no more of a beauty than my sisters, though; but she was a girl of enterprise and spirit. I don't say Madge isn't that; but she's married and done for. But Fanny—well, I don't see anything brilliant in store for Fanny."
"What has she to do with the affairs of your Irishman?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing. She's a different kind from this Irish lady. For what did that girl do, after her brother had seen her and got the idea, than pack up and come to London with him. And he showed her around so well, and her fine looks made such an impression, that within three months he had her married to a lord's son—the heir to Lord Ilverton's estates and title. And now she's a made woman, and he's a made man, and what do you think of that for a lucky brother and a clever sister? And yet, compared with Fanny—"
"Do you mean to say," interrupted Philip, in a low voice, "that you have ever thought of Fanny as a partner in such a plan?"
"Little use to think of her," replied Ned, contemptuously. "She hasn't the spirit. I'm afraid there ain't many sisters like Mullaney's. Poor Fan wouldn't even listen—"
"Did you dare propose it to her?" said Phil. My own feelings were too strong for speech.
"Dare!" repeated Ned. "Why not? 'Twould have made her fortune—"
"Upon my word," put in Mr. Cornelius, no longer able to contain his opinions, "I never heard of such rascality!"
Something in the pedagogue's tone, I suppose, or in Ned's stage of tipsiness at the moment, gave the speech an inflammatory effect. Ned stared a moment at the speaker, in amazement. Then he said, with aroused insolence:
"What's this, Mr. Parson? What have you to say here? My sister is my sister, let me tell you—"
"If she knew you as well as I do now," retorted Cornelius, quietly, "she wouldn't boast of the relationship."
"What the devil!" cried Ned, in an elevated voice, thus drawing the attention of the four or five other people in the room. "Who is this, talks of relationships? You cursed parson-pedagogue—!"
"Be quiet, Ned," warned Philip. "Everybody hears you."
"I don't care," replied Ned, rising, and again addressing Cornelius. "Does anybody boast of relationships to you, you tow-headed bumpkin? Do you think you can call me to account, as you can the scum you preach to on the wharves? I'll teach you!"
Whereat, Cornelius being opposite him, Ned violently pushed forward the table so as to carry the tutor over backward in his chair. His head and back struck the floor heavily, and he lay supine beneath the upset table.
An excited crowd instantly surrounded our group. Philip and I immediately removed the table, and helped Cornelius to his feet. The pedagogue's face was afire; his fists were clenched; his chest swelled; and one could judge from his wrists what sturdy arms his sleeves encased. As he advanced upon Ned, he was all at once become so formidable a figure that no one thought to interpose. Ned himself, appalled at the approaching embodiment of anger and strength, retreated a foot or two from the expected blow. Everybody looked to see him stretched flat in a moment; when Cornelius suddenly stopped, relaxed his muscles, unclosed his fists, and said to his insulter, in a quiet but virile voice quite different from that of his usual speech:
"By the grace of God, I put my hands behind my back; for I've spoiled handsomer faces than yours, Edward Faringfield!"
There was a moment's pause.
"The grace of God has no such effect upon me!" said I, rapping Ned over the mouth with the back of my hand. Before the matter could go any further, Philip caught my arm, and Cornelius's, and hurried us out of the tavern.
I now knew what had broken the friendship between Fanny and her worthless brother. I feared a catastrophe when Mr. Faringfield should learn of the occurrence at the tavern. But, thanks to the silence of us who were concerned, and to the character of the few gentlemen with whom he deigned to converse, it never came to his ears. Ned, restored to his senses, and fearing for his maintenance, made no attempt to retaliate my blow; and resumed his weary pretence of reformation. But years afterward we were to recall his story of the Irishman's sister.
Enemies in War.
As this is not a history of the wars I shall not dwell upon the talk and preparations that went on during the weeks ensuing upon our eventful Sunday: which talk was common to both parties, but which preparations were mainly on the part of the rebels, we loyalists awaiting events and biding the return from England of Governor Tryon. There were looks of suspicion exchanged, and among the more violent and uncouth there were open boasts bandied, open taunts reciprocated, and open threats hurled back and forth. Most of the quality of the town were on the loyal side; but yet there were some excellent families—such as the Livingstones—who stood first and last among the so-called Whigs. This was the case in great part of the country, the wealth and culture, with distinguished exceptions, being for the king and parliament; though, I must own, a great quantity of the brains being on the other side: but in Virginia and her Southerly neighbours, strange to say, the aristocracy largely, though not entirely, leaned toward revolt; for what reason I never knew, unless it was that many of them, descended from younger sons of good English stock who had been exiled as black sheep or ne'er-do-wells, inherited feelings similar to Mr. Faringfield's. Or perhaps 'twas indeed a pride, which made them resentful of the superiority assumed by native Englishmen over them as colonists. Or they may have felt that they should actually become slaves in submitting to be taxed by a parliament in which they were not represented. In any case, they (like Philip Winwood and Mr. Faringfield, the Adamses of Boston, and thousands of others) had motives that outweighed in them the sentiment of loyalty, the passion of attachment to the land whence we had drawn our race and still drew our culture and all our refinements and graces. This sentiment, and this passion, made it impossible for Tom Faringfield and me to see any other course for us than undeviating fidelity to the king and the mother-country. There were of course some loyalists (or Tories, if you prefer that name) who took higher views than arose from their mere affections, and who saw harm for America in any revolt from English government; and there were others, doubtless, whose motives were entirely low and selfish, such as holders of office under the crown, and men who had powers and privileges of which any change of system, any disturbance of the royal authority, might deprive them. It was Philip who called my attention to this last class, and to the effect its existence must have on the common people in the crisis then present.
"The colonists of America are not like any other people," said he. "Their fathers came to this land when it was a savage wilderness, tearing themselves from their homes, from civil surroundings; that they might be far from tyranny, in small forms as well as great. Not merely tyranny of king or church, but the shapes of it that Hamlet speaks of—'the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, the insolence of office.' All for the sake of liberty, they battled with savages and with nature, fought and toiled, bled and starved. And Tyranny ignored them till they had transformed their land and themselves into something worth its attention. And then, backed and sustained by royal authority, those hated things stole in upon them—'the insolence of office, the proud man's contumely, the oppressor's wrong.' This, lookye, besides the particular matter of taxation without representation; of being bid to obey laws they have no hand in making; of having a set of masters, three thousand miles away, and not one of their own land or their own choosing, order them to do thus and so:—why, 'twere the very soul and essence of slavery to submit! Man, how can you wonder I am of their side?"
"And with your taste for the things to be found only in the monarchies of Europe; for the arts, and the monuments of past history, the places hallowed by great events and great men!" said I, quoting remembered expressions of his own.
"Why," says he, smiling a little regretfully, "we shall have our own arts and hallowed places some day; meanwhile one's taste must defer to one's heart and one's intelligence."
"Yes," said I, with malicious derision, "when 'tis so great a question as a paltry tax upon tea."
"'Tis no such thing," says he, warming up; "'tis a question of being taxed one iota, the thousandth part of a farthing, by a body of strangers, a body in which we are not represented."
"Neither were we represented in it when it sent armies to protect us from the French, and toward the cost of which 'tis right we should pay."
"We paid, in men and money both. And the armies were sent less for our protection than for the aggrandisement of England. She was fighting the French the world over; in America, as elsewhere, the only difference being that in America we helped her."
So 'twas disputed between many another pair of friends, between brothers, between fathers and sons, husbands and wives. I do not know of another civil war that made as many breaks in families. Meanwhile, the local authorities—those of local election, not of royal appointment—were yet outwardly noncommittal. When Colonel Washington, the general-in-chief appointed by the congress of the colonies at Philadelphia, was to pass through New York on his way to Cambridge, where the New England rebels were surrounding the king's troops in Boston, it was known that Governor Tryon would arrive from England about the same time. Our authorities, rather than seem to favour one side, sent a committee to New Jersey to meet the rebel commander and escort him through the town, and immediately thereafter paid a similar attention to the royal governor. One of those who had what they considered the honour of riding behind Mr. Washington a part of his way (he came accompanied by a troop of horse from Philadelphia, and made a fine, commanding figure, I grant) was Philip Winwood. When he returned from Kingsbridge, I, pretending I had not gone out of my way to see the rebel generalissimo pass, met him with a smile, as if to make a joke of all the rebel preparations:
"Well," says I, "what manner of hero is your illustrious chief? A very Julius Caesar, I make no doubt."
"A grave and modest gentleman," says Phil, "and worthy of all the admiration you used to have for him when we would talk of the French War. I remember you would say he was equal to all the regular English officers together; and how you declared Governor Shirley was a fool for not giving him a king's commission."
"Well," said I, "'tis a thousand to one, that if Colonel Washington hadn't been disappointed of a king's commission, he wouldn't now be leader of the king's enemies." I knew I had no warrant the slightest for attributing Mr. Washington's patriotism to such a petty motive as a long-cherished resentment of royal neglect; and years afterward, in London, I was to chastise an equally reckless speaker for a similar slander; but I was young and partisan, and being nettled by the reminder of my inconsistency, spoke to irritate.
"That is a lie!" said Phil, quietly, looking me straight in the face.
Such a word from Philip made me stare in amazement; but it did not improve my temper, or incline me to acknowledge the injustice I had uttered. My face burned, my fingers clenched. But it was Philip that had spoken; and a thing or two flashed into my mind in the pause; and, controlling myself, I let out a long breath, opened my fists, and, with the best intentions in the world, and with the quietest voice, gave him a blow far more severe than a blow of the fist had been.
"I will take that from you, Phil," said I: "God knows, your stand in this rebellion has caused you enough unhappiness."
He winced, and sent me a startled look, stung at my alluding to the estrangement of his wife. I know not whether he took it as a taunt from so dear a friend, or whether the mere mention of so delicate a sorrow was too much for him; but his face twitched, and he gave a swallow, and was hard put to it to hold back the tears.
"Forgive me," I said, stricken to the heart at sight of this. "I am your friend always, Phil." I put a hand upon his shoulder, and his face turned to a kindly expression of pardon, a little short of the smile he dared not yet trust himself to attempt.
Margaret's demeanour to him, indeed, had not shown the smallest softening. But to the rest of the world, after the immediate effects of that Sunday scene had worn off, she seemed vastly more sparkling and fascinating than ever before: whether she was really so, and of intention, or whether the appearance was from contrast with her treatment of Philip, I dare not say. But the impression was Philip's, I think, as well as every one's else; and infinitely it multiplied the sorrow of which he would not speak, but which his countenance could not conceal. When the news of the affair at Bunker's Hill was discussed at the supper-table one evening in June, I being present, and Margaret heard how bravely the British charged the third and successful time up to the rebel works, after being hurled back twice by a very hell of musketry, she dropped her fork, and clapped her hands, crying:
"Bravo, bravo! 'Tis such men that grow in England. I could love every one of 'em!"
"Brave men, I allow," said Philip; "but as for their victory, 'twas but a technical one, if accounts be true. Their loss was greater than ours; and the fight proved that Americans can stand before British regulars."
Margaret paid no more notice than if Philip had not spoken—'twas her practice now to ignore his speeches not directed to herself alone—and when he had done, she said, blithely, to one of the young De Lanceys, who was a guest:
"And so they drove the Yankees out! And what then, cousin?"
"Why, that was all. But as for the men that grow in England, you'll find some of us grown in America quite as ready to fight for the king, if matters go on. Only wait till Governor Tryon sets about calling for loyal regiments. We shall be falling over one another in the scramble to volunteer. But I mean to be first."
"Good, cousin!" she cried. "You may kiss my hand for that—nay, my cheek, if I could reach it to you."
"Faith," said De Lancey, after gallantly touching her fingers with his lips, "if all the ladies in New York had such hands, and offered 'em to be kissed by each recruit for the king, there'd be no man left to fight on the rebel side."
"Why, his Majesty is welcome to my two hands for the purpose, and my face, too," she rattled on. "But some of our New York rebels were going to do great things: 'tis two months now, and yet we see nothing of their doings."
"Have a little patience, madam," said Philip, very quietly. "We rebels may be further advanced in our arrangements than is known in all quarters."
The truth of this was soon evident. In the open spaces of the town—the parade-ground (or Bowling Green) outside the fort; the common at the head of the town; before the very barracks in Chambers Street that had just been vacated by the last of the royal troops in New York, they having sailed for Boston rather for their own safety than to swell the army there—there was continual instructing and drilling of awkward Whigs. Organisation had proceeded throughout the province, whose entire rebel force was commanded by Mr. Philip Schuyler, of Albany; subordinate to whom was Mr. Richard Montgomery, an Irish gentleman who had first set foot in America at Louisbourg, as a king's officer, and who now resided beyond Kingsbridge.
It was under Montgomery that Philip Winwood took service, enlisting as a private soldier, but soon revealing such knowledge of military matters that he was speedily, in the off-hand manner characteristic of improvised armies, made a lieutenant. This was a little strange, seeing that there was a mighty scramble for commissions, nine out of every ten patriots, however raw, clamouring to be officers; and it shows that sometimes (though 'tis not often) modest merit will win as well as self-assertive incompetence. Philip had obtained his acquaintance with military forms from books; he was, in his ability to assimilate the matter of a book, an exception among men; and a still greater exception in his ability to apply that matter practically. Indeed, it sometimes seemed that he could get out of a book not only all that was in it, but more than was in it. Many will not believe what I have related of him, that he had actually learned the rudiments of fencing, the soldier's manual of arms, the routine of camp and march, and such things, from reading; but it is a fact: just as it is true that Greene, the best general of the rebels after Washington, learned military law, routine, tactics, and strategy, from books he read at the fire of the forge where he worked as blacksmith; and that the men whom he led to Cambridge, from Rhode Island, were the best disciplined, equipped, uniformed, and maintained, of the whole Yankee army at that time. As for Philip's gift of translating printed matter into actuality, I remember how, when we afterward came to visit strange cities together, he would find his way about without a question, like an old resident, through having merely read descriptions of the places.