"Some years since there was a question about finishing the Louvre. Could it of could it not be done? A great Assembly, when consulted, declared it to be impracticable. It was in fact impracticable under the conditions which then existed. Yet within the short period that has since elapsed, the Louvre has been finished. This instance is for me only a symbol. How many moral Louvres remain to be completed!
"There are governments which have for their principle resistance and obstruction; but there are also governments of initiation. Governments founded on pure liberty are not necessarily the most active. Free assemblies are better suited to put the drag upon the wheels, to check them when they go too fast, than to accelerate them. Like criticism, which is in fact their province and their strength, they excel in warning and in hindering rather than in undertaking. The eternal problem is to reconcile, to balance, authority and liberty, using sometimes the one, sometimes the other. In this double play theory may be at fault, but practical ability will always triumph.
"Some nations, it was lately said by a liberal, have tried to dispense with great men, and have succeeded. There is a perspective to contemplate! Let us not, however, in France, try too often to dispense with them. The greatest of our moralists, he who knew us best, has said of man in general, what is true of the French nature in particular, that we have more force than will. Let us hope that this latter quality may not fail us too long or in too many cases; and, that it may be efficacious, there is nothing like a man, a determined and sovereign will, at the head of the nation.
"I appreciate human dignity as much as others. Woe to him who would seek to diminish the force of this moral spring; he would cripple at a blow all the virtues. I do not, however, place this noblest of sentiments on the somewhat isolated height where it is put by the exclusive adorers of liberty. Let us not confound dignity with mere loftiness. Moreover, by the side of dignity let us never forget that other inspiring sentiment, which is at least its equal in value, humanity; that is to say, the remembrance, the care, of that great number who are condemned to a life of poverty and suffering, and whose precarious condition will not endure those obstacles, retardments, and delays that belong to every plan of amelioration founded on agitation and a conflict of systems and ideas. I am far from imputing to the worshippers of liberty a disregard of this humane and generous feeling. But with them the means is more sacred than the end. They would rather take but one step in the path of true progress, than be projected two by an adverse principle. Their political religion is stronger than mine. Mine is not proof against experience.
"If a question were put to us in a general way, Which is the better for a people, self-government, full discussion, decisions in accordance with good sense, and submitted to by all—or government by one, however able?—it would be only too easy to decide. But the practical question is, Given such a nation, with such a character, with such a history, in such a position,—does it, can it, wish to govern itself by itself? would not the end be anarchy? We talk of principles; let us not leave out of sight France, which is for us the first and most sacred of principles. Some have their idol in Rome and the Vatican; others in Westminster and the English Parliament; meanwhile, what becomes of poor France, which is neither Roman nor English, and which does not wish to be either?
"No, without doubt, all is not perfect. Let us accept it on the condition of correcting and improving it. Examine the character, original and altogether modern, of this new Empire, which sincerely has no desire to repress liberty, which has acquired glory, and in which the august chain of tradition is already renewed. What a role does it offer to young and intelligent minds, to generous minds, which, putting apart secondary questions and disengaging themselves from formulas, should be willing to seize and comprehend their entire epoch, accepting all that it contains! What a problem in politics, in public economy, in popular utility, that of seeking and aiding to prepare the way for such a future as is possible for France, as is now grandly opening before her, with a chief who has in his hand the power of Louis XIV., and in his heart the democratic principles of the Revolution,—for he has them, and his race is bound to have them!"
This, it will be perceived, is an application of the ideas of Mr. Carlyle, modified by the special views and characteristics of the writer, and adapted to the circumstances and necessities of the particular case. It has far less similarity with the doctrines so pompously announced, so vaguely applied, in the Vie de Jules Cesar. It does not lie open to the criticism which that clumsy and feeble apology seemed intended to provoke, and which it had received at the competent hands of M. Scherer. We have here no mysterious revelations of the designs of Providence, no intimations that the world was created as a theatre for the exaltation of certain godlike individuals. The question, as presented by M. Sainte-Beuve, is a practical one, and as such we accept it. We believe with him in the necessity for great men, in the guidance of heroes. We believe with M. Scherer in the animating forces of liberty, in its activity and power as an essential principle of progress and civilization. That the combination may exist is attested by such examples as William of Orange, Count Cavour, Abraham Lincoln.
It all comes, therefore, to this single inquiry: Is the present ruler of France a great man, a hero? Is he the enlightened leader whom a nation may and confidently follow? Has he the genius and the will to solve the problem before him, to reconcile liberty with authority? Posterity alone will be able to pronounce with unanimity. For ourselves, we must answer in the negative. We do not denounce him, we believe it absurd to denounce him, as a conspirator or a usurper. If he was a conspirator, France was his accomplice. There cannot be a doubt that the nation not only was ready to accept him, but sought him; not indeed for his personal qualities, not as recognizing its appointed guide, but from the recollections and the hopes of which his name was the symbol. We acknowledge, too, his obvious abilities; we acknowledge the material and economical improvements which his government has inaugurated. But we fail to see the "moral Louvres" which he has opened; we fail to see in his character any evidences of the moral power which can alone inspire such improvements; we fail to see in his reign any principle of "initiation," save that which the Ruler of the universe has implanted in every system and in every government. Yet we concede the right of others to think differently on these points, without being suspected of moral obtuseness or obliquity. Especially can we comprehend how a patriotic Frenchman should choose to accept all the conditions of his epoch, and embrace every opportunity of aiding in the task of correction and amelioration.
* * * * *
We are unwilling to emerge from our subject at its least agreeable angle. Our strain, however feeble, shall not close with a discord. And indeed, in looking back, we are pained to perceive how slight is the justice we have been able to render to the rare combination of powers exhibited in the works we have enumerated. We have left unnoticed the wonderful extent and accuracy of the learning, the compass and profundity of the thought, the inexhaustible spirit, ever preserving the happy mean between mental languor and nervous excitement. In these twenty-seven volumes of criticism, scarcely an error has been detected, scarcely a single repetition is met with; there is scarcely a page which a reader, unpressed for time, would be inclined to skip. Where you least agree with the author, there you will perhaps have the most reason to thank him for his hints and elucidations. Is it not then with reason that M. Sainte-Beuve has been styled "the prince of contemporaneous criticism"? His decisions have been accepted by the public, and he has founded a school which does honor to France.
How is it that our own language offers no such example? How is it that the English literature of the present century, superior to that of France in so many departments, richer therefore in the material of criticism, has nothing to show in this way, we will not say equal, but—taking quantity as well as quality into the account—in any degree similar? How is it that nothing has been written on the highest minds and chief productions of the day—on Tennyson, on Thackeray, on Carlyle—which is worth preserving or remembering? Is it that criticism has been almost abandoned to a class of writers who have no sense of their responsibilities, no enlightened interest in their art, no liberality of views,—who make their position and the influence attached to it subservient either to their interests or to their vanity? Descend, gentlemen reviewers, from the heights on which you have perched yourselves; lay aside your airs and your tricks, your pretences and affectations! Have the honesty not to misrepresent your author, the decency not to abuse him, the patience to read, and if possible to understand him! Point out his blemishes, correct his blunders, castigate his faults; it is your duty,—he himself will have reason to thank you. But do not approach him with arrogance or a supercilious coldness; do not, if your knowledge be less than his, seek to mask your ignorance with the deformity of conceit; do not treat him as a criminal or as a dunce, unless he happens really to be one. Above all, do not, by dint of judging, vitiate your faculty of tasting. Recognize the importance, the inestimable virtues, of that quality which you have piqued yourselves on despising,—that sympathy which is the sum of experience, the condition of insight, the root of tolerance, the seal of culture!
[C] At the moment when we are sending this sketch to press a specimen of the sort of criticism to which we have alluded comes to us in the form of an article in the Quarterly Review for January,—the subject, M. Sainte-Beuve himself. One wonders how it is that the writer, who, if really familiar with the productions he criticises, must have been indebted to them for many hours of enjoyment, much curious information, and a multitude of suggestions and stimulants to reflection, should have had no feeling of kindliness or gratitude for the author. But then the question comes up, Was he in reality familiar with the works? Several of his statements might provoke a doubt upon this point. We cite a single example. Speaking of M. Sainte-Beuve's temporary connection with the Saint-Simonians, he says: "For a brief season he appears to have felt some of the zeal of a neophyte, speaking the speech and talking the vague nonsense of his new friends. But soon his native good-sense seems to have perceived that the whole thing was only a fevered dream of a diseased age." Now the reviewer, if he knows anything of the doctrines in question, is entitled to express his opinion of them, even if he does it in tautological and slipshod English. But he has no right to attribute his own opinions to M. Sainte-Beuve, who is so far from holding them that, in articles written so lately as in 1861 (Nouveaux Lundis, I.), he has not only traced the enduring influence of Saint-Simonianism upon some of the ablest minds in France, but has contended that what were once considered the wildest dreams of that system have since been substantially realized. Perhaps the reviewer thinks that, as M. Sainte-Beuve is "a chameleon," with scarcely one single fixed opinion on any problem, literary, philosophical, political, or religious, there can be no harm in fathering upon him any notion from whatever source. But on one point at least—the duty of being accurate in the statement of other persons' opinions—M. Sainte-Beuve has shown an unwavering consistency.
[D] Here is, quite apropos, a frank admission to that effect from the Quarterly Reviewer before mentioned: "We confess we should be glad to meet with some passages in the writings of M. Sainte-Beuve which would prove him capable of downright scorn or anger." Yes, but if they had been there, how stern would have been the rebuke!
[E] A Quarterly Reviewer must now be added.
DE SPIRIDIONE EPISCOPO.
This is the story of Spiridion, Bishop of Cyprus by the grace of God, Told by Ruffinus in his history.
A fair and stately lady was Irene, Spiridion's daughter, and in all the isle Was none so proud; if that indeed be pride, The haughty conscience of great truthfulness, Which makes the spirit faithful unto death, And martyrdom itself a little thing.
There came a stranger to Spiridion, A wealthy merchant from the Syrian land, Who, greeting, said: "Good father, I have here A golden casket filled with Roman coin And Eastern gems of cost uncountable. Great are the dangers of the rocky road, False as a serpent is the purple sea, And he who carries wealth in foreign lands Carries his death, too often, near his heart, And finds life's poison where he hoped to find Against its pains a pleasant antidote. I pray you, keep for me these gems in trust, And give them to me when I come again."
Spiridion listened with a friendly smile, And answered thus the dark-browed Syrian: "Here is a better guardian of gold,— My daughter, sir. The people of the coast Are wont to say that, if she broke her faith, Silver and gold themselves would lose their shine. She is our island's trusty treasurer." "Then," said the Syrian, "she shall be mine As well as theirs,"—and saying this he gave The casket with the jewels to her hand.
Right earnestly the lady answered him, As one who slowly turns some curious thought: "Sir, you have called this treasure life and death, Which in your Eastern lore, as I have read, Is the symbolic phrase of Deity, And the most potent phrase to sway the world. With life to death I'll guard the gems for you, And dead or living give them back again."
Now while the merchant went to distant Rome The fair Irene died a sudden death, And all the land went mourning for the maid, And on the roads and in the palaces Was one long wail for her by night and day. While thus they grieved, the Syrian came again, And, after fit delay, in proper time Went to the father, to Spiridion, Condoling with him on his daughter's death In many a sad and gentle Eastern phrase, Deep tinctured with a strange philosophy.
Now when they had awhile consumed their grief Outspoke the Bishop: "Syrian, it is well If this sad death be not more sad for us, And most especially more sad for thee, Than thou hast dreamed of." Here he checked his speech, And then, as if in utter agony, Burst forth with—"She is gone! and all thy store, It too is gone: she only upon earth Knew where 't was hidden,—and she trusted none. O God, be merciful! What shall I do?"
Then on him gravely looked the Syrian With grand, calm mien, as almost pitying, And said: "O father, can this be thy faith? Man of the West, how little didst thou know The wondrous nature of that girl now dead. Hast thou ne'er heard that they who once become Faithful to death are masters over death? And here and there on earth a woman lives Whose eyes proclaim the mighty victory won. Give me thy hand and lead me to the bier: Thou know'st it is not all of death to die."
He took his hand and led him to the bier, And they beheld the Beautiful in Death, The perfect loveliness of Grecian form Inspired by Egypt's solemn mystery. A single pause in the eternity, The Present, Past, and Future all in one.
Awhile they stood and gazed upon the Dead, And then Spiridion spoke, as one inspired: "O God! thou wert our witness,—make it known!" He paused in solemn awe, for at the word There came an awful sign. The dead white hand Was lifted, and Irene's eyes unclosed, Beaming with light as only angels' beam, And from the cold white lips there came a voice: "The gems lie hidden in the garden wall. God bless thee, father, for thy constant love! God bless thee, Syrian, for thy faith in me!"
This is the story of Spiridion, And of his daughter, faithful unto death.
A STRUGGLE FOR SHELTER.
Having, in "A Letter to a Young Housekeeper," held counsel with her whose home is made by a noble husband, it is no less pleasant to recall the claims of her whose home is made by herself; who, instead of keeping house for two, keeps house for but one, and whose stars have not yet led her on either to matrimony or to Washington Territory.
Mrs. Stowe, in a late number of the Atlantic, has discoursed admirably on the woman question of how to get occupation; a point to be equally anxious upon is that of how to get a shelter. It is often easier to get a husband than either. Perhaps every one knows the exceeding difficulty with which, in our large cities, the single woman obtains even a room wherein to lodge; but only the victims can know the real distresses it involves. In the capital, where noble women are chiefly needed, to begin homeless is a positive peril; and to stand on the surest integrity is only to fall at last. If one apply at the boarding-houses it is either to be instantly rebuffed by learning that no rooms are let to ladies, or more delicately parried by being told that the terms are forty dollars a week! If one have attractions and friends, it is equivocal; if one have them not, it is equally desperate. Should Minerva herself alight there with a purse that would not compass Willard's, one cannot imagine what would become of her. She would probably be seen wandering at late night, with bedimmed stars and bedraggled gauze, until some vigorous officer should lead her to the station-house for vagrancy. Thus when fascination and forlornness are at equal discount, when powers and penuries go down together, and common and uncommon sense fail alike, to what natural feeling shall one hope to appeal? There is no sound spot of humanity left to rest upon. It is a dilemma that is nothing but horns.
Possibly it is a trifle better in New England; but here, as elsewhere, the chief enemy of woman is woman. It is women who keep our houses for boarding and lodging, and, with a few radiant exceptions, it is they who never take ladies. If by any chance a foothold be obtained there, the only safety is in keeping it with stern self-denial of all outside pleasures or excursions. Surrender for a week, and you return to that door only to hear that two gentlemen have taken your room, and that they will pay more. You ask for an attic. Just now there are two gentlemen there. Will there be a place under the eaves? Possibly, next week. But before then the two gentlemen are on hand again, have unpacked their vials of unctuous hair-oil, and are happily snuggled under the eaves. Indeed, they seem to make long journeys expressly to head one off, and to be where they should not be. They are on time always, and in at the winning. Some day one will pathetically die of two gentlemen on the brain; and the doctor will only call it congestion. O for a new Knight of a Sorrowful Figure, to demolish all such ubiquitous persons! I have sometimes had as many as three of my engaged rooms at a time occupied by these perpetual individuals,—myself waiting a-tremble on the portico. Then it struck me that, if there were really any more gentlemen in Washington Territory than here, women had better not go there.
Out of this exigency has arisen a grand vision of mine to build a flat of five or six rooms; a single landing of dining- and drawing-rooms, boudoir, bedroom, and kitchen with its apartment for a domestic. And, either by lounge-bedstead or famous Plympton, there should be the possibility of sleeping in every apartment but the kitchen. This would be such sweet revenge for one whom the Fates had driven about for five years to hunt lodgings. I would gormandize on bedrooms,—like Cromwell resting in a different one every night,—and the empty ones filling with forlornest of females, provided one need not do the honors at their table in the morning and hear how they have slept. There should be alcoves too, with statues; and unexpected niches of rooms crimson with drapery, "fit to soothe the imagination with privacy"; and oh! perhaps somewhere a bit of a conservatory and a fountain,—did not Mrs. Stowe tell us of these too? Here one could dwell snugly as in the petals of a rose, or expansively as in a banyan-tree, undisturbed alike from gentlemen in black or women in white, liable only to the elements and to mortality.
If only this castle were as attainable as that of Thoreau!—which was to consist of but one room, with one door to enter it, and where "some should live in the fireplace, some in the recess of a window, and some on settles,—some at one end of the hall, some at another, and some aloft on rafters with the spiders if they chose."
But on the terra firma of realities one's trouble is somewhat mitigated by the fact that, when all is said and done, the boarding-houses are usually so poor, that, having entered them, one's effort to get admitted is rather exceeded by one's desire to depart. The meats are all cooked together with one universal gravy;—beef is pork, and lamb is pork, each passing round the swinal sin; the vegetables often seem to know but one common kettle, for turnip is onion, and squash is onion; while the corn-cake has soda for sugar, and the bread is sour and drab-colored, much resembling slices of Kossuth hat.
From these facts grew the experiment of becoming housekeeper extraordinary to myself,—a strait to which many a one is likely to be driven, unless we are to have something better than can be offered by the present system of boarding-houses. For since one's castle was not yet builded outside of the brain, it only took a little Quixotism of imagination to consider as castles all these four-story brick houses with placards affixed of "Rooms to be let," and to secure the most eligible corner in one of these at moderate rent.
This of course is not so easy to do; but at last a petite room seemed to be struck out from the white heat of luck,—so petite!—six feet by thirteen feet, two carpet-breadths wide and four masculine strides long; one flight up, and just large enough to sheathe one's self in; high-walled and corniced, with on the one hand a charming bay-window looking three ways, and cheerily catching the sunlight early and late; on the other, an open grate fire, fit to illuminate the gray Boston mornings,—though, when the brilliant sun came round full at noon, there seemed no fire till that was gone. I strove to forget that it might have been a doctor's consulting office, and three days after there blossomed out of it seven several apartments; the inevitable curtain across the corner giving a wardrobe and bath; the short side of the room, with desk, a library; the long side, with sofa, a bedchamber; the upper end, with table, a dining-hall; the cupboard and region about the hearth, a kitchen; while the remainder, with a lively camp-stool chair that balanced about anywhere and doubled into nothing when desired, was drawing-room,—that is, it was drawing-room wherever the chair was drawn. In this apartment everything was handy. One could sit in the centre thereof, and, by a little dexterous tacking to north or south, reach every article in it. But when a lad whose occasional infirmity was fainting was proposed to build the fire, it became necessary to decline, on the ground that there really was not room enough, unless he were so kind as to faint up chimney. A genuine bower it was, but not a Boffin's Bower, where the wedded occupants suited their contrary tastes by having part sanded-floor for Mr. Boffin, and part high-colored carpet for Mrs. Boffin,—"comfort on one side and fashion on the other." In this the walls were hung with pictures, and the windows with lace, while the corner curtain was a gorgeous piano cover. Mr. Boffin not being here, it was both comfort and fashion all round.
In this minute way of living, the first visiting messages could only include the announcement of dainty regards, and of readiness to receive friends one by one; and dining messages could only entreat "the best one to come to the petite one on Thursday, for sake of a suggestion of pigeons' wings." Assuredly none would have voted any exquisite thing out of place, from a dish of lampreys, that favorite viand of kings, to the common delicacy of Rome, a stew of nightingales' tongues. And so compact were all the arrangements, that a brilliant friend was fain to declare that the hostess should certainly live on condensed milk.
Indeed, it was the grand concentration of having wardrobe and bath together that caused a very singular mishap. One morning, being in clumsy-fingered haste to get to a train, I summarily dropped my bonnet into the wash-bowl. This was not a very dry joke, but having mopped up the article as well as possible, I put it on and departed with usual hilarity,—still remembering what it was to have the kindest fortune in the world, and that one should not expect so rare a life as mine without an occasional disaster.
But none need undertake a plan of this sort on the theology of Widow Bedott's hymn, "K. K., Kant Kalkerlate"; for in this song of life on six feet by thirteen, calculation is the sole rhyme for salvation. We have heard of dying by inches: this is living by inches. If there be not floor-room, then perhaps there is wall-room, and every possible article must be made to hang, from the boot-bag and umbrella behind the curtain to the pretty market-basket, so toy-like, in the corner. Indeed, it is the chief charm of a camp-stool chair that this too, when off duty, may be hung upon the wall, like a hunter's saddle when the chase is ended. Only see that all the screws are in stoutly, so that in some entertaining hour various items of your wardrobe or adornments do not bring their owner to sudden grief.
As might be anticipated, it was rather a struggle to get condensed; and afterward, too, there were fleeting phases of feeling about it all. For at times it is not pleasant to connect the day of the week chiefly with its being the day to clean one's cupboard or lamp-chimney. Often, too, during a very nice breakfast, one is ready to vow that she will never do otherwise than board herself; and while despatching the work after, equally ready to vow that she will take flight from this as soon as possible. Sometimes, also, one gets a little too much of herself, and an overdose in this direction is about as bad as most insufferable things. But then there must be seasons of discouragement in everything. They inhere to all human enterprises, just as measles and whooping-cough to childhood. It is well to remember as they pass how rarely it is that they prove fatal.
And wherefore discouraged, indeed? Is it not the charm of life that nothing is final,—not even death itself? In this strange existence, with its great and rapid transitions, happy events are always imminent. One may be performing her own menialities to-day, and to-morrow, in an ambassador's carriage, be folded in a fur robe with couchant lions upon it; to-day be quartered in a single attic, to-morrow be treading the tapestries of her own drawing-rooms. Thus the golden Fate turns and keeps turning; it is only when, through frigidness or fear, we refuse to revolve with it, that there ensues the discord of despair.
But instead of going to a Walden and camping on the shady edges of the world, to see what could be done without civilization, I preferred to camp down in the heart of civilization, and see what could be done with it;—not to fly the world, but to face it, and give it a new emphasis, if so it should be; to conjure it a little, and strike out new combinations of good cheer and good fellowship. In fact, it seems to me ever that the wild heart of romance and adventure abides no more with rough, uncouth nature than with humanity and art. To sit under the pines and watch the squirrels run, or down in the bush-tangles of the Penobscot and see the Indians row, is to me no more than when Gottschalk wheels his piano out upon the broad, lone piazza of his house on the crater's edge, and rolls forth music to the mountains and stars. Here too are mystery, poesy, and a perpetual horizon.
This for romance; but true adventure abides most where most the forces of humanity are. So I camped down in the heart of things, surely; for in the next room were a child, kitten, and canary; in the basement was a sewing-machine; while across the entry were a piano, flute, and music-box. But Providence, that ever takes care of its own, did ever prevent all these from performing at once, or the grand seraglio of Satan would have been nothing to it.
But if in getting a room one is haunted by the two gentlemen, in getting furniture and provisions one is afterward haunted by the "family" relation. It is a result of the youthfulness of our civilization, that as yet it is cumbrous and unwieldy. We do not yet master it, but are mastered by it; and nowhere in America will one find the charming arrangements for single living which have filled the Old World with delightful haunts for the students of every land. As yet we provide for people, not persons; and the needs of the single woman are no more considered in business than in boarding. Forever she is reminded of the Scripture, "He setteth the solitary in families"; and forever it seems that all must be set there but herself. For nice crockery is sold by the set, knives and forks by the half-dozen, the best coal by the half-ton; the tin-pans are immense, and suggest a family Thanksgiving; pokers gigantic, fit only to be wielded by the father of a family; and at market the game is found with feet tied together in clever family bunches, while one is equally troubled to get a chop or a steak, because it will spoil the family roast,—and as to a bit of venison for breakfast, it may be had by taking two haunches and a saddle. In desperation she exclaims with O'Grady of Arrah na Pogue, "O father Adam, why had you not died with all your ribs left in your body!" For since there is neither place nor provision for her in the world, why indeed should she have come?
Having once, on a fruitless tour through Faneuil Hall Market for a single slice of beef, come to the last stall, and here finding nothing less than a sirloin of six pounds, which was not to be cut, I could only answer imploringly, "But pray, what is one person to do with a sirloin of six pounds?" A relenting smile swept over the stern butcher's face. "I will cut it!" he said, brandishing the knife at once. "Thank you," I cried, with a gush of emotion; for he seemed a really religious man. He comprehended that there was at least one solitary whom the Lord had not set in a family. I took the number of his stall.
Nor is it yet too late to be grateful to him who proposed breaking a bundle of cutlery in my behalf. He too realized the situation, and saw that by no possibility could one person gracefully get on with six knives and forks at once.
Indeed, since one's single wants are not regularly met by this system of things, the only way at present to get them answered is by favor. So that the first item in setting up an establishment is not only to bring one's resources about one, but to find the people of the trade who will assist in the gladdest way. One wants the right stripe in the morning and evening papers, but none the less happy are just the right merchant and just the right menial. Since all of life may be rounded into rhythm, shall we not even consult the harmonies in a grocer or an upholsterer? Personal power can be carried into every department. It is well to find where one's word has weight, then always say the word there. This is a part of the quest which makes life a perpetual adventure; and there is nothing more piquant than to go on an exploring tour for one's affinities among the trades. It is perhaps rather more of the sensational than the sentimental, and might be marked in the private note-book with famous headings, like those of the New York papers on a balloon marriage, as, The last affinity item! A raid among the magnetisms! or, Hifalutin among prunes! However, in some subtile way, one soon divines on entering a store whether she is to be well served there, and must follow with tact the undercurrent in the shop as well as in the salon. If it be not the right encounter, ask for something there is not, and pass on to the next. Thus, "my grocer" apologizes for keeping honey, because I do not eat sweets, and proposes to open the butter trade because it is so annoying to go about for butter; "my stoveman" descends from the stilts of the firm, looking after these chimney affairs himself; "my carpenter" says, "Shure, an' ye don't owe me onything; I'd work for ye grat-tis if I could"; "my cabinet-dealer" sends tables and wardrobes at midnight if desired, and takes them back and sells them over the next day; even the washerwoman is an affinity, exclaiming, "Shure, an' ye naid n't think I'll be chargin' ye with all the collars an' ruffles ye put in,—shure, an' I'll not."
Perhaps it sounds a little egotistic to say "my grocer," &c., but is not this the way that heads of families talk, and am I not head and family too? At least the solitary may soothe themselves with the family sounds. Indeed, it soon appears that all these faithful servers are like to become so radical a part of the my and mine of existence, as to make it really alarming. When one's comfort is thus bound up in fire-boy and washerwoman, alas! what will become of the grand philosophy of Epictetus?
To begin housekeeping proper, one will need at least a bread-knife and tumbler, a gridiron and individual salt,—cost eighty-four cents. My list also includes for kitchen and table use:—
Tin saucepan .40 " baking-pan .23 " oyster pail .25 2 breakfast plates .20 4 tea plates .32 Cup (and cover to mimic sugar-bowl) .15 Mixing spoon .15 Pint bowl .20 Butter jar .35 2 knives and forks .45 2 saucers .14 2 minute platters .18 1 " vegetable-dish .10 3 individual butter-plates .18 —— $3.30 The aforementioned gridiron, &c. .84 —— Sum total $4.14
To this should be added a small iron frying-pan for gravied meats. The quart pail usually did duty for vegetables, the saucepan for soup, while prime chops and steaks appeared from the gridiron. Tea-spoons are not included, nor any tea things whatever. These excepted, it will be seen that less than five dollars gives a full housekeeping apparatus, with pretty white crockery enough to invite a dinner guest.
The provisions for one week were:—
Bread and rolls .59 4 pears and 1/2 lb. grapes .28 1 lb. butter .55 " granulated sugar .22 " corn starch .16 " salt .05 1/4 lb. pepper .15 1/2 lb. halibut .25 3/4 lb. steak .30 1 quail .40 1 pint cranberries .08 Celery .05 1 peck potatoes and turnips .40 Pickles, 1 pint bottle .37 —— $3.85
At the end of the week there was stock unused to the amount of $1.00, making $2.85 for actual board, (I did not dine out once,) and this included the most expensive meats, which one might not always care to get; for it is not parsimony that often prefers a sirloin steak at thirty cents to a tenderloin at forty cents. But this note may be added. Don't buy quails, they are all gizzard and feathers; and don't buy halibut, till you have inquired the price. It will also be perceived that beverages are not mentioned. None of that seven million pounds of tea shipped from China last September ever came to my shores. If this article were added, there would come in large complications of furniture and food, beside the obligation of being on the stairs at early hours in fearful dishabille, watching for the milkman, as I have seen my sister-lodgers.
The pecuniary result is, that, for less than three dollars per week and the work, one may have the best food in the market; for three dollars and no work, one may have the very worst in the world.
For any ordinary amount of cooking, an open grate is admirable, though it do not furnish that convenient stove-pipe whereon lady boarders can smooth out their ribbons, &c.; but it is accessible, and draws the culinary odors speedily out of the room. At least it is admirable from fall to the middle of December, when you find that it draws the heat, as well as the odors, up chimney; then you will get a "Fairy" stove of the smallest size, with a portable oven, and fairly go into winter quarters. But by the grate one may boil, broil, and toast, if not roast; for I used with delight to cook apples on the cool corners, giving them a turn between sentences as I read or wrote. They seemed to have a higher flavor, being seasoned with thoughts; but it was not equally sure if the thoughts were better for being seasoned with apple. However, one must not count herself so recherche as Schiller, who could only write when his desk was full of rotten apples.
Still the grate has no oven, and the chief difficulty is in bread. One starts bravely on the baker's article, but such is the excess of yeast that the bitterness becomes intolerable. Then one begins to perambulate the city, and thinks she has a prize in this or that brand,—is enamored of Brigham's Graham biscuits, hot twice a week, or of Parker's rolls,—but soon eats through novelty to the core, and that is always hops. Thus one goes from baker to baker, but it is only a hopping from hops to hops. I see with malicious joy that the exportation tariff is to be removed from hops.
As to crackers, they are of course no more available than pine splints, though the Graham variety is the best. Aerated bread is probably the most healthful, but this is pitiable to live on; it tastes like salted flannel.
Finally, let me confess to the use of a friendly oven near by, and from this came every week the indispensable Graham cakes, which are the despair of all the cooks. Of course, on this point it is impossible, without seeing their experiment, to say why it failed; but all the given conditions being met, if the cakes were tough, there was probably too much meal; if soggy, too little. Also the latest improvement is not to cut them in diamonds, but to roll them into various forms. After scalding, the dough is just too soft to be handled easily; it is then to be dropped into meal upon the board, separating it in small quantities with a spoon or knife, and rolling lightly in the meal into small biscuits, rolls, or any form desired. But do not work in any of the meal. Possibly some of the failures come from disregard of this; for the meal which is added after, being unscalded, is not light, and would only clog the cakes. And, in eating, the biscuits should be broken, never sliced. They are in their prime when hot, quite as much as Ward Beecher's famous apple-pie; but, unlike that, may be freshened afterward by dipping in cold water and heating in a quick oven just before wanted. In other words, they may be regenerated by immersion.
As to the system of this minute household,—if any should be curious to know,—it was to have breakfast-dishes despatched, with the dinner vegetables pared, at half past nine, A. M.; dinner out of hand by two, P. M.; bread and butter and Cochituate precisely at six, P. M.
In one of Mr. and Mrs. Hall's "Memories of Authors," mention is made of a little Miss Spence, who, with rather limited arrangements in two rooms, used to give literary tea-parties, and was shrewdly suspected of keeping her butter in a wash-bowl. I did not follow any such underhanded proceeding. I kept my butter on the balcony. All-out-doors was my refrigerator; and if one will look abroad some cool, glittering night, he may yet see my oyster-pail hung by a star, or swinging on the horns of a new moon.
Perhaps it is fair to mention, however, that on one glittering night the mercury fell below zero, and the windows all froze hard down, and there was the butter locked on the outer side! And oh! it is such a trying calamity to be frozen in from one's butter! But after this experience the housekeeper shrewdly watches for these episodes of weather, and takes the jar in of a night. So it is that eternal vigilance is the price even of butter.
Still it seemed that, with careful and economizing mind, on six feet by thirteen it was not only possible to live, but to take table-boarders. Certainly nothing could be gayer, unless to ramble delightfully forever in one of those orange-colored ambrotype-saloons, drawn by milk-white oxen; or to quarter like Gavroche of Les Miserables among the ribs of the plaster elephant in the Bastile; or more pensively to abide in the crannied boat-cabin of the Peggotys, watching the tide sweep out and in.
This must be the weird, barbaric side of the before-named brick and mortar flat of five rooms.
Pope, the tragedian, said that he knew of but one crime a man could commit,—peppering a rump steak. It is an argument for boarding one's self that all these comfortable crimes thus become feasible. One may even butter her bread on three sides with impunity; or eat tamarinds at every meal, running the risk of her own grimaces; or take her stewed cherries with curious, undivided interest as to whether a sweet or sour one will come next (dried cherries are a great consolation); and, being allowed to help herself, can the better bring all the edibles to an end at once upon her plate,—an indication of Providence that the proper feast is finished. Wonderfully independent all this! Life with the genuine bachelor flavor. As L. remarked, even the small broom in the corner had a sturdy little way of standing alone.
Perhaps there is nothing finer than the throng of fancies that comes in a solitary breakfast. Then one reaches hands of greeting to all the lone artists taking their morning acquavite in Rome; to the young students of Germany at their early coffee and eggs; even remembering the lively grisette of Paris, as, with a parting fillip to her canary, she flits forth from her upper room; and finally drinks to the memory of our own Irving at his bachelor breakfast among the fountains and flowers in the Court of Lions at the Alhambra.
And very sweet, too, it is, in the fall of the day, to sit by the rich, ruby coals, and think of those who are far, until they come near; and of that which is hoped for, until it seems that which is; to sit and dream, till
"The breath of the great Lord God divine Stirs the little red rose of a room."
This it is to keep house with a bread-knife and tumbler, a gridiron and an individual salt. This it is to vitally understand the multum in parvo of existence. This it is to have used and mastered civilization.
But the total pecuniary result is, that the rent of the very smallest room in central location—at the hub of the hub—will not be less than three dollars per week, without light, heat, or furniture. Fire, and a boy to make it, will be two dollars per week; light seventy-five cents if gas, twenty-five cents if kerosene; this, with board at three dollars, washing at one dollar per dozen, and the constant Tribune, etc., brings one up to the pretty little sum of ten dollars per week, without a single item of luxury, unless daily papers can be called luxurious. Or, should one go out to breakfasts and dinners, nothing tolerable can be had under five dollars per week; and this gives a total of twelve dollars. Then, to complete one's life, there must be clothing, literature, perhaps travel and hospitality, making nearly as much more; and to crown it, there must be the single woman's favorite lecturer or prima donna; for ah! we too, in some form, must have our cigars and champagne. A round thousand a year for ever so small a package of humanity!
And of course, as goods are higher in small quantities, so in living by this individual way it will be discovered that prices are prodigious, but that weights and measures are not. After opening the small purse regularly at half-hour intervals for several weeks, one at length finds herself opening it when there is nothing to be bought, from mere muscular habit. Altogether it is easy to spend as much as a second-rate Congressman, without any of his accommodations. This is wherein one does not master civilization.
Mr. McCulloch, in his Report on the Treasury, suggested an increase of salary for certain subordinates in his department, declaring that they could not support their families in due rank on four, five, or even six thousand dollars a year. It is easy to believe it. It is easy to believe anything that may be stated with regard to money, except that one will ever be able to get enough of it to cover these terrible charges. The entire fabric of things rests on money; and our prices would drive a respectable Frenchman into suicide. O poor Robin Ruff! alas for your grand visions that you sang so glowingly to dear Gaffer Green! In this age of the world, O what could you do, or where could you go, e'en on a thousand pounds a year, poor Robin Ruff?
And so long as each must keep her separate establishment, it will not be found possible to reduce living much below the present figures. But London has more wisely met the pressure of the times in those magnificent clubhouses, which have made Pall Mall almost a solid square of palaces hardly inferior to the homes of the nobility themselves. Each of these houses has its hundreds of members, who really fare sumptuously, having all the luxuries of wealth on the prices that one pays here for poverty. The food is furnished by the best purveyors, and charged to the consumers at cost; all other expenses of the establishment being met by the members' initiation fees, ranging from L32 entrance fee and L11 annual subscription, to L9 and L6 for entrance and subscription. Being admirably officered and planned throughout, these gigantic households are systematized to the beautiful smoothness of small ones; their phrase of "fare-well" is one of epicurean invitation, not of dismissal; while such are the combined luxuriousness and economy that, says one authority, "the modern London club is a realization of a Utopian coenobium,—a sort of lay convent, rivalling the celebrated Abbey of Theleme, with the agreeable motto of Fais ce que voudras, instead of monastic discipline."
Of course, New York also has followed suit, and there, too, clubs are trumps; but, according to "The Nation," with this remarkable exception, that "at these houses the leading idea seems to be, not to furnish the members at cost price, but to increase the finances with a view to some future expenditure." The writer reasonably observes, that "what a man wants is his breakfast or dinner cheaper than he can get it at the hotel, and not to pay thirty or sixty dollars annually in order that ten years hence the club may have a new building farther up town." And Boston has followed New York, with its trio of well-known clubs, differing also from those of London in having poorer appointments and the highest conceivable charges.
But most of these clubs do not include lodgings, and none of them include ladies. It remains for America to give us the club complete in both. There is every reason why women should secure elegant and economical homes in this way. Indeed, in the present state of things, there seems no other way to secure them. There is no remedy but in a system of judicious clubbing. Since this phase of the world seems made up for the family relation, then ladies must make themselves into a sort of family to face it. Where is the coming man who shall communicate this art of clubbing, which has not yet even been admitted into the feminine dialect? Mr. Mercer is doing for the women who wish to go out in the world that which womanly gratitude can but lightly repay.[F] Where is the kindly, honest-hearted Mr. Mercer who shall further a like enterprise here,—a provision of quarters for those who can pay reasonably and who do not wish to go away? This would be a genuine Stay-at-home Club, a Can't-get-away Club of the very happiest sort. And this alone can put life in our noble cities, where active-brained women love to be, on something like possible terms.
In Miss Howitt's "Art Student at Munich,"—a charming sketch, by the way, of women living en bachelier abroad,—we find one young enthusiast idealizing upon this very need of feminine life, which she christens an Associated Home. In her artistic mind it takes the form of an outer and inner sisterhood,—the inner devoted to culture, the outer attending to the useful, ready alike to broil a steak or toe a stocking for the more ethereal ones of the household. This is all quite amiably intended, but no queen-bee and common-bee scheme of the sort seems to be either generous or practicable. It involves at once too much caste and too much contact. We do not wish to find servants or scrubs in our sisters, nor do we wish at all times even to see our sisters. There must be elbow-room for mood and temperament, as well as high walls of defence. The social element is too shy and elusive, and will not, like a monkey, perform on demand; therefore our plan abjures all these poetic organizations, which have a great deal of cant and very little good companionship; it has no sentimentalism to offer, proposing an association of purses rather than of persons,—a household on the base of protection rather than of society,—a mere combining for privileges and against prices. It is resolved into a simple matter of business; and the only help women need is that of an organizing brain to put themselves into this associate form, whereby they can meet the existing state of things with somewhat of human comfort.
Are we never to obtain even this, until the golden doors of the Millennium swing open? Ah, then indeed one must melt a little, looking regretfully back to Brook Farm, undismayed by the fearful Zenobia; looking leniently toward Wallingford, Lebanon, and Haryard. Anything for wholesome diet, free life, and a quiet refuge.
But whether to live alone or together, the first want is of houses,—which is another hitch in the social system. In the city a building-lot is an incipient fortune; and the large sum paid for it is the beginning of reasons for the large rent of the building that is put upon it. But then if ground is costly, air is cheap,—land is high, but sky is low; and one need have but very little earth to a great deal of house. A writer, describing the London of thirty years ago, speaks of the huge, narrow dwellings, full five stories high, and says that the agility with which the inmates "ran up and down, and perched on the different stories, gave the idea of a cage with its birds and sticks"; and the like figure seems to have occurred to the queer Mademoiselle Marchand of "Denise," who, as she toiled to her eyrie on the topmost landing, exclaimed, "One would think these houses were built by a winged race, who only used stairs when they were moulting!" But these same lofty houses are the very thing we must have to-day, all but the running up and down. Build us houses up, and up, as high as they will stand; give us plenty of sky-parlors, but also plenty of steam-elevators to go to and from "my lady's chamber." It is not a wise economy to devote one's precious power to this enormous amount of stair-work. It is not a kind of exercise that is sanitive. The Evans House and Hotel Pelham, for instance, are very pretty Bostonianisms, but all their rooms within range of ordinary means are beyond the range of ordinary strength. The achievement of twenty flights a day, back and forth, would leave but small surplus of vigor. While the steam power is there for heating purposes, why not use some of it to propel the passengers up and down that wilderness of rosy boudoirs? Is there any reason why this labor-saving machine, the steam-elevator, which we now associate with Fifth Avenue luxury, should not be the common possession of all our large tenanted buildings? And is there any reason, indeed, in our houses being no better appointed than the English houses of thirty years ago? Ruskin has been honorably named for renting a few cottages with an eye to his tenants as well as himself; but the men who in our crowded cities shall erect these mammoth rental establishments, with steam access to every story, will build their own best monuments for posterity. We commend it to capitalists as a chance to invest in a generous fame. Until this is done, we shall even disapprove of bestowing any more mansions upon our beloved General Grant. It is not gallant. Until then, too, how shall one ever pass that venerable Park Street Church of Boston, without the irreverent sigh of "What capital lodgings it would make!" Those three little windows in the curve, looking up and down the street, and into the ever-fascinating Atlantic establishment; the lucky tower, into which one might retreat, pen in hand, if not wishing to be at home to callers nor abroad to himself,—Carlyle-like, making the library at the top of the house; and all within glance of the dominating State-House, whither one might steal up for an occasional lunch of oratory or a digest of laws. We also hear of a new hotel being builded on Tremont Street, and wonder if there will be any rooms fit for ladies, and whether one of those in the loft will rent for as much as a charming villa should command.
But while we ask now for immediate relief by clubs and rental establishments, the great practical and artistic problem of America still remains in learning to manage its civilization; in acquiring a forecaste, a system, that meets individual wants; in adjusting resource to requirement. Then we shall not be driven into association. It is jocosely said, that in the West, whose rivers are shallow and uncertain, the steamers are built to run on a heavy dew. Allowing for the joke, this is not more nice than wise. To be dexterous, fine-fingered, facile! How perfect is the response in all the petty personalities of politics! In this America, where all men aspire, and more men get office than one would think there were offices to get, what miracles of adroitness! It is one perpetual, Turn, turn again, Lord Mayor! If but half the genius were diverted from office-getting to house-building, what towering results! But since it is the misery of a republic that politics is supreme, and that a people who govern themselves can have little leisure for anything else, I have sometimes feared that the only way to get these woman questions through is by tacking them on to politics. If, then, any of our masculine friends now go to Congress on an amelioration of labor, Heaven speed the day when they can only go on an amelioration of lodgings.
But on this side of the question we as yet hold close to the leeward. For to make it political, women must have political power, the power of the ballot; and this claim she chooses to defer to the more oppressed race,—chooses first to secure justice to all men, before entering the long campaign of justice to women.
Meanwhile, we young housekeepers, who are neither capitalists to build what we need, nor politicians to procure it builded, can only live on these real-unreal lives as we may. But sometimes, when the city lamps are agleam in the early evening, we go out for a walk of romance upon the brilliant avenue near by, gazing eagerly into those superb drawing-rooms where the curtains are kindly lifted a little, and tempted to ring at the door on a false errand where they are not,—simply to get a peep at the captivating comfort inside. And thus we too possess houses and homes; with all these to enjoy and none of them to care for, why may not one easily remain the wealthiest person in the universe? Ah, no one knows what riches we have in our thoughts, and how little bliss there is in the world that we have not!
[F] Since the above was written, there have been serious charges against Mr. Mercer, but our praise must remain until the case shall be more fairly made up.
Reuben, meantime, is leading a dashing life in the city. The Brindlock family have taken him to their arms again as freely and heartily as if he had never entered the fold over which the good Doctor exercised pastoral care, and as if he had never strayed from it again.
"I told you 't would be all right, Mabel," said Mr. Brindlock to his wife; and neither of them ever rallied him upon his bootless experience in that direction.
But the kindly aunt had not forborne (how could she?) certain pertinent inquiries in regard to the pretty Miss Maverick, under which Reuben had shown considerable disposition to flinch; although he vainly fancied that he stood the interrogation with a high hand. Mrs. Brindlock drew her own conclusions, but was not greatly disturbed by them. Why should she be, indeed? Reuben, with his present most promising establishment in business, and with a face and air that insured him a cordial welcome in that circle of wealthy acquaintances which Mrs. Brindlock especially cultivated, was counted a bon parti, independent of his position as presumptive heir to a large share of the Brindlock estate.
Once or twice since his leave of Ashfield he has astonished the good people there by a dashing visit. Perhaps he has enjoyed (such things are sometimes enjoyed) setting forth before the quiet parishioners of his father his new consequence as a man of the world and of large moneyed prospects. It is even possible that he may have entertained agreeably the fancy of dazing the eyes of both Rose and Adele with the glitter of his city distinctions. But their admiration, if they felt any, was not flatteringly expressed. Adele, indeed, was always graciously kind, and, seeing his confirmed godlessness, tortured herself secretly with the thought that, but for her rebuff, he might have made a better fight against the bedevilments of the world, and lived a truer and purer life. All that, however, was irrevocably past. As for Rose, if there crept into her little prayers a touch of sentiment as she pleaded for the backslidden son of the minister, her prayers were none the worse for it. Such trace of sentimental color—like the blush upon her fair cheek—gave a completed beauty to her appeals.
Reuben saw that Phil was terribly in earnest in his love, and he fancied, with some twinges, that he saw indications on the part of Adele of its being not wholly unacceptable. Rose, too, seemed not disinclined to receive the assiduous attentions of the young minister, who had become a frequent visitor in the Elderkin household, and who preached with an unction and an earnestness that touched her heart, and that made her sigh despondingly over the outcast son of the old pastor. Watching these things with a look studiedly careless and indifferent, Reuben felt himself cut off more than ever from such charms or virtues as might possibly have belonged to continued association with the companions of his boyhood, and nerved himself for a new and firmer grip upon those pleasures of the outer world which had not yet proved an illusion. There were moments—mostly drifting over him in silent night-hours, within his old chamber at the parsonage—when it seemed to him that he had made a losing game of it. The sparkling eyes of Adele, suffused with tears,—as in that memorable interview of the garden,—beam upon him, promising, as then, other guidance; they gain new brilliance, and wear stronger entreaty, as they shine lovingly upon him from the distance—growing greater and greater—which now lies between them. Her beauty, her grace, her tenderness, now that they are utterly beyond reach, are tenfold enticing; and in that other sphere to which, in his night revery, they seem translated, the joyous face of Rose, like that of an attendant angel, looks down regretfully, full of a capacity for love to which he must be a stranger.
He is wakened by the bells next morning,—a Sunday morning, may be. There they go,—he sees them from the window,—the two comely damsels, picking their way through the light, fresh-fallen snow of March. Going possibly to teach the catechism; he sneers at this thought, for he is awake now. Has the world no richer gift in store for him? That Sophie Bowrigg is a great fortune, a superb dancer, a gorgeous armful of a woman. What if they were to join their fortunes and come back some day to dazzle these quiet townsfolk with the splendor of their life? His visits in Ashfield grow shorter and more rare. There is nothing particularly alluring. We shall not meet him there again until we meet him for the last time.
Mr. Catesby is an "acceptable preacher." He unfolds the orthodox doctrines with more grace than had belonged to the manner of the Doctor, and illustrates them from time to time with a certain youthful glow, and touches of passionate exhortation, which for many years the Ashfield pulpit had not known. The old ladies befriend him and pet him in their kindly way; and if at times his speculative humor (which he is not wholly without) leads him beyond the bounds of the accepted doctrines, he compounds the matter by strong assertion of those sturdy generalities which lie at the bottom of the orthodox creed.
But his self-control is not so apparent in his social intercourse; and before he has been three months in Ashfield, he has given tongue to gossip, and all the old ladies comment upon his enslavement to the pretty Rose Elderkin. And they talk by the book; he is desperately enamored. Young clergymen have this way of falling, at sight, into the toils, which is vastly refreshing to middle-aged observers. But we have no occasion to detail his experience. An incident only of his recreative pursuits in this direction belongs to our narrative.
Upon one of the botanical excursions of later spring which he had inaugurated, and to which the maidenly modesty of Rose had suggested that Adele should make a party, the young Catesby (who was a native of Eastern Massachusetts) had asked in his naive manner after her family connections. An uncle of his had known a Mr. Maverick, who had long been a resident of Europe.
"It may possibly be some relation of yours, Miss Maverick," said the young minister.
"Do you recall the first name?" said Rose.
Mr. Catesby hesitated in that interesting way in which lovers are wont to hesitate. No, he did not remember; but he was a jovial, generous-hearted man, (he had heard his uncle often describe him,) who must be now some fifty or sixty years old.—"Frank Maverick, to be sure; I have the name."
"Why, it is my father," said Adele with a swift, happy rush of color to her face.
"O no, Miss Maverick," said the young Catesby with a smile, "that is quite impossible. The gentleman of whom I speak, and my uncle visited him only three years ago, is a confirmed bachelor, and he had rallied him, I remember, upon never having married."
The color left the cheeks of Adele.
"Frank, did you say?" persisted Rose.
"Frank was the name," said the innocent young clergyman; "and he was a merchant, if I remember rightly, somewhere upon the Mediterranean."
"It's very strange," said Rose, turning to Adele.
And Adele, all her color gone, had the fortitude to pat Rose lovingly upon the shoulder, and to say, with a forced smile, "Life is very strange, Rose."
But from this time till they reached home,—fortunately not far away,—Adele said nothing more. Rose remarked an unwonted pallor in her cheeks.
"You are tired, Adele," said she; "you are so pale!"
"Child," said Adele, tapping her again, in a womanly way that was strange to her companion, "you have color for us both."
At this, her reserve of dignity and fortitude being now wellnigh spent, she rushed away to her chamber. What wonder if she sought the little crucifix, sole memento of the unknown mother, and glued it to her lips, as she fell upon her knees by the bedside, and uttered such a prayer for help and strength as had never uttered before?
"It is true! it is true! I see it now. The child of shame! The child of shame! O my father, my father! what wrong have you done me!" And again she prays for help and strength.
There is not a doubt in her mind where the truth lies. In a moment her thought has flashed over the whole chain of evidence. The father's studied silence; her alienation from any home of her own; the mysterious hints of the Doctor; and the strange communication of Reuben,—all come up in stately array and confound her with the bitter truth. There is a little miniature of her father which she has kept among her choicest treasures. She seeks it now. Is it to throw it away in scorn? No, no, no. Our affections are after all not submissible to strict moral regimen. It is with set teeth and a hard look in her eye that she regards it at first; then her eyes suffuse with tears while she looks, and she kisses it passionately again and again.
"Can there be some horrible mistake in all this?" she asks herself. At the thought she slips on hat and shawl and glides noiselessly down the stairs, (not for the world would she have been interrupted!) and walks swiftly away to her old home at the parsonage.
Dame Tourtelot meets her and says, "Good evening, Miss Adeel."
And Adele, in a voice so firm that it does not seem her own, says, "Good evening, Miss Tourtelot." She wonders greatly at her own calmness.
The Doctor is alone in his study when Adele comes in upon him, and she has reached his chair and dropped upon her knees beside him before he has time to rise.
"New Papa, you have been so kind to me! I know the truth now,—the mystery, the shame";—and she dropped her head upon his knees.
"Adaly, Adaly, my dear child!" said the old man with a great tremor in his voice, "what does this mean?"
She was sobbing, sobbing.
"Adaly, my child, what can I do for you?"
"Pray for me, New Papa!" and she lifted her eyes upon him with a tender, appealing look.
"Always, always, Adaly!"
"Tell me, New Papa,—tell me honestly,—is it not true that I can call no one mother,—that I never could?"
The Doctor trembled: he would have given ten years of his life to have been able to challenge her story, to disabuse her mind of the belief which he saw was fastened past all recall. "Adaly," said he, "Christ befriended the Magdalen,—how much more you, then, if so be you are the unoffending child of——"
"I knew it! I knew it!" and she fell to sobbing again upon the knee of the old gentleman, in a wild, passionate way.
In such supreme moments the mind reaches its decisions with electrical rapidity. Even as she leaned there, her thought flashed upon that poor Madame Arles who had so befriended her,—against whom they had cautioned her, who had shown such intense emotion at their first meeting, who had summoned her at the last, and who had died with that wailing cry, "Ma fille!" upon her lip. Yes, yes, her mother indeed, who died in her arms! (she can never forget that death-clasp.)
She hints as much to the Doctor, who, in view of his recent communication from Maverick, will not gainsay her.
When she moved away at last, as if for a leave-taking, silent and humiliated, the old man said to her, "My child, are you not still my Adaly? God is no respecter of persons; his ministers should be like him."
Whereupon Adele came and kissed him with a warmth that reminded him of days long past.
She rejoiced in not having encountered the gray, keen eyes of the spinster. She knew they would read unfailingly the whole extent of the revelation that had dawned upon her. That the spinster herself knew the truth, and had long known it, she was sure; and she recalled with a shudder the look of those uncanny eyes upon the evening of their little frolic at the Elderkins. She dreaded the thought of ever meeting them again, and still more the thought of listening to the stiff, cold words of consolation which she knew she would count it her duty to administer.
It was dusk when she left the Doctor's door; he would have attended, but she begged to be alone. It was an April evening, the chilliness of the earth just yielding to the coming summer; the frogs clamorous in all the near pools, and filling the air with the harsh uproar of their voices; the delicate grass-blades were just thrusting their tips through the brown web of the old year's growth, and in sunny, close-trodden spots showing a mat of green, while the fleecy brown blossoms of the elm were tufting all the spray of the embowering trees. Here and there a village loiterer greeted her kindly. They all knew Miss Adele. "They will all know it to-morrow," she thought, "and then—then—"
With a swift but unsteady step she makes her way to the little graveyard; she had gone there often, and there were those who said wantonly that she went to say her prayers before the little cross upon the tombstone she had placed over the grave of Madame Arles. Now she threw herself prone upon the little hillock, with a low, sharp cry of distress, like that of a wounded bird,—"My mother! my mother!"
Every word, every look of tenderness which the dead woman had lavished, she recalls now with a terrible distinctness. Those loud, vague appeals of her delirium come to her recollection with a meaning in them that is only too plain; and then the tight, passionate clasp, when, strained to her bosom, relief came at last. Adele lies there unconscious of the time, until the night dews warn her away; she staggers through the gate. Where next? She fancies they must know it all at the Elderkins',—that she has no right there. Is she not an estray upon the world? Shall she not—as well first as last—wander forth, homeless as she is, into the night? And true to these despairing thoughts, she hurries away farther and farther from the town. The frogs croak monotonously in all the marshes, as if in mockery of her grief. On some near tree an owl is hooting, with a voice that is strangely and pitifully human. Presently an outlying farm-house shows its cheery, hospitable light through the window-panes, and she is tempted to shorten her steps and steal a look into the room where the family sits grouped around the firelight. No such sanctuary for her ever was or ever can be. Even the lowing of a cow in the yard, and the answering bleat of a calf within the barn, seem to mock the outcast.
On she passes, scarce knowing whither her hurrying steps are bearing her, until at last she spies a low building in the fields away upon her right, which she knows. It is the home of that outlawed woman where Madame Arles had died. Here at least she will be met with sympathy, even if the truth were wholly known; and yet perhaps last of all places would she have it known there. She taps at the door; she has wandered out of her way, and asks for a moment's rest. The little boy of the house, when he has made out the visitor by a few furtive peeps from behind the mother's chair, comes to her fawningly and familiarly; and as Adele looks into his bright, fearless eyes, a new courage seems to possess her. God's children, all of us; and He careth even for the sparrows. She will conquer her despairing weakness; she will accept her cross and bear it resolutely. By slow degrees she is won over by the frolicsome humor of the curly-pated boy, who never once quits her side, into cheerful prattle with him. And when at last, fairly rested, she would set off on her return, the lone woman says she will see her safely as far as the village street; the boy, too, insists doggedly upon attending them; and so, with her hand tightly clasped in the hand of the lad, Adele makes her way back into the town. Along the street she passes, even under the windows of the parsonage, with her hand still locked in that of the outlawed boy; and she wonders if in broad day the same courage would be meted to her? They only part when within sight of the broad glow of light from the Elderkin windows; and here Adele, taking out her purse, counts out the half of her money and places it in the hands of the boy.
"We will share and share alike, Willie," said she, "But never tell who gave you this."
"But, Miss Maverick, it's too much," said the woman.
"No, it's not," said the boy, clutching it eagerly.
With a parting good-night, Adele darted within the gate, and opened softly the door, determined to meet courageously whatever rebuffs might be in store for her.
Rose has detailed the story of the occurrence, with the innocent curiosity of girlhood, to the Squire and Mrs. Elderkin (Phil being just now away). The Squire, as he hears it, has passed a significant look across to Mrs. Elderkin.
"It's very queer, isn't it?" asked Rose.
"Very," said the Squire, who had for some time cherished suspicions of certain awkward relations existing between Maverick and the mother of Adele, but never so decided as this story would seem to warrant. "And what said Adele?" continued he.
"It disturbed her, I think, papa; she didn't seem at all herself."
"Rose, my dear," said the kindly old gentleman, "there is some unlucky family difference between Mr. and Mrs. Maverick, and I dare say the talk was unpleasant to Adele; if I were you, I wouldn't allude to it again; don't mention it, please, Rose."
If it could be possible, good Mrs. Elderkin greeted Adele as she came in more warmly than ever. "You must be careful, my dear, of these first spring days of ours; you are late to-night."
"Yes," says Adele, "I was gone longer than I thought. I rambled off to the churchyard, and I have been at the Doctor's."
Again the old people exchanged glances.
Why does she find herself watching their looks so curiously? Yet there is nothing but kindness in them. She is glad Phil is not there.
The next morning the Squire stepped over at an early hour to the parsonage, and by an adroit question or two, which the good Doctor had neither the art nor the disposition to evade, unriddled the whole truth with respect to the parentage of Adele. The Doctor also advised him of the delusion of the poor girl with respect to Madame Arles, and how he had considered it unwise to attempt any explanation until he should hear further from Mr. Maverick, whose recent letter he counted it his duty to lay before Mr. Elderkin.
"It's a sad business," said he.
And the Doctor, "The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble."
The Squire walks home in a brown study. Like all the rest, he has been charmed with the liveliness and grace of Adele; over and over he has said to his boy, "How fares it, Phil? Why, at your age, my boy, I should have had her in the toils long ago."
Since her domestication under his own roof, the old gentleman's liking for her had grown tenfold strong; he had familiarized himself with the idea of counting her one of his own flock. But, the child of a French——
"Well, well, we will see what the old lady may say," reflected he. And he took the first private occasion to lay the matter before Mrs. Elderkin.
"Well, mother, the suspicions of last night are all true,—true as a book."
"God help the poor child, then!" said Madam, holding up her hands.
"Of course He'll do that, wife. But what say you to Phil's marriage now? Does it look as tempting as it did?"
The old lady reflected a moment, lifting her hand to smooth the hair upon her temple, as if in aid of her thought, then said,—"Giles, you know the world better than I; you know best what may be well for the boy. I love Adele very much; I do not believe that I should love her any less if she were the wife of Phil. But you know best, Giles; you must decide."
"There's a good woman!" said the Squire; and he stayed his pace up and down the room to lay his hand approvingly upon the head of the old lady, touching as tenderly those gray locks as ever he had done in earlier years the ripples of golden brown.
In a few days Phil returns,—blithe, hopeful, winsome as ever. He is puzzled, however, by the grave manner of the Squire, when he takes him aside, after the first hearty greetings, and says, "Phil, my lad, how fares it with the love matter? Have things come to a crisis, eh?"
"What do you mean, father?" and Phil blushes like a boy of ten.
"I mean to ask, Philip," said the old gentleman, measuredly, "if you have made any positive declaration to Miss Maverick."
"Not yet," said Phil, with a modest frankness.
"Very good, my son, very good. And now, Phil, I would wait a little,—take time for reflection; don't do anything rashly. It's an important step to take."
"But, father," says Phil, puzzled by the old gentleman's manner, "what does this mean?"
"Philip," said the Squire, with a seriousness that seemed almost comical by its excess, "would you really marry Adele?"
"To-morrow, if I could," said Phil.
"Tut, tut, Phil! It's the old hot blood in him!" (He says this, as if to himself.) "Philip, I wouldn't do so, my boy."
And thereupon he gives him in his way a story of the revelations of the last few days.
At the first, Phil is disposed to an indignant denial, as if by no possibility any indignity could attach to the name or associations of Adele. But in the whirl of his feeling he remembered that interview with Reuben, and his boast that Phil could not affront the conventionalities of the world. It confirmed the truth to him in a moment. Reuben then had known the whole, and had been disinterestedly generous. Should he be any less so?
"Well, father," said Phil, after a minute or two of silence, "I don't think the story changes my mind one whit. I would marry her to-morrow, if I could," and he looked the Squire fairly and squarely in the face.
"Gad, boy," said the old gentleman, "you must love her as I loved your mother!"
"I hope I do," said Phil,—"that is if I win her. I don't think she's to be had for the asking."
"Aha! the pinch lies there, eh?" said the Squire, and he said it in better humor than he would have said it ten days before. "What's the trouble, Philip?"
"Well, sir, I think she always had a tenderness for Reuben; I think she loves him now in her heart."
"So, so! The wind lies there, eh? Well, let it bide, my boy; let it bide awhile. We shall know something more of the matter soon."
And there the discourse of the Squire ended.
Meantime, however, Rose and Adele are having a little private interview above stairs, which in its subject-matter is not wholly unrelated to the same theme.
"Rose," Adele had said, as she fondled her in her winning way, "your brother Phil has been very kind to me."
"He always meant to be," said Rose, with a charming glow upon her face.
"He always has been," said Adele; "but, dear Rose, I know I can talk as plainly to you as to another self almost."
"You can,—you can, Ady," said she.
"I have thought," continued Adele, "though I know it is very unmaidenly in me to say it, that Phil was disposed sometimes to talk even more warmly than he has ever talked, and to ask me to be a nearer friend to him even than you, dear Rose. May be it is only my own vanity that leads me sometimes to suspect this."
"O, I hope it may be true!" burst forth Rose.
"I hope not," said Adele, with a voice so gravely earnest that Rose shuddered.
"O Ady, you don't mean it! you who are so good, so kind! Phil's heart will break."
"I don't think that," said Adele, with a faint hard smile, in which her womanly vanity struggled with her resolution. "And whatever might have been, that which I have hinted at must not be now, dear Rose. You will know some day why—why it would be ungrateful in me to determine otherwise. Promise me, darling, that you will discourage any inclination toward it, wherever you can best do so. Promise me, dear Rose!"
"Do you really, truly mean it?" said the other, with a disappointment she but poorly concealed.
"With all my heart, I do," said Adele.
And Rose promised, while she threw herself upon the neck of Adele and said, "I am so sorry! It will be such a blow to poor Phil!"
After this, things went on very much in their old way. To the great relief of Adele there was no explosive village demonstration of the news which had come home so cruelly to herself. The Doctor had given an admonition to the young minister, and the old Squire had told him, in a pointed and confidential way, that he had heard of his inquiries and assertions with respect to Mr. Maverick, and begged to hint that the relations between the father and the mother of Adele were not of the happiest, and it was quite possible that Mr. Maverick had assumed latterly the name of a bachelor; it was not, however, a very profitable subject of the speculation or of gossip, and if he valued the favor of the young ladies he would forbear all allusion to it. A suggestion which Mr. Catesby was not slow to accept religiously, and scrupulously to bear in mind.
Phil was as hot a lover as ever, though for a time a little more distant: and the poor fellow remarked a new timidity and reserve about Adele, which, so far from abating, only fed the flame; and there is no knowing to what reach it might have blazed out, if a trifling little circumstance had not paralyzed his zeal.
From time to time, Phil had been used to bring home a rare flower or two as a gift for Adele, which Rose had always lovingly arranged in some coquettish fashion, either upon the bosom or in the hair of Adele; but a new and late gift of this kind—a little tuft of the trailing arbutus which he has clambered over miles of woodland to secure—is not worn by Adele, but by Rose, who glances into the astounded face of Phil with a pretty, demure look of penitence.
"I say, Rose," says he, seizing his chance for a private word,—"that's not for you."
"I know it, Phil; Adele gave it to me."
"And that's her favorite flower."
"Yes, Phil," and there is a shake in her voice now. "I think she's grown tired of such gifts, Phil";—whereat she glances keenly and pitifully at him.
"Truly, Rose?" says Phil, with the color on a sudden quitting his cheeks.
"Truly,—truly, Phil,"—and in spite of herself the pretty hazel eyes are brimming full, and, under pretence of some household duty, she dashes away. For a moment Phil stands confounded. Then, through his set teeth, he growls, "I was a fool not to have known it!"
But Phil was not a fool, but a sturdy, brave-hearted fellow, who bore whatever blows fortune gave him, or seemed to give, with a courage that had a fine elastic temper in it. He may have made his business engagements at the river or in the city a little more frequent and prolonged after this; but always there was the same deferential show of tender feeling toward his father's guest, whenever he happened in Ashfield. Indeed, he felt immensely comforted by a little report which Rose made to him in her most despairing manner. Adele had told her that she "would never, never marry."
There are a great many mothers of fine families who have made such a speech at twenty or thereabout; and Phil knew it.
We by no means intend to represent our friend Adele as altogether a saint. Such creatures are very rare, and not always the most lovable, according to our poor human ways of thinking; but she may possibly grow into saintship, in view of a certain sturdy religious sense of duty that belongs to her, and a faith that is always glowing. At present she is a high-spirited, sensitive girl,—not without her pride and her lesser vanities, not without an immense capacity for loving and being loved, but just now trembling under that shock to her sensibilities which we have detailed,—but never fainting, never despairing. Not even relinquishing her pride, but guarding it with triple defences, by her reserve in respect to Phil, as well as by a certain new dignity of manner which has grown out of her conflict with the opprobrium that seems to threaten, for no fault of her own.
Adele sees clearly now the full burden of Reuben's proposal to cherish and guard her against whatever indignities might threaten; she sees more clearly than ever the rich, impulsive generosity of his nature reflected, and it disturbs her grievously to think that she had met it only with reproach. The thought of the mad, wild, godless career upon which he may have entered, and of which the village gossips are full, is hardly more afflictive to her than her recollection of that frank, self-sacrificing generosity, so ignobly requited. She longs in her heart to clear the debt,—to tell him what grateful sense she has of his intended kindness. But how? Should she,—being what she is,—even by a word, seem to invite a return of that devotion which may be was but the passion of an hour, and which it were fatal to renew? Her pride revolts at this. And yet—and yet—so brave a generosity shall not be wholly unacknowledged. She writes:—
"Reuben, I know now the full weight of the favor of what you promised to bestow upon me when I so blindly reproached you with intrusion upon my private griefs. Forgive me, Reuben! I thank you now, late as it is, with my whole heart. It is needless to tell you how I came to know what, perhaps, I had better never have known, but which must always have overhung me as a dark cloud charged with a blasting fate. This knowledge, dear Reuben, which separates us so surely and so widely, relieves me of the embarrassment which I might otherwise have felt in telling you of my lasting gratitude, and (if as a sister I may say it) my love. If your kind heart could so overflow with pity then, you will surely pity me the more now; yet not too much, Reuben, for my pride as a woman is as strong as ever. The world was made for me, as much as it was made for others; and if I bear its blight, I will find some flowers yet to cherish. I do not count it altogether so grim and odious a world,—even under the broken light which shines upon it for me,—as in your last visits you seemed disposed to reckon it.
"And this reminds me, Reuben, that I have told you frankly how the cloud which overhung me has opened with a terrible surety. How is it with the cloud that lay upon you? Is there any light? Ah, Reuben, when I recall those days in which long ago your faith in something better beyond this world than lies in it seemed to be so much stronger and firmer than mine, and when your trust was so confident as to make mine stronger, it seems like a strange dream to me,—all the more when now you, who should reason more justly than I, believe in 'nothing,' (was not that your last word?)—and yet, dear Reuben, I cling,—I cling. Do you remember the old hymn I sung in those days:—
'Ingemisco tanquam reus, Culpa rubet vultus meus; Supplicanti parce, Deus.'
Even the old Doctor, who was so troubled by the Romish hymns, said it must have been written by a good man."
Much more she writes in this vein, but returns ever and again to that noble generosity of his,—her delicacy struggling throughout with her tender gratitude,—yet she fails not to show a deep, earnest undercurrent of affection, which surely might develop under sympathy into a very fever of love. Will it not touch the heart of Reuben? Will it not divert him from the trail where he wanders blindly? If we have read his character rightly, surely this letter, in which a delicate sensibility hardly veils a great passionate wealth of feeling, will stir him to a new and more hopeful venture.
God send that the letter may reach him safely!
For a long time Adele has not written to Reuben, and it occurs to her, as she strolls away toward the village post, that to mail it herself may possibly provoke new town gossip. In this perplexity she presently encounters her boy friend, Arthur, who for a handful of pennies, and under injunction of secrecy, cheerfully undertakes the duty. To the house of the lad's mother, far away as it was, Adele had wandered frequently of late, and had borne away from time to time some trifling memento of the dead one whose memory so endeared the spot. It happens that she continues her stroll thither on this occasion; and the poor woman, toward whom Adele's charities have flowed with a profusion that has astounded the Doctor, repays some new gift by placing in her hands a little embroidered kerchief, "too fine for such as she," which had belonged to Madame Arles. A flimsy bit of muslin daintily embroidered; but there is a name stitched upon its corner, for which Adele treasures it past all reckoning,—the name of Julie Chalet.
It was as if the dead one had suddenly come back and whispered it in her ear,—Julie Chalet. The spring birds sung the name in chorus as she walked home; and on the grave-stone, under the cross, she seemed to see it cut upon the marble,—Julie Chalet.
Adele has written to her father, of course, in those days when the first shock of the new revelation had passed. How could she do otherwise? If she has poured out the bitterness of her grief and of her isolation, she has mercifully spared him any reproach!
"I think I now understand," she writes, "the reason of your long absence from me. Whatever other griefs I bear, I will not believe that it has been from lack of affection for me. I recall that day, dear papa, when, with my head lying on your bosom, you said to me, 'She is unworthy; I will love you for both.' You must! But was she, papa, so utterly unworthy? I think I have known her; nay, I feel almost sure,—sure that these arms held her in the moment when she breathed adieu to the world. If ever bad, I am sure that she must have grown into goodness. I cannot, I will not, think otherwise. I can tell you so many of her kind deeds as will take away your condemnation. In this hope I live, dear papa.
"I have found her true name too, at last,—Julie Chalet,—is it not so? I wonder with what feeling you will read it; will it be with a wakened fondness? will it be with loathing? I tremble while I ask. You shall go with me (will you not?) to her grave; and there a kind Heaven will put in our hearts what memories are best.
"I know now the secret of your caution in respect to Reuben; you have been unwilling that your child should bring any possible shame to the household of a friend! Trust to me,—trust to me, papa, your sensitiveness cannot possibly be keener, if it be more generous, than my own. Yet I have never told you—what I have since learned—of the unselfish devotion of Reuben, which declared itself when he knew all,—all. Would I not be almost tempted to thank him with—myself? Yet, trust me, if I have written him with an almost unmaidenly warmth, I have called to his mind the great gulf that must lie between us.
"Is the old godmother, of whom you used to speak, still alive? It seems that I should love to hang about her neck in memory of days gone; it seems that I should love the warm sky under which I was born,—I am sure I should love the olive orchards, and the vines, and the light upon the sea. I feel as if I were living in chains now. When, when will you come to break them, and set me free?"
In those days of May, when the leaflets were unfolding, and when the downy bluebells were lifting their clustered blossoms filled with a mysterious fragrance, like the breath of young babes, Adele loved to linger in the study of the parsonage; more than ever the good Doctor seemed a "New Papa,"—more than ever his eye dwelt upon her with a parental smile. It was not that she loved Rose less, that she lingered here so long; but she could not shake off the conviction that some day soon Rose might shrink from her. The good Doctor never would. Nor can it be counted strange if there, in the study so familiar to her childhood, she should recall the days when she had frolicked down the orchard, when Reuben had gathered flowers for her, when life seemed enchanting. Was it enchanting now?
The Doctor was always gravely kind. "Have courage, Adaly, have courage!" he was wont to say, "God orders all things right."
And somehow, when she hears him say it, she believes it more than ever.
Ten days, a fortnight, and a month pass, and there is no acknowledgment from Reuben of her grateful letter. He does not count it worth his while, apparently, to break his long silence; or, possibly, he is too much engrossed with livelier interests to give a thought to this episode of his old life in Ashfield. Adele is disturbed by it; but the very disturbance gives her new courage to combat faithfully the difficulties of her position. "One cheering word I would have thought he might have given me," said she.
The appeal to her father, too, has no answer. Before it reaches its destination, Maverick has taken ship for America; and, singularly enough, it is fated that the letter of Adele should be first opened and read—by her mother.
Some time in mid-May of this year Maverick writes:—
"My dear Johns,—I shall again greet you, God willing, in your own home, some forty days hence, and I shall come as a repentant Benedick; for I now wear the dignities of a married man. Your kind letter counted for a great deal toward my determination; but I will not affect to conceal from you, that my tender interest in the future of Adele counted for a great deal more. As I had supposed, the communication to Julie (which I effected through her brother) that her child was still living, and living motherless, woke all the tenderness of her nature. I cannot say that the sudden change in her inclinations was any way flattering to me; but knowing her recent religious austerities, I was prepared for this. I shall not undertake to describe to you our first interview, which I can never forget. It belongs to those heart-secrets which cannot be spoken of; but this much I may tell you,—that, if there was no kindling of the old and wayward love, there grew out of it a respect for her present severity and elevation of character that I had never anticipated. At our age, indeed, (though, when I think of it, I must be many years your junior,) a respect for womanly character most legitimately takes the place of that disorderly sentiment which twenty years ago blazed out in passion.
"We have been married according to the rites of the Romish Church. If I had proposed other ceremony, more agreeable to your views, I am confident that she would not have listened to me. She is wrapped as steadfastly in her creed as ever you in yours. To do otherwise in so sacred a matter—and with her it wore solely that aspect—than as her Church commands, would have been to do foully and vainly. I had prepared you, I think, for her perversity in this matter; nor do I think that all your zeal and powers of persuasion could make her recreant to the faith for which she has immolated all the womanly vanities which certainly once belonged to her. Indeed, the only trace of worldliness which I see in her is her intense yearning toward our dear Adele, and her passionate longing to clasp her child once more to her heart. Nor will I conceal from you that she hopes, with all the fervor of a mother's hope, to wean her from what she counts the heretical opinions under which she has been reared, and to bring her into the fold of the faithful.