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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 104, June, 1866
Author: Various
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"Thou art a good soul. Wilt sing me a stave after all?"

"La, you now; how you come back to that. Ay, and with a good heart: for, to be sure, 't is a sin to gainsay a sick man. But indeed I am the homeliest singer. Methinks 't is time I went down and bade them cook your worship's supper."

"Nay, I'll not eat nor sup till I hear thee sing."

"Your will is my law, sir," said Mercy, dryly, and retired to the window-seat; that was the first obvious preliminary. Then she fiddled with her apron, and hemmed, and waited in hopes a reprieve might come; but a peevish, relentless voice demanded the song at intervals.

So then she turned her head carefully away from her hearer, lowered her eyes, and, looking the picture of guilt and shame all the time, sang an ancient ditty. The poltroon's voice was rich, mellow, clear, and sweet as honey; and she sang the notes for the sake of the words, not the words for the sake of the notes, as all but Nature's singers do.

The air was grave as well as sweet; for Mercy was of an old Puritan stock, and even her songs were not giddy-paced, but solid, quaint, and tender: all the more did they reach the soul.

In vain was the blushing cheek averted, and the honeyed lips. The ravishing tones set the birds chirping outside, yet filled the room within, and the glasses rang in harmony upon the shelf as the sweet singer poured out from her heart (so it seemed) the speaking-song:—

"In vain you tell your parting lover You wish fair winds may waft him over. Alas! what winds can happy prove That bear me far from her I love? Alas! what dangers on the main Can equal those that I sustain From stinted love and cold disdain?" etc.

Griffith beat time with his hand awhile, and his face softened and beautified as the melody curled about his heart. But soon it was too much for him. He knew the song,—had sung it to Kate Peyton in their days of courtship. A thousand memories gushed in upon his soul and overpowered him. He burst out sobbing violently, and wept as if his heart must break.

"Alas! what have I done?" said Mercy; and the tears ran from her eyes at the sight. Then, with native delicacy, she hurried from the room.

What Griffith Gaunt went through that night, in silence, was never known but to himself. But the next morning he was a changed man. He was all dogged resolution,—put on his clothes unaided, though he could hardly stand to do it, and borrowed the landlord's staff, and crawled out a smart distance into the sun. "It was kill or cure," said he. "I am to live, it seems. Well, then, the past is dead. My life begins again to-day."

Hen-like, Mercy soon learned this sally of her refractory duckling, and was uneasy. So, for an excuse to watch him, she brought him out his money and jewels, and told him she had thought it safest to take charge of them.

He thanked her cavalierly, and offered her a diamond ring.

She blushed scarlet, and declined it; and even turned a meekly reproachful glance on him with her dove's eyes.

* * * * *

He had a suit of russet made, and put away his fine coat, and forbade any one to call him "Your worship." "I am a farmer, like yourselves," said he; "and my name is—Thomas Leicester."

* * * * *

A brain fever either kills the unhappy lover, or else benumbs the very anguish that caused it.

And so it was with Griffith. His love got benumbed, and the sense of his wrongs vivid. He nursed a bitter hatred of his wife; only, as he could not punish her without going near her, and no punishment short of death seemed enough for her, he set to work to obliterate her from his very memory, if possible. He tried employment: he pottered about the little farm, advising and helping,—and that so zealously that the landlord retired altogether from that department, and Griffith, instead of he, became Mercy's ally, agricultural and bucolical. She was a shepherdess to the core, and hated the poor "Packhorse."

For all that, it was her fate to add to its attractions: for Griffith bought a viol da gambo, and taught her sweet songs, which he accompanied with such skill, sometimes, with his voice, that good company often looked in on the chance of a good song sweetly sung and played.

The sick, in body or mind, are egotistical. Griffith was no exception: bent on curing his own deep wound, he never troubled his head about the wound he might inflict.

He was grateful to his sweet nurse, and told her so. And his gratitude charmed her all the more that it had been rather long in coming.

He found this dove-like creature a wonderful soother: he applied her more and more to his sore heart.

As for Mercy, she had been too good and kind to her patient not to take a tender interest in his convalescence. Our hearts warm more to those we have been kind to, than to those who have been kind to us: and the female reader can easily imagine what delicious feelings stole into that womanly heart when she saw her pale nursling pick up health and strength under her wing, and become the finest, handsomest man in the parish.

Pity and admiration,—where these meet, love is not far behind.

And then this man, who had been cross and rough while he was weak, became gentler, kinder, and more deferential to her, the stronger he got.

Mrs. Vint saw they were both fond of each other's company, and disapproved it. She told Paul Carrick if he had any thought of Mercy he had better give over shilly-shallying, for there was another man after her.

Paul made light of it, at first. "She has known me too long to take up her head with a new-comer," said he. "To be sure I never asked her to name the day; but she knows my mind well enough, and I know hers."

"Then you know more than I do," said the mother, ironically.

He thought over this conversation, and very wisely determined not to run unnecessary risks. He came up one afternoon, and hunted about for Mercy, till he found her milking a cow in the adjoining paddock.

"Well, lass," said he, "I've good news for thee. My old dad says we may have his house to live in. So now you and I can yoke next month if ye will."

"Me turn the honest man out of his house!" said Mercy, mighty innocently.

"Who asks you? He nobbut bargains for the chimney-corner: and you are not the girl to begrudge the old man that."

"O no, Paul. But what would father do if I were to leave his house? Methinks the farm would go to rack and ruin; he is so wrapped up in his nasty public."

"Why, he has got a helper, by all accounts: and if you talk like that, you will never wed at all."

"Never is a big word. But I'm too young to marry yet. Jenny, thou jade, stand still."

The attack and defence proceeded upon these terms for some time; and the defendant had one base advantage; and used it. Her forehead was wedged tight against Jenny's ribs, and Paul could not see her face. This, and the feminine evasiveness of her replies, irritated him at last.

"Take thy head out o' the coow," said he, roughly, "and answer straight. Is all our wooing to go for naught?"

"Wooing? You never said so much to me in all these years as you have to-day."

"O, ye knew my mind well enough. There's a many ways of showing the heart."

"Speaking out is the best, I trow."

"Why, what do I come here for twice a week, this two years past, if not for thee?"

"Ay, for me, and father's ale."

"And thou canst look at me, and tell me that? Ye false, hard-hearted hussy. But nay, thou wast never so: 't is this Thomas Leicester hath bewitched thee, and set thee against thy true lover."

"Mr. Leicester pays no suit to me," said Mercy, blushing. "He is a right civil-spoken gentleman, and you know you saved his life."

"The more fool I. I wish I had known he was going to rob me of my lass's heart, I'd have seen him die a hundred times ere I'd have interfered. But they say if you save a man's life he'll make you rue it. Mercy, my lass, you are well respected in the parish. Take a thought, now: better be a farrier's wife than a gentleman's mistress."

Mercy did take her head "out of the cow" at this, and, for once, her cheek burned with anger; but the unwonted sentiment died before it could find words, and she said, quietly, "I need not be either, against my will."

* * * * *

Young Carrick made many such appeals to Mercy Vint; but he could never bring her to confess to him that he and she had ever been more than friends, or were now anything less than friends. Still he forced her to own to herself, that, if she had never seen Thomas Leicester, her quiet affection and respect for Carrick would probably have carried her to the altar with him.

His remonstrances, sometimes angry, sometimes tearful, awoke her pity, which was the grand sentiment of her heart, and disturbed her peace.

Moreover, she studied the two men in her quiet, thoughtful way, and saw that Carrick loved her with all his honest, though hitherto tepid heart; but Griffith had depths, and could love with more passion than ever he had shown for her. "He is not the man to have a fever by reason of me," said the poor girl to herself. But I am afraid even this attracted her to Griffith. It nettled a woman's soft ambition; which is, to be as well loved as ever woman was.

And so things went on, and, as generally happens, the man who was losing ground went the very way to lose more. He spoke ill of Griffith behind his back: called him a highwayman, a gentleman, an ungrateful, undermining traitor. But Griffith never mentioned Carrick; and so, when he and Mercy were together, her old follower was pleasingly obliterated, and affectionate good-humor reigned. Thus Griffith, alias Thomas, became her sunbeam, and Paul her cloud.

But he who had disturbed the peace of others, his own turn came.

One day he found Mercy crying. He sat down beside her, and said, kindly, "Why, sweetheart, what is amiss?"

"No great matter," said she; and turned her head away, but did not check her tears, for it was new and pleasant to be consoled by Thomas Leicester.

"Nay, but tell me, child."

"Well, then, Jessie Carrick has been at me; that is all."

"The vixen! what did she say?"

"Nay, I'm not pleased enow with it to repeat it. She did cast something in my teeth."

Griffith pressed her to be more explicit: she declined, with so many blushes, that his curiosity was awakened, and he told Mrs. Vint, with some heat, that Jess Carrick had been making Mercy cry.

"Like enow," said Mrs. Vint, coolly. "She'll eat her victuals all one for that, please God."

"Else I'll wring the cock-nosed jade's neck, next time she comes here," replied Griffith; "but, Dame, I want to know what she can have to say to Mercy to make her cry."

Mrs. Vint looked him steadily in the face for some time, and then and there decided to come to an explanation. "Ten to one 't is about her brother," said she; "you know this Paul is our Mercy's sweetheart."

At these simple words Griffith winced, and his countenance changed remarkably. Mrs. Vint observed it, and was all the more resolved to have it out with him.

"Her sweetheart!" said Griffith. "Why, I have seen them together a dozen of times, and not a word of courtship."

"O, the young men don't make many speeches in these parts. They show their hearts by act."

"By act? why, I met them coming home from milking t' other evening. Mercy was carrying the pail, brimful; and that oaf sauntered by her side, with his hands in his pockets. Was that the act of a lover?"

"I heard of it, sir," said Mrs. Vint, quietly; "and as how you took the pail from her, willy nilly, and carried it home. Mercy was vexed about it. She told me you panted at the door, and she was a deal fitter to carry the pail than you, that is just off a sick-bed, like. But lawk, sir, ye can't go by the likes of that. The bachelors here they'd see their sweethearts carry the roof into next parish on their backs, like a snail, and never put out a hand; 't is not the custom hereaway. But, as I was saying, Paul and our Mercy kept company, after a manner: he never had the wit to flatter her as should he, nor the stomach to bid her name the day and he'd buy the ring; but he talked to her about his sick beasts more than he did to any other girl in the parish, and she'd have ended by going to Church with him; only you came and put a coolness atween 'em."

"I! How?"

"Well, sir, our Mercy is a kind-hearted lass, though I say it, and you were sick, and she did nurse you; and that was a beginning. And, to be sure, you are a fine personable man, and capital company; and you are always about the girl; and, bethink you, sir, she is flesh and blood like her neighbors; and they say, once a body has tasted venison-steak, it spoils their stomach for oat-porridge. Now that is Mercy's case, I'm thinking; not that she ever said as much to me,—she is too reserved. But, bless your heart, I'm forced to go about with eyes in my head, and watch 'em all a bit,—me that keeps an inn."

Griffith groaned. "I'm a villain!" said he.

"Nay, nay," said Mrs. Vint. "Gentlefolks must be amused, cost what it may; but, hoping no offence, sir, the girl was a good friend to you in time of sickness; and so was this Paul, for that matter."

"She was," cried Griffith; "God bless her. How can I ever repay her?"

"Well, sir," said Mrs. Vint, "if that comes from your heart, you might take our Mercy apart, and tell her you like her very well, but not enough to marry a farmer's daughter,—don't say an innkeeper's daughter, or you'll be sure to offend her. She is bitter against the 'Packhorse.' Says you, 'This Paul is an honest lad, turn your heart back to him.' And, with that, mount your black horse and ride away, and God speed you, sir; we shall often talk of you at the 'Packhorse,' and naught but good."

Griffith gave the woman his hand, and his breast labored visibly.

Jealousy was ingrained in the man. Mrs. Vint had pricked his conscience, but she had wounded his foible. He was not in love with Mercy, but he esteemed her, and liked her, and saw her value, and, above all, could not bear another man should have her.

Now this gave the matter a new turn. Mrs. Vint had overcome her dislike to him long ago: still he was not her favorite. But his giving her his hand with a gentle pressure, and his manifest agitation, rather won her; and, as uneducated women are your true weathercocks, she went about directly. "To be sure," said she, "our Mercy is too good for the likes of him. She is not like Harry and me. She has been well brought up by her Aunt Prudence, as was governess in a nobleman's house. She can read and write, and cast accounts; good at her sampler, and can churn and make cheeses, and play of the viol, and lead the psalm in church, and dance a minuet, she can, with any lady in the land. As to her nursing in time of sickness, that I leave to you, sir."

"She is an angel," cried Griffith, "and my benefactress: no man living is good enough for her." And he went away, visibly discomposed.

Mrs. Vint repeated this conversation to Mercy, and told her Thomas Leicester was certainly in love with her. "Shouldst have seen his face, girl, when I told him Paul and you were sweethearts. 'T was as if I had run a knife in his heart."

Mercy murmured a few words of doubt; but she kissed her mother eloquently, and went about, rosy and beaming, all that afternoon.

As for Griffith, his gratitude and his jealousy were now at war, and caused him a severe mental struggle.

Carrick, too, was spurred by jealousy, and came every day to the house, and besieged Mercy; and Griffith, who saw them together, and did not hear Mercy's replies, was excited, irritated, alarmed.

Mrs. Vint saw his agitation, and determined to bring matters to a climax. She was always giving him a side thrust; and, at last, she told him plainly that he was not behaving like a man. "If the girl is not good enough for you, why make a fool of her, and set her against a good husband?" And when he replied she was good enough for any man in England, "Then," said she, "why not show your respect for her as Paul Carrick does? He likes her well enough to go to church with her."

With the horns of this dilemma she so gored Kate Peyton's husband that, at last, she and Paul Carrick, between them, drove him out of his conscience.

So he watched his opportunity and got Mercy alone. He took her hand and told her he loved her, and that she was his only comfort in the world, and he found he could not live without her.

At this she blushed and trembled a little, and leaned her brow upon his shoulder, and was a happy creature for a few moments.

So far, fluently enough; but then he began to falter and stammer, and say that for certain reasons he could not marry at all. But if she could be content with anything short of that, he would retire with her into a distant country, and there, where nobody could contradict him, would call her his wife, and treat her as his wife, and pay his debt of gratitude to her by a life of devotion.

As he spoke, her brow retired an inch or two from his shoulder; but she heard him quietly out, and then drew back and confronted him, pale, and, to all appearance, calm.

"Call things by their right names," said she. "What you offer me this day, in my father's house, is, to be your mistress. Then—God forgive you, Thomas Leicester."

With this oblique and feminine reply, and one look of unfathomable reproach from her soft eyes, she turned her back on him; but, remembering her manners, courtesied at the door; and so retired; and unpretending Virtue lent her such true dignity that he was struck dumb, and made no attempt to detain her.

I think her dignified composure did not last long when she was alone; at least, the next time he saw her, her eyes were red; his heart smote him, and he began to make excuses and beg her forgiveness. But she interrupted him. "Don't speak to me no more, if you please, sir," said she, civilly, but coldly.

Mercy, though so quiet and inoffensive, had depth and strength of character. She never told her mother what Thomas Leicester had proposed to her. Her honest pride kept her silent, for one thing. She would not have it known she had been insulted. And, besides that, she loved Thomas Leicester still, and could not expose or hurt him. Once there was an Israelite without guile, though you and I never saw him; and once there was a Saxon without bile, and her name was Mercy Vint. In this heart of gold the affections were stronger than the passions. She was deeply wounded, and showed it in a patient way to him who had wounded her, but to none other. Her conduct to him in public and private was truly singular, and would alone have stamped her a remarkable character. She declined all communication with him in private, and avoided him steadily and adroitly; but in public she spoke to him, sang with him when she was asked, and treated him much the same as before. He could see a subtle difference, but nobody else could.

This generosity, coupled with all she had done for him before, penetrated his heart and filled him with admiration and remorse. He yielded to Mrs. Vint's suggestions, and told her she was right; he would tear himself away, and never see the dear "Packhorse" again. "But oh! Dame," said he, "'t is a sorrowful thing to be alone in the world again, and naught to do. If I had but a farm, and a sweet little inn like this to go to, perchance my heart would not be quite so heavy as 't is this day at thoughts of parting from thee and thine."

"Well, sir," said Mrs. Vint, "if that is all, there is the 'Vine' to let at this moment. 'T is a better place of business than this; and some meadows go with it, and land to be had in the parish."

"I'll ride and see it," said Griffith, eagerly: then, dejectedly, "but, alas! I have no heart to keep an inn without somebody to help me, and say a kind word now and then. Ah! Mercy Vint, thou hast spoiled me for living alone."

This vacillation exhausted Mrs. Vint's patience. "What are ye sighing about, ye foolish man?" said she, contemptuously; "you have got it all your own way. If 't is a wife ye want, ask Mercy, and don't take a nay. If ye would have a housekeeper, you need not want one long. I'll be bound there's plenty of young women where you came from as would be glad to keep the 'Vine' under you. And, if you come to that, our Mercy is a treasure on the farm, but she is no help in the inn, no more than a wax figure. She never brought us a shilling, till you came and made her sing to your bass-viol. Nay, what you want is a smart, handsome girl, with a quick eye and a ready tongue, and one as can look a man in the face, and not given to love nor liquor. Don't you know never such a one?"

"Not I. Humph, to be sure there is Caroline Ryder. She is handsome, and hath a good wit. She is a lady's maid."

"That's your woman, if she'll come. And to be sure she will; for to be mistress of an inn, that's a lady's maid's Paradise."

"She would have come a few months ago, and gladly. I'll write to her."

"Better talk to her, and persuade her."

"I'll do that, too; but I must write to her first."

"So do then; but whatever you do, don't shilly-shally no longer. If wrestling was shilly-shallying, methinks you'd bear the bell, you or else Paul Carrick. Why, all his trouble comes on 't. He might have wed our Mercy a year agone for the asking. Shilly-shally belongs to us that be women. 'T is despicable in a man."

Thus driven on all sides, Griffith rode and inspected the "Vine" (it was only seven miles off); and, after the usual chaffering, came to terms with the proprietor.

He fixed the day for his departure, and told Mrs. Vint he must ride into Cumberland first to get some money, and also to see about a housekeeper.

He made no secret of all this; and, indeed, was not without hopes Mercy would relent, or perhaps be jealous of this housekeeper. But the only visible effect was to make her look pale and sad. She avoided him in private as before.

Harry Vint was loud in his regrets, and Carrick openly exultant. Griffith wrote to Caroline Ryder, and addressed the letter in a feigned hand, and took it himself to the nearest post-town.

The letter came to hand, and will appear in that sequence of events on which I am now about to enter.

CHAPTER XXVII.

If Griffith Gaunt suffered anguish, he inflicted agony. Mrs. Gaunt was a high-spirited, proud, and sensitive woman; and he crushed her with foul words. Leonard was a delicate, vain, and sensitive man, accustomed to veneration. Imagine such a man hurled to the ground, and trampled upon.

Griffith should not have fled; he should have stayed and enjoyed his vengeance on these two persons. It might have cooled him a little had he stopped and seen the immediate consequences of his savage act.

The priest rose from the ground, pale as ashes, and trembling with fear and hate.

The lady was leaning, white as a sheet, against a tree, and holding it with her very nails for a little support.

They looked round at one another,—a piteous glance of anguish and horror. Then Mrs. Gaunt turned and flung her arm round so that the palm of her hand, high raised, confronted Leonard. I am thus particular because it was a gesture grand and terrible as the occasion that called it forth,—a gesture that spoke, and said, "Put the whole earth and sea between us forever after this."

The next moment she bent her head and rushed away, cowering and wringing her hands. She made for her house as naturally as a scared animal for its lair; but, ere she could reach it, she tottered under the shame, the distress, and the mere terror, and fell fainting, with her fair forehead on the grass.

Caroline Ryder was crouched in the doorway, and did not see her come out of the grove, but only heard a rustle; and then saw her proud mistress totter forward and lie, white, senseless, helpless, at her very feet.

Ryder uttered a scream, but did not lose her presence of mind. She instantly kneeled over Mrs. Gaunt, and loosened her stays with quick and dexterous hand.

It was very like the hawk perched over and clawing the ringdove she has struck down.

But people with brains are never quite inhuman: a drop of lukewarm pity entered even Ryder's heart as she assisted her victim. She called no one to help her; for she saw something very serious had happened, and she felt sure Mrs. Gaunt would say something imprudent in that dangerous period when the patient recovers consciousness but has not all her wits about her. Now Ryder was equally determined to know her mistress's secrets, and not to share the knowledge with any other person.

It was a long swoon; and, when Mrs. Gaunt came to, the first thing she saw was Ryder leaning over her, with a face of much curiosity, and some concern.

In that moment of weakness the poor lady, who had been so roughly handled, saw a woman close to her, and being a little kind to her; so what did she do but throw her arms round Ryder's neck and burst out sobbing as if her heart would break.

Then that unprincipled woman shed a tear or two with her, half crocodile, half impulse.

Mrs. Gaunt not only cried on her servant's neck; she justified Ryder's forecast by speaking unguardedly: "I've been insulted—insulted—insulted!"

But, even while uttering these words, she was recovering her pride: so the first "insulted" seemed to come from a broken-hearted child, the second from an indignant lady, the third from a wounded queen.

No more words than this; but she rose, with Ryder's assistance, and went, leaning on that faithful creature's shoulder, to her own bedroom. There she sank into a chair and said, in a voice to melt a stone, "My child! Bring me my little Rose."

Ryder ran and fetched the little girl; and Mrs. Gaunt held out both arms to her, angelically, and clasped her so passionately and piteously to her bosom, that Rose cried for fear, and never forgot the scene all her days; and Mrs. Ryder, who was secretly a mother, felt a genuine twinge of pity and remorse. Curiosity, however, was the dominant sentiment. She was impatient to get all these convulsions over, and learn what had actually passed between Mr. and Mrs. Gaunt.

She waited till her mistress appeared calmer; and then, in soft, caressing tones, asked her what had happened.

"Never ask me that question again," cried Mrs. Gaunt, wildly. Then, with inexpressible dignity, "My good girl, you have done all you could for me; now you must leave me alone with my daughter, and my God, who knows the truth."

Ryder courtesied and retired, burning with baffled curiosity.

Towards dusk Thomas Leicester came into the kitchen, and brought her news with a vengeance. He told her and the other maids that the Squire had gone raving mad, and fled the country. "O lasses," said he, "if you had seen the poor soul's face, a-riding headlong through the fair, all one as if it was a ploughed field; 't was white as your smocks; and his eyes glowering on 't other world. We shall ne'er see that face alive again."

And this was her doing.

It surprised and overpowered Ryder. She threw her apron over her head, and went off in hysterics, and betrayed her lawless attachment to every woman in the kitchen,—she who was so clever at probing others.

* * * * *

This day of violent emotions was followed by a sullen and sorrowful gloom.

Mrs. Gaunt kept her bedroom, and admitted nobody; till, at last, the servants consulted together, and sent little Rose to knock at her door, with a basin of chocolate, while they watched on the stairs.

"It's only me, mamma," said Rose.

"Come in, my precious," said a trembling voice; and so Rose got in with her chocolate.

The next day she was sent for early; and at noon Mrs. Gaunt and Rose came down stairs; but their appearance startled the whole household.

The mother was dressed all in black, and so was her daughter, whom she led by the hand. Mrs. Gaunt's face was pale, and sad, and stern,—a monument of deep suffering and high-strung resolution.

* * * * *

It soon transpired that Griffith had left his home for good; and friends called on Mrs. Gaunt to slake their curiosity under the mask of sympathy.

Not one of them was admitted. No false excuses were made. "My mistress sees no one for the present," was the reply.

Curiosity, thus baffled, took up the pen; but was met with a short, unvarying formula: "There is an unhappy misunderstanding between my husband and me. But I shall neither accuse him behind his back, nor justify myself."

Thus the proud lady carried herself before the world; but secretly she writhed. A wife abandoned is a woman insulted, and the wives—that are not abandoned—cluck.

Ryder was dejected for a time, and, though not honestly penitent, suffered some remorse at the miserable issue of her intrigues. But her elastic nature soon shook it off, and she felt a certain satisfaction at having reduced Mrs. Gaunt to her own level. This disarmed her hostility. She watched her as keenly as ever, but out of pure curiosity.

One thing puzzled her strangely. Leonard did not visit the house; nor could she even detect any communication between the parties.

At last, one day, her mistress told her to put on her hat, and go to Father Leonard.

Ryder's eyes sparkled; and she was soon equipped. Mrs. Gaunt put a parcel and a letter into her hands. Ryder no sooner got out of her sight than she proceeded to tamper with the letter. But to her just indignation she found it so ingeniously folded and sealed that she could not read a word.

The parcel, however, she easily undid, and it contained forty pounds in gold and small notes. "Oho! my lady," said Ryder.

She was received by Leonard with a tender emotion he in vain tried to conceal.

On reading the letter his features contracted sharply, and he seemed to suffer agony. He would not even open the parcel. "You will take that back," said he, bitterly.

"What, without a word?"

"Without a word. But I will write, when I am able."

"Don't be long, sir," suggested Ryder. "I am sure my mistress is wearying for you. Consider, sir, she is all alone now."

"Not so much alone as I am," said the priest, "nor half so unfortunate."

And with this he leaned his head despairingly on his hand, and motioned to Ryder to leave him.

"Here's a couple of fools," said she to herself, as she went home.

That very evening Thomas Leicester caught her alone, and asked her to marry him.

She stared at first, and then treated it as a jest. "You come at the wrong time, young man," said she. "Marriage is put out of countenance. No, no, I will never marry after what I have seen in this house."

Leicester would not take this for an answer, and pressed her hard.

"Thomas," said this plausible jade, "I like you very well; but I couldn't leave my mistress in her trouble. Time to talk of marrying when master comes here alive and well."

"Nay," said Leicester, "my only chance is while he is away. You care more for his little finger than for my whole body; that they all say."

"Who says?"

"Jane, and all the lasses."

"You simple man, they want you for themselves; that is why they belie me."

"Nay, nay; I saw how you carried on, when I brought word he was gone. You let your heart out for once. Don't take me for a fool. I see how 't is, but I'll face it, for I worship the ground you walk on. Take a thought, my lass. What good can come of your setting your heart on him? I'm young, I'm healthy, and not ugly enough to set the dogs a-barking. I've got a good place; I love you dear; I'll cure you of that fancy, and make you as happy as the day is long. I'll try and make you as happy as you will make me, my beauty."

He was so earnest, and so much in love, that Mrs. Ryder pitied him, and wished her husband was in heaven.

"I am very sorry, Tom," said she, softly; "dear me, I did not think you cared so much for me as this. I must just tell you the truth. I have got one in my own country, and I've promised him. I don't care to break my word; and, if I did, he is such a man, I am sure he would kill me for it. Indeed he has told me as much, more than once or twice."

"Killing is a game that two can play at."

"Ah! but 't is an ugly game; and I'll have no hand in it. And—don't you be angry with me, Tom—I've known him longest, and—I love him best."

By pertinacity and vanity in lying, she hit the mark at last. Tom swallowed this figment whole.

"That is but reason," said he. "I take my answer, and I wish ye both many happy days together, and well spent." With this he retired, and blubbered a good hour in an outhouse.

Tom avoided the castle, and fell into low spirits. He told his mother all, and she advised him to change the air. "You have been too long in one place," said she; "I hate being too long in one place myself."

This fired Tom's gypsy blood, and he said he would travel to-morrow, if he could but scrape together money enough to fill a pedler's pack.

He applied for a loan in several quarters, but was denied in all.

At last the poor fellow summoned courage to lay his case before Mrs. Gaunt.

Ryder's influence procured him an interview. She took him into the drawing-room, and bade him wait there. By and by a pale lady, all in black, glided into the room.

He pulled his front hair, and began to stammer something or other.

She interrupted him. "Ryder has told me," said she, softly. "I am sorry for you; and I will do what you require. And, to be sure, we need no gamekeeper here now."

She then gave him some money, and said she would look him up a few trifles besides, to put in his pack.

Tom's mother helped him to lay out this money to advantage; and, one day, he called at Hernshaw, pack and all, to bid farewell.

The servants all laid out something with him for luck; and Mrs. Gaunt sent for him, and gave him a gold thimble, and a pound of tea, and several yards of gold lace, slightly tarnished, and a Queen Anne's guinea.

He thanked her heartily. "Ay, Dame," said he, "you had always an open hand, married or single. My heart is heavy at leaving you. But I miss the Squire's kindly face too. Hernshaw is not what it used to be."

Mrs. Gaunt turned her head aside, and the man could see his words had made her cry. "My good Thomas," said she, at last, "you are going to travel the country: you might fall in with him."

"I might," said Leicester, incredulously.

"God grant you may; and, if ever you should, think of your poor mistress and give him—this." She put her finger in her bosom and drew out a bullet wrapped in silver paper. "You will never lose this," said she. "I value it more than gold or silver. O, if ever you should see him, think of me and my daughter, and just put it in his hand without a word."

As he went out of the room Ryder intercepted him, and said, "Mayhap you will fall in with our master. If ever you do, tell him he is under a mistake, and the sooner he comes home the better."

Tom Leicester departed; and, for days and weeks, nothing occurred to break the sorrowful monotony of the place.

But the mourner had written to her old friend and confessor, Francis; and, after some delay, involuntary on his part, he came to see her.

They were often closeted together, and spoke so low that Ryder could not catch a word.

Francis also paid several visits to Leonard; and the final result of these visits was that the latter left England.

Francis remained at Hernshaw as long as he could; and it was Mrs. Gaunt's hourly prayer that Griffith might return while Francis was with her.

He did, at her earnest request, stay much longer than he had intended; but, at length, he was obliged to fix next Monday to return to his own place.

It was on Thursday he made this arrangement; but the very next day the postman brought a letter to the Castle, thus addressed:—

"To Mistress Caroline Ryder, Living Servant with Griffith Gaunt, Esq., at his house, called Hernshaw Castle, near Wigeonmoor, in the county of Cumberland. These with speed."

The address was in a feigned hand. Ryder opened it in the kitchen, and uttered a scream.

Instantly three female throats opened upon her with questions.

She looked them contemptuously in their faces, put the letter into her pocket, and, soon after, slipped away to her own room, and locked herself in while she read it. It ran thus:—

"GOOD MISTRESS RYDER,—I am alive yet, by the blessing; though somewhat battered; being now risen from a fever, wherein I lost my wits for a time. And, on coming to myself, I found them making of my shroud; whereby you shall learn how near I was to death. And all this I owe to that false, perjured woman that was my wife, and is your mistress.

"Know that I have donned russet, and doffed gentility; for I find a heavy heart's best cure is occupation. I have taken a wayside inn, and think of renting a small farm, which two things go well together. Now you are, of all those I know, most fitted to manage the inn, and I the farm. You were always my good friend; and, if you be so still, then I charge you most solemnly that you utter no word to any living soul about this letter; but meet me privately where we can talk fully of these matters; for I will not set foot in Hernshaw Castle. Moreover, she told me once 't was hers; and so be it. On Friday I shall lie at Stapleton, and the next day, by an easy journey, to the place where I once was so happy.

"So then at seven of the clock on Saturday evening, be the same wet or dry, prithee come to the gate of the grove unbeknown, and speak to

"Your faithful friend and most unhappy master,

"GRIFFITH GAUNT.

"Be secret as the grave. Would I were in it."

This letter set Caroline Ryder in a tumult. Griffith alive and well, and set against his wife, and coming to her for assistance!

After the first agitation, she read it again, and weighed every syllable. There was one book she had studied more than most of us,—the Heart. And she soon read Griffith's in this letter. It was no love-letter; he really intended business; but, weak in health and broken in spirit, and alone in the world, he naturally turned to one who had confessed an affection for him, and would therefore be true to his interests, and study his happiness.

The proposal was every way satisfactory to Mrs. Ryder. To be mistress of an inn, and have servants under her instead of being one herself. And then, if Griffith and she began as allies in business, she felt very sure she could make herself, first necessary to him, and then dear to him.

She was so elated she could hardly contain herself; and all her fellow-servants remarked that Mrs. Ryder had heard good news.

Saturday came, and never did hours seem to creep so slowly.

But at last the sun set, and the stars come out. There was no moon. Ryder opened the window and looked out; it was an admirable night for an assignation.

She washed her face again, put on her gray silk gown, and purple petticoat,—Mrs. Gaunt had given them to her,—and, at the last moment, went and made up her mistress's fire, and put out everything she thought could be wanted, and, five minutes after seven o'clock, tied a scarlet handkerchief over her head, and stepped out at the back door.

What with her coal-black hair, so streaked with red, her black eyes, flashing in the starlight, and her glowing cheeks, she looked bewitching.

And, thus armed for conquest, wily, yet impassioned, she stole out, with noiseless foot and beating heart, to her appointment with her imprudent master.



BAD SYMPTOMS.

Mons. Alphonse Karr writes as follows in his Les Femmes:—"When I wish to become invisible, I have a certain rusty and napless old hat, which I put on as Prince Lutin in the fairy tale puts on his chaplet of roses; I join to this a certain coat very much out at elbows: eh bien! I become invisible! Nobody on the street sees me, nobody recognizes me, nobody speaks to me."

And yet I do not doubt that the majority of M. Karr's friends and acquaintances, as is the case with the friends and acquaintances of nearly every one else, are well-disposed, good-hearted, average persons, who would be heartily ashamed, if it could be brought home to them, of having given him the go-by under such circumstances. What, then, was the difficulty? In what consisted this change in the man's appearance, so signal that he trusted to it as a disguise? What was there in hat and coat thus to eclipse the whole personality of the man? There is a certain mystery in the philosophy of clothes too deep for me to fathom. The matter has been descanted upon before; the "Havamal, or High Song of Odin," the Essays of Montaigne, the "Sartor" of Thomas Carlyle, all dwell with acuteness upon this topic; but they merely give instances, they do not interpret. I am continually meeting with things in my intercourse with the world which I cannot reconcile with any theories society professes to be governed by. How shall I explain them? How, for example, shall I interpret the following cases, occurring within my own experience and under my own observation?

I live in the country, and am a farmer. If I lived in the city and occupied myself with the vending of merchandise, I should, in busy times at least, now and then help my clerks to sell my own goods,—if I could,—make up the packages, mark them, and attend to having them delivered. Solomon Gunnybags himself has done as much, upon occasion, and society has praised Solomon Gunnybags for such a display of devotion to his business. But I am a farmer, not a merchant; and, though not able to handle the plough, I am not above my business. One day during the past summer, while my peach-orchard was in full bearing, my foreman, who attends market for me, fell sick. The peaches would not tarry in their ripening, the pears were soft and blushing as sweet sixteen as they lay upon their shelves, the cantelopes grew mellow upon their vines, the tomato-beds called loudly to be relieved, and the very beans were beginning to rattle in their pods for ripeness. I am not a good salesman, and I was very sorry my foreman could not help me out; but something must be done, so I made up a load of fruit and vegetables, took them to the city to market, and sold them. While I was busily occupied measuring peaches by the half and quarter peck, stolidly deaf to the objurgations of my neighbor huckster on my right, to whom some one had given bad money, and equally impervious to the blandishments of an Irish customer in front of me, who could not be persuaded I meant to require the price I had set upon my goods, my friend Mrs. Entresol came along, trailing her parasol with one gloved hand, with the other daintily lifting her skirts out of the dust and dirt. Bridget, following her, toiled under the burden of a basket of good things. Mrs. Entresol is an old acquaintance of mine, and I esteem her highly. Entresol has just obtained a partnership in the retail dry-goods house for which he has been a clerk during so many years; the firm is prosperous, and, if he continues to be as industrious and prudent as he has been, I do not doubt but my friend will in the course of time be able to retire from business with money enough to buy a farm. My pears seemed to please Mrs. Entresol; she approached my stall, looked at them, took one up. "What is the price of your—" she began to inquire, when, looking up, she recognized the vender of the coveted fruit. What in the world came over the woman? I give you my word that, instead of speaking to me in her usual way, and telling me how glad she was to see me, she started as if something had stung her; she stammered, she blushed, and stood there with the pear in her fingers, staring at me in the blankest way imaginable. I must confess a little of her confusion imparted itself to me. For a moment the thought entered my mind that I had, in selling my own pears and peaches, been guilty of some really criminal action, such as sheep-stealing, lying, or slandering, and it was not pleasant to be caught in the act. But only for a moment; then I replied, "Good morning, Mrs. Entresol"; and, stating the price, proceeded to wait upon another customer.

My highly business-like tone and manner rather added to my charming friend's confusion, but she rallied surprisingly, put out her little gloved hand to me, and exclaimed in the gayest voice: "Ah, you eccentric man! What will you do next? To think of you selling in the market, just like a huckster! You! I must tell Mrs. Belle Etoile of it. It is really one of the best jokes I know of! And how well you act your part, too,—just as if it came naturally to you," etc., etc.

Thus she ran on, laughing, and interfering with my sales, protesting all the while that I was the greatest original in all her circle of acquaintance. Of course it would have been idle for me to controvert her view of the matter, so I quietly left her to the enjoyment of such an excellent joke, and was rather glad when at last she went away. I could not help wondering, however, after she was gone, why it was she should think I joked in retailing the products of my farm, any more than Mr. Entresol in retailing the goods piled upon his shelves and counters. And why should one be "original" because he handles a peck-measure, while another is comme il faut in wielding a yardstick? Why did M. Karr's thread-bare coat and shocking bad hat fling such a cloud of dust in the eyes of passing friends, that they could not see him,

"Ne wot who that he ben?"

Now for another case. There is Tom Pinch's wife. Tom is an excellent person, in every respect, and so is his wife. I don't know any woman with a light purse and four children who manages better, or is possessed of more sterling qualities, than Mrs. Tom Pinch. She is industrious, amiable, intelligent; pious as father AEneas; in fact, the most devoted creature to preachers and sermons that ever worked for a fair. She would be very angry with you if you were to charge her with entertaining the doctrine of "justification by works," but I seriously incline to believe she imagines that seat of hers in that cushioned pew one of the mainstays to her hope of heaven. And yet, at this crisis, Mrs. Tom Pinch can't go to church! There is an insurmountable obstacle which keeps the poor little thing at home every Sunday, and renders her (comparatively) miserable the rest of the week. She takes a course of Jay's Sermons, to be sure, but she takes it disconsolately, and has serious fears of becoming a backslider. What is it closes the church door to her? Not her health, for that is excellent. It is not the baby, for her nurse, small as she is, is quite trustworthy. It is not any trouble about dinner, for nobody has a better cook than Mrs. Tom Pinch,—a paragon cook, in fact, who seems to have strayed down into her kitchen from that remote antiquity when servants were servants. No, none of these things keeps the pious wife at home. None of these things restrains her from taking that quiet walk up the aisle and occupying that seat in the corner of the pew, there to dismiss all thought of worldly care, and fit her good little soul for the pleasures of real worship, and that prayerful meditation and sweet communion with holy things that only such good little women know the blessings of;—none of these things at all. It is Mrs. Tom Pinch's bonnet that keeps her at home,—her last season's bonnet! Strike, but hear me, ladies, for the thing is simply so. Tom's practice is not larger than he can manage; Tom's family need quite all he can make to keep them; and he has not yet been able this season to let Mrs. Tom have the money required to provide a new fall bonnet. She will get it before long, of course, for Tom is a good provider, and he knows his wife to be economical. Still he cannot see—poor innocent that he is!—why his dear little woman cannot just as well go to church in her last fall's bonnet, which, to his purblind vision, is quite as good as new. What, Tom! don't you know the dear little woman has too much love for you, too much pride in you, to make a fright of herself, upon any consideration? Don't you know that, were your wife to venture to church in that hideous condition of which a last year's bonnet is the efficient and unmistakable symbol, Mrs. A., Mrs. B., Mrs. C., all the ladies of the church, in fact, would remark it at once,—would sit in judgment upon it like a quilt committee at an industrial fair, and would unanimously decide, either that you were a close-fisted brute to deny such a sweet little helpmeet the very necessaries of life, or that your legal practice was falling off so materially you could no longer support your family? O no, Tom, your wife must not venture out to church in her last season's bonnet! She is not without a certain sort of courage, to be sure; she has stood by death-beds without trembling; she has endured poverty and its privations, illness, the pains and perils of childbirth, and many another hardship, with a brave cheerfulness such as you can wonder at, and never dream of imitating; but there is a limit even to the boldest woman's daring; and, when it comes to the exposure and ridicule consequent upon defying the world in a last season's bonnet, that limit is reached.

I have one other case to recount, and, in my opinion, the most lamentable one of all. Were I to tell you the real name of my friend, Mrs. Belle Etoile, you would recognize one of the most favored daughters of America, as the newspapers phrase it. Rich, intelligent, highly cultivated, at the tip-top of the social ladder, esteemed by a wide circle of such friends as it is an honor to know, loving and beloved by her noble husband,—every one knows Mrs. Etoile by reputation at least. Happy in her pretty, well-behaved children, she is the polished reflection of all that is best and most refined in American society. She is, indeed, a noble woman, as pure and unsullied in the instincts of her heart, as she is bright and glowing in the display of her intellect. Her wit is brilliant; her mots are things to be remembered; her opinions upon art and life have at once a wide currency and a substantial value; and, more than all, her modest charities, of which none knows save herself, are as deep and as beneficent as those subterranean fountains which well up in a thousand places to refresh and gladden the earth. Nevertheless, and in spite of her genuine practical wisdom, her lofty idealism of thought, her profound contempt for all the weak shams and petty frivolities of life, Mrs. Belle Etoile is a slave! "They who submit to drink as another pleases, make themselves his slaves," says that Great Mogul of sentences, Dr. Johnson; and in this sense Mrs. Belle Etoile is a slave indeed. The fetters gall her, but she has not courage to shake them off. Her mistress is her next-door neighbor, Mrs. Colisle, a coarse, vulgar, half-bred woman, whose husband acquired a sudden wealth from contracts and petroleum speculations, and who has in consequence set herself up for a leader of ton. A certain downright persistence and energy of character, acquired, it may be, in bullying the kitchen-maids at the country tavern where she began life, a certain lavish expenditure of her husband's profits, the vulgar display and profusion at her numerous balls, and her free-handed patronage of modistes and shop-keepers, have secured to Mrs. Colisle a sort of Drummond-light position among the stars of fashion. She imports patterns, and they become the mode; her caterer invents dishes, and they are copied throughout the obeisant world. There are confections a la Colisle; the confectioners utter new editions of them. There is a Colisle head-dress, a Colisle pomade, a Colisle hat,—the world wears and uses them. Thus, Mrs. Colisle has set herself up as Mrs. Belle Etoile's rival; and that unfortunate lady, compelled by those noblesse-oblige principles which control the chivalry of fashion, takes up the unequal gage, and enters the lists against her. The result is, that Mrs. Belle Etoile has become the veriest slave in Christendom. Whatever the other woman's whims and extravagances, Mrs. Belle Etoile is their victim. Her taste revolts, but her pride of place compels obedience. She cannot yield, she will not follow; and so Mrs. Colisle, with diabolical ingenuity, constrains her to run a course that gives her no honor and pays her no compensation. She scorns Mrs. Colisle's ways, she loathes her fashions and her company, and—outbids her for them! It is a very unequal contest, of course. Defeat only inspires Mrs. Colisle with a more stubborn persistence. Victory cannot lessen the sad regrets of Mrs. Belle Etoile's soul for outraged instincts and insulted taste. It is an ill match,—a strife between greyhound and mastiff, a contest at heavy draught between a thoroughbred and a Flanders mare. Mrs. Etoile knows this as well as you and I can possibly know it. She is perfectly aware of her serfdom. She is poignantly conscious of the degrading character of her servitude, and that it is not possible to gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles; and yet she will continue to wage the unequal strife, to wear the unhandsome fetters, simply because she has not the courage to extricate herself from the false position into which the strategic arts of Fashion have inveigled her.

Now I do not intend to moralize. I have no purpose to frighten the reader prematurely off to the next page by unmasking a formidable battery of reflections and admonitions. I have merely instanced the above cases, three or four among a thousand of such as must have presented themselves to the attention of each one of us; and I adduce them simply as examples of what I call "bad symptoms" in any diagnosis of the state of the social frame. They indicate, in fact, a total absence of social courage in persons otherwise endowed with and illustrious for all the useful and ornamental virtues, and consequently they make it plain and palpable that society is in a condition of dangerous disease. Whether a remedy is practicable or not I will not venture to decide; but I can confidently assure our reformers, both men and women, that, if they can accomplish anything toward restoring its normal and healthy courage to society, they will benefit the human race much more signally than they could by making Arcadias out of a dozen or two Borrioboola-Ghas.



REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

1. Croquet. By CAPTAIN MAYNE REID. Boston: James Redpath.

2. Handbook of Croquet. By EDMUND ROUTLEDGE. London: George Routledge and Sons.

3. The Game of Croquet; its Appointments and Laws. By R. FELLOW. New York: Hurd and Houghton.

4. Croquet, as played by the Newport Croquet Club. By one of the Members. New York: Sheldon & Co.

The original tower of Babel having been for some time discontinued, and most of our local legislatures having adjourned, the nearest approach to a confusion of tongues is perhaps now to be found in an ordinary game of croquet. Out of eight youths and maidens caught for that performance at a picnic, four have usually learned the rules from four different manuals, and can agree on nothing; while the rest have never learned any rules at all, and cannot even distinctly agree to disagree. With tolerably firm wills and moderately shrill voices, it is possible for such a party to exhibit a very pretty war of words before even a single blow is struck. For supposing that there is an hour of daylight for the game, they can easily spend fifteen minutes in debating whether the starting-point should be taken a mallet's length from the stake, according to Reid, or only twelve inches, according to Routledge.

More than twenty manuals of croquet have been published in England, it is said, and some five or six in America. Of the four authorities named above, each has some representative value for American players. Mayne Reid was the pioneer, Routledge is the most compact and seductive, Fellow the most popular and the poorest, and "Newport" the newest and by far the best. And among them all it is possible to find authority for and against almost every possible procedure.

The first point of grave divergence is one that occurs at the very outset of the game. "Do you play with or without the roquet-croquet?" has now come to be the first point of mutual solicitude in a mixed party. It may not seem a momentous affair whether the privilege of striking one's own ball and the adversary's without holding the former beneath the foot, should be extended to all players or limited to the "rover"; but it makes an immense difference in both the duration and the difficulty of the game. By skilfully using this right, every player may change the position of every ball, during each tour of play. It is a formidable privilege, and accordingly Reid and "Newport" both forbid it to all but the "rover," and Routledge denies it even to him; while Fellow alone pleads for universal indulgence. It seems a pity to side with one poor authority against three good ones, but there is no doubt that the present tendency of the best players is to cultivate the roquet-croquet more and more; and after employing it, one is as unwilling to give it up, as a good billiard-player would be to revert from the cue to the mace. The very fact, however, that this privilege multiplies so enormously the advantages of skill is perhaps a good reason for avoiding it in a mixed party of novices and experts, where the object is rather to equalize abilities. It should also be avoided where the croquet-ground is small, as is apt to be the case in our community,—because in such narrow quarters a good player can often hit every other ball during each tour of play, even without this added advantage. If we played habitually on large, smooth lawns like those of England, the reasons for the general use of the roquet-croquet would be far stronger.

Another inconvenient discrepancy of the books relates to the different penalties imposed on "flinching," or allowing one's ball to slip from under one's foot, during the process of croquet. Here Routledge gives no general rule; Reid and "Newport" decree that, if a ball "flinches," its tour terminates, but its effects remain; while, according to Fellow, the ball which has suffered croquet is restored, but the tour continues,—the penalties being thus reversed. Here the sober judgment must side with the majority of authorities; for this reason, if for no other, that the first-named punishment is more readily enforced, and avoids the confusion and altercation which are often produced by taking up and replacing a ball.

Again, if a ball be accidentally stopped in its motion by a careless player or spectator, what shall be done? Fellow permits the striker either to leave the ball where the interruption left it, or to place it where he thinks it would have stopped, if unmolested. This again is a rule far less simple, and liable to produce far more wrangling, than the principle of the other authorities, which is that the ball should either be left where it lies, or be carried to the end of the arena.

These points are all among the commonest that can be raised, and it is very unfortunate that there should be no uniformity of rule, to meet contingencies so inevitable. When more difficult points come up for adjudication, the difficulty has thus far been less in the conflict of authorities than in their absence. Until the new American commentator appeared, there was no really scientific treatise on croquet to be had in our bookstores.

The so-called manual of the "Newport Croquet Club" is understood to proceed from a young gentleman whose mathematical attainments have won him honor both at Cambridge and at New Haven, and who now beguiles his banishment as Assistant Professor in the Naval Academy by writing on croquet in the spirit of Peirce. What President Hill has done for elementary geometry, "Newport" aims to do for croquet, making it severely simple, and, perhaps we might add, simply severe. And yet, admirable to relate, this is the smallest of all the manuals, and the cheapest, and the only one in which there is not so much as an allusion to ladies' ankles. All the others have a few pages of rules and a very immoderate quantity of slang; they are all liable to the charge of being silly; whereas the only possible charge to be brought against "Newport" is that he is too sensible. But for those who hold, with ourselves, that whatever is worth doing is worth doing sensibly, there is really no other manual. That is, this is the only one which really grapples with a difficult case, and deals with it as if heaven and earth depended on the adjudication.

It is possible that this scientific method sometimes makes its author too bold a lawgiver. The error of most of the books is in attempting too little and in doing that little ill. They are all written for beginners only. The error of "Newport" lies in too absolute an adherence to principles. His "theory of double points" is excellent, but his theory of "the right of declining" is an innovation all the more daring because it is so methodically put. The principle has long been familiar, though never perhaps quite settled, that where two distinct points were made by any stroke,—as, for instance, a bridge and a roquet,—the one or the other could be waived. The croquet, too, could always be waived. But to assert boldly that "a player may decline any point made by himself, and play precisely as if the point had not been made," is a thought radical enough to send a shudder along Pennsylvania Avenue. Under this ruling, a single player in a game of eight might spend a half-hour in running and rerunning a single bridge, with dog-in-the-mangerish pertinacity, waiting his opportunity to claim the most mischievous run as the valid one. It would produce endless misunderstandings and errors of memory. The only vexed case which it would help to decide is that in which a ball, in running the very last bridge, strikes another ball, and is yet forbidden to croquet, because it must continue its play from the starting-point. But even this would be better settled in almost any other way; and indeed this whole rule as to a return to the "spot" seems a rather arbitrary and meaningless thing.

The same adherence to theory takes the author quite beyond our depth, if not beyond his own, in another place. He says that a ball may hit another ball twice or more, during the same tour, between two steps on the round, and move it each time by concussion,—"but only one (not necessarily the first) contact is a valid roquet." (p. 34.) But how can a player obtain the right to make a second contact, under such circumstances, unless indeed the first was part of a ricochet, and was waived as such? And if the case intended was merely that of ricochet, it should have been more distinctly stated, for the right to waive ricochet was long since recognized by Reid (p. 40), though Routledge prohibits, and Fellow limits it.

Thus even the errors of "Newport" are of grave and weighty nature, such as statesmen and mathematicians may, without loss of dignity, commit. Is it that it is possible to go too deep into all sciences, even croquet? But how delightful to have at last a treatise which errs on that side, when its predecessors, like popular commentators on the Bible, have carefully avoided all the hard points, and only cleared up the easy ones!

Poetry, Lyrical, Narrative, and Satirical, of the Civil War. Selected and Edited by RICHARD GRANT WHITE. New York: The American News Company.

We confess that our heart had at times misgiven us concerning the written and printed poetry of our recent war; but until Mr. White gave us the present volume, we did not know how strong a case could be made against it. The effect is perhaps not altogether intended, but it shows how bad his material was, and how little inspiration of any sort attended him in his work, when a literary gentleman of habits of research and of generally supposed critical taste makes a book so careless and slovenly as this.

We can well afford the space which the editor devotes to Mr. Lowell's noble poem, but we must admit that we can regard "The Present Crisis" as part of the poetry of the war only in the large sense in which we should also accept the Prophecies of Ezekiel and the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Many pious men beheld the war (after it came) foreshadowed in the poetry of the awful and exalted prophecies, and we wonder that Mr. White did not give us a few passages from those books. It is scarcely possible that he did not know "The Present Crisis" to have been written nearly a score of years ago; though he seems to have been altogether ignorant of "The Washers of the Shroud," a poem by the same author actually written after the war began, and uttering all that dread, suspense, and deep determination which the threatened Republic felt after the defeats in the autumn of 1861. As Mr. White advances with his poetical chronology of the war, he is likewise unconscious of "The Commemoration Ode," which indeed is so far above all other elegiac poems of the war, as perhaps to be out of his somewhat earth-bound range. Yet we cannot help blaming him a little for not looking higher: his book must for some time represent the feeling of the nation in war time, and we would fain have had his readers know how deep and exalted this sentiment really was, and how it could reach, if only once and in only one, an expression which we may challenge any literature to surpass. Of "The Biglow Papers," in which there is so much of the national hard-headed shrewdness, humor, and earnestness, we have but one, and that not the best.

As some compensation, however, Mr. White presents us with two humorous lyrics of his own, and makes us feel like men who, in the first moments of our financial disorder, parted with a good dollar, and received change in car-tickets and envelopes covering an ideal value in postage-stamps. It seems hard to complain of an editor who puts only two of his poems in a collection when he was master to put in twenty if he chose, and when in both cases he does his best to explain and relieve their intolerable brilliancy by foot-notes; yet, seeing that one of these productions is in literature what the "Yankee Notions" and the "Nick-Nax" caricatures of John Bull are in art, and seeing that the other is not in the least a parody of the Emersonian poetry it is supposed to burlesque, and is otherwise nothing at all, we cannot help crying out against them.

The foot-notes to Mr. White's verses are comical, however, we must acknowledge; and so are all the foot-notes in the book. If the Model of Deportment had taken to letters with a humorous aim, we could conceive of his writing them. "If burlesque," says Mr. White of his "Union" verses, "were all their purpose, they would not be here preserved"; adding, with a noble tenderness for his victim, "Mr. Emerson could well afford to forgive them, even if they did not come from one of his warmest admirers,"—in which we agree with Mr. White, whose consideration for the great transcendentalist is equalled only by his consideration for the reader's ignorance in regard to most things not connected with the poetry of the war. "Bully," he tells us, was used as "an expression of encouragement and approval" by the Elizabethan dramatists, as well as by our own cherished rowdies; which may be readily proven from the plays of Shakespeare. But what the author of the poem in which this word occurs means by "hefty" Mr. White does not know, and frankly makes a note for the purpose of saying so. Concerning the expression "hurried up his cakes," he is, however, perfectly au fait, and surprises us with the promptness of his learning. "As long as the importance of hurrying buckwheat pancakes from the griddle to the table," says he, with a fine air of annotation, "is impressed upon the American mind, this vile slang will need no explanation. But the fame,"—mark this dry light of philosophy, and the delicacy of the humor through which it plays,—"but the fame of the Rebel march into Pennsylvania, and of the victory of Gettysburg, will probably outlive even the taste for these alluring compounds." This is Mr. White's good humor; his bad humor is displayed in his note to a poem by Fitz James O'Brien on the "Seventh Regiment," which he says was "written by a young Irishman, one of its members." The young Irishman's name is probably as familiar to most readers of the magazines as Mr. White's, and we cannot help wondering how he knew a writer of singularly brilliant powers and wide repute only as "a young Irishman."

But there are many things which Mr. White seems not to know, and he has but a poor memory for names, and in his despair he writes anonymous against the title of every third poem. We might have expected a gentleman interested in the poetry of the war to attend the lectures of Dr. Holmes, who has been reading in New York and elsewhere "The Old Sergeant," as the production of Mr. Forcythe Willson of Kentucky. By turning to the index of that volume of the Atlantic from which the verses were taken, Mr. White could have learned that "Spring at the Capital" was written by Mrs. Akers; and with quite as little trouble could have informed himself of the authorship of a half-score of other poems we might name. We have already noted the defectiveness of the collection, in which we are told "no conspicuous poem elicited by the war is omitted"; and we note it again in Mr. White's failure to print Mr. Bryant's pathetic and beautiful poem, "My Autumn Walk," and in his choosing from Mr. Aldrich not one of the fine sonnets he has written on the war, but a jeu d'esprit which in no wise represents him. Indeed, Mr. White's book seems to have been compiled after the editor had collected a certain number of clippings from the magazines and newspapers: if by the blessing of Heaven these had the names of their authors attached, and happened to be the best things the poets had done, it was a fortunate circumstance; but if the reverse was the fact, Mr. White seems to have felt no responsibility in the matter. We are disposed to hold him to stricter account, and to blame him for temporarily blocking, with a book and a reputation, the way to a work of real industry, taste, and accuracy on the poetry of the war. It was our right that a man whose scholarly fame would carry his volume beyond our own shores should do his best for our heroic Muse, robing her in all possible splendor; and it is our wrong that he has chosen instead to present the poor soul in attire so very indifferently selected from her limited wardrobe.

The Story of Kennett. By BAYARD TAYLOR. New York: G. P. Putnam; Hurd and Houghton.

In this novel Mr. Taylor has so far surpassed his former efforts in extended fiction, as to approach the excellence attained in his briefer stories. He has of course some obvious advantages in recounting "The Story of Kennett" which were denied him in "Hannah Thurston" and "John Godfrey's Fortunes." He here deals with the persons, scenes, and actions of a hundred years ago, and thus gains that distance so valuable to the novelist; and he neither burdens himself with an element utterly and hopelessly unpicturesque, like modern reformerism, nor assumes the difficult office of interesting us in the scarcely more attractive details of literary adventure. But we think, after all, that we owe the superiority of "The Story of Kennett" less to the felicity of his subject than to Mr. Taylor's maturing powers as a novelist, of which his choice of a happy theme is but one of the evidences. He seems to have told his story because he liked it; and without the least consciousness (which we fear haunted him in former efforts) that he was doing something to supply the great want of an American novel. Indeed, but for the prologue dedicating the work in a somewhat patronizing strain to his old friends and neighbors of Kennett, the author forgets himself entirely in the book, and leaves us to remember him, therefore, with all the greater pleasure.

The hero of the tale is Gilbert Potter, a young farmer of Kennett, on whose birth there is, in the belief of his neighbors, the stain of illegitimacy, though his mother, with whom he lives somewhat solitarily and apart from the others, denies the guilt imputed to her, while some mystery forbids her to reveal her husband's name. Gilbert is in love with Martha, the daughter of Dr. Deane, a rich, smooth, proud old Quaker, who is naturally no friend to the young man's suit, but is rather bent upon his daughter's marriage with Alfred Barton, a bachelor of advanced years, and apparent heir of one of the hardest, wealthiest, and most obstinately long-lived old gentlemen in the neighborhood. Obediently to the laws of fiction, Martha rejects Alfred Barton, who, indeed, is but a cool and timid wooer, and a weak, selfish, spiritless man, of few good impulses, with a dull fear and dislike of his own father, and a covert tenderness for Gilbert. The last, being openly accepted by Martha, and forbidden, with much contumely, to see her, by her father, applies himself with all diligence to paying off the mortgage on his farm, in order that he may wed the Doctor's daughter, in spite of his science, his pride, and his riches; but when he has earned the requisite sum, he is met on his way to Philadelphia and robbed of the money by Sandy Flash, a highwayman who infested that region, and who, Mr. Taylor tells us, is an historical personage. He appears first in the first chapter of "The Story of Kennett," when, having spent the day in a fox-hunt with Alfred Barton, and the evening at the tavern in the same company, he beguiles his comrade into a lonely place, reveals himself, and, with the usual ceremonies, robs Barton of his money and watch. Thereafter, he is seen again, when he rides through the midst of the volunteers of Kennett, drinks at the bar of the village tavern, and retires unharmed by the men assembled to hunt him down and take him. After all, however, he is a real brigand, and no hero; and Mr. Taylor manages his character so well as to leave us no pity for the fate of a man, who, with some noble traits, is in the main fierce and cruel. He is at last given up to justice by the poor, half-wild creature with whom he lives, and whom, in a furious moment, he strikes because she implores him to return Gilbert his money.

As for Gilbert, through all the joy of winning Martha, and the sickening disappointment of losing his money, the shame and anguish of the mystery that hangs over his origin oppress him; and, having once experienced the horror of suspecting that Martha's father might also be his, he suffers hardly less torture when the highwayman, on the day of his conviction, sends to ask an interview with him. But Sandy Flash merely wishes to ease his conscience by revealing the burial-place of Gilbert's money; and when the young man, urged to the demand by an irresistible anxiety, implores, "You are not my father?" the good highwayman, in great and honest amazement, declares that he certainly is not. The mystery remains, and it is not until the death of the old man Barton that it is solved. Then it is dissipated, when Gilbert's mother, in presence of kindred and neighbors, assembled at the funeral, claims Alfred Barton as her husband; and after this nothing remains but the distribution of justice, and the explanation that, long ago, before Gilbert's birth, his parents had been secretly married. Alfred Barton, however, had sworn his wife not to reveal the marriage before his father's death, at that time daily expected, and had cruelly held her to her vow after the birth of their son, and through all the succeeding years of agony and contumely,—loving her and her boy in his weak, selfish, cowardly way, but dreading too deeply his father's anger ever to do them justice. The reader entirely sympathizes with Gilbert's shame in such a father, and his half-regret that it had not been a brave, bad man like Sandy Flash instead. Barton's punishment is finely worked out. The fact of the marriage had been brought to the old man's knowledge before his death, and he had so changed his will as to leave the money intended for his son to his son's deeply wronged wife; and, after the public assertion of their rights at the funeral, Gilbert and his mother coldly withdraw from the wretched man, and leave him, humiliated before the world he dreaded, to seek the late reconciliation which is not accomplished in this book. It is impossible to feel pity for his sufferings; but one cannot repress the hope that Mary and her son will complete the beauty of their own characters by forgiving him at last.

It seems to us that this scene of Mary Potter's triumph at the funeral is the most effective in the whole book. Considering her character and history, it is natural that she should seek to make her justification as signal and public as possible. The long and pitiless years of shame following the error of her youthful love and ambition, during which the sin of attempting to found her happiness on a deceit was so heavily punished, have disciplined her to the perfect acting of her part, and all her past is elevated and dignified by the calm power with which she rights herself. She is the chief person of the drama, which is so pure and simple as not to approach melodrama; and the other characters are merely passive agents; while the reader, to whom the facts are known, cannot help sharing their sense of mystery and surprise. We confess to a deeper respect for Mr. Taylor's power than we have felt before, when we observe with what masterly skill he contrives by a single incident to give sudden and important development to a character, which, however insignificant it had previously seemed, we must finally allow to have been perfectly prepared for such an effect.

The hero of the book, we find a good deal like other heroes,—a little more natural than most, perhaps, but still portentously noble and perfect. He does not interest us much; but we greatly admire the heroine, Martha Deane, whom he loves and marries. In the study of her character and that of her father, Mr. Taylor is perfectly at home, and extremely felicitous. There is no one else who treats Quaker life so well as the author of the beautiful story of "Friend Eli's Daughter"; and in the opposite characters of Doctor Deane and Martha we have the best portraiture of the contrasts which Quakerism produces in human nature. In the sweet and unselfish spirit of Martha, the theories of individual action under special inspiration have created self-reliance, and calm, fearless humility, sustaining her in her struggle against the will of her father, and even against the sect to whose teachings she owes them. Dr. Deane had made a marriage of which the Society disapproved, but after his wife's death he had professed contrition for his youthful error, and had been again taken into the quiet brotherhood. Martha, however, had always refused to unite with the Society, and had thereby been "a great cross" to her father,—a man by no means broken under his affliction, but a hard-headed, self-satisfied, smooth, narrow egotist. Mr. Taylor contrives to present his person as clearly as his character, and we smell hypocrisy in the sweet scent of marjoram that hangs about him, see selfishness in his heavy face and craft in the quiet gloss of his drab broadcloth, and hear obstinacy in his studied step. He is the most odious character in the book, what is bad in him being separated by such fine differences from what is very good in others. We have even more regard for Alfred Barton, who, though a coward, has heart enough to be truly ashamed at last, while Dr. Deane retains a mean self-respect after the folly and the wickedness of his purposes are shown to him.

His daughter, for all her firmness in resisting her father's commands to marry Barton, and to dismiss Gilbert, is true woman, and submissive to her lover. The wooing of these, and of the other lovers, Mark Deane and Sally Fairthorn, is described with pleasant touches of contrast, and a strict fidelity to place and character. Indeed, nothing can be better than the faithful spirit in which Mr. Taylor seems to have adhered to all the facts of the life he portrays. There is such shyness among American novelists (if we may so classify the writers of our meagre fiction) in regard to dates, names, and localities, that we are glad to have a book in which there is great courage in this respect. Honesty of this kind is vastly more acceptable to us than the aerial romance which cannot alight in any place known to the gazetteer; though we must confess that we attach infinitely less importance than the author does to the fact that Miss Betsy Lavender, Deb. Smith, Sandy Flash, and the two Fairthorn boys are drawn from the characters of persons who once actually lived. Indeed, we could dispense very well with the low comedy of Sally's brothers, and, in spite of Miss Betsy Lavender's foundation in fact, we could consent to lose her much sooner than any other leading character of the book: she seems to us made-up and mechanical. On the contrary, we find Sally Fairthorn, with her rustic beauty and fresh-heartedness, her impulses and blunders, altogether delightful. She is a part of the thoroughly country flavor of the book,—the rides through the woods, the huskings, the raising of the barn,—(how admirably and poetically all that scene of the barn-raising is depicted!)—just as Martha somehow belongs to the loveliness and goodness of nature,—the blossom and the harvest which appear and reappear in the story.

We must applaud the delicacy and propriety of the descriptive parts of Mr. Taylor's work: they are rare and brief, and they are inseparable from the human interest of the narrative with which they are interwoven. The style of the whole fiction is clear and simple, and, in the more dramatic scenes,—like that of old Barton's funeral,—rises effortlessly into very great strength. The plot, too, is well managed; the incidents naturally succeed each other; and, while some portion of the end may be foreseen, it must be allowed that the author skilfully conceals the secret of Gilbert's parentage, while preparing at the right moment to break it effectively to the reader.

The South since the War: as shown by Fourteen Weeks of Travel and Observation in Georgia and the Carolinas. By SIDNEY ANDREWS. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

The simple and clear exhibition of things heard and seen in the South seems to have been the object of Mr. Andrews's interesting tour, and he holds the mirror up to Reconstruction with a noble and self-denying fidelity. It would have been much easier to give us studied theories and speculations instead of the facts we needed, and we are by no means inclined to let the crudity of parts of the present book abate from our admiration of its honesty and straightforwardness.

A great share of the volume is devoted to sketches of scenes and debates in the Conventions held last autumn in North and South Carolina and Georgia, for the reconstruction of the State governments; and Mr. Andrews's readers are made acquainted, as pleasantly as may be, with the opinions and appearance of the leaders in these bodies. But the value of this part of his book is necessarily transitory; and we have been much more interested in the chapters which recount the author's experiences of travel and sojourn, and describe the popular character and civilization of the South as affected by the event of the war. It must be confessed, however, that the picture is not one from which we can take great courage for the present. The leading men in the region through which Mr. Andrews passed seem to have an adequate conception of the fact that the South can only rise again through tranquillity, education, and justice; and some few of these men have the daring to declare that regeneration must come through her abandonment of all the social theories and prejudices that distinguished her as a section before the war. But in a great degree the beaten bully is a bully still. There is the old lounging, the old tipsiness, the old swagger, the old violence. Mr. Andrews has to fly from a mob, as in the merry days of 1859, because he persuades an old negro to go home and not stay and be stabbed by a gentleman of one of the first families. Drunken life-long idlers hiccup an eloquent despair over the freedmen's worthlessness; bitter young ladies and high-toned gentlemen insult Northerners when opportunity offers; and, while there is a general disposition to accept the fortune of war, there is a belief, equally general, among our unconstructed brethren, that better people were never worse off. The conditions outside of the great towns are not such as to attract Northern immigration, in which the chief hope of the South lies; and there is but slight wish on the part of the dominant classes to improve the industry of the country by doing justice to the liberated slaves. The military, under the Freedmen's Bureau, does something to enforce contracts and punish outrage; but it is often lamentably inadequate, and is sometimes controlled by men who have the baseness to side against the weak.

Of the three States through which Mr. Andrews travelled, South Carolina seems to be in the most hopeful mood for regeneration; but it is probable that the natural advantages of Georgia will attract a larger share of foreign capital and industry, and place it first in the line of redemption, though the temper of its people is less intelligent and frank than that of the South-Carolinians. In North Carolina the difficulty seems to be with the prevailing ignorance and poverty of the lower classes, and the lukewarm virtue of people who were also lukewarm in wickedness, and whose present loyalty is dull and cold, like their late treason.

Social Life of the Chinese: with some Account of their Religious, Governmental, Educational, and Business Customs and Opinions, etc. By REV. JUSTUS DOOLITTLE, Fourteen Years Member of the Fuhchan Mission of the American Board. With over One Hundred and Fifty Illustrations. In Two Volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers.

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