The Eye of Dread
by Payne Erskine
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Author of "The Mountain Girl," "Joyful Heatherby," Etc.

With Frontispiece by



114-120 East Twenty-third Street—New York

Published by Arrangement With Little, Brown & Company

Copyright, 1913,

By Little, Brown, and Company.

All rights reserved

Published, October, 1913

Reprinted, October, 1913












Two whip-poor-wills were uttering their insistent note, hidden somewhere among the thick foliage of the maple and basswood trees that towered above the spring down behind the house where the Ballards lived. The sky in the west still glowed with amber light, and the crescent moon floated like a golden boat above the horizon's edge. The day had been unusually warm, and the family were all gathered on the front porch in the dusk. The lamps within were unlighted, and the evening wind blew the white muslin curtains out and in through the opened windows. The porch was low,—only a step from the ground,—and the grass of the dooryard felt soft and cool to the bare feet of the children.

In front and all around lay the garden—flowers and fruit quaintly intermingled. Down the long path to the gate, where three roads met, great bunches of peonies lifted white blossoms—luminously white in the moonlight; and on either side rows of currant bushes cast low, dark shadows, and here and there dwarf crab-apple trees tossed pale, scented flowers above them. In the dusky evening light the iris flowers showed frail and iridescent against the dark shadows under the bushes.

The children chattered quietly at their play, as if they felt a mystery around them, and small Betty was sure she saw fairies dancing on the iris flowers when the light breeze stirred them; but of this she said nothing, lest her practical older sister should drop a scornful word of unbelief, a thing Betty shrank from and instinctively avoided. Why should she be told there were no such things as fairies and goblins and pigwidgeons, when one might be at that very moment dancing at her elbow and hear it all?

So Betty wagged her curly golden head, wise with the wisdom of childhood, and went her own ways and thought her own thoughts. As for the strange creatures of wondrous power that peopled the earth, and the sky, and the streams, she knew they were there. She could almost see them, could almost feel them and hear them, even though they were hidden from mortal sight.

Did she not often go when the sun was setting and climb the fence behind the barn under the great locust and silver-leaf poplar trees, where none could see her, and watch the fiery griffins in the west? Could she not see them flame and flash, their wings spreading far out across the sky in fantastic flight, or drawn close and folded about them in hues of purple and crimson and gold? Could she not see the flying mist-women flinging their floating robes of softest pink and palest green around their slender limbs, and trailing them delicately across the deepening sky?

Had she not heard the giants—nay, seen them—driving their terrible steeds over the tumbled clouds, and rolling them smooth with noise of thunder, under huge rolling machines a thousand times bigger than that Farmer Hopkins used to crush the clods in his wheat field in the spring? Had she not seen the flashes of fire dart through the heavens, struck by the hoofs of the giants' huge beasts? Ah! She knew! If Martha would only listen to her, she could show her some of these true things and stop her scoffing.

Lured by these mysteries, Betty made short excursions into the garden away from the others, peering among the shadows, and gazing wide-eyed into the clusters of iris flowers above which night moths fluttered softly and silently. Maybe there were fairies there. Three could ride at once on the back of a devil's riding horse, she knew, and in the daytime they rode the dragon flies, two at a time; they were so light it was nothing for the great green and gold, big-eyed dragon flies to carry two.

Betty knew a place below the spring where the maidenhair fern grew thick and spread out wide, perfect fronds on slender brown stems, shading fairy bowers; and where taller ferns grew high and leaned over like a delicate fairy forest; and where the wild violets grew so thick you could not see the ground beneath them, and the grass was lush and long like fine green hair, and crept up the hillside and over the roots of the maple and basswood trees. Here lived the elves; she knew them well, and often lay with her head among the violets, listening for the thin sound of their elfin fiddles. Often she had drowsed the summer noon in the coolness, unheeding the dinner call, until busy Martha roused her with the sisterly scolding she knew she deserved and took in good part.

Now as Betty crept cautiously about, peering and hoping with a half-fearing expectation, a sweet, threadlike wail trembled out toward her across the moonlit and shadowed space. Her father was tuning his violin. Her mother sat at his side, hushing Bobby in her arms. Betty could hear the sound of her rockers on the porch floor. Now the plaintive call of the violin came stronger, and she hastened back to curl up at her father's feet and listen. She closed her vision-seeing eyes and leaned against her father's knee. He felt the gentle pressure of his little daughter's head and liked it.

All the long summer day Betty's small feet had carried her on numberless errands for young and old, and as the season advanced she would be busier still. This Betty well knew, for she was old enough to remember other summers, several of them, each bringing an advancing crescendo of work. But oh, the happy days! For Betty lived in a world all her own, wherein her play was as real as her work, and labor was turned by her imaginative little mind into new forms of play, and although night often found her weary—too tired to lie quietly in her bed sometimes—the line between the two was never in her thoughts distinctly drawn.

To-night Betty's conscience was troubling her a little, for she had done two naughty things, and the pathetic quality of her father's music made her wish with all the intensity of her sensitive soul that she might confess to some one what she had done, but it was all too peaceful and sweet now to tell her mother of naughty things, and, anyway, she could not confess before the whole family, so she tried to repent very hard and tell God all about it. Somehow it was always easier to tell God about things; for she reasoned, if God was everywhere and knew everything, then he knew she had been bad, and had seen her all the time, and all she need do was to own up to it, without explaining everything in words, as she would have to do to her mother.

Brother Bobby's bare feet swung close to her cheek as they dangled from her mother's knee, and she turned and kissed them, first one and then the other, with eager kisses. He stirred and kicked out at her fretfully.

"Don't wake him, dear," said her mother.

Then Betty drew up her knees and clasped them about with her arms, and hid her face on them while she repented very hard. Mother had said that very day that she never felt troubled about the baby when Betty had care of him, and that very day she had recklessly taken him up into the barn loft, climbing behind him and guiding his little feet from one rung of the perpendicular ladder to another, teaching him to cling with clenched hands to the rounds until she had landed him in the loft. There she had persuaded him he was a swallow in his nest, while she had taken her fill of the delight of leaping from the loft down into the bay, where she had first tossed enough hay to make a soft lighting place for the twelve-foot leap.

Oh, the joy of it—flying through the air! If she could only fly up instead of down! Every time she climbed back into the loft she would stop and cuddle the little brother and toss hay over him and tell him he was a baby bird, and she was the mother bird, and must fly away and bring him nice worms. She bade him look up to the rafters above and see the mother birds flying out and in, while the little birds just sat still in their nests and opened their mouths. So Bobby sat still, and when she returned, obediently opened his mouth; but alas! he wearied of his role in the play, and at last crept to the very edge of the loft at a place where there was no hay spread beneath to break his fall; and when Betty looked up and saw his sweet baby face peering down at her over the edge, her heart stopped beating. How wildly she called for him to wait for her to come to him! She promised him all the dearest of her treasures if he would wait until "sister" got there.

Now, as she sat clasping her knees, her little body grew all trembling and weak again as she lived over the terrible moment when she had reached him just in time to drag him back from the edge, and to cuddle and caress him, until he lifted up his voice and wept, not because he was in the least troubled or hurt, but because it seemed to be the right thing to do.

Then she gave him the pretty round comb that held back her hair, and he promptly straightened it and broke it; and when she reluctantly brought him back to dinner—how she had succeeded in getting him down from the loft would make a chapter of diplomacy—her mother reproved her for allowing him to take it, and lapped the two pieces and wound them about with thread, and told her she must wear the broken comb after this. She was glad—glad it was broken—and she had treasured it so—and glad that her mother had scolded her; she wished she had scolded harder instead of speaking words of praise that cut her to the heart. Oh, oh, oh! If he had fallen over, he would be dead now, and she would have killed him! Thus she tortured herself, and repented very hard.

The other sin she had that day committed she felt to be a double sin, because she knew all the time it was wrong and did it deliberately. When she went out with the corn meal to feed the little chicks and fetch in the new-laid eggs, she carried, concealed under her skirt, a small, squat book of Robert Burns' poems. These poems she loved; not that she understood them, but that the rhythm pleased her, and the odd words and half-comprehended phrases stirred her imagination.

So, after feeding the chicks and gathering the eggs, she did not return to the house, but climbed instead up into the top of the silver-leaf poplar behind the barn, and sat there long, swaying with the swaying tree top and reading the lines that most fascinated her and stirred her soul, until she forgot she must help Martha with the breakfast dishes—forgot she must carry milk to the neighbor's—forgot she must mind the baby and peel the potatoes for dinner. It was so delightful to sway and swing and chant the rythmic lines over and over that almost she forgot she was being bad, and Martha had done the things she ought to have done, and the baby cried himself to sleep without her, and lay with the pathetic tear marks still on his cheeks, but her tired mother had only looked reproachfully at her and had not said one word. Oh, dear! If she could only be a good girl! If only she might pass one day being good all day long with nothing to regret!

Now with the wailing of the violin her soul grew hungry and sad, and a strange, unchildish fear crept over her, a fear of the years to come—so long and endless they would be, always coming, coming, one after another; and here she was, never to stop living, and every day doing something that she ought not and every evening repenting it—and her father might stop loving her, and her sister might stop loving her, and her little brother might stop loving her, and Bobby might die—and even her mother might die or stop loving her, and she might grow up and marry a man who forgot after a while to love her—and she might be very poor—even poorer than they were now, and have to wash dishes every day and no one to help her—until at last she could bear the sadness no longer, and could not repent as hard as she ought, there where she could not go down on her knees and just cry and cry. So she slipped away and crept in the darkness to her own room, where her mother found her half an hour later on her knees beside the bed fast asleep. She lovingly undressed the limp, weary little girl, lifted her tenderly and laid her curly head on the pillow, and kissed her cheek with a repentant sigh of her own, regretting that she must lay so many tasks on so small a child.



Father Ballard walked slowly up the path from the garden, wiping his brow, for the heat was oppressive. "Mary, my dear, I see signs of swarming. The bees are hanging out on that hive under the Tolman Sweet. Where's Betty?"

"She's down cellar churning, but she can leave. Bobby's getting fretful, anyway, and she can take him under the trees and watch the bees and amuse him. Betty!" Mary Ballard went to the short flight of steps leading to the paved basement, dark and cool: "Betty, father wants you to watch the bees, dear. Find Bobby. He's so still I'm afraid he's out at the currant bushes again, and he'll make himself sick. Keep an eye on the hive under the Tolman Sweet particularly, dear."

Gladly Betty bounded up the steps and darted away to find the baby who was still called the baby by reason of his being the last arrival, although he was nearly three, and an active little tyrant at that. Watching the bees was Betty's delight. Minding the baby, lolling under the trees reading her books, gazing up into the great branches, and all the time keeping an eye on the hives scattered about in the garden,—nothing could be pleasanter.

Naturally Betty could not understand all she read in the books she carried out from the library, for purely children's books were very few in those days. The children of the present day would be dismayed were they asked to read what Betty pondered over with avidity and loved. Her father's library was his one extravagance, even though the purchase of books was always a serious matter, each volume being discussed and debated about, and only obtained after due preparation by sundry small economies.

As for worldly possessions, the Ballards had started out with nothing at all but their own two hands, and, as assets, well-equipped brains, their love for each other, a fair amount of thrift, and a large share of what Mary Ballard's old Grannie Sherman used to designate as "gumption." Exactly what she intended should be understood by the word it would be hard to say, unless it might be the faculty with which, when one thing proved to be no longer feasible as a shift toward progress and the making of a living for an increasing family, they were enabled to discover other means and work them out to a productive conclusion.

Thus, when times grew hard under the stress of the Civil War, and the works of art representing many hours of Bertrand Ballard's keenest effort lay in his studio unpurchased, and even carefully created portraits, ordered and painstakingly painted, were left on his hands, unclaimed and unpaid for, he quietly turned his attention to his garden, saying, "People can live without pictures, but they must eat."

So he obtained a few of the choicest of the quickly produced small fruits and vegetables and flowers, and soon had rare and beautiful things to sell. His clever hands, which before had made his own stretchers for his canvases, and had fashioned and gilded with gold leaf the frames for his own paintings, now made trellises for his vines and boxes for his fruits, and when the price of sugar climbed to the very top of the gamut, he created beehives on new models, and bought a book on bee culture; ere long he had combs of delicious honey to tempt the lovers of sweets.

But how came Bertrand Ballard away out in Wisconsin in a country home, painting pictures for people who knew little or nothing of art, and cared not to know more, raising fruits and keeping bees for the means to live? Ah, that is another story, and to tell it would make another book; suffice it to say that for love of a beautiful woman, strong and wise and sweet, he had followed her farmer father out into the newer west from old New York State.

There, frail in health and delicate and choice in his tastes, but brave in spirit, he took up the battle of the weak with life, and fought it like a strong man, valiantly and well. And where got he his strength? How are the weak ever made strong? Through strength of love—the inward fire that makes great the soul, while consuming the dross of false values and foolish estimates—from the merry heart that could laugh through any failure, and most of all from the beautiful hand, supple and workful, and gentle and forceful, that lay in his.

But this is not the story of Bertrand Ballard, except incidentally as he and his family play their part in the drama that centers in the lives of two lads, one of whom—Peter Craigmile, Junior—comes now swinging up the path from the front gate, where three roads meet, brave in his new uniform of blue, with lifted head, and eyes grave and shining with a kind of solemn elation.

"Bertrand, here comes Peter Junior in a new uniform," Mary Ballard called to her husband, who was working at a box in which he meant to fit glass sides for an aquarium for the edification of the little ones. He came quickly out from his workroom, and Mary rose from her seat and pushed her mending basket one side, and together they walked down the path to meet the youth.

"Peter Junior, have you done it? Oh, I'm sorry!"

"Why, Mary! why, Mary! I'm astonished! Not sorry?" Bertrand took the boy's hand in both his own and looked up in his eyes, for the lad was tall, much taller than his friend. "I would go myself if I only had the strength and were not near-sighted."

"Thank the Lord!" said his wife, fervently.

"Why, Mary—Mary—I'm astonished!" he said again. "Our country—"

"Yes, 'Our Country' is being bled to death," she said, taking the boy's hand in hers for a moment; and, turning, they walked back to the house with the young volunteer between them. "No, I'm not reconciled to having our young men go down there and die by the thousands from disease and bullets and in prisons. It's wrong! I say war is iniquitous, and the issues, North or South, are not worth it. Peter, I had hoped you were too young. Why did you?"

"I couldn't help it, Mrs. Ballard. The call for fifty thousand more came, and father gave his consent; and, anyway, they are taking a younger set now than at first."

"Yes, and soon they'll take an older set, and then they'll take the small and frail and near-sighted ones, and then—" She stopped suddenly, with a contrite glance at her husband's face. He hated to be small and frail and near-sighted. She stepped round to his side and put her hand in his. "I'm thankful you are, Bertrand," she said quietly. "You'll stay to tea with us, won't you, Peter? We'll have it out of doors."

"Yes, I'll stay—thank you. It may be the last time, and mother—I came to see if you'd go up home and see mother, Mrs. Ballard. I kind of thought you'd think as father and Mr. Ballard do about it, and I thought you might be able to help mother to see it that way, too. You see, mother—she—I always thought you were kind of strong and would see things sort of—well—big, you know, more—as we men do." He held his head high and looked off as he spoke.

She exchanged a half-smiling glance with her husband, and their hands clasped tighter. "Maybe, though—if you feel this way—you can't help mother—but what shall I do?" The big boy looked wistfully down at her.

"I may not be able to help her to see things you want, Peter Junior. Maybe she would be happier in seeing things her own way; but I can sympathize with her. Perhaps I can help her to hope for the best, and anyway—we can—just talk it over."

"Thank you, Mrs. Ballard, thank you. I don't care how she sees it, if—if—she'll only be happier—and—give her consent. I can't bear to go away without that; but if she won't give it, I must go anyway,—you know."

"Yes," she said, smiling, "I suppose we women have to be forced sometimes, or we never would allow some things to be done. You enlisted first and then went to her for her consent? Yes, you are a man, Peter Junior. But I tell you, if you were my son, I would never give my consent—nor have it forced from me—still—I would love you better for doing this."

"My love, your inconsistency is my joy," said her husband, as she passed into the house and left them together.

The sun still shone hotly down, but the shadows were growing longer, and Betty left baby asleep under the Harvest apple tree where she had been staying patiently during the long, warm hours, and sat at her father's feet on the edge of the porch, where apparently she was wholly occupied in tracing patterns with her bare toes in the sand of the path. Now and then she ran out to the Harvest apple tree and back, her golden head darting among the green shrubbery like a sunbeam. She wished to do her full duty by the bees and the baby, and at the same time hear all the talk of the older ones, and watch the fascinating young soldier in his new uniform.

As bright as the sunbeam, and as silent, she watched and listened. Her heart beat fast with excitement, as it often did these days, when she heard them talk of the war and the men who went away, perhaps never to return, or to return with great glory. Now here was Peter Junior going. He already had his beautiful new uniform, and he would march and drill and carry a gun, and halt and present arms, along with the older men she had seen in the great camp out on the high bluffs which overlooked the wide, sweeping, rushing, willful Wisconsin River.

Oh, if she were only a man and as old as Peter Junior, she would go with him; but it was very grand to know him even. Why was she a girl? If God had only asked her which she would rather be when he had made her out of dust, she would have told him to make her a man, so she might be a soldier. It was not fair. There was Bobby; he would be a man some day, and he could ride on a large black horse like the knights of old, and go to wars, and rescue people, and do deeds of arms. What deeds of arms were, she little knew, but it was something very strong and wonderful that only knights and soldiers did.

Betty heaved a deep sigh, and put out her hand and softly touched Peter Junior's trousers. He thought it was the kitten purring about. No, God had not treated her fairly. Now she must grow up and be only a woman, and wash dishes, and sweep and dust, and get very tired, and wear dresses—and oh, dear! But then perhaps God had to do that way, for if he had given everybody a choice, everybody would choose to be men, and there would be no women to mind the home and take care of the little children, and it would be a very sad kind of world, as she had often heard her father say. Perhaps God had to do with them as Peter Junior had done with his mother when he enlisted first and asked her consent afterwards; just make them girls, and then try to convince them afterwards that it was a fine thing to be a girl. She wished she were Bobby instead of Betty—but then—Bobby might not have liked that.

She glanced wistfully at the sleeping child and saw him toss his arms about, and knew she ought to be there to sway a green branch over him to keep the little gnats and flies from bothering him and waking him; and the bees might swarm and no one see them.

"Father, is it three o'clock yet?"

"Yes, deary, why?"

"Goody! The bees won't swarm now, will they? Will you bring Bobby in, father?"

"He is very well there; we won't disturb him."

Peter Junior looked down on the little girl, so full of vitality and life and inspiration, so vibrant with enthusiasm, and saw her vaguely as a slightly disturbing element, but otherwise of little moment in the world's economy. His thoughts were on greater things.

Betty accepted her father's decision without protest, as she accepted most things,—a finality to be endured and made the best of,—so she continued to run back and forth between the sleeping child and the porch, thereby losing much interesting dialogue,—all about camps and fighting and scout duty,—until at last her mother returned and with a glance at her small daughter's face said:—

"Father, will you bring baby in now and put him in his cradle? Betty has had him nearly all day." And father went. Oh, beautiful mother! How did she know!

Then Betty settled herself at Peter Junior's feet and looked up in his eyes gravely. "What will you be, now you are a soldier?" she asked.

"Why, a soldier."

"No, I mean, will you be a general—or a flag carrier—or will you drum? I'd be a general if I were you—or else a drummer. I think you would be very handsome for a general."

Peter Junior threw back his head and laughed. It was the first time he had laughed that day, and yet he was both proud and happy. "Would you like to be a soldier?"


"But you might be killed, or have your leg shot off—or—"

"I know. So might you—but you would go, anyway—wouldn't you?"


"Well, then you understand how I feel. I'd like to be a man, and go to war, and 'Have a part to tear a cat in,' too."

"What's that? What's that? Mary, do you hear that?" said her father, resuming his seat at Peter's side, and hearing her remark.

"Why, father, wouldn't you? You know you'd like to go to war. I heard what you said to mother, and, anyway—I'd just like to be a man and 'Have a part to tear a cat in,' the way men have."

Bertrand Ballard looked down and patted his little daughter's head, then caught her up and placed her on his knee. He realized suddenly that his child was an entity unfathomed, separate from himself, working out her own individuality almost without guidance, except such as he and his Mary were unconsciously giving to her by their daily acts and words.

"What books are those you have there? Don't you know you mustn't take father's Shakespeare out and leave it on the grass?"

Betty laughed. "How did you know I had Shakespeare?"

"Didn't you say you 'Would like a part to tear a cat in'?"

"Oh, have you read 'Midsummer Night's Dream'?" She lifted her head from his bosom and eyed him gravely a moment, then snuggled comfortably down again. "But then, I suppose you have read everything." Her father and Peter both laughed.

"Were you reading 'Midsummer Night's Dream' out there?"

"No, I've read that lots of times—long ago. I'm reading 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' now."

"Mary, Mary, do you hear this? I think it's time our Betty had a little supervision in her reading."

Mary Ballard came to the door from the tea table where she had been arranging her little set of delicate china, her one rare treasure and inheritance. "Yes, I knew she was reading—whatever she fancied, but I thought I wouldn't interfere—not yet. I have so little time, for one thing, and, anyway, I thought she might browse a bit. She's like a calf in rare pastures, and I don't think she understands enough to do her harm—or much good, either. Those things slide off from her like water off a duck's back."

Betty looked anxiously up at her mother. What things was she missing? She must read them all over again.

"What else have you out there, Betty?" asked her father.

Betty dropped her head shamefacedly. She never knew when she was in the right and when wrong. Sometimes the very things which seemed most right to her were most wrong. "That's 'Paradise Lost.' It was an old book, father. There was a tear in the back when I took it down. I like to read about Satan. I like to read about the mighty hosts and the angels and the burning lake. Is that hell? I was pretending if the bees swarmed that they would be the mighty host of bad angels falling out of heaven."

Again Peter flung back his head and laughed. He looked at the child with new interest, but Betty did not smile back at him. She did not like being laughed at.

"It's true," she said; "they did fall out of heaven in a swarm, and it was like over at High Knob on the river bank, only a million times higher, because they were so long falling. 'From morn till noon they fell, from noon till dewy eve.'" Betty looked off into space with half-closed eyes. She was seeing them fall. "It was a long time to be in suspense, wasn't it, father?" Then every one laughed. Even mother joined in. She was putting the last touches to the tea table.

"Mary, my dear, I think we'd better take a little supervision of the child's reading—I do, really."

The gate at the end of the long path to the house clicked, and another lad came swinging up the walk, slightly taller than Peter Junior, but otherwise enough like him in appearance to be his own brother. He was not as grave as Peter, but smiled as he hailed them, waving his cap above his head. He also wore the blue uniform, and it was new.

"Hallo, Peter! You here?"

"Of course I'm here. I thought you were never coming."

"You did?"

Betty sprang from her father's lap and ran to meet him. She slipped her hand in his and hopped along at his side. "Oh, Rich! Are you going, too? I wish I were you."

He lifted the child to a level with his face and kissed her, then set her on her feet again. "Never wish that, Betty. It would spoil a nice little girl."

"I'm not such a nice little girl. I—I—love Satan—and they're going to—to—supervise my reading." She clung to his hand and nodded her head with finality. He swung her along, making her take long leaps as they walked.

"You love Satan? I thought you loved me!"

"It's the same thing, Rich," said Peter Junior, with a grin.

Bertrand had gone to the kitchen door. "Mary, my love, here's Richard Kildene." She entered the living room, carrying a plate of light, hot biscuit, and hurried out to Richard, greeting him warmly—even lovingly.

"Bertrand, won't you and the boys carry the table out to the garden?" she suggested. "Open both doors and take it carefully. It will be pleasanter here in the shade."

The young men sprang to do her bidding, and the small table was borne out under the trees, the lads enumerating with joy the articles of Mary Ballard's simple menu.

"Hot biscuits and honey! My golly! Won't we wish for this in about two months from now?" said Richard.

"Cream and caraway cookies!" shouted Peter Junior, turning back to the porch to help Bertrand carry the chairs. "Of course we'll be wishing for this before long, but that's part of soldiering."

"We're not looking forward to a well-fed, easy time of it, so we'll just make the best of this to-night, and eat everything in sight," said Richard.

Bertrand preferred to change the subject. "This is some of our new white clover honey," he said. "I took it from that hive over there last evening, and they've been working all day as if they had had new life given them. All bees want is a lot of empty space for storing honey."

Richard followed Mrs. Ballard into the kitchen for the tea. "Where are the other children?" he asked.

"Martha and Jamie are spending a week with my mother and father. They love to go there, and mother—and father, also, seem never to have enough of them. Baby is still asleep, and I must waken him, too, or he won't sleep to-night. I hung a pail of milk over the spring to keep it cool, and the butter is there also—and the Dutch cheese in a tin box. Can you—wait, I'd better go with you. We'll leave the tea to steep a minute."

They passed through the house and down toward the spring house under the maple and basswood trees at the back, walking between rows of currant bushes where the fruit hung red.

"I hate to leave all this—maybe forever," said the boy. The corners of his mouth drooped a little, and he looked down at Mary Ballard with a tender glint in his deep blue eyes. His eyes were as blue as the lake on a summer's evening, and they were shaded by heavy dark brown lashes, almost black. His brows and hair were the same deep brown. Peter Junior's were a shade lighter, and his hair more curling. It was often a matter of discussion in the village as to which of the boys was the handsomer. That they were both fine-looking lads was always conceded.

Mary Ballard turned toward him impulsively. "Why did you do this, Richard? Why? I can't feel that this fever for war is right. It is terrible. We are losing the best blood in the land in a wicked war." She took his two hands in hers, and her eyes filled. "When we first came here, your mother was my dearest friend. You never knew her, but I loved her—and her loss was much to me. Richard, why didn't you consult us?"

"I hadn't any one but you and your husband to care. Oh, Aunt Hester loves me, of course, and is awfully good to me—but the Elder—I always feel somehow as if he expects me to go to the bad. He never had any use for my father, I guess. Was my father—was—he no good? Don't mind telling me the truth: I ought to know."

"Your father was not so well known here, but he was, in Bertrand's estimation, a royal Irish gentleman. We both liked him; no one could help it. Never think hardly of him."

"Why has he never cared for me? Why have I never known him?"

"There was a quarrel—or—some unpleasantness between your uncle and him; it's an old thing."

Richard's lip quivered an instant, then he drew himself up and smiled on her, then he stooped and kissed her. "Some of us must go; we can't let this nation be broken up. Some men must give their lives for it; and I'm one of those who ought to go, for I have no one to mourn for me. Half the class has enlisted."

"I venture to say you suggested it, too?"


"And Peter Junior was the first to follow you?"

"Well, yes! I'm sorry—because of Aunt Hester—but we always do pull together, you know. See here, let's not think of it in this way. There are other ways. Perhaps I'll come back with straps on my shoulders and marry Betty some day."

"God grant you may; that is, if you come back as you left us. You understand me? The same boy?"

"I do and I will," he said gravely.

That was a happy hour they spent at the evening meal, and many an evening afterwards, when hardship and weariness had made the lads seem more rugged and years older, they spoke of it and lived it over.



"Come, Lady, come. You're slow this morning." Mary Ballard drove a steady, well-bred, chestnut mare with whom she was on most friendly terms. Usually her carryall was filled with children, for she kept no help, and when she went abroad, she must perforce take the children with her or spend an unquiet hour or two while leaving them behind. This morning she had left the children at home, and carried in their stead a basket of fruit and flowers on the seat beside her. "Come, Lady, come; just hurry a little." She touched the mare with the whip, a delicate reminder to haste, which Lady assumed to be a fly and treated as such with a switch of her tail.

The way seemed long to Mary Ballard this morning, and the sun beating down on the parched fields made the air quiver with heat. The unpaved road was heavy with dust, and the mare seemed to drag her feet through it unnecessarily as she jogged along. Mary was anxious and dreaded the visit she must make. She would be glad when it was over. What could she say to the stricken woman who spent her time behind closed blinds? Presently she left the dust behind and drove along under the maple trees that lined the village street, over cool roads that were kept well sprinkled.

The Craigmiles lived on the main street of the town in the most dignified of the well-built homes of cream-colored brick, with a wide front stoop and white columns at the entrance. Mary was shown into the parlor by a neat serving maid, who stepped softly as if she were afraid of waking some one. The room was dark and cool, but the air seemed heavy with a lingering musky odor. The dark furniture was set stiffly back against the walls, the floor was covered with a velvet carpet of rich, dark colors, and oil portraits were hung about in heavy gold frames.

Mary looked up at two of these portraits with pride, and rebelled that the light was so shut out that they must always be seen in the obscurity, for Bertrand had painted them, and she considered them her husband's best work. In the painting of them and the long sittings required the intimacy between the two families had begun. Really it had begun before that, for there were other paintings in that home—portraits, old and fine, which Elder Craigmile's father had brought over from Scotland when he came to the new world to establish a new home. These paintings were the pride of Elder Craigmile's heart, and the delight of Bertrand Ballard's artist soul.

To Bertrand they were a discovery—an oasis in a desert. One day the banker had called him in to look at a canvas that was falling to pieces with age, in the hope that the artist might have the skill to restore it. From that day the intimacy began, and a warm friendship sprang up between the two families, founded on Bertrand's love for the old works of art, wherein the ancestors of Peter Craigmile, Senior, looked out from their frames with a dignity and warmth and grace rarely to be met with in this new western land.

Bertrand's heart leaped with joy as he gazed on one of them, the one he had been called on to save if possible. "This must be a genuine Reynolds. Ah! They could paint, those old fellows!" he cried.

"Genuine Reynolds? Why, man, it is! it is! You are a true artist. You knew it in a moment." Peter Senior's heart was immediately filled with admiration for the younger man. "Yes, they were a good family—the Craigmiles of Aberdeen. My father brought all the old portraits coming to him to this country to keep the family traditions alive. It's a good thing—a good thing!"

"She was a beautiful woman, the original of that portrait."

"She was a great beauty, indeed. Her husband took her to London to have it done by the great painter. Ah, the Scotch lasses were fine! Look at that color! You don't see that here, no?"

"Our American women are too pale, for the most part; but then again, your men are too red."

"Ah! Beef and red wine! Beef and red wine! With us in Scotland it was good oatcakes and home-brew—and the air. The air of the Scotch hills and the sea. You don't have such air here, I've often heard my father say. I've spent the greater part of my life here, so it's mostly the traditions I have—they and the portraits."

Thus it came about that owing to his desire to keep up the line of family portraits, Peter Craigmile engaged the artist to paint the picture of his gentle, sweet-faced wife. She was painted seated, a little son on either side of her; and now in the dimness she looked out from the heavy gold frame, a half smile playing about her lips, on her lap an open book, and about the low-cut crimson velvet bodice rare old lace pinned at the bosom with a large brooch of wrought gold, framing a delicately cut cameo.

As Mary Ballard sat in the parlor waiting, she looked up in the dusky light at this picture. Ah, yes! Her Bertrand also was a great painter. If only he could be where he might become known and appreciated! She sighed for another reason, also, as she regarded it: because the two little sons clasped by the mother's arms were both gone. Sunny-haired Scotch laddies they were, with fair, wide brows, each in kilt and plaid, with bare knees and ruddy cheeks. What delight her husband had taken in painting it! And now the mother mourned unceasingly the loss of those little sons, and of one other whom Mary had never seen, and of whom they had no likeness. It was indeed hard that the one son left them,—their firstborn,—their hope and pride, should now be going away to leave them, going perhaps to his death.

The door opened and a shadow swept slowly across the room. Always pale and in black—wrapped in her mourning the shadow of sorrow never left this mother; and now it seemed to envelop even Mary Ballard, bright and warm of nature as she was.

Hester Craigmile barely smiled as she held out her slender, blue-veined hand.

"It is very good of you to come to me, Mary Ballard, but you can't make me think I should be reconciled to this. No! It is hard enough to be reconciled to the blows God has dealt me, without accepting what my husband and son see fit to give me in this." Her hand was cold and passive, and her voice was restrained and low.

Mary Ballard's hands were warm, and her tones were rich and full. She took the proffered hand in both her own and drew the shadow down to sit at her side.

"No, no. I'm not going to try to make you reconciled, or anything. I've just come to tell you that I understand, and that I think you are justified in withholding your consent to Peter Junior's going off in this way."

"If he were killed, I should feel as if I had consented to his death."

"Of course you would. I should feel just the same. Naturally you can't forbid his going,—now,—for it's too late, and he would have to go with the feeling of disobedience in his heart, and that would be cruel to him, and worse for you."

"I know. His father has consented; they think I am wrong. My son thinks I am wrong. But I can't! I can't!" In her suppressed tones sounded the ancient wail of women—mothers crying for their sons sacrificed in war. For a few moments neither of them spoke. It was hard for Mary to break the silence. Her friend sat at her side withdrawn and still; then she lifted her eyes to the picture of herself and the children and spoke again, only breathing the words: "Peter Junior—my beautiful oldest boy—he is the last—the others are all gone—three of them."

"Peter Junior is splendid. I thought so last evening as I saw him coming up the path. I took it home to myself—what I should feel, and what I would think if he were my son. Somehow we women are so inconsistent and foolish. I knew if he were my son, I never could give my consent to his going, never in the world,—but there! I would be so proud of him for doing just what your boy has done; I would look up to him in admiration, and be so glad that he was just that kind of a man!"

Hester Craigmile turned and looked steadily in her friend's eyes, but did not open her lips, and after a moment Mary continued:—

"To have one's sons taken like these—is—is different. We know they are safe with the One who loved little children; we know they are safe and waiting for us. But to have a boy grow into a young man like Peter Junior—so straight and fine and beautiful—and then to have him come and say: 'I'm going to help save our country and will die for it if I must!' Why, my heart would grow big with thanksgiving that I had brought such an one into the world and reared him. I—What would I do! I couldn't tell him he might go,—no,—but I'd just take him in my arms and bless him and love him a thousand times more for it, so he could go away with that warm feeling all about his heart; and then—I'd just pray and hope the war might end soon and that he might come back to me rewarded, and—and—still good."

"That's it. If he would,—I don't distrust my son,—but there are always things to tempt, and if—if he were changed in that way, or if he never came back,—I would die."

"I know. We can't help thinking about ourselves and how we are left—or how we feel—" Mary hesitated and was loath to go on with that train of thought, but her friend caught her meaning and rose in silence and paced the room a moment, then returned.

"It is easy to talk in that way when one has not lost," she said.

"I know it seems so, but it is not easy, Hester Craigmile. It is hard—so hard that I came near staying at home this morning. It seemed as if I could not—could not—"

"Yes, what I said was bitter, and it wasn't honest. You were good to come to me—and what you have said is true. It has helped me; I think it will help me."

"Then good-by. I'll go now, but I'll come again soon." She left the shadow sitting there with the basket of fruit and flowers at her side unnoticed and forgotten, and stepped quietly out of the darkened room into the sunlight and fresh air.

"I do wish I could induce her to go out a little—or open up her house. I wish—" Mary Ballard said no more, but shut her lips tightly on her thoughts, untied the mare, and drove slowly away.

Hester Craigmile stood for a moment gazing on the picture of her little sons, then for an hour or more wandered up and down over her spacious home, going from room to room, mechanically arranging and rearranging the chairs and small articles on the mantels and tables. Nothing was out of place. No dust or disorder anywhere, and there was the pity of it. If only a boy's cap could be found lying about, or books left carelessly where they ought not to be! One closed door she passed again and again. Once she laid her hand on the knob, but passed on, leaving it still unopened. At last she turned, and, walking swiftly down the long hall, entered the room.

There the blinds were closed and the curtains drawn, and everything set in as perfect order as in the parlor below. She sat down in a chair placed back against the wall and folded her hands in her lap. No, it was not so hard for Mary Ballard. It would not be, even if she had a son old enough to go. Mary had work to do.

On the wall above Hester's head was one of the portraits which helped to establish the family dignity of the Craigmiles. If the blinds had been open, one could have seen it in sharp contrast to the pale moth of a woman who sat beneath it. The painting, warm and rich in tone, was of a dame in a long-bodiced dress. She held a fan in her hand and wore feathers in her powdered hair. Her eyes gazed straight across the room into those of a red-coated soldier who wore a sword at his side and gold on his shoulders. Yes, there had been soldiers in the family before Peter Junior's time.

This was Peter Junior's room, but the boy was there no longer. He had come home from college one day and had entered it a boy, and then he came out of it and down to his mother, dressed in his new uniform—a man. Now he entered it no more, for he stayed at the camp over on the high bluff of the Wisconsin River. He was wholly taken up with his new duties there, and his room had been set in order and closed as if he were dead.

Sitting there, Hester heard the church clock peal out the hour of twelve, and started. Soon she would hear the front door open and shut, and a heavy tread along the lower hall, and she would go down and sit silently at the table opposite her husband, they two alone. There would be silence, because there would be nothing to say. He loved her and was tender of her, but his word was law, and in all matters he was dictator, lawmaker, and judge, and from his decisions there was no appeal. It never occurred to him that there ever need be. So Hester Craigmile, reserved and intense, closed her lips on her own thoughts, which it seemed to her to be useless to utter, and let them eat her heart out in silence.

At the moment expected she heard the step on the floor of the vestibule, and the door opened, but it was not her husband's step alone that she heard. Surely it was Peter Junior's and his cousin's. Were they coming to dinner? But no word had been sent. Hester stepped out of the room and stood at the head of the stairs waiting. She did not wish to go down and meet her son before the others, and if he did not find her below, he would know where to look for her.

Peter Senior was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and he was always addressed as Elder, even by his wife and son. On the street he was always Elder Craigmile. She heard the men enter the dining room and the door close after them, but still she waited. The maid would have to be told to put two more places at the table, but Hester did not move. The Elder might attend to that. Presently she heard quick steps returning and knew her son was coming. She went to meet him and was clasped in his arms, close and hard.

"You were waiting for me here? Come, mother, come." He stroked her smooth, dark hair, and put his cheek to hers. It was what she needed, what her heart was breaking for. She could even let him go easier after this. Sometimes her husband kissed her, but only when he went a journey or when he returned, a grave kiss of farewell or greeting; but in her son's clasp there was something of her own soul's pent-up longing.

"You'll come down, mother? Rich came home with me."

"Yes, I heard his voice. I am glad he came."

"See here, mother! I know what you are doing. This won't do. Every one who goes to war doesn't get killed or go to the bad. Look at that old redcoat up in my room. He wasn't killed, or where would I be now? I'm coming back, just as he did. We are born to fight, we Craigmiles, and father feels it or he never would have given his consent."

Slowly they went down the long winding flight of stairs—a flight with a smooth banister down which it had once been Peter Junior's delight to slide when there was no one nigh to reprove. Now he went down with his arm around his slender mother's waist, and now and then he kissed her cheek like a lover.

The Elder looked up as they entered, with a slight wince of disapproval, the only demonstration of reproof he ever gave his wife, which changed instantly to as slight a smile, as he noticed the faint color in her cheek, and a brighter light in her eyes than there was at breakfast. He and Richard were both seated as they entered, but they rose instantly, and the Elder placed her chair with all the manner of his forefathers, a courtesy he never neglected.

Hester Craigmile forced herself to converse, and tried to smile as if there were no impending gloom. It was here Mary Ballard's influence was felt by them all. She had helped her friend more than she knew.

"I'm glad to see you, Richard; I was afraid I might not."

"Oh, no, Aunt Hester. I'd never leave without seeing you. I went into the bank and the Elder asked me to dinner and I jumped at the chance."

"This is your home always, you know."

"And it's good to think of, too, Aunt Hester."

She looked at her son and then her nephew. "You are so like in your uniforms I would not know you apart on the street in the dark," she said. Richard shot a merry glance in his uncle's eyes, then only smiled decorously with him and Peter Junior.

"I wish you'd visit the camp and see us drill. We go like clockwork, Peter and I. They call us the twins."

"There is a very good reason for that, for your mother and I were twins, and you resemble her, while Peter Junior resembles me," said the Elder.

"Yes," said Hester, "Peter Junior looks like his father;" but as she glanced at her son she knew his soul was hers.

Thus the meal passed in quiet, decorous talk, touching on nothing vital, but holding a smoldering fire underneath. The young men said nothing about the fact that the regiment had been called to duty, and soon the camp on the bluff would be breaking up. They dared not touch on the past, and they as little dared touch on the future—indeed there might be no future. So they talked of indifferent things, and Hester parted with her nephew as if they were to meet again soon, except that she called him back when he was halfway down the steps and kissed him again. As for her son, she took him up to his room and there they stayed for an hour, and then he came out and she was left in the house alone.



Early in the morning, while the earth was still a mass of gray shadow and mist, and the sky had only begun to show faint signs of the flush of dawn, Betty, awake and alert, crept softly out of bed, not to awaken Martha, who slept the sleep of utter weariness at her side. Martha had returned only the day before from her visit to her grandfather's, a long carriage ride away from Leauvite.

Betty bathed hurriedly, giving a perfunctory brushing to the tangled mass of curls, and getting into her clothing swiftly and silently. She had been cautioned the night before by her mother not to awaken her sister by getting up at too early an hour, for she would be called in plenty of time to drive over with the rest to see the soldiers off. But what if her mother should forget! So she put on her new white dress and gathered a few small parcels which she had carefully tied up the night before, and her hat and little white linen cape, and taking her shoes in her hand, softly descended the stairs.

"Betty, Betty," her mother spoke in a sleepy voice from her own room as the child crept past her door; "why, my dear, it isn't time to get up yet. We shan't start for hours."

"I heard Peter Junior say they were going to strike camp at daybreak, and I want to see them strike it. You don't need to get up. I can go over there alone."

"Why, no, child! Mother couldn't let you do that. They don't want little girls there. Go back to bed, dear. Did you wake Martha?"

"Oh, mother. Can't I go downstairs? I don't want to go to bed again. I'll be very still."

"Will you lie on the lounge and try to go to sleep again?"

"Yes, mother."

Mary Ballard turned with a sigh and presently fell asleep, and Betty softly continued her way and obediently lay down in the darkened room below; but sleep she could not. At last, having satisfied her conscience by lying quietly for a while, she stole to the open door, for in that peaceful spot the Ballards slept with doors and windows wide open all through the warm nights. Oh, but the world was cool and mysterious, and the air was sweet! Little rustling noises made her feel as if strange beings were stirring; above her head were soft chirpings, and somewhere a bird was calling an undulating, long-drawn note, low and sweet, like a tone drawn from her father's violin.

Betty sat on the edge of the porch and put on her shoes, and then walked down the path to the gate. The white peonies and the iris flowers were long since gone, and on the Harvest apple trees and the Sweet Boughs the fruit hung ripening. All Betty's life long she never forgot this wonderful moment of the breaking of day. She listened for sounds to come to her from the camp far away on the river bluff, but none were heard, only the restless moving of her grandfather's team taking their early feed in the small pasture lot near by.

How fresh everything smelled! And the sky! Surely it must be like this in heaven! It must be heaven showing through, while the world slept. She was glad she had awakened early so she might see it,—she and God and the angels, and all the wild things of earth.

Slowly everything around her grew plainer, and long rays of color, faintly pink, streamed up into the sky from the eastern horizon; then suddenly some pale gray, floating clouds above her head blossomed into a wonderful rose laid upon a sea of gold, then gradually turned shell-pink, then faded through changing shades to daytime clouds of white. She wondered if the soldiers saw it, too. They were breaking camp now, surely, for it was day. Still she swung on the gate and dreamed, until a voice roused her.

"So Betty sleeps all night on the gate like a chicken on the fence." A pair of long arms seized her and lifted her high in the air to a pair of strong shoulders. Then she was tossed about and her cheeks rubbed red against grandfather Clide's stubby beard, until she laughed aloud. "What are you doing here on the gate?"

"I was watching the sky. I think God looked through and smiled, for all at once it blossomed. Now the colors are gone."

Grandfather Clide set her gently on her feet and stood looking gravely down on her for a moment. "So?" he said.

"The soldiers are striking camp over there, and then they are going to march to the square, and then every one is to see them form and salute—and then they are to march to the station, and—and—then—and then I don't know what will be—I think glory."

Her grandfather shook his head, his thoughtful face half smiling and half grave. He took her hand. "Come, we'll see what Jack and Jill are up to." He led her to the pasture lot and the horses came and thrust their heads over the fence and whinnied. "See? They want their oats." Then Betty was lifted to old Jack's bare back and grandfather led him by the forelock to the barn, while Jill followed after.

"Did Jack ever 'fall down and break his crown,' grandfather?"

"No, but he ran away once on a time."

"Oh, did Jill come running after?"

"That she did."

The sun had but just cast his first glance at High Knob, where the camp was, and Mary Ballard was hastily whipping up batter for pancakes, the simplest thing she could get for breakfast, as they were to go early enough to see the "boys" at the camp before they formed for their march to the town square. The children were to ride over in the great carriage with grandfather and grandmother Clide, while father and mother would take Bobby with them in the carryall. It was an arrangement liked equally by the three small children and the well-content grandparents.

Betty came to the house, clinging to her grandfather's hand. He drew the large rocking-chair from the kitchen—where winter and summer it occupied a place by the window, that Bertrand in his moments of rest and leisure might sit and read the war news aloud to his wife as she worked—out to a cool grass plot by the door, so that he might still be near enough to chat with his daughter, while enjoying the morning air.

Betty found tidy little Martha, fresh and clean as a rosebud, stepping busily about, setting the table with extra places and putting the chairs around. Filled with self-condemnation at the sight of her sister's helpfulness, she dashed upstairs to do her part in getting all neat for the day. First she coaxed naughty little Jamie, who, in his nightshirt, was out on the porch roof fishing, dangling his shoe over the edge by its strings tied to his father's cane, to return and be hustled into his trousers—funny little garments that came almost to his shoe tops—and to stand still while "sister" washed his face and brushed his curly red hair into a state of semi-orderliness.

Then there was Bobby to be kissed and coaxed, and washed and dressed, and told marvelous tales to beguile him into listening submission. "Mother, mayn't I put Bobby's Sunday dress on him?" called Betty, from the head of the stairs.

"Yes, dear, anything you like, but hurry. Breakfast is almost ready;" then to Martha, "Leave the sweeping, deary, and run down to the spring for the cream." To her father, Mary explained: "The little girls are a great help. Betty manages to do for the boys without irritating them. Now we'll eat while the cakes are hot. Come, Bertrand."

It was a grave mission and a sorrowful one, that early morning ride to say good-by to those youthful volunteers. The breakfast conversation turned on the subject with subdued intensity. Mary Ballard did not explain herself,—she was too busy serving,—but denounced the war in broad terms as "unnecessary and iniquitous," thus eliciting from her husband his usual exclamation, when an aphorism of more than ordinary daring burst from her lips: "Mary! why, Mary! I'm astonished!"

"Every one regards it from a different point of view," said his wife, "and this is my point." It was conclusive.

Grandfather Clide turned sideways, leaned one elbow on the table in a meditative way he had, and spoke slowly. Betty gazed up at him in wide-eyed attention, while Mary poured the coffee and Martha helped her mother by passing the cakes. Bobby sat close to his comfortable grandmother, who seemed to be giving him all her attention, but who heard everything, and was ready to drop a quiet word of significance when applicable.

"If we bring the question down to its primal cause," said grandfather, "if we bring it down to its primal cause, Mary is right; for the cause being iniquitous, of course, the war is the same."

"What is 'primal cause,' grandfather?" asked Betty.

"The thing that began it all," said grandfather, regarding her quizzically.

"I don't agree with your conclusion," said Bertrand, pausing to put sirup on Jamie's cakes, after repeated demands therefor. "If the cause be evil, it follows that to annihilate the cause—wipe it out of existence—must be righteous."

"In God's good time," said grandmother Clide, quietly.

"God's good time, in my opinion, seems to be when we are forced to a thing." Grandfather lifted one shaggy eyebrow in her direction.

"At any rate, and whatever happens," said Bertrand, "the Union must be preserved, a nation, whole and undivided. My father left England for love of its magnificent ideals of government by the people. Here is to be the vast open ground where all nations may come and realize their highest possibilities, and consequently this nation must be held together and developed as a whole in all its resources, and not cut up into small, ineffective, quarrelsome factions. To allow that would mean the ruin of a colossal scheme for universal progress."

Mary brought her husband's coffee and put it beside his plate, as he was too absorbed to take it, and as she did so placed her hand on his shoulder with gentle pressure and their eyes met for an instant. Then grandfather Clide took up the thread.

"Speaking of your father makes me think of my father, your old grandfather Clide, Mary. He fought with his father in the Revolutionary War when he was a lad no more than Peter Junior's age—or less. He lived through it and came to be a judge of the supreme court of New York, and helped to frame the constitution of that State, too. I used to hear him say, when I was a mere boy,—and he would bring his fist down on the table with an emphasis that made the dishes rattle, for all he averred that he never used gesticulation to aid his oratory,—he used to say,—I remember his words, as if it were but yesterday,—'Slavery is a crime which we, the whole nation, are accountable for, and for which we will be held accountable. If we as a nation will not do away with it by legislation or mutual compact justly, then the Lord will take it into his own hands and wipe it out with blood. He may be patient for a long while, and give us a good chance, but if we wait too long,—it may not be in my day—it may not be in yours,—he will wipe it out with blood!' and here was where he used to make the dishes rattle."

"Maybe, then, this is the Lord's good time," said grandmother.

"I believe in preserving the Union at any cost, slavery or no slavery," said Bertrand.

"The bigger and grander the nation, the more rottenness, if it's rotten at heart. I believe it better—even at the cost of war—to wipe out a national crime,—or let those who want slavery take themselves out of it."

Betty began to quiver through all her little system of high-strung nerves and sympathies. The talk was growing heated, and she hated to listen to excited arguments; yet she gazed and listened with fascinated attention.

Bertrand looked up at his father-in-law. "Why, father! why, father! I'm astonished! I fail to see how permitting one tremendous evil can possibly further any good purpose. To my mind the most tremendous evil that could be perpetrated on this globe—the thing that would do more to set all progress back for hundreds of years, maybe—would be to break up this Union. Here in this country now we are advancing at a pace that covers the centuries of the past in leaps of a hundred years in one. Now cut this land up into little, caviling factions, and where are we? Why, the very motto of the republic would be done away with—'In Union there is strength.' I tell you slavery is a sort of Delilah, and the nation—if it is divided—will be like Sampson with his locks shorn."

"Well, war is here," said Mary, "and we must send off our young men to the shambles, and later on fill up our country with the refuse of Europe in their stead. It will be a terrible blood-letting for both North and South, and it will be the best blood on both sides. I'm as sorry for the mothers down there as I am for ourselves. Did you get the apples, Bertrand? We'd better start, to be there at eight."

"I put them in the carryall, my dear, Sweet Boughs and Harvest apples. The boys will have one more taste before they leave."

"Father, we want to carry some. Put some in the carriage too," said Martha.

"Yes, father. We want to eat some while we are on the way."

"Why, Jamie, they are for the soldiers; they're not for us," cried Betty, in horror. To eat even one, it seemed to her, would be greed and robbery.

In spite of the gravity of the hour to the older ones, the occasion took on an air of festivity to the children. In grandfather's dignified old family carriage Martha sat with demure elation on the back seat at her grandmother's side, wearing her white linen cape, and a wide-brimmed, low-crowned hat of Neapolitan straw, with a blue ribbon around the crown, and a narrow one attached to the front, the end of which she held in her hand to pull the brim down to shade her eyes as was the fashion for little girls of the day. She felt well pleased with the hat, and held the ribbon daintily in her shapely little hand.

At her feet was the basket of apples, and with her other hand she guarded three small packages. Grandmother wore a gray, changeable silk. The round waist fitted her plump figure smoothly, and the skirt was full and flowing. Her bonnet was made of the same silk shirred on rattan, and was not perched on the top of her head, but covered it well and framed her sweet face with a full, white tulle ruching set close under the brim.

Grandfather, up in front, drove Jack and Jill, who, he said, were "feeling their oats." Betty did not wonder, for oats are sharp and must prick their stomachs. She sat with grandfather,—he had promised she should the night before,—and Jamie was tucked in between them. He ought to have been in behind with grandmother, but his scream of rebellion as he was lifted in brought instant yielding from Betty, when grandfather interfered and took them both. But when Jamie insisted on holding the reins, grandfather grew firm, and when screams again began, his young majesty was lifted down and placed in the road to remain until instant obedience was promised, after which he was restored to the coveted place and away they went.

Betty's white linen cape blew out behind and her ribbons flew like blue butterflies all about her hat. She forgot to hold down the brim, as polite little girls did who knew how to wear their Sunday clothes. She, too, held three small packages in her lap. For days, ever since Peter Junior and Richard Kildene had taken tea with them in their new uniforms, the little girls had patiently sewed to make the articles which filled these packages.

Mary Ballard had planned them. In each was a needle-book filled with needles large enough to be used by clumsy fingers, a pin ball, a good-sized iron thimble, and a case of thread and yarn for mending, buttons of various sizes, and a bit of beeswax, molded in Mary Ballard's thimble, to wax their linen thread. All were neatly packed in a case of bronzed leather bound about with firm braid, and tucked under the strap of the leather on the inside was a small pair of scissors. It was all very compact and tied about with the braid. Mother had done some of the hardest of the sewing, but for the most part the stitches had been painstakingly put in by the children's own fingers.

The morning was cool, and the dust had been laid by a heavy shower in the night. The horses held up their heads and went swiftly, in spite of their long journey the day before. Soon they heard in the distance the sound of the drum, and the merry note of a fife. Again a pang shot through Betty's heart that she had not been a boy of Peter Junior's age that she might go to war. She heaved a deep sigh and looked up in her grandfather's face. It was a grizzled face, with blue eyes that shot a kindly glance sideways at her as if he understood.

When they drew near, the horses danced to the merry tune, as if they would like to go, too. All the camp seemed alive. How splendid the soldiers looked in their blue uniforms, their guns flashing in the sun! Betty watched how their legs with the stripes on them seemed to twinkle as they moved all together, marching in companies. Back and forth, back and forth, they went, and the orders came to the children short and abrupt, as the men went through their maneuvers. They saw the sentinel pacing up and down, and wondered why he did it instead of marching with the other men. All these questions were saved up to ask of grandfather when they got home. They were too interested to do anything but watch now.

At last, very suddenly it seemed, the soldiers broke ranks and scattered over the greensward, running hither and thither like ants. Betty again drew a long breath. Now they were coming, the soldiers in whom they were particularly interested.

"Can they do what they please now?" she asked her grandfather.

"Yes, for a while."

All along the sentry line carriages were drawn up, for this hour from eight till nine was given to the "boys" to see their friends for the last time in many months, maybe years, maybe forever. As they had come from all over the State, some had no friends to meet them, but guests were there in crowds, and every man might receive a handshake whether he was known or not. All were friends to these young volunteers.

Bertrand Ballard was known and loved by all the youths. Some from the village, and others from the country around, had been in the way of coming to the Ballard home simply because the place was made an enjoyable center for them. Some came to practice the violin and others to sing. Some came to try their hand at sketching and painting and some just to hear Bertrand talk. All was done for them quite gratuitously on his part, and no laugh was merrier than his. Even the chore boy came in for a share of the Ballards' kindly help, sitting at Mary Ballard's side in the long winter evenings, and conning lessons to patch up an education snatched haphazard and hardly come by.

Here comes one of them now, head up, smiling, and happy-go-lucky. "Bertrand, here comes Johnnie. Give him the apples and let him distribute them. Poor boy! I'm sorry he's going; he's too easily led," said Mary.

"Oh! Johnnie, Johnnie Cooper! I've got something for you. We made them. Mother helped us," cried Martha. Now the children were out of the carriage and running about among their friends.

Johnnie Cooper snatched Jamie from the ground and threw him up over his head, then set him down again and took the parcel. Then he caught Martha up and set her on his shoulder while he peeped into the package.

"Stop, Johnnie. Set me down. I'm too big now for you to toss me up." Her arms were clasped tightly under his chin as he held her by the feet. Slowly he let her slide to the ground and thrust the little case in his pocket, and stooping, kissed the child.

"I'll think of you and your mother when I use this," he said.

"And you'll write to us, won't you, Johnnie?" said Mary. "If you don't, I shall think something is gone wrong with you." He knew what she meant, and she knew he knew. "There are worse things than bullets, Johnnie."

"Never you worry for me, Mrs. Ballard. We're going down for business, and you won't see me again until we've licked the 'rebs.'" He held her hand awkwardly for a minute, then relieved the tension by carrying off the two baskets of apples. "I know the trees these came from," he said, and soon a hundred boys in blue were eating Bertrand's choicest apples.

"Here come the twins!" said some one, as Peter Junior and Richard Kildene came toward them across the sward. Betty ran to meet them and caught Richard by the hand. She loved to have him swing her in long leaps from the ground as he walked.

"See, Richard, I made this for you all myself—almost. I put C in the corner so it wouldn't get mixed with the others, because this I made especially for you."

"Did you? Why didn't you put R in the corner if you meant it for me? I think you meant this for Charley Crabbe."

"No, I didunt." Betty spoke most emphatically. "Martha has one for him. I put C because—you'll see when you open it. Everything's bound all round with my very best cherry-colored hair ribbon, to make it very special, and that is what C is for. All the rest are brown, and this is prettier, and it won't get mixed with Peter Junior's."

"Ah, yes. C is for cherry—Betty's hair ribbon; and the gold-brown leather is for Betty's hair. Is that it?"


"Haven't I one, too?" asked Peter Junior.

"Yep. We made them just alike, and you can sew on buttons and everything."

Thus the children made the leave-taking less somber, to the relief of every one.

Grandfather and grandmother Clide had friends of their own whom they had come all the forty miles to see,—neighbor boys from many of the farms around their home, and their daughter-in-law's own brother, who was like a son to them. There he stood, lithe and strong and genial, and, alas! too easy-going to be safe among the temptations of the camp.

Quickly the hour passed and the call came to form ranks for the march to the town square, where speeches were to be made and prayers were to be read before the march to the station.

Our little party waited until the last company had left the camp ground and the excited children had seen them all and heard the sound of the fife and drum to their last note and beat as the "boys in blue" filed past them and off down the winding country road among the trees. Nothing was said by the older ones of what might be in the future for those gallant youths—yes, and for the few men of greater years with them—as they wound out of sight. It was better so. Bobby fell asleep in Mary Ballard's arms as they drove back, and a bright tear fell from her wide-open, far-seeing eyes down on his baby cheek.

It was no lack of love for his son that kept Elder Craigmile away at the departure of the boys from their camp on the bluff. He had virtually said his say and parted from his son when he gave his consent to his going in the first place. To him war meant sacrifice, and the parting with sons, at no matter what cost. The dominant idea with him was ever the preservation of the Union. At nine o'clock as usual that morning he had entered the bank, and a few minutes later, when the troops formed on the square, he came out and took his appointed place on the platform, as one of the speakers, and offered a closing prayer for the confounding of the enemy after the manner of David of old—then he descended and took his son's hand, as he stood in the ranks, with his arm across the boy's shoulder, looked a moment in his eyes; then, without a word, he turned and reentered the bank.



It was winter. The snow was blowing past the windows in blinding drifts, and the road in front of the Ballards' home was fast filling to the tops of the fences. A bright wood-fire was burning in the great cookstove, which had been brought into the living room for warmth and to economize steps, as all the work of the household devolved on Mary and little Betty, since Martha spent the week days at the Deans in the village in order to attend the high school.

Mary gazed anxiously now and then through the fast-frosting window panes on the opaque whiteness of the storm without, where the trees tossed their bare branches weirdly, like threatening gray phantoms, grotesque and dimly seen through the driving snow. It was Friday afternoon and still early, and brave, busy little Martha always came home on Fridays after school to help her mother on Saturdays.

"Oh, I hope Martha hasn't started," said Mary. "Look out, Bertrand. This is the wildest storm we have had this year."

"Mrs. Dean would never allow her to set out in this storm, I'm sure," said Bertrand. "I cautioned her yesterday when I was there never to start when the weather seemed like a blizzard."

Bertrand had painted in his studio above as long as the light remained, and now he was washing his brushes, carefully swishing the water out of them and drawing each one between his lips to shape it properly before laying it down. Mary laid the babe in her arms in its crib, and rocked it a moment while she and Bertrand chatted.

A long winter and summer had passed since the troops marched away from Leauvite, and now another winter was passing. For a year and a bit more, little Janey, the babe now being hushed to sleep, had been a member of the family circle. Thus it was that Mary Ballard seldom went to the village, and Betty learned her lessons at home as best she could, and tended the baby and helped her mother. But Bertrand and his wife had plenty to talk about; for he went out and saw their friends in the village, led the choir on Sundays, taught the Bible class, heard all the news, and talked it over with Mary.

Thus, in one way or another, all the new books found their way into the Ballards' home, were read and commented on, even though books were not written so much for commercial purposes then as now, and their writers were looked up to with more respect than criticism. The Atlantic Monthly and Littell's Living Age, Harper's Magazine, and the New York Tribune also brought up a variety of subjects for discussion. Now and then a new poem by Whittier, or Bryant, or some other of the small galaxy of poets who justly were becoming the nation's pride, would appear and be read aloud to Mary as she prepared their meals, or washed the dishes or ironed small garments, while Betty listened with intent eyes and ears, as she helped her mother or tended the baby.

That afternoon, while the storm soughed without, the cow and horse were comfortably quartered in their small stable, which was banked with straw to keep out the cold. Indoors, Jamie was whittling behind the warm cookstove over a newspaper spread to catch the chips, while Bobby played quietly in a corner with two gray kittens and a worsted ball. Janey was asleep in the crib which Betty jogged now and then while she knit on a sock for the soldiers,—Mary and the two little girls were always knitting socks for the soldiers these days in their spare moments and during the long winter evenings,—Mary was kneading white loaves of bread with floury hands, and Bertrand sat close beside the window to catch the last rays of daylight by which to read the war news.

Bertrand always read the war news first,—news of battles and lists of wounded and slain and imprisoned, and saddest of all, lists of the missing,—following closely the movements of their own company of "boys" from Leauvite. Mary listened always with a thought of the shadow in the banker's home, and the mother there, watching and waiting for the return of her boy. Although their own home was safe, the sorrow of other homes, devastated and mourning, weighed heavily upon Mary Ballard, and she needed to listen to the stirring editorials of the Tribune, which Bertrand read with dramatic intensity, to bolster up her faith in the rightness of this war between men who ought to be brothers in their hopes and ambitions for the national life of their great country.

"I suppose it is too great a thing to ask—that such a tremendous and mixed nation as ours should be knit together for the good of all men in a spirit of brotherly love—but what a thing to ask for! What a thing to try for! If I were a man, I would pray that I might gain influence over my fellows just for that—just—for that," said Mary.

"Ah," replied her husband, with fond optimism, "you need not say 'If I were a man,' for that. It is the women who have the influence; don't you know that, Mary?"

Mary looked down at her work, an incredulous smile playing about her lips.

"Well, my dear?" Bertrand loved a response.

"Well, Bertrand? Men do like to talk about our 'sweet influence,' don't they?" Then she laughed outright.

"But, Mary—but, Mary, it is true. Women do more with their influence than men can do with their guns," and Bertrand really meant what he said. Dusky shadows filled the room, but if the light had been stronger, he would have seen that little ironical smile still playing about his wife's lips.

"Did you see Judge Logan again about those Waupaca lots?"

Bertrand wondered what the lots had to do with the subject, but suffered the digression patiently, for the feminine mind was not supposed to be coherent. "Yes, my love; I saw him yesterday."

"What did you do about them? I hope you refused."

"No, my dear. I thought best not. He showed me very conclusively that in time they will be worth more—much more—than the debt."

"Then why did he offer them to you for the debt? The portrait you painted for him will be worth more, too, in time, than the debt. You remember when you asked me what I thought, I said we needed the money more now."

"Yes, I remember; but this plan is a looking toward the future. I didn't think it wise to refuse."

Mary said nothing, but went out, returning presently with two lighted candles. Bertrand was replenishing the fire. Had he been looking at her face with the light of the candles on it as she carried them, he would have noticed that little smile about her lips.

"I'm very glad we brought the bees in yesterday," he said. "This storm would have made it impossible to do it to-day, and we should have lost them."

"How about those lectures, dear? The 'boys' are all gone now, and you won't have them to take up your time evenings, so you can easily prepare them. They will take you into the city now and then, and that will keep you in touch with the world outside this village." Bertrand had been requested to give a series of lectures on art in one of the colleges in the city. He had been well pleased and had accepted, but later had refused because of certain dictatorship exercised by the Board, which he felt infringed on his province of a suitable selection of subjects. He was silent for a moment. Again Mary had irrelevantly and abruptly changed the subject of conversation. Where was the connection between bees and lectures? "I really wish you would, dear," urged Mary.

"You still wish it after the affront the Board has given me?"

"I know, but what do they know about art? I would give the lectures if it was only to be able—incidentally—to teach them something. Be a little conciliatory, dear."

"I will make no concessions. If I give the lectures, I must be allowed to select my courses. It is my province."

"Did you see Elder Craigmile about it?"

"I did."

"And what did he say?"

"He seemed to think the Board was right."

"I knew he would. You remember I asked you not to go to him about it, and that was why."

"Why did you think so? He assumes to be my friend."

"Because people who don't know anything about art always are satisfied with their own opinions. They don't know anything to upset them. He knows more than some of them, but how much is that? Enough to know that he owns some fine paintings; but you taught him their value, now, didn't you?" Bertrand smiled, but said nothing, and his wife continued. "Prepare the lectures, dear, for my sake. I love to know that you are doing such work."

"I can't. The action of the Board is an insult to my intelligence. What are you smiling about?"

"About you, dear."

"Mary, why, Mary! I—"

But Mary only smiled the more. "You love my irrelevance and inconsistency, you say,—"

"I love any weakness that is yours, Mary. What are you keeping back from me?"

"The weakness that is mine, dear." Again Mary laughed outright. "It would be useless to tell you—or to try to explain. I love you, isn't that enough?"

Bertrand thought it ought to be, but was not sure, and said so. Then Mary laughed again, and he kissed her, shaking his head dubiously, and took up his violin for solace. Thus an hour passed; then Betty set the table for supper, and the long evening followed like many another evening, filled with the companionship only comfortably married people know, while Bertrand read from the poets.

Since, with a man's helplessness in such matters, he could not do the family mending, or knit for the soldiers, or remodel old garments into new, it behooved him to render such tasks pleasant for the busy hand and brain that must devise and create and make much out of little for economy's sake; and this Bertrand did to Mary's complete satisfaction.

Evenings like these were Betty's school, and they seemed all the schooling she was likely to get, for the family funds were barely sufficient to cover the expenses of one child at a time. But, as Mary said, "It's not so bad for Betty to be kept at home, for she will read and study, anyway, because she likes it, and it won't hurt her to learn to be practical as well;" and no doubt Mary was right.

Bertrand was himself a poet in his appreciation and fineness of choice, and he read for Mary with all the effectiveness and warmth of color that he would put into a recitation for a large audience, carried on solely by his one sympathetic listener and his love for what he read; while Betty, in her corner close to the lamp behind her father's chair, listened unnoticed, with eager soul, rapt and uplifted.

As Bertrand read he commented. "These men who are writing like this are doing for this country what the Lake Poets did for England. They are making true literature for the nation, and saving it from banality. They are going to live. They will be classed some day with Wordsworth and all the rest of the best. Hear this from James Russell Lowell. It's about a violin, and is called 'In the Twilight.' It's worthy of Shelley." And Bertrand read the poem through, while Mary let her knitting fall in her lap and listened. He loved to see her listen in that way.

"Read again the verse that begins: 'O my life.' I seem to like it best." And he read it over:—

"O my life, have we not had seasons That only said, Live and rejoice? That asked not for causes and reasons, But made us all feeling and voice? When we went with the winds in their blowing, When Nature and we were peers, And we seemed to share in the flowing Of the inexhaustible years? Have we not from the earth drawn juices Too fine for earth's sordid uses? Have I heard, have I seen All I feel, all I know? Doth my heart overween? Or could it have been Long ago?"

"And the next, Bertrand. I love to hear them over again." And he read:—

"Sometimes a breath floats by me, An odor from Dreamland sent, That makes the ghost seem nigh me Of a splendor that came and went, Of a life lived somewhere, I know not In what diviner sphere, Of memories that stay not and go not, Like music heard once by an ear That cannot forget or reclaim it, A something so shy, it would shame it To make it a show, A something too vague, could I name it, For others to know, As if I had lived it or dreamed it, As if I had acted or schemed it, Long ago!"

"And the last verse, father. I like the last best," cried Betty, suddenly.

"Why, my deary. I thought you were gone to bed."

"No, mother lets me sit up a little while longer when you're reading. I like to hear you." And he read for her the last verse:—

"And yet, could I live it over, This life that stirs my brain, Could I be both maiden and lover, Moon and tide, bee and clover, As I seem to have been, once again, Could I but speak it and show it, This pleasure more sharp than pain, That baffles and lures me so, The world should once more have a poet, Such as it had In the ages glad, Long ago!"

Then, wishing to know more of the secret springs of his little daughter's life, he asked: "Why do you love that stanza best, Betty, my dear?"

Betty blushed crimson to the roots of her hair, for what she carried in her heart was too precious to tell, but she meant to be a poet. Even then, in the pocket of her calico dress lay a little book and a stubbed lead pencil, and in the book was already the beginning of her great epic. Her father had said the epic was a thing of the past, that in the future none would be written, for that it was a form of expressions that belonged to the world's youth, and that age brought philosophy and introspection, but not epics.

She meant to surprise her father some day with this poem. The great world was so full of mystery—of seductive beauty and terror and of strange, enticing charm! She saw and felt it always. Even now, in the driving, whirling storm without, in the darkness of her chamber, or when she looked through the frosted panes into the starry skies at midnight, always it was there all about her,—a something unexpressed, unseen, but close—close to her,—the mystery which throbbed through all her small being, and which she was one day to find out and understand and put into her great epic.

She thought over her father's question, hardly knowing why she liked that last stanza best. She slowly wound up her ball of yarn and thrust the needles through it, and dropped it into her mother's workbasket before she replied; then, taking up her candle, she looked shyly in her father's eyes.

"Because I like where it says: 'This pleasure more sharp than pain, That baffles and lures me so.'" Then she was gone, hurrying away lest they should question her further and learn about the little book in her pocket.

Thus time passed with the Ballards, many days swiftly flying, laden with a fair share of sweetness and pleasure, and much of harassment and toil, but in the main bringing happiness.



It was three years after the troops marched away from High Knob encampment before either Peter Junior or Richard Kildene were again in Leauvite, and then only Peter returned, because he was wounded, and not that he was unwilling to enlist again, as did Richard and many of the boys, when their first term of service was ended. He returned with the brevet of a captain, for gallant conduct in the encounter in which he received his wound, but only a shadow of the healthy, earnest boy who had stood in the ranks on the town square of Leauvite three years before; yet this very fact brought life and hope to his waiting mother, now that she had the blessed privilege of nursing him back to strength.

It seemed as though her long period of mourning ended when Peter Junior, pallid in his blue uniform, his hair darkened and matted with the dampness caused by weakness and pain, was borne in between the white columns of his father's house. When the news reached him that his son was lying wounded in a southern hospital, the Elder had, for the first time in many, many years, followed an impulse without pausing to consider his act beforehand. He left the bank on the instant and started for the scene of battles, only hurrying home to break the news first to his wife. Yielding to a rare tenderness, he touched her hair as he kissed her, and enjoined on her to remember that their son was not slain, but by a merciful Providence was only wounded and might be spared to them. She must thank the Lord and be ready to nurse him back to life.

Why Providence should be thus merciful to their son rather than to many another son, the good Elder did not pause to consider. Possibly he thought it no more than just that the prayers of the righteous should be answered by a supernatural intervention between their sons and the bullets of the enemy. His ideas on this point were no doubt vague at the best, but certain it is that he returned from his long and difficult journey to the seat of strife after his boy, with a clearer notion of what war really was, and a more human sympathy for those who go and suffer, and, as might be anticipated with those of his temperament, an added bitterness against those whom he felt were to blame for the conflict.

When Peter Junior left his home, his father had enjoined on him to go, not in the spirit of bitterness and enmity, but as an act of duty, to teach a needed lesson; for surely the Lord was on the side of the right, and was using the men of the North to teach this needed lesson to those laboring in error. Ah! it is a very different point of view we take when we suffer, instead of merely moralizing on the suffering of others; especially we who feel that we know what is right, and lack in great part the imagination to comprehend the other man's viewpoint. To us of that cast of mind there is only one viewpoint and that is our own, and only a bodily departure to the other man's hilltop or valley, as the case may be, will open the eyes and enlarge the understanding to the extent of even allowing our fellows to see things in another light from our own.

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