Lippincott's Magazine, October 1885 by Various
ON A TEXAS SHEEP-RANCH.
There are words which have careers as well as men, or, perhaps it may be more happily said, as well as women. Mere words breathed on by Fancy, and sent forth not so much to serve man's ordinary colloquial uses, apparently, as to fascinate his mind, have their _débuts_. their season, their vogue, and finally a period in which it is really too bad if they have not the consolation of reflecting upon their conquests; for conquests they certainly have. The great captivators--the Cleopatras of the vocabulary--one easily recognizes; but besides these there is a host of small flirts and every-day coquettes, whom one hardly suspects till they have a little carried him away. Almost every one remembers how in this light company he first came across the little word _ranch_. It had in its youth distinctly the _cachet_ of the verbal flying squadron, the "nameless something," the oenanthic whiff which flies to the head. There are signs that its best days as a word are now over, and in contemplating it at present one has a vision of a _passée_ brunette, in the costume of Fifine at the Fair, solacing herself with thoughts of early triumphs. "Would a farm have served?" she murmurs. "Would a plantation, an orange-grove, have satisfied the desperate young man? No, no; he must have his ranch! There was no charm could soothe his melancholy, and wring for him the public bosom, save mine."
I made this reflection during a period of incarceration in a sleeping-car,--a form of confinement which, like any other, throws the prisoner considerably on his fancy; and a vision somewhat like the above smoothed for a moment the pillow of an "upper berth," and pleased better than the negro porter. Half a dozen of those days of too many paper novels, of too much tobacco, of too little else, followed each other with the sameness of so many raw oysters. Then there came a chill night of wide moonlit vacuity passed on the prairie by the side of the driver of a "jumper,"--a driver who slumbered, happy man!--and at peep of dawn I found myself standing, stiff and shivering, in a certain little Texas town. A much-soiled, white little street, a bit of greenish-yellow, treeless plain soft in the morning mist, a rosy fringe at the edge of the sky,--it was of these things, together with a disagreeable sense of imponderability of body from the cold and sleepless ride, that I was vaguely aware as the jumper--rigorous vehicle!--disappeared round a corner. Frontier towns are not lovely, and the death-like peace which seemed properly to accompany the chalky pallor of the buildings was somewhat uncanny; but it proved to be only what sleep can do for a village with railroad influences one hundred miles away. We entered boldly the adobe before which we had been dropped, and found a genial landlord in an impromptu costume justified by the hour, an inn-album of quite cosmopolitan range of inscriptions, and a breakfast for which a week of traveller's fare had amply fortified the spirit.
The village was the chief, indeed, wellnigh the only, town of a great west-by-north county, in which Rhode Island would be lost and Massachusetts find elbow-room. It was an irregular little bunch of buildings gathered along an arterial street which, after a run of three hundred yards or so, broke to pieces and scattered its dispersed shanties about a high, barren plain. It stood on the steep bank of a little river, and over against it, on a naked hill, was Uncle Sam's military village,--a fort by courtesy,--where, when not sleeping, black soldiers and white strolled about in the warm sun. When the little street was fairly awake, it presented a very lively appearance and had the air of doing a great deal of business. The wan houses emitted their occupants, and numerous pink-faced riders, in leathers and broad hats, poured in from all sides, and, tying their heavily-accoutred ponies, disappeared into the shops with a sort of bow-legged waddle, like sailors ashore. Off his horse, the cow-boy is frankly awkward. Purchases made, they departed with a rush, filling the glare with dust. Officers from the post, with cork helmets and white trousers, came across the river and stood in the broad shadows of adobe door-ways, gaping, and switching their legs with bamboo canes. "It's magnificent," one seemed to hear them mutter, "but it isn't war!" Groups of Mexicans stood about, or, selecting a white wall, leaned against it, as they are apt to do at home, for the better relief of their swarthy faces and brilliant scarfs; and slowly moving down the street, stopping occasionally to speak to the various clusters of men, there went the beneficent if somewhat untidy figure of the Catholic father, in whose company we had breakfasted, a fat, jolly, anecdotal inheritor of the mantle of some founder of the Missions. The sun took absolute and merciless possession of the street. You put your hand in your pocket for the smoked glass through which you observed the last eclipse. Everything seemed bleached,--the white buildings, the yellow road, the eyebrows of the cow-boys.
We did the drive of twenty miles to the ranch in a canvas-topped buggy, drawn by a pair of devil-may-care little nags, who took us across dry _arroyos_ and the rocky beds of running streams in a style that promised to make sticks of the vehicle. It held good, however, and rattled out a sort of derisive snicker at every fresh attempt to shiver it. The country through which we passed afforded views of superb breadth and a most interesting and delightful quality. No landscape has in the exact sense such charm as one in which Nature manifests herself in a large and simple way: one feels with a thrill that she is about to tell the secret. The earth lay almost in its nakedness beneath the inane dome of the sky. But over the large simplicity of form one was soon aware of an exquisite play of hues. The easy undulations, as they ran off to the unattainable horizon, were so many waves of delicate and varying color. There were great sweeps of ochre, of gray, of fresh, light green, pointed with black dots of live-oak, and traversed by tortuous lines of indigo where the pecan treed creeks pursued their foiled courses, and troops of little hills grouped themselves about,--pink, pinkish, purple, purpling blue, white, as they faded from view like the evanescent cherubs in the corner of an old master. The hills, however, were little only because the stretch was so vast; it was really a broad plafond upon which they had solemnly entered to dance a minuet with the playful shadows of the clouds. The sky possessed everything. There was so much of it that existence seemed to have become in a sense a celestial--or at least an aerial--affair: the world was your balloon.
After the third creek-crossing the road ran straight as an avenue through a broad, level reach, and we flew along gayly. The little mesquite-trees, prim, dainty, and delicate, stood about in seeming order, civilizing the landscape and giving it the air of an orchard; the prairie-dog villages were thrown into a tumult of excitement by our passage; a chaparral-cock slipped out of a bush, stared an instant, pulled the string that lifts his tail and top-knot, and settled down for a race directly under the horses' feet. We passed the point of a hill, gained a slight rise, and the ranch was in sight. It must be confessed that it was not in appearance all that the name might imply,--not the sort of place for which one starts after having provided one's self with a navy revolver and a low estimate of the value of human life. It was, in fact, a very pretty and domestic scene, a little village of half a dozen buildings and a net-work of white limestone and brush corrals. Shortly I was supping in a neat little cottage, and endeavoring in the usual way to be agreeable to some one in muslin. In this modern world we change our skies, truly, but not--not our bric-à-brac. On the walls of the pretty dining-room one beheld with rising feeling one's old friends the Japanese fan and the discarded plate still clinging with the touching persistence of the ivy to the oak. To be sure, there was a tall half-breed Indian moving about with the silent agility of the warpath, but he wore a white apron, and his hideous intention was to fill one's wineglass. If the longitude had led me to meditate right buffalo's hump, "washed down" with something coarse and potent enough to justify the phrase, it was clear that I was painfully behind the stroke of the clock. Life, good lady, takes an undignified pleasure in arranging these petty shocks to the expectations, which we soon learn to dismiss with a smile. The cold mutton and _ordinaire_ were excellent, and we had some coffee and a cigarette on the piazza. The sun was setting far away behind a hill on the other side of the creek. A soft sound came down the valley from a remote flock of sheep. A little breeze sprang up and ran tremulously about, shaking the tufted grass and the slim boughs of the mesquites, and putting some question with a wistfully hopeful swish. Plainly, one could be very much at home here. The visionary brunette had evidently ranged herself, was living down the reputation of early vivid experiences and successfully cultivating the domestic virtues.
Six or eight years earlier, four young men had left New York on a Galveston steamer, their departure being attended by such an assemblage of young women that on the second day out their companions of the voyage confided the supposition that it had been a "bridal party." That little Spanish-American word ravaging our coasts and carrying off the pride of the youth has to answer for many such bridal parties, whose tours have been followed with pins and colored pencils and eyes more eager than those of mothers-in-law. In a month or so the young men had pitched a wall-tent within a day's ride of the Rio Grande, and were seriously occupied in sacrificing each other's feelings on the altar of experimental cookery, in herding sheep with the assistance of paper novels, and in writing exceedingly long letters to the North. This wall-tent was the larva of the ranch. But the arid southern country proved inconvenient, and collecting their effects in a prairie-schooner and driving their flocks before them, they effected a masterly change of base, which brought them two hundred miles to the northward and set them down in a delightful pasture-land, watered by three pretty creeks, near one of which they erected an adobe hut. This solitary house on a broad flat, an object of amazement to wandering hordes of cattle, was the ranch during a most interesting period, and its thatched roof and somewhat fetid walls became for the occupants overgrown with fine clusters of association. Within a few miles of its site the present village took shape.
The country was a frankly monotonous conformation of alternating hills and valleys,--"divides" and "draws,"--with wide flats near the creeks. Gulches, more or less deep, down the valley-lines of the draws, and traversing the flats to the creeks,--the so-called _arroyos_,--were a common physical feature. In the wet season they were running streams, but for most of the year they were dry, with here and there a waterhole, flowers and chaparral growing in them, and, at intervals, pecans. The pecan-trees grew thickly along the borders of the creeks, while the mesquites cloaked with gossamer wide portions of the flats; and here and there in the valleys and on the sides of the hills the sombre, self-enwrapped live-oaks stood about, like philosophers musing amid the general lightness. Spanish-dagger, bear-grass, and persimmon-bushes freckled the sides of the rocky divides with dark spots, and mistletoe hung its fine green globes like unillumined lanterns in the branches of the mesquites. Over the plains and slopes a sparse turf of various grasses, differing in color and changing with the season, gave the airy landscape its brilliant and versatile complexion. A dozen varieties of cactus, portulaccas, geraniums, petunias, verbenas, scattered over the prairie, morning-glories and sunflowers in the arroyos and along the creeks, and many a flower nameless to the general, abounded. So, it should be added, did in their season plover, snipe, ducks, and geese.
The business of the ranch was the antediluvian occupation of rearing and shearing sheep, and to that end the village included a shearing-shed and a large wool-house. Besides these there were three cottages and several other buildings, among which one called the "ranch-house" was the focus of the activity of the place, and, being also a survival from a comparatively early day, was a somewhat characteristic affair. It was a box-house, painted red, with a broad porch thatched with bear-grass, and a saddle-shed butting up against it. The interior, barring a little store at one end, was a single large room, bedroom, sitting-room, office, furnished with home-made tables with blankets for cloths, knocked-up chairs with cowhide seats and coyote-skin backs, deers' antlers draped with "slickers" (Texan for the 'longshoreman's yellow water-proof) and wide-brimmed "ten-dollar" hats, and at one end two tiers of bunks, with leather cases for six-shooters nailed to their sides. This room served for the abode of the storekeeper, for the transaction of business, and for the accommodation of the perennial casual guest. It was rude, but, especially of evenings about the lamp, it had a marked air of pipe-and-tobacco comfort.
The little store was patronized by the cow-boy, so much abused with sensational or picturesque intentions, and by the small farmers with irrigation patches in the vicinity. It was likewise the resort of Encarnacion and Tomas, and others their brethren, from the Mexican village a few miles up the creek, or from isolated abiding-places round about. Here they would come, and, rolling cigarettes of the brown paper they affect and the eleemosynary tobacco open on the counter, to which all were welcome (such were the amenities of shopping on the ranch), they would lounge about, ever smiling and chattering in soft voices, finally to say '_uenos dias_ with two bits' worth of bacon, or corn-meal, or pink candy for the _chiquitas_. Here, too, would come Tomasa, and, with even more than usual feminine zeal in matters of dress, at once try on the ready-made calico gown she purchased, while the store-keeper smoked his pipe and stroked his beard.
Excepting the cow-boys, the people composing the clientage of the store were for the most part resident in one of two farm-settlements located on the creek, about ten miles apart, one exclusively Mexican, the other almost entirely "white." Besides these, the families of many of the Mexican hands lived close by. These last were constantly assisting conversation at the cottages with such incidents as the following:
The cook--a tall, gaunt negro of a mediaevally "intense" nature--came in with an excited manner, followed by Madame Alguin, very much troubled, wringing her hands, and dissolved in tears.
"Panchot's little boy," said the cook, "is killed."
We were naturally aghast. Little Panchot had been _colero_ at the recent shearing.
"Is he dead?" we queried hoarsely.
"He was dead," replied the cook, with seriousness: "he is not dead now."
With this light and delicate touch the cook swept the gamut of our emotions from awe at little Panchot's sudden taking off to pleasure at his speedy resurrection. We repaired at once to Madame Alguin's residence to view the subject of this miracle: lest the miracle should not be so complete as one might wish, we carried with us a little hartshorn and Pond's extract. Madame Alguin's villa was a fine wide-spreading live-oak, with a tent as a sort of annex, about two minutes from the ranch. On our arrival we found four Mexican women, seven children, one man, three dogs, four goats, and several roosters, gathered round the form of little Panchot stretched beneath the live-oak. A fire smouldered a little way off, and a cradle hung from the branch of the fatherly tree. Little Panchot had a nasty cut about an inch long through his cheek. He had been herding his goats on the bank of the creek when he was knocked over by a stone from the other side. He swooned,--then he was dead; he came to,--and, _presto_, he was alive again. He was soon running about with his wonted friskiness, and making himself useful in chasing wild tennis-balls. This little boy's mother was, poor woman, very much of a sloven, but he had a string of little sisters who were as nice as could be. They went about in white cotton gowns--amazingly clean, considering that they lived under a tree--tied at the waist with red scarfs; their black hair was smoothly gathered at the backs of their pretty heads, and they had a demure and quaintly maternal air; they looked at you with a tranquil, moon-like gaze, which seemed to say that their ideas, which were on the way, had tarried for the moment in some boon southern country.
In riding about the range it was very pleasant to find, as one constantly did, by the side of some "motte" (Texan for a considerable cluster of scrub growth), or beneath the shade of a great live-oak, or on the barren face of a divide, the little canvas A-tents of the herders, nestled cosily to circular pens for the sheep, and generally surrounded by brush to prevent the intrusion of inquisitive cattle. Within the tent a sheepskin or so, stretched on the ground or on a lattice of branches, for his bed, and without, a padlocked chest, with a coffee mill screwed to the top, in which he keeps his rations, a skillet and a few other utensils hanging from the branches of a neighboring tree, a whitened buffalo's skull for a _metate_, a smouldering fire,--this little spot, with its surrounding fence shutting out the solitude, is the herder's palace, schloss, villa, town-and country-house. "_Seguro_," says Juan, as he lights a brown cigarette and quenches the yellow fuse in an empty cartridge-shell, "man wants but little here below." They were a genial and hospitable set, the herders, and if one arrived about mid-day they would regale him with scraps of jerked beef, a cake of unleavened bread cooked in the skillet, and coffee which, considering what it was made of, was a very inspiring drink. In particular I recall the _pastor_ Patricio, a very pretty fellow, with curly black hair and black eyes, a fine nose with a patrician lift to the nostrils, a little black moustache bristling like a cat's on a smiling lip, a red handkerchief about his neck: he was very voluble of soft words, and made the waste blossom with his distinguished manner. A dozen of these camps were to be discovered about the range, and the brush fences and unused corrals of many more, which had been used and would be used again as the sheep were moved from grazing-ground to grazing-ground and portions of the range temporarily exhausted.
From his camp the herder goes forth at daybreak with his flock of fourteen hundred ewes and lambs or two thousand wethers, grazing slowly toward the creek or neighboring water-hole where at noon he lies up in the shade; and to it he slowly returns in the cool of the afternoon, the flock moving in loose order among the mesquites, taking a nip here, a nip there, but ever hanging together and dependent, the most gregarious of animals. In their unity of action, in their interdependence and solidarity, the timid sheep are capable of a momentary suggestion of awe. About weaning-time a couple of large flocks got temporarily together, and one could see driven by the herder a compact mass of four thousand advancing over the prairie with a quick step, "a unit in aggregate, a simple in composite," their impassible countenances gazing fixedly forward, resembling, it seemed to me, a brigade going into action. For most of the year it is thought by no means advisable to fold the sheep in the corral at night, so they sleep at large near it. Especially on moonlight nights they are apt to be uneasy and to move from their bed-ground short distances, when the herder quits his tent, and, rolling a cigarette, follows his fanciful flock about the blanched and wistful prairie till they subside; then, throwing his cloak over his shoulder with the swing of an hidalgo, he falls asleep beside them.
The herder's incidents are the fortnightly arrival of his rations and the weekly or possibly more frequent visit of the superintendent to count and examine his flock and inquire after the general condition of things. The Mexican herder invariably denies all knowledge of English and compels one to meet him on his own ground, which, it is needless to say, is a far cry from Castile; and in encounters between Juan and the superintendent the fine feathers of syntax are apt to fly in a way I shall not attempt to reproduce.
"Good-afternoon, Juan," says the superintendent.
"How's the flock, Juan?"
"Oh, pretty well, señor."
"No better than pretty?"
And then Juan goes on to explain that the recent unusually wet weather has made many lame, etc., etc., to which the superintendent listens with a grave countenance. Perhaps some unfortunate ewe has been bitten by a "cat," or in some way received a wound in which the fly has deposited its malignant egg: they lay her on her side and doctor her in company. Finally, the superintendent gives the herder some tobacco, some cigarette-papers, and a couple of yards of yellow fuse, and, mounting his horse, nods farewell, and Juan touches his hat, smiles, and says, "_Adios_."
In the ordinary course of events this is his weekly allowance of human intercourse. It was the common opinion that none but Juan and his brethren could stand this sort of thing; but what there is in the Mexican character that adapts him to it only becomes a mystery on acquaintance therewith. His most obvious and, one inclines to think, his highest and most estimable quality is his sociability. He has a sense of the agreeableness of life, with a very considerable feeling for manners. This feeling makes it a pleasure for him to meet you; it causes him to put _himself_ into the most commonplace conversation, the simplest greeting, and make it, in his small way, a matter of art. It makes it a pleasure for him to call upon a friend beneath the shade of some live-oak or in a dugout or _jacal_, carrying some white sugar for his wife or some candy for his little ones. Our instinctive disposition to infer deplorable lacunae in the region of morals from the possession of a talent for manners is in the case of the poor Mexican too thoroughly justified. For him there is no such region; it is an undiscovered country. He is the lightest of light-weights. When his heart is warmest he is tossing a silver dollar in the air and thinking; of _monte_. Cimental herded industriously during the winter, and became the proud possessor of a horse and saddle, a Winchester, and a big ivory-handled pistol. In May, shearing going on, he drove his flock to the shearing-shed, and spent the night at the ranch. In the morning he came into the store laughing. What about? Oh, he had had a little _monte_ over-night, and horse, saddle, rifle, revolver, all were gone. He had been shorn of half a year's growth. But there was still a large deposit at his bank,--the bank of Momus.
The herder has, of course, his "consolatory interstices and sprinklings of freedom;" he undoubtedly mitigates his solitary life by frequent derelictions, nightly visits to the farm--settlements (or the _jacal_) which a few possess, and where he keeps, possibly, a wife and family. But, on the whole, his life, and not unfrequently his death, is lonely, Just before shearing-time Juan Lucio and his flock were lost. The flock was found, but not Juan. It was impossible to say what had become of him: he had a reputation for steadiness, and it seemed unlikely that he had taken French leave. When shearing was in full swing, a couple of freighters came for a load of wood. After some talk, they drove off to camp, a little way up the creek, proposing to return in the morning. About sunset they were seen slowly approaching the shearing-shed, It seemed that in watering their horses they had seen a man in the creek. The small freighter imparted this information in a low voice, with some hesitation and a deprecatory half-smile. The young and large freighter stood aloof, with a half-smile too, but he had evidently found the sensation disagreeably strong. This, it seemed certain, must be the lost Juan Lucio. The next day, which was Sunday, the ranchmen and a county officer proceeded toward the scene of the discovery. The shearers heard of the affair, and paused in the arrangement of a horse-race. They went in a body to the store and purchased candles, and then the motley cavalry coursed over the prairie after the rest. They lifted Juan Lucio from the river and bore him to a live-oak tree, where the coroner and his jurymen debated his situation. They inclined to think that he had come to his death by drowning. Then the Mexicans dug a grave for him, and stood a moment round it with their candles lighted; each lifted a handful of earth and tossed it in. Finally, they covered the prairie-grave with brush to protect it from the coyotes, and rode slowly home in twos and threes. About a month after, a young Mexican rode into the ranch: he had ridden from San Anton, two hundred miles away, to put a board cross above his father's grave, marked for him by the store-keeper, "Juan Lucio, May, 1884."
The herders on the ranch were all Mexicans, and throughout the county it was generally so. An old Scotchman who paused one moment to smoke a pipe beneath the porch was a solitary instance to the contrary. He was a most markedly benevolent-looking old man, and had about him that copious halo of hair with which benevolence seems to delight to surround itself. He had also about him the halo of American humor, having just been up to answer a charge of murder, in another county, of which he was extravagantly innocent. He carried a crook, as seemed fitting, and had with him two sheep-dogs, one of which the kindly man assured us he had frequently cured of a recurrent disease by cutting off pieces of its tail. This sacrificial part having been pretty well used up, the beast's situation in view of another attack was very ticklish. And it had, in fact, the air of occupying the anxious-seat. The Mexican, it may be added, uses neither dog nor crook. He may have a cur or _pillone_ to share his solitude, but its function is purely social: for catching sheep there is his lariat. He is measurably faithful and trustworthy, a careful observer of his flock, and quick to appreciate their troubles. Of course he loses sheep semi-occasionally, causing those long sheep-hunting rides among the hills which the ranchman curses and the visitor enjoys; and occasionally in winter on cold nights he is overpowered by the temptation to visit a friend, the whole flock gets astray, and, fearing consequences, Juan, not stopping to fold his tent like the Arab, silently steals away.
The busiest periods of the sheepman's year are the lambing- and shearing-seasons. The first begins early in March, when the little mesquite-trees are of a feathery greenness and the brown gramma and mesquite grass are beginning to freshen, and lasts about six weeks. It is an exacting time for the conscientious proprietor. He says good-by to his cottage, and goes off to camp with a small army of Mexicans, who, proof against the toils of the day, make night crazy with singing, dancing, and uncontrollable hilarity. He is as much concerned about the weather as a sailor or one in conversation's straits. His terror is the long, cold storm which covers the grass with a hopeless coating of ice. The weakened ewe cannot graze, and the norther comes down with a bitter sweep to devastate the starved flock.
The camp is pitched within easy reach of the bed-grounds of two ewe-flocks, each of twelve hundred, who absorb all the attention of the superintendent and his numerous aids. Each flock goes out on the range at daybreak under the charge of two herders. The ewes that have dropped lambs over-night are retained in the corral with their offspring for about six hours, or till afternoon, when the lamb should be in possession of sufficient strength to move about; then the ewes go forth slowly to graze, followed by their _chiquitas_. The unnatural mothers who deny their children are caught, with a lariat by a Mexican, with a crook by a Yankee, and confined in separate little pens alone with their lambs. If necessary to compel them to acknowledge their maternal responsibilities, they are kept in solitary confinement two days, without food. If still obdurate at the end of these two days, mother and child, marked with red chalk or tagged alike with bright cloth, are turned out, the herder in charge of the solitaries "roping" the ewe for the convenience of the lamb whenever the latter indicates a desire for nourishment.
The flock grazing out on the range will have gone by noon perhaps a mile from the bed-ground. Here a little corral is made, and the lambs born in the vicinity, with their mothers, are penned here over-night, one of the two herders sleeping with them. In the afternoon the remaining herder takes the flock grazing back to the bed-ground. The next day, with many more to follow, repeats the routine of this and its incidents. The lambs and good mothers of a period of twenty-four hours are bunched together and placed a little remote from the bed-ground, with a little pen and a herder to themselves: they constitute a so-called "baby-flock." After five days the lambs lose their tails and have their ears punched and marked; on the sixth day they are still farther removed from their native spot, placed in charge of a strange herder, and become the nucleus of a so-called "lamb-flock," which, fed from many sources, grows till it includes six hundred ewes, with their lambs, when it is a full flock, and is in its turn removed and the formation of a new lamb-flock begun. During the six days' novitiate of a baby-flock five other such flocks have been formed: so that, somewhat remotely round about the main pen at the bed-ground of each flock, there are six baby-flocks, with their pens and herders and several little prison-pens for unnatural mothers, with other little pens in which mothers bereft by death of their proper children are confined with the extra twin lambs of prolific ewes, clad in the lost ones' skins, in the sure hope that they will adopt them. The ruse may be said never to fail. The solitary-confinement pens are in the charge of still another herder, a much perplexed and irritated man, on whose part considerable swearing--Mexican for small ills, English for serious occasions--is to be excused. A superintendent of two lambing ewe-flocks, it will thus be seen, has to oversee eighteen herders or so, with their charges, besides the growing lamb-flock, all more or less distant from each other. He is a busy man. His head-quarters, like those of General Pope, may be said to be in the saddle. His note-book is in constant use. It contains a record of each day's births and deaths, of the twins (which are tagged or marked alike for easy identification) and the still-born, that each bereft mother may be provided with a foster-child, and the daily count of the daily-changing flocks.
The first lamb born starts the refrain, to be taken up as the season waxes by thousands of others scattered over the range, and swollen into a roaring, shrieking chorus, as though an enormous public school had just turned its urchins into the play-ground. A listener standing in the hall of the Stock Exchange gets some faint idea of it when there has been a serious break in Lake Shore, say, or when C.C.C.&I. has "gone off" a considerable number of points. Out of these thousands of voices, not to be differentiated by the human ear, the ewe knows the note of her little one with very remarkable certainty, and the lamb the answering cry of its dam. With this sound ringing in his ears, and daily becoming more and more insufferable from monotony and increase, the sheep-man rides out in the morning among his Mexicans, and returns to camp at night aweary, with haply a couple of little ones abandoned by their mothers in his arms, to be brought up on that _pis-aller_ of infancy,--and, alas! occasionally of age,--the bottle.
When the prickly pear had made a golden garden of the prairie and the heart of _Cereus phoeniceus_ was warm with the intention of lighting its gorgeous crimson torch on the divides; when the arroyo, but lately a pretty streamlet, had told wellnigh all its beads to the sun-god, and had but here and there in its parched length an isolated pool; when the flock at noon no longer flushed the last teal from the creek, because that lingering bird had finally winged its way toward Manitoba or some other favorite retreat northerly,--at this time the constant wind, gentle but never-failing, and almost always from the south, was overweighted with a roar of multitudinous bleating and befouled with dust; for shearing was going on at the ranch. It is a very picturesque occupation, but it soils the most delightful season of the year, the fresh month of May, with a fortnight of dusty toil, anticipating the sun, and not halting promptly on his setting.
The shearing-shed lay somewhat apart from the other ranch buildings, with a system of pens at its back, with chutes and swinging wickets for "cutting out" lambs from their mothers destined for the shears, and other incidental purposes. The shed was a roof of bearded mesquite-grass, stayed by boughs and supported on live-oak or pecan posts, the outside or bounding rows of which were sheathed up with boards four feet or so, the remainder space up to the roof being open for draught. On these boards Baleriano Torres, Secundino Ramon, and others their companions of the shears, who had worked and played beneath this shade in springs past, had written their names in large characters of stencil-ink. One could see in the county roofs made of fresh boughs, through which the sunlight sifted, flecking the swarthy faces and arms of the shearers and the mantles of the sheep with a very picturesque effect; but it is probably best to resist the temptation to treat the shearing-shed as an artistic composition. The ground-plan of the shed was one hundred feet or so long by twenty-five wide. The floor was of trampled earth, and on it were placed shearing-tables, s s s, and burring-and tying-tables, B B. The shearing-tables were about fifteen inches high, the burring-tables high enough for a man to stand up to. It is the custom in many parts of the country to shear on the floor. In Mr. Hardy's picturesque novel, "Far from the Madding Crowd," the shearers shear in a cathedral-like barn, on a shining black-oak floor,--probably for purposes of contrast. Round the ranch, however, shearers preferred very generally the low wooden tables. The space back of the shearing-tables was occupied, when shearing was going on, by a "bunch" of sheep admitted through the movable panels from a pen containing the unshorn: after shearing, they departed through the panels into another pen, and eventually over the prairie to their pleasant grazing-grounds, angular and grotesque in appearance, but happy, their troubles past, their year's chief purpose served.
[Illustration: Movable Panels. CORRALS.]
The shearers this year were a band of forty or so Mexicans from Uvalde and other border towns, jollily travelling two hundred miles up the country in charge of a _capitan_ and _grande capitan_ responsible fellows, who had contracted with the ranchmen of the neighborhood to do their shearing. Early in May we heard of them on the creeks, and made preparation for them, the shed and corrals being put to rights in every detail, the supply of bacon and _frijoles_ augmented at the store, and all hands, including the stranger within the gates, set to hemming wool-sacks with coarse twine and sailors' needles. One evening, but shrewdly in time for supper, a couple of Mexicans on horses, thridding their way through the mesquites, came into the ranch, quickly followed by others, one or two on _burros_, more on ponies, most on the skeleton of a prairieschooner drawn by four horses,--and the shearers had arrived. They were a dark, black-eyed, hilarious set, some forty odd in all, rather ragged as a crew, but with extremes of full and neat attire or insufficient tatters according as the goddess Fortune or the Mexican demi-goddess Monte had smiled or frowned; but all were equally jolly, and almost all fiercely armed, the greatest tatterdemalion and sans-culotte of all with a handsome Winchester, in a case, slung over brown shoulders that would have been better for a whole shirt. The hat, though cheap, was, even among the ragged, frequently elaborate, and served excellently to carry off a protruding toe or knee, or to reconcile the association in one person of an ancient boot with a still more ancient shoe. Many of these fellows were undoubtedly trustworthy, other some as undoubtedly, if they had had consciences, would have had homicides on them; but all were light-hearted. Life is one thing to the man who lets the breath out of his companion with a knife, and, leaving his body in the brush, straightway goes about his idleness laughing, and quite another to him who cannot get over the hideous fact that he has tied his cravat awry.
On the morning of the first day we turned out at four o'clock, and, while we were getting a dew-bite of crackers and a sip of coffee, _el capitan_ circulated among the recumbent figures that had dotted the prairie over-night: with a shake and a pull of the big hat by way of toilet, they proceeded in twos and threes toward the shearing-shed, their shears in their hands and all their personal property in weapons dangling about them. The burrers, too, Mexicans hired in the neighborhood, put in an appearance and ranged themselves behind their tables, A flock had been penned at the shed over-night, and, while a fraction of it was being driven through the movable panels into the space behind the shearing--table, the shearers were ranged along it by the captain: they hung up their rifles and revolvers to the posts, some their hats and jackets, and fell to chattering, lighting their cigarettes, and sharpening their shears. When the supply of sheep was in and the panels closed, the captain gave the shrill cry, "_Vaminos__" and all hands rushed in among the frightened animals and dragged out their chosen victims by the leg. They showed great shrewdness in selecting the small, the light-woolled, the easy-to-be-shorn. "The loud clapping of the shears" at once filled the shed, and it was not five minutes before a light fleece was tossed upon the burring-table, and a grinning fellow came running up to the ranchman seated in a chair thereon, the better to supervise affairs, and called out, "Check-e!" amid _vivas_ for the first sheep shorn. He received a tin token, which he thrust into his pocket, and plunged over the low platform after another sheep. Calls of "_Cole_!" "_Colero_" "_Cole, muchacho, echale_" began to ring out, and, with an answering call of "_Onde?_" ("Where?"), two little, laughing Mexican boys, with tumbled, curly black wigs, and cheeks like bronzed peaches, darted about with boxes of powdered charcoal, and clapped a pinch of it on the cut made by careless shears. The burrers threw out the fleeces smooth upon the table, and, one on either side, patted them over with their hands to discover the cockle-burrs entangled in the wool; these removed, they folded and rolled the fleeces up with care and handed them to a man who, with the aid of a small, square box, tied them tightly with two strings, and tossed them out of the shed, where they were received by the ranchman who was grading the wool and supervising the packing.
The packing was done in two frames, seven feet high, in which an iron ring held the sacks open. To a man on one of these frames the fleeces in their compact little bundles were tossed up, and he trod them down, packing them in the sack. Then the sack was let down, sewed up, rolled to the scales and weighed, marked with the ranch-mark, the weight, the grade, and was ready for the freighters and a market. About ten thousand pounds of wool were sheared, burred, packed, marked, and perhaps shipped, in a day.
Inside and out, seventy men were at work about the shed: the fleeces rapidly piled up on the burring-tables; tied and tossed out, they grew into little mountains, and around the scales for a wide space the packed sacks cumbered the ground. The ranchmen moved about to see that coal was used where needed, and that it was not needed too frequently, that fleeces were not broken, and were thoroughly burred and nicely tied; and the Mexicans, ceaselessly chattering, singing, laughing, calling jokes to each other, crying, "Viva Rito!" "Viva Encarnacion!" ran for their checks, dashed in for their sheep, and kept the shears clashing, while the perplexed ewe, with an uproar perhaps more distinctly justifiable, called to the lamb she had left in the pen, and the lamb answered cry for cry. All this went on in a strong south wind heavy with dust and the acrid sheep smell. It was the liveliest possible spectacle of organized confusion, and the accompanying noise was calculated to split the ears of the groundlings. As the number unshorn of the installment of sheep in the pen dwindled toward zero, little groups of unoccupied shearers gathered round the posts near the low tables, lit fresh cigarettes, whipped out cards, and started a little game of _monte_ for the checks they had in their pockets, continuing till the captain's _revenons à nos moutons_ once more started their shears. The sun crept up in the sky, a fitting cessation occurred, and, a ranchman having given the signal, a tide set in for the cook-house and breakfast.
In Mr. Hardy's story, just mentioned, his hero performs rather a feat in shearing three and a half pounds of washed wool in twenty-three and one-half minutes, A Mexican would have to take a reef in his big hat if he could not do better than that. His tin check is worth four and a half cents to him, and a fair hand ought to have at least fifty in his pocket at sunset, in return for as many seven-pound unwashed fleeces,--always provided he has not sacrificed them to _monte_ during the day. A first-rate man will have seventy, and, if called upon to show what he is made of, will shear a heavy-woolled wether in six minutes. At evening each shearer turns in his checks, and receives in return a signed paper with his name and their number.
The interior of the shed when shearing is at its height commends itself very forcibly to the attention of the artist. The heaps of fleeces, mellow masses of gray, yellow, and white, the throng of anxious sheep, watching with painful interest their companions struggling in the swarthy arms of the stalwart, bare-chested shearers, saddles, broad sombreros, whips, and weapons grouped in so many pendent escutcheons of the great Mexican vagabond family, the flitting _coleritos_, the scarfed shearers themselves, all are so many veritable "bits." But it is not only that the details are good: they compose admirably about the long aisle, with here and there a dagger of sharp light thrust into the shade, and without, the luminous clouds of dust. The shearer puts one foot on the low table, the neck of the sheep resting over his knee, and its fleece rolling off like a robe; his broad chest is thrown out, his head back, his nostrils vent smoke like an angry god's, and his glancing white teeth, disclosed in a broad smile, tightly grip a cigarette. He is chattering, laughing, smoking: incidentally he is shearing.
The presence of the shearers at the ranch causes a flutter in surrounding Mexican society. They are known to be keen hands, _viveurs_, jolly good fellows withal, and, moreover, men who can wrestle with wethers ten hours a day (no light task on the muscles) and yet have spirit to dance and play all night. So, at evening, the _jacals_--the little farms and settlements on the creek--are likely to send forth a contingent bound for the cook-house and a night of it. A harp and an accordion are found, and to the sharply-marked music produced by this combination an impromptu _baile_ forms itself. The swarthy sombreros clutch each other, and hop about, their spurs gleaming and jangling, their pistols sticking out behind like incipient tails; and soon the _baile_ overflows the kitchen, and the glowing cigarette-tips circle like fire-flies to the music in the dark night-air without. In a corner, against the salt-house, by the light of a fire, a group is gathered round a blanket spread on the ground, with little piles of silver before them, over the always-absorbing _monte_; and other groups are very harmlessly singing. By midnight the music dies away and the dancing ceases, but the sombreros bend over the _monte_ blanket and the silver clinks on it till morning.
About two weeks with days and nights of this character sufficed, with slight interruptions occasioned by bad weather, to get one hundred thousand pounds of wool off the backs of the sheep. On Sunday the shearers would not work: the day was sacred--to pleasure. The store was thronged with purchasers, the cook-house became the temple of _monte_, the road a race-track. The ranch had the air of a _fête_. The races were short rushes with horses started with a jab of the spur or thwack of the _cuerta_, to see who first should cross a line scratched in the dust, at either end of which a throng kneeled and craned forward and held out silver dollars and called bets.
At length the last sheep was shorn, the last sack marked, the pools on that interesting figure, the total clip of the year, decided, and the shearers in motley tableau assembled in the ranch-house, before the table, to have their paper slips redeemed. They did not understand checks on San Antonio banks; they "didn't want paper;" they had a rather praiseworthy doubt of green-backs; they wanted the solid _dinero_,--the "Buzzard," the "Trade," or the radiant Mexican _peso_. Toward midnight it ceased to be a laughing-matter, paying off, and one was glad to turn in even in an atmosphere heavy with cigarette-smoke and not over-fragrant. Next morning the shearers leisurely saddled up and disappeared through the brush, the Grande Capitan and Capitan lifting their hats with grace and dignity and calling, "_Adios_!" They left a rather relaxed ranch, with a marked tendency toward hammocks and long siestas, varied with a little mild lawn-tennis at evening in an old corral, which, by the way, with its surrounding fence to stop the balls, made in many respects an admirable court.
Toward the end of August the pluvial god, assisted by the physical characteristics of the region, provided us with a genuine sensation. Hitherto we had had mere weather; this was a pronounced case of meteorology: until then I had taken no special satisfaction in the word. It had been raining frequently during the month, in quite unusual volume; the arroyos were pretty brooks, the sides of the divides wept, and there were wide, soft places on the prairies; the flocks went very lame from the excessive dampness, and riding was a splashing and spattering business; but the oldest inhabitant dropped no hint suggestive of the veritable meteorological _coup_ which was quietly preparing.
We retired one night in our usual unsuspecting frame of mind, and awoke next morning to hear above the dull reverberation of the rain the booming of a torrent. The arroyo near the ranch was no longer an arroyo, but a stream fifty feet wide; and on the hither side of the pecan-trees of the creek could be seen a silver line: the water had already surpassed the banks. Before noon there was neither creek nor arroyo, but a river a mile wide rushing down the valley: we knew where the trees had been, by the swirling waves. A flood is like those serpents which fascinate before they strike. The monotonous rain failing _ohne Hast, ohne Rast_, the dead immutable murk of the sky, the rush of gray wave after wave, induced a state of dull lethargic wonder: the feet--the foot more, would it accomplish that? Already the floor of the ranch-house was under water. But there was soon a sufficient dashing about of riders in long yellow oil-skin coats, and all was done that the situation seemed to demand or admit of. The culminating moment of the day came toward two in the afternoon, when we stood on the roof of the ranch-house, with our eyes glued to a sulphur-colored patch a mile up the valley. It was a flock of sheep congregated on an unsubmerged knoll in the middle of the torrent. There was a sudden movement in the mass, the sulphur patch vanished, and there was borne to us distinctly a long, plaintive cry: the flock had been swept away. In a few minutes, however, we caught sight of many of them swimming admirably, and, much to our astonishment, they found a desperate footing opposite the ranch across the swift sweep of the arroyo. A dozen Mexicans were equal to the emergency. They stripped, threw themselves in, stemmed the current, and, with amazing pluck and fortitude, worked about amid the submerged cactus and chaparral, which must have wounded them savagely, holding the sheep together. Finally, after desperate urging, a wether was induced to breast the rush of the arroyo and landed safely high and dry on the hither bank, when, thanks to their disposition to follow a leader, all plunged in, and, after a vigorous push, found their perils at an end. But the count showed some six hundred missing.
It ceased raining toward four o'clock, and the sun set in great splendor. The next day the water had quite subsided, and I went, unsuccessfully, after plover over the bed of yesterday's river, but the beauty of the creek had been destroyed for the season. And farther down, where the flood had come at midnight, it had swept away many lives.
In November, when the broom on the sides of the hills was a fine pink-brown, and when the wet places which the flood had left abounded in jack-snipe and afforded the neatest shooting in the world, I turned my back upon the ranch, where I had been very prodigal of the best of riches,--"the loose change of time." I did so with a warm feeling of regret,--a feeling somewhat tempered by the thought that I should soon be in a region of homes, constant greetings, and the morning newspapers. But after a few weeks of the morning newspapers it has been borne in upon me that a great deal is to be said for the place which does not know them.
THE LADY LAWYER'S FIRST CLIENT.
Mrs. Tarbell sat in her office, pretending to read a law-journal, but really looking at her name on the office door; and she was not without justification, perhaps, seeing that it had taken her six years to get it there. Furthermore, though it was six weeks since it had been lettered upon the glass panel, she had as yet found nothing to do but look at it. She was at last a lawyer; she had triumphed over prejudice and ridicule; and a young lawyer has three privileges,--he may write Esquire after his name, he is exempt from jury duty, and he can wait for clients. Mrs. Tarbell had always been exempt from jury duty, and her brother told her that, historically speaking, she ought to be called _equestrienne_, if she was to have any title: so it seemed that it was only left to her to wait for clients and contemplate her sign. The sign read,--
Ellen G. Tarbell, Alex. H. Juddson, Attorneys-at-Law. Commissioner for Colorado.
Mrs. Tarbell had been a Miss Juddson before her marriage with ---- Tarbell, Esq. (of Hinson & Tarbell, mourning goods), and Mr. Alexander H. Juddson was her brother. When Mr. Tarbell died, his widow told her family and friends that she was going to read law.
Mrs. Tarbell had always been a woman of progressive notions, but this was going too far. Her family and some of her friends were short-sighted enough to attempt to argue the general question,--namely, ought women to have Rights? When Mrs. Tarbell proved to them that they were both unfair and illogical, they then said that, though they had no objection to other women making lawyers of themselves, they did not see the necessity in her case.
Mrs. Tarbell replied that she must get a living; and it was quite true that the late Tarbell had failed a few months before his death, leaving his widow rather poorly off; for he had not put his property in her name before making an assignment. And Mrs. Tarbell went on to say that, as she could not be a nurse, and would not be a governess or keep a boarding-house, she would read law. It was reported at the time that Mr. Juddson said he hoped his sister would go and read law, if anywhere, in Colorado, for which State it was he, of course, who was the commissioner; but, whether this report were true or not, Mrs. Tarbell stayed at home and pursued her studies under his direction.
After going through all sorts of examinations, at which she flung herself determinedly, and which she kept on passing with the greatest credit, after meeting with innumerable disappointments and delays, after being politely told by one judge after another that she was a woman, and therefore could not be a man,--hence, _a fortiori_, she could not be a lawyer,--after six years, I say, Mrs. Tarbell succeeded. Her name went on the list of attorneys. The court-clerk gave her a certificate, and received two dollars and sixty cents. The newspapers chronicled the circumstance. Her friends were triumphant. Judge Measy, who admitted her to the bar, was compared to Lord Mansfield and to Mr. Lincoln.
But marriage is not the only lofty undertaking attended by petty miseries. Mrs. Tarbell could bear her great misfortunes with courage and resolution: as she had great hopes, so she expected great disasters. Not Lars Porsenna of Clusium himself was more clapped on the back, and huzzahed after, and backed up by the augurs, nor more frequently told that he was the beloved of heaven, than Mrs. Tarbell had been by her soothsayers and partisans. At first this was all very well, but afterward it grew tiresome. If Mrs. Tarbell, emerging from widowhood and placing herself in the van of feminine progress, was really a pioneer in a heaven sent mission (as perhaps she was), there was no need to repeat the phrase so often. When two or three years had gone by, and it began to be apparent that Mrs. Tarbell had a long and up-hill struggle before her, she became very impatient of enthusiasm. She had never liked it, even when the female welkin (if there be such a thing) had first rung with applause for her, and now it was painfully uncomfortable. Mrs. Lucretia Pegley (authoress of "Woman's Wrongs," "The Weaker Sex?" "Eve _v._ Adam," etc., etc., editor of "Woman's Sphere," and chief contributor to the "Coming Era;" her friends called her a Boadicea, and denied that she had withdrawn from the study of medicine because she had fainted at her first operation),--Mrs. Pegley observed her friend's shortness of temper, and took her to task about it. "Ellen Tarbell," she said, "you surprise me very much. Do you wish to give the impression that your motives are purely personal and--forgive me, but the word is necessary--selfish? that you have no interest in the movement in which you are a pioneer? that your heart is not with the cause which after so many years of weary waiting looks to you for advancement? Mr. Botts is a most worthy and indefatigable man; perhaps a trifle too much addicted to repetition for the sake of rhetorical effect,--a thing, I admit, very trying; but it is of the highest importance (I say this between ourselves, of course, and you may imagine that I would not give publicity to such a statement),--it is of the _highest_ importance that the feelings of our--hem--masculine colleagues should not be--"
"Yes, yes," interrupted Mrs. Tarbell hastily, "I appreciate that fully, I assure you. But yesterday evening I was rather tired, and I--"
"Tired!" said Mrs. Pegley, in the voice of acute anguish which caused her to be known as a woman of the most extraordinary intensity of convictions. "It is a wonder we are not all in our _graves_," she added, in tones whose sombre depth was brightened by a little colloquial levity, for she felt that she had been too severe with Mrs. Tarbell. "Still," she continued, "after Mr. Bott's _very_ flattering remarks you might have spoken with a little more--er--_earnestness_ and--er--_vigor_ yourself, you know. And for such an audience as we had last night, three minutes is really--"
After this, Mrs. Tarbell resolved that her next effort at public speaking should be made before an American jury, or not at all. Indeed, she went so far as to think it a great mistake to suppose that woman's cause could not be advanced without calling meetings and haranguing them till eleven o'clock at night. Very likely her ideals were still of the highest order, and certainly she still hoped that when women were allowed to practise law the law would be so changed that you would hardly recognize it; but she wanted to carry on her part of the work occultly and quietly. She had got over a good many of her own illusions, and she was taking a more practical view of life. She smiled when she thought of the prophecies which had been made about her, and she no longer read the paragraphs about herself in the newspapers. She kept her brother's dockets and drew his papers. Alexander frowned a good deal, and said it wasn't necessary, but she insisted that she must pay him in some way for her education. She put his desk in order and gave him new papers every other day, which practices he never could get her to forego. In short, she settled down into a routine of study, office-work, and regularly recurring attempts to _get in_. And when she finally did get in, she had become a cynic. Everybody remembers, of course, how at the end of his last term Judge Oldwigg announced his intention to retire into private life and decline a reelection, and how the managers of the party in power chose Judge Measy as their candidate for the vacant place. The prospective judge was waited on privately by a deputation of Mrs. Tarbell's friends, headed by Mrs. Pegley, and asked to define his position on the Tarbell question. The deputation did not contain many voters, and no bargain which Mr. Measy, as he then was, could have made with it would have increased his majority very largely: as he was pretty sure of a majority, he must be cleared of all suspicion of making a bargain. But he did deliver to Mrs. Pegley an oracular answer, which was in course of time interpreted in Mrs. Tarbell's favor. She came up before him; Mr. Juddson made the motion which he had so often made before, and made it, I regret to say, in rather hurried tones, when, to everybody's surprise, Judge Measy produced a manuscript and read it out, and proved that a lawyer was a person who practiced law, and that therefore, as a woman was a person, she could be a lawyer, interspersing his remarks with graceful historical allusions and several profound reflections upon the design of Nature in creating the female sex. Then, acting as man, not judge, he descended to the side-bar, beckoned to Mrs. Tarbell, grasped her by the hand, and made her a speech. "Madam," said the courtly judge, "Mrs. Tarbell, I congratulate you,"--which was one for himself as well,--"and let me add that it gives me the sincerest satisfaction to be able to testify in this manner to the veneration which I have always entertained for woman; and I am quite sure that in no long space of time you will have proved to us that the law cannot say it has nothing to gain from her refining influence. For I remember my _own_ mother, Mrs. Tarbell," said Judge Measy. The bar listened in awed admiration. Mrs. Tarbell bit her lips, bowed, and thanked his honor as best she could. The idea of suggesting that she was anybody's mother, or that even if she had a family that was any reason for permitting her to be a barrister! But from the other side of the court-room was heard an expressive rustling, and audible whispers of satisfaction were wafted across the lawyers on their chairs. Mrs. Pegley and her train were sitting by, radiant, triumphant, majestic. The dignity of motherhood was vindicated.
And now that Juddson and Tarbell were moving to their new offices, who should also at the very same time become a tenant of the Land and Water Insurance Company but the Honorable Franklin Blood Pope? The Land and Water Company's new building was in a very desirable locality, and several lawyers deserted their old nooks and corners to occupy its spacious and well-calcimined apartments. Juddson and Tarbell took the rooms on the back of the third floor, Mr. Pope those on the front ditto: they were very near neighbors. In former days Mrs. Tarbell had often complained to her husband of Mr. Pope's success. It was an argument that men had not as much common sense as they pretended to have, she said, or else they would see through Franklin B----'s absurd pretensions. "Even I can perceive that the man is a humbug," she continued. "In fact, any woman could. Why is he successful, then? Why has he an enormous practice? Why has he been sent to Congress? If it is because he has a majestic appearance and can talk a great deal, women certainly can fulfill these conditions, and that by your own account of them."
To which Mr. Tarbell would answer, "Exactly, my love, by all means; and so is your friend Mrs. Pegley a great talker, and a fine-looking woman."
"Then give her all the rights you give to Mr. Pope," cried Mrs. Tarbell.
"She shall have 'em, and welcome," said Tarbell; but he did not tell his wife that he had voted for Mr. Pope on the opposition ticket, and had even consulted him on matters of business,--once going so far as to suggest to him that a certain proposed alteration in the tariff would seriously affect the mourning-goods industry,--from which it may be gathered that it was not from any lack of prudence that Mr. Tarbell died a bankrupt and left his widow to become a lady-lawyer.
Mr. Pope himself it was who betrayed Mr. Tarbell's confidence and opened Mrs. Tarbell's eyes. "Your husband was my very good friend, my dear madam," said the Honorable Franklin, "and I was proud to call him my client. Yes, I had the honor of advising him in several matters and of carrying through some rather delicate negotiations for him. A man of the strictest integrity, ever genial and urbane, of sound judgment and independent views, endowed with strong common sense and quick perceptions. You see, I had the highest opinion of Mr. Tarbell, and have often wished to tell his widow--alas that I should have to call her so!--how certain I am that she will succeed in the career she has chosen, and how deeply I grieve that her husband could not have lived to find in her a better adviser than I ever could have been to him."
Messrs.--I mean Mrs. and Mr.--Tarbell and Juddson were just moving into their new offices when Mr. Pope uttered these kind wishes. He met Mrs. Tarbell on the door-step: he was standing there, indeed, when she came in. He was always standing on the door-step: he carried on most of his business, especially with the politicians, in public. "I beg that you will use my library on all occasions," he continued, raising his voice a little. "If I may say so myself, it is rather comprehensive; in fact, I am very proud of it. And any assistance which I can give you in any way, my dear madam, will, I need hardly say, be given most heartily."
Use his library, indeed! Mrs. Tarbell would have been as likely to go to the Vatican and ask Pope Leo for the loan of a few works _contra hæreticos_. Why had she and her brother ever come to the Land and Water Company's building? The idea of meeting the Honorable Pope every day, of every day beholding his portly figure, statesman-like features, and lion mane, and acknowledging his bland bows and salutations, was inexpressibly odious. And, what was worse, Mr. Pope continued to flourish like a green bay-tree, or like the proprietors of a patent medicine or a blackguard newspaper, or any other comparison you please. Feet tramped along the hall, hands knocked at his door, lips innumerable whispered into his ears, and Mrs. Tarbell sat and looked at her sign, wondering what had become of all the women who were to have employed her. She had not said, "Walk in, madam," to one of them; and Mr. Juddson's clients all regarded her as if she were a curiosity.
Mrs. Tarbell looked, in fact, like the president of a Dorcas society or a visitor of a church hospital. She had pleasing features, dark hair, slightly touched with gray, as became a lawyer of thirty-five, and dignified manners. She dressed very plainly in a black dress with just one row of broad trimming down the front, and, though she felt that it was an abuse of authority, she drew her hair straight back from her forehead. This question of her hair had given her some little anxiety, and it had cost her some time to decide what kind of hat or bonnet she should wear. Alexander said she might use her riding-hat for the sake of economy, but she had decided on a tweed walking-hat, which could be taken off very quickly in the court-room. For, whatever she might do in church, it was now impossible for her to remain covered before the bench of judges.
Mrs. Tarbell's desk was in the middle of the back room,--she could just see the outer door obliquely through that of her partition,--and Mr. Juddson's was in a similar position in the front room. This was not a very good arrangement. Mrs. Tarbell could not very well be put in the front room with the office-boy, and yet the proximity of the office-boy was not agreeable to Mr. Juddson either. Then, too, most of the books were in the back room, and so was the sofa: altogether it looked as if Mrs. Tarbell were the senior. Mr. Juddson was thinking seriously of having another partition built, and that would at any rate save him from being asked "if Mr. Juddson were in," for, as every one knows, there is a vast difference between being asked "if Mr. Juddson be in," and "is this Mr. Juddson?" But Mr. Juddson had the picture of Chief-Justice Marshall and the map of the battle-field of Gettysburg, so he was not so badly off; and Mrs. Tarbell was very comfortable.
She was just musing over her future, and saying to herself, "When I die, I _know_ that they will call a bar-meeting, and that Mr. Pope will make a eulogy on my character," when the door opened, and Mr. Juddson came in. Mrs. Tarbell returned to business-life immediately.
"Did you find Mullany?" she said.
Mr. Juddson, a tall, black-whiskered man of about fifty, rubbed his hands for a moment over the fire, and then answered shortly that he _had_ found Mullany.
"What did he say?"
"Oh,--what I expected," said Mr. Juddson, turning over the papers on his table. He disliked unnecessary questions. Mrs. Tarbell had no interest in Mullany, and the most she ought to do was to ask about him in an off-hand way in the street-car on the way home. Mr. Juddson discovered the paper for which he was searching, and turned toward the door.
"Are you going out?" said Mrs. Tarbell.
The door was already half open.
"Reference before Murray. Back at one," was all Mr. Juddson deigned to say.
"Alexander!" cried Mrs. Tarbell,--when the office-boy was in, she called her brother Mr. Juddson,--"Alexander!"
"_Well_?" said Mr. Juddson. He was late as it was.
"You will make the office very cold if you leave the door--but never mind. Don't let me keep you. I only wanted to tell you that I should like to talk to you about something some time to-d--" The rest of the sentence was lost upon Mr. Juddson, who had already shut the door behind him, and Mrs. Tarbell felt aggrieved.
So much aggrieved, in fact, that she found it impossible to return to the law-journal.
"I suppose I need a sedative," she said to herself. "If I were a man, I would put my feet up on the table and light a cigar, or--no! I would never practise that vilest form of the vice." (What she meant by this last phrase I cannot imagine, unless she referred to something which Mr. Juddson had been driven to do because he could not very well smoke while his sister was in the office.) "What," continued Mrs. Tarbell, "what can there be to recommend the position?" She looked at the desk.
"Is it an easy position?" she said. She looked down at her feet.
"Is it even a graceful position?" She swung herself to and fro on her revolving-chair.
She looked about her. The office was empty; the office-boy had gone on a very long errand. "I will try it," she said, with determination.
She removed all the books and papers on the right side of the table to the left side. Then she tilted back her chair, elevated her left foot cautiously, put it down, and elevated her right, placed it determinedly on the table, crossed the other foot over it, leaned forward with some difficulty to arrange her skirts, leaned back again.
"My book seems to lie very easily in my lap," she said to herself. "And the leaves turn over quite willingly."
One page, two pages, three pages. "After all," said she,--"after all--if one were quite alone--and had been sitting for a long time in another attitude--"
Tap-tap! came a timid knock at the door.
"Come in!" cried Mrs. Tarbell, resuming her former position in a great hurry, and dropping the law-journal.
"Come in!" said Mrs. Tarbell, picking up the law-journal. "_Come in_!" she said.
And the door opened slowly.
"Well?" said Mrs. Tarbell.
"Is Mrs. Tarbell in?" said the party of the knocks.
"I am Mrs. Tarbell. Come in, please. What can I do for you?"
"I wanted to see you, ma'am."
"Take a chair. Well?"
"I suppose it's April weather," said the new-comer; "but the rain is right chilly, so it is; like it was a November rain, somehow. Will I put my umbreller right down here? The spring is dreadful late, and the farmers is all complainin', they tell me."
Mrs. Tarbell shuddered.
The new-comer was tall and gaunt and thin; her shoulders sloped, she stooped, her chin was up in the air, and she peered through spectacles. Her hat was rusty, her india-rubber gossamer was rusty, the crape on her dress was so very rusty that it seemed to be made of iron-filings. Her cheeks were the color of unburned coffee-grains or of underdone gingerbread; her nose was long; her eyes, were small and bleary; her protruding lips wrinkled up as she spoke, and displayed her poor yellow old tusks; her scant hair was dirty gray, her forehead was bald, her neck was scraggy: she was particularly and pathetically ugly. Her dress bagged about over her long waist and spidery arms. No wonder Mrs. Tarbell shuddered.
"If I ain't disturbing you, Mrs. Tarbell," the visitor continued, "and if you _could_ just spare the time to listen to me for a minnit, I wanted just to ask you for a little advice. My name is Stiles, ma'am,--Mrs. Annette Gorsley Stiles. Gorsley was my given name before I was married--But I feel as if I was taking up your time, Mrs. Tarbell."
"Not at all," said Mrs. Tarbell hastily.
"Well, ma'am, my husband he's dead, been dead this six years now, and left me with four to feed, and--well, I don't know just how to begin, rightly. You see, it's this way. Celandine, my eldest,--that was _his_ name for her; he had a right pretty knack at names, and was always for names that ran easy,--Celandine she's eighteen now, 'n' she wants to be doing something for herself. It drives me real hard to pay for all four of them out of a sewing-machine and the little I make selling candies over a counter,--five cents' worth of chocolate drops and penny's-worths of yellow taffy; never more than fifty cents a day, living where we do, in Pulaski Street,--and Celandine she's bound to help me some way. The next oldest to Celandine is on'y ten; and if I was to starve I wouldn't have him to sell papers or black boots, and his father a foreman; and the' ain't no call for office-boys nowadays, 'r else it's because Augustus is so small for his age--"
"We have an office-boy," murmured Mrs. Tarbell.
"I know, ma'am," said Mrs. Stiles. "Leastways, I guessed as much. I was thinking of asking you about Celandine." Mrs. Tarbell stirred uneasily, and Mrs. Stiles hurried on: "Celandine and me we were talking things over the other day,--we've been reading about you in the newspapers, Mrs. Tarbell, nigh on to four years now; Celandine has always been a comprehending child, precocious, as they say, and quick-witted, and she's been watching your career, ma'am, just as clost as you could yourself. And the day you was admitted she come home,--a friend of hers gave her the afternoon paper,--and she says, 'Mother,' she says, 'Mrs. Tarbell is admitted!'--just like it was a personal friend of yours, Mrs. Tarbell; and reely, ma'am, I suppose I oughtn't to say it, but there's been a good many women all over this country felt themselves personal friends of yours, ma'am, knowing how much there was meant by your success and feeling how near the question come to themselves; and if good wishes brings good luck, that's what you have to thank for succeeding. But Celandine she's an ambitious girl, Mrs, Tarbell, and the long and the short of it is just this, that she's set her heart on being a lawyer, and she's either too shy or too proud, mebbe, to come here with me to speak to you, ma'am: so I just put on my bunnit the first day I could, rain or shine, and rain it's turned out to be, to say a word to you about her and just ask you what you _thought_."
"A lawyer?" gasped Mrs. Tarbell.
"Yes, ma'am; a lady lawyer."
Mrs. Tarbell had never a word to say. In spite of having triumphed over all the arguments, both those epicene and those particularly masculine, which had been used against herself, she had not now the strength of mind to use them in her turn. In spite of being a lawyer, she had a conscience. She had looked forward to taking students, but they were all to have been Portias, every woman Jane of them; and before her own learning was fairly dry (which I think an eminently proper adjective to describe legal learning) there appeared to her an obviously crack-brained old party in an india-rubber cloak, who kept a candy-store and wanted her daughter to become a lawyer. No wonder Mrs. Tarbell was embarrassed. Was she to say to the crack-brained one, "Madam, pay me one hundred dollars per annum and I will take your daughter as a student"? On the other hand, how in the name of that Orloff, that Pitt, that Kohinoor diamond among precious virtues, consistency, was she to go so far as even to hint to Mrs. Stiles that any woman couldn't be a lawyer? As Mrs. Tarbell hesitated, she began to fear she was lost.
"Celandine is a real bright girl," said Mrs. Stiles, who had now regained her breath. Was this the woman who had knocked so timidly at the door? "Celandine is a _real_ bright girl; her mind is thorough, logical, and comprehensive,--that's what Professor Jamieson said, up to the High School. Them was his very words. Celandine is to graduate this year: she's in the class with girls two and three years older than herself, Mrs. Tarbell. It was a terrible strain on me to keep her at school, ma'am, and again and _again_ I've thought I couldn't stand it, what with her being in the shop only in the afternoon, and the washing, and trying to keep her clothes always nice; though she's been as good as _gold_,--making _all_ her dresses her_self_, and wearing a calico till you'd have thought the stitches would have dropped right _out_ of it. And she's ambitious, as I say. She don't seem to be able to face the idea of going into a store; and, oh, dear me! they're terrible places, those big stores, for girls. They're as bad as the factories; and _often_ and _often_ when I see those poor creatures that stand behind counters all day coming home at night and thinking so much about the way their hair's done, and then consider what slaves they are, and what they're exposed to, and how many wicked people are on the watch to work them to death for no pay at all, and bully them, and to lead them all wrong, if they can, why, it just makes me think how _sensible_ the good Lord is, that he's able to take care of them so well and look after them as much as he does. Professor Jamieson has been as kind as could _be_ about Celandine, and said he'd try to get a place for her as teacher; but you can't do that, you know, Mrs. Tarbell, not onless you've got friends in politics; and I haven't, not one. And a governess ain't often asked for; and you need influence for that, too. And Celandine, though she would take copying or typewriting, or be a telegraph operator, her own idea is to be a lawyer. And I just thought, Mrs. Tarbell, that I'd come to you and ask your advice; for I knew you'd sympathize."
"I--I don't know," gasped Mrs. Tarbell. The shock was almost as great as if she had thought Mrs. Stiles was a client. And what was she to do? Mrs. Stiles was not asking her to accept Miss Celandine as a student: she was asking her whether Miss Celandine ought to study at all. Mrs. Tarbell would have given anything to have a few platitudes at her tongue's end, but her conscience rendered her helpless. "Well, you see, Mrs. Stiles," she said at length, "we are trying a--hem--an experiment, you know."
"An experiment!" cried Mrs. Stiles, astounded. "Law bless us, you're admitted to be a lawyer, ain't you? And if one lady can be a lawyer--"
"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Tarbell hastily; "but that is not the question. I mean that it is not yet certain that women are going to succeed at the bar." Absolutely, though she was no fool, she had never made the concession before,--not even to herself.
"But you are a lawyer," repeated Mrs. Stiles.
"It doesn't follow that I shall make money at the law," said Mrs. Tarbell impatiently, but with a sense of her own justice.
Mrs. Stiles was staggered. "Not make any money?" she faltered.
"My good woman," said Mrs. Tarbell, "let me tell you that I have not yet had a single client, that I have not yet made a single dollar!" And, really, this was rather magnanimous. "The fact is, Mrs. Stiles," she continued, "it is impossible to say how long it will be before women inspire public confidence in their ability to do what has always been supposed to be man's work."
"Law!" said Mrs. Stiles.
"And your daughter had better wait till that is settled in our favor before she commits herself."
In Mrs. Stiles's cheeks a queer tinge appeared upon the gingerbread hue before spoken of,--a faint reddish tinge, a sprinkling of powdered cinnamon and sugar, as it were. "But, Mrs. Tarbell," she cried, "I thought--why, I thought the courts arranged all that."
"You don't mean to tell me it was your belief that the members of the bar are paid by the court?" said Mrs. Tarbell, aghast.
"Why, no, not exactly," stammered Mrs. Stiles. "But, then, I thought they--sort of--distributed things, you know. Don't they? I heerd of a young gentleman who was appointed to be lawyer for a man who cut his wife's throat with a pair of scissors, and the gentleman had never seen him before, not once."
"Did you suppose," said Mrs. Tarbell,--the affair was arranging itself very easily, after all,--"did you suppose that the judges undertake to see that the business of the courts is equally distributed among the lawyers?"
"I--I don't know, ma'am, I'm sure."
"My good, woman," said Mrs, Tarbell, with great seriousness, "a lawyer is just as much dependent upon custom as you are. There are many confectioners who do a large business, there are some who fail. So it is with lawyers. And many lawyers have to wait ten or twelve years before they become known at all. So you see in what a critical situation your daughter runs the risk of placing herself, and how seriously you ought to reflect before you allow her to take such a risk."
She looked anxiously toward the door. At that moment it opened, and the office-boy entered. She rose instantly, and Mrs. Stiles had to follow her example. Mrs. Tarbell represented to herself that the rain would not hurt her, and that Mrs. Stiles must be got rid of, and, feeling that this could now be accomplished, smiled at Mrs. Stiles in a friendly and reassuring manner.
"Who was the gentleman who was ten years before he got any work to do?" said Mrs. Stiles, standing up very crooked and looking very bewildered.
"Oh," said Mrs. Tarbell glibly, "that has happened to a great many lawyers. Let me see: I can't at this moment recall--Chief-Justice--no--Lord--Lord--Eldon," she mumbled hastily, "and Lord-Kilgobbin, and Chief-Justice Coleridge, all had to wait a--a longer or a shorter time. In fact, it is very often a matter of chance that a lawyer obtains any business at all." She walked past Mrs. Stiles, and took up her umbrella. Mrs. Stiles followed her with an irresolute glance. Mrs. Tarbell put on her ulster.
"Celandine will be dreadful disappointed," said Mrs. Stiles, in a mournful tone. "And, dear me, Mrs. Tarbell, I never said a word to you about what she's like; and me so proud of her, too."
In spite of her success, Mrs. Tarbell was by no means satisfied with herself, and the pathetic note in Mrs. Stiles's voice proved too much for her. "Mrs. Stiles," she said, turning round quickly, "perhaps I have been putting one side of the matter too strongly before you. If you will bring your daughter here some morning, we can discuss the subject together for a little while, and I can advise her definitely as to what course I think she had better pursue."
The expression of Mrs. Stiles's face changed a little; she seemed to be surprised and gratified; but it was evident that the overthrow of her delusions in regard to the remunerative character of the legal profession had saddened and disturbed her. "It's right kind of you to take so much trouble, Mrs. Tarbell," she said, buttoning up her gossamer. "I feel as grateful to you as _can_ be; but I don't think I'll tell Celandine all you've said, because--"
"Perhaps it would be wiser," said Mrs. Tarbell impatiently.
"And then, in a week or so--"
"Precisely; a week or so." Mrs. Tarbell found that _precisely_ was a very short and lawyer-like word, so she repeated it.
"Well, then--" said Mrs. Stiles.
"Some time during the morning," said Mrs. Tarbell; and she turned to the office-boy, with whom she began to converse in an undertone. Mrs. Stiles came walking across the floor, slow and lugubrious. She bade Mrs. Tarbell good-day. Mrs. Tarbell bowed her out as quickly as possible, and then waited for a couple of minutes to give her time to get out of the way.
But on going down-stairs Mrs. Tarbell found her standing in the door-way, holding her umbrella half open and peering out into the rain, Mrs. Stiles explained that she was waiting for a car.
"They run every two or three minutes," said Mrs. Tarbell sweetly. "_Good_-day."
"Here's one now," said Mrs. Stiles. "Mrs. Tarbell, I just wanted to say--mebbe you might think I wasn't appreciative of your kindness, and that all I cared about was--"
"Not at all," said Mrs. Tarbell. "Not at all, I assure you. I understand, perfectly. You will miss your--"
"That's so, that's so," said Mrs. Stiles. "Driver! driver!" And she ran down the steps, flourishing her umbrella wildly.
Mrs. Tarbell put up her own umbrella, and looked down the street. The rain splashed up from the pavement, the tree-boxes were wet and dismal, the little rivers in the gutters raced along, shaking their tawny manes, the umbrellas of the passing pedestrians were sleek and dripping, like the coats of the seals in the Zoological Garden. Now that she was rid of Mrs. Stiles, was it absolutely necessary for her to go out? She hesitated a moment.
Suddenly she heard a cry from the street. Two or three men in front of her stopped quickly, and then ran toward the prostrate figure of somebody who had fallen from the car which had halted a few steps farther on. The car-horses were plunging and swinging from one side of the car to the other; the conductor had alighted and was hurrying back toward the victim of the accident; the passengers were pushing out on the back platform. Mrs. Stiles had slipped or been thrown down on the muddy car-track. Mrs. Tarbell recognized her long black figure as it was lifted up. A sad sight the poor woman was, her india-rubber cloak spotted and streaked with mud and muddy water, her head hanging back from her shoulders, her face the color of a miller's coat exactly,--a dirty, grayish white,--and her arms shaking about with the motion of her bearers. She had fainted; her bearers were looking about in the hope of seeing an apothecary's shop, or some other such occasional hospital, when Mrs. Tarbell accosted them.
Mrs. Tarbell stood in the established attitude of a woman in front of a rainy-day gutter, holding her skirts with one hand and leaning forward at such an angle that the drippings from the mid-rib of her umbrella fell in equal streams upon the small of her back and a point precisely thirteen inches from the tips of her galoshes.
"Bring her in here," cried Mrs, Tarbell, shaking her umbrella. "Bring her in here." And she waved the umbrella in an elliptical curve about her head.
"Where?" said the foremost of those addressed, an active-looking man with a red moustache, a wet fur cap, and an umbrella under his arm.
"Here," said Mrs. Tarbell, thrusting her umbrella at the Land and Water Company's building. To make her directions more accurate, she went to the steps and nodded at the hall-way.
"The lady is my--has just been having a consultation with me," said Mrs. Tarbell to the man in the red moustache, "and--"
"Which way?" said he.
"Right up-stairs: the first door at the head of the stairs, on the third floor. I think you had better take her up in the elevator, because--"
"Cert'nly, cert'nly," he said, interrupting Mrs. Tarbell, who had intended to be as brief and business-like as possible.
Mrs. Tarbell followed the procession into the elevator, and when they arrived on the third floor, John, the office-boy, had already opened the door, scenting an excitement afar off with curious nostril, as it were; and Mrs. Stiles was duly carried in and laid on the sofa. "John, get some water instantly," cried Mrs. Tarbell. And at the same moment a red-cheeked young man bustled into the room and said that he was a doctor.
He pushed everybody out of the way, darted to the sofa, took off his hat. "Heard there was an accident, and if my services--unless there is another practitioner--thank you, sir, you are doing the very best thing possible; and now let us see whether there is a fracture," he said.
The promptitude and directness with which this young gentleman went to work commanded the attention and admiration of all the spectators. He asked for water, he called for salts of ammonia, he ran his hands lightly over Mrs. Stiles's prostrate form, all in an instant; then he asked how the accident had happened.
"She tried to get on while the car was going," growled the conductor, who had accompanied the party up-stairs.
"I'll _bet_ she didn't," observed the party with the red moustache.
"Ankle, probably," murmured the doctor to himself. "Possibly a rib also." And in a minute or two he was able to declare that the injury had been done to the lady's ankle, the lady herself having assisted him to this conclusion by coming to her senses, groaning, and putting her hand down to the suffering joint.
The conductor frowned. "What is the lady's name and address, please, ma'am?" he asked of Mrs. Tarbell. "I have to make a report of the accident."
"_You_'ll find it out soon enough," said a thin man with a fresh complexion, very silvery hair, and spectacles. "The company will not have to wait long for the information." He looked about with a cheerful smile, and the conductor glared at him contemptuously. "_She_ never tried to get on while you were going," continued the thin man. "It was your driver; that's what it was."
"The lady's name is Stiles, conductor," said Mrs. Tarbell,--"Stiles; and she lives--dear me!--on Pulaski Street. Can I do anything for you, doctor?"
"You might send your boy for a carriage," said the doctor, who was engaged in removing Mrs. Stiles's shoe. "Nothing else, thank you, unless you happen to have some lead-water about you." He gave a professional smile, and Mrs. Stiles groaned dismally.
Mrs. Tarbell despatched John for the carriage, and then, turning, and blushing in a way that was rather out of keeping with her tone of voice, she said, "Now, I should be obliged if you gentlemen who saw the accident would furnish me with your names and addresses."
On hearing this the crowd began to diminish rapidly; but the man with the red moustache set a good example by giving his name loudly and promptly as "Oscar B. Mecutchen, tobacconist, d'reckly opposite the City Hall." So three or four other men allowed Mrs. Tarbell to set them down as observers of the disaster. The gentleman in spectacles was named Stethson, another man, a tall, fat-cheeked countryman, Vickers, and a dried up little party, in a Grand-Army-of-the-Republic suit, Parthenheimer. Mrs. Tarbell had the names down pat, and scrutinized each prospective witness carefully, as if warning him that it would be no use for him to give a fictitious name in the hope of evading his duties, as she would now be able to pick him out of a regiment.
"I am very much obliged to you," she said, in a stately manner. "Now, you all agree that the accident was the result of the negligence of the driver of the car?"
"Why, yes, certainly," they all agreed at once.
"Leastways--" said Mecutchen.
"That is--" said Parthenheimer.
"How was it, anyway?" asked Stethson.
"Thought you saw it," cried the others, turning on him instantly.
"So I did," said Stethson; "but I thought I'd like to hear what you gentlemen's impression was."
"Well," said Mecutchen and Vickers, the tall man, together, tipping back their hats with a simultaneous and precisely similar movement on the part of each,--nothing is more indicative of the careful independence of the average American than the way in which he always keeps his head covered in the presence of his lawyer,--"Well," said Vickers and Mecutchen.
Mr. Mecutchen bowed to Mr. Vickers, and Mr. Vickers bowed to Mr. Mecutchen, with a sort of grotesque self-effacement. Mr. Vickers waved his hand, and Mr. Mecutchen proceeded.
"Why," said he, "the lady stopped the car in the middle of the block,--just like a woman,--got on the platform, car started with a jerk, and she fell off."
Vickers and Parthenheimer nodded assent, but Stethson said that _his_ view of it was that the car started off again while she was trying to get on.
"That makes it stronger," said Mecutchen.
"Well, of course," said Stethson, settling his spectacles farther back on his nose; and Vickers murmured that you couldn't have it too strong, as he knew from the point of view (as he said) of cows. "It's wonderful what you can get for cows," he added pensively.
"Ag'in' a railroad company," said the grizzled old Parthenheimer, "the stronger the better, because some cases, no matter how aggerawated they are, you only git a specific sum and no damages. But a railroad case, which is a damage case right through, the worse they are the more you git. I had a little niece to be killed by a freight-train, and they took off that pore little girl's head, and her right arm, and her left leg, all three, like it was done by a mowing-machine,--so clean cut, you know. Well, sir, they got a werdick for six thousand dollars, my brother and his wife did; and their lawyer stood to it that the mangling brought in three thousand; and I think he was right about it, too."
"Six thousand!" said Vickers, with immense appreciation.
"The court set it aside for being excessive," said Parthenheimer," and aft'werds they compromised for less. But there it was. And the way it was done was odd, too. Right arm and left leg."
"Ah," said Vickers, "living right on a railroad, the way I do, you see some queerer accidents than that. Now, I remember--"
But Mrs. Tarbell found this conversation growing quite too ghastly to be listened to with composure, so she turned abruptly toward the sofa. The doctor was now bathing and examining Mrs. Stiles's ankle, and Mrs. Stiles looked not merely the picture but the dramatic materialization of misery.
"How do you feel now, Mrs. Stiles? How do you think she is, doctor?" These two questions were put in Mrs. Tarbell's sweetest tones.
Mrs. Stiles lay for a moment without answering, but the doctor replied that he was afraid it was a nasty business. "There is a dislocation, and there may be nothing more, except a sprain," he said. "But it will be impossible to tell until the swelling is reduced; and if there is a fracture of the fibula, why, such a complication is apt to be serious."
Mrs. Stiles groaned feebly, and then looked up at Mrs. Tarbell with gratitude. "I never thought to be so much trouble to you," she murmured.
"Do not think of that for a moment," said Mrs. Tarbell. "If I only had my cologne-bottle," she said, half aloud, in an apologetic voice. This was one of the luxuries she had refused herself in her professional toilet; more than this, she did not allow herself to carry a smelling-bottle, though Mr. Juddson had told her it could be used with great effect to disconcert an opposing counsel.
"I am afraid you are suffering very much," she went on.
"Yes, ma'am," said Mrs. Stiles sadly. "If I hadn't only been such a fool as to try to get on that there car while it was a-going."
Mrs. Tarbell started. The doctor rose and laughed.
"You don't mean that," said he.
"Mean what, doctor?"
"That you tried to get on while the car was going. All these gentlemen here say the car started while you were trying to get on, which is a very different thing, you know." The doctor had evidently kept his ears open while attending to the sufferer. Mrs. Tarbell, rather red in the face, kept silent, not knowing exactly what she ought to do.
"I don't know," said Mrs. Stiles feebly. "I don't s'pose I remember much."
"Of course you don't," said the doctor cheerfully. "Bless you, you'll sue the company and have a famous verdict; I wouldn't take ten thousand dollars for your chances if I had them. You observe," he went on confidentially to Mrs. Tarbell, "I am doing my best for the community of interests which, ought to exist among the learned professions. I raise this poor woman's spirits by suggesting to her dreams of enormous damages, and at the same time I promote litigation, to the great advantage of her lawyer. I think that is the true scientific spirit."
"I--I--" began Mrs. Tarbell, in some confusion.
"Beg pardon?" said the doctor. "Well, I must be off. I've done all I can for the poor woman. She ought to send for her own doctor as soon as she gets home. I suppose--will you--?" He looked at Mrs. Tarbell doubtfully, as if wondering whether he ought to take it for granted that she was in charge of the case.
"I will tell her," said Mrs. Tarbell.
"I could tell her myself," said the doctor. "To be sure. Well, if I could only inform her lawyer what I've done for him, he might induce my fair patient to employ me permanently." He smiled at his joke, shook his head waggishly, and turned to look for his hat.
As Mrs. Tarbell looked after him in some perplexity, John, the office-boy, came back to report that the carriage was engaged and at the door; and Mrs. Stiles was presently carried down-stairs again, it being quite impossible for her even to limp.
But before she was lifted up she turned her head and beckoned to Mrs. Tarbell.
"Could I," she said,--"could I have a case against the railway company?"
"Ye-es,--I suppose so," Mrs. Tarbell answered.
"Did they say it was the fault of the conductor that I fell off that car?"
"Of the driver,--yes."
"Well, then, ma'am, would you advise me to bring a case against them?"
"You had better decide for yourself," said Mrs. Tarbell faintly. But then, remembering that it was her duty to advise, she added, "Yes, I think you ought to sue."
"Then you'll take the case, Mrs. Tarbell, won't you, please?" said Mrs. Stiles, closing her eyes again, as if satisfied of the future.
Mrs. Tarbell! There was a general movement of surprise as the lady lawyer's name was pronounced, and the doctor was so much taken aback that heh burst out laughing.
"I'm sure I beg your pardon, Mrs. Tarbell," he cried. "I had no idea in the world--"
"Ah," said Stethson, "I looked at the sign on the door coming in. I knew it was the lady lawyer. My, if my wife could see you, Mrs. Tarbell!"
"And I never knew who I was talking to!" grumbled Mecutchen disgustedly.
A quarter of an hour later, when Mr. Juddson returned to his office, Mrs. Tarbell was engaged in drawing up a paper which ran as follows:
ANNETTE GORSLEY STILES } _Court of Common_ vs. } _Pleas._ THE BLANK AND DASH } _May Term, 1883._ AVENUES PASSENGER } _No_. ---- RAILWAY CO. }
_To the Prothonotary of the said Court_:
Issue summons in case returnable the first Monday in May, 1883.
TARBELL, pro plff.
It was a _precipe_ for a writ.
"Alexander!" said Mrs. Tarbell, in an expressive voice, regardless of the office-boy.
"Yes?" said Mr. Juddson. The referee had refused to admit some of his testimony.
"Alexander, I have a client," said Mrs. Tarbell.
"Do you tell me so?" replied Mr. Juddson absently, as he redisarranged the papers upon his table. "I hope--Bless me, where _is_ that--? Mrs. Tarbell, have you seen anything of an envelope?--John, what became of the papers in Muggins and Bylow? I gave them to you."
Mrs. Tarbell, deeply mortified, resumed her occupation, and completed the _precipe_ by writing the words, "Tarbell, pro plff."
Mr. Juddson's papers were found for him, under his nose, and he was beginning to say that he was going out to lunch, when the enormity of his conduct made itself apparent to him.
"By George!" he said, stopping short, "you told me you had a client at last, eh, Mrs. Tarbell?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Tarbell coldly.
"Why,--bless my soul! It's your first client, is it not? And what kind of a case has your ewe-lamb brought you? Come, tell me about it. I did not properly appreciate the communication." And he went over to Mrs. Tarbell's desk, upon which he sat himself down in a position which Mrs. Tarbell had formerly considered very undignified; but now she could not help feeling that it was really a legal attitude.
She looked up with a smile, and then, though with a little shame, displayed the _precipe_.
"Well, that's good," said Mr. Juddson. "Accident case, I suppose. What is it? Death, and damages for the widow?--for I see there are no children,--or was the plaintiff herself the victim of the accident? Your sex has finally decided to stand by you, it seems."
"I shan't send out the writ just yet," said Mrs. Tarbell, blushing. "I was--wanted to see how the _precipe_ would look. I must see the plaintiff again, I think, before I advise her definitely to sue."
"Hasn't she a case?"
"What nonsense!" cried Juddson. "Come, my dear, don't be a goose, and don't lose a return-day. Otherwise, I shall buy you a sewing-machine."
"Aren't you pleased, Alexander?" said Mrs. Tarbell, with a little effusion.
"My dear, I'm delighted. I hope that in five years' time you will be supporting me and my family. Your sister-in-law will be speechless with jealousy. I congratulate you. Hum--The Blank and Dash Avenues Company? Well, you won't have to send John very far with your copies of the pleadings. Pope was appointed attorney for the company last week, in place of old Slyther, who resigned, you know."
"Pope?" said Mrs. Tarbell.
"Yes,--the Honorable Franklin."
"Goodness!" said Mrs. Tarbell, in a tone of inexpressible disgust.
"By jingo; you are not fond of him, are you? Hem! Well, as a general rule, I should advise you to put personal feelings entirely out of the question; but, as this is your first case, perhaps it would be just as well for you to have me with you, and let me--hum--well, let me take the jury."
"Alexander! do you think I am _afraid_ of Mr. Pope?"
"N-no; but Pope is a blackguard, and very shady, and, it might be unpleasant for you; and I'd do that, if I were you."
Mrs. Tarbell's spirits rose. "I will do nothing of the sort, Alexander," she said; "though it is very kind of you to suggest it; and I will--I will bet you,"--determinedly,--" I will bet you a copy of the new edition of Baxter's Digest that I beat him."
I give thee, love, a carcanet With all the rainbow splendor set, Of diamonds that drink the sun. Of emeralds that feed upon His light as doth the evergreen, A memory of spring between This frost of whiter pearls than snow, And warmth of violets below A wreath of opalescent mist, Where blooms the tender amethyst. Here, too, the captives of the mine-- The sapphire and the ruby--shine, Rekindling each a hidden spark, Unquenched by buried ages dark, Nor dimmed beneath the jewelled skies, Save by the sunlight of thine eyes.
JOHN B. TABB.
IN A SALT-MINE.
There were five of us. The little New-Yorker, plump, blonde, and pretty, I call Cecilia: that is not her name, but if she suggested any saint it was the patron saint of music. Her soul was full of it, and it ran off the ends of her fingers in the most enchanting manner. Elise, half French, as you would see at a glance, was from the Golden Gate,--as dainty and pretty a bit of femininity as ever wore French gowns with the inimitable American air. Elise could smile her way straight through the world. All barriers gave way before her dimples, and with her on board ship we never feared icebergs at sea, feeling confident they would melt away before her glance. Thirdly, there was myself, and then I come to the masculine two-fifths of our party. First, the curate. He was young in years and in his knowledge of the great world. His parish had sent him to the Continent with us to regain his somewhat broken health. He sometimes spoke of himself as a shepherd, and he liked to talk of the Church as his bride: he always blushed when he looked straight at Elise. Cecilia liked him because his clerical coat gave tone to the party, and his dignity was sufficient for us all, thus saving us the trouble of assuming any. Lastly, there was Samayana, which was not his name either, from Bombay,--a real, live East-Indian nabob. In his own country he travelled with three tents, a dozen servants, as many horses, and always carried his laundress with him. Yet he never seemed lonely with us,--which we thought very agreeable in him. Crawford had just created Mr. Isaacs, and we fancied there was a resemblance,--barring the wives,--and he told us such graphic stories of life in India that we were not always sure in just which quarter of the globe we were touring. Both Samayana and the curate were picturesque--for men. Two beings more opposed never came together, yet they liked each other thoroughly. Samayana was greatly admired in European society for his color, his gift as a _raconteur_, and the curious rings he wore. He was very dusky, and Cecilia, being very blonde, valued him as a most effective foil and adjunct. We were seeing Germany in the most leisurely fashion, courting the unexpected and letting things happen to us.
On the day of which I write we spent the early morning on the Königsee, in Bavaria, the loveliest sheet of water in Germany, vying in grandeur with any Swiss or Italian lake. Its color is that of the pheasant's breast, and the green mountain-sides, almost perpendicular in places, rise till their peaks are in the clouds and their snows are perpetual. Stalwart, bronzed peasant girls, in the short skirts of the Bavarian costume, rowed us about. A few years ago, in answer to a petition, King Louis I. promised them that never in his reign should steam supplant them. They laughed happily and looked proudly at their muscle when we hinted at their being tired.
We landed at different points and strolled into wooded valleys, visited artificial hermitages, stopped for a bite at a restaurant connected with a royal hunting-château, and listened lazily to Elise's telling of the legends of the region, accompanied by the music of some little waterfall coming from the snow above and gleefully leaping into the lake. We crossed the rocky, wild pasture-land lying between the Königsee and the Obersee, that tiny lake that faithfully gives back as a mirror all the crags, peaks, and snowy heights which hide it away there as if it were indeed the precious opal you may fancy it to be when viewed from above.
We drifted back to the little inn, where we were approached by a respectful _Kutscher_, who asked if we would not like to go down into a salt-mine. Whatever we did, it was with one accord, and the answer came in chorus, "_Ja, gewiss!_" Elise glanced down at her dainty toilet, a look instantly interpreted by the _Kutscher_, who explained that costumes for the descent were furnished, that the exploration was not fatiguing, and that the carriages were ready.
It was all done in an "_Augenblick_," the bill was paid, the _Trinkgeld_ was scattered, and we were rattling away through as beautiful a region as you will find, even in Switzerland. The snow-peaks were dazzlingly white in the sunshine; in the ravines and defiles the darkness lingers from night to night; singing, leaping Alpine streams came like molten silver from the glaciers over the rocky ledges and through the hanging forests, and a swift river ran through this happy, fertile valley of peace and plenty in which our roadway wound. The peasants looked content and well-to-do, and were picturesquely clothed. We stopped an old man and bargained for the quaint, antique silver buttons on his coat, and paid him twice its weight in silver money for the big silver buckle at his belt. We were stopped at the frontier, and accommodatingly rose while the custom-officers politely looked under the carriage-seats. The wine we had just drunk was not taxable, while that we were about to drink was: so we presented our remaining bottles to the officers to save them the trouble of making change. Up to that time we had turned our horses to the right: once over the Austrian line, custom demanded we should turn to the left, a change to which the _Kutscher_ readily accommodated himself. One is kept geographically informed in that region by this difference in manners on the high-road in Austria and Bavaria.
We argued a little about the fittingness of women working in the fields. Cecilia thought it preferable to washing dishes, and one of us, who believes herself not born to sew, maintained that to rake hay was more agreeable than sitting at sewing-machines or making shirts at twenty cents apiece after the manner of New-York workwomen. But once indignation and excitement took possession of us all as we caught sight of a bare-footed, slight young girl toiling up a ladder and carrying mortar along a scaffold to men laying bricks on the second story of a new building. The girl had a complexion like a rose-leaf, her uncovered hair gleamed like gold in the sunshine, her head was exquisitely set on her shoulders. The curate sighed deeply, Samayana uttered a strong word in Hindoostanee, and there was a feminine cry of "Shameful!" when the girl, putting down her load, folded her white arms, whose sinew and muscle an athlete might have envied, and, with teeth and smile as faultless as our Elise's, threw us down a "_Gruss Gott_!" If there ever beamed content and happiness from human face we saw it in that of this peasant beauty, who had no conception of our commiseration. We gave her back a "God greet thee!" "All the same," said Cecilia indignantly, "women should _not_ carry mortar." We had noticed that Cecilia's indignation on account of the workingwoman of Germany was extreme if the woman was pretty.
We came at last to the mouth of the mine, from which issued a narrow railway for the transportation of the salt-ore, and above, zigzag on the mountain-side, ran the conduit carrying the salt, still in liquid form, to the boiling-house. A waterfall four hundred feet high furnished power for the great pump. About the entrance to the mine clustered a number of buildings. Many carriages were already there, for it was the height of the tourists' season, and this was the show-mine of the Salzkammergut. Some military officers were standing about, a dozen or more natives lounged on the piazzas, and nearly every carriage contained one or more occupants, evidently waiting for travelling-companions then in the mine. There was the fat woman who couldn't think of such an exploration, the nervous woman who hated dark places and never went underground, a few invalids and some chattering girls and young men who had previously been through the mine and had come over from Salzburg for the drive, and some very fine youths and young women who wouldn't be seen in a miner's costume. There were a score or more of these travellers, and as many more coachmen, and miners off duty, hanging about. A building on the opposite side of the road was indicated to us ladies as the place in which we were to change our costumes. Now, here was a pleasant gauntlet to run in male attire! However, a hundred strangers were not to deter us, and, _possibly_, this costume might be becoming. There were worse figures in the world than ours, and who knew but this miners' dress might show our forms to an advantage at which they had never been seen before? Encouraged by the thought, we gave our treasures into safe keeping and permitted the attendant to disrobe us. She spoke a dialect which had little meaning to us, and we carried on our conversation by signs.
She hung our habiliments on pegs, giving Elise's a little womanly caress for their prettiness. She brought in exchange a costume which made us helpless from laughter, until we were painfully sobered by the thought of the spectators outside. A pair of white duck trousers that might have been made of pasteboard, so stiff were they and so defined the crease ironed at their sides, came first. Our measures were not taken. The attendant accommodatingly turned them up about ten inches at the bottom, the edge then coming to our ankles, which somehow looked very insignificant and as if protruding from paper shoe-boxes that had been sat upon. These nether garments extended beyond us at either side to such a distance that that roundness of form which we had fancied this costume might display was not in the least perceptible. A black alpaca jacket reaching to our knees came next. These, too, had been warranted to fit the biggest woman who might visit the Salzkammergut, and one would easily have taken in all three of us. Elise, always ingenious, found hers so long on the shoulder that she fitted her elbow into the armsize. We pinned them up here and pinned them in there, and tucked our hair into little black caps, and fastened the broad leather belt about our waists, stuck a lantern in at the side, and announced ourselves in readiness. The dressing-maid, however, was not done with us. She brought three very heavy leathern aprons, attached to strong waist-bands. The leather was three-quarters of an inch thick; and I need not add that these square aprons did not take graceful folds. Elise, after regarding the curious article a moment, decided it would be no addition to her toilet, and politely declined it. Cecilia's _nez retroussé_ went yet higher up in the air. Feeling that the maid knew better than I, I meekly put one on as I had been taught from my babyhood to wear an apron, when a sudden twitch brought it around _behind_. She quickly adjusted the others in the same fashion. We dared not look at each other, and each assumed a manner as if attired in the court costume of the country; but I venture to say that more grotesque, ridiculous creatures never went out into the daylight, Cecilia, going first, wisely did not attempt to go through the door full front, and we sidled after her to avoid collision between our stiff sail-like trousers and the door-jambs.
We tried to believe that clothes do not make the woman,--they do much toward it,--and with an air of great dignity went into the face of that miscellaneous company, to be greeted with a terrific and tremendous shout of laughter. A panic seized us, and I found myself standing stock still in the middle of the road, as if stage-struck, the others running like the wind. It was for a moment only, and I followed, the laughter sounding more and more demoniacal to my ears. I was impelled as never before in my life. Was some one striking me from behind? It was that diabolical leathern apron giving me a blow at every step, its violence increasing with my ever-accelerated speed. How grateful the shelter of that cave-like aperture in the mountain, where stood the gentlemen similarly attired, the curate so absurd that we forgot all about his other "cloth" and laughed immoderately in his face. Samayana was still picturesque. Cecilia was in a rage. "I'll never cross that road again before those horrid people, if I stay here a thousand years!" she exclaimed, with flashing eyes; and Elise breathlessly gasped, "Oh-that-awful-apron! It-beat-me-as-I-ran,-like-a-whip. I-felt-like-a-donkey-pursued-by-the-donkey-boy!"
The guide lighted our lanterns, and, with a last hysterical laugh, we followed him into the earth, through long, narrow, humid passage-ways, the temperature not unpleasant, other passage-ways branching off and suggesting the labyrinth which we knew extended for a great distance in every direction. We finally came to a lighted chamber, the entrance to the shaft. The flickering lights showed us the end of a great, smooth, wooden beam, which, at an angle of forty-five degrees, seemed to be going down into darkness, ending nowhere, as far as we could see. We had not been prepared in our minds for this descent or the manner in which it was to be made. The miner placed himself astride the great beam, keeping his position by holding on to a rope. He put Elise behind him, and, drawing her arms around his waist, clasped her hands in front of him. The curate was then requested to mount the wooden horse and embrace Elise firmly. He hesitated but a moment, and in another I found myself behind him, hanging for dear life on to the English shepherd, to be in turn encircled by Samayana, and last of all came Cecilia, doing her best to get her plump little arms around the Indian. The darkness below was a trifle appalling. We were cautioned not to unclasp our hands, lest we should lose them, and naturally we clung the closer to each other.
There was just a moment of suspense and suppressed excitement, when, with a sharp cry, the miner loosened his hold, and by the impulse of our own weight we shot, with a velocity not to be described, two hundred and forty-feet into the earth. The miner acting as a brake brought us up gently enough, so that we felt scarcely anything of a shock. Cecilia, to be sure, left her breath about two-thirds of the way up, and suffered some inconvenience till she accumulated more, and the curate forgot to loosen his hold on Elise for an unpardonable length of time, while he gathered his wits, and I could feel that he was blushing when he came to his senses. It was in adjusting our attire that we discovered the necessity and value of our leathern aprons. Had we been plunged into a pool of water we should have sizzled. They were hot from the friction. They speedily became our dearest of friends and possessions, for we had three more of these shafts to slide down, and we grew faint at the bare thought of losing them. Cecilia, after our second slide, suggested, in a language the gentlemen did not understand, that she would like her turn at being embraced, since she always lost her breath at the start and was afraid. This remark met with no response, as neither Elise nor I wanted to run the risk of being lost off behind, and felt a selfish sense of security that made the shooting of the shafts delightful and somewhat similar to the coasting and sliding down balusters of our childhood.
We traversed many long galleries on different levels. Through some of these ran the aqueduct which brought the fresh water in, and another which conveyed the salt water out, twenty miles away. We were in the bosom of a mountain of salt rock, which is constantly forming, and is therefore a never-ending source of wealth. For centuries this mine has been worked. The salt rock is quarried and carried out in the form of rock-salt. Another method of obtaining salt is by conveying water into the large, excavated chambers, drawing it off and boiling down when it becomes impregnated. This water attracts and dissolves the saline matter, but, as water cannot so affect the slaty portion of the rock, it leaves it often in most fantastic shapes, sometimes as pillars or depending, curtain-like sheets. These chambers kept full of water are constantly changing their level on the withdrawal of the liquid. After three or four weeks two feet of the roof will be found to have been dissolved and two feet of _débris_ found upon the floor. Curiously enough, this _débris_ in time acquires the property of the salt rock. There are chambers above chambers, some of them five hundred yards in circumference, and miles of galleries. One of these chambers, which was illuminated, showed floor, walls, and ceiling of pure rock-salt, very lovely in color, though not so brilliant as in the mine of Wieliczka, which is likened to four subterranean cities, one below the other, hewn from rose-colored rock. Samayana secured of our guide red, yellow, blue, and purple specimens.
The miners are obliged to divest themselves of all clothing when at their dangerous work, as any garment will so absorb the salt as to become hard and brittle, tearing the skin painfully. They must be relieved every few hours, and, though short-lived, they work for a pittance an American laborer would scorn.
Descending a flight of steps after shooting the third shaft, we came upon a scene which filled us with wonder. There, far down in the earth, lay a tiny tranquil lake of inky blackness, its borders outlined with blazing torches. At the extreme end were the entwined letters "F.J." (Franz Joseph), gleaming in candle-lights, and over our heads the miners' greeting, _"Glück auf!"_ traced in fire. On the pink salt-rock roof--the miners call it _der Himmel_--rested the fearful weight of the superincumbent mountain. It was an awful thought, and the curate did not hesitate an instant in seizing Elise's outstretched hand, as if she were seeking, and he glad to give, a bit of comfort in this strangely-impressive place. We entered a little boat waiting to take us across the Salz Sea to the opposite shore. There was not a sound, save the dipping of the oar. We tasted the black water. The Dead Sea cannot be salter. We were hushed and oppressed, as if each felt the weight of the great mountain-mass over us.
The miners were not at work on that day, but like gnomes they were silently coming and going in the shadows, never omitting the "_Glück auf!_" as they met and parted. There were long, weary stairs to climb. Finally we came to a little car running on a narrow inclined track. In this we went rapidly through galleries and dry chambers, and finally were propelled into the daylight with an unexpected velocity. We had become quite accustomed to our attire, but declined the proposition of the photographer, who wished to turn his camera upon us for the benefit of friends in America, and we gained the dressing-room with much more composure than we had felt when leaving it.
It is believed that these mines were worked in the first century; and many a grave has been opened in excavating which gave up bones and copper ornaments once belonging to Celtic salt-miners of the third and fourth centuries. Towers erected in the thirteenth century are still strongholds. The whole region, too, is full of salt-springs. The lofty mountains and rich valleys, the sequestered lakes and blue-gray rivers with their waterfalls, and the old castles, quaint costumes, and legends, make it a tempting country for such ease-loving travellers as were we five, and for the intrepid Alpine climber it offers almost as much as any part of Switzerland.
That night we drove into Mozart's birthplace just as the Salzburg chimes were playing an evening hymn of his composing. The curate and Elise seemed to have found something down in the salt-mine of which they did not choose to talk, and, as we bade each other good-night, Cecilia said, "I'm glad I did it, but _I_ wouldn't go down there again: would _you_?" and Sarnayana and I thought we wouldn't; but the others looked as if ready to repeat the excursion the following day.
P.S.--Elise and the curate are to be married, and the parish is to have a shepherdess. Cecilia, Samayana, and I have no doubt of its being a love-match. She never could marry him after seeing him in a salt-mine costume if she didn't love him. MARGERY DEANE.
ANTHONY CALVERT BROWN.
First, as my grandfather used to tell, there were the woods and the Oneida Indians and the Mohawks; then the forest was cleared away, and there was the broad, fertile, grassy, and entrancingly-beautiful Mohawk valley; then came villages and cities and my own unimportant existence, and at about the same time appeared the Oneida Institute. This institution of learning is my first point. The Oneida Institute, located in the village of Whitesboro, four miles from Utica, in the State of New York, consisted visibly of three elongated erections of painted, white-pine clapboards, with shingle roofs. Each structure was three stories high and was dotted with lines of little windows. There was a surrounding farm and gardens, in which the students labored, that might attract attention at certain hours of the day, when the laborers were at work in them; but the buildings were the noticeable feature. Seated in the deep green of the vast meadows on the west bank of the willow-shaded Mohawk, these staring white edifices were very conspicuous. The middle one was turned crosswise, as if to keep the other two, which were parallel, as far apart as possible. This middle one was also crowned with a fancy cupola, whereby the general appearance of the group was just saved to a casual stranger from the certainty of its being the penitentiary or almshouse of the county.
The glory of this institution was not in its architecture or lands, but in that part which could not be seen by the bodily eyes. For, spiritually speaking, Oneida Institute was an immense battering-ram, behind which Gerrit Smith, William Lloyd Garrison, and Rev. Beriah Green were constantly at work, pounding away to destroy the walls which slavery had built up to protect itself.
Mr. Green was president of the institute, and was the soul and heart and voice of its faculty. His power to mould young men was phenomenal. It was a common saying that he turned out graduates who were the perfect image of Beriah Green, except the wart. The wart was a large one, which, being situated in the centre of Mr. Green's forehead, seemed to be a part of his method to those who were magnetized by his personality or persuaded by his eloquence.
About 1845, when I began to be an observing boy, it was understood throughout Oneida County that Beriah Green was an intellectual giant, and that he would sell his life, if need be, to befriend the colored man. Oneida Institute was a refuge for the oppressed, quite as much as a place where the students were magnetized and taught to weed onions. Fifteen years before John Brown paused in his march to the gallows to kiss a negro baby I saw Beriah Green walk hand in hand along the sidewalk with a black man and fondle the hand he held conspicuously. Among his intimates were Ward and Garnet, both very black, as well as very talented and very eloquent.
When "the friends of the cause" met in convention, I sometimes heard of it, and managed, boy-like, to steal in. When I did so, I used to sit and shudder on a back seat in the little hall. The anti-slavery denunciations poured out upon the churches, and backed up and pushed home by the logic of Green and the eloquence of Smith, were well calculated to make an orthodox boy tremble. For these people brought the churches and the nation before their bar and condemned them, and some whom I have not named cursed them with a bitterness and effectiveness that I cannot recall to this day without a shiver. The dramatic effect, as it then seemed to me, has never been equalled in my experience.
That these extreme ideas did not prosper financially is not to be wondered at. The farm was soon given up, then the buildings and gardens passed into other hands, and the institution became a denominational school, known as the Whitestown Baptist Seminary. But the ideas which had been implanted there would not consent to depart with this change in the name and the methods of the institution. The fact that Beriah Green, after leaving the school, continued to reside at Whitesboro and gathered a church there rendered it the more difficult to eradicate the doctrines which he had implanted. The idea of friendship for the black man was particularly tenacious, and perhaps annoying to the new and controlling denominational interest. It clung to the very soil, like "pusley" in a garden. It had gained a strong hold throughout the county. The managers of the institution could not openly oppose it. They were compelled to endure it. And so it continued to be true that if a bright colored boy anywhere in the State desired the advantages of a superior education he would direct his steps to Whitestown Seminary.
It was during these seminary days that I became a student at the institution; and it was here that I met the hero of my story, Anthony Calvert Brown. He was as vigorous and manly a youth of seventeen as I have ever seen. We two were regarded as special friends. He had been among us nearly two months, and had become a general favorite, before it was discovered that he had a tinge of African blood. The revelation of this fact was made to us on the play-ground. A fellow student, who had come with Anthony to the school, made the disclosure. The two were comrades, and had often told us of their adventures together in the great North woods, or Adirondack forests, on the western border of which, in a remote settlement, they had their homes. Their friendship did not prevent them from falling into a dispute, and it did not prevent Anthony's comrade, who was in fact a bully, from descending to personalities. He hinted in very expressive terms that the son of a colored woman must not be too positive. The meanness of such an insinuation, made at such a time and in such a way, did not diminish its sting. Perhaps it increased it. We saw Anthony, who had stood a moment before cool and defiant, turn away cowed and subdued, his handsome face painfully suffused. His behavior was a confession.
I am sorry to say that after this incident Anthony did not hold the same position in our esteem that he had previously enjoyed. Some half-dozen of us who cherished the old Institute feeling were inclined to make a hero of him, but by degrees the sentiment of the new management prevailed, and it was understood that Anthony was to be classed with those who must meekly endure an irreparable misfortune. But Anthony did not seem to yield to this view. He was very proud, and braced himself firmly against it. He withdrew more and more from his schoolmates and devoted his time to books. In the matter of scholarship he gained the highest place, and held it to the close of our two-years' course. In the mean time, his peculiarities were often made the subject of remark among us. His growing reserve and dignity, his reputation as a scholar, and his reticence and isolation were frequently discussed. And there was the mystery of his color. It was a disputed question among us whether the African taint could be detected in his appearance. Ray, the comrade who had revealed it, claimed that it was plainly perceptible, while Yerrinton, the oldest student among us, declared that there was not a trace of it to be seen. He argued that Anthony was several shades lighter than Daniel Webster, and he asserted enthusiastically that he had various traits in common with that great statesman. But, then, Yerrinton was a disciple of Beriah Green, and his opinion was not regarded as unbiassed. For myself, I could never detect any appearance of African blood in Anthony, although my knowledge of its existence influenced my feelings toward him. To me he seemed to carry himself with a noble bearing,--under a shadow, it is true, yet as if he were a king among us. I remember thinking that his broad forehead, slightly-Roman nose, mobile lips, and full features wore a singularly mournful and benevolent expression, like the faces sometimes seen in Egyptian sculpture.
I did not discuss the matter of his peculiarities with Anthony freely until after our school-days at the seminary were ended and he had left Whitestown. His first letter to me was a partial revelation of his thoughts upon the subject of his own character and feelings. He had gone to Philadelphia to teach in a large school, while I remained with my relatives in Whitesboro. He wrote me that he was troubled in regard to certain matters of which he had never spoken to any one, not even to me, and he thought it would be a good thing for him to present them for consideration, if I was willing to give him the benefit of my counsel. In reply I urged that he should confide in me fully, assuring him of my desire to assist him to the utmost of my ability.
The communication which I received in response to my invitation was to some extent a surprise. The letter was a very long one, and very vivid and expressive. He began it by alluding to the incident upon the play-ground, which had occurred nearly two years before. He said that his life had been guarded, up to about that time, from feeling the effects of the misfortunes which attach to the colored race. Living in a remote settlement and a very pleasant home, where all were free and equal and social distinctions almost unknown, he had scarcely thought of the fact that his mother was an octoroon. He had heard her talk a great deal about those distinguished French gentlemen who had in the early part of this century acquired lands in the vicinity of his home, and he had somehow a feeling that she had been remotely connected with them, and that his own lineage was honorable. He alluded specifically to Le Ray de Chaumont and Joseph Bonaparte. These two men, and others their countrymen, who had resided or sojourned upon the edge of the great wilderness near his birthplace, had been his ideals from childhood. He had often visited Lake Bonaparte, and had frequently seen the home formerly occupied by Le Ray. While he had understood that he himself was only plain Anthony C. Brown, the son of Thomas Brown (a white man who had died some two months before his son's birth), he had yet an impression that his mother was in some vague way connected with the great personages whom he mentioned. How it was that Thomas Brown had come to marry his mother, or what the details of her early life had been, he did not know, being, in fact, ignorant of his family history. He conceded that it might be only his own imagination that had led him to suppose that he was in some indefinite way to be credited with the greatness of those wealthy landed proprietors who had endeavored to establish manorial estates or seigniories in the wilderness. He had come to understand that this unexplainable impression of superiority and connection with the great, which had always been with him in childhood and early youth, was due to his mother's influence and teaching. There was about it nothing direct and specific, and yet it had been instilled into his mind, in indirect ways, until it was an integral part of his existence. His mother had a farm and cattle and money. She was in better circumstances than her neighbors. This had added to his feeling of superiority and independence. The accident of a slight tinge of color had hardly risen even to the dignity of a joke in the freedom of the settlement and the forest. Looking back, he believed that his mother had guarded his youthful mind against receiving any unfavorable impression upon the subject. In his remote, free, wilderness home he had heard but little of African slavery, and had regarded it as a far-off phantom, like heathendom or witchcraft.
Such had been the state of mind of Anthony Brown. The light had, however, been gradually let in upon him in the course of an excursion which he and his comrade Ray had made the year previous to their appearance at Whitestown Seminary. In that excursion they had visited Chicago, Cleveland, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, New York, and Albany. They had strayed into a court-room in the City Hall at Albany, where many people were listening to the argument of counsel who were discussing the provisions of the will of a wealthy lady, deceased. A colored man was mixed up in the matter in some way,--probably as executor and legatee. Anthony heard with breathless interest the legal disabilities of colored people set forth, and their inferior social position commented upon. He learned that the ancestral color descended to the children of a colored mother, although they might appear to be white. These statements had impressed him deeply. They furnished to his mind an explanation of the various evidences of the degradation of the colored people he had seen upon his journey. Talking of these matters, he had found that Ray was much better informed than himself upon the entire subject. Ray, in fact, frankly explained that a colored man had no chance in this country. This was in 1859. Anthony suggested in his letter to me that he had probably been kept from acquiring this knowledge earlier in life by his mother's anxious care and the kindness of friends and neighbors. He explained that he did not mean to be understood as intimating that he had not some general knowledge of the facts previously, but it was this experience which had made him feel that slavery was a reality and that all colored people belonged to a despised race. After his return home he had carefully refrained from imparting to his mother any hint of his newly-acquired impressions in reference to the social and legal standing of the colored race. In the enjoyment of home comforts, and in the freedom of the wild woods and waters, the shadow which had threatened in his thoughts to descend upon him passed away. He remembered it only as a dream which might not trouble him again, and which he would not cherish. Still, there was a lurking uneasiness and anxiety, born of the inexorable facts, which favorable circumstances and youthful vivacity could not wholly overcome.
In this state of mind Anthony, in accordance with the wish of his mother, came to Whitestown Seminary. His description of his first impressions there was very glowing. He wrote,--
"I cannot hope, my dear friend, to give you any adequate idea of what I then experienced. For the first time in my life I found kindred spirits. Your companionship in particular threw a light upon my pathway that made the days all bright and gave me such joy as I had never before known. And there was Ralph, so kind and true, and Henry Rose, so honest and faithful! I cannot tell you how my heart embraced them. It is a simple truth, telling less than I felt, when I say that I could scarcely sleep for thinking of my newfound treasures. You need to remember what it is to dwell in a rough country, isolated and remote from towns, to appreciate my experience. To me, coming to Whitestown was a translation to Paradise. It seems extravagant, yet it is true, that I met there those who were dearer than my life and for whom I would have died. The first warm friendships of youth are the purest and whitest flowers that bloom in the soul. If these are blighted, it is forever. Such flowers in any one life can never grow again.
"And this brings me to that sad day when on the play-ground Ray struck at me, and through me at my dear, loving mother. As he spoke those cruel words the world grew dark about me, the dread fear which I had subdued revived with tenfold power, and upon my heart came the pangs of an indescribable anguish. Oh, the chill, the death-like chill, that froze the current of my affections as I saw the faces of those I loved averted!
"I went to my room and tried to reflect, but I could not. The shock was too great. During the week that followed I was most of the time in my silent room. I may well call it silent, for the footsteps to which I had been accustomed came no more, and the comrades in whose friendship I had such delight no longer sought my company. That dreadful week was the turning-point in my life. As it drew toward its close I realized to some extent what I had been through, as one does who is recovering from a severe illness. I knew that day and night I had wept and moaned and could see no hope, no ray of light, and that I had at times forgotten my religion and blasphemed. It is true, my dear friend, that I mocked my God. Do not judge me hastily in this. I was without discipline or experience, and I saw that for all sorrow except mine there was a remedy. Even for sin there is repentance and redemption, and the pains of hell itself may be avoided. But for my trouble there could be no relief. The thought that I was accursed from the day of my birth, that no effort, no sacrifice, no act of heroism, on my part could ever redeem me, haunted my soul, and I knew that it must haunt me from that time onward and forever.
"I need hardly tell you, with your insight and knowledge, that these inward struggles led toward a not unusual conclusion. I allude to the determination to which multitudes of souls have been driven in all ages, to escape the tortures of disgrace. I turned away from humanity and sought that fearful desert of individual loneliness and isolation which is now more sad and real to me than any outward object can be. To live in the voiceless solitude and tread the barren sands unfriended is too much for a strong man with all the aids that philosophy can give him. But when we see one in the first flush of youth, wholly innocent, yet turning his footsteps to the great desert to get away from the scorn of lovers and friends, and when we realize that this which he dreads must continue to the last hour of his life, there is to my mind a ghastliness about it as if it were seen in the light of the pit which is bottomless. I have not recovered, and can never recover, from that experience. You will infer, however, that I did not remain in just the condition of mind which I have endeavored to describe. He whom I had blasphemed came to me, and I was penitent. The teachings of good Father Michael at our home, the doctrines of our Church, and the examples of the blessed saints, were my salvation. Then I felt that I would dwell alone with God. And there was something grand about that, and very noble. The purest joy of life is possible in such an experience. Yet it is not enough, especially in youth. But I think I should have continued in that frame of mind had it not been for you and Ralph. How you two came to me and besought my friendship I need not remind you. Neither need I say how my pride yielded; and if there was anything to forgive I forgave it, and felt the light of friendship, which had been withdrawn from my inner world, come back with a joy that has increased as it has continued.
"Coming to this city of 'brotherly love,' I begin my life anew, and at the very threshold a painful question meets me. No faces are averted, no one suspects my social standing. A thrill of kindness is in every voice. What can I do? Must I advertise myself as smitten with a plague? I dare not tell you of the favors that society bestows upon me. It is but little more than a month since I came to Philadelphia, and during that short period I have in some strange way become popular. My sincere effort politely to avoid society seems only to have resulted in precipitating a shower of invitations upon me. Evidently the fact that I am tinged with African blood is wholly unsuspected. You understand, I think, how I gained this place as teacher in the school. It was through the interposition of Father Michael and certain powerful Protestant friends of his who are unknown to me. It was not my own doing, and I do not feel that I am to blame. But I will frankly tell you that it seems to me cowardly to go forward under false colors. One thing I am resolved upon,--I will never be ashamed of my dear mother. Where I go she shall go, and she shall come here if she is inclined to do so. As you have never seen her, I may say that she is regarded as dark for an octoroon, and with her presence no explanation will be necessary. But ought I to wait for that? She may not choose to come. How can I best be an honest man? It seems silly, and it would be ridiculous, to give out generally here as a matter for the public that I am the son of a negro woman. Yet I think it must come to that in some way. What shall I do?"
This letter caused me to think of Anthony and his trouble much more seriously than before. It was clear to me why he was popular. I had never met any young man who was by nature more sympathetic and attractive. The reserve and sadness which had recently come upon him were not to his disadvantage socially. They rather tended to gain attention and win the kindness of strangers. The question which his position presented, and about which he desired my counsel, troubled me. But, fortunately, after thinking of it almost constantly for two days, I gave him advice which I still think correct under the circumstances. I argued that he was not under any obligation to advertise himself to the public as a colored man. The public did not expect or require this of any one. But I urged that if he made any special friends among those who entertained him socially and with whom he was intimate, he should frankly make known to them the facts in regard to his family. I thought this would be expected, and I was convinced that such a presentation of his position, made without affectation, would win for him respect even from those who might cease to court his society. I further urged that he ought not, as a teacher, to isolate himself or shun those relations with families which would place upon him the obligation to make known his parentage.
Anthony sent a brief note in reply to my letter, thanking me heartily for what he termed my convincing statement, and expressing his determination to act in accordance with it.
Nearly two months passed, and then my friend communicated the further fact that he had gone so far, in several instances, and with several families, as to carry out the suggestions I had made. He thought it was too soon to assert what the ultimate result would be, but stated the immediate effects so far as he could see them. When he first made the announcement in regard to his color, many had disbelieved it. When his persistent and repeated declarations upon various occasions had convinced his friends that it was not a jest, but a reality, they had been variously affected by it. He thought some were politely leaving him, while others seemed desirous of continuing his acquaintance.
Ten days later I was not a little surprised to receive a letter conveying the information that Anthony's mother had arrived in Philadelphia in response to his invitation. He stated, in his letter to me giving this news, that he had now carried out his entire plan and was satisfied. His mother had visited his school, and he had introduced her to his various friends in the city. It seemed to me a mistake thus unnecessarily to run the risk of offending social preferences or prejudices; but I did not feel at liberty to comment upon the matter at the time.
In addition to the information conveyed, the letter contained an invitation which delighted me. Anthony wrote that he and his mother were about returning home. The long vacation would begin in a few days, and they wished that I should go with them for a visit. Few things could have afforded me greater satisfaction than this. The wild forest-country, of which my school-mate had told me much, I regarded as peculiarly a region of romance and adventure.
It was a beautiful morning early in July when we three, with a team and a driver, left the Mohawk valley and climbed the Deerfield hills, making our way northward. On the evening of the first day we readied the hills of Steuben and gained a first glimpse of that broad, beautiful forest-level, known as the Black River country, which stretches away toward the distant St. Lawrence. The next day we descended to this level, and, following the narrow road through forests, and clearings, and little settlements, and villages, arrived just at nightfall at the home of my friends. It was a small, unpainted, wooden house, standing near the road. Back of it were barns and sheds, and I saw cattle and sheep grazing. The zigzag rail fence common to the region surrounded the cleared lots in sight, and in front of the house, across the road, were the wild woods. A wood-thrush, or veery, was pouring out his thrilling, liquid notes as we arrived. A white woman and a large, black, shaggy dog came out of the house to welcome us; and a few minutes later I had the best room, up-stairs over the front door, assigned to me, and was a guest in the domicile of my friend Anthony.
The location was a delightful one, about three miles west of the little village of Champion, near which was a small lake, where we spent many morning hours. From a height not far away we had glimpses, in clear weather, of the mountains, seen in airy outline toward the eastward.
My friend had the horses and wagons of the farm at his command, and we took many long rides to visit places of interest. On several occasions we saw the decaying chateau of Le Ray, which was but little more than an hour's ride to the northward of Anthony's home; and on one occasion we went a day's journey and saw the stony little village of Antwerp, and visited that beautiful sheet of water on the margin of the wilderness, known as Lake Bonaparte. Joseph Bonaparte frequently visited this lake, and he owned lands in its vicinity, and made some improvements upon them in 1828.
Anthony's mother was a tall, spare woman, with a wrinkled face and large, straight features. She seemed to me a curious mixture of European features with a dark skin. She used French phrases in a peculiar way, and was full of the history of Le Ray and Bonaparte and various members of the company that had undertaken to make of this section, in years gone by, a rich and fertile country like the Mohawk valley. It appeared that the name which the company had given to this region was Castorland, which she interpreted to mean the land of the beaver. She had, among other curiosities, some coins or tokens which had been stamped in Paris on behalf of the company, and on which the word "Castorland," accompanied by suitable devices, was plainly seen. The one that interested me most seemed to have as its device the representation of a small dog trying to climb a tree. I was informed, however, that the animal was a beaver, and that he was cutting down the tree with his teeth.
After talking freely with the mother, Antoinette Brown, I did not wonder that Anthony had learned to honor the gentlemen who had come from France to this region in early days as among the greatest men in the world. I did not find myself able to discredit her realistic and vivid description of the visits of Joseph Bonaparte to his wilderness domain in a six-horse chariot, followed by numerous retainers. Neither did I find myself able to disbelieve in the accuracy of her picturesque description of Joseph Bonaparte's Venetian gondola floating upon the waters of Northern New York, or her account of his dinner-service of "golden plate" spread out by the road-side on one memorable occasion when he paused in his kingly ride and dined in a picturesque place near the highway. She told in a convincing manner many traditions relating to the enterprise which was to have made of the Black-River country a rich farming region not inferior to the Mohawk Flats. The fact that nature had not seconded this undertaking had not diminished Mrs. Brown's impressions of its magnitude and importance. The great tracts which had been purchased and the great men who had purchased them were vividly impressed upon her imagination. In reference to her personal history, except for a few allusions to life in New York City, she was reticent.
I remained nearly two months at the home of my friend, and became familiar with the places of interest surrounding it. The little lake was a memorable spot, for there Anthony first told me the full story of his experiences in Philadelphia. He did not conceal the fact that an attachment was growing up between himself and the daughter of his best friend there, Mr. Zebina Allen. The way to make his permanent home in the Quaker City seemed to be opening before him. That I should go with him for a few days to Philadelphia when he returned, to "see how the land lay," as he expressed it in backwoods phrase, was one of his favorite ideas. He made so much of this point that I finally consented to accompany him.
It was a rainy day early in September when we stepped off the cars and went to Anthony's boarding-place in the good old city that held the one he loved and his fortunes. I was introduced to various friends of his, and during the first twenty-four hours of my sojourn I was delighted with all matters that came under my observation. I was especially pleased with Mr. Allen and his daughter Caroline. But within two days I saw, or fancied that I saw, a curious scrutiny and reserve in the faces of some of those with whom we conversed.
I think Anthony was more surprised than I was when he received a note from one of the trustees intimating that important changes were likely to be made in reference to the educational methods to be employed in the school, and that, in view of these changes, it was barely possible that some new arrangements in regard to teachers might be desired by the patrons of the institution. The trustee professed to have written this information in order that "Mr. Brown" might not be taken wholly by surprise in case any step affecting his position should be found advisable.
The circumlocution and indefiniteness of this letter led me to infer that there was something behind it which the writer had not stated. It soon appeared that my friend agreed with me in this inference. I could not but smile at the coolness with which he quoted the common phrase to the effect that there was an African in the fence.
"I fear it is the old story over again," he said; "but I am glad I have done my duty to myself and to my dear mother, whatever the consequences may be."
After some discussion, it was agreed that I should call at Mr. Allen's office (he was a lawyer) and endeavor to obtain from him a statement of all he might know of the new arrangement announced in the letter which had been received. I lost no time in entering upon my mission. But I was compelled to make several applications at the office before it was possible for Mr. Allen to give me a hearing. A late hour of the business-day was, however, finally assigned to me, and just as the gas was lighted I found myself by appointment in a private room used for consultation, sitting face to face with Mr. Allen. I briefly stated my errand, and presented the trustee's letter to him as a more complete explanation of my verbal statement.
"Yes, I see," said Mr. Allen thoughtfully, after reading the letter and returning it to me. And he tilted back his chair, clasped his hands behind his head, and gazed for some minutes reflectively at the ceiling. I sat quietly and studied his face and the objects in the room. He was a large man, squarely built, with straight, strongly-marked features, blue eyes, and sandy hair. In the midst of his books and papers he seemed to me a sterner man than I had previously thought him. "Yes, I see," he repeated, at the close of his period of reflection. And then he removed his hands from his head and placed them on his knees, and brought his chair squarely to the floor, and, leaning forward toward me, looked keenly in my face, and said, "Did I understand that you were one of those people,--that is, similar to Mr. Brown?"
"How, sir?" said I in bewilderment. "How do you mean?"
A moment later the purport of the question, which I had in a strange way seemed to feel as it was coming, dawned fully upon me, or I should rather say struck me, so sharp and sudden was the shock I experienced. If there was anything in which I was secure and of which I had reason to be proud, it was my Puritan and English ancestry. As the blood flew to my youthful face in instinctive protest and indignation, my appearance must have been a sufficient answer to my interrogator; for I remember that he, at once springing to his feet, offered me his hand, making profuse apologies and begging a thousand pardons.
I somewhat stammeringly explained that it was of no consequence, and proceeded to name the families in my ancestral line, adding the remark that these families, both those on my father's side and those on my mother's side, were pretty well known, and that they were the genuine English and Puritan stock.
"They are indeed, sir," said Mr. Allen, "and I congratulate you. I know the value of a good lineage, and I feel safe in talking freely with a gentleman of your standing in regard to this disagreeable business."
At about this stage in the proceedings I felt an obscure twinge. My conscience was uneasy; for I found myself taking sides with Mr. Allen in favor of family pride and against "those people," as he had termed persons of doubtful color. I had instinctively defended myself against the suggestion that I might possibly be one of them. If this skilful lawyer had intended, as possibly he did, to disarm me wholly at the outset, so that I could make no attack upon the position which he intended to assume, he could not have done it more effectually.
"The truth is," said Mr. Allen cheerfully, "we regard Mr. Brown as about the best and most intelligent young man that has ever taught in our school. He is manly, and conscientious to a fault. Aside from his family, the only trouble I find with him is that he is not politic. It was very honorable in him to state to us his parentage as he did. If he had been willing to stop there, possibly we might have managed it,--at least so far as the school was concerned. But it was not necessary and it was not wise to bring that colored woman here. It may have been remarkably filial and brave, and all that, but it was not judicious. I think you will agree with me that it was not judicious."
I hesitatingly admitted that it probably was not.
"I felt sure that you would take a sensible view of the matter," said Mr, Allen. "I am truly sorry that Mr. Brown could not have been more discreet. If he has imagined that he could push that woman into our society, he is mistaken. And now, while I think of it, there is a message which I should be glad to send to Mr. Brown, if you will be so kind as to convey it."
I expressed my willingness to carry the message.
"It has probably come to your knowledge that my daughter Caroline has won the admiration of Mr. Brown."
I replied that Anthony had mentioned it.
"The truth is," resumed Mr. Allen, "we entertained the highest opinion of the young man, and he has visited frequently at our house. I am willing to admit to you that the feeling I spoke of has been mutual. With your appreciation of the claims of propriety, the impossibility of a union will of course be apparent to you."
"Then you regard it as impossible?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied. "Do you not so regard it? Think for a moment what it involves. Some friends of ours in a Western city, as my wife was saying yesterday, have had a trouble of this kind a generation or two back, and the children of the present family are in a condition of chronic worry upon the subject. They are wealthy, and are regarded and treated in society as white people; but the two young ladies use some kind of whitening on their faces habitually. The circumstances of the case are pretty generally known, and you can understand how unpleasant such a matter must be to the entire family. It is claimed that a tinge of color sometimes passes over a generation and appears more markedly in the next. I do not know how that may be, but the idea of the risk is enough to give one chills. There is a story that the Western family of which I spoke has a colored grandson concealed somewhere. Of course I do not know whether it is true or not; but it serves as an illustration.
"My message to Mr. Brown is, that, under all the circumstances, we think he should discontinue his visits at our house. I presume he will see that he should take that course. I shall always be glad to meet him anywhere except at my home. In regard to a business engagement, if he will allow me to say a word, I would suggest that he should teach our colored school. They are looking for a teacher just now, as it happens, and he would be very popular in that capacity."
I could not but admit that Mr. Allen's suggestions were characterized by practical wisdom, but I hinted that the course proposed seemed hardly just to Anthony.
"As to that," said Mr. Allen, "it is true that our laws and customs are unjust and cruel in their treatment of a subjugated race. But it is not wrong to avoid marriage with any other race than our own. As to the part that is unjust, you and I cannot remedy that. So far as we are individually concerned, we may deal justly with the down-trodden, and I hope we do so; but the great wrong will still remain."
I left the office of Mr. Allen, feeling that he was in the right. I went directly to Anthony, and, with a heavy heart, reported to him the particulars of the interview. It was a painful shock, but he bore it with greater calmness and fortitude than I had expected. When I had concluded the recital, he remarked sadly that he found it impossible to say that Mr. Allen was wrong, hard as the truth seemed. He felt that marriage was out of the question, and said that he would not have indulged the thought of it if he had reflected upon the matter carefully. He was not fully decided what course he would pursue. It was too painful a subject and involved too great a change to admit of a hasty decision; and he desired my best thoughts and counsel, which I gave him.
After two days I returned to Whitesboro, leaving Anthony in Philadelphia, still pondering the course he would pursue. Three weeks later I received a letter from him, in which he announced that he had taken the colored school.
Four months passed away. Then I received from my friend a long communication, setting forth rather formally his experience in his new position and unfolding to me new views which he had gained by reflection and contact with the world. He also presented the plan of life which he had decided upon, if I approved. I was greatly surprised at the entire revolution in his ideas which had been effected by his observation and his courageous mental struggles.
"My own thoughts," he wrote, "have been completely changed by reading and reflection. There are three aspects of this subject which I wish to make clear to you. There is first the view that every colored man has some sort of strange, mysterious curse resting upon him by a law of his nature. The idea is that, although the black man in any given instance may be superior, spiritually, intellectually, and physically, to his white neighbor, yet he cannot equal him because of this mysterious curse. This view, sad as it is (advocated by the white race), has settled down upon the minds of millions of colored people. It has crushed out of them all self-reliance and independence. It fastens tenaciously upon the quiet, sensitive spirit, destroying its hope and self-respect and enterprise. I need not tell you how near I have come to being shipwrecked by its influence. But it is founded upon a lie. It is a lie backed up by the assertion, practically, of nations and of millions of intelligent persons acting in their individual capacity. It is, however, none the less a base, malignant falsehood, robbing the spirit that is cowed and crushed by it of the sweetest possessions of life. A similar falsehood has established castes in India, and still another has subjugated woman in many lands, making her a soulless being and the slave of man.
"If any black man has greater wisdom, strength, and goodness than the majority of white men, he is higher in the scale of manhood than they. The real question involved is a comparison of individuals, and not of races.
"You will remember how Homer, in the Iliad, praises the blameless Ethiopians, beloved of the gods and dwelling in a wide land that stretches from the rising to the setting of the sun. The ancient historians praise them also. Words of commendation of this great historic people are found in the ancient classics. So far as I can discover, the prejudice against color is of modern origin.
"I believe that at no very distant day the slaves will be liberated, and that the Almighty will be the avenger of their wrongs.
"I turn now to consider the second aspect of this subject. When a colored man is wise enough and courageous enough to embrace the views which I have presented, he may still be compelled, as a part of his lot in life, to submit to the assumption that he is inferior. It is hard to live in this way in the shadow of a great lie, but it is better than to have the iron enter more deeply into the soul, so as to compel _belief_ of the lie, as is the case with millions of human beings. When the spirit is enfranchised I can understand that one may lead a very noble life in cheerfully submitting to the inevitable misfortune. There are a few colored men who thus recognize the truth, and yet bow to the great sorrow, which they cannot escape, with noble and manly fortitude. I confess that I have entertained thoughts of attempting such a life. I think I could do so if I could see that any great good would be accomplished by it. But my experience here has taught me that any such sacrifice is not required of me. I find that it is not to the advantage of the colored people to be taught at present. They tell me that as they grow in knowledge their degradation becomes more apparent to them, and their sufferings greater. They leave the school with the impression that for them ignorance rather than knowledge is the road to happiness. I cannot deny the truth of their reasoning. If they could be raised above the sense of degradation from which they suffer, it would be different. But, apparently, this cannot be done. It is at least impossible in the few years which can be given to their instruction in the schools now provided for their education. The prevailing sentiment among them is against education and in favor of a thoughtless and easy life. They do not wish to face those fires through which the awakened spirit, crushed by hopeless oppression, must necessarily pass. Only yesterday a young man described to me, with thrilling pathos, the anguish of spirit with which he had felt the fetters tightening upon him as his knowledge increased.
"I do not feel called upon, therefore, to devote my life to teaching. If there was hope left in the case, perhaps I might do so. I would labor on willingly if there were light ahead. But, with millions in slavery and others as tightly bound down by prejudice as if they were slaves, I see no encouragement. I think it the wiser course to wait, trusting that Providence will open a way for a change to come. And this brings me to the third aspect of this matter, and the last phase of it which I desire to consider. It seems to me to be my duty and privilege to withdraw from the unequal contest. The stupendous lie which crushes the mass of the colored race has not imposed itself upon me, although I have had a terrible struggle with it that nearly cost me my reason. I am not so situated as to be compelled to live among those whose very presence would be a constant shadow, a burden to me and a reproach to my existence. Fortunately, I am not compelled to accept the great misfortune and bow to the assumptions of a ruling race. I can retire to the fastnesses of my native hills and forests, where petty distinctions fade away in the majestic presence of nature. I am already beginning to anticipate the change, and instinctively asserting that independence which I feel. Indeed, I have given offence in several instances. I have no trouble with solid business-men like Mr. Allen. They have the good sense and fairness to recognize the fact that a man is a man wherever you find him. But some people of the fanciful sort, with less brains than I have, do me the honor to be angry because I do not submit to any assumptions of superiority on their part. I might be so situated that it would be wisdom to submit, to bend to a lie, to lead the life of a martyr, as some noble men of my acquaintance do under such circumstances. But, fortunately, I can afford to be independent, and I shall do so and take the risk of bodily violence.
"You have now my plan of life and my reasons for it. I shall adhere to it under all ordinary circumstances. Nevertheless, if Providence calls me to some work where great good can be done, I will sacrifice my independence and take up the load of misfortune which prejudice imposes, if that is required, and try to bear meekly the burden and do my duty in the battle of life. But I hope this may not be required of me. Around my home, as you know, are many immigrants, foreign-born, who do not inherit or feel the prejudice against color. My family is already one of the wealthiest and most influential in our little community. With such property as I have and can readily gain, and with such school-teaching and political teaching as I can do, it is a settled thing that our standing will be at the head of society and business, so far as we have any such distinctions among us. To refer to the matter of color in a business light, I may remind you that its trace is very faint in our family line. Already it has entirely disappeared in my own person. With wealth and position it will be to me at home as though it were not; and when my dear mother passes away it will disappear entirely and be speedily lost to memory. I do not mean by this to shirk the position of the colored man, of which I have had a bitter taste. I only mean to show you the brightness and hope of my situation. I trust that you will approve of the course which I have marked out, and give me some credit for courage in meeting and conquering the grisly terror, the base lie, which sought to blast my life."
It would be difficult to express too strongly my admiration for my friend as I read the letter from which I have quoted. It seemed to me wonderful that he had been able to so disentangle himself from difficulties. The cool intrepidity with which he had fought his way through those mental troubles which had seemed at one time about to overwhelm him was to me the most astonishing part of the performance. I wrote to him in terms of the highest commendation, frankly expressing my astonishment at the vigor, truth, and force apparent in his actions and his reasoning. He was satisfied with my letter, and proceeded to close up his affairs in a deliberate and decorous manner before returning home and carrying his plan into execution. It was his idea that I should spend some months each year with him, and he had made other friends who would be invited to visit him.
But the plan which Anthony had formed was never executed. Matters were as I have described, when the war of the Rebellion broke out. Here was that call to public duty which he had alluded to as a possible interference which might change the course of his life. He felt from the first that the contest was a fight for the black man, and he was anxious to engage in it. In a hasty letter to me he recognized the fact that the spirit of John Brown, whom he greatly admired, was still busy in the affairs of the nation, although his body was sleeping in the grave at North Elba.
Anthony Brown enlisted in a white regiment, there being no trace of color about him and no objection being made. He claimed to have a presentiment that he would fall in battle at an early day. Whether it was a presentiment or a mere fancy, it was his fate. He now rests with the indistinguishable dead
Where the buzzard, flying, Pauses at Malvern Hill.
When I learned of his death, a duty fell upon me. He had written in one of his letters that if he did not return from the war he would like to have me tell his mother the true history of his life. He had concealed from her his struggles in reference to color. She knew nothing of his trials at Whitesboro or at Philadelphia. No words had ever passed between them upon the subject. He thought it better, if he lived, that she should never know, but if he died he wished that his history should be fully made known to her.
I made the journey on horseback over the ground I have already described. It was a delightful autumn day when I passed through the village of Champion and went on to Mrs. Brown's home. She was expecting me, as I had written in advance announcing my intended visit. I could see that she was greatly pleased to receive me. I had been at the house two days before I ventured to introduce, in a formal manner, the subject of my mission. Talking of old times, and leading gradually up to the subject, I frankly stated that Anthony had charged me to tell her the story of his personal history, and I exhibited his letter to her. It was after dinner, as we were sitting in the front room reading and talking. Mrs. Brown immediately became excited and anxious to hear. As I disclosed the sorrow of Anthony's life and related the particulars of his career, the effect upon her was not at all what I had expected. She became more and more excited and distressed. At last she called sharply to her servant-girl, Melissa, and told her to go and bring Father Michael, and to bid him come immediately. While Melissa was gone, Mrs. Brown, with a great deal of agitation in her manner, proceeded to question me in regard to the incidents of Anthony's career in Philadelphia, and frequently broke out with the exclamation, "Why could we not have known?"
Soon Father Michael came, and the woman assailed him at once in a harsh and accusing manner, speaking in the French language with great volubility. He replied to her in the same tongue. There was only here and there a word that I could understand. It was plain, however, that there was a contest between them, and that it related to my deceased friend.
By degrees the matter was so far made plain that I understood that Anthony was not the son of Mrs. Brown, but was of the purest white blood and connected with people of rank. Beyond this I was not permitted to know his history. When I asked questions, Father Michael replied that it was better "not to break through the wall of the past." He said it was too late now to aid Anthony, but added that the trouble might have been averted if it had been known at the time.
A day later I took my departure. As I travelled back to Whitesboro I reflected upon the strange events that had shaped Anthony's career. When I turned on the Steuben hills and looked once more upon Castorland, it seemed to me a region of mystery; and the useless tears fell from my eyes as I remembered how one of its secrets had darkened the life of the dearest friend of my youth.
I subsequently learned that Miss Allen, of Philadelphia, suffered indirectly from the effects of Anthony's misfortune. She was not able to forget the man she had chosen.
I have never learned the facts in regard to the early history and real parentage of Anthony Calvert Brown.
* * * * *
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE SHORT-STORY.
When artists fall to talking about their art, it is the critic's place to listen to see if he may not pick up a little knowledge. Of late, certain of the novelists of Great Britain and the United States have been discussing the principles and the practice of the art of writing stories. Mr. Howells declared his warm appreciation of Mr. Henry James's novels; Mr. R.L. Stevenson made public a delightful plea for Romance; Mr. Walter Besant lectured gracefully on the Art of Fiction; and Mr. Henry James modestly presented his views by way of supplement and criticism. The discussion took a wide range. With more or less fullness it covered the proper aim and intent of the novelist, his material and his methods, his success, his rewards, social and pecuniary, and the morality of his work and of his art. But, with all its extension, the discussion did not include one important branch of the art of fiction: it did not consider at all the minor art of the Short-story. Although neither Mr. Howells nor Mr. James, Mr. Besant nor Mr, Stevenson, specifically limited his remarks to those longer, and, in the picture-dealer's sense of the word, more "important," tales known as Novels, and although, of course, their general criticisms of the abstract principles of the art of fiction applied quite as well to the Short-story as to the Novel, yet all their concrete examples were full-length Novels, and the Short-story, as such, received no recognition at all. Yet the compatriots of Poe and of Hawthorne cannot afford to ignore the Short-story as a form of fiction; and it has seemed to the present writer that there is now an excellent opportunity to venture a few remarks, slight and incomplete as they must needs be, on the philosophy of the Short-story.
The difference between a Novel and a Novelette is one of length only: a Novelette is a brief Novel. But the difference between a Novel and a Short story is a difference of kind, A true Short-story is something other and something more than a mere story which is short. A true Short-story differs from the Novel chiefly in its essential unity of impression. In a far more exact and precise use of the word a Short-story has unity as a Novel cannot have it. Often, it may be noted by the way, the Short-story fulfills the three false unities of the French classic drama: it shows one action in one place on one day. A Short-story deals with a single character, a single event, a single emotion, or the series of emotions called forth by a single situation. Poe's paradox that a poem cannot greatly exceed a hundred lines in length under penalty of ceasing to be one poem and breaking into a string of poems, may serve to suggest the precise difference between the Short-story and the Novel, The Short-story is the single effect, complete and self-contained, while the Novel is of necessity broken into a series of episodes. Thus the Short-story has, what the Novel cannot have, the effect of "totality," as Poe called it, the unity of impression. The Short-story is not only not a chapter out of a Novel, or an incident or an episode extracted from a longer tale, but at its best it impresses the reader with the belief that it would be spoiled if it were made larger or if it were incorporated into a more elaborate work. The difference in spirit and in form between the Lyric and the Epic is scarcely greater than the difference between the Short-story and the Novel; and "The Raven" and "How we brought the good news from Ghent to Aix" are not more unlike "The Lady of the Lake" and "Paradise Lost," in form and in spirit, than "The Luck of Roaring Camp" and "The Man without a Country"--two typical Short-stories--are unlike "Vanity Fair" and "The Heart of Midlothian,"--two typical Novels.
Another great difference between the Short-story and the Novel lies in the fact that the Novel, nowadays at least, must be a love-tale, while the Short-story need not deal with love at all. Although "Vanity Fair" was a Novel without a hero, nearly every other Novel has a hero and a heroine, and the novelist, however unwillingly, must concern himself in their love-affairs. But the writer of Short-stories is under no bonds of this sort. Of course he may tell a tale of love if he choose, and if love enters into his tale naturally and to its enriching, but he need not bother with love at all unless he please. Some of the best of Short-stories are love-stories too,--Mr. Aldrich's "Margery Daw," for instance, Mr. Stimpson's "Mrs. Knollys," Mr. Bunner's "Love in Old Clothes;" but more of them are not love-stories at all. If we were to pick out the ten best Short-stories, I think we should find that fewer than half of them made any mention at all of love. In "The Snow Image" and in "The Ambitious Guest," in "The Gold-Bug" and in "The Fall of the House of Usher," in "My Double and how he Undid me," in "Devil-Puzzlers," in "The Outcasts of Poker Flat," in "Jean-ah Poquelin," in "A Bundle of Letters," there is little or no mention of the love of man for woman, which is the chief topic of conversation in a Novel. While the Novel cannot get on without love, the Short-story can. Since love is almost the only thing which will give interest to a long story, the writer of Novels has to get love into his tales as best he may, even when the subject rebels and when he himself is too old to take any interest in the mating of John and Joan. But the Short-story, being brief, does not need a love-interest to hold its parts together, and the writer of Short-stories has thus a greater freedom: he may do as he pleases; from him a love-tale is not expected.
But other things are required of a writer of Short-stories which are not required of a writer of Novels. The novelist may take his time: he has abundant room to turn about. The writer of Short-stories must be concise, and compression, a vigorous compression, is essential. For him, more than for any one else, the half is more than the whole. Again, the novelist may be commonplace, he may bend his best energies to the photographic reproduction of the actual; if he show us a cross-section of real life we are content; but the writer of Short-stories must have originality and ingenuity. If to compression, originality, and ingenuity he add also a touch of fantasy, so much the better. It may be said that no one has ever succeeded as a writer of Short-stories who had not ingenuity, originality, and compression, and that most of those who have succeeded in this line had also the touch of fantasy. But there are not a few successful novelists lacking not only in fantasy and compression, but also in ingenuity and originality; they had other qualities, no doubt, but these they had not. If an example must be given, the name of Anthony Trollope will occur to all. Fantasy was a thing he abhorred, compression he knew not, and originality and ingenuity can be conceded to him only by a strong stretch of the ordinary meaning of the words. Other qualities he had in plenty, but not these. And, not having them, he was not a writer of Short-stories. Judging from his essay on Hawthorne, one may even go so far as to say that Trollope did not know a good Short-story when he saw it.
I have written Short-story with a capital S and a hyphen because I wished to emphasize the distinction between the Short-story and the story which is merely short. The Short-story is a high and difficult department of fiction. The story which is short can be written by anybody who can write at all; and it may be good, bad, or indifferent, but at its best it is wholly unlike the Short-story. In "An Editor's Tales" Trollope has given us excellent specimens of the story which is short; and the stories which make up this book are amusing enough and clever enough, but they are wanting in the individuality and in the completeness of the genuine Short-story. Like the brief tales to be seen in the English monthly magazines and in the Sunday editions of American newspapers into which they are copied, they are, for the most part, either merely amplified anecdotes or else incidents which might have been used in a Novel just as well as not. Now, the genuine Short-story abhors the idea of the Novel. It can be conceived neither as part of a Novel nor as elaborated and expanded so as to form a Novel. A good Short-story is no more the synopsis of a Novel than it is an episode from a Novel. A slight Novel, or a Novel cut down, is a Novelette: it is not a Short-story. Mr. Howells's "Their Wedding Journey" and Miss Howard's "One Summer" are Novelettes, although an American editor, who had offered a prize for a list of the ten best Short-stories, allowed them to be included. Mr. Anstey's "Vice Versa," Mr. Besant's "Case of Mr. Lucraft," and Mr. Hugh Conway's "Called Back" are Short-stories in conception, although they are without the compression which the Short-story requires. In the acute and learned essay on _vers de société_ which Mr. Frederick Locker prefixed to his admirable "Lyra Elegantiarum," he declared that the two characteristics of the best _vers de société_ were brevity and brilliancy, and that "The Rape of the Lock" would be the type and model of the best _vers de société_--if it were not just a little too long. So it is with "The Case of Mr. Lucraft," with "Vice Versa," with "Called Back:" they are just a little too long.
It is to be noted as a curious coincidence that there is no exact word in English to designate either _vers de société_ or the Short-story, and yet in no language are there better _vers de société_ or Short-stories than in English. It may be remarked also that there is a certain likeness between _vers de société_ and Short-stories: for one thing, both seem easy and are hard to write. And the typical qualifications of each may apply with almost equal force to the other: _vers de société_ should reveal compression, ingenuity, and originality, and Short-stories should have brevity and brilliancy. In no class of writing are neatness of construction and polish of execution more needed than in the writing of _vers de société_ and of Short-stories. The writer of Short-stories must have the sense of form, which Mr. Lathrop has called "the highest and last attribute of a creative writer." The construction must be logical, adequate, harmonious. Here is the weak spot in Mr. Bishop's "One of the Thirty Pieces," the fundamental idea of which has extraordinary strength perhaps not fully developed in the story. But others of Mr. Bishop's stories--"The Battle of Bunkerloo," for instance--are admirable in all ways, conception and execution having an even excellence. Again, Mr. Hugh Conway's "Daughter of the Stars" is a Short-story which fails from sheer deficiency of style: here is one of the very finest Short-story ideas ever given to mortal man, but the handling is at best barely sufficient. To do justice to the conception would task the execution of a poet. We can merely wonder what the tale would have been had it occurred to Hawthorne, to Poe, or to Théophile Gautier. An idea logically developed by one possessing the sense of form and the gift of style is what we look for in the Short-story.
But, although the sense of form and the gift of style are essential to the writing of a good Short-story, they are secondary to the idea, to the conception, to the subject. Those who hold, with a certain American novelist, that it is no matter what you have to say, but only how you say it, need not attempt the Short-story; for the Short-story, far more than the Novel even, demands a subject. The Short-story is nothing if there is no story to tell. The Novel, so Mr. James told us not long ago, "is, in its broadest definition, a personal impression of life." The most powerful force in French fiction to-day is M. Emile Zola, chiefly known in America and England, I fear me greatly, by the dirt which masks and degrades the real beauty and firm strength not seldom concealed in his novels; and M. Emile Zola declares that the novelist of the future will not concern himself with the artistic evolution of a plot: he will take _une histoire quelconque_, any kind of a story, and make it serve his purpose,--which is to give elaborate pictures of life in all its most minute details. The acceptance of these theories is a negation of the Short-story. Important as are form and style, the substance of the Short-story is of more importance yet. What you have to tell is of greater interest than how you tell it. I once heard a clever American novelist pour sarcastic praise upon another American novelist,--for novelists, even American novelists, do not always dwell together in unity. The subject of the eulogy is the chief of those who have come to be known as the International Novelists, and he was praised because he had invented and made possible a fifth plot. Hitherto, declared the eulogist, only four terminations of a novel have been known to the most enthusiastic and untiring student of fiction. First, they are married; or, second, she marries some one else; or, thirdly, he marries some one else; or, fourthly, and lastly, she dies. Now, continued the panegyrist, a fifth termination has been shown to be practicable: they are not married, she does not die, he does not die, and nothing happens at all. As a Short-story need not be a love-story, it is of no consequence at all whether they marry or die; but a Short-story in which nothing happens at all is an absolute impossibility.
Perhaps the difference between a Short-story and a Sketch can best be indicated by saying that, while a Sketch may be still-life, in a Short-story something always happens. A Sketch may be an outline of character, or even a picture of a mood of mind, but in a Short-story there must be something done, there must be an action. Yet the distinction, like that between the Novel and the Romance, is no longer of vital importance. In the preface to "The House of the Seven Gables," Hawthorne sets forth the difference between the Novel and the Romance, and claims for himself the privileges of the romancer. Mr. Henry James fails to see this difference. The fact is, that the Short-story and the Sketch, the Novel and the Romance, melt and merge one into the other, and no man may mete the boundaries of each, though their extremes lie far apart. With the more complete understanding of the principle of development and evolution in literary art, as in physical nature, we see the futility of a strict and rigid classification into precisely defined genera and species. All that it is needful for us to remark now is that the Short-story has limitless possibilities: it may be as realistic as the most prosaic novel, or as fantastic as the most ethereal romance.
As a touch of fantasy, however slight, is a most welcome ingredient in a Short-story, and as the American takes more thought of things unseen than the Englishman, we may have here an incomplete explanation of the superiority of the American Short-story over the English. "John Bull has suffered the idea of the Invisible to be very much fattened out of him," says Mr. Lowell: "Jonathan is conscious still that he lives in the World of the Unseen as well as of the Seen." It is not enough to catch a ghost white-handed and to hale him into the full glare of the electric light. A brutal misuse of the supernatural is perhaps the very lowest degradation of the art of fiction. But "to mingle the marvellous rather as a slight, delicate, and evanescent flavor than as any actual portion of the substance," to quote from the preface to "The House of the Seven Gables," this is, or should be, the aim of the writer of Short-stories whenever his feet leave the firm ground of fact as he strays in the unsubstantial realms of fantasy. In no one's writings is this better exemplified than in Hawthorne's; not even in Poe's. There is a propriety in Hawthorne's fantasy to which Poe could not attain. Hawthorne's effects are moral where Poe's are merely physical. To Poe the situation and its logical development and the effects to be got out of it are all he thinks of. In Hawthorne the situation, however strange and weird, is only the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual struggle. Ethical consequences are always worrying Hawthorne's soul; but Poe did not know that there were any ethics.
There are literary evolutionists who, in their whim of seeing in every original writer a copy of some predecessor, have declared that Hawthorne is derived from Tieck, and Poe from Hoffmann, just as Dickens modelled himself on Smollett and Thackeray followed in the footsteps of Fielding. In all four cases the pupil surpassed the master,--if haply Tieck and Hoffmann can be considered as even remotely the masters of Hawthorne and Poe. When Coleridge was told that Klopstock was the German Milton, he assented with the dry addendum, "A very German Milton." So is Hoffmann a very German Poe, and Tieck a very German Hawthorne. Of a truth, both Poe and Hawthorne are as American as any one can be. If the adjective American has any meaning at all, it qualifies Poe and Hawthorne. They were American to the core. They both revealed the curious sympathy with Oriental moods of thought which is often an American characteristic, Poe, with his cold logic and his mathematical analysis, and Hawthorne, with his introspective conscience and his love of the subtile and the invisible, are representative of phases of American character not to be mistaken by any one who has given thought to the influence of nationality.
As to which of the two was the greater, discussion is idle, but that Hawthorne was the finer genius few would deny. Poe, as cunning an artificer of goldsmith's work and as adroit in its vending as was ever M. Josse, declared that "Hawthorne's distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality,--a trait which in the literature of fiction is positively worth all the rest." But the moral basis of Hawthorne's work, which had flowered in the crevices and crannies of New-England Puritanism, Poe did not concern himself with. In Poe's hands the story of "The Ambitious Guest" might have thrilled us with a more powerful horror, but it would have lacked the ethical beauty which Hawthorne gave it and which makes it significant beyond a mere feat of verbal legerdemain. And the subtile simplicity of "The Great Stone Face" is as far from Poe as the pathetic irony of "The Ambitious Guest." In all his most daring fantasies Hawthorne is natural, and, though he may project his vision far beyond the boundaries of fact, nowhere does he violate the laws of nature. He had at all times a wholesome simplicity, and he never showed any trace of the morbid taint which characterizes nearly all Poe's work. Hawthorne, one may venture to say, had the broad sanity of genius, while we should understand any one who might declare that Poe had mental disease raised to the _n'th_.
Although it may be doubted whether the fiery and tumultuous rush of a volcano, which may be taken to typify Poe, is as powerful or as impressive in the end as the calm and inevitable progression of a glacier, to which, for the purposes of this comparison only, we may liken Hawthorne, yet the effect and influence of Poe's work are indisputable. One might hazard the assertion that in all Latin countries he is the best known of American authors. Certainly no American writer has been as widely accepted in France. Nothing better of its kind has ever been done than "The Pit and the Pendulum," or than "The Fall of the House of Usher," which Mr. Stoddard has compared recently with Browning's "Childe Rolande to the Dark Tower came" for its power of suggesting intellectual desolation. Nothing better of its kind has ever been done than "The Gold-Bug," or than "The Purloined Letter," or than "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." This last, indeed, is a story of marvellous skill: it was the first of its kind, and to this day it remains a model, not only unsurpassed, but unapproachable. It was the first of detective-stories, and it has had thousands of imitations and no rival. The originality, the ingenuity, the verisimilitude of this tale and of its fellows are beyond all praise. Poe had a faculty which one may call imaginative ratiocination to a decree beyond all other writers of fiction. He did not at all times keep up to the high level, in one style, of "The Fall of the House of Usher," and in another, of "The Murders in the Hue Morgue;" and it was not to be expected that he should, Only too often did he sink to the grade of the ordinary "Tale from 'Blackwood,'" which he himself satirized in his usual savage vein of humor. Yet even in his flimsiest and most tawdry tales we see the truth of Mr. Lowell's assertion that Poe had "two of the prime qualities of genius,--a faculty of vigorous yet minute analysis, and a wonderful fecundity of imagination." Mr. Lowell said also that Poe combined "in a very remarkable manner two faculties which are seldom found united,--a power of influencing the mind of the reader by the impalpable shadows of mystery, and a minuteness of detail which does not leave a pin or a button unnoticed. Both are, in truth, the natural results of the predominating quality of his mind, to which we have before alluded,--analysis." In Poe's hands, however, the enumeration of pins and buttons, the exact imitation of the prosaic facts of humdrum life in this workaday world, is not an end, but a means only, whereby he constructs and intensifies the shadow of mystery which broods over the things thus realistically portrayed.
With the recollection that it is more than half a century since Hawthorne and Poe wrote their best Short-stories, it is not a little comic to see now and again in American newspapers a rash assertion that "American literature has hitherto been deficient in good Short-stories," or the reckless declaration that "the art of writing Short-stories has not hitherto been cultivated in the United States." Nothing could be more inexact than these statements. Almost as soon as America began to have any literature at all it had good Short-stories. It is quite within ten, or at the most twenty, years that the American novel has come to the front and forced the acknowledgment of its equality with the English novel and the French novel; but for fifty years the American Short-story has had a supremacy which any competent critic could not but acknowledge. Indeed, the present excellence of the American novel is due in great measure to the Short-story; for nearly every one of the American novelists whose works are now read by the whole English-speaking race began as a writer of Short-stories. Although as a form of fiction the Short-story is not inferior to the Novel, and although it is not easier, all things considered, yet its brevity makes its composition simpler for the 'prentice hand. Though the Short-stories of the beginner may not be good, yet in the writing of Short-stories he shall learn how to tell a story, he shall discover by experience the elements of the art of fiction more readily and, above all, more quickly than if he had begun on a long and exhausting novel. The physical strain of writing a full-sized novel is far greater than the reader can well imagine. To this strain the beginner in fiction may gradually accustom himself by the composition of Short stories.
Here, if the digression may be pardoned, occasion serves to say that if our writers of plays had the same chance that our writers of novels have, we might now have a school of American dramatists of which we should be as proud as of our school of American novelists. In dramatic composition, the equivalent of the Short-story is the one-act play, be it drama or comedy or comedietta or farce. As the novelists have learned their trade by the writing of Short-stories, so the dramatists might learn their trade, far more difficult as it is and more complicated, by the writing of one-act plays. But, while the magazines of the United States are hungry for good Short-stories, and sift carefully all that are sent to them, in the hope of happening on a treasure, the theatres of the United States are closed to one-act plays, and the dramatist is denied the opportunity of making a humble and tentative beginning. The conditions of the theatre are such that there is little hope of a change for the better in this respect,--more's the pity. The manager has a tradition that a "broken bill," a programme containing more than one play, is a confession of weakness, and he prefers, so far as possible, to keep his weakness concealed.
When we read the roll of American novelists, we see that nearly all of them began as writers of Short-stories. Some of them, Mr. Bret Harte, for instance, and Mr. Edward Everett Hale, never got any farther, or, at least, if they wrote novels, their novels did not receive the full artistic appreciation and popular approval bestowed on their Short-stories. Even Mr. Cable's "Grandissimes" has not made his readers forget his "Jean-ah Poquelin," nor has Mr. Aldrich's "Queen of Sheba," charming as she was, driven from our memory his "Margery Daw," as delightful and as captivating as that other non-existent heroine, Mr. Austin Dobson's "Dorothy." Mrs. Burnett put forth one volume of Short-stories and Miss Woolson two before they attempted the more sustained flight of the full-fledged Novel. The same may be said of Miss Jewett, of Mr. Craddock, and of Mr. Boyesen. Mr. Bishop and Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Julian Hawthorne wrote Short-stories before they wrote novels. Mr. Henry James has never gathered into a book from the back-numbers of magazines the half of his earlier efforts.
In these references to the American magazine I believe I have suggested the real reason of the superiority of the American Short-stories over the English. It is not only that the eye of patriotism may detect more fantasy, more humor, a finer feeling for art, in these younger United States, but there is a more emphatic and material reason for the American proficiency. There is in the United States a demand for Short-stories which does not exist in Great Britain, or at any rate not in the same degree. The Short-story is of very great importance to the American magazine. But in the British magazine the serial Novel is the one thing of consequence, and all else is termed "padding." In England the writer of three-volume Novels is the best paid of literary laborers. So in England whoever has the gift of story-telling is strongly tempted not to essay the difficult art of writing Short-stories, for which he will receive only an inadequate reward; and he is as strongly tempted to write a long story which may serve first as a serial and afterward as a three-volume Novel. The result of this temptation is seen in the fact that there is not a single English novelist whose reputation has been materially assisted by the Short-stories he has written. More than once in the United States a single Short-story has made a man known, but in Great Britain such an event is wellnigh impossible. The disastrous effect on narrative art of the desire to distend every subject to the three-volume limit has been dwelt on unceasingly by English critics.
The three-volume system is peculiar to Great Britain: it does not obtain either in France or the United States. As a consequence, the French and American writer of fiction is left free to treat his subject at the length it demands,--no more and no less. It is pleasant to note that there are signs of the beginning of the break-up of the system even in England; and the protests of the chief English critics against it are loud and frequent. It is responsible in great measure for the invention and perfection of the British machine for making English Novels, of which Mr. Warner told us in his entertaining essay on fiction. We all know the work of this machine, and we all recognize the trade-mark it imprints in the corner. But Mr. Warner failed to tell us, what nevertheless is a fact, that this British machine can be geared down so as to turn out the English short story. Now, the English short story, as the machine makes it and as we see it in most English magazines, is only a little English Novel, or an incident or episode from an English Novel. It is thus the exact artistic opposite of the American Short-story, of which, as we have seen, the chief characteristics are originality, ingenuity, compression, and, not infrequently, a touch of fantasy. It is not, of course, that the good and genuine Short-story is not written in England now and then,--for if I were to make any such assertion some of the best work of Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, of Mr. Walter Besant, and of Mr. Anstey would rise up to contradict me: it is merely that it is an accidental growth, and not a staple of production. As a rule, in England the artist in fiction does not care to hide his light under a bushel, and he puts his best work where it will be seen of all men,--that is to say, _not_ in a Short-story. So it happens that the most of the brief tales in the English magazines are not true Short-stories at all, and that they belong to a lower form of the art of fiction, in the department with the amplified anecdote. It is the three-volume Novel which has killed the Short-story in England.
Certain of the remarks in the present paper the writer put forth first anonymously some months ago in the columns of an English weekly review. To his intense surprise, they were controverted in a leading American weekly review. The critic began by assuming that the writer had said that Americans preferred Short-stories to Novels. What had really been said was that there was a steady demand for Short-stories in American magazines, whereas in England the demand was rather for serial Novels. "In the first place," said the critic, "Americans do not prefer Short-stories, as is shown by the enormous number of British Novels circulated among us; and in the second place, tales of the quiet, domestic kind, which form the staple of periodicals like 'All the Year Round' and 'Chambers's Journal,' have here thousands of readers where native productions, however clever and original, have only hundreds, since the former are reprinted by the country papers and in the Sunday editions of city papers as rapidly and as regularly as they are produced at home." Now, the answer to this is simply that these English Novels and English stories are reprinted widely in the United States, not because the American people prefer them to anything else, but because, owing to the absence of international copyright, they cost nothing. That the American people prefer to read American stories when they can get them is shown by the enormous circulation of the periodicals which make a specialty of American fiction.
I find I have left myself little space to speak of the Short-story as it exists in other literatures than those of Great Britain and the United States, The conditions which have killed the Short-story in England do not obtain elsewhere; and elsewhere there are not a few good writers of Short-stories. Tourgéneff, Björnsen, Sacher-Masoch, Freytag, Lindau, are the names which one recalls at once and without effort as masters in the art and mystery of the Short-story. Tourgéneff's Short-stories, in particular, it would be difficult to commend too warmly. But it is in France that the Short-story flourishes most abundantly. In France the conditions are not unlike those in the United States; and, although there are few French magazines, there are many Parisian newspapers of a wide hospitality to literature. The demand for the Short-story has called forth an abundant supply. Among the writers of the last generation who excelled in the _conte_--which is almost the exact French equivalent for Short-story, as _nouvelle_ may be taken to indicate the story which is merely short, the episode, the incident, the amplified anecdote--were Alfred de Musset, Théophile Gautier, and Prosper Mérimée. The best work of Mérimée has never been surpassed. As compression was with him almost a mania, as, indeed, it was with his friend Tourgéneff, he seemed born on purpose to write Short-stories. Tourgéneff carried his desire for conciseness so far that he seems always to be experimenting to see how much of his story he may leave out. One of the foremost among the living writers of _contes_ is M. Edmond About, whose exquisite humor is known to all readers of "The Man with the Broken Ear,"--a Short-story in conception, though unduly extended in execution. Few of the charming _contes_ of M. Alphonse Daudet, or of the earlier Short-stories of M. Emile Zola, have been translated into English; and the poetic tales of M. François Coppée are likewise neglected in this country. "The Abbé Constantin" of M. Ludovic Halévy has been read by many, but the Gallic satire of his more Parisian Short-stories has been neglected, perhaps wisely, in spite of their broad humor and their sharp wit. In the _contes_ of M. Guy de Maupassant there is a manly vigor, pushed at times to excess; and in the very singular collection of stories which M. Jean Richepin has called the "Morts Bizarres" we find a modern continuation of the Poe tradition, always more potent in France than elsewhere. I have given this list of French writers of Short-stories merely as evidence that the art flourishes in France as well as in the United States, and not at all with the view of recommending the fair readers of this essaylet to send at once for the works of these French writers, which are not always--indeed, one may say not often--in exact accordance with the conventionalities of Anglo-Saxon propriety. The Short-story should not be void or without form, but its form may be whatever the author please. He has an absolute liberty of choice. It may be a personal narrative, like Poe's "Descent into the Maelstrom" or Hale's "My Double, and How he Undid me;" it may be impersonal, like Mr. F.B. Perkins's "Devil-Puzzlers" or Colonel De Forest's "Brigade Commander;" it may be a conundrum, like Mr. Stockton's insoluble query, "The Lady or the Tiger?" it may be "A Bundle of Letters," like Mr. James's story, or "A Letter and a Paragraph," like Mr. Bunner's; it may be a medley of letters and telegrams and narrative, like Mr. Aldrich's "Margery Daw;" it may be cast in any one of these forms, or in a combination of all of them, or in a wholly new form, if haply such may yet be found by diligent search. Whatever its form, it should have symmetry of design. If it have also wit or humor, pathos or poetry, and especially a distinct and unmistakable flavor of originality, so much the better. But the chief requisites are compression, originality, ingenuity, and now and again a touch of fantasy. Sometimes we may detect in a writer of Short-stories a tendency toward the over-elaboration of ingenuity, toward the exhibition of ingenuity for its own sake, as in a Chinese puzzle. But mere cleverness is incompatible with greatness, and to commend a writer as "very clever" is not to give him high praise. From this fault of super-subtilty women are free for the most part. They are more likely than men to rely on broad human emotion, and their tendency in error is toward the morbid analysis of a high-strung moral situation.
* * * * *
GENERAL GRANT AT FRANKFORT.
The extraordinary honors paid to General Grant in England created a profound impression all over Europe. No other American, and, indeed, few Europeans, had ever received such honors abroad; and what made the case still more impressive and exceptional was the fact that this great distinction was paid to no potentate or prince of the blood, but to a simple private citizen, holding no rank or official position.
As soon as it was known that General Grant intended to travel on the Continent, he was invited to visit Frankfort-on-the-Main. The invitation was extended by the American residents of that city, and was accepted. A joint meeting of Americans and Frankfort burghers was then held, and a committee was appointed, half Germans and half Americans, to make arrangements for the proposed reception and entertainment of General Grant and his party. Mr. Henry Seligman, an American banker of Frankfort, and the writer of this, were appointed by this committee to intercept the distinguished tourist on his journey up the Rhine and conduct him to the city.
It was on a charming summer morning that we quitted Frankfort on this mission. General Grant was at Bingen, where he had arrived the evening before from Cologne. He was accompanied by Mrs. Grant, his son Jesse Grant, and General Adam Badeau, then Consul-General at London. Their arrival at Bingen had been so unostentatious that their presence in the town was scarcely known outside of the hotel in which they had taken rooms. Their departure was alike unnoticed.
Our train drew up at Bingen just as a special _Schnellzug_ with the Emperor of Germany on board swept by. Proceeding at once to the hotel, we learned that General Grant had already left for Rüdesheim, but had possibly not yet crossed the river. We hastened to the landing, and there found him and his party seated under some linden-trees, waiting for the ferry. I had a package of letters for the general which had come to my care, and which, after mutual introductions, I delivered to him at once. Tearing open and throwing away the envelopes, General Grant hastily inspected the letters and passed them to General Badeau. By this time the Rüdesheim steamer had arrived, and we all went on board. In a moment more the boat pushed off and turned its course up the stately river. The rippling waters sparkled in the sunshine, and all the vine-clad hills were dressed in summer beauty. On the right, dropping behind us, was Bingen, famous in legend and in song, and on the left, in the foreground, appeared the curious spires and roofs of Rüdesheim. The scene was an ideal tableau, such as Byron describes, of the
Wide and winding Rhine, Whose breast of waters broadly swells Between the banks which bear the vine, And hills all rich with blossom'd trees, And fields which promise corn and wine, And scattered cities crowning these, Whose far white walls along them shine.
From Rüdesheim to Wiesbaden the railway follows the Rhine as far as Castel, at the mouth of the Main, opposite Mayence. A short distance above Rüdesheim the Taunus bluffs sweep back from the river, and the garden of the Rhine valley opens out right and left. This is the heart of the wine-growing region, and within it lie many of the most celebrated vineyards in the world. The valley is dotted with villages whose names are famous in the Rhine-wine nomenclature, and upon a bold promontory, commanding all, the queen of the German vintage rules from the Johannisberg Schloss.
While our train bowled along, and we were discussing these various objects of interest, General Badeau discovered by accident among the letters which General Grant had given him one which had not been opened.
"The address is in the handwriting of General Sherman," said Badeau.
"Yes," said General Grant, glancing at the superscription, "that is from Sherman. Read it."
Accordingly, General Badeau read the letter aloud, and the whole company was deeply impressed with the cordiality of its friendly expressions. In heartiest terms the letter felicitated General Grant upon the splendid receptions which had been given him, and the merited appreciation awarded him in the Old World. The letter was that of an admiring and devoted friend rather than that of a military colleague.
"General Sherman seems to have a strong personal regard for you, general," remarked one of the party.
"Yes," responded General Grant, "there has always been the best of feeling between Sherman and myself, although attempts have not been wanting to make it appear otherwise."
"I have noticed such attempts," replied the person addressed, "but for my part I have never needed any proof that they were wholly uncalled-for and impertinent.
"Possibly you have never heard, general," continued the speaker, "how heartily General Sherman rejoiced over your conquest and capture of Lee's army. He was particularly gratified that he had not been obliged to make any movement that would have given a pretext for saying that your success was due in part to him. To those about him he exclaimed, in his energetic way,--
"'I knew Grant would do it, for I knew the man. And I'm glad that he accomplished it without my help. Nobody can say now that I have divided with him the credit of this success. He has deserved it all, he has gained it all, and I'm glad that he will have it all.'"
About noon the party arrived at Wiesbaden, where nobody seemed to expect them except the people at the hotel where General Grant's courier had engaged rooms. After dinner Mr. Seligman desired to tender a drive to the general and Mrs. Grant, but they had disappeared. After a short search, they were found sitting together alone in one of the arboreal retreats of the Kurgarten. The general remarked that it was his custom when he visited a city to explore it on foot, and that in this way he had already made himself tolerably familiar, he thought, with the general plan and situation of Wiesbaden. Mr. Seligman's invitation was readily accepted, however, and half an hour later the party set out, in a carriage, for the Russian Chapel.
Wiesbaden is one of the most ancient watering-places on the Continent. It was a Roman military station, and upon the Heidenberg--a neighboring eminence--are seen the traces of a Roman fortress. The remains of Roman baths and a temple have also been found there, and its waters are mentioned by Pliny. At a later period the Carlovingian monarchs established at Wiesbaden an imperial residence. The city lies under the southern slope of the Taunus Mountains, the rocky recesses of which conceal the mysteries of its thermal springs. The hilly country for miles around abounds in charming pleasure-grounds, drives, and promenades. The gilded palaces which were formerly used as fashionable gambling-houses are now devoted to the social and musical recreation of visitors who come to take the waters.
The drive to the Russian Chapel ascends the Taunus Mountain by a winding road, amidst stately, well-kept forests of beech and chestnut. The chapel, whose gilded domes can be seen from afar, stands upon one of the most salient mountain-spurs, and overlooks the country as far as Mayence and the Odenwald. It was erected by the Duke of Nassau as a memorial to his deceased first wife, who was a beautiful young Russian princess. Upon her tomb, which adorns the interior, her life-size effigy reclines, in pure white marble.
General Grant lingered for some time at this place, and from the promontory on which the chapel stands gazed with deep interest over the far-reaching historic scenes of the Rhine valley.
Next morning the general and his party arrived at Frankfort, where they were met by the reception-committee. Accompanied by this committee, the party visited the ancient Römer, within whose venerable walls for many centuries the German emperors were chosen; then the quaint and venerated mansion in which Goethe was born; then the old cathedral, wherein a score or more of German potentates were crowned; and then, in succession, the poet Boerne's birthplace, the Judengasse, the original home of the Rothschilds, the Ariadneum (named from Dännecker's marble group of Ariadne and the lioness), the Art Museum, the Goethe and Schiller monuments, and the beautiful sylvan resort for popular recreation, known as "The Wald." General Grant visited also, by invitation, some of the great wine-cellars of Frankfort, and was conducted through the immense crypts of Henninger's brewery, which is one of the largest establishments of the kind on the Continent. As he was about to leave Henninger's, he was requested to write his name in the visitors' register. The record was divided into spaces entitled, respectively, "name," "residence," and "occupation." General Grant promptly put down his name and place of residence, but when he came to the "occupation" column he hesitated. "What shall I write here?" he inquired: "loafer?"
This remark was made in jest, and yet not without a certain sadness of tone and manner. Undoubtedly, General Grant felt keenly the irksomeness of having nothing particular to do. After the immense strain which had been put upon him for twelve successive years, it was not easy for him to reconcile himself, in the prime of his manhood and the full maturity of his powers, to being a mere spectator of the affairs of men. Activity had become a second nature to him, and idleness was simply intolerable. With much leisure on his hands, he first sought rest and recreation, and then occupation. However unfortunately his business undertakings resulted, they were, after all, but the outcome of a natural and laudable desire to be usefully employed.
The banquet given to General Grant by the citizens and resident Americans of Frankfort was a superb affair. It took place in the Palmengarten, which is, above any other object, the pride of the charming old "City of the Main." When the Duke of Nassau, an active sympathizer with the beaten party in the Austro-Prussian war, lost his dominions and quitted his château at Biebrich, the Frankforters availed themselves of the opportunity to buy the famous collection of plants in his winter-garden, comprising about thirty thousand rare and costly specimens. The joint-stock company by which this purchase was made received from the city a donation of twenty acres of land, and added thereto, from its own funds, ten acres more.
The company also obtained, partly by donation, five large palm-trees, and from these the Palmengarten takes its name. For the conservation of the botanical collection a mammoth structure was erected of glass and iron, and for the entertainment of visitors a commodious and elegant music- and dining-hall was added. The grounds were adorned with fountains, lakes, parterres, and promenades, and were equipped with every facility for family and popular recreation, not overlooking, by any means, the amusement of the children. In all Europe there is not a lovelier spot than this. To keep it in order, educated gardeners are employed, regularly salaried; and in the arrangement of the plants such combinations of color and form are produced as an artist might envy. Twice daily a concert is given by a large, well-trained orchestra in the music-hall, or, when the weather is propitious, in a pavilion in the garden. The concert-hall looks through a glass partition directly into the great conservatory, which, thus viewed, presents a scene of tropical enchantment. The palm-trees occupy conspicuous positions amidst skilfully-grouped dracænas, ferns, azaleas, rhododendrons, passifloras, and a myriad of other curious vegetable productions of the equatorial world. The ground is carpeted with light-green moss, smooth and soft as velvet, and, as an appropriate centre-piece to the whole, is seen the silvery flash of a falling cataract.
The banquet was held in the music-hall, where General Grant was given a seat immediately fronting the scene just described. The conservatory and hall were brilliantly illuminated, the tables were resplendent with silver and floral decorations, and upon the walls of the banquet-chamber the emblems of the great Republic and the great Empire were suggestively displayed side by side. Ladies were admitted to the galleries, but gentlemen only were seated at the tables, and among the guests were many of the most prominent bankers and merchants of Germany, including capitalists who had been the first in Europe to invest in the war-loans offered by our government.
The dinner lasted three hours. Between the courses various toasts were drunk, a venerable burgher of Frankfort proposing the health of General Grant, to which the general responded in a brief, sensible, and somewhat humorous speech, which was exceedingly well received. Nothing could have been more appropriate, modest, and fitting.
Outside the building the scene was scarcely less animated or interesting than within. By the aid of colored lights and other pyrotechnic contrivances the garden was made brilliant and gay as an Arabian Nights dream. The air was perfumed with the aroma of flowers and moistened by the delirious play of fountains. Thousands of people, elegantly dressed, were seated on the out-door terraces, enjoying the fireworks and music, and in the promenades other thousands were moving, producing a kaleidoscopic combination of motion and color. For some time after the banquet General Grant sat upon the veranda of the music-hall, conversing with friends and observing this novel scene. His presence excited no rude curiosity or boisterous enthusiasm, but was none the less honored by more subdued and decorous demonstrations of respect.
The next day General Grant drove to Homburg, fifteen miles, and thence four miles farther to Saalburg, the site of an ancient Roman fortification on the Taunus Mountains. It was one of a series of defensive stations covering the frontier of the Roman empire and extending from the Rhine to the Danube. The exhumations at this fortified camp, first attempted within a recent period, have disclosed the most completely preserved Roman castramentation yet found in Germany. The castellum is a rectangle, four hundred and sixty-five by seven hundred and four feet, and is surrounded by two deep ditches and by high parapets. Within this enclosure the prætorium, or residence of the commandant, one hundred and thirty-two by one hundred and fifty-three feet, has been distinctly traced by its stone foundations. Stones marked with Roman characters yet remain in their places, designating the camps of the different legions. This fort is mentioned by Tacitus, and was one of the principal bulwarks of the Roman conquest in Germany against the tribes which hovered along its northern frontier.
The excavations were still in progress at the time of General Grant's visit, and on that very occasion some interesting relics were unearthed. Mrs. Grant was presented with a ring and some pieces of ancient pottery which were removed in her presence from the places where they had lain embedded in the earth for the last eighteen hundred years.
Near the fort was discovered, a few years ago, the cemetery where the ashes of the deceased Romans of the garrison were interred. Some of the graves which had never before been disturbed were opened in General Grant's presence, in order that he might see with his own eyes what they contained and in what manner their contents were deposited. From each grave a small urn was taken, containing the ashes of one cremated human body, and upon the mouth of the urn was found, in each instance, a Roman obolus, which had been deposited there to pay the ferriage of the soul of the departed over the Stygian river. General Grant was presented with some of these coins as mementos of his visit.
Upon his return to Homburg the ensuing evening, the general was banqueted by a party of Americans, and a splendid illumination of the Kurgarten was given in his honor. The next day he returned to Frankfort, and the next departed by rail for Heidelberg and Switzerland.
ALFRED E. LEE.
* * * * *
TURTLING ON THE OUTER REEF.
"What's that astern, Sandy?" The old darky, who had been gently soothed into slumber by the friction of the main sheet that served as a pillow, raised his grizzly head, gave one look in the direction indicated, and sprang to his feet, shouting wildly, "On deck der! man yo' wedder fo' an' main, lee clew garnets an' buntlines, topsail halyards an' down-hauls, jib down-haul, let go an' haul!" his voice fairly rising in a shriek that, with the rattling of the jib as it came down, might have been heard a mile away.
The occasion of all this turmoil was a pillar of inky blackness, which, when observed by the writer, who had the tiller, seemed fifty feet high and about ten feet wide. Now it was a hundred feet wide, and growing with ominous speed. The easy quarter breeze that had been fanning us along mysteriously crept away, as if awed by the strange apparition. The laughing gulls that had hovered above the water rose high in air, uttering piercing cries while standing out in vivid silvery brightness against the wall of night. The sea assumed a bright metallic tint and rose and fell in uneasy measure, while the booming of the breakers on the distant reef, and the swash of the waves as our craft rolled to and fro, were painfully distinct.
"Cotch suthin'!" shouted Sandy, taking a round turn about the tiller with the slack end of the dingy's painter. Delicate furrows for a moment cut their way here and there over the glassy surface, and then with a roar the black squall was upon us, keeling our craft almost upon her beam-ends. The water seemed torn from its bed, flung by some unseen power high into the air, and borne hissing and roaring away. It cut and lashed our faces as we crouched flat upon the deck, clinging where we could. The sea rose as if by magic, and, with the wind astern, was driving us upon the reef which we had been encircling in search of a harbor. After ten minutes of the wild race with the squall, which now was as quickly lighting up, we heard the roar of the breakers near at hand.
"Put her up in de win', or we'se gone, sho'!" shrieked young Rastus, who had crawled aft.
"Gone where?" cried Sandy, his grim visage, dripping with water, now visible braced against the tiller.
Rastus's white eyeballs, standing out in terror, rolled ominously up and then down in answer, leaving a doubt to be inferred.
"How old is yo', son?" asked the old man fiercely, bracing hard as the craft yawed heavily.
"I ain't gwine to git any older, dat's sho'," replied the boy.
"W'y, yo' poor coon," retorted Sandy. "ef yu'se ole as Jehos'phat, I'se wu'ked disher reef fo' yu'se bo'n."
So quickly had the squall passed that its power was now well over, and the lighting up showed us to be only a few hundred yards from the mass of breakers pounding upon the outer reef.
"Yo' 'spec' to jump dat reef?" asked Rastus, fairly shaking with fear.
"Start dat jib," thundered the old man. "Give her de bonnet an' de ma'nsail up to dat fastest patch."
The boys jumped to the halyards, and the boat sprang forward with renewed speed, careening over until she was half under, and slightly hauling on the wind.
"Ef I kin keep her offen de reef twill hit lightens up, we'se all right," whispered Sandy; and suddenly, looking after the retreating cloud, out of which in the gloom now appeared the tops of the mangrove-trees, he shouted exultantly, "Give her de jib," and, with a lunge at the tiller, the vessel fell away and dashed onward at the wall of rock and foam.
"For de Lawd's sake, yo' ain't gwine to jump dat reef, is yo'?" cried Rastus, in an agony of terror.
But it was too late to question the old man's intentions: we were already in the back swash of the breakers. "Cotch suthin!" he shouted again, as our craft on the crest of a mighty roller shot onward to seeming destruction.
On either side the bare coral rock was visible, as the waves gathered for another onward rush; yet we did not strike. A second roller raised us high in air, and, hurled forward with the speed of the wind, we were buried in the seething foam; but the next moment our craft shook off the sea, and we glided away on the smooth waters of the inner reef. A few minutes later the sun was out again, and one of the strangest phases of life on the reef had come and gone.
"I 'spec' dat was a narrer 'scape," said old Sandy, "but I tuk de only chance. We was boun' to strike somewhere, an' de squall jes' got off in time for me to take bearin's of disher five-foot channel; an', it's a fac', I'se been fru a heap o' times, but dat was de wustest, sho' 'nuff."
From Sandy's orders given at the approach of the squall, the reader might possibly infer that the sable mariner was commander of a ninety-gun frigate, while in point of fact he was only skipper of a very disreputable fishing-smack. But he had been nearly all his life a "boy" on a government vessel, and now, having retired, from either habit or fancy he still kept up the man-of-war discipline, and when under more than ordinary excitement roared out a flood of orders that savored of both navy and merchant marine, uttering them with all the enjoyment of a ranking officer on his own quarter-deck. They were, however, well understood by Sandy's sons, who constituted the port and starboard watches of the smack, and who were in constant awe of the old man-of-war's-man, who did not hesitate to enforce his orders with any missile that came handy.
"Dis ship's on a war-footin', dat's sho'," he said, after one of these characteristic scenes, and then, in a stage whisper, "so's de crew. Dey's bofe cou'tin' de same gal in Key Wes'."
The Bull Pup, for such was her name, kept up her war-footing as long as we knew her, and the dignity invested in her hulk, which had a strong predisposition toward bilge, was, to say the least, extraordinary. Never was better craft for the purpose; and during a long cruise among the small keys that form the extreme end of the Florida peninsula, she always showed a dogged determination, as indicated by her name, to surmount all difficulties.
We had sailed down during the night from Marquesas across the Rebecca shoals, and when caught by the squall were off Bush Key, one of the most easterly of the group, which enjoys the distinction of possessing Dry Tortugas,--why "dry" we know not. Our extraordinary entrance, almost instantaneous, from rough to comparatively smooth water can only be explained by a casual reference to the great reef. The group of keys--Loggerhead, Bird, Long, Middle, East, North, Bush, Sand, and Garden--are all within seven miles of each other, Garden, Bird, Bush, and Long being in close proximity,--within swimming-distance, if the swimmer be not nervous in regard to sharks. From these central keys a great sandy shoal spreads away on all sides, cut up, however, by several deep channels admitting vessels of the largest draught. To the east and south the reef is two miles wide and rarely over four feet deep, covered at intervals with great fields of branch corals, while here and there clusters of enormous heads of astrea, porites, etc., have collected. The edge of the reef is formed of dead coral rock, often beaten up by the waves into a continuous wall several miles in extent, and a few steps beyond this the water deepens quickly, until at the length of a vessel from it no bottom is visible.
The one opening in this barrier on the side of our approach, so formidable in a gale, is the passage through which the skill of Sandy had safely brought us, being, as its name explains, five feet deep and not many more in width, and used only at odd times by the few pilots and fishermen of the reef who know the secret of its approach. But how old Sandy found it when completely covered by the waves, with only the tops of certain trees to steer by, is one of the mysteries.
Our object in visiting this desolate part of the country was to capture turtles. Here is the ground of the green and loggerhead turtles, and, according to Sandy, the hawksbill, from which the shell of commerce is taken, is also occasionally found.
The squall was now a fast-disappearing pillar in the west. The anchor-chain ran merrily out, and we rounded to in the narrow harbor of Garden Key. The boys manned the pump, while Sandy and the writer pulled for the shore, and the dingy soon crunched into the white, sandy beach of the coral island which during the war was the Botany Bay of America. Surely Dry Tortugas has been maligned: instead of dry we find it very wet, a key of sand thirteen acres in extent, hardly one foot above the tide, and entirely occupied by probably the largest brick fort in the world.
Fort Jefferson was commenced long before the war, and is now a monument of the ineffectual military methods of thirty years ago. The work is a six-sided, two-tiered fort of majestic proportions, its faces pierced with over five hundred guns. How many millions of dollars have been expended in its erection it would be difficult to conjecture. The question why so important a work was built here is often asked, and we have heard the answer given that it was encouraged by the Key West slave-owners, through their representatives, to give employment to their slaves, who were engaged as laborers by the government. Garden Key, however, is the key of the gulf, and, as a prospective coaling-station in case of war, it was undoubtedly a spot to be held at all odds, and at the outbreak of the war it formed a convenient spot for the confinement of certain prisoners, as many as three thousand being kept there at one time. Now the great fort figures as a picture of desolation and is slowly falling to decay, deserted save by the memories of the great conflict, a lighthouse-keeper, and a guard.
Once within the great enclosure, the reason for its having been called Garden Key becomes apparent. The neighboring islands are covered with prickly pear, mangroves, and bay-cedars, while here clumps of cocoanuts rear their graceful forms, their long rustling leaves, which convey to the distant listener the cooling impression of falling rain, reaching high over the top of the fort. On the west side grows a small grove of bananas, while against the cottage walls luxuriant vines climb in wild confusion. What was once the parade-ground is covered by a thick growth of wiry grass, in which gopher- and crab-holes lay traps for the unwary. In fact, far from being the forbidding spot it has been painted, Dry Tortugas seemed to us a veritable garden in the path of the great Gulf Stream.
On the afternoon of our arrival the Bull Pup was got under way and headed through a circuitous channel to East Key, off which we came to anchor about dusk. Blankets and other articles indispensable for a night on the beach were carried ashore, and camp formed on the edge of the bay-cedars. East Key comprises about thirty acres of sand, thickly covered with a low growth of bay-cedar, in which the rude nests of the noddy are found, while here and there in the undergrowth are great patches of cactus or prickly pear, affording lurking-places for innumerable purple-backed crabs of ferocious mien.
"Turklin'," said old Sandy, as we lay stretched on the sand, waiting for the moon, "is right in de line o' hard wu'k, an' I 'spec's yo' chillun is a-hankerin' after yo' mudder."
The two children, both hard on thirty, indignantly denied that they had anything but an extreme fondness for labor.
"Wu'k!" said old Sandy, appealing to us and reaching for a piece of driftwood to fling at his progeny in case of necessity; "w'y, de coons of disher generation don' know de meanin' of de word, da's a fac'. How is it dat yo' don' see no mo' bandy chillun roun' now? Kase dey mammies don' hev to wu'k. Dey ain't got no call to put de chilluns down. W'y, chile, I pick cotton 'fore I leave de bre's', da's a fac'. De niggers is gittin' too sumpchus fo' dar place. Dey try to make outen dey got sense like white folks. Yo' Rastus, yo'se deacon in de Key Wes' Fustest Bethel, ain't yo'?"
"'Deed I is," replied that person.
"An' Piffney too, I reckon," continued Sandy.
"Yas, sah," answered Piffney.
"Wal," said the old man, turning to us again, "dere it is. Chuck full o' 'ligion, but w'en dey git in de tight hole like de five-foot dey ain't got no faith. Old-time l'arnin' say 'tain't no use buckin' 'genst de debble less yo' full o' faith. All de old-time coons knows dey's coons, but dese yere free-born darkies got to be white or nuthin'. Yander," nodding his head toward Key West, "a couple of dese yere black Conchs drap in on me an' de ole woman, an' say, 'Uncle Sandy, we'se 'lected yo' hon'ry member of de Anex Debatin' Soci'ty of de Young Men's Chrisshun 'Sociashun of de Fustest Bethel.' I reached fo' a chunk of scantlin', and de ole woman stood by fo' to turn loose de coon, w'en dey hollered out dey wasn't no 'spenses, no fees, no nuthin', only ten bits fo' hevin' yo' name 'graved in de soci'ty's books. So I 'lowed I'd jine; an' d'rectly dey sent me an inwite fo' de fustest meetin', an', fo' de Lawd, mar's, w'at yo' s'pose hit was? Hit read kinder like disher," he continued, with a groan: "'Reswolved, which is de butt end of a goat? Fo' de affermation (de on side), Rastus Pinckey; fo' de neggertive (de off side), Piffney Pinckey.' Yas, sah, I done pay ten bits fo' to hear my chillun 'scuss w'at's done been settled in disher fam'ly 'fore dey's bo'n and sence! All comes o' apin' white folks," said the old man, threatening the debaters with the scantling. "Dey's boun' to git up a 'batin'-soci'ty an' talk all de evening w'en dere was Paublo Johnson standin' up all de evenin' from stiffness he cotched from ole man Geiger's goat, an', hit's a fac', he stan' an' 'scuss de question, tryin' to make outen how de goat kicked him, all kase he's on de _on_ side. But dat's de coon of it."
"Whish!" whispered Rastus, who, with Piffney, had been trying to look supernaturally solemn during this tirade.
"Shoo!" repeated Sandy, leaning forward.
The moon had just cleared the mangrove-tops, and illuminated the silvery sands, casting reflections upon the water, where there was now a perfect calm. Far away was heard the lonely cry of a laughing gull. The gentle break of the waves upon the sands gave out a soft, musical sound, and, as we held our breath, a sharp hiss was heard, seemingly but a few feet away.
"Turkle," hoarsely whispered Sandy; on which announcement we all flattened upon the sand. So bright was the moon that every object was distinctly visible for several hundred feet. A moment later the strange hiss was repeated, and then a small, black object was seen glistening in the moonlight a few feet from shore. Again came the penetrating hiss, and the animal moved several feet farther in, as if cautiously looking around. The moonbeams scintillated for a moment on its shell, as it hesitated on the edge, and then the turtle commenced a clumsy scramble up the beach, lifting itself along in a laborious manner. In ten minutes it had reached the loose sand above tide-water, and kept its course toward us until within thirty feet, when it began to excavate its nest. The operation seemed to be performed mostly with the hind feet, and was accomplished in a remarkably short time, considering the implements used.
All the party were breathing hard, and, as Sandy afterward remarked, "The only reason de turkle didn't go was it t'ought we'se porpuses."
The turtle was allowed to deposit its eggs, and when that operation was supposed to be about over a concerted rush was made. As we rose from the sand, the animal whirled clumsily around and made for the sea. It was an enormous loggerhead, and, with its huge head and powerful flippers, presented a decidedly aggressive appearance. The two boys were first on the field, and, without waiting for the scantling which old Sandy had grasped, seized the creature on the side, between the flippers, and lifted it. But they had barely raised it from the sand when the great fore flipper, being clear, struck the unfortunate Piffney a sounding blow, knocking him against Rastus, who lost his hold, and both went down in confusion. The turtle scrambled ahead, throwing sand like a whirlwind. She seemed to have the faculty of lifting nearly a quart and hurling it with unerring force, and old Sandy's mouth was soon filled with it. Three of us again seized the animal and lifted, while the old darky inserted the scantling as a lever.
"Now, den, clap on yere!" he cried, dodging the sand and flippers.
We lifted, and the monster was fairly on its side, when an ominous creak was heard; the plank broke, and before a new hold could be taken the turtle was but ten feet from the water. Active measures were evidently necessary, and Sandy, taking the board, ran in front of the animal and struck wildly at its head, yelling to us to lift. But the sand was soft, and every lift was attended by a terrific beating to the man who stood near the fore flipper. In vain we struck, lifted, and hauled: the turtle was gaining slowly. Finally, in his war-dance about the animal's head, Sandy stumbled, grasped wildly in the air, and went down backward into the water with a sounding crash, the turtle fairly crawling over his legs, and, despite the boys, who hung on to its hind flippers, it slid into the water and disappeared behind a miniature tidal wave, leaving the Pinckey family--father and sons--in a state of complete demoralization.
"I 'low dat turkle's bo'n free," gasped Sandy, picking himself up and shaking the water from his clothes.
"He ain't gwine to give up dat calapee yet, da's a fac'."
The boys having repaired damages and unloaded the sand received during the _mêlée_, and the moon being now well up, the tramp around the key was commenced. The approved method is to walk along as near the water as possible, and on finding a recent track to follow it up on the run, and thus head off the turtle. For a mile or more we strolled along the sands, the boys humming in low tones some old plantation melody, and Sandy occasionally venting his wrath at some real or imaginary fault in the young and rising generation. In the midst of one of these tirades, the boys, who had kept ahead, suddenly darted up toward the bushes. We were soon after them, following up a broad track distinctly marked on the white, sandy beach, and came upon a fine green turtle, which immediately started for the water, making rapid headway. The honor of turning her was reserved for the writer, who, grasping the shell beneath the flippers, essayed the task. Her struggles, the flying flippers, and the giving sand verified Sandy's statement that "turklin' was wu'k," and, after several ineffectual attempts, we were forced to cry for help. The animal was soon upon her back, and proved to be one of the largest size. "Old an' tuff," said Sandy; "but," he added, "hit'll be all the same up No'th."
The boys now proceeeded to cut slits in the flippers and lash them together with rope-yarn, the animal being thus placed _hors de combat_. The march was again taken up, and soon another track was found, but the eggs had been laid and the game was gone. An attempt to find this nest showed the cunning displayed by these clumsy creatures. Naturally, the nest would be looked for at the end of the incoming track, but at this spot the writer searched fruitlessly, while Sandy looked on in grim satisfaction at his own superior knowledge. Finally he pointed out the nest forty feet away, and the boys soon produced the soft, crispy eggs as proof of his wisdom.
"Ole turtle jes' as cunnin' as coon," said Sandy, as he nipped one of the eggs and transferred its contents to his capacious mouth. And, indeed, so it seemed. Instead of laying directly on reaching the soft sand, the turtle had crawled down the beach and made several holes, finally forming her real nest, smoothing it over so that it could never be distinguished from the rest, and again crawling down the beach before turning toward the water: thus the nest may be looked for anywhere between the up and down tracks.
Having piled the eggs in a convenient place for transportation in the morning, the march was renewed, and before dawn four turtles were turned, with little or no discomfort, all being green and much lighter than the cumbersome loggerhead that first escaped us.
In the morning the turtles were one by one placed in the dingy and taken aboard the smack, when we set sail for Garden Key, arriving in the snug harbor a few hours later. It is a curious fact that the long strip of sand to the westward, called Loggerhead Key, is mostly frequented by the turtle of that name, the green turtle rarely going ashore there, preferring East, Sand, and Middle Keys.
The eggs of the turtle are perfectly oval, with the exception of one or two depressions that may occur at any part. They are hatched probably not by the direct heat of the sun, but by the general temperature of the sand. The instinct of the young is remarkable. We have placed young loggerheads barely a day old in a closed room facing away from the water, and they invariably turned in that direction. During their young life they fall a prey to many predaceous fishes, such as sharks, also to the larger gulls, and only a small percentage of the original brood attains its majority.
Besides turning turtles, which is of course confined strictly to a certain season, the fishermen of the reef resort to another method, called pegging. The instrument of capture is a three-sided peg, often made by cutting off the end of a file. This is attached to a long line and fitted into a copper cap on the end of a long pole, the whole constituting an unbarbed spear. Thus armed, the turtler sculls over the reef, striking the turtle either as it lies asleep on the bottom or as it rises to breathe. The peg is hurled long distances with great skill and accuracy: as soon as it strikes, the pole comes out, and the victim is managed by the line, often towing the dingy for a considerable distance. The peg holds by suction; and, as it only enters the hard shell, and that only half an inch, the animal is not in the least injured for transportation to the North.
Key West is the head quarters of the Florida turtling-trade, and on the north shore of the island, where a shoal reef stretches away, a number of crawls have been from time immemorial used, being merely fences or enclosures in which the animals are penned until the time for shipment. By far the greater number find their way to New York, being packed and crowded, often brutally, in the common fish-cars at the Fulton Market dock in such numbers that many are unable to rise, and consequently drown. The greatest injustice, however, to the long-suffering turtle comes when the miserable animal is propped up before some restaurant door, bearing upon its broad carapace the grim assertion, "To be served this day."
The green or loggerhead turtles are rarely seen north of Cape Florida. The outer reef is their home, their range extending far to the south. Old turtles, like fishes, often have strange companions. They are covered with barnacles of various kinds; several remoras form their body-guard, clinging here and there as if part and parcel of their huge consort. Often small fish allied to the mackerel accompany them, as does also the pilot-fish of the shark. One large loggerhead pegged by the writer had its four flippers bitten off by the latter fishes so close to the shell that it could barely move along, and would undoubtedly soon have succumbed, although it is a common thing to find both green and loggerhead turtles minus parts of their locomotive organs.
The great leather turtle (_Sphurgis coriacea_), the largest of the tribe, is rarely seen, being seemingly a denizen of the high seas, and more commonly observed in colder waters; though Gosse is authority for the statement that they form their nests on the island of Jamaica. The following account is from the Jamaica "Morning Journal" of April 13, 1846: "The anxiety of the fishermen in this little village was aroused on the 30th of last month by the track of a huge sea-monster, called a trunk-turtle, which came on the sea-beach for the purpose of laying her eggs. A search was made, when a hole in the sand was discovered, about four feet deep and as wide as the mouth of a half-barrel, whence five or six dozen white eggs were taken out; the eggs were of different sizes, the largest the size of a duck's egg. On the morning of the 10th of this month, at half-past five o'clock, she was discovered by Mr. Crow, on the beach, near the spot where she first came up; he gave the alarm, when all the neighbors assembled and got her turned on her back. She took twelve men to haul her about two hundred yards. I went and measured her, and found her dimensions as follows: from head to tail, six feet six inches; from the outer part of her fore fin to the other end" (to the tip of the other?), "nine feet two inches; the circumference round her back and chest, seven feet nine inches; circumference of her neck, three feet three inches; the widest part of her fore fins, eighteen inches; her hind fins, two feet four inches in length. Her back is formed like a round top of a trunk, with small white bumps in straight lines, resembling the nails on a trunk; her color is variegated like the rainbow" (probably the living skin displayed opaline reflections); "there is no shell on her back, but a thick skin, like pump-leather."
Some years since, a gigantic specimen came ashore at Lynn beach, where for a long time it formed an object of the greatest curiosity. It was over eight feet in length, and weighed nearly twenty-two hundred pounds. Instead of definite scales, as in other turtles, it had a shell composed of six plates, which formed longitudinal ridges extending from the head to the tail; the eye-openings were up and down, instead of lengthwise; the bill was hooked; and so many remarkable characteristics did it possess that many believed it to be a strange nondescript, and not a turtle.
It would not be surprising to find that such a creature was descended from a remarkable ancestry; and, following it up, we are led far into the early history of the later geological times, when all life seems to have attained its maximum growth; in fact, it was an era of giants. The map-maker of to-day would be astonished if confronted with the coast-line of that early time. The coast-country from Nova Scotia to Yucatan was all under water, and what are now our plains and prairies was a vast sea, that commenced where Texas now is and extended far to the northwest. Even now the old coast-line can be traced. We follow it along from Arkansas to near Fort Riley, on the Kansas River, then, extending eastward, it traverses Minnesota, extending into the British possessions to the head of Lake Superior, while its western shores are lost under the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Such was this great Cretaceous sea, in whose waters, with hundreds of other strange creatures, lived the ancestor of our leather tortoise. The ancient sea, however, disappeared; the land rose and surrounded it; the great forms died and became buried in the sediment, and finally the water all evaporated, leaving the bottom high and dry,--an ancient grave-yard, that can be visited on horseback or by the cars.
What is now known as the State of Kansas is one of the most favored spots, and here, embedded in the earth, have been found the remains of these huge forms. The bones were first seen projecting from a bluff, and, gradually worked out, proved to be those of a gigantic turtle that must have measured across its back from flipper to flipper fifteen feet, while its entire length must have been twenty feet or more. The name of this giant is the _Protostega gigas_, a fitting forefather for the great leather turtle of to-day. In some parts of the West the hardened shells of other and smaller turtles are scattered about in great confusion. Nearly all have been turned to stone, and, thus preserved, form a monument of this past time.
A number of years ago some natives in Southern India were engaged in making an excavation under the superintendence of an English officer, when they discovered the remains of one of the largest fossil turtles ever found. They had penetrated the soil for several feet, when their implements struck against a hard substance which was at first supposed to be solid rock, but a bar sank through it, showing it to be either bone or wood. The earth being carefully removed, the remains of a mound-shaped, adobe structure gradually appeared. The natives thought it a house; but the Englishman saw that they had come upon the remains of some gigantic creature of a past age. Every precaution was taken, and finally the shell was fully exposed. The restoration shows it as dome-shaped, nearly fourteen feet long, thirty-three feet in horizontal circumference, and twenty feet in girth in a vertical direction. Its length when alive must have been nearly thirty feet, and its feet were as large as those of a rhinoceros. The capacity of the shell of this ancient boatman was such that six or seven persons could have found protection within it. Its name is _Colossochelys atlas_, a land-tortoise of the Miocene time of geology. Its nearest representatives of to-day are, if not so large, equally marvellous in their general appearance. They are found in the Galapagos and Mascarene Islands, and some of them are seven feet in length, with high domed and plated shells, presenting the appearance of miniature houses moving along. A single shell would form a perfect covering for a child. There are five distinct species found here, each inhabiting a different island. Chatham Island, the home of some, seems completely honeycombed with black truncated volcano cones that spring up everywhere, while masses of lava cover the ground, having been blown into weird and fantastic shapes when soft.
In among the cones low underbrush and cacti grow, and feeding upon these are found the great tortoises, which at the approach of danger draw in their heads with a loud hiss or move slowly and clumsily away. Their strength is enormous. A small one, three feet long, carried the writer along a hard floor with perfect ease, and one of the largest would probably not be inconvenienced by a weight of five hundred pounds. They attain a great age, often living, it is said, a hundred years or more.
While we have been digressing, the turtles have been dumped into the great moat that surrounds the fort, and, stretched upon the deck, the sable crew are fast asleep. The writer has been watching a large three-master moving along two or three miles beyond Loggerhead Key. Our attention is distracted for some time, and, upon looking again, we find that she has not moved, and impart the fact to Sandy, who looks steadily through his long spy-glass, evidently made up of several others; then, gazing intently over the top, he brings all hands to their feet by the cry of "Wrack!" For Sandy is a licensed "wracker."
The man-of-war orders now uttered find no place in any known code, and in a moment the Bull Pup becomes a scene of unwonted excitement. The jib, mainsail, and gaff topsail are hauled up to their very tautest; finally, the cable is slipped, and then old Sandy for the first time looks around. The boys fail to suppress a loud guffaw, and forthwith dodge the flying tiller. The old man in the excitement had forgotten an important factor in the navigation of sailing-craft,--namely, wind. It was a dead calm, and had been all day, and there, almost within reach, was a fortune,--hard and fast on the outer reef.
* * * * *
ROUGHING IT IN PALESTINE.
Mohammed can do less than Mammon to-day for the infidel's ease and comfort in Palestine. The unholy little yellow god works his modern miracles even in the Holy Land. You have but to speak the word, and show your purse or letter of credit, in Beirut or Jaffa, and, as suddenly as if you had rubbed Aladdin's lamp, a retinue will be at your door to do your bidding. First a dragoman, with great baggy trousers of silk, a little gold-embroidered jacket over a colored vest, a girdle whose most ample folds form an arsenal of no mean proportions, and over the swarthy face, reposing among the black, glossy curls of a well-poised head, the red Turkish fez; or, if Ali has an ambition to be thought possessed of much piety of the orthodox Islamic type, the fez gives way to a turban, white, or green if he be a pilgrim from Mecca. Behind this important personage, as much a feature of the East as the Sphinx or the Pyramids, stand at a respectful distance, making profound salutations, a cook,--probably a Greek or Italian,--three muleteers, and a donkey-boy. Behind them still are two horses,--alas! not blooded Arabs madly champing their bits,--one for yourself and the other for Ali. Three mules bear patiently on their backs, always more or less raw, the canvas and poles of the two tents. In the rear is a small donkey, covered all over with culinary utensils, nibbling fat cactus-leaves with undisguised satisfaction. For a daily expenditure scarcely greater than is necessary to keep soul and body together at a fashionable New York hotel on the American plan, you become the commander of this company, within certain limits around which there are lines as definite and as impassable as if drawn by an Irish servant of some years' experience in the United States. You must not travel more than thirty miles a day; you must not change the route agreed upon, unless roads become impassable; and there are other, minor regulations, to which you are expected to submit, and, if you do, your progress through the land, if not triumphant, will be at least comfortable. You will find every day at noon, spread under some wide-armed tree, a cold lunch that even a somewhat difficult taste would consider fairly appetizing; and at nightfall you dismount before the door of your tent and sit down to a dinner of many courses, which to a stomach jounced for ten hours over a saddle seems a very fair dinner indeed. Your breakfast is what a Frenchman would call a _déjeûner à la fourchette_; and as you put down your napkin, your tent is folded almost as quickly and as silently, and you mount your horse, standing ready for another thirty miles. Yet, if you have just come from Egypt and three months on a dahabeah, you will not hesitate to call this luxurious mode of passing from Dan to Beersheba "roughing it in Palestine."
But it was my good fortune, after journeying from Beirut to Jerusalem with dragoman and muleteers and tents, like a prince, to go up through the country like a private citizen. I fell in with a young man in the Holy City, bora of American parents at Sidon, who had been educated in America and was now on his way back to his birthplace to spend his life in the sacred fields as a missionary. He was thoroughly equipped for roughing it, with a splendid physique and perfect health, imperturbable spirits, and a rare command of classic and vernacular Arabic. He wanted to go to Beirut with as few _impedimenta_ as possible, and, after some talk, we merged our two parties into one. Our preparations for the journey were of the simplest sort. We agreed to dispense with dragomans and cooks and tents and trust to the land for food and shelter. We engaged three good horses and a muleteer. We strapped our baggage on the muleteer's horse, drew lots for the choice of the other two, and turned our faces northward.
It was long before daybreak, one Monday morning, when we stole quietly out of the Jaffa gate and took the road for Nablous. We were leaving behind us the most sacred spot on earth to Jew, Catholic, Greek, and Protestant; but from the road that stretches out before the Jaffa gate all the holy places of Jerusalem are invisible. The round dome over the Sepulchre was hidden behind the city's wall and the intervening houses. The Dome of the Rock, as the beautiful mosque of Omar is called, the most striking and brilliant object of the whole city from the Damascus gate, is beneath the hill of Golgotha. Only the Valley of Hinnom, and the Hill of Evil Counsel, and the slopes leading to Bethlehem, caught our parting gaze. But an American Protestant turns his back upon the Holy City with a very different feeling from that of the old Crusaders. He cannot see the Turkish Mohammedan soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ without a choking sensation in the throat, but he believes that life has nobler battles for him than fighting the unbeliever for the empty sepulchre of his Lord. The surroundings of all the sacred places are so inharmonious that, while he can never regret his pilgrimage, he can scarcely regret that it is over. We rose in our saddles, and, turning, took our last look at the Holy City with very mingled emotions, and then settled down to the hard day's work before us.
We were on the great pilgrim-route, which twenty centuries ago was annually crowded with pilgrims from the north hastening to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. The Child of Nazareth, when, at the age of twelve, he went for the first time to the Temple, must have pressed this road with his sacred feet, must have looked with deep, inquiring eyes upon these fields and hills. There was enough in the early hour and the associations of the scenes through which we were passing to keep us for a long time silent. My horse stumbled and brought us both back from Dreamland. A look ahead showed us--for the sun was now above the hills--that the worst piece of road in Palestine was just before us. It is wholly unartificial: for years no human hand has touched it, except as mine did when, on dismounting and undertaking to pick my way over the rocks, I found myself on all-fours. In fact, this Oriental boulevard is made up for some distance entirely of boulders, round and sharp, triangular and square, which the spring freshets of the last five or six decades were regretfully obliged to leave behind. After a short halt for lunch, about two o'clock, the muleteer assured us, on starting again, we had still five hours of steady pushing before us, and said something in the same breath about robbers. Men of his class all through the East are notorious cowards; but we had been told in Jerusalem that such dangers were not altogether imaginary, and, almost as our guide spoke, we heard shrieks, and for a moment we all thought the nefarious crew were at their work just ahead. The muleteer dropped mysteriously to the rear, and we rode on over a slight ascent, and there we saw a tall Samaritan exerting himself in a way most unlike the good one of the parable. He appeared to be a man of importance,--probably a sheik. His horse, tied to a little tree, was a very handsome one, and gayly decked out with red leather and ribbons. He had hold of the hind legs of a poor little goat, and was intent on pulling the creature away from a smaller man, much more poorly dressed, whose hands had a death-like grip of the horns. I was for setting lance in rest and charging to the rescue; but my more cautious friend put one or two questions to the sheik, who told, in a somewhat jerky style,--perhaps the result of the strugglings of the goat and the man at the other end of him,--as straightforward a story as was possible under the circumstances. He was the proprietor of the hut the owner of the goat lived in. He had come to collect his lawful rent, and he knew the money was ready, but he couldn't get it, and so had seized the only movable object of any value. The poor wretch, who still had the goat by the horns, denied the story, but in such a way that we feared he would only injure his conscience by other prevarications if we encouraged him. So we rode on; and in less than half an hour the sheik swept proudly by us, with no goat slung over his shoulders, but as he passed he shot out a single word, that told, like Caesar's _vici_, the whole story of his victory.
The muleteer of Palestine will start on a journey at almost any hour of the morning, but he has a superstitious dread of the darkness that falls after sunset, and our Hassan was now too frightened to make any answer to our questions except a short, tremulous half threat, half entreaty to hurry. We were riding along the valley between Gerizim and Ebal. We had left Joseph's tomb, and Jacob's well, where our Lord, wearied with his journey, as we were with ours, sat and rested as he talked with a woman who had come from the town toward which we were hurrying. The two mountains, their sides covered with fig-trees and olives, loomed up dimly out of the twilight on either side. We thought of the day when the hosts of Israel were encamped here and the antiphonal choirs chanted blessings from Gerizim and curses from Ebal in the ears of the vastest congregation ever gathered on earth. There was no sound now of blessing or cursing. The very stillness was oppressive. Hassan almost ceased to breathe, and it was not till our horses' hoofs rang on the rough pavement of Nablous--the ancient Shechem--that he relaxed his muscles and gave a long sigh of relief.
We rode at once to the Latin convent, where we felt sure of a cordial reception and a comfortable bed. There was no light anywhere in the gloomy building; but Hassan knocked at the great door, confidently at first, and then angrily. At last came an Arab youth about nineteen, who stuck one eye in the crack of the door, and asked our business.
"Yes," he said, "you stay here all night, but go away early in the morning."
This was definite, if not hospitable; but we went in, and asked to see the monks.
"None here," said the Arab, with a chuckle: "all gone to Tiberias." We ordered dinner, and, after half an hour, the Arab brought a saucer holding two boiled eggs, put it on a chair, and said, "There's your dinner." We were indignant, but it did no good: this boy was the head of the house for the time, and neither promises nor threats were of any avail to add anything, besides a little salt and pepper, to the dinner he had prepared. We went to bed very hungry, but very tired, and in the morning, before breakfast, hunted out the house of an English missionary, who took pity on us and gave us to eat. But it is an unusual thing for any one to leave Nablous without having an experience of some sort more or less disagreeable to fasten the name of the place in his recollection. When the brilliant author of "Eothen" sojourned for a day or two in this "hot furnace of Mohammedanism," as he calls it, the whole Greek population chose him as an involuntary deliverer of a young Christian maiden who had been perverted by rich gifts to the faith of Islam, or at least to a belief that a rich Mohammedan was to be preferred as a husband to a poor Christian. They stare upon you now, as they did then, as you walk through the streets and bazaars, "with fixed, glassy look, which seemed to say, God is God, but how marvellous and inscrutable are his ways, that thus he permits the white-faced dog of a Christian to hunt through the paths of the faithful!"
We went, of course, to the little Samaritan synagogue, to see the famous copy of the Pentateuch, whose age no man knoweth. We rode up the steep slopes of Gerizim to the ruins of the temple where the woman of Samaria said her fathers had always worshipped, and then, in a pouring rain, we started for Jenin. Hassan sunk his head down in a huge Oriental cloak, undoubtedly manufactured in Birmingham or Manchester, and his horse, left to himself, lost his way, for a Palestine road may at any time, like a Western trail, turn into a squirrel's track and run up a tree. When we found ourselves again we were all wet and not in the best of humor, but in sight of the old city of Samaria on her high hills.
The magnificent capital of Ahab and Jezebel, we saw at a glance, is now only a ruined, dirty village, where a European could not hope for shelter for a night. The hills sank into a heavy plain that seemed interminable. The short twilight faded into untempered darkness. Hassan was again in the rear. He would have fled incontinently at the first sign of danger. Our only consolation was that his horse was tired and he couldn't get very far away from us under any circumstances. I had a letter to a Christian at Jenin that was thought to be good for supper and lodging. We filed through the muddy streets to the door of the Christian's house, sent in the letter by Hassan, and a man came out, saluted us, told us to follow and he would take us to "a most comfortable place." When we stopped, it was before the door of a little mud hut. An old woman opened it, but, before letting us in, fixed the price we were to pay. We entered a room that did service for the entire wants of our hostess. It was very small, but it could not have been made larger without knocking out the sidewalls of her house. The floor was of dry mud, and there was nothing to sit upon except our saddles. We supped from the bread and meat our good missionary friend had given us, and, rolling ourselves in our blankets, we slept; but not long. The mud beneath us was not that dull, inanimate, clog-like thing we trample thoughtlessly under our feet along our country roads: it was that sort of matter in which Tyndale thought he could discern "the form and potency of life." They were both there, and in the still darkness they made themselves felt. My friend, for some mysterious reason, was left untouched, but the regiments that should have quartered on him joined those that were banqueting on my too unsolid flesh. My sufferings were but slightly mitigated by the remembrance that probably the progenitors of these fierce feeders on human blood may have dined as sumptuously on prophets and apostles, and that, intense as my anguish was, the chances were against any fatal termination. I rose often and went to the door, hoping for the morning, but it came not. Each time on returning to my couch I found the number of my tormentors had been augmented: so I kept still, like an Indian at the stake, and only refrained for my friend's sake from singing a triumphant song as I found myself growing used to the pain and at last able to sleep a troubled sort of sleep, such as Damiens may have had on the rack. When I showed my arms in the morning to Hassan, he lifted his eyes to heaven and muttered a prayer to Allah, of which I thought I could divine the meaning.
Our ride that day was across the great plain of Esdraelon. We were charitable enough to believe that travellers who have raved over the exquisite beauty of this valley, who tell of "the green meadow-land flaming with masses of red anemones," of "myriads of nodding daisies," and of "sheets of burning azure in the sun," did actually look upon all these splendors in the early spring; but it was January now, and we seemed to be pushing our way through a sea of dull, dead brown. The ground was soft with the winter rains, and our horses' feet sank to the fetlocks and gathered huge balls of the thick adhesive earth, deposited every hundred yards or so to give place to others. We rode through the dirty little village of Nain, where once a widow's son, carried out to burial, heard the only voice that reaches the dead and rose from his bier; but all solemn and tender thoughts were frightened away by the crowd of maimed and blind and ragged and hungry men, women, and children that came pouring out of the huts, crying, begging, demanding _backsheesh_. "This," one of our American consuls said, "is the language of Canaan now;" and it is one of the least melodious of earth. We lunched on the dry grass in the sun in full sight of Tabor, on the remnants of what the good missionary at Nablous had given us, and, tightening our saddle-girths, we began the ascent of the mountain. We clambered up the rude bridle-path, covered with loose stones, and knocked timidly, with the remembrance of our Nablous experiences, at the door of a large and very sightly monastery. Almost immediately a monk of kindly face and soft black Italian eyes gave us a cordial greeting, and the unexpectedness of it nearly enticed us into throwing our arms around his neck and leaving an Oriental salutation upon his cheek. He led us into a large, clean refectory, and then into two clean rooms. I might use other epithets, but none other means so much in the East. After a very satisfying supper, the good monk--he was so good to us, we tried to think he was as clean within as the rooms of his monastery--took us out to the pinnacle of the mountain and enjoyed our enthusiasm over the magnificent view that was spread out before us. Almost the whole of Palestine was within sight beneath us. We looked southward, across the plain we had struggled over so laboriously, to the mountains behind Jerusalem. We could see the depression where the Dead Sea lay in its bowl, encircled by the hills of Moab. To the west we were looking upon Carmel, at whose base the blue waves of the Mediterranean sigh, and moan, and thunder. To the east, across the Jordan, from which the mists of evening were already rising, we could distinguish the wild, deep ravines of the land of the Bedawin; and in the north, grandest of all, stood Hermon, his great white head touched with the crimson of the setting sun, just plunging, like an old Moabite deity, into the mountains of Lebanon beyond. By almost common consent it is agreed among the Biblical scholars of our day that not here on Tabor where we stood, but northward, there on one of the peaks of Hermon, was the place where our Lord was transfigured; but the Christian imagination, like the Christian consciousness, is not always submissive to fact, and we shall continue, with the larger part of the Christian world, to think of Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration, while we speak of Hermon as the true site.
We had an easy ride the next morning to Nazareth, and a kindly reception from the monks. The hospitality at all these convents is untrammelled by pecuniary conditions; but all travellers who have purses and hearts and consciences do, in fact, on their departure, present the Superior with a sum about equal to the charges for the same length of time at an Eastern hotel. I mention this in the interests of historic truth, and not with any desire to throw a garish light of self-interest upon the cordiality of these Latin "religious." We were in the heart of the little city where He whom millions of human beings call their Saviour and God lived for more than twenty years. Somewhere among these houses that fill the valley and cling to the hill-side was Joseph's home. Not a house, of course, is here now that was here then; all the sacred places they show you--the Virgin's home, the place of the Annunciation, the workshop of Joseph--must be unauthentic; but these hills are what they were. They shut out the great world He had come to redeem, but not the heavens above Him or the sinfulness and needs of the segment of humanity around Him. When we rode toward Tiberias in the early morning there were a dozen or more of the girls of Nazareth going out to Mary's spring, as the fountain at the entrance of the town is called; but their garments were ragged and uncleanly and their swarthy faces heavily tattooed, and, while we were ready to accept the season of the year as an excuse for any deficiency in the attractiveness of the landscape, we could not admit it in extenuation of the uncomeliness of the maidens of Palestine. Their beauty we believe to be almost entirely a fiction of the tourist's imagination.
On our way to the Sea of Galilee we passed through Cana, where they show you still some of the water-pots in which "the conscious water blushed" when it saw its Lord, and crossed the plain of Hattin, on one of whose round, horn-like acclivities the Sermon on the Mount is said to have been given. Here the Crusaders made their last stand against the victorious army of Saladin; and when at nightfall their bugles sounded the retreat, the Holy Land was given over to the unbeliever for centuries:--who is prophet enough to say for how many? As we first saw the lake that afternoon, with the sunlight on it, and the low Moabite hills rising lonely and sad against the blue sky, and Hermon, cold and regal, far away to the north, and yet standing out so prominently as to be the most striking feature in the scene, we felt that Gennesaret had been ruthlessly robbed of her rights by certain well-known critics who, professing to be her best friends, have denied her all claim to beauty except by association. Tiberias ranks with Jerusalem and Hebron and Safed as one of the four holy cities of the Jews, but its houses are filthy huts and its streets muddy lanes. Here we saw the Jew, down-trodden, oppressed, wretched, but still proud, the unhappiest creature, this Tiberian descendant of David, in all the Holy Land, with his long yellow cloak, his hair hanging upon his shoulders in corkscrew curls, and an expression on his wan, sallow face that would force tears from your eyes if you did not know that his life is ordinarily as contemptible as his condition is pitiable. We spent an hour or more in one of the two boats that to-day make up the entire fishing-fleet of Galilee, and then found hospitable shelter under the roof of the Latin monastery, the last that was to open its doors to us in Palestine; and when we rode away on Monday morning we made a vow in our hearts never to speak ill of that part of the Romish Church which presides over the convents of the Holy Land. As our muleteer confessed he was as ignorant as any dog of a European Christian of the route we wished to take from Tiberias to Banias and Deir Mimas, the monks advised us, to save time, and perhaps our purses, perhaps our lives, by taking a Turkish soldier as a combined guide and guard. We sent to the proper official, and two savage-looking fellows came to the monastery. They swore by the beard of Mohammed that our lives would be worth less than that of a Tiberian flea if we went alone, or even with one soldier; they talked our few remaining powers of resistance to death, and we took them at their own price, less one-half, which was conceded to be very liberal on our part. We felt we had a new lease of life, and spent the rest of the afternoon in sweet unconcern and content; but late that evening word was sent that one of the brave soldiers, in consideration of the great risk involved in the enterprise, had concluded to raise his price, and of course his companion, deeply as he regretted it, felt compelled to follow his example. We at once sent back word that our poverty would not permit us to accede to their most modest request, and threw ourselves on the Superior of the convent to extricate us from our dilemma. A guard had now become a necessity, for the poor muleteer was so badly frightened by all the terrible things he had heard, that if we had promised him his weight in gold to be delivered at Beirut he would not have stirred a step unprotected. A request was sent to the commandant of the city, and he was pleased to present us with a Kurdish cavalryman, who was to be our slave for the next four days, if on our part we would agree to pay him well and do as he said. We were now humble. We promised, and the Kurd came riding to the gates of the convent the next morning at the hour fixed for our departure. He was immensely long and lean. He looked hungry all over. Even his musket, longer by some inches than himself, had the appearance of existing on a very low diet of powder and ball. An awful doubt of its efficacy crept into my heart, but we gave him the matutinal greetings of the country, and our cavalcade followed at his heels.
We rode along the lake at a fairly rapid walk to the little mud village of Magdala, the home, it is supposed, of Mary Magdalene. We stopped to breathe our horses at Khan Minyeh, the site, some scholars assert, of the once beautiful city of Capernaum, and then rode along a rocky road to Tel Hun, at the end of the lake, chosen by the best judgment of the day as the actual spot where the city, exalted by her pride to heaven, rested lightly on the earth. We picked our way in and out among fluted marble columns, the very ruins, some insist, of the synagogue which the good centurion built for the city he loved. Here, then, may have been the home of our Lord during those earliest days of his public ministry, the happiest days of his earthly life, before baffled hate had begun to weave its net around him.
Our course now lay due north, away from the lake, across trackless fields covered with round basaltic stones. The Kurd's horse was a better one than ours, and it was all we could do to keep him in sight. The sun was hot. What would it have been on those hills in midsummer? We threw off our heavy coats, that had been more than comfortable in the early morning along the lake, and pushed doggedly on. To our left, higher even than the hill we climbed, was holy Safed, to which it is thought our Lord may have pointed when he spoke of a city set upon a hill, that cannot be hid; and straight before us, the object of our hopes and efforts, was snow-clad Hermon, as beautiful, we thought, as an Alp. We crossed the mountain at last, and, as our horses waded through a deep brook on the other side, the Kurd bent slightly in his saddle, and, reaching down, brought up great handfuls of water to stay his thirst, without stopping for an instant. There was a sly twinkle of pleasure in his eye when the muleteer told him we had admired his skill.
Late in the afternoon we came to the marshy lakes, "the waters of Merom," where Joshua smote the kings of the north, who made a final stand here with their united armies, "like the sands of the sea in number." We should have been glad to find one of their royal palaces in tolerable repair, for we were tired and wanted to stop for the night, but there were no ruined regal mansions in sight, not even a mud hut such as had given us shelter and hunting at Jenin. The sun had gone down, and our horses shivered in the night air. The prospect was gloomy, and grew no brighter as we went on. At last we saw some long black tents across the plain sheltered by the hills; and, while we were wondering what the chances might be of escaping robbery by the Bedawin at this late hour of the night, the Kurd turned his horse out of the bridle-path and headed for the largest tent. The probabilities seemed now about equal that the Kurd was in league with these wild, wandering tribes, and that they would pluck us, and torture us, and bury us without the aid of undertaker or parson, or, on the other hand, that they might welcome us to the few comforts within their command. The sheik was standing, with a half-dozen of his leading men, at the door of his tent, and, as we dismounted, he came forward with much grace and dignity and embraced my friend, kissing him on each cheek. He only waved his hand to me, as a younger and less important personage, and led us into his tent. Cushions were thrown down for us on the bare earth, and we were told to be seated. A little fire was burning just in front of the tent, and around that the privileged persons of the tribe squatted, only the chief and some of his great warriors being under the tent with ourselves. They were as curious as civilized people to know where we were going, and why; and they concealed with difficulty their surprise and suspicion when they were told that our only object was to see the country. No Oriental, much less a Bedawin, ranks that among possible reasons for passing from one place to another. After more conversation than we thought necessary before supper, a dish of rice was brought in, and with it two wooden spoons; but how these came to be in a sheik's tent we thought it wise not to ask. They looked on while we ate, refusing all our entreaties to join with us; but when we had finished, they thrust their hands into the bowl, and, with a deft movement, made round balls as large as a lemon, and shot these with great skill into their mouths. While they ate, my friend asked if he might read them a story. They consented eagerly; and, taking out his Arabic Testament, he read them the parable of the Prodigal Son. A more appreciative company never listened to it. At each crisis of the narrative the sheik looked around and said, "_Fayib ketir_,"--"Very good,"--and then, as if devoutly making the responses, they all said, "_Fayib ketir_" I thought I saw one of them brush away a tear as the story was finished: perhaps he was a father with a prodigal son, or something in his heart may have told him that he was a prodigal himself.
They all rose at a signal, and left us to our slumbers. We were to share the tent with the sheik; and when we had laid ourselves down on the cushions and covered ourselves with our overcoats, the sheik came anxiously to my friend and asked "if we would not be very cold with nothing over our heads." The Oriental lets his feet take care of themselves if only his head is warm. The flap of the tent was not lowered, and we could look from where we were lying on the Eastern hills and the stars above them. It was long before I could sleep in such surroundings. We were unprotected in the tent of a Bedawin sheik on the waters of Merom, and all the past faded away: for the moment I did not believe that there were such cities as New York and London and Paris,--they were buried deep under the streets of Jerusalem and Tiberias and Safed. I was no longer an American, but the son of this sheik, destined to be the ruler of all the tribes that dwell in black tents of hair-cloth. My friend lying at my side groaned in his sleep, and the baseless fabric of my dream crumbled. I was myself again, and felt a sharp blow from my own familiar conscience when I found myself smiling with vengeful satisfaction at certain movements of my sleeping friend that made it apparent he was being visited by certain inhabitants of the night that find their way to Bedawin tents as well as peasants' huts. He had been almost untouched when I suffered so at Jenin; and I found my confidence increased in the law of compensation as I watched his struggles, wholly unscathed myself.
Our next day's work was the longest and hardest we had yet had. We were to crowd two days into one. We were well on our way before it was fairly light. We crossed the Jordan on a little stone bridge, and rode straight over the plain to Banias, the Caesarea Philippi of apostolic times. We left our horses in the little village near which the Jordan comes pouring out of a rocky opening in the hills, and, with an Arab boy, hurried at our best pace up the mountain to the magnificent ruins of a mediaeval castle, the finest of its class in the Holy Land. Our Kurd and muleteer were waiting for us as we came down the hill like veritable mountain-goats, and the latter pointed triumphantly to something wrapped in an Arab newspaper under his arm. As soon as we were out of sight of the village he stopped and displayed his prize: it was a chicken, cooked in some unknown but most savory way. It was long since we had eaten anything of the sort, and, leaping to the ground, with the help of a clasp-knife bought in Nablous, the only eating-utensil our party could boast, we bisected our dinner, and, sitting under a gray old gnarled olive, ate it with such expressions of satisfaction as would not be honest, even if allowable, at the grandest civilized banquets.
We sprang again into our saddles, crossed again the plain and the bridge over the Jordan, and pushed over the hills toward Deir Mimas. Our horses were used up even more completely than ourselves; and when the Kurd lost the way, and took us a long and unnecessary _détour_, we felt it so keenly that we said nothing. It was long after nightfall when we dismounted at the door of a native Christian preacher's house at Deir Mimas. But the struggles of the day were not ended. The Kurd stalked in, and, saying that here his duties ended, demanded a sum at least a third greater than that agreed upon. We fought him with everything but weapons, and, when we separated, the Kurd's pockets were heavier and his heart lighter than was consistent with the eternal fitness of things. We had only to follow a well-made road the next day to Sidon; and there, as we sat at a table spread with a clean, white cloth, on which were plates, and knives and forks, and cups and saucers, and spoons, we concluded that our roughing it in Palestine had at least convinced us that civilized man makes himself want many convenient if not wholly necessary things.
* * * * *
THE EYE OF A NEEDLE.
"I don't know which way to turn to get the fall tailorin' done, now Mirandy Daggett's been and had money left to her," said, in an aggrieved tone, the buxom mistress of the Wei by poor-farm, as she briskly hung festoons of pumpkins, garners of the yellowest of the summer sunshine, along the beams of the great wood-shed chamber. "The widow Pingree, from over Sharon way, she's so wasteful, I declare it makes my blood run cold to see her cuttin' and slashin' into good cloth; and Emerline Johnson she's so scantin', the menfolks all looks like scarecrows, with their legs and arms a-stickin' out. _Mirandy's_ got faculty."
"Seems if 'twa'n't no more'n yesterday that I was carryin' victuals to keep that child from starvin', and now she's an heiress, and here I be. Well, the Lord's ways ain't ourn."
A little old woman, twisted all awry by a paralytic shock, who was feebly assisting the poor-mistress, uttered these reflections in a high-keyed, quavering voice. She was called old lady Peaseley, and a halo of aristocracy encircled her, although she had been in the poor-house thirty years, for her grandfather had been the first minister of Welby.
"I declare, if there ain't Mirandy a-comin' up the lane this blessed minute! Talk about angels, you know. Seems if she looked kinder peaked and meachin', though most gen'ally as pert's a lizard. If things was as they used to be, I should jest sing out to her to come right up here; but, bein' she's such an heiress, I s'pose I'd better go down and open the front door."
But before the brisk poor-mistress could reach the front door her visitor had entered, the kitchen.
"I've been kind of low-spirited, and, thinks I, if there is a place where I could get chippered up it's down to the poor-house, where it's always so lively and sociable; and if Mis' Bemis ain't a-goin' to send for me I'll jest go over and find out the reason why."
The speaker, who had seated herself in a rocking-chair, took off her rough straw hat and fanned herself with it energetically, rocking meanwhile. She was about midway in the thirties, plain and almost coarse of feature, but with a suggestion of tenderness about her large mouth that softened her whole face. She had, too, a vigor and freshness which were attractive like the bloom of youth.
"I was jest sayin' to old lady Peaseley that I didn't know how I was a-goin' to get along without you; but I wouldn't 'a' thought of askin' you to come, bein' you're so rich now."
"Be I a-goin' to lay by and twiddle my thumbs and listen to folks advisin' of me jest because I ain't obliged to work? I'm all beat out now doin' nothin'. Since I've bought the old place--gran'ther's farm, you know--I don't seem to be much better off. I can't go to farmin' it this fall; and what can a lone woman do on a farm anyhow?"
"Farmin' is kind of poor business for a woman; but I do hope, Mirandy, you ain't a-goin' to marry that poor, pigeon-breasted, peddlin' cretur that's hangin' round here."
Miranda flushed to the roots of her thick black hair.
"It looks better to see a man round on a farm, if he can't do anything but set on the choppin'-block and whistle," she said, intently surveying her hat-crown.
"If you want to get married, Mirandy, it seems if you ought to have a stiddy, likely man."
"I don't want to get married. I ain't never thought of such a thing since--well, you know all about it, Mis' Bemis, so I may as well say right out--since Ephrum took up with M'lissy Whitin'."
"Ephrum Spencer was a mean scamp to serve you so," said Mrs. Bemis hotly.
"Now, Mis' Bemus, don't you say anything against Ephrum. You and me has always been friends, but I can't stand that, anyhow. Ephrum would have kept his promise to me fair and square, but I saw plain enough that he had given his heart to her. She was red-and-white-complected, and her hair curled natural, and she'd never done anything but keep school, and her hands was jest as soft and white, and a man's feelin's ain't like a woman's, anyhow: if Ephrum had been hump-backed, or all scarred up so's't he'd scare folks, like old Mr. Prouty, it wouldn't 'a' made any difference to me, so long as he was Ephrum. The Lord made men different, and I s'pose it's all right; but sometimes it seems kind of hard." The large, firm mouth quivered like a child's.
"She was a reg'lar little spitfire, Melissy Whitin' was: there wa'n't nothin' _to_ her but temper. I'll warrant Ephrum Spencer has got his come-uppance before this time," said the poor-mistress, with satisfaction. "Well, I think it's real providential that you don't want to get married, Mirandy, for as like as not you'd get somebody that would spend all your money. I told'em I didn't believe you was goin' to take up with that poor stick of a book-agent."
"Oh, Mis' Bemis, I s'pose I be goin' to have him!" said Miranda dejectedly. "He thinks he's consumpted, and I thought I could doctor him up, and 'twould be a use for the money. And he was a minister once, though it was some queer kind of a denomination that I never heard of, and that seemed kind of edifyin'; and his arm was cut off away off in Philadelphy ten years ago, and yet he can feel it a-twingein'. And he's kind of slim and retirin', and not so unhandy to have round as some men would be. And, anyhow, I've give him my promise."
"Mirandy, I didn't think you was so foolish as that,--and him an imposertor as like as not."
"Everything that I've tried to do since Uncle Phineas left me that money folks have called me foolish or crazy, and I always was reckoned sensible before, if I was homely. Abijah's folks warn me against lettin' John's folks have it, and John's folks against Abijah's, and they say that banks burst up and railroad stocks are risky, and I'll end by bein' on the town. I never heard anything about my bein' in danger of comin' on to the town before. I put my savin's in an old stockin' between my beds, and wa'n't beholden to anybody for advice nor anything. I tell you, Mis' Bemis, there ain't a mite of comfort in riches to them that's got nobody but themselves to do for. Now, I've been wantin' a good black silk for a long spell, and I've been layin' by a little here and a little there, and 'lottin' on gettin' it before long, and I've enjoyed thinkin' about it jest as much as if I had it; and now that comfort is all took away. I can go and buy one right out, and I don't want it. And only see what trouble I've got into about marryin'. I can't eat my victuals, and I don't enjoy my meet'n' privileges, and I don't even care much about knowin' what's goin' on. The Bible says rich folks have got to go through the eye of a needle before they can get into the kingdom of heaven, and it seems jest as if that was what I was a-doin'."
"I don't think that's jest the way it reads, Mirandy; but if it's a consolin' idee to you--"
"I hain't any too much consolation, and that's a fact. But it does seem real good to be here; and if you'll jest send one of the boys after my things I'll stay. I locked up and left my bag on the back door-step."
The poor-mistress confided to old lady Peaseley that "there wasn't as much satisfaction in havin' Mirandy as if she hadn't got proputty, even if she didn't seem to feel it none: she couldn't help feelin' as if the minister 'n' his wife had come to tea;" and she opened the best room, with all its glories of hair-cloth furniture, preserved funeral wreaths, and shell Bunker Hill Monument, and had the spare chamber swept and garnished. The poor-house was certainly a good place in which to get "chippered up." There were few happier households in the county; there was not one where jollity reigned as it did there.
From Captain Hezekiah Butterfield, generally known as Cap'n 'Kiah, an octogenarian who was regarded as an oracle, down to Tready Morgan, a half-witted orphan, the inmates of the poor-house had an enjoyment of living astonishing to behold. It had been hinted at town-meeting that the keeper of the poor-farm was a "leetle mite too generous and easy-going," especially as he insisted upon furnishing the paupers with "store" tea and coffee, whereas his predecessor, Hiram Judkins, had made them drink bayberry tea, a refreshment which old Mrs. Gerald, a pauper whose wits were wandering, and who was familiarly known as "Marm Bony," because she cherished a conviction that she was the empress Josephine, declared was "no more consolin' than meadow hay."
Seth Bemis and his wife made the farm pay: so the town voted to wink at the store-tea. And they suited the paupers,--which was even more difficult than to suit the town officers.
Miranda's arrival had created quite an excitement among the inmates of the poor-house. They had all heard that she had fallen heir to almost ten thousand dollars, and there was curiosity to see how she would comport herself under this great accession of fortune.
Miranda stoutly resisted the charms of the best room, and sat down with the paupers in the great kitchen after supper. For the spare chamber she showed some weakness, for the little back chamber which she usually occupied during her visits to the poor-farm was next to Oly Cowden's room, and Oly had a way of rapping on her wall in the dead of the night for somebody to bring her a roasted onion to avert a peculiarly bad dream to which she was subject; and the next room on the other side was occupied by Jo Briscoe, who had a habit of playing on his violin at most unseemly hours, and, as poor Jo had come through a terrible shipwreck, in which he had lost, by freezing, both his feet and several of his fingers, which latter loss made it wonderful that he could play at all, nobody had the heart to interfere with the consolation which "Fisher's Hornpipe" and "The Girl I left behind me" afforded him at three o'clock in the morning,--nobody, that is, except "Marm Bony," whose room was on the other side of the corridor, and who took Jo's performances as a serenade, and gently insinuated to him that, as Napoleon was still living, she might be compromised by such tributes to her charms. Although she was anxious not to accept any privileges on account of her wealth, Miranda thought she would occupy the spare chamber.
The paupers were all disposed to keep holiday in Miranda's honor. Old Cap'n 'Kiah had donned a collar so high that it sawed agonizingly upon his ears, little Dr. Pingree, a peddler of roots and herbs, who was occasionally obliged to seek winter quarters at the poor-house, wore a black satin vest brocaded with huge blue roses, which had appeared at his wedding forty years before, and "Marm Bony" had adorned herself with a skimpy green satin skirt and three peacock-feathers standing upright in her little knob of back hair. And Jo Briscoe was tuning his violin, evidently in preparation for an unusual effort.
A vague idea that Miranda had arrived at great honor had penetrated poor "Marm Bony's" bewildered brain, and a fancy suddenly seized her that Miranda was the unscrupulous Marie Louise who had supplanted her as Napoleon's wife, and she hobbled out of the room in great agitation and wrath, her peacock-feathers waving wildly in the air. She returned in a few minutes, however, and whispered to Miranda that, "as Napoleon wa'n't jest what he'd ought to be anyway, mebbe they'd better make up." To which proposition Miranda assented gravely, holding the wrinkled, trembling old hand tenderly in hers.
Cap'n 'Kiah felt it incumbent upon him to lead the conversation, being modestly conscious of his social gifts.
He had been a ship-owner, and very well-to-do, until in his old age he was robbed of all his property by a younger brother whom he had brought up and cared for as a son. But the old man had brought to this low level of society to which he had sunk a cheerful philosophy and a grim humor for which many a successful man might well have given all his possessions.
"Rich and poor, there's a sight of human nater about us all, though there ain't no use denyin' that some has more than others," remarked Cap'n 'Kiah sententiously. "And whether riches or poverty brings it out the strongest it's hard tellin'."
"I've always thought I might never have found out that I had medicle tarlunt if I'd been rich," said Dr. Pingree meditatively. The little man had "taken up doctorin' out of his own head," as he expressed it, after finding that shoemaking and tin-peddling did not satisfy his ambition, and was the inventor and sole proprietor of an infallible medicine, known as the "Universal Pain-Exterminator." The jokers dubbed it "Health-Exterminator," but almost all Welby took it,--they must take something in the spring,--and the little doctor, who had a soul far above thoughts of sordid gain, never expected to be paid for it, which made it very popular. It couldn't kill one, being made of simplest roots and herbs; and if one should be cured, how very pleasant it would be to think that it was without cost!
"Sure enough, doctor, mebbe you never would," said the captain. "And I suppose the innercent satisfaction you've got a-makin' them medicines is as great as you could 'a' got out of riches, and without the worry and care of riches, too."
"Not to mention the good done to my fellow-creturs," said the little doctor.
"Jest as you say, the good done to your fellow-creturs not bein' worth mentionin'" said Cap'n 'Kiah, with a grave simplicity that disarmed suspicion. "There ain't no denyin' that poverty is strength'nin' to the faculties."
"Don't give me nothin' more strength'nin than riches in mine," said Uncle Peter Henchman, who boasted great wisdom and experience, based mysteriously on the possession of a wooden leg. "I've been in this world up'ards of seventy years, forty-five of it a-walkin' on a wooden leg, and I hain't never seen that poverty was anything but a curse."
"You've got a terrible mistaken p'int of view, Peter, well-meanin' as you be," said Cap'n 'Kiah, "There's nothin' in nater, and, I was a-goin' to say, in grace, but what you clap your eyes fust onto the contr'y side, and then you're sure there ain't nothin' _but_ a contr'y side."
"I wish I could see something besides the contr'y side of riches; but I hain't yet," said Miranda, with a heavy sigh.
Little Dr. Pingree cast a sidelong look at her, and then adjusted his cravat and considered the effect of the blue roses on his vest. Was a vision flitting before his eyes of the wagon drawn by gayly-caparisoned steeds and bearing in gilt letters on a red ground the legend, "Dr. Pingree's Pain-Exterminator, Humanity's Friend,"--of his own face, beautified by art, adorning fences and walls above this proud inscription, "The Renowned Inventor of the Universal Pain-Exterminator"? This fame, the dream of a lifetime, might now be purchased by money. And he had always admired Miranda.
Miranda caught his glance, and, with the suspicion which wealth had already engendered, divined his thought. Was there going to be another aspirant for her hand?
"The wind's a-blowin up; and what a roarin' the sea does make!" she said hurriedly, to cover her embarrassment. "The only thing I don't like about this house is its bein' so near the sea. It's rainin' hard; and I'm glad of it," she added, in an undertone, to Mrs. Bemis,--"for _he_ won't be so likely to get round here to-night. Courtin' is real tryin'."
"The ocean is a dretful disconserlate-soundin' cretur," remarked Uncle Peter lugubriously; "and when you think of the drownded folks she's got a-rollin' round in her, 'tain't no wonder."
"The ocean's a useful work o' nater, and she's fetched and carried and aimed a livin' for a good many more'n she's swallered up," said Cap'n 'Kiah.
"I expect this world ain't a vale of tears, nohow," said Uncle Peter in an aggrieved tone. "There is folks that knows more'n the hymn-book."
"Well, it is, and then ag'in it ain't, jest accordin' to the way you look at it. There's a sight more the matter with folks's p'int o' view than there is with the Lord A'mighty's world.--Now, Jo, if you've got that cretur o' yourn into ship-shape,--it always doos seem to me jest like a human cretur that's got the right p'int o' view, that fiddle doos,--jest give it to us lively."
Jo tuned up, with modest satisfaction, and two or three couples stood up to dance. Little Dr. Pingree was about to solicit Miranda's hand for the dance, when there came a knock at the door.
Miranda stuck her knitting-needle through her back-hair in an agitated and expectant manner. But it was not the lank figure of the book-peddler, her betrothed, that darkened the door. It was a forlorn woman, dripping with rain, with two small boys clinging to her skirts.
"I suppose poor folks have a right to come in here out of the rain," she said, advancing to the fire and seating herself with a sullen and dejected aspect.
Little Dr. Pingree, who felt the arrival to be very inopportune, nevertheless gallantly hastened to replenish the fire.
The poor-mistress hospitably offered to remove the visitor's wet wrappings, but she shook her head.
"I want to find the relatives of Ephrum Spencer," she said.
"You'll have to go a good ways," said Cap'n 'Kiah.
"The graveyard is chock full of 'em," said Uncle Peter.
"They've kind of died out," explained Cap'n 'Kiah. "They seemed to be the kind that dies out easy and nateral."
"His uncle Hiram isn't dead, is he?" asked the woman, with the strain of anxiety in her voice.
"He died about a year ago."
"What's become of his money?" asked the stranger sharply.
"Well, there wa'n't so much as folks thought," said Cap'n 'Kiah. "He frittered away a good deal on new-fangled merchines and such things that wa'n't of any account,--had a reg'lar mania for 'em for a year or so before he died; and then he give some money to his housekeeper and the man that worked for him, and what was left he give to the town for a new town-hall; but, along of quarrellin' about where 'twas to set and what 'twas to be built of, and gittin' legal advice to settle the p'ints, I declare if 'tain't 'most squandered! But, la! if there wa'n't such quarrellin' amongst folks, what would become of the lawyers? They'd all be here, a-settin' us by the ears, I expect."
"And there isn't a cent for his own nephew's starving children?" said the woman bitterly.
"Ephrum's? Oh, la, no! The old man never set by Ephrum, you know: them two was always contr'y-minded. You don't say, now, that you're Ephrum's wife?" Cap'n 'Kiah surveyed her with frank curiosity.
"I'm Ephrum's widow."
"You don't say so, now! Well, there's wuss ockerpations than bein' a widow," remarked Cap'n 'Kiah consolingly.
Miranda had drawn the younger boy to her side. She was chafing his numb hands and smoothing the damp locks from his forehead.
"Why, how cold your hands have grown!" the child cried. "They're colder than mine. And how funny and white you look!"
Miranda had felt, from the moment when she first saw the forlorn little group, that Ephraim was dead, and yet the sure knowledge came as a shock. But this child was looking at her with Ephraim's eyes: they warmed her heart.
"_She_ knew me, if none of the rest of you did," said the widow, indicating Miranda by a nod of her head. "And I knew her, too, just as soon as I set eyes on her.--Well, you needn't hold any grudge against me, Miranda Daggett. I calculate you got the best of the bargain. Ephrum hadn't any faculty to get along. I've struggled and slaved till I'm all worn out; and now I haven't a roof to cover me nor my children, nor a mouthful to eat."
Miranda sprang up, her arms around both the boys.
"_I have!_ I have plenty for you all. And I've been a-wonderin' why it should have come to me, that didn't need it; but now I know. You come right home with me.--Mis' Bemis, you'll let Tready harness up?"
There were some objections made on account of the rain, but Miranda overruled them all.
She drew Mrs. Bemis aside and confided to her that she didn't want Ephrum's boys to stay even one night in the poor-house, because "it might stick to 'em afterwards." And she shouldn't really feel that they were going to belong to her until she had them in her own house.
So, through the driving rain, in the open wagon which was the most luxurious equipage that the poor-farm boasted, Miranda was driven home with her _protégés_; while Mrs. Bemis gave way to renewed anxiety about the fall tailorin' and Dr. Pingree heaved a sigh over his vanished dreams,--a very gentle one, he was so used to seeing dreams vanish; and there was consolation in having such an event to talk over.
Miranda's home was a rambling old house, and it seemed deserted and ghostly when they entered it; but Miranda kindled a fire In the kitchen stove and another in the great fireplace in the sitting-room, and the boys, warmed and fed and comforted, grew hilarious, and the ghosts were all dispersed, and it seemed to Miranda for the first time like home.
When she had seen all three cosily tucked into their beds, she went downstairs to rake over the fire and see that all was safe for the night. She found herself too full of a happy excitement to seek her own slumbers. Ephraim was dead; but he had faded out of her life long before; he had been nothing but a memory, and she had that still. He even seemed nearer to her, being in the Far Country, than he had done before. And his children were under her roof; hers to feed and clothe and care for in the happy days that were coming; hers to educate. What joy to have the means to do it with! what greater joy to work and save and manage that there should be enough!
Miranda looked into the leaping flame of her fire and saw brightest pictures of the future,--until suddenly she turned her head away and covered her face with her hands, groaning bitterly: it was only a blackened limb that, standing tall and straight in the flame, took upon itself a grotesque resemblance to a one-armed man. And Miranda remembered her affianced the book-agent. "Oh, land I how could I 'a' forgot! I've give him my promise."
To Miranda's Puritan mind a promise was to be kept, with tears and blood if need were.
"Oh, what a foolish woman I've been! If I had only waited till I found out what the Lord _did_ mean by sendin' that money to me! _He_ wouldn't stand the boys, anyhow: he's nigh and graspin': I've found that out. And I don't suppose I could buy him off with anything short of the whole property. I did think he cared a little something about me, and mebbe he does. I don't want to be too hard on him, but he was terrible put out because I wouldn't give him but three hundred dollars to pay down for that land that he's buy in' at such a bargain. I s'pose I should, only I couldn't help thinkin' he might wait till we was married before he begun to think about investin' my money. No, he won't let me off from marryin' him unless I give him all my money. Yesterday I had thoughts of doin' that; but now there's the boys."
The queer black stick had fallen, and was crumbling away, but it had crushed the last flickering flame. Miranda's fire, like her hopes, had turned to ashes.
She walked the floor restlessly, seeking vainly for a pathway out of her troubles, until she was exhausted. Then she slept a troubled sleep until daylight.
It was a little comfort to get breakfast for Ephrum's wife and boys, although she was so heavy-hearted.
She went across the field to Eben Curtis's to get a bit of fresh fish: Eben had been fishing the day before.
Eben, who was a friendly young man, looked at her pityingly as he put the' fish into her basket. As she was turning away in unwonted silence, he was moved to say, "I wouldn't take it so hard if I was you, Miss Daggett. You're well rid of such a scamp. And maybe they'll catch him and get the money back. La, now! you don't say you hain't heard?" he exclaimed at sight of Miranda's astonished face. "They most generally _do_ get the news up to the poor-house." Eben lifted his hat and ran his fingers through his hair with a mingling of sympathy and pleasure in being the first to impart important news. "He's _cleared out_, the book-agent has,--got all the money he could of folks without giving 'em any books; and folks say he got some of you. He's been in jail for playing the same trick before; and folks think he'll be caught this time."
"Oh, it's a mistake! He'll come back," said Miranda dejectedly, after a moment's thought.
"Well, he isn't very likely to, because"--here Eben turned his head aside in embarrassment--"because he's got a wife and family over to Olneyville."
Radiant delight overspread Miranda's countenance.
"I hope they'll just let him go," she said. "He's welcome to what money he's got of mine,--more'n welcome." And homeward she went with a light step.
"Women are queer," mused Eben, as he returned to his fish-cleaning. "She's lost her beau and her money, and she's tickled to death."
"I declare, you look just as fresh and young and happy as you did fifteen years ago!" said the widow, with a touch of envy, as they sat down at the cheerful breakfast-table.
Miranda touched Mrs. Bemis's arm as she came out of the meeting-house the next Sunday, Ephraim's boys, preternaturally smooth of hair and shining of face, beside her.
"If it ain't perfane to say it. Mis' Bemis, I feel as if I'd got through the eye of that needle clear into the kingdom of heaven."
The poor-mistress commented upon the saying in the midst of her numerous family that night: "She's got that selfish, tempery woman saddled onto her for life, and she'll work her fingers to the bone for them boys, that ain't anything to her, and won't be apt to amount to much,--for there never was one of them Spencers that did,--and she calls that the kingdom of heaven!"
"It's jest as I always told you," remarked Cap'n 'Kiah placidly. "It's all owin' to the p'int of view."
* * * * *
THE SECOND RANK.
A ZOOLOGICAL STUDY.
It is a suggestive sign of our naturalistic times that so many first-class towns in Europe and America contemplate the establishment of Zoological Gardens. In the United States alone five cities have successfully executed that project. Travelling menageries have taken the place of the mediæval pageants. Natural histories begin to supersede the ghost-stories of our fathers. The scientific literature of four different nations has monographs on almost every known species of beasts and birds.
With such data of information it seems rather strange that the problem of precedence in the scale of animal intelligence should still be a mooted question. The primacy of the animal kingdom remains, of course, undisputed; but the dog, the elephant, the horse, the beaver,--nay, the parrot, the bee, and the ant,--have found learned and uncompromising advocates of their claims to the honors of the second rank.
Russel Wallace and Dr. Brehm have agitated the question, but failed to settle it,--even to their own satisfaction. The reason, I believe, is that the exponents of the different theories have failed to agree on a definite standard of comparison. The mathematical principle implied in the construction of a honey-comb, we are told, can challenge comparison with the ripest results of human science. The acumen of a well-trained elk-hound, a philosophical sportsman assures us, comes nearer to human reason than any other manifestation of animal sagacity. Elephant-trainers, too, adduce instances that almost pass the line of distinction between intuitive prudence and the results of reflection. Yet if those distinctions suffice to define the difference between reason and the primitive instincts, they should reduce the scope of the question in so far as to make it clear that, instead of measuring the degree of the development of special faculties of the animal mind, we should _ascertain the direction_ of those faculties. Instinct tends to promote the interests of the species, and is limited to the more or less skilful, but monotonous, performance of a special task. Within that limited sphere its competence is perfect. Reason may be often at fault, but its capacity enlarges with practice, and the scope of its application is unlimited. It may be exerted in the interest of the species, of the tribe, of the family; it may devote itself to the service of an abstract principle or subserve the purposes of individual caprice. It differs from instinct as a piano differs from a barrel-organ. The pianist has to master his art by years of toil, but can apply it to all possible variations or extravaganzas of music. The organ-grinder can delight his audience as much by his first as by his last performance, but his _répertoire_ is limited. Reason is indefinite, free, and versatile. Instinct is exact, but circumscribed.
Tested by that standard, the difference between the intelligence of the higher _quadrumana_--the anthropoid apes, the baboons, and several species of the macaques--and that of their dumb fellow-creatures is so pronounced that it amounts to a difference of kind as well as of degree. _Borné_, literally limited, but used in French as a synonyme of short-witted, is the term that best characterizes the actions of all other animals, as compared with the graceless but amazingly versatile and well-planned pranks of our nearest relatives. The standard of _usefulness_ would, indeed, degrade the perpetrators of these pranks below the rank of the dullest donkey; but as a criterion of intelligence the application of that test should rather be reversed.
Watch a colony of house-building insects, their faithful co-operation, their steady, exact adaptation of right means to a fixed purpose, and compare their activity with that of a troop of ball-playing boys. Does not the gratuitous ingenuity of the young bipeds indicate a far higher degree of intelligence? Does it argue against the quality of that intelligence that any novel phenomenon--a funnel-shaped cloud, the appearance of a swarm of bats or unknown birds--would divert the ball-players from their immediate purpose? Monkeys alone share this gift of gratuitous curiosity. A strange object, a piece of red cloth fluttering in the grass, may excite the interest of a watch-dog or of an antelope. They may approach to investigate, but for subjective purposes. They fear the presence of an enemy. A monkey's inquisitiveness can dispense with such motives. In my collection of four-handed pets I have a young Rhesus monkey (_Macacus Rhesus_), by no means the most intelligent member of the community, but gifted with an amount of meddlesome pluck which often makes it necessary to circumscribe the freedom of his movements. One day last spring, when he joined an assembly of his fellow-boarders on a sunny porch, the shortness of his tether did not prevent him from picking a quarrel with a big raccoon. After a few sham manoauvres the old North American suddenly lost his temper and charged his tormentor with an energy of action that led to an unexpected result,--for in springing back the Rhesus snapped his wire chain, and in the next moment went flying down the lane toward the open woods. But just before he reached the gate he suddenly stopped. On a post of the picket-fence the neighbors' boys had deposited a kite, and the Rhesus paused. The phenomenon of the dangling kite-tail, with its polychromatic ribbons, eclipsed the memory of his wrongs and his mutinous projects: he snatched the tail, and with the gravity of a coroner proceeded to examine the dismembered appendage. If he had mistaken the apparatus for a trap, the result of the dissection must have reassured him; but he continued the inquest till one of his pursuers headed him off and drove him back to his favorite hiding-place under the porch, which he reached in safety, though in the interest of science he had encumbered himself with a large section of kite-paper.
On my last visit to New York I bought a female Chacma baboon that had attracted my attention by the grotesque demonstrativeness of her motions, and took her on board of a Norfolk steamer, where she at once became an object of general enthusiasm. The next morning Sally was taking her breakfast on deck, when she suddenly dropped her apple-pie and jumped upon the railing. Through the foam of the churned brine her keen eye had espied a shoal of porpoises, and, clinging to the railing with her hind hands, she continued to gesticulate and chatter as long as our gambolling fellow-travellers remained in sight.
Menagerie monkeys, too, are sure to interrupt their occupations at the sight of a new-comer,--a clear indication that monkeys, like men, possess a surplus of intelligence above the exigencies of their individual needs. Yet these exigencies are by no means inconsiderable. Unlike the grazing deer and the deer-eating panther, the frugivorous monkeys of the tropics are the direct competitors of the intolerant lord of creation. The Chinese macaques, the Moor monkey, the West-African baboons, have to eke out a living by pillage. The Gibraltar monkey has hardly any other resources. Nor has nature been very generous in the physical equipment of the species. Most monkeys lack the sharp teeth that enable the tiger to defy the avenger of his misdeeds. Without exception they all lack the keen scent that helps the deer to elude its pursuers. But their mental faculties more than compensate for such bodily deficiencies. In the Abyssinian highlands the mornings are often cold enough to cover the grass with hoar-frost, yet the frost-dreading baboons choose that very time to raid the corn-fields of the natives. They omit no precaution, and it is almost impossible to circumvent the vigilance of their sentries. Prudence, derived from _providence_,--i.e., prevision, the gift of fore-seeing things,--is in many respects almost a synonyme of reason. Physically that gift is typified in the telescopic eyes which monkeys share with a few species of birds, but with hardly any of their mammalian relatives, except man in a state of nature. Mentally it manifests itself in a marvellous faculty for anticipating danger. Last summer Sally, the above-mentioned baboon, contrived to break loose, and took refuge on the top of the roof. I do not believe that she intended to desert, but she was bent on a romp, and had made up her mind not to be captured by force. A chain of eight or nine feet dangled from her girdle, and she persistently avoided approaching the lower tier of shingles, to keep that chain from hanging down over the edge, but was equally careful not to venture too near the extremities of the roof-ridge, for there was a skylight at each gable. She kept around the middle of the roof; and we concluded to loosen a few shingles in that neighborhood and grab her chain through the aperture, while a confederate was to divert her attention by a continuous volley of small pebbles. But somehow Sally managed to distinguish the hammer-strokes from the noise of the bombardment, and at once made up her mind that the roof had become untenable. The only question was how to get down; for by that time the house was surrounded by a cordon of sentries. As a preliminary measure she then retreated to the top of the chimney, and one of our strategists proposed to dislodge her by loading the fireplace with a mixture of pine-leaves and turpentine. But better counsel prevailed, and we contented ourselves with firing a blank cartridge through the flue. Sally at once jumped off, but regained her vantage-ground on the roof-ridge, and we had to knock out a dozen shingles before one of our fourteen or fifteen hunters at last managed to lay hold of her chain.
The naturalist Lenz describes the uncontrollable grief of a Siamang gibbon who had been taken on board of a homebound English packet, where his owner tempted him with all sorts of tidbits, in the vain hope of calming his sorrow. The gibbon kept his eye on the receding outline of his native mountains, and every now and then made a desperate attempt to break his fetters; but when the coast-line began to blend with the horizon the captive's behavior underwent a marked change. He ceased to tug at his chain, and, chattering with protruded lips, after the deprecatory manner of his species, began to fondle his owner's hand, and tried to smooth the wrinkles of his coat, with the unmistakable intention of reciprocating his friendly overtures. As soon as his native coast had faded out of view he had evidently recognized the hopelessness of an attempt at escape. He realized the fact that he had to accept the situation, and, becoming alarmed at the possible consequences of his refractory violence, he concluded that it was the safest plan to conciliate the good will of his jailer. From analogous observations I can credit the account in all its details, and I believe that the conduct of the captive four-hander can be traced to a mental process as utterly beyond the brain-scope of a horse, a dog, or an elephant as a problem in spherical trigonometry.
The inarticulate language of our Darwinian relatives has one considerable advantage over the articulate speech of a trained parrot: it has a definite meaning. Mumbling with protruded lips is an appeal for pity and affection; a coughing grunt denotes indignation; surprise is expressed by a very peculiar, _sotto voce_ guttural; _crescendo_ the same sound is a danger-signal which the little Capuchin-monkey of the American tropics understands as well as the African chimpanzee. My Chacma baboon defies an adversary by contracting her eyebrows and slapping the floor with her hands. The vocabulary of a talking bird is no doubt more extensive, but it is used entirely at random. A first-class parrot can repeat seventy different phrases; but an English philosopher offered a hundred pounds sterling to any "mind-reader" who should succeed in guessing the seven figures in the number of a hundred-pound bank-note, and It would be as safe to offer the same sum to any bird that could furnish evidence of attaching a definite meaning to any seven of his seventy sentences. On close investigation, the stories of conversational parrots prove as apocryphal as Katy-King legends and planchette miracles.
Causality--i.e., the gift of tracing a recondite connection of cause and effect--is another faculty which many varieties of monkeys possess in a decidedly ultra-instinctive degree. I remember the surprise of a picnic-party who had borrowed my young Rhesus and on their return tied him up on the porch of a garden-house. During the trip the little scamp had behaved with the decorum of a well-bred youth, but, finding himself unobserved, he at once made a vicious attempt to tear his rope with his teeth. Whenever his boon companions approached the porch he would resume his attitude of innocence, but as soon as they turned away, which they often did on purpose to try him, he promptly recommenced his work of destruction. Their giggling, however, excited his suspicions, and, seeing them peep around the corner, he suddenly became a model of virtuous inactivity. One of the picnickers then entered the garden-house by a rear door, to watch the little hypocrite through a crack in the board wall, while his companions ostensibly walked away and out of sight. As soon as everything was quiet. Master Rhesus went to work again, but at the same time kept his eye on the corner till he was interrupted by a tap on the wall and a mysterious voice from within, "Stop that, Tommy!" Tommy started, peeped around the corner, and looked puzzled. He was sure there was nobody in sight. How could an invisible spy have witnessed his transgression? He then scrutinized the wall more closely, discovered the crack, and dropped the rope with a curious grin, as he squinted through the tell-tale aperture. He had traced the effect to its cause.
Unlike dogs, raccoons, or squirrels, chained monkeys rarely entangle themselves: they at once notice the shortening of their tether, and never rest till they have discovered the clue of the phenomenon. A dog in the same predicament has to content himself with tugging at his chain or gnawing his rope; and the reason is that the wisdom of the wisest dog is limited to business qualifications. He is a hunter, and nature has endowed him with the requisite faculties, just as she has endowed the constructive spider and the bee. Bees and dogs share the faculty of direction, enabling them to find their way home, a talent implying a very miracle of infallible and yet unconscious intuition, and in the strictest sense a one-sided business qualification. The goose, the sturgeon, and the almost brainless tortoise possess the same gift in a transcendent degree; the oriole builds her first nest as skilfully as the last; the young bee constructs her hexagons with an ease and a uniform success that leave no possible doubt that the exercise of her talent is generically different from a function of reason. Instincts may be far-reaching enough to defy the rivalry of human science, but they resemble loophole-guns, that can be fired only in a single direction. The intuition that guides the turkey-hen to her nest does not enable her to find her way out of a half-open log trap. The instinct by which a dog retraces his trail across broad rivers and through woods does not enable him to retrace the coils of a tangled rope. A monkey's talents, like our own, are less infallible, but more versatile, and at the possessor's discretion can be applied and perverted to all possible purposes. Hence also that peculiar interest which the pranks of our mischievous relatives excite even in spectators not apt to appreciate the comic features of the spectacle. In the monkey-house of the Philadelphia Zoo I have seen saturnine burghers stand motionless for hours together, and contemplative children rapt in reveries that had little to do with the hope of witnessing a beast-fight. They seemed to feel the spell of a secret veiled in grotesque symbols, but disclosing occasional revelations of its significance, like glimpses into the fore-world of the human race.
In the fairy-tales of the old Hindoo scriptures monkeys figure as counsellors of nonplussed heroes, and in the crisis of the Titan war the Devas themselves condescend to seek the advice of the monkey Honuman, who contrives to outwit the prince of the night-spirits. In the international fable of "Reynard the Fox," a she-monkey on the eve of the trial by battle suggests the stratagem that turns the scales against the superior strength of the wolf Isegrim. The _mens æqua in arduis_ is, indeed, a simian characteristic. Monkeys never have their wits more completely about them than in the moment of a sudden danger, and a higher development of the same faculty distinguishes the Caucasian from all rival races, even from the sharp-witted Semites. After the conquest of Algiers the French tried to conciliate the native element by educating a number of young Arabs and giving them a chance to compete with the cadets of St.-Cyr. They made excellent routine-officers, but even their patron, General Clausel, admitted that they "could not be trusted in a panic."
Dr. Langenbeck mentions a family of Silesian peasants who seemed to have an hereditary predisposition to the abnormity known as microcephalism, or small-headedness. They were not absolute idiots, but remarkably slow-spoken and all extremely _averse to active occupations_. An active disposition is generally a pretty safe gauge of mental capacity. Intellectual vigor leads to action. To a person of mental resources inactivity is more irksome than the hardest work, and sluggishness is justly used as a synonyme of imbecility. Exertion under the pressure of want is, however, not incompatible with an inert disposition, and spontaneous activity, the love of busy-ness for its own sake, can be ascribed only to men and monkeys; monkeys, at least, are the only animals in whom repletion and old age cannot dampen that passion. After a full meal an elephant will stand for hours in a sort of piggish torpor; a gorged bird seeks the tree-shade; an overfed dog and nearly every old dog becomes a picture of laziness. Monkeys rest only during sleep. Old age does not affect their nimbleness; they can be fattened, for I have seen baboons as sleek as seals, but, like Gibbon, Henry Buckle, and Marshal Vendôme, they prove that the energy of a strong will can bear up under such burdens. Madame de Staël, too, managed to combine a progressive _embonpoint_ with the undiminished brilliancy of her genius, though it is certain that adipose tissue does not feed the flame of every mind. Charles Dickens in his "American Notes" expresses the opinion that no vigor of mental constitution could be proof against the influence of solitary confinement; but the narrow monkey-cages of our zoological prisons show that the minds of the little captives can stand the test of even that ordeal. They play with their shadows, if the nakedness of their four walls does not afford any other pastime.
Docility, on the other hand, is a rather ambiguous test of intelligence. The willingness and the ability to learn may supplement their mutual deficiencies, but differ as radically as patience and genius. Dogs master the tasks of their education by their earnest endeavor to please their master; Jacko excels them in spite of his waywardness. Some boys win college-prizes by memorizing their lessons in conformity with the wishes of a dreaded or beloved preceptor, others by dint of natural aptitude and a love of knowledge based on spontaneous inquisitiveness; and every circus-trainer knows that teachers who understand to avail themselves of that gift can teach a monkey tricks which can neither be coaxed nor kicked into the skull of the most docile dog. Besides, the domestic dog is a considerably modified variety of the family to which he belongs, and in order to appreciate the difference between the _natural_ intelligence of the canines and the quadrumana we should compare the docility of the monkey with that of the wolf or the jackal. In the submissiveness of the dog the hereditary influence of several thousand generations has developed a sort of artificial instinct that qualifies him for the exigencies of his servitude; but submissiveness _per se_, however valuable for plastic purposes, is certainly not a characteristic concomitant of superior intelligence. In the soul of the Hindoo, the Chinese, and the Eastern Slav, the long-inculcated duty of subordination has become almost a second nature, while the most intelligent tribes of the ancient Greeks were famous--or, from a Chinese point of view, perhaps infamous--for a strong tendency in the opposite direction.
Patience is not a prominent gift of our four-handed relatives, but compensating nature has endowed them with the genius of self-help and its adjuvant talents,--observation, causality, imitativeness, covetousness, and self-asserting pluck. They also possess a fair share of such faculties as inquisitiveness, vigilance, and perseverance, all rudiments, indeed, but the rudiments of supremacy.
FELIX L. OSWALD.
* * * * *
Just out of reach she lightly swings, My Psyche with the rainbowed wings, A floating flower, by winds impelled, The honeyed spray has caught and held. Now circling low, with grace divine, She sips the tulip's chaliced wine. Why should I seek to bring her nigh And find--a simple butterfly?
O isles in ocean's azure set, Like sculptured dome and minaret Your purpled cliffs and headlands rise Against the far-off, misty skies. Yet, thither borne by helpful breeze, As lifts the veil from circling seas, Well know I your enchanted land Would prove but rugged rock and sand.
O friend whose words of wisdom rare Inspire my soul to do and dare, Across the distance wide and drear I will not reach to bring you near. Why cast ideal grace away To find you only common clay? The best of life and thought and speech Is that which lies--just out of reach.
SARAH D. HOBART.
* * * * *
THE PARISIAN COUTURIER.
The _couturier_--the bearded dressmaker, the masculine artist in silk and satin--is an essentially modern and Parisian phenomenon. It is true that the elegant and capricious Madame de Pompadour owed most of her toilets and elegant accoutrements to the genius of Supplis, the famous _tailleur pour dames_ or ladies' tailor, of the epoch. But Supplis was an exception, and he never assumed the name of _couturier_, the masculine form of _couturière_, "dress-maker." That appellation was reserved for the great artists of the Second Empire, Worth, Aurelly, Pingat, and their rivals, who utterly revolutionized feminine costume and endeavored to direct it in the paths of art, good taste, and comfort. Enthusiasts of grace and beauty, these artists set themselves the task of preventing the inconstant goddess of fashion from continuing to wander off into ugliness, deformity, and absurdity. In their devotion to art, beauty, and luxury, they determined never to forget fitness and comfort, and since their initiative has regulated the vagaries of fashion we must admit that our women have never been the victims of such inconvenient, ugly, and absurd inventions as crinoline, leg-o'-mutton sleeves, the _coiffure à la frégate_, and the various other monstrosities of the Republic, the Directory, and the Restoration, which, thanks to the traditional supremacy of France in matters of fashion, made their way, more or less modified, all over the world. The modern artists in dress consider justly that what is most important in a dress is the woman who wears it, and that their object should be to set her off to the best advantage, and not to make her remarked,--in short, to make a toilet which will be to the wearer what the frame is to the portrait. The _rôle_ which the _couturier_ plays, not only in Parisian life but in the life of the whole civilized world, is so important and so curious that I have thought it might interest the reader to see the great artist at home, surrounded by his customers and his assistants, and to catch a brief glimpse of the nature and peculiarities of the creature. My description of the type will be in general, of course, but founded on exact observation of individuals.
The high-priests of Parisian fashion have their shrines up-stairs. Where the highest perfection is aimed at, shops are nowhere. The _grand couturier_ makes no outside show. You will find him occupying two or three floors in one of those plain, flat-fronted Restoration houses which line the Rue de la Paix, the Rue Taitbout, the Rue Louis-le-Grand, or the Faubourg St.-Honoré. Passing through a square _porte-cochère_ as broad as it is high, you find on the right or left hand a glass door opening on a staircase covered with a thick red carpet. On the landings are divans, and sometimes a palm of a dracæna. Through an open door on the ground-floor you see the packing-room, where marvels of silk and lace are being enveloped in mountains of tissue-paper to be sent to the four quarters of the globe; on the first floor, or _entresol_, are workrooms full of girls seated at long tables and sewing under the directing eye of a severe-looking matron; on the second floor are generally situated the show- and reception-rooms. The first saloon is sombre: the ceiling appears, in the daytime, blackened by gas; the walls are wainscoted in imitation ebony with gold fillets, and large panels above the chair-rail are filled with verdure tapestries of the most dismal green, chosen expressly to throw into relief the freshness and gayety of the dresses; on the chimney-piece, and reflected in the glass, is a clock surmounted by a monumental statue of Diana in nickeled imitation bronze and flanked by two immense candelabra; along the walls are two or three large wardrobes with looking-glass doors; in the middle of the room is a table for displaying materials, with a few chairs, and in one corner a desk, where is seated M. Cyprien or M. Alexandre, the bookkeeper. In this room the customers are received by a tall and very elegant young lady, invariably dressed in black satin in winter and black silk in summer. Through this soft-spoken person, who bears the title _of première vendeuse_, or first saleswoman, the customers are put into communication either with the great artist himself or simply with one of the _premières_, or heads of departments, if their orders are not of sufficient importance to justify an interruption of the great man in his innumerable and absorbing occupations. Opening out of this first saloon are a number of smaller saloons, all equally sombre, colorless, and shabby-looking, especially by daylight. There are extra show-rooms and trying-on-rooms, besides which there is a special room for trying on riding-habits, and another for the chief of the corsage department, to say nothing of little rooms draped with blue, brown, or red for special purposes. Over these dingy carpets and among these old tapestries and sombre furniture glide noiselessly from room to room young women on whose sloping shoulders and lissome figures the "creations" of Messieurs les Couturiers show to the best advantage. These are the _demoiselles-mannequins_, or _essayeuses_,--mute but breathing models, who seem to have lost all human animation in their occupation of mere clothes-wearers, automata with weary faces, whose sole business is to carry on their backs from morning until night luminous vesture. The ordinary pay of the _demoiselle-mannequin_ in the grand establishments is from sixty to eighty dollars a month, with half board; but some of them who have exceptionally elegant figures and perfect bearing are paid fancy prices, reaching as much in rare cases as two thousand dollars a year.
Imagine the appearance of these saloons between two and five o'clock in the afternoon during the season, filled as they are with chattering and finely-dressed ladies,--Parisiennes, Russians with their lazy accent, English and Americans talking in their own tongue, princesses of the Almanach de Gotha and princesses of the footlights, and even of the _demi-monde_, all united in adoration of the idol of fashion. A confused murmur of musical voices rises in an atmosphere impregnated with the perfumes of ylang-ylang, heliotrope, peau d'Espagne, jonquil, iris, poudre de riz, and odor di femina. The heads of the different departments are seen passing to and fro with fragments of a dress or a corsage in their arms, and amid the buzzing assembly the models move incessantly, like animated statues, silent and majestic. From time to time the voice of the great artist is heard giving brief and imperious orders, or scolding plaintively because a ruche has been substituted for a flounce on the dress of Madame X----, or a light fur for a dark fur on the mantle of the Baronne de V----,--"a pale blonde! The whole thing will have to be made over again. What can I do if I am not seconded?" he asks irritably. "Truly, _mesdemoiselles, c'est à se donner au diable_!" With these words flung at a little group of employees, the great man appears. He is a short man, dressed in light-gray trousers, a blue coat with a broad velvet collar and silk lappels in which are stuck a few pins for use in sudden inspirations, a flowered waistcoat, and a heavy watch-chain. His head is bald and surrounded by a fringe of dust-colored gray hair, frizzled so finely that it looks like swans'-down. His whiskers and moustache have the same fine and woolly appearance. His blue eyes look worn and faded; his face has flushed red patches on a pale anaemic ground; his expression is one of subdued suffering, due to the continual neuralgia by which he is tormented, thanks to the strong perfumes which his elegant customers force him to inhale all day long. Epinglard, for so we will call him for convenience' sake, rarely dines during the busy season: he is the martyr of his profession. He has a house exquisitely decorated and arranged, but he lives alone, his daily commerce with women having disinclined him to risk the lottery of marriage. Nevertheless, he is much effeminized; and his employees will assure you that he wears cambric nightcaps bordered with lace, and a lace _jabot_ on his night-shirts. His life is entirely devoted to his art, and he conscientiously goes on Tuesdays to the Comédie Française, on Fridays to the Opera, and on Saturdays to the Italians or the Circus, because those are the nights selected by rank and fashion, and therefore excellent occasions for observing the work of his rivals. For the same reason Epinglard will be seen on fashionable days at the races, and at first performances at the fashionable theatres, but always alone. In confidence, Epinglard will tell you that he adores solitude and loves his art with undivided and disinterested passion. "It gives me pleasure," he will say, "to see a woman well dressed, whoever may have dressed her. For my own part, I do not care to get myself talked about. I mind my own business and I make my own creations, but I am perfectly ready to admire the creations of others. It is not the mere creation that I find difficult: it is to get my creations executed."
Epinglard talks slowly, precisely, and in a sing-song and hypocritical voice, while his fingers, laden with heavy rings, caress voluptuously some piece of surah or silk. He is in serious consultation with one of the leaders of fashion, the Baronne de P----. Suddenly changing his tone, he calls out to a model who is passing, "You there, mademoiselle, put on this skirt to show to madame," And, turning the model round, he shows the skirt in all its aspects, passing his fingers amorously over the _batiste_ and seeming to give it life and beauty by his mere touch. "And you, Mademoiselle Ernestine, come here, too," calling to another model; who is walking about gloomily with a mantle on her shoulders: "put on Madame A----'s mantle." Then, changing back to his hypocritical tone, Epinglard continues his sing-song monologue to the Baronne de P----, and tells her that Madame A---- is a "great English lady who has deserted her husband and is now living in Paris. She spends about sixteen thousand dollars a year on her toilets. It is a good deal, yes. But, imagine, last month I made a mantle for the Countess Z---- which cost five thousand dollars. Look at that line" (caressing the mantle on the model's shoulders) "and the slope of the hips. It is perfect. And the embroidery and the trimming, all made on the material of the mantle itself by my own embroiderers."
This afternoon Epinglard is in a theorizing mood, and, after having sent for Bamboula, as he calls her familiarly, a dark-skinned model, he drapes her in a pale-yellow tulle dress, and proceeds to lament that so few Frenchwomen will wear yellow, owing to a silly popular prejudice. "Ah, madame la baronne," he continues, "you cannot conceive what lovely combinations of rose and yellow I have made. Why not? There are roses with yellow pistils. Why should not we do in stuffs what nature does in flowers? For us _couturiers_, as for the painter and the sculptor, the great source of inspiration is nature. There are many of my colleagues who fill their portfolios with the engravings of Eisen, Debucourt, Moreau, and the masters of the eighteenth century. But this is not sufficient: we must go back to nature. I pass my summer in the country, and in the rich combinations of floral color I find the gamut of tones for my toilets. But I am allowing myself to theorize too much. If madame la baronne will be good enough to come to-morrow, I will compose something for her in the mean time. This afternoon I am scarcely in the humor for a creation of such importance." And, with a grave salute, Epinglard passes into a saloon where two ladies are waiting impatiently, particularly the younger of the two, who has come, under the wing of her fashionable relative, to be introduced to the _grand couturier_.
"_Bonjour_, Monsieur Epinglard," begins the elder. "I have come to ask you to create a masterpiece. It will not be the first time, will it? My niece is going to her first ball next month, and I wish her to have a dress on which your signature will be visible."
Epinglard falls into a meditative pose, his elbow in one hand, his chin in the other, and looks long at the young girl, scrutinizing not only the line and modelling of the body, but the expression of the face, the eyes, the shade and nature of the hair, reading her temperament with the lucidity of a phrenologist aided by the divination of a plastic artist who has had great experience of feminine humanity. The examination lasts many minutes, and finally, as if under the inspiring influence of the god of taste, Epinglard, in broken phrases, composes the dress: "Toilette entirely of tulle ... corsage plaited diagonally ... around the _décolletage_ four ruches ... the skirt relieved with drapery of white satin falling behind like a peplum ... on the shoulder--the left shoulder--a bouquet of myosotis or violets ... that is how I see mademoiselle dressed." And Epinglard salutes gravely, while an assistant, who has noted down the prophetic utterances of the master, conducts the subject to a room in the centre of which is an articulated model of a feminine torso, with movable breasts, flattened rag arms hanging at the sides, and a combination of straps and springs to adjust the _taille_ or waist,--a most sinister and grotesque object, all crumpled and shrivelled up and covered with shiny, glazed calico. This is the studio of one of the most important of the secondary artists in dress-making, the _corsagère_. The chief of this department takes the subject in hand, and, with the aid of pieces of coarse canvas, such as the tailors use to line coats, she takes a complete mould of the body, cutting and pinning and smoothing with her hand until the mould is perfect. This is the first step toward the execution of the master's plan. At the next _séance_ of trying-on, the subject passes simultaneously through the hands of several heads of departments,--the _corsagère_, the _jupière_, who drapes the skirts and arranges the train, and the second _jupière_, who mounts and constructs the skirt. The corsage is brought all sewn and whaleboned, but only basted below the arms and at the shoulder, and as soon as it is in place--"_crac! crac!_"--the _corsagère_, with angry fingers, breaks the threads, and then calmly and patiently rejoins the seams and pins them together so that the joinings may lie perfectly flat and even. On her knees, turning patiently round and round, the _jupière_ drapes the skirt on a lining of silk, seeking to perfect the roundness, sparing no pains, and displaying in all she does the artist's _amour-propre_, the desire to achieve a masterpiece in the detail which the masculine designer has allotted to her care. These women who lend their light-fingered collaboration to the imagination of the bearded dress-maker are really admirable in their sentiment of their work, in their artist's ambition, which thinks not merely of the week's salary, but of the perfection of the masterpiece. They seem to find intense personal satisfaction in producing a beautiful toilet, in fashioning a delicate thing which almost has the qualities of a work of art; and when the subject is naturally well formed,--_tout faite_, as they say,--and not artificially made up with what is called the _taille de couturière_, their painstaking knows no bounds.
During these long _séances_, which last for hours together and occupy so large a place in the day of a woman of fashion, the common love of toilet makes, for the moment at least, the _grande dame_ or the aristocrat the equal of the modest employee, and, while the _jupière_ is turning round and round madame la baronne, there often takes place a lively interchange of gossip and a review of the plastic qualities of the friends and rivals in beauty of madame la baronne who are also customers of the house. The _grand couturier_ himself is a treasure-house of queer stories and scandals, and naturally his employees take after their master. The _couturier_, you see, is not a tradesman: he is an artist, and he renders a woman far greater service than the artist-painter, who finds her already dressed and only has to copy her, whereas the _couturier_ dresses a woman not once, but twenty times a year, and each time that he invents a becoming toilet he makes a new creation not only of the toilet, but of the woman. There has, in fact, been a great change made in modern times in matters of dress. Our modern women are no longer content with merely seasonable dresses, appropriate in form and material for spring, summer, autumn, or winter; they are no longer satisfied to have four interviews a year with the dress-maker. On the contrary, every event in social life--a wedding, a ball, a visit to a country-house, the annual excursions to sea-side and mountain--gives occasion for special dresses, or rather costumes, for in modern toilets the element of pure costume plays a considerable _rôle_ especially in those destined for wear in the country. The modern woman of fashion needs endless morning, afternoon, and evening dresses, tea-gowns, breakfast-dresses, of endless varieties of form, stuff, and color. Hence she is constantly in communication with the _couturier_, who has every opportunity of examining her morally and physically, confessing her, listening often to strange confidences. Not unfrequently he combines with his artistic career that of a banker. Naturally, ladies who run up yearly bills of twenty thousand dollars for gowns and mantles are often in a corner for want of a few thousands, and the Parisienne in such circumstances often thinks it equally natural to have recourse to the strange creature who dresses her and who thus comes to occupy a very curious position on the confines of society.
The final trying-on of the dresses of madame la baronne is a grand day, and often a few friends, both ladies and gentlemen, are invited to assist at the ceremony; for the Parisiennes recognize in some of their masculine friends, and particularly in painters, certain talents for appreciating dress. Why not? Were not these men the great innovators in modern dressing? and are not men still the great artists in costume? Madame la baronne prepares herself in one of the little saloons. First of all come the skirts and the young ladies who preside over the fabrication of the _dessous_, or underclothing, for it is an axiom in modern French dress-making that half the success of the toilet depends on the underclothing, or, as the French put it in their neat way, "_Le dessous est pour la moitié dans la réussite du dessus_." Then follows the tying of the skirt of the dress, which is suspended on hooks round the bottom of the corset, the buttoning of the corsage, the preliminary tapping and caressing necessary to make the folds of the skirt sit well, and then madame la baronne makes her appearance triumphantly before her friends assembled in the adjoining saloon. The great artist himself deigns to contemplate the finished work. Standing off at some distance, so as to take in the general effect, as if he were examining a picture, he gazes upon the dress with impassible eyes, and then, after a Napoleonic silence, during which all present hold their breath, the great man expresses his satisfaction, perhaps even falls on his knees in mute admiration of his masterpiece, or in the twinkling of an eye gives a pinch to a frill or a twist to a plait which transforms and perfects the whole, such is the magic power of those marvellous fingers when they touch the delicate tissues of silk or lace or velvet. Then, while the master is sating his eyes, all the staff of the house defiles through the saloon,--the chief saleswoman, the cutter-out, the _chef des jupes_, the _chef des corsages_, the _chef des garnisseuses_, the _première brodeuse_, and half a dozen other _premièeres_, who open the door and ask, with caressing intonations of voice and pretty smiles, "_Vent-on me permettre de voir un pen_?"
What other mysteries are there to be revealed in the house of the _couturier_? We have glanced at the packing-rooms, the working-rooms with their battalions of girls and women toiling away with their needles by daylight and gas-light. We caught a glimpse of the reception-saloons and the trying-on-rooms, all strewn with fragments of dresses,--_disjecta membra_,--mountains of silk, and peopled with automatic human _mannequins, essayeuses_, who, as the moralists will tell you, are all "_vicieuses qui ne manquent de rien_," and who are destined sooner or later to reinforce the _demi-monde_. We have seen the process of creating and fitting a dress, the ceremony of trying-on, and the _rôle_ of the creating artist in all this. Now, to make our indiscretion complete, we have only to peep into the _salon des amazones_, a room draped in green velvet and decorated with whips, stirrups, and side-saddles. The table in the middle is piled up with heaps of dark-colored cloth and hats with green, brown, and blue veils. At one end is a life-size wooden horse, and presiding over this room is a blonde effeminate young man, whose business it is to offer his clasped hands as a mounting-stone to help the ladies to jump on to the back of the wooden steed, while the tailor arranges the folds of their riding-habits.
Besides Pingat, the most artistic of the Parisian dress-makers, besides Worth, who has a specialty of court-dresses for exportation and showy dresses for American actresses, and whose style is pompous and official, besides Felix, the dresser of slender women, the favorite artist of the aristocracy of birth and talent,--all three so well known that the mention of their names here cannot be regarded as an advertisement,--there are a dozen other bearded dress-makers in Paris whose talent is worthy of admiration, and whose caprices might amuse us if we had time to dwell upon them. There is, however, a _grande couturière_ who surpasses all her masculine rivals in fatuity and caprice, namely, Madame Rodrigues, the great theatrical dress-maker. Madame Rodrigues always asks the journalists not to mention her by name. "Put simply," she says, "the first dress-maker in Paris. Everybody will know who is meant." This lady regards herself as the collaborator of Sardou and Dumas and Augier. Dumas is her peculiar favorite. "We understand each other," she says, "and he finds that my genius completes his."
Nothing can be more amusing than the scene in her vast saloons about four o'clock in the afternoon. The _grande couturière_--Madame, as her employees respectfully call her--issues from her private rooms and finds herself in presence of a score of ladies, not merely actresses, but society ladies, to whom she has given rendezvous for that day.
"I am exceedingly sorry, mesdames," the great artist will exclaim, "but I cannot attend to you to-day."
"But, dear madame, you wrote to me--"
"I must have my dress for to-morrow."
"My ball takes place to-night--"
"Mesdames, I repeat, it is impossible. If one of my assistants likes to take you in hand, well and good. That is all I can do for you."
Then, turning round, she perceives a stout lady who looks imploringly at her, and declares brusquely, "Ah, madame, I have already told you that I cannot undertake to dress you. You are not my style. I do not understand plump women."
"But, Madame Rodrigues--"
"If one of my _premières_ cares to take you in hand, I have no objection; but that is all I can do for you."
The only thing that calms the great artist is the arrival of one of her favorite actresses.
"Ah, _bonjour_, Madame Judic: you will have your toilets on Friday--"
"But the first performance is announced for Wednesday."
"They must put it off, then, for I am not ready. We will try your dress for the second act this afternoon." And the _grande couturière_ settles herself in her arm-chair, calls for her footstool, her fan, her cup of beef-tea, her smelling-salts, and so proceeds to preside over the terrible and imposing ceremony of trying on the dress of a fashionable actress.
Doubtless the luxury of the Parisiennes is not so great now as it was under the Empire; but the falling off in the home trade is partly compensated by the increase in the foreign customers. In Paris alone the dress-making trade represents the movement of fifty millions of dollars a year and gives employment to some fifty thousand women; and many of the elegant society women spend from twenty to thirty thousand dollars a year on their costume and toilet. But it must not be believed that the modern _couturier_ is the first who has known how to draw up big bills, or that the modern _lingère_ is the first who has dared to charge two hundred dollars for a chemise and half as much for a pocket-handkerchief. Dress has always reigned supreme in France at least. Louis XVI. has been guillotined, Napoleon I. exiled, Charles X. dismissed, Louis Philippe and Napoleon III. replaced without their leave by a new form of government. But dress has never been dethroned; and, just as in our own days Dupin thundered in the Senate against the desperate luxury of the Parisiennes of the Empire, so in the eighteenth century old Sebastien Mercier lamented that the fear of the milliners' bills prevented young men from marrying, and so left fifteen hundred thousand girls without husbands! The great dress-makers of those days were Madame Eloffe, the artist who dressed Marie Antoinette, and whose account-books have recently been published; with notes and curious colored plates, by the Comte de Reiset, and Madame Cafaxe, the _modiste-couturière_ of the Fauburg St.-Honoré, celebrated for her exorbitant charges. One has only to consult the curious historical researches of the brothers De Goncourt in order to appreciate the luxury and extravagance of the past century. Imagine that in the wedding-trousseau of Mademoiselle Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau there figured twelve blonde wigs, varying in shade from flax to gold! Madame Tallien alone possessed thirty of these wigs, each of which was valued at that time at one hundred dollars,--that is to say, some two hundred dollars of modern money. None of our modern _élégantes_ would ever think of buying six thousand dollars' worth of false hair. At the same epoch the ladies who had fallen in love with Greek and Roman fashions had abandoned the old-fashioned shoe in order to adopt the cothurnus; and Coppe, the _chic_ shoemaker, or _corthurnier_, of Paris charged sixty dollars a pair for his imitation antique sandals, with their straps. Alas! Coppe's sandals were no more durable than the fleeting rose, and whenever a fair dame came to show her torn cothurnus to the great Coppe he replied sadly, "The evil is irremediable: madame has been walking!"
* * * * *
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
A Future for Women.
From the last report of the Bureau of Education it appears that twice as many girls as boys enter high schools in the United States, and that three times as many complete the four years' course. "Nature," in commenting upon this fact, attributes it to the great attractiveness of commercial pursuits in this country, and the consequent eagerness of boys to enter upon them at as early an age as possible. This is doubtless the true reason, and the disproportion is more likely to increase than to diminish, even though the actual number of boys who rush into a money-making career as soon as they have mastered the arithmetic necessary for it may be growing smaller. It is beginning, moreover, to be an every-day matter for women to receive a college education. There are already three well-filled colleges of high rank exclusively their own, and the new Bryn Mawr bids fair to be a powerful rival to Vassar, Smith, and Wellesley. Many of the colleges for men are open to them; now, and the capitulation of those strongholds of conservatism. Cambridge. New Haven, and Baltimore, is only a question of time. Great colleges are ravenous for fresh endowments, and the offer of a large sum of money may at any moment procure from them the full admission of women. It is not impossible that before many years have passed there will be as many women as men receiving a college education. How is this army of educated women going to occupy itself?
There is another aspect to the question. Not only is the mass of women better fitted than ever before for worthy occupation, there has never been a time nor a country in which their traditionary sphere has shrunk to so small dimensions. Nowhere else are there so many women of such a station that they are not obliged to toil and spin, nor to sleep all day to make up for nights of dissipation. For all those who do not have to concern themselves with the wherewithal of living, the art of living easily has been brought to a state of great perfection. The general care of the house and of the children is still the duty of the woman, but the labor involved in acquitting herself of that duty is a very different matter from what it was a generation ago. Then all her energies were needed to bring up a family well. Brewing and baking and soap- and candle-making were all carried on in the house, and there were a dozen children to be kept neatly dressed with the aid of no needle but her own. Now the purchase of the day's supplies is the only important demand upon her time; well-trained servants, the descendants of the raw Irish girl her mother struggled with, are capable of carrying on the cooking and the scrubbing by themselves. Sewing it is hardly worth her while to do in the house. Stitching her linen collars was once an important item in her year's work; now it is safe to say that there is not a single woman who does not buy her collars ready made. Making cotton cloth into undergarments has become a manufacture in the unetymological sense of the word. The Viscount de Campo-Grande, in addressing the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences at Madrid, two years ago, admitted that sewing was no longer an economy, but urged women to practise it still for the purpose of quieting their nerves. But the modern American woman who has had a healthy bringing up, who has divided her girlhood between vigorous study and active out-door exercise, who can row and skate and play ball and tennis with her brothers, has no unquiet nerves. She does not ask for sedatives, but for some high stimulus to call into play her strong and well-trained faculties. Money-making, the natural sphere of man, has become a more and more absorbing pursuit, while the usual feminine occupations have become more than ever trivial and unimportant at the very moment when the feminine mind has taken a new start in its development. The woman who is fresh from reading Gauss and Pindar, and who has taken sides in the discussion between the adherents of Roscher and of Mill, cannot easily content herself with the petty economies that result from doing her own cutting and fitting and dusting and table-setting. Still less, if she has not married, is she satisfied to look forward to the position of nursery governess to her sister-in-law's children. Her education has fitted her for something better than to save the wages of an upper servant. Again the question is forced upon her, where can she find a fitting field for the exercise of her powers?
To many people, who have all the means of existence they care for without a struggle, it seems that the only thing that can give a thorough interest and zest to life is to devote themselves to the elevation of the degraded classes of society. They find such monotony in their own comfortable ways of living, and the misery of the very poor seems so appalling to them, that they cannot escape from the passionate desire to spend themselves in their service. The problems connected with the relief and the prevention of the wretchedness by which they are surrounded have all the interest of a scientific experiment, and are capable of calling out all the fervor of a religion. But for the few people here and there who have now the passion of the reformer it is not impossible that another generation may see many thousands. A second christianization of the world may convert all the happy into the consolers of the unhappy, instead of leading people to absorb themselves in the question of their own salvation. No one can say how great a change might be made in the fair face of the earth if the effort to remove the causes of poverty and of disease should become the serious occupation of half mankind. In the lower stages of existence the extermination of evil has been the work of a slow and gradual process. Millions of individuals have been sacrificed in order to produce the few who were fitted to their surroundings. But at last a creature has been produced of so much intelligence that he is able to undertake his own further development. He can speculate upon the causes of his failures in the search for happiness, and he can apply remedies. It is true that those remedies have often been productive of more harm than good, it is true that it would be hard to calculate the evil effects of the English poor-laws, for instance, but all the experiments that have hitherto worked badly are but so much material from which to draw a knowledge of better methods. When the Wlllimantic Thread Company has found a way to make its girls come singing from their work as they go to it, and to make better thread at the same time, no one can say that great changes may not be brought about when once scientific methods shall have been discovered for the extermination of disease and crime. What more interesting field for investigation, for theory, for active work, can women find than that large kind of charity which is to supersede in the future the indiscriminate alms-giving of the past? The unselfishness that is demanded by the life of a reformer they have already in large abundance. There is no limit to the devotion which many women show their families, but such devotion has in these days become so unnecessary as to be little more than a higher form of selfishness. Perhaps it only needs a leader to turn this store of energy into wider channels and to make it subservient to larger ends. Perhaps the labor and patience and self-renunciation that are necessary to the regeneration of the world are to come from women. Such an absolute disregard of self as they are capable of, if it were once allowed to overflow the narrow limits of the home, might in no long time turn a goodly portion of the world into a garden of roses. There are still men who wish to appropriate to themselves all the high qualities of their women, but they belong to a race that is destined to rapid extinction, and to most rapid extinction in this country. That American men are more thoroughly chivalrous than English is a common belief. It was curiously confirmed by the English clergyman who wrote to the "Nation," some years ago, to describe the qualities which an English clergyman ought to have in order to be successful in this country, and who said that he had found it necessary not to let it be known that his wife warmed his slippers for him. The theory that woman exists solely for the purpose of smoothing the wrinkles from the brow of man is one that seldom finds expression now, except in the Lenten sermons of men who are content to drop out of the ranks of those who influence opinion. But the great freedom that the modern woman has gained for herself, the thorough education that is for the first time within her reach, the strong sympathies that are her inheritance,--these are grounds of a responsibility that she cannot but feel to be a heavy one. What better outlet can she find for her activities than to carry forward that slow process of fitting together the human race and its surroundings which it is no longer necessary to leave to chance?
* * * * *
There are three days in the spring of the year called by the French _Les Saints de Glace_. These days are the 12th, 13th, and 14th of May, and the saints to whom they are dedicated are Saint Mamert, Saint Pancras, and Saint Servais. They are very obscure saints, in honor of whom few children have been named, and, were it not for the vast parish of Saint Pancras which once comprised all the northwestern part of London, their names as well as their history would be, to Protestants at least, entirely unknown. They have, however, the evil reputation of commonly bringing with them a nipping frost, and are abhorred in Burgundy as the great enemies of the vine.
Their advent this year was telegraphed to Paris by the New York "Herald," whose weather reporter was probably quite ignorant of any ecclesiastical traditions connected with the matter. On May 11 the following despatch was received in Paris: "A great depression, having its centre in the neighborhood of Lake Ontario, will be followed by a cyclone of great extent, travelling in the direction of Halifax, It will probably occasion great changes of temperature along the coasts of Great Britain and France, beginning May 12 and continuing till May 14." Never was prediction better fulfilled. The Ice-Saints sank the French thermometer to 6° Centigrade, corresponding to 21° Fahrenheit, a temperature more severe in those latitudes than the cold of an ordinary Christmas. When the Ice-Saints had departed the weather grew mild again.
M. Quetelet, the head of the Observatory at Brussels, has paid great attention to the periodicity of weather-changes in Europe. The result of his investigations is as follows:
I. That there is always a "cold snap" between the 7th and 11th of January, during which ordinarily occurs the coldest day of the year.
II. That from January 22 to March 1 there is, as we say in our vernacular, "a let-up" on the coldness of the temperature. In France there is no ground-hog, or, if there is, he so generally sees no shadow upon Candlemas (February 2) that the three weeks succeeding it are called _L'Été de la Chandeleur_.
III. In April cold may be expected from the 9th to the 22d, and the Ice-Saints may prolong their influence to May 23, after which there is no more possibility of frosts in France, though within my memory June frosts have been twice known in Maryland and Virginia. The prolonged frost in May is said to be produced by an understanding between the Ice-Saints and what is called in France _La Lune Rousse_,--the Red Moon.
IV. Though it needs no prophet to foretell hot weather from June 6 to June 23. M, Quetelet's observations point to June 13 and June 22 as days of exceptionally high temperature.
V. Between July 4 and July 8 comes the hottest day of the summer, which is not to be looked for in the dog-days, which are from July 21 to August 20.
VI. July 25 distinguishes itself by being cool, and August 25 tempers ten days of heat which commonly begin on the 15th of August.
VII. September 14 and September 30 are days when the thermometer may be expected to make a sudden fall.
VIII. Cold weather may be looked for from October 20 to October 29, and from November 10 to November 19; but in the first ten days of November comes what we call Indian summer, and the French _L'Été des Morts_,--because it succeeds All-Souls' Day,--or _L'Été de Saint Martin_.
M. Quetelet adds no observations on December, it being presumably a cold month everywhere.
M. Fourmet, of Lyons, has also made meteorological observations of the same nature in Southern France, and especially in the valley of the Rhone. He says the lowest temperature in each month is as follows: January 9 and 21. February 3, 12, and 20. March 5 and 21. April 19. May 12, 13, and 14. June 8, 20, and 27. July 12 and 25. August 2, 12, and 24. September 5, 15, and 30. October 22. November 5 and 17. December 3 and 29.
M. Charles Sainte-Claire Deville has also been engaged in careful weather-calculations for many years, and has been in constant correspondence on the subject with the Académie des Sciences. His theory is based on the existence of the three Ice-Saints in May, and he considers that a similar periodic influence may be traced in other months of the year. He maintains that there are three days in every month, with an interval of about ten days between them, in which we may look for a fall of temperature, and that the weather gradually grows warmer during the interval that separates them. His observations are only in part corroborated by those of M. Quetelet and M. Fourmet.
* * * * *
A Svenska Maid.
Marie has been in the United States about four years, and still accents her English with the Lapp-Finn modulations of Northern Sweden. She is only eighteen years old now. She has fair hair and a serene fair face somewhat like the Liberty face on our silver dollar. Her young shape is strong and handsome, and she has white little teeth like a child's, and the innocent nature of a child.
Marie's father is a Swedish farmer. Many adventurers came to America from her neighborhood, and, though but fourteen years old, she wanted to come too; and a cousin's husband, already settled in Illinois, lent her the passage-money. The last Sunday, according to custom, all her friends brought offerings to church, and she was made to go through the congregation holding her apron. They filled it with cake, a Bible, etc. The young people walked with her parents and herself to the steamer-landing, and kept from crying until she was aboard.
When the steamer was under way an old woman came across her in the steerage, and exclaimed, "Why, child, where are your father and mother?"
To which Marie responded, with the gentle persistence peculiar to her, "I leave them in Svadia. I go to America."
Though all the steerage people were kind to her, she fell into bad hands by way of her tender sympathies. There were a man and woman with a family of small children, who were coming to America carrying an unsavory record. The woman fell ill, and Marie nursed her, and she fastened herself upon Marie with brutal tenacity. She took away a little silk shawl the child had inherited and was bringing over as a chief bit of finery. She had a delicate appetite for steerage fare, and ate up the precious cheese Marie's mother had given for a parting gift. And she took charge of Marie's bit of money, never returning it.
"If she had but left me my cheese," says the Svenska maid, "I might have had something to eat between New York and Illinois. I just had my ticket in the cars, and, oh, it was more than two days, and I had such feelings in my stomach! I was all alone and speak not a word of English, and everybody around me eat, but I would not try to ask for somethings. A German family by me have lots to eat, and when they left the cars I got down under the seat and pick up orange-peel they throw down, and eat that. I could not sleep in the night, I feel so bad. And when I get to Illinois and to Willingham, the Swede people not meet me yet, and a woman took me to her house to get my dinner, I never taste anything so good in my life, but I eat with my hat on. The woman tried to take it off, and I hold on with both hands. I thought she was going to take my hat for pay, and I could not do without it."
The little maid fell sick among her kin, and a great doctor's bill of a year and a half accumulated upon her. The cousin's husband paid it and added the debt to her passage-money. By the time she was able to work, her pretty pale face had attracted an old man, and this persistent suitor tormented her until she was wellnigh helpless in the hands of her relatives. They set her debt before her, and reminded her of the obligation she was under to marry a rich man.
"But I said, 'I won't, I won't, I won't,'" says Marie. "That is all the English I could talk, and I would say, 'I won't.' Then my cousin told me I must leave; I could not stay in her house. And I felt dreadful bad. The young folks come in with provisions to see me: they made a party because I was going away. And I notice that all kept being called into the next room but me. I was weak yet, and it made me feel as if they wanted to slight me. But last of all they called me into the next room, and there was twenty-five dollar they had made up to give me. And I cried; I could not talk and thank them, but just cried hard as I could cry. Then I took that money and paid part of my debt, and got a good place to work."
Marie is strong, willing, humble, and touchingly friendly in the position of the Western "girl." She is ambitious to learn American ways. She makes the most delicious pancakes that ever fluffed upon a griddle or united with butter and maple syrup. She is religious, she is tender with children, she is full of love for her native land. Her lovers are not encouraged.
"I go back to Sveden to visit it once more in five years. I go back before I marry any man, now my debt is all paid."
This Svenska maid is full of folk-stories. She tells the children how St. John's eve is celebrated in Sweden. The young men and girls bring boughs and construct arbors. They stay up all night, eating, playing, and visiting from arbor to arbor. About midsummer, it is true, there is very little night in Northern Sweden.
"This was once in the papers," says Marie innocently. "They said it was true. There was a girl going to take her first communion, and she got into the churchyard before she missed her braid. Then she turned round and started home after her braid, and met a man with a covered basket on his arm. He asked her what she was going for, and she told him she was going home for what she forgot, and the man said, 'Look in the basket, and see if that is your switch.' She looked, and there was the hair coiled up. Then he asked her if he might put it on her head, and the girl said yes, and he put it on, and she went to church.
"It came to the place where the minister gives her the bread, and her braid slipped down on one shoulder; but when he gave her the wine it jump like it going to strike the cup, for it was a snake the man put on her, and it was fast to her head and never came off again."
Marie's mother in youth worked for a Swedish farmer, and it was her duty to get up about three o'clock in the morning and light a fire under the boiler where the cows' feed was heated. This was in the barn. The cows stood upon a floor over a large pit wherein were caught all the liquids of the stable. The sleepy maid took a coal upon a chip, instead of matches, and this primitive custom saved her from horribly drowning. For as she opened the cows' stable one morning, and was taking a step within, the chip flared up, and showed her three cows swimming below in the pit. The floor had given way.
"Sometimes there are excursions across the ocean," says Marie, speaking of that star of a home visit which lures her into the future, "and you can go and come back for twenty-five dollars. They do not have nice things to eat in the steerage, but you can keep alive." M.H.C.
* * * * *
The "Additional Hair" Supply.
The late war between France and China had one effect which the public did not expect,--it created a panic among the French dealers in human hair. Before that war began it was not generally known that a vast proportion of the false hair used in Europe and America was imported from China into France and there prepared for the trade. But the beginning of hostilities between the two countries made the fact apparent by the sudden cutting off of the customary supply from the Celestial Empire. A German paper mentions that in 1883 the hair thus imported amounted to one hundred and twenty-four thousand seven hundred and fifteen kilograms, for which the French dealers paid at the rate of only ten or twelve francs per kilogram. As no other country can, or at any rate will, supply human hair in such enormous quantities and at such a low price, the effect on the market may easily be imagined. The hair-merchants of Marseilles had been accustomed to furnish at least twenty-five thousand _coiffures_ for women and several thousand wigs for men every year; and even before the stoppage of direct communication with China they had found it hard to get as much raw material as they needed. When their principal drawing-point became inaccessible they were reduced to despair, and perhaps presented the only case ever known in which "tearing the hair" would seem to have been attended with some practical benefit. However, the termination of the war revived their hopes, and they are now making up for the lost time with a vigor and determination which even threaten the male Celestial with the loss of his sacred pig-tail.
The European sources from which human hair is obtained are not numerous or very prolific. Many peasant-women of Normandy and Bretagne sell their beautiful brown, red, or golden locks, but these are of such fine quality that they command very high prices. Norman or Breton girls having braids eighty centimetres in length sell them for as much as a thousand francs. Perfectly white hair from the same French provinces brings a sum which seems almost fabulous. The French journal "Science et Nature" declares that the price commonly paid for a braid of such white hair weighing one kilogram is _twenty-five thousand francs_.
The hair-merchants of France have never been very successful in drawing supplies for their business from England, Germany, or any of the countries in the northern part of Europe. Lately, however, they have begun to have a good deal of success among the lower classes of the Italians. Their imports from Italy are already comparatively large, and they seem to be increasing every year. Such an easy way of getting money as this opportunity affords must appear vastly attractive to the swarms of professional beggars who infest every highway, church door, and public square in Southern Italy, and whose enjoyment of the indispensable _dolce far niente_ cannot be spoiled by merely submitting to the operation of having their hair cut off. It is probable that they furnish much more of the hair brought from Italy than do the laboring-classes of the cities or the honest _contadini_ of the rural districts.
The idea of actually wearing hair which once belonged to some member of "the unspeakable" _lazzaroni_ tribe cannot be considered a fascinating one. At the same time it is at least not more unattractive than the consciousness of having fallen heir to the capillary adornments of a Cantonese tonka-boat girl. And in reality such a feeling, though natural enough, would be based upon nothing but imagination. All the hair purchased and used by the dealers in Paris, Marseilles, and other French cities to which the Chinese and Italian hair is brought goes through a number of preparatory processes, which cleanse and purify it thoroughly; and when it is ready to be sold again it is probably in as unobjectionable a state as hair can reach. As for the imagination, if we were to allow it to govern us entirely in all such cases we should soon find ourselves restricted to almost as few comforts and conveniences as those unhappy historical characters whose constant fear of poison reduced their whole diet to boiled eggs. Still, the feeling is one of which it is very hard to rid ourselves; and in all probability the ladies who derive the most unalloyed satisfaction from their "additional" braids are those who have had them made from "combings" of their own hair. J.A.C.
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LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
"The Rise of Silas Lapham." By William D. Howells. Boston: Ticknor & Co.
In his later books Mr. Howells has shown that he is on the point of discovering the secret of the best novelists. Unabashed by the difficulties and dangers which beset the realistic writer, he has gone to work to describe the simple machinery which puts in motion all human actions and passions, and has given a subtile but sure analysis of certain phases of modern life, and a vivid picture of at least two actual, warm, palpitating, breathing men. His success in this respect is the more striking because he began by offering us mere pasteboard heroes of the most conventional type. The male characters in his early books were, in fact, shuttle-cocks to be tossed hither and thither by the mysterious contradictions, the incomprehensible inconsistencies, of his heroines, whose scheme of existence was the indulgence of every whim, and whose notion of logic was that one paradox must educe another still more startling. Having finally made up his mind as to the insoluble nature of the female problem, he seems inclined to discard mere clevernesses and prettinesses and to advance into the broad arena of real life, with its diversity of actors and its multiplicity of interests. Both Bartley Hubbard in "A Modern Instance" and Silas Lapham in the book before us strike us as admirable characterizations. If Lapham is in certain respects a less original presentation than Bartley Hubbard, he is at least a hero who draws more strongly upon the reader's sympathies and takes surer hold of the popular heart. In fact, Silas, with his big, hairy fist, his ease in his shirt-sleeves, his boastful belief in himself, his conscience, his ambition, and his failure, makes, if we include his sensible wife, the success of the novel before us. The daughters are not, to our thinking, so well rendered; while the Coreys, sterling silver as they ought to be, impress us instead as rather thin electro-plates. The Boston Brahmins have entered a good deal into literature of late, but so far without any brilliant results. According to their chroniclers, they spend most of their time discussing in what respects they are providentially differentiated from, their fellow-beings. Sometimes they put too fine a point upon it and wholly fail to make themselves felt. But then again their superior knowledge of the world is patent to the most careless observer. For instance, when Mrs. Corey pays a visit to Mrs. Lapham she apologizes for the lateness of the hour, explaining that her coachman had never been in that part of Boston before. This naturally casts an ineffaceable stigma upon the respectable square where the Laphams have hitherto resided, and shows that between the two ladies there is a great gulf fixed. Again, to point sharply social distinctions, young Corey says to his father,--
"I don't believe Mrs, Lapham ever gave a dinner."
"And with all that money!" sighed the father.
"I don't believe they have the habit of wine at table. I suspect that when they don't drink tea and coffee with their dinner they drink ice-water."
"Horrible!" said Bromfield Corey.
"It appears to me that this defines them."
The Coreys have the liveliest sense of all these _nuances_ of deviation from their standards, and strike us as rather amateurish, clever people who want to make sure of nice points and get on in the world, rather than as real flesh-and-blood aristocrats with the freedom and ease of acknowledged social supremacy.
While the Coreys try faithfully to compass the best that is known and thought in the world, the Laphams go to the other extreme, and touch depths of ignorance and vulgarity almost incredible for a family living in Boston with eyes to see, ears to hear, and, above all, money to spend. For a sort of superficial culture is a part of the modern inheritance, and seems to belong to the universal air. Even Penelope Lapham--the elder daughter, who is a girl of remarkable shrewdness and gifted besides with a keen satirical sense which makes her the family wit--is content to laugh at the family failings and provincialisms without any definite idea of how they might be corrected. But the Laphams are all the more interesting because they display no feeble and tentative gentilities. Mrs. Lapham's acceptance of Mrs. Corey's invitation to dinner, in which she signs herself "Yours truly, Mrs. S. Lapham," initiates some delightful scenes in the comedy. The colonel's resolution to go to the dinner in a frock-coat, white waistcoat, black cravat, and ungloved hands, and his eventual panicky substitution of correct evening dress regardless of cost, the anxieties of his wife and daughter on the question of suitable raiment, the great affair itself, when the colonel comes out in a new character,--all this part of the book shows in a high degree Mr. Howells's bright vein of humor.
But, putting aside the humor and comedy of "The Rise of Silas Lapham," the book has other points of value, and, as a study of a business-man whom success floats to the crest of the wave only to let him be overwhelmed by disaster as the surge retreats, presents a striking similitude to Balzac's "César Birotteau." In each case we find a self-made man elated by a sense of his commercial greatness, confident that the point he has already attained, instead of being the climax of his career, is the stepping-stone to yet greater wealth, besides social distinction. César Birotteau inaugurates what he believes to be his era of magnificence with a ball, while Silas Lapham tempts fortune by building a fine house on the back bay. Each hero projects his costly schemes in opposition to the wishes of a more sensible and prudent wife, and each, at the moment when fate seemed bent on crowning his ambition, falls a prey to a series of cruel and, in a way, undeserved misfortunes, and finds his well-earned commercial credit a mere house of cards which totters to its fall. Each man, broken and bankrupt, displays in his feebleness a moral strength he had not shown in his days of power: thus the name, "the _rise_ of Silas Lapham," means his initiation into a clearer and more exalted knowledge of his obligations to himself and to his kind. The moral of César Birotteau's "_grandeur et decadence_" strikes a still deeper key-note. Compared with Balzac, who is never trivial, and who has the most unerring instinct for character and motive, Mr. Howells wastes his force on non-essentials and is carried away by frivolities and prettinesses when he ought to be grappling with his work in fierce earnest. Balzac, whose unappeasable longing was to see his books the breviary, so to speak, of the people, would have laughed and cried with Silas, lived with him, loved with him, and come to grief with him, and forced his readers to do likewise. Mr. Howells is not so easily carried away by his creations, and is too apt to laugh at them instead of with them. But his mature work shows, nevertheless, a boldness and facility which ought to put the best results within its compass; and we confidently look for better novels from his pen than he has so far written, full of wit, humor, and cleverness, yet expanding outside of these gracful limitations into the fullest nature and freedom.
/# "A Canterbury Pilgrimage. Ridden, Written, and Illustrated by Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell." New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. #/
It may be confessed that in certain respects bicycles and tricycles answer admirably to the requirements of travellers in search of the picturesque. They are swift or slow at need, may be halted without want or waste, and have no vicious instincts to be combated by whip or spur. But they are nevertheless hideous inventions, and it is impossible for lookers-on to feel for wheelmen the cordial good will given so freely to Mr. Stevenson on his donkey, for instance. The rider on wheels is an object that exasperates the nerves of horses, dogs, and men. Mrs. Pennell in this little book describes a collision on the old Kent Road with the driver of a hansom cab, who sat watching their extrication scowling. If he had his way, he said, he would burn all _them things."_ And, little affiliation as most human beings have with cabmen, we yet believe that he gave utterance to the sentiments of all non-wheelmen. However, the modern world is likely to belong to bicycles and tricycles, and this attractive brochure, signed with the names of one of our cleverest draughtsmen and his wife, with their silhouettes on the cover, is likely to set more wheels in motion than there were before it was printed. The two evidently enjoyed their expedition, and the lady tells the story easily and pleasantly; and if it is relieved by little incident it is yet sustained by intelligent observation and discriminating enthusiasm, while the illustrations are, like all Mr. Pennell's work, clever in the extreme. The two left London on their tricycle late in August, and had the finest weather in which to cross historic Blackheath and look up the picturesque wharves in Gravesend. Hop-pickers filled the roads and offered many a subject for the artist's pencil. "We rode on with light hearts," recounts the fair wheelwoman. "An eternity of wheeling through such perfect country and in such soft sunshine would, we thought, be the true earthly paradise. We were at peace with ourselves and with all mankind, and J---- even went so far as to tell me I had never ridden so well," And thus on to the inn at Sittingbourne, which has this quaint notice hung over the door:
Call frequently, Drink moderately, Pay honourably, Be good company, Part friendly, Go home quietly.
Arrived at the close of the second day in Canterbury, the two "toke" their inn at the sign of the "Falstaff," where hung "Honest Jack, in buff doublet and red hose," in a wonderful piece of wrought-iron work. Whether next day, after viewing the cathedral, the tricycles pursued their journey, is not told. The pilgrimage ends, as it should, at the shrine,--that is, where the shrine had been; for the verger, after saying solemnly that they had come to the shrine of St. Thomas, solemnly added, "'Enery the Heighth, when he was in Canterbury, took the bones, which they was laid beneath, out on the green, and had them burned. With them he took the 'oly shrine, which it and bones is here no longer."
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"The Lady with the Rubies." Translated from the German of E. Marlitt by Mrs. A.L. Wister. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.
"Barbara Heathcote's Trial." By Rosa Nouchette Carey. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company.
"The Bar Sinister. A Social Study." New York: Cassell & Co.
"Pine-Cones." By Willis Boyd Allen. Boston: D. Lothrop & Co.
"An Old Maid's Paradise." By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
In spite of all the clever pleas urged by the lovers of realism for realistic novels, it is easy enough to see that the mass of readers are just as much in love as ever with a high romanticism, and Miss Marlitt's stories still retain the strong hold they first took of the popular heart. The success of fiction comes from the fact that it supplies a want existing in most people's minds: lively incidents to awaken and stimulate the fancy, a touch of mystery to give a thrill of pleasing fear, sharply diversified characters impelled by strong motives which insure a lively conflict of passions,--all these are what the average novel-reader demands, and finds in Miss Marlitt's works. A great rambling German house, with suites of disused apartments shut away from sunshine and air and haunted by vanished forms and silent voices, while its open rooms are tenanted by a nest of gentlefolks of all degrees of relation,--some united by love, and others at swords'-points,--offers a lively field for the romancer; and such is the scene in "The Lady with the Rubies." "Belief in the Powers of Darkness will never die so long as poor human hearts love, hope, and fear," is the moral, so to speak, of the book; and the author has used with good effect this vein of superstition which "makes the whole world kin." Little Margarete's encounter with the family spectre, her flight from home, her lonely and terrifying night, are touchingly described; and, in fact, the book is full of pretty child-pictures, which enhance the pleasantness and charm of the love-story. Few of Miss Marlitt's books possess more interest and diversity than "The Lady with the Rubies;" and, as usual with Mrs. Wister's work, it is well and gracefully translated.
Given a family of girls well contrasted, utterly untrammelled, and each in possession of a will and a way of her own, materials for a romance are not hard to find; and in telling the story of the Heathcotes Miss Carey seems to have jotted down a series of events exactly as they fell out in actual life. There is plenty of sentiment, but its expression is dealt out with a sparing hand; there are pretty sylvan scenes, and the wood-paths, the warm homesteads, the meadows and fields, all enter into the story and make a pleasant part of it. If "Barbara Heathcote's Trial" has no leading motive as strong and as universally interesting as the author's former book, "Not Like Other Girls," it is, to our thinking, quite as pleasant and readable, and will no doubt enjoy its predecessor's popularity.
Romance has done much good work in the way of laying bare men's faults, hypocrisies, and evil lusts, and if Mormonism is actually on the increase among us there is good reason for a novel like "The Bar Sinister," which tells us the story of certain converts to the peculiar tenets of the saints and introduces us into the every-day life of Salt Lake City. That our families and our institutions are in peril from this monstrous and ridiculous evil it would not be easy for us to believe. Yet it is impossible to read this book without a conviction that the author could easily substantiate his facts by proofs, and that intelligent men and women have been and are still being led away into the heresy. The incidents of the story are, however, calculated to shock and repel the reader, who rises from its perusal sick and indignant as much from having been confronted with such personages and their doings as from the fact that such people are in existence. The author has without doubt enjoyed the advantage of a flesh-and-blood acquaintance with leaders of the faith who talk unctuously of "Class No. 1, 2, 3, 4," etc.; and, besides actual knowledge, there is strong feeling and earnest principle behind the whole narrative.
"Pine-Cones" is a pleasant story for young people, telling the adventures of a party of boy and girl cousins making a visit among the great pine woods of Maine. There is plenty of open air in the book, bright talk, and earnest stories told round the fire.
"An Old Maid's Paradise" is a bright little sketch of the adventures and misadventures of a woman who builds a cottage on Cape Ann promontory for five hundred dollars, and settles down to a joyful existence without any need of aid or comfort from living man except as a purveyor and burglar-alarm. Every one likes to know the price of things, and it is pleasing to understand exactly what may be done with five hundred dollars. "The cottage," as described by Miss Phelps, "contained five rooms and a kitchen. The body of this imposing building stood twenty feet square upon the ground. The kitchen measured nine feet by eight, and there was a wood-shed three feet wide, in which Puella managed to pile the wood and various domestic mysteries into which Corona felt no desire to penetrate. There were a parlor, a dining-room, a guest-room, and two rooms left for 'the family.' There were two closets, a coal-bin, and a loft. The house stood on what, for want of a scientific term, Corona called piers.... Corona's house had no plaster, no papering, no carpets. Her parlor, which opened directly upon the water, was painted gray; the walls were of the paler color in a gull's wing; the ceiling had the tint of dulled pearls; the floor was rock-gray (a border of black ran around this floor); the beams and rafters, left visible by the absence of plastering, were touched with what is known to artists as neutral tint," etc. A very pleasant little cottage in itself, the description may be of practical utility to many who would like some _pied-à-terre_ by mountain or shore, and who are not quite certain what a moderate outlay can do.
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The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Household Edition. With illustrations. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
Due South; or, Cuba Past and Present. By Maturin M. Ballou. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
City Ballads. By Will Carleton. Illustrated. New York: Harper & Brothers.
A Social Experiment. By A.E.P. Searing. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Lawn-Tennis. By Lieutenant S.C.F. Peale, B.S.C. Edited by Richard D. Sears. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
The America's Cup. By Captain Roland F. Coffin. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Our Sea-Coast Defences. By Eugene Griffin, New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Cholera. By Alfred Stillé, M.D., LL.D. Philadelphia: Lea Brothers & Co.