Author of "The Castle Builder," "A Daughter of the North," "John St. John," "Romance of a Missionary," etc.
"And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; ... and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever."
Ninth Edition The Deseret News Press Salt Lake City, Utah Copyright 1898 By Nephi Anderson. Copyright 1912 By Nephi Anderson. All Rights Reserved.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
A religion, to be worth while, must give satisfactory answers to the great questions of life: What am I? Whence came I? What is the object of this life? and what is my destiny? True, we walk by faith, and not by sight, but yet the eye of faith must have some light by which to see. Added Upon is an effort to give in brief an outline of "the scheme of things," "the ways of God to men" as taught by the Gospel of Christ and believed in by the Latter-day Saints; and to justify and praise these ways, by a glance along the Great Plan, from a point in the distant past to a point in the future—not so far away, it is to be hoped.
On subjects where little of a definite character is revealed, the story, of necessity, could not go into great detail. It is suggestive only; but it is hoped that the mind of the reader, illumined by the Spirit of the Lord, will be able to fill in all the details that the heart may desire, to wander at will in the garden of the Lord, and dwell in peace in the mansions of the Father.
Many have told me that when they read Added Upon, it seemed to have been written directly to them. My greatest reward is to know that the little story has touched a sympathetic chord in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints, and that it has brought to some aching hearts a little ray of hope and consolation.
Liverpool, November 5, 1904.
PREFACE TO THE FIFTH AND ENLARGED EDITION.
This story of things past, things present, and things to come has been before the Latter-day Saints for fourteen years. During this time, it seems to have won for itself a place in their hearts and in their literature. A reviewer of the book when it was first published said that "so great and grand a subject merits a more elaborate treatment." Many since then have said the story should be "added upon," and the present enlarged edition is an attempt to meet in a small way these demands. The truths restored to the earth through "Mormonism" are capable of illimitable enlargement; and when we contemplate these glorious teachings, we are led to exclaim with the poet:
"Wide, and more wide, the kindling bosom swells, As love inspires, and truth its wonders tells, The soul enraptured tunes the sacred lyre, And bids a worm of earth to heaven aspire, 'Mid solar systems numberless, to soar, The death of love and science to explore."
Salt Lake City, Utah, May, 1912.
"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
"I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
"When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
"Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
"While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
"When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
"When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
"When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
"Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."—Prov. 8:22-30.
"Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?... When the morning stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy?"—Job 38:4,7.
The hosts of heaven—sons and daughters of God—were assembled. The many voices mingling, rose and fell in one great murmur like the rising and falling of waves about to sink to rest. Then all tumult ceased, and a perfect silence reigned.
"Listen," said one to another by his side, "Father's will is heard."
A voice thrilled the multitude. It was clear as a crystal bell, and so distinct that every ear heard, so sweet, and so full of music that every heart within its range beat with delight.
"And now, children of God," were the words, "ye have arrived at a point in this stage of your development where a change must needs take place. Living, as ye have, all this time in the presence of God, and under the control of the agencies which here exist, ye have grown from children in knowledge to your present condition. God is pleased with you—the most of you, and many of you have shown yourselves to be spirits of power, whom He will make His future rulers. Ye have been taught many of the laws of light and life, whereby the universe is created and controlled. True, ye have not all advanced alike, or along the same lines. Some have delighted more in the harmonies of music, while others have studied the beauties of God's surrounding works. Each hath found pleasure and profit in something; but there is one line of knowledge that is closed to you all. In your present spiritual state, ye have not come in contact with the grosser materials of existence. Your experiences have been wholly within the compass of spiritual life, and there is a whole world of matter, about which ye know nothing. All things have their opposites. Ye have partly a conception of good and evil, but the many branches into which these two principles sub-divide, cannot be understood by you. Again, ye all have had the hope given you that at some time ye would have the opportunity to become like unto your parents, even to attain to a body of flesh and bones, a tabernacle with which ye may pass on to perfection, and inherit that which God inherits. If, then, ye ever become creators and rulers, ye must first become acquainted with the existence of properties, laws, and organization of matter other than that which surround you in this estate.
"To be over all things, ye must have passed through all things, and have had experience with them. It is now the Father's pleasure to grant you this. Ye who continue steadfast, shall be added upon, and be permitted to enter the second estate; and if ye abide in that, ye shall be further increased and enlarged and be worthy of the third estate, where glory shall be added upon your heads forever and ever.
"Even now, out in space, rolls another world—with no definite form, and void; but God's Spirit is there, moving upon it, and organizing the elements. In time, it will be a fit abode for you."
The voice ceased. Majesty stood looking out upon the silent multitude. Then glad hearts could contain no more, and the children of God gave a great shout of joy. Songs of praise and gladness came from the mighty throng, and its music echoed through the realms of heaven!
Then silence fell once more. The Voice was heard again:
"Now, how, and upon what principles will your salvation, exaltation, and eternal glory be brought about? It has been decided in the councils of eternity, and I will tell you.
"When the earth is prepared, two will be sent to begin the work of begetting bodies for you. It needs be that a law be given these first parents. This law will be broken, thus bringing sin into the new world. Transgression is followed by punishment; and thus ye, when ye are born into the world, will come in contact with misery, pain, suffering, and death. Ye will have a field for the exercise of justice and mercy, love and hatred. Ye will suffer, but your suffering will be the furnace through which ye will be tested. Ye will die, and your bodies will return to the earth again. Surrounded by earthly influences, ye will sin. Then, how can ye return to the Father's presence, and regain your tabernacles? Hear the plan:
"One must be sent to the earth with power over death. He will be the Son, the only begotten in the flesh. He must be sinless, yet bear the sins of the world. Being slain, He will satisfy the eternal law of justice. He will go before and bring to pass the resurrection from the dead. He will give unto you another law, obeying which, will free you from your personal sins, and set you again on the way of eternal life. Thus will your agency still be yours, that ye may act in all things as ye will."
* * * * *
A faint murmur ran through the assembly.
Then spoke the Father: "Whom shall I send?"
One arose, like unto the Father—a majestic form, meek, yet noble—the Son; and thus he spoke:
"Father, here am I, send me. Thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever."
Then another arose. Erect and proud he stood. His eyes flashed, his lip curled in scorn. Bold in his bearing, brilliant and influential, Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, spoke:
"Behold I, send me. I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that not one soul shall be lost; and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor."
Then spoke one as with authority:
"Lucifer, thy plan would destroy the agency of man—his most priceless gift. It would take away his means of eternal advancement. Your offer cannot be accepted."
The Father looked out over the vast throng; then clearly the words rang out:
"I will send the first!"
But the haughty spirit yielded not. His countenance became fiercer in its anger, and as he strode from the assembly, many followed after him.
Then went the news abroad throughout heaven of the council and the Father's proposed plan; of Christ's offer, and Lucifer's rebellious actions. The whole celestial realm was agitated, and contention and strife began to wage among the children of God.
Returning from the council chamber of the celestial glance through the paths of the surrounding gardens, came two sons of God. Apparently, the late events had affected them greatly. The assembly had dispersed, and, save now and then a fleeting figure, they were alone. They were engaged in earnest conversation.
"But, Brother Sardus," said one, "how can you look at it in that light? Lucifer was surely in the wrong. And then, how haughty and overbearing he was."
"I cannot agree with you, Homan. We have a right to think and to act as we please, and I consider Lucifer in the right. Think of this magnificent offer, to bring back in glory to Father's presence, every one of His children, and that, too, without condition on their part."
"There! He, and you with him, talk about your rights to think and act as you please. Have you not that right? Have you not used it freely in refusing to listen to Father's counsel? Do not I exercise it in that I listen and agree with Him? But let me tell you, brother, what your reasoning will lead to."
"I know it—but go on."
"No, you do not; you do not seem to understand."
"Perhaps you will explain," said the other haughtily.
"Brother, be not angry. It is because of my love for you that I speak thus. It is evident that we, in that future world of experience and trial, will retain our agencies to choose between the opposites that will be presented to us. Without that privilege, we should cease to be intelligences, and become as inanimate things. How could we be proved without this power? How could we make any progress without it?"
"I grant it all."
"Then, what would Lucifer do? He would save you from the dangers of the world, whether you would or not. He would take away any need of volition or choice on our part. Do what we would, sink as deep into sin as we could, he would save us notwithstanding, without a trial, without a purging process, with all our sins upon us; and in this condition we are expected to go on to perfection, and become kings and priests unto God our Father, exercising power and dominion over our fellow creatures. Think of it! Evil would reign triumphant. Celestial order would be changed to chaos."
The other said not a word. He could not answer his brother's array of arguments.
"Dear brother," continued Homan, "never before have I received such sorrow as when I saw you follow that rebellious Son of Morning. Henceforth quit his company. I fear for him and his followers."
"But he has such power over me, Homan. His eloquence seems to hold me, and his arguments certainly convince me. But I must go—and brother, come with me to the assembly which we are to hold. Many will be there from far and near. Will you come?"
"I cannot promise you, Sardus. Perhaps I may call and see what is said and done."
Then they parted.
Homan went to the gathering of which Sardus had spoken, and as had been intimated, he met many strange faces. Everywhere in the conversation, serious topics seemed to be uppermost. The singing was not as usual. The music, though always sweet, was sadder than ever before, and a discord seemed to have crept into the even flow of life's sweet strain. Homan had no desire to talk. He wandered from group to group with a smile for all. Sardus was in a heated discussion with some kindred spirits; but Homan did not join them. Under the beautiful spread of the trees and by the fountains, sat and walked companies of sons and daughters of God. Ah, they were fair to look upon, and Homan wondered at the creations of the Father. No two were alike, yet all bore an impress of the Creator, and each had an individual beauty of his own.
Strolling into an arbor of vines, Homan, did not observe the fair daughter seated there until he turned to leave; and then he saw her. She seemed absorbed in thought, and her eyes rested on the shiftings throngs.
"A sweet face, and a strange one," thought he, as he went up to her and spoke:
"Sister, what are you thinking about?"
She turned and looked at him, and then a pleased smile overspread her face.
"Shall I tell you?"
"Do, I beg of you. May I sit here?" He seated himself opposite.
"Yes, brother, sit. My thoughts had such a strange ending that I will tell you what they were. I have been sitting here looking at these many faces, both new and old, and studying their varied beauties; but none seems to me to answer for my ideal. So I have been taking a little from each face, putting all together to form another. I had just completed the composition, and was looking admiringly at the new form when you came and—and—"
"Drove away your picture. That I should not have done."
"No; it was not exactly that. It is so odd." She hesitated and turned away her head. Then she looked up into his face again and said: "My dream face seemed to blend with yours."
They looked at each other strangely.
"Do you often make dream pictures?" asked he.
"Yes, of late; but I sometimes think I should not."
"Because of them any great events that are taking place around us daily which need our careful thought and consideration. I have been trying to comprehend this great plan of our Father's in regards to us. I have asked Mother many questions, and she has explained, but I cannot fully understand—only, it all seems so wonderful, and our Father is so good and great and wise;—but how could He be otherwise, having Himself come up through the school of the eternities?"
Her words were music to Homan's ear. Her voice was soft and sweet.
"Yet it is very strange. To think that we shall forget all we know, and that our memories will fail to recall this world at all."
"Yes, it is all strange to us, but it cannot be otherwise. You see, if we knew all about what we really are and what our past has been, mortal experiences would not be the test or the school that Father intends it to be."
"That is true; but think of being shut out, even in our thoughts, from this world. And then, I hear that down on earth there will be much sin and misery, and a power to tempt and lead astray. O, if we can but resist it, dear brother. What will this power be, do you know?"
"I have only my thoughts about it. I know nothing for a certainty; but fear not, something will prompt us to the right, and we have this hope that Father's Spirit will not forsake us. And above all, our Elder Brother has been accepted as an offering for all the sins we may do. He will come to us in purity, and with power to loose the bands of death. He will bring to us Father's law whereby we may overcome the world and its sin."
"You said the bands of death. What is death?"
"Death is simply the losing of our earthly tabernacles for a time. We shall be separated from them, but the promise is that our Elder Brother will be given power to raise them up again. With them again united, we shall become even as our parents are now, eternal, perfected, celestialized beings."
As they conversed, both faces shone with a soft, beautiful light. The joy within was traced on their countenances, and for some time it was too deep for words. Homan was drawn to this beautiful sister. All were pleasing to his eye, but he was unusually attracted to one who took such pleasure in talking about matters nearest his heart.
"I must be going," said she.
"May I go with you?"
They wandered silently among the people, then out through the surrounding gardens, listening to the music. Instinctively, they clung to each other, nor bestowed more than a smile or a word on passing brother or sister.
"What do you think of Lucifer and his plan?" asked she.
"The talented Son of the Morning is in danger of being cast out if he persists in his course. As to his plan, it is this: 'If I cannot rule, I will ruin.'"
"And if he rule, it will still be ruin, it seems to me."
"True; and he is gaining power over many."
"Yes; he has talked with me. He is a bewitching person; but his fascination has something strange about it which I do not like."
"I am glad of that."
She looked quickly at him, and then they gazed again into each other's eyes.
"By what name may I call you?" he asked.
"My name is Delsa."
"Will you tell me where you live? May I come and talk with you again? It will give me much pleasure."
"Which pleasure will be mutual," said she.
They parted at the junction of two paths.
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O, Lucifer, son of the morning."—Isaiah 14:12.
Never before in the experiences of the intelligences of heaven, had such dire events been foreshadowed. A crisis was certainly at hand. Lucifer was fast gaining influence among the spirits—and they had their agency to follow whom they would. The revolting spirit had skill in argument; and the light-minded, the discontented, and the rebellious were won over.
To be assured eternal glory and power without an effort on their part, appealed to them as something to be desired. To be untrammeled with laws, to be free to act at pleasure, without jeopardizing their future welfare, certainly was an attractive proposition. The pleasures in the body would be of a nature hitherto unknown. Why not be free to enjoy them? Why this curb on the passions and desires? "Hail to Lucifer and his plan! We will follow him. He is in the right."
Many of the mighty and noble children of God arrayed themselves on the side of Christ, their Elder Brother, and waged war against Lucifer's pernicious doctrine. One of the foremost among them was Michael. He was unceasing in his efforts to bring all under the authority of the Father. The plan which had been proposed, and which had been accepted by the majority, had been evolved from the wisdom of past eternities. It had exalted worlds before. It had been proved wise and just. It was founded on correct principles. By it only could the spiritual creation go on in its evolution to greater and to higher things. It was the will of the Father, to whom they all owed their existence as progressive, spiritual organizations. To bow to Him was no humiliation. To honor and obey Him was their duty. To follow the First Born, Him whom the Father had chosen as mediator, was no more than a Father should request. Any other plan would lead to confusion. Thus reasoned the followers of Christ.
Then there were others, not valiant in either cause, who stood on neutral ground. Without strength of character to come out boldly, they aided neither the right nor the wrong. Weak-minded as they were, they could not be trusted, nor could Lucifer win them over.
Meanwhile, the earth, rolling in space, evolved from its chaotic state, and in time became a fit abode for the higher creations of God.
Then the crisis came. The edict went forth that for many of the sons and daughters of God the first estate was about to end, and that the second would be ushered in. Lucifer had now won over many of the hosts of heaven. These had failed to keep their first estate. Now there would be a separation.
A council was convened, and the leading spirits were summoned. All waited for the outcome in silent awe.
Then came the decision, spoken with heavenly authority:
"Ye valiant and loyal sons and daughters of God, blessed are ye for your righteousness and your faithfulness to God and His cause. Your reward is that ye shall be permitted to dwell on the new earth, and in tabernacles of flesh continue in the eternal course of progress, as has been marked out and explained to you."
Then, to the still defiant forms of Lucifer and his adherents this was said:
"Lucifer, son of the morning, thou hast withdrawn from the Father many of the children of heaven. They have their agency, and have chosen to believe thy lies. They have fallen with thee from before the face of God. Thus hast thou used the power given thee. Thou hast said in thy heart, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.... I will be like the Most High! Thou hast sought to usurp power, to take a kingdom that does not belong to thee. God holds you all as in the hollow of His hand; yet He has not restrained thine agency. He has been patient and longsuffering with you. Rebellious children of heaven, the Father's bosom heaves with sorrow for you; but justice claims its own—your punishment is that you be cast out of heaven. Bodies of flesh and bones ye shall not have; but ye shall wander without tabernacles over the face of the earth. Ye shall be 'reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.'"
Thus went forth the decree of the Almighty, and with it the force of His power. Lucifer and many of the hosts of heaven were cast down. The whole realm was thrilled with the power of God. The celestial elements were stirred to their depths. Heaven wept over the fallen spirits, and the cry went out, "Lo, lo, he is fallen, even the Son of the Morning."
"For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."—John 17:24.
There was a calm in heaven like unto that of a summer morning after a night of storm.
Throughout the whole strife, the dark clouds of evil had been gathering. In the fierce struggle, the spirits of heaven had been storm-tossed as on two contending waves; but when Lucifer and his forces were cast out, the atmosphere became purged of its uncleanness, and a sweet peace brooded over all. Save for sorrow for the lost ones, nothing marred the perfect joy of heaven. All now looked forward to the consummation of that plan whereby they would become inhabitants of another world, fitted for their school of experience in the flesh. All prepared themselves with this end in view.
None was more grateful to his Father than Homan. In the midst of the strife, he had done what he could for what he thought was right. All his influence had been used with the wavering ones, and many were those who owed him a debt of gratitude. But his greatest reward was in the peace which dwelt within him and the joy with which he was greeted by all who knew him.
Through it all, Homan's thoughts had often been with the fair sister Delsa; and often he had sought her and talked with her. It pleased him greatly to see the earnestness and energy with which she defended the cause of the Father. He was drawn to her more than to the many others who were equally valiant. As he thought of it, its strangeness occurred to him. Why should it be so? He did not know. Delsa was fair; so were all the daughters of God. She had attained to great intelligence; so had thousands of others. Then wherein lay the secret of the power which drew him to her?
The vastness of the spiritual world held enough for study, research, and for occupation. None needed to be idle, for there were duties to be performed, as much here as in any other sphere of action. In the Father's house are many mansions.
In the one where Delsa lived, she and Homan sat in earnest conversation. Through the opening leading to the garden appeared the stately form of Sardus. Homan sprang to meet him and greeted him joyously:
"Welcome, Brother Sardus, welcome!"
"This is Brother Sardus," said Homan, "and this is Sister Delsa."
"Welcome, brother," said she. "Come and sit with us."
"Sardus," continued Homan, "I thought you lost. I have not met you for a long time. You remember our last conversation? Sardus, what joy to know that you are on the safe side, that you did not fall with Lucifer—"
"S—h, that name. Dear brother, he tempted me sorely, but I overcame him."
"But we are shortly to meet him on new ground," continued Homan. "As seducing spirits, he and his followers will still fight against the anointed Son. They will not yield. Not obtaining bodies themselves, they will seek to operate through those of others."
"Now we know how temptation and sin will come into the world," said Delsa. "God grant that we may overcome these dangers again, as we once have done."
They conversed for some time; then Sardus departed to perform some duty.
"I, too, must go," said Delsa. "A company of sisters is soon to leave for earth, and I am going to say farewell to them."
"Delsa, you do not go with them? You are not leaving me?"
"No, Homan, my time is not yet."
"May we not go together?—but there—that is as Father wills. He will ordain for the best. There are nations yet to go to the earth, and we shall have our allotted time and place."
* * * * *
A group of persons was engaged in earnest conversation, when a messenger approached. He raised his hand for silence, and then announced:
"I come from the Father on an errand to you."
The company gave him close attention, and he continued: "It is pertaining to some of our brothers and sisters who have gone before us into earth-life. I shall have to tell you about them so that you may understand. A certain family of earth-children has fallen into evil ways. Not being very strong for the truth before they left us, their experiences in the other world have not made them stronger. This family, it seems, has become rooted in false doctrine and wrong living, so that those who come to them from us partake also of their error and unbelief of the truth. As you know, kinship and environment are powerful agencies in forming character, and it appears that none of the Father's children have so far been able to withstand the tendency to wrong which is exerted on all who come to this family."
The messenger paused and looked around on the listening group. Then he continued: "The Father bids me ask if any of you are willing to go in earth-life to this family, become kin to those weak-hearted ones—for their salvation."
There was a long pause as if all were considering the proposition. The messenger waited.
"Brother," asked one, "is there not danger that he who goes on this mission might himself come under the influence you speak of to such an extent that he also would be lost to the good, and thus make a failure of his mission?"
"In the earth-life, as here," replied the messenger, "all have their agency. It is, therefore, possible that those who take upon themselves this mission—for there must be two, male and female—to give way to the power of evil, and thus fail in their errand. But, consider this: the Father has sent me to you. He knows you, your hearts, your faithfulness, your strength. He knows whom He is asking to go into danger for the sake of saving souls. Yes, friends, the Father knows, and this ought to be enough for you."
The listeners bowed their heads as if ashamed of the doubting, fearful thought. Then in the stillness, one spoke as if to herself: "To be a savior,—to share in the work of our Elder Brother! O, think of it!" Then the speaker raised her head quickly. "May I go, may I?" she questioned eagerly.
"And I," "and I," came from others.
"Sister, you will do for one," said the messenger to her who had first spoken. "And now, we need a brother—yes, you, brother, will do." This to one who was pressing forward, asking to be chosen.
"Yes, yes," continued the messenger, as he smiled his pleasure on the company, "I see that the Father knows you all."
"But," faltered the sister who had been chosen, "what are we to do? May we not know?"
"Not wholly," was the reply. "Do you not remember what you have been taught, that a veil is drawn over the eyes of all who enter mortality, and the memory of this world is taken away; but this I may tell you, that by the power of your spiritual insight and moral strength you will be able to exert a correcting influence over your brothers and sisters in the flesh, and especially over those of your kin. Then again, when you hear the gospel of our Elder Brother preached, it will have a familiar sound to you and you will receive it gladly. Then you will become teachers to your households and a light unto your families. Again, not only to those in the flesh will you minister. Many will have passed from earth-life in ignorance of the gospel of salvation when you come. These must have the saving ordinances of the gospel performed for them, so that when they some time receive the truth, the necessary rites will have been performed. This work, also, is a part of your mission—to enter into the Temples of the Lord, male and female, each for his and her kind, and do this work."
A sister, pressing timidly forward near to him who had been chosen, took his hand, and looked pleadingly into the face of the messenger. "May not I, too, go?" she asked. "I believe I could help a little."
The messenger smiled at her, seeing to whose hand she clung. "I think so," he said; "but we shall see."
"When do we go?" asked the brother.
"Not yet. Abide the will of the Father,—and peace be with you all."
He left them in awed silence. Then, presently, they began to speak to each other of the wonderful things they had heard and the call that had come to some of them.
Times and seasons, nations and peoples had come and gone. Millions of the sons and daughters of God had passed through the earthly school, and had gone on to other fields of labor, some with honor, others with dishonor. God's spiritual intelligences, in their innumerable gradations were being allotted their times and places. The scheme of things inaugurated by the Father was working out its legitimate results.
Homan's time had come for him to leave his spiritual home. He was now to take the step, which, though temporarily downward, would secure him a footing by which to climb to greater heights. Delsa was still in her first estate. So also was Sardus. They, with a company, were gathered to bid Homan farewell, and thus they spoke:
"We do not know," Homan was saying, "whether or not we shall meet on the earth. Our places and callings may be far apart, and we may never know or recognize each other until that day when we shall meet again in the mansions of our Father."
"I am thankful for one thing: I understand that a more opportune time in which to fill our probation has never been known on the earth. The Gospel exists there in its fulness, and the time of utter spiritual darkness has gone. The race is strong and can give us sound bodies. Now, if we are worthy, we shall, no doubt, secure a parentage that will give us those powers of mind and body which are needed to successfully combat the powers of evil."
It was no new doctrine to them, but they loved to dwell upon the glorious theme.
"We have been taught that we shall get that position to which our preparation here entitles us. Existence is eternal, and its various stages grade naturally into one another, like the different departments of a school."
"Some have been ordained to certain positions of trust. Father knows us all, and understands what we will do. Many of our mighty ones have already gone, and many are yet with us awaiting Father's will."
"I was once quite impatient. Everything seemed to pass so slowly, I thought; but now I see in it the wisdom of the Father. What confusion would result if too many went to the earth-life at once. The experience of those who go before are for our better reception."
"Sardus," said Homan, "I hear that you are taking great delight in music."
"That is expressing the truth mildly, dear Homan. Lately I can think of nothing else."
"What is your opinion of a person being so carried away with one subject?" asked one.
"I was going to say," answered Homan, "that I think there is danger in it. Some I know who neglect every other duty except the cultivation of a certain gift. I think we ought to grow into a perfectly rounded character, cultivating all of Father's gifts to us, but not permitting any of them to become an object of worship."
"Remember, we take with us our various traits," said Delsa. "I think, Homan, your view is correct. It is well enough to excel in one thing, but that should not endanger our harmonious development."
"I have noticed, Delsa, that you are quite an adept at depicting the beautiful in Father's creations."
"I?" she asked; "there is no danger of my becoming a genius in that line. I do not care enough for it, though I do a little of it."
Thus they conversed; then they sang songs. Tunes born of heavenly melody thrilled them. After a time they separated, and Homan would have gone his way alone, but Delsa touched him on the arm.
"Homan, there is something I wish to tell you," she said. "May I walk with you?"
"Instead I will go with you," he replied.
They went on together.
"I, too, soon am going to earth," she said.
"Is it true?"
"Yes; Mother has informed me and I have been preparing for some time. Dear Homan, I am so glad, still the strange uncertainty casts a peculiar feeling over me. Oh, if we could but be classmates in the future school."
"Father may order it that way," he replied. "He knows our desires, and if they are righteous and for our good He may see that they are gratified. Do you go soon?"
"Yes; but not so soon as you. You will go before and prepare a welcome for me. Then I will come." She smiled up into his face.
"By faith we see afar," he replied.
"Yes; we live by faith," she added.
Hand in hand, they went. They spoke no more, but communed with each other through a more subtle channel of silence. Celestial melodies rang in their ears; the celestial landscape gladdened their eyes; the peace of God, their Father, was in their hearts. They walked hand in hand for the last time in this, their first estate.
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The soul that rises with us, our life's star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar. Not in entire forgetfulness And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God who is our home."
"Two shall be born the whole wide world apart, And speak in different tongues and have no thought Each of the other's being, and no heed; And these o'er unknown seas and unknown lands Shall cross, escaping wreck, defying death; And all unconsciously shape every act And bend each wandering step to this one end— That, one day, out of darkness they shall meet And read life's meaning in each other's eyes."
—Susan Marr Spalding.
"Even a child is known by his doings."—Prov. 20:11.
How it did rain! For two long months the sky had been one unchangeable color of blue; but now the dark clouds hung low and touched the horizon at every point dropping their long-accumulated water on the thirsty barrens, soaking the dried-up fields and meadows. The earth was thirsty, and the sky had at last taken pity. It rained all day. The water-ditches along the streets of the village ran thick and black. The house-wife's tubs and buckets under the dripping eaves were overrunning. The dust was washed from the long rows of trees which lined the streets.
It rained steadily all over the valley. The creek which came from the mountains, and which distributed its waters to the town and adjacent farm-lands, was unusually muddy. Up in the canyon, just above the town, it seemed to leap over the rocks with unwonted fury, dashing its brown waters into white foam. The town below, the farms and gardens of the whole valley, depended for their existence on that small river. Through the long, hot summer its waters had been distributed into streams and sub-streams like the branches of a great tree, and had carried the life-giving element to the growing vegetation in the valley; but now it was master no more. The rain was pouring down on places which the river could not reach. No wonder the river seemed angry at such usurpation.
About two miles from town, upon the high bench-land which lay above the waters in the river, stood a hut. It was built of unhewn logs, and had a mud roof. Stretches of sagebrush desert reached in every direction from it. A few acres of cleared land lay near by, its yellow stubble drinking in the rain. A horse stood under a shed. A pile of sagebrush with ax and chopping block lay in the yard.
Evening came on and still it rained. A woman often appeared at the door of the hut, and a pale, anxious face peered out into the twilight. She looked out over the bench-land and then up to the mountains. Through the clouds which hung around their summits, she could see the peaks being covered with snow. She looked at the sky, then again along the plain. She went in, closed the door, and filled the stove from the brush-wood in the box. A little girl was sitting in the corner by the stove, with her feet resting on the hearth.
"I thought I heard old Reddy's bell," she said, looking up to her mother.
"No; I heard nothing. Poor boy, he must be wet through."
The mud roof was leaking, and pans and buckets were placed here and there to catch the water. The bed had been moved a number of times to find a dry spot, but at last two milk pans and a pail had to be placed on it. Drip, drip, rang the tins—and it still rained.
The mother went again to the door. The clang of cow-bells greeted her, and in a few minutes, a boy drove two cows into the shed. The mother held the door open while he came stamping into the house. He was a boy of about fifteen, wearing a big straw hat pressed down over his brown hair, a shabby coat, blue overalls with a rend up one leg, ragged shoes, but no stockings. He was wet to the skin, and a pool of water soon accumulated on the floor where he paused for an instant.
"Rupert, you're wet through. How long you have been! You must get your clothes off," anxiously exclaimed his mother.
"Phew!" said he, "that's a whoopin' big rain. Say, mother, if we'd only had this two months ago, now, on our dry farm, wouldn't we have raised a crop though."
"You must get your clothes off, Rupert."
"Oh, that's nothin'. I must milk first; and say, I guess the mud's washed off the roof by the looks of things. I guess I'll fix it."
"Never mind now, you're so wet."
"Well, I can't get any wetter, and I'll work and keep warm. It won't do to have the water comin' in like this—look here, there's a mud puddle right on Sis's back, an' she don't know it."
He laughed and went out. It was quite dark, but the rain had nearly ceased. With his wheel-barrow and shovel he went to a ravine close by and obtained a load of clay, which he easily threw up on the roof of the low "lean-to"; then he climbed up and patched the holes. A half hour's work and it was done.
"And now I'll milk while I'm at it," he said; which he did.
"I've kept your supper warm," said his mother, as she busied with the table. "It's turned quite cold. Why did you stay so long today?"
Rupert had changed his wet clothes, and the family was sitting around the table eating mush and milk. A small lamp threw a cheery light over the bare table and its few dishes, over the faces of mother, boy, and girl. It revealed the bed, moved back into its usual corner, shone on the cupboard with its red paint nearly worn off, and dimly lighted the few pictures hanging on the rough whitewashed wall.
It was a poor home, but the lamplight revealed no discontent in the faces around the table. True, the mother's was a little pinched and careworn, which gave the yet beautiful face a sharp expression; but the other two countenances shone with health and happiness. The girl was enjoying her supper, the bright sagebrush fire, and the story book by the side of her bowl, all at the same time. She dipped, alternately, into her bowl and into her book.
The boy was the man of that family. He had combed his hair well back, and his bright, honest face gleamed in the light. He was big and strong, hardened by constant toil, matured beyond his years by the responsibility which had been placed upon him since his father's death, now four years ago. In answer to his mother's inquiries, Rupert explained:
"You see, the cows had strayed up Dry Holler, an' I had an awful time a findin' them. I couldn't hear any bell, neither. Dry Holler creek is just boomin', an' there's a big lake up there now. The water has washed out a hole in the bank and has gone into Dry Basin, an' it's backed up there till now it's a lake as big as Brown's pond. As I stood and looked at the running water an' the pond, somethin' came into my head—somethin' I heard down town last summer. An' mother, we must do it!"
The boy was glowing with some exciting thought. His mother looked at him while his sister neglected both book and bowl.
"Do what, Rupert?"
"Why, we must have Dry Basin, an' I'll make a reservoir out of it, an' we'll have water in the summer for our land, an' it'll be just the thing. With a little work the creek can be turned into the Basin which'll fill up during the winter an' spring. There's a low place which we'll have to bank up, an' the thing's done. The ditch'll be the biggest job, but I think we can get some help on that—but we must have the land up in Dry Holler now before someone else thinks of it an' settles on it. Mother, I was just wonderin' why someone hasn't thought of this before."
The mother was taken by surprise. She sat and looked wonderingly at the boy as he talked. The idea was new to her, but now she thought of it, it seemed perfectly feasible. Work was the only thing needed; but could she and her boy do it?
Five years ago when Mr. Ames had moved upon the bench, he had been promised that the new canal should come high enough to bring water to his land; but a new survey had been made which had left his farm far above the irrigation limit. Mr. Ames had died before he could move his family; and they had been compelled to remain in their temporary hut these four long, hard years. Rupert had tried to farm without water. A little wheat and alfalfa had been raised, which helped the little family to live without actual suffering.
* * * * *
That evening, mother and son talked late into the night. Nina listened until her eyes closed in sleep. The rain had ceased altogether, and the moon, hurrying through the breaking clouds, shone in at the little curtained window. Prayers were said, and then they retired. Peaceful sleep reigned within. Without, the moonlight illumined the mountains, shining on the caps of pearly whiteness which they had donned for the night.
"He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread; but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding."—Prov. 12:11.
Widow Ames had homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of government land in Dry Hollow. That was a subject for a two days' gossip in the town. There was speculation about what she wanted with a dry ravine in the hills, and many shook their heads in condemnation. However, it set some to thinking and moved one man, at least, to action. Jed Bolton, the same day that he heard of it, rode up into the hills above town. Sure enough, there was a rough shanty nearly finished; some furrows had been plowed, and every indication of settlement was present. Mr. Bolton bit his lip and used language which, if it did not grate on his own ears, could not on the only other listener, his horse.
Rupert was on the roof of his shanty, and Mr. Bolton greeted him as he rode up.
"Hello, Rupe, what're ye doin'?"
"Just finishin' my house. It looks like more rain, an' I must have the roof good an' tight."
"You're not goin' to live here?"
"Oh, yes, part of the time."
"What's that for?"
"To secure our claim. Mother's homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of this land."
"What in the world are you goin' to do with it?"
"We'll farm some of it, of course, an' we'll find some use for another part after awhile, I guess."
Then Mr. Bolton changed his tactics. He tried to discourage the boy by telling him that it was railroad land, and even if it wasn't, his own adjacent claim took it all in anyway; Rupert did not scare, but said, "I guess not," as he went on quietly fitting and pounding.
The man had to give it up. "That Ames kid" had gotten the best of him.
This was four years ago, and wonderful changes had taken place since then. Rupert had begun work on his reservoir the spring after they had taken possession. He had a most beautiful site for one; and when the melting winter snows and spring rains filled Dry Hollow creek, most of it was turned into the Basin. It slowly spread out, filled the deep ravines, and crept up to Rupert's embankment. Then he turned the stream back into its natural channel again. Many came to look at the wonder. Some of his neighbor "dry-benchers" offered to join him and help him for a share in the water. The reservoir could be greatly enlarged, and the canal leading from it around the side-hills to the bench had yet to be dug; so Rupert and his mother accepted the offers of help and the work went on rapidly. The next year Dry Bench had water. New ground was broken and cleared. Trees were set out. There was new life on the farm, and new hopes within the hearts of Widow Ames and her children.
Dry Bench farm had undergone a change. A neat frame house stood in front of the log hut, which had been boarded and painted to match the newer part. A barn filled with hay and containing horses and cows stood at a proper distance back. A granary and a corn-crib were near. The new county road now extended along the fronting of the Ames place, and a neat fence separated the garden from the public highway. On the left was the orchard, a beautiful sight. Standing in long, symmetrical rows were peaches, apples, pears, and a dozen other varieties of fruit, now just beginning to bear. At the rear, stretching nearly to the mountains, were the grain and alfalfa fields. Neighboring farms also were greatly improved by the advent of water, but none showed such labor and care as the Ames farm. Rupert grew with the growth of his labors, until he was now a tall, muscular fellow, browned and calloused. Nina was fast outgrowing childish things and entering the young-lady period. A beautiful girl she was, and a favorite among her schoolmates. She had attended school in town for the past three winters, and her brother was talking of sending her to the high school.
Practically, Rupert was the head of the family. Always respectful to his mother, and generally consulting with her on any important matter, he nevertheless could not help seeing that everything depended on him, and that he was the master mind of Ames farm. And then the neighbors came to him for advice, and older and presumably wiser men counseled with him, and so it suggested itself to Rupert that he was the master mind of all Dry Bench besides. Everybody called him a "rustler." When he had leisure for school, he was beyond school age; so, nothing daunted, he set out to study by himself. He procured the necessary books, and went to them with an energy that made up for the lack of a teacher. Nina kept pace with him for a time, but the ungraded village school curriculum was too slow for Rupert; and when one spring the young reservoir projector appeared at the county teachers' examination and passed creditably, all, as he said "just for fun and practice," the people talked again—and elected him to the board of trustees.
A beautiful spring morning dawned on Dry Bench. A cool breeze came from the mountains and played with the young leaves of the orchard. The apricots were white with blossoms, and the plums and peaches were just bursting into masses of pink and white. The alfalfa and wheat fields were beautifully green. Blessed Morning, what a life promoter, what a dispeller of fears and bringer of hopes, thou art!
Rupert was out early. After tossing some hay to the horses and cows, he shouldered his shovel and strode up the ditch, whistling as he went. His straw hat set well back on his head. His blue "jumper" met the blue overalls which were tucked into a pair of heavy boots. His tune was a merry one and rang out over the still fields and up to the hills.
Rupert's thoughts were a mixture that morning, and flew from one thing to another: the ditch which he was to clean and repair; the condition of the reservoir; the meeting of the school board; the planting of the garden; the dance at the hall in town; the wonderful spreading properties of weeds—so on from one subject to another, until he came to a standstill, leaning on his shovel and looking over his farm and down to the town, fast growing into a city. From a hundred chimneys smoke was beginning to come, befouling the clear air of the valley.
"It is a beautiful sight," said he to himself. "Six years ago and what was it? Under whose hand has this change grown? Mine. I have done most of the work, and I can lawfully claim most of the credit. Then it was worthless, and just the other day I was offered five thousand dollars for the place. That's pretty good. Father couldn't have done any better."
Rupert was not given to boasting, but it did seem lately that everything he set his hand to prospered exceedingly. This had brought some self-exalting thoughts into his mind; not that he talked of them to others, but he communed with them to himself, nevertheless.
That morning, as he rested his chin on his hands that clasped the end of his shovel, such thoughts swelled the pride in his heart, and his work was left undone. The sun came suddenly from behind the peak and flooded the valley with light; still Rupert stood looking over the fields. In the distance towards the left he caught sight of a horse and buggy coming at a good pace along the new country road. He watched it drawing nearer. A lady was driving. Her horse was on its mettle this morning and the reins were tight. They were at that ugly place where the road crosses the canal—he was to repair it that morning—He awoke from his dreaming with a start, but too late; the horse shied, a wheel went into the ugly hole, and the occupant was pitched into the dry bottom of the canal. Rupert ran down the road shouting "whoa" to the horse which galloped past him. The lady scrambled up before Rupert reached her.
"Are you hurt?" he inquired.
"No—no, sir," she managed to say. She was pale and trembling. "Can you catch my horse? I think he will stop at that barn."
"I'll get your horse, never fear; just so you're not hurt. Let me help you out of the ditch."
She held out a gloved hand and he assisted her up the bank. She was just a girl, and he could have carried her home, had it been necessary.
"Thank you, sir, but could you get my horse, please? There, he is stopping at that house."
"That is where I live. I'll bring him to you, if you will wait."
"Oh, thanks; but I can walk that far. The fall has just shaken me up a little. I shall soon get over it."
They walked down the road to the gate.
"You must come in and rest," said he, "and I'll take care of your horse." She remonstrated, but he insisted, and brought her into the kitchen where his mother was busy with breakfast. Rupert explained, and his mother instantly became solicitous. She drew a rocking chair up to the fire and with gentle force seated the stranger, continuously asking questions and exclaiming, "Too bad, too bad."
Rupert readily caught the runaway animal, and, leading him into the yard, fastened and fed him.
"Take off your hat, Miss," said Mrs. Ames, "your head'll feel easier. I know it must ache with such a knock as that. I believe you're cold, too. Put your feet on the hearth—or here, I'll open the oven door—there! You must take a cup of coffee with us. It'll warm you. You haven't had breakfast yet, I dare say."
The stranger thanked her and leaned back in the chair quite content. The fall had really shaken her severely and a pain shot, now and then, into her head. Rupert foolishly fidgeted about outside before he could make up his mind to come in. Nina now made her appearance. The coffee was poured out and the stranger was invited to sit up. Once, twice, Mrs. Ames spoke to her, but she sat perfectly still. Her face was pale, her eyes half closed.
"What's the matter, Miss?" asked the mother, looking into the girl's face.
"Mother, I believe she has fainted," said Nina.
The three bent over the still form. Mrs. Ames rubbed the cold hands, Nina became nervous, and Rupert looked down into the pale, beautiful face.
"Yes, she has fainted. It is too warm in here. We must get her in the sitting-room on the sofa. Rupert, help us."
Rupert stood at a distance. The mother and Nina tried to lift her, but they failed.
"You'll have to carry her in, Rupert. Come, don't stand there as if you couldn't move. It's too close in this kitchen."
But the young fellow still hesitated. To take a strange, fair girl in his arms—such a thing he had never done—but he must do so now. He put his strong arms under her and lifted her as he would a child, and carried her into the next room, where he laid his burden on the sofa. The cool air had its effect, and she opened her eyes and smiled into the faces that were bent over her.
"Lie still, my dear," said Mrs. Ames. "You have been hurt more than you think."
"Did I faint?—yes, I must have—but I'm not hurt." She tried to rise, but with a moan she sank back on the pillow which Nina had brought.
"I'll go for the doctor," said Rupert, and off he went. When he and Doctor Chase came in an hour later, the girl was again sitting at the table with Mrs. Ames and Nina.
"I met with a slight accident down the road," she explained to the doctor. "I wasn't quite killed, you see, but these good people are trying to finish me with their kindness;" and she laughed merrily.
Her name was Miss Wilton. She was a school teacher, and was on her way to answer an advertisement of the Dry Bench trustees for a teacher. She hoped the doctor would pronounce her all right that she might continue her journey, as she understood it was not far.
"You have had a severe shaking up, Miss Wilton, but I don't think you need to postpone your journey more than a few hours," was the doctor's decision.
About noon, Rupert drove Miss Wilton's horse around to the front door and delivered it to her. With a profusion of thanks, she drove away in the direction of the chairman of the school trustees. Neither Nina nor her mother had said anything about Rupert's being on the board. Mrs. Ames had once seemed to broach the subject, but a look from Rupert was enough to check her. When the school teacher disappeared down the road, Rupert again shouldered his shovel, and this time the ugly hole where the road crossed the canal was mended. That done, he returned home, hitched a horse to his cart and drove to town.
"Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain."—Psalms 31:30.
Miss Virginia Wilton was engaged to teach the spring term of school at the Dry Bench schoolhouse. Why that upland strip bordering the mountains should be called "Dry Bench," Miss Wilton, at first, did not understand. If there was a garden spot in this big, ofttimes barren Western country, more beautiful than Dry Bench, she had in all her rambles failed to find it. But when the secret of the big reservoir up in the hills came to her knowledge, she wondered the more; and one member of the school board from that moment rose to a higher place in her estimation; yes, went past a long row of friends, up, shall it be said to the seat of honor?
Miss Wilton gave general satisfaction, and she was engaged for the next school year.
For one whole year, the school teacher had passed the Ames farm twice each day. She called often on Mrs. Ames, and Nina became her fast friend. During those cool May mornings and afternoons, when the sky was cloudless and the breeze came from the mountains, the young school teacher passed up and down the road and fell to looking with pleasure on the beautiful fields and orchards around her, and especially at the Ames farm the central and most flourishing of them all. Perhaps it would not be fair to analyze her thoughts too closely. She was yet young, only twenty-two—Rupert's own age; yet Miss Wilton's experiences in this world's school were greater than that of the simple young farmer's.
Had she designs on the Ames farm and its master? She had been in the place a year only. How could such thoughts arise within such a little head? How could such serious schemes brood behind such laughing lips and sparkling eyes? Strange that such should be the case, but truth is ofttimes strange.
Since the railroad had been extended through the valley, the town of Willowby had grown wonderfully. Its long, straight streets enclosing the rectangular squares, had not crept, but had sped swiftly out into the country on all sides, and especially towards the mountains, until now the Ames place was within the corporated city limits. Willowby soon became a shipping point for grain and fruits to the markets which the mining towns to the north afforded. The Ames orchard consisted of the finest fruits which commanded a high price. Yes, the property was fast making its owners rich.
Rupert Ames was a "rising young man," lacking the finished polish of a higher education, no doubt, but still, he was no "green-horn." Even Miss Wilton had to acknowledge that, when she became acquainted so that she could speak freely with him. He was a shrewd business man and knew how to invest his growing bank account. It was no secret that city lots and business property were continually being added to his possessions.
As to home life at the farm, Miss Wilton was always charmed with the kind hearted mother, the bright, cheerful Nina, and the handsome, sober head of the family. Such a beautiful spirit of harmony brooded over the place! Even within the year, the observant young woman could see signs of culture and coming wealth. The repairing of old buildings, and the erecting of the new ones; the repainting and decorating of rooms; the addition of costly pictures and furniture; the beautifying of the outside surroundings—all this was observed, and a mental note taken.
For a time Rupert Ames was quite reserved in the presence of the young school teacher. Naturally reticent, he was more than ever shy in the company of an educated lady from the East. Rupert never saw her but he thought of the day of her arrival on Dry Bench and the time when he held her in his arms. Never had he referred to the latter part of the episode, though she often talked of her peculiar introduction to them.
At the end of the first year, Miss Wilton had so far shown that she was but common flesh and blood that Rupert had been in her company to a number of socials, and they had walked from church a few times together. Dame gossip at once mated the two, and pronounced it a fine match.
Early in September they had a peach party at the Ames farm. Willowby's young folks were there, and having a good time. When the sun sank behind the hills on the other side of the valley, and the cool air came from the eastern mountains, Chinese lanterns were hung on the trees, and chairs and tables were placed on the lawn. There were cake and ice-cream and peaches—peaches of all kinds, large and small, white and yellow, juicy and dry; for this was a peach party, and everybody was supposed to eat, at least, half a dozen.
The band, with Volmer Holm as leader, furnished the music; and beautiful it was, as it echoed from the porch out over the assembly on the lawn. When the strains of a waltz floated out, a dozen couples glided softly over the velvety grass.
"That's fine music, Volmer," Rupert was saying to the bandmaster, as the music ceased.
"Do you think so? We've practiced very much since our new organization was effected. Will it do for a concert?"
"You know I'm no judge of music. I like yours, though, Volmer. What do you say about it, Miss Wilton? Mr. Holm wishes to know if his music is fit for a concert?"
"Most certainly it is," answered the young lady addressed, as she stepped up with an empty peach basket. "Mr. Holm, I understand that last piece is your own composition? If so, I must congratulate you; it is most beautiful."
"Thank you," and he bowed as he gave the signal to begin again.
"Mr. Ames, more peaches are wanted—the big yellow ones. Where shall I find them?"
"I'll get some—or, I'll go with you." He was getting quite bold. Perhaps the music had something to do with that.
He did not take the basket, but led the way out into the orchard. It was quite a distance to the right tree.
"That is beautiful music," said she. "Mr. Holm is a genius. He'll make his mark if he keeps on."
"Yes, I understand that he is going East to study. That will bring him out if there is anything in him."
There was a pause in the conversation; then Rupert remarked carefully, as if feeling his way:
"Yes, there's talent in Volmer, but he makes music his god, which I think is wrong."
"Do you think so?" she asked.
What that expression meant, it was hard to say.
"Yes, I think that no man should so drown himself in one thing that he is absolutely dead to everything else. Mr. Holm does that. Volmer worships nothing but music."
Rupert filled the basket and they sauntered back.
"A more beautiful god I cannot imagine," she said, half aloud.
Rupert turned with an inquiring look on his face, but he got nothing more from her, as she was busy with a peach. Her straw hat was tilted back on her head, and the wavy brown hair was somewhat in confusion. School teaching had not, as yet, driven the roses from her cheeks, nor the smiles from her lips. There was just enough of daylight left so that Rupert could see Miss Wilton's big eye looking into his own. How beautiful she was!
"Mr. Ames, before we get back to the company, I wish to ask you a question. Mr. Holm has asked me to sing at his concert, and I should like to help him, if the school trustees do not object."
"Why should they, Miss Wilton?"
"Well, some people, you know, are so peculiar."
"I assure you they will not care—that is, if it will not interfere with your school duties."
"As to that, not a moment. I need no rehearsals as I am used to—that is I—you see, I will sing some old song."
Miss Wilton's speech became unusually confused, and Rupert noticed it; but just then Nina and her escort joined them, and they all went back to the lawn.
"Miss Wilton's going to sing at the concert," Volmer told Rupert later in the evening. "'Twill be a big help. She's a regular opera singer, you know. She's been in the business. I heard her sing in Denver two years ago, and she was with a troupe that passed through here some time since. I remember her well, but of course I wouldn't say anything to her about it. No doubt she wishes to forget it all."
"What do you mean?" asked Rupert, quite fiercely.
"I mean that her company then was not of the choicest, but I believe she's all right and a good enough girl. Rupe, don't bother about that. Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything to you."
"Oh, that's all right. I'm glad you mentioned it."
Still a dull, miserable pain fastened itself in Rupert Ames' heart the rest of the evening; and even when the company had gone, and Miss Wilton had lingered and sweetly said "Good-night," and the lights were out, strange thoughts and feelings drove from his eyes the sleep that usually came peacefully to him.
Rupert Ames was in love. The fact became the central idea of his existence.
During Rupert's busy life, love affairs had not occupied much of his attention. Of course, he, in common with the rest of young mankind, thought that some day he would love some girl and make her his wife; but it was always as a far-away dream to him, connected with an angelic perfection which he always found missing in the workaday world. His wife must be a pure, perfect creature. Marriage was a sacred thing—one of the great events in a person's life. Not that these views had now changed altogether, for Miss Virginia Wilton came nearer his ideal than anyone he had yet met. Still, there was considerable of the tangible present about her. She was educated, businesslike, and a leader, and he, ambitious of attaining to something in the world, would need such a woman for his wife. But that sting which Volmer Holm had given him! His wife must be beyond suspicion. He could not afford to make a mistake, for if he did, it would be the mistake of his life. But was it a sin for a girl to sing in an opera? Certainly not. Anyway, he would not condemn her unheard—and then, he was sure he loved her. It had come to him unbidden. It was no fault of his that this girl should have come into his common life, and, seemingly, completely change it.
The autumn days passed. With the work of harvesting and marketing there was no time for social gatherings. The school teacher had changed her boarding place, and her path lay no longer past the Ames farm. So Rupert mingled his thoughts with his labors, and in time there emerged from that fusion a fixed purpose.
That fall Rupert's time as school trustee expired. At the first meeting of the new board, Miss Wilton's position was given to a male teacher. The reason given for the change was that "It takes a man to govern boys." Other reasons, however, could be heard in the undercurrent of talk.
The first Sunday after he heard of it, Rupert found Miss Wilton, and together they walked up the canyon road. It was a dull, cloudy day, and not a breath moved the odorous choke-cherry bushes which lined the dusty road. Never mind what was said and done that afternoon. 'Tis an old, old story. Between woman's smiles and tears, the man gained hope and courage, and when that evening they came down the back way through the fields and orchards, Virginia Wilton was Rupert Ames' promised wife.
"O Lord, lead me in a plain path."—Isaiah 27:11.
The scene shifts to a land afar off toward the north, Norway—away up into one of its mountain meadows. The landscape is a mixture of grandeur and beauty. Hills upon hills, covered with pine and fir, stretch away from the lowlands to the distant glacier-clad mountains, and patches of green meadow gleam through the dark pine depths.
The clear blue sky changes to a faint haze in the hilly distance. The gentle air is perfumed with the odor of the forest. A Sabbath stillness broods over all. The sun has swung around to the northwest, and skims along the horizon as if loth to leave such a sweet scene.
Evening was settling down on the Norwegian saeter, or summer herd ground. Riding along the trail through the pines appeared a young man. He was evidently not at home in the forest, as he peered anxiously through every opening. His dress and bearing indicated that he was not a woodsman nor a herder of cattle. Pausing on a knoll, he surveyed the scene around him, and took off his hat that the evening breeze might cool his face. Suddenly, there came echoing through the forest, from hill to hill, the deep notes of the lur. The traveler listened, and then urged his horse forward. Again and again the blast reverberated, the notes dying in low echoes on the distant hills. From another rise, the rider saw the girl who was making all this wild music. She was standing on a high knoll. Peering down into the forest, she recognized the traveler and welcomed him with an attempt at a tune on her long, wooden trumpet.
"Good evening, Hansine," said he, as his horse scrambled up the path close by, "your lur made welcome music this evening."
"Good evening, Hr. Bogstad," said she, "are you not lost?"
"I was, nearly, until I heard you calling your cows. It is a long way up here—but the air and the scenery are grand."
"Yes, do you think so? I don't know anything about what they call grand scenery. I've always lived up here, and it's work, work all the time—but those cows are slow coming home." She lifted her lur to her lips and once more made the woods ring.
Down at the foot of the hills, where the pines gave place to small, grassy openings, stood a group of log huts, towards which the cows were now seen wending.
"Come, Hr. Bogstad, I see the cows are coming. I must go down to meet them."
They went down the hill together. The lowing cows came up to the stables, and as the herd grew larger there was a deafening din. A girl was standing in the doorway of one of the cabins, timidly watching the noisy herd.
"Come, give the cows their salt," laughingly shouted Hansine to her.
"And get hooked all to pieces? Not much."
"You little coward. What good would you be on a saeter? What do you think, Hr. Bogstad?"
As the girl caught sight of the new arrival she started and the color came to her face. He went up to her. "How are you, Signe?" he said. "How do you like life on a saeter?"
"Well, I hardly know," she said, seemingly quite embarrassed.
"Oh, I'll tell you," broke in the busy Hansine, as she came with a pail full of salt. "She just goes around and looks at and talks about what she calls the beauties of nature. That she likes; but as for milking, or churning, or making cheese, well—"
Then they all laughed good naturedly.
Hansine was a large, strong girl, with round, pleasant features. She and the cows were good friends. At the sound of the lur every afternoon the cows turned their grazing heads towards home, and, on their arrival, each was given a pat and a handful of salt. Then they went quietly into their stalls.
It was quite late that evening before the milk had been strained into the wooden platters and placed in rows on the shelves in the milk house. Hr. Bogstad and Signe had proffered their help, but they had been ordered into the house and Signe was told to prepare the evening meal. When Hansine came in, she found the table set with the cheese, milk, butter, and black bread, while Signe and Hr. Bogstad sat by the large fireplace watching a pot of boiling cream mush.
The object of Hr. Bogstad's visit was plain enough. He had been devoting his attentions to Signe Dahl for some time, and now that he was home from college on a vacation, it was natural that he should follow her from the village up to the mountains.
Hr. Bogstad, though young, was one of the rich men of Nordal. He had lately fallen heir to a large estate. In fact, Signe's parents, with a great many more, were but tenants of young Hr. Henrik Bogstad; and although it was considered a great honor to have the attentions of such a promising young man—for, in fact, Henrik was quite exemplary in all things, and had a good name in the neighborhood—still Signe Dahl did not care for him, and was uneasy in his company. She would rather sail with some of the fisher boys on the lake than be the object of envy by her companions. But Signe's slim, graceful form, large blue eyes, clear, dimpled face, light silken hair, combined with a native grace and beauty, attracted not only the fisher boys but the "fine" Hr. Bogstad also. She was now spending a few days with her cousin Hansine in the mountains. Her limited knowledge of saeter life was fast being augmented under her cousin's supervision, notwithstanding Hansine's remarks about her inabilities.
The cabin wherein the three were seated was of the rudest kind, but everything was scrupulously clean. The blazing pine log cast a red light over them as they sat at the table.
"So you see nothing grand in your surroundings?" asked Hr. Bogstad of Hansine.
"How can I? I have never been far from home. Mountains and forests and lakes are all I know."
"True," said he, "and we can see grandeur and beauty by contrast only."
"But here is Signe," remarked Hansine; "she has never seen much of the world, yet you should hear her. I can never get her interested in my cows. Her mind must have been far away when she dished up the mush, for she has forgotten something."
"Oh, I beg pardon," exclaimed the forgetful girl. "Let me attend to it."
She went to the cupboard and brought out the sugar and a paper of ground cinnamon, and sprinkled a layer of each over the plates of mush. Then she pressed into the middle of each a lump of butter which soon melted into a tiny yellow pond.
"I should like to hear some of these ideas of yours," remarked the visitor to Signe, who had so far forgotten her manners as to be blowing her spoonful of mush before dipping it into the butter.
"I wish I were an artist," said she, without seeming to notice his remarks. "Ah, what pictures I would paint! I would make them so natural that you could see the pine tops wave, and smell the breath of the woods as you looked at them."
"You would put me in, standing on The Look-out blowing my lur, wouldn't you?"
"And I have no doubt that we could hear the echoes ringing over the hills," continued Hansine, soberly.
"Never mind, you needn't make fun. Yes, Hr. Bogstad, I think we have some grand natural scenes. I often climb up on the hills, and sit and look over the pines and the shining lake down towards home. Then, sometimes, I can see the ocean like a silver ribbon, lying on the horizon. I sit up there and gaze and think, as Hansine says, nearly all night. I seem to be under a spell. You know it doesn't get dark all night now, and the air is so delicious. My thoughts go out 'Over the high mountains,' as Bjornson says, and I want to be away to hear and see what the world is and has to tell me. A kind of sweet loneliness comes over me which I cannot explain."
Hr. Bogstad had finished his dish. He, too, was under a spell—the spell of a soft, musical voice.
"Then the light in the summer," she continued. "How I have wished to go north where the sun shines the whole twenty-four hours. Have you ever seen the Midnight Sun, Hr. Bogstad?"
"No; but I have been thinking of taking a trip up there this summer, if I can get some good company to go with me. Wouldn't you—"
It was then that Signe hurriedly pushed her chair away and said: "Thanks for the food."
Next morning Signe was very busy. She washed the wooden milk basins, scalded them with juniper tea, and then scoured them with sand. She churned the butter and wanted to help with the cheese, but Hansine thought that she was not paying enough attention to their visitor, so she ordered her off to her lookout on the mountain. Hr. Bogstad would help her up the steep places; besides, he could tell her the names of the ferns and flowers, and answer the thousand and one questions which she was always asking. So, of course, they had to go.
But Signe was very quiet, and Henrik said but little. He had come to the conclusion that he truly loved this girl whose parents were among the poorest of his tenants. None other of his acquaintances, even among the higher class, charmed him as did Signe. He was old enough to marry, and she was not too young. He knew full well that if he did marry her, many of his friends would criticise; but Henrik had some of the Norseman spirit of liberty, and he did not think that a girl's humble position barred her from him. True, he had received very little encouragement from her, though her parents had looked with favor upon him. And now he was thinking of her cold indifference.
They sat down on a rocky bank, carpeted with gray reindeer moss.
They had been talking of his experiences at school. He knew her desire to finish the college education cut short by a lack of means.
"Signe, I wish you would let me do you a favor."
She thought for a moment before she asked what it was.
"Let me help you attend college. You know I am able to, besides—besides, some day you may learn to think as much of me as I do of you, and then, dear Signe—"
Signe arose. "Hr. Bogstad," she said, "I wish you would not talk like that. If you do, I shall go back to Hansine."
"Why, Signe, don't be offended. I am not jesting." He stood before her in the path, and would have taken her hand, but she drew back.
"Signe, I have thought a great deal of you for a long time. You know we have been boy and girl together. My absence at school has made no difference in me. I wish you could think a little of me, Signe."
"Hr. Bogstad, I don't believe in deceiving anyone. I am sorry that you have been thinking like that about me, because I cannot think of you other than as a friend. Let us not talk about it."
If Henrik could not talk about that nearest his heart, he would remain silent, which he did.
Signe was gathering some rare ferns and mosses when Hansine's lur sounded through the hills. That was the signal for them, as well as the cows, to come home.
Early the next morning Hansine's brother came up to the saeter to take home the week's accumulation of butter and cheese. Signe, perched on the top of the two-wheeled cart, was also going home. Hr. Bogstad, mounted on his horse, accompanied them a short distance, then rode off in another direction.
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"—Amos 3:3
It was nearly noon when Signe Dahl sprang from the cart, and with her bundle under her arm, ran down the hillside into the woods, following a well-beaten trail. That was the short cut home. Hans had found her poor company during the ride, and even now, alone in the woods, the serious countenance was loth to relax. A ten minutes' walk brought her to the brow of a hill, and she sauntered down its sloping side. Signe had nearly reached home, and being doubtful of her reception there, she lingered. Then, too, she could usually amuse herself alone, for she always found some new wonder in the exhaustless beauty of her surroundings.
She threw herself on a green bank, and this is the picture which she saw: Just before her, the greensward extended down to a lake, whose waters lost themselves behind cliffs and islands and pine-clad hills. Here and there in the distance towards the north, there could be seen shining spots of water; but towards the south the hills closed in precipitously, and left room only for the outlet of the lake to pour over its rocky bed into another valley below. On the farther shore, five miles distant, a few red farm houses stood out from the plats of green—all the rest was forest and rock. The sky was filled with soft, fleecy clouds, and not a breath stirred the surface of the lake. Signe gazed towards a rocky island before her. Only the roof of the house upon it could be seen, but from its chimney arose no smoke. That was where Signe had been born, and had lived most of the eighteen years of her life. The girl walked down the hillside to the lake and again seated herself, this time on a rock near the edge of the water. She took a book from her bundle and began to read; but the text was soon embellished with marginal sketches of rocks and bits of scenery, and then both reading and drawing had to give place to the consideration of the pictures that came thronging into her mind.
Hr. Bogstad had actually proposed to her—the rich and handsome Hr. Bogstad; and she, the insignificant farmer girl, had refused him, had run away from him. Signe Dahl, she ruminated, aren't you the most foolish child in the world? He is the owner of miles and miles of the land about here. The hills with their rich harvest of timber, the rivers with their fish, and even the island in the lake, are his. To be mistress over it all—ah, what a temptation. If she had only loved Hr. Bogstad, if she had only liked him; but she did neither. She could not explain the reason, but she knew that she could not be his wife.
How could such a man love her, anyway? Was she really so very good looking? Signe looked down into the still, deep water and saw her own reflection asking the question over again. There! her face, at least, was but a little, ordinary pink and white one. Her eyes were of the common blue color. Her hair—well, it was a trifle wavy and more glossy than that of other girls, but—gluck! a stone broke her mirror into a hundred circling waves. Signe looked up with a start. There was Hagbert standing half concealed behind a bush.
"Oh, I see you," she shouted.
He came down to the water, grinning good-naturedly.
"Well," said he, "I didn't think you were so vain as all that."
"Can't a person look at the pebbles and fish at at the bottom of the lake without being vain?" and she laughed her confusion away. "Say, Hagbert, is your boat close by?"
"Yes, just down by the north landing."
"Oh, that's good. I thought I would have to wait until father came this evening to get home. You'll row me across, won't you?"
"Why, certainly; but I thought you had gone to the saeter to stay, at least a week."
"Yes, but—but, I've come home again, you see."
"Yes, I see," and he looked oddly at her. He had also seen Hr. Bogstad set out for the mountains two days before, and now he wondered.
Hagbert fetched the boat, took in his passenger, and his strong arms soon sent the light craft to the other bank.
"A thousand thanks, Hagbert," she said, as she sprang out, and then climbed up the steep path, and watched him pull back. He was a strong, handsome fellow, too, a poor fisherman, yet somehow, she felt easier in his company than in Hr. Bogstad's.
Signe found no one at home. Her mother and the children had, no doubt, gone to the mainland to pick blueberries; so she went out into the garden to finish her book. She became so absorbed in her reading that she did not see her mother's start of surprise when they came home with their baskets full of berries.
"Well, well, Signe, is that you? What's the matter?" exclaimed her mother.
"Nothing, mother; only I couldn't stay up there any longer." And that was all the explanation her mother could get until the father came home that evening. He was tired and a little cross. From Hans he had heard a bit of gossip that irritated him, and Signe saw that her secret was not wholly her own. She feared her father.
"Signe," said he, after supper, "I can guess pretty well why you came home so soon. I had a talk with Hr. Bogstad before he went to the saeter."
The girl's heart beat rapidly, but she said nothing.
"Did he speak to you about—why did you run away from him, girl?"
"Father, you know I don't like Hr. Bogstad. I don't know why; he is nice and all that, but I don't like him anyway."
"You have such nonsensical ideas!" exclaimed the father, and he paused before her in his impatient pacing back and forth. "He, the gentleman, the possessor of thousands. Girl, do you know what you are doing when you act like this? Can't you see that we are poor; that your father is worked to death to provide for you all? That if you would treat him as you should, we would be lifted out of this, and could get away from this rock-ribbed island on to some land with soil on? Our future would be secure. Can't you see it, girl? O, you little fool, for running away from such a man. Don't you know he owns us all, as it were?"
"No, father, he does not."
"The very bread you eat and the water you drink come from his possessions."
"Still, he does not own us all. He does not own me, nor shall he as long as I feel as I do now, and as long as there is other land and other water and other air to which he can lay no claim."
It was a bold speech, but something prompted her to say it. She was aroused. The mother came to intercede, for she knew both father and daughter well.
"I tell you, girl, there shall be no more foolishness. You shall do as I want you, do you hear!"
Signe arose to go, but her father caught her forcibly by the arm.
"Sit down and listen to me," he said.
The girl began to cry, and the mother interposed: "Never mind, father; you know it's useless to talk to her now. Let her go and milk the cow. It's getting late."
So Signe escaped with her pail into the little stable where the cow had been awaiting her for over an hour. But she was a long time milking, that evening.
"Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, into a land that I will show thee."—Gen. 12:1.
Signe Dahl sat in the little coupe of the railroad train which was carrying her to Christiania. She was the sole occupant of the compartment, her big valise resting on the opposite seat. Out through the lowered window she looked at the flying landscape, a mingling of pine hills, waters, and green meadows. An hour ago she had boarded the train at Holmen, the nearest station to Nordal. Early that morning she had tearfully kissed them all good-by and had begun her journey to that haven of rest from old country oppressions—America. She and her mother had planned it, and the father had at last given his consent. It was all the outcome of Hr. Bogstad's persistent devotions to the family on the island in the lake.
Tiring of the scenery, Signe took from a bundle a letter. It had been handed her by the postmaster at Nordal that morning as she drove past, and was from Hr. Bogstad, who was in the North with a party of tourists. She opened it and read:
"I wrote you a letter about a week ago, describing our trip up to that time. I hope you have received it. You know I have no eye for the beautiful, but I did the best I could. You should have been along and seen it all yourself.
"And now I write you again, because, dear friend, I have heard a rumor from home that you are going to America. It is news to me if it is true. Dear Signe, don't. Wait, at least, until I can see you again, because I have something to tell you whether you go or stay. I am coming home as fast as steam can carry me. Please, don't run off like that. Why should you? I ask myself. But there, it's only rumor. You're not going, and I'll see you again in a few days, when I shall tell you all about the rest of the trip."
A smile played on Signe's face, but it soon changed to a more sober expression. What was she to cause such a commotion in the life of a man like Hr. Bogstad? That he was in earnest she knew. And here she was running away from him. He would never see her again. How disappointed he would be! She could see him driving from the station, alighting at the ferry, springing into a boat, and skimming over to the island. Up the steep bank he climbs, and little Hakon runs down to meet him, for which he receives his usual bag of candy. Perhaps he gets to the house before he finds out. Then—?
Surely the smile has changed to a tear, for Signe has wiped one away from her cheek.
To Signe, the journey that day was made up of strange thoughts and experiences. The landscape, the stopping at the stations, the coming and going of people, Hr. Bogstad's letter, the folks at home, the uncertain future,—all seemed to mingle and to form one chain of thought, which ended only when the train rolled into the glass-covered station at Christiania.
With a firm grasp on her valise, she picked her way through the crowd with its noise and bustle, and placed herself safely in the care of a hackman, who soon set her down at her lodgings.
At the steamship office she learned that the steamer was not to sail for three days. So Signe meant to see what she could of the city. It was her first visit to the capital, and perhaps her last. She would make the best of her time. She had no friends in the city, but that did not hinder her from walking out alone. In the afternoon of the second day, Signe went to the art gallery, and that was the end of her sightseeing to other parts. She lingered among the paintings of the masters and the beautiful chiseled marble—the first she had seen—until the attendant reminded her that it was time to close.
That evening the landlady informed her that a visitor had been inquiring for her during the day, a gentleman. Who could it be? He was described, and then Signe knew that it was Hr. Bogstad. He had said that he could call again in the evening.
Signe was troubled. What should she do? He was following her, but they must not meet. It would do no good. The steamer was to sail tomorrow, and she would go on board that night. She called a carriage and was driven to the wharf. Yes, it was all right, said the steward, and she was made comfortable for the night.
Among the crowd of people that came to see the steamer sail, Signe thought she caught sight of Hr. Bogstad elbowing through the throng to get to the ship. But he was too late. The third bell had rung, the gangplank was being withdrawn, and the vessel was slowly moving away. Signe had concealed herself among the people, but now she pressed to the railing and waved her handkerchief with the rest.
Farewell to Norway, farewell to home and native land. Signe's heart was full. All that day she sat on deck. She had no desire for food, and the crowded steerage had no attractions. So she sat, busy with her thoughts and the sights about the beautiful Christiania fjord.
Early the next morning they steamed into Christiansand, and a few hours later, the last of Norway's rocky coast sank below the waters of the North Sea.
All went well for a week. Signe had not suffered much from seasickness, but now a storm was surely coming. Sailors were busy making everything snug and tight; and the night closed in fierce and dark, with the sea spray sweeping the deck.
Signe staggered down into the dimly lighted steerage. Most of the poor emigrants had crawled into their bunks, and were rolling back and forth with each lurch of the ship. Signe sat and talked with a Danish girl, each clinging to a post.
"I don't feel like going to bed," said the girl.
"Nor I. What a night it is!"
"Do you think we shall get safely across?"
"Why, certainly," replied Signe. "You mustn't be frightened at a storm."
"I try not to be afraid, but I'm such a coward."
"Think about something pleasant, now," suggested the other. "Remember where you're going and whom you are going to meet."
The girl from Denmark had confided to Signe that she was going to join her lover in America.
The girl tried to smile, and Signe continued: "What a contrast between us. I am running away; you are going to meet someone—"
Crash! A blow struck the ship and shook it from end to end; and presently the machinery came to a full stop. Then there was hurrying of feet on deck, and they could hear the boatswain's shrill pipe, and the captain giving commands. The steerage was soon a scene of terror. Those who rushed up the stairs were met with fastened doors, and were compelled to remain below. Women screamed and prayed and raved. Then the steward came in, and informed them that there was no danger, and the scene somewhat quieted down. On further inquiry it was learned that they had collided with another ship. Some damage had been done forward, but there was no further danger. However, very few slept that night, and when morning broke, clear and beautiful, with glad hearts they rushed up into the open air.
The second class was forward. Three of the passengers had been killed and quite a number injured.
If Signe had not been so poor, and had not refused help from Hr. Bogstad, she would have taken second class passage. But now, thank God for being poor and—independent!
In another week they landed at New York, and each went her own way. Signe Dahl took the first train for Chicago.
"The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away."—Job 1:22.
The news startled the young city of Willowby from the Honorable Mayor to the newest comer in the place. The railroad company had found a shorter route to its northern main line, and it had been decided to remove, or, at least, to abandon for a time, the road running through the valley. The short cut would save fifty miles of roadbed and avoid some heavy grades, but it would leave the town of Willowby twenty-five miles from the railroad. Everybody said it would be a death-blow to the place. Petitions and propositions from the citizens to the railroad company availed nothing.
The most diresome predictions came true. After the change, the life of the young town seemed to wither away. Its business almost ceased. The speculator whose tenement houses were without roof, hurriedly closed them in, and so let them stand. Safer is the farmer, in such times. His fields will still yield the same, let stocks and values in real estate rise and fall as they will.
Alderman Rupert Ames had been attending the protracted meetings of the city council; this, with other business, kept him away from home for a week. This was the explanation which he gave to his mother when he at last came home.
"Rupert," she said to him, "you must not worry so. I see you are sick—you're as pale as death now. Is there anything the matter, my boy?"
Rupert seated himself on the sofa, resting his face in his hands, and looked into the fire. He was haggard and pale.
"Mother—yes, mother, something's the matter but I cannot tell you, I cannot tell you."
The mother sank beside him. "Rupert, what is it, are you sick?"
"No, dear mother, I'm not sick—only at heart." He put his arms around her neck and resting his head on her shoulder, began to sob.
It had been a long time since she had seen her boy shed tears.
"Mother," he sprang to his feet and forced himself to talk, "I must tell you. The bank has failed and—and—I have not always told you of my business transactions, mother. I now owe more than we are worth in this world. I have been investing in real estate. I paid a big price for the Riverside Addition, and the paper I asked you to sign was a mortgage on the farm to secure a loan. Mother, I thought it was a good investment, and it would have been had the railroad remained, but now property has sunk so low that all we own will not pay my debts. And the bank has failed also—O mother!"