POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
PHILADELPHIA: J.B. LIPPINCOTT AND CO.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by
J.B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
LIPPINCOTT'S PRESS, Philadelphia.
PAGE A Chapter of American Exploration. (Illustrated.) William H. Rideing 393 Adam and Eve Author of "Dorothy Fox" 42, 147, 290, 411, 547, 666 A Forgotten American Worthy Charles Burr Todd 68 A Graveyard Idyl Henry A. Beers 484 A Great Singer Lucy H. Hooper 507 American Aeronauts. (Illustrated.) Will O. Bates 137 Americans Abroad Alain Gore 466 An Episode of Spanish Chivalry Prof. T. F. Crane 747 An Historical Rocky-Mountain Outpost. (Illustrated.) George Rex Buckman 649 An Old English Home: Bramshill House Rose G. Kingsley 163 An Open Look at the Political Situation 118 A Pivotal Point William M. Baker 559 Automatism Dr. H. C. Wood 627, 755 A Villeggiatura in Asisi Author of "Signor Monaldini's Niece" 308 Bauble Wishart Author of "Flitters, Tatters and the Counsellor" 719 Canoeing on the High Mississippi. (Illustrated.) A. H. Siegfried 171, 279 Dungeness, General Greene's Sea-Island Plantation Frederick A. Ober. 241 Ekoniah Scrub: Among Florida Lakes. (Illustrated.) Louise Seymour Houghton 265 Findelkind of Martinswand: A Child's Story Ouida 438 Gas-Burning, and its Consequences George J. Varney 734 Glimpses of Portugal and the Portuguese. (Illustrated.) 473 Heinrich Heine A. Parker 604 Horse-Racing in France. (Illustrated.) L. Lejeune 321, 452 How she Kept her Vow: A Narrative of Facts S. G. W. Benjamin 594 "Kitty" Lawrence Buckley 503 Limoges, and its Porcelain George L. Catlin 576 Mallston's Youngest M. H. Catherwood 189 Mrs. Marcellus. By a Guest at her Saturdays Olive Logan 613 Mrs. Pinckney's Governess 336 National Music an Interpreter of National Character Amelia E. Barr 181 Newport a Hundred Years Ago Frances Pierrepont North 351 On Spelling Reform M. B. C. True 111 On the Skunk River Louise Coffin Jones 56 Our Grandfathers' Temples. (Illustrated.) Charles F. Richardson 678 Paradise Plantation. (Illustrated.) Louise Seymour Houghton 19 Pipistrello Ouida 84 Seven Weeks a Missionary Louise Coffin Jones 424 Short Studies in the Picturesque William Sloan Kennedy 375 Studies in the Slums— Helen Campbell III. Nan; or, A Girl's Life 103 IV. Jack 213 V. Diet and its Doings 362 VI. Jan of the North 498 The [Greek: Apax Aegomena] in Shakespeare Prof. James D. Butler 742 The Arts of India. (Illustrated.) Jennie J. Young 532 The Authors of "Froufrou" J. Brander Matthews 711 The Early Days of Mormonism Frederic G. Mather 198 The Mistakes of Two People Margaret Bertha Wright 567 The Palace of the Leatherstonepaughs. (Illustrated.) Margaret Bertha Wright 9 The Practical History of a Play William H. Rideing 586 The Price of Safety E. W. Latimer 698 The Ruin of Me. (Told by a Young Married Man.) Mary Dean 369 The Ruins of the Colorado Valley. (Illustrated.) Alfred Terry Bacon 521 Through the Yellowstone Park to Fort Custer S. Weir Mitchell, M. D. 29 Westbrook Alice Ilgenfritz 218 Where Lightning Strikes George J. Varney 232 Will Democracy Tolerate a Permanent Class of National Office-holders? 690
LITERATURE OF THE DAY, comprising Reviews of the following Works:
Arr, E. H.—New England Bygones 392 Auerbach, Berthold—Brigitta 775 Ayres, Anne—The Life and Work of William Augustus Muhlenberg 135 Black, William—White Wings: A Yachting Romance 775 Forrester, Mrs.—Roy and Viola 775 Fothergill, Jessie—The Wellfields 775 Green, John Richard—History of the English People 774 Laffan, May—Christy Carew 133 L'Art: revue hebdomadaire illustree. Sixieme annee, Tome II 517 Mahaffy, M. A., Rev. J. P.—A History of Classical Greek Literature 261 Mrs. Beauchamp Brown 518 Nichol, John—Byron. (English Men-of-Letters Series.) 645 Piatt, John James—Pencilled Fly-Leaves: A Book of Essays in Town and Country 648 Scoones, W. Baptiste—Four Centuries of English Letters 647 Smith, Goldwin—William Cowper. (English Men-of-Letters Series.) 263 Stephen, Leslie—Alexander Pope. (English Men-of-Letters Series.) 389 Symington, Andrew James—Samuel Lover: A Biographical Sketch. With Selections from his Writings and Correspondence 391 Taylor, Bayard—Critical Essays and Literary Notes 519 " " —Studies in German Literature 519 The American Art Review, Nos. 8 and 9 520 Walford, L. B.—Troublesome Daughters 775 Wikoff, Henry—The Reminiscences of an Idler 135
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP, comprising the following Articles:
A Child's Autobiography, 770; A Legion of Devils, 257; A Little Ireland in America, 767; A Natural Barometer, 517; An Unfinished Page of History, 764; A Plot for an Historical Novel, 385; A Sermon to Literary Aspirants, 637; Civil-Service Reform and Democratic Ideas, 762; Concerning Night-Noises, 253; Condition of the People in the West of Ireland, 514; Conservatory Life in Boston, 511; Edelweiss, 126; Fate of an Old Companion of Napoleon III., 516; High Jinks on the Upper Mississippi, 515; Our New Visitors, 388; People's Houses: A Dialogue, 640; Prayer-Meeting Eloquence, 129; Seeing is Believing, 642; Spoiled Children, 128; Tabarin, the French Merry-Andrew, 255; The Demidoffs, 259; The Jardin d'Acclimatation of Paris, 130; The Miseries of Camping Out, 387; The Paris Salon of 1880, 381; "Time Turns the Tables," 642; Unreformed Spelling, 388; Wanted—A Real Gainsborough, 772; "Western Memorabilia," 250.
A Vengeance Edgar Fawcett 211 Dawn John B. Tabb 612 Delectatio Piscatoria. The Upper Kennebec Horatio Nelson Powers 367 From Far Philip Bourke Marston 465 Lost Mary B. Dodge 665 My Treasure H. L. Leonard 109 Possession Eliza Calvert Hall 162 Shelley J. B. Tabb 18 Teresa di Faenza Emma Lazarus 83 The Home of the Gentians Howard Glyndon 350 The King's Gifts Emily A. Braddock 718 The Sea's Secret G. A. Davis 240 Three Roses Julia C. R. Dorr 585 Under the Grasses Dora Reed Goodale 502
POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
THE PALACE OF THE LEATHERSTONEPAUGHS.
Every sentimental traveller to Rome must sometimes wonder if to come to the Eternal City is not, after all, more of a loss than a gain: Rome unvisited holds such a solitary place in one's imaginings. It is then a place around which sweeps a different atmosphere from that of any other city under the sun. One sees it through poetic mists that veil every prosaic reality. It is arched by an horizon against which the figures of its wonderful history are shadowed with scarcely less of grandeur and glory than those the old gods cast upon the Sacred Hill.
One who has never seen Rome is thus led to imagine that those of his country-people who have lived here for years have become in a manner purged of all natural commonplaceness. One thinks of them as refined—sublimated, so to speak—into beings worthy of reverence and to be spoken of with awed admiration. For have not their feet wandered where the Caesars' feet have trod, till that famous ground has become common earth to them? Have they not dwelt in the shadow of mountains that have trembled beneath the tramp of Goth, Visigoth and Ostrogoth, till those shadows have become every-day shadows to them? Have they not often watched beneath the same stars that shone upon knightly vigils, till the whiteness of those shining hosts has made pure their souls as it purified the heroic ones of old? Have they not listened to the singing and sighing of the selfsame winds that sung and sighed about the spot where kingly Numa wooed a nymph, till it must be that into the commoner natures has entered some of the sweetness and wisdom of that half-divine communion?
Thus the dreamer comes to Rome expecting to enter and become enfolded by those poetic mists, to live an ideal life amid the tender melancholy that broods over stately and storied ruin, and to forget for evermore, while within the wondrous precincts, that aught more prosaic exists than the heroes of history, the fairest visions of art and dreams of poesy.
So came the Leatherstonepaughs. And so have the Leatherstonepaughs sometimes wondered if, after all, to come to Rome is not more of a loss than a gain in the dimming of one of their fairest ideals. For is there another city in the world where certain of the vulgar verities of life press themselves more prominently into view than in the Eternal City? Can one anywhere have a more forcible conviction that greasy cookery is bile-provoking, and that it is because the sylvan bovine ruminates so long upon the melancholy Campagna that one's dinners become such a heavy and sorrowful matter in Rome? Is there any city in the universe where fleas dwarf more colossally and fiendishly Blake's famous "ghosts" of their kind? Does one anywhere come oftener in from wet streets, "a dem'd moist, unpleasant body," to more tomblike rooms? Is one anywhere so ceaselessly haunted by the disagreeable consciousness that one pays ten times as much for everything one buys as a native pays, and that the trousered descendant of the toga'd Roman regards the Western barbarian as quite as much his legitimate prey as the barbarian's barelegged ancestors were the prey of his forefathers before the tables of history were turned, Rome fallen and breeches supplied to all the world? And are any mortal vistas more gorgeously illuminated by the red guidebook of the Tourist than are the stately and storied ruins where the sentimentalist seeketh the brooding of a tender melancholy, and findeth it not in the presence of couriers, cabmen, beggars, photograph-peddlers, stovepipe hats, tie-backs and bridal giggles?
The dreamer thought to find old Rome crystallized amid its glorious memories. He finds a nineteenth-century city, with gay shops and fashionable streets, living over the heroic scenes of the ancients and the actual woe and spiritual mysticism of the mediaeval age; and he is disappointed—nay, even sometimes enraged into a gnashing of the teeth at all things Roman.
But after many weeks, after the sights have been "done," the mouldy and mossy nooks of the old city explored, and the marvellous picturesqueness that hides in strange places revealed—after one has a speaking acquaintance with all the broken bits of old statues that gather moth and rust where the tourist cometh not and the guidebook is not known, and has followed the tiniest thread of legend or tradition into all manner of mysterious regions,—then the sentimentalist begins to love Rome again—Rome as it is, not Rome as it seemed through the glamours of individual imagination.
This is what the Leatherstonepaughs did. But first they fled the companionship of the beloved but somewhat loudly-shrieking American eagle as that proud bird often appears in the hotels and pensions of Europe, and lived in a shabby Roman palace, where only the soft bastard Latin was heard upon the stairs, and where, if any mediaeval ghost stalked in rusted armor or glided in mouldering cerements, it would not understand a single word of their foreign, many-consonanted speech.
This palace stands, gay and grim, at the corner of a gay street and a dingy vicolo, the street and alley contrasting in color like a Claude Lorraine with a Nicholas Poussin. Past one side of the palace drifts all day a bright tide of foreign sightseers, prosperous Romans, gay models and flower-venders, handsome carriages, dark-eyed girls with their sallow chaperones, and olive-cheeked, huge-checked jeunesse doree, evidently seeking for pretty faces as for pearls of great price, as is the manner of the jeunesse doree of the Eternal City; while down upon the scene looks a succession of dwelling-houses, a gray-walled convent or two, one of the stateliest palaces of Rome—now let out in apartments and hiding in obscure rooms the last two impoverished descendants of a proud race that helped to impoverish Rome—one or two more prosperous palaces, and a venerable church, looking like a sleepy watchman of Zion suffering the enemy to do as it will before his closed eyes.
On the other side is the vicolo, dark of wall and dank of pavement, with petticoats and shirts dangling from numerous windows and fluttering like gibbeted wretches in the air; with frowzy women sewing or knitting in the sombre doorways and squalid urchins screaming everywhere; with humble vegetables and cheap wines exposed for sale in dirty windows; with usually a carriage or two undergoing a washing at some stable-door; and with almost always an amorous Romeo or two from some brighter region wandering hopefully to and fro amid the unpicturesque gloom of this Roman lane to catch a wafted kiss or a dropped letter from the rear window of his Juliet's home. For nowhere else in Europe, Asia, America, the Oceanic Archipelago or the Better Land can the Romeo-and-Juliet business be more openly and freely carried on than in the by-streets of the Eternal City, where girls are thought to be as jealously secluded from the monster Man as are the women of a Turkish seraglio or the nuns of a European convent. These Romeos and Juliets usually seem quite indifferent to the number of unsympathetic eyes that watch their little drama, providing only Papa and Mamma Capulet are kept in the dark in the shop below. Even the observation of Signor and Signora Montague would disturb them little, for it is only Juliet who is guarded, and Romeo is evidently expected to get all the fun out of life he can. In their dingy vicolo the Leatherstonepaughs have seen three Romeos watching three windows at the same twilight moment. One of them stood under an open window in the third story, from whence a line was dropped down to receive the letter he held in his hand. Just as the letter-weighted line was drawn up a window immediately below Juliet's was thrown violently open, and an unromantic head appeared to empty vials of wrath upon the spectacled Romeo below for always hanging about the windows of the silly pizzicarole girls above and giving the house a ridiculous appearance in the eyes of the passers-by. Romeo answered audaciously that the signora was mistaken in the man, that he had never been under that window before in his life, had never seen the Signorina Juliet, daughter of Capulet the pizzicarole who lived above, but that he was merely accompanying his friend Romeo, who loved Juliet the daughter of the drochiere who lived a story below, and who was now wooing her softly two or three windows away. A shriek was his response as the wrathful head disappeared, while the lying Romeo laughed wickedly and the Leatherstonepaughs immoderately, in spite of themselves, to see Juliet, daughter of the drochiere, electrically abstracted from her window as if by the sudden application of a four-hundred-enraged-mother-power to her lofty chignon from behind, while the three Romeos, evidently all strangers to each other, folded their tents like the Arab and silently stole away.
The Leatherstonepaughs always suspected that no lordly race, from father's father to son's son, had ever dwelt in their immense palace. They suspected rather that it was, like many another mighty Roman pile, reared by plebeian gains to shelter noble Romans fair and proud whom Fate confined to economical "flats," and whose wounded pride could best be poulticed by the word palazzo.
Hans Christian Andersen knew this palace well, and has described it as the early home of his Improvisatore. In those days two fountains tinkled, one within, the other just outside, the dusky iron-barred basement. One fountain, however, has ceased to flow, and now if a passer-by peeps in at the grated window, whence issue hot strong vapors and bursts of merry laughter, he will see a huge stone basin into whose foaming contents one fountain drips, and over which a dozen washerwomen bend and pound with all their might and main in a bit of chiaroscuro that reminds one of Correggio.
Over this Correggio glimpse wide stone stairs lead past dungeon-like doors up five flights to the skylighted roof. Each of these doors has a tiny opening through which gleams a watchful eye and comes the sound of the inevitable "Chi e?" whenever the doorbell rings, as if each comer were an armed marauder strayed down from the Middle Ages, who must be well reconnoitred before the fortress-gates are unbarred.
It was in the ultimo piano that the Leatherstonepaughs pitched their lodge in a vast wilderness of colorful tiled roofs, moss-grown and lichen-laden, amid a forest of quaintly-shaped and smokeless chimneys. Their floors, guiltless of rugs or carpets, were of earthen tiles and worn into hollows where the feet of the palace-dwellers passed oftenest to and fro. A multitude of undraped windows opened like doors upon stone balconies, whither the inhabitants flew like a startled covey of birds every time the king and queen drove by in the street below, and upon which they passed always from room to room. The outer balcony looks down upon the Piazza Barberini and its famous Spouting Triton, with an horizon-line over the roofs broken by gloomy stone-pines and cypresses that seem to have grown from the buried griefs of Rome's dead centuries. The inner balcony overlooks the court, where through the wide windows of every story, amid the potted plants and climbing vines that never take on a shade of pallor in an Italian winter, and that adorn every Roman balcony, one could see into the penetralia of a dozen Roman families and wrest thence the most vital secrets—even to how much Romano Alfredo drank at dinner or whether lemon-juice or sour wine gave piquancy to Rosina's salad. Entirely unacquainted with these descendants of ancient patrician or pleb, the Leatherstonepaughs ventilated original and individual theories concerning them, and gave them names of their own choosing.
"Rameses the Great has quarrelled with the Sphinx and is flirting with the Pyramid," whispered young Cain one day as some of the family, leaning over the iron railing, looked into the leafy, azure-domed vault below, and saw into the dining-room of a family whose mysteriousness of habit and un-Italian blankness of face gave them a fanciful resemblance to the eternal riddles of the Orient.
The "Pyramid," whose wide feet and tiny head gave her her triangular title, was evidently a teacher, for she so often carried exercise-books and dog-eared grammars in her hand. She chanced at that moment to glance upward. "Lucia," she cried to the Sphinx, speaking with an Italian accent that she flattered herself was to the down-gazers an unknown tongue, "do look up to the fifth loggia. If there isn't the Huge Bear, the Middle-sized Bear and the Wee Bear looking as if they wanted to come down and eat us up!"
"Y' ain't fat 'nuf," yelled the Wee Bear before the elder Bruins had time to squelch him.
The studio-salon of the Leatherstonepaughs amid the clouds and chimneys of the Eternal City was a chapter for the curious. It was as spacious as a country meeting-house, as lofty as befits a palace. It was frescoed like some of the modern pseudo-Gothic and pine cathedrals that adorn the village-greens of New England hamlets, and its pot-pourri of artistic ideas was rich in helmeted Minervas, vine-wreathed Bacchuses, winged Apollos and nameless classic nymphs, all staring downward from the spandrels of pointed arches with quite as much at-homeness as Olympian heroes would feel amid the mystic shades of the Scandinavian Walhalla. This room was magnificent with crimson upholstery, upon which rested a multitude of scarlet-embroidered cushions that seemed to the color-loving eye like a dream of plum-pudding after a nightmare of mince-pie. Through this magnificence had drifted, while yet the Leatherstonepaughs saw Rome in all its idealizing mists, generations of artists. Sometimes these artists had had a sublime disdain of base lucre, and sometimes base lucre had had a sublime disdain of them. Some of the latter class—whose name is Legion—had marked their passage by busts, statuettes and paintings that served to remind Signora Anina, their landlady, that promises of a remittance can be as fair and false as the song of the Sirens or the guile of the Loreley. Crusaders in armor brandished their lances there in evidence that Michael Angelo Bivins never sent from Manhattan the bit of white paper to redeem them. Antignone—usually wearing a Leatherstonepaugh bonnet—mourned that Praxiteles Periwinkle faded out of the vistas of Rome to the banks of the Thames without her. Dancing Floras seemed joyous that they had not gone wandering among the Theban Colossi with Zefferino, instead of staying to pay for his Roman lodging; while the walls smiled, wept, simpered, threatened and gloomed with Madonnas, Dolorosas, Beatrices, sprites, angels and fiends, the authors of whose being had long ago drifted away on the ocean of poverty which sweeps about the world, and beneath which sometimes the richest-freighted ships go down. In the twenty years that Signora Anina has let her rooms to artists many such tragedies have written significant and dreary lines upon her walls.
That studio-salon was rich not alone in painting and sculpture. The whatnot was a museum whither might come the Northern Goth and Southern Vandal to learn what a Roman home can teach of the artistic taste that Matthew Arnold declares to be the natural heritage only of the nation which rocked the cradle of the Renaissance when its old Romanesque and Byzantine parents died. That whatnot was covered with tiny china dogs and cats, such as we benighted American Goths buy for ten cents a dozen to fill up the crevices in Billy's and Bobby's Christmas stockings. Fancy inkstands stood cheek by jowl with wire flower-baskets that were stuffed with crewel roses of such outrageous hues as would make the Angel of Color blaspheme. Cut-glass spoon-holders kept in countenance shining plated table-casters eternally and spotlessly divorced from the purpose of their being. There were gaudy china vases by the dozen and simpering china shepherdesses by the score. There were plaster casts of the whole of Signora Anina's family of nine children, from the elder fiery Achilles to the younger hysterical Niobe. There were perfume-bottles enough to start a coiffeur in business, and woolly lambs enough for a dozen pastoral poems or as many bucolic butchers. But the piano was piled high with Beethoven's sonatas and Chopin's delicious dream-music, while a deluge of French novels had evidently surged over that palace of the Leatherstonepaughs.
When the family took possession of their share of the palazzo a corner of this studio-salon was dedicated to a peculiar member of their family. From that corner she seldom moved save as she swept away in some such elegant costume as the others wore only upon gala-occasions, or in some picturesque or wildly-fantastic garb that would have lodged her in a policeman's care had she ever been suffered to escape thus from the palace. All day long, day after day, she tarried in her corner mute and motionless, eying all comers and goers with a haughty stare. Sometimes she leaned there with rigid finger pressed upon her lip, like a statue of Silence; sometimes her hands were pressed pathetically to her breast, like a Mater Dolorosa; sometimes both arms hung lax and limp by her side, like those of a heart-broken creature; and sometimes she wildly clutched empty air, like a Leatherstonepaugh enthusiastically inebriated or gone stark, staring, raving mad!
Yet never, never, never was Silentia Leatherstonepaugh known to break that dreadful silence, even though honored guests spoke to her kindly, and although young Cain Leatherstonepaugh repeatedly reviled her as had she been Abel's wife. One day came an old Spanish monk of whom Leah and Rachel would learn the language of Castile. Silentia gloomed in her dusky corner unseen of the monk, who was left with her an instant alone. A few moments before, moved perhaps by a dawning comprehension of the unspeakable pathos of her fate, young Cain had given her a dagger. When, two minutes after the monk's arrival, Leah and Rachel entered the room, a black sighing mass cowered in a corner of the sofa, while Silentia rose spectre-like in the dimness, the dagger pointed toward her heart.
"Madonna mia!" giggled the monk hysterically when his petticoats were pulled decorously about him and he was set on his feet again, "I thought I should be arrested for murder—poverino mio!"
Another day came one of the Beelzebub girls—Lady Diavoletta—who wished to coax some of the Leatherstonepaughs to paint her a series of fans with the torments of Dante's Inferno. When the doorbell rang, and while Cain cried "Chi e?" at the peephole, Leah, who was just posing for Rachel's barelegged gypsy, hastily pulled a long silk skirt from haughty but unresisting Silentia and hurried it over her own head before Lady Diavoletta was admitted. The heiress of the Beelzebubs tarried but a moment, then took her departure grimly, without hinting a word of her purpose. Said Lady Diavoletta afterward to the Cherubim sisters, "Would you believe it? I called one day upon those Leatherstonepaughs, and they never even apologized for receiving me in a room where there was an insane American just escaped from her keeper, tray beang arrangee pore doncy le cong cong!"
Dismal and grim though the exterior of that palazzo was, needing but towers and machicolated parapets to seem a fortress, or an encircling wall to seem a frowning monastery where cowled figures met each other only to whisper sepulchrally, "Brother, we must die," it was yet the scene of not a few laughable experiences. And perhaps even in this respect it may not have differed so widely as one might think from cloistered shades of other days, when out of sad, earth-colored raiment and the habit of dismal speech human sentiment painted pictures while yet the fagots grew apace for their destruction as well as for the funeral-pyre of their scolding and bellowing enemy, Savonarola. For where Fra Angelico, working from the life, could create a San Sebastian so instinct with earthly vitality and earthly bloom that pious Florentine women could not say their prayers in peace in its presence, there were three easels, each bearing a canvas, in different parts of the room. Before each easel worked a Leatherstonepaugh, each clad with classic simplicity in a long blue cotton garment, decorated with many colors and smelling strongly of retouching varnish, that covered her from the white ruffle at her throat to the upper edge of her black alpaca flounce.
The room was silent, and, except for the deft action of brushes, motionless. Only that from below was heard the musical splash of the Barberini Tritons, and that from the windows could be seen the sombre pines of the Ludovisi gardens swaying in solemn rhythmic measure must have been sometimes unbending from the dole and drear of mediaeval asceticism into something very like human fun.
One day the Leatherstonepaughs were all at work in the immense studio. Silentia alone was idle, and, somewhat indecorously draped only in a bit of old tapestry, with dishevelled hair and lolling head, leaned against the wall, apparently in the last stages of inebriety. There against the blue sky, all the world would have seemed petrified into the complete passiveness of sitting for its picture.
Marietta was their model. She was posed in a nun's dress, pensive gray, with virginal white bound primly across her brow. Marietta is a capital model, and her sad face and tender eyes were upturned with exactly the desired expression to the grinning mask in the centre of the ceiling. Silentia kindly consented to pose for the cross to which the nun clung; that is, she wobbled weakly into the place where the sacred emblem would have been were this Nature and not Art, and where the cross would be in the picture when completed. Marietta clung devoutly to Silentia's ankles, and Silentia looked as cross as possible.
"How unusual to see one of Italia's children with a face like that!" said a Leatherstonepaugh as she studied the nun's features. "One would say that she had really found peace only after some terrible suffering."
"She does not give me that impression," said another Leatherstonepaugh. "Her contours are too round, her color too undimmed, ever to have weathered spiritual storms. She seems to me more like one of Giovanni Bellini's Madonnas, those fair, fresh girl-mothers whom sorrow has never breathed upon to blight a line or tint, and yet who seem to have a prophecy written upon their faces—not of the glory of the agony, but of the lifelong sadness of a strange destiny. This girl has some mournful prescience perhaps. Let me talk with her by and by."
"Marietta," said a Leatherstonepaugh in the next repose, "if you were not obliged to be a model, what would you choose to be, of all things in the world?"
This was only an entering-wedge, intended by insidious degrees to pry open the heart of the girl and learn the mystery of her Madonna-like sadness.
Marietta looked up quickly: "What would I be, signorina? Dio mio! but I would wear shining clothes and ride in the Polytheama! Giacomo says I was born for the circus. Will le signorine see?"
In the twinkling of an eye, before the Leatherstonepaughs could breathe, the pensive gray raiment was drawn up to the length of a ballet-skirt and the foot of the Madonna-faced nun was in the open mouth of one of Lucca della Robbia's singing-boys that hung on the wall about five feet from the floor!
"Can any of the signorine do that?" she crowed triumphantly. "I can knock off a man's hat or black his eye with my foot."
All the Leatherstonepaughs groaned in doleful chorus, "A-a-a-h-h!"
And it was not until young Cain, ostracised from the studio during the seance, whistled in through the keyhole sympathetic inquiries concerning the only woe his little soul knew, "Watty matter in yare? Ennybuddy dut e tummuck-ache?" that they chorused with laughter at their "Giovanni-Bellini Madonna."
MARGARET BERTHA WRIGHT.
Shelley, the wondrous music of thy soul Breathes in the cloud and in the skylark's song, That float as an embodied dream along The dewy lids of Morning. In the dole That haunts the west wind, in the joyous roll Of Arethusan fountains, or among The wastes where Ozymandias the strong Lies in colossal ruin, thy control Speaks in the wedded rhyme. Thy spirit gave A fragrance to all Nature, and a tone To inexpressive Silence. Each apart— Earth, Air and Ocean—claims thee as its own, The twain that bred thee, and the panting wave That clasped thee like an overflowing heart.
J. B. TABB.
"Of course you will live at the hotel?"
"Not at all. The idea of leaving one's work three times a day to dress for meals!"
"May I ask, then, where you do propose to reside?"
"In the cottage on the place, to be sure."
The Pessimist thrust his hands into his pockets and gave utterance to a long, low whistle.
"You don't believe it? Come over with us and look at it, and let us tell you our plans."
"That negro hut, Hope? You never can be in earnest?"
"She is until she has seen it," said the Invalid, smiling. "You had better go over with her: a sight of the place will be more effectual than all your arguments."
"But she has seen it," said Merry. "Two years ago, when we were here and old Uncle Nat was so ill, we went over there."
"And I remember the house perfectly," added Hope—"a charming long, low, dark room, with no windows and a great fireplace, and the most magnificent live-oak overhanging the roof."
"How enchanting! Let us move in at once." The Invalid rose from his chair, and taking Merry's arm, the four descended the piazza-steps.
"Of course," explained Hope as we walked slowly under the grand old trees of the hotel park—"of course the carpenter and the painter and the glazier are to intervene, and Merry and I must make no end of curtains and things. But it will be ever so much cheaper, when all is done, than living at the hotel, besides being so much more cozy; and if we are to farm, we really should be on the spot."
"Meantime, I shall retain my room at the hotel," said the Pessimist, letting down the bars.
"You are expected to do that," retorted Merry, disdaining the bars and climbing over the fence. "It will be quite as much as you deserve to be permitted to take your meals with us. But there! can you deny that that is beautiful?"
The wide field in which we were walking terminated in a high bluff above the St. John's. A belt of great forest trees permitted only occasional glimpses of the water on that side, but to the northward the ground sloped gradually down to one of the picturesque bays which so frequently indent the shores of the beautiful river. Huge live-oaks stood here and there about the field, with soft gray Spanish moss swaying from their dark branches. Under the shadow of one more mighty than the rest stood the cottage, or rather the two cottages, which formed the much-discussed residence—two unpainted, windowless buildings, with not a perpendicular line in their whole superficial extent.
The Pessimist withdrew the stick which held the staple and threw open the unshapely door. There were no steps, but a little friendly pushing and pulling brought even the Invalid within the room. There was a moment's silence; then, from Hope, "Oh, the magnificent chimney! Think of a fire of four-foot lightwood on a chilly evening!"
"I should advise the use of the chimney as a sleeping-room: there seems to be none other," said the Pessimist.
"But we can curtain off this entire end of the room. How fortunate that it should be so large! Here will be our bedroom, and this corner shall be for Merry. And when we have put one of those long, low Swiss windows in the east side, and another here to the south, you'll see how pleasant it will be."
"It appears to me," he remarked perversely, "that windows will be a superfluous luxury. One can see out at a dozen places already; and as for ventilation, there is plenty of that through the roof."
"The frame really is sound," said the Invalid, examining with a critical eye.
"Of course it is," said Hope. "Now let us go into the kitchen. If that is only half as good I shall be quite satisfied."
The kitchen-door, which was simply an old packing-box cover, with the address outside by way of doorplate, was a veritable "fat man's misery," but as none of the party were particularly fat we all managed to squeeze through.
"Two rooms!" exclaimed Hope. "How enchanting! I had no idea that there was more than one. What a nice little dining-room this will make! There is just room enough."
"'Us four and no more,'" quoted Merry. "But where will the handmaiden sleep?"
"The kitchen is large," said the Pessimist, bowing his head to pass into the next room: "it will only be making one more curtain, Merry, and she can have this corner."
"He is converted! he really is converted!" cried Merry, clapping her hands. "And now there is only papa, and then we can go to the sawmill to order lumber."
"And to the Cove to find a carpenter," added Hope. "Papa can make up his mind in the boat."
We had visited Florida two years before, and, charmed with the climate, the river, the oaks, the flowers, the sweet do-nothing life, we had followed the example of so many worthy Northerners and had bought an old plantation, intending to start an orange-grove. We had gone over all the calculations which are so freely circulated in the Florida papers—so many trees to the acre, so many oranges to the tree: the results were fairly dazzling. Even granting, with a lordly indifference to trifles worthy of incipient millionaires, that the trees should bear only one-fifth of the computed number of oranges, and that they should bring but one-third of the estimated price, still we should realize one thousand dollars per acre. And there are three hundred and sixty acres in our plantation. Ah! even the Pessimist drew a long breath.
Circumstances had, however, prevented our taking immediate steps toward securing this colossal fortune. But now that it had become necessary for us to spend the winter in a warm climate, our golden projects were revived. We would start a grove at once. It was not until we had been three days at sea, southward bound, that Hope, after diligent study of an old Florida newspaper, picked up nobody knows where, became the originator of the farming plan now in process of development.
"The cultivation of the crop becomes the cultivation of the grove," she said with the sublime assurance of utter ignorance, "and thus we shall get our orange-grove at no cost whatever."
She was so much in earnest that the Invalid was actually convinced by her arguments, which, to do her justice, were not original, but were filched from the enthusiastic journal before alluded to. It was decided that we were to go to farming. It is true none of us knew anything about the business except such waifs of experience as remained to the Invalid after thirty years' absence from grandpa's farm, where he used to spend the holidays. Holidays were in winter in those times, and his agricultural experience had consisted principally in cracking butternuts and riding to the wood-lot on the ox-sled. But this was of no consequence, as Hope and Merry agreed, since there were plenty of books on the subject, and, besides, there were the Florida newspapers!
"I warn you I wash my hands of the whole concern," the Pessimist had said. "You'll never make farming pay."
"Because you won't."
"But why, because?"
"The idea of women farming!"
"Oh, well, if you come to that, I should just like to show you what women can do," cried Merry; and this unlucky remark of the Pessimist settles the business. There is no longer any question about farming.
No one could deny that the house was pretty, and comfortable too, when at last the carpenter and painter had done their work, and the curtains and the easy-chairs and the bookshelves had taken their places, and the great fire of pine logs was lighted, and the mocking-bird's song streamed in with the sunlight through the open door and between the fluttering leaves of the ivy-screen at the window. The piano was always open in the evenings, with Merry or the Pessimist strumming on the keys or trying some of the lovely new songs; and Hope would be busy at her table with farm-books and accounts; and the Invalid, in his easy-chair, would be listening to the music and falling off to sleep and rousing himself with a little clucking snore to pile more lightwood on the fire; and the mocking-bird in his covered cage would wake too and join lustily in the song, till Merry smothered him up in thicker coverings.
The first duty was evident. "Give it a name, I beg," Merry had said the very first evening in the new home; and the house immediately went into committee of the whole to decide upon one. Hope proposed Paradise Plantation; Merry suggested Fortune Grove; the Pessimist hinted that Folly Farm would be appropriate, but this proposition was ignominiously rejected; and the Invalid gave the casting-vote for Hope's selection.
The hour for work having now arrived, the man was not slow in presenting himself. "I met an old fellow who used to be a sort of overseer on this very plantation," the Invalid said. "He says he has an excellent horse, and you will need one, Hope. I told him to come and see you."
"Which? the man or the horse?" asked Merry in a low voice.
"Both, apparently," answered the Pessimist in the same tone, "for here they come."
"Ole man Spafford," as he announced himself, was a darkey of ancient and venerable mien, tall, gaunt and weatherbeaten. His steed was taller, gaunter and apparently twice as old—an interesting study for the osteologist if there be any such scientific person.
"He splendid saddle-hoss, missis," said the old man: "good wuk-hoss too—bery fine hoss."
"It seems to me he's rather thin," said Hope doubtfully.
"Dat kase we didn't make no corn dis year, de ole woman an' me, we was bofe so bad wid de misery in the leaders" (rheumatism in the legs). "But Sancho won't stay pore ef you buys corn enough, missis. He powerful good horse to eat."
Further conversation revealed the fact that old man Spafford was "de chief man ob de chu'ch."
"What! a minister?" asked the Invalid.
"No, sah, not azatly de preacher, sah, but I'se de nex' t'ing to dat."
"What may your office be, then, uncle?" asked the Pessimist.
"I'se de section, sah," answered the old man solemnly, making a low bow.
"The sexton! So you ring the bell, do you?"
"Not azatly de bell, sah—we ain't got no bell—but I bangs on de buzz-saw, sah."
"What does he mean?" asked Merry.
The Pessimist shrugged his shoulders without answering, but the "section" hastened to explain: "You see, missy, when dey pass roun' de hat to buy a bell dey didn't lift nigh enough; so dey jis' bought a buzz-saw and hung it up in de chu'ch-house; an' I bangs on de buzz-saw, missy."
The chief man of the church was found, upon closer acquaintance, to be the subject of a profound conviction that he was the individual predestinated to superintend our farming interests. He was so well persuaded of this high calling that none of us dreamed of questioning it, and he was forthwith installed in the coveted office. At his suggestion another man, Dryden by name, was engaged to assist old man Spafford and take care of Sancho, and a boy, called Solomon, to wait upon Dryden and do chores. A few day-laborers were also temporarily hired, the season being so far advanced and work pressing. The carpenters were recalled, for there was a barn to build, and hen-coops and a pig-sty, not to speak of a fence. Hope and Merry flitted hither and thither armed with all sorts of impossible implements, which some one was sure to want by the time they had worked five minutes with them. As for the Pessimist, he confined himself to setting out orange trees, the only legitimate business, he contended, on the place. This work, however, he performed vicariously, standing by and smoking while a negro set out the trees.
"My duties appear to be limited to paying the bills," remarked the Invalid, "and I seem to be the only member of the family who cannot let out the job."
"I thought the farm was to be self-supporting?" said the Pessimist.
"Well, so it is: wait till the crops are raised," retorted Merry.
"Henderson says," observed Hope, meditatively, "that there are six hundred dollars net profits to be obtained from one acre of cabbages."
"Why don't you plant cabbages, then? In this seven-acre lot, for instance?"
"Oh, that would be too many. Besides, I have planted all I could get. It is too late to sow the seed, but old man Spafford had some beautiful plants he let me have. He charged an extra price because they were so choice, but I was glad to get the best: it is cheapest in the end. I got five thousand of them."
"What sort are they?" asked the Invalid.
"I don't know precisely. Spafford says he done lost the paper, and he didn't rightly understand the name nohow, 'long o' not being able to read; but they were a drefful choice kind."
"Oh, bother the name!" said the Pessimist: "who cares what it is? A cabbage is a cabbage, I presume. But what have you in this seven-acre lot?"
"Those are peas. Dryden says that in North Carolina they realize four hundred dollars an acre from them—when they don't freeze."
The planting being now fairly over, we began to look about us for other amusement.
"Better not ride old Sancho," remarked old man Spafford one day as he observed the Pessimist putting a saddle on the ancient quadruped.
"Why not, uncle? You ride him yourself, and you said he was a very fine saddle-horse."
"I rides he bareback. Good hoss for lady: better not put man's saddle on," persisted the old man.
The Pessimist vaulted into the saddle by way of reply, calling out, "Open the gate, Solomon," to the boy, who was going down the lane. But the words were not spoken before Sancho, darting forward, overturned the deliberate Solomon, leaped the gate and rushed out into the woods at a tremendous pace. The resounding beat of his hoofs and energetic cries of "Whoa! whoa!" from his rider were wafted back upon the breeze, gradually dying away in the distance, and then reviving again as the fiery steed reappeared at the same "grand galop." The Pessimist was without a hat, and his countenance bore the marks of many a fray with the lower branches of the trees.
"Here, take your old beast!" he said, throwing the bridle impatiently to Spafford. "What sort of an animal do you call him?"
The "section" approached with a grin of delight; "He waw-hoss, sah. Young missis rid he afo' the waw, an' he used to lady saddle; but ole marsa rid he to de waw, an' whenebber he feel man saddle on he back he runs dat a way, kase he t'ink de Yankees a'ter him;" and he exchanged a glance of intelligence with Sancho, who evidently enjoyed the joke.
The Invalid, who during the progress of our planting had spent much time in explorations among our "Cracker" neighbors, had made the discovery of a most disreputable two-wheeled vehicle, which he had purchased and brought home in triumph. Its wheels were of different sizes and projected from the axle at most remarkable angles. One seat was considerably higher than the other, the cushions looked like so many dishevelled darkey heads, and the whole establishment had a most uncanny appearance. It was a perfect match, however, for Sancho, and that intelligent animal, waiving for the time his objection to having Yankees after him, consented to be harnessed into the vehicle and to draw us slowly and majestically about in the pine woods. He never objected to stopping anywhere while we gathered flowers, and we always returned laden with treasures to deck our little home withal, making many a rare and beautiful new acquaintance among the floral riches of pine barren and hammock.
Meantime, peas and cabbages and many a "green" besides grew and flourished under old man Spafford's fostering care. Crisp green lettuce and scarlet radishes already graced our daily board, and were doubly relished from being, so to speak, the fruit of our own toil. Paradise Plantation became the admiration of all the darkey and Cracker farmers for miles around, and it was with the greatest delight that Hope would accompany any chance visitor to the remotest corner of the farm, unfolding her projects and quoting Henderson to the open-mouthed admiration of her interlocutor.
"Have you looked at the peas, lately, Hope?" asked the Pessimist one lovely February morning.
"Not since yesterday: why?"
"Come and see," was the reply; and we all repaired to the seven-acre lot in company. A woeful sight met our eyes—vines nipped off and trampled down and general havoc and confusion in all the ranks.
"Oh, what is it?" cried Merry in dismay.
"It's de rabbits, missy," replied old man Spafford, who was looking on with great interest. "Dey'll eat up ebery bit o' greens you got, give 'em time enough."
"This must be stopped," said Hope firmly, recovering from her stupor of surprise. "I shall have a close fence put entirely around the place."
"But you've just got a new fence. It will cost awfully."
"No matter," replied Hope with great decision: "it shall be done. The idea of being cheated out of all our profits by the rabbits!"
"What makes them look so yellow?" asked the Invalid as the family was looking at the peas over the new close fence some evenings later.
"Don't they always do so when they blossom?" asked Hope.
"How's that, Spafford?" inquired the Pessimist.
"Dey ain't, not to say, jis' right," replied that functionary, shaking his head.
"Why, what's the matter?" asked Hope quickly.
"Groun' too pore, I 'spec', missis. Mighty pore piece, dis: lan' all wore out. Dat why dey sell so cheap."
"Then won't they bear?" asked Merry in despairing accents.
"Oh yes," said Hope with determined courage. "I had a quantity of fertilizers put on. Besides, I'll send for more. It isn't too late, I'm sure.—We'll use it for top-dressing, eh, Spafford?"
"I declare, Hope, I had no idea you were such a farmer," said the Invalid with a pleasant smile.
"And then, besides, we don't depend upon the peas alone," continued Hope, reflecting back the smile and speaking with quite her accustomed cheerfulness: "there are the corn and the cabbages."
"And the potatoes and cucumbers," added Merry as we returned slowly to the house by way of all the points of interest—the young orange trees, Merry's newly-transplanted wisteria and the pig-pen.
"I rather suspect that there is our most profitable crop," said the Invalid as we seated ourselves upon the piazza which the Pessimist had lately built before the house. He was looking toward a tree which grew not far distant, sheltered by two enormous oaks. Of fair size and perfect proportions, this tree was one mass of glossy, dark-green leaves, amid which innumerable golden fruit glimmered brightly in the setting sunlight.
"Our one bearing tree," answered Hope. "Yes, if we only had a thousand like it we might give up farming."
"We shall have them in time," said the Pessimist complacently, looking abroad upon the straight rows of tiny trees almost hidden by the growing crops. "Thanks to my perseverance—"
"And Dryden's," interpolated Merry.
"There are a thousand four-year-old trees planted," continued the Pessimist, not noticing the interruption. "I wonder how many oranges that tree has borne?"
"I suppose we have eaten some twenty a day from it for the last three months," said Merry.
"Hardly that," said the Invalid, "but say fifteen hundred. And the tree looks almost as full as ever."
"What if we should have them gathered and sold?" suggested Hope—"just to see what an orange tree is really worth. Spafford says that the fruit will not be so good later. It will shrivel at last; and we never can eat all those oranges in any case."
Shipping the oranges was the pleasantest work we had yet done. There was a certain fascination in handling the firm golden balls, in sorting and arranging, in papering and packing; and there was real delight in despatching the first shipment from the farm—the more, perhaps, as the prospect of other shipments began to dwindle. The peas, in spite of the top-dressing, looked yellow and sickly. The cucumbers would not run, and more blossoms fell off than seemed desirable. The Pessimist left off laughing at the idea of farming, and spent a great deal of time walking about the place, looking into things in general.
"Isn't it almost time for those cabbages to begin to head?" he asked one day on returning from a tour of inspection.
"Dryden says," observed Merry, "that those are not cabbages at all: they are collards."
"What, under the sun, are collards?" asked the Invalid.
"They are a coarse sort of cabbage: the colored people like them, but they never head and they won't sell," said Hope, looking up from a treatise on agricultural chemistry. "If those should be collards!"
She laid aside her book and went out to investigate. "At any rate, they will be good for the pigs," she remarked on returning. "I shall have Behavior boil them in that great pot of hers and give them a mess every day. It will save corn."
"'Never say die!'" cried the Pessimist. "'Polly, put the kettle on,-'tle on,-'tle on! Polly, put—'"
The Invalid interposed with a remark. "Southern peas are selling in New York at eight dollars a bushel," he said.
"Oh, those peas! Why won't they grow?" sighed Merry.
The perverse things would not grow. Quotations went down to six dollars and to four, and still ours were not ready to ship. The Pessimist visited the field more assiduously than ever; Merry looked despondent; only Hope kept up her courage.
"Henderson says," she remarked, closing that well-thumbed volume, "that one shouldn't look for profits from the first year's farming. The profits come the second year. Besides, I have learned one thing by this year's experience. Things should not be expected to grow as fast in winter—even a Southern winter—as in summer. Next year we will come earlier and plant earlier, and be ready for the first quotations."
It was a happy day for us all when at last the peas were ready to harvest. The seven-acre lot was dotted over with boys, girls and old women, laughing and joking as they picked. Dryden and old man Spafford helped Hope and Merry with the packing, and the Pessimist flourished the marking-brush with the greatest dexterity. The Invalid circulated between pickers and packers, watching the proceedings with profound interest.
In the midst of it all there came a shower. How it did rain! And it would not leave off, or if it did leave off in the evening it began again in the morning with a fidelity which we would fain have seen emulated by our help. One day's drenching always proved to be enough for those worthies, and we had to scour the country in the pouring rain to beat up recruits. Then the Charleston steamer went by in spite of most frantic wavings of the signal-flag, and our peas were left upon the wharf, exposed to the fury of the elements.
They all got off at last in several detachments, and we had only to wait for returns. The rain had ceased as soon as the peas were shipped, and in the warm, bright weather which followed we all luxuriated in company with the frogs and the lizards. The fields and woods were full of flowers, the air was saturated with sweet odors and sunshine and songs of birds. A messenger of good cheer came to us also by the post in the shape of a cheque from the dealer to whom we had sent our oranges.
"Forty dollars from a single tree!" said Hope exultantly, holding up the slip of paper. "And that after we had eaten from it steadily for three months!"
"The tree is an eighteen-year-old seedling, Spafford says," said the Invalid, looking at the document with interest. "If our thousand do as well in fourteen years, Hope, we may give up planting cabbages, eh?"
"The price will be down to nothing by that time," said the Pessimist, not without a shade of excitement, which he endeavored to conceal, as he looked at the cheque. "Still, it can't go below a certain point, I suppose. The newspapers are sounder on the orange question than on some others, I fancy."
One would have thought that we had never seen a cheque for forty dollars before, so much did we rejoice over this one, and so many hopes of future emolument did we build upon it.
"What's the trouble with the cucumbers, Spafford?" asked the Pessimist as we passed by them one evening on our way up from the little wharf where we had left our sailboat.
"T'ink it de sandemanders, sah. Dey done burrow under dat whole cucumber-patch—eat all the roots. Cucumbers can't grow widout roots, sah."
"But the Florida Agriculturalist says that salamanders don't eat roots," said Hope: "they only eat grubs and worms."
Spafford shook his head without vouchsafing a reply.
"The grubs and worms probably ate the roots, and then the salamanders ate them," observed the Pessimist. "That is poetical justice, certainly. If we could only eat the salamanders now, the retribution would be complete."
"Sandemanders ain't no 'count to eat," said old man Spafford. "Dey ain't many critters good to eat. De meat I likes best is wile-cat."
"Wild-cat, uncle!" exclaimed Merry.
"Do you mean to say you eat such things as that?"
"Why, missy," replied the old man seriously, "a wile-cat's 'most de properest varmint going. Nebber eats not'ing but young pigs and birds and rabbits, and sich. Yankee folks likes chicken-meat, but 'tain't nigh so good."
"Well, if they eat rabbits I think better of them," said Hope; "and here comes Solomon with the mail-bag."
Among the letters which the Invalid turned out a yellow envelope was conspicuous. Hope seized it eagerly. "From the market-man," she said. "Now we'll see."
She tore it open. A ten-cent piece, a small currency note and a one-cent stamp dropped into her lap. She read the letter in silence, then handed it to her husband.
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the Pessimist, reading it over his shoulder. "This is the worst I ever heard. 'Thirty-six crates arrived in worthless condition; twelve crates at two dollars; fifty, at fifty cents; freights, drayage, commissions;—balance, thirty-six cents.' Thirty-six cents; for a hundred bushels of peas! Oh, ye gods and little fishes!"
Even Hope was mute.
Merry took the document. "It was all because of the rain," she said. "See! those last crates, that were picked dry, sold well enough. If all had done as well as that we should have had our money back; and that's all we expected the first year."
"There's the corn, at any rate," said Hope, rousing herself. "Dryden says it's splendid, and no one else has any nearly as early. We shall have the first of the market."
The corn was our first thought in the morning, and we walked out that way to console ourselves with the sight of its green and waving beauty, old Spafford being of the party. On the road we passed a colored woman, who greeted us with the usual "Howdy?"
"How's all with you, Sister Lucindy?" asked the "section."
"All standin' up, thank God! I done come t'rough your cornfield, Uncle Spafford. De coons is to wuk dar."
We hastened on at this direful news.
"I declar'!" said old Spafford as we reached the fence. "So dey is bin' to wuk! Done tote off half a dozen bushel dis bery las' night. Mought as well give it up, missis. Once dey gits a taste ob it, good-bye!"
"Well, that's the worst I ever heard!" exclaimed the Pessimist, resorting to his favorite formula in his dismay. "Between the coons and the commission-merchants your profits will vanish, Hope."
"Do you think I shall give it up so?" asked Hope stoutly. "We kept the rabbits out with a fence, and we can keep the coons out with something else. It is only a few nights' watching and the corn will be fit for sale. Dryden and Solomon must come out with their dogs and guns and lie in wait."
"Bravo, Hope! Don't give up the ship," said the Invalid, smiling.
"Well, if she doesn't, neither will I," said the Pessimist. "For the matter of that, it will be first-rate sport, and I wonder I haven't thought of coon-hunting before. I'll come out and keep the boys company, and we'll see if we don't 'sarcumvent the rascals' yet."
And we did save the corn, and sell it too at a good price, the hotels in the neighborhood being glad to get possession of the rarity. Hope was radiant at the result of her determination: the Pessimist smiled a grim approval when she counted up and displayed her bank-notes and silver.
"A few years more of mistakes and losses, Hope, and you'll make quite a farmer," he condescended to acknowledge. "But do you think you have exhausted the catalogue of animal pests?"
"No," said Hope, laughing. "I never dared to tell you about the Irish potatoes. Something has eaten them all up: Uncle Spafford says it is gophers."
"What is a gopher?" asked Merry. "Is it any relation to the gryphon?"
"It is a sagacious variety of snapping-turtle," replied the Invalid, "which walks about seeking what it may devour."
"And devours my potatoes," said Hope. "But we have got the better of the rabbits and the coons, and I don't despair next year even of the gophers and salamanders."
"Even victory may be purchased too dearly," said the Pessimist.
"After all, the experiment has not been so expensive a one," said the Invalid, laying down the neatly-kept farm-ledger, which he had been examining. "The orange trees are a good investment—our one bearing tree has proved that—and as for the money our farming experiment has cost us, we should have spent as much, I dare say, had we lived at the hotel, and not have been one half as comfortable."
"It is a cozy little home," admitted the Pessimist, looking about the pretty room, now thrown wide open to the early summer and with a huge pot of creamy magnolia-blooms in the great chimney.
"It is the pleasantest winter I ever spent," said Merry enthusiastically.
"Except that dreadful evening when the account of the peas came," said Hope, drawing a long breath. "But I should like to try it again: I shall never be quite satisfied till I have made peas and cucumbers profitable."
"Then, all I have to say is, that you are destined to drag out an unsatisfied existence," said the Pessimist.
"I am not so sure of that," said the Invalid.
And so we turned our faces northward, not without a lingering sorrow at leaving the home where we had spent so many sweet and sunny days.
"Good-bye, Paradise Plantation," said Merry as the little white house under the live-oak receded from our view as we stood upon the steamer's deck.
"It was not so inappropriately named," said the Invalid. "Our life there has surely been more nearly paradisiacal than any other we have known."
And to this even the Pessimist assented.
LOUISE SEYMOUR HOUGHTON.
THROUGH THE YELLOWSTONE PARK TO FORT CUSTER.
It was about 8.30 A. M. before the boat was found, some travellers having removed it from the place where Baronette had cached it. A half hour sufficed to wrap a tent-cover neatly around the bottom and to tack it fast on the thwarts. Then two oblongs of flat wood were nailed on ten feet of pine-stems and called oars; and, so equipped, we were ready to start.
We had driven or ridden hundreds of miles over a country familiar to any one who chooses to read half a dozen books or reports; but, once across the Yellowstone, we should enter a region of which little has been written since Lewis and Clarke wandered across the head-waters of the Missouri in 1805, and had their perils and adventures told anonymously by one who was to become famous for many noble qualities of mind and heart, for great accomplishments and unmerited misfortunes.[A]
Two or three of us sat on the bluff enjoying our after-breakfast pipes and watching the transport of our baggage. The gray beach at our feet stretched with irregular outline up the lake, and offered one prominent cape whence the boat started for its trips across the stream. By 10.30 all the luggage was over, and then began the business of forcing reluctant mules and horses to swim two hundred yards of cold, swift stream. The bell-mare promptly declined to lead, and only swam out to return again to the shore. Then one or two soldiers stripped and forced their horses in, but in turn became scared, and gave it up amidst chaff and laughter. At last a line of men, armed with stones, drove the whole herd of seventy-five animals into the water with demoniac howls and a shower of missiles. Once in, they took it calmly enough, and, the brave little foal leading, soon reached the farther bank. One old war-horse of recalcitrant views turned back, and had to be towed over.
Finally, we ourselves crossed, and the judge and I, leaving the confusion behind us, struck off into some open woods over an indistinct trail. Very soon Major Gregg overtook us, and we went into camp about 4 P. M. on a rising ground two miles from the lake, surrounded by woods and bits of grass-land. Here Captain G. and Mr. E. left us, going on with Mr. Jump for a two days' hunt.
Next day, at 7 A. M., we rode away over little prairies and across low pine-clad hills, and saw to right and left tiny parks with their forest boundaries, until, after two miles, we came to Pelican Creek, a broad grayish stream, having, notwithstanding its swift current, a look of being meant by Nature for stagnation. As we followed this unwholesome-looking water eastward we crossed some quaking, ill-smelling morasses, and at last rode out on a spacious plain, with Mounts Langford, Doane and Stevenson far to the south-east, and Mount Sheridan almost south-west of us. The first three are bold peaks, while about them lie lesser hills numberless and nameless. The day seemed absolutely clear, yet the mountains were mere serrated silhouettes, dim with a silvery haze, through which gleamed the whiter silver of snow in patches or filling the long ravines. Striking across the plain, we came upon a tent and the horses of Captain G. and Mr. E., who were away in the hills.
Thence we followed the Pelican Valley, which had broadened to a wide meadowy plain, and about ten miles from the camp we began a rough ride up the lessening creek from the level. The valley was half a mile wide, noisome with sulphur springs and steam-vents, with now and then a gayly-tinted hill-slope, colored like the canyon of the Yellowstone. Some one seeing deer above us on the hills, Dr. T., Mr. K. and Houston rode off in pursuit. Presently came a dozen shots far above us, and the major, who had followed the hunters, sent his orderly back for pack-mules to carry the two black-tailed deer they had killed. After a wild scramble through bogs we began to ascend a narrow valley with the creek on our left. Jack Baronette "guessed some timber might have fell on that trail." Trail there was none in reality, only steep hillsides of soft scoriae, streaming sulphur-vents and a cat's cradle of tumbled dead trees. Every few minutes the axes were ringing, and a way was cleared; then another halt, and more axe-work, until we slipped and scrambled and stumbled on to a little better ground, to the comfort of man and beast.
Eighteen miles of this savage riding brought us to our next camp, where, as the shooting was said to be good and the cattle needed rest, it was decided to remain two days. Our tents were pitched on a grassy knoll overlooking the main valley, which was bounded by hills of some three or four hundred feet high, between which the Pelican ran slowly with bad water and wormy trout, though there was no lack of wholesome springs on the hill.
Mr. C. and Mr. T. went off with Jack, and Mr. K. with Jump, to camp out and hunt early. The night was clear, the thermometer down to 24 deg. Fahrenheit, and the ice thick on the pails when we rose. One of our parties came in with six deer: the captain and Mr. C. remained out. The camp was pleasant enough to an idling observer like myself, but it was not so agreeable to find the mountain-side, where Mr. T. and I were looking for game, alive with mosquitos. I lit on a place where the bears had been engaged in some rough-and-tumble games: the ground was strewed with what the lad who was with us asserted to be bears' hair. It looked like the wreck of a thousand chignons, and proved, on inspection, to be a kind of tawny-colored moss!
All night long, at brief intervals, our mules were scared by a dull, distant noise like a musket-shot. A soldier told me it was a mud volcano which he had seen the day we arrived. I then found it marked on Hayden's map, but learned that it had not been seen by him, and was only so located on information received from hunters. On the morning of August 1st I persuaded the major to walk over and look for the volcano. We crossed the valley, and, guided by the frequent explosions, climbed the hills to the east, and, descending on the far side, came into a small valley full of sluggish, ill-smelling rills, among which we found the remarkable crater, which, as it has not been hitherto examined by any save hunters, I shall describe at some length.
A gradual rising ground made up of soft sulphureous and calcareous earth was crowned by a more abrupt rise some thirty-five feet high, composed of tough gray clay. This was pierced by a cone of regular form about thirty feet across at top and five feet at the bottom. On the west, about one-third of the circumference was wanting from a point six feet above the lowest level, thus enabling one to be at a distance or to stand close by, and yet see to the bottom of the pit. The ground all around and the shrubs and trees were dotted thick with flakes of dry mud, which gave, at a distance, a curious stippled look to the mud-spattered surfaces. As I stood watching the volcano I could see through the clouds of steam it steadily emitted that the bottom was full of dark gray clay mud, thicker than a good mush, and that, apparently, there were two or more vents. The outbreak of imprisoned steam at intervals of a half minute or more threw the mud in small fig-like masses from five to forty feet in air with a dull, booming sound, sometimes loud enough to be heard for miles through the awful stillness of these lonely hills. It is clear, from the fact of our finding these mud-patches at least one hundred yards from the crater, that at times much more violent explosions take place. The constant plastering of the slopes of the crater which these explosions cause tends to seal up its vent, but the greater explosions cleanse it at times, and all the while the steam softens the masses on the sides, so that they slip back into the boiling cauldron below. As one faces the slit in the cone there lies to the right a pool of creamy thin mud, white and yellow, feebly boiling. It is some thirty feet wide, and must be not more than twenty feet from the crater: its level I guessed at sixteen feet above that of the bottom of the crater.
After an hour's observation near to the volcano I retired some fifty feet, and, sheltering myself under a stunted pine, waited in the hope of seeing a greater outbreak. After an hour more the boiling lessened and the frequent explosions ceased for perhaps fifteen minutes. Then of a sudden came a booming sound, followed by a hoarse noise, as the crater filled with steam, out of which shot, some seventy-five feet in air, about a cartload of mud. It fell over an area of fifty yards around the crater in large or small masses, which flattened as they struck. As soon as it ended I walked toward the crater. A moment later a second squirt shot out sideways and fell in a line athwart the mud-pool near by, crossing the spot where I had been standing so long, and covering me, as I advanced, with rare patches of hot mud. Some change took place after this in the character and consistency of the mud, and now, at intervals, the curious spectacle was afforded of rings of mud like the smoke-rings cast by a cannon or engine-chimney. As they turned in air they resembled at times the figure 8: once they assumed the form of a huge irregular spiral some ten feet high, although usually the figures were like long spikes, or, more rarely, thin formless leaves, and even like bats or deformed birds.
I walked back over the hills to camp, where we found Captain G. and the commissary with the best of two deer they had shot. Later, Mr. C. and Mr. K. came in with four elk, so that we were well supplied. Of these various meats the deer proved the best, the mountain-sheep the poorest. The minimum of the night temperature was 34 deg. Fahrenheit. At eighty-five hundred feet above tide the change at sundown was abrupt. Our camp-fires had filled the little valley with smoke, and through it the moon rose red and sombre above the pine-clad outlines of the eastward hills.
The next day Mr. E. and I, who liked to break the journey by a walk, started early, and, following a clear trail, soon passed the mules. We left Pelican Creek on our right, and crossed a low divide into a cooly,[B] the valley of Broad Creek: a second divide separated this from Canyon Creek, both of which enter the Yellowstone below the falls.
After some six miles afoot over grassy rolling plains and bits of wood, the command overtook us, and, mounting, we followed the major for an hour or two through bogs and streams, where now and then down went a horse and over went a trooper, or some one or two held back at a nasty crossing until the major smiled a little viciously, when the unlucky ones plunged in and got through or not as might chance.
About twelve some of us held up to lunch, the train and escort passing us. We followed them soon through dense woods, and at last up a small brook in a deep ravine among boulders big and small. At last we lost the trail at the foot of a slope one thousand feet high of loose stones and earth, from the top of which a cry hailed us, and we saw that somehow the command had got up. The ascent was very steep, but before we made it a mule rolled down. As he was laden with fresh antelope and deer meat, the scattering of the yet red joints as he fell made it look as if the poor beast had been torn limb from limb; but, as a packer remarked, "Mules has got an all-fired lot of livin' in 'em;" and the mule was repacked and started up again. "They jist falls to make yer mad, anyway," added the friendly biographer of the mule.
The sheer mountain-side above us was not to be tried mounted; so afoot, bridle in hand, we started up, pulling the horses after us. I had not thought it could be as hard work as it proved. There was a singular and unfeeling lack of intelligence in the fashion the horse had of differing with his leader. When the man was well blown and stopped, the horse was sure to be on his heels, or if the man desired to move the horse had his own opinion and proved restive. At last, horses and men came out on a bit of level woodland opening into glades full of snow. We were eighty-four hundred feet in air, on a spur of Amethyst or Specimen Mountain. We had meant, having made eighteen miles, to camp somewhere on this hill, but the demon who drives men to go a bit farther infested the major that day; so presently the bugle sounded, and we were in the saddle again, and off for a delusive five-mile ride. As Mr. G. Chopper once remarked, "De mile-stones to hebben ain't set no furder apart dan dem in dis yere land;" and I believed him ere that day was done.
The top of this great hill, which may be some ten thousand feet in height, is large and irregular. Our trail lay over its south-eastern shoulder. After a little ride through the woods we came out abruptly on a vast rolling plain sloping to the north-east, and broadening as it fell away from us until, with intervals of belts of wood, it ended in a much larger plain on a lower level, quite half a mile distant, and of perhaps one thousand acres. About us, in the coolies, the "Indian paint-brush" and numberless flowers quite strange to us all so tinted the dried grasses of these little vales as to make the general hue seem a lovely pink-gray. Below us, for a mile, rolled grassy slopes, now tawny from the summer's rainless heat, and set with thousands of balsam-firs in groups, scattered as with the hand of unerring taste here and there over all the broad expanse. Many of them stood alone, slim, tall, gracious cones of green, feathered low, and surrounded by a brighter green ring of small shoots extending from two to four feet beyond where the lowest boughs, touching the earth, were reflected up from it again in graceful curves. On all sides long vistas, bounded by these charming trees, stretched up into the higher spurs. Ever the same flowers, ever the same amazing look of centuries of cultivation, and the feeling that it would be natural to come of a sudden on a gentleman's seat or basking cows, rather than upon the scared doe and dappled fawn which fled through the coverts near us. We had seen many of these parks, but none like this one, nor any sight of plain and tree and flowers so utterly satisfying in its complete beauty. It wanted but a contrast, and, as we rode through and out of a line of firs, with a cry of wonder and simple admiration the rudest trooper pulled up his horse to gaze, and the most brutal mule-guard paused, with nothing in his heart but joy at the splendor of it.
At our feet the mountain fell away abruptly, pine-clad, and at its base the broad plain of the East Branch of the Yellowstone wandered through a vast valley, beyond which, in a huge semicircle, rose a thousand nameless mountains, summit over summit, snow-flecked or snow-clad, in boundless fields—a grim, lonely, desolate horror of rugged, barren peaks, of dark gray for the most part, cleft by deep shadows, and right in face of us one superb slab of very pale gray buttressed limestone, perhaps a good thousand feet high. I thought it the most savage mountain-scenery I had ever beheld, while the almost feminine and tender beauty of the parks which dotted these wild hills was something to bear in remembrance.
But the escort was moving, the mules crowding on behind our halted column; so presently we were slipping, sliding, floundering down the hillside, now on steep slopes, which made one a bit nervous to ride along; now waiting for the axemen to clear away the tangle of trees crushed to earth by the burden of some year of excessive snow; now on the horses, now off, through marsh and thicket. I ask myself if I could ride that ride to-day: it seems to me as if I could not. One so fully gets rid of nerves in that clear, dry altitude and wholesome life that the worst perils, with a little repetition, become as trifles, and no one talks about things which at home would make a newspaper paragraph. Yet I believe each of us confessed to some remnant of nervousness, some special dread. Riding an hour or two at night in a dense wood with no trail is an experiment I advise any man to try who thinks he has no nerves. A good steep slope of a thousand feet of loose stones to cross is not much more exhilarating: nobody likes it.
The command was far ahead of two or three of us when we had our final sensation at a smart little torrent near the foot of the hill, a tributary of the main river. The horses dive, in a manner, into a cut made dark by overgrowth of trees, then down a slippery bank, scuttle through wild waters surging to the cinche, over vast boulders and up the farther bank, the stirrups striking the rocks to left or right, till horse and man draw long breaths of relief, and we are out on the slightly-rolling valley of the East Yellowstone, and turn our heads away from Specimen Mountain toward Soda Butte.
Captain G. and I, who had fallen to the rear, rode leisurely northward athwart the open prairie on a clear trail, which twice crossed the shallow river, and, leaving the main valley, carried us up a narrowing vale on slightly rising ground. On either side and in front rose abrupt mountains some two thousand feet above the plain, and below the remarkable outline of Soda Butte marked the line of the Park boundary. Near by was a little corral where at some time herdsmen had settled to give their cattle the use of the abundant grasses of these well-watered valleys. When there are no Indian scares, the cattle herdsmen make immense marches in summer, gradually concentrating their stock as the autumn comes on and returning to the shelter of some permanent ranche. The very severity and steadiness of the winters are an advantage to cattle, which do not suffer so much from low temperature as from lack of food. Farther south, the frequent thaws rot the dried grasses, which are otherwise admirable fodder, but in Montana the steady cold is rather preservative, and the winds leave large parts of the plains so free from snow that cattle readily provide themselves with food.
The cone of Soda Butte stands out on the open and level plain of the valley, an isolated beehive-shaped mass eighty feet high, and presenting a rough appearance of irregular courses of crumbled gray stone. It is a perfectly extinct geyser-cone, chiefly notable for its seeming isolation from other deposits of like nature, of which, however, the nearer hills show some evidence. Close to the butte is a spring, pointed out to us by the major's orderly, who had been left behind to secure our tasting its delectable waters, which have immense credit as of tonic and digestive value. I do not distinctly recall all the nasty tastes which have afflicted my palate, but I am quite sure this was one of the vilest. It was a combination of acid, sulphur and saline, like a diabolic julep of lucifer-matches, bad eggs, vinegar and magnesia. I presume its horrible taste has secured it a reputation for being good when it is down. Close by it kindly Nature has placed a stream of clear, sweet water.
A mile or so more brought us (August 3d) to camp, which was pitched at the end of the valley of Soda Butte. We had had eleven hours in the saddle, and had not ridden over twenty-eight or thirty miles. The train came straggling in late, and left us time to sharpen our appetites and admire the reach of grassy plain, the bold brown summits around us, and at our feet a grass-fringed lake of two or three acres. This pond is fed by a quick mountain-stream of a temperature of 45 deg. Fahrenheit, and the only outlet is nearly blocked up by a tangled network of weeds and fallen timber which prevents the fish from escaping. The bottom is thick with long grasses, and food must be abundant in this curious little preserve. The shores slope, so that it is necessary to use a raft to get at the deep holes in the middle.
At breakfast next morning some one growled about the closeness of the night air, when we were told, to our surprise, that the minimum thermometer marked 36 deg. as the lowest night temperature. Certain it is, the out-of-door-life changes one's feelings about what is cold and what is not. While we were discussing this a soldier brought in a five-pound trout taken in the lake, which so excited the fishermen that presently there was a raft builded, and the major and Mr. T., with bare feet, were loading their frail craft with huge trout, and, alas! securing for themselves a painful attack of sunburn. I found all these large trout to have fatty degeneration of the heart and liver, but no worms. They took the fly well.
August 5th, under clear skies as usual, we struck at once into a trail which for seventeen miles might have been a park bridle-path, a little steeper, and in places a little boggy. Our way took us east by north into Soda Butte Canyon, a mile wide below, and narrowing with a gradual rise, until at Miner's Camp it is quite closely bounded by high hillsides, the upper level of the trail being over eight thousand feet above the sea. The ride through this irregular valley is very noble. For a mile or two on our left rose a grand mass of basalt quite two thousand feet in height, buttressed with bold outlying rocks and presenting very regular basaltic columns. A few miles farther the views grew yet more interesting, because around us rose tall ragged gray or dark mountains, and among them gigantic forms of red, brown and yellow limestone rocks, as brilliant as the dolomites of the Southern Tyrol. These wild contrasts of form and color were finest about ten miles up the canyon, where lies to the west a sombre, dark square mountain, crowned by what it needed little fancy to believe a castle in ruins, with central keep and far-reaching walls. On the brow of a precipice fifteen hundred feet above us, at the end of the castle-wall, a gigantic figure in full armor seemed to stand on guard for ever. I watched it long as we rode round the great base of the hill, and cannot recall any such striking simulation elsewhere. My guides called it the "Sentinel," but it haunted me somehow as of a familiar grace until suddenly I remembered the old town of Innspruck and the Alte Kirche, and on guard around the tomb of the great Kaiser the bronze statues of knight and dame, and, most charming of all, the king of the Ostrogoths: that was he on the mountain-top.