A ROMANCE OF BUCCANEER DAYS
BY FORD PAUL
PORTLAND, MAINE PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR 1892
PRESS OF BROWN THURSTON CO., PORTLAND
DEDICATED TO Cora Caroline Clifford AS A SMALL TRIBUTE OF GREAT LOVE BY THE AUTHOR
Roll on thou deep and dark blue ocean roll; . . . . . . Upon the watery plain. The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain A shadow of man's ravage, save his own, When for a moment like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.
SEPTEMBER 27, 1607.
Dead bodies everywhere. The ocean, lashed to fury by the gale of yesterday, came booming and hissing upon the beach in great breakers white with foam; each billow as it dashed upon the jagged and broken rocks bore in its terrible embrace still more human victims, or some portion of the two unlucky ships that were fast breaking up. One wedged in between two rocks with just sufficient play to allow of its heaving from side to side, with every wave that struck it. The other and much larger vessel, the Queen Elizabeth, a fine British ship, which had sailed from England freighted with a cargo of general merchandise for the colony of Virginia, went crashing up against the cruel stone teeth of the cliff which overhung and projected into the angry sea; dismasted, her bulwarks and rigging torn away she floated out into deeper water only to be driven back again upon the rocks, by the violence of the wind and the rapidly incoming tide.
Another crash and another, the forecastle carried away, the decks opening, bales, chests, cordage, stores of all sorts tossed high up on the shore, more dead bodies—chiefly of men, for they had some time before given up to the few women and children the now capsized and shattered boats. All along the shore, as far as eye could see, the beach was composed of a heterogeneous mass of enormous fragments of rock thrown together and piled up on each other, leaving here and there in their midst a separate pool of sea water; in some of these pools was a dead body or two, but by far the greater number were lying in every imaginable, distorted position among the huge, irregular blocks of stone. Many, who had been washed in sufficiently far to escape drowning, were killed by the force with which they were dashed on shore: there, with broken bones and gnashed and blood-stained bodies, they slept in death, like men who had fallen in some great battle. It was noon, but not a ray of sunlight glinted across the ghastly scene. Every sound was lost in the terrific roar of the great, heaving hills of water, which rolled in continuously; huge masses of wet gray cloud hung over all, obscuring or transforming every visible object. Far up among the shingle lay one human form which still bore signs of life. It was that of a young lady, attired in deep mourning, a stream of blood trickled down the pale face, and from time to time one hand moved convulsively toward a deep cut in her head as if to assuage the pain; presently in half-consciousness she whispered "Do not tell my mother I am hurt, it would grieve her. She has had too much sorrow already."
The beloved mother, and all others who had made life precious to the speaker, had three years previously been tenderly laid to rest in their quiet graves thousands of miles away; but at this moment the mind had only half awakened. A few minutes later her brain was clear and active, and the truth flashed upon her in all its force. The recollection of her bereavement and the fact of her being utterly alone in life, were the first thoughts that came and the thoughts which dominated. And so it is that all who are called upon to endure a great sorrow, acutely realize that sorrow again and again with each return of the mind to the consciousness of human existence, whether it be after the delerium of fever, the stunning from an accident, or the awaking each morning to daily life. With the awaking to our senses assuredly comes the old heartache; nay, before we awake it is there, and before we are conscious of aught else we are conscious of the grief which weighs heaviest on our soul. Thus it was with Anna Vyvyan: the awaking to life brought with it the pain in all its intensity, although she lay there on the cold stones, her clothing drenched through and through, bareheaded, her hair matted together with the sea water, bruised and cut and faint from exhaustion, still the present physical suffering seemed by comparison nothing to her. Everything was buried in the sorrow of the past, the sorrow that she had lived through, but had not left behind.
The stately homes of England How beautiful they stand, Amidst their tall ancestral trees, O'er all the pleasant land! The deer across their greensward bound Through shade and sunny gleam, And the swan glides past them with the sound Of some rejoicing stream.
The merry homes of England— Around their hearths by night, What gladsome looks of household love Meet in the ruddy light! There women's voice flows forth in song Or childhood's tale is told Or lips move tunefully along Some glorious page of old.
The blessed homes of England, How softly on their bowers, Is laid the holy quietness That breathes from Sabbath hours Solemn, yet sweet, the church bell's chime Floats through their woods at morn, All other sounds at that still time Of breeze and leaf are born.
Miss Vivyan was the daughter of an officer of high rank in the navy of Queen Elizabeth, who lost his life in the royal service while his little girl Anna was still very young. His valor had gained for him many medals and yet more substantial honors in the form of valuable grants of land from Her Majesty. This property, added to the family inheritance of Anna's mother, who was a lady of old and noble race, left both the widow and her child in very affluent circumstances. The young widow, handsome and possessed of brilliant talents, attracted many suitors for her hand; but her heart lay far down beneath the sea with her dead husband, and she resolved to devote her love and her life to the care of her child. She accordingly retired to an old manor house on the borders of Wales, which had descended to her through many generations. The great stone halls and corridors, the long, low rooms and the little diamond-shaped window panes, admitting so small an amount of light, might have given to some minds a feeling of gloom; but both mother and daughter had their occupations, the one in giving, the other in receiving, an education, beside the care of all the sick and poor peasants of the neighborhood. Indeed they were so happy in their affection for each other and found so much to do, that they had neither the time nor the inclination to cultivate morbid or gloomy thoughts, which would, they felt, make their companionship an infliction on every one whom they approached, and unfit them for the duties of their position. So life went on calmly and happily with them.
A faithful steward attended to the estates and a good old housekeeper managed the servants, always keeping order, discipline and peace in the establishment. Twice a year they were allowed to have a dance in the servants' hall, one at Christmas and the other on Anna's birthday, on which occasions they invited the sons and daughters of the neighboring farmers, and the tradespeople who supplied the manor house. The village shoemaker, the tailor, and the blacksmith were the musicians, and to the strains of two violins and a clarionet, they merrily danced through the livelong night, such good old figures as Sir Roger de Coverly, Speed the Plough, and the Cushion dance, till the rising sun streamed in at the windows and warned them that it was time to blow out the candles, take off their holiday garb, and assume their daily work. As for the mistress of the mansion, she found her pleasures in the duties of her position and the rich companionship of a well stocked library. She had no neighbors of her own rank within several miles distance, no one to visit or to be visited by, with the exception of the old bachelor clergyman of the parish, whose formal calls took place at stated intervals, unless some sudden case of want among the poor caused him to ask her aid, for he knew very well that her heart and hand went forth on every occasion of distress. Hers it was to soothe and cheer and comfort and help, and many a thorny path was made smooth and many a heavy burden lifted by her brave and generous spirit and the pleasant, cheerful way she had of doing such things. In the presence of others she made a duty of cultivating cheerfulness of manner. Not that she ever for a moment forgot the recollection of her love and her loss; but she considered her sorrows too sacred for a subject of conversation on one hand, and on the other, that her grief was her own, and that she had no right to intrude it upon others, or to weigh down and sadden their lives by what was sent for her to bear. Hence her presence was always welcome to the peasants, who regarded her with reverence and affection, as she passed, accompanied by her little daughter, from cottage to cottage leaving some dainty for the sick, or an article of clothing for the needy.
Years went by and Anna had left babyhood far behind her and was now a girl of fifteen. Her mother at this period, decided that it was time to call in the aid of masters to assist in her daughter's education. Accordingly, such were summoned from a distant town. There was a master for the minuette and the gavotte, a master for the harpsichord, a master for the French and Italian languages, and so on. The days and hours were all laid out systematically, giving an abundance of time for physical training and out-door life, but with the exception of the masters for music and dancing (more especially the former) none of these instructors made much impression upon the girl's mind. Her heart and soul were given to music. While she was in the house her time was spent between the old church organ that stood in the hall, and the harpsichord which adorned the long, oak-panelled drawing-room. When out of doors she was forever listening to the music of nature, the wind through the trees, the dash of the water-fall, the rippling of the brook, all had their charm and fascination, for nature never played out of tune. She would try to make out what key these sounds were in, whether they varied at different seasons, or if change in the weather made them alter,
Music was her passion, her love, her life.
Just at that time, two new inmates were added to the manor house family. Young Cecil Vyvyan, a cousin of Anna's, who was of the same age as herself, and his tutor, Dr. Strickland, a grave, middle-aged Scotch doctor of philosophy. The boy's parents were in India, which caused the widow to suggest to them that he should, for a few years, make his home with her, in order that she might watch over his health, which was exceedingly delicate.
It was in the twilight of a day late in the autumn that Anna waited in the large old-fashioned library to make the first acquaintance of her cousin. In the broad stone fireplace, logs of beech and chestnut were piled up on the hearth, across brass dogs, where they blazed, and glowed, and lighted up the comfortable looking room, with its dark, massive, carved oak furniture, its painted glass windows, its rich but faded velvet draperies, interspersed here and there with a piece of old tapestry, the needlework of the ladies of former generations. A few family portraits, and well-filled bookcases of vellum-bound octavos, quartos and folios. As the butler threw open the door of the room and announced Master Cecil Vyvyan, Anna went forward to greet the latter, and almost gave a start of surprise at seeing the real cousin differ so much from the ideal one which she had pictured to herself; for she expected to find Cecil of the same type as the English boys that she had always seen. She thought he would be large of his age, with a fresh rosy complexion, bright eyes, an open countenance, crowned with masses of rich, curling locks. Strong and healthy, overflowing with buoyant spirits, agile and ready for active service either of work or play. Instead of which there stood before her one of small stature and thin, diminutive figure, with a pale, weary-looking face and tired eyes, which apparently did not observe any of the objects by which he was surrounded, but concentrated their gaze upon the young girl only, with whom he stood face to face, carefully regarding her with that scrutiny which we are all wont to use when we first make the acquaintance of a new relative.
Anna gave him her hand and welcomed him with a few kind words. As the boy and girl stood there, no two cousins could have appeared more externally unlike, and yet never were two more alike in their highest tastes and deepest feelings. But an ordinary looker-on would only see the boy so small, and quiet, and weary, and the girl so tall, and active, and healthy, abounding in lively spirits, in the full enjoyment of her young life, with the mother she adored, thinking nothing could be more beautiful than her picturesque old home and its surroundings of hill and valley, and woodland, and broad green meadows, and turning over in her mind how she would show Cecil all the favorite haunts. The lily pond in the park, the finest view of the Welsh mountains, and the right place for a good gallop—then the ponies, and the dogs, and the fish pools.
"You must be tired from so long a journey, Cousin Cecil," said she, "let me bring this armchair; it is the most restful one in the whole house. It has a pedigree, too, the same as you and I have. It belonged to our great-grandfather, Sir Vyell Vyvyan, and was made more than a hundred years ago from one of the oaks which grew in the north grove in the park," so saying she laid one hand on the back of a huge, cumbersome piece of furniture, and rolled it across the room up in front of the glowing logs.
It was now Cecil's turn to be amazed, how could she move that great, clumsy thing, he pondered to himself, I could not. With a gentle thank you, and bowing gracefully to her, he sank into their great-grandfather's chair, and was almost lost sight of among the ample velvet cushions.
Anna who had seated herself on one side of the fireplace, was watching the pale face, and the weary eyes that were looking dreamily at the fantastic shapes which from time to time the glowing embers assumed. Presently a slight, convulsive shudder passed through the boy's frame and a quiet little sigh escaped him.
He is sad, thought Anna, perhaps he is thinking of his home in Calcutta, poor fellow, I must do something to amuse him. At the same instant, what she considered a very happy thought suggested itself.
"I am so glad you came, Cousin Cecil," said she "they say you will soon get well and strong here. I have a little terrier that catches rats, you shall take him out in the morning, if you like, and the gardener's boy will show you where you can kill plenty."
"I don't kill rats," he replied, still keeping his eyes fixed upon the burning logs and striving to follow the outlines of a fairy island with palms and tropical plants and ferns as tall as forest trees, which, in his imagination, he saw there.
"Do you go with your terrier to kill rats?" he inquired, with the slightest tone of sarcasm in his voice.
"Oh, no," replied the girl, "but I thought you would like to. Most boys are amused by it, they call it sport, and you know the rats must be killed or we should have them running behind the wainscot of all the rooms in the house, and the gamekeeper would not be able to rear the young pheasants, and we should have no chickens nor pigeons, nor anything of the kind."
"Why, Cousin Anna," said the boy, "have you a Scotch governess, and does she make you give a reason for every thing, and give you her reason in return? That's what Dr. Strickland does with me. It tires me dreadfully, and I don't see what use it is, for I always know things without reasoning about them; they come to me of themselves."
Anna, in her eagerness to show kindness to the guest of the house, and to divert what seemed to her his sad thoughts, did not stop to make any reply, but rose and hastily crossed over to one of the bookcases, bringing back in her arms a large folio, full of colored illustrations of field sports.
"Now, Cousin Cecil," said she, drawing up a chair close by the side of his, and laying the folio open upon her lap, "this will please you I am sure; this is not about rats, but thorough-bred horses and dogs, stag-hounds and fox-hounds. Did you ever hear that our grandfather kept a pack of fox-hounds here, that is a hundred dogs you know. I will take you to the kennels and the huntman's lodge some day soon."
Cecil did not know that a hundred dogs made a pack, for he had passed all his life in India, until a few months previous to his coming to the manor house.
"Look at this picture of coursing, here is another of hawking, and now see these otter hounds."
"The landscape is beautiful," said the boy. "I like the soft gray light on those distant hills in the background, but I do not care about pictures of horses and dogs; please take them away. I like to see the animals moving in the fields, but I think all this kind of sport is very cruel."
This was said in an extremely gentle way, and at the same time with an inflection of the voice which made a deep impression upon his listener. I wonder what I can do to amuse him, thought Anna; I don't suppose he would care to look at my last piece of embroidery, or hear how many sonatas I can play; I am afraid he is sorry he came here, perhaps he was thinking of the Himalaya mountains, when he said he liked those hills in the picture. Most boys like out-door amusements, she again thought to herself, and acting upon the idea of the moment.
"Cecil," said she, "we have two capital ponies, we will go out in the forenoon to-morrow if you like, for we are to have a holiday from our studies all day, in honor of your coming here."
Again a gentle "thank you" from Cecil, his tired eyes still seeking air castles among the red and gray embers of the fire. After some minutes silence, he turned to look at the tall old clock in the corner, which, in addition to the hours and minutes depicted upon its face, was adorned with supposed likenesses of the sun and moon and other heavenly bodies, beside the terrestrial globe which represented Jerusalem as being situated in the very center of the earth's surface.
The same old clock, which had stood in the same corner of the library long enough to mark the hours of the births and marriages, the meetings and partings, and death, of several generations of the Vyvyans, now chimed in slow, subdued tones, through which ran the echo of a wail, like the voice of a human being, who has seen much and suffered much.
"Dr. Strickland will expect me to return to him now, Cousin Anna, so I must say 'good evening'."
"Before you go, Cecil, tell me at what time you will be ready to ride with me to-morrow?"
"I must ask my tutor," he replied.
"Very well, you can let me know at breakfast time. I suppose you can find your way to your part of the house, follow straight along the corridor till you come to the south wing at the end. Your study and all the other rooms for you and Dr. Strickland are there. Good night."
The next day the ponies were brought round to the hall door immediately after luncheon, and the boy and girl were mounted. Cecil, whose chief mode of locomotion had hitherto been in a palanquin, did not by any means enjoy his present situation; but as he made no remark, his cousin supposed he was as pleased and jubilant at having an opportunity of seeing the beautiful surroundings of the place as she was showing them. They rode through the park, down the long avenue of oaks and beeches, and out by the keeper's lodge to the lake, and then away over the hill among the scattered cottages of the peasants, who touched their hats or curtsied as the cousins rode by. Anna always returning their salutations with some pleasant word or nod, or an inquiry after their welfare. At last they turned their ponies homeward. The boy all the while silent; the girl chattering and explaining and repeating anecdotes which had been told to her, and laughing merrily at the ludicrous passages in them. As they were again entering the park, the boy's riding whip slipped out of his hand and fell to the ground. Looking at his cousin with a grave expression of face, he said,
"I have dropped my whip, what shall I do?"
"Dismount and pick it up," replied Anna.
"But I cannot," he replied, "I am afraid I could not mount again without the groom to help me."
"Very well, then I will get it," so down she sprang, passed up the whip to Cecil, and bounding into her saddle again was off at a canter before the boy could say a word.
"Come along, Cecil," she cried, looking back, "come along, this is the finest stretch of ground in the country for a race."
No—that hallowed form is ne'er forgot Which first love traced; Still it lingering haunts the greenest spot On memory's waste. 'Twas odor fled As soon as shed: 'Twas morning's winged dream; 'Twas a light that ne'er can shine again On life's dull stream: Oh! 'twas light that ne'er can shine again On life's dull stream.
Dr. Strickland and his pupil had been fairly ensconced, and for some time past settled in the pretty, sunny rooms in the south wing of the manor house. All the windows of the lower suite opened to the ground, and overlooked and led into a Dutch flower garden, which, in accordance with its name, was laid out in formal walks with high box borders on each side, and stiffly-shaped flower beds of poppies, and tulips, and marigolds, and clusters of monkshood, and the tall white lilies of France, edged round with thyme and sweet basil. In the soft green turf, were planted evergreen trees, which were cut and clipped into fantastic shapes of peacocks, and pyramids, and cubes, and swans, and other devices. Here and there were clumps of holly and yew, from the midst of which some fawn or dryad, some Hebe or Flora, in Italian marble, had long kept watch. Then there were the old cedars of Lebanon, with seats encircling their great trunks, the ends of their long branches lying on the grass, offering beneath them, rest and shade at any hour of the day. The western side of the garden terminated in what was known as Lady Dorothy's walk. A straight, long, gravel walk, bordered on either side by a few feet of soft turf, and an avenue of yew trees two centuries old. The small closely-growing foliage of these trees was so dense that it formed a perpetual green wall, effectually shutting out all the world, with the exception of the sun at noonday, and the stars and moon at night. At the head of the walk was a sundial, and at the further end a fountain. Not a great, noisy, conspicuous construction, suggestive of the rush and turmoil of life, drowning in its splash all the sweet sounds of bird and bee, and the marvelous music of nature, but a pure, gentle, dainty little fountain, the sound of whose crystal drops, so full of soothing and tenderness, fell upon the ear like the voice of the one we love. Near the fountain was a rustic seat from which one might look across the park with its forest trees, its green undulations, and its lake, and still further away westward to the purple Welsh mountains. In every way this was a beautiful garden, a place to dream of, and live, and love, and die in.
Springtime had come, and Cecil and his tutor were sitting in their study, looking out at the linnets flitting about the garden, and at the primroses and blue violets which grew in front of the windows. The lessons of the day were over, and the Doctor was pursuing his favorite amusement, namely, drawing mathematical deductions, and coming to logical conclusions upon all matters. Although he was a ripe scholar, he would frequently forget himself, and break out in his strong Scotch accent; but that signified nothing, as Cecil perfectly understood his speech, and the family all liked him, for they knew he was a good man and greatly interested in the well-doing of his pupil.
"Ye had a lang walk wi' your cousin this morning," said the Doctor. "I hope ye understand her better than ye did."
"I am not sure that I do," answered Cecil. "I don't see why she moves so quickly and is always well; I don't like people who are always well, they cannot feel for others."
"Ye should no say that, Cecil, when ye look at your aunt; she's no invalid, but she gi'es up her life for the sak' o' others. Did ye ken that these verra rooms are the anes she likes most, the anes she lived in till we came, and she gave them up that ye might enjoy the best she had to offer?"
"O yes, I know that," said Cecil. "My aunt is very kind, but I was not thinking of her when I spoke, I was thinking of Cousin Anna; she runs so fast and when she is not singing, she is laughing, and I don't believe she has any nerves, for the other day my pony got a stone in his shoe, and she was off hers in a moment, seized my pony's fetlock and snatching up something in the road, knocked out the stone and mounted in less time than I have taken to tell you. Now none of the young ladies in India would take a pony's fetlock in their hand, so I think Cousin Anna cannot possess nerves."
"In one respect ye are right," said the Doctor, "Such a young leddie as ony o' those we used to see in India, would ride on and leave ye, and when she got home, she would tell one of the servants to tell some one of the other servants to see aboot it, and when they had passed the order through half a dozen, in the course of a few hours perhaps one of them would be with you, and, in the meantime, she would be lying on the sofa, with Shastri standing by, fanning her out of her nervous shock."
"But think of the first day I rode with my cousin, she surprised me so when she picked up my whip, I thought then she had no nerves."
"Admitting such a statement to be true," replied the Doctor, "which we are by nae means sure of, for the truth has no been logically proved, I say, admitting that it be true, is it no' a gude thing for ye that your cousin has nae nerrves, if ye are to gang aboot drapping things that ye dar' na pick up again. In the sense that ye appear to desire your cousin to hae nerrves, I dinna ken mysel' what use they wad be to a young leddie wi' a speerit such as she has. I wad no' wish to see a lassie o' her years hae nerrves; na, na, she wad no hae ony use for them; Providence kens what is guide for us a', and will send her the nerrves when she is fit to manage them."
"Still I don't see," said Cecil, "why she is not frightened sometimes. Perhaps she may be, but if so she will never say so; I don't think a girl ought to be so fearless."
"Perhaps ye dinna ken that young leddies o' her rank in England are all educated in that way. The English hae this proverb amang them. 'A well-born woman is ever brave.' Your cousin inherits her courage a long way back, she is no mongrel born; I wish ye to see for yourself, Cecil, that it is a gude thing to be brave. There are mony ways o' showing it beside being a soldier or a sailor." And then the Doctor dropped his Scotch accent and spoke slowly, "We ought to be brave enough to do our duty to others," said he. "And now I will give you six reasons for being brave for the sake of those we love. Firstly, brave that we may inspire them, with courage when their hearts are weary. Secondly, brave that we may be patient and gentle when their nerves demand rest. Thirdly brave that we may be kind and diligent and loving when they are sick. Fourthly, brave that we may not be morbid and gloomy and thus depress them. Fifthly, brave that we may be faithful and true in all things. Sixthly, brave that we may endure without murmuring to the end."
Long after the Doctor had left the room, Cecil was still there, leaning his head against the side of the window and thinking over this conversation. He possessed a generous disposition, and could not bear the idea of having misjudged his cousin. But he was of a sensitive temperament and not having a robust constitution, the girl's gaiety of spirit and great vital energy fatigued him. The cousins continued their amusements and their studies steadily together for the next two years, and although Cecil still called Anna as wild as a hawk, yet he never got into any serious difficulty, but he applied to her to help him out of it, whether it was in solving a problem or otherwise; carrying out Dr. Strickland's teaching he appeared to feel that his strength lay with her and she in her turn was rejoiced to help him.
There are natures which seem made to help others, they find their greatest happiness in it; and so it was with Anna, the more he needed her help the more she delighted in giving it. Cecil's health was greatly improved by the climate of England, and with stronger health came stronger nerves. He now no longer thought his cousin without them, but he thought she knew how to control them; in fact, they had grown to love each other with that certain kind of cousinly affection which one often sees, and which is very true and lifelong, but has not the rapture, the intensity, nor the anguish, which belong to really falling in love.
It was a day in sweet summer time, all roses and beauty, when the young people met as usual in Lady Dorothy's walk; it was their favorite place, and here they would ramble up and down, and sit by the fountain, and talk, and paint, and read for hours together; and the next day it was the same thing, and the next, and the next, for they never grew tired of the place, or of each other. They were now pacing the long walk, and although they were past the age of eighteen, they still continued their studies, but were permitted to select them.
"What a pleasant thing it is, Cecil, to follow out one's own life and study what we wish," said Anna. "I am so glad to be free, no more construing sentences, no more conjugating verbs, no more solving problems; I always hated all of that dry stuff."
"What are you going to do, then," inquired Cecil.
"Firstly, I shall spend more time with my mother, more time in the study of my music, and read all the poetry I wish to, and ride on horseback, and dance, and, of course, help my mother more in taking care of the peasantry."
"Now, Cecil, what shall you do?"
"Firstly, I think I shall paint, and rove about among this beautiful scenery," he replied. "I shall paint until I feel sure that I shall take the first prize in the grand exhibition; I will not exhibit one stroke of my brush until then."
"Well done, Cecil," said Anna, "that is the spirit I like."
For she knew as she looked at him, that he possessed a wealth which no money can buy, a soul full of poetry, a mind full of genius, the elements of true greatness in any art, and the only wealth that she valued.
And Cecil went on with his painting, and progressed, and brought more depth of tone and beauty into his pictures with every fresh attempt, till the canvas seemed to live under his hand, and his poetic soul and gentle nature spoke through his art. When any difficulty presented itself, he would always seek Anna and have her near him, not that she was an artist, but from some cause he could paint his best when she was by; indeed they were together the greater part of the time, for if they began the day in their different parts of the house, by some chance they either found each other in the library, or Lady Dorothy's walk, long before noon. They drifted to the same place, they scarcely knew how, but they began to know that the presence of each one to the other, was equally essential to their happiness. Cecil was a poet, not a writer of rhymes or jingles, but as we have said a true poet in his soul. Anna felt this in all her intercourse with him and heard it in the tones of his voice when he spoke, a voice that had a ring in it, a resonance, and that exquisite power of modulation which says more than the words themselves. And so time went swiftly and sweetly by with their walks and rides, and occupations, until they were twenty years old. Anna happy in the possession of Cecil's love, with life as she wished it, pure, joyous life, with music and beauty everywhere. A song ever on her lips, the happiest, merriest maiden in all "Merrie England."
Cecil in his gentle way, deriving extreme pleasure from the study and exercise of his art, and Anna's companionship. For the cousinly affection of two years ago, had in both of them merged into deep intense love, which ended only with their lives.
And those were sudden partings such as press The life from out young hearts.
* * * * *
O who wad wear a silken gown Wi' a poor broken heart, And what 's to me a siller crown If from my love I part.
* * * * *
Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide, wide sea! And never a saint took pity on My soul in agony.
It was springtime again, and the snowdrops were nodding their dainty, little white heads, and the linnets were again building their nests in the sweet old garden, when Anna's mother summoned her from Cecil's side in Lady Dorothy's walk, to the oak-paneled drawing-room.
"My daughter," she began, "I regret that I must interrupt your present happiness, but circumstances compel me to separate you and Cecil for the present. It is time that you were presented at court, and it is time that you passed a season in London. We have hitherto lead so secluded a life that your name is not known beyond the limits of our county, and I feel I am not doing my duty by you."
"But we are all very happy, mother," said Anna. "Why need we be more known?"
"Yes, my daughter, we are happy now but changes must come to all sometime. I may be called away from you."
"O my dearest mother do not say that, I cannot, I dare not think of what life would be without you; you know I will do anything you wish, or give up everything else in life, but I cannot give you up; it would break my heart, I should die," cried Anna.
"Broken hearts don't die, my daughter, would to God that they did; few, very few die of broken hearts, but many live with them. I have carefully considered what is my duty toward you, and my reason and affection coincide; now listen, in case I am called away by death, there is Cecil to whose care and protection I could resign you, for I knew you loved each other long before you knew it yourselves; I am happy that it is so, but if Cecil were taken away also, there would be no very near relatives to care for you, for the nearest members of your father's family are in India, and mine in the colony of Virginia, and as you will inherit the landed estates of your late grandfather as well as mine, it would be better that you should make trustworthy friends before I leave you, I see this pains you, dear daughter, I shall say no more on this subject. In three days we shall set out for London as the season has already begun, and we shall require some time to get our court dresses made."
The last evening at the manor house was passed by Anna and Cecil under the light of the stars, in Lady Dorothy's walk. The next morning saw the large, old yellow family coach at the door, drawn by four strong, heavy horses, a coachman and groom on the box, a maid and a butler in the rumble, and the widow and her daughter inside. Cecil who was standing by one of the coach windows looking very pale and thoughtful, tried to put on a smile as he said,
"We are to look for you both back again in the early autumn, you said, aunt."
"Yes, Cecil, as soon as the first brown leaves fall."
The young people looked good by to each other, but said not a word, and the heavy old coach moved away. In three days more the travelers were in London, and in due course Anna was presented at court by her mother, who had herself been presented on the occasion of her marriage. Then came calls and cards and invitations to balls and routs and state dinners, and the poor tired mother went through all these ceremonies as a duty toward her daughter, and the daughter endured it because she loved her mother, and desired to obey her wish. It was necessary that a young heiress of her rank should be dressed in accordance with the fashion of the day, but the young heiress longed to be released from the thraldom of fashion, the fatiguing, heavy brocade dresses, the hoops, the stiff ruff and the stomacher, the farthingale and high heeled shoes, and a thousand times more than all, did she desire to be released from the artificial and to her unsatisfactory life, from the flattery, the coquetry, the idle, envious tattle, and to be back again with Cecil, in her simple, healthy attire, and to live among honest hearts.
The autumn came, and the dry brown leaves began to fall from the trees. Day after day, Cecil opened the harpsichord, and laid a bouquet of the rich deep-hued flowers of the season upon it, and then he took his place by the fountain, and watched the winding road through the park, so that he might get the first sight of the coach when it returned. The autumn leaves continued to fall, and Cecil kept his daily vigil until they were lying deep on the ground, and the branches overhead were bare. Then came a letter saying that Cecil's aunt was ordered by her doctor to pass the winter in Italy, in the hope of curing a cough, which had of late settled upon her, so that it would be spring before the ladies could return to the manor house, hence they traveled to Italy and spent the winter among its masterpieces of genius, both in music and art. The soft air seemed all that was wanted to restore Anna's mother to health. Every day, they found something beautiful that they desired Cecil to see, but it was too late now to send for him, for spring was near. With the spring, came back the cough, and again the medical order was change of climate. This time, a sojourn of some months in Norway was prescribed for Mrs. Vyvyan, bracing air, and much out-door life in the pine woods. After many weeks of slow journeying, the ladies with two of their servants reached Norway, and took up their abode in an old chateau, in the midst of a pine forest so-called, but a forest really composed of many varieties of fir and spruce, as well as pine. The combined aroma of these woods made the air fragrant for many acres around the chateau, and for a time, it appeared to have the most beneficial effect upon the invalid. But one quiet eve, when the summer days had waned, and the faded leaves of another autumn fell, a pang of anguish shot through Anna's heart. The dearly loved mother was called away.
* * * * *
A short time only had elapsed since that event, and the servants were packing, and making preparations for the return to the manor house, when a mounted courier arrived at the chateau, with a large package of papers addressed in Dr. Strickland's handwriting. Very long, and full of feeling, and minute in every detail, was the letter the good man had written, if letter so long a dispatch might be called. He told of Cecil's conversations, of his watchings from beside the fountain; how every day he picked flowers, and put them on the harpsichord, saying this is the place she loves best; and how he faded and wasted day by day, yet struggled so bravely against the hand of death, that he might finish his last and best picture for Anna; and how on the last day of his life, he had laid his flowers on the harpsichord as usual, and then desired to be carried to the library and lifted into their great-grandfather's chair to die,—the chair that Anna had placed for him the first time they met.
When Anna had finished reading the final words of Dr. Strickland's letter, she rose and moved quietly into the recess of one of the large, heavily mullioned windows, and looked down a long vista into the forest, to the tall dark pines under which was her mother's grave. Every vestige of color had left both cheek and lip, and she stood in the great somber room, as cold and white and as still as the statues which adorned its walls. The extremes of grief and joy have no speech; she had none. No cry of lamentation went forth; no tears of relief fell from her eyes; she knew her life was ended, but she also knew that she could not die. Three words only escaped her lips. "O God, alone."
Has hope like the bird in the story, That flitted from tree to tree With the talisman's glittering glory Has hope been that bird to thee?
On branch after branch alighting, The gem did she still display, And when nearest and most inviting, Then waft the fair gem away?
Among the papers of the late mistress of the manor house, were found two letters which from their dates showed that they had been written during her stay in Italy. One was addressed to Sir Thomas Richardson, Lord Chief Justice of England, the other to her daughter. She appeared to have had a foreshadowing of her death, and directed Anna, in case of such an event, to have Sir Thomas' letter delivered to him immediately, and to abide by whatever decision he might come to. Anna had never seen Sir Thomas, but she knew that he was in some way related to her on her mother's side of the family, and that he was an old gentleman, who lived among his books, in an old-fashioned country house in one of the midland counties of England, with no one but his servants about him. And when the decision came, which informed Miss Vyvyan that she too was to live there, as his ward, she was thankful, for the tie of kindred was strong in her nature, and she thought to herself, there is still a link, that connects with the memory of my loved mother. Besides he is old and alone, perhaps I may be able to do something to make his life less lonely. But what could she do, she asked herself, for to her all seemed vague and undefined.
Arriving at the quiet old home of Sir Thomas, with its smooth green lawn and flat meadows around and in front of the house, she was shown into the presence of a tall, stately, white-haired, old gentleman to whom nature had indeed been gracious, for he was extremely handsome, and of courtly manners. He greeted her kindly but with much dignity, and addressed her throughout the conversation as Miss Vyvyan. A shudder swept through her frame each time she heard herself so called, by the only one left who had the right to address her by her own familiar name of Anna, which she had hoped he would do. But although desiring to be in every way kind to his ward, his ideas of dignity and courtesy were fixed, and to him she was always Miss Vyvyan. Thus without a thought of causing her pain, he ever brought before her the deepest sense of her bereavement and her isolation. Life in Sir Thomas' home was very different from life at the manor house, both in doors and out. The old gentleman passed most of his time in his library, and Anna rarely saw him until evening, when he would sometimes instruct her in playing chess. When she went outside of the house, all seemed strange and dull and dreary, plain grass lawns all around, not a flower bed to be seen, no long garden walk, no fountain, no hills to ramble over, no purple mountains in the distance, but a flat level country on all sides. And when she came in doors again, no loved mother, no Cecil to greet her.
Nearly three years had gone by since Anna's arrival as Sir Thomas' ward. It was evening, and they had just finished their game of chess, when he for the first time addressed her as my dear young lady, and after a short pause proceeded.
"This is not a fit place for you; I am too old to be the companion of youth; I am doing you injustice in allowing you to remain with me, and have decided that you shall have a more suitable home."
"I do not wish to leave you, Sir Thomas," replied Anna, "besides I have nowhere to go. I cannot live at the manor house all alone."
"Certainly you cannot," he answered. "I have arranged everything for you to the best of my power. You do not really come into property until you are twenty-five years of age. Your landed estates and other moneys are secured to you in such a way that you need not feel the least apprehension about your affairs, everything has been attended to. The manor house will be in the charge of a steward for the present. You will probably wish to live there again some day. As I have just said, I am too old; I may not, I cannot have long to remain here. There is a cousin of your mother living in the colony of Virginia, Fairfax by name. He has a wife and family, two nephews, whom he has adopted, twins, I think, also Fairfaxes. They stand in the degree of a third generation from myself. I mean to say these twins are about the same age my grandson would be now, had he been spared to my declining years. Therefore, they must be a few years older than you are, and more adapted for being companionable to you, than I am. I have been in correspondence with your Cousin Fairfax, during many months, in regard to your making your home with them in Virginia, until you are older, and have ceased so much to need protection, or until you have settled in a home of your own. The arrangement appears to be very agreeable to them, and I trust you will be happy in their society. I cannot part with you without saying that your presence in my house has given me much pleasure—the only one now left to me, that of recollection. Although you are very quiet, for one who has only reached your years, yet the sound of your footstep about the house called sweet though sad memories of my only daughter, and I thank you for them. If I thought only of myself, I should keep you here till the end, but there are times when it is more noble to resign than to fulfill the dearest wishes of our heart."
* * * * *
It was in the summer of 1607 that Miss Vyvyan, attended by her waiting woman, sailed from England, for the colony of Virginia, in the ship Queen Elizabeth, from which she had just been wrecked, when we took up the narrative of her early life. To that period of time we will now return.
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight. Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic. Stand like harpers hoar with beards that rest on their bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced neighboring ocean, Speaks and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
* * * * *
And thou too who so 'ere thou art That readest this brief psalm As one by one thy hopes depart Be resolute and calm.
Oh fear not in a world like this, And thou shalt know ere long, Know how sublime a thing it is To suffer and be strong.
As the shipwrecked young lady lay on the cold, rough beach, amid the dead bodies, with the hoarse roar of the ocean sounding in her ears, and the heavy, wet clouds of mist clinging about her, indifferent to life or death, the recollection of the ship being pursued by buccaneers and driven far out of her course came back to her mind, and then being caught in a hurricane and seeing another vessel battling with the tempest, and both ships furiously hurried on toward a wild, rocky coast, the vessels crashing on shore and rebounding again, and some one lifting her into a boat, and then she remembered no more. While these recollections were passing through her brain, she raised herself upon her elbow and looked around. Death everywhere, the ocean with its floating corpses and wreckage lay before her. On either hand a long broken beach, with its gloomy rocks and its scattered dead. A scene which at any other time in her life would have struck her with awe, she now gazed at quietly, and questioned "Why am I the only one left, oh, if I too could die." Turning to look behind her through the mist, she observed that the land was hilly, and in some places rose to a considerable height. The whole surface as far as she could make out was covered by a thick growth of lofty pines, mingled with spruce and other sorts of fir, among which sprung up an entanglement of various kinds of undergrowth, all these trees and shrubs growing nearly down to the sea and forming so thick a forest, that it was impossible for sight to penetrate it further than a few yards. There was no building of any kind to be seen, no sign of human habitation of either savage or civilized life. The great abundance of pine trees, and the general appearance of the forest, which strongly resembled the forests of Norway, instantly called up the question in Anna Vyvyan's mind, can it be possible that destiny has sent me back to the land of my mother's grave?
A low wail like the cry of a young child in distress, caused the only hearer to start to her feet, and looking on the other side of a broken rock close by, she saw stretched out white and still, a young lady by the side of whom, in a half-standing position, and bending over her was a beautiful golden-haired little girl of between two and three years. In another instant Anna was also bending over the young mother, to whom she found the child was tied by a crimson silk sash such as were worn by military officers. The tearful little one turned up her sweet face, without any apparent fear, but with a great deal of sorrow in it, and said, in her baby language,
"Mama dorn seep," then she pressed her lips upon the cold white cheek, and kissed it and stroked and patted the also beautiful mother, who lay so mute and pallid and unconscious of all her little one's gentle love.
Again and again came the cry from the poor forlorn little creature, "Det up, mama, det up, mama;" but the dear mamma was beyond the reach of the sweet baby voice. Anna's first thought was to see if any sign of life remained in the slender form before her, but she could find no pulse, and the face and hands were as cold, as the rocks upon which she was lying. Miss Vyvyan unfastened the child, and drew away the long sash, which had tied her to her mother's waist. As she did so, she observed the delicately formed features, which were so regular and proportionate that they might have been chiseled in marble, to represent some Greek goddess. She saw the masses of soft brown hair, and the long dark eyelashes, which dropped upon the cheek like silken fringe. She observed, too, the simple traveling habit, made of the finest material, but perfectly free from any attempt at vulgar ornament. And as she took the child into her arms, and looked down once more on the sweet white face, which lay on the stones at her feet, and noted the refinement in everything about her, she knew that the little one's mother came of gentle blood. The child was willing to go to Anna, but not willing to be removed out of sight of its mother. So Miss Vyvyan sat down where they were with the little one in her lap, and shook out the silk sash with the idea of wrapping it round the shivering child, but that, too, was wet, every thing in the shape of clothing was wet, both on Anna and the child. All that she could do for the moment to comfort the tiny thing, was to fold it in her arms, and try by that means to keep it from perishing with cold. It had probably been shielded by some heavy woolen wrap, which was torn off by the breakers when they were cast on shore, for as Anna shook out the silk sash, there fell from it a strip of thick woolen fringe, which had the appearance of having belonged to a shawl.
But now the child was bareheaded, and wore a little white dress of exceedingly fine embroidery, which also spoke of the mother's love, for none but loving hands ever wrought work so dainty as that. Round its neck was clasped a small gold chain of minute links of very fine workmanship. So thin and delicately was it made, that it resembled a thread of golden silk. Anna examined it carefully to see if she could find any letter or name upon it, but none was there, then she spoke to the child as it lay nestling its pretty head upon her arm, and still talking to its mother, and said,
"Tell me, dear little one, what is your name?"
The child looked up, but evidently could not understand the meaning of her words.
Anna tried again by laying one of her fingers on the child's shoulder and saying, "Who's dat?"
"Mama's baby," answered the little one in an instant.
"Will Mama's baby tell me where papa is?"
"Dorn seep," replied the child.
"Tell me where dorn seep, sweet child."
"Down dare," answered she, pointing to a mass of human bodies which were thrown together on the beach some distance below them, and which were constantly kept in motion by the incoming tide.
Anna's desire to die no longer existed; as she held the beautiful little creature to her heart and rocked it, all her thoughts concentrated in the one question, what could she do to aid this sweet helpless one. The ideas rushed through her mind with the rapidity that they come to us in fever. It must have warmth and food, or it will perish. I cannot let it die, it is so beautiful, and I love it. I must act this moment. Rising with the child in her arms, she hastened along as rapidly as she could among the wreckage, scrambling between bales and chests of all kinds, in the hope of finding something, anything; she could not surmise what it might be, but some sustenance must be had for the child. Although hundreds of cases and bales were strewed about, they were all so securely corded and nailed up, that it was impossible to procure anything from them.
At last, far in on the land, she came to a large pile of freight, which had struck so violently, that the greater number of the cases and bales, had broken in two, or had burst open. The first object that met her sight, was a broken chest full of table covers of rich cloth, evidently the product of India and Persia, as the silk embroidered borders in oriental needlework showed; happily everything was thrown in so far that it was dry.
Taking one of the table covers, she wrapped it round the child, who in the midst of its discomfort showed its gentle nature by saying,
"Pitty sing, pitty sing," and holding up its sweet face to kiss Anna.
"Yes, mama's baby shall have more pretty things soon," said Miss Vyvyan.
"Dinner," cried the child, "bing dinner, Dinah bing dinner."
"Yes, darling, we must find dinner for mama's baby."
"Dinah bing dinner?" again repeated the poor, hungry little thing, with an expressive look of interrogation.
"Yes, dear, yes;" folding the soft woolen cover still more closely round the child, Anna placed her in a sheltered spot. "Stay there a moment, baby, while I bring dinner."
From the marks on the outside of the boxes it was plain that they had come from some Mediterranean port, and contained fruits and other edibles. With a heavy stone, Anna soon broke open a small box of candied fruit, selecting some, she gave it to the half-starved child. One of the baby hands held her fruit, the other one was instantly stretched out toward the box.
"Mama, tandy, too," she cried.
"Mama is asleep, darling, she does not want candy."
"Oh mama, tandy, too," she repeated, with an earnestness that sent a thrill through Anna's heart.
"Yes; mama's baby shall take some if she wishes to."
The child took a piece of the fruit, "Doe now," she said.
"Go where, baby?"
"Mama," answered the child, struggling among the folds of her wrap, to get on to her feet and pointing in the direction of its mother. A nature so full of love, shall not be pained or thwarted by me, mused Anna, as she carried back the child who had already become precious to her. When they reached the place where the cold white mother was lying, and Anna was in the act of putting the little one on the ground as it desired, an unusually large wave broke so close by, that the spray and foam dashed against, and flowed over the sweet pale face. The child uttered a sharp cry of distress, and disengaging itself from Anna's arms and darting to its mother, threw itself down by her side, and, clasping her neck with its tiny arms, covered with kisses the face that was so dear. The next wave will carry the mother away, Anna thought. I cannot let the child witness such a sight, it would break her loving little heart, and she also felt that she, herself, could not give up to the all-devouring ocean, the object of so much affection in the babe. Placing the little one in safety, she took up the cold, white burden in her arms, and carried it far back from the reach of the sea, putting it down on the moss, at the root of a large pine. As it lay there so lone and sad and beautiful, with the child standing by it, for the little soul had followed with its swiftest steps, Anna bent over it and kissed the face. Poor dear, she murmured in a whisper, as long as I exist, my love and my life shall be devoted to your child. She bent again and kissed the cold lips. Could it be possible that breath came lightly through them? It was,—it was,—deeper and deeper drawn and more regular each time. Merciful God, she lives, and the tears fell fast from eyes that had long been dry with grief. A faint sigh, and the partial parting of the long silken eyelashes, told that life was coming back still more and more. In a few moments she feebly uttered, "My child."
"Your child is safe and with you," replied Anna, lifting the little one closer to its mother's side.
"Dudley," she faltered.
"He has not come yet," said Anna, surmising for whom she was inquiring, and pitying in her inmost soul the widowed heart that must so soon learn to live without him.
When the poor mother opened her eyes, the scene of horror was more than her delicate organization could endure, and a violent, fit of trembling came upon her.
"Tote on," said the anxious, sensitive child.
The suggestion was acted upon, Anna ran to the pile of dry wreckage, and soon returned, with an armful of table covers and a box.
"Tote on mama," cried the child hurriedly, as if it felt there was no time to be lost.
"Yes, darling, a coat for mama," said Anna, improvising a pillow with one, and wrapping several other warm covers about the shivering mother.
"Take this," said she, holding to her lips some cordial which she had poured into a mussel shell, "It is buanaba, a very delicate restorative made in Turkey, pray try to take it, it will keep you from shivering so."
As we have already said, Anna possessed great vital energy, and with her to think was to act. She saw that the delicate, slender young mother and the child must both die, unless she could find some means of getting them warm. There was an abundance of dead wood close by, if she could only start the first spark of fire. Pushing her way a few yards into the forest, she brought out a quantity of dead grass and resinous wood, and continued striking two stones together until at last the spark came, and a good fire soon blazed high, and sent out its glow toward the pine tree beneath which they were lying. Some large stones were soon heated in the hot embers, and rolled to the feet of the mother. Covering was brought and held to the fire, and the lowly bed made so warm that the exhausted mother and her little one fell into a natural and refreshing sleep. In the meantime Anna was everywhere scrambling and climbing among the freight, dragging what she could not carry, searching for anything that might be appropriated as a covering against the cold, and looking after the cases of eatables with a thought for the poor, starving ones under the pine tree. It was late in the afternoon when the sleepers awoke. The mist had in a great measure cleared away, and the sunlight was straggling through the remaining clouds. A good fire was burning, and a tin of water was boiling beside it. A long box cover, supported by stones at each end, formed a table, other box lids made seats, and the table was spread with food that would at least sustain life. Heaped up under another pine tree, was a sufficient supply of both food and covering, to provide for the ladies and child for some time to come. There was no lack of tins of all shapes, so they were made use of to cook in, and for holding food. As soon as the child was thoroughly awake, it sat up in its bed, showing its sweet fair face, and smiling with happiness at finding its mother awake by its side. Taking up a cup of food made from sea moss and sweetened with the candied fruit, Anna attempted to feed the child by means of a shell, but it turned its face away, and said in tones full of distress, "Mama too, Dinah bing dinner." When Anna took hot coffee from the fire and propped up the exhausted mother and induced her to drink it, everything went well with the child. It was perfectly satisfied, and took its own food, and laughed and played with the pebbles and shells that were brought to it.
"I have tried often, very often to speak to you," said the mother, addressing Anna for the first time; "I was conscious, but I could not speak; I was too weak I suppose, and now my voice has come back to me, I have no words, I do not know what I can say to you."
"Will you let me suggest what you shall say," asked Anna? "It is this; say what I can do that would most help you and your lovely child; and now try to rest while I think how you can be sheltered from the night air, for night will be upon us in the course of two hours at furthest."
The fog and mist had now completely disappeared, and given way to the sun, which, however, was nearing the horizon, and the trees cast long shadows on the grass.
While the mother and child had been asleep in the afternoon, Anna had built up a few broken boards and stones between them and the sea, that they might not be pained on their first awaking by seeing the terrible sight which was so near.
"I am better," said the mother. "I feel stronger. I cannot endure to see you doing all. I want to help you. I do not need more rest now. But tell me first, pray tell me the truth, whatever it may be. Is there any one left alive here besides ourselves. Have you seen an officer in a colonel's uniform? My husband was in the service of King James, he wore the royal uniform, when he tied my child to my waist with his sash, and lifted me into a boat. I cannot remember any more. I think I must have been stunned. How long have we been here? I seem to have lost some of the time, but I felt you take away my child, and I heard you speak tenderly to it. Have we been here too long for my husband to be living? Tell me, can it be possible that I may find him?"
Anna could not add to her anguish by repeating what the child had said when questioned about its father, for she believed it had spoken truly when it answered,
"Dorn seep, down dare."
"I do not think we have been here longer than to-day," she replied. "I do not know exactly. It was early in the morning when our ship struck the rocks, but it was broad daylight when I came to my senses on the shore. The tide was coming in, it was very high, and now it must have been going out for nearly four hours, so I think we must have been cast on shore this morning."
"Then my husband may still be alive, I must seek him." With those words, she rose to her feet, but nearly fainted with the effort.
"Your child is sleeping," said Anna. "Let me support you, if you will attempt to walk. Tell me your husband's name, that I may call it aloud; these rocks are very rugged and I can send my voice into places among them, that it would be impossible to go into."
"Colonel Carleton," she replied.
"Lean on me, Mrs. Carleton. Shall we go down this way?"
The tide had carried out the mass of floating bodies to which the child had pointed at noon, but numbers of others still remained in all directions. Tottering and staggering among the dead, Mrs. Carleton continued her search, until she had looked into every ghastly face that lay there.
"Now will you call aloud for me," she said, "for I cannot, my strength is gone."
Anna called, but the only sound that came back was the echo of her own voice from the forest and the heavy rolling of the sea. They returned in silence to the child, who was still asleep. The sun had nearly set, when all at once a rich, bright glow from the west rose behind the forest and flooded every object with golden light. Looking out to sea eastward, they observed only a few miles away many islands, some of them covered with forests down to the water's edge.
"Where can we be," they both ejaculated at the same time. There was no habitation visible on any of them, nor any smoke rising from them.
"These trees remind me of Norway," said Anna. "Do you think we can be in Norway?"
"I am unable to say," replied Mrs. Carleton, "but I am sure we are in a northern clime by the growth both of trees and plants."
The ladies seated themselves by the sleeping child, trying to think what it was best for them to do. There was no time for delay; it would soon be dark, and the little group of three appeared to be the only living human beings in the place, wherever that place might be. While they were talking together, they had turned their backs to the sea and were looking toward the sunset, and watching the varied rays of light which here and there penetrated through the forest on the hill before them.
"I did not hear your name, Mrs. Carleton, on board the ship I sailed in from England," said Anna.
"I did not come from England," she answered. "My parents settled in the colony of Virginia long ago. I was born there, that is my home. My husband as well as myself, had many relatives in England, and we were going to visit them, and intended to have our child baptized there, that its name might be registered among those of its forefathers. Sometime after we sailed, we fell in with buccaneers; but our ship, the Sir Walter Raleigh, was a fast sailor, and we got away from them; yet I was told when the hurricane came on, that they were the cause of our being out of our course, hence our calamity."
"We met the same destiny," said Anna, and then she told in a few words whence she had sailed, and that her name was Vyvyan.
The hill in front of the ladies, rose too high for them to see the actual setting of the sun, but the rich glow of gold and crimson now lit up the whole forest, and defined the outline of the rising ground.
"What is that I see?" said Mrs. Carleton, shading her eyes with her hands.
"'Tall pines' I think," answered Anna.
"No, it is a tower; look, Miss Vyvyan, in that direction, see on the hill; it is a stone tower; look, now the light has changed; there are windows, many of them, see on the right the building extends a great way, it is very large."
Anna looked through the wood where Mrs. Carleton directed, and saw distinctly in the rosy light of the sunset, an immense stone building, with a massive tower capable of containing many rooms, and rising to the height of two hundred feet. With the exception of the tower, the building was very irregular, and gave the impression of having been erected at different periods. It combined the characteristics of a feudal castle and a fortress. It was old and gray, but by no means a ruin, yet it had a gloomy and forbidding appearance. The ladies looked at each other and hesitated, they did not speak for a few moments; the same idea possessed the mind of each. They thought that good people would not live in such a place, amid such wild surroundings, but neither one of them would unnerve the other by saying so, for they knew in their present situation they required all the courage that they could command, in order that they might be ready to meet their uncertain fate.
While they continued looking almost spellbound the child awoke, and observing their earnest gaze, added her own scrutiny to theirs. She bent her little golden head forward and saw some of the windows upon which the reflection of light glinted.
"Home," she exclaimed, smiling with childish glee, "doe home," taking hold of her mother's dress to draw her in the direction of the building, which was about half-way up the hill, and only a few hundred yards from where they now stood.
The battled towers the donjon keep, The loop-hole grates where captives weep, The flanking walls that round it sweep, In yellow luster shone.
* * * * *
Act,—act in the living present! Heart within and God o'erhead!
* * * * *
Let us then be up and doing With a heart for any fate Still achieving, still pursuing Learn to labor and to wait.
The ladies held a consultation, should they attempt to go to the castle and ask for shelter. How could the child, which like themselves had hitherto lived in luxury, pass a night on the beach. Beside the forest looked as if it was the resort of wolves and bears. It would be unsafe. They could not after dark remain where they were, there was no alternative, so they decided to go at once to the building. There was no path, but they held the branches aside for each other. Taking the child with them, they stumbled over the loose stones and among the briers as well as their want of strength would permit, for they were much exhausted. Mrs. Carleton was so weak that she fell several times and was severely hurt, but no murmur escaped her and she rose and struggled on again as if nothing had happened, turning, from time to time, with some word of kindness or cheer to Miss Vyvyan, who was helping the little one along.
Emerging from the woods, they found themselves in a long, open space of grass, which was surrounded on all sides by the forest. The great building stood full in front of, and overshadowed them. It was a veritable feudal castle and, as we have said, grand, gloomy and forbidding to look at. The windows were far up from the ground, no entrance door was in sight, no walks or drives around it, everywhere rank grass, with here and there a tuft of golden-rod, or fall aster springing up. No smoke rising from any of the chimneys, no traces of footsteps, no sound but the sighing of the wind through the pines, and the surging of the ocean. Mrs. Carleton was first to break the silence.
"If I were by myself," said she, "I should imagine I must be dreaming, but I feel the reality of our position, this is no dream. We are all alone here; this place must have been deserted long ago. Look, there is the entrance overgrown with brambles. It is best that we are alone; if we can get shelter, we need not fear molestation."
She spoke calmly and cheerfully and tried to wear a smile for the sake of the two who were looking at her and listening to her words. Anna had entertained grave fears for Mrs. Carleton while they were getting up to the castle. She thought the delicate frame must give way altogether, but she now saw that her newly-made friend was as brave, as she was gentle and loving and faithful, and fear gave place to hope and resolve. As she went a few steps to gather some asters, which the child wished for, she said to herself, "This fragile, suffering, uncomplaining woman has already taught me a great lesson, and I will never seek selfish relief by adding to her overburdened life, the weight of my own sorrow. She shall always think me cheerful, whatever I may know my self to be, for nothing that I can do will be of so much help to her and the sweet child."
As Anna returned, the little one stretched out her hands to receive the flowers and held up the rosy lips to give a kiss for them, which was her usual mode of acknowledging any kindness shown to her.
"Miss Vyvyan," said Mrs. Carleton, "I have been looking on the other side while you have been gathering the flowers. I find there is an immense pile of ruins there, which looks as if it were the ruins of a tower. That small entrance at the north end is the only one that is open. Shall we try to get in, we can beat down the brambles."
The doorway was low and arched, the stone work about it coarse and massive, the door had fallen from the upper hinge, and lay so far open that ingress was very easy. The ladies entered and passed into a broad stone passage, which was many yards in length and led to a staircase at the foot of the great tower at the south end. As they passed along the passage, they saw a number of rooms on either side, which were all in semi-darkness, being lighted only by narrow loopholes in the outer walls, yet there was sufficient light to show them that they were all well filled with what appeared to be chests, boxes and packages, but the ladies were too much fatigued to make any examination of them. They observed that the walls were all of rough stone, but there was no feeling of dampness. On reaching the staircase, Mrs. Carleton discovered some inscriptions cut deep into the wall.
"What is this, Miss Vyvyan? I see it is not Greek or Latin or Hebrew. I never saw any characters like these."
"They are runic," replied Anna. "I should not know what they are, only that I have seen them on old ruins in Norway. Do you think we are in Norway? This old castle is very much like buildings I have seen there."
Mrs. Carleton, who was an excellent botanist, again referred to the trees and plants which they had seen as they came up from the beach.
"Those fall asters," she said, "and the species of golden-rod are both of northern growth, but I cannot in the least feel sure of our whereabouts. It scarcely seems probable that we shall find the means of getting away from this place very soon, for there is no evidence of any commerce here, and as far as I can judge, nothing for merchants or traders to come for. I do not say this to dishearten you, Miss Vyvyan, but I feel it right that we should speak openly and honestly to each other."
"I understand you," replied Anna, "you do not wish to fill my imagination with false hopes; it is good, and kind, and sensible, and I thank you for speaking as you have done. I feel myself that this is no time for dreaming, and I do not any longer care to indulge in it. All I care for, is to lead an earnest, true life in whatever position Fate may place me. If we are destined to remain together, you shall see."
The ladies had now ascended the winding stone staircase as far as the top of the first flight from the ground. From the stairs, they stepped into a corridor with a stone floor and bare stone walls, somewhat similar to the one below, but wider and well lighted. From this corridor, branched off other passages and staircases, leading both above and below, and numberless rooms of all kinds, the doors of which were chiefly open, showing the most luxurious and costly furniture, and the richest hangings, containing chests filled with rich velvets and satins, and all other requirements of ladies' dress. Some rooms were evidently sleeping apartments, others were furnished as parlors, the walls being hung with tapestry, and adorned with rare paintings and mirrors in frames of the most exquisite workmanship, in ivory, silver and bronze. Rich carpets and rugs covered the floors. The rooms all felt dry. They had wide, open fireplaces in which stood fire dogs of brass or iron; in some of them still remained half-burned or charred logs, and the dead ashes of long years ago. The ladies remarked that, amidst all this abundance of wealth, there was a certain incongruity in the arrangement of the contents of every room. In one they found silk draperies from India, a divan from Turkey, an Italian settee in the finest Florentine carving; beside it a massive English table of heart of oak, and the light, spider-legged gilt chairs of Paris, with their faded red silk cushions, and so on. They rambled through room after room. In many of them were firearms of all dates and nations, sabers and cutlasses, daggers and swords, with pistols and guns, and powder flasks, and spears. Some of these lay upon the tables and chairs, and others hung from the walls. In all the sleeping-rooms, were numberless articles of men's dress, uniforms and costumes of various kinds, sufficient in variety to supply disguises for a whole regiment. With the exception of the number of firearms and other instruments of warfare lying about, the rooms were all in order. The reflection of the setting sun streamed in at the windows, and across the floors at the west side of the castle, and lit up the mirrors, and pictures, and beautiful and curious works of art, which hung on the walls, or stood on the shelves, or on quaint pieces of furniture, and which abounded everywhere and made the interior of the building a pleasant contrast to the gloomy-looking outside.
Passing hastily through the rooms which led off the corridors, the ladies returned to the great tower at the south end. They found the door, which gave entrance to it was closed; but on Mrs. Carleton laying her hand upon the lock, it at once gave way, and they went through a vestibule, and entered a large and very handsome room. It was octagon in form, with a window in every division. The upper part of each window was made of antique painted glass, which shed red hues of crimson, gold and purple in different parts of the room, ever varying their position with the change in the sun's altitude, and giving the apartment at all times of the day, a bright, cheerful appearance. This room was furnished still more gorgeously than any of the others. The walls were hung with the richest kinds of Spanish tapestry; on a ground of dark green silk velvet, was embroidered large flowers and arabesques in gold, interspersed at intervals with the well-known representations of the three castles, which are a part of the arms of Spain. The furniture was all of chestnut, carved in the deeply cut and highly raised work, which is so rich and elaborate, and peculiar to the Spanish artists. Several curiously cut mirrors hung on the walls, and also some exceedingly delicate paintings in ivory, and, a number of choice enamels on plaques of gold. The mantel piece of stone was high and adorned with beautiful vases of Egyptian and Etruscan make, mingled with those of Rome and Herculaneum, and the more modern flower-holders of Bohemian and Venetian glass. The sofas, as well as the luxurious armchairs, were covered with green silk velvet. The window draperies were of the same, ornamented with gold fringe.
The floor was made of various kinds, inlaid in mosaic work, as we see them in Italy. Soft ruby colored rugs were lying in front of the table, and before the fireplace. On one side, was a small carved bookcase containing a few volumes of novels, some of poetry and a few sacred books of the Roman Catholic creed, all of them in Spanish.
In one or two of the books, the name of "Inez" was written. Across the end of one of the sofas lay a guitar of satin-wood, inlaid with mother-o'-pearl, with a Spanish lace mantilla by the side of it, and on a small table close by was an open music book containing Spanish songs.
Everything gave evidence of having been left untouched for many years, the flowers in the vases had dried, and fallen bit by bit, and lay in small heaps that looked like chaff. In one corner of the room stood a tall Chinese jar, that had once contained sprays of the fragrant fir balsam, which was now little else than dust. In the wide, open fireplace on the hearth, the wood that had been carefully placed on the dogs ready to light, had become so dry, that it had crumbled away, and fallen to pieces with its own weight.
The ladies felt the importance of using the remaining daylight in making some preparations for the night, so deferred any further examination of the castle until the next day. They experienced a certain feeling of safety in being alone.
"Mrs. Carleton," said Miss Vyvyan, "you will not mind if I run down to the beach, and bring up some of the table covers and some food. I shall soon be back again."
"I do not mind being left, but I do mind your doing it without help; I want to help you in everything, but I am not strong enough yet. We will stand by the window and watch you as far as we can."
The child understood the conversation, and turning with a very earnest and inquiring look to her mother, she said,
"Yes, dear, Miss Vyvyan is coming back. That is my little one's way of saying she wishes you to return," said Mrs. Carleton. "She always says to me, if I am leaving the room, 'be back,' she means come back."
"I like to hear her say it," said Anna; "it sounds so real and so pretty, and it is her own way of expressing what she desires. I hope you will always allow her to keep that little remnant of babyhood. I ask it of you as a favor."
"I am only too glad, Miss Vyvyan, to do anything you wish," replied Mrs. Carleton.
As Anna left the room and hastened down the tower stairs, she heard the sweet little voice calling after her,
"Be back, be back."
Mrs. Carleton had prepared a pleasant surprise for Anna on her return. She had taken a flint from the lock of one of the guns, and had succeeded in lighting a cheerful fire, before which the ladies spread the table covers, and slept until the light of the morning sun shone in upon them through one of the painted windows, and made brilliant hues in various parts of the room, which the child called butterflies. The little party was rested and refreshed, and awoke to be greeted by a beautiful day.
As soon as they had breakfasted, they began a thorough investigation of their new abode. They descended to the basement where they had entered, and discovered in one of the rooms immense stores of provisions of all kinds, many of them in good order, for they were in sealed jars and cases. One of the down-stairs rooms was a carpenter's shop, containing tools of all sorts, which were of great use to the ladies in opening many things that it would have been impossible for them to do otherwise. There was a large store of wine, and a kitchen containing strangely shaped cooking utensils from different countries. Near the small north doorway by which the ladies entered the castle, was a narrow stone staircase, leading down under ground, but it was so dimly lighted, that they did not attempt to go down it. Ascending again to the tower, they discovered several more beautiful rooms in it, all richly furnished. All these rooms had apparently been set apart for the use of the lady, with the exception of one, a library, containing carved oak shelves, loaded with books in many different languages; the heavy furniture was also of carved oak, cushioned with old gold embossed leather. A Spanish cloak of crimson velvet was thrown across the back of one of the chairs, and upon the seat of it lay a sombrero with a plume, also a sword and a pair of gauntlets. An arched doorway in one corner of the library, led into a small watch tower, the whole size of which was filled up by a winding stone staircase.
"Come, Miss Vyvyan," said Mrs. Carleton, "we will go up here, and we may, perhaps, see something that will tell us where we are." They climbed the stairs to the top, and passed through a low door on to the battlements of a great tower, whence they looked down at the pine trees, two hundred feet below. They saw at once that they were on an island; not by any means a large one, and that the whole of it was covered by forest as far as the water's edge, excepting in a few places where a bare rock or swamp intervened. They looked to the south and saw only the open ocean. The day was clear and calm, and they could see away to the horizon. To the east lay many other islands; then to the north the same sight met their eyes. Looking to the west still more islands were to be seen, and also what appeared to be the mainland, and far away, perhaps seventy miles off in the distance, a magnificent range of lofty mountains. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the scene. As they walked round the top of the tower, looking down upon all these forest-clad islands without any sign of habitation, Mrs. Carleton, turning to Anna, said, "Let us try to think over all the maps we have studied in our geography lessons."
"Just what I have been trying to do," said Anna, "but I can only think of a great number of islands in the Pacific ocean, and we know we are not there, and we are not in any of the West India islands, for, as you say, the trees tell us we are in the north, and now that I see so many islands, I know we are not in Norway. But is it not strange that the runic characters are in so many places in this castle? See, here are more of them, exactly the same as I saw when we were in Norway."
"Yes," replied Mrs. Carleton; "everything tells us we are in the north, and also tells us we are alone. We may have to remain here, we know not how long, perhaps years; and then, too, we have something else to consider. These trees show that the winters in this region are very severe, as do also the rents in the rocks that we clambered among on our way up to the castle. Those great fissures were all caused by the action of intense frosts, by such a degree of cold as you and I have no idea of, excepting from what we have read. In a climate like this, we know the winter sets in early, so I think, Miss Vyvyan, the only thing we can do is to prepare for it immediately as soon as we can."
"I see; everything is exactly as you say," replied Anna, "and now let me ask you a favor. I am stronger physically than you are, and I beg you to allow me to undertake the heavier share of our occupation. Let me do all that requires to be done outside the castle, such as getting wood and water, and whatever we may want from the wreckage, and you take charge of the inside of our present home, in which you must allow me to help you. I understand you already, and I believe you would do everything and endure all the fatigue without a murmur, but that is impossible; you have not the strength, and you must try to be well for the sake of your dear child."
Mrs. Carleton endeavored to remonstrate with Miss Vyvyan about the division of the toil, which was so new and strange to each of them, for she was born with a great generous heart that was ready and willing to do and die for others; but Anna would not listen to her sweet pleadings, although in her soul she admired them.
"Bow wow," said the little one, pointing down to the forest.
The ladies looked over the battlements and, to their horror, saw three wolves creeping stealthily along under the shadow of the great pines below. They thought instantly of the fallen door at the entrance, and hastened down the tower stairs as far as the room hung with green velvet tapestry, where they had passed the night, and which they decided should in future be their sitting-room, so they named it the green parlor. As they entered, the glow of the cheerful fire on the hearth, the beautiful prospect of forest and sea from the windows, and the child's butterflies, glancing here and there, gave a bright and pleasant air to the room, but the ladies felt much disturbed by the discovery of wolves so near them, and the knowledge of the open door in the passage below.
"Miss Vyvyan," said Mrs. Carleton, "there are other doors of entrance to this, castle; I saw them, we will go and see if we can open one of them; and then we will close up the door below altogether."
At the end of a passage leading from the tower, and not far from the green parlor, they found a massive door, strongly barred and bolted inside. They drew the bolts, and on opening it led down on the outside, by a long flight of stone stairs to the grass below, and very near to the place on which they stood on their arrival from the beach.
"We shall be safe in one respect now," said Mrs. Carleton, "for no animal can break this door and we can keep it bolted."
The first thing to be done now was to close up the entrance down stairs. The ladies went down and out through the door by which they had entered the castle at the north end. Quickly gathering up some of the wood which lay round about them, they set fire to it, in order to scare away any wolves which might be prowling near, and at once went to work, carrying stones from the ruins of the fallen tower, and by their joint strength replacing the door. They next piled up such a barrier of great stones behind it, that they were sure that no wolves could enter that way. They had finished their first attempt at building and were about to go up again to the green parlor, when the child with a little laugh and in its sprightly way cried out,
"Kitta, kitta, see kitta." At the same instant running as fast as her tiny feet could go, after two small white kittens which the next moment disappeared down the half-dark stairs, that they had noticed when they first arrived, but were too tired to investigate at that time.
They now looked down them and in the dim light, saw only a passage which led in the direction of the fallen tower. They satisfied themselves that there was no opening from that to the outside of the building, and concluded that the immense pile of ruins completely stopped up all means of ingress that way, so they decided not to go to the bottom of the gloomy staircase for mere curiosity, when time was so precious to them, for they felt as Mrs. Carleton had remarked that winter might be upon them very soon. They passed all the remainder of the day in bringing up from the beach such supplies as they most needed, and decided to devote a portion of each day to this occupation as long as the weather permitted.
Before sunset they were all safe in the castle again, the child running about the room they were arranging, and delighted with the many beautiful ornaments. The ladies made up their minds to adapt themselves to their circumstances, and be as cheerful as they could, for the child's sake. They selected the tower for their residence, as it contained the best rooms in the castle, and the view from every one of them was beautiful. They could go up the watch tower and look off from the battlements, over the islands and forests, to those majestic purple mountains, whenever they desired to do so.
A sleeping room next to the green parlor was chosen for Mrs. Carleton. It was fitted up with the same degree of luxury as most of the others, the furniture being of satin wood and ivory, and the hangings and drapings of the bed and windows of pink velvet and white lace. Two curiously wrought silver lamps stood on the dressing table, and showed that they had burned themselves out. In front of the mirror was a jewel casket; it was open, and showed rings and aigrettes of diamonds and emeralds. A few ruby ornaments lay on the table, and a string of pearls, also a small lace scarf and a pair of lady's gloves, embroidered on the backs with gold. The curtains and velvet draperies of the windows were completely closed, and the room looked as though some one had dressed in it and gone away and left the lamps burning. Everything was a mystery to the ladies which they could not unravel.
When the day was over, Mrs. Carleton and Miss Vyvyan sat beside the sleeping child, in Mrs. Carleton's room. The fire was burning on the hearth, and the full moon poured its beams in at the windows; they had no other light.
Mrs. Carleton spoke much of her bereavement, but struggled to be brave, and to resign herself to a destiny she could not alter, at the same time revealing, quite unawares to herself, a character full of intense affection, unselfishness and great courage.
As Anna watched the sweet, pure face so full of emotion and sensibility, and the firelight flickered upon and lit up the refined features, her whole heart yearned toward her new friend, and her own sorrow was buried in those of the forlorn young mother.
"I have been considering," said Miss Vyvyan, "about your child. Do you not think we ought to make life as bright and happy as we can for her, and we can do a great deal, although we may have to stay in exile for a long while. She need never suffer from that idea. All will depend upon the way we educate her, and the way we live."
"Exactly so," replied Mrs. Carleton. "We will make our lives as good an example as possible; we will bring her up, as far as circumstances will admit, the same as we would do if she were in my old home. We cannot have the servants we have been accustomed to have, but we can make this home a systematic one, and a refined one, and we must make it a cheerful one for her sake."
"There is one thing I feel very anxious about," said Mrs. Carleton; "my child has not yet been baptized. As I told you, we were going to take her to England for that purpose. I should feel happier if I could carry out my husband's wish, and be able to call her by the name he so much liked."
"I can fully enter into your feelings," said Miss Vyvyan. "Why not baptize her yourself? I presume you are familiar with the service, as we have baptisms in our church so frequently."
"Yes," replied Mrs. Carleton, "and I cannot see that there would be anything wrong in doing so, myself, as there is not any one else to do it."
"It can no more be wrong," said Anna, "to repeat the baptismal prayers for your child, than it is to offer up your daily prayers for her. Indeed to me it seems perfectly right, as we are situated at present."
"I am glad you entertain those feelings on the subject, Miss Vyvyan," replied Mrs. Carleton, "and as we are both of the English church, will you be godmother to my little one?"
"You confer great happiness on me," replied Anna, "by making such a request. What do you intend to call her?"
"Cora was the name my husband wished her to be called," replied Mrs. Carleton. "And I desire to add Caroline to it, as that is the name of my dear mother, and is now, alas, the only means I have of showing my affection for her, who is perhaps at this moment mourning my absence."
"Will you baptize her to-morrow?" inquired Miss Vyvyan. "If you will, we can make a dress for her in the forenoon. There is an abundance of white India muslin and cashmere, too, enough I should say to dress her for years to come."
"Yes," answered Mrs. Carleton, "I like that idea, and we will keep her always dressed in white."
"And as to yourself," said Anna, "I ask you as a favor, to let me choose for you in this instance, I wish you always to be beautifully dressed in colors, that will look bright and cheerful. I think it will have an influence on the child's spirits and thence on her health. I do not feel that we need to have any compunction about using the things we find here, for we see that this place must have been deserted many years ago, and I cannot help thinking that all these costly things are the plunder of buccaneers."
"Nothing is so probable," answered Mrs. Carleton. "Indeed, when we consider for a moment, everything seems to say so. Many of those cases which still remain unopened are such as the merchants bring to the colony of Virginia. I have seen similar ones there which came from foreign countries. It occurs to me that all these stores are the cargoes of ships that have been robbed by those desperate men who have been and still are the terror of the sea; but why they left this place so suddenly is difficult to divine, unless, perhaps, retribution fell upon them when they were out at sea on some of their marauding expeditions. Evidently a lady has lived here, too; perhaps they took her with them on their last voyage, and she also may have been lost, so I think we may feel we are not doing wrong in using such things as are necessary to our existence while we are here."
The next morning the ladies were up early busying themselves with their preparations for the child's baptism. As they sat by the open window in the green parlor, making the little white dress, the sunlight falling upon the floor, the soft, warm breeze from the south coming in upon them, and the beautiful child playing about the room, prattling to herself in her baby language, and trying with her little hands to cover the colored shadows—butterflies as she called them,—and to hold them in one place, they each of them thought to themselves how much there is in life to make us happy; and yet, and yet, who can be happy when there is an empty place which nothing here can fill. They neither of them expressed what they thought, for they had each made a resolution to help the other.
The sea and sky were one beautiful blue; there was just sufficient breeze to cause white caps at distant intervals, and to toss the surf lightly against the rocks.
The ladies finished their sewing, and with the child went out to gather some wild flowers to adorn their parlor for the baptism. In a few minutes they saw a narrow path which they followed and found that it lead to a well of pure water only a little way off. Below this was a swamp surrounded by a luxuriant growth of asters of every hue, and white and pink spirea and golden rod, and blue iris, and the delicate, rose-colored arethusa, and the blue fringed gentian abounded on every hand; also shrubs of the bayberry, wild rose and sweet brier, with many beautiful ferns.
By Mrs. Carleton's refined taste the green parlor was soon transformed into a fairy bower. The autumn sunshine sent a flood of golden light over all, and the child, dressed in its fresh white attire, was baptized, and Miss Vyvyan was its godmother. The ceremony was just over and the latter lady was still standing with the child in her arms, beside a large crystal bowl which was placed on the table and embedded in green moss and wreathed round the top with white roses. It contained the water from which the child had received the symbol of the Christian church.
"Now," said Mrs. Carleton, "I wish to say to you, Miss Vyvyan, that from this day Cora belongs to both of us, to you as well as to myself; she will henceforth be our child. I want you to have someone you can speak of as 'mine.' I am thankful that I never knew what it was to be without someone of my own to love, who was near to me, but I can picture to myself what a death in life such an existence must be to those who have to endure the separation, and I should feel very selfish if I did not divide my happiness with you."
"I do not know how to answer you," said Miss Vyvyan. "I cannot say what I wish to. Will you grant me one more kindness; that is, let Cora always call me by my name, Anna, and you do the same. It is more than three years since anyone called me Anna; there is no one left to do so."