E-text prepared by Al Haines
Translated from the German by KATE DYKERS
New York The Minerva Publishing Company 48 University Place
The first rays of early dawn threw their shadowy light over hill and dale, and all nature seemed animated with new life as the fresh spring breeze kissed the young blades of grain in the fields. Ever brighter and more glowing grew the eastern horizon, ever more golden the light, floating clouds, until at last the dazzling rays of the king of day flashed forth upon the expectant world.
With its clear carol of joy, a lark soared upward from her dewy nest, singing her morning anthem to the great Creator; and, as if in glad sympathy with the happy bird, the many and varied voices of nature united in celebrating the resurrection, not only of the sun, but of all things, for it was Easter Sunday morning.
Forth from the dwellings of a small Moravian village issued a band of simply attired folk, who wended their way through the green fields and up the hillside to a spacious wood, where was located a quiet graveyard, in which gigantic linden-trees stretched out their leafless branches, forming a graceful network overhead.
In the centre of this lovely spot stood an immense stone cross, the sign of that Lord whose resurrection was to-day celebrated with the sound of trumpets and the voices of the people.
A feeling of holy joy seemed to reign in every heart, as the crowd stood grouped around the base of the cross, gazing with reverence at it as it now shone bathed in the glorious radiance of the risen sun. Presently the music ceased and the soft echoes died away among the distant hills, while a clear, manly voice in the midst of the congregation proclaimed: "The Lord is risen!" "He is risen indeed!" replied each one joyously; after which the first speaker advanced nearer to the cross and addressed a few words to the people:
"My dear brothers and sisters, in accordance with our usual custom, we visit to-day our beautiful cemetery, not to mourn for our dead, but to rejoice that our Lord has risen from the grave to give us eternal life; for with Him shall rise all those who follow in His holy footsteps here below. Therefore, as we put not on the garb of mourning, let us not grieve in our hearts when we think of our loved ones who have gone home before us, but clasp each other's hands and be glad together, that through the blessed Redeemer such happiness has been vouchsafed to them. For His sake, and for the preservation of the true faith, the Moravians wandered forth from their fatherland, forsaking the wealth and luxuries of this world; but they took with them that which was more precious than all else, the pure, unadulterated truths of the Gospel, and sought a new country, in which they might dwell, and preserve their religion forever. In the wilds of a strange land they found a resting-place; and in the community were retained the old statutes and laws, the old forms of worship, the old brotherly love and kindness, which from the earliest period had characterized them. From this little seed-corn which was then planted, the Moravians have spread out their branches into all parts of the world. Let us remain faithful to the principles which united our forefathers; let us ever hold sacred the religion for the sake of which they suffered, and to which they firmly adhered, in spite of persecution and peril. Hold fast brotherly love! Forgive and bear with one another in love, sacrifice yourselves for love's sake, suffer and die, in charity with all men,—then are you true disciples of the Lord. Amen!"
The preacher's voice ceased, and the congregation devoutly echoed his "Amen." After a short pause the assembly broke up, with hearty hand-shakings and joyful greetings. In little groups of twos and threes they rambled through the beautiful grounds where the loved ones were laid to rest. The members of the fraternity, as they conversed in low but cheerful tones, bore a close resemblance to one another in the quiet simplicity of their attire. There was no pretension to ornament or style; cleanliness seemed the only adornment sought for, and it certainly did reign supreme. The women and girls wore small, close-fitting white caps, the different-colored ribbons on them distinguishing the various classes, and giving a very pleasing effect to the scene. The wives were recognized by blue ribbons on their caps, and the widows by white, while the older girls wore pink and the younger ones bright red. Gradually all returned to their homes in the valley below, where lay the thriving Moravian village.
One young girl, however, remained behind alone, lost in thought and quite unconscious that her companions had already taken their way homeward. Leaning against one of the large linden-trees, whose ancient trunk completely screened her slim figure, she stood, looking downward on the beautiful landscape which lay before her admiring eyes. Mountain and valley, forest and field, were bathed in the golden sunshine. Nothing was yet in bloom, but in every swelling bud there seemed to lie a foreshadowing of coming glory.
"Sister Carmen, hast thou not noticed that thy companions have returned with their elders, and that thou art left alone?" suddenly asked a deep masculine voice at her side.
She involuntarily shrank back, as if from fear—was it because she was alone, or was she only startled from her dreaming?—and looked timidly at the speaker. He was a man well advanced in years; his hair partially gray, but his complexion retaining much of its youthful freshness and color; and there was some difficulty in determining his age. Although his brow was thoughtful and his grave eyes habitually looked upward with an expression of calm serenity and humble piety, yet the curve of his mouth, around which there lurked a peculiar smile, contradicted the idea of sanctity.
"Have they really left me, Brother Jonathan? I had entirely forgotten how time was passing, in the tumult of joyful feelings which filled my heart," said the girl with a sunny smile.
"It gladdens my heart, dear sister, to know it gives you such great joy to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord," he replied. "Truly it is a blessed privilege to be able to lose one's self in the contemplation of holy things, and, forgetting the cares of this present life, rejoice in the hope of heaven, and be as one dead to every temporal joy."
"But I was not thinking at all of the life beyond the grave, only of this present one. How beautiful it is, and what happiness to be able to enjoy it!" she said candidly, as her youthful countenance lighted up with a glowing expression of love of life and pleasure.
Hers was a singularly beautiful face, on which the man at her side gazed with open admiration. The close-fitting cap, with its bright red bow, indicated that the girl had not yet reached her eighteenth year. Here and there peeped out little truant locks of the glossy black hair, whose richness and abundance the close covering could not entirely conceal or fetter. The broad, intellectual brow; the delicate, pencilled lashes, from the shadow of which shone forth lustrous black eyes that flashed with intelligence and spirit; the arched nose, with its slightly dilated nostrils; pouting mouth, with full, cherry lips, all gave her something of a proud expression, which was, however, softened by the beaming smile which so often lighted it up. Although only a faint color tinged her cheek, yet the clear, brunette complexion glowed with fresh, warm, young life, and the slender, lithe form that leaned with such childlike abandon against the old tree displayed the most exquisite symmetry.
"Yes, this present life is certainly very pleasant, dear sister," he resumed, approaching yet nearer to her; and he indeed seemed to find it so as he contemplated this fair, blooming, delightful young creature. "We do wisely to enjoy it, and use it as a means to prepare us for the great hereafter, accomplishing that end all the more effectually when we love the Lord, and, through Him, one another. Sister Carmen, did you listen to the beautiful discourse on brotherly and sisterly love which our honored presbyter gave us to-day?" and the speaker bent his head so low that she felt his hot breath on her cheek, and his heavy hand on her shoulder. But quickly turning aside and withdrawing from his touch, she replied: "Yes, I heard it, and it is indeed a very good and proper thing to love one another; but I think it is not always love which is called so, or seems so;" and her mouth twitched with a repressed smile, as if some secret thought amused her.
"Dear sister, how can you speak thus?" he said. "Men, it is true, are weak, and often swerve from their duty; but we should help each other in the spirit of love, so that we may be all united and grow to resemble each other in character."
"Resemble each other in character!" She repeated his words musingly, and the gaze from her dark eyes wandered away off, beyond her companion. "Can we ever do that? God has created us so different; if He had wished us all to be alike, would He not have made us so?"
The man looked at her earnestly, and an expression of disapproval passed over his face as he answered: "Any one, to hear you speak in that way, and not know you as well as I do, would never believe that you had lived so long among us and were one of us. I have known you always, ever since you were a wee, toddling thing. It was in Jamaica, when I went to your father from the mission."
Carmen blushed deeply at the rebuke which lay in his words, and, as if to atone, said quickly:
"Oh, forgive me! I am sure I would gladly be like you all if I only could. But I cannot always be calm and serene, as every one else here is; and I fear our dear Sister Agatha, with all her endeavors, will succeed as little in changing me, as you do in trying to produce the same degree of health in every one, even though you be the wise and learned Doctor Jonathan Fricke. Each bird sings after its own fashion, and although all are different, yet none are bad. I cannot believe every one is culpable who does not pass through life calmly and sedately, as we endeavor to do. It surely cannot be wrong for people to laugh, and dance! Dance!" and she laughed outright, so that her pearly teeth gleamed from between the rosy lips. "It must be enchanting to skip round and round to the sound of merry music!" She had allowed herself to be carried away by enthusiasm, and spoke louder than was consistent with Moravian decorum, or suitable to the place where she was. Her eyes sparkled, and the dainty little foot which peeped forth from under her dress seemed altogether suited to trip with fairy fleetness through the merry mazes of the dance.
One glance, however, at her companion recalled her to the present. Her eyes sank, the little foot was hastily withdrawn, and she wrapped more closely about her the dark shawl which had slipped from her shoulders.
"But the time! the time!" she stammered. "It is getting later and later while we are chatting, and Sister Agatha will have good cause to be vexed with me."
With fleet steps she hurried through the quiet graveyard, down the hill, and along the path which led to the dwellings of the settlement. Jonathan stood looking after her, as long as his eye could discern the airy, lithe figure.
All pretence of calmness had vanished from his face. His eyes glittered with a strange light and glowed with passionate desire. For a moment the staid, elderly man was transformed into an eager, ardent youth.
"She inherits the hot, proud Spanish blood of her mother, and, alas! the same fatal, enchanting beauty also," he muttered. "If I could only win her—" He stopped abruptly, as if fearful of being overheard, and began to brush away some imaginary specks of dust from his sleeve. Drooping his head into its usual pious attitude, his face assumed its former grave expression, and he was again the sedate, quiet Brother.
A Moravian settlement! As we enter it, it seems as if we stepped into another sphere, so utterly unlike is it to the bustle and hurry of the age of progress which prevails in the outer world that presses so closely upon its borders, and against which it quietly but firmly opposes the bulwarks of its ancient customs, the simplicity of its regulations, and the severity of its discipline. It has no intercourse with the tide of human life surging around it. It seems like a small body of Christians, left from the Apostolic age, that after being buried for centuries has been dug out in later days. The government of the community resembles that of a large family bound together by ties of love; all its members are brothers and sisters, divided, according to age, sex, and conditions of life, into bands called choruses, at the head of each an elder, either male or female, presiding and superintending its spiritual affairs and enforcing its daily discipline. Each elder gives in a report of all that occurs in the chorus to the Conference, as this is the chief board of management in the society. There is, therefore, nothing which transpires in the life of any individual that is not brought before this tribunal.
About ten o'clock one morning, an elegant carriage, drawn by two spirited horses, passed through the quiet, scrupulously clean streets of the settlement, and drew up at the door of the hotel, or, as they call it, the general lodging-house; and from the vehicle sprang a young and very distinguished-looking gentleman with erect, military bearing and noble features. He was followed by a lady, and a young girl of about twelve years of age, and a tall, lanky lad who had not yet lost his boyish awkwardness.
"Unharness and take the trunk to the Sisters' house," said the gentleman to the coachman.
The newly-arrived guests entered the sitting-room, which was entirely unoccupied, and whose clean, freshly-sanded floor seemed almost to shine with a consciousness of its own spotlessness. The host, a quiet old man, entered to receive their commands, which he attended to in person. Everything was done silently; not even the plates and glasses rattled as they were placed on the-table; and when all was prepared, the man left the room, not attempting, after the manner of hosts in general, to enter into conversation with his guests, or to ply them with questions as to whence they came, whither they were going, etc.
The lady, a very remarkable-looking woman, was apparently the mother of the three others, but seemed young to be the parent of the eldest, who had evidently numbered thirty years.
The breakfast, which was excellent and well served, was quickly disposed of; and dinner being ordered for two o'clock, the little party left the house. On the street, the same stillness, the same absence of people prevailed as elsewhere.
"Do you know the way to the Sisters' house, mother?" asked the young man of the lady as they led the way, the two younger ones following behind.
"Of course, Alexander," she replied. "I was here once, some years ago, on a visit to President von Karsdorf, and I can perfectly remember how full of interest the whole place was, and how pleased the Karsdorfs were to think they could end their lives in this peaceful, quiet spot."
"Such extraordinary order and cleanliness seems almost like a matter of pride and show on the part of these humble people—as if the inner purity of their souls must needs be manifested in this extreme, outward neatness," said the gentleman, laughing.
"You are prejudiced against the Moravian character, I know, and yet there is so much that is good in them!" argued the lady.
"That may well be so, mother. I am willing to acknowledge all their good qualities," said her son; "but these numerous forms which intrude themselves upon every occasion seem like fetters and bonds to free souls. So much unnatural restraint and parade of sanctity is offensive to me. I never could tolerate hypocrites, and such they surely must be, although, of course, they would be shocked at the idea; for under all this excessive humility, this parade of piety, I venture to say there lies much concealed of which we do not dream. One can imagine how much Herr von Karsdorf, an old epicure and man of the world, must have dissimulated to conform himself to the manners of this community, to be allowed to end his days here."
His mother shook her head. "I think," she said, "that the subdued, pious bearing of the members has become like a second nature to them, and is now, therefore, not hypocritical. Besides, think how excellent is the domestic economy of the settlement; how active and prosperous they are in trade and various industries. They have many practical, temporal, as well as spiritual objects to which they devote themselves."
"I grant all that; but such immense importance is attached to little things. Their work would be very trifling and ridiculous if attempted on a large scale. It resembles the wonderful industry in an ant-hill, unremitting and earnest, but petty labor. No genius is displayed. What great men have arisen from among them? Who are the distinguished scholars and artists which have gone forth from their ranks?"
"And how about their sufferings?" interposed the other, quickly. "Their struggles amidst privation and misery, and persecutions of all kinds in distant lands, for the sake of their faith, and to rescue wild heathens from depravity and barbarism, and win them over to the Christian religion? Do you not deem that a noble work? Consider their admirable regulations as regards education; are they not excellent? I look for the greatest improvement in Adele, as the result of her stay here.—But it seems to me I have turned into the wrong street, for the Sisters' house is certainly not here!"
"Here come some people at last," replied Alexander—"a girl with a child. They will be able to direct us." He stepped forward to meet the approaching figures, and with a polite greeting begged for information. The young girl dropped a modest courtesy to the stranger, and with downcast eyes listened to his inquiries about the way to the Sisters' house. Then she turned to the lady, who had in the mean time drawn near, and said courteously: "I am just going hither; may I conduct you?"
"You would oblige us exceedingly," replied the lady, kindly.
"What a lovely Sister! It wouldn't be such a bad thing to be a Brother here," whispered Alexander to his mother. He did not speak too low for the sensitive ear of the girl to catch his words, for she blushed deeply, and the rosy little mouth curled proudly and defiantly. Visibly offended, she turned away from the gentleman, and simply saying "Come" to the lady, walked on ahead, leading the little child by the hand, and giving no apparent heed to the party behind.
Retracing their steps for a short distance, they turned into a side street, and here—wonder of wonders!—were some more people. A horse stood, saddled and bridled, before the door of one of the houses, and a man was just in the act of mounting. He did not seem to be a particularly expert horseman, or his steed the most patient of animals; for the former displayed his awkwardness in attempting to mount, and the latter, as soon as he became aware of his master's intention, kicked, and sprang aside. The man sought to quiet him, patted his neck, and once more tried the difficult task of getting on his back; but the sight of the approaching strangers now added to his clumsiness, and rendered him even more helpless than before. He had scarcely put his foot in the stirrup, when the animal pranced, kicked and reared, jerking the reins from his owner's hands, and throwing him down on the pavement; after which he started at full speed down the street, directly towards the advancing party. As soon as the horse showed a disposition to be restive, the girl had led the child close up against the side of the house, and looking back at the strangers following her, she observed an expression of contempt on the young man's face, as he watched the awkward movements of the Brother; being himself a skilful rider and able, with his supple yet powerful frame, to master even the wildest horse.
When the man fell to the ground, and the unrestrained animal came rapidly onward, the strangers also moved hastily aside. But the little child had, in its fright, broken loose from the girl's hand, and ran into the middle of the street to pick up a ball which had rolled from its hand. A cry of horror broke from every lip, and in another moment the child would have been dashed under the horse's hoofs as she stooped to pick up the toy. But before the girl could reach the little one, the strange gentleman, with one long stride, was on the spot, and had seized the child in his arms. With a firm hand he grasped the reins, and brought the terrified beast to a standstill by sheer strength. It all happened so quickly that, looking at the child playing merrily with its ball a moment after, one could almost have fancied it was all a dream. The girl, who had turned as pale as death, was leaning against the side of the house; but quickly regaining her self-control, she hastened to her little charge, saying, with trembling voice, as she shyly glanced at its preserver, "I thank you, sir; you have saved the little one entrusted to me from great peril."
The unfortunate rider who had been thrown now came limping up, and was profuse with his thanks to this "friend in need."
There was such a very remarkable contrast between the two men, as they now stood side by side, that it struck the eye of every one present, even the young girl's. The humble bearing and uncouth figure of the Brother looked decidedly unprepossessing compared with the tall, elegant form of Alexander, which, with all its agility and grace, was full of power, as if forged from steel. Every muscle was still strained by the exertion just made; his face was flushed, his blue eyes sparkled with the fire of inward strength of will, and yet the expression showed no evidence of agitation, only quiet consciousness of power. While he yet held the reins with his left hand, he assisted the other man, who finally succeeded in gaining the saddle.
"A vicious animal, sir," said Alexander to the other, handing him the bridle. "He seems to be skittish, and will not admit of any joking; spare the spur, and keep firm hold on the bridle until you are sure of yourself."
Thus saying, he stood aside, and man and horse proceeded on their way.
"And, now, if you will be so good, miss, please continue to be our guide," he said, turning toward the girl.
They soon reached the Sisters' house. "Ah, yes, this is the very place!" cried the lady, joyfully. "Thank you most sincerely for your courtesy, dear child. Will you kindly tell us which door to enter? We gave notice by letter of our coming, and are expected. I am Frau von Trautenau; these are my two sons, and this is my little daughter, whom I am bringing to stay here." She offered her hand cordially to the girl, and looked kindly at her beautiful face.
"I beg that you wilt enter this way, into the parlor," was the modest reply, as the maiden opened a door on the first floor. "I will inform Sister Agatha of your arrival."
It was not long ere the gentle Sister made her appearance. She was a friendly, motherly-looking woman, on whose gray hair was placed a cap with a pink bow, the badge of the unmarried Sisters. She greeted the visitors with dignified cordiality.
"Forgive me for bringing my entire family, and allow me to present each member to you," said Frau von Trautenau, after the first words of welcome.
"My stepson Alexander, captain of infantry, and my trusty adviser and support since my husband's death; my son Hans, and my daughter Adele, your pupil from this time forward, whom I commend most earnestly to your kindness and care."
Sister Agatha took the child most affectionately in her arms, and pressing a kiss on her brow, said sweetly:
"You must confide in me, dear child, as if I were your mother, and I will consider you a sacred trust committed to me. We are all a large family of Sisters here, who love one another, learning cheerfully and working diligently. 'Pray and work!' This golden proverb is our motto through the day, and the love and industry which you will see everywhere will soon teach you to feel at home among us."
"I live, as you know, in the neighborhood," said Frau von Trautenau, as Adele looked up tearfully. "Our estate, Wollmershain Grove, is only a few hours' ride from here, and sometimes, if I drive in, you will, I suppose, allow Adele to visit us for a little recreation?"
"Oh, certainly, Frau Von Trautenau," returned Sister Agatha—"in vacation. May I now show you our apartments and arrangements, so that you may know exactly how your dear little girl will be situated?"
"I shall be delighted," replied the lady. "Everything here interests us, of course, in the highest degree."
With that, they all rose and followed the sister.
"We require a great deal of room," explained Sister Agatha, as they passed along, "as there are separate apartments, not only for the pupils, but also for the unmarried Sisters of our community, who are not members of a family and yet live and work here with us. Indeed, even those who have families in the outside world often come to us to employ their unoccupied time." So saying, she led her guests from the first floor to the second, and from one room to another. Everything was neatly and simply arranged. The modest dress of the Sisters, with their little white caps, their calm diligence in spite of the exhilarating air of this bright morning, their quiet gait and subdued voices, the deep silence which pervaded the house, gave one the sensation of being in a cloister. Sister Agatha conducted the party into the general workroom. It was built like a deep hall. At long tables sat numbers of girls with every variety of countenance; all young, not quite grown, gathered in separate groups, busy with needlework or writing. The elder ones seemed to supervise the younger and instruct them in their work. Amongst these was the girl who had acted the part of guide to the strangers. All rose at the entrance of the visitors, and after a moment silently resumed their seats.
"Here you see the children of our members, and our dear pupils, all together. They are sent to us from the most remote colonies and missions to be educated, and they very soon learn to consider themselves one with us. Dear Sister Marie," said Agatha, turning to one of the girls, "please tell Frau Von Trautenau where you were born." The child addressed, a little girl with olive complexion and keen black eyes, arose, like a piece of machinery, on being spoken to, and replied: "At Paramaribo, in Surinam," and dropped back into her seat.
"And you, dear Sister Genevieve?"
"At St. Jean, in the West Indies."
"And Sister Sarah?" "At Sarepta, in Russia, in the province of Saratow."
"At Batavia, in Java."
Similarly to all those called before, Carmen rose also, when Sister Agatha mentioned her name; but it seemed an involuntary motion, as if in obedience to a command, and then, after a second's hesitation, she at once resumed her seat. During the entire proceedings her glance had wandered with painful eagerness, now to Frau von Trautenau, now to her eldest son, and had remarked how this questioning of the girls had seemed to amuse them. At last, when her name was called, a deep blush suffused Carmen's lovely face, and she could not summon courage to answer.
"Dear Sister Carmen!" repeated the Superior, as if she thought Carmen had not heard the first call.
"Oh, please—-" now interposed Frau von Trautenau, endeavoring to assist the girl when she saw her painful confusion. She stroked back from Carmen's brow the curly locks which had escaped from under the edge of the little white cap, saying: "Never mind! I can fancy, from her pretty name, that her cradle was rocked in Spain, if not in a still more distant and beautiful clime. Is it not so, dear child?"
There was so much delicate consideration in the tone and manner of Frau von Trautenau towards the embarrassed girl that Carmen, with an impulse of sincere gratitude, bent over her friendly hand and kissed it.
"Yes, it is so," She said, looking at the lady, with her dark eyes full of childlike innocence. "I was born in the beautiful West Indies, on the island of Jamaica."
"Have you been here long?"
"Oh yes, a very, very long time. I was sent here when only nine years old, to be educated, my mother having died some time before; and my father left Jamaica a year after I did, to go to the East Indies. I have not seen him or heard from him once since then."
Carmen said all this in an undertone, and her voice trembled, as if full of suppressed tears.
"Poor child! how sorry I am for you!" said the lady, affectionately, taking Carmen's hand and pressing it tenderly. She felt such a deep sympathy for the lonely girl that she quickly added: "Since you know so well what it is to be separated from loved ones, will you not try to interest yourself a little in Adele? She will perhaps find it difficult at first to reconcile herself to this new life."
"Gladly, with all my heart, if your daughter will confide in me!" replied Carmen with joy.
A stroke of the clock, which sounded loudly through the quiet house, announced the hour of the midday meal. The girls rose at once from their places, and Frau von Trautenau took leave of Sister Agatha, taking her daughter with her.
After the departure of the guests, the girls left the room; and as Carmen passed Sister Agatha, the latter laid her hand on the girl's shoulder, saying gravely, but not unkindly:
"Dear Sister, I would like to speak with you; on your return from the love-feast which we celebrate this evening, come to my room, and I will have a talk with you."
Carmen looked calmly into the serious eyes of the speaker, where she read no small degree of secret dissatisfaction.
"Yes, Sister Agatha, I will come."
* * * * * *
No apartment could be more simply furnished than that of Sister Agatha. It seemed as if she wished to excel in her avoidance of anything like unnecessary ornament or comfort. Three chairs, a table, an old-fashioned sofa, a writing-desk, and a chest of drawers formed the scanty furniture. The walls were whitewashed and bare, while at the windows were hung plain white curtains. Above the desk was placed the solitary ornament of the room, the watchword for the day. These "watchwords" are texts of Scripture printed on cards, one for each day in the year, and distributed to every member of the settlement, so that all may meditate upon it, and guide their daily lives by its precepts.
Sister Agatha sat at one of the windows; and with her, his chair drawn back into the shadow, out of the bright afternoon sunshine, sat Brother Jonathan Fricke, talking in his calmest and most deliberate manner, "It seems to me, dear Sister, that the healthy give you more anxiety than the sick."
"Because they are the more difficult to help than others; and although your visit is principally to the sick, I should like to have your advice regarding the case of one in my charge, and whose father was your dearest friend."
"You are anxious about Carmen's worldly-mindedness; but ought you not to be indulgent, dear Sister, and remember that the child's early associations are still holding sway in her heart, and make great excuse for her? Brother Mauer, you remember, went away from the mission to his plantation, where, although he did not sever himself from our communion, there was not much to remind him of his religious obligations. His last wife, a hot-blooded Creole, could not be considered much help as regards keeping the faith. She loved best to swing herself into the saddle and gallop away over the plains. She would sing her glowing Spanish songs to the accompaniment of the mandolin; or else she would dance like a fairy, her foot scarce seeming to touch the floor as she floated along, to the sound of the tambourine played by her old negro duenna. She was too beautiful for him to restrain, in dancing, riding, or anything. Too beautiful!" he repeated, becoming more and more enthusiastic. "I have seen her often, when summoned to the plantation on professional duty as a physician; and there was little Carmen, always with her mother, and following her in everything. She learned to dance and sing in true Spanish style, and she seemed to feel all the beauty and fascination of it."
Suddenly he paused, as if becoming conscious of his unwonted animation under the wondering gaze of Sister Agatha's grave eyes. Heaving a deep sigh, he had again recourse to his old trick of brushing an invisible speck of dust from his sleeve, and then continued in the orthodox, placid manner:
"It was a fearful sin for a member of our faith to fall into, and Brother Mauer should have resisted the temptation. I spoke to him frequently about it, but he had lost all power of self-control. He was too much absorbed in love for his wife, and therefore it was a mercy to his soul and Carmen's that this Spanish girl died, and the child was placed here, under our discipline, where she may yet be won over to a spiritual life," he concluded, and cast a humble, sanctimonious look on Sister Agatha.
"Where were you when her mother died?" asked the Sister. "Were you with her?"
"No; she has been dead about ten years, and I left Jamaica some time before that, as my health could not stand the climate. I went from there to the northern part of the United States. From Bethlehem, where I remained several years, I went back to the old place, and when I got there Carmen was a wee little maiden, and I was told that Brother Mauer had left Jamaica for the East Indies."
"Well, surely the Lord called him to be His instrument," interrupted Sister Agatha. "It was wonderful how he was seized with such an irrepressible desire to be a missionary. And as far as we can know, he has worked without flagging for the faith. All news from him has ceased for some time now; and is it not strange that he has never made any application for money? He took only a very small sum with him when he went on his mission, and the large sum which the sale of his lands in Jamaica brought is still in a bank in this country."
"Has he, then, left nothing for Carmen?"
"We receive a certain interest from the money, for her support and education," replied Agatha, "but it is, comparatively speaking, very little. The money must have accumulated to an immense sum by this time. If her father is dead, Carmen must be a very wealthy heiress—another temptation for her, poor child! It is strange we hear nothing from Brother Mauer. I feel sure he must be dead—died while working for his Lord!"
As she spoke, Jonathan's eyes flashed, and he suddenly lifted his head; but remembering where he was, he immediately resumed his usual pious bearing, and, when Agatha ceased speaking, said, with something like a sigh:
"He was my friend!"
A pause ensued, during which he seemed lost in reflection.
"It does seem as if we have lost him," he continued, "and Carmen must be an orphan. Poor child! Bear so much the more leniently with her, dear Sister; and if from time to time you observe signs of her early training, and that her impulses carry her sometimes beyond what is quite becoming, remember she will find in me a guide who is ever ready to lead her in the right way."
"Truly, you are still the same faithful friend to her father, for you have so much consideration for his child," said Agatha, deeply affected. "But believe me, dear Brother, I also love the girl with my whole heart, and am the more anxious for that reason, lest her natural inclinations may lead her into error. But to whom shall I direct her for guidance, if not to the dear Lord Himself?"
"Surely, my Sister, you say well; and therefore it would be better for her to have a helpmate ever at her side, who would remind her of her holy calling," returned Jonathan, earnestly. "Next week she will be eighteen years of age, and will then be numbered among the marriageable sisters. It would certainly be the best thing for her to have a husband; therefore seek one for her, Sister Agatha; and if you and the assembly of elders can find no one better, then will I, for the sake of her welfare, give up the freedom of my single life and take her to myself, to be to her a faithful protector and husband, for the glory of God."
While speaking, he had risen nervously from his seat, and leaning one arm on the back of the chair, uttered the last words hastily, as if impelled thereto by a sudden overwhelming emotion. His eyes were fixed on the floor, only once in a while looking furtively up, as if to watch the effect of his words. But the Sister's open countenance showed only a joyful surprise.
"You would really sacrifice yourself for Sister Carmen's benefit?" she cried. "How can I do otherwise than approve, dear Brother? You, the pious, wise, experienced physician, full of love and kind forbearance towards her, and knowing so well, all the while, what is for her good! Where in all the wide world could she ever find a better counsellor and guide?"
"Nay, say not so, Sister Agatha," he interrupted reprovingly. "No sinful creature deserves such praise; least of all I. None of us are more than humble instruments for good, and have no merit at all of ourselves."
"Yet, my dear Brother, we cannot but recognize the good in others," replied she in a gentle tone. "And I say no more than the truth. If every one as worthy as you had only a portion of your modesty! The sick long for you and praise you as their benefactor; the well welcome you everywhere as a friend and adviser. Let me thank you for offering yourself to Carmen, for you have done so with true kindness and love. After the feast this evening, I will communicate your proposal to the elders; and if they consent to it, then, afterwards, I will speak to Carmen on the subject. I have notified her to come to me, without reference to this matter, as I want to make some inquiries about her behavior this morning. But now it is the hour for evening prayer."
She arose, and extended her hand to Jonathan, who returned its hearty pressure. Never had his manner been more humble than it now was as he left the room. But when the door was closed behind him, he stood quite still for a moment, and the disagreeable expression of his mouth was greatly enhanced by the smile of triumph which lit up his countenance.
"Ah!" he exclaimed under his breath, "beauty and wealth; they will indeed compensate for the past."
When Frau von Trautenau, with her family, entered the spacious prayer-room, to be present at the love-feast, the mass of the congregation had already assembled, and were singing to the accompaniment of the organ. The lady accepted the places assigned to her and Adele by Sister Agatha, but Alexander and his brother took possession of an empty bench near the door.
The room presented a strange appearance for a place of worship. It was destitute of any ornament whatever. The altar, which was at one end, consisted of a simple wooden table, on which stood a large crucifix. The brothers and sisters sat at long tables covered with white linen; but, as usual, the sexes were seated apart. Each member was served with a small cup of tea and a little bun.
After a while the music ceased, and a long prayer by the principal elder followed after which another member read a letter from one of their missionaries, Joseph Hubner, who was at work in the land of the Kaffres. This letter presented a touching picture of humble self-sacrifice and sincere devotion.
Alexander felt deeply moved, and forgot the strange mixture of religious exercises and temporal enjoyment which this feast displayed. Absorbed in listening, he did not observe that, in his immediate vicinity, a singular commotion had arisen, and that a good deal of whispering was carried on among the Brothers, as they regarded him and Hans with curious glances. After the reading of the letter another hymn was given out; then Hans nudged his brother.
"What is there so peculiar about us? Everybody is gazing at us so!"
Alexander glanced about, to see if anything was wrong, but could discover nothing amiss. They had quietly and politely partaken of the feast when it was offered to them, yet something must be wrong to create such a sensation; so he turned to some one sitting near by, with the question:
"Are we depriving any one of this seat?"
"Oh no, indeed, my dear sir," he replied.
"So much the better," said Alexander. "We do not wish to cause any inconvenience and I began to fear we were doing so."
"I must ask your pardon," stammered the Brother, with much confusion. "It was certainly very rude for us to stare at you so, and yet it was the result of the deep sympathy we feel for your brother, who seems so young to be a widower."
Alexander gave a searching glance at the speaker, to see if he was ridiculing his brother. Hans a widower! In spite of his tall stature, he showed very plainly that he was but an overgrown schoolboy.
"A widower, sir!" said the young man, slowly. "My brother is only sixteen years old, and is still at school. In the world we do not marry at that age."
"It did indeed seem very strange to me," said the good man, in extreme embarrassment; "but being seated among the widowers, we judged it must be so."
The two brothers almost laughed out loud, the position was so ridiculous.
"Then we are both in the wrong place—my brother as well as I! You must pardon our ignorance of your customs. I saw the men and women sitting apart, but never imagined the widowers had a particular place for themselves. Tell us, pray, where we can sit to be among unmarried fellows like ourselves."
"Nay, my dear sir, remain where you are. The love-feast will soon be over. Brother Daniel, who leaves us to-morrow, to help Brother Joseph among the Kaffres, has only to take leave of us before we disperse."
While he was speaking, the whole assembly arose, and one among them stepped forward. He first advanced to the Sisters, and shook hands with each one; then passing over to the Brothers, the parting kiss was given and received. And he who thus bade farewell, ere he followed Brother Joseph, to share his struggles and hardships, far away from civilized life, was the identical awkward, ungainly-looking Brother who, in the morning, had made such an unsuccessful attempt at riding.
There is always an intolerable feeling of moral defeat when we see a man, whom we have regarded with contempt rise into importance by his own merit. A noble mind at once acknowledges the fact, but a mean spirit feels only resentment and spite, with a sense of defeat.
Something like a feeling of shame came over Alexander, as he closely regarded the man whom he had inwardly despised, but who now seemed like a hero in his eyes.
Seated at the table, opposite to him were the young sisters and pupils belonging to the educational department, and among them Adele, seated not far from Carmen. As Alexander casually looked up, he met Carmen's sparkling eyes, which seemed to cast on him a look of triumph, as if she understood his feeling of humiliation which this moment brought to him as a consequence of his contemptuous manner in the morning. He thought he could clearly read in her expression what she fain would have said: "You may perhaps ride well, and he cannot; you were not afraid to stop the wild horse and save the child's life; but would you have the courage to undertake what he has been appointed to do?" As their eyes met, she returned his glance unflinchingly and firmly, but he could not prevent his eyes from falling before hers.
Meanwhile Brother Daniel had, in his rounds of leave-taking, approached those near to Alexander. When he reached the latter he hesitated a moment, having recognized the person who had come to his assistance in need, and a flush of embarrassment suffused his gentle, almost effeminate, countenance. But Alexander, bending down quickly, pressed a kiss on the man's cheek, saying heartily: "Farewell, and good luck go with you! Believe me, I thoroughly admire your courage."
The Brother looked at him in surprise, and answered: "Thank you very much, sir!" and passed on.
When Alexander again looked toward Carmen, her eyes were moist with unshed tears.
"How beautiful that girl is!" thought he. "What an independent, frank spirit speaks from her eyes; what a lovely expression hovers around her mouth! She is like a dazzling star among these quiet people,—as if she had strayed away from her own orbit and found herself here,—so little does she seem fitted to her surroundings in the little circle in which she moves. I wonder if she is happy here. A large-hearted, generous nature cannot be content to submit to all these restrictions. No, she resists them. I saw that to-day. But she will never become like the others, and pass her life, in quiet submission, by the side of a man such as Brother Daniel, for instance."
The leave-taking of the Brother being ended, the congregation received the general blessing and dispersed. The moment had now come when Frau von Trautenau and her sons must part from Adele, and many were the tears shed on the occasion.
The night grew late; the lamp was lighted in Agatha's room. Presently a gentle tapping was heard on the door, answered by a kindly "Come in."
Carmen entered; and when Agatha, raising her eyes, recognized the girl, she put aside her spectacles, and said gently: "Come nearer, dear Sister; I was expecting you." She drew up a chair, but Carmen put it aside, and kneeling by Sister Agatha's side, said:
"No, Sister, let me remain here and hear what you have to say, for you are going to chide me—I am sure of it."
"Carmen, do you believe I love you?" she inquired.
"Surely," answered the girl, quickly. "More than any one else here."
"Then you know that my heart grieves when I cannot feel satisfied with you," continued the Sister. "Why are your thoughts constantly dwelling on worldly things, and why do you allow yourself to be overcome with pride, instead of putting your mind on serious matters, and being more humble?"
"You are angry with me, Sister Agatha, because I did not tell from what distant land I came. That is not such a dreadful crime," said Carmen, cheerfully.
The serious countenance of the Sister grew yet more grave, and she looked severely at the kneeling figure.
"Have you, then, not thought of the text for to-day?" she asked reprovingly,
Carmen flushed up quickly; she tried to compose herself, but was for a moment at a loss what to say. She had during the past day been through such new experiences; whereas, heretofore, every day had been pretty much the same.
Sister Agatha waited patiently for Carmen to become calmer. At last, when she seemed to have forgotten her confusion about the text, Agatha said: "Now tell me the watchword."
When the maiden's eyes turned to the usual place for the motto, her thoughts seemed to cease wandering, and she repeated the verse correctly:
"'Feed Thou Thy people with Thy staff.'"
"Remember, my Sister, the purport of those words. 'Thy people' are those who belong to Him; 'with Thy staff' means, with the support of His strength. Carmen, how can the Lord guide you with His staff, if you do not bow your will before Him, and try to curb your pride?"
Carmen, as she knelt, had rested her elbows on Sister Agatha's lap, and thus supported her head on her hands, while she gazed into the speaker's face, thinking earnestly of what she said.
"Do you call it pride, and are you vexed with me because I would not tell to strangers what was indifferent, or perhaps amusing, to them? Oh, Sister Agatha, is it necessary that we expose ourselves to the derision of the world? We do not serve God by doing that. And when you speak of pride, is it not that very feeling which leads you to boast of our having come from so many and such distant lands? Do you not wish to demonstrate by that means how your faith has penetrated into all parts of the world? That is, after all, pride under the garb of humility."
Sister Agatha was deeply touched, and remained silent for a moment; then rising hastily, she said with a stern manner: "Do not confuse trifles with grave subjects. All that we do, even the weakest, is for the Lord's glory and praise, and not our own. What matter if the world scorns us? If we are the Lord's, He is with us, and we care for naught else. Search your heart, dear Sister, that you neglect not the salvation of your soul. Accept for yourself a helper and guide, so that your feet may not stray from the right path. There is one, whom I know, is now ready to offer himself to you, than whom none is, more steadfast in the faith. Brother Jonathan Fricke, the faithful friend of your father, honors you most highly when he desires to have you for his wife. To-day he explained to me his wishes on the subject; and the elders, to whom I have spoken, give their cordial consent to the alliance."
At Agatha's words Carmen grew deathly pale, and listened with wide-open eyes. When the Sister ceased speaking, she sprang up, and turning from the gentle eyes which sought hers, said passionately:
"But I will not have him for my husband!"
"Carmen, my dear, you will not have Jonathan for your husband? You do not know what you are saying," cried Agatha.
"Yes, I do, Sister Agatha," answered Carmen, quickly, her large lustrous eyes gleaming with a dangerous light. "Do you know how you feel when you come in contact with a reptile, a snake? When I was a little girl, on my father's plantation, I saw one day, under an aloe-tree, what I thought was a green twig; and when I grasped it, it was a cold, clammy snake, which, in a moment, twined itself around my arm. I could not scream for terror; but Sarah, my mother's faithful slave, saw it. She tore the viper from my arm, and flung it far away, among the bushes. Sister Agatha, when Brother Jonathan comes near me, I feel the same shiver go through, and the same feeling of horror almost paralyzes my limbs. I could not endure to have him near me always. I could not say to him, 'My husband'—no, not for all the world!"
Carmen grew more and more excited as she went on.
"Perhaps not for all the world," interposed Agatha; "but for your own salvation you must do it. Do not thrust the safety of your soul from you in this way. As Brother Jonathan's wife, you will be a partaker of his holy life and good works. We are not put into this world to please ourselves, but to further the progress of the kingdom of God."
"Oh, Sister Agatha, believe me, I will become a nurse for the sick, and bear all the hardships and trials of such a vocation; only spare me—spare me this one thing! I cannot give myself to Brother Jonathan. You must not—you dare not require it of me!" cried the girl, bursting into tears.
"No, Carmen, I will not compel you, although it grieves me for your sake," said Agatha. "Go, now, and on your knees examine your heart, lest you may refuse that which is intended for your greatest good." And kissing Carmen, she dismissed her.
The hours wore on, and still Sister Agatha remained lost in thought, wondering what new ideas had been put into that young head. "Perhaps she was right. Vanity and pride! How frightful the words sound! We never know ourselves as well as we do others; so, after all, the child has given me a good lesson. I must look into my own heart more thoroughly, and be more severe with myself, before I presume to advise and guide other people. Lord, help me to a right knowledge of my duty to Thee!"
She extinguished the light, and sought repose from her anxieties.
A week passed quietly by, and the excitement caused by Brother Daniel's departure had given place to the usual monotonous religious routine. During this time things had gone badly with Adele. Self-control and obedience were things entirely new to her, and she felt by no means attracted towards the young girls about her, always excepting Carmen. The predilection which her mother had shown for the latter had quickly communicated itself to the daughter, and Carmen, in return, feeling that she could never be sufficiently grateful to Frau von Trautenau for her kindness, showed every possible favor to Adele. This young lady's naturally vivacious and merry disposition, which was not at all subdued by the calm seriousness which surrounded her, proved a great source of amusement to Carmen. She gladly reciprocated the warm affection lavished upon her by the petted heiress, and every letter which reached Wolmershain teemed with the pleasure the two friends took in each other's society. Adele told how Carmen had passed her eighteenth birthday, and now wore pink instead of red; how Carmen had undertaken to teach some of the English classes, and how all the girls loved their new teacher, etc., etc.
Carmen's natural cheerfulness had not been disturbed by the communication Sister Agatha had made to her in regard to Brother Jonathan. The morning after, Sister Agatha asked if she had considered the matter well, and prayed over it; to which Carmen answered in the affirmative, but persisted in her positive refusal; to which Brother Jonathan submitted with apparent calmness. If he felt at all mortified, he certainly exerted immense self-control, for he seemed the same as usual, and his voice was clear and firm; so that Agatha felt sure that it was only his great unselfishness which had prompted him to entertain the idea.
His profession took him frequently to the Sisters' house, but when there he had intercourse only with the nurses and patients. 'Tis true he now came oftener than formerly, and at more irregular hours, on the plea of looking after this or that which he had forgotten; but as he, with silent tread, passed along through the halls, he seldom met any of the Sisters, and Carmen never.
To-day had been rainy and wet, but towards evening the sky cleared up, and Carmen led little Frieda home from the school-house. On her return she took a roundabout path, and slackened her usually fleet steps to enjoy the fresh, balmy spring air. She passed into a lonely lane, bordered on either side with beautiful gardens, whose hedges were unfolding their first blossoms, filling the air with sweetest perfume. As she stooped to pick some lovely violets which peeped up from the wayside, she, all at once, felt as if some one was standing behind her, although no footfall had reached her ear. She raised herself hastily from her stooping posture, and as she did so, felt a man's strong arm passed around her, and in another second she was pressed violently to his breast. She strove to cry out for help, but voice and tongue failed her, as she turned and met Brother Jonathan's burning glance; and there seemed to thrill through her, under the touch of his arm, the same creeping, numbing horror that she felt when the snake coiled about her arm. But how changed he looked! His whole countenance seemed lighted up by a new expression, and eager, passionate words poured from his lips.
"Carmen, so young, so warm-hearted, why can you not respond to a love which is offered to you with all the intensity of a true heart? You see in me only the grave, elderly man who wants you for his wife, and therefore you reject him. But, Carmen, under this calm exterior you will find an ardent lover, who desires to win you, that he may make for you a heaven on earth, and fill your life with such unutterable bliss as you have never dreamed of. Oh, Carmen, do not say me nay; but lay your lovely head upon my breast, and believe that my heart throbs wildly and deeply for you only. Look in my eyes, and let the love you read there serve to kindle a like feeling in you. Have you forgotten that we must love one another, we Brothers and Sisters? Give me your love, then, my darling, and say you will be mine!"
Rendered powerless to move by his pitiless embrace, she seemed like a little bird doomed to death by the irresistible fascination of a serpent. Quickly, passionately, his hot breath scorching her bloodless lips, he kissed her again and again. With a sudden powerful effort she tore herself from his arms, retreated a few steps, and turning on him a countenance ablaze with scorn and indignation, she cried:
"Back, villain! How dare you venture to insult me thus? Approach one step nearer, and I will cry out so that heaven and earth will fly to my succor."
She stood before him, so proud and haughty, so intensely excited, that he dared not venture farther.
"I will not approach you again, Carmen, if it displeases you; and forgive my violence just now," he pleaded earnestly. "But promise to give yourself to me, Carmen; you are not by nature cold; you will, you must return my love. Let me teach you what real happiness is; you may imagine it, but you cannot come near the reality."
The girl was silent; this antipathy to Jonathan was as old as her memory. In Jamaica he had been an object of aversion to her, yet she could give no definite reason for this deeply-rooted dislike. Every one spoke so highly of him that she often blamed herself for not feeling more kindly towards one who enjoyed the respect and esteem of the whole community. His piety and temperate habits, his humility and devotion to his work, were conspicuous even here. Of late, he had been particularly friendly towards Carmen, which seemed a very natural thing, he having been such an old friend of her father's. But his increased kindness only awoke a greater dislike in the girl, so that she tried in every way to escape an avowal from him of his feelings. She did not consider her refusal to marry him a matter of much importance, as she concluded his offer had arisen only from a desire to transfer his friendship from the father to the daughter. His unexpected outburst of passion alarmed her, although in her childish innocence, she did not fully understand why she felt so deeply insulted. The thought that he had given her a love which she could not return made her fearful of hurting his feelings in some way beyond her comprehension, and she endeavored to subdue her anger sufficiently to answer him.
"Forgive me if I wound you, Brother Jonathan, but I cannot help it. I do not love you as you desire, and I neither deserve nor wish that you should have such a warm feeling for me."
"Carmen, you surely cannot mean what you say. I have taken you by surprise. Calm yourself, and do not make this a final decision." He attempted to approach her again, but the maiden shrank back from him in terror.
"I cannot do otherwise," she said firmly. "Now let me, I pray, go on my way in peace. Sister Agatha must be waiting for me."
At the mention of the Sister's name, Jonathan gave an anxious glance at Carmen. It flashed on his mind what fearful consequences might result from his conduct. He remembered the law of the Brotherhood, which required that the members must report the slightest departure from strict morality in any one of their number, so that the delinquent be reprimanded and excluded once or twice from the monthly celebration of the Communion. Should he give evidence of repentance, and return to the right path, he might be restored to his usual privileges; but if he should not acknowledge his fault, he must absent himself from the society of others, and, in an extreme case, be banished from the Brotherhood.
Brother Jonathan, heretofore so strict, and spotless in his reputation, to be publicly accused and admonished! What an appalling example of fallen greatness!
At the mention of Agatha's name, he endeavored to resume his habitual calmness. He passed his hand over his eyes, as if to blot out the remembrance of the passion which yet burned within him, and gradually regained, in voice and manner, a more collected mien.
"You have seen, dear Sister, how our passions sometimes get the mastery over us, and how vain are our efforts to subdue them, even though we have devoted ourselves to a religious life!" said he, in an humble tone. "If you cannot give me your love, you can at least be silent about my feeling towards you, and forget what has just occurred, and for which I shall ask pardon from Heaven."
Carmen looked at him, with a feeling of pity. She had brought so much trouble to this man that the thought of it did much towards dissipating her ill-will towards him. With tears in her eyes, she said: "Be easy about that, Brother Jonathan. I will not betray you. Forget this hour, as I will try to forget it."
Then turning away, she hurried, as fast as her feet would carry her, to the safe shelter of the Sisters' house.
From this time forth, Carmen's peace of mind was gone. Her aversion to Jonathan was outweighed by her fear of him. His hot, ardent nature had broken bounds so violently and ungovernably that she could not feel at all sure it was so quickly subdued. A deep sense of desolation, came over her. Her mother, lying in the grave, far away on a sea-girt island, under a tropical sun; her father, in all likelihood murdered, and buried in some foreign land; and she living among strangers, with whom she found it utterly impossible to feel any congeniality! She avoided Brother Jonathan, and he seemed to shun her no less assiduously. He had absented himself from one Communion; explaining his conduct by expressing an unusual sense of his own unworthiness. His calculations were well made: Carmen pitied him sincerely on account of the deep remorse he seemed to feel. How could her pure mind imagine it was all hypocrisy! In the house where he lived with the other unmarried Brothers, he maintained the same pious, serious demeanor as heretofore. His patients received the same care and attention as formerly, but he looked haggard and care-worn, and Thomas, his faithful attendant, whom he had brought with him from the New World, would often hear him groan heavily in the night, as if some secret grief preyed on his mind.
Carmen could not witness his misery unmoved. Since the unfortunate incident connected with him, her life among the Sisters had become doubly oppressive to her. Like a welcome release from her unpleasant surroundings came a request from Frau von Trautenau that Sister Agatha would permit Adele and her dear Carmen to spend Whitsuntide with her at Wollmershain; an invitation which Agatha gladly accepted for her pupils.
Wollmershain was a large, beautiful estate, which, upon the death of its owner, had become the joint property of Adele and her brothers; and Frau von Trautenau had resided there since her widowhood, and proposed to continue doing so until one of her sons should buy his sister's and brother's portion and assume the management of it. The relations between Frau von Trautenau and her step-son had always been of the most happy and agreeable kind; he honored and loved his step-mother, who had brought him up with the greatest possible care and affection; and she, in return placed implicit confidence in his opinions and advice, making him her chief counsellor since her husband's death.
Into this beautiful home-life Carmen now entered, as if into a new world. Whereas, the affection between the Brothers and Sisters in the "community" had always appeared to her in the austere light of a duty, here it seemed like a natural impulse, springing spontaneously from the depths of warm and loving hearts.
In all the arrangements of the house and grounds, the idea of the beautiful, in connection with the comfortable and useful, was everywhere prominent.
The lofty, well-lighted rooms, adorned and furnished with elegant simplicity; the smooth green lawns, bordered with lovely flowers of every hue; the magnificent avenues of grand old trees, and the innumerable, lovely little nooks to be found here and there in the park, all breathed a charm which reminded Carmen of what she dimly remembered about her father's plantation and hacienda in Jamaica.
Alexander and Hans were also at home for the holidays; and while Adele rambled with the latter through park and garden, Carmen, who shyly avoided Alexander, was entertained by her hostess, to whose warm motherly nature the girl was attracted with genuine, childlike heartiness. It was indeed her society, more than anything else, which contributed to Carmen's happiness at Wollmershain, for she felt embarrassed in this new kind of life; and the remarks which her peculiar dress occasioned were especially annoying. To avoid being conspicuous, she had already laid aside the white cap; but her beauty, enhanced by the coils of glossy hair which crowned her queenly little head, was so remarkable, so foreign-looking and striking, that she seemed like some rare exotic which, in all the luxuriance of its loveliness, had been transplanted from the land of palms to our colder soil. There was in her manner an odd mixture of pride and humility, dignity and modesty, which gave her all the reserve of a woman and the winsomeness of a child. Perhaps it was the knowledge of the fact that the peculiarities of the Sisters elicited so much ridicule from the world that caused her to use her pride as a defence and a weapon, when in company with any one save Frau von Trautenau. She always seemed ready to do battle with Alexander, and yet he had never by word or deed given cause for such a feeling.
"She is full of pluck and mettle like a thoroughbred horse!" said old General von Bergen, who, with his daughter and his adjutant, had come up from the barracks on a visit. "It is a pleasure to provoke her; her eyes light up so. Pohlen," he said, turning to the adjutant, "you seemed to be unfortunate in your remarks to her during dinner; those lovely lips curled as scornfully as if you had seriously offended her, and her great eyes glowed like fire, as she looked away off, over your head."
The gentleman addressed laughed as if amused. "And yet I only ventured on some complimentary speeches. I asked if all the Creoles were as beautiful as herself. That was surely flattering enough, and I think this little Moravian ought, by this time, to possess some of the humility they pride themselves so much on, and not toss her head so haughtily and look at me so contemptuously."
The gentlemen were comfortably smoking in the veranda, after dinner; and Alexander, who sat on the steps, half hidden by a large syringa-bush in full bloom, flushed deeply at Pohlen's words. In a sharp tone of reprimand, he said:
"My friend, Creole is a term which is not at all agreeable to some people; for the rest, flattery is often another name for insult; perhaps the young lady considered yours as such."
"Do you think so?" drawled out Pohlen. "That is altogether a new thing to me. A lady of higher quality would at least have known how to receive homage offered to her; and a second time I will not put up with a rebuff from this Moravian girl, but will treat her as she does me."
Alexander colored with anger, and his blood boiled. It was only by a powerful effort that he controlled himself sufficiently to answer in a tolerably calm voice:
"A lady of higher quality? Higher quality presupposes greater merit, and you will do well to bear in mind, Herr von Pohlen, that this lady is my mother's guest, and, as such, is under my most special protection. Any mortification or insult inflicted on her is also inflicted on me."
"Gentlemen, I beg the conversation may not become serious, but retain the bantering tone in which I began it. Let what has been said lead to nothing unpleasant," interrupted the general, in a pacifying manner. "Herr von Pohlen will, of course, remember what he owes to the inmates of this hospitable mansion. You two fortunate knights must vie with each other as to who shall win the favor of this young maiden, who is as beautiful as a dream. For myself, I lament nothing so much as my sixty years, which prevent me from entering the lists with you."
Alexander rose as the old man finished speaking, and as he passed down the steps, said:
"If agreeable, let us find the ladies now, General; they are, I think, awaiting us on the lawn."
He paused abruptly, for at the foot of the steps stood Carmen, as if irresolute whether to advance or withdraw. She had evidently heard the foregoing conversation, for she was very pale and trembled slightly. The young officer descended quickly toward her, as she raised her head, and calmly waited for him to pass. As he came up to where she stood, she whispered softly:
"I thank you!" and a gentle glance from the beautiful black eyes thrilled him with pleasure. Then seeing the other gentlemen preparing to descend also, her face became suffused with blushes.
"I came to find a cushion for Frau von Trautenau," she remarked confusedly.
"Allow me, Fraulein Carmen, to take it to my mother," said Alexander, coming to her assistance; and he ran back, upstairs, as she hastened away.
Games were now arranged on the lawn, and Fraulein von Bergen, a merry maiden, soon had every one actively engaged in them. There were familiar ones, which Carmen had often played at school with the day-pupils; but how different they seemed here, when the gentlemen took part in them! Carmen could never have been as unrestrained as the general's daughter; but she laughed merrily and enjoyed it all, contenting herself with allowing Adele to catch her, and carefully avoiding any contact with the others.
After a while a drop of rain fell, then another, and at last a hard shower drove the party from the open air into the drawing-room; but the spirit of merriment had been aroused, and sitting down quietly was not to be thought of.
"Come, papa, lead out your war-horse to the front!" urged the general's daughter; and the old gentleman good-naturedly seated himself at the piano and began thrumming the one, solitary piece he could play—a lively galop. Herr von Pohlen seized Fraulein von Bergen, Hans his sister, and the two couples went whirling through the mazes of the dance.
Carmen looked on with sparkling eyes; a bright flush of happiness colored her cheek, her little foot involuntarily beat time, and her lithe form swayed to and fro with a dreamy, rhythmical movement.
"Will you not dance also?" asked Alexander, close beside her.
"Oh, I would like to, above all things!" she replied with a lovely smile, her eyes still fixed on the dancers. "How delightful it must be to whirl around so!"
"Will you not try it with me, Fraulein Carmen?" he urged pleadingly.
"I cannot dance; at least, not like that!" she returned, turning her beaming countenance towards him.
"Oh, it is very easily learned; just trust yourself to my guidance. Put your hand on my shoulder, if you please, and with my arm I will hold you firmly as we move around;" saying which, he proceeded to put his arm about her waist. But she drew back, and gave him a horrified look. As yet, no man's arm had encircled her—except Brother Jonathan's, during that one dreadful moment of her life.
"I cannot do it—no, it is quite impossible!" she stammered.
"Then you must pardon me for making the attempt," said Alexander, and bowed coolly.
"Refused!" whispered Pohlen, mockingly, when he stopped dancing, for he had seen Alexander's defeat.
"Yes; but as she knows how to refuse, it is perhaps more to be appreciated than when others accept," he replied.
When the family separated for the night, and Carmen had as usual given her hand to her hostess, Adele, and Hans, she hesitated a second, and then, with a burning blush mantling her cheek, extended her hand to Alexander. Heretofore she had persistently avoided him; but to-day he had proved himself her friend and protector, and she felt that some reparation was due him for her rudeness in the past.
As she held out the little hand, and wished him "Good-night," she gave him a pleading glance, as if to say, "Do not be angry with me!"
His countenance lighted up with surprise and pleasure. Her eyes, so fascinating when flashing with indignation, now seemed irresistible when moistened by a gentler emotion; and as he looked into their dark, unfathomable depths, he felt as if he would like to gaze forever. But her eyes fell before his ardent glance, and bowing low over the proffered hand, he kissed it respectfully, feeling as honored as if a queen had allowed him the privilege.
From this night Carmen's intercourse with Alexander assumed a much more friendly character; but was, of course, very brief, as only two more days remained ere the pleasant party at Wollmershain would be broken up, and Adele and Carmen return to their duties.
"Dear old home! At last I see you again!" exclaimed a lonely traveller, as he stood leaning on his staff, and viewed the scene before him. He took off his hat, and folded his hands as if in silent thanksgiving. Footsore and weary he seemed to have paused here to refresh himself with the sight of a place so dear to him.
There lay the little Moravian settlement, bathed in the soft glow of a summer sunset. Bright clouds reflected a golden radiance on the pointed roofs and windows, and trembled on the bosom of the little stream, which, with gentle murmur, flowed at the stranger's feet. The dark shadows of the hills extended down into the valley opening on his right, and from the evening mist peeped out the old mill, which he remembered so well. On the meadows around the alder-pond, the evening fog wreathed itself into fairy forms, and the fragrance of new-mown hay was borne on the breeze.
It was a lovely, peaceful picture, and seemed to affect the man very deeply. And yet he had been in the midst of far grander, more sublime, more beautiful scenery than this! He had crossed the ocean, and revelled in the contemplation of its grandeur. He had dwelt under tropical skies, palms and magnolias shading his home, and the boundless riches of the West Indian world poured out at his feet. He had looked upon the sacred waters of the Ganges, and gazed in wonder on the temples of Benares; had traversed "the home of the snows" on the Himalayas; and the ice crown of the Dhawalagiri had frowned on him, gigantic and mystical, as he sojourned in the green valleys below, rich with banana-groves and rice fields. He had wandered over Mongolian steppes, and the stars of heaven had watched over him as he lay in the tent of the nomad; but never, through all, had the yearning for home been quenched within him.
"Home!" How the word recalls long-lost memories! The mother's gentle smile, the father's loving word, as when, in childhood's happy hours, we sought the beloved shelter at evening, and betook ourselves to innocent slumbers; and, although the child grows to be the gray-haired man, yet the sweet memories of peace and love never fade from his heart. What changes life brings to us! Thirty years ago this worn, weary traveller emigrated to the New World. Then he was young, courageous, filled with all the bright hopes which a new life spread out before him. What happiness he had known since then; what sorrow he had passed through; and ah, what guilt and remorse he had borne!
And now he was back again—the tall, erect form so bowed down. Was it sorrow, guilt, or exhaustion from the journey? The once sunny locks were white as the snow on the mountains; in the large blue eyes alone there were still some signs of his former self remaining. "Here is the dear old place at last!" he murmured to himself, and his bosom heaved with suppressed emotion. The longer he gazed, the more difficult he found it to control his feelings, until finally he gave way, and wept like a child.
Meanwhile the brilliant hues of sunset had faded away, and with the approaching shadows of night the wind rose and played around the stranger's hoary head.
"It must be about nine o'clock now, the hour for evening prayer, and everything will go on just as in the old days, for there is nothing to create a change here. I will go in, and ask if my child yet lives; and if so, there may be one to rejoice at my return." Thus soliloquizing, he put his hat on again, slung his wallet over his shoulder, and supporting himself on his stout staff, approached the house. Very few changes had occurred since he had left. A few new houses had been erected, but the old ones remained unaltered, even the one where he had formerly lived. He had inherited it from his father, and had carried on the linen trade there until he left with his first wife for the New World.
The congregation were returning from the chapel. Here and there a group would gather before one or other of the dwellings, to enjoy the mild summer night; and as the old man passed along he greeted a Brother or a Sister, and they returned it kindly, but like strangers. No one recognized him, although many looked after him curiously as he staggered feebly on towards the Sisters' house.
"That is not the Brothers' house, dear Brother," said a young man, addressing him.
"Yes, I know it. But I know where I am going," he replied, as if pleased to find the different roads so familiar to him. Then he pulled the bell at the Sisters' door, and requested to speak with Agatha.
He was ushered into the sitting-room, and as Sister Agatha entered, recognized her at the first glance.
"Sister, does Carmen Mauer still live, and is she here?" he asked, trembling with intense suspense.
The speaker must once have been a very handsome man. He bore evidences of it to-day, although deep sorrow and bodily as well as mental suffering had set its seal on his face and left deep furrows there. The burning suns of many climes had bronzed his skin, so that the large, clear blue eyes shone forth like stars.
Agatha looked at him inquiringly, and the more she looked the more perplexed she became. "Carmen lives here in this house," she answered, at length. "Can it be possible that you are—"
"Brother Mauer, who you have thought was dead ages ago," he replied falteringly.
"Heaven be praised!" cried Agatha, and sank into a chair. The surprise was almost too great for her; but regaining her self-control in a measure, she cordially pressed his outstretched hand, and led him to a seat, saying: "Let me go and bring Carmen at once, and you shall clasp your child to your heart without delay."
Sister Agatha lost not a moment. "Rejoice, dear Carmen," she said. "A Brother has just arrived who brings intelligence that your father still lives!" And with a most unwonted excitement in her manner, she led Carmen to the door of the sitting-room. Tremblingly the girl entered, and saw by the clear light of the lamp an old, bent man who had, at this moment, no power to rise to his feet, but could only stretch out his longing arms to his dearly-loved daughter. The next moment she lay sobbing on his breast. The child had not forgotten the sweet expression of those eyes, and she read in the dear features the fact that she was not an orphan.
"Father! my dear, dear father!"
His eyes bedewed her brow with tears of joy as with loving tones he murmured again and again: "My child! my darling!" In her warm embrace he again felt the happiness which had been denied him during so many weary years. After a little while, he gently turned her face up towards him, and examined her features.
"Just like Inez! You are your mother over again, as I first saw her under the palms and fell in love with her. In you I have found both of my lost ones!" he said, and he smiled through happy tears.
"You will stay with me now, dear father? You will never leave me again?" she asked anxiously.
"Yes, I will remain here, Carmen, in the dear old home, where I have come, a worn-out pilgrim to rest."
"Poor father! how much you must have endured, working so far away from us all! You have been all alone, no one to succor or help you; and nothing has been heard of you for so long; all efforts to find you have proved useless," said Carmen, as she lovingly stroked the withered cheek. "You had vanished so utterly that they all gave you up as dead; only my heart could never believe it. Why have you never sent us any tidings?"
"I did indeed send some, my child, but they never reached you. I was on the banks of the Ganges at the time, but shortly afterwards I went farther into the country, towards the north, attempting to penetrate a defile in the Himalayas. There the savages seized me and made me a slave. For years I have served in the most menial and degrading capacity; my tired back often bruised with their lashes, and only the stony ground on which to rest. At length I escaped on horseback, and succeeded in reaching the Mongolian steppes. There I have been wandering about, with various tribes, for two years; have tended their flocks and performed the commonest labor; all the time trying to teach them the Gospel. But only the spirit of unrest reigned within me, and an intense longing impelled me to turn my face homeward. So I took my staff and passed on foot through Siberia, into Russia, begging my way from door to door. I, who possess hundreds of thousands! Finally I reached Sarepta, ragged and barefooted, and almost dead from exhaustion. There the Brothers wanted me to remain with them, to be nursed and cared for; but this uncontrollable longing did not suffer me to tarry. After reaching Europe I felt as if I was on the threshold of home, and I grew more impatient than ever. I obtained a loan of money from the Brothers, and was thus enabled to ride the rest of the journey, and get some suitable clothing; but I sickened on the road and was forced to lay up in a Polish town, where I remained until nearly all my money was gone. Afterwards I was again obliged to travel on foot—and here I am. Now all will go well, since I am again at home," he concluded, smiling contentedly at the last thought.
Sister Agatha had, meanwhile, brought refreshments for the weary old man. What a heart-felt joy, this first meal with his daughter in the old familiar room! And how much he had to relate, while regaling himself, of wonders and adventures in distant lands! It was very late when, strengthened by the good cheer, and comforted by the presence of his child, he bade good-night to Carmen and Sister Agatha, and betook himself to the lodging-house to seek repose.
* * * * * *
"Have you heard the news? Brother Mauer, whom we thought dead and buried, is here!" passed from lip to lip in the settlement the next morning. The wonderful event occupied every mind, and filled the Brothers and Sisters with amazement. But no one except Carmen had seen him as yet. He had slept until near noon, recovering some of his lost strength, and his daughter had sat quietly watching by him during the whole morning, so that his first waking glance might fall on her. Afterwards they took breakfast together in his room, each recounting the occurrences of the past years, and drawing happy plans for the future. He proposed to buy a house in the settlement, and Carmen should keep house for him, nothing but death ever separating them again.
Carmen's heart grew light as a bird. She was so delighted to have her father restored to her—so happy in the security of a love which would always shelter and protect her! It would shield her even against Brother Jonathan's love, which was so abhorrent to her; and she took counsel with herself whether or no it would be best to tell the old man all the terror she had suffered a short time before. Truly a promise of silence had been given; but ought she not to make her father an exception? She could not see clearly what was the right thing to do, and therefore resolved not to mention Jonathan at all.
The latter had gone on a short journey a few days previously, and she would thus have time to consider the matter, and wait for some quieter hour in which to make her disclosure.
In the afternoon, when service was held in the chapel, everybody hastened thither, intent upon seeing Brother Mauer, and hearing about his mission work and adventures. He sat among the widowers; devoutly singing, his eyes cast down, as if he felt that all eyes were gazing upon him.
When the hymn was ended, the principal elders and teachers came up to Mauer, greeting him with cordial hand-shakings, and leading him, with words of hearty welcome, to a more prominent seat, from which he could address the congregation. He bore himself with a firmer carriage to-day, and the dignity of his tall figure was more conspicuous than on the evening before. With a happy smile, he let his glance roam over the assembly of Brothers and Sisters, many of whom were unknown to him; indeed, the large majority were strange, yet he held each and all dear, as forming a part of his home surroundings. As he passed up the aisle, between the two elders who conducted him, the door of the chapel opened, and a tardy member entered. It was Brother Jonathan Fricke. His manner was even humbler than usual, and his eyes wandered restlessly around: perhaps he had heard of Brother Mauer's arrival, and was looking for him. In the centre of the aisle, which was filled with people, he met the three men. Jonathan's glance fell on the tall form of his old friend; he stretched out his hand, and said in a low voice:
"Do the dead rise, Brother Michael?"
Mauer shrank back at the words; and as he recognized the speaker he grew deathly pale, his eyes dilated with an expression of horror, and he staggered forward.
"You here?" he asked hoarsely, and fell to the ground.
A general confusion ensued. It seemed but natural that the numerous greetings should have exhausted the over-weary traveller; and then the reunion with his old friend—it really had been too much for his strength, and the general feeling of sympathy grew deeper.
As they carried him away Carmen, followed to his room; and after long, untiring efforts the old man at last began to revive. Carmen begged that she might be left alone with him, so that when he came fully to himself he might be undisturbed and see no one but her, at the same time declining all offers of medical assistance from Brother Jonathan.
The girl seated herself by the bedside; and when her father opened his eyes, she noticed he looked anxiously around and then whispered:
"Child, who was that I last saw in the chapel and who spoke to me?"
"Do not trouble yourself, dear father. It was only your old friend, Jonathan Fricke," replied Carmen, soothingly, holding his hand in hers. She felt a shiver run through him as she mentioned the name.
"I did not know that he was here," he said with a groan.
"Can I help you in any way, dear father?" his daughter asked. "Are you in pain?"
He shook his head in reply, and lay quite still, with closed eyes. After a long time he looked again at Carmen in a troubled, sorrowful way, and sighed deeply. "Tell me about him," he murmured. "I thought he was still in Bethlehem, in America; how came he here, and how long has he been among you?"
She told him everything, save the one horrible incident that haunted her memory. His extreme agitation made her silent on that point. When she ceased speaking, all was silence in the apartment except the soft ticking of the clock. Occasionally a deeply drawn breath reached Carmen's ear; her father had turned his face to the wall, and was so quiet and motionless that she hoped he had fallen asleep from exhaustion. Suddenly he began to whisper to himself:
"The old, old story, which will never die! The idea of home, with its sweet repose and calm blessedness, was only a delusion after all!"
"What do you mean, father?" asked Carmen, bending over him. He closed his eyes wearily; and she noiselessly resumed her seat near him.
The next day Mauer was still so entirely unnerved and overcome by the events of the day before that it was with the greatest difficulty he rose from the bed; and yet it was intolerable misery to remain there. All Carmen's persuasions were of no avail; he insisted on getting up and dressing; but was quite unable to leave the house, and required the most perfect quietness. She tried to divert his mind, by gentle, cheerful conversation, from the sad, gloomy thoughts which seemed to oppress him. It made the girl's tender heart ache, as she looked into his unutterably sad face, which only yesterday was beaming with such great joy.
At ten o'clock Jonathan came to pay a friendly visit. Fortunately Carmen, who was standing at the window, saw him coming across the street towards the house, and warning her father of the approaching visit, she could see how he started with terror at the information. But he soon controlled himself, and said in a resigned tone: "Let him come in. The sooner I get through all the meetings and greetings, the sooner I will have some rest. I must grow accustomed to seeing him, and I feel stronger to-day than yesterday. I have not seen him before, since your dear mother died, Carmen, and life has been one long unbroken sorrow since then." She made a movement to leave the room, so that the meeting between the friends should be private, but Mauer held her back and pleaded: "Stay with me, my child," as if he could not bear to have her out of his sight.
When Jonathan entered, he stood for a moment near the door, and his eyes sought to read the expression of the sick man's face. The latter sat with his head resting against the sofa-cushion, and his deep-sunken eyes fixed beseechingly on the visitor, as if saying, "Spare me!"
"Good-morning Brother Mauer!" cried Jonathan. "Are you feeling better to-day?" He held out his hand, into which the other placed his hesitatingly, and would have quickly withdrawn it had not Jonathan held it fast as he said:
"Let me feel your pulse. You are still very much fatigued, and your hand is as cold as ice."
"Thank you, Brother Jonathan," said the invalid; "I think perfect rest is the best remedy. I have borne many heavy burdens, dear Brother, which have weighed me down intolerably; and now that the Lord has led me home again, let your pity and sympathy be with me on account of all I have suffered."
"Certainly, Brother Michael; it cannot be otherwise. Your return has been a matter of great rejoicing with us all," replied Jonathan. "But I must give you a prescription, that you may gain your strength more quickly. Do not talk too much to-day; some time, later on, you must give us an account of your travels." With these words, he turned to Carmen with a searching look, as if to divine how far he might trust to her silence. She purposely avoided his eye, and remained standing at the window.
"I will make your father well again, if you will be kind to me in return," he said with emphasis.
Then she was compelled to turn and speak. This man ruled her, in spite of her dislike.
"If you can do anything for my father, Brother Jonathan, you will please not consider me in the matter, but do it for God's sake and your own," she replied calmly.
He drew a chair up to the table, and, seating himself, wrote a prescription which he handed to Carmen.
"Have that prepared at once, dear Sister," he said, "and give it to your father according to the directions; it will benefit him very much. You know, Brother Michael, my remedies are very powerful." A peculiar, sarcastic expression played around his mouth as he spoke, and Carmen, whose quick eye perceived it, wondered what he was ridiculing. Was it her anxiety about her father, or was it the old man's weakness? But it came and went like a flash, and he resumed his usual manner as he rose to leave, saying to Mauer: "Adieu, Brother. May the Lord keep you and give you a speedy recovery!"
"I will have the medicine prepared at once, father," said Carmen, heaving a sigh of relief as the door closed behind the physician. But when she looked at the old man, a chill of anguish struck through her heart, for she saw how he had clasped his hands before his face, to hide the big tears which were trickling between his fingers.
* * * * * *
Many days passed quietly away after Jonathan's visit. Carmen's soothing, cheering influence seemed to have somewhat allayed her father's nervousness, and a calmer, more equable mood seemed to have come over him, as his state of health daily improved. But the nameless shadow of a hidden grief seemed to hang over him. For his wants he needed but little; self-denial and sacrifice had grown to be a second nature to him, his one earthly wish seeming to be to have a house where he and Carmen could live alone together; but as regards others, he was open-handed and generous to help wherever it was needed. It was a very difficult matter to find just the right dwelling to suit his taste, so he finally concluded to build, renting in the meantime a comfortable suite of apartments for himself, while Carmen continued to live as heretofore in the Sisters' house; giving the smaller children a few hour's instruction, and passing the rest of the day with her father. She had regained all her vivacity of manner, for she considered her dear father her protector and support; little guessing that it was, in reality, quite the contrary, as he looked to her as his stay on which to lean. When alone with him, she allowed her naturally gay humor to have full sway, and he would smile contentedly when he heard her exquisite voice warbling forth, now a hymn, now a Spanish love-song, or when he saw her feet, as if inspired, try a half-forgotten Spanish dance, which seemed like a greeting to him from that tropical world where he had loved and suffered. Sometimes she would caress him with pretty, fascinating ways, as if her heart longed to lavish on him all the tenderness which had been gathering intensity during all the long years of separation.
"You are so like Inez! Gay and merry, like her," he would say with emotion, his eyes beaming with love. Thus she would succeed in charming away, for a few moments at least, the shadow which rested ever on his brow; and this success gave her a pure happiness she had never known before.
As the invalid grew stronger, every one hastened to visit him. The elders wanted a full account of his missionary work in Mongolia, and of the religious condition of the heathen in Bengal and the Himalayas; so Mauer was at last obliged to consent to give a public narration of his experiences. This could not fail to give him a certain degree of importance in the settlement, and it was suggested that he be elected to some public office. But he divested their minds of any such thought, and desired to be allowed a quiet and retired life; he was too modest and reserved to put himself forward at any time, and now anything like publicity was positively painful to him. Even when chatting socially with old friends, he displayed more or less shyness, and especially when Jonathan was present.
"A strange sort of friendship!" thought Carmen, as she noticed how her father never sought the doctor's society, but, on the contrary, seemed to tolerate his company with a kind of bitter endurance, as if he were in some secret way the master and Mauer the slave. Often, when Jonathan addressed him, he would suddenly change color and an involuntary expression of terror pass over his countenance; then the physician's words would assume a slightly scornful tone, and Mauer would humbly lower his eyes.