A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XX.—DECEMBER, 1867.—NO. CXXII.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.
MURRAY BRADSHAW PLAYS HIS LAST CARD.
"How can I see that man this evening, Mr. Lindsay?"
"May I not be Clement, dearest? I would not see him at all, Myrtle. I don't believe you will find much pleasure in listening to his fine speeches."
"I cannot endure it. Kitty, tell him I am engaged, and cannot see him this evening. No, no! don't say engaged, say very much occupied."
Kitty departed, communing with herself in this wise:—"Ockipied, is it? An' that's what ye cahl it when ye're kapin' company with one young gintleman an' don't want another young gintleman to come in an' help the two of ye? Ye won't get y'r pigs to market to-day, Mr. Bridshaw,—no, nor to-morrow, nayther, Mr. Bridshaw. It's Mrs. Lindsay that Miss Myrtle is goin' to be,—an' a big cake there'll be at the weddin', frosted all over,—won't ye be plased with a slice o' that, Mr. Bridshaw?"
With these reflections in her mind, Mistress Kitty delivered her message, not without a gleam of malicious intelligence in her look that stung Mr. Bradshaw sharply. He had noticed a hat in the entry, and a little stick by it which he remembered well as one he had seen carried by Clement Lindsay. But he was used to concealing his emotions, and he greeted the two older ladies, who presently came into the library, so pleasantly, that no one who had not studied his face long and carefully would have suspected the bitterness of heart that lay hidden far down beneath his deceptive smile. He told Miss Silence, with much apparent interest, the story of his journey. He gave her an account of the progress of the case in which the estate of which she inherited the principal portion was interested. He did not tell her that a final decision which would settle the right to the great claim might be expected at any moment, and he did not tell her that there was very little doubt that it would be in favor of the heirs of Malachi Withers. He was very sorry he could not see Miss Hazard that evening,—hoped he should be more fortunate to-morrow forenoon, when he intended to call again,—had a message for her from one of her former school friends, which he was anxious to give her. He exchanged certain looks and hints with Miss Cynthia, which led her to withdraw and bring down the papers he had intrusted to her. At the close of his visit, she followed him into the entry with a lamp, as was her common custom.
"What's the meaning of all this, Cynthia? Is that fellow making love to Myrtle?"
"I'm afraid so, Mr. Bradshaw. He's been here several times, and they seem to be getting intimate. I couldn't do anything to stop it."
"Give me the papers,—quick!"
Cynthia pulled the package from her pocket. Murray Bradshaw looked sharply at it. A little crumpled,—crowded into her pocket. Seal unbroken. All safe.
"I shall come again to-morrow forenoon. Another day and it will be all up. The decision of the court will be known. It won't be my fault if one visit is not enough.—You don't suppose Myrtle is in love with this fellow?"
"She acts as if she might be. You know he's broke with Susan Posey, and there's nothing to hinder. If you ask my opinion, I think it's your last chance: she isn't a girl to half do things, and if she has taken to this man it will be hard to make her change her mind. But she's young, and she has had a liking for you, and if you manage it well there's no telling."
Two notes passed between Myrtle Hazard and Master Byles Gridley that evening. Mistress Kitty Fagan, who had kept her ears pretty wide open, carried them.
Murray Bradshaw went home in a very desperate state of feeling. He had laid his plans, as he thought, with perfect skill, and the certainty of their securing their end. These papers were to have been taken from the envelope, and found in the garret just at the right moment, either by Cynthia herself or one of the other members of the family, who was to be led on, as it were accidentally, to the discovery. The right moment must be close at hand. He was to offer his hand—and heart, of course—to Myrtle, and it was to be accepted. As soon as the decision of the land case was made known, or not long afterwards, there was to be a search in the garret for papers, and these were to be discovered in a certain dusty recess, where, of course, they would have been placed by Miss Cynthia.
And now the one condition which gave any value to these arrangements seemed like to fail. This obscure youth—this poor fool, who had been on the point of marrying a simpleton to whom he had made a boyish promise—was coming between him and the object of his long pursuit,—the woman who had every attraction to draw him to herself. It had been a matter of pride with Murray Bradshaw that he never lost his temper so as to interfere with the precise course of action which his cool judgment approved; but now he was almost beside himself with passion. His labors, as he believed, had secured the favorable issue of the great case so long pending. He had followed Myrtle through her whole career, if not as her avowed lover, at least as one whose friendship promised to flower in love in due season. The moment had come when the scene and the characters in this village drama were to undergo a change as sudden and as brilliant as in those fairy spectacles where the dark background changes to a golden palace and the sober dresses are replaced by robes of regal splendor. The change was fast approaching; but he, the enchanter, as he had thought himself, found his wand broken, and his power given to another.
He could not sleep during that night. He paced his room, a prey to jealousy and envy and rage, which his calm temperament had kept him from feeling in their intensity up to this miserable hour. He thought of all that a maddened nature can imagine to deaden its own intolerable anguish. Of revenge. If Myrtle rejected his suit, should he take her life on the spot, that she might never be another's,—that neither man nor woman should ever triumph over him,—the proud, ambitious man, defeated, humbled, scorned? No! that was a meanness of egotism which only the most vulgar souls could be capable of. Should he challenge her lover? It was not the way of the people and time, and ended in absurd complications, if anybody was foolish enough to try it. Shoot him? The idea floated through his mind, for he thought of everything; but he was a lawyer, and not a fool, and had no idea of figuring in court as a criminal. Besides, he was not a murderer,—cunning was his natural weapon, not violence. He had a certain admiration of desperate crime in others, as showing nerve and force, but he did not feel it to be his own style of doing business.
During the night he made every arrangement for leaving the village the next day, in case he failed to make any impression on Myrtle Hazard and found that his chance was gone. He wrote a letter to his partner, telling him that he had left to join one of the regiments forming in the city. He adjusted all his business matters so that his partner should find as little trouble as possible. A little before dawn he threw himself on the bed, but he could not sleep; and he rose at sunrise, and finished his preparations for his departure to the city.
The morning dragged along slowly. He would not go to the office, not wishing to meet his partner again. After breakfast he dressed himself with great care, for he meant to show himself in the best possible aspect. Just before he left the house to go to The Poplars, he took the sealed package from his trunk, broke open the envelope, took from it a single paper,—it had some spots on it which distinguished it from all the rest,—put it separately in his pocket, and then the envelope containing the other papers.
The calm smile he wore on his features as he set forth cost him a greater effort than he had ever made before to put it on. He was moulding his face to the look with which he meant to present himself; and the muscles had been sternly fixed so long that it was a task to bring them to their habitual expression in company,—that of ingenuous good-nature.
He was shown into the parlor at The Poplars; and Kitty told Myrtle that he had called and inquired for her, and was waiting down stairs.
"Tell him I will be down presently," she said. "And, Kitty, now mind just what I tell you. Leave your kitchen door open, so that you can hear anything fall in the parlor. If you hear a book fall,—it will be a heavy one, and will make some noise,—run straight up here to my little chamber, and hang this red scarf out of the window. The left-hand side-sash, mind, so that anybody can see it from the road. If Mr. Gridley calls, show him into the parlor, no matter who is there."
Kitty Fagan looked amazingly intelligent, and promised that she would do exactly as she was told. Myrtle followed her down stairs almost immediately, and went into the parlor, where Mr. Bradshaw was waiting.
Never in his calmest moments had he worn a more insinuating smile on his features than that with which he now greeted Myrtle. So gentle, so gracious, so full of trust, such a completely natural expression of a kind, genial character did it seem, that to any but an expert it would have appeared impossible that such an effect could be produced by the skilful balancing of half a dozen pairs of little muscles that manage the lips and the corners of the mouth. The tones of his voice were subdued into accord with the look of his features; his whole manner was fascinating, as far as any conscious effort could make it so. It was just one of those artificially pleasing effects that so often pass with such as have little experience of life for the genuine expression of character and feeling. But Myrtle had learned the look that shapes itself on the features of one who loves with a love that seeketh not its own, and she knew the difference between acting and reality. She met his insinuating approach with a courtesy so carefully ordered that it was of itself a sentence without appeal. Artful persons often interpret sincere ones by their own standard. Murray Bradshaw thought little of this somewhat formal address,—a few minutes would break this thin film to pieces. He was not only a suitor with a prize to gain, he was a colloquial artist about to employ all the resources of his specialty.
He introduced the conversation in the most natural and easy way, by giving her the message from a former schoolmate to which he had referred, coloring it so delicately, as he delivered it, that it became an innocent-looking flattery. Myrtle found herself in a rose-colored atmosphere, not from Murray Bradshaw's admiration, as it seemed, but only reflected by his mind from another source. That was one of his arts,—always, if possible, to associate himself incidentally, as it appeared, and unavoidably, with an agreeable impression.
So Myrtle was betrayed into smiling and being pleased before he had said a word about himself or his affairs. Then he told her of the adventures and labors of his late expedition; of certain evidence which at the very last moment he had unearthed, and which was very probably the turning-point in the case. He could not help feeling that she must eventually reap some benefit from the good fortune with which his efforts had been attended. The thought that it might yet be so had been a great source of encouragement to him,—it would always be a great happiness to him to remember that he had done anything to make her happy.
Myrtle was very glad that he had been so far successful,—she did not know that it made much difference to her, but she was obliged to him for the desire of serving her that he had expressed.
"My services are always yours, Miss Hazard. There is no sacrifice I would not willingly make for your benefit. I have never had but one feeling toward you. You cannot be ignorant of what that feeling is."
"I know, Mr. Bradshaw, it has been one of kindness. I have to thank you for many friendly attentions, for which I hope I have never been ungrateful."
"Kindness is not all that I feel towards you, Miss Hazard. If that were all, my lips would not tremble as they do now in telling you my feelings. I love you."
He sprang the great confession on Myrtle a little sooner than he had meant. It was so hard to go on making phrases! Myrtle changed color a little, for she was startled.
The seemingly involuntary movement she made brought her arm against a large dictionary, which lay very near the edge of the table on which it was resting. The book fell with a loud noise to the floor.
There it lay. The young man awaited her answer; he did not think of polite forms at such a moment.
"It cannot be, Mr. Bradshaw,—it must not be. I have known you long, and I am not ignorant of all your brilliant qualities, but you must not speak to me of love. Your regard,—your friendly interest,—tell me that I shall always have these, but do not distress me with offering more than these."
"I do not ask you to give me your love in return; I only ask you not to bid me despair. Let me believe that the time may come when you will listen to me,—no matter how distant. You are young,—you have a tender heart,—you would not doom one who only lives for you to wretchedness. So long that we have known each other! It cannot be that any other has come between us—"
Myrtle blushed so deeply that there was no need of his finishing his question.
"Do you mean, Myrtle Hazard, that you have cast me aside for another?—for this stranger—this artist—who was with you yesterday when I came, bringing with me the story of all I had done for you,—yes, for you,—and was ignominiously refused the privilege of seeing you?" Rage and jealousy had got the better of him this time. He rose as he spoke, and looked upon her with such passion kindling in his eyes that he seemed ready for any desperate act.
"I have thanked you for any services you may have rendered me, Mr. Bradshaw." Myrtle answered, very calmly, "and I hope you will add one more to them by sparing me this rude questioning. I wished to treat you as a friend; I hope you will not render that impossible."
He had recovered himself for one more last effort. "I was impatient: overlook it, I beg you. I was thinking of all the happiness I have labored to secure for you, and of the ruin to us both it would be if you scornfully rejected the love I offer you,—if you refuse to leave me any hope for the future,—if you insist on throwing yourself away on this man, so lately pledged to another. I hold the key of all your earthly fortunes in my hand. My love for you inspired me in all that I have done, and, now that I come to lay the result of my labors at your feet, you turn from me, and offer my reward to a stranger. I do not ask you to say this day that you will be mine,—I would not force your inclinations,—but I do ask you that you will hold yourself free of all others, and listen to me as one who may yet be more than a friend. Say so much as this, Myrtle, and you shall have such a future as you never dreamed of. Fortune, position, all that this world can give, shall be yours!"
"Never! never! If you could offer me the whole world, or take away from me all that the world can give, it would make no difference to me. I cannot tell what power you hold over me, whether of life and death, or of wealth and poverty; but after talking to me of love, I should not have thought you would have wronged me by suggesting any meaner motive. It is only because we have been on friendly terms so long that I have listened to you as I have done. You have said more than enough, and I beg you will allow me to put an end to this interview."
She rose to leave the room. But Murray Bradshaw had gone too far to control himself,—he listened only to the rage which blinded him.
"Not yet!" he said. "Stay one moment, and you shall know what your pride and self-will have cost you!"
Myrtle stood, arrested, whether by fear, or curiosity, or the passive subjection of her muscles to his imperious will, it would be hard to say.
Murray Bradshaw took out the spotted paper from his breast pocket, and held it up before her. "Look here!" he exclaimed. "This would have made you rich,—it would have crowned you a queen in society,—it would have given you all, and more than all, that you ever dreamed of luxury, of splendor, of enjoyment; and I, who won it for you, would have taught you how to make life yield every bliss it had in store to your wishes. You reject my offer unconditionally?"
Myrtle expressed her negative only by a slight contemptuous movement.
Murray Bradshaw walked deliberately to the fireplace, and laid the spotted paper upon the burning coals. It writhed and curled, blackened, flamed, and in a moment was a cinder dropping into ashes. He folded his arms, and stood looking at the wreck of Myrtle's future, the work of his cruel hand. Strangely enough, Myrtle herself was fascinated, as it were, by the apparent solemnity of this mysterious sacrifice. She had kept her eyes steadily on him all the time, and was still gazing at the altar on which her happiness had been in some way offered up, when the door was opened by Kitty Fagan, and Master Byles Gridley was ushered into the parlor.
"Too late, old man!" Murray Bradshaw exclaimed in a hoarse and savage voice, as he passed out of the room, and strode through the entry and down the avenue. It was the last time the old gate of The Poplars was to open or close for him. That same day he left the village; and the next time his name was mentioned it was as an officer in one of the regiments just raised and about marching to the seat of war.
THE SPOTTED PAPER.
What Master Gridley may have said to Myrtle Hazard that served to calm her after this exciting scene cannot now be recalled. That Murray Bradshaw thought he was inflicting a deadly injury on her was plain enough. That Master Gridley did succeed in convincing her that no great harm had probably been done her is equally certain.
Like all bachelors who have lived a lonely life, Master Gridley had his habits, which nothing short of some terrestrial convulsion—or perhaps, in his case, some instinct that drove him forth to help somebody in trouble—could possibly derange. After his breakfast, he always sat and read awhile,—the paper, if a new one came to hand, or some pleasant old author,—if a little neglected by the world of readers, he felt more at ease with him, and loved him all the better.
But on the morning after his interview with Myrtle Hazard, he had received a letter which made him forget newspapers, old authors, almost everything, for the moment. It was from the publisher with whom he had had a conversation, it may be remembered, when he visited the city, and was to this effect:—That Our Firm propose to print and stereotype the work originally published under the title of "Thoughts on the Universe"; said work to be remodelled according to the plan suggested by the Author, with the corrections, alterations, omissions, and additions proposed by him; said work to be published under the following title, to wit: —— ——; said work to be printed in 12mo, on paper of good quality, from new types, etc., etc., and for every copy thereof printed the author to receive, etc., etc.
Master Gridley sat as in a trance, reading this letter over and over, to know if it could be really so. So it really was. His book had disappeared from the market long ago, as the elm seeds that carpet the ground and never germinate disappear. At last it had got a certain value as a curiosity for book-hunters. Some one of them, keener-eyed than the rest, had seen that there was a meaning and virtue in this unsuccessful book, for which there was a new audience educated since it had tried to breathe before its time. Out of this had grown at last the publisher's proposal. It was too much: his heart swelled with joy, and his eyes filled with tears.
How could he resist the temptation? He took down his own particular copy of the book, which was yet to do him honor as its parent, and began reading. As his eye fell on one paragraph after another, he nodded approval of this sentiment or opinion, he shook his head as if questioning whether this other were not to be modified or left out, he condemned a third as being no longer true for him as when it was written, and he sanctioned a fourth with his hearty approval. The reader may like a few specimens from this early edition, now a rarity. He shall have them, with Master Gridley's verbal comments. The book, as its name implied, contained "Thoughts" rather than consecutive trains of reasoning or continuous disquisitions. What he read and remarked upon were a few of the more pointed statements which stood out in the chapters he was turning over. The worth of the book must not be judged by these almost random specimens.
"The best thought, like the most perfect digestion, is done unconsciously.—Develop that—Ideas at compound interest in the mind.—Be aye sticking in an idea,—while you're sleeping it'll be growing. Seed of a thought to-day,—flower to-morrow—next week—ten years from now, etc.—Article by and by for the....
"Can the Infinite be supposed to shift the responsibility of the ultimate destiny of any created thing to the finite? Our theologians pretend that it can. I doubt.—Heretical. Stet.
"Protestantism means None of your business. But it is afraid of its own logic.—Stet. No logical resting-place short of None of your business.
"The supreme self-indulgence is to surrender the will to a spiritual director.—Protestantism gave up a great luxury.—Did it, though?
"Asiatic modes of thought and speech do not express the relations in which the American feels himself to stand to his Superiors in this or any other sphere of being. Republicanism must have its own religious phraseology, which is not that borrowed from Oriental despotisms.
"Idols and dogmas in place of character; pills and theories in place of wholesome living. See the histories of theology and medicine passim.—Hits 'em.
"'Of such is the kingdom of heaven.' Do you mean to say, Jean Chauvin, that
'Heaven LIES about us in our infancy'?
"Why do you complain of your organization? Your soul was in a hurry, and made a rush for a body. There are patient spirits that have waited from eternity, and never found parents fit to be born of.—How do you know anything about all that? Dele.
"What sweet, smooth voices the negroes have! A hundred generations fed on bananas.—Compare them with our apple-eating-white folks!—It won't do. Bananas came from the West Indies.
"To tell a man's temperament by his handwriting. See if the dots of his i's run ahead or not, and if they do, how far.—I've tried that—on myself.
"Marrying into some families is the next thing to being canonized.—Not so true now as twenty or thirty years ago. As many bladders, but more pins.
"Fish and dandies only keep on ice.—Who will take? Explain in note how all warmth approaching blood-heat spoils fops and flounders.
"Flying is a lost art among men and reptiles. Bats fly, and men ought to. Try a light turbine. Rise a mile straight, fall half a mile slanting,—rise half a mile straight, fall half a mile slanting, and so on. Or slant up and slant down.—Poh! You ain't such a fool as to think that is new,—are you?
"Put in my telegraph project. Central station. Cables with insulated wires running to it from different quarters of the city. These form the centripetal system. From central station, wires to all the livery stables, messenger stands, provision shops, etc., etc. These form the centrifugal system. Any house may have a wire in the nearest cable at small cost.
"Do you want to be remembered after the continents have gone under, and come up again, and dried, and bred new races? Have your name stamped on all your plates and cups and saucers. Nothing of you or yours will last like those. I never sit down at my table without looking at the china service, and saying, 'Here are my monuments. That butter-dish is my urn. This soup-plate is my memorial tablet.'—No need of a skeleton at my banquets! I feed from my tombstone and read my epitaph at the bottom, of every teacup.—Good."
* * * * *
He fell into a revery as he finished reading this last sentence. He thought of the dim and dread future,—all the changes that it would bring to him, to all the living, to the face of the globe, to the order of earthly things. He saw men of a new race, alien to all that had ever lived, excavating with strange, vast engines the old ocean-bed, now become habitable land. And as the great scoops turned out the earth they had fetched up from the unexplored depths, a relic of a former simple civilization revealed the fact that here a tribe of human beings had lived and perished.—Only the coffee-cup he had in his hand half an hour ago.—Where would he be then? and Mrs. Hopkins, and Gifted, and Susan, and everybody? and President Buchanan? and the Boston State-House? and Broadway?—O Lord, Lord, Lord! And the sun perceptibly smaller, according to the astronomers, and the earth cooled down a number of degrees, and inconceivable arts practised by men of a type yet undreamed of, and all the fighting creeds merged in one great universal—
A knock at his door interrupted his revery. Miss Susan Posey informed him that a gentleman was waiting below who wished to see him.
"Show him up to my study, Susan Posey, if you please," said Master Gridley.
Mr. Penhallow presented himself at Mr. Gridley's door, with a countenance expressive of a very high state of excitement.
"You have heard the news, Mr. Gridley, I suppose?"
"What news, Mr. Penhallow?"
"First, that my partner has left very unexpectedly to enlist in a regiment just forming. Second, that the great land-case is decided in favor of the heirs of the late Malachi Withers."
"Your partner must have known about it yesterday?"
"He did, even before I knew it. He thought himself possessed of a very important document, as you know, of which he has made, or means to make, some use. You are aware of the artifice I employed to prevent any possible evil consequences from any action of his. I have the genuine document, of course. I wish you to go over with me to The Poplars, and I should be glad to have good old Father Pemberton go with us; for it is a serious matter, and will be a great surprise to more than one of the family."
They walked together to the old house, where the old clergyman had lived for more than half a century. He was used to being neglected by the people who ran after his younger colleague; and the attention paid him in asking him to be present on an important occasion, as he understood this to be, pleased him greatly. He smoothed his long white locks, and called a grand-daughter to help make him look fitly for such an occasion, and, being at last got into his grandest Sunday aspect, took his faithful staff, and set out with the two gentlemen for The Poplars. On the way, Mr. Penhallow explained to him the occasion of their visit, and the general character of the facts he had to announce. He wished the venerable minister to prepare Miss Silence Withers for a revelation which would materially change her future prospects. He thought it might be well, also, if he would say a few words to Myrtle Hazard, for whom a new life, with new and untried temptations, was about to open. His business was, as a lawyer, to make known to these parties the facts just come to his own knowledge affecting their interests. He had asked Mr. Gridley to go with him, as having intimate relations with one of the parties referred to, and as having been the principal agent in securing to that party the advantages which were to accrue to her from the new turn of events. "You are a second parent to her, Mr. Gridley," he said. "Your vigilance, your shrewdness, and your—spectacles have saved her. I hope she knows the full extent of her obligations to you, and that she will always look to you for counsel in all her needs. She will want a wise friend, for she is to begin the world anew."
What had happened, when she saw the three grave gentlemen at the door early in the forenoon, Mistress Kitty Fagan could not guess. Something relating to Miss Myrtle, no doubt: she wasn't goin' to be married right off to Mr. Clement,—was she,—and no church, nor cake, nor anything? The gentlemen were shown into the parlor. "Ask Miss Withers to go into the library, Kitty," said Master Gridley. "Dr. Pemberton wishes to speak with her." The good old man was prepared for a scene with Miss Silence. He announced to her, in a kind and delicate way, that she must make up her mind to the disappointment of certain expectations which she had long entertained, and which, as her lawyer, Mr. Penhallow, had come to inform her and others, were to be finally relinquished from this hour.
To his great surprise, Miss Silence received this communication almost cheerfully. It seemed more like a relief to her than anything else. Her one dread in this world was her "responsibility"; and the thought that she might have to account for ten talents hereafter, instead of one, had often of late been a positive distress to her. There was also in her mind a secret disgust at the thought of the hungry creatures who would swarm round her if she should ever be in a position to bestow patronage. This had grown upon her as the habits of lonely life gave her more and more of that fastidious dislike to males in general, as such, which is not rare in maidens who have seen the roses of more summers than politeness cares to mention.
Father Pemberton then asked if he could see Miss Myrtle Hazard a few moments in the library before they went into the parlor, where they were to meet Mr. Penhallow and Mr. Gridley, for the purpose of receiving the lawyer's communication.
What change was this which Myrtle had undergone since love had touched her heart, and her visions of worldly enjoyment had faded before the thought of sharing and ennobling the life of one who was worthy of her best affections,—of living for another, and of finding her own noblest self in that divine office of woman? She had laid aside the bracelet which she had so long worn as a kind of charm as well as an ornament. One would have said her features had lost something of that look of imperious beauty which had added to her resemblance to the dead woman whose glowing portrait hung upon her wall. And if it could be that, after so many generations, the blood of her who had died for her faith could show in her descendant's veins, and the soul of that elect lady of her race look out from her far-removed offspring's dark eyes, such a transfusion of the martyr's life and spiritual being might well seem to manifest itself in Myrtle Hazard.
The large-hearted old man forgot his scholastic theory of human nature as he looked upon her face. He thought he saw in her the dawning of that grace which some are born with; which some, like Myrtle, only reach through many trials and dangers; which some seem to show for a while and then lose; which too many never reach while they wear the robes of earth, but which speaks of the kingdom of heaven already begun in the heart of a child of earth. He told her simply the story of the occurrences which had brought them together in the old house, with the message the lawyer was to deliver to its inmates. He wished to prepare her for what might have been too sudden a surprise.
But Myrtle was not wholly unprepared for some such revelation. There was little danger that any such announcement would throw her mind from its balance after the inward conflict through which she had been passing. For her lover had left her almost as soon as he had told her the story of his passion, and the relation in which he stood to her. He, too, had gone to answer his country's call to her children, not driven away by crime and shame and despair, but quitting all—his new-born happiness, the art in which he was an enthusiast, his prospects of success and honor—to obey the higher command of duty. War was to him, as to so many of the noble youth who went forth, only organized barbarism, hateful but for the sacred cause which alone redeemed it from the curse that blasted the first murderer. God only knew the sacrifice such young men as he made.
How brief Myrtle's dream had been! She almost doubted, at some moments, whether she would not awake from it, as from her other visions, and find it all unreal. There was no need of fearing any undue excitement of her mind after the alternations of feeling she had just experienced. Nothing seemed of much moment to her which could come from without,—her real world was within, and the light of its day and the breath of its life came from her love, made holy by the self-forgetfulness on both sides which was born with it.
Only one member of the household was in danger of finding the excitement more than she could bear. Miss Cynthia knew that all Murray Bradshaw's plans, in which he had taken care that she should have a personal interest, had utterly failed. What he had done with the means of revenge in his power,—if, indeed, they were still in his power,—she did not know. She only knew that there had been a terrible scene, and that he had gone, leaving it uncertain whether he would ever return. It was with fear and trembling that she heard the summons which went forth, that the whole family should meet in the parlor to listen to a statement from Mr. Penhallow. They all gathered as requested, and sat round the room, with the exception of Mistress Kitty Fagan, who knew her place too well to be sittin' down with the likes o' them, and stood with attentive ears in the doorway.
Mr. Penhallow then read from a printed paper the decision of the Supreme Court in the land-case so long pending, where the estate of the late Malachi Withers was the claimant, against certain parties pretending to hold under an ancient grant. The decision was in favor of the estate.
"This gives a great property to the heirs," Mr. Penhallow remarked, "and the question as to who these heirs are has to be opened. For the will under which Silence Withers, sister of the deceased, has inherited, is dated some years previously to the decease, and it was not very strange that a will of later date should be discovered. Such a will has been discovered. It is the instrument I have here."
Myrtle Hazard opened her eyes very widely, for the paper Mr. Penhallow held looked exactly like that which Murray Bradshaw had burned, and, what was curious, had some spots on it just like some she had noticed on that.
"This will," Mr. Penhallow said, "signed by witnesses dead or absent from this place, makes a disposition of the testator's property in some respects similar to that of the previous one, but with a single change, which proves to be of very great importance."
Mr. Penhallow proceeded to read the will. The important change in the disposition of the property was this. In case the land-claim was decided in favor of the estate, then, in addition to the small provision made for Myrtle Hazard, the property so coming to the estate should all go to her. There was no question about the genuineness and the legal sufficiency of this instrument. Its date was not very long after the preceding one, at a period when, as was well known, he had almost given up the hope of gaining his case, and when the property was of little value compared to that which it had at present.
A long silence followed this reading. Then, to the surprise of all, Miss Silence Withers rose, and went to Myrtle Hazard, and wished her joy with every appearance of sincerity. She was relieved of a great responsibility. Myrtle was young and could bear it better. She hoped that her young relative would live long to enjoy the blessings Providence had bestowed upon her, and to use them for the good of the community, and especially the promotion of the education of deserving youth. If some fitting person could be found to advise Myrtle, whose affairs would require much care, it would be a great relief to her.
They all went up to Myrtle and congratulated her on her change of fortune. Even Cynthia Badlam got out a phrase or two which passed muster in the midst of the general excitement. As for Kitty Fagan, she could not say a word, but caught Myrtle's hand and kissed it as if it belonged to her own saint, and then, suddenly applying her apron to her eyes, retreated from a scene which was too much for her, in a state of complete mental beatitude and total bodily discomfiture.
Then Silence asked the old minister to make a prayer, and he stretched his hands up to Heaven, and called down all the blessings of Providence upon all the household, and especially upon this young handmaiden, who was to be tried with prosperity, and would need all aid from above to keep her from its dangers.
Then Mr. Penhallow asked Myrtle if she had any choice as to the friend who should have charge of her affairs.
Myrtle turned to Master Byles Gridley, and said, "You have been my friend and protector so far,—will you continue to be so hereafter?"
Master Gridley tried very hard to begin a few words of thanks to her for her preference, but, finding his voice a little uncertain, contented himself with pressing her hand and saying, "Most willingly, my dear daughter!"
The same day the great news of Myrtle Hazard's accession to fortune came out, the secret was told that she had promised herself in marriage to Mr. Clement Lindsay. But her friends hardly knew how to congratulate her on this last event. Her lover was gone, to risk his life, not improbably to lose it, or to come home a wreck, crippled by wounds, or worn out with disease.
Some of them wondered to see her so cheerful in such a moment of trial. They could not know how the manly strength of Clement's determination had nerved her for womanly endurance. They had not learned that a great cause makes great souls, or reveals them to themselves,—a lesson taught by so many noble examples in the times that followed. Myrtle's only desire seemed to be to labor in some way to help the soldiers and their families. She appeared to have forgotten everything for these duties; she had no time for regrets, if she were disposed to indulge them, and she hardly asked a question as to the extent of the fortune which had fallen to her.
The next number of the "Banner and Oracle" contained two announcements which she read with some interest when her attention was called to them. They were as follows:—
"A fair and accomplished daughter of this village comes, by the late decision of the Supreme Court, into possession of a property estimated at a million of dollars or more. It consists of a large tract of land purchased many years ago by the late Malachi Withers, now become of immense value by the growth of a city in its neighborhood, the opening of mines, etc., etc. It is rumored that the lovely and highly educated heiress has formed a connection looking towards matrimony with a certain distinguished artist."
"Our distinguished young townsman, William Murray Bradshaw, Esq., has been among the first to respond to the call of the country for champions to defend her from traitors. We understand that he has obtained a captaincy in the —th Regiment, about to march to the threatened seat of war. May victory perch on his banners!"
The two lovers, parted by their own self-sacrificing choice in the very hour that promised to bring them so much happiness, labored for the common cause during all the terrible years of warfare, one in the camp and the field, the other in the not less needful work which the good women carried on at home, or wherever their services were needed. Clement—now Captain Lindsay—returned at the end of his first campaign charged with a special office. Some months later, after one of the great battles, he was sent home wounded. He wore the leaf on his shoulder which entitled him to be called Major Lindsay. He recovered from his wound only too rapidly, for Myrtle had visited him daily in the military hospital where he had resided for treatment; and it was bitter parting. The telegraph wires were thrilling almost hourly with messages of death, and the long pine boxes came by almost every train,—no need of asking what they held!
Once more he came, detailed on special duty, and this time with the eagle on his shoulder,—he was Colonel Lindsay. The lovers could not part again of their own free will. Some adventurous women had followed their husbands to the camp, and Myrtle looked as if she could play the part of the Maid of Saragossa on occasion. So Clement asked her if she would return with him as his wife; and Myrtle answered, with as much willingness to submit as a maiden might fairly show under such circumstances, that she would do his bidding. Thereupon, with the shortest possible legal notice, Father Pemberton was sent for, and the ceremony was performed in the presence of a few witnesses in the large parlor at The Poplars, which was adorned with flowers, and hung round with all the portraits of the dead members of the family, summoned as witnesses to the celebration. One witness looked on with unmoved features, yet Myrtle thought there was a more heavenly smile on her faded lips than she had ever seen before beaming from the canvas,—it was Ann Holyoake, the martyr to her faith, the guardian spirit of Myrtle's visions, who seemed to breathe a holier benediction than any words—even those of the good old Father Pemberton himself—could convey.
They went back together to the camp. From that period until the end of the war, Myrtle passed her time between the life of the tent and that of the hospital. In the offices of mercy which she performed for the sick and the wounded and the dying, the dross of her nature seemed to be burned away. The conflict of mingled lives in her blood had ceased. No lawless impulses usurped the place of that serene resolve which had grown strong by every exercise of its high prerogative. If she had been called now to die for any worthy cause, her race would have been ennobled by a second martyr, true to the blood of her who died under the cruel Queen.
Many sad sights she saw in the great hospital where she passed some months at intervals,—one never to be forgotten. An officer was brought into the ward where she was in attendance. "Shot through the lungs,—pretty nearly gone."
She went softly to his bedside. He was breathing with great difficulty; his face was almost convulsed with the effort, but she recognized him in a moment: it was Murray Bradshaw,—Captain Bradshaw,—as she knew by the bars on his coat flung upon the bed where he had just been laid.
She addressed him by name, tenderly as if he had been a dear brother; she saw on his face that hers were to be the last kind words he would ever hear.
He turned his glazing eyes upon her. "Who are you?" he said in a feeble voice.
"An old friend," she answered; "you knew me as Myrtle Hazard."
He started. "You by my bedside! You caring for me!—for me, that burned the title to your fortune to ashes before your eyes! You can't forgive that,—I won't believe it! Don't you hate me, dying as I am?"
Myrtle was used to maintaining a perfect calmness of voice and countenance, and she held her feelings firmly down. "I have nothing to forgive you, Mr. Bradshaw. You may have meant to do me wrong, but Providence raised up a protector for me. The paper you burned was not the original,—it was a copy substituted for it—"
"And did the old man outwit me after all?" he cried out, rising suddenly in bed, and clasping his hands behind his head to give him a few more gasps of breath. "I knew he was cunning, but I thought I was his match. It must have been Byles Gridley,—nobody else. And so the old man beat me after all, and saved you from ruin! Thank God that it came out so! Thank God! I can die now. Give me your hand, Myrtle."
She took his hand, and held it until it gently loosed its hold, and he ceased to breathe. Myrtle's creed was a simple one, with more of trust and love in it than of systematized articles of belief. She cherished the fond hope that these last words of one who had erred so miserably were a token of some blessed change which the influences of the better world might carry onward until he should have outgrown the sins and the weaknesses of his earthly career.
Soon after this she rejoined her husband in the camp. From time to time they received stray copies of the "Banner and Oracle," which, to Myrtle especially, were full of interest, even to the last advertisement. A few paragraphs may be reproduced here which relate to persons who have figured in this narrative.
"TEMPLE OF HYMEN.
"Married, on the 6th instant, Fordyce Hurlbut, M. D., to Olive, only daughter of the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth. The editor of this paper returns his acknowledgments for a bountiful slice of the wedding-cake. May their shadows never be less!"
Not many weeks after this appeared the following:—
"Died in this place, on the 28th instant, the venerable Lemuel Hurlbut, M. D., at the great age of XCVI years.
"'With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days understanding.'"
Myrtle recalled his kind care of her in her illness, and paid the tribute of a sigh to his memory,—there was nothing in a death like his to call for any aching regret.
The usual routine of small occurrences was duly recorded in the village paper for some weeks longer, when she was startled and shocked by receiving a number containing the following paragraph:—
"It is known to our readers that the steeple of the old meeting-house was struck by lightning about a month ago. The frame of the building was a good deal jarred by the shock, but no danger was apprehended from the injury it had received. On Sunday last the congregation came together as usual. The Rev. Mr. Stoker was alone in the pulpit, the Rev. Doctor Pemberton having been detained by slight indisposition. The sermon was from the text, 'The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. (Isaiah xi. 6.) The pastor described the millennium as the reign of love and peace, in eloquent and impressive language. He was in the midst of the prayer which follows the sermon, and had just put up a petition that the spirit of affection and faith and trust might grow up and prevail among the flock of which he was the shepherd, more especially those dear lambs whom he gathered with his arm, and carried in his bosom, when the old sounding-board, which had hung safely for nearly a century,—loosened, no doubt, by the bolt which had fallen on the church,—broke from its fastenings, and fell with a loud crash upon the pulpit, crushing the Rev. Mr. Stoker under its ruins. The scene that followed beggars description. Cries and shrieks resounded through the house. Two or three young women fainted entirely away. Mr. Penhallow, Deacon Rumrill, Gifted Hopkins, Esq., and others, came forward immediately, and after much effort succeeded in removing the wreck of the sounding-board, and extricating their unfortunate pastor. He was not fatally injured, it is hoped; but, sad to relate, he received such a violent blow upon the spine of the back, that palsy of the lower extremities is like to ensue. He is at present lying entirely helpless. Every attention is paid to him by his affectionately devoted family."
Myrtle had hardly got over the pain which the reading of this unfortunate occurrence gave her, when her eyes were gladdened by the following pleasing piece of intelligence, contained in a subsequent number of the village paper:—
"The Reverend Doctor Pemberton performed the impressive rite of baptism upon the first-born child of our distinguished townsman, Gifted Hopkins, Esq., the Bard of Oxbow Village, and Mrs. Susan P. Hopkins, his amiable and respected lady. The babe conducted himself with singular propriety on this occasion. He received the Christian name of Byron Tennyson Browning. May he prove worthy of his name and his parentage!"
The end of the war came at last, and found Colonel Lindsay among its unharmed survivors. He returned with Myrtle to her native village, and they established themselves, at the request of Miss Silence Withers, in the old family mansion. Miss Cynthia, to whom Myrtle made a generous allowance, had gone to live in a town not many miles distant, where she had a kind of home on sufferance, as well as at The Poplars. This was a convenience just then, because Nurse Byloe was invited to stay with them for a month or two; and one nurse and two single women under the same roof keep each other in a stew all the time, as the old dame somewhat sharply remarked.
Master Byles Gridley had been appointed Myrtle's legal protector, and, with the assistance of Mr. Penhallow, had brought the property she inherited into a more manageable and productive form; so that, when Clement began his fine studio behind the old mansion, he felt that at least he could pursue his art, or arts, if he chose to give himself to sculpture, without that dreadful hag, Necessity, standing by him to pinch the features of all his ideals, and give them something of her own likeness.
Silence Withers was more cheerful now that she had got rid of her responsibility. She embellished her spare person a little more than in former years. These young people looked so happy! Love was not so unendurable, perhaps, after all.—No woman need despair,—especially if she has a house over her, and a snug little property. A worthy man, a former missionary, of the best principles, but of a slightly jocose and good-humored habit, thought that he could piece his widowed years with the not insignificant fraction of life left to Miss Silence, to their mutual advantage. He came to the village, therefore, where Father Pemberton was very glad to have him supply the pulpit in the place of his unfortunate disabled colleague. The courtship soon began, and was brisk enough; for the good man knew there was no time to lose at his period of life,—or hers either, for that matter. It was a rather odd specimen of love-making; for he was constantly trying to subdue his features to a gravity which they were not used to, and she was as constantly endeavoring to be as lively as possible, with the innocent desire of pleasing her light-hearted suitor.
"Vieille fille fait jeune mariee." Silence was ten years younger as a bride than she had seemed as a lone woman. One would have said she had got out of the coach next to the hearse, and got into one some half a dozen behind it,—where there is often good and reasonably cheerful conversation going on about the virtues of the deceased, the probable amount of his property, or the little slips he may have committed, and where occasionally a subdued pleasantry at his expense sets the four waistcoats shaking that were lifting with sighs a half-hour ago in the house of mourning. But Miss Silence, that was, thought that two families, with all the possible complications which time might bring, would be better in separate establishments. She therefore proposed selling The Poplars to Myrtle and her husband, and removing to a house in the village, which would be large enough for them, at least for the present. So the young folks bought the old house, and paid a mighty good price for it, and enlarged it, and beautified and glorified it, and one fine morning went together down to the Widow Hopkins's, whose residence seemed in danger of being a little crowded,—for Gifted lived there with his Susan,—and what had happened might happen again,—and gave Master Byles Gridley a formal and most persuasively worded invitation to come up and make his home with them at The Poplars.
Now Master Gridley has been betrayed into palpable and undisguised weakness at least once in the presence of this assembly, who are looking upon him almost for the last time before they part from him, and see his face no more. Let us not inquire too curiously, then, how he received this kind proposition. It is enough, that, when he found that a new study had been built on purpose for him, and a sleeping-room attached to it so that he could live there without disturbing anybody if he chose, he consented to remove there for a while, and that he was there established amidst great rejoicing.
Cynthia Badlam had fallen of late into poor health. She found at last that she was going; and as she had a little property of her own,—as almost all poor relations have, only there is not enough of it,—she was much exercised in her mind as to the final arrangements to be made respecting its disposition. The Rev. Dr. Pemberton was one day surprised by a message, that she wished to have an interview with him. He rode over to the town in which she was residing, and there had a long conversation with her upon this matter. When this was settled, her mind seemed to be more at ease. She died with a comfortable assurance that she was going to a better world, and with a bitter conviction that it would be hard to find one that would offer her a worse lot than being a poor relation in this.
Her little property was left to Rev. Eliphalet Pemberton and Jacob Penhallow, Esq., to be by them employed for such charitable purposes as they should elect, educational or other. Father Pemberton preached an admirable funeral sermon, in which he praised her virtues, known to this people among whom she had long lived, and especially that crowning act by which she devoted all she had to purposes of charity and benevolence.
The old clergyman seemed to have renewed his youth since the misfortune of his colleague had incapacitated him from labor. He generally preached in the forenoon now, and to the great acceptance of the people,—for the truth was that the honest minister who had married Miss Silence was not young enough or good-looking enough to be an object of personal attentions like the Rev. Joseph Bellamy Stoker,—and the old minister appeared to great advantage contrasted with him in the pulpit. Poor Mr. Stoker was now helpless, faithfully and tenderly waited upon by his own wife, who had regained her health and strength,—in no small measure, perhaps, from the great need of sympathy and active aid which her unfortunate husband now experienced. It was an astonishment to herself when she found that she who had so long been served was able to serve another. Some who knew his errors thought his accident was a judgment; but others believed that it was only a mercy in disguise,—it snatched him roughly from his sin, but it opened his heart to gratitude towards her whom his neglect could not alienate, and through gratitude to repentance and better thoughts. Bathsheba had long ago promised herself to Cyprian Eveleth; and, as he was about to become the rector of a parish in the next town, the marriage was soon to take place.
How beautifully serene Master Byles Gridley's face was growing! Clement loved to study its grand lines, which had so much strength and fine humanity blended in them. He was so fascinated by their noble expression that he sometimes seemed to forget himself, and looked at him more like an artist taking his portrait than like an admiring friend. He maintained that Master Gridley had a bigger bump of benevolence and as large a one of cautiousness as the two people most famous for the size of these organs on the phrenological chart he showed him, and proved it, or nearly proved it, by careful measurements of his head. Master Gridley laughed, and read him a passage on the pseudo-sciences out of his book.
The disposal of Miss Cynthia's bequest was much discussed in the village. Some wished the trustees would use it to lay the foundations of a public library. Others thought it should be applied for the relief of the families of soldiers who had fallen in the war. Still another set would take it to build a monument to the memory of those heroes. The trustees listened with the greatest candor to all these gratuitous hints. It was, however, suggested, in a well-written anonymous article which appeared in the village paper, that it was desirable to follow the general lead of the testator's apparent preference. The trustees were at liberty to do as they saw fit; but, other things being equal, some educational object should be selected. If there were any orphan children in the place, it would seem to be very proper to devote the moderate sum bequeathed to educating them. The trustees recognized the justice of this suggestion. Why not apply it to the instruction and maintenance of those two pretty and promising children, virtually orphans, whom the charitable Mrs. Hopkins had cared for so long without any recompense, and at a cost which would soon become beyond her means? The good people of the neighborhood accepted this as the best solution of the difficulty. It was agreed upon at length by the trustees, that the Cynthia Badlam Fund for Educational Purposes should be applied for the benefit of the two foundlings known as Isosceles and Helminthia Hopkins.
Master Byles Gridley was greatly exercised about the two "preposterous names," as he called them, which in a moment of eccentric impulse he had given to these children of nature. He ventured to hint as much to Mrs. Hopkins. The good dame was vastly surprised. She thought they was about as pooty names as anybody had had given 'em in the village. And they was so handy, spoke short,—Sossy and Minthy,—she never should know how to call 'em anything else.
"But, my dear Mrs. Hopkins," Master Gridley urged, "if you knew the meaning they have to the ears of scholars, you would see that I did very wrong to apply such absurd names to my little fellow-creatures, and that I am bound to rectify my error. More than that, my dear madam, I mean to consult you as to the new names; and if we can fix upon proper and pleasing ones, it is my intention to leave a pretty legacy in my will to these interesting children."
"Mr. Gridley," said Mrs. Hopkins, "you're the best man I ever see, or ever shall see,... except my poor dear Ammi.... I'll do jest as you say about that, or about anything else in all this livin' world."
"Well, then, Mrs. Hopkins, what shall be the boy's name?"
"Byles Gridley Hopkins!" she answered instantly.
"Good Lord!" said Mr. Gridley, "think a minute, my dear madam. I will not say one word,—only think a minute, and mention some name that will not suggest quite so many winks and whispers."
She did think something less than a minute, and then said aloud, "Abraham Lincoln Hopkins."
"Fifteen thousand children have been so christened the past year, on a moderate computation."
"Do think of some name yourself, Mr. Gridley; I shall like anything that you like. To think of those dear babes having a fund—if that's the right name—on purpose for 'em, and a promise of a legacy,—I hope they won't get that till they're a hundred year old!"
"What if we change Isosceles to Theodore, Mrs. Hopkins? That means the gift of God, and the child has been a gift from Heaven, rather than a burden."
Mrs. Hopkins seized her apron, and held it to her eyes. She was weeping. "Theodore!" she said,—"Theodore! My little brother's name, that I buried when I was only eleven year old. Drownded. The dearest little child that ever you see. I have got his little mug with Theodore on it now. Kep' o' purpose. Our little Sossy shall have it. Theodore P. Hopkins,—sha'n't it be, Mr. Gridley?"
"Well, if you say so; but why that P., Mrs. Hopkins? Theodore Parker, is it?"
"Doesn't P. stand for Pemberton, and isn't Father Pemberton the best man in the world—next to you, Mr. Gridley?"
"Well, well, Mrs. Hopkins, let it be so, if you like; if you are suited, I am. Now about Helminthia; there can't be any doubt about what we ought to call her,—surely the friend of orphans should be remembered in naming one of the objects of her charity."
"Cynthia Badlam Fund Hopkins," said the good woman triumphantly,—"is that what you mean?"
"Suppose we leave out one of the names,—four are too many. I think the general opinion will be that Helminthia should unite the names of her two benefactresses,—Cynthia Badlam Hopkins."
"Why, law! Mr. Gridley, isn't that nice?—Minthy and Cynthy,—there ain't but one letter of difference! Poor Cynthy would be pleased if she could know that one of our babes was to be called after her. She was dreadful fond of children."
* * * * *
On one of the sweetest Sundays that ever made Oxbow Village lovely, the Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Pemberton was summoned to officiate at three most interesting; ceremonies,—a wedding and two christenings, one of the latter a double one.
The first was celebrated at the house of the Rev. Mr. Stoker, between the Rev. Cyprian Eveleth and Bathsheba, daughter of the first-named clergyman. He could not be present on account of his great infirmity, but the door of his chamber was left open that he might hear the marriage service performed. The old, white-haired minister, assisted, as the papers said, by the bridegroom's father, conducted the ceremony according to the Episcopal form. When he came to those solemn words in which the husband promises fidelity to the wife so long as they both shall live, the nurse, who was watching near the poor father, saw him bury his face in his pillow, and heard him murmur the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
The christenings were both to take place at the same service, in the old meeting-house. Colonel Clement Lindsay and Myrtle his wife came in, and stout Nurse Byloe bore their sturdy infant in her arms. A slip of paper was handed to the Reverend Doctor on which these words were written:—"The name is Charles Hazard."
The solemn and touching rite was then performed; and Nurse Byloe disappeared with the child, its forehead glistening with the dew of its consecration.
Then, hand in hand, like the babes in the wood, marched up the broad aisle—marshalled by Mrs. Hopkins in front, and Mrs. Gifted Hopkins bringing up the rear—the two children hitherto known as Isosceles and Helminthia. They had been well schooled, and, as the mysterious and to them incomprehensible ceremony was enacted, maintained the most stoical aspect of tranquillity. In Mrs. Hopkins's words, "They looked like picters, and behaved like angels."
* * * * *
That evening, Sunday evening as it was, there was a quiet meeting of some few friends at The Poplars. It was such a great occasion that the Sabbatical rules, never strict about Sunday evening,—which was, strictly speaking, secular time,—were relaxed. Father Pemberton was there, and Master Byles Gridley, of course, and the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth, with his son and his daughter-in-law, Bathsheba, and her mother, now in comfortable health, Aunt Silence and her husband, Doctor Hurlbut and his wife (Olive Eveleth that was), Jacob Penhallow, Esq., Mrs. Hopkins, her son and his wife (Susan Posey that was), the senior deacon of the old church (the admirer of the great Scott), the Editor-in-chief of the "Banner and Oracle," and, in the background, Nurse Byloe and the privileged servant, Mistress Kitty Fagan, with a few others whose names we need not mention.
The evening was made pleasant with sacred music, and the fatigues of two long services repaired by such simple refections as would not turn the holy day into a day of labor. A large-paper copy of the new edition of Byles Gridley's remarkable work was lying on the table. He never looked so happy,—could anything fill his cup fuller? In the course of the evening Clement spoke of the many trials through which they had passed in common with vast numbers of their countrymen, and some of those peculiar dangers which Myrtle had had to encounter in the course of a life more eventful, and attended with more risks, perhaps, than most of them imagined. But Myrtle, he said, had always been specially cared for. He wished them to look upon the semblance of that protecting spirit who had been faithful to her in her gravest hours of trial and danger. If they would follow him into one of the lesser apartments up stairs they would have an opportunity to do so.
Myrtle wondered a little, but followed with the rest. They all ascended to the little projecting chamber, through the window of which her scarlet jacket caught the eyes of the boys paddling about on the river in those early days when Cyprian Eveleth gave it the name of the Fire-hang-bird's Nest.
The light fell softly but clearly on the dim and faded canvas from which looked the saintly features of the martyred woman, whose continued presence with her descendants was the old family legend. But underneath it Myrtle was surprised to see a small table with some closely covered object upon it. It was a mysterious arrangement, made without any knowledge on her part.
"Now, then, Kitty!" Mr. Lindsay said.
Kitty Fagan, who had evidently been taught her part, stepped forward, and removed the cloth which concealed the unknown object. It was a lifelike marble bust of Master Byles Gridley.
"And this is what you have been working at so long,—is it, Clement?" Myrtle said.
"Which is the image of your protector, Myrtle?" he answered, smiling.
Myrtle Hazard Lindsay walked up to the bust, and kissed its marble forehead, saying, "This is the face of my Guardian Angel!"
A MYSTERIOUS PERSONAGE.
From the first, our country has been a refuge, not only for kings and princes and statesmen and warriors, but for all sorts of adventurers and impostors. Following hard after Kosciuszko, General Charles Lee, Baron Steuben, Baron de Kalb, Lord Stirling, and Lafayette, we had Talleyrand, Louis Philippe, and Jerome Bonaparte, and Joseph, king of Spain; and, but for a sudden change of wind, might have had Napoleon the Great himself—after the affair of Waterloo. We have always been, and must continue to be, overrun with pretenders, mountebanks, blood relations of Charles Fox, Lord Byron, and the Guelphs, who are always in the market.
Never, at any time, however, have we had a more puzzling or mysterious visitant than Major-General Bratish—Baron Fratelin—Count Eliovich. I knew him well,—better, I believe, than others who had known him longer, but under less trying circumstances. I stood by him through thick and thin. I fought his battles for a long while, and almost always single-handed, against a cloud of enemies, at a time when he appeared to be hunted for his life by a band of conspirators, and was undoubtedly beset by eavesdroppers and spies at every turn.
All at once, after a dazzling career in the political and literary world beyond seas, continuing for many years, and followed by a course here which kept him always before the public, and for something more than two years made it almost a distinction for anybody to be acquainted with him, this General Bratish—Count Eliovich—found himself an outcast, helpless and hopeless, obliged to live from hand to mouth.
That he was greatly belied, I had reason to know. That he was cruelly misunderstood, and wickedly misrepresented by the whole newspaper press of our country, I had reason to believe, upon evidence not to be questioned; but we are anticipating.
One day, in the summer or fall of 1839, Colonel Bouchette of Quebec, son of the late Surveyor-General of Canada, brought a stranger to see me, whom he introduced as Major-General Bratish, late in the service of her Catholic Majesty, the Queen of Spain, and associate of General De Lacy Evans, of the Auxiliary Legion. They were both (Bouchette and Bratish) living in Portland at the time, and occupied chambers in the same building; and I inferred from what passed in this or in a subsequent interview that the Colonel had known the General in Quebec or Montreal, about the time of the outbreak there in which they were implicated.
The object they had in view, on their first visit, was to open a way for General Bratish to lecture in Portland, upon some one—or more—of many subjects,—on Greece, Hungary, Poland, the war in Spain, South America, our own Revolutionary War, modern languages, or matters and things in general.
The appearance and deportment of the gentleman were much in his favor. He seemed both frank and fearless, with a mixture of modesty and self-reliance quite captivating. He looked to be about five-and-thirty, according to my present recollection, stood five feet nine or ten, with a broad chest and good figure. He had not much of military bearing,—certainly not more than we see in General Grant,—and on the whole bore the appearance of a young, handsome, healthy, well-bred Englishman, accustomed to good society. He was neither talkative nor reserved, but natural and free; speaking our language with uncommon propriety, French and German still better, and Italian like a native, and often expressing himself with singular strength and picturesqueness,—reminding me of the Italian poet and critic, Ugo Foscolo,—whom I saw at the time he was furnishing the papers translated by Mrs. Sarah Austin for the Edinburgh Review.
Arrangements were soon made for a first appearance; and the result was all that could have been hoped for, and much more than could reasonably have been expected. His manner was dignified, unpretending, and earnest; and he had a sort of unstudied natural eloquence, quite wonderful in a foreigner, unacquainted with our idioms and unaccustomed to platform speaking. Whatever might be the subject, he always talked with an air of modest truthfulness, and gave the most dramatic and startling narratives, like an eyewitness on the stand, testifying under oath. Never shall I forget Warsaw, nor the battle of Navarino, as rapidly sketched by him in a sort of parenthesis, while he was lecturing upon a very different subject; he wanted an illustration, and both of these pictures flashed suddenly out upon us. The other lectures that followed his first seemed, up to the very last, to grow better and better, until we had faith, not only in his representations, but in the man himself.
Instead of shunning, he rather invited inquiry; and at an interview with the late Mr. Edward Preble, son of the Commodore, when that gentleman was questioning him about Tripoli, and was preparing to show him the very charts used by the Commodore, the General refused to look at them, and instantly drew a sketch of the harbor, with the castles, batteries, and fortifications, and gave the soundings and approaches; and all these, upon a careful examination, proved to be correct in every particular, according to the testimony of Mr. Preble himself.
About this time, in consequence of the favorable notices that appeared in our Portland papers, the Philadelphia Ledger, the Saturday Courier, and some other journals of that city, opened upon him in full cry, followed by the American press generally; the Courier declaring that he had taken leg bail and escaped from Canada,—that he had run away from Rochester, after obtaining five hundred dollars from Henry McIlvaine, Esq., of the Philadelphia bar, in the shape of fees for constituting that gentleman "Consul-General of Greece"! By others he was charged with being a tin-pedler, a horse-thief, and a leech-doctor, who had assumed the title of Count long after his arrival in this country. Among many anonymous letters—letters addressed to strangers in Portland—came one from Henry McIlvaine himself, saying: "I see by the Portland papers, that a man calling himself sometimes General Bratish, at others General Eliovich, Count Eliovich, Baron Fratelin and Walbeck, and claiming to have been a general in the Polish, Spanish, Mexican, and other armies, is now in your town; and I should suppose, from the papers who have noticed him, imposing upon respectable people. Having seen something of this person, and been myself a victim, I have felt it due to my friends in Portland to put them on their guard. He is the son of a merchant in Trieste, driven from his home and his friends in consequence of his crimes. His pretension to any of the titles he claims is altogether without foundation. After exhausting Europe, he has within a few years turned his talents to good account in our country. He made his appearance here about two years ago as Consul-General and Envoy from Greece, in which capacity he was very free with his commissions of vice-consulships in New York and Philadelphia. He was indicted here for forgery,—convicted,—obtained a new trial by the false oaths of his associates, some of whom are now in the state prison (one for horse-stealing), and gave bail for his appearance at the next term. The pretence for a new trial was the absence of a witness who never existed, but who was expected to prove his innocence. Before the next term, the Consul-General took wing, leaving his bail, a simple Frenchman, to pay the forfeit. It would be impossible for me to give anything like a history of his crimes in a letter. Suffice it to say that he is a notorious swindler, the most unblushing and inexhaustible liar and the most finished rascal I ever saw."
If this were true, how happened it that the notorious swindler, the horse-thief, the convicted forger, and the escaped convict was still at large,—and not only at large, but always before the public, and always without a change of name? Why was he not surrendered by his bail? Why not followed by a bench warrant, or a requisition from the Governor of Pennsylvania? Of course, the story could not be true, as told by Mr. McIlvaine. It was too absurd on the face of it.
But was any part of the story true? and, if so, how much? Having been frequently imposed upon, both at home and abroad, by adventurers and pretenders, I determined to go to the bottom of this case before I committed myself, and I must say that, for a while, the stories told by General Bratish, and the explanations he gave, seemed to me still more absurd and preposterous.
According to his story—to give one example out of a score—he had been obliged to apply for the benefit of the Insolvent Act, in Philadelphia, owing to losses he had sustained by lending money to distressed compatriots, and eleemosynary outcasts, and had been opposed in the Court of Insolvency by Colonel John Stille, Jr. and Mr. Henry McIlvaine, who threatened him with a prosecution for the forgery of consular papers, if he dared to appear. He declared that he did appear, nevertheless, and was honorably discharged; that his claims and evidences of debt, handed over to Mr. McIlvaine, the assignee, amounted to $7,620 for cash lent, while his debts altogether amounted to less than $1,000; that he was arrested while in court, on a warrant for forgery, and there subjected to a long and rigorous examination by Messrs. McIlvaine and Stille, who had got possession of all the claims against him; that the offence charged consisted in issuing a commission as Vice-Consul of Greece, with General Bratish's own signature! that McIlvaine went before Mr. Alderman Binns to get the warrant for forgery, and employed Colonel John Stille, Jr., his coadjutor, to appear as public prosecutor in the Mayor's Court of Philadelphia; that he, General Bratish, was put upon trial before a bench of aldermen, not a man of the whole except the Recorder being acquainted with the rudiments of law; that, on being arraigned, he refused to plead, and called no witnesses himself, though some were called by his counsel,—when the Recorder directed the plea of "Not guilty" to be entered, and the trial to proceed; that he claimed to be a foreign consul provisionally appointed, entered a formal protest, which appeared in the papers of the day, and never deigned to open his mouth, until, to the consternation and amazement of all who understood the case, the jury found him guilty, under the direction of the Recorder,—a direction which amounted to this, namely, that, while General Bratish could not be legally convicted of the offence charged, he might be convicted of another offence not charged! that a motion for a new trial was entered at the suggestion of the Recorder himself, and was finally argued in a burst of indignation by General Bratish, who thrust aside his counsel, and refused to be delivered on technical grounds; that the motion was opposed by Messrs. McIlvaine and Stille, but prevailed; that the verdict was set aside, a new trial granted, and General Bratish was allowed to go at large, on greatly reduced bail, every member of the court concurring, except Mr. Alderman McKean; that no sooner was the trial over, and the proceedings published, than a public meeting was called through the National Gazette, the Public Ledger, the United States Gazette, and the Pennsylvanian, and all persons were invited to appear, and bring forward their charges—if any they had—against him; that such a meeting, both large and respectable, was held at the College of Pharmacy, and resolutions were adopted, declaring the character of General Bratish to be "unimpeached and unimpeachable" his authority from Greece to be fully proved, and his identity to have been established by the testimony of "several highly respectable gentlemen present"; that, before he could have another trial, the court was abolished; and that, after waiting two months for the prosecutor to move, for want of something better to do, General Bratish betook himself to Canada; that he was followed there, watched, arrested for a horse-thief, immediately and honorably discharged, re-arrested upon a suspicion of high treason, put beyond the reach of a habeas corpus writ, and confined for seven months, in the citadel of Quebec and elsewhere, as a prisoner of state, &c., &c.
Such was a part of his story; and astonishing as it may appear—incredible, I might say—I found it, after a most careful investigation, to be not only substantially true, but scrupulously exact. The evidence came to me through unwilling or prejudiced witnesses,—my friend, Henry C. Carey of Philadelphia, among the number,—and was corroborated throughout by official documents and published proceedings. And here I may as well add, that Mr. Arnold Buffum was chairman, and J. Griffith, M. D. secretary, of the meeting above referred to, of March 6th, 1838.
While this unhappy controversy was raging, and our people were dividing upon the questions involved, a little incident occurred which had a very wholesome effect upon our misgivings. The General happened to be in conversation with a stranger one day, when the subject of Unitarianism, as it existed in the North of Europe, came up. Something was then said about the great Unitarian Convention held at Cork, Ireland, two or three years before. General Bratish said he was in attendance, and had let fall some remarks there. A by-stander, who had very little faith in our hero, caught at the ravelling thus dropped. If what the General said were true, surely some evidence might be found by diligent search. And, sure enough! the gentleman found a copy of the Christian Pioneer, in Boston, giving an account of that very Convention. He acknowledged to me that he opened the journal with fear and trembling, but soon came upon what purported to be an abstract of a speech by General Bratish, and what furnished abundant confirmation of his highest pretensions as a soldier, as a writer, as a patriot, and as a philanthropist. I saw the Pioneer myself. It was a monthly journal, published in Glasgow, Scotland, July, 1835. The speech, as reported, was eminently characteristic, and the summary that followed was in the following words:—
"The society was gratified on this occasion by the presence of the Rev. George Harris of Glasgow, whose visit to Cork the committee gladly availed themselves of, earnestly requesting his attendance; and of Mr. Bratish, a native of Hungary, and a member of the Hungarian Diet, who, in consequence of his intrepid advocacy of the cause of much-injured Poland, both in his place in the legislature, and subsequently with his pen and his sword, has been obliged to fly his country, and take refuge in this kingdom."
Among the most damaging allegations was one to this effect, that Mr. Forsyth, our Secretary of State, had contradicted the story of General Bratish about his consular authority and proceedings in every particular. So far was this from being true, that Mr. Forsyth confirmed the story of General Bratish in substance, acknowledging to me that he knew nothing to his prejudice, and that General Bratish had held such communications with him as he had represented.
Yet more, while I was patiently and quietly pursuing these investigations, Colonel Bouchette handed me a copy of the Bath (Me.) Telegraph Extra, of July 19, 1839, containing a report of the proceedings at a public meeting held there, in consequence of the newspaper charges and anonymous letters which had followed our adventurer to that city. It was headed "General Bratish Eliovich (Baron Fratelin)," and was signed by Judge Clapp (Ebenezer), and by Henry Masters, Secretary. The resolutions were brief but conclusive; and the committee that drew them up, after a thorough investigation, were chosen from among the most respectable citizens of the place. "Every specific charge brought forward by responsible persons," they say, "was most completely refuted, and the truth was found entirely in accordance with the statements and accounts of the transactions given beforehand by General Bratish"; and they declare him "entitled to the confidence and respect of the community at large," saying that "his conduct in this State has been that of a gentleman and man of honor."
I found too, that, go where he would, behave as he might, the moment his name appeared in the papers, anonymous letters and paragraphs followed, denouncing him as a "pedler," as a "native Yankee," as a thief who had robbed a fellow-boarder at Bedford Springs and then run away, taking one of the most unfrequented roads "across the country to Cumberland, upon which no public conveyance runs"; and yet I found, upon further inquiry, that he went off by the regular mail coach direct to Philadelphia, drove straight to the Marshall House, where he had always put up, (one of the largest and most respectable establishments in the city,) and entered his name at length on the travellers' book in the usual way, and was received by McIlvaine himself and others he had met with at Bedford Springs, on a footing of the most friendly intimacy, for over two months after the alleged robbery and exposure.
I ascertained further, that he came to this country in the summer of 1836 on board the Statesman, Captain Mansfield, from Gothenburg to Salem, with letters from Christopher Hughes, our Charge d'Affaires at Stockholm, to his son at New York, and with a Swedish passport to North America, duly authenticated, in which he was called "the Honorable John Bratish de Fratelin"; that he had many other letters, bills of credit, and drafts, and a large amount of money in gold,—some "thousands of dollars" according to the testimony of Captain N. B. Mansfield himself, with whom I communicated by letter; that he was brought on board in the Governor's barge, and was known to have been treated with great distinction by the Swedish nobility, and to have been so well received by Bernadotte himself, the king of Sweden, as to give rise to a report that he was a son of Murat, the late king of Naples, whose queen he certainly resembled, as he did others of the Bonaparte family; that on the passage he put on no airs, claimed no title, but chose to be called plain Mr. Bratish, until his rank was discovered, and he came to be known as General John Bratish Eliovich (the son of Elias), Baron Fratelin; that after a twelve-month's residence at Boston and Salem, holding intercourse with what is there called the best society, he went to Washington, where he passed the winter of 1837-38 among the fashionables and upper-tens; that, while there, he received the provisional appointment of Consul-General for the United States from the Regency of Greece, dated February 15, 1837, upon which he threw up an engagement he had entered into with General Duff Greene, which secured him a respectable support, and set about seeing the country; that after travelling from New York to New Orleans, he returned to the North, and stopped for a month or two at Bedford Springs, about a day's journey from Philadelphia; that being disappointed in remittances and receipts, and unable to collect moneys he had lent to his compatriots, he could not pay his bill for six weeks' board, amounting to fifty dollars, and went to Philadelphia, leaving with Mr. Brown, the landlord, a part of his baggage and books, after trying in vain to dispose of a valuable platina medal; that in Philadelphia, Mr. McIlvaine—notwithstanding the alleged robbery—lent him one hundred and sixty-five dollars, and was constituted Vice-Consul of Greece ad interim, that is, "until the pleasure of his Majesty, the king of Greece, should be known."
Here then was the foundation of all the attacks made upon the unhappy General; but was there not something behind,—something below this foundation? The extraordinary case of Dr. Follen, who was hunted from pillar to post, year after year, and wellnigh lied into his grave, shows what may be done by conspirators and spies and slanderers, when a respectable man grows obnoxious to a foreign power. If he is at all headstrong or imprudent, nothing can save him. Oddly enough, it happens that one of the very papers which followed Dr. Follen whithersoever he went, like a sleuth-hound,—the Philadelphia Gazette,—was among the bitterest and most unrelenting, of those that assailed General Bratish.
While pursuing these investigations, I learned from what I regarded as high authority, that General Bratish had presented an address to Lord Normanby, at the head of the whole consular body, having been chosen for that special purpose; and I was referred to the Irish Royal Cork Almanac for 1835, where, under the head of Foreign Consuls, I read, "Colonel John Bratish (d'Elias) Eliovich, K. C. C., S. S., L. H., Consul-General of Greece, Mexico, Buenos Ayres, and Switzerland, Consular Agent of Turkey."
How were these contradictions to be reconciled,—the facts proved with the stories told? If General Bratish was the swindler and impostor they pretended, the sooner he was exposed, and the more publicly, the better. On the contrary, if he was an honest man—a man greatly wronged and belied, like Dr. Follen—he ought to be defended,—but how? He was poor and friendless, and the whole newspaper press of the country was either against him, or wholly indifferent. Had he been on trial in a court of justice, any lawyer would have defended him,—nay, for that matter, he might have defended himself. But if he entered the field as a writer, alone against a host, volumes would have to be written,—and who would publish them,—who read them?
That I might bring the matter to issue at once, knowing well, and from long experience, that, when people are accused through the newspaper press of our country, they are always believed to be guilty until they have established their innocence, I sent a communication to the Portland Advertiser of October 15, 1839, with my name, charging upon Mr. Henry McIlvaine and Colonel John Stille, Jr. all that I afterwards repeated with more distinctness and solemnity in "The New World," for which I was then writing (and from which I withdrew in consequence of what I then regarded as unfairness toward General Bratish on the part of my coadjutors, Messrs. Park Benjamin and Epes Sargent), and arraigning both McIlvaine and Stille, as conspirators and libellers.
One day, while this controversy was raging, the General called upon me, and begged me, for my own satisfaction, to inquire of Baron de Mareschal, the Austrian Minister, respecting certain charges that had just appeared against him. I consented, and immediately despatched the following letter to the care of my friend, the Honorable George Evans, our Representative in Congress, requesting him to see the Baron for me.
"To HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL BARON DE MARESCHAL, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from his Majesty the Emperor of Austria.
"The undersigned is led to apply to your Excellency in behalf of a gentleman here, who has been assailed by a great variety of newspaper slanders, most of which have been triumphantly refuted. The gentleman referred to is known here, by his passports and other credentials, as John Bratish Eliovich, late a general in the service of her most Catholic Majesty, the Queen of Spain, and is now an American citizen.
"He states—and he bids me trust confidently to the character of your Excellency for an early reply—that in 1828 he was at Rio Janeiro; that instead of 'running away,' as reported, with a large amount of funds belonging to his uncle, Christopher Bratish, he left Rio Janeiro in consequence of being appointed by the Emperor, Dom Pedro, Brazilian Consul to Austria, with the approbation and consent of your Excellency, manifested by a regular passport, granted by your Excellency's legation.
"The friends of General Bratish in this region are numerous and respectable, and they beg your Excellency's reply to the following questions:—
"Is the statement above made by General Bratish true?
"And if your Excellency would be so kind as to say whether, in your opinion, there can be any foundation for the story respecting the 'large amount of money' said to have been carried off by General Bratish, when he is reported to have run away from Rio Janeiro, your Excellency would gladly oblige, not only the undersigned, but a number of other persons deeply interested in the character of General Bratish.
"Meanwhile, I am with respect your Excellency's most obedient servant,
"PORTLAND, ME., April, 1840."
"That your Excellency may know who has taken this liberty, the undersigned begs leave to refer you to the Hon. George Evans, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, General Scott, or to any member of Congress from the Northern or Middle States."
Through some oversight in the transcribing, the full date of this letter does not appear; but I soon received the following from Mr. Evans:—
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON,
April 20, 1840.
"MY DEAR SIR,—Your favor of ——, enclosing letter for General Mareschal was duly received, and I immediately despatched a messenger to deliver it to the General, with a note in your behalf. Yesterday the General called upon me to say that he felt constrained, from various circumstances, to decline a reply to it. He wishes you to understand that he does this with entire respect for yourself, whom he should be very happy personally to oblige. He said, if the information you seek was desirable for any personal or private purposes of your own,—such as, for instance, if any alliance was in contemplation with any of your friends,—he should feel bound to give you a reply. But he does not think that he ought to be drawn into a newspaper discussion, or to become the subject of comment or remark in such a matter. He wished me to explain his feelings, and hopes you will not impute his declining to any want of regard for you, and that you will appreciate the motives which govern him. I am not at liberty to detail a conversation I held with him on the general subject of your letter. He did not show it to me, though he spoke of its contents.
"Very faithfully yours,
Very adroit and very diplomatic, to be sure, on the part of the Baron; but surely he might have answered yes or no to the first question, without committing himself. And why not show my letter to Mr. Evans? Taking the ground he did, however, he forced me to the following conclusion, namely, that he could not answer No, and was afraid, for reasons of state, perhaps, to answer Yes.
And now, what was to be done? Should I prepare a memoir, setting forth all these charges, with such refutations and such explanations as had occurred, and appeal to the public. There seemed to be no other way left.
While I was preparing this memoir, which made a pamphlet of forty-eight large octavo pages, with the documentary evidence in small print, General Bratish was at my elbow; and one evening, after I had read over to him what I had written, I happened to say that I was exceedingly sorry for the loss of his orders and decorations in Canada,—they would have been such a corroboration of his story.
"Lost!" said he, "they are not lost."
"Where are they?"
"In the bank, with some other valuables."
"In the bank! When can you get them for me?"
"To-morrow, when the bank is open."
Shall I confess the truth? So sudden and so startling was this declaration, after what I had seen in the papers about the loss of these badges and orders in Canada, that I began, for the first time, to have uncomfortable suspicions. But, sure enough, the next day he brought them all to me, together with the original contract entered into between Colonel De Lacy Evans (afterward General Evans) and General Bratish, with the approbation of Alva, the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of St. James, whereby it was provided that "John Bratish Eliovich, Esquire, K. C. C., V. S. S., V. L. H., &c., &c.," should enjoy the rank, pay, and emoluments of a Major-General in the Auxiliary Legion then raising for the Queen of Spain. This document, signed by Colonel De Lacy Evans and Carbonel, and approved by Alva, styled him "Major-General John Bratish Eliovich, K. C. C., V. L. H., &c., &c.," and bore the signature of General Bratish, whereby his identity was established; and the decorations and orders put into my hands were the following: "Knight Commander of Christ," the "Tower and Sword" of Portugal, the "Saviour" of Greece, and the "South Star" of Brazil.