[Frontispiece: Miss Lillian Gish as Anna Moore. D. W. Griffith's Production. 'Way Down East.]
'WAY DOWN EAST
A ROMANCE OF NEW ENGLAND LIFE
JOSEPH R. GRISMER
Founded on the Very Successful Play of the
Same Title by
LOTTIE BLAIR PARKER
ILLUSTRATED WITH SCENES FROM D. W. GRIFFITH'S MAGNIFICENT MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL STORY AND STAGE PLAY
GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS ——————— NEW YORK
By Joseph R. Grismer
'Way Down East
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. All Hail to the Conquering Hero.
II. The Conquering Hero is Disposed to be Human.
III. Containing Some Reflections and the Entrance of Mephistopheles.
IV. The Mock Marriage.
V. A Little Glimpse of the Garden of Eden.
VI. The Ways of Desolation.
VII. Mother and Daughter.
VIII. In Days of Waiting.
IX. On the Threshold of Shelter.
X. Anna and Sanderson Again Meet.
XI. Rustic Hospitality.
XII. Kate Brewster Holds Sanderson's Attention.
XIII. The Quality of Mercy.
XIV. The Village Gossip Sniffs Scandal.
XV. David Confesses his Love.
XVI. Alone in the Snow.
XVII. The Night in the Snowstorm.
Miss Lillian Gish as Anna Moore. . . . Frontispiece
Martha Perkins and Maria Poole.
Martha Perkins tells the story of Anna Moore's past life.
Lillian Gish and Burr McIntosh.
WAY DOWN EAST
ALL HAIL TO THE CONQUERING HERO.
Methinks I feel this youth's perfections, With an invisible and subtle stealth, To creep in at mine eyes.—Shakespeare.
It had come at last, the day of days, for the two great American universities; Harvard and Yale were going to play their annual game of football and the railroad station of Springfield, Mass., momentarily became more and more thronged with eager partisans of both sides of the great athletic contest.
All the morning trains from New York, New Haven, Boston and the smaller towns had been pouring their loads into Springfield. Hampden Park was a sea of eager faces. The weather was fine and the waiting for the football game only added to the enjoyment—the appetizer before the feast.
The north side of the park was a crimson dotted mass full ten thousand strong; the south side showed the same goodly number blue-bespeckled, and equally confident. Little ripples of applause woke along the banks as the familiar faces of old "grads" loomed up, then melted into the vast throng. These, too, were men of international reputation who had won their spurs in the great battles of life, and yet, who came back year after year, to assist by applause in these mimic battles of their Alma Mater.
But the real inspiration to the contestants, were the softer, sweeter faces scattered among the more rugged ones like flowers growing among the grain—the smiles, the mantling glow of round young cheeks, the clapping of little hands—these were the things that made broken collarbones, scratched faces, and bruised limbs but so many honors to be contended for, votive offerings to be laid at the little feet of these fair ones.
Mrs. Standish Tremont's party occupied, as usual, a prominent place on the Harvard side. She was so great a factor in the social life at Cambridge that no function could have been a complete success without the stimulus of her presence. Personally, Mrs. Standish Tremont was one of those women who never grow old; one would no more have thought of hazarding a guess about her age than one would have made a similar calculation about the Goddess of Liberty. She was perennially young, perennially good-looking, and her entertainments were above reproach. Some sour old "Grannies" in Boston, who had neither her wit, nor her health, called her Venus Anno Domino, but they were jealous and cynical and their testimony cannot be taken as reliable.
What if she had been splitting gloves applauding college games since the fathers of to-day's contestants had fought and struggled for similar honors in this very field. She applauded with such vim, and she gave such delightful dinners afterward, that for the glory of old Harvard it is to be hoped she will continue to applaud and entertain the grandsons of to-day's victors, even as she had their sires.
It was said by the uncharitable that the secret of the lady's youth was the fact that she always surrounded herself with young people, their pleasure, interests, entertainments were hers; she never permitted herself to be identified with older people.
To-day, besides several young men who had been out of college for a year or two, she had her husband's two nieces, the Misses Tremont, young women well known in Boston's inner circles, her own daughter, a Mrs. Endicott, a widow, and a very beautiful young girl whom she introduced as "My cousin, Miss Moore."
Miss Moore was the recipient of more attention than she could well handle. Mrs. Tremont's cavaliers tried to inveigle her into betting gloves and bon-bons; they reserved their wittiest replica for her, they were her ardent allies in all the merry badinage with which their party whiled away the time waiting for the game to begin. Miss Moore was getting enough attention to turn the heads of three girls.
At least, that was what her chaperone concluded as she skilfully concealed her dissatisfaction with a radiant smile. She liked girls to achieve social success when they were under her wing—it was the next best thing to scoring success on her own account. But, it was quite a different matter to invite a poor relation half out of charity, half out of pity, and then have her outshine one's own daughter, and one's nieces—the latter being her particular proteges—girls whom she hoped to assist toward brilliant establishments. The thought was a disquieting one, the men of their party had been making idiots of themselves over the girl ever since they left Boston; it was all very well to be kind to one's poor kin—but charity began at home when there were girls who had been out three seasons! What was it, that made the men lose their heads like so many sheep? She adjusted her lorgnette and again took an inventory of the girl's appearance. It was eminently satisfactory even when viewed from the critical standard of Mrs. Standish Tremont. A delicately oval face, with low smooth brow, from which the night-black hair rippled in softly crested waves and clung about the temples in tiny circling ringlets, delicate as the faintest shading of a crayon pencil. Heavily fringed lids that lent mysterious depths to the great brown eyes that were sorrowful beyond their years. A mouth made for kisses—a perfect Cupid's bow; in color, the red of the pomegranate—such was Anna Moore, the great lady's young kinswoman, who was getting her first glimpse of the world this autumn afternoon.
"You were born to be a Harvard girl, Miss Moore, the crimson becomes you go perfectly, that great bunch of Jacqueminots is just what you need to bring out the color in your cheeks," said Arnold Lester, rather an old beau, and one of Mrs. Endicott's devoted cavaliers.
"Miss Moore is making her roses pale with envy," gallantly answered Robert Maynard. He had not been able to take his eyes from the girl's face since he met her.
Anna looked down at her roses and smiled. Her gown and gloves were black. The great fragrant bunch was the only suggestion of color that she had worn for over a year. She was still in mourning for her father, one of the first great financial magnates to go under in the last Wall Street crash. His failure killed him, and the young daughter and the invalid wife were left practically unprovided for.
Mrs. Tremont could hardly conceal her annoyance. She had met her young cousin for the first time the preceding summer and taking a fancy to her; she exacted a promise from the girl's mother that Anna should pay her a visit the following autumn. But she reckoned without the girl's beauty and the havoc it would make with her plans. The discussion as to the roses outvieing Anna's cheeks in color was abruptly terminated by a great cheer that rolled simultaneously along both sides of the field as the two teams entered the lists. Cheer upon cheer went up, swelled and grew in volume, only to be taken up again and again, till the sound became one vast echoing roar without apparent end or beginning.
From the moment the teams appeared, Anna Moore had no eyes or ears for sights or sounds about her. Every muscle in her lithe young body was strained to catch a glimpse of one familiar figure. She had little difficulty in singling him out from the rest. He had stripped off his sweater and stood with head well down, his great limbs tense, straining for the word to spring. Anna's breath came quickly, as if she had been running, the roses that he had sent her heaved with the tumult in her breast. It seemed to her as if she must cry out with the delight of seeing him again.
"Look, Grace," said Mrs. Standish Tremont, to the younger of her nieces, "there is Lennox Sanderson."
"Play!" called the referee, and at the word the Harvard wedge shot forward and crashed into the onrushing mass of blue-legged bodies. The mimic war was on, and raged with all the excitement of real battle for the next three-quarters of an hour; the center was pierced, the flanks were turned, columns were formed and broken, weak spots were protected, all the tactics of the science of arms was employed, and yet, neither side could gain an advantage.
The last minutes of the first half of the game were spent desperately—Kenneth, the terrible line breaker of Yale, made two famous charges, Lennox Sanderson, the famous flying half-back, secured Harvard a temporary advantage by a magnificently supported run. "Time!" called the referee, and the first half of the game was over.
For fifteen minutes the combatants rested, then resumed their massing, wedging and driving. Sanderson, who had not appeared to over-exert himself during the first half of the game, gradually began to turn the tide in favor of the crimson. After a decoy and a scrimmage, Sanderson, with the ball wedged tightly under one arm, was seen flying like a meteor, well covered by his supports. On he dashed at full speed for the much-desired touch-line. The next minute he had reached the goal and was buried under a pile of squirming bodies.
Then did the Harvard hosts burst into one mighty and prolonged cheer that made the air tremble. Sanderson was the hero of the hour. Gray-haired old men jumped up and shouted his name with that of the university. It was one mad pandemonium of excitement, till the game was won, and the crowd woke up amid the "Rah, Rahs, Harvard, Sanderson."
Anna's cheeks burned crimson. She clapped her hands to the final destruction of her gloves. She patted the roses he had sent her. She had never dreamed that life was so beautiful, so full of happiness.
She saw him again for just a moment, before they left the park. He came up to speak to them, with the sweat and grime of battle still upon him, his hair flying in the breeze. The crowds gave way for the hero; women gave him their brightest smiles; men involuntarily straightened their shoulders in tribute to his inches.
Years afterwards, it seemed to Anna, in looking back on the tragedy of it all, that he had never looked so handsome, never been so absolutely irresistible as on that autumn day when he had taken her hand and said: "I couldn't help making that run with your eyes on me."
"And we shall see you at tea, on Saturday?" asked Mrs. Tremont.
"I shall be delighted," he answered: "thank you for persuading Miss Moore to stay over for another week." Mrs. Tremont smiled, she could smile if she were on the rack; but she assured herself that she was done with poverty-stricken beauties till Grace and Maud were married, at least. For years she had been planning a match between Grace and Lennox Sanderson.
Anna and Sanderson exchanged looks. Robert Maynard bit his lips and turned away. He realized that the dearest wish of his life was beyond reach of it forever. "Ah, well," he murmured to himself—"who could have a chance against Lennox Sanderson?"
THE CONQUERING HERO IS DISPOSED TO BE HUMAN.
"Her lips are roses over-wash'd with dew, Or like the purple of narcissus' flower; No frost their fair, no wind doth waste their powers, But by her breath her beauties do renew."—Robert Greene.
The dusk of an autumn afternoon was closing in on the well-filled library of Mrs. Standish Tremont's Beacon street home. The last rays of sunlight filtered softly through the rose silk curtains and blended with the ruddy glow of fire-light. The atmosphere of this room was more invitingly domestic than that of any other room in Mrs. Tremont's somewhat bleakly luxurious home.
Perhaps it was the row upon row of books in their scarlet leather bindings, perhaps it was the fine old collection of Dutch masterpieces, portraying homely scenes from Dutch life, that robbed the air of the chilling effect of the more formal rooms; but, whatever was the reason, the fact remained that the library was the room in which to dream dreams, appreciate comfort and be content.
At least so it seemed to Anna Moore, as she glanced from time to time at the tiny French clock that silently ticked away the hours on the high oaken mantel-piece. Anna had dressed for tea with more than usual care on this particular Saturday afternoon. She wore a simply made house gown of heavy white cloth, that hung in rich folds about her exquisite figure, that might have seemed over-developed in a girl of eighteen, were it not for the long slender throat and tapering waist of more than usual slenderness.
The dark hair was coiled high on top of the shapely head, and a few tendrils strayed about her neck and brow. She wore no ornaments—not even the simplest pin.
She was curled up in a great leather chair, in front of the open fire, playing with a white angora kitten, who climbed upon her shoulder and generally conducted himself like a white ball of animated yarn. It was too bad that there was no painter at hand to transfer to canvas so lovely a picture as this girl in her white frock made, sitting by the firelight in this mellow old room, playing with a white imp of a kitten. It would have made an ideal study in white and scarlet.
How comfortable it all was; the book-lined walls, the repose and dignity of this beautiful home, with its corps of well-trained servants waiting to minister to one's lightest wants. The secure and sheltered feeling that it gave appealed strongly to the girl, who but a little while ago had enjoyed similar surroundings in her father's house.
And then, there had been that awful day when her father's wealth had vanished into air like a burst bubble, and he had come home with a white drawn face and gone to bed, never again to rise from it.
Anna did not mind the privations that followed on her own account, but they were pitifully hard on her invalid mother, who had been used to every comfort all her life.
After they had left New York, they had taken a little cottage in Waltham, Mass., and it was here that Mrs. Standish Tremont had come to call on her relatives in their grief and do what she could toward lightening their burdens. Anna was worn out with the constant care of her mother, and would only consent to go away for a rest, because the doctor told her that her health was surely breaking under the strain, and that if she did not go, there would be two invalids instead of one.
It was at Mrs. Tremont's that she had met Lennox Sanderson, and from the first, both seemed to be under the influence of some subtle spell that drew them together blindly, and without the consent of their wills. Mrs. Tremont, who viewed the growing attraction of these two young people with well-concealed alarm, watched every opportunity to prevent their enjoying each other's society. It irritated her that one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Harvard should take such a fancy to her penniless young relative, instead of to Grace Tremont, whom she had selected for his wife.
There were few things that Mrs. Tremont enjoyed so much as arranging romances in everyday life.
"Pardon me, Miss Moore," said the butler, standing at her elbow, "but there has been a telephone message from Mrs. Tremont, saying that she and Mrs. Endicott have been detained, and will you be kind enough to explain this to Mr. Sanderson." Anna never knew what the message cost Mrs. Tremont.
A moment later, Sanderson's card was sent up; Anna rose to meet him with swiftly beating heart.
"What perfect luck," he said. "How do I happen to find you alone? Usually you have a regiment of people about you."
"Cousin Frances has just telephoned that she has been detained, and I suppose I am to entertain you till her return."
"I shall be sufficiently entertained if I may have the pleasure of looking at you."
"Till dinner time? You could never stand it." She laughed.
"It would be a pleasure till eternity."
"At any rate," said Anna, "I am not going to put you to the test. If you will be good enough to ring for tea, I will give you a cup."
The butler brought in the tea. Anna lighted the spirit lamp with pretty deftness, and proceeded to make tea.
"I could not have taken this, even from your hands last week, Anna—pardon me, Miss Moore."
"And why not? Had you been taking pledges not to drink tea?"
"It seems to me as if I've been living on rare beef and whole wheat bread ever since I can remember——"
"Oh, yes, I forgot about your being in training for the game, but you did so magnificently, you ought not to mind it. Why, you made Harvard win the game. We were all so proud of you."
"All! I don't care about 'all.' Were you proud of me?"
"Of course I was," she answered with the loveliest blush.
"Then it is amply repaid."
"Let me give you another cup of tea."
"No, thanks, I don't care about any more, but if you will let me talk to you about something— See here, Anna. Yes, I mean Anna. What nonsense for us to attempt to keep up the Miss Moore and Mr. Sanderson business. I used to scoff at love at first sight and say it was all the idle fancy of the poets. Then I met you and remained to pray. You've turned my world topsy-turvy. I can't think without you, and yet it would be folly to tell this to my Governor, and ask his consent to our marriage. He wants me to finish college, take the usual trip around the world and then go into the firm. Besides, he wants me to eventually marry a cousin of mine—a girl with a lot of money and with about as much heart as would fit on the end of a pin."
She had followed this speech with almost painful attention. She bit her lips till they were but a compressed line of coral. At last she found words to say:
"We must not talk of these things, Mr. Sanderson. I have to go back and care for my mother. She is an invalid and needs all my attention. Bedsides, we are poor; desperately poor. I am here in your world, only through the kindness of my cousin, Mrs. Tremont."
"It was your world till a year ago, Anna. I know all about your father's failure, and how nobly you have done your part since then, and it kills me to think of you, who ought to have everything, spending your life—your youth—in that stupid little Waltham, doing the work of a housemaid."
"I am very glad to do my part," she answered him bravely, but her eyes were full of unshed tears.
"Anna, dearest, listen to me." He crossed over to where she sat and took her hand. "Can't you have a little faith in me and do what I am going to ask you? There is the situation exactly. My father won't consent to our marriage, so there is no use trying to persuade him. And here you are—a little girl who needs some one to take care of you and help you take care of your mother, give her all the things that mean so much to an invalid. Now, all this can be done, darling, if you will only have faith in me. Marry me now secretly, before you go back to Waltham. No one need know. And then the governor can be talked around in time. My allowance will be ample to give you and your mother all you need. Can't you see, darling?"
The color faded from her cheeks. She looked at him with eyes as startled as a surprised fawn.
"O, Lennox, I would be afraid to do that."
"You would not be afraid, Anna, if you loved me."
It was so tempting to the weary young soul, who had already begun to sink under the accumulated burdens of the past year, not for herself, but for the sick mother, who complained unceasingly of the changed conditions of their lives. The care and attention would mean so much to her—and yet, what right had she to encourage this man to go against the wishes of his father, to take advantage of his love for her? But she was grateful to him, and there was a wealth of tenderness in the eyes that she turned toward him.
"No, Lennox, I appreciate your generosity, but I do not think it would be wise for either of us."
"Don't talk to me of generosity. Good God, Anna, can't you realize what this separation means to me? I have no heart to go on with my life away from you. If you are going to throw me over, I shall cut college and go away."
She loved him all the better for his impatience.
"Anna," he said—the two dark heads were close together, the madness of the impulse was too much for both. Their lips met in a first long kiss. The man was to have his way. The kiss proved a more eloquent argument than all his pleading.
"Say you will, Anna."
"Yes," she whispered.
And then they heard the street door open and close, and the voices of Mrs. Tremont and her daughter, as they made their way to the library. And the two young souls, who hovered on the brink of heaven, were obliged to listen to the latest gossip of fashionable Boston.
CONTAINING SOME REFLECTIONS AND THE ENTRANCE OF MEPHISTOPHELES.
"Not all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay, Nor florid prose, nor horrid lies of rhyme, Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime."—Byron.
Lennox Sanderson was stretched in his window-seat with a book, of which, however, he knew nothing—not even the title—his mind being occupied by other thoughts than reading at that particular time.
Did he dare do it? The audacity of the proceeding was sufficient to make the iron will of even Lennox Sanderson waver. And yet, to lose her! Such a contingency was not to be considered. His mind flew backward and forward like a shuttle, he turned the leaves of his book; he smoked, but no light came from within or without.
He glanced about the familiar objects in his sitting-room as one unconsciously does when the mind is on the rack of anxiety, as if to seek council from the mute things that make up so large a part of our daily lives.
It was an ideal sitting-room for a college student, the luxury of the appointments absolutely subservient to taste and simplicity. Heavy red curtains divided the sitting-room from the bedroom beyond, and imparted a degree of genial warmth to the atmosphere. Russian candlesticks of highly polished brass stood about on the mantel-piece and book shelves. Above the high oak wainscoting the walls were covered with dark red paper, against which background brown photographs of famous paintings showed to excellent advantage. They were reproductions of Botticelli, Rembrant, Franz Hals and Velasquez hung with artistic irregularity. Above the mantel-piece were curious old weapons, swords, matchetes, flintlocks and carbines. A helmet and breastplate filled the space between the two windows. Some dozen or more of pipe racks held the young collegian's famous collection of pipes that told the history of smoking from the introduction during the reign of Elizabeth, down to the present day.
In taking a mental inventory of his household goods, Sanderson's eyes fell on the photograph of a woman on the mantel-piece. He frowned. What right had she there, when his mind was full of another? He walked over to the picture and threw it into the fire. It was not the first picture to know a similar fate after occupying that place of honor.
The blackened edges of the picture were whirling up the chimney, when Sanderson's attention was arrested by a knock.
"Come in," he called, and a young man of about his own age entered. Without being in the least ill-looking, there was something repellent about the new comer. His eyes were shifty and too close together to be trustworthy. Otherwise no fault could be found with his appearance.
"Well, Langdon, how are you?" his host asked, but there was no warmth in his greeting.
"As well as a poor devil like me ever is," began Langdon obsequiously. He sighed, looked about the comfortable room and finished with: "Lucky dog."
Sanderson stood on no ceremony with his guest, who was a thoroughly unscrupulous young man. Once or twice Langdon had helped Sanderson out of scrapes that would have sent him home from college without his degree, had they come to the ears of the faculty. In return for this assistance, Sanderson had lent him large sums of money, which the owner entertained no hopes of recovering. Sanderson tried to balance matters by treating Langdon with scant ceremony when they were alone.
"Well, old man," began his host, "I do not flatter myself that I owe this call to any personal charm. You dropped in to ease a little financial embarrassment by the request of a loan—am I not right?"
"Right, as usual, Sandy, though I'd hardly call it a loan. You know I was put to a devil of a lot of trouble about that Newton affair, and it cost money to secure a shut mouth."
Sanderson frowned. "This is the fifth time I have had the pleasure of settling for that Newton affair, Langdon. It seems to have become a sort of continuous performance."
"I'll tell you what I'll do, Langdon. You owe me two thousand now, not counting that poker debt. We'll call it square if you'll attend to a little matter for me and I'll give you an extra thou. to make it worth your while."
"You know I am always delighted to help you, Sandy."
"When I make it worth your while."
"Put it that way if you wish."
"Do you think that for once in your life you could look less like the devil than you are naturally, and act the role of parson?"
"I might if I associate with you long enough. Saintly company might change my expression."
"You won't have time to try. You've got to have your clerical look in good working order by Friday. Incidently you are to marry me to the prettiest girl in Massachusetts and keep your mouth closed."
As if to end the discussion, Sanderson strode over to his desk and wrote out a check for a thousand dollars. He came back, waving it in the air to dry the ink.
"Perhaps you will condescend to explain," Langdon said, as he pocketed the check.
"Explanations are always bores, my dear boy. There is a little girl who feels obliged to insist on formalities, not too many. She'll think your acting as the parson the best joke in the world, but it would not do to chaff her about it."
"Oh, I see," and Langdon's laugh was not pleasant.
"Exactly. You will have everything ready—white choker, black coat and all the rest of it, and now, my dear boy, you've got to excuse me as I've got a lot of work on hand."
They shook hands and Langdon's footsteps were soon echoing down the corridor.
The foul insinuation that Sanderson had just made about Anna rankled in his mind. He went to the sideboard and poured himself out a good stiff drink. After that, his conscience did not trouble him.
The work on account of which he excused himself from Langdon's society, was apparently not of the most pressing order, for Sanderson almost immediately started for Boston, turning his steps towards Mrs. Standish Tremont's.
"Mrs. Tremont was not at home," the man announced at the door, "and Mrs. Endicott was confined to her room with a bad headache. Should he take his card to Miss Moore?"
Sanderson assented, feeling that fate was with him.
"My darling," he said, as Anna came in a moment later, and folded her close in a long embrace. She was paler than when he had last seen her and there were dark rings under her eyes that hinted at long night vigils.
"Lennox," she said, "do not think me weak, but I am terribly frightened. It does not seem as if we were doing the right thing by our friends."
"Goosey girl," he said, kissing her, "who was it that said no marriage ever suited all parties unconcerned?"
She laughed. "I am thinking more of you Lennox, than of myself. Suppose your father should not forgive you, cut you off without a cent, and you should have to drudge all your life with mother and me on your hands! Don't you think you would wish we had never met, or, at least, that I had thought of these things?"
"Suppose the sky should fall, or the sun should go out, or that I could stop loving you, or any of the impossible things that could not happen once in a million years. Aren't you ashamed of yourself to doubt me in this way? Answer me, miss," he said with mock ferocity.
For answer she laid her cheek against his.—"I am so happy, dear, that I am almost afraid."
He pressed her tenderly. "And now, darling, for the conspiracy—Cupid's conspiracy. You write to your mother to-night and say that you will be home on Wednesday because you will. Then tell Mrs. Tremont that you have had a wire from her saying you must go home Friday (I'll see that you do receive such a telegram), and leave Friday morning by the 9:40. I will keep out of the way, because the entire Tremont contingent will doubtless see you off. I will then meet you at one of the stations near Boston. I can't tell you which, till I hear from my friend, the Reverend John Langdon. He will have everything arranged."
She looked at him with dilating eyes, her cheeks blanched with fear.
"Anna," he said, almost roughly, "if you have no confidence in me, I will go out of your life forever."
"Yes, yes, I believe in you," she said. "It isn't that, but it is the first thing I have ever kept from mother, and I would feel so much more comfortable if she knew."
"Baby. An' so de ittle baby must tell its muvver ev'yting," he mimicked her, till she felt ashamed of her good impulse—an impulse which if she had yielded to, it would have saved her from all the bitterness she was to know.
"And so you will do as I ask you, darling?"
"Do you promise?"
"Yes," and they sealed the bargain with a kiss.
"Dearest, I must be going. It would never do for Mrs. Tremont to see us together. I should forget and call you pet names, and then you would be sent supperless to bed, like the little girls in the story books."
"I suppose you must go," she said, regretfully.
"It will not be for long," and with another kiss he left her.
THE MOCK MARRIAGE.
"Thus grief still treads upon the heel of pleasure, Married in haste, we may repent at leisure."—Congreve.
It seemed to Anna when Friday came, that human experience had nothing further to offer in the way of mental anguish and suspense. She had thrashed out the question of her secret marriage to Sanderson till her brain refused to work further, and there was in her mind only dread and a haunting sense of loss. If she had only herself to consider, she would not have hesitated a moment. But Sanderson, his father, and her own mother were all involved.
Was she doing right by her mother? At times, the advantage to the invalid accruing from this marriage seemed manifold. Again it seemed to Anna but a senseless piece of folly, prompted by her own selfish love for Sanderson. And so the days wore on until the eventful Friday came, and Anna said good-bye to Mrs. Standish Tremont with livid cheeks and tearful eyes.
"And do you feel so badly about going away, my dear?" said the great lady, looking at those visible signs of distress and feeling not a little flattered by her young cousin's show of affection. "We must have you down soon again," and she patted Anna's cheek and hurried her into the car, for Mrs. Tremont had a horror of scenes and signals warned her that Anna was on the verge of tears.
The locomotive whistled, the cars gave a jolt, and Anna Moore was launched on her tragic fate. She never knew how the time passed after leaving Mrs. Tremont, till Sanderson joined her at the next station. She felt as if her will power had deserted her, and she was dumbly obeying the behests of some unseen relentless force. She looked at the strange faces about her, hopelessly. Perhaps it was not too late—-perhaps some kind motherly woman would tell her if she were doing right. But they all looked so strange and forbidding, and while she turned the question over and over in her mind, the car stopped, the brakeman called the station and Lennox Sanderson got on.
She turned to him in her utter perplexity, forgetting he was the cause of it.
"My darling, how pale you are. Are you ill?"
"Not ill, but——" He would not let her finish, but reassured her by the tenderest of looks, the warmest of hand clasps, and the terrified girl began to lose the hunted feeling that she had.
They rode on for fully an hour. Sanderson was perfectly self-possessed. He might have been married every day in the year, for any difference it made in his demeanor. He was perfectly composed, laughed and chatted as wittily as ever. In time, Anna partook of his mood and laughed back. She felt as if a weight had been lifted off her mind. At last they stopped at a little station called Whiteford. An old-fashioned carriage was waiting for them; they entered it and the driver, whipped up his horses. A drive of a half mile brought them to an ideal white cottage surrounded by porches and hidden in a tangle of vines. The door was opened for them by the Rev. John Langdon in person. He seemed a preternaturally grave young man to Anna and his clerical attire was above reproach. Any misgivings one might have had regarding him on the score of his youth, were more than counterbalanced by his almost supernatural gravity.
He apologized for the absence of his wife, saying she had been called away suddenly, owing to the illness of her mother. His housekeeper and gardener would act as witnesses. Sanderson hastily took Anna to one side and said: "I forgot to tell you, darling, that I am going to be married by my two first names only, George Lennox. It is just the same, but if the Sanderson got into any of those country marriage license papers, I should be afraid the governor would hear of it—penalty of having a great name, you know," he concluded gayly. "Thought I had better mention it, as it would not do to have you surprised over your husband's name."
Again the feeling of dread completely over-powered her. She looked at him with her great sorrowful eyes, as a trapped animal will sometimes look at its captor, but she could not speak. Some terrible blight seemed to have overgrown her brain, depriving her of speech and willpower.
The witnesses entered. Anna was too agitated to notice that the Rev. John Langdon's housekeeper was a very singular looking young woman for her position. Her hair was conspicuously dark at the roots and conspicuously light on the ends. Her face was hard and when she smiled her mouth, assumed a wolfish expression. She was loudly dressed and wore a profusion of jewelry—altogether a most remarkable looking woman for the place she occupied.
The gardener had the appearance of having been suddenly wakened before nature had had her full quota of sleep. He was blear-eyed and his breath was more redolent of liquor than one might have expected in the gardener of a parsonage.
The room in which the ceremony was to take place was the ordinary cottage parlor, with crochet work on the chairs, and a profusion of vases and bric-a-brac on the tables. The Rev. John Langdon requested Anna and Sanderson to stand by a little marble table from which the housekeeper brushed a profusion of knick-knacks. There was no Bible. Anna was the first to notice the omission. This seemed to deprive the young clergyman of his dignity. He looked confused, blushed, and turning to the housekeeper told her to fetch the Bible. This seemed to appeal to the housekeeper's sense of humor. She burst out laughing and said something about looking for a needle in a haystack. Sanderson turned on her furiously, and she left the room, looking sour, and muttering indignantly. She returned, after what seemed an interminable space of time, and the ceremony proceeded.
Anna did not recognize her own voice as she answered the responses. Sanderson's was clear and ringing; his tones never faltered. When the time came to put the ring on her finger, Anna's hand trembled so violently that the ring fell to the floor and rolled away. Sanderson's face turned pale. It seemed to him like a providential dispensation. For some minutes, the assembled company joined in the hunt for the ring. It was found at length by the yellow-haired housekeeper, who returned it with her most wolfish grin.
"Trust Bertha Harris to find things!" said the clergyman.
The ceremony proceeded without further incident. The final words were pronounced and Anna sank into a chair, relieved that it was over, whether it was for better or for worse.
Sanderson hurried her into the carriage before the clergyman and the witnesses could offer their congratulations. He pulled her away from the yellow-haired housekeeper, who would have smothered her in an embrace, and they departed without the customary handshake from the officiating clergyman.
"You were not very cordial, dear," she said, as they rolled along through the early winter landscape.
"Confound them all. I hated to see them near you"—and then, in answer to her questioning gaze—"because I love you so much, darling. I hate to see anyone touch you."
The trees were bare; the fields stretched away brown and flat, like the folds of a shroud, and the sun was veiled by lowering clouds of gray. It was not a cheerful day for a wedding.
"Lennox, did you remember that this is Friday? And I have on a black dress."
"And now that Mrs. Lennox has settled the question of to wed or not to wed, by wedding—behold, she is worrying herself about her frock and the color of it, and the day of the week and everything else. Was there ever such a dear little goose?" He pinched her cheek, and she—she smiled up at him, her fears allayed.
"And why don't you ask where we are going, least curious of women?"
"I forgot; indeed I did."
"We are going to the White Rose Inn. Ideal name for a place in which to spend one's honeymoon, isn't it?"
"Any place would be ideal with you Lennie," and she slipped her little hand into his ruggeder palm.
At last the White Rose Inn was sighted; it was one of those modern hostelries, built on an old English model. The windows were muslined, the rooms were wainscoted in oak, the furniture was heavy and cumbersome. Anna was delighted with everything she saw. Sanderson had had their sitting-room filled with crimson roses, they were everywhere; banked on the mantelpiece, on the tables and window-sills. Their perfume was to Anna like the loving embrace of an old friend. Jacqueminots had been so closely associated with her acquaintance with Sanderson, in after years she could never endure their perfume and their scarlet petals unnerved her, as the sight of blood does some women.
A trim English maid came to assist "Mrs. Lennox," to unpack her things. Lunch was waiting in the sitting-room. Sanderson gave minute orders about the icing of his own particular brand of champagne, which he had had sent from Boston.
Anna had recovered her good spirits. It seemed "such a jolly lark," as her husband said.
"Sweetheart, your happiness," he said, and raised his glass to hers. Her eyes sparkled like the champagne. The honeymoon at the White Rose Tavern had begun very merrily.
A LITTLE GLIMPSE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
"The moon—the moon, so silver and cold, Her fickle temper has oft been told, Now shady—now bright and sunny— But of all the lunar things that change, The one that shows most fickle and strange, And takes the most eccentric range Is the moon—so called—of honey."—Hood.
"My dear, will you kindly pour me a second cup of coffee? Not because I really want it, you know, but entirely for the aesthetic pleasure of seeing your pretty little hands pattering about the cups."
Lennox Sanderson, in a crimson velvet smoking jacket, was regarding Anna with the most undisguised admiration from the other side of the round table, that held their breakfast,—their first honeymoon breakfast, as Anna supposed it to be.
"Anything to please my husband," she answered with a flitting blush.
"Your husband? Ah, say it again; it sounds awfully good from you."
"So you don't really care for any more coffee, but just want to see my hands among the cups. How appreciative you are!" And there was a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she began with great elaboration the pantomimic representation of pouring a cup of coffee, adding sugar and cream; and concluded by handing the empty cup to Sanderson. "It would be such a pity to waste the coffee, Lennie, when you only wanted to see my hands."
"If I am not going to have the coffee, I insist on both the hands," he said, taking them and kissing them repeatedly.
"I suppose I'll have to give it to you on those terms," and she proceeded to fill the cup in earnest this time.
"Let me see. How is it that you like it? One lump of sugar and quite a bit of cream? And tea perfectly clear with nothing at all and toast very crisp and dry. Dear me, how do women ever remember all their husband's likes and dislikes? It's worse than learning a new multiplication table over again," and the most adorable pucker contracted her pretty brows.
"And yet, see how beautifully widows manage it, even taking the thirty-third degree and here you are, complaining before you are initiated, and kindly remember, Mrs. Lennox Sanderson, if I take but one lump of sugar in my coffee, there are other ways of sweetening it." Presumably he got it sweetened to his satisfaction, for the proprietor of the "White Rose," who attended personally to the wants of "Mr. and Mrs. Lennox" had to cough three times before he found it discreet to enter and inquire if everything was satisfactory.
He bowed three times like a disjointed foot rule and then retired to charge up the wear and tear to his backbone under the head of "special attendance."
"H-m-m!" sighed Sanderson, as the door closed on the bowing form of the proprietor, "that fellow's presence reminds me that we are not absolutely alone in the world, and you had almost convinced me that we were, darling, and that by special Providence, this grim old earth had been turned into a second Garden of Eden for our benefit. Aren't you going to kiss me and make me forget in earnest, this time?"
"I'm sure, Lennie, I infinitely prefer the 'White Rose Inn' with you, to the Garden of Paradise with Adam." She not only granted the request, but added an extra one for interest.
"You'll make me horribly vain, Anna, if you persist in preferring me to Adam; but then I dare say, Eve would have preferred him and Paradise to me and the 'White Rose.'"
"But, then, Eve's taste lacked discrimination. She had to take Adam or become the first girl bachelor. With me there might have been alternatives."
"There might have been others, to speak vulgarly?"
"By Jove, Anna, I don't see how you ever did come to care for me!" The laughter died out of his eyes, his face grew prefer naturally grave, he strode over to the window and looked out on the desolate landscape. For the first time he realized the gravity of his offense. His crime against this girl, who had been guilty of nothing but loving him too deeply stood out, stripped of its trappings of sentiment, in all its foul selfishness. He would right the wrong, confess to her; but no, he dare not, she was not the kind of woman to condone such an offense.
"Needles and pins, needles and pins, when a man's married his trouble begins," quoted Anna gayly, slipping up behind him and, putting her arms about his neck; "one would think the old nursery ballad was true, to look at you, Lennox Sanderson. I never saw such a married-man expression before in my life. You wanted to know why I fell in love with you. I could not help it, because you are YOU."
She nestled her head in his shoulder and he forgot his scruples in the sorcery of her presence.
"Darling," he said; taking her in his arms, with perhaps the most genuine affection he ever felt for her, "I wish we could spend our lives here in this quiet little place, and that there were no troublesome relations or outside world demanding us."
"So do I, dear," she answered, "but it could not last; we are too perfectly happy."
Neither spoke for some minutes. At that time he loved her as deeply as it was possible for him to love anyone. Again the impulse came to tell her, beg for forgiveness and make reparation. He was holding her in his arms, considering. A moment more, and he would have given way to the only unselfish impulse in his life. But again the knock, followed by the discreet cough of the proprietor. And when he entered to tell them that the horses were ready for their drive, "Mrs. Lennox" hastened to put on her jacket and "Mr. Lennox" thanked his stars that he had not spoken.
THE WAYS OF DESOLATION.
"Oh! colder than the wind that freezes Founts, that but now in sunshine play'd, Is that congealing pang which seizes The trusting bosom when betray'd."—Moore.
Four months had elapsed since the honeymoon at the White Rose Tavern, and Anna was living at Waltham with her mother who grew more fretful and complaining every day. The marriage was still the secret of Anna and Sanderson. The honeymoon at the White Rose had been prolonged to a week, but no suspicion had entered the minds of Mrs. Moore or Mrs. Standish Tremont, thanks to Sanderson's skill in sending fictitious telegrams, aided by so skilled an accomplice as the "Rev." John Langdon.
Week after week, Anna had yielded to Sanderson's entreaties and kept her marriage a secret from her mother. At first he had sent her remittances of money with frequent regularity, but, lately, they had begun to fall off, his letters were less frequent, shorter and more reserved in tone, and the burden of it all was crushing the youth out of the girl and breaking her spirit. She had grown to look like some great sorrowful-eyed Madonna, and her beauty had in it more of the spiritual quality of an angel than of a woman. As the spring came on, and the days grew longer she looked like one on whom the hand of death had been laid.
Her friends noticed this, but not her mother, who was so engrossed with her own privations, that she had no time or inclination for anything else.
"Anna, Anna, to think of our coming to this!" she would wail a dozen times a day—or, "Anna, I can't stand it another minute," and she would burst into paroxysms of grief, from which nothing could arouse her, and utterly exhausted by her own emotions, which were chiefly regret and self-pity, she would sink off to sleep. Anna had no difficulty in accounting to her mother for the extra comforts with which Lennox Sanderson's money supplied them. Mrs. Standish Tremont sometimes sent checks and Mrs. Moore never bothered about the source, so long as the luxuries were forthcoming.
"Is there no more Kumyss, Anna?" she asked one day.
"Then why did you neglect to order it?"
The girl's face grew red. "There was no money to pay for it, mother. I am so sorry."
"And does Frances Tremont neglect us in this way? When we were both girls, it was quite the other way. My father practically adopted Frances Tremont. She was married from our house. But you see, Anna, she made a better marriage than I. Oh, why was your father so reckless? I warned him not to speculate in the rash way he was accustomed to doing, but he would never take my advice. If he had, we would not be as we are now." And again the poor lady was overcome with her own sorrows.
It was not Mrs. Tremont's check that had bought the last Kumyss. In fact, Mrs. Tremont, after the manner of rich relations, troubled her head but little about her poor ones. Sanderson had sent no money for nearly a month, and Anna would have died sooner than have asked for it. He had been to Waltham twice to see Anna, and once she had gone to meet him at the White Rose Tavern. Mrs. Moore, wrapped in gloom at the loss of her own luxury, had no interest in the young man who came down from Boston to call on her daughter.
"You met him at Cousin Frances's, did you say? I don't see how you can ask him here to this abominable little house. A girl should have good surroundings, Anna. Nothing detracts from a girl's beauty so much as cheap surroundings. Oh, my dear, if you had only been settled in life before all this happened, I would not complain." And, as usual, there were more tears.
But the wailings of her mother, over departed luxuries, and the poverty of her surroundings were the lightest of Anna's griefs. At their last meeting—she had gone to him in response to his request—Sanderson's manner had struck dumb terror into the heart of the girl who had sacrificed so much at his bidding. She had been very pale. The strain of facing the terrible position in which she found herself, coupled with her own failing health, had robbed her of the beautiful color he had always so frankly admired. Her eyes were big and hollow looking, and the deep black circles about them only added to her unearthly appearance. There were drawn lines of pain about the mouth, that robbed the Cupid's bow of half its beauty.
"My God, Anna!" he had said to her impatiently. "A man might as well try to love a corpse as a woman who looks like that." He led her over to a mirror, that she might see her wasted charms. There was no need for her to look. She knew well enough, what was reflected there.
"You have no right to let yourself get like this. The only thing a woman has is her looks, and it is a crime if she throws them away worrying and fretting."
"But Lennox," she answered, desperately, "I have told you how matters stand with me, and mother knows nothing—suspects nothing." And the girl broke down and wept as if her heart would break.
"Anna, for Heaven's sake, do stop crying. I hate a scene worse than anything in the world. When a woman cries, it means but one thing, and that is that the man must give in—and in this particular instance I can't give in. It would ruin me with the governor to acknowledge our marriage."
The girl's tears froze at his brutal words. She looked about dazed and hopeless.
Sanderson was standing by the window, drumming a tattoo on the pane. He wheeled about, and said slowly, as if he were feeling his way:
"Anna, suppose I give you a sum of money and you go away till all this business is over. You can tell your mother or not; just as you see fit. As far as I am concerned, it would be impossible for me to acknowledge our marriage as I have said before. If the governor found it out, he would cut me off without a cent."
"But, Lennox, I cannot leave my mother. Her health grows worse daily, and it would kill her."
"Then take her with you. She's got to know, sooner or later, I suppose. Now, don't be a stupid little girl, and everything will turn out well for us." He patted her cheek, but it was done perfunctorily, and Anna knew there was no use in making a further appeal to him.
"Well, my dear," he said, "I have got to take that 4.30 train back to Cambridge. Here is something for you, and let me know just as soon as you make up your mind, when you intend to go and where. There is no use in your staying in Waltham till those old cats begin to talk."
He put a roll of bills in her hand, kissed her and was gone, and Anna turned her tottering steps homeward, sick at heart. She must tell her mother, and the shock of it might kill her. She pressed her hands over her burning eyes to blot out the hideous picture. Could cruel fate offer bitterer dregs to young lips?
She stopped at the postoffice for mail. There was nothing but the daily paper. She took it mechanically and turned into the little side street on which they lived.
The old family servant, who still lived with them, met her at the door, and told her that her mother had been sleeping quietly for more than an hour.
"Good gracious, Miss Anna, but you do look ill. Just step into the parlor and sit down for a minute, and I'll make you a cup of tea."
Anna suffered herself to be led into the little room, smiling gratefully at the old servant as she assisted her to remove her hat and jacket. She took up the paper mechanically and glanced through its contents. Her eyes fell on the following item, which she followed with hypnotic interest: "Harvard Student in Disgrace!" was the headline.
"John Langdon, a Harvard student, was arrested on the complaint of Bertha Harris, a young woman, well known in Boston's gas-light circles, yesterday evening. They had been dining together at a well-known chop house, when the woman, who appeared to be slightly under the influence of liquor, suddenly arose and declared that Langdon was trying to rob her.
"Both were arrested on the charge of creating a disturbance. At the State Street Police Station the woman said that Langdon had performed a mock marriage for a fellow student some four months ago. She had acted as a witness, for which service she was to receive $50. The money had never been paid. She stated further that the young man, whom Langdon is alleged to have married, is the son of a wealthy Boston banker, and the young woman who was thus deceived is a young relative of one of Boston's social leaders.
"Later Bertha Harris withdrew her charges, saying she was intoxicated when she made them. The affair has created a profound sensation."
"Mock marriage!" The words whirled before the girl's eyes in letters of fire. Bertha Harris! Yes, that was the name. It had struck her at the time when Sanderson dropped the ring. Langdon had said "Bertha Harris has found it."
The light of her reason seemed to be going out. From the blackness that engulfed her, the words "mock marriage" rang in her ear like the cry of the drowning.
"God, oh God!" she called and the pent up agony of her wrecked life was in the cry.
They found her senseless a moment later, staring up at the ceiling with glassy eyes, the crumpled paper crushed in her hand.
"She is dead," wailed her mother. The old servant wasted no time in words. She lifted up the fragile form and laid it tenderly on the bed. Then she raised the window and called to the first passerby to run for the nearest doctor.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER.
A mother's love—how sweet the name! What is a mother's love? —A noble, pure and tender flame, Enkindled from above, To bless a heart of earthly mould; The warmest love that can grow cold; That is a mother's love.—James Montgomery.
It took all the medical skill of which the doctor was capable, and the best part of twenty-four hours of hard work to rouse Anna from the death-like lethargy into which she had fallen. Toward morning she opened her eyes and turning to her mother, said appealingly:
"Mother, you believe I am innocent, don't you?"
"Certainly, darling," Mrs. Moore replied, without knowing in the least to what her daughter referred. The doctor, who was present at the time, turned away. He knew more than the mother. It was one of those tragedies of everyday life that meant for the woman the fleeing away from old associations, like a guilty thing, long months of hiding, the facing of death; and, if death was not to be, the beginning of life over again branded with shame. And all this bitter injustice because she had loved much and had faith in the man she loved. The doctor had faced tragedies before in his professional life, but never had he felt his duty so heavily laid upon him as when he begged Mrs. Moore for a few minutes' private conversation in the gray dawn of that early morning.
He felt that the life of his patient depended on his preparing her mother for the worst. The girl, he knew, would probably confess all during her convalescence, and the mother must be prepared, so that the first burst of anguish would have expended itself before the girl should have a chance to pour out the story of her misfortune.
"Tell me, doctor, is she going to die?" the mother asked, as she closed the door of the little sitting-room and they were alone. The poor lady had not thought of her own misfortunes since Anna's illness. The selfishness of the woman of the world was completely obliterated by the anxiety of the mother.
"No, she will not die, Mrs. Moore; that is, if you are able to control your feelings sufficiently, after I have made a most distressing disclosure, to give her the love and sympathy that only you can."
She looked at him with troubled eyes. "Why, doctor, what do you mean? My daughter has always had my love and sympathy, and if of late I have appeared somewhat engrossed by my own troubles, I assure you my daughter is not likely to suffer from it during her illness."
"Her life depends on how you receive what I am going to tell you. Should you upbraid her with her misfortune, or fail to stand by her as only a mother can, I shall not answer for the consequences." Then he told her Anna's secret.
The stricken woman did not cry out in her anguish, nor swoon away. She raised a feebly protesting hand, as if to ward off a cruel blow; then burying her face in her arms, she cowed before him. Not a sob shook the frail, wasted figure. It was as if this most terrible misfortune had dried up the well-springs of grief and robbed her of the blessed gift of tears. The woman who in one brief year had lost everything that life held dear to her—husband, home, wealth, position—everything but this one child, could not believe the terrible sentence that had been pronounced against her. Her Anna—her little girl! Why, she was only a child! Oh, no, it could not be true. She never, never would believe it.
Her brain whirled and seemed to stop. It refused to grasp so hideous a proposition. The doctor was momentarily at a loss to know how to deal with this terrible dry-eyed grief. The set look in her eyes, the terrible calm of her demeanor were so much more alarming than the wildest outpourings of grief would, have been.
"And this seizure, Mrs. Moore. Tell me exactly how it was brought about," thinking to turn the current of her thoughts even for a moment.
She told him how Anna had gone out in the early afternoon, without saying where she was going, and how she had returned to the house about five o'clock, looking so pale and ill, that Hannah, an old family servant who still lived with them, noticed it and begged her to sit down while she went to fetch her a cup of tea. The maid left her sitting by the fire-place reading a paper, and the next thing was the terrible cry that brought them both. They found her lying on the floor unconscious with the crumpled newspaper in her hand.
"See, here is the paper now, doctor," and he stooped to pick up the crumpled sheet from which the girl had read her death warrant. Together they went over it in the hope that it might furnish some clue. Mrs. Moore's eyes were the first to fall on the fatal paragraph. She read it through, then showed it to the doctor.
"That is undoubtedly the cause of the seizure," said the doctor.
"Oh, my poor, poor darling," moaned the mother, and the first tears fell.
In the first bitterness of regret, Mrs. Moore imagined that in selfishly abandoning herself to her own grief, she must have neglected her daughter, and her remorse knew no bounds. Again and again she bitterly denounced herself for giving way to sorrow that now seemed light and trivial, compared to the black hopelessness of the present.
Anna's mind wandered in her delirium, and she would talk of her marriage and beg Sanderson to let her tell her mother all. Then she would fancy that she was again with Mrs. Tremont and she would go through the pros and cons of the whole affair. Should she marry him secretly, as he wished? Yes, it would be better for poor mama, who needed so many comforts, but was it right? And then the passionate appeal to Sanderson. Couldn't he realize her position?——
"Yes, darling, it is all right. Mother understands," the heartbroken woman would repeat over and over again, but the sick girl could not hear.
And so the days wore on, till at last Anna's wandering mind turned back to earth, and again took up the burden of living. There was nothing for her to tell her mother. In her delirium she had told all, and the mother was prepared to bravely face the worst for her daughter's sake.
The terrible blow brought mother and daughter closer together than they had been for years. In their prosperity, the young girl had been busy with her governess and instructors, while her mother had made a fine art of her invalidism and spent the greater part of her time at health resorts, baths and spas.
By mutual consent, they decided that it was better not to attempt to seek redress from Sanderson. Anna's letters, written during her convalescence, had remained unanswered, and any effort to force him, either by persuasion or process of law, to right the terrible wrong he had done, was equally repulsive to both mother and daughter.
Mrs. Standish Tremont was also equally out of the question, as a court of final appeal. She had been so piqued with Anna for interfering with her most cherished plans regarding Sanderson and Grace Tremont, that Anna knew well enough that there would only be further humiliation in seeking mercy from that quarter.
So mother and daughter prepared to face the inevitable alone. To this end, Mrs. Moore sold the last of her jewelry. She had kept it, thinking that Anna would perhaps marry some day and appreciate the heirlooms; but such a contingent was no longer to be considered, and the jewelry, and the last of the family silver, were sent to be sold, together with every bit of furniture with which they could dispense, and mother and daughter left the little cottage in Waltham, and went to the town of Belden, New Hampshire,—a place so inconceivably remote, that there was little chance of any of their former friends being able to trace them, even if they should desire to do so.
As the summer days grew shorter, and the hour of Anna's ordeal grew near, Mrs. Moore had but one prayer in her heart, and that was that her life might be spared till her child's troubles were over. Since Anna's illness in the early spring, she had utterly disregarded herself. No complaint was heard to pass her lips. Her time was spent in one unselfish effort to make her daughter's life less painful. But the strain of it was telling, and she knew that life with her was but the question of weeks, perhaps days. As her physical grasp grew weaker, her mental hold increased proportionately, and she determined to live till she had either closed her child's eyes in death, or left her with something for which to struggle, as she herself was now struggling.
But the poor mother's last wish was not to be granted. In the beginning of September, just when the earth was full of golden promise of autumn, she felt herself going. She felt the icy hand of death at her heart and the grim destroyer whispered in her ear: "Make ready." Oh, the anguish of going just then, when she was needed so sorely by her deceived and deserted child.
"Anna, darling," she called feebly, "I cannot be with you; I am going—I have prayed to stay, but it was not to be. Your child will comfort you, darling. There is nothing like a child's love, Anna, to make a woman forget old sorrows—kiss me, dear——" She was gone.
And so Anna was to go down into the valley of the shadow of death alone, and among strangers.
IN DAYS OF WAITING.
"Bent o'er her babe, her eyes dissolved in dew, The big drops mingled with the milk he drew Gave the sad presage of his future years— The child of misery, baptized in tears."—John Langhorne.
The days of Anna's waiting lagged. She lost all count of time and season. Each day was painfully like its predecessor, a period of time to be gone through with, as best she could. She realized after her mother's death what the gentle companionship had been to her, what a prop the frail mother had become in her hour of need. For a great change had come over the querulous invalid with the beginning of her daughter's troubles, the grievances of the woman of the world were forgotten in the anxiety of the mother, and never by look or word did she chide her daughter, or make her affliction anything but easier to bear by her gentle presence.
Anna, sunk in the stupor of her own grief, did not realize the comfort of her mother's presence until it was too late. She shrank from the strangers with whom they made their little home—a middle aged shopkeeper and his wife, who had been glad enough to rent them two unused rooms in their house at a low figure. They were not lacking in sympathy for young "Mrs. Lennox," but their disposition to ask questions made Anna shun them as she would have an infection. After her mother's death, they tried harder than ever to be kind to her, but the listless girl, who spent her days gazing at nothing, was hardly aware of their comings and goings.
"If you would only try to eat a bit, my dear," said the corpulent Mrs. Smith, bustling into Anna's room. "And land sakes, don't take on so. There you set in that chair all day long. Just rouse yourself, my dear; there ain't no trouble, however bad, but could be wuss."
To this dismal philosophy, Anna would return a wan smile, while she felt her heart almost break within her.
"And, Mrs. Lennox, don't mind what I say to you. I am old enough to be your grandmother, but if you have quarreled with any one, don't be too spunky now about making up. Spunk is all right in its place, but its place ain't at the bedside of a young woman who's got to face the trial of her life. If you have quarreled with any one—your—your husband, say, now is the time to make it up, since your ma is gone."
The old woman looked at her with a strange mixture of motherliness and curiosity. As she said to her husband a dozen times a day, "her heart just ached for that pore young thing upstairs," but this tender solicitude did not prevent her ears from aching, at the same time, to hear Anna's story.
"Thank you very much for your kind interest, Mrs. Smith; but really, you must let me judge of my own affairs." There was a dignity about the girl that brooked no further interference.
"That's right, my dear, and I wouldn't have thought of suggesting it, but you do seem that young—well, I must be going down to put the potatoes on for dinner. If you want anything, just ring your bell."
There was not the least resentment cherished by the corpulent Mrs. Smith. The girl's answer confirmed her opinion from the first. "She would not send for her husband, because there wasn't no husband to send for." She mentioned her convictions to her husband and added she meant to write to sister Eliza that very night.
"Sister Eliza has an uncommon light hand with babies and that pore young thing'll be hard pushed to pay the doctor, let alone a nurse."
These essentially feminine details regarding the talents of Sister Eliza, did not especially interest Smith, who continued his favorite occupation—or rather, joint occupations, of whittling and expectorating. Nevertheless, the letter to Sister Eliza was written, and not a minute sooner than was necessary; for, the little soul that was to bring with it forgetfulness for all the agony through which its mother had lived during that awful year, came very soon after the arrival of Sister Eliza.
Anna had felt in those days of waiting that she could never again be happy; that for her "finis" had been written by the fates. But, as she lay with the dark-haired baby on her breast, she found herself planning for the little girl's future; even happy in the building of those heavenly air-castles that young mothers never weary of building. She felt the necessity of growing strong so that she could work early and late, for baby must have everything, even if mother went without. Sometimes a fleeting likeness to Sanderson would flit across the child's face, and a spasm of pain would clutch at Anna's heart, but she would forget it next moment in one of baby's most heavenly smiles.
She could think of him now without a shudder; even a lingering remnant of tenderness would flare up in her heart when she remembered he was the baby's father. Perhaps he would see the child sometime, and her sweet baby ways would plead to him more eloquently than could all her words to right the wrong he had done, and so the days slipped by and the little mother was happy, after the long drawn out days of waiting and misery. She would sing the baby to sleep in her low contralto voice, and feel that it mattered not whether the world smiled or frowned on her, so long as baby approved.
But this blessed state of affairs was not long to continue. Anna, as she grew stronger, felt the necessity of seeking employment, but to this the baby proved a formidable obstacle. No one would give a young woman, hampered with a child, work. She would come back to the baby at night worn out in mind and body, after a day of fruitless searching. These long trips of the little mother, with the consequent long absence and exhaustion on her return, did not improve the little one's health, and almost before Anna realized it was ailing, the baby sickened and died. It was her cruelest blow. For the child's sake she had taken up her interest in life, made plans; and was ready to work her fingers to the bone, but it was not to be and with the first falling of the clods on the little coffin, Anna felt the last ray of hope extinguished from her heart.
ON THE THRESHOLD OF SHELTER.
Alas! To-day I would give everything To see a friend's face, or hear voice That had the slightest tone of comfort in it.—Longfellow.
About two miles from the town of Belden, N. H., stands an irregular farm house that looks more like two dwellings forced to pass as one. One part of it is all gables, and tile, and chimney corners, and antiquity, and the other is square, slated, and of the newest cut, outside and in.
The farm is the property of Squire Amasa Bartlett, a good type of the big man of the small place. He was a contented and would have been a happy man—or at least thought he would have been—if the dearest wish of his life could have been realized. It was that his son, Dave, and his wife's niece, Kate, should marry. Kate was an orphan and the Squire's ward. She owned the adjoining land, that was farmed with the Squire's as one. So that Cupid would not have come to them empty handed; but the young people appeared to have little interest in each other apart from that cousinly affection which young people who are brought together would in all probability feel for each other.
Dave was a handsome, dark-eyed young man, whose silence passed with some for sulkiness; but he was not sulky—only deep and thoughtful, and perhaps a little more devoid of levity than becomes a young man of twenty-five. He had great force of character—you might have seen that from his grave brow, and felt it in his simple speech and manner, that was absolutely free from affectation.
Dave was his mother's idol, but his utter lack of worldliness, his inability to drive a shrewd bargain sometimes annoyed his father, who was a just, but an undeniably hard man, who demanded a hundred cents for his dollar every day in the year.
Kate, whom the family circle hoped would one day be David's wife, was all blonde hair, blue eyes and high spirits, so that the little blind god, aided by the Squire's strategy, propinquity and the universal law of the attraction of opposites, should have had no difficulty in making these young people fall in love—but Destiny, apparently, decided to make them exceptions to all rules.
Kate was fond of going to Boston to visit a schoolmate, and the Squire, who looked with small favor on these visits, was disposed to attribute them to Dave's lack of ardor.
"Confound it, Looizy," he would say to his wife, "if Dave made it more lively for Kate she would not be fer flying off to Boston every time she got a chance."
And Mrs. Bartlett had no answer. Having a woman's doubtful gift of intuition, she was afraid that the wedding would never take place, and also having a woman's tact she never annoyed her husband by saying so.
Kate, who had been in Boston for two months, was coming home about the middle of July, and a little flutter of preparation went all over the farm.
Dave had said at breakfast that he regretted not being able to go to Wakefield to meet Kate, but that he would be busy in the north field all day. Hi Holler, the Bartlett chore boy, had been commissioned to go in his stead, and Hi's toilet, in consequence, had occupied most of the morning.
Mrs. Bartlett was churning in the shadow of the wide porch, the Squire was mending a horse collar with wax thread, and fussing about the heat and the slowness of Hi Holler, who was always punctually fifteen minutes late for everything.
"Confound it, Looizy, what's keeping that boy; the train'll get in before he's started. Here you, Hi, what's keeping you?"
The delinquent stood in the doorway, his broad face rippling with smiles; he had spent time on his toilet, but he felt that the result justified it.
His high collar had already begun to succumb to the day, and the labor involved in greasing his boots, which were much in evidence, owing to the brevity of the white duck trousers that needed but one or two more washings, with the accompanying process of shrinking, to convert them into knickerbockers. Bear's grease had turned his ordinary curling brown hair into a damp, shining mass that dripped in tiny rills, from time to time, down on his coat collar, but Hi was happy. Beau Brummel, at the height of his sartorial fame, never achieved a more self-satisfying toilet.
The Squire adjusted his spectacles. "What are you dressing up like that on a week day for, Hi? Off with you now; and if you ain't in time for them cars you'll catch 'Hail Columbia' when you get back."
"Looizy," said the Squire, as soon as Hi was out of hearing, "why didn't Dave go after Katie? Yes, I know about the hay. Hay is hay, but it ought not to come first in a man's affections."
"You'd better let 'em alone, Amasy; if they're going to marry they will without any help from us; love affairs don't seem to prosper much, when old folks interfere."
"Looizy, it's my opinion that Dave's too shy to make up to women folks. I don't think he'll even get up the courage to ask Kate to marry him."
"Well, I never saw the man yet who was too bashful to propose to the right woman." And a great deal of decision went into the churning that accompanied her words.
"Mebbe so, mebbe so," said the Squire. He felt that the vagaries of the affections was too deep a subject for him. "Anyhow, Looizy, I don't want no old maids and bachelors potterin' round this farm getting cranky notions in their heads. Look at the professor. Why, a good woman would have taken the nonsense out of him years ago."
Mrs. Bartlett did not have to go far to look at the professor. He was flying about her front garden at that very moment in an apparently distracted state, crouching, springing, hiding back of bushes and reappearing with the startling swiftness of magic. The Bartletts were quite used to these antics on the part of their well-paying summer boarder. He was chasing butterflies—a manifestly insane proceeding, of course, but if a man could afford to pay ten dollars a week for summer board in the State of New Hampshire, he could afford to chase butterflies.
Professor Sterling was an old young man who had given up his life to entomology; his collection of butterflies was more vital to him than any living issue; the Bartletts regarded him as a mild order of lunatic, whose madness might have taken a more dangerous form than making up long names for every-day common bugs.
"Look at him, just look at him, Looizy, sweating himself a day like this, over a common dusty miller. It beats all, and with his money."
"Well, it's a harmless amusement," said the kindly Louisa, "there's a heap more harmful things that a man might chase than butterflies."
The stillness of the midsummer day was broken by the sound of far-off singing. It came in full-toned volume across the fields, the high soaring of women's voices blended with the deeper harmony of men.
"What's that?" said the Squire testily, looking in the direction of the strawberry beds, from whence the singing came.
"It's only the berry-pickers, father," said David, coming through the field gate and going over to the well for a drink.
"I wish they'd work more and sing less," said the Squire. "All this singing business is too picturesque for me."
"They've about finished, father. I came for the money to pay them off."
It was characteristic of Dave to uphold the rights of the berry-pickers. They were all friends of his, young men and women who sang in the village choir and who went out among their neighbors' berry patches in summer, and earned a little extra money in picking the fruit. The village thought only the more of them for their thrift, and their singing at the close of their work was generally regarded in the light of a favor. Zeke, Sam, Cynthia and Amelia who formed the quartet, had all fine voices and no social function for miles around Wakefield was complete without their music.
The Squire said no more about the berry-pickers. Dave handed him a paper on which the time of each berry-picker and the amount of his or her wage was marked opposite. The Squire took it and adjusted his glasses with a certain grimness—he was honest to the core, but few things came harder to him than parting with money.
Dave and his mother at the churn exchanged a friendly wink. The extracting of coin from the head of the house was no easy process. Mother and son both enjoyed its accomplishment through an outside agency. It was too hard a process in the home circle to be at all agreeable.
While the Squire was wrestling with his arithmetic, Dave noticed a strange girl pass by the outer gate, pause, go on and then return. He looked at her with deep interest. She was so pale and tired-looking it seemed as if she had not strength enough left to walk to the house. Her long lashes rested wearily on the pale cheeks. She lifted them with an effort, and Dave found himself staring eagerly in a pair of great, sorrowful brown eyes.
The girl came on unsteadily up the walk to where the Squire sat, thumbing his account to the berry-pickers. "Well, girl, who are you?" he said, not as unkindly as the words might imply.
The sound of her own voice, as she tried to answer his question, was like the far-off droning of a river. It did not seem to belong to her. "My name is Moore—Anna Moore—and I thought—I hoped perhaps you might be good enough to give me work." The strange faces spun about her eyes. She tottered and would have fallen if Dave had not caught her.
Dave, the silent, the slow of action, the cool-headed, seemed suddenly bereft of his chilling serenity. "Here, mother, a chair; father, some water, quick." He carried the swooning girl to the shadow of the porch and fanned her tenderly with his broad-brimmed straw hat.
The old people hastened to do his bidding. Dave, excited and issuing orders in that tone, was too unusual to be passed over lightly.
"What were you going to say, Miss Moore?" said the Squire as soon as the brown eyes opened.
"I thought, perhaps, I might find something to do here—I'm looking for work."
"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Bartlett, smoothing the dark curls, "you are not fit to stand, let alone work."
"You could not earn your salt," was the Squire's less sympathetic way of expressing the same sentiment. "Where is your home?"
"I have no home." She looked at them desperately, her dark eyes appealing to one and the other, as if they were the jury that held her life in the balance. Only one pair of eyes seemed to hold out any hope.
"If you would only try me I could soon prove to you that I am not worthless." Unconsciously she held out her hand in entreaty.
"Here we are, here we are, all off for Boston!" The voice was Hi's. He was just turning in at the field gate with Kate beside him. Kate, a ravishing vision, in pink muslin; a smiling, contented vision of happy, rosy girlhood, coming back to the home-nest, where a thousand welcomes awaited her.
"Hello, every one!" she said, running in and kissing them in turn, "how nice it is to be home."
They forgot the homeless stranger and her pleading for shelter in their glad welcome to the daughter of the house. She had shrunk back into the shadow. She had never felt the desolation, the utter loneliness of her position so keenly before.
"Hurrah for Kate!" cried the Squire, and everyone took it up and gave three cheers for Kate Brewster.
The wanderer withdrew into the deepest shadow of the porch, that her alien presence might not mar the joyous home-coming of Kate Brewster. There was no jealousy in her soul for the fair girl who had such a royal welcome back to the home-nest. She would not have robbed her of it if such a thing had been possible, but the sense of her own desolation gripped at the heart like an iron band.
She waited like a mendicant to beg for the chance of earning her bread. That was all she asked—the chance to work, to eat the bread of independence, and yet she knew how slim the chance was. She had been wandering about seeking employment all day, and no one would give it.
Only Dave had not forgotten the stranger is the joy of Kate's home-coming. He had welcomed the flurry of excitement to say a few words to his mother, his sworn ally in all the little domestic plots.
"Mother," he said, "do contrive to keep that girl. It would be nothing short of murder to turn her out on the highway."
A pressure of the motherly hand assured Dave that he could rely on her support.
"Well, well, Katie," said the Squire with his arm around his niece's waist, "the old place has been lonely without you!"
"Uncle, who is that girl on the porch?" she asked in an undertone.
"That we don't know; says her name is Moore, and that she wants work. Kind of sounds like a fairy story, don't it, Kate?"
"Poor thing, poor thing!" was Kate's only answer.
"Amasy," said Mrs. Bartlett, assuming all the courage of a rabbit about to assert itself, "this family is bigger than it was with Kate home and the professor here, and I am not getting younger—I want you to let me keep this young woman to help me about the house."
The Squire set his jaw, always an ominous sign to his family. "I don't like this takin' strangers, folks we know nothing about; it's mighty suspicious to see a young woman tramping around the country, without a home, looking for work. I don't like it."
The girl, who sat apart while these strangers considered taking her in, as if she had been a friendless dog, arose, her eyes were full of unshed tears, her voice quivered, but pride supported her. Turning to the Squire, she said: