The End of a Coil
by Susan Warner
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[Transcriber's note: Susan Warner, The End of a Coil (1880)]






"Well begun is half done."




As in the case of "My Desire," the turning facts of this story are fact; even to the most romantic and unlikely detail. In this is found, I hope, my justification for making the hero in one place repeat something very like what was said by the hero of Queechy on a like occasion. I was unwilling to disturb the absolute truth of the story, so far as I had it.







The door stands open of a handsome house in Walnut Street—the Walnut Street which belongs to the city of William Penn; and on the threshold stands a lady, with her hand up to her brows, shielding her eyes from the light. She is watching to see what will come out of a carriage just driving up to the curbstone. The carriage stops; there descends first the figure of a handsome, very comfortable-looking gentleman. Mrs. Eberstein's eyes pass over him very cursorily; she has seen him before; and there is hardly a curl on his handsome head which his wife does not know by heart. What comes next? Ah, that is she!—the figure of the expected one; and a little girl of some eleven years is helped carefully out by Mr. Eberstein, and comes up the steps to the waiting and watching lady. A delicate little thing, delicate in frame and feature alike, with a fair, childish face, framed in by loose light brown curls, and a pair of those clear, grave, wise, light hazel eyes which have the power of looking so young and so spiritually old at once. Those eyes are the first thing that Mrs. Eberstein sees, and they fascinate her already. Meanwhile kind arms are opened wide, and take the little one in.

"Come at last, darling! And do you remember your Aunt Hal? and are you half as glad to see her as she is to see you?" So Mrs. Eberstein gives her greeting, while she is drawing the child through the hall and into the parlour; gives it between kisses.

"Why, no," said her husband, who had followed. "Be reasonable, Harry. She cannot be so glad to see you as we are to see her. She has just come from a long stage-coach journey; and she is tired, and she is hungry; and she has left a world she knows, and has come to a world she doesn't know; hey, Dolly? isn't it true? Tell your Aunt Hal to stop asking questions, and give you something to eat."

"I have come to a world I don't know," repeated the little girl by way of answer, turning her serious small face to her questioner, while Mrs. Eberstein was busily taking off coat and hat and mufflers.

"Yes, that's what I say!" returned Mr. Eberstein. "How do you like the look of it, hey?"

"I wonder who is asking questions now!" said Mrs. Eberstein. "There, darling! now you are at home."

She finished with another kiss; but, nevertheless, I think the feeling that it was a strange world she had come to, was rather prominent in Dolly. She suddenly stooped to a great Maltese cat that was lying on the hearthrug, and I am afraid the eyes were glad of an excuse to get out of sight. She touched the cat's fur tenderly and somewhat diligently.

"She won't hurt you," said her aunt. "That is Mr. Eberstein's pet. Her name is Queen Mab."

"She don't look much like a fairy," was Dolly's comment. Indeed, Queen Mab would outweigh most of her race, and was a magnificent specimen of good feeding.

"You do," thought Mrs. Eberstein. Aloud she asked: "What do you know about fairies?"

"Oh, I know they are only stories. I have read about them."

"Fairy tales, eh?"

"No, not much fairy tales," said Dolly, now rising up from the cat. "I have read about them in 'Midsummer Night's Dream.'"

"'Midsummer Night's Dream,' you midget!" exclaimed Mrs. Eberstein. "Have you read that? And everything else you could lay hands on?"

She took the child in her arms again as she spoke. Dolly gave a quiet assent.

"And they let you do just what you like at home? and read just what you like?"

Dolly smiled slightly at the obviousness of the course of action referred to; but the next minute the smile was quenched in a mist of tears, and she hid her head on Mrs. Eberstein's shoulder. Kisses and caresses of course followed, not successfully. At last Mr. Eberstein's repeated suggestion that food, in the circumstances, would be very much in place, was acted upon. Supper was served in the next room, which did duty for a dining-room; and the little family gathered round a bountifully spread table. There were only those three; and, naturally, the attention of the two elder was very much concentrated upon the third new member of the party; although Mr. Eberstein was hungry and proved it. The more Mrs. Eberstein studied her new acquisition, however, the more incitement to study she found. .

Dolly was not like most children; one could see that immediately. Faces as pretty, and more pretty, could easily be found; the charm was not in mere flesh and blood, form or colour. Other children's faces are often innocent too, and free from the shadow of life's burdens, as this was. Nevertheless, it is not often, it is very rarely, that one sees the mingling of childish simplicity with that thoughtful, wise, spiritual look into life, which met one in Dolly's serious hazel orbs; not often that sweetness and character speak so early in the lines of the lips; utterly childish in their soft, free mobility, and yet revealing continually a trait of thoughtfulness or of strength, along with the happy play of an unqualified tender disposition. "You are lovely! you are lovely!" was Mrs. Eberstein's inner cry; and she had to guard herself that the thought did not come to too open expression. There was a delicate air of refinement also about the child, quite in keeping with all the rest of her; a neat and noiseless handling of knife and fork, cup and saucer; and while Dolly was evidently hungry as well as her uncle, she took what was given to her in a thoroughly high-bred way; that is, she made neither too much nor too little of it.

Doubtless all the while she was using her power of observation, as Mrs. Eberstein was using hers, though the fact was not obtruded; for Dolly had heart wants quite as urgent as body wants. What she saw was reassuring. With Mr. Eberstein she had already been several hours in company, having travelled with him from New York. She was convinced of his genial kindness and steadfast honesty; all the lines of his handsome face, and every movement of his somewhat ease-loving person, were in harmony with that impression. Mrs. Eberstein was a fit mate for her husband. If Dolly had watched her a little anxiously at first, on account of her livelier manner, she soon made out to her satisfaction that nothing but kindness, large and bounteous, lodged behind her aunt's face, and gave its character to her aunt's manner. She knew those lively eyes were studying her; she knew just as well that nothing but good would come of the study.

The meal over, Mrs. Eberstein took her niece upstairs to make her acquainted with her new quarters. It was a little room off the hall which had been destined for Dolly, opening out of her aunt's own; and it had been fitted up with careful affection. A small bedstead and dressing-table of walnut wood, a little chest of drawers, a little wardrobe; it was a wonder how so much could have been got in, but there was room for all. And then there were red curtains and carpet, and on the white spread a dainty little eider-down silk quilt; and on the dressing-table and chest of drawers pretty toilet napkins and pincushion. It was a cosy little apartment as ever eleven years old need delight in. Dolly forthwith hung up her hat and coat in the wardrobe; took brush and comb out of her travelling bag, and with somewhat elaborate care made her hair smooth; as smooth, that is, as a loose confusion of curly locks allowed; then signified that she was ready to go downstairs again. If Mrs. Eberstein had expected some remark upon her work, she was disappointed.

In the drawing-room, she drew the child to sit down upon her knee.

"Well, Dolly, what do you think you are going to do in Philadelphia?"

"Go to school—they say."

"Who says so?"

"Father says so, and mother."

"What do you think they want you to go to school for?"

"I suppose that I may become like other people."

Mr. Eberstein burst out into a laugh. His wife's eyes went over to him adjuringly.

"Are you not like other people now, Dolly?"

The child's sweet, thoughtful brown eyes were lifted to hers frankly, as she answered, "I don't know, ma'am."

"Then why do you say that? or why do they say it?"

"I don't know," said Dolly again. "I think they think so."

"I daresay they do," said Mrs. Eberstein; "but if you were mine, I would rather have you unlike other people."

"Why, Aunt Harry?"

"Yes," said Mr. Eberstein; "now you'll have to go on and tell." And Dolly's eyes indeed looked expectant.

"I think I like you best just as you are."

Dolly's face curled all up into a smile at this; brow and eyes and cheeks and lips all spoke her sense of amusement; and stooping forward a little at the same time, she laid a loving kiss upon her aunt's mouth, who was unspeakably delighted with this expression of confidence. But then she repeated gravely—

"I think they want me changed."

"And pray, what are you going to do, with that purpose in view?"

"I don't know. I am going to study, and learn things; a great many things."

"I don't believe you are particularly ignorant for eleven years old."

"Oh, I do not know anything!"

"Can you write a nice hand?"

Dolly's face wrinkled up again with a sense of the comical. She gave an unhesitating affirmative answer.

"And you have read Shakespeare. What else, Dolly?"


"'Plutarch's Lives'?" said Mrs. Eberstein, while her husband again laughed out aloud. "Hush, Edward. Is it 'Plutarch's Lives,' my dear, that you mean? Caesar, and Alexander, and Pompey?"

Dolly nodded. "And all the rest of them. I like them very much."

"But what is your favourite book?"

"That!" said Dolly.

"I have got a whole little bookcase upstairs full of the books I used to read when I was a little girl. We will look into it to-morrow, and see what we can find. 'Plutarch's Lives' is not there."

"Oh, I do not want that," said Dolly, her eyes brightening. "I have read it so much, I know it all."

"Come here," said Mr. Eberstein; "your aunt has had you long enough; come here, Dolly, and talk to me. Tell me which of those old fellows you think was the best fellow?"

"Of 'Plutarch's Lives'?" said Dolly, accepting a position upon Mr. Eberstein's knee now.

"Yes; the men that 'Plutarch's Lives' tell about. Whom do you like best?"

Dolly pondered, and then averred that she liked one for one thing and another for another. There ensued a lively discussion between her and Mr. Eberstein, in the course of which Dolly certainly brought to view some power of discrimination and an unbiassed original judgment; at the same time her manner retained the delicate quiet which characterised all that belonged to her. She held her own over against Mr. Eberstein, but she held it with an exquisite poise of ladylike good breeding; and Mr. Eberstein was charmed with her. The talk lasted until it was broken up by Mrs. Eberstein, who declared Dolly must go to rest.

She went up herself with the child, and attended to her little arrangements; helped her undress; and when Dolly was fairly in bed, stood still looking at the bright little head on the pillow, thinking that the brown eyes were very wide open for the circumstances.

"Are you very tired, darling?" she asked.

"I don't know," said Dolly. "I guess not very."


"No, I am not sleepy yet. I am wide awake."

"Do you ever lie awake, after you have gone to bed?"

"Not often. Sometimes."

"What makes you do it?"

"I don't know. I get thinking sometimes."

"About what can such a midget as you get thinking?"

Dolly's face wrinkled up a little in amusement at this question. "I see a great many things to think about," she answered.

"It's too soon for you to begin that," said Mrs. Eberstein, shaking her head. Then she dropped down on her knees by the bedside, so as to bring her face nearer the child's.

"Dolly, have you said your prayers?" she asked softly.

The brown eyes seemed to lift their lids a little wider at that. "What do you mean, Aunt Harry?" she replied.

"Do you never pray to the Lord Jesus before you go to sleep?"

"I don't do it ever. I don't know anything about it."

The thrill that went over Mrs. Eberstein at this happily the little one did not know. She went on very quietly in manner.

"Don't you know what prayer is?"

"It is what people do in church, isn't it?"

"What is it that people do in church?"

"I do not know," said Dolly. "I never thought about it."

"It is what you do whenever you ask your father or mother for anything. Only that is prayer to your father or mother. This I mean is prayer to God."

"We don't call it prayer, asking them anything," said Dolly.

"No, we do not call it so. But it is really the same thing. We call it prayer, when we speak to God."

"Why should I speak to God, Aunt Harry? I don't know how."

"Why He is our Father in heaven, Dolly. Wouldn't it be a strange thing if children never spoke to their father?"

"But they can't, if they don't know him," said Dolly.

Here followed a strange thing, which no doubt had mighty after-effects. Mrs. Eberstein, who was already pretty well excited over the conversation, at these words broke down, burst into tears, and hid her face in the bedclothes. Dolly looked on in wondering awe, and an instant apprehension that the question here was about something real. Presently she put out her hand and touched caressingly Mrs. Eberstein's hair, moved both by pity and curiosity to put an end to the tears and have the talk begin again. Mrs. Eberstein lifted her face, seized the little hand and kissed it.

"You see, darling," she said, "I want you to be God's own child."

"How can I?"

"If you will trust Jesus and obey Him. All who belong to Him are God's dear children; and He loves them, and the Lord Jesus loves them, and He takes care of them and teaches them, and makes them fit to be with Him and serve Him in glory by and by."

"But I don't know about Jesus," said Dolly again.

"Haven't you got a Bible?"


"Never read it?"


"Never went to Sunday School?"

"No, ma'am."

"Little Dolly, I am very glad you came to Philadelphia."

"Why, Aunt Harry?"

"Because I love you so much!" exclaimed Mrs. Eberstein, kissing the child's sweet mouth. "Why, Dolly, Jesus is the best, best friend we have got; nobody loves us so much in the whole world; He gave his life for us. And, then, He is the King of glory. He is everything that is loving, and true, and great, and good; 'the chiefest among ten thousand.'"

"What did He give His life for?" said Dolly, whose eyes were growing more and more intent.

"To save our lives, dear."

"From what?"

"Why, Dolly, you and I, and everybody, have broken God's beautiful law. The punishment for that is death; not merely the death of the body, but everlasting separation from God and His love and His favour; that is death; living death. To save us from that, Jesus died Himself; He paid our debt; He died instead of us."

"Then is He dead?" said Dolly awefully.

"He was dead; but He rose again, and now He lives, King over all. He was God as well as man, so the grave could not hold Him. But He paid our debt, darling."

"You said, death was everlasting separation from God and good," said Dolly very solemnly.

"For us, it would have been."

"But He did not die that way?"

"He could not, for He is the glorious Son of God. He only tasted death for us; that we might not drink the bitter cup to eternity."

"Aunt Harry," said Dolly, "is all that true?"


"When did He do that?"

"It is almost nineteen hundred years ago. And since then, if any one trusts His word and is willing to be His servant, Jesus loves him, and keeps him, and saves him, and makes him blessed for ever."

"But why did He do that? what made Him?"

"His great love for us."

"Us?" Dolly repeated.

"Yes. You and me, and everybody. He just came to save that which was lost."

"I don't see how He can love me," said Dolly slowly. "Why, I am a stranger to Him, Aunt Harry."

"Ah, you are no stranger! Oh yes, Dolly, He loves you dearly; and He knows all about you."

Dolly considered the matter a little, and also considered her aunt, whose lips were quivering and whose eyes were dropping tears. With a very serious face Dolly considered the matter: and came to a conclusion with promptitude unusual in this one subject of all the world. She half rose up in her bed.

"Then I love Him," she said. "I will love Him, too, Aunt Harry."

"Will you, my darling?"

"But I do not know how to be His servant."

"Jesus will teach you Himself, if you ask Him."

"How will He teach me?"

"He will make you understand His word, and let you know what pleases Him. He says, 'If ye love me, keep My commandments.'"

"His commandments are in the Bible, aren't they?"

"Certainly. You say you have not got a Bible?"


"Then we will see about that to-morrow, the first thing we do. You shall have a Bible, and that will tell you about His commandments."

"Aunt Harry, I would like Him to know to-night that I love Him."

"Then tell Him so, dear."

"Can I?"

"To be sure you can. Why not?"

"I do not know how."

"Tell Him, Dolly, just as if the Lord Jesus were here present and you could see Him. He is here, only you do not see Him; that is all the difference Tell Him, Dolly, just as you would tell me; only remember that you are speaking to the King. He would like to hear you say that."

"I ought to kneel down when I speak to Him, oughtn't I? People do in church."

"It is proper, when we can, to take a position of respect when we speak to the King; don't you think so?"

Dolly shuffled herself up upon her knees in the bed, not regarding much that Mrs. Eberstein threw a shawl round her shoulders; and waited a minute or two, looking intensely serious and considering. Then laying her hands involuntarily together, but with her eyes open, she spoke.

"O Lord Jesus,—Aunt Harry says you are here though I cannot see you. If you are here, you can see, and you know that I love you; and I will be your servant. I never knew about you before, or I would have done it before. Now I do. Please to teach me, for I do not know anything, that I may do everything that pleases you. I will not do anything that don't please you. Amen."

Dolly waited a moment, then turned and put her arms round her aunt's neck and kissed her. "Thank you!"—she said earnestly; and then lay down and arranged herself to sleep.

Mrs. Eberstein went downstairs and astonished her husband by a burst of hysterical weeping. He made anxious enquiries; and at last received an account of the last half-hour.

"But, oh, Edward, what do you think?" she concluded. "Did you ever hear anything like that in your life? Do you think it can be genuine?"

"Genuine what?" demanded her husband.

"Why, I mean, can it be true religious conversion? This child knows next to nothing; just that Jesus died out of love to her, to save her,—nothing more."

"And she has given her love back. Very logical and reasonable; and ought not to be so uncommon."

"But it is uncommon, Edward. At least, people generally make a longer business of it."

"In which they do not show their wisdom."

"No; but they do it. Edward, can it be that this child is so suddenly a Christian? Will it stand?"

"Only time can show that. But Harry, all the cases,—almost all the cases reported in the New Testament are cases of sudden yielding. Just look at it. John and Andrew took but a couple of hours or so to make up their minds. Nathanael did not apparently take more than two minutes after he saw Christ. Lydia became a Christian at her first hearing the good news; the eunuch made up his mind as quick. Why should not little Dolly? The trouble is caused only by people's obstinate resistance."

"Then you think it may be true work?"

"Of course I think so. This child is not an ordinary child, there is that to be said."

"No," said Mrs. Eberstein thoughtfully. "Is she not peculiar? She is such a child; and yet there is such a wise, deep look in her brown eyes. What pretty eyes they are! There is the oddest mixture of old and young in her I ever saw. She is going to be lovely, Edward!"

"I think she is lovely now."

"Oh yes! but I mean, when she grows up. She will be very lovely, with those spiritual eyes and that loose curly brown hair; if only she can be kept as she is now."

"My dear, she cannot be that!"

"Oh, you know what I mean, Edward. If she can be kept unspoiled; untainted; unsophisticated; with that sort of mixture of wisdom and simplicity which she has now. I wish we need not send her to school."

"We have no choice about that. And the Lord can keep His own. Let us ask Him."

They knelt and did so; with some warm tears on Mrs. Eberstein's part, and great and warm earnestness in them both.



Mrs. Eberstein watched during the next few days, to see, if she could, whether the sudden resolve taking on Dolly's part that first evening "meant anything," as she expressed it, or not. She remained in doubt. Dolly was thoughtful certainly, and sweet certainly; "but that don't tell," Mrs. Eberstein remarked; "it is her characteristic." It was equally certain that she had attached herself with a trustful, clinging affection to the new friends whose house and hearts had received her. Dolly's confidence was given to them fully and heartily from that very first day; and they saw that it was.

Nearly a week passed before the school-term began. Meanwhile Dolly was taken about, in walks and drives, to see all that her friends thought would interest her. Everything interested her, they found; and upon every subject presented to her, her little head went to work; the result of which was the putting of a question now and then, which afforded her guardians, perhaps, as much entertainment as the ground of the question had given Dolly. These questions, however, were called forth most of all by the subject which had seized hold of Dolly's mind with such force that first evening. Mrs. Eberstein had not forgotten her promise about the Bible. One of the first expeditions undertaken the next day had been in search of one; successful, in the judgment of both Dolly and her aunt; and since then the book was very often to be seen in Dolly's hands.

"What are you reading there, Dolly?" Mr. Eberstein asked, corning in one evening just before dinner. Dolly was on a low seat at the corner of the fireplace, reading by the shine of a fire of Liverpool coal, which threw warm lights all over the little figure. She looked up and said it was her Bible she was studying.

"You will put out your eyes."

"Oh no, Uncle Edward; the print is so good, and the fire makes such a nice blaze, I can see perfectly."

"And pray, what are you looking for, or what are you finding, in that book, little one?"

"I am looking for a great deal,—and I am finding a little," was Dolly's reply.

"Different with me," said Mr. Eberstein with a short laugh. "I generally find more in the Bible than I look for."

"What do you look for in it?" said Dolly, raising her head which had gone down to the reading.

Mr. Eberstein laughed again.

"Truly, Dolly," he said, "you have hit me there! I believe I often open the Bible without looking for anything in particular."

"Perhaps that makes the difference," said Dolly, letting her eyes fall again to her page.

"Perhaps it does; but, Dolly, I should very much like to know what you are looking for?"

"I am looking to find out the will of God, Uncle Edward."

"Come here, my pet," said Mr. Eberstein, coaxing the little girl into his arms and setting her on his knee. "What do you want to find out the will of God for? what about?"

"About me."

"What do you want to know the will of God about you for?"

"I want to do it, Uncle Edward."

"There couldn't be a better reason. Jesus says, 'He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me.' Do you find what you seek?"

"I find some," said Dolly.

"Where were you reading just now?"

"About Abraham."

"Abraham! What do you find in Abraham's life, may I ask, that tells you the will of God about Dolly Copley? You are not called upon to leave your country and go out into a strange land."

"No; not that. But God said to Abraham, 'Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.' And it puzzles me."

"What puzzles you?"

"I don't see how I can 'walk before Him.'"

"Dolly,—the Lord is here, here where we are, wherever we are."

"Yes. I know that."

"Then, if you know that and remember it, and do everything you do in His presence, and feeling that it is in His presence, you will be walking before Him; don't you see? Just as if Jesus were here again upon earth, and you were always with Him; only you do not see Him now. He sees you."

"And 'be perfect'?" said Dolly questioningly.

"Yes. That means, I think, don't try to serve two masters. If you love God with all your heart, and give Him your whole life and service,—not a part of it,—that is what the word to Abraham means, I think. A servant of God is a perfect servant, if he does all the will of God that he knows, and as fast as he knows it. But you cannot do that of yourself, little Dolly."

"Why cannot I, if I want to?"

"Why, because there come temptations, and there come difficulties; and you will want to do something you like, and not what God likes; and you will do it too, unless the Lord Jesus keeps fast hold of you and saves you from making such a mistake. Only He can."

"Can He?"

"Certainly He can."

"Will He?"

"If you want Him to do it, and trust Him to do it, He will. He will just do all that you trust Him to do."

Dolly pondered. "Will He do that because He loves me?" she asked.

"Just for that reason, Dolly."

"Then He will do it," said Dolly confidently; "for I will trust Him. Won't you show me where he says that, Uncle Edward?"

Mr. Eberstein told Dolly to find Matt. xxi. 21. Dolly read eagerly—

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Dolly read to herself, then looked up, eager and confident, for the next reference.

"Turn to John xv. 7."

Again Dolly found and read, in silence—

"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

"What next, Uncle Edward?"

"Isn't that promise enough?"

"Yes; but I thought you had more."

"There is a great deal more. Look out Thessalonians v. 23, 24."

Dolly read, slowly, aloud now—

"'And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.' That is beautiful, Uncle Edward!"

"Do you want another? Find Jude, and read the 24th and 25th verses."

With some trouble Dolly found it.

"'Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.'"

Dolly slipped off Mr. Eberstein's knee and retook her old place by the fire; where she sat turning from one passage to another of those she had been reading. Mr. Eberstein watched her, how the ribbon markers of the Bible were carefully laid in two of the places, and a couple of neat slips of paper prepared for the others.

"What have you been doing to-day, Dolly?" he asked at length.

"We went to see the water works."

"Oh, you did! And what did you think of the water works?"

"We went up to the top and walked about. Do the people in Philadelphia want so much water as all that?"

"They want a great deal more. The Fairmount works give only enough for part of the city."

"That is taking a great deal of trouble to get water."

"It would be worse trouble to do without it."

"But why don't people all live in the country, as we do at home? then they would have water for nothing."

"Humph! That would answer, Dolly, if people were contented with water; they all want wine. I mean, my child, that most people are not satisfied with simple doings; and for anything more they must have money; and they can make money faster in cities. Therefore they build cities."

"Is that what they build cities for?" said Dolly.

"Largely. Not altogether. A great many things can be better done where people are congregated together; it is for the convenience of trade and business, in many kinds and in many ways. What have you been doing since you came home from the water works?"

"O Uncle Edward!" said Dolly, suddenly rising now and coming to him, "Aunt Harry has opened for me her old bookcase!"

"What old bookcase? I didn't know she had an old bookcase."

"Oh yes; the one where she keeps the books she had when she was as old as I am."

"And as young, eh? Well, what is in that bookcase? is it a great find?"

"O Uncle Edward, there is a great deal in it! It is wonderful. Books I never saw, and they look so interesting!"

"What, for instance? Something to rival Plutarch's Lives?"

"I don't know," said Dolly; "you know I have not read them yet. There is 'Sandford and Merton;' I was reading in that, and I like it very much; and the 'Looking Glass' is another; and 'Rosamond' I am sure is interesting. Oh there is a whole load of them."

"Well I am glad of it," said Mr. Eberstein. "That is the right sort of stuff for your busy little brain; will not weigh too heavy. Now I suppose you will be reading all the time you are in the house."

"Aunt Harry has begun to teach me to knit."

"Very good," said Mr. Eberstein. "I believe in knitting too. That's safe."

They went to dinner, and after dinner there was a further knitting lesson, in which Dolly seemed absorbed; nevertheless, before the evening was over she brought up a very different subject again.

"Aunt Harry," she began, in the midst of an arduous effort to get the loops of wool on her needles in the right relative condition,—"does mother know about the Bible?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Eberstein, with a glance at her husband, "she knows about it, something."

"Then why did she never tell me anything about it?"

Mrs. Eberstein hesitated.

"I suppose, Dolly, her thoughts were fuller of other things."

"But how could they be?" said the little one, laying her hands with their knitting work in her lap, and looking up.

Her aunt did not answer.

"How could her thoughts be fuller of other things, if she knows the Bible?" Dolly urged.

"I don't think she really knows much of what is in the Bible," Mrs. Eberstein said. "She has never read it much."

"I don't think she knows about Jesus," Dolly went on gravely; "for she never told me; and she would if she had known, I think. Aunt Harriet, I think I ought to tell her now."

"What would you tell her, my darling?"

"Oh, I will tell her that I know Him and love Him; and I will tell her I have got a Bible, and some of the things I have found in it. I will ask her to get one too, and read it. I don't believe she knows."

"The reason why a great many people do not know, Dolly, is, as your Aunt Harry says, that they are so much taken up with other things."

"Then I think one ought to take care not to be too much taken up with other things," said Dolly very seriously.

"But you have got to be taken up with other things," Mr. Eberstein went on. "Here you are going to school in a few days; then your head will be full of English and French, and your hands full of piano keys and harp strings, from morning till night. How are you going to do?"

Dolly looked at the speaker, came and placed herself on his knee again, and laid a hand on his shoulder; eyeing him steadily.

"Ought I not to go to school?"

"Must!—else you cannot be the right sort of a woman, and do the right sort of work."

"How then, Uncle Edward? what shall I do?"

"I'll tell you one thing, Dolly. Don't study and practise to get ahead of somebody else; but to please the King!"

"The King—that is Jesus?"


Dolly nodded, in full agreement with the rule of action as thus stated; presently brought forward another idea.

"Will He care? Would it please Him to have me play on the piano, or learn French and arithmetic?"

"Dolly, the more you know, and the better you know it, the better servant you can be; you will have the more to use for Jesus."

"Can I use such things for Him? How?"

"Many ways. He will show you how. Do you think an ignorant woman could do as much in the world as an elegant, well-informed, accomplished woman?"

Dolly thought over this question, nodded as one who had come to an understanding of it, and went back to her knitting.

"What ever will become of that child," said Mrs. Eberstein an hour or two later, when she and her husband were alone. "I am full of anxiety about her."

"Then you are taking upon you the part of Providence."

"No, but, Edward, Dolly will have a history."

"So have we all," Mr. Eberstein responded very unresponsively.

"But she will not have a common history. Do you see how open she is to receive impressions, and how fast they stay once they are made?"

"I see the first quality. I never saw a creature quicker to take impressions or to welcome affections. Whether they will prove as lasting as they are sudden,—that we have no means of knowing at present."

"I think they will."

"That's a woman's conclusion, founded on her wishes."

"It is a man's conclusion too; for you think the same thing, Edward."

"Don't prove anything, Harry."

"Yes, it does. When two people come to the same independent view of something, it is fair to suppose there are grounds for it."

"I hope so. Time will show."

"But, Edward, with this extremely sensitive and affectionate nature, how important it is that Dolly should have only the right surroundings, and see only the right sort of people."

"Just so. And so she is going out into the world of a large school; where she will meet all sorts of people and be subjected to all sorts of influences; and you cannot shield her."

"I wish I could keep her at home, and have her taught here! I wish I could!"

"Playing Providence again. We all like to do it."

"No, but, Edward, just look at her," said Mrs. Eberstein with her eyes full of tears.

"I do," said Mr. Eberstein. "I've got eyes. But you will have to trust her, Harry."

"Now she will go, I have no doubt, and write that letter to her mother. I wonder if Sally will get scared, and take her away from us?"

"Why, Hal," said her husband, "your self-will is getting up very strong to-night! What if? Dolly's future does not depend upon us; though we will do what we can for it."

What they did then, was to pray about it again; for these people believed in prayer.

The next day Mrs. Eberstein had invited an acquaintance to come to dinner. This acquaintance had a daughter, also about to enter Mrs. Delancy's school; and Mrs. Eberstein's object was to let the two girls become a little known to each other, so that Dolly in the new world she was about to enter might not feel everything utterly strange. Mrs. Thayer belonged to a good New York family; and it likewise suited her purposes to have her daughter received in so unexceptionable a house as Mrs. Eberstein's, albeit the young lady was not without other Philadelphia friends. So the party fitted together very harmoniously. Mrs. Thayer, in spite of her good connections, was no more than a commonplace personage. Christina, her daughter, on the other hand, showed tokens of becoming a great beauty. A little older than Dolly, of larger build and more flesh and blood development generally, and with one of those peach-blossom complexions which for fairness and delicacy almost rival the flower. Her hair was pretty, her features also pretty, her expression placid. Mrs. Eberstein was much struck.

"They are just about of an age," remarked Mrs. Thayer. "I suppose they will study the same things. Everybody studies the same things. Well, I hope you'll be friends and not rivals, my dears."

"Dolly will not be rivals with anybody," returned Dolly's aunt.

"She don't look very strong. I should think it would not do for her to study too hard," said the other lady. "Oh, rivalry is necessary, you know, to bring out the spirit of boys and girls and make them work. It may be friendly rivalry; but if they were not rivals they would not be anything; might as well not be school girls, or school boys. They would not do any work but what they liked, and we know what that would amount to. I don't know about beating learning into boys; some people say that is the way; but with girls you can't take that way; and all you have to fall back upon is emulation."

"Very few young people will study for the love of it," Mrs. Eberstein so far assented.

"They might, I believe, if the right way was taken," Mr. Eberstein remarked.

"Emulation will do it, if a girl has any spirit," said Mrs. Thayer.

"What sort of spirit?"

"What sort of spirit! Why, the spirit not to let themselves be outdone; to stand as high as anybody, and higher; be No. 1, and carry off the first honours. A spirited girl don't like to be No. 2. Christina will never be No. 2."

"Is it quite certain that such a spirit is the one to be cultivated?"

"It makes them study,"—said Mrs. Thayer, looking at her questioner to see what he meant.

"What do you think the Bible means, when it tells us not to seek for honour?"

"Not to seek for honour?" repeated the lady.

"Not the honour that comes from man."

"I didn't know it forbade it. I never heard that it was forbidden. Why, Mr. Eberstein, it is natural to wish for honour. Everybody wishes for it."

"So they do," Mr. Eberstein assented. "I might say, so we do."

"It is natural," repeated the lady.

"Its being natural does not prove it to be right."

"Why, Mr. Eberstein, if it is natural, we cannot help it."

"How then does trying to be No. 1 agree with the love that 'seeketh not her own'?"

Dolly was listening earnestly, Mr. Eberstein saw. Mrs. Thayer hesitated, in some inward disgust.

"Do you take that literally?" she said then. "How can you take it literally? You cannot."

"But Christ pleased not Himself."

"Well, but He was not like us."

"We are bidden to be like him, though."

"Oh, as far as we can. But you cannot press those words literally, Mr. Eberstein."

"As far as we can? I must press them, for the Bible does. I ask no more, and the Lord demands no more, than that we be like our Master as far as we can. And He 'pleased not himself,' and 'received not honour from men.'"

"If you were to preach such doctrine in schools, I am afraid you would have very bad recitations."

"Well!" said Mr. Eberstein. "Better bad recitations than bad hearts. Though really there is no necessary connection between my premises and your conclusion. The Bible reckons 'emulations,' Mrs. Thayer, in the list of the worst things human nature knows, and does."

"Then you would have a set of dunces. I should just like to be told, Mr. Eberstein, how on that principle you would get young people to study. In the case of girls you cannot do it by beating; nor in the case of boys, after they have got beyond being little boys. Then emulation comes in, and they work like beavers to get the start of one another. And so we have honours, and prizes, and distinctions. Take all that away, and how would you do, Mr. Eberstein?"

Mr. Eberstein was looking fondly into a pair of young eyes that were fixedly gazing at him. So looking, he spoke,

"There is another sort of 'Well done!' which I would like my Dolly and Miss Christina to try for. If they are in earnest in trying for that, they will study!" said Mr. Eberstein.

Mrs. Thayer thought, apparently, that it was no use talking on the subject with a visionary man; and she turned to something else. The party left the dinner-table, and Dolly took her new acquaintance upstairs to show her the treasure contained in Mrs. Eberstein's old bookcase.

"Mr. Eberstein is rather a strange man, isn't he?" said Miss Christina on the way.

"No," said Dolly. "I don't think he is. What makes you say so?"

"I never heard any one talk like that before."

"Perhaps," said Dolly, stopping short on the landing place and looking at her companion. Then she seemed to change her manner of attack. "Who do you want to please most?" she said.

"With my studies? Why, mamma, of course."

"I would rather please the Lord Jesus," said Dolly.

"But I was talking about school work," retorted the other. "You don't suppose He cares about our lessons?"

"I guess He does," said Dolly. They were still standing on the landing place, looking into each other's eyes.

"But that's impossible. Think!—French lessons, and English lessons, and music and dancing, and all of it. That couldn't be, you know."

"Do you love Jesus?" said Dolly.

"Love him? I do not know," said Christina colouring. "I am a member of the church, if that is what you mean."

Dolly began slowly to go up the remaining stairs. "I think we ought to study to please Him," she said.

"I don't see how it should please him," said the other a little out of humour. "I don't see how He should care about such little things."

"Why not?" said Dolly. "If your mother cares, and my mother cares. Jesus loves us better than they do, and I guess He cares more than they do."

Christina was silenced now, as her mother had been, and followed Dolly thinking there were a pair of uncomfortably strange people in the house. The next minute Dolly was not strange at all, but as much a child as any of her fellows. She had unlocked the precious bookcase, and with the zeal of a connoisseur and the glee of a discoverer she was enlarging upon the treasures therein stowed away.

"Here is 'Henry Milner,'" she said, taking down three little red volumes. "Have you read that? Oh, it is delightful! I like it almost best of all. But I have not had time to read much yet. Here is 'Harry and Lucy,' and 'Rosamond,' and 'Frank.' I have just looked at them. And 'Sandford and Merton.' do you know 'Sandford and Merton'? I have just read that."

"There are the 'Arabian Nights,'" said Christina.

"Is that good? I haven't read much yet. I don't know almost any of them."

"'The Looking-Glass'"—Christina went on—"'Pity's Gift'—'Father's Tales.'"

"Those are beautiful," Dolly put in. "I read one, about 'Grandfather's old arm-chair.' Oh, it's very interesting."

"'Elements of Morality'"—Christina read further on the back of a brown book.

"That don't sound good, but I guess it is good," said Dolly. "I just peeped in, and 'Evenings at Home' looks pretty. Here is 'Robinson Crusoe,' and 'Northern Regions;' I want to read that very much. I guess it's delightful."

"Have you ever been to school before?" said Christina. The books had a faint interest for her.

"No," said Dolly.

"Nor have I; but I know somebody who has been at Mrs. Delancy's, and she says there is one lovely thing at that school. Every month they go somewhere."

"They—go—somewhere," Dolly echoed the words. "Who go?"

"Everybody; teachers and scholars and all. There is a holiday; and Mrs. Delancy takes them all to see something. One time it was a rope walk, I think; and another time it was a paper-mill; and sometimes it's a picture-gallery. It's something very interesting."

"I suppose we are not obliged to go, are we, if we don't want to?"

"Oh, but we do want to. I do."

"I would just as lief be at home with my Aunt Harry," said Dolly, looking lovingly at the book-case. But Christina turned away from it.

"They dress a great deal at this school," she said. "Does your mother dress you a great deal?"

"I don't know," said Dolly. "I don't know what you mean."

"Well, what's your school dress? what is it made of?"

"My school dress for every day! It is grey poplin. It is not new."

"Poplin will do, I suppose," said Christina. "But some of the girls wear silk; old silk dresses, you know, but really handsome still, and very stylish."

"What do you mean by 'stylish'?" said Dolly.

"Why don't you know what 'stylish' means?"


Christina looked doubtfully at her new little companion. Where could Dolly have come from, and what sort of people could she belong to, who did not know that? The truth was, that Dolly being an only child and living at home with her father and mother, had led a very childish life up to this time; and her mother, owing to some invalidism, had lately been withdrawn from the gay world and its doings. So, though the thing was greatly upon her mother's heart, the word had never made itself familiar to Dolly's ear. Christina was reassured, however, by observing that the little girl's dress was quite what it ought to be, and certainly bespoke her as belonging to people who "knew what was what." So the practice was all right, and Dolly needed only instruction in the theory.

"'Stylish,'"—she repeated. "It means—It is very hard to tell you what it means. Don't you know? 'Stylish' means that things have an air that belongs to the right kind of thing, and only what you see in a certain sort of people. It is the way things look when people know how."

"Know how, what?" inquired Dolly.

"Know how things ought to be; how they ought to be worn, and how they ought to be done."

"Then everybody ought to be stylish," said Dolly.

"Yes, but you cannot, my dear, unless you happen to know how."

"But I should think one could always know how things ought to be," Dolly went on. "The Bible tells."

"The Bible!" echoed Christina.


"The Bible tell one how to be stylish!"

"The Bible tells how things ought to be."

"Why, no, it don't, child! the Bible don't tell you what sort of a hat to put on."

"Yes, it does, Christina. The Bible says, 'Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.' I can show you the words."

"Oh, that is something quite different. That has nothing to do with being stylish. How shall I make you understand? If your cravat wasn't tied in a nice bow there, it wouldn't be stylish."

"Well," returned Dolly, "it wouldn't be to the glory of God either."

"What has that to do with it?"

"I think it would be wrong for a Christian to be anything but nice."

"Oh, it isn't being nice!" said Christina. "Your dress wouldn't be stylish if it hadn't those flounces."

"And is it now?"

"Yes—I think it is. I should say, your mother knows what is what. It isn't very easy to be stylish if you are poor; but I've seen people do it, though."

"I don't think I understand, quite," said Dolly. "But when I am old enough to dress myself,—to choose my own dresses, I mean, I shall dress to please Jesus, Christina."

"You can't," said Christina. "I never heard of such a thing. It's making religion little, I think, to talk so."

"I think, if religion isn't little, it'll do so," answered Dolly. Whereby each kept her own opinion; notwithstanding which, at the end of the afternoon they separated, mutually pleased each with her new acquaintance.



As the weeks of the first school term went on, the two girls drew nearer to each other. Everybody inclined towards Dolly indeed; the sweet, fresh, honest little face, with the kindly affections beaming forth from it, and the sensitive nature quick to feel pleasure or pain, and alive to fun in the midst of its seriousness, made such a quaint mingling and such a curious variety and such a lovely creature, that all sorts of characters were drawn towards her. From the head of the school down, teachers and pupils, there was hardly one whose eye did not soften and whose lips did not smile at Dolly's approach. With Christina, on the other hand, it was not just so. She was not particularly clever, not particularly emotional, not specially sociable; calm and somewhat impassive, with all her fair beauty she was overlooked in the practical "selection" which takes place in school life; so that little Dolly after all came to be Christina's best friend. Dolly never passed her over; was never unsympathetic; never seemed to know her own popularity; and Christina's slow liking grew into a real and warm affection as the passing days gave her more and more occasion. In the matter of "style," it appears, Dolly had enough to satisfy her; thanks to her mother; for Dolly herself was as unconventional in spirit and manner as a child should be. In school work proper, on the other hand, she was a pattern of diligence and faithfulness; gave her teachers no trouble; of course had the good word and good will of every one of them. Was it the working of Mr. Eberstein's rule?

The first monthly holiday after school began was spent in Fairmount Park. A few weeks later, Dolly and Christina were sitting together one day, busy with some fancy work, when one of their schoolmates came up to them.

"Guess where we are going next week!" she cried.

"Next week?" said the others, looking up.

"Next holiday—next week—next Saturday. Yes. Where do you think we are going? Just guess. Oh, you can't guess."

"I can't guess," said Dolly; "I don't know what there is to go to. The Mint? Mrs. Delancy did speak of the Mint."

"Not a bit of it! Something else has come up. Guess again."

"Something has come up. Then it must be something new."

"It isn't new, either. Can't a thing come to you that isn't new?"

"But you're talking riddles, Eudora," the other two said, laughing.

"Well, I'll tell you. There's a man-of-war come up the river."

"A man-of-war"—Dolly repeated.

"You know what that means, I hope, Dolly Copley?"

"I don't know. It means a soldier. The Bible says, Goliath was a man-of-war from his youth."

Dolly as she spoke looked mystified, and her words were met by a shout of laughter so loud and ringing that it almost abashed the child. Some other girls had joined the group and were standing around, and there were many to laugh. However, Dolly was never given to false shame. She waited for more light.

"It's a ship, Dolly," they cried. "You dear little innocent, don't you know as much as that?"

"It's a ship; and this is a big one. It is lying out in the Delaware."

"Then why is it called a man-of-war?" said Dolly.

"Because it is a war ship. Won't it be fun! just think!—the guns, and the officers, and the midshipmen!"

"What are midshipmen?"

"I don't know!" cried another. "They are somebodies that are always on a man-of-war; and they are young too. Baby officers, I suppose."

"They are officers," said the first speaker.

"No, they're not. They are learning to be officers. They're at school, and their school is a man-of-war; and their teachers are the captain, and the lieutenants, and so on."

"And what are their lessons about?" said Dolly.

"I don't know. Oh, they are learning to be officers, you know. Really they are boys at school."

"Some of them are old enough," remarked another.

"Learning what, Eudora?" said Dolly.

"How do I know, chicken? I've never been a midshipman myself. You can ask them if you like, when we go on board. For we are going on board, girls! Hurrah! We shall drive over to the Navy Yard, and there we shall get into boats, and then we shall row—I mean be rowed—out into the stream to the ship. It's a big frigate, the 'Achilles;' and Mrs. Delancy knows the captain; and she says it's a good chance, and she will not have us lose it. Hurrah, girls! this is prime."

"What's a frigate?" was Dolly's next question.

"Dolly Copley, you are ridiculous! you want to understand everything."

"Don't you?"

"No! I guess I don't. I am tired enough with trying to understand a little. I'll let alone what I can. You'll know what a frigate is when you have been on board of her."

"But I think I should enjoy it a great deal more if I knew beforehand," said Dolly.

"You had best study a ship's dictionary. I am going to study what I shall wear."

"That you cannot tell yet," Christina remarked. "You do not know what sort of a day next Saturday, I mean, Saturday week, will be. It may be cold or"——

"It mayn't be hot," said the other. "It will be cold, cold enough. It's November. You can wear your prettiest winter things, young ladies."

A little while after, the group had broken up, and Dolly sought out one of the teachers and begged to know where she could find a "ship's dictionary."

"A ship dictionary? My dear, there is no such thing. What do you want to find out?"

"One of the girls said I could find out about ships in a ship's dictionary. We are going to see a man-of-war next week."

"Oh, and you want to study up the subject? It is a Marine Dictionary you are in quest of. Come to the library."

The library was always open to the girls for study purposes. The teacher was good-natured, and got out a big, brown square volume, and put it in Dolly's hand. Dolly had been followed by Christina; and now the two sat down together in a window recess on the floor, with the book before them. Dolly began at the beginning, and aloud.


"That is nothing we want," remarked Christina.

"Oh yes, I think it is. It is 'the situation of the sails when their surfaces are flatted against the masts by the force of the wind.' I do not understand, though. The sails are said to be 'taken aback.'— Oh, I have heard mother say that. What could she mean? I have heard her say she was taken aback."

"I have heard people say that too," said Christina; "often. I never knew what they meant. Something disagreeable, I think."

"Well, you see," said Dolly, reading further, "it 'pushes the ship astern'—what's that? 'See Backing.' I suppose it means pushing it back. But I don't understand!" the little girl added with a sigh.

"Oh, well! we don't care about all that," said Dolly's companion. "Go on to something else. Find out about the midshipmen."

"What about the midshipmen?"

"Nothing,—only I would like to know what they are. Madeleine said they were young officers; very young; not older than some of us."

"Then why do you want to know about them?" said Dolly. "We have nothing to do with young officers. We don't know any of them."

"But we might," suggested Christina. "We shall see them, if we go on board the ship."

"I don't care about seeing them," said Dolly. "Young officers are young men, I suppose. I understand them; what I don't know about, is the ship. Let us go on in this book, and see what we come to. 'Abaft—the hinder part of a ship'"——

"O Dolly!" cried Christina, "we have not time to go through everything in this way. You have not turned over one leaf yet Do get on a little."

"It is good it's a holiday," said Dolly, turning the leaf. "We have plenty of time. I like this book. 'Aboard,—the inside of a ship.' So when we go into the ship, we go aboard. That's it."

"Go on," urged Christina. "Here's 'Admiral.'"

"'An officer of first rank and command in the fleet.' There is a great deal here about the Admiral. I don't believe we shall see him. We'll look a little further."

Dolly presently was caught by the word "Anchor," and lost herself in the study of the paragraphs following, and the plate accompanying; after which she declared that she understood how a ship could be held by its anchor. Urged to go on again, she turned over more leaves, but got lost in the study of "boats;" then of "cannon;" then of the "captain's" office and duties; finally paused at the plate and description of a ship's deck.

"It's just the deck of a ship!" said Christina impatiently. "You will see it when we go on board the 'Achilles.'"

"I want to understand it."

"You can't."

"Are those guns?" said Dolly, pointing to a row of pieces delineated along the side of the deck.

"Must be guns."

"Well, I should like to go on board of a ship very much," said Dolly. "There are twelve guns on that side. If there are the same on this side, that would make twenty-four. What do they want so many for, Christina, on one ship?"

"Why, to fight with, of course. To fire at other ships."

"But what do they want of so many? They would not want to fire twelve at once. I should think one would be enough."

"Perhaps it wouldn't. Go on, Dolly, do! let us get to something else."

It was difficult to get Dolly on. She was held fast again by the description of a naval engagement; then fell to studying the directions for the "exercise" of the guns; then was interested in some plates giving various orders of the line of battle. At last in due course they came to the word "Midshipman," which was read, or the article under it, by both girls.

"'A naval cadet'"—repeated Christina.

"And a cadet must be four years at sea before he can become a lieutenant; and two years midshipman besides. I should think they would be tired of it."

"But if they are going to be sailors all their lives, it's no use for them to get tired of it," said Christina.

"They come on shore sometimes, don't they?"

"I suppose so. Oh yes, they have houses, I know, and wives and children. I shouldn't like to be the wife of a sailor!"

"Somebody must, I suppose," said Dolly. "But I shouldn't like to have my home—my principal home, I mean—on the sea; if I was a man. They must like it, I suppose."

Dolly went on reading.

"The midshipmen have plenty to do, Christina. They have to learn how to do everything a common sailor does; all the work of the ship; and then they must learn astronomy, and geometry, and navigation and mechanics. Hydrostatics, too; oh dear, I don't know what that is. I can look it out, I suppose. The midshipmen must be very busy, Christina, and at hard work too."

Christina's interest in the Marine Dictionary was exhausted. She went off; but Dolly pored over its pages still, endeavouring to take in details about vessels, and ropes, and sails, and winds, until her head was in a fog. She recurred to the book, however, on the next opportunity; and from time to time, as her lessons permitted, gave her time and attention to this seemingly very unnecessary subject. How much she really learned, is doubtful; yet as little things do touch and link themselves with great things, it may be that the old Marine Dictionary in Mrs. Delancy's library played a not insignificant part in the fortunes of Dolly Copley. As we shall see. She studied, till a ship became a romance to her; till rigging and spars and decks and guns were like the furniture of a new and strange life, which hardly belonged to the earth, being upon the sea; and the men who lived that life, and especially the men who ruled in it, grew to be invested with characteristics of power and skill and energy which gave them fabulous interest in Dolly's eyes.

At home there had been a little scruple about letting Dolly join the party. She had had a cold, and was rather delicate at all times. The scruples, however, gave way before the child's earnest wish; and as Saturday of the particular week turned out mild and quiet, no hindrance was put in the way of the expedition.



It was a very special delectation which the school were to enjoy to-day. The girls thought it always "fun," of course, to quit lessons and go to see anything; "even factories," as one of the girls expressed it, to Dolly's untold astonishment; for it seemed to her that to be allowed to look into the mystery of manufactures must be the next thing to taking part personally in a fairy tale. However, to-day it was not a question of manufactures, but of a finished and furnished big ship, and not only finished and furnished, but manned. "This is something lively," Eudora opined. And she was quite right.

The day was a quiet day in November, with just a spice of frost in it; the air itself was lively, quick and quickening. The party were driven to the Navy Yard in carriages, and there received very politely by the officers, some of whom knew Mrs. Delancy and lent themselves with much kindness to the undertaking. The girls were more or less excited with pleasure and anticipation; but to Dolly the Navy Yard seemed to be already touching the borders of that mysterious and fascinating sea life in which her fancy had lately been roaming. So when the girls were all carefully bestowed in stout little row boats to go out to the ship, Dolly's foot it was which stepped upon enchanted boards, and her eye that saw an enchanted world around her. What a field was this rippling water, crisped with the light breeze, and gurgling under the boat's smooth sweep ahead! How the oars rose and fell, all together, as if moved by only one hand. Was this a part of the order and discipline of which she had read lately, as belonging to this strange world? Probably; for now and then a command was issued to the oarsmen, curt and sharp; and obeyed, Dolly saw, although she did not know what the command meant. Yes, she was in an enchanted sphere; and she looked at the "Achilles" as they drew nearer, with profoundest admiration. Its great hulk grew large upon her view, with an absolute haze of romance and mystery hanging about its decks and rigging. It was a large ship, finely equipped, according to the fashion of naval armament which was prevalent in those days; she was a three-decker; and the port holes of her guns looked in threatening ranks along the sides of the vessel. Still and majestic she lay upon the quiet river; a very wonderful floating home indeed, and unlike all else she had ever known, to Dolly's apprehension. How she and the rest were ever to get on board was an insoluble problem to her, as to most of them; and the chair that was presently lowered along the ship's side to receive them, seemed a very precarious sort of means of transport. However, the getting aboard was safely accomplished; one by one they were hoisted up; and Dolly's feet stood upon the great main deck. And the first view was perfectly satisfactory, and even went far beyond her imaginings. She found herself standing under a mixed confusion of masts and spars and sails, marvellous to behold, which yet she also saw was no confusion at all, but complicated and systematic order. How much those midshipmen must have to learn, though, if they were to know the names and uses and handling of every spar and every rope and each sail among them! as Dolly knew they must. Her eye came back to the deck. What order there too; what neatness; why it was beautiful; and the uniforms here and there, and the sailors' hats and jackets, filled up the picture to her heart's desire. Dolly breathed a full breath of satisfaction.

The Captain of the "Achilles" made his appearance, Captain Barbour. He was a thick-set, grizzly haired man, rather short, not handsome at all; and yet with an air of authority unmistakably clothing him like a garment of power and dignity. Plainly this man's word was law, and the girls stood in awe of him. He was known to Mrs. Delancy; and now she went on to present formally all her young people to him. The captain returned the courtesy by calling up and introducing to her and them some of his officers; and then they went to a review of the ship.

It took a long while. Between Mrs. Delancy and Captain Barbour a lively conversation was carried on; Dolly thought he was explaining things to the lady that she did not understand; but though it might be the case now and then, I think the talk moved mainly upon less technical matters. Dolly could not get near enough to hear what it was, at any rate. The young lieutenants, too, were taken up with playing the host to the older young ladies of the party. If they received instruction also by the way, Dolly could not tell; the laughing hardly looked like it. She and the other young ones at any rate followed humbly at the tail of everything, and just came up to a clear view of some detail when the others were moving away. There was nobody to help Dolly understand anything; nevertheless, she wandered in a fairy vision of wonderland. Into the cabins, down to the forecastle, down to the gun deck. What could equal the black strangeness of that view! and what could it all mean? Dolly wished for her Uncle Edward, or some one, to answer a thousand questions. She had been reading about the guns, she looked curiously now at the realities, of which she had studied the pictures; recognised here a detail and there a detail, but remaining hugely ignorant of the whole and of the bearing of the several parts upon each other. Yet she did not know how time flew; she did not know that she was getting tired; from one strange thing to another she followed her leaders about; very much alone indeed, for even the other girls of her own age were staring at a different class of objects, and could hardly be said to see what she saw, much less were ready to ask what she wanted to ask. Dolly went round in a confused dream.

At last the party had gone everywhere that such a party could go; Captain Barbour had spared them the lower gun deck. They came back to the captain's cabin, where a very pleasant lunch was served to the ladies. It was served, that is, to those who could get it, to those who were near enough and old enough to put in a claim by right of appearance. Dolly and one or two more who were undeniably little girls stood a bad chance, hanging about on the outskirts of the crowd, for the cabin would not take them all in; and hearing a distant sound of clinking glass and silver and words of refreshment. It was all they seemed likely to get; and when a kindly elderly officer had taken pity on the child and given Dolly a biscuit, she concluded to resign the rest of the unattainable luncheon and make the most of her other opportunities while she had them. Eating the biscuit, which she was very glad of, she wandered off by herself, along the deck; looking again carefully at all she saw; for her eyes were greedy of seeing. Sails,—what strange shapes; and how close rolled up some of them were! Ropes,—what a multitude; and cables. Coils of them on deck; and if she looked up, an endless tracery of lines seen against the blue sky. There was a sailor going up something like a rope ladder; going up and up; how could he? and how far could he go? Dolly almost grew dizzy gazing at him.

"What are you looking after, little one?" a voice near her asked. An unceremonious address, certainly; frankly put; but the voice was not unkindly or uncivil, and Dolly was not sensitive on the point of personal dignity. She brought her eyes down for a moment far enough to see the shimmer of gold lace on a midshipman's cap, and answered,

"I am looking at that man. He's going up and up, to the top of everything. I should think his head would turn."

"Yours will, if you look after him with your head in that position."

Dolly let her eyes come now to the speaker's face. One of the young midshipmen it was, standing near her, with his arms folded and leaning upon something which served as a support to them, and looking down at Dolly. For standing so and leaning over, he was still a good deal taller than she. Further, Dolly observed a pair of level brows, beneath them a pair of wise-looking, cognisance-taking blue eyes, an expression of steady calm, betokening either an even temperament or an habitual power of self-control; and just now in the eyes and the mouth there was the play almost of a smile somewhat merry, wholly kindly. It took Dolly's confidence entirely and at once.

"You don't think you would like to be a sailor?" he went on.

"Is it pleasant?" said Dolly, retorting the question earnestly and doubtfully.

The smile broke a little more on the other's face. "How do you like the ship?" he asked.

"I do not know," said Dolly, glancing along the deck. "I think it is a strange place to live."


"And I don't understand the use of it," Dolly went on with a really puzzled face.

"The use of what?"

"The use of the whole thing. I know what ships are good for, of course; other ships; but what is the use of such a ship as this?"

"To take care of the other ships."


"Have you been below? Did you see the gun decks?"

"I was in a place where there were a great many guns—but I could not understand, and there was nobody to tell me things."

"Would you like to go down there again?"

"Oh yes!" said Dolly. "They will be a good while at lunch yet. Oh, thank you! I should like so much to go."

The young midshipman took her hand; perhaps he had a little sister at home and the action was pleasant and familiar; it seemed to be both; and led her down the way that took them to the upper gun deck.

"How comes it you are not taking lunch too?" he asked by the way.

"Oh, there are too many of them," said Dolly contentedly. "I don't care. I had a biscuit."

"You don't care for your lunch?"

"Yes, I do, when I'm hungry; but now I would rather see things. I never saw a ship before."

They arrived in the great, gloomy, black gun deck. The midshipman let go Dolly's hand, and she stood and looked along the avenue between the bristling black cannon.

"Now, what is it that you don't understand?" he asked, watching her.

"What are these guns here for?"

"Don't you know that? Guns are to fight with."

"Yes, I know," said Dolly; "but how can you fight with them here in a row? and what would you fight with? I mean, who would you fight against?"

"Some other ship, if Fate willed it so. Look here; this is the way of it."

He took a letter from the breast of his coat, tore off a blank leaf; then resting it on the side of a gun carriage, he proceeded to make a sketch. Dolly's eyes followed his pencil point, spell-bound with interest. Under his quick and ready fingers grew, she could not tell how, the figure of a ship,—hull, masts, sails and rigging, deftly sketched in; till it seemed to Dolly she could almost see how the wind blew that was filling out the sails and floating off the streamer.

"There," said the artist,—"that is our enemy."

"Our enemy?" repeated Dolly.

"Our supposed enemy. We will suppose she is an enemy."

"But how could she be?"

"We might be at war with England suppose, or with France. This might be an English ship of war coming to catch up every merchantman she could overhaul that carried American colours, and make a prize of her; don't you see?"

"Do they do that?" said Dolly.

"What? catch up merchantmen? of course they do; and the more of value is on board, the better they are pleased. We lose so much, and they gain so much. Now we want to stop this fellow's power of doing mischief; you understand."

"What are those little black spots you are making along her sides."

"The port holes of her guns."

"Port holes?"

"The openings where the mouths of her guns look out. See," said he, pointing to the one near which they were standing,—"that is a port hole."

"That little window?"

"It isn't a window; it is a port hole."

"It is not a black spot."

"Because you are inside, and looking out towards the light. Look at them when you are leaving the ship; they will look like black spots then, you will find."

"Well, that's the enemy," said Dolly, drawing a short breath of excitement. "What is that ship you are making now?"

"That's the 'Achilles'; brought to; with her main topsails laid aback, and her fore topsails full; ready for action."

"I do not know what are topsails or fore topsails," said Dolly.

The midshipman explained; to illustrate his explanation sketched lightly another figure of a vessel, showing more distinctly the principal sails.

"And this is the 'Achilles,'" said Dolly, recurring to the principal design. "You have put her a great way off from the enemy, it seems to me."

"No. Point blank range. Quite near enough."

"Oh, what is 'point blank range'?" cried Dolly in despair. Her new friend smiled, but answered with good-humoured patience. Dolly listened and comprehended.

"Then, if this were an enemy, and that the 'Achilles,' and within point blank range, you would load one of these guns and fire at her?"

The midshipman shook his head. "We should load up all of them—all on that side."

"And five them one after another?"

"As fast as we could. We should give her a broadside. But we should probably give her one broadside after another."

"Suppose the balls all hit her?"

"Yes, you may suppose that. I should like to suppose it, if I were the officer in command."

"What would they do to her?—to that enemy ship?"

"If they all hit? Hinder her from doing any more mischief."


"Break her masts, tear up her rigging, make a wreck of her generally. Perhaps sink her."

"But suppose while you are fighting that she fights too?"

"Extremely probable."

"If a shot came in here—could it come in here?"

"Certainly. Cannon balls will go almost anywhere."

"If it came in here, what would it do?"

"Kill three or four of the men at a gun, perhaps; tear away a bit of the ship's side; or perhaps disable the gun."

"While you were firing at the enemy on this side, the guns of the other side, I suppose, would have nothing to do?"

"They might be fighting another enemy on that side," said the midshipman, smiling.

"I should think," said Dolly, looking down the long line of the gun deck, and trying to imagine the state of things described,—"I should think it would be most dreadful!"

"I have no doubt you would think so."

"Don't you think so?"

"I have never been in action yet."

"Don't you hope you never will?"

The young man laughed a little. "What would be the use of ships of war, if there were never any fighting? I should have nothing to do in the world."

"You might do something else," said Dolly, gazing at the lines of black guns stretching along both sides of the deck, so near to each other, so black, so grim. "How many men does it take to manage each gun? You said three or four might be killed."

"According to the size of the gun. Twelve men for these guns; larger would take fifteen."

Again Dolly meditated; in imagination peopled the solitary place with the active crowd of men which would be there if each gun had twelve gunners, filled the silence with the roar of combined discharges, thought of the dead and wounded; at last turned her eyes to the blue ones that were watching her.

"I wonder if God likes it?" she said.

"Likes what?" said the midshipman in wonder.

"Such work. I don't see how He can."

"How can you help such work? People cannot get along without fighting."

He did not speak carelessly or mockingly or banteringly; rather with a gentle, somewhat deliberate utterance. Yet Dolly was persuaded there was no unmanly softness in him; she never doubted but that he would be ready to do his part in that dreadful work, if it must be done. Moreover, he was paying to this odd little girl a delicate sort of respect and treating her with great consideration. Her confidence, as I said, had been entirely given to him before; and now some gratitude began to mingle with it, along with great freedom to speak her mind.

"I don't think God can like it," she repeated.

"What would you do, then?" he also repeated, smiling. "Let wicked people have their own way?"


"If they are not to have their own way, you must stop them."

"I think this is a dreadful way of stopping them."

"It's a bad job for the side that goes under," the young officer admitted.

"I don't believe God likes it," Dolly concluded for the third time, with great conviction.

"Is that your rule for everything?"

"Yes. Isn't it your rule?"

"I have to obey orders," he answered, watching her.

"Don't you obey His orders?" said Dolly wistfully.

"I do not know what they are."

"Oh, but they are in the Bible. You can find them in the Bible."

"Does it say anything about fighting?"

Dolly tried to think, and got confused. Certainly it did say a good deal about fighting, but in various ways, it seemed to her. She did not know how to answer. She changed the subject.

"How do you get the shot, the balls, I mean, into these guns? I don't see how you get at them. The mouths are out of the windows. Port holes, I mean."

For the upper gun deck had been put to a certain extent in order of action, and the guns were run out.

"You are of an inquiring disposition," said the midshipman gravely.

"Am I?"

"I think you are."

"But I should like to know"—pursued Dolly, looking at the muzzle of the gun by which they were standing.

"The guns would be run in to be loaded."

Dolly looked at the heavy piece of metal, and at him, but did not repeat her question.

"Now you want to know how," he said, smiling. "If I were captain, I would have the men here and show you. The gun is run in by means of this tackle, see!—and when it is charged, it is bowsed out again."

Seeing Dolly's wise grave eyes bent upon the subject, he went on to amuse her with a full detail of the exercise of the gun; from "casting loose," to the finishing "secure your guns;" explaining the manner of handling and loading, and the use of the principal tackle concerned. Dolly listened, intent, fascinated, enchained; and I think the young man was a little fascinated too, though his attentions were given to so very young a lady. Dolly's brown eyes were so utterly pure and grave and unconscious; the brain at work behind them was so evidently clear and busy and competent; the pleasure she showed was so unschoolgirl-like, and he thought so unchildlike, and at the same time so very far from being young lady-like. What she was like, he did not know; she was an odd little apparition there in the gun-deck of the "Achilles," leaning with her elbows upon a gun carriage, and surveyeing with her soft eyes the various paraphernalia of conflict and carnage around her. Contrast could hardly be stronger.

"Suppose," said Dolly at last, "a shot should make a hole in the side of the ship, and let in the water?"

"Well? Suppose it," he answered.

"Does that ever happen?"

"Quite often. Why not?"

"What would you do then?"

"Pump out the water as fast as it came in,—if we could."

"Suppose you couldn't?"

"Then we should go down."

"And all in the ship?"

"All who could not get out of it."

"How could any get out of it?"

"In the boats."

"Oh!—I forgot the boats. Would they hold everybody?"

"Probably not. The other ships' boats would come to help."

"The officers would go first, I suppose?"

"Last. The highest officer of all would be the last man on board."


"He must do his duty. If he cannot save his ship, at least he must save his men;—all he can. He is there to do his duty."

"I think it would be better not to be there at all," said Dolly very gravely.

"Who would take care of you then, if an enemy's fleet were coming to attack Philadelphia?" said the young officer.

"I would go home," said Dolly. "I don't know what would become of Philadelphia. But I do not think God can like it."

"Shall we go above where it is more cheerful? or have you seen it all?"

Dolly gave him her hand again and let him help her till they got on deck. There they went roaming towards the fore part of the vessel, looking at everything by the way; Dolly asking the names and the meaning of things, and receiving explanations, especially regarding the sails and rigging and steering of the ship. She was even shown where the sailors made their home in the forecastle. As they were returning aft, Dolly stopped by a coil of rope on deck and began pulling at an end of it. Her companion inquired what she wanted?

"I would like a little piece," said Dolly; "if I could get it."

"A piece of rope?"

"Yes;—just a little bit; but it is very strong; it won't break."

She was tugging at a loose strand.

"How large a bit do you want?"

"Oh, just a little piece," said Dolly. "I wanted just a little piece to keep—but it's no matter. I wanted to keep it."

"A keepsake?" said the young man. "To remember us by? They are breaking up,"—he added immediately, casting his glance aft, where a stir and a gathering and a movement on deck in front of the captain's cabin could now be seen, and the sound of voices came fresh along the breeze. "They are going—there is no time now. I will send you a piece, if you will tell me where I can send it. Where do you live?"

"Oh, will you? Oh, thank you!" said Dolly, and her face lifted confidingly to the young officer grew sunny with pleasure. "I live at Mrs. Delancy's school;—but no, I don't! I don't live there. My home is at Uncle Edward's—Mr. Edward Eberstein—in Walnut Street."

"What number?" said the midshipman, using his pencil again on the much scribbled piece of paper; and Dolly told him.

"And whom shall I send the—the piece of rope, to?"

"Oh, yes!—Dolly Copley. That is my name. Good bye, I must go."

"Dolly Copley. You shall have it," said he, giving the little hand she held out to him a right sailorly grasp. And Dolly ran away. In the bustle and anxiety of getting lowered into the little boat again she forgot him and everything else; however, so soon as she was safely seated and just as the men were ordered to "give way," she looked up at the great ship they were leaving; and there, just above her, leaning on the guards and looking over and down at her, she saw her midshipman friend. Dolly saw nothing else till his face was too small in the distance to be any longer recognised.



It was Saturday and holiday, and Dolly went home to her aunt's. There her aunt and uncle, as was natural, expected a long story of the morning's experience. And Dolly one would think might have given it; matter for the detail was not wanting; yet she seemed to have little to tell. On the other hand, she had a great deal to ask. She wanted to know why people could not do all their fighting on land; why ships of war were necessary; Mr. Eberstein tried to explain that there might be great and needful advantages attendant upon the use of them. Then Dolly begged for instances. Had we, Americans, ever fought at sea? Mr. Eberstein answered that, and gave her details of facts, while Mrs. Eberstein sat by silent and watched Dolly's serious, meditative face.

"I should think," said Dolly, "that when there is a fight, a ship of war would be a very dreadful place."

"There is no doubt of that, my little girl," said Mr. Eberstein. "Take the noise, and the smoke, the packed condition of one of those gun decks, and the every now and then coming in of a round shot, crashing through planks and timbers, splintering what comes in its way, and stretching half a dozen men at once, more or less, on the floor in dead and wounded,—I think it must be as good a likeness of the infernal regions as earth can give—in one way at least."

"In what way?" Dolly asked immediately.

"Confusion of pain and horror. Not wickedness."

"Uncle Ned, do you think God can like it?"


"Then isn't it wicked?"

"No, little one; not necessarily. No sort of pain or suffering can be pleasing to God; we know it is not; yet sin has made it necessary, and He often sends it."

"Don't He always send it?"

"Why no. Some sorts people bring on themselves by their own folly and perverseness; and some sorts people work on others by their own wicked self-will. God does not cause that, though He will overrule it to do what He wants done."

"Uncle Ned, do you think we shall ever have to use our ships of war again?"

"We are using them all the time. We send them to this place and that place to protect our own people, and their merchant vessels and their commerce, from interference and injury."

"No, but I mean, in fighting. Do you think we shall ever have to send them to fight again?"


"To fight whom?"

"That I don't know."

"Then why do you say 'probably'?"

"Because human nature remains what it was, and will no doubt do the same work in the future that it has done from the beginning."

"Why is fighting part of that work, Uncle Ned?"

"Ah, why! Greed, which wants what is the right of others; pride, which resents even a fancied interference with its own; anger, which cries for revenge; these are the reasons."

Dolly looked very deeply serious.

"Why do you care so much about it, Dolly?" her aunt asked at length, after a meditative pause of several minutes.

"I would be sorry to have the 'Achilles' go into battle," said Dolly; and a perceptible slight shudder passed over her shoulders.

"Is the 'Achilles' so much to you, just because you have seen her?"

"No—" said Dolly thoughtfully; "it isn't the ship; it's the people."

"Oh!—But what do you know of the people?"

"I saw a good many of them, Aunt Harry."

Politic Dolly! She had really seen only one. Yet she had no idea of being politic; and why she did not say whom she had seen, and what reason she had for being interested in him, I cannot tell you.

From that time Dolly's reading took a new turn. She sought out in the bookcases everything that related to sailors and ships, and especially naval warfare, and simply devoured it. The little Life of Lord Nelson, by Southey, in two small calf-bound volumes, became her darling book. Better than any novel, for it was true, and equal to any novel for its varied, picturesque, passionate, stirring life story. Dolly read it, till she could have given you at any time an accurate and detailed account of any one of Nelson's great battles; and more than that, she studied the geography of the lands and waters thereby concerned, and where possible the topography also. I suppose the "Achilles" stood for a model of all the ships in which successively the great commander hoisted his flag; and if the hero himself did not take the form and features of a certain American midshipman, it was probably because there was a likeness of the subject of the Memoir opposite to the title-page; and the rather plain, rather melancholy, rather feeble traits of the English naval captain, could by no effort of imagination be confounded with the quiet strength and gentle manliness which Dolly had found in the straight brows and keen blue eyes and kindly smile of her midshipman friend. That would not do. Nelson was not like him, nor he like Nelson; but Dolly had little doubt but he would do as much, if he had occasion. In that faith she read on; and made every action lively with the vision of those keen-sighted blue eyes and firm sweet mouth in the midst of the smoke of battle and the confusion of orders given and received. How often the Life of Nelson was read, I dare not say; nor with what renewed eagerness the Marine Dictionary and its plates of ships and cannon were studied and searched. From that, Dolly's attention was extended to other books which told of the sea and of life upon it, even though the life were not war-like. Captain Cook's voyages came in for a large amount of favour; and Cooper's "Afloat and Ashore," which happened about this time to fall into Dolly's hands, was devoured with a hunger which grew on what it fed. Nobody knew; she had ceased to talk on naval subjects; and it was so common a thing for Dolly to be swallowed up in some book or other whenever she was at home, that Mrs. Eberstein's curiosity was not excited.

Meanwhile school days and school work went on, and week succeeded week, and everybody but Dolly had forgotten all about the "Achilles;" when one day a small package was brought to the door and handed in "For Miss Dolly Copley." It was a Saturday afternoon. Dolly and her aunt were sitting comfortably together in Mrs. Eberstein's workroom upstairs, and Mr. Eberstein was there too at his secretary.

"For me?" said Dolly, when the servant brought the package in. "It's a box! Aunt Harry, what can it be?"

"Open and see, Dolly."

Which Dolly did with an odd mixture of haste and deliberation which amused Mrs. Eberstein. She tore off nothing, and she cut nothing; patiently knots were untied and papers unfolded, though Dolly's fingers trembled with excitement. Papers taken off showed a rather small pasteboard box; and the box being opened revealed coil upon coil, nicely wound up, of a beautifully wrought chain. It might be a watch chain; but Dolly possessed no watch.

"What is it, Aunt Harry?" she said in wondering pleasure as the coils of the pretty woven work fell over her hand.

"It looks like a watch chain, Dolly. What is it made of?"

Mrs. Eberstein inspected the work closely and could not determine.

"But who could send me a watch chain?" said Dolly.

"Somebody; for here is your name very plainly on the cover and on the paper."

"The boy is waiting for an answer, miss."

"Answer? To what? I don't know whom to answer," said Dolly.

"There's a note, miss."

"A note? where?—Oh, here is a note, Aunt Harry, in the bottom of the box. I did not see it."

"From whom, Dolly?"

Dolly did not answer. She had unfolded the note, and now her whole face was wrinkling up with pleasure or fun; she did not hear or heed her aunt's question. Mrs. Eberstein marked how her colour rose and her smile grew sparkling; and she watched with not a little curiosity and some impatience till Dolly should speak. The little girl looked up at last with a face all dimples.

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