A Williams Anthology
Compiled by Edwin Partridge Lehman and Julian Park
Part 2 out of 4
SANBORN GOVE TENNEY '86
In holland brown she stands to greet
Me as I come adown the street,
The sunlight falling on her hair
Leaves warm caresses gently there--
A picture with true grace replete!
The roses twining round her feet
Breathe gentle fragrance rare and sweet,
She sings a merry rustic air--
In holland brown.
O years that fly so swift and fleet!
O storms that 'gainst her window beat!
Keep her from harm and tears and care!
That future years may find her where
In days of June we used to meet,
In holland brown.
SANBORN GOVE TENNEY '86
Many years have left their shadows on the pathless flow of time;
Many bards have with soft music sung their lays of ancient rhyme,
Since the day when rosy Hylas plunged into Scamander's wave,
Since the am'rous Naiads bore him where no human arm could save.
On the waves swift Argo rested; scarce a ripple stirred the sea,
While across the Dardan meadows sighed the breezes soft and free;
Then the sun, in golden splendor, sank into a sea of flame,
Darkness o'er the blue hills rested; yet no fair young Hylas came.
For the water nymphs had loved him, when they saw his beauty rare,
And with yielding lips caressing, they entwined him with their hair,
Till they bound him, still entreating, with this soft and silken chain,
Till they drew him 'neath the waters, whence he ne'er should come again.
Then the moon, a crescent jewel, edged the clouds with silver light,
While they sped like shallops sailing, swift-winged messengers of Night.
And the stream, dark-hued and somber, sighed in surges on the shore,
Gently sighed among its rushes, "Hylas! Hylas!" o'er and o'er.
Yet no voice replied in answer, tho' the sighing louder grew,
Tho' with sorrow bowed the flowers and their tears were drops of dew;
No sweet echo breaks the silence, tho' the heart may hope and yearn,
O'er the stream a realm of quiet, on the shore the empty urn.
SAMUEL ABBOTT '87
The mellow light steals o'er its silent strings,
That catch the sound of some far sylvan strain;
Such fantasie as thrills the poet's brain,
Or Morpheus, floating 'neath the pale stars, brings.
And list! Divinely, on its own sad wings,
It sings a wondrous pitiful refrain,
Methinks some soul with aching grief is lain--
That moans and dies with broken murmurings.
The voice is hushed, the lights are low and spent;
The dancers bid farewell, with tired feet.
Too few, I ween, this thing of wood has meant
A tenth part what its harmony, so sweet,
Has told to me. 'Mid joy, the sorrows greet
The wanderer, their hearts by weeping rent.
ELBRIDGE LAPHAM ADAMS '87
Dim, distant, tinkling chimes,
That summoned men in olden times
To pray the Virgin grace impart;
Ye solemn voices of a day gone by,
Whose mystic strains of melody
Alike touched peer and peasant's heart:
Your music falters in the fleeting years,
Yet still comes faintly to our ears,
Saved by a master's cunning art.
_Literary Monthly_, 1885.
A SUMMER AFTERNOON
HENRY D. WILD '88
In the country, with a soft, calm, hazy afternoon to keep you company!
To feel that Nature and yourself have moods in common, for you are
lazy and Nature is lazy, too, and blinks sleepily at you from filmy,
dreamy eyes that open and shut with your own in a sort of drowsy
rhythm. What more delightful than to yield yourself entirely to the
present mood and wander off somewhere, aimless except to see and feel?
The trim soberness of the dusty road with its gray windings and vistas
of sand-ruts becomes less matter-of-fact at length, and so you leave
it to itself, and seek a path that leads to the heart of Nature and
far from ways of men. Down grassy slopes and over little hillocks that
pique your curiosity by shutting out the view of what is coming next;
now skirting the edge of a furrowed potato-patch, and now sauntering
down cool lanes of corn, listening to the breezy lisping of the long,
green leaves that flap you softly in the face; now across a moist spot
where a spring bubbles forth, apparently only to nourish a family of
cowslips, and so on and on until you break the stillness of a shady
wood as your feet keep alternate time among the heaps of leaves whose
rustling is varied by the occasional noise of crackling twigs. The
damp air, freshened by contact with trickling drops and oozy bogs, and
perfumed with spicy cedar, soothes and cools. Yonder lies prostrate
some mighty giant of the forest, victim of a ruthless storm, grim with
decay and raising a vertical base of black sod and tangled roots torn
from the earth where a gaping wound shows its former place. Here a
rock, moist with swamp-sweat, lichen-covered and set in moss. There a
clump of thick-grown cedars, deep shelter for the timid rabbit. All is
noiseless, breathless. Not even the squirrel chatters, for it is not
long past noon. But farther on comes a dull, low murmuring, scarcely
to be heard at first, so nicely does it fit this gentle monotone of
silence, yet soon filling the trembling air with overtones that rise
and fall and swell again in varying chords. It is the river. A few
steps more and you are there, and beside the stream in a fragrant bed
of ferns, with one hand caressing the delicate tresses of the
maidenhair, and the other dipped among the ripples, you give yourself
up, half dozing, to thoughts of the long ago and the far away that
seem to float up from the past along the dim windings of the stream.
The sun makes dancing spots of dark and light between the fluttering
leaves, and throws a changing shadow upon yon deep pool, where a grand
old beech, festooned with clematis, leans its gray trunk far over as
if to bless the stream whose waters, bubbling swiftly over the pebbles
a little higher up, calm themselves here to rest in peace. The
wood-thrush sends its plaintive, solitary note of silver-globuled
melody from the inmost forest. No other sound, save when a wagon now
and then rolls its quick rumble across a bridge, and then is gone like
some self-conscious intruder. But luxury like this is the very thief
of time. Before you are aware the waves of heat have ceased to form a
throbbing air-hive for humming insects, and the cool of early twilight
has come on, attended by lengthening shadows. And so home again along
the dewy fields, while an orchestra of crickets chirps a happy end
beneath the summer stars to the day that is done. It is in ways like
this that poets renew their souls, the old their youth, and weary
hearts, in sweet release from care, gain strength for life.
_Literary Monthly_, 1887.
GEORGE L. RICHARDSON '88
There are strange complications in it all,
This life of ours--had I fourfold the wit
That as his share to any man doth fall,
I fear me that I could not fathom it.
This sorrow bringing laughter, and joy tears,
Conflicting things we cannot understand;
This constant longing for great length of years,
That brings but weary limb and feeble hand;
Eyes that are dim, and saddened, lowly life;
These hot-waged wars, squalid with cries of pain,
This joy in contest and this thirst for strife,
In which both suffer, and there is no gain;
Strong love that ere long turns to stronger hate,
Sin leading into good, good into sin--
In very truth do lambs with tigers mate.
The world is wide, and strange things are therein.
ON BRYANT'S "THANATOPSIS"
GEORGE LYNDE RICHARDSON '88
A great thought came to a great singer's heart,
Out of the grandeur of the changeless hills--
A thought whose greatness e'en in our day fills
Men's minds with nobler feeling. All his art
He lavished on the poem that he wrought,
That it might be, through all the years of time,
An inspiration, to all men, sublime,
And nor for fault of his hand come to naught.
So it hath been. The singer lieth dead;
His words live on. And still the mountains stand,
And all men say who know them, in that land--
And through all ages, it will still be said--
Not gold that perisheth, from deep-hid veins,
They give us, but the thought that aye remains.
_Literary Monthly_, 1887.
TALCOTT M. BANKS '90
Come, friend scholar, cease your bending
Over books with eager gaze;
Time it were such work had ending,--
Well enough for rainy days.
Out with me where sunlight pours,
Life to-day is out of doors!
Busy? Pshaw! what good can reach you
Frowning o'er that dog-eared page?
Yonder rushing brook can teach you
More than half your Classic Age.
Banish Greeks and Siren shores,
Let your thoughts run out of doors!
Rest we here where none can spy us,
Deep in rippling fields of grass;
Scented winds blow softly by us,
Lazy clouds above us pass;
Higher yet my fancy soars--
All my soul is out of doors!
_Literary Monthly_, 1888.
[Footnote 1: Copyright, 1907, by T.M. Banks. With permission.]
THE BACKWARD LOOK
TALCOTT M. BANKS '90
Once on a bright October day,
I took the road whose winding track
Leads up among the hills away
Across Taconic's shaggy back,
Leaving the valley broad and fair
For barren heights in upper air.
At last I stood upon the crest;
The ruddy sun was sinking low,
And all the country to the west
Lay flooded with a golden glow--
A fairyland of misty light,
Unsullied by the touch of night.
I turned, and lo, a sudden change
Had swept across the valley's face.
The shadow of Taconic's range
Had fallen on the lovely place;
And darkness followed thick and fast
Behind the shadow as it passed.
Since then the changeful years have flown
Till now once more I seem to stand
Upon the mountain top alone,
And look abroad upon the land.
But all before is gray and dim,
Half-hidden in the cloud-wrack grim;
While in the Berkshire valley stays
The light that dawned in happier days.
_Literary Monthly_, 1893.
[Footnote 1: Copyright, 1907, by T.M. Banks. With permission.]
ARTHUR OLIVER '93
If all the stars were gems, love,
And all those gems were mine,
I'd give them in exchange, love,
For that dear heart of thine.
But, since the stars so bright, love,
Are neither gems nor mine,
What can I do, but sigh and rue
My luckless lot, and pine,
And gaze on high, where night winds sigh,
Across thy lattice vine?
If all the little birds, love,
That twitter 'mid the dew,
Could sing in words and tell, love,
The love I bear to you,
They would not end their song, love,
The night's long vigil through;
But all the wings that morning brings
Would soar amid the blue,
And float along on waves of song,
With carols sweet and new.
_Literary Monthly_, 1893.
FREDERICK D. GOODWIN '95
Placed 'midst the city's busiest life,
Not a stone's throw from the deadly strife
Of the metropolitan mart,
Old Trinity stands; her spire, like a hand,
Points ever upward; her chimes demand
From the hardened world a heart.
Clustered around her, buried, lie
Many whose names can never die,
Founders of their country's weal:
Patriot churchmen, statesmen, soldiers,
There they sleep who were its moulders;
Sculptured stones their deeds reveal.
Trinity's self was new-born with the nation;
Springing from ashes of desolation,
She helped to forge posterity.
Now she looks from her chosen station,
At pageant, starvation, begg'ry, ovation,
Results of her sons' prosperity.
Within, away from the din and crowd
And the mendicants' cries and the laughter loud,
Of Pleasure in hand with Youth,
Is the silent yet eloquent reign of Peace
And the utterance of words which shall not cease
While the earth has a place for Truth.
When peal on peal the organ's voice
Calls the assembled to rejoice
For blessings unsurpassed,
Or when its milder tones tell Grief,
Then e'en Death's triumph is but brief,
Old Trinity's charm but half is grasped.
Far sweeter it is in the twilights glim,
When the symbolled altar is growing dim,
And the wayward shadows dart,
To watch the golden light stream in
Each lofty window, as though all sin
At its entrance must depart.
Saints' and martyrs' pictured graces,
Illumined by these heavenly traces,
Shine in blue and saffron and red;
But in the sun's last traces, above their faces,
Beam the eyes which no might from the soul effaces,
And the Christ's mock-crowned head.
_Literary Monthly_, 1894.
TWO TRIOLETS OF AUTUMN
KARL E. WESTON '96
'Neath fading leaves and dreary skies,
A late-born rose burst into bloom
And gazed about with sad surprise,
'Neath fading leaves and dreary skies;
Let fall from Summer's bier, it lies
In Autumn's pathway 'mid the gloom
Of fading leaves and dreary skies,
A late-born rose, burst into bloom.
Beside the ever restless sea
Fair Autumn stands. With beckoning hand
She hails the passing days, which flee
Across the ever restless sea,--
Their sealed ears hearing not the plea
Which sea-winds waft from that fair land
Beside the ever restless sea,
Where Autumn stands with beckoning hand.
_Literary Monthly_, 1894.
ARTHUR KETCHUM '98
Adrift in taintless seas she dreaming lies,
The island city, time-worn now, and gray,
Her dark wharves ruinous, where once there lay
Tall ships, at rest from far-sea industries.
The busy hand of trade no longer plies
Within her streets. In quiet court and way
The grass has crept--and sun and shadows play
Beneath her elms, in changing traceries;
The years have claimed her theirs, and the still peace
Of wind and sun and mist, blown thick and white,
Has folded her. The voices of the seas
Through many a soft, bright day and brooding night
Have wrought her silence, wide as they, and deep,
And dreaming of the past, she waits--asleep.
_Literary Monthly_, 1897.
THE GYPSY STRAIN
ARTHUR KETCHUM '98
It comes with the autumn's silence,
When great Hills dream apart,
And far blue leagues of distance
Call to the Gypsy-heart.
When all the length of sunny roads,
A lure to restless feet,
Are largesses of goldenrod
And beck of bitter-sweet.
Then the wand'rer in us wakens
And out from citied girth,
To go a-vagabonding down
The wide ways of the Earth.
_Literary Monthly_, 1898.
THE SONG OF THE CAVALIERS
JAMES B. CORCORAN ex-'01
When our sabers rattle merrily against our lances' butt,
And our bugles ring out clearly in the coolness of the dawn,
You can see the guidons waving as the ranks begin to shut,
And the morning sun beams forth on the sabers that are drawn.
Then the bits begin to jangle and our horses paw the air,
When we vault into the saddle and we grasp the bridle-rein;
Of danger we are fearless and for death we do not care,
For we fight for good Don Carlos and the grim grandees of Spain.
So to horse and away,
At the break of day,
With never a thought of fears;
For Spain and the right
We'll die or we'll fight,
Sing ho, for the cavaliers!
As we gallop through the villages or through the sylvan glades,
Merry maid and buxom matron smile and wave as we ride by;
There are broken hearts behind us as well as broken blades,
For the cavaliers are gallants till the war-notes rend the sky.
But when summer breezes waver and grow cold with news of war,
We gird our good swords closer and we arm us for the fight;
Maid and wine cup fade behind us, lance and helmet to the fore,
And we wheel into our battle line for Carlos and the right.
So to horse and away,
At the break of day,
With never a thought of fears;
We'll die or we'll fight,
For Spain and the right;
Sing ho, for the cavaliers
When at last the brazen bugles ripple out the ringing charge,
We rise up in our stirrups and we wave our swords on high,
The dust clouds rise beneath us, and the demons seem at large--
The cavaliers are charging in to conquer or to die.
Grim death may claim his victims from out our whirling ranks,
Our plumes may be down-trodden in the grimy, bloody sod:
The cavaliers will meet their fate without a word of thanks,
But they've died for good Don Carlos, for old Spain, and for their God.
So to horse and away,
At the break of day,
With never a thought of fears;
We'll die or we'll fight
For Spain and the right;
Sing ho, for the cavaliers!
_Literary Monthly_, 1897.
CHARLES P. PARKHURST '98
At dawn he toils the steep to gain the flower,
The lure that beckons from the height afar;
Noon wanes to eve, the bloom has fled, but lo!
High in the purple night there gleams a star.
_Literary Monthly_, 1897.
CERVERA AT ANNAPOLIS
HENRY R. CONGER '99
They crowded round to see him, great and small,
The conquered admiral of a conquered fleet,
Shorn of his glories, thrown from his high seat,
Great by the very greatness of his fall.
Hope, honor, fortune, lost beyond recall,
Greyhaired and bitter-hearted; doomed to meet
His country's censure, sharper than defeat;
His foeman's pity--that was worst of all.
He heard them faintly, as one hears, amuse,
Amid his vision voices far away
That call him from sad dreams to sadder day;
For he was where he would be could he choose,
At peace beneath the waters of the bay,
Where all his ships lay silent with their crews.
_Literary Monthly_, 1898.
DWIGHT W. MARVIN '01
I wondered why the western hills were always smiling so,
Until one evening when the heavens were like a fiery sea;
For, as the Sun crept down the sky amid the sunset-glow,
He paused upon the western hills, and kissed them tenderly.
_Literary Monthly_, 1900.
ONE OF THE PLODDERS
HARRY JAMES SMITH '02
Through the gathering gloom of a summer evening a young man walked
wearily up the dusty road toward the Waring farmhouse. In each hand he
carried a brimming pail and as he stepped along the milk in them
flopped softly against their tin sides. Out from the white streak of
sky behind his figure stood strongly relieved in silhouette, large,
stooping, dispirited. The whole attitude was one of extreme fatigue,
though for the silence and automatic movement of him you might almost
think him a piece of ambulatory mechanism. Once or twice, to be sure,
he turned his head, perhaps to look off over the cultivated fields and
to calculate the labor still to be put on them, or possibly to draw a
sort of unconscious, tired satisfaction from these encouraging results
of so many weary hours. At any rate his pace never altered. Overhead
the large maple trees reached their glooming branches in a mysterious,
impenetrable canopy that rustled softly in the dusky silence. For the
night was still, despite the squeaking of katydids and the distant
peep of frogs. Along the sides of the road as it stretched on ahead
like a brownish ribbon and vanished under the farther trees, ran stone
walls, low and massive, and sharply hemming in the dusty highway from
the cool, green fields beyond.
David Waring was not consciously aware of anything in the world, but
his whole body was alive to the anticipation of the near end of his
day's work. A few minutes more and he should have set the milk into
the coolers, thrown off his overalls, and washed himself in cold
spring water--and then he could drop into a chair on the quiet porch
and take his ease.
Quite unexpectedly just ahead of him a young woman stepped out from
the shadow of a tree and sprang lightly into the road. "Hello, David!"
she said, waiting for him to come up to her. "You look as tired as a
plough-horse. What's the matter?"
"Well, I am, Janet. It doesn't hardly seem as if I could push one foot
ahead of another. Here I've been working all day long, and only just
done at eight or nine o'clock."
"Poor boy," answered the girl. "Come and sit down a few minutes while
I talk to you. I didn't go round to the house because I knew your
father and mother would be off at meeting."
David needed no urging. He placed the pails of milk by the roadside
and together the two sat down by the stone wall.
"I'd let you put your arm around me if you didn't smell so cowy," said
Janet with a little laugh.
"That's not my fault," he answered. "Somebody's got to milk the poor
old beasts, and I don't know who would if I didn't. That doesn't make
me like it, though. Oh Janet, when I feel as tired as I do to-night I
get terribly sickened with all this humdrum life on the farm! It's
just work, work, from morning till night and when you get done you're
too tired to read or talk or do anything but just go to sleep like a
big ox. If it weren't for father's and mother's sakes I believe I'd
quit the old place in a minute. If I could only go off somewhere--anywhere,
only to be out of sight of the farm!"
"Well, I like that, Mr. Waring," said the girl, with a look half
indignant, half smiling. "Is _that_ the only thing that keeps you
here? I guess perhaps it's time for me to go home now."
"Oh, Janet, don't take it that way! You know what I mean. I'm just
sick and tired of the whole business, and I wish to goodness I could
throw it over. By the way, I suppose you know my brother's coming home
from Yale to-morrow. It's almost two years since I've seen him except
for a week or two. I guess he'll have changed some; his letters sound
"That's just what I came down to ask you about. I heard it yesterday
and I'd be awfully glad if you two would come up to supper day after
to-morrow--that's Sunday. I'm so anxious to see him because I know
he'll have lots to tell us about college and the city and things like
that. Oh, David, I get tired too of always staying here in the country
and teaching school forever, when there are so many things to learn
and so much to see off there in the world. That's what Loren can tell
us about. It'll be next best to getting off somewhere one's self."
During the course of the conversation the streak of white in the west
had turned to gray and the night was rapidly closing down. The girl
jumped to the ground; "Good-night," she said, as she started away,
"I'll see you both Sunday,--sure, now!"
David picked up his milk-pails and completed the work of the day. A
little later he had seated himself on the porch. He felt discontented
and unhappy though he could not have told exactly why. But one thing
was evident--he was not anticipating Loren's home-coming with much
pleasure. He felt, in fact, a certain reluctance, or rather timidity,
about meeting this younger brother of his who knew so much and talked
so much, and seemed to enjoy himself so thoroughly. He anticipated
keenly the difference that two years must have brought between them,
and dreaded the time when they should be put side by side once more
and compared. For David, too--the older of the boys by a year--had
expected to go to college and till the time came had never doubted the
expediency of it. But, as is so often the case, that merry-making
force in human affairs that we call Circumstance--or is it
Providence?--had it fixed up otherwise. Mr. Waring had suddenly
lighted upon chronic poor health as a daily companion on the walk of
life, and his time was so much engrossed therewith that David seemed
called upon--nay, impelled--to become the main-stay of the farm; Loren
was still too young; financial affairs were far from encouraging; Mrs.
Waring looked constantly to her older son for advice and assistance;
in short, the golden gate of the future seemed to be drawing to,
without any voluntary effort of his own. Yet he had often recalled
since then the night--that breathless night in August four years
ago--when he and his dearest ambition had had their last battle, and
he had forced it to cover. "Loren shall have the best chance I can
give him," he had said to himself, with his teeth gritted, "and God
help me to stick it out here on the farm!" Thus it was, that, as
usual, Dame Circumstance had won out by a good margin.
And now Loren had been two years at Yale and was coming home for the
summer. Loren had learned a vast deal at college; among other scraps
of intelligence he had discovered that his family were a little
outlandish, and that Melton was altogether too slow a place for a
rational being like himself to exist in except, at the best, for a few
summer weeks. His latest letter, received only yesterday, was a
characteristic one, and David had unintentionally resented its tone of
breezy self-assurance: "... I suppose I shall show up at fair Melton,"
it had read, "about 2:35 on Saturday, unless, that is, I happen to get
a few days' invite to New York. Of course David will be down to meet
me and bring my trunk up." The words were innocent enough, but they
had insinuated their way into his mind and rankled there like an evil
thing. "Yes, _of course_ I will be down," he said to himself somewhat
bitterly; "of course I will, that's to be expected. And bring up his
trunk for him; yes, that's just what I like--the chance to fetch
Loren's trunk, and I like his way of taking it all for granted, too."
The mental transition to the matter of Janet's invitation was a
natural one. He began to wish that she hadn't been in such a hurry
about giving it. What could she want of Loren? He wasn't anything to
her. Why did she have to be all the time hankering after new friends?
"New friends!" With a slight internal start David realized that only
three years ago Loren had never been away from home. "New friends!"
Why, Janet had known them both ever since the old days of skip-rope
and hide and seek! What more natural than that she should want to see
her old play-fellow again? Why should _he_ complain? Hadn't she said
once, "I love you, David," and wasn't that enough to make him trust
A little way down the road he heard the step of some one approaching
and in a moment the shape of a man grew visible through the darkness.
He turned, opened the gate, and stepped to the porch. In his hand he
carried a suit-case. This he set down heavily and approached the door.
David sprang to his feet. "Why Loren, is that you? We weren't
expecting you to-night."
"Well, how are you, old boy?" cried the new-comer. "It's bully good to
see you again. No, I didn't expect to get up to-night, but there
wasn't much doing at college and I didn't get my invite, so I thought
I might as well come on home. Where are the folks?"
"Out at meeting just now, but they'll be back in a little while. Sit
down, you must be tired."
Loren took a chair and sunk into it with a sigh of comfort. "You're
right I am. I tell you it's hard work to walk a mile and a half with a
suit-case. And all the time you were just sitting comfortably out here
on the veranda listening to the katydids." He drew out his pipe and
lit it. "Well, how are all the folks? Same as usual?"
"I guess so. Father's failing a little, and mother worries a good
deal, but keeps pretty well."
"That's good. They must be mighty glad to have one of us at home to
look after things. Lord, but I've often imagined you outdoors driving
around in the open air and enjoying life when I've been plugging up
for some beastly exam. But, apropos of the health bulletin, etc., is
Janet Manning here still, or has she gone off to college?"
"No, she's teaching school at the Corners. I saw her a minute
to-night, and she invited us up to supper there on Sunday."
"Good! That's something like. Shall be much charmed to see the little
schoolma'am again. She's a slick little girl--at least she used to be.
In my opinion she's wasting her time up here in the woods. Why, that
girl's got ability, and I call it a shame for her to bury herself in
the country just for her mother's account. But say, isn't that a wagon
The two went down to the gate and stood there waiting for the buggy to
draw up. When Mr. and Mrs. Waring were out, David took the horse to
the barn and unharnessed in the dark. Then he reentered the house, and
without saying anything more than "Good-night," went up to his room.
It was late in the afternoon of an August day. From the high gable
windows of the barn the yellow sunlight shot through the dusty air in
a long, straight shaft and rested on the lower part of the haymow,
gilding every dry wisp with a temporary and fatuous splendor.
Elsewhere in the barn it was already half dark. On one side the hay
rose up in a tremendous heap almost to the roof, where it vanished
dimly in the dusky shadows. Opposite were the cow-stables, five of
them in a row, each occupant munching her cud contentedly and now and
then giving vent to a soft, self-satisfied low. From one of the stalls
could be heard the rhythmical squirt of milk against the milking-pail,
for David was engaged upon his evening work. On a rickety chair near
the hay-loft sat Janet, holding a timid little barn cat in her lap and
stroking it nervously. She was speaking in a voice that betrayed
"Well, I'm just going to leave it with you to decide, for I'm not
ready to do it myself. But it does seem to me that it's the chance of
a lifetime. It's just a question of whether I shall always stay on
here teaching district school, or see a little of the world and have a
chance to go on studying."
She stopped, and a moment of strained silence ensued, broken only by
the sound of the milking. David pressed his head against the flank of
the cow and choked back something in his throat. Then he managed to
"Of course, Janet," he said, with an attempt at composure. "I can see
how it must attract you--this opportunity of going off to college, and
I don't mean to put anything in your way. Such questions a person has
to decide for one's self, and I don't see how I can give you any
"Yes, there you are again. You just won't say yes or no; but I am sure
all the time that you don't really want me to go. You'd like to keep
me here at home, just an ignorant, stupid country girl. Why don't you
want me to make something of myself, David? I know I've got ability,
and you know it as well as I do, but it isn't of any use to me here.
Wouldn't you feel proud of me if I went off and did something worth
David could not answer at once. He sat with his eyes shut, his knees
pressed rigidly against the pail, and against his head he felt the
warm, throbbing pulse of the animal in front of him. Upon his mind a
picture was forcing itself with cruel insistence. It was the Janet of
a year hence, well-dressed, sedate, intellectual, with all her new
college interests to talk of; and side by side with this he saw
himself--what would _he_ be? Just the same as ever, only a little more
awkward and out of date, and when he talked it would be of--yes, his
cows, and the new pig, and the price of potatoes! It was Loren who
would be suited to her then; it was they who would sit under the trees
together and the farmer could go about his chores. The impossibility
of her continuing to love him struck him with a new pang of
conviction, and he felt helpless before it.
"Why don't you say something, David?" asked the girl, rapping her foot
on the floor and unconsciously pulling the kitten's fur. "You're not
angry with me, are you?"
David saw that he must speak, and he determined to dissimulate no
longer. "No, Janet, but can't you see how it must look to me? How can
you expect me to be happy over it? Do you suppose, dear, that you
could feel toward me, after a year at college, just as you do now?
Don't you see how it would separate us and you'd have all your new
friends and studies to take up your time and I'd just be plodding
along here in the woods like a clod of turf? How could you ever keep
on loving me? Don't you see, Janet, how it sort o' breaks my heart to
The jets of milk shot into the pail with an angry rapidity. The bar of
sunlight lay almost horizontally now across the upper emptiness of the
barn, transforming the thick-hung cobwebs into golden draperies and
accentuating the twilight gloom below. Janet threw the kitten out of
her lap and, jumping from the chair, walked nervously to the window
and looked out absently upon the meadow below.
"Well, I supposed it would come to that," she said, with some
indignation in her voice. "It's nice to feel that you can't trust me
out of your sight. Don't you think that if you really loved me as you
say you'd be as glad as I was that I could get a better education? But
of course, if you're afraid to trust me, why, I suppose I can give it
The strain of decision had been a hard one for Janet, and she was now
on the verge of giving way under it. Her shoulders shook, and she put
her face in her hands. David heard her sobbing softly.
"Janet," he said, "if you think that this is going to be a valuable
thing for you, I'm not going to say a word against it. You know that
every wish I've got is for your good, and that's God's truth. If you
think it's best to go, I'm going to try to think so too, and I'll do
everything I can to make you happy."
Janet had left the window and came toward him, a joyful smile breaking
through her tears. "You are a dear, good boy, and I love you," she
said, and allowed him to kiss her. He held her long in his big arms
and his own eyes filled with burning tears.
He could not banish the thought that this might be the last time.
The gray desolation of a March afternoon brooded out over the wide
meadows, out over the dim woods beyond, and still on to the
half-visible hills in the distance, where it merged itself
imperceptibly into a low, lead-colored sky. Though the rain was not
falling, everything dripped with the damp. In front of the Waring
farmhouse the road, wallowing with fat mud, stretched off in a dirty
streak under the glistening limbs of the maples. The door of the house
opened and David came out. His mother followed him anxiously.
"David, I hope it isn't bad news," she asked, laying her hand lightly
on his shoulder. "Can't you tell me about it?"
"Not now, mother. It's nothing very unexpected; I'll tell you later,
but I'd rather wait a little while." He pushed open the gate and
stepped out into the road, his heavy boots sinking in to half their
The mother watched him with strained attention as he set off towards
the barn. There was a sort of savage aimlessness in his gait. His
shoulders were bent forward, his hands thrust deep into his pockets,
and he looked neither to the one side nor the other of the road. At
the barnyard gate he seemed to hesitate a second, then turned in, and
the small, gray-haired woman on the step sighed and went back into the
David strode deliberately through the yard and out of the gate on the
other side--the one that opened on the sloping meadow behind the barn.
Not a living thing was in sight. A chill, white fog had slowly settled
over the land, obliterating outline and color, toning everything down
to a monotonous sameness of appearance--a flat, unrelieved vacancy.
David walked on mechanically, unmindful of any destination or definite
purpose; a dumb bitterness wrung his heart, and, in comparison with
that, all that was external and objective seemed unaccountable.
Involuntarily he thrust his hand into his coat and drew out a letter.
He had read it twice already.
* * * * *
"My dear David,--I hardly know how I am to tell you what I know I must
tell you--and if not now, certainly before many more weeks pass. Let
me admit then first of all that you were right in your anticipation of
what college life would do for me. It _has_ changed my ways of looking
at things more than I can tell you, and things that once seemed very
beautiful to me are so no longer. This was inevitable and we need not
regret it, for I know that the aggregate enjoyment of life has been
increased, at least potentially. You may know that your brother Loren
spent part of his Christmas vacation here, and he has just been here
again for a flying visit. Need I tell you the result, David? I think
you foresaw it long ago, and I cannot of course feel sad that things
have come about in this way, though I realize that for a time, at
least, it may be hard for you to understand it. But there are many
interests we have in common, he and I; I know that you will see
sometime that we were made for each other and that you will be happy
with us in our great happiness.
"I doubt whether this news will much surprise you, for I know, from
the tenor of your latest letters, you have noticed a change and have
been suspicious of the truth...."
* * * * *
Ah, yes, he had noticed it and had had suspicions; but to have it come
to this, and so suddenly--it was more than he could bear. His throat
ached and his hands were wet with perspiration. He looked up into the
sky and saw nothing there to help him--nothing but a roofless expanse
of drizzling gray fog. Not a bird chirped in the distance. The brook
down below him ran on silently without an audible ripple. Everything
was silent and motionless. If only a cow would low or a hen would
cackle back in the barnyard, life would be a bit more tolerable. It
was as if all the world had become soulless and dead.
How he had loved her! ... No other thought could find entrance in his
mind ... and now, it was all over. She belonged to some one else and
had left him without a thought, almost, of the pain it was going to
bring him. "Hard to understand!" She was wrong: he had understood it
from the first, and far better than she. Had he not told her so that
afternoon when they sat together in the barn? But understanding it
made it no more easy to bear. He wondered whether he could bear it. He
seemed so cruelly alone with his sorrow. The silence seemed shouting
Suddenly, without knowing why, he looked back to the barn. A little
figure, wrapped in a plaid shawl, was coming towards him: it was his
mother. A sharp thrill of tenderness ran through him. "Poor little
mother," he said softly, "you are longing to help me," and, somewhat
ashamed of the way in which he had left her recently, he turned and
walked back to meet her.
"Come with me to the barn," she said, and together they returned,
silently, each timid of the other. Entering the building they sat down
on the hay, side by side. "Read that, mother," he said, and handed her
the letter. She glanced it through, and then, taking his hand in hers,
faltered gently, "My poor boy! I can guess what it must mean to you."
He put his head down in her lap and sobbed like a child, while she
stroked his hair and face and spoke shy words of sympathy.
"David," she said, "it was for your father and me that you gave up
college. Perhaps you think we don't appreciate it, because we never
say much. I know what it has cost you and how nobly you have stuck to
your duty, and you know that in God's sight whatever may come of it
you have done the kindest thing."
"Oh, but mother, that doesn't make it any easier to lose Janet. She
was so much to me, and we were going to be so happy together."
"Hush, little boy, you mustn't take it so hard. Perhaps some day
you'll see that it was for the best."
The afternoon light was fading and the rain was beginning to fall
softly outside. In the dimming light the two continued sitting there
together, hardly speaking a word, for what comfort could words bring?
And slowly a vague peacefulness began to fall upon his heart under the
gentle touch of his mother, and rising, he kissed her silently and
went out to his work.
_Literary Monthly_, 1902.
THE ENDITING OF LETTERS
STUART P. SHERMAN '03
"Now for enditing of Letters: alas, what need wee much adoe about a
In a letter to Miss Sara Hennel, George Eliot writes that "there are
but two kinds of _regular_ correspondence possible--one of simple
affection, which gives a picture of all the details, painful and
pleasurable, that a loving heart pines after ..., and one purely moral
and intellectual, carried on for the sake of ghostly edification in
which each party has to put salt on the tails of all sorts of ideas on
all sorts of subjects." These two classes embrace, perhaps, the great
bulk of letters, but George Eliot says there is a third class to which
her correspondence with Miss Hennel belongs--one of _impulse_.
Strictly speaking, all of the letters which really belong as such to
literature come under this last head. The result of a perfect fusion
of the two other styles, they exhibit a sparkle, a pungency, and
lightness of touch, which take the curse from mere gossip, supple the
joints of intellectual disquisition, and mark unmistakably the
epistolary artist. The letter-writer, no less than the poet, is born,
not made, and his art, though for the most part unconscious, is no
less an art. The expression of every sentiment, the choice of every
word, however random it may seem, is determined for the born enditer
of epistles by a sense of fitness so exquisite that its niceties of
distinction escape analysis and only its more general principles can
The most vital of these principles is pretty generally observed.
Thackeray perceives it when at the close of a delightful letter to
Mrs. Brookfield he exclaims, "Why, this is almost as good as talk!" He
was right: it was written talk. If read aloud with pauses for the
correspondent's reply, the perfect letter would make perfect
conversation. It should call up the voice, gesture, and bearing of the
writer. Though it may be more studied than oral speech, it must appear
no less impromptu. This, indeed, is its essential charm, that it
contains the mind's first fruits with the bloom on, that it exhale
carelessly the mixed fragrance of the spirit like a handful of wild
flowers not sorted for the parlor table but, as gathered among the
fields, haphazard, with here a violet, there a spice of mint, a
strawberry blossom from the hillside, and a sprig of bittersweet. This
is the opportunity for the clergyman to show that he is not all
theologian, but part naturalist; the farmer that he is not all
ploughman, but part philosopher. This is the place for little buds of
sentiment, short flights of poetry, wise sermons all in three lines,
odd conceits, small jests rubbing noses with deacon-browed moralities;
in short, for every fine extravagance in which the mind at play
delights. Sickness and sorrow, too, and death, if spoken of reverently
and bravely, must not be denied a place. So we shall have a letter now
all grave, now all gay, but generally, if it be a good letter, part
grave, part gay, just as the mingled threads are clipped from the webs
That such a letter cannot be written with white gloves goes without
saying. The first requisite is freedom from stiffness. The realm of
good letters is a republic in which no man need lift his hat to
another. It is hail-fellow well met, or not met at all. So when the
humble address their superiors, or when children write to austere
grandfathers, they suffer from an awkwardness of mental attitude which
is the paralysis of all spontaneity. Before the indispensable ease can
exist, certain relations of equality must be established. But there
are some whose fountains of speech, in letters as in conversation, lie
forever above the line of perpetual snow. They never thaw out. Bound
by a sort of viscosity of spirits, that peculiar stamp of the
Anglo-Saxon temperament, they are incapable of getting their thoughts
and emotions under way; with the best will in the world, genuine
warmth of feeling, minds stocked with information on all subjects,
they are never fluent. The man with no ear must not hope to be a
musician, nor the man with no fluency a letter-writer. Yet this is not
all. You will find some at perfect ease in conversation who, touching
pen to paper, exhibit the affected primness commonly ascribed to the
maiden aunt. They have not learned that this is a place where words
must speak for themselves without comment of inflection, gesture of
the hand, or interpreting smile. Here to be unaffected one must take
thought. As on the stage a natural hue must be obtained by unnatural
means, so in the writing of letters one must a trifle overdo in order
to do but ordinarily. A word which rings on the lips with frank
cordiality will stare coldly from the written page and must be
heightened to avoid offense. This is a license requiring the exercise
of moderation and the utmost tact. Not all expressions suitable for
conversation need reinforcement in black and white. In speaking one
frequently raps out a phrase whose literalness one's eyes warn the
listener to question. These must be toned down or glossed. An example
of the toned down variety, which illustrates as well men's fondness
for assailing their friends with opprobrious epithet, is offered by
Darwin when he writes, "I cannot conclude without telling you that of
all blackguards you are the greatest and best." If Darwin had been
talking face to face with Fox, he would doubtless have called him a
blooming blackguard outright.
A writer in a journal of psychology points out the strong psychic link
existing between a certain short expletive of condemnation and a
refractory collar-button. These words seem to come at times charged
with the very marrow of the mind, and, if the letters of a man who
occasionally indulges in them be wholly purged of them, the letters
lose one of their most distinctive characteristics. The point to be
made is, that the personal word is all-important, that till the fact
is related to the writer, it is dead. If we want news, we can consult
the dailies; but in letters facts are little, ideas about facts
everything. That is to say, all events, especially the more trifling,
should be shown through the colored glass of the writer's personality.
What concerns you is not what happened, but what relations the
happening bears to you and your correspondent.
When once the personal vein is struck, nothing is so easy as to find a
theme for a letter. The materials are only too plentiful if the eyes
and heart are open to receive them. Stevenson wrote that he scarcely
pulled a weed in his garden without pondering some fit phrase to
report the fact to his friend Colvin, and we may be sure that the weed
was not allowed to wither, but when it was transplanted, flourished
again and reached its destination in a veritable Pot of Basil. No
great events are necessary; the plainest incident, the morning's
shopping, is as good as a Pan-American exposition for ideas to
crystallize about, since exactly in proportion as an event is embedded
in opinion, comment, and feeling, must its value as an epistolary item
be rated. While the born letter-writer is driving a nail or polishing
a shoe, a thought apropos of his occupation or of stars, perhaps,
drops complete and perfect like ripe fruit in an orchard. It matters
little; seen through the eyes of a friend, all homely things are
invested with an extrinsic interest and a new glory not their own.
... By the very nature of the composition a mean man cannot possibly
write a good letter. When we cast about for a perfect exemplar of the
epistolary style, we must of necessity look among the high-souled
men--Cowper, Lamb, FitzGerald, Hearn--for where else shall we find one
to stand the test of self-revelation? Happily, one of the blithest,
manliest, completest spirits of our times was a matchless writer of
letters--Stevenson. Aching for absolute honesty of style and making
clearness almost synonomous with good morals, he has given us in the
Vailima collection and in the two larger volumes of his correspondence
an almost unexampled self-revelation. The man Stevenson is _in_ them,
"his essence and his sting." The grip of his hand and the look of his
eye lose none of their force in the transparent medium through which
they are constrained to pass. Knowing that a man who constantly gives
his best finds his best constantly growing better, he never hoarded
his ideas for publication, but poured his intellectual riches into a
note to a friend as freely as if each line were coining him gold. It
results that the lover of Stevenson would almost prefer to give up all
the romances rather than the letters. For they feel that in this
correspondence, besides finding the qualities which distinguish the
other works, they have met face to face and known personally the
romancer, the essayist, the poet, and above all the man who, ridden by
an incubus of disease, spoke always of the joy of living, the man who
knew hours of bitterness but none of flinching, the man who grappled
with his destiny undaunted, and, when death hunted him down in a South
Sea island, fell gallantly and gazing unabashed into "the bright eyes
Stevenson approached close to the beau ideal of epistolary art. When
we and our friends have achieved it, distance will be annihilated and
there will be no such thing as separation. We shall draw from our
little box a small white packet, and, though Nostradamus may offer us
every secret of magician or alchemist in exchange for it, we shall
refuse offhand. How shall he lure us with a shadow, a ghostly
visitant, savoring of the pit and summoned only by the most
marrow-freezing incantations? Here in our hand is a mysterious, more
potent charm, bringing us the warm, human personality of the man. We
are not spiritualists, yet here sealed in the white packet is an
incorporal presence. Given but a mastery of the twenty-six signs and
their combinations, and lo, the heart of our friend served up in
Boston bond! Then, as for enditing of letters, we shall rise up and
call them blessed who have made "much ado about a little matter."
_Literary Monthly, 1901._
MAX EASTMAN '05
This whole, far-reaching host of ancient hills
That all thy kingdom's rugged boundary fills,
Yields thee unrivalled thy supremacy.
'Tis not by chance that they thus kneel to thee;
Those scars, that but increase thy grandeur, tell
Of battles thou hast fought--and hast fought well,
For, conquered at thy feet, two giants lie
Who once did dare their sovereign to defy.
When earth with sea, and earth with earth, and sea
With sea, all mingled, fought for mastery,
Then didst thou meet thy foes, and by thy might
Didst win, and since hath kept, thy regal right.
_Literary Monthly_, 1901.
TO SIDNEY LANIER
MAX EASTMAN '05
Thy name is not the highest in thy art,
Though music sweet thou singest in thy songs
That unto thee alone of all belongs,
Uplifting Love in every burdened heart;
Thou hast not left us perfect poetry;
But thou hast left by far a greater thing,
A poem such as man did never sing--
Thine own brave life, a lifelong victory.
_Literary Monthly_, 1902.
THE LIFTING OF THE CLOUDS
SHEPARD ASHMAN MORGAN '06
All day long a reeking mist had been rolling across the valley, at
times all but obscuring the Peak where it rose between its pair of
flanking hills. Sifting clouds had surged and seethed in the Cleft, as
those who dwelt in its vicinity called the interval between the two
hills and the loftier and more distant Peak, and rose now and then
barely enough to reveal the greater mountain, but never yet had quite
cleared the summit. The mist had slimed the whole world with a coating
of wet, and when the wind chanced to set the bare limbs of the trees
to swaying, the drops would spatter on the ground and scarcely be
absorbed, so waterlogged was the earth.
Mrs. Trent rolled up her knitting in a napkin, picked a few stray bits
of yarn from her black dress, and stepped to the window. She looked
out across the valley toward the Cleft to see if perchance the clouds
would open enough to permit her a view of the Peak. Not once, but many
times that day had she arisen from her work to search for a glimpse of
the mountain, but every time she had failed.
"No, it's hidden, still hidden," she murmured half aloud. "It is hard
to be shut up here with my thoughts,--with such thoughts. I wish the
clouds would lift and let me see the Peak. Then I am sure that things
would not seem so dark. If I could only get one glimpse, I would feel
almost, yes, almost as though Doctor McMurray had been here and had
told me he was sorry."
She stood looking out the window for a time, but the clouds only
gathered more heavily in the Cleft and the Peak remained shrouded in
the mist. At last she turned wearily back toward her chair, and was
about to resume her knitting when her ear caught the sound of wheels
pausing before the house. She hastened across the room toward the door
and threw it open with a gesture of fear, as though she had been
anticipating the coming of unwelcome visitors and now had reason to
suppose that they had arrived. The tremor of suspense, however,
quickly passed, for she saw outside no less a person than Doctor
"Doctor," she called, "put your horse in the barn and come in. It does
my heart good to see you."
Presently the door opened and the old minister's face appeared, that
face which had looked in at every house in the valley whenever trouble
brooded there, and always had brought with it good cheer and hope for
now close upon half-a-century.
"A wet day, Mrs. Trent, a wet day. But seems to me there are signs of
clearing. It is always much pleasanter to look for fair weather than
for foul, don't you think so?"
Mrs. Trent nodded.
"Doctor McMurray," she said, "I was almost afraid to go to the door
when I heard you drive up; I thought the lawyers might be coming
"The lawyers?" he echoed, "What, can they be troubling you again?"
"Yes, I got a letter from the district attorney's office yesterday
saying that he would send a couple of men out to-day."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Mrs. Trent, for I know it will be hard for
you to go over the thing again. I had hoped that when your husband's
trial was over they would let you alone. Now that poor Jacob has paid
the biggest price a man can pay, it seems that common decency ought to
keep them from worrying you about the matter any more."
"Well," she said, clasping her hands and looking absently out the
window, "I presume they want to make quite sure. Mrs. Withey's case is
coming up again the first of the week, you know, and there must be no
"But I can't see how there can be any mistake," exclaimed the doctor.
"At Jacob's trial everything was so clear, his guilt was so fixed,
that there seemed no chance for a mistake. Mrs. Trent, it looked to
me, prejudiced in favor of your husband as I was, that there could be
no doubt that Jacob gave old Mr. Withey the arsenic and that Mrs.
Withey was his equally guilty accomplice. I think this second trial
must only be a repetition of the first, and that Mrs. Withey must be
found the murderess of Andrew Withey, just as Jacob Trent was proven
Mrs. Trent leaned forward in her chair. Her hands were clenched and
every muscle in her frail body was drawn tense. The look in her eyes
startled the good doctor, and, thinking that he had recalled too
harshly the ugliness of her husband's crime, hastened to make amends.
"Mrs. Trent," he said, "I am sorry that I spoke so. It was cruel of
"No, no," the woman answered thickly, "I am used to that, it doesn't
shock me to hear so much about Jacob now. But tell me, doctor, tell
me, are you sure she will not get off? Will they treat her as they did
"What, Mrs. Trent, you surely wouldn't wish trouble to any fellow
creature if it could be avoided, would you?"
"Doctor McMurray," replied Mrs. Trent in a very low voice which seemed
to come from her inmost soul, "Doctor McMurray, that woman robbed me
of my husband, of Jacob, and then led him to a murderer's grave. That
is so. Do you know, now that so many weeks have gone by since they
took Jacob away, sometimes I feel that he is true to me somewhere, and
that she, that woman, was the one who led him on to do wrong. You ask
me if I would see any fellow creature suffer. I answer no; but I say
too that that woman has no claim to be fellow creature to any human
being. She robbed me of my husband."
For a time the two sat in silence. The rain continued to drip, drip
from the eaves, and the Cleft was still clogged with mist. Then the
old doctor broke the silence.
"I am afraid we do wrong, Mrs. Trent, in brooding over these troubles
of ours. Heaven knows you have provocation. There seems to be no doubt
but that your husband gave arsenic to old Mr. Withey, and it seems the
more grievous when we think that the natural ailments of the old man
must soon have hurried him across the Great River in any case. It is
also true that he did it for the love of a woman whose youth and
beauty he conceived to have won him heart and soul. But, Mrs. Trent,
it is also a fact that we are here to live above these things, hard as
they may seem, and to forgive those who do us ill."
Mrs. Trent rose from her chair and stepped toward the window which
looked out toward the Peak. Her hands, which she had folded behind her
back, worked convulsively.
"The Peak," she said at last. "The Peak is covered with clouds; I
cannot see. Forgive--forgive her? All is cloudy, I cannot see."
Doctor McMurray, being no common man, said not a word. He softly rose
and took his stand beside Mrs. Trent at the window. For some time the
two stood looking out over the valley, watching the heavy, leaden
clouds as they banked themselves up against the opposite hillside. The
rain continued to trickle from the eaves, the only sound audible above
the breathing of the man and woman. At last Doctor McMurray broke the
"It seems to me the clouds aren't lying quite so low on the hills as
they were. I wouldn't be surprised if it was going to clear up."
Mrs. Trent looked at the old man for a moment, and saw his meaning.
"Perhaps," she said doubtfully, "perhaps."
Doctor McMurray moved away from the window and began to draw on his
"Why, you're not going, doctor?" exclaimed Mrs. Trent with a note of
distress in her voice, as her eye took in his action.
"Yes, I'm sorry, Mrs. Trent, but I must look in at old Mr. Gebhart's
on the way down. The poor man has stomach trouble, I believe--they say
it's just the same thing that Mr. Withey had--and I think he'll be
looking for me."
"Doctor, you're so kind," Mrs. Trent interjected. "You're always
keeping an eye out for the unfortunate. But look here. I've got some
medicine out here in the pantry, some Epsom salts, which they used to
come and get for old Mr. Withey. They used to tell me it did him a lot
of good. I wish you could wait till I get a little for Mr. Gebhart."
Mrs. Trent hastened from the room, and Doctor McMurray heard her
moving pans and bottles on the shelves as though she were in search of
the medicine. Suddenly the sound ceased; he waited a minute or two,
pacing uneasily up and down the room, with the thought of the sick old
man heavy upon his mind. At last he called:
"Mrs. Trent, can't I help you? Don't trouble if you can't find it
No answer reached his ears for a moment. Then Mrs. Trent emerged from
the pantry walking unsteadily, as though she carried a terrific
weight. Doctor McMurray was at her side in an instant, and led her to
"Tell me," he urged, "what is it? What is the trouble?"
Mrs. Trent covered her face with her hands, and her slender figure
bent silently before the strength of her emotion.
"Look," she moaned at last; "go and look for yourself. There are two
of them, two."
Doctor McMurray obeyed. He went into the pantry, and there on a shelf
stood two wide-mouthed bottles, very much alike save that one had
never been opened. He looked at them in silent wonderment, not knowing
for the instant what message they conveyed. He picked them up and read
the labels; then he had an inkling of what they meant, for one was
marked "Arsenic," the other "Epsom Salts." He went back to Mrs. Trent.
"You think there has been a mistake?" he said softly.
Mrs. Trent raised her head from her hands. Her voice was strained and
unnatural as she answered:
"I know there has been a mistake, and I know that I made it."
"Tell me why."
"It is very simple. They sent up from Mr. Withey's that last night for
some Epsom salts in a great hurry. I knew there must be some great
need, so I rushed to the pantry. Jacob wasn't at home. I reached to
the top shelf and pulled down a bottle, one of those bottles. In my
hurry I didn't look at the label, but poured the little white crystals
out in a paper, and they took them away. Then I put the bottle back in
its place and went on with my work. In the morning I heard Mr. Withey
"But the arsenic--the arsenic," interposed the doctor. "How did it get
"Heaven knows; you remember Jacob used to get it once in a while to
keep his horses in condition. I presume he got a fresh bottle of it
about the same time I got some more Epsom salts, and they were both
put up there on the top shelf together. It is all too plain. I got the
bottles mixed and opened the wrong one."
"And so Jacob was innocent?"
"Yes, and I could have saved him if I had known in time. Oh, Jacob,
Jacob," she moaned, compressing a world of remorse into the words.
"And it was my mistake--my mistake!"
"Then Mrs. Withey is innocent, too," said Doctor McMurray. "Don't you
make it out so?"
Mrs. Trent looked up sharply. It seemed as though she had for the
moment forgotten her lesser trouble in the new consciousness of the
greater. The mention of the other woman's name brought back all the
profound sense of wrong which she knew she had suffered at her hands.
"Mrs. Withey--innocent!" she gasped.
"Yes, she is innocent, and you have the power of saving her life."
"Doctor McMurray, that woman robbed me of my husband--both of his love
and of his memory." Mrs. Trent was in deadly earnest.
"But--she is innocent, and you can save her from a wretch's death,"
the old man repeated.
"Save her--her, who stands in my mind for all that I ought to hate?"
"Mrs. Trent," Doctor McMurray said in a low voice, "you ought to hate
no-one, not even if he uses you as Mrs. Withey has used you. If we
keep on hating the clouds will never lift."
Mrs. Trent rose heavily from her chair and labored from her window
that she might look out across the valley toward the Peak. Her voice
was hoarse as she answered:
"Oh, I'm afraid the clouds will never lift. The hatred of that woman
is like a fog which closes in upon my soul, and shuts off every beam
of sunshine. I can't see through it, and the heaviness of it chokes
me. The clouds will never lift."
The old minister came up beside her, and stood looking for a time out
toward the Peak. The mist which all day had hung so low around the
foot of the hills had risen appreciably, and now the Cleft itself was
beginning to clear, revealing the dark base of the Peak itself. A
single ray of sunshine shot out of the west and struck straight into
"Look, look, Mrs. Trent," exclaimed Doctor McMurray. "The Peak is
beginning to show. Don't you think the weather will clear? Ah, it must
clear, it must before they come, before the lawyers come. Tell me, do
you not think it will?"
Mrs. Trent's face was very pale. Her eyes gleamed very large and
feverishly bright from beneath her lashes, as they searched the
opposite side of the valley. For some moments she kept silent, and for
the second time that afternoon there was no sound in the room save the
labored breathing of the man and woman. At last there became audible
the slowly increasing creak of a carriage, and the splashing of a
horse's hoofs through the sea of mud in the roadway. Doctor McMurray
heard, and he knew that Mrs. Trent heard also.
"Mrs. Trent," he said softly, "Mrs. Trent, are the clouds lifting? Can
you see the Peak?"
Still the woman kept silent. The sounds of the wheels grew momentarily
louder, the voices of men talking broke in upon them, and then the
carriage stopped before the door.
"Mrs. Trent," pleaded the doctor for the last time, "tell me, can you
see the Peak?"
He heard the men climb out of the carriage and come up to the door,
then a loud knock.
Mrs. Trent at last broke her silence.
"Doctor McMurray," she said, speaking quite softly, "Doctor McMurray,
do you see? The Peak is clear. All the clouds have lifted!"
_Literary Monthly_, 1905.
THE FROST KING
CHARLES HENRY BRADY '06
When the weary sun, his day's course run,
Sinks into the western sea,
And the mountains loom in the growing gloom
With far-off mystery,
When the shadows creep o'er plain and steep
With stealthy tread and still,
And the fettered stream to its icy dream
Is left by the sleeping mill,
From the frozen north I then lead forth
My swiftly flying bands,
In close array on the track of day,
As she flees to other lands.
From the wintry zone where the forests groan
'Neath burdens of dazzling white,
And the tempest's roar as it strikes the shore
Turns daylight into night,
My armies throng and we march along
In the light of the peeping stars,
Which smile with glee at our chivalry
And the shock of our mimic wars.
For when earth and deep in a shroud of sleep
Lie peaceful and still below,
Supreme I reign in my airy domain,
The monarch of ice and snow.
_Literary Monthly_, 1095.
UNTIL HE COMETH
GEORGE BURWELL DUTTON '07
AHASUERUS, the Wandering Jew.
ANSELM, a holy monk.
A band of travellers,--merchants, peasants, soldiers, who stop at the
monastery over night.
Monks of the monastery.
The time is the twelfth century, a Christmas eve.
The place is the great hall of the monastery of St. Cuthbert. The room
is a large one, with cold stone walls and a heavy-beamed ceiling,
lighted by flaring torches. The rear wall is broken by a massive oaken
door leading to the courtyard of the monastery, and two rudely glazed
windows. On the right an open doorway leads to the chapel and to one
side of the doorway is a shrine to the Virgin and Child, before which
some candles burn with wavering flames. On the opposite side of the
room is a huge fireplace with a blazing log fire. The wind is roaring
outside, and even blows through the rude hall in great, gusty
draughts, while a fine powder of snow sifts in through crevices of
windows and door.
SCENE I. [The travellers, with some of the monks of the monastery, are
seated before the fire. The Jew, bent, gaunt and gray-bearded, stands
to one side, unrecognized, muttering to himself indistinctly. He has
evidently just entered, for the melted snow still gleams from his
clothing. The company disregard him, conversing among themselves.]
A SOLDIER. Now, by Our Lady, 'tis a raw cold night--
I mind me when on such a night I lay
Unsheltered in the trenches facing Mons
A MERCHANT. Hem! Sir Longbeard tells a tale.
THE SOLDIER. By Holy mass--
THE MERCHANT. Ho! Hear the oaths!
They 're thick as--
THE SOLDIER. Hark ye! Hush thy meddling tongue!
A PEASANT. A quarrel! Mark them!
A MONK. Shame! On such a night
When angels fill the air, and voices sweet,
Mysterious, sing their golden songs of peace--
On this glad night to quarrel?
THE SOLDIER. Why, to-night--
THE MONK. On such a night was Christ, our Saviour, born,
While all the earth was wrapped in sacred peace.
This is the holy eve, and on the morrow,
With solemn chant we shall observe the birth
Of that sweet Christ-child whom we worship all.
THE SOLDIER. Then I'll not quarrel--my hand upon it. There.
THE MERCHANT. Nor I. And here's my hand, good soldier. There.
[The company is silent for a moment, while the wind moans in the great
THE MERCHANT [crossing himself]. Hark to the wind. Meseemeth that it wails
Like some lost soul.
THE SOLDIER. Some say it is the soul
Of that accursed Jew who crossed our Lord
When he was on his way to Calvary,
And was condemned to wander ever more
Until the Christ a second time should come.
[The faces grow solemn, in the fire-light, and the voices are
THE MONK. The Jew! Oft have men seen him bent and worn,
When darkness fills the earth, still wandering,
Still living out his curse.
THE PEASANT. List! Hear ye not?
THE SOLDIER. Again that mournful wailing of the wind.
THE PEASANT. How came he by the curse?
THE MONK. Know, when our Lord,
Full weary, bore his cross to Calvary,
He paused a moment, resting, but this Jew,
Ahasuerus--cursed be the name--
Reviled the Saviour, and commanded him
To move away. Whereon our blessed Lord:
"Because thou grudgest me a moment's rest
Unresting shalt thou wander o'er the earth
Until I come."
THE SOLDIER. Ah, would I had been there--
The cursed Jew! An arrow through his heart
Had stopped his babbling!
THE PEASANT. And had I been there,
He would have felt the weight of my great fist
Ere he had spoken twice.
[The Jew mutters indistinctly to himself in his corner.]
THE MERCHANT [in a low voice]. Dost hear the man?
Old gray-beard murmurs.
THE SOLDIER. How! Is he a Jew?
THE MERCHANT. See how he cowers when we look at him.
THE MONK. He is no Jew. On this thrice-blessed night
No Jew would dare seek shelter in Christ's house.
THE PEASANT. Yet they are daring--and men tell strange tales
Of bloody rites which they perform apart.
THE SOLDIER. May God's high curse rest on their scattered race!
[The Jew flashes a quick glance upon them, and then looks down again.
An unusually strong gust of wind sweeps through the hall, and strange
moanings are heard in the chimney.]
THE PEASANT. Lost souls! Oh, Mother of Christ!
THE MERCHANT. They wail in pain.
THE MONK [making the sign of the cross]. 'Tis but the wind--or on this
We hear the noise of vast angelic hosts
That sob to see our Saviour come to earth,
A simple Babe, to suffer and to die--
So brother Anselm tells.
THE SOLDIER. And what knows he
Of angels' doings?
THE MONK [terrified.] Still! Thou impious man!
Hast thou not heard the fame of Anselm's name?
A very saint on earth, his eyes behold
Things hidden from mankind; his face doth glow
All radiant from his visions.
THE SOLDIER. Wretch that I am!
Ah, woe is me to speak thus of God's saint.
[The deep-toned monastery bell rings.]
THE MONK. Come, follow me. Below us in the crypt
The pious brethren this night have set forth
The sacred mystery of Jesus' birth;
Shalt see the very manger where he lay.
Make haste and come.
[The company arise and pass out, all save the Jew. The monk, last,
stares at the gaunt figure a moment, opens his lips to speak, then
shakes his head and departs.]
SCENE II. [AHASUERUS, alone. He looks around him, as if to see if any
remain in the room, then slowly moves toward the fireplace and holds
his trembling hands before the fire.]
AHASUERUS. Ah, God of Jacob! Hear the Christians talk.
"Dog Jew!" "Accursed Jew!" I hate you all!
Your Christ sits on his kingly throne this night--
But I am steadfast. How the very wind
Doth buffet me and chill my aged bones!
Ringed all about with enemies, I stand
Unharmed--for by Jehovah's dreadful curse
I live--nor can I die--until He come.
How chill the wind sweeps through my withered frame
While curses and revilings dog my steps--
My weary, ceaseless steps. Ah, God! To die!
Have I not expiated yet my sin?--
To bear life's heavy burden o'er the earth,
To wander from Armenia's distant hills,
Through desert places now, and now through vales
That flow with plenty; now through sordid towns,
Until at last I reach the western seas;
Then, ever homeless, to repeat my steps?
Death were a blessing, yea, a gentle sleep--
To feel delicious numbness seize my limbs,
Mine eyes grow heavy, and the weary flight
Of immemorial time forever stayed
In sleep, in dreamless sleep--would I might die!
I am so weary, weary of it all.
[He sinks down upon a bench, and is silent for a moment, in deep
thought; a smile flits over his face, as at a pleasing memory, then
the worn, hunted look returns.]
Faint shadows nicker 'round me, and at times
Vague dreams of joy experienced long ago
Beguile me for a moment, then I wake;
Dim musings of that time when, yet a child,
I prattled in the shade of Judah's hills
And trod her leafy valleys aimlessly--
But that was long, long centuries ago.
Sometimes I dream, that when God bade my soul
To leave its blest abode and come to earth
In this vile guise, all-terrified it prayed
This trial and affliction to be spared;
But all in vain.
And now the curse of God
Is on that soul. The darkness hideth not,
Oh, Lord, from thee; night shineth as the day.
What weariness unspeakable is mine!
[He throws himself down on the bench in utter dejection. Suddenly he
lifts his head--footsteps approach.]
SCENE III. [Enter ANSELM. At first, not aware of another's presence,
he kneels before the Virgin's shrine, and mutters a short prayer in
Latin. Then he arises and advances slowly, absorbed in meditation.]
ANSELM. This is the eve--the sacred eve of Christ.
The wind is wild, and stormy is the night,
And yet methinks despite the elements
A holy peace pervades the solemn world--
As when amid the hush of earthly strife
The blessed Child was born.
[The Jew groans to himself, and the monk starts, then looks with
A stranger! Peace be unto you, my son,
And may God's holy calm be yours amid
The strife and turmoil of the outer world.
[AHASUERUS sits motionless. A bell sounds.]
The vespers ring. Come, join with me in prayer;
Together let us reverence the God,
The great all-Father, who sent unto us
A little Child to lead us back to Him.
[The Jew acts as if he does not hear, but the monk is already at
prayer and does not notice. AHASUERUS gazes steadfastly into the fire,
while all is silent but the crackling of the flames and the moaning of
the wind. Then the monk arises.]
Pray, let me sit beside you; all alone
My brethren left you? Let me play the host.
[He sits down beside AHASUERUS; the Jew stares at him.]
You seem amazed, fair sir.
AHASUERUS [slowly]. I am a Jew.
[The monk starts, then sits down again, while the Jew regards him
ANSELM. A Jew?
AHASUERUS [bitterly]. "Dog Jew," they call me.
ANSELM. God forbid!
Yet once I would have scorned thee like the rest.
But, long years past, before I sought these walls,
Adventurous I rode into the East
And underneath the walls of Joppa fell
A victim to the fever. Many days
I lingered in its grasp, and when I woke
To strength, I found a Jew had tended me.
E'en then I scorned him, but with gentle words
He heaped great coals of fire on my head.
And then I dreamed a dream--upon a cross--
Two other crosses near--outlined against
A dark and dreadful sky, I saw a man;
And lo, it was a Jew--Christ was a Jew.
With tears I sought mine host, and told the tale,
And he was swift to pardon--he, a Jew.
[AHASUERUS will not trust himself to reply, but gazes steadfastly into
the fire. From the adjacent chapel the low notes of an organ fall upon
ANSELM. You speak not. Ah, I wonder not at it.
On such a night is meditation good,
And soothing to the soul. The wind is high
But cannot harm; the torches flicker low,
While softly like a benediction falls
The distant melody upon our ears;
And in the silent watches of the night
God's holy Spirit broods o'er all the world
And bringeth calm and peace to all mankind.
AHASUERUS [wildly]. For me there is no peace--I am the Jew
Who, cursed of the Lord, must wander till
He comes again. For me no peace, forever!
ANSELM [starts]. Thou art that Jew!
AHASUERUS [despairingly]. I am that Jew. Farewell.
[AHASUERUS pulls his cloak around him and arises to leave. As he
totters toward the door the monk looks after him irresolutely, then
turns his eyes to the Virgin's shrine as if to seek counsel.]
ANSELM [whispers to himself]. Those eyes--still gaze--in mercy. A-a-h,
How sad they look!
[aloud]. Ahasuerus! Hold!
[ANSELM hastens after the Jew, and seeks to lead him back. AHASUERUS
AHASUERUS. Not so! I am accursed. Let me go!
ANSELM. Forgive me, if I have offended thee,
For I am weak--yet see; I pray you, stay.
Without, the night is wild--and here is calm.
AHASUERUS. The storm was e'er my lot.
ANSELM. But now the calm
Invites to rest.
AHASUERUS [slowly]. To--rest?
[He stands undecided, then submits to be led back to the fire. For a
moment neither speaks, then AHASUERUS cries out.]
AHASUERUS. There is no rest
For me, nor ever can be, for I
Am curst of God.
ANSELM. O miserere! Pray!
Pray and with you I'll pray.--O, thou sweet Christ,
Look down in pity on this erring one!
We all like sheep have gone astray; O God,
Thou shepherd of the flock, lead us to thee.
AHASUERUS [whispers]. May God be merciful!
ANSELM. O, holy Babe,
That on this night did'st come to earth to seek
Thine own, look down upon our need and grant
Thy mercy. Holy Mother, intercede.
AHASUERUS [brokenly]. Cease, cease. It is enough. O, not for me
Is God's high mercy,--I am ever curst.
ANSELM. God's mercy is not limited, O, no.
His grace is all-sufficient, even for thee.
All we are weak and sinful, He is strong.
Oh, call upon His name, and He will come.
[There is silence for a moment, save for the plaintive notes of the
organ. Suddenly AHASUERUS rises, tears coursing down his cheeks.]
AHASUERUS. At last, O God, at last, my hard heart breaks.
I thank thee for these tears; the burden lifts--
Sing unto God, O brother, and rejoice!
The darkness disappears, and lo, the light--
Behold, the Light!
[As he speaks, a miraculous radiance fills the room; AHASUERUS slowly
sinks down upon the floor, ever gazing heavenward in mute adoration,
while the monk falls before the Virgin's shrine in prayer. There is a
sound of many feet from without, and the company of the earlier
evening enter noisily, but drop on their knees in awe as they behold
the miracle. AHASUERUS murmurs in a low voice hardly to be
AHASUERUS. Lord, comest thou--to me?
[Then dimly, like a distant strain of music, a wondrous Voice is
heard, and by some understood.]
THE VOICE. I come, Ahasuerus; lo, I come. Behold, I stand at the door,
and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will
come in to him ... Behold, I come quickly.
[AHASUERUS falls back, and a look of deep peace overspreads his
countenance. The radiance fades away, and there remains only the
flickering light of the torches, which are almost extinguished in the
great gusts of wind that sweep through the room. Far above, the joyous
chimes are pealing a welcome to the new day.]
_Literary Monthly_, 1905.
THE MASK OF ADELITA
GERALD MYGATT '08
To think that it all happened within a rifle shot of the greatest city
in America, in the very outskirts of New York--this was strange. A
romance of old Spain, tingling with the memory of times when men
fought single-handed for the toss of a rose or the gleam from under
the black lashes of a _senorita_, or bled and died for the sake of a
yellow silken scarf! That such a thing should have happened as it did
seems preposterous, and yet, on second thought, it occurred so
naturally that at the time there was no idea of its being in the least
out of place in this prosaic New World. It was like a dream of the
past--and yet it was no dream.
It was our Saturday half-holiday and Henderson and I were driving the
stagnation of a week's confinement out of our lungs by a long walk
into the country. We were just starting back in the approaching dusk
when a round stone that I happened to step on turned under my foot. I
tried to grin, and hobbled along for a moment; then I sat down at the
side of the road.
"It's my ankle. I don't believe I can make it, Fred."
"Make a try at it, old man. It's only a short mile to the railroad
station and there won't be any footing it from there. Perhaps walking
will ease it up."
I got up, but after a few steps sat down again.
"I'm awfully sorry, Fritz, but I simply can't do it. The thing hurts
like all time."
He stood still and looked about him. The road followed the curve of a
hill, at the foot of which flowed a tiny brook. Ahead, it passed
through a little colony of houses, perhaps twenty in all. The hamlet
had an air about it that marked it from numerous others we had walked
through that afternoon. The cottages appeared brighter and there were
gardens among them that seemed unlike the others we had passed. No
hotel or public house of any kind was to be seen.
"I wonder what this place is," said Henderson. "It doesn't look
I looked up from the task of rubbing my ankle.
"No," I commented, "it doesn't seem alluring, and I suppose
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