Augusta J. Evans
Part 3 out of 11
"All very unnecessary, child. I am glad you enjoyed it."
He seated himself, and gathered up the reins, without looking at
her. But she put her hand on the top of the wheel, and said in an
"Excuse me, sir; but may I wait in your study till you come home? I
want to ask you something." Her face flushed, and her voice trembled
"It may be late before I come home to-night. Can't you tell me now
what you want? I can wait."
"Thank you, sir; to-morrow will do as well, I suppose. I will not
detain you." She opened the gate and entered the yard. Dr. Hartwell
looked after her an instant, and called out, as he drove on:
"Do as you like, Beulah, about waiting for me. Of course the study
is free to you at all times."
The walk, or rather carriage road, leading up to the house was
bordered by stately poplars and cedars, whose branches interlaced
overhead, and formed a perfect arch. Beulah looked up at the dark-
green depths among the cedars, and walked on with a feeling of
contentment, nay, almost of happiness, which was a stranger to her
heart. In front of the house, and in the center of a grassy circle,
was a marble basin, from which a fountain ascended. She sat down on
the edge of the reservoir, and, taking off her bonnet, gave
unrestrained license to her wandering thoughts. Wherever her eyes
turned, verdure, flowers, statuary met her gaze; the air was laden
with the spicy fragrance of jasmines, and the low, musical babble of
the fountain had something very soothing in its sound. With her keen
appreciation of beauty, there was nothing needed to enhance her
enjoyment; and she ceased to remember her sorrows. Before long,
however, she was startled by the sight of several elegantly dressed
ladies emerging from the house; at the same instant a handsome
carriage, which she had not previously observed, drove from a turn
in the walk and drew up to the door to receive them. Mrs. Chilton
stood on the steps, exchanging smiles and polite nothings, and, as
one of the party requested permission to break a sprig of geranium
growing near, she gracefully offered to collect a bouquet, adding,
as she severed some elegant clusters of heliotrope and jasmine:
"Guy takes inordinate pride in his parterre, arranges and overlooks
all the flowers himself. I often tell him I am jealous of my
beautiful rivals; they monopolize his leisure so completely."
"Nonsense! we know to our cost that you of all others need fear
rivalry from no quarter. There; don't break any more. What superb
taste the doctor has! This lovely spot comes nearer my ideal of
European elegance than any place I know at the South. I suppose the
fascination of his home makes him such a recluse! Why doesn't he
visit more? He neglects us shamefully! He is such a favorite in
society too; only I believe everybody is rather afraid of him. I
shall make a most desperate effort to charm him so soon as an
opportunity offers. Don't tell him I said so though--'forewarned,
forearmed.'" All this was very volubly uttered by a dashing, showy
young lady, dressed in the extreme of fashion, and bearing
unmistakable marks of belonging to beau monde. She extended a hand
eased in white kid, for the flowers, and looked steadily at the lady
of the house as she spoke.
"I shall not betray your designs, Miss Julia. Guy is a great lover
of the beautiful, and I am not aware that anywhere in the book of
fate is written the decree that he shall not marry again. Take care,
you are tearing your lace point on that rose bush; let me disengage
it." She stooped to rescue the cobweb wrapping, and, looking about
her, Miss Julia exclaimed:
"Is that you, Pauline? Come and kiss me! Why, you look as unsociable
as your uncle, sitting there all alone!"
She extended her hand toward Beulah, who, as may be supposed, made
no attempt to approach her. Mrs. Chilton smiled, and, clasping the
bracelet on her arm, discovered to her visitor the mistake.
"Pauline is not at home. That is a little beggarly orphan Guy took
it into his head to feed and clothe, till some opportunity offered
of placing her in a respectable home. I have teased him unmercifully
about this display of taste; asked him what rank he assigned her in
his catalogue of beautiful treasures." She laughed as if much
"Oh, that reminds me that I heard some of the schoolgirls say that
the doctor had adopted an orphan. I thought I would ask you about
it. Mother here declared that she knew it could not be so; but I
told her he was so very odd, there was no accounting for his
notions. So he has not adopted her?"
"Pshaw! of course not! She was a wretched little object of charity,
and Guy brought her here to keep her from starving. He picked her up
at the hospital, I believe."
"I knew it must be a mistake. Come, Julia, remember you are going
out to-night, and it is quite late. Do come very soon, my dear Mrs.
Chilton." Mrs. Vincent, Miss Julia, and their companions entered the
carriage, and were soon out of sight. Beulah still sat at the
fountain. She would gladly have retreated on the appearance of the
strangers, but could not effect an escape without attracting the
attention she so earnestly desired to be spared, and therefore kept
her seat. Every word of the conversation, which had been carried on
in anything but a subdued tone, reached her, and though the head was
unbowed as if she had heard nothing, her face was dyed with shame.
Her heart throbbed violently, and as the words, "beggarly orphan,"
"wretched object of charity," fell on her ears, it seemed as if a
fierce fire-bath had received her. As the carriage disappeared, Mrs.
Chilton approached her, and, stung to desperation by the merciless
taunts, she instantly rose and confronted her. Never had she seen
the widow look so beautiful, and for a moment they eyed each other.
"What are you doing here, after having been told to keep out of
sight?--answer me!" She spoke with the inflexible sternness of a
mistress to an offending servant.
"Madam, I am not the miserable beggar you represented me a moment
since; nor will I answer questions addressed in any such tone of
authority and contempt."
"Indeed! Well, then, my angelic martyr, how do you propose to help
yourself?" answered Mrs. Chilton, laughing with undisguised scorn.
"Dr. Hartwell brought me to his house, of his own accord; you know
that I was scarcely conscious when I came into it. He has been very
kind to me--has offered to adopt me. This you know perfectly well.
But I am not in danger of starvation away from this house. You know
that instead of having been picked up at the hospital, I was earning
my living, humble though it was, as a servant. He offered to adopt
me, because he saw that I was very unhappy; not because I needed
food or clothes, as you asserted just now, and as you knew was
untrue. Madam, I have known, ever since my recovery, that you hated
me, and I scorn to accept bounty, nay, even a shelter, where I am so
unwelcome. I have never dreamed of occupying the place you covet for
Pauline. I intended to accept Dr. Hartwell's kindness, so far as
receiving an education, which would enable me to support myself less
laboriously; but, madam, I will relieve you of my hated presence. I
can live without any assistance from your family. The despised and
ridiculed orphan will not remain to annoy you. Oh, you might have
effected your purpose with less cruelty! You could have told me
kindly that you did not want me here, and I would not have wondered
at it. But to crush me publicly, as you have done--" Wounded pride
stifled the trembling accents.
Mrs. Chilton bit her lip. She had not expected this expression of
proud independence; and, seeing that she had gone too far, pondered
the best method of rectifying the mischief with as little compromise
of personal dignity as possible. Ultimately to eject her, she had
intended from the first; but perfectly conscious that her brother
would accept no explanation or palliation of the girl's departure at
this juncture, and that she and Pauline would soon follow her from
the house, she felt that her own interest demanded the orphan's
presence for a season. Nearly blinded by tears of indignation and
mortification, Beulah turned from her, but the delicate white hand
arrested her, and pressed heavily on her shoulder. She drew herself
up, and tried to shake off the hold; but firm as iron was the grasp
of the snowy fingers, and calm and cold as an Arctic night was the
tone which said:
"Pshaw, girl, are you mad? You have sense enough to know that you
are one too many in this house; but if you only desire to be
educated, as you profess, why, I am perfectly willing that you
should remain here. The idea of your growing up as my brother's
heiress and adopted child was too preposterous to be entertained,
and you can see the absurdity yourself; but so long as you
understand matters properly, and merely desire to receive
educational advantages, of course you can and will remain. I do not
wish this to go any further, and, as a sensible girl, you will not
mention it. As a friend, however, I would suggest that you should
avoid putting yourself in the way of observation." As she concluded
she quietly brushed off a small spider which was creeping over
"Don't trouble yourself, madam; I am not at all afraid of poisonous
things; I have become accustomed to them."
Smiling bitterly, she stooped to pick up her new bonnet, which had
fallen on the grass at her feet, and, fixing her eyes defiantly on
the handsome face before her, said resolutely:
"No! contemptible as you think me, beggarly and wretched as you
please to term me, I have too much self-respect to stay a day longer
where I have been so grossly, so needlessly insulted. You need not
seek to detain me. Take your hand off my arm. I am going now; the
sooner, the better. I understand, madam, your brother will not
countenance your cruelty, and you are ashamed for him to know what,
in his absence, you were not ashamed to do. I scorn to retaliate! He
shall not learn from me why I left so suddenly. Tell him what you
Mrs. Chilton was very pale, and her lips were compressed till they
grew purple. Clinching her hand, she said under her breath:
"You artful little wretch. Am I to be thwarted by such a mere child?
You shall not quit the house. Go to your room, and don't make a fool
of yourself. In future I shall not concern myself about you, if you
take root at the front door. Go in, and let matters stand. I promise
you I will not interfere again, no matter what you do. Do you hear
"No. You have neither the power to detain nor to expel me. I shall
leave here immediately, and you need not attempt to coerce me; for,
if you do, I will acquaint Dr. Hartwell with the whole affair, as
soon as he comes, or when I see him. I am going for my clothes; not
those you so reluctantly had made, but the old garments I wore when
I worked for my bread." She shook off the detaining hand, and went
up to her room. Harriet had already lighted her lamp, and, as she
entered the door, the rays fell brightly on the picture she had
learned to love so well. Now she looked at it through scalding
tears, and, to her excited fancy, the smile seemed to have faded
from the lips of Hope, and the valley looked more dreary, and the
pilgrims more desolate and miserable. She turned from it, and,
taking off the clothes she wore, dressed herself in the humble
apparel of former days. The old trunk was scarcely worth keeping,
save as a relic; and folding up the clothes and books into as small
a bundle as possible, she took it in her arms and descended the
steps. She wished very much to tell Harriet good-by, and thank her
for her unvarying kindness; and now, on the eve of her departure,
she remembered the words whispered during her illness, and the offer
of assistance when she "got into trouble," as Harriet phrased it;
but, dreading to meet Mrs. Chilton again, she hurried down the hall,
and left the house. The friendly stars looked kindly down upon the
orphan, as she crossed the common, and proceeded toward the asylum,
and raising her eyes to the jeweled dome, the solemn beauty of the
night hushed the wild tumult in her heart, and she seemed to hear
the words pronounced from the skyey depths: "Lo, I am with you
always, even unto the end." Gradually, the results of the step she
had taken obtruded themselves before her, and with a keen pang of
pain and grief came the thought, "What will Dr. Hartwell think of
me?" All his kindness during the time she had passed beneath his
roof--his genial tones; his soft, caressing touch on her head; his
rare, but gentle smile; his constant care for her comfort and
happiness--all rushed like lightning over her mind, and made the hot
tears gush over her face. Mrs. Chilton would, of course, offer him
some plausible solution of her sudden departure. He would think her
ungrateful, and grow indifferent to her welfare or fate. Yet hope
whispered, "He will suspect the truth; he must know his sister's
nature; he will not blame me." But all this was in the cloudy realm
of conjecture, and the stern realities of her position weighed
heavily on her heart. Through Dr. Hartwell, who called to explain
her sudden disappearance, Mrs. Martin had sent her the eighteen
dollars due for three months' service, and this little sum was all
that she possessed. As she walked on, pondering the many
difficulties which attended the darling project of educating herself
thoroughly, the lights of the asylum greeted her, and it was with a
painful sense of desolation that she mounted the steps, and stood
upon the threshold, where she and Lilly had so often sat, in years
gone by. Mrs. Williams met her at the door, wondering what unusual
occurrence induced a visitor at this unseasonable hour. The hall
lamp shone on her kind but anxious face, and as Beulah looked at
her, remembered care and love caused a feeling of suffocation, and,
with an exclamation of joy, she threw her arms around her.
Astonished at a greeting so unexpected, the matron glanced hurriedly
at the face pressed against her bosom, and, recognizing her quondam
charge, folded her tenderly to her heart.
"Beulah, dear child, I am so glad to see you!" As she kissed her
white cheeks, Beulah felt the tears dropping down upon them.
"Come into my room, dear, and take off your bonnet." She led her to
the quiet little room, and took the bundle and the antiquated
bonnet, which Pauline declared "Mrs. Noah had worn all through the
forty days' shower."
"Mrs. Williams, can I stay here with you until I can get a place
somewhere? The managers will not object, will they?"
"No, dear; I suppose not. But, Beulah, I thought you had been
adopted, just after Lilly died, by Dr. Hartwell? Here I have been,
ever since I heard it from some of the managers, thinking how lucky
it was for you, and feeling so thankful to God for remembering his
orphans. Child, what has happened? Tell me freely, Beulah."
With her head on the matron's shoulder, she imparted enough of what
had transpired to explain her leaving her adopted home. Mrs.
Williams shook her head, and said sadly:
"You have been too hasty, child. It was Dr. Hartwell's house; he had
taken you to it, and, without consulting and telling him, you should
not have left it. If you felt that you could not live there in peace
with his sister, it was your duty to have told him so, and then
decided as to what course you would take. Don't be hurt, child, if I
tell you you are too proud. Poverty and pride make a bitter lot in
this world; and take care you don't let your high spirit ruin your
prospects. I don't mean to say, dear, that you ought to bear insult
and oppression, but I do think you owed it to the doctor's kindness
to have waited until his return before you quitted his house."
"Oh, you do not know him! If he knew all that Mrs. Chilton said and
did he would turn her and Pauline out of the house immediately. They
are poor, and, but for him, could not live without toil. I have no
right to cause their ruin. She is his sister, and has a claim on
him. I have none. She expects Pauline to inherit his fortune, and
could not bear to think of his adopting me. I don't wonder at that
so much. But she need not have been so cruel, so insulting. I don't
want his money, or his house, or his elegant furniture. I only want
an education, and his advice, and his kind care for a few years. I
like Pauline very much indeed. She never treated me at all unkindly;
and I could not bear to bring misfortune on her, she is so happy."
"That is neither here nor there. He will not hear the truth, of
course; and, even if he did, he will not suppose you were actuated
by any such Christian motives to shield his sister's meanness. You
ought to have seen him first."
"Well, it is all over now, and I see I must help myself. I want to
go to the public school, where the tuition is free; but how can I
support myself in the meantime? Eighteen dollars would not board me
long, and, besides, I shall have to buy clothes." She looked up,
much perplexed, in the matron's anxious face. The latter was silent
a moment, and then said:
"Why, the public school closes in a few weeks; the next session will
not begin before autumn, and what could you do until then? No, I
will just inform Dr. Hartwell of the truth of the whole matter. I
think it is due him, and--"
"Indeed you must not! I promised Mrs. Chilton that I would not
implicate her, and your doing it would amount to the same thing. I
would not be the means of driving Pauline out of her uncle's house
for all the gold in California!"
"Silly child! What on earth possessed you to promise any such
"I wanted her to see that I was honest in what I said. She knew that
I could, by divulging the whole affair, turn her out of the house
(for Dr. Hartwell's disposition is a secret to no one who has lived
in his home), and I wished to show her that I told the truth in
saying I only wanted to be educated for a teacher." "Suppose the
doctor comes here and asks you about the matter?"
"I shall tell him that I prefer not being dependent on anyone. But
he will not come. He does not know where I am."
Yet the dread that he would filled her mind with new anxieties.
"Well, well, it is no use to fret over what can't be undone. I wish
I could help you, but I don't see any chance just now."
"Could not I get some plain sewing? Perhaps the managers would give
"Ah, Beulah, it would soon kill you, to have to sew for your
"No, no; I can bear more than you think," answered the girl, with a
"Yes; your spirit can endure more than your body. Your father died
with consumption, child; but don't fret about it any more to-night.
Come, get some supper, and then go to sleep. You will stay in my
room, with me, dear, till something can be done to assist you."
"Mrs. Williams, you must promise me that you never will speak of
what I have told you regarding that conversation with Mrs. Chilton."
"I promise you, dear, I never will mention it, since you prefer
keeping the matter secret."
"What will Dr. Hartwell think of me?" was the recurring thought that
would not be banished; and, unable to sleep, Beulah tossed
restlessly on her pillow all night, dreading lest he should despise
her for her seeming ingratitude.
For perhaps two hours after Beulah's departure Mrs. Chilton wandered
up and down the parlors, revolving numerous schemes explanatory of
her unexpected exodus. Completely nonplused, for the first time in
her life, she sincerely rued the expression of dislike and contempt
which had driven the orphan from her adopted home; and, unable to
decide on the most plausible solution to be offered her brother, she
paced restlessly to and fro. Engrossed by no particularly felicitous
reflections, she failed to notice Mazeppa's quick tramp, and
remained in ignorance of the doctor's return until he entered the
room, and stood beside her. His manner was hurried, his thoughts
evidently preoccupied, as he said:
"May, I am going into the country to be absent all of tomorrow, and
possibly longer. There is some surgical work to be performed for a
careless hunter, and I must start immediately. I want you to see
that a room is prepared for Percy Lockhart. He is very feeble, and I
have invited him to come and stay with me while he is in the city.
He rode out this evening, and is worse from the fatigue. I shall
expect you to see that everything is provided for him that an
invalid could desire. Can I depend upon you?"
"Certainly; I will exert myself to render his stay here pleasant;
make yourself easy on that score." It was very evident that the
cloud was rapidly lifting from her heart and prospects; but she
veiled the sparkle in her eye, and, unsuspicious of anything amiss,
her brother left the room. Walking up to one of the mirrors, which
extended from floor to ceiling, she surveyed herself carefully, and
a triumphant smile parted her lips.
"Percy Lockhart is vulnerable as well as other people, and I have
yet to see the man whose heart will proudly withstand the
allurements of flattery, provided the homage is delicately and
gracefully offered. Thank Heaven! years have touched me lightly, and
there was more truth than she relished in what Julia Vincent said
about my beauty!"
This self-complacent soliloquy was cut short by the appearance of
her brother, who carried a case of surgical instruments in his hand.
"May, tell Beulah I am sorry I did not see her. I would go up and
wake her, but have not time. She wished to ask me something. Tell
her, if it is anything of importance, to do just as she likes; I
will see about it when I come home. Be sure you tell her. Good-
night; take care of Percy." He turned away, but she exclaimed:
"She is not here, Guy. She asked me this evening if she might spend
the night at the asylum. She thought you would not object, and
certainly I had no authority to prevent her. Indeed, the parlor was
full of company, and I told her she might go if she wished. I
suppose she will be back early in the morning."
His face darkened instantly, and she felt that he was searching her
with his piercing eyes.
"All this sounds extremely improbable to me. If she is not at home
again at breakfast, take the carriage and go after her. Mind, May! I
will sift the whole matter when I come back." He hurried off, and
she breathed freely once more. Dr. Hartwell sprang into his buggy,
to which a fresh horse had been attached, and, dismissing Hal, whose
weight would only have retarded his progress, he drove rapidly off.
The gate had been left open for him, and he was passing through,
when arrested by Harriet's well-known voice.
"Stop, master! Stop a minute!"
"What do you want? I can't stop!" cried he impatiently.
"Are you going after that poor, motherless child?"
"No. But what the devil is to pay here! I shall get at the truth
now. Where is Beulah? Talk fast."
"She is at the asylum to-night, sir. I followed and watched the poor
little thing. Master, if you don't listen to me, if you please, sir,
you never will get at the truth, for that child won't tell it. I
heard her promise Miss May she would not. You would be ready to
fight if you knew all I know."
"Why did Beulah leave here this evening?"
"Because Miss May abused and insulted her; told her before some
ladies that she was a 'miserable beggar' that you picked up at the
hospital, and that you thought it was charity to feed and clothe her
till she was big enough to work. The ladies were in the front yard,
and the child happened to be sitting by the fountain; she had just
come from riding. I was sewing at one of the windows upstairs, sir,
and heard every word. When the folks were gone Miss May walks up to
her and asks her what she is doing where anybody could see her? Oh,
master! if you could have seen that child's looks. She fairly seemed
to rise off her feet, and her face was as white as a corpse. She
said she had wanted an education; that she knew you had been very
kind; hut she never dreamed of taking Miss Pauline's place in your
house. She said she would not stay where she was unwelcome; that she
was not starving when you took her home; that she knew you were kind
and good; but that she scorned--them were the very words, master--
she scorned to stay a day longer where she had been so insulted! Oh,
she was in a towering rage; she trembled all over, and Miss May
began to be scared, for she knew you would not suffer such doings,
and she tried to pacify her and make up the quarrel by telling her
she might stay and have an education, if that was all she wanted.
But the girl would not hear to anything she said, and told her she
need not be frightened, that she wouldn't go to you with the fuss;
she would not tell you why she left your house. She went to her room
and she got every rag of her old clothes, and left the house with
the tears raining out of her eyes. Oh, master, it's a crying shame!
If you had only been here to hear that child talk to Miss May! Good
Lord! how her big eyes did blaze when she told her she could earn a
By the pale moonlight she could see that her master's face was rigid
as steel; but his voice was even calmer than usual when he asked:
"Are you sure she is now at the asylum?"
"Yes, sir; sure."
"Very well; she is safe then for the present. Does anyone know that
you heard the conversation?"
"Not a soul, sir, except yourself."
"Keep the matter perfectly quiet till I come home. I shall be away a
day, or perhaps longer. Meantime, see that Beulah does not get out
of your sight. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, sir--I do."
The buggy rolled swiftly on, and Harriet returned to the house by a
circuitous route, surmising that "Miss May's" eyes might detect her
The same night Clara Sanders sat on the doorstep of her tumble
cottage home. The moonlight crept through the clustering honeysuckle
and silvered the piazza floor with grotesque fretwork, while it
bathed lovingly the sad face of the girlish watcher. Her chin rested
in her palms, and the soft eyes were bent anxiously on the
countenance of her infirm and aged companion.
"Grandpa, don't look so troubled. I am very sorry, too, about the
diploma; but if I am not to have it, why, there is no use in
worrying about it. Madam St. Cymon is willing to employ me as I am,
and certainly I should feel grateful for her preference, when there
are several applicants for the place. She told me this evening that
she thought I would find no difficulty in performing what would be
required of me."
This was uttered in a cheerful tone, which might have succeeded very
well had the sorrowful face been veiled.
"Ah, Clara, you don't dream of the burden you are taking upon
yourself! The position of assistant teacher in an establishment like
Madam St. Cymon's is one that you are by nature totally unfitted
for. Child, it will gall your spirit; it will be unendurable." The
old man sighed heavily.
"Still, I have been educated with an eye to teaching, and though I
am now to occupy a very subordinate place, the trials will not be
augmented. On the whole, I do not know but it is best as it is. Do
not try to discourage me. It is all I can do, and I am determined I
will not despond about what can't be helped."
"My dear child, I did not mean to depress you. But you are so young
to bow your neck to such a yoke! How old are you?" He turned round
to look at her.
"Only sixteen and a few months. Life is before me yet, an untrodden
plain. Who knows but this narrow path of duty may lead to a calm,
sweet resting-place for us both? I was thinking just now of that
passage from your favorite Wallenstein:"
"My soul's secure! In the night only, Friedland's stars can beam.'
"The darkness has come down upon us, grandpa; let us wait patiently
for the uprising of stars. I am not afraid of the night."
There was silence for some moments; then the old man rose, and,
putting back the white locks which had fallen over his face, asked,
in a subdued tone:
"When will you commence your work?"
"God bless you, Clara, and give you strength, as he sees you have
need." He kissed her fondly, and withdrew to his own room. She sat
for some time looking vacantly at the mosaic of light and shade on
the floor before her, and striving to divest her mind of the
haunting thought that she was the victim of some unyielding
necessity, whose decree had gone forth, and might not be annulled.
In early childhood her home had been one of splendid affluence; but
reverses came, thick and fast, as misfortunes ever do, and, ere she
could realize the swift transition, penury claimed her family among
its crowding legions. Discouraged and embittered, her father made
the wine-cup the sepulcher of care, and in a few months found a
deeper and far more quiet grave. His mercantile embarrassments had
dragged his father-in-law to ruin; and, too aged to toil up the
steep again, the latter resigned himself to spending the remainder
of his days in obscurity, and perhaps want. To Clara's gifted mother
he looked for aid and comfort in the clouded evening of life, and
with unceasing energy she toiled to shield her father and her child
from actual labor. Thoroughly acquainted with music and drawing, her
days were spent in giving lessons in those branches which had been
acquired with reference to personal enjoyment alone, and the silent
hours of the night often passed in stitching the garments of those
who had flocked to her costly entertainments in days gone by. When
Clara was about thirteen years of age a distant relative, chancing
to see her, kindly proposed to contribute the sum requisite for
affording her every educational advantage. The offer was gratefully
accepted by the devoted mother, and Clara was placed at Madam St.
Cymon's, where more than ordinary attention could be bestowed on the
The noble woman whose heart had bled incessantly over the misery,
ruin, and degradation of her husband sank slowly under the
intolerable burden of sorrows, and a few weeks previous to the
evening of which I write folded her weary hands and went home to
rest. In the springtime of girlhood, Clara felt herself transformed
into a woman. Standing beside her mother's tomb, supporting her
grandmother's tottering form, she shuddered in anticipating the
dreary future that beckoned her on; and now, as if there were not
troubles enough already to disquiet her, the annual amount advanced
toward her school expenses was suddenly withdrawn. The cousin,
residing in a distant State, wrote that pecuniary troubles had
assailed him, and prevented all further assistance. In one more year
she would have finished the prescribed course and graduated
honorably; and, more than all, she would have obtained a diploma,
which might have been an "open sesame" to any post she aspired to.
Thus frustrated in her plans, she gladly accepted the position of
assistant teacher in the primary department, which, having become
vacant by the dismissal of the incumbent, madam kindly tendered her.
The salary was limited, of course; but nothing else presented
itself, and, quitting the desk, where she had so often pored over
her text-books, she prepared to grapple with the trials which
thickly beset the path of a young woman thrown upon her own
resources for maintenance. Clara was naturally amiable, unselfish,
and trusting. She was no intellectual prodigy, yet her mind was
clear and forcible, her judgment matured, and, above all, her pure
heart warm and loving. Notwithstanding the stern realities that
marked her path, there was a vein of romance in her nature which,
unfortunately, attained more than healthful development, and while
it often bore her into the Utopian realms of fancy, it was still
impotent to modify, in any degree, the social difficulties with
which she was forced to contend. Ah, there is a touching beauty in
the radiant up-look of a girl just crossing the limits of youth, and
commencing her journey through the checkered sphere of womanhood! It
is all dew-sparkle and morning glory to her ardent, buoyant spirit,
as she presses forward exulting in blissful anticipations. But the
withering heat of the conflict of life creeps on; the dewdrops
exhale, the garlands of hope, shattered and dead, strew the path,
and too often, ere noontide, the clear brow and sweet smile are
exchanged for the weary look of one longing for the evening rest,
the twilight, the night. Oh, may the good God give his sleep early
unto these many!
There was a dawning light in Clara's eyes which showed that, though
as yet a mere girl in years, she had waked to the consciousness of
emotions which belong to womanhood. She was pretty, and of course
she knew it, for I am skeptical of those characters who grow up to
mature beauty, all unsuspicious of the fatal dower, and are some day
startled by a discovery of their possessions. She knew, too, that
female loveliness was an all-potent spell, and, depressing as were
the circumstances of her life and situation, she felt that a
brighter lot might be hers, without any very remarkable or seemingly
inconsistent course of events.
"Harriet, bring me a cup of strong coffee."
Dr. Hartwell had returned late in the afternoon of the second day,
and, travel-worn and weary, threw himself down on the sofa in his
study. There was a pale severity in his face which told that his
reflections during his brief absence had been far from pleasant, and
as he swept back the hair from his forehead, and laid his head on
the cushion, the whole countenance bespoke the bitterness of a proud
but miserable man. He remained for some time with closed eyes, and
when the coffee was served drank it without comment. Harriet busied
herself about the room, doing various unnecessary things, and
wondering why her master did not inquire concerning home affairs.
Finally, having exhausted every pretext for lingering, she coughed
very spasmodically once or twice, and, putting her hand on the knob
of the door, said deferentially:
"Do you want anything else, sir? The bathroom is all ready."
"Has my sister been to the asylum?"
"Go and arrange Beulah's room."
She retired; and, springing up, he paced the floor, striving to
master the emotion which so unwontedly agitated him. His lips
writhed, and the thin nostrils expanded, but he paused before the
melodeon, sat down and played several pieces, and gradually the
swollen veins on his brow lost their corded appearance, and the
mouth resumed its habitual compression. Then, with an exterior as
calm as the repose of death, he took his hat, and went toward the
parlor. Mr. Lockhart was reclining on one of the sofas, Pauline sat
on an ottoman near him, looking over a book of prints, and Mrs.
Chilton, tastefully attired, occupied the piano-stool. Witching
strains of music greeted her brother, as he stopped at the door and
looked in. In the mirror opposite she saw his image reflected, and
for an instant her heart beat rapidly; but the delicate fingers flew
over the keys as skillfully as before, and only the firm setting of
the teeth betokened the coming struggle. He entered, and, walking up
to the invalid, said cordially:
"How are you, Percy? better, I hope." While one hand clasped his
friend's, the other was laid with brotherly freedom on the sick
"Of course I am. There was no malady in Eden, was there? Verily,
Guy, in your delightful home, I am growing well again."
"Ah! so much for not possessing Ithuriel's spear. I am glad to find
you free from fever."
"Howd'y-do, uncle! Don't you see me?" said Pauline, reaching up her
"It is always hard to find you, Pauline; you are such a demure,
silent little body," said he, shaking her hand kindly.
"Welcome, Guy! I expected you yesterday. What detained you so long?"
Mrs. Chilton approached with outstretched hand, and at the same time
offered her lips for a kiss.
He availed himself of neither, but, fixing his eyes intently on
hers, said as sweetly as if he had been soothing a fretful child:
"Necessity, of course; but now that I have come, I shall make
amends, I promise you, for the delay. Percy, has she taken good care
"She is an admirable nurse; I can never requite the debt she has
imposed. Is not my convalescence sufficient proof of her superior
skill?" Mr. Lockhart raised himself, and, leaning on his elbow,
suffered his eyes to rest admiringly on the graceful form and
faultless features beside him.
"Are you really so much better?" said Dr. Hartwell, gnawing his lip.
"Indeed I am! Why are you so incredulous? Have you so little
confidence in your own prescriptions?"
"Confidence! I had little enough when given, immeasurably less now.
But we will talk of all this after a little. I have some matters to
arrange, and will be with you at tea. May, I wish to see you."
"Well, Guy, what is it!" Without moving an inch, she looked up at
"Come to my study," answered her brother quietly.
"And leave your patient to amuse himself? Really, Guy, you exercise
the rites of hospitality so rarely that you forget the ordinary
requirements. Apropos, your little protegee has not returned. It
seems she did not fancy living here, and prefers staying at the
asylum. I would not trouble myself about her, if I were you. Some
people cannot appreciate kindness, you know." She uttered this piece
of counsel with perfect sangfroid, and met her brother's eye as
innocently as Pauline would have done.
"I am thoroughly acquainted with her objections to this place, and
determined to remove them so completely that she cannot refused to
A gray pallor crept over his sister's face; but she replied, with
her usual equanimity.
"You have seen her, then? I thought you had hurried back to your
sick friend here, without pausing by the way."
"No! I have not seen her, and, you are aware, her voluntary promise
would seal her lips, even if I had." He smiled contemptuously, as he
saw her puzzled look, and continued: "Percy will excuse you for a
few moments; come with me. Pauline, entertain this gentleman in our
She took his offered arm, and they proceeded to the study in
"Sit down." Dr. Hartwell pushed a chair toward her, and stood
looking her fully in the face. She did not shrink, and asked
"Well, Guy, to what does all this preamble lead?"
"May, is the doctrine of future punishments laid down as orthodox,
in that elegantly gilded prayer-book you take with you in your
weekly pilgrimages to church?"
"Come, come, Guy; if you have no respect for religion yourself,
don't scoff at its observances in my presence. It is very unkind,
and I will not allow it." She rose, with an air of offended dignity.
"Scoff! You wrong me. Why, verily, your religion is too formidable
to suffer the thought. I tell you, sister mine, your creed is a
terrible one in my eyes." He looked at her with a smile of withering
She grew restless under his impaling gaze, and he continued
"From such creeds! such practice! Good Lord deliver us!"
She turned to go, but his hand fell heavily on her shoulder.
"I am acquainted with all that passed between Beulah and yourself
the evening she left my house. I was cognizant of the whole truth
before I left the city."
"Artful wretch! She is as false as contemptible!" muttered the
sister, through set teeth.
"Take care! Do not too hastily apply your own individual standard of
action to others. She does not dream that I am acquainted with the
truth, though doubtless she wonders that, knowing you so well, I
should not suspect it."
"Ah, guided by your favorite Mephistopheles, you wrapped the mantle
of invisibility about you, and heard it all. Eh?"
"No; Mephistopheles is not ubiquitous, and I left him at home here,
it seems, when I took that child to ride. It is difficult for me to
believe you are my sister! very difficult! It is the most
humiliating thought that could possibly be suggested to me. May, I
very nearly decided to send you and Pauline out into the world
without a dime!--without a cent!--just as I found you, and I may do
"You dare not! You dare not! You swore a solemn oath to the dying
that you would always provide for us! I am not afraid of your
breaking your vow!" cried Mrs. Chilton leaning heavily against the
table to support herself.
"You give me credit for too much nicety. I tell you I would break my
oath to-morrow--nay, to-night; for your duplicity cancels it--but
for that orphan you hate so cordially. She would never return if you
and Pauline suffered for the past. For her sake, and hers only, I
will still assist, support you; for have her here I will! if it cost
me life and fortune! I would send you off to the plantation, but
there are no educational advantages there for Pauline; and,
therefore, if Beulah returns, I have resolved to buy and give you a
separate home, wherever you may prefer. Stay here, you cannot and
"And what construction will the world place on your taking a young
girl into your house at the time that I leave it? Guy, with what
marvelous foresight you are endowed!" said she, laughing
"I shall take measures to prevent any improper construction! Mrs.
Watson, the widow of one of my oldest and best friends, has been
left in destitute circumstances, and I shall immediately offer her a
home here, to take charge of my household and look after Beulah when
I am absent. She is an estimable woman, past fifty years of age, and
her character is so irreproachable that her presence here will
obviate the objection you have urged. You will decide to-night where
you wish to fix your future residence, and let me know to-morrow. I
shall not give you longer time for a decision. Meantime, when Beulah
returns you will not allude to the matter. At your peril, May! I
have borne much from you; but, by all that I prize, I swear I will
make you suffer severely if you dare to interfere again. Do not
imagine that I am ignorant of your schemes! I tell you now, I would
gladly see Percy Lockhart lowered into the grave rather than know
that you had succeeded in blinding him! Oh, his noble nature would
loathe you, could he see you as you are. There, go! or I shall
forget that I am talking to a woman--much less a woman claiming to
be my sister! Go! go!" He put up his hands as if unwilling to look
at her, and, leaving the room, descended to the front door. A large
family carriage, drawn by two horses, stood in readiness, and,
seating himself within it, he ordered the coachman to drive to the
asylum. Mrs. Williams met him at the entrance, and, despite her
assumed composure, felt nervous and uncomfortable, for his
scrutinizing look disconcerted her.
"Madam, you are the matron of this institution, I presume. I want to
see Beulah Benton."
"Sir, she saw your carriage, and desired me to say to you that,
though she was very grateful for your kindness, she did not wish to
burden you, and preferred remaining here until she could find some
position which would enable her to support herself. She begs you
will not insist upon seeing her; she does not wish to see you."
"Where is she? I shall not leave the house until I do see her."
She saw from his countenance that it was useless to contend. There
was an unbending look of resolve which said plainly, "Tell me where
to find her, or I shall search for her at once." Secretly pleased at
the prospect of reconciliation, the matron no longer hesitated, and,
pointing to the staircase, said: "She is in the first right-hand
He mounted the steps, opened the door, and entered. Beulah was
standing by the window. She had recognized his step, and knew that
he was in the room, but felt as if she would not meet his eye for
the universe. Yet there was in her heart an intense longing to see
him again. During the two past days she had missed his kind manner
and grave watchfulness, and now, if she had dared to yield to the
impulse that prompted, she would have sprung to meet him and caught
his hand to her lips. He approached, and stood looking at the
drooped face; then his soft, cool touch was on her head, and he said
in his peculiar low, musical tones:
"Proud little spirit, come home and be happy."
She shook her head, saying resolutely:
"I cannot; I have no home. I could not be happy in your house."
"You can be in future. Beulah, I know the whole truth of this
matter. How I discovered it is no concern of yours--you have not
broken your promise. Now, mark me; I make your return to my house
the condition of my sister's pardon. I am not trifling! If you
persist in leaving me, I tell you solemnly I will send her and
Pauline out into the world to work for their daily bread, as you
want to do! If you will come back, I will give them a comfortable
home of their own wherever they may prefer to live, and see that
they are always well cared for. But they shall not remain in my
house whether you come or not. I am in earnest! Look at me; you know
I never say what I do not mean. I want you to come back; I ask you
to come with me now. I am lonely; my home is dark and desolate.
Come, my child; come!" He held her hands in his, and drew her gently
toward him. She looked eagerly into his face, and, as she noted the
stern sadness that marred its noble beauty, the words of his sister
flashed upon her memory: He had been married! Was it the loss of his
wife that had so darkened his elegant home?--that gave such
austerity to the comparatively youthful face? She gazed into the
deep eyes till she grew dizzy, and answered indistinctly:
"I have no claim on you--will not be the means of parting you and
your sister. You have Pauline; make her your child."
"Henceforth my sister and myself are parted, whether you will it or
not, whether you come back or otherwise. Once for all, if you would
serve her, come, for on this condition only will I provide for her.
Pauline does not suit me; you do. I can make you a friend, in some
sort a companion. Beulah, you want to come to me; I see it in your
eyes; but I see too that you want conditions. What are they?"
"Will you always treat Pauline just as kindly as if you had never
taken me to your house?"
"Except having a separate home, she shall never know any difference.
I promise you this. What else?"
"Will you let me go to the public school instead of Madam St.
"Because the tuition is free."
"And you are too proud to accept any aid from me?"
"No, sir; I want your counsel and guidance, and I want to be with
you to show you that I do thank you for all your goodness; but I
want to cost you as little as possible."
"You do not expect to depend on me always, then?" said he, smiling
"No, sir; only till I am able to teach. If you are willing to do
this, I shall be glad to go back, very glad; but not unless you
are." She looked as firm as her guardian.
"Better stipulate also that you are to wear nothing more expensive
than bit calico." He seemed much amused.
"Indeed, sir, I am not jesting at all. If you will take care of me
while I am educating myself, I shall be very grateful to you; but I
am not going to be adopted."
"Very well. Then I will try to take care of you. I have signed your
treaty; are you ready to come home?"
"Yes, sir; glad to come." Her fingers closed confidingly over his,
and they joined Mrs. Williams in the hall below. A brief explanation
from Beulah sufficed for the rejoicing matron, and soon she was
borne rapidly from the asylum. Dr. Hartwell was silent until they
reached home, and Beulah was going to her own room, when he asked
"What was it that you wished to ask me about the evening of the
"That I might go to the public school."
"What put that into your head?" "As an independent orphan, I am
insulted at Madam St. Cymon's."
"By whom?" His eyes flashed.
"No matter now, sir."
"By whom? I ask you."
"Not by Pauline. She would scorn to be guilty of anything so
"You do not mean to answer my question, then?"
"No, sir. Do not ask me to do so, for I cannot."
"Very well. Get ready for tea. Mr. Lockhart is here. One word more.
You need fear no further interference from anyone."
He walked on, and, glad to be released, Beulah hastened to her own
room, with a strange feeling of joy on entering it again. Harriet
welcomed her warmly, and, without alluding to her absence, assisted
in braiding the heavy masses of hair, which required arranging. Half
an hour after, Dr. Hartwell knocked at the door, and conducted her
downstairs. Mrs. Chilton rose and extended her hand, with an
amicable expression of countenance for which Beulah was not
prepared. She could not bring herself to accept the hand, but her
salutation was gravely polite.
"Good-evening, Mrs. Chilton."
Mr. Lockhart made room for her on the sofa; and, quietly ensconced
in one corner, she sat for some time so engaged in listening to the
general conversation that the bitter recollection of by-gone trials
was entirely banished. Dr. Hartwell and his friend were talking of
Europe, and the latter, after recounting much of interest in
connection with his former visits, said earnestly:
"Go with me this time, Guy; one tour cannot have satiated you. It
will be double, nay, triple, enjoyment to have you along. It is, and
always has been, a mystery to me why you should persist in
practicing. You do not need the pecuniary aid; your income would
enable you to live just as you pleased. Life is short at best. Why
not glean all of pleasure that travel affords to a nature like
yours? Your sister was just telling me that in a few days she goes
North to place Pauline at some celebrated school, and, without her,
you will be desolate. Come, let's to Europe together. What do you
Dr. Hartwell received this intimation of his sister's plans without
the slightest token of surprise, and smiled sarcastically as he
"Percy, I shall answer you in the words of a favorite author of the
day. He says, 'It is for want of self-culture that the superstition
of traveling, whose idols are Italy, England, Egypt, retains its
fascination for all educated Americans. He who travels to be amused,
or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from
himself, and grows old, even in youth, among--old things. In Thebes,
in Palmyra, his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as
they. He carries ruins to ruins. Traveling is a fool's paradise. At
home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with
beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embark, and finally
wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad
self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I affect to be
intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not. My giant goes
with me wherever I go.' Percy, I endeavored to drown my giant in the
Mediterranean; to bury it forever beneath the green waters of Lago
Maggiore; to hurl it from solemn, icy, Alpine heights; to dodge it
in museums of art; but, as Emerson says, it clung to me with
unerring allegiance, and I came home. And now, daily and yearly, I
repeat the hopeless experiment, in my round of professional duties.
Yes, May and Pauline are going away, but I shall have Beulah to look
after, and I fancy time will not drag its wheels through coming
years. How soon do you think of leaving America? I have some
commissions for you when you start."
"I hope I shall be able to go North within a fortnight, and, after a
short visit to Newport or Saratoga, sail for Havre. What do you want
from the great storehouse of art, sculpture, and paintings, cameos
"I will furnish you with a catalogue. Do you go through Germany, or
only flaunt, butterfly-like, under the sunny skies of the Levant?"
"I have, as yet, no settled plans; but probably before I return
shall explore Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. Do you want anything from
the dying world? From Dendera, Carnac, or that city of rock, lonely,
silent, awful Petra?"
"Not I. The flavor of Sodom is too prevalent. But there are a few
localities that I shall ask you to sketch for me."
Subsequently, Mr. Lockhart requested Beulah to sing her forest song
for him again. The blood surged quickly into her face, and, not
without confusion, she begged him to excuse her. He insisted, and
tried to draw her from her seat; but, sinking further back into the
corner, she assured him she could not; she never sang, except when
alone. Dr. Hartwell smiled, and, looking at her curiously, said:
"I never heard her even attempt to sing. Beulah, why will you not
try to oblige him?"
"Oh, sir! my songs are all connected with sorrows. I could not sing
them now; indeed, I could not." And as the memory of Lilly, hushed
by her lullaby, rose vividly before her, she put her hands over her
eyes and wept quietly.
"When you come home from your Oriental jaunt, she will be able to
comply with your request. Meantime, Percy, come into the study; I
want a cigar and game of chess."
Beulah quitted the parlor at the same time, and was mounting the
steps, when she heard Mr. Lockhart ask:
"Guy, what are you going to do with that solemn-looking child?"
"Going to try to show her that the world is not altogether made up
of brutes." She heard no more; but, long after she laid her head
upon the pillow, pondered on the kind fate which gave her so
considerate, so generous a guardian; and, in the depths of her
gratitude, she vowed to show him that she reverenced and honored
Three years passed swiftly, unmarked by any incidents of interest,
and one dreary night in December Beulah sat in Dr. Hartwell's study,
wondering what detained him so much, later than usual. The lamp
stood on the tea-table, and the urn awaited the master's return. The
room, with its books, statues, paintings, and melodeon, was
unaltered, but time had materially changed the appearance of the
orphan. She had grown tall, and the mazarine blue merino dress
fitted the slender form with scrupulous exactness. The luxuriant
black hair was combed straight back from the face, and wound into a
circular knot, which covered the entire back of the head, and gave a
classical outline to the whole. The eyelashes were longer and
darker, the complexion had lost its sickly hue, and, though there
was no bloom on the cheeks, they were clear and white. I have spoken
before of the singular conformation of the massive brow, and now the
style in which she wore her hair fully exposed the outline. The
large gray eyes had lost their look of bitterness, but more than
ever they were grave, earnest, restless, and searching; indexing a
stormy soul. The whole countenance betokened that rare combination
of mental endowments, that habitual train of deep, concentrated
thought, mingled with somewhat dark passion, which characterizes the
eagerly inquiring mind that struggles to lift itself far above
common utilitarian themes. The placid element was as wanting in her
physiognomy as in her character, and even the lines of the mouth
gave evidence of strength and restlessness, rather than peace.
Before her lay a book on geometry, and, engrossed by study, she was
unobservant of Dr. Hartwell's entrance. Walking up to the grate, he
warmed his fingers, and then, with his hands behind him, stood still
on the rug, regarding his protegee attentively. He looked precisely
as he had done more than three years before, when he waited at Mrs.
Martin's, watching little Johnny and his nurse. The colorless face
seemed as if chiseled out of ivory, and stern gravity, blended with
bitterness, was enthroned on the lofty, unfurrowed brow. He looked
at the girl intently, as he would have watched a patient to whom he
had administered a dubious medicine and felt some curiosity
concerning the result.
"Beulah, put up your book and make the tea, will you?"
She started up, and, seating herself before the urn, said joyfully:
"Good-evening! I did not know you had come home. You look cold,
"Yes, it is deucedly cold; and, to mend the matter, Mazeppa must
needs slip on the ice in the gutter and lame himself. Knew, too, I
should want him again to-night." He drew a chair to the table and
received his tea from her hand, for it was one of his whims to
dismiss Mrs. Watson and the servants at this meal, and have only
"Who is so ill as to require a second visit to-night?"
She very rarely asked anything relative to his professional
engagements, but saw that he was more than usually interested.
"Why, that quiet little Quaker friend of yours, Clara Sanders, will
probably lose her grandfather this time. He had a second paralytic
stroke to-day, and I doubt whether he survives till morning."
"Are any of Clara's friends with her?" asked Beulah quickly.
"Some two or three of the neighbors. What now?" he continued as she
rose from the table.
"I am going to get ready and go with you when you return."
"Nonsense! The weather is too disagreeable; and, besides, you can do
no good; the old man is unconscious. Don't think of it."
"But I must think of it, and what is more, you must carry me, if you
please. I shall not mind the cold, and I know Clara would rather
have me with her, even though I could render no assistance. Will you
carry me? I shall thank you very much." She stood on the threshold.
"And if I will not carry you?" he answered questioningly.
"Then, sir, though sorry to disobey you, I shall be forced to walk
"So I supposed. You may get ready."
"Thank you." She hurried off to wrap up for the ride and acquaint
Mrs. Watson with the cause of her temporary absence. On re-entering
the study she found the doctor lying on the sofa, with one hand over
his eyes. Without removing it he tossed a letter to her, saying:
"There is a letter from Heidelberg. I had almost forgotten it. You
will have time to read it; the buggy is not ready." He moved his
fingers slightly, so as to see her distinctly, while she tore off
the envelope and perused it. At first she looked pleased; then the
black eyebrows met over the nose, and as she refolded it there was a
very decided curl in the compressed upper lip. She put it into her
pocket without comment.
"Eugene is well, I suppose?" said the doctor, still shading his
"Yes, sir; quite well."
"Does he seem to be improving his advantages?"
"I should judge not, from the tone of this letter."
"What does it indicate?"
"That he thinks of settling down into mercantile life on his return;
as if he needed to go to Germany to learn to keep books." She spoke
hastily and with much chagrin.
"And why not? Germany is par excellence the land of book-making, and
book-reading; why not of bookkeeping?"
"German proficiency is not the question, sir."
Dr. Hartwell smiled, and, passing his fingers through his hair,
"You intend to annihilate that plebeian project of his, then?"
"His own will must govern him, sir; over that I have no power."
"Still you will use your influence in favor of a learned
"Yes, sir; if I have any."
"Take care your ambitious pride does not ruin you both. There is the
buggy. Be so good as to give me my fur gauntlets out of the drawer
of my desk. That will do; come."
The ride was rather silent. Beulah spoke several times, but was
answered in a manner which informed her that her guardian was in a
gloomy mood and did not choose to talk. He was to her as
inexplicable as ever. She felt that the barrier which divided them,
instead of melting away with long and intimate acquaintance, had
strengthened and grown impenetrable. Kind but taciturn, she knew
little of his opinions on any of the great questions which began to
agitate her own mind. For rather more than three years they had
spent their evenings together; she in studying, he in reading or
writing. Of his past life she knew absolutely nothing, for no
unguarded allusion to it ever escaped his lips. As long as she had
lived in his house, he had never mentioned his wife's name, and but
for his sister's words she would have been utterly ignorant of his
marriage. Whether the omission was studied, or merely the result of
abstraction, she could only surmise. Once, when sitting around the
fire, a piece of crape fell upon the hearth from the shrouded
portrait. He stooped down, picked it up, and, without glancing at
the picture, threw the fragment into the grate. She longed to see
the covered face, but dared not unfasten the sable folds, which had
grown rusty with age. Sometimes she fancied her presence annoyed
him; but if she absented herself at all during the evening he
invariably inquired the cause. He had most scrupulously avoided all
reference to matters of faith; she had endeavored several times to
direct the conversation to religious topics, but he adroitly eluded
her efforts, and abstained from any such discussion; and though on
Sabbath she generally accompanied Mrs. Watson to church, he never
alluded to it. Occasionally, when more than ordinarily fatigued by
the labors of the day, he had permitted her to read aloud to him
from some of his favorite volumes, and these brief glimpses had
given her an intense longing to pursue the same paths of
investigation. She revered and admired him; nay, she loved him; but
it was more earnest gratitude than genuine affection. Love casteth
out fear, and most certainly she feared him. She had entered her
seventeenth year, and, feeling that she was no longer a child, her
pride sometimes rebelled at the calm, commanding manner he
maintained toward her.
They found Clara kneeling beside her insensible grandfather, while
two or three middle-aged ladies sat near the hearth, talking in
undertones. Beulah put her arms tenderly around her friend ere she
was aware of her presence, and the cry of blended woe and gladness
with which Clara threw herself on Beulah's bosom told her how well-
timed that presence was. Three years of teaching and care had worn
the slight young form, and given a troubled, strained, weary look to
the fair face. Thin, pale, and tearful, she clung to Beulah, and
asked, in broken accents, what would become of her when the aged
sleeper was no more.
"Our good God remains to you, Clara. I was a shorn lamb, and he
tempered the winds for me. I was very miserable, but he did not
Clara looked at the tall form of the physician, and, while her eyes
rested upon him with a species of fascination, she murmured:
"Yes, you have been blessed indeed! You have him. He guards and
cares for your happiness; but I, oh, I am alone!"
"You told me he had promised to be your friend. Best assured he will
prove himself such," answered Beulah, watching Clara's countenance
as she spoke.
"Yes, I know; but--" She paused, and averted her head, for just then
he drew near and said gravely:
"Beulah, take Miss Clara to her own room, and persuade her to rest.
I shall remain probably all night; at least until some change takes
"Don't send me away," pleaded Clara mournfully.
"Go, Beulah; it is for her own good." She saw that he was
unrelenting, and complied without opposition. In the seclusion of
her room she indulged in a passionate burst of grief, and, thinking
it was best thus vented, Beulah paced up and down the floor,
listening now to the convulsive sobs, and now to the rain which
pelted the window-panes. She was two years younger than her
companion, yet felt that she was immeasurably stronger. Often during
their acquaintance a painful suspicion had crossed her mind; as
often she had banished it, but now it haunted her with a pertinacity
which she could not subdue. While her feet trod the chamber floor,
memory trod the chambers of the past, and gathered up every link
which could strengthen the chain of evidence. Gradually dim
conjecture became sad conviction, and she was conscious of a degree
of pain and sorrow for which she could not readily account. If Clara
loved Dr. Hartwell, why should it grieve her? Her step grew
nervously rapid, and the eyes settled upon the carpet with a
fixedness of which she was unconscious. Suppose he was double her
age, if Clara loved him notwithstanding, what business was it of
hers? Besides, no one would dream of the actual disparity in years,
for he was a very handsome man, and certainly did not look more than
ten years older. True, Clara was not very intellectual, and he was
particularly fond of literary pursuits; but had not she heard him
say that it was a singular fact in anthropology that men selected
their opposites for wives? She did not believe her guardian ever
thought of Clara save when in her presence. But how did she know
anything about his thoughts and fancies, his likes and dislikes? He
had never even spoken of his marriage--was it probable that the
subject of a second love would have escaped him? All this passed
rapidly in her mind, and when Clara called her to sit down on the
couch beside her, she started as from a painful dream. While her
friend talked sadly of the future, Beulah analyzed her features, and
came to the conclusion that it would be a very easy matter to love
her; the face was so sweet and gentle, the manner so graceful, the
tone so musical and winning. Absorbed in thought, neither noted the
lapse of time. Midnight passed; two o'clock came; and then at three
a knock startled the watchers. Clara sprang to the door; Dr.
Hartwell pointed to the sickroom, and said gently:
"He has ceased to suffer. He is at rest."
She looked at him vacantly an instant, and whispered, under her
breath: "He is not dead?"
He did not reply, and, with a frightened expression, she glided into
the chamber of death, calling piteously on the sleeper to come back
and shield her. Beulah would have followed, but the doctor detained
"Not yet, child. Not yet."
As if unconscious of the act, he passed his arm around her
shoulders, and drew her close to him. She looked up in astonishment,
but his eyes were fixed on the kneeling figure in the room opposite,
and she saw that, just then, he was thinking of anything else than
"Are you going home now, sir?"
"Yes; but you must stay with that poor girl yonder. Can't you
prevail on her to come and spend a few days with you?"
"I rather think not," answered Beulah, resolved not to try.
"You look pale, my child. Watching is not good for you. It is a long
time since you have seen death. Strange that people will not see it
as it is. Passing strange."
"What do you mean?" said she, striving to interpret the smile that
wreathed his lips.
"You will not believe if I tell you. 'Life is but the germ of Death,
and Death the development of a higher Life.'"
"Higher in the sense of heavenly immortality?"
"You may call it heavenly if you choose. Stay here till the funeral
is over, and I will send for you. Are you worn out, child?" He had
withdrawn his arm, and now looked anxiously at her colorless face.
"Then why are you so very pale?"
"Did you ever see me, sir, when I was anything else?"
"I have seen you look less ghostly. Good-by." He left the house
without even shaking hands.
The day which succeeded was very gloomy, and, after the funeral
rites had been performed, and the second day looked in, Beulah's
heart rejoiced at the prospect of returning home. Clara shrank from
the thought of being left alone, the little cottage was so desolate.
She would give it up now, of course, and find a cheap boarding
house; but the furniture must be rubbed and sent down to an auction
room, and she dreaded the separation from all the objects which
linked her with the past.
"Clara, I have been commissioned to invite you to spend several days
with me, until you can select a boarding house. Dr. Hartwell will be
glad to have you come."
"Did he say so?" asked the mourner, shading her face with her hand.
"He told me I must bring you home with me," answered Beulah.
"Oh, how good, how noble he is! Beulah, you are lucky, lucky
indeed." She dropped her head on her arms.
"Clara, I believe there is less difference in our positions than you
seem to imagine. We are both orphans, and in about a year I too
shall be a teacher. Dr. Hartwell is my guardian and protector, but
he will be a kind friend to you also."
"Beulah, you are mad to dream of leaving him and turning teacher! I
am older than you, and have traveled over the very track that you
are so eager to set out upon. Oh, take my advice; stay where you
are! Would you leave summer sunshine for the icebergs of Arctic
night? Silly girl, appreciate your good fortune."
"Can it be possible, Clara, that you are fainting so soon? Where are
all your firm resolves? If it is your duty, what matter the
difficulties?" She looked down pityingly on her companion, as in
olden time one of the athletae might have done upon a drooping
"Necessity knows no conditions, Beulah. I have no alternative but to
labor in that horrible treadmill round, day after day. You are more
fortunate; can have a home of elegance, luxury, and--"
"And dependence! Would you be willing to change places with me, and
indolently wait for others to maintain you?" interrupted Beulah,
looking keenly at the wan, yet lovely, face before her.
"Ah, gladly, if I had been selected as you were. Once I too felt
hopeful and joyous; but now life is dreary, almost a burden. Be
warned, Beulah; don't suffer your haughty spirit to make you reject
the offered home that may be yours."
There was a strong approach to contempt in the expression with which
Beulah regarded her, as the last words were uttered, and she
"You are less a woman than I thought you, if you would be willing to
live on the bounty of others when a little activity would enable you
to support yourself."
"Ah, Beulah! it is not only the bread you eat, or the clothes that
you wear; it is sympathy and kindness, love and watchfulness. It is
this that a woman wants. Oh, was her heart made, think you, to be
filled with grammars and geographies and copy-books? Can the feeling
that you are independent and doing your duty satisfy the longing for
other idols? Oh, Duty is an icy shadow! It will freeze you. It
cannot fill the heart's sanctuary. Woman was intended as a pet
plant, to be guarded and cherished; isolated and uncared for, she
droops, languishes, and dies." Ah! the dew-sparkle had exhaled and
the morning glory had vanished; the noontide heat of the conflict
was creeping on, and she was sinking down, impotent to continue the
"Clara Sanders, I don't believe one word of all this languishing
nonsense. As to my being nothing more nor less than a sickly
geranium, I know better. If you have concluded that you belong to
that dependent family of plants, I pity you sincerely, and beg that
you will not put me in any such category. Duty may be a cold shadow
to you, but it is a vast volcanic agency constantly impelling me to
action. What was my will given to me for, if to remain passive and
suffer others to minister to its needs? Don't talk to me about
woman's clinging, dependent nature. You are opening your lips to
repeat that senseless simile of oaks and vines; I don't want to hear
it; there are no creeping tendencies about me. You can wind, and
lean, and hang on somebody else if you like; but I feel more like
one of those old pine trees yonder. I can stand up. Very slim, if
you will, but straight and high. Stand by myself; battle with wind
and rain and tempest roar; be swayed and bent, perhaps, in the
storm, but stand unaided, nevertheless, I feel humbled when I hear a
woman bemoaning the weakness of her sex, instead of showing that she
has a soul and mind of her own inferior to none."
"All that sounds very heroic in the pages of a novel, but the
reality is quite another matter. A tame, joyless, hopeless time you
will have if you scorn good fortune, as you threaten, and go into
the world to support yourself," answered Clara impatiently.
"I would rather struggle with her for a crust than hang on her
garments asking a palace. I don't know what has come over you. You
are strangely changed!" cried Beulah, pressing her hands on her
"The same change will come over you when you endure what I have.
With all your boasted strength, you are but a woman; have a woman's
heart, and one day will be unable to hush its hungry cries."
"Then I will crush it, so help me Heaven!" answered Beulah.
"No! sorrow will do that time enough; no suicidal effort will be
necessary." For the first time Beulah marked an expression of
bitterness in the usually gentle, quiet countenance. She was pained
more than she chose to evince, and, seeing Dr. Hartwell's carriage
at the door, prepared to return home.
"Tell him that I am very grateful for his kind offer; that his
friendly remembrance is dear to a bereaved orphan. Ah, Beulah! I
have known him from my childhood, and he has always been a friend as
well as a physician. During my mother's long illness he watched her
carefully and constantly, and when we tendered him the usual
recompense for his services he refused all remuneration, declaring
he had only been a friend. He knew we were poor, and could ill
afford any expense. Oh, do you wonder that I--Are you going
immediately? Come often when I get to a boarding house. Do, Beulah!
I am so desolate; so desolate!" She bowed her head on Beulah's
shoulder and wept unrestrainedly.
"Yes, I will come as often as I can; and, Clara, do try to cheer up.
I can't bear to see you sink down in this way." She kissed the
tearful face and hurried away.
It was Saturday, and, retiring to her own room, she answered
Eugene's brief letter. Long before she had seen with painful anxiety
that he wrote more and more rarely, and, while his communications
clearly conveyed the impression that he fancied they were essential
to her happiness, the protective tenderness of early years gave
place to a certain commanding yet condescending tone. Intuitively
perceiving, yet unable to analyze this gradual revolution of
feeling, Beulah was sometimes tempted to cut short the
correspondence. But her long and ardent attachment drowned the
whispers of wounded pride, and hallowed memories of his boyish love
ever prevented an expression of the pain and wonder with which she
beheld the alteration in his character. Unwilling to accuse him of
the weakness which prompted much of his arrogance and egotism, her
heart framed various excuses for his seeming coldness. At first she
had written often, and without reference to ordinary epistolary
debts; but now she regularly waited (and that for some time) for the
arrival of his letters; not from a diminution of affection so much
as from true womanly delicacy, lest she should obtrude herself too
frequently upon his notice. More than once she had been troubled by
a dawning consciousness of her own superiority; but, accustomed for
years to look up to him as a sort of infallible guide, she would not
admit the suggestion, and tried to keep alive the admiring respect
with which she had been wont to defer to his judgment. He seemed to
consider his dogmatic dictation both acceptable and necessary, and
it was this assumed mastery, unaccompanied with manifestations of
former tenderness, which irritated and aroused her pride. With the
brush of youthful imagination she had painted him as the future
statesman--gifted, popular, and revered; and while visions of his
fame and glory flitted before her the promise of sharing all with
her was by no means the least fascinating feature in her fancy
picture. Of late, however, he had ceased to speak of the choice of a
profession, and mentioned vaguely Mr. Graham's wish that he should
acquaint himself thoroughly with French, German, and Spanish, in
order to facilitate the correspondence of the firm with foreign
houses. She felt that once embarked on the sea of mercantile life he
would have little leisure or inclination to pursue the paths which
she hoped to travel by his side, and, on this occasion, her letter
was longer and more earnest than usual, urging his adherence to the
original choice of the law and using every forcible argument she
could adduce. Finally the reply was sealed and directed, and she
went down to the study to place it in the marble receiver which
stood on her guardian's desk. Hal, who accompanied the doctor in his
round of visits, always took their letters to the post office, and
punctually deposited all directed to them in the vase. To her
surprise she found no fire in the grate. The blinds were drawn
closely, and, in placing her letter on the desk, she noticed several
addressed to the doctor and evidently unopened. They must have
arrived the day before, and while she wondered at the aspect of the
room Harriet entered.
"Miss Beulah, do you know how long master expects to be gone? I
thought maybe you could tell when you came home, for Mrs. Watson
does not seem to know any more than I do."
"Gone! What do you mean?"
"Don't you know he has gone up the river to the plantation? Why, I
packed his valise at daylight yesterday, and he left in the early
morning boat. He has not been to the plantation since just before
you came here. Hal says he heard him tell Dr. Asbury to take charge
of his patients, that his overseer had to be looked after. He told
me he was going to the plantation, and I would have asked him when
he was coming back, but he was in one of his unsatisfactory ways--
looked just like his mouth had been dipped in hot sealing-wax, so I
held my tongue."
Beulah bit her lips with annoyance, but sat down before the
melodeon, and said as unconcernedly as possible:
"I did not know he had left the city, and, of course, have no idea
when he will be back. Harriet, please make me a fire here, or call
Hal to do it."
"There is a good fire in the dining room; better go in there and sit
with Mrs. Watson. She is busy seeding raisins for mincemeat and
"No; I would rather stay here."
"Then I will kindle you a fire right away."
Harriet moved about the room with cheerful alacrity. She had always
seemed to consider herself Beulah's special guardian and friend, and
gave continual proof of the strength of her affection. Evidently she
desired to talk about her master, but Beulah's face gave her no
encouragement to proceed. She made several efforts to renew the
conversation, but they were not seconded, and she withdrew,
muttering to herself:
"She is learning all his ways. He does hate to talk any more than he
can help, and she is patterning after him just as fast as she can.
They don't seem to know what the Lord gave them tongues for."
Beulah practiced perseveringly for some time, and then, drawing a
chair near the fire, sat down and leaned her head on her hand. She
missed her guardian--wanted to see him--felt surprised at his sudden
departure and mortified that he had not thought her of sufficient
consequence to bid adieu to and be apprised of his intended trip. He
treated her precisely as he did when she first entered the house;
seemed to consider her a mere child, whereas she knew she was no
longer such. He never alluded to her plan of teaching, and when she
chanced to mention it he offered no comment, looked indifferent or
abstracted. Though invariably kind, and sometimes humorous, there
was an impenetrable reserve respecting himself, his past and future,
which was never laid aside. When not engaged with his flowers or
music, he was deep in some favorite volume, and, outside of these
sources of enjoyment, seemed to derive no real pleasure.
Occasionally he had visitors, but these were generally strangers,
often persons residing at a distance, and Beulah knew nothing of
them. Several times he had attended concerts and lectures, but she
had never accompanied him; and frequently, when sitting by his side,
felt as if a glacier lay between them. After Mrs. Chilton's
departure for New York, where she and Pauline were boarding, no
ladies ever came to the house, except a few of middle age, who
called now and then to see Mrs. Watson, and, utterly isolated from
society, Beulah was conscious of entire ignorance of all that passed
in polite circles. Twice Claudia had called, but, unable to forget
the past sufficiently to enter Mrs. Grayson's house, their
intercourse had ended with Claudia's visits. Mrs. Watson was a kind-
hearted and most excellent woman, who made an admirable housekeeper,
but possessed few of the qualifications requisite to render her an
agreeable companion. With an ambitious nature, and an eager thirst
for knowledge, Beulah had improved her advantages as only those do
who have felt the need of them. While she acquired, with unusual
ease and rapidity, the branches of learning taught at school, she
had availed herself of the extensive and select library, to which
she had free access, and history, biography, travels, essays, and
novels had been perused with singular avidity. Dr. Hartwell, without
restricting her reading, suggested the propriety of incorporating
more of the poetic element in her course. The hint was timely, and
induced an acquaintance with the great bards of England and Germany,
although her taste led her to select works of another character. Her
secluded life favored habits of study, and, at an age when girls are
generally just beginning to traverse the fields of literature, she
had progressed so far as to explore some of the footpaths which
entice contemplative minds from the beaten track. With earlier
cultivation and superiority of years, Eugene had essayed to direct
her reading; but now, in point of advancement, she felt that she was
in the van. Dr. Hartwell had told her, whenever she was puzzled, to
come to him for explanation, and his clear analysis taught her how
immeasurably superior he was, even to those instructors whose
profession it was to elucidate mysteries. Accustomed to seek
companionship in books, she did not, upon the present occasion, long
reflect on her guardian's sudden departure, but took from the
shelves a volume of Poe which contained her mark. The parting rays
of the winter sun grew fainter; the dull, somber light of vanishing
day made the room dim, and it was only by means of the red glare
from the glowing grate that she deciphered the print. Finally the
lamp was brought in, and shed a mellow radiance over the dusky
apartment. The volume was finished and dropped upon her lap. The
spell of this incomparable sorcerer was upon her imagination; the
sluggish, lurid tarn of Usher; the pale, gigantic water lilies,
nodding their ghastly, everlasting heads over the dreary Zaire; the
shrouding shadow of Helusion; the ashen skies, and sere, crisped
leaves in the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir, hard by the dim lake
of Auber--all lay with grim distinctness before her; and from the
red bars of the grate the wild, lustrous, appalling eyes of Ligeia
looked out at her, while the unearthly tones of Morella whispered
from every corner of the room. She rose and replaced the book on the
shelf, striving to shake off the dismal hold which all this
phantasmagoria had taken on her fancy. Her eyes chanced to fall upon
a bust of Athene which surmounted her guardian's desk, and
immediately the mournful refrain of the Raven, solemn and dirge-
like, floated through the air, enhancing the spectral element which
enveloped her. She retreated to the parlor, and, running her fingers
over the keys of the piano, endeavored by playing some of her
favorite airs to divest her mind of the dreary, unearthly images
which haunted it. The attempt was futile, and there in the dark,
cold parlor she leaned her head against the piano, and gave herself
up to the guidance of one who, like the "Ancient Mariner," holds his
listener fascinated and breathless. Once her guardian had warned her
not to study Poe too closely, but the book was often in his own
hand, and, yielding to the matchless ease and rapidity of his
diction, she found herself wandering in a wilderness of baffling
suggestions. Under the drapery of "William Wilson," of "Morella,"
and "Ligeia," she caught tantalizing glimpses of recondite
psychological truths and processes, which dimly hovered over her own
consciousness, but ever eluded the grasp of analysis. While his
unique imagery filled her mind with wondering delight, she shrank
appalled from the mutilated fragments which he presented to her as
truths, on the point of his glittering scalpel of logic. With the
eagerness of a child clutching at its own shadow in a glassy lake,
and thereby destroying it, she had read that anomalous prose poem
"Eureka." The quaint humor of that "bottled letter" first arrested
her attention, and, once launched on the sea of Cosmogonies, she was
amazed at the seemingly infallible reasoning which, at the
conclusion, coolly informed her that she was her own God. Mystified,
shocked, and yet admiring, she had gone to Dr. Hartwell for a
solution of the difficulty. False she felt the whole icy tissue to
be, yet could not detect the adroitly disguised sophisms. Instead of
assisting her, as usual, he took the book from her, smiled, and put
it away, saying indifferently:
"You must not play with such sharp tools just yet. Go and practice
your music lesson."
She was too deeply interested to be put off so quietly, and
constantly pondered this singular production, which confirmed in
some degree a fancy of her own concerning the pre-existence of the
soul. Only on the hypothesis of an anterior life could she explain
some of the mental phenomena which puzzled her. Heedless of her
guardian's warning, she had striven to comprehend the philosophy of
this methodical madman, and now felt bewildered and restless. This
study of Poe was the portal through which she entered the vast
Pantheon of Speculation.
A week later, at the close of a dull winter day, Beulah sat as usual
in the study. The large parlors and dining room had a desolate look
at all times, and of the whole house only the study seemed genial.
Busily occupied during the day, it was not until evening that she
realized her guardian's absence. No tidings of him had been
received, and she began to wonder at his prolonged stay. She felt
very lonely without him, and, though generally taciturn, she missed
him from the hearth, missed the tall form and the sad, stern face.
Another Saturday had come, and all day she had been with Clara in
her new home, trying to cheer the mourner and dash away the gloom
that seemed settling down upon her spirits. At dusk she returned
home, spent an hour at the piano, and now walked up and down the
study, wrapt in thought. The room had a cozy, comfortable aspect;
the fire burned brightly; the lamplight silvered the paintings and
statues; and on the rug before the grate lay a huge black dog of the
St. Bernard order, his shaggy head thrust between his paws. The
large, intelligent eyes followed Beulah as she paced to and fro, and
seemed mutely to question her restlessness. His earnest scrutiny
attracted her notice, and she held out her hand, saying musingly:
"Poor Charon; you too miss your master. Charon, King of Shadows,
when will he come?"
The great black eyes gazed intently into hers, and seemed to echo,
"When will he come?" He lifted his grim head, snuffed the air,
listened, and sullenly dropped his face on his paws again. Beulah
threw herself on the rug, and laid her head on his thick neck; he
gave a quick, short bark of satisfaction, and very soon both girl
and dog were fast asleep. A quarter of an hour glided by, and then
Beulah was suddenly roused by a violent motion of her pillow. Charon
sprang up, and leaped frantically across the room. The comb which
confined her hair had fallen out, and, gathering up the jetty folds
which swept over her shoulders, she looked around. Dr. Hartwell was
closing the door.
"Down, Charon; you ebon scamp! Down, you keeper of Styx!" He forced
down the paws from his shoulders, and patted the shaggy head, while
his eyes rested affectionately on the delightful countenance of his
sable favorite. As he threw down his gloves, his eyes fell on
Beulah, who had hastily risen from the rug, and he held out his
"Ah! Charon waked you rudely. How are you?"
"Very well, thank you, sir. I am so glad you have come home, so
glad." She took his cold hand between both hers, rubbed it
vigorously, and looked up joyfully in his face. She thought he was
paler and more haggard than she had ever seen him, his hair
clustered in disorder about his forehead, his whole aspect was weary
and wretched. He suffered her to keep his hand in her warm, tight
clasp, and asked kindly.
"Are you well, Beulah? Your face is flushed, and you feel feverish."
"Perfectly well. But you are as cold as an Esquimaux hunter. Come to
the fire." She drew his armchair, with its candle-stand and book-
board, close to the hearth, and put his warm velvet slippers before
him. She forgot her wounded pride, forgot that he had left without
even bidding her good by, and only remembered that he had come home
again, that he was sitting there in the study, and she would be
lonely no more. Silently leaning back in the chair, he closed his
eyes with a sigh of relief. She felt as if she would like very much
to smooth off the curling hair that lay thick and damp on his white,
gleaming brow, but dared not. She stood watching him for a moment,
and said considerately.
"Will you have your tea now? Charon and I had our supper long ago."
"No, child, I only want to rest."
Beulah fancied he spoke impatiently. Had she been too officious in
welcoming him to his own home? She bit her lip with proud vexation,
and, taking her geometry, left him. As she reached the door the
doctor called to her.
"Beulah, you need not go away. This is a better fire than the one in
your own room." But she was wounded, and did not choose to stay.
"I can study better in my own room. Good-night, sir."
"Why, child, this is Saturday night. No lessons until Monday."
She was not particularly mollified by the reiteration of the word
"child," and answered coldly:
"There are hard lessons for every day we live."
"Well, be good enough to hand me the letters that have arrived
during my absence."
She emptied the letter receiver, and placed several communications
in his hand. He pointed to a chair near the fire, and said quietly:
"Sit down, my child; sit down."
Too proud to discover how much she was piqued by his coldness, she
took the seat and commenced studying. But lines and angles swam
confusedly before her, and, shutting the book, she sat looking into
the fire. While her eyes roamed into the deep, glowing crevices of
the coals, a letter was hurled into the fiery mass, and in an
instant blazed and shriveled to ashes. She looked up in surprise,
and started at the expression of her guardian's face. Its Antinous-
like beauty had vanished; the pale lips writhed, displaying the
faultless teeth; the thin nostrils were expanded, and the eyes
burned with fierce anger. The avalanche was upheaved by hidden
volcanic fires, and he exclaimed, with scornful emphasis:
"Idiot! blind lunatic! In his dotage!"
There was something so marvelous in this excited, angry
manifestation that Beulah, who had never before seen him other than
phlegmatic, looked at him with curious wonder. His clenched hand
rested on the arm of the chair, and he continued sarcastically:
"Oh, a precious pair of idiots! They will have a glorious life. Such
harmony, such congeniality! Such incomparable sweetness on her part,
such equable spirits on his! Not the surpassing repose of a windless
tropic night can approach to the divine serenity of their future.
Ha! by the Furies! he will have an enviable companion; a matchless
Griselda!" Laughing scornfully, he started up and strode across the
floor. As Beulah caught the withering expression which sat on every
feature she shuddered involuntarily. Could she bear to incur his
contempt? He approached her, and she felt as though her very soul
shrank from him; his glowing eyes seemed to burn her face, as he
paused and said ironically:
"Can't you participate in my joy? I have a new brother-in-law.
Congratulate me on my sister's marriage. Such desperate good news
can come but rarely in a lifetime."
"Whom has she married, sir?" asked Beulah, shrinking from the iron
grasp on her shoulder.
"Percy Lockhart, of course. He will rue his madness. I warned him.
Now let him seek apples in the orchards of Sodom! Let him lay his
parched lips to the treacherous waves of the Dead Sea! Oh, I pity
the fool! I tried to save him, but he would seal his own doom. Let
him pay the usurious school-fees of experience."
"Perhaps your sister's love for him will--"
"Oh, you young, ignorant lamb! You poor, little, unfledged birdling!
I suppose you fancy she is really attached to him. Do you, indeed?
About as much as that pillar of salt in the plain of Sodom was
attached to the memory of Lot. About as much as this peerless Niobe
of mine is attached to me." He struck the marble statue as he spoke.
"Then, how could she marry him?" asked Beulah naively.
"Ha! ha! I will present you to the Smithsonian Institution as the
last embodiment of effete theories. Who exhumed you, patron saint of
archaism, from the charnel-house of centuries?" He looked down at
her with an expression of intolerable bitterness and scorn. Her
habitually pale face flushed to crimson, as she answered with
"Not the hand of Diogenes, encumbered with his tub!"
He smiled grimly.
"Know the world as I do, child, and tubs and palaces will be alike
to you. Feel the pulse of humanity, and you will--"
"Heaven preserve me from looking on life through your spectacles!"
cried she impetuously, stung by the contemptuous smile which curled
his lips. "Amen." Taking his hands from her shoulder, he threw
himself back into his chair. There was silence for some minutes, and
"I thought Mr. Lockhart was in Syria?"
"Oh, no; he wants a companion in his jaunt to the Holy Land. How
devoutly May will kneel on Olivet and Moriah! What pious tears will
stain her lovely cheek as she stands in the hall of Pilate, and
calls to mind all the thirty years' history! Oh, Percy is cruel to
subject her tender soul to such torturing associations! Beulah, go
and play something; no matter what. Anything to hush my cursing
mood. Go, child." He turned away his face to hide its bitterness,
and, seating herself at the melodeon, Beulah played a German air of
which he was very fond. At the conclusion he merely said:
A plaintive prelude followed the command, and she sang. No
description could do justice to the magnificent voice, as it swelled
deep and full in its organ-like tones; now thrillingly low in its
wailing melody, and now ringing clear and sweet as silver bells.
There were soft, rippling notes that seemed to echo from the deeps
of her soul and voice its immensity. It was wonderful what compass
there was, what rare sweetness and purity too. It was a natural
gift, like that conferred on birds. Art could not produce it, but
practice and scientific culture had improved and perfected it. For
three years the best teachers had instructed her, and she felt that
now she was mistress of a spell which, once invoked, might easily
exorcise the evil spirit which had taken possession of her guardian.
She sang several of his favorite songs, then closed the melodeon and
went back to the fire. Dr. Hartwell's face lay against the purple
velvet lining of the chair, and the dark surface gave out the
contour with bold distinctness. His eyes were closed, and as Beulah
watched him she thought, "How inflexible he looks, how like a marble
image! The mouth seems as if the sculptor's chisel had just carved
it--so stern, so stony. Ah, he is not scornful now! he looks only
sad, uncomplaining, but very miserable. What has steeled his heart,
and made him so unrelenting, so haughty? What can have isolated him
so completely? Nature lavished on him every gift which could render
him the charm of social circles, yet he lives in the seclusion of
his own heart, independent of sympathy, contemptuous of the world he
was sent to improve and bless." These reflections were interrupted
by his opening his eyes and saying, in his ordinary, calm tone:
"Thank you, Beulah. Did you finish that opera I spoke of some time
"You found it difficult?"
"Not so difficult as your description led me to imagine."
"Were you lonely while I was away?"
"Why did not Clara come and stay with you?"
"She was engaged in changing her home; has removed to Mrs. Hoyt's
"When did you see her last? How does she bear the blow?"
"I was with her to-day. She is desponding, and seems to grow more so
She wondered very much whether he suspected the preference which she
felt sure Clara entertained for him; and, as the subject recurred to
her, she looked troubled.
"What is the matter?" he asked, accustomed to reading her expressive
"Nothing that can be remedied, sir."
"How do you know that? Suppose you let me be the judge."
"You could not judge of it, sir; and, besides, it is no concern of
A frigid smile fled over his face, and for some time he appeared
lost in thought. His companion was thinking too; wondering how Clara
could cope with such a nature as his; wondering why people always
selected persons totally unsuited to them; and fancying that if
Clara only knew her guardian's character as well as she did the
gentle girl would shrink in dread from his unbending will, his
habitual, moody taciturnity. He was generous and unselfish, but also
as unyielding as the Rock of Gibraltar. There was nothing
pleasurable in this train of thought, and, taking up a book, she
soon ceased to think of the motionless figure opposite. No sooner
were her eyes once fastened on her book than his rested searchingly
on her face. At first she read without much manifestation of
interest, regularly and slowly passing her hand over the black head
which Charon had laid on her lap. After a while the lips parted
eagerly, the leaves were turned quickly, and the touches on Charon's
head ceased. Her long, black lashes could not veil the expression of
enthusiastic pleasure. Another page fluttered over, a flush stole
across her brow; and, as she closed the volume, her whole face was
"What are you reading?" asked Dr. Hartwell, when she seemed to sink
into a reverie.
"Analects from Richter."
"Once that marvelous 'Dream upon the Universe' fascinated me as
completely as it now does you."
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