Mary J. Holmes
Part 1 out of 4
software or any other related product without express permission.]
This etext was produced by Charles Franks and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
by Mary J. Holmes
Morris W. Smith,
of New Orleans,
This story of life among the Northern
Hills is repectfully dedicated
by his friend
I. DR. KENNEDY
II. THE JOURNEY
III. THE NEW HOME
IV. LITTLE LOUIS
V. MRS. JANET BLODGETT
VI. THE MOTHER
VII. PAST AND PRESENT
VIII. JAMES AND J.C.
IX. THE MILKMAN'S HEIRESS
X. THE ENGAGEMENT, REAL AND PROSPECTIVE
XI. MAUD GLENDOWER
XII. HOW THE ENGAGEMENTS PROSPERED
XIV. THE DARK HOUR
XV. THE NEW MISTRESS AT LAUREL HILL
XVI. THE BLIND GIRL
XVII. NELLIE°S BRIDAL NIGHT
XVIII. COUSIN MAUDE
XIX. A SECOND BRIDAL
XX. THE SEXTON
XXI. HOME AGAIN
"If you please, marm, the man from York State is comin' afoot. Too
stingy to ride, I'll warrant," and Janet, the housekeeper,
disappeared from the parlor, just as the sound of the gate was
heard, and an unusually fine-looking middle-aged man was seen coming
up the box-lined walk which led to the cottage door.
The person thus addressed was a lady, whose face, though young and
handsome, wore a look which told of early sorrow. Matilda Remington
had been a happy, loving wife, but the old churchyard in Vernon
contained a grass-grown grave, where rested the noble heart which
had won her girlish love. And she was a widow now, a fair-haired,
blue-eyed widow, and the stranger who had so excited Janet's wrath
by walking from the depot, a distance of three miles, would claim
her as his bride ere the morrow's sun was midway in the heavens. How
the engagement happened she could not exactly tell, but happened it
had, and she was pledged to leave the vine-wreathed cottage which
Harry had built for her, and go with one of whom she knew
Six months before our story opens she had spent a few days with him
at the house of a mutual friend in an adjoining State, and since
that time they had written to each other regularly, the
correspondence resulting at last in an engagement, which he had now
come to fulfill. He had never visited her before in her own home,
consequently she was wholly unacquainted with his disposition or
peculiarities. He was intelligent and refined, commanding in
appearance, and agreeable in manner whenever he chose to be, and
when he wrote to her of his home, which he said would be a second
Paradise were she its mistress, when he spoke of the little curly-
headed girl who so much needed a mother's care, and when, more than
all, he hinted that his was no beggar's fortune, she yielded; for
Matilda Remington did not dislike the luxuries which money alone can
purchase. Her own fortune was small, and as there was now no hand
save her own to provide, she often found it necessary to economize
more than she wished to do. But Dr. Kennedy was rich, and if she
married him she would escape a multitude of annoyances, so she made
herself believe that she loved him; and when she heard, as she more
than once did hear, rumors of a sad, white-faced woman to whom the
grave was a welcome rest, she said the story was false, and, shaking
her pretty head, refused to believe that there was aught in the
doctor of evil.
"To be sure, he was not at all like Harry--she could never find one
who was--but he was so tall, so dignified, so grand, so particular,
that it seemed almost like stooping, for one in his position to
think of her, and she liked him all the better for his
Thus she ever reasoned, and when Janet said that he was coming, and
she, too, heard his step upon the piazza, the bright blushes broke
over her youthful face, and casting a hurried glance at the mirror,
she hastened out to meet him.
"Matty, my dear!" he said, and his thin lips touched her glowing
cheek, but in his cold gray eye there shone no love,--no feeling,--
He was too supremely selfish to esteem another higher than himself,
and though it flattered him to know that the young creature was so
glad to meet him, it awoke no answering chord, and he merely thought
that with her to minister to him he should possibly be happier than
he had been with her predecessor.
"You must be very tired," she said, as she led the way into the cozy
parlor. Then, seating him in the easy chair near to the open window,
she continued: "How warm you are. What made you walk this sultry
"It is a maxim of mine never to ride when I can walk," said he, "for
I don't believe in humoring those omnibus drivers by paying their
"Two shillings surely is not an exorbitant price," trembled on Mrs.
Remington's lips, but she was prevented from saying so by his asking
"if everything were in readiness for the morrow."
"Yes, everything," she replied. "The cottage is sold, and--"
"Ah, indeed, sold!" said he, interrupting her. "If I mistake not you
told me, when I met you in Rome, that it was left by will to you.
May I, as your to-morrow's husband, ask how much you received for
it?" And he unbent his dignity so far as to wind his arm around her
But the arm was involuntarily withdrawn when, with her usual
frankness, Matty replied; "I received a thousand dollars, but there
were debts to be paid, so that I had only five hundred left, and
this I made over to my daughter to be used for her education."
Dr. Kennedy did not say that he was disappointed, and as Matty was
not much of a physiognomist she did not read it in his face, and she
continued: "Janet will remain here a while, to arrange matters,
before joining me in my new home. She wished me to leave my little
girl to come with her, but I can't do that. I must have my child
with me. You've never seen her, have you? I'll call her at once."
And stepping to the door she bade Janet bring "Maude" into the
"Maude!" How Dr. Kennedy started at the mention of a name which
drove all thoughts of the five hundred dollars from his mind. There
was feeling--passion--everything, now, in his cold gray eye, but
quickly recovering his composure, he said calmly: "Maude, Matty--
Maude, is that your child's name?"
"Why, yes," she answered laughingly. "Didn't you know it before? "
"How should I," he replied, "when in your letters you have always
called her 'daughter'? But has she no other name? She surely was not
Ere Mrs. Remington could speak, the sound of little pattering feet
was heard in the hall without, and in a moment Maude Remington stood
before her stepfather-elect, looking, as that rather fastidious
gentleman thought, more like a wild gipsy than the child of a
civilized mother. She was a fat, chubby child, not yet five years
old; black-eyed, black-haired, black-faced, with short, thick curls,
which, damp with perspiration, stood up all over her head, giving
her a singular appearance. She had been playing in the brook, her
favorite companion, and now, with little spatters of mud ornamenting
both face and pantalets, her sun-bonnet hanging down her back, and
her hands full of pebble-stones, she stood furtively eyeing the
stranger, whose mental exclamation was: "Mercy, what a fright!"
"Maude!" exclaimed the distressed Mrs. Remington, "where have you
been? Go at once to Janet, and have your dress changed; then come
back to me."
Nothing loath to join Janet, whose company was preferable to that of
the stranger, Maude left the room, while Dr. Kennedy, turning to
Mrs. Remington, said: "She is not at all like you, my dear."
"No," answered the lady; "she is like her father in everything; the
same eyes, the same hair, and--"
She was going on to say more, when the expression of Dr. Kennedy's
face stopped her, and she began to wonder if she had displeased him.
Dr. Kennedy could talk for hours of "the late Mrs. Kennedy,"
accompanying his words with long-drawn sighs, and enumerating her
many virtues, all of which he expected to be improved upon by her
successor; but he could not bear to hear the name of Harry Remington
spoken by one who was to be his wife, and he at once changed the
subject of Maude's looks to her name, which he learned was really
Matilda. She had been called Maude, Matty said, after one who was
once a very dear friend both of herself and her husband.
"Then we will call her Matilda," said he, "as it is a maxim of mine
never to spoil children by giving them pet names."
"But you call your daughter Nellie," suggested the little widow, and
in her soft, blue eye there shone a mischievous twinkle, as if she
fancied she had beaten him with his own argument.
But if she thought to convince that most unreasonable man, she was
mistaken. What he did was no criterion for others, unless he chose
that it should be so, and he answered, "That is sister Kelsey's
idea, and as she is very fond of Nellie I do not interfere. But,
seriously, Matty, darling,"--and he drew her to his side, with an
uncommon show of fondness,--" I cannot call your daughter Maude; I
do not like the name, and it is a maxim of mine, that if a person
dislikes a name, 'tis an easy matter to dislike the one who bears
Had Mrs. Remington cared less for him than she did, she might have
wondered how many more disagreeable maxims he had in store. But love
is blind, or nearly so; and when, as if to make amends for his
remarks, he caressed her with an unusual degree of tenderness, the
impulsive woman felt that she would call her daughter anything which
suited him. Accordingly, when at last Maude returned to the parlor,
with her dress changed, her curls arranged, and her dimpled cheeks
shining with the suds in which they had been washed, she was
prepared to say Matilda or whatever else pleased his capricious
"Little girl," he said, extending his hand toward her, "little girl,
come here. I wish to talk with you."
But the little girl hung back, and when tier mother insisted upon
her going to the gentleman, asking if she did not like him, she
answered decidedly, "No, I don't like him, and he shan't be my pa,
"Maude, daughter!" exclaimed Mrs. Remington, while Dr. Kennedy,
turning slightly pale, thought "wretch!" but said, "Matilda, come
here, won't you?"
"I aint Matilda," she answered. "I won't be Matilda--I'm Maude," and
her large black eyes flashed defiantly upon him.
It was in vain that Dr. Kennedy coaxed and Mrs. Remington
threatened. Maude had taken a dislike to the stranger, and as he
persisted in calling her Matilda, she persisted in refusing to
answer, until at last, hearing Janet pass through the hall, she ran
out to her, sure of finding comfort and sympathy there.
"I am afraid I have suffered Maude to have her own way too much, and
for the future I must be more strict with her," said Mrs. Remington
apologetically; while the doctor replied, "I think, myself, a little
wholesome discipline would not be amiss. 'Tis a maxim of mine, spare
the rod and spoil the child; but, of course, I shall not interfere
in the matter."
This last he said because he saw a shadow flit over the fair face of
the widow, who, like most indulgent mothers, did not wholly believe
in Solomon. The sight of Janet in the hall suggested a fresh subject
to the doctor's mind, and, after coughing a little, he said, "Did I
understand that your domestic was intending to join you at Laurel
"Yes," returned Mrs. Remington, "Janet came to live with my mother
when I was a little girl no larger than Maude. Since my marriage she
has lived with me, and I would not part with her for anything."
"But do you not think two kinds of servants are apt to make trouble,
particularly if one is black and the other white?" and in the
speaker's face there was an expression which puzzled Mrs. Remington,
who could scarce refrain from crying at the thoughts of parting with
Janet, and who began to have a foretaste of the dreary homesickness
which was to wear her life away.
"I can't do without Janet," she said; "she knows all my ways, and I
trust her with everything."
"The very reason why she should not go," re turned the doctor." She
and old Hannah would quarrel at once. You would take sides with
Janet, I with Hannah, and that might produce a feeling which ought
never to exist between man and wife. No, my dear, listen to me in
this matter, and let Janet remain in Vernon. Old Hannah has been in
my family a long time. She was formerly a slave, and belonged to my
uncle, who lived in Virginia, and who, at his death, gave her to me.
Of course I set her free, for I pride myself on being a man of
humanity, and since that time she has lived with us, superintending
the household entirely since Mrs. Kennedy's death. She is very
peculiar, and would never suffer Janet to dictate, as I am sure,
from what you say, she would do. So, my dear, try and think all is
for the best. You need not tell her she is not to come, for it is a
maxim of mine to avoid all unnecessary scenes, and you can easily
write it in a letter."
Poor Mrs. Remington! she knew intuitively that the matter was
decided, and was she not to be forgiven if at that moment she
thought of the grass-grown grave whose occupant had in life been
only too happy granting her slightest wish? But Harry was gone, and
the man with whom she now had to deal was an exacting, tyrannical
master, to whose will her own must ever be subservient. This,
however, she did not then understand. She knew he was not at all
like Harry, but she fancied that the difference consisted in his
being so much older, graver, and wiser than her husband had been,
and so with a sigh she yielded the point, thinking that Janet would
be the greater sufferer of the two.
That evening several of her acquaintances called to see the
bridegroom-elect, whom, in Mrs. Remington's hearing, they pronounced
very fine looking and quite agreeable in manner; compliments which
tended in a measure to soothe her irritated feelings and quiet the
rapid beatings of her heart, which for hours after she retired to
rest would occasionally whisper to her that the path she was about
to tread was far from being strewn with flowers.
"He loves me, I know," she thought, "though his manner of showing it
is so different from Harry; but I shall become accustomed to that
after a while, and be very, very happy." And comforted with this
assurance she fell asleep, encircling within her arms the little
Maude, whose name had awakened bitter memories in the heart of him
who in an adjoining chamber battled with thoughts of the dark past,
which now on the eve of his second marriage passed in sad review
before his mind.
Memories there were of a gentle, pale-faced woman, who, when her
blue eyes were dim with coming death, had shudderingly turned away
from him, as if his presence brought her more of pain than joy.
Memories, too, there were of another--a peerlessly beautiful
creature who, ere he had sought the white-faced woman for his wife,
had trampled on his affections and spurned as a useless gift his
offered love. He hated her now, he thought; and the little black-
haired child, sleeping so sweetly in its mother's arms, was hateful
in his sight, because it bore that woman's name. One, two, three--
sounded the clock, and then he fell asleep, dreaming that underneath
the willows which grew in the churchyard, far off on Laurel Hill,
there were two graves instead of one; that in the house across the
common there was a sound of rioting and mirth, unusual in that
silent mansion. For she was there, the woman whom he had so madly
loved, and wherever she went crowds gathered about her as in the
"Maude Glendower, why are you here?" he attempted to say, when a
clear, silvery voice aroused him from his sleep, and starting up, he
listened half in anger, half in disappointment, to the song which
little Maude Remington sang as she sat in the open door awaiting the
return of her mother, who had gone for the last time to see the
sunshine fall on Harry's grave.
Mrs. Kennedy looked charming in her traveling dress of brown, and
the happy husband likened her to a Quakeress, as he kissed her
blushing. cheek and called her his "little wife." He had passed
through the ceremony remarkably well, standing very erect, making
the responses very, loud, and squeezing very becomingly the soft
white hand on whose third finger he placed the wedding ring--a very
small one, by the way. It was over now, and many of the bridal
guests were gone; the minister, too, had gone, and jogging leisurely
along upon his sorrel horse had ascertained the size of his fee,
feeling a little disappointed that it was not larger--five dollars
seemed so small, when he fully expected twenty from one of Dr.
Kennedy's reputed wealth.
Janet had seen that everything was done for the comfort of the
travelers, and then out behind the smokehouse had scolded herself
soundly for crying, when she ought to appear brave, and encourage
her young mistress. Not the slightest hint had she received that she
was not to follow them in a few, weeks, and when at parting little
Maude clung to her skirts, beseeching her to go, she comforted the
child by telling her what she would bring her in the autumn, when
she came. Half a dozen dolls, as many pounds of candy, a dancing
jack, and a mewing kitten were promised, and then the faithful
creature turned to the weeping bride, who clasped her hard old hand
convulsively, for she knew it was a long good-by. Until the carriage
disappeared from view did Mrs. Kennedy look back through blinding
tears to the spot where Janet stood, wiping her eyes with a corner
of her stiffly starched white apron, and holding up one foot to keep
her from soiling her clean blue cotton stockings, for, in accordance
with a superstition peculiar to her race, she had thrown after the
travelers a shoe, by way of insuring them good luck.
For once in his life Dr. Kennedy tried to be very kind and attentive
to his bride, who, naturally hopeful and inclined to look upon the
brighter side, dried her tears soon after entering the cars, and
began to fancy she was very happy in her new position as the wife of
Dr. Kennedy. The seat in front of them was turned back and occupied
by Maude, who busied herself a while in watching the fence and the
trees, which she said were "running so fast toward Janet and home!"
Then her dark eyes would scan curiously the faces of Dr. Kennedy and
her mother, resting upon the latter with a puzzled expression, as if
she could not exactly understand it. The doctor persisted in calling
her Matilda, and as she resolutely persisted in refusing to answer
to that name, it seemed quite improbable that they would ever talk
much together. Occasionally, it is true, he made her some advances,
by playfully offering her his hand, but she would not touch it, and
after a time, standing upon the seat and turning round, she found
more agreeable society in the company of two boys who sat directly
They were evidently twelve or thirteen years of age, and in personal
appearance somewhat alike, save that the face of the brown-haired
boy was more open, ingenuous, and pleasing than that of his
companion, whose hair and eyes were black as night. A jolt of the
cars caused Maude to lay her chubby hand upon the shoulder of the
elder boy, who, being very fond of children, caught it within his
own, and in this way made her acquaintance. To him she was very
communicative, and in a short time he learned that "her name was
Maude Remington, that the pretty lady in brown was her mother, and
that the naughty man was not her father, and never would be, for
Janet said so."
This at once awakened an interest in the boys, and for more than an
hour they petted and played with the little girl, who, though very
gracious to both, still manifested so much preference for the brown-
haired, that the other laughingly asked her which she liked the
"I like you and you," was Maude's childlike answer, as she pointed a
finger at each.
"But," persisted her questioner, "you like my cousin the best. Will
you tell me why?"
Maude hesitated a moment, then laying a hand on either side of the
speaker's face, and looking intently into his eyes, she answered,
"You don't look as if you meant for certain, and he does!"
Had Maude Remington been twenty instead of five, she could not
better have defined the difference between those two young lads, and
in after years she had sad cause for remembering words which seemed
almost prophetic. At Albany they, parted company, for though the
boys lived in Rochester they were to remain in the city through the
night, and Dr. Kennedy had decided to go on. By doing so he would
reach home near the close of the next day, beside saving a large
hotel bill, and this last was with him a very weighty reason. But he
did not say so to his wife; neither did he tell her that he had left
orders for his carriage to be in Canadaigua on the arrival of the
noon train, but he said "he was in haste to show her to his
daughter--that 'twas a maxim of his to save as much time as
possible, and that unless she were very anxious to sleep, he would
rather travel all night." So the poor, weary woman, whose head was
aching terribly, smiled faintly upon him as she said, "Go on, of
course," and nibbled at the hard seedcakes and harder crackers which
he brought her, there not being time for supper in Albany.
It was a long, tedious ride, and though a strong arm was thrown
around her, and her head was pillowed upon the bosom of her husband,
who really tried to make her as comfortable as possible, Mrs.
Kennedy could scarcely refrain from tears as she thought how
different was this bridal tour from what she had anticipated. She
had fully expected to pass by daylight through the Empire State, and
she had thought with how much delight her eye would rest upon the
grassy meadows, the fertile plains, the winding Mohawk, the drone-
like boats on the canal, the beautiful Cayuga, and the silvery water
so famed in song; but, in contrast to all this, she was shut up in a
dingy car, whose one dim lamp sent forth a sickly ray and sicklier
smell, while without all was gloomy, dark, and drear. No wonder,
then, that when toward morning Maude, who missed her soft, nice bed,
began to cry for Janet and for home, the mother too burst forth in
tears and choking sobs, which could not be controlled.
"Hush, Matty--don't," and the disturbed doctor shook her very
gently; "it will soon be daylight, and 'tis a max--" Here he
stopped, for he had no maxim suited to that occasion; and, in a most
unenviable frame of mind, he frowned at the crying Maude, and tried
to soothe his weeping wife, until at last, as the face of the latter
was covered, and the former grew more noisy and unmanageable, he
administered a fatherly rebuke in the shape of a boxed ear, which
had no other effect than the eliciting from the child the outcry,
"Let me be, old doctor, you!" if, indeed, we except the long scratch
made upon his hand by the little sharp nail of his stepdaughter.
At that moment Matty lifted up her head, but as Maude was no tale-
bearer, and the doctor hardly dared to tell her that he had thus
early taken upon himself the government of her child, she never knew
exactly what it was which made Maude's ear so red or her liege
lord's face so dark.
It was nearly noon when they arrived at Canandaigua, where the first
object which caught Mrs. Kennedy's eye was an old-fashioned
carryall, which her husband honored with the appellation of
carriage, said carriage being drawn by two farm-horses, which looked
as if oats and corn were to them luxuries unknown.
"I must have a cup of tea," said Mrs. Kennedy, as she saw the black
man, John, arranging the baggage upon the rack of the carryall, and
heard her husband bid him hurry, as there was no time to lose. "I
must have a cup of tea, my head is aching dreadfully," and her white
lips quivered, while the tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Certainly, certainly," answered the doctor, who was in unusually
good spirits, having just heard from an acquaintance whom he chanced
to meet that a lawsuit which had long been pending was decided in
his favor, and that the house and lot of a widow would probably come
into his possession. "Certainly, two cups if you like; I should have
proposed it myself, only I knew old Hannah would have dinner in
readiness for us, and 'tis a maxim of mine, that fasting provokes an
"Hang dis nigger, if he aint a-maxin' her so quick!" muttered the
darkey, showing his teeth from ear to ear; and, coaxing Maude away
from her mother, he took her to a restaurant, where he literally
crammed her with ginger-bread, raisins, and candy, bidding her eat
all she wanted at once, for it would be a long time, maybe, ere
she'd have another chance!
"If you please, sar," he said, when at last he had returned to his
master, "if you please, Miss Nellie say how you must fotch her
somethin', and the old woman spec's a present in honor of de
Dr. Kennedy thought of the lawsuit, and so far opened both heart and
purse as to buy for Nellie a paper of peanuts and for Hannah a ten-
cent calico apron, after which he pronounced himself in readiness to
go, and in a few moments Mrs. Kennedy was on her way to her new
The road led over rocky hills, reminding her so much of Vernon and
its surrounding country that a feeling of rest stole over her, and
she fell into a quiet sleep, from which she did not awaken until the
carriage stopped suddenly and her husband whispered in her ear,
"Wake, Matty, wake; we are home at last."
THE NEW HOME.
It was a large, square, wooden building, built in the olden time,
with a wide hall in the center, a tiny portico in front, and a long
piazza in the rear. In all the town there was not so delightful a
location, for it commanded a view of the country for many miles
around, while from the chamber windows was plainly discernible the
sparkling Honeoye, whose waters slept so calmly 'mid the hills which
lay to the southward. On the grassy lawn in front tall forest trees
were growing, almost concealing the house from view, while their
long branches so met together as to form a beautiful arch over the
graveled walk which lead to the front door. It was, indeed, a
pleasant spot, and Matty, as she passed through the iron gate, could
not account for the feeling of desolation settling down upon her.
"Maybe it's because there are no flowers here--no roses," she
thought, as she looked around in vain for her favorites, thinking
the while how her first work should be to train a honeysuckle over
the door and plant a rose bush underneath the window.
Poor Matty! Dr. Kennedy had no love for flowers, and the only rose
bush he ever noticed was the one which John had planted at his
mistress' grave, and even this would, perchance, have been unseen,
if he had not scratched his hand unmercifully upon it as he one day
shook the stone to see if it were firmly placed in the ground ere he
paid the man for putting it there! It was a maxim of the doctor's
never to have anything not strictly for use, consequently his house,
both outside and in, was destitute of every kind of ornament; and
the bride, as she followed him through the empty hall into the
silent parlor, whose bare walls, faded carpet, and uncurtained
windows seemed so uninviting, felt a chill creeping over her
spirits, and sinking into the first hard chair she came to, she
might, perhaps, have cried had not John, who followed close behind
her, satchel on arm, whispered encouragingly in her ear, "Never you
mind, missus, your chamber is a heap sight brighter than this, 'case
I tended to that myself."
Mrs. Kennedy smiled gratefully upon him, feeling sure that beneath
his black exterior there beat a kind and sympathizing heart, and
that in him she had an ally and a friend.
"Where is Nellie?" said the doctor. "Call Nellie, John, and tell
your mother we are here."
John left the room, and a moment after a little tiny creature came
tripping to the door, where she stopped suddenly, and throwing back
her curls, gazed curiously first at Mrs. Kennedy and then at Maude,
whose large black eyes fastened themselves upon her with a gaze
quite as curious and eager as her own. She was more than a year
older than Maude, but much smaller in size, and her face seemed to
have been fashioned after a beautiful waxen doll, so brilliant was
her complexion and so regular her features. She was naturally
affectionate and amiable, too, when suffered to have her own way.
Neither was she at all inclined to be timid, and when her father,
taking her hand in his, bade her speak to her new mother, she went
unhesitatingly to the lady, and climbing into her lap, sat there
very quietly so long as Mrs. Kennedy permitted her to play with her
rings, pull her collar, and take out her side-combs, for she had
laid aside her bonnet; but when at last her little sharp eyes
ferreted out a watch, which she insisted upon having "all to
herself," a liberty which Mrs. Kennedy refused to grant, she began
to pout, and, sliding from her new mother's lap, walked up to Maude,
whose acquaintance she made by asking if she had a pink silk dress.
"No, but I guess Janet will bring me one," answered Maude, whose
eyes never for an instant left the face of her stepsister.
She was an enthusiastic admirer of beauty, and Nellie had made an
impression upon her at once; so, when the latter said, "What makes
you look at me so funny?" she answered, "Because you are so pretty."
This made a place for her at once in the heart of the vain little
Nellie, who asked her to go upstairs and see the pink silk dress
which "Aunt Kelsey had given her."
As they left the room Mrs. Kennedy said to her husband, "Your
daughter is very beautiful."
Dr. Kennedy liked to have people say that of his child, for he knew
she was much like himself, and he stroked his brown beard
complacently, as he replied: "Yes, Nellie is rather pretty, and,
considering all things, is as well-behaved a child as one often
finds. She seldom gets into a passion or does anything rude," and he
glanced at the long scratch upon his hand; but as his wife knew
nothing of said scratch, the rebuke was wholly lost, and he
continued: "I was anxious that she should be a boy, for it is a
maxim of mine that the oldest child in every family ought to be a
son, and so I said, repeatedly, to the late Mrs. Kennedy, who,
though a most excellent woman in most matters, was in others
unaccountably set in her way. I suppose I said some harsh things
when I heard it was a daughter, but it can't be helped now," and
with a slightly injured air the husband of "the late Mrs. Kennedy"
began to pace up and down the room, while the present Mrs. Kennedy
puzzled her rather weak brain to know "what in the world he meant."
Meantime between John and his mother there was a hurried
conversation, the former inquiring naturally after the looks of her
"Pretty as a pink," answered John, "and neat as a fiddle, with the
sweetest little baby ways; but I tell you what 'tis," and John's
voice fell to a whisper: "he'll maxim her into heaven a heap sight
quicker'n he did t'other one; 'case you see she haint so much--what
you call him--so much go off to her as Miss Katy had, and she can't
bar his grinding ways. They'll scrush her to onct--see if they
don't. But I knows one thing, this yer nigger 'tends to do his duty,
and hold up them little cheese-curd hands of her'n, jest as some of
them Scripter folks held up Moses with the bulrushes."
"And what of the young one?" asked Hannah, who had been quite
indignant at the thoughts of another child in the family, "what of
the young one?"
"Bright as a dollar!" answered John. "Knows more'n a dozen of
Nellie, and well she might, for she aint half as white, and as
Master Kennedy says, it's a maxim of mine, the blacker the hide the
better the sense!"
By this time Hannah had washed the dough from her hands, and taking
the roast chicken from the oven she donned a clean apron and started
to see the stranger for herself. Although a tolerably good woman,
Hannah's face was not very prepossessing, and Mrs. Kennedy
intuitively felt that 'twould be long before her former domestic's
place was made good by the indolent African. It is true her
obeisance was very low, and her greeting kindly enough, but there
was about her an inquisitive, and at the same time, rather
patronizing air which Mrs. Kennedy did not like, and she was glad
when she at last left the parlor, telling them, as she did so, that
"dinner was done ready."
Notwithstanding that the house itself was so large, the dining room
was a small, dark, cheerless apartment, and though she was beginning
to feel the want of food, Mrs. Kennedy could scarcely force down a
mouthful, for the homesick feeling at her heart; a feeling which
whispered to her that the home to which she had come was not like
that which she had left. Dinner being over, she asked permission to
retire to her chamber, saying she needed rest, and should feel
better after she had slept. Nellie volunteered to lead the way, and
as they left the dining room old Hannah, who was notoriously lazy,
muttered aloud: "A puny, sickly thing. Great help she'll be to me;
but I shan't stay to wait on more'n forty more."
Dr. Kennedy had his own private reason for wishing to conciliate
Hannah. When he set her free he made her believe it was her duty to
work for him for nothing, and though she soon learned better, and
often threatened to leave, he had always managed to keep her, for,
on the whole, she liked her place, and did not care to change it for
one where her task would be much harder. But if the new wife proved
to be sickly, matters would be different, and so she fretted, as we
have seen, while the doctor comforted her with the assurance that
Mrs. Kennedy was only tired--that she was naturally well and strong,
and would undoubtedly be of great assistance when the novelty of her
position had worn away.
While this conversation was taking place Mrs. Kennedy was examining
her chamber and thinking many pleasant things of John, whose
handiwork was here so plainly visible. All the smaller and more
fanciful pieces of furniture which the house afforded had been
brought to this room, whose windows looked out upon the lake and the
blue hills beyond. A clean white towel concealed the marred
condition of the washstand, while the bed, which was made up high
and round, especially in the middle, looked very inviting with its
snowy spread. A large stuffed rocking chair, more comfortable than
handsome, occupied the center of the room, while better far than
all, the table, the mantel, and the windows were filled with
flowers, which John had begged from the neighboring gardens, and
which seemed to smile a welcome upon the weary woman, who, with a
cry of delight, bent down and kissed them through her tears.
"Did these come from your garden?" she asked of Nellie, who, child-
like, answered, "We haint any flowers. Pa won't let John plant any.
He told Aunt Kelsey the land had better be used for potatoes, and
Aunt Kelsey said he was too stingy to live."
"Who is Aunt Kelsey?" asked Mrs. Kennedy, a painful suspicion
fastening itself upon her that the lady's opinion might be correct.
"She is pa's sister Charlotte," answered Nellie, "and lives in
Rochester, in a great big house, with the handsomest things; but she
don't come here often, it's so heathenish, she says."
Here spying John, who was going with the oxen to the meadow, she ran
away, followed by Maude, between whom and herself there was for the
present a most amicable understanding. Thus left alone Mrs. Kennedy
had time for thought, which crowded upon her so fast that, at last
throwing herself upon the bed, she wept bitterly, half wishing she
had never come to Laurel Hill, but was still at home in her own
pleasant cottage. Then hope whispered to her of a brighter day, when
things would not seem to her as they now did. She would fix up the
desolate old house, she thought; the bare windows which now so
stared her in the face should be shaded with pretty muslin curtains,
and she would loop them back with ribbons. The carpet, too, on the
parlor floor should be exchanged for a better one, and when her
piano and marble table came, the only articles of furniture she had
not sold, it would not seem so cheerless and so cold.
Comforted with these thoughts, she fell asleep, resting quietly
until, just as the sun had set and it was growing dark within the
room, Maude came rushing in, her dress all wet, her face flushed,
and her eyes red with tears. She and Nellie had quarreled--nay,
actually fought; Nellie telling Maude she was blacker than a nigger,
and pushing her into the brook, while Maude, in return, had pulled
out a handful of the young lady's hair, for which her stepfather had
shaken her soundly and sent her to her mother, whom she begged "to
go home, and not stay in that old house where the folks were ugly
and the rooms not a bit pretty."
Mrs. Kennedy's heart was already full, and drawing Maude to her
side, the two homesick children mingled their tears together, until
a heavy footstep upon the stairs announced the approach of Dr.
Kennedy. Not a word did he say of his late adventure with Maude, and
his manner was very kind toward his weary wife, who, with his hand
upon her aching forehead, and his voice in her ear, telling her how
sorry he was that she was sick, forgot that she had been unhappy.
"Whatever else he may do," she thought, "he certainly loves me," and
after a fashion he did perhaps love her. She was a pretty little
creature, and her playful, coquettish ways had pleased him at first
sight. He needed a wife, and when their mutual friend, who knew
nothing of him save that he was a man of integrity and wealth,
suggested Matty Remington, he too thought favorably of the matter,
and yielding to the fascination of her soft blue eyes he had won her
for his wife, pitying her, it may be, as he sat by her in the
gathering twilight, and half guessed that she was homesick. And when
he saw how confidingly she clung to him, he was conscious of a half-
formed resolution to be to her what a husband ought to be. But Dr.
Kennedy's resolves were like the morning dew, and as the days wore
on his peculiarities, one after another, were discovered by his
wife, who, womanlike, tried to think that he was right and she was
In due time most of the villagers called upon her, and though they
were both intelligent and refined, she did not feel altogether at
ease in their presence, for the fancy she had that they regarded her
as one who for some reason was entitled to their pity. And in this
she was correct. They did pity her, for they remembered another
gentle woman, whose brown hair had turned gray, and whose blue eyes
had waxed dim beneath the withering influence of him she called her
husband. She was dead, and when they saw the young, light-hearted
Matty, they did not understand how she could ever have been induced
to take that woman's place and wed a man of thirty-eight, and they
blamed her somewhat, until they reflected that she knew nothing of
him, and that her fancy was probably captivated by his dignified
bearing, his manly figure, and handsome face. But these alone they
knew could not make her happy, and ere she had been six weeks a wife
they were not surprised that her face began to wear a weary look, as
if the burden of life were hard to bear.
As far as she could she beautified the home, purchasing with her own
means several little articles which the doctor called useless,
though he never failed to appropriate to himself the easy chair
which she had bought for the sitting room, and which when she was
tired rested her so much. On the subject of curtains he was
particularly obstinate. "There were blinds," he said, "and 'twas a
maxim of his never to spend his money for anything unnecessary."
Still, when Matty bought them herself for the parlor, when her piano
was unboxed and occupied a corner which had long been destitute of
furniture, and when her marble table stood between the windows, with
a fresh bouquet of flowers which John had brought, he exclaimed
involuntarily, "How nice this is!" adding the next moment, lest his
wife should be too much pleased, "but vastly foolish!"
In accordance with her husband's suggestion Mrs. Kennedy wrote to
Janet, breaking to her as gently as possible the fact that she was
not to come, but saying nothing definite concerning her new home or
her own happiness as a second wife. Several weeks went by, and then
an answer came.
"If you had of wanted me," wrote Janet, "I should of come, but bein'
you didn't, I've went to live with Mr. Blodgett, who peddles milk,
and raises butter and cheese, and who they say is worth a deal of
money, and well he may be, for he's saved this forty years."
Then followed a detailed account of her household matters, occupying
in all three pages of foolscap, to which was pinned a bit of paper,
containing the following:
"Joel looked over my writing and said I'd left out the very thing I
wanted to tell the most. We are married, me and Joel, and I only
hope you are as happy with that doctor as I am with my man."
This announcement crushed at once the faint hope which Mrs. Kennedy
had secretly entertained, of eventually having Janet to supply the
place of Hannah, who was notoriously lazy, and never under any
circumstances did anything she possibly could avoid. Dr. Kennedy did
not tell his wife that he expected her to make it easy for Hannah,
so she would not leave them; but he told her how industrious the
late Mrs. Kennedy had been, and hinted that a true woman was not
above kitchen work. The consequence of this was that Matty, who
really wished to please him, became in time a very drudge, doing
things which she once thought she could not do, and then without a
murmur ministering to her exacting husband when he came home from
visiting a patient, and declared himself "tired to death." Very
still he sat while her weary little feet ran for the cool drink--the
daily paper--or the morning mail; and very happy he looked when her
snowy fingers combed his hair or brushed his threadbare coat; and
if, perchance, she sighed amid her labor of love, his ear was deaf,
and he did not hear, neither did he see how white and thin she grew
as day by day went by.
Her piano was now seldom touched, for the doctor did not care for
music; still he was glad that she could play, for "Sister Kelsey,"
who was to him a kind of terror, would insist that Nellie should
take music lessons, and, as his wife was wholly competent to give
them, he would be spared a very great expense. "Save, save, save,"
seemed to be his motto, and when at church the plate was passed to
him he gave his dime a loving pinch ere parting company with it; and
yet none read the service louder or defended his favorite liturgy
more zealously than himself. In some things he was a pattern man,
and when once his servant John announced his intention of
withdrawing from the Episcopalians and joining himself to the
Methodists, who held their meetings in the schoolhouse, he was
greatly shocked, and labored long with the degenerate son of
Ethiopia, who would render to him no reason for his most
unaccountable taste, though he did to Matty, when she questioned him
of his choice.
"You see, missus," said he, "I wasn't allus a herrytic, but was as
good a 'Piscopal as St. George ever had. That's when I lived in
Virginny, and was hired out to Marster Morton, who had a school for
boys, and who larnt me how to read a little. After I'd arn't a heap
of money for Marster Kennedy he wanted to go to the Legislatur', and
as some on 'em wouldn't vote for him while he owned a nigger, he set
me free, and sent for me to come home. 'Twas hard partin' wid dem
boys and Marster Morton, I tell you, but I kinder wanted to see
mother, who had been here a good while, and who, like a fool, was a-
workin' an' is a-workin' for nothin'."
"For nothing!" exclaimed Mrs. Kennedy, a suspicion of the reason why
Janet was refused crossing her mind.
"Yes, marm, for nothin'," answered John, "but I aint green enough
for that, and 'fused outright. Then marster, who got beat 'lection
day, threatened to send me back, but I knew he couldn't do it, and
so he agreed to pay eight dollars a month. I could get more somewhar
else, but I'd rather stay with mother, and so I stayed."
"But that has nothing to do with the church," suggested Mrs.
Kennedy, and John replied:
"I'm comin' to the p'int now. I live with Marster Kennedy, and went
with him to church, and when I see how he carried on week days, and
how peart like he read up Sabba' days, sayin' the Lord's Prar and
'Postle's Creed, I began to think thar's somethin' rotten in
Denmark, as the boys use to say in Virginny; so when mother, who
allus was a-roarin' Methodis', asked me to go wid her to meetin', I
went, and was never so mortified in my life, for arter the elder had
'xorted a spell at the top of his voice, he sot down and said there
was room for others. I couldn't see how that was, bein' he took up
the whole chair, and while I was wonderin' what he meant, as I'm a
livin' nigger, up got marm and spoke a piece right in meetin'! I
never was so shamed, and I kep' pullin' at her gownd to make her set
down, but the harder I pulled the louder she hollered, till at last
she blowed her breath all away, and down she sot."
"And did any of the rest speak pieces?" asked Mrs. Kennedy,
convulsed with laughter at John's vivid description.
"Bless your heart," he answered, with a knowing look, "'twarn't a
piece she was speaking--she was tellin' her 'sperience; but it
sounded so like the boys at school that I was deceived, for I'd
never seen such work before. But I've got so I like it now, and I
believe thar's more 'sistency down in that schoolhouse than thar is
in--I won't say the 'Piscopal church, 'case thar's heaps of shinin'
lights thar, but if you won't be mad, I'll say more than thar is in
Marster Kennedy, who has hisself to thank for my bein' a Methodis'."
Whatever Mrs. Kennedy might have thought she could not help laughing
heartily at John, who was now a decided Methodist, and adorned his
profession far more than his selfish, hard-hearted master. His
promise of holding up his mistress' hands had been most faithfully
kept, and, without any disparagement to Janet, Mrs. Kennedy felt
that the loss of her former servant was in a great measure made up
to her in the kind negro, who, as the months went by and her face
grew thinner each day, purchased with his own money many a little
delicacy which he hoped would tempt her capricious appetite. Maude,
too, was a favorite with John, both on account of her color, which
he greatly admired, and because, poor, ignorant creature though he
was, he saw in her the germ of the noble girl who in the coming
years was to bear uncomplainingly a burden of care from which the
selfish Nellie would unhesitatingly turn away.
Toward Maude the doctor had ever manifested a feeling of aversion,
both because of her name and because she had compelled him to yield
when his mind was fully made up to do otherwise. She had resolutely
refused to be called Matilda, and as it was necessary for him
sometimes to address her, he called her first, "You girl," then
"Mat," and finally arrived at "Maude," speaking it always
spitefully, as if provoked that he had once in his life been
conquered. With the management of her he seldom interfered, for that
scratch had given him a timely lesson, and as he did not like to be
unnecessarily troubled, he left both Maude and Nellie to his wife,
who suffered the latter to do nearly as she pleased, and thus
escaped many of the annoyances to which stepmothers are usually
Although exceedingly selfish Nellie was affectionate in her
disposition, and when Maude did not cross her path the two were on
the best of terms. Disturbances there were, however--quarrels and
fights, in the latter of which Maude, being the stronger of the two,
always came off victor; but these did not last long, and had her
husband been to her what he ought Mrs. Kennedy's life would not have
been as dreary as it was. He meant well enough, perhaps, but he did
not understand a woman, much less know how to treat her, and as the
winter months went by Matty's heart would have fainted within her
but for a hope which whispered to her, "He will love me better when
next summer comes."
It is just one year since the summer morning when Matty Kennedy took
upon herself a second time the duties of a wife, and now she lies in
a darkened room, her face white as the winter snow, and her breath
scarcely perceptible to the touch, as it comes faintly from her
parted lips. In dignified silence the doctor sits by, counting her
feeble pulse, while an expression of pride and almost perfect
happiness breaks over his face as he glances toward the cradle which
Hannah has brought from the garret, and where now slept the child
born to him that day. His oft-repeated maxim that if the first were
not a boy the second ought to be, had prevailed at last, and Dombey
had a son. It was a puny thing, but the father said it looked as
Nellie did when she first rested there, and Nellie, holding back her
breath and pushing aside her curls, bent down to see the red-faced
"I was never as ugly as that, and I don't love him a bit!" she
exclaimed, turning away in disgust; while Maude approached on tip-
toe, and kneeling by the cradle side kissed the unconscious sleeper,
whispering as she did so, "I love you, poor little brother."
Darling Maude--blessed Maude--in all your after life you proved the
truth of those low spoken words, "I love you, poor little brother."
For many days did Mrs. Kennedy hover between life and death, never
asking for her baby, and seldom noticing her husband, who, while
declaring there was no danger, still deemed it necessary, in case
anything should happen, to send for his sister, Mrs. Kelsey, who had
not visited him since his last marriage. She was a proud,
fashionable woman, who saw nothing attractive in the desolate old
house, and who had conceived an idea that her brother's second wife
was a sort of nobody whom he had picked up among the New England
hills. But the news of her illness softened her feelings in a
measure, and she started for Laurel Hill, thinking that if Matty
died she hoped a certain dashing, brilliant woman, called Maude
Glendower, might go there, and govern the tyrannical doctor, even as
he had governed others.
It was late in the afternoon when she reached her brother's house,
from which Nellie came running out to meet her, accompanied by
Maude. From the latter the lady at first turned disdainfully away,
but ere long stole another look at the brown-faced girl, about whom
there was something very attractive.
"Curtains, as I live!" she exclaimed, as she entered the parlor. "A
piano, and marble table, too. Where did these come from?"
"They are ma's, and she's got a baby upstairs," answered Maude, and
the lady's hand rested for an instant on the little curly head, for
strange as it may seem, she esteemed more highly a woman who owned a
piano and handsome table than she did one whose worldly possessions
were more limited.
After making some changes in her dress, she went up to the sick-
room, and as Matty was asleep, she had ample time to examine her
face, and also to inspect the room, which showed in someone a
refined and delicate taste.
"She must be more of a lady than I supposed," she thought, and when
at last her sister-in-law awoke she greeted her kindly, and during
her visit, which lasted nearly two weeks, she exerted herself to be
agreeable, succeeding so far that Matty parted from her at last with
"Poor thing--she'll never see another winter," was Mrs. Kelsey's
mental comment, as she bade the invalid good-by; but in this she was
mistaken, for with the falling of the leaf Matty began to improve,
and though she never fully regained her health, she was able again
to be about the house, doing far more than she ought to have done,
but never uttering a word of complaint, however heavy was the burden
imposed upon her.
With Maude and her baby, who bore the name of Louis, she found her
greatest comfort. He was a sweet, playful child, and sure never
before was father so foolishly proud of his son as was Dr. Kennedy
of his. For hours would he sit watching him while he slept, and
building castles of the future, when "Louis Kennedy, only son of Dr.
Kennedy," should be honored among men. Toward the mother, too, who
had borne him such a prodigy he became a little more indulgent,
occasionally suffering her wishes to prevail over his maxims, and on
three several occasions giving her a dollar to spend as she pleased.
Surely such generosity did not deserve so severe a punishment as was
in store for the proud father.
Louis had a most beautiful face, and in his soft, brown eyes there
was a "look like the angels," as Maude once said to her mother, who
seldom spoke of him without a sigh, for on her mind a terrible fear
was fastening itself. Although mentally as forward as other
children, Louis' body did not keep pace with the growth of his
intellect, and when he was two years of age he could not bear his
weight upon his feet, but in creeping dragged his limbs slowly, as
if in them there was no life--no strength.
"Ma, why don't Louis walk?" asked Maude, one evening when she saw
how long it took him to cross the room.
"Loui' tant walk," answered the child, who talked with perfect ease.
The tears came instantly to Mrs. Kennedy's eyes, for, availing
herself of her husband's absence, she had that morning consulted
another physician, who, after carefully examining Louis' body, had
whispered in the poor woman's ear that which made every nerve quiver
with pain, while at the same time it made dearer a thousand-fold her
baby-boy; for a mother's pity increases a mother's love.
"Say, ma, what is it?" persisted Maude. "Will Louis ever walk?"
"Loui'll never walk," answered the little fellow, shaking his brown
curls, and tearing in twain a picture-book which his father had
bought him the day before.
"Maude," said Mrs. Kennedy, drawing her daughter to her side, "I
must tell somebody or my heart will burst," and laying her head upon
the table she wept aloud.
"Don't try, ma, Loui' good," lisped the infant on the floor, while
Mrs. Kennedy, drying at last her tears, told to the wondering Maude
that Louis was not like other children--that he would probably never
have the use of his feet--that a hunch was growing on his back--and
he in time would be--she could not say "deformed," and so she said
at last--"he'll be forever lame."
Poor little Maude! How all her childish dreams were blasted! She had
anticipated so much pleasure in guiding her brother's tottering
footsteps, in leading him to school, to church, and everywhere, and
she could not have him lame.
"Oh, Louis, Louis!" she cried, winding her arms around his neck, as
if she would thus avert the dreaded evil.
Very wonderfully the child looked up into her eyes, and raising his
waxen hand he wiped her tears away, saying as he did so, "Loui' love
With a choking sob Maude kissed her baby brother, then going back to
her mother, whose head still lay upon the table, she whispered, "We
will love poor Louis all the more, you and I."
Blessed Maude, we say again, for these were no idle words, and the
clinging, tender love with which she cherished her unfortunate
brother ought to have shamed the heartless man who, when he heard of
his affliction, refused to be comforted, and almost cursed the day
when his only son was born. He had been absent for a week or more,
and with the exception of the time when he first knew he had a son
he did not remember of having experienced a moment of greater
happiness than that in which he reached his home where dwelt his
boy--his pride--his idol. Louis was not in the room, and on the
mother's face there was an expression of sadness, which at once
awakened the father's fears lest something had befallen his child.
"Where is Louis?" he asked. "Has anything happened to him that you
look so pale?"
"Louis is well," answered Matty, and then, unable longer to control
her feelings, she burst into tears, while the doctor looked on in
amazement, wondering if all women were as nervous and foolish as the
two it had been his fortune to marry.
"Oh, husband," she cried, feeling sure of his sympathy, and thinking
it better to tell the truth at once; "has it never occurred to you
that Louis was not like other children?"
"Of course it has," he answered quickly. "He is a thousand times
brighter than any child I have ever known."
"'Tisn't that, 'tisn't that," said Matty. "He'll never walk--he's
"What do you mean?" thundered the doctor, reeling for an instant
like a drunken man; then, recovering his composure, he listened
while Matty told him what she meant.
At that moment Maude drew Louis into the room, and, taking the child
in his arms, the doctor examined him for himself, wondering he had
never observed before how small and seemingly destitute of life were
his lower limbs. The bunch upon the back, though slight as yet, was
really there, and Matty, when questioned, said it had been there for
weeks, but she did not tell of it, for she hoped it would go away.
"It will stay until his dying day," he muttered, as he ordered Maude
to take the child away. "Louis deformed! Louis a cripple! What have
I done that I should be thus sorely punished?" he exclaimed, when he
was alone with his wife; and then, as he dared not blame the
Almighty, he charged it to her, until at last his thoughts took
another channel. Maude had dropped him--he knew she had, and Matty
was to blame for letting her handle him so much, when she knew 'twas
a maxim of his that children should not take care of children.
He had forgotten the time when his worn-out wife had asked him to
hire a nurse girl for Louis, and he had answered that "Maude was
large enough for that." On some points his memory was treacherous,
and for days he continued to repine at his hard fate, wishing once
in Matty's presence that Louis had never been born.
"Oh, husband," she cried, "how can you say that! Do you hate our
poor boy because he is a cripple?"
"A cripple!" roared the doctor. "Never use that word again in my
presence. My son a cripple! I can't have it so! I won't have it so!
for 'tis a max--"
Here he stopped, being for a second time in his life at a loss what
"Sarve 'em right, sarve 'em right," muttered John, whose quick eye
saw everything. "Ole Sam payin' him off good. He think he'll be in
the seventh heaven when he got a boy, and he mighty nigh torment
that little gal's life out with his mexens and things; but now he
got a boy, he feel a heap like the bad place."
Still much as John rejoiced that his master was so punished, his
heart went out in pity toward the helpless child whom he almost
worshiped, carrying him often to the fields, where, seeking out the
shadiest spot and the softest grass for a throne, he would place the
child upon it, and then pay him obeisance by bobbing up and down his
wooly head in a manner quite as satisfactory to Louis as if he
indeed had been a king and John his loyal subject. Old Hannah, too,
was greatly softened, and many a little cake and pie she baked in
secret for the child, while even Nellie gave up to him her favorite
playthings, and her blue eyes wore a pitying look whenever they
rested on the poor unfortunate. All loved him seemingly the more--
all, save the cruel father, who, as the months and years rolled on,
seemed to acquire a positive dislike to the little boy, seldom
noticing him in any way except to frown if he were brought into his
sight. And Louis, with the quick instinct of childhood, learned to
expect nothing from his father, whose attention he never tried to
As if to make amends for his physical deformity, he possessed an
uncommon mind, and when he was nearly six years of age accident
revealed to him the reason of his father's continued coldness, and
wrung from him the first tears he had ever shed for his misfortune.
He heard one day his mother praying that God would soften her
husband's heart toward his poor hunchback boy, who was not to blame
for his misfortune--and laying his head upon the broad arm of the
chair which had been made for him, he wept bitterly, for he knew now
why he was not loved. That night, as in his crib he lay, watching
the stars which shone upon him through the window, and wondering if
in heaven there were hunchback boys like him, he overheard his
father talking to his mother, and the words that his father said
were never forgotten to his dying day. There were, "Don't ask me to
be reconciled to a cripple! What good can he do me? He will never
earn his own living, lame as he is, and will only be in the way."
"Oh, father, father," the cripple essayed to say, but he could not
speak, so full of pain was his little, bursting heart, and that
night he lay awake, praying that he might die and so be out of the
The next morning he asked Maude to draw him to the churchyard where
"his other mother," as he called her, was buried. Maude complied,
and when they were there, placed him at his request upon the ground,
where stretching himself out at his full length, he said: "Look,
Maude, won't mine be a little grave?" then, ere she could answer the
strange question, he continued, "I want to die so bad; and if you
leave me lying here in the long grass maybe God's angel will take me
up to heaven. Will I be lame, there, think you?"
"Oh, Louis, Louis, what do you mean?" cried Maude, and as well as he
could, for the tears he shed, Louis told her what he meant.
"Father don't love me because I'm lame, and he called me a cripple,
too. What is a cripple, Maude? Is it anything very bad?" and his
beautiful brown eyes turned anxiously toward his sister.
He had never heard that word before, and to him it had a fearful
significance, even worse than lameness. In an instant Maude knelt by
his side--his head was pillowed on her bosom, and in the silent
graveyard, with the quiet dead around. them, she spoke blessed words
of comfort to her brother, telling him what a cripple was, and that
because he bore that name he was dearer far to her.
"Your father will love you, too," she said, "when he learns how good
you are. He loves Nellie, and--"
Ere she could say more she was interrupted by Louis, on whose mind
another truth had dawned, and who now said, "But he don't love you
as he does Nellie. Why not? Are you a cripple, too?"
Folding him still closer in her arms, and kissing his fair, white
brow, Maude answered: "Your father, Louis, is not mine--for mine is
dead, and his grave is far away. I came here to live when I was a
little girl, not quite as old as you, and Nellie is not my sister,
though you are my darling brother."
"And do you love father?" asked Louis, his eyes still fixed upon her
face as if he would read the truth.
Every feeling of Maude Remington's heart answered, "No," to that
question, but she could not say so to the boy, and she replied, "Not
as I could love my own father--neither does he love me, for I am not
This explanation was not then wholly clear to Louis, but he
understood that there was a barrier between his father and Maude,
and this of itself was sufficient to draw him more closely to the
latter, who, after that day, cherished him, if possible, more
tenderly than she had done before, keeping him out of his father's
way, and cushioning his little crutches so they could not be heard,
for she rightly guessed that the sound of them was hateful to the
harsh man's ears.
Maude was far older than her years, and during the period of time
over which we have passed so briefly she had matured both in mind
and body, until now at the age of twelve she was a self-reliant
little woman on whom her mother wholly depended for comfort and
counsel. Very rapidly was Mrs. Kennedy passing from the world, and
as she felt the approach of death she leaned more and more upon her
daughter, talking to her often of the future and commending Louis to
her care, when with her he would be motherless. Maude's position was
now a trying one, for, when her mother became too ill to leave her
room, and the doctor refused to hire extra help, saying, "two great
girls were help enough," it was necessary for her to go into the
kitchen, where she vainly tried to conciliate old Hannah, who
"wouldn't mind a chit of a girl, and wouldn't fret herself either if
things were not half done."
From the first Nellie resolutely refused to work--"it would black
her hands," she said, and as her father never remonstrated she spent
her time in reading, admiring her pretty face, and drumming upon the
piano, which Maude, who was fonder even than Nellie of music, seldom
found time to touch. One there was, however, who gave to Maude every
possible assistance, and this was John. "Having tried his hand," as
he said, "at everything in Marster Norton's school," he proved of
invaluable service--sweeping, dusting, washing dishes, cleaning
knives, and once ironing Dr. Kennedy's shirts, when old Hannah was
in what he called her "tantrums." But alas for John! the entire
print of the iron upon the bosom of one, to say nothing of the piles
of starch upon another, and more than all, the tremendous scolding
which he received from the owner of said shirt, warned him never to
turn laundress again, and in disgust he gave up his new vocation,
devoting his leisure moments to the cultivation of flowers, which he
carried to his mistress, who smiled gratefully upon him, saying they
were the sweetest she had ever smelled. And so each morning a fresh
bouquet was laid upon her pillow, and as she inhaled their perfume
she thought of her New England home, which she would never see
again--thought, too, of Janet, whose cheering words and motherly
acts would be so grateful to her now when she so much needed care.
"'Tis a long time since I've heard from her," she said one day to
Maude. "Suppose you write tomorrow, and tell her I am sick--tell
her, too, that the sight of her would almost make me well, and maybe
she will come," and on the sick woman's face there was a joyous
expression as she thought how pleasant it would be to see once more
one who had breathed the air of her native hills--had looked upon
her Harry's grave--nay, had known her Harry when in life, and wept
over him in death.
Poor, lonesome, homesick woman! Janet shall surely come in answer to
your call, and ere you deem it possible her shadow shall fall across
your threshold--her step be heard upon the stairs--her hand be
clasped in yours!
MRS. JANET BLODGETT.
It was a chilly, rainy afternoon toward the latter part of August.
John was gone, the doctor was cross, and Hannah was cross. Nellie,
too, was unusually irritable, and venting her spite upon Hannah
because there was nothing for dinner fit to eat, and upon Maude
because the house was so desolate and dark, she crept away upstairs,
and wrapping a shawl round her, sat down to a novel, pausing
occasionally to frown at the rain which beat at the windows or the
wind as it roared dismally through the trees. While thus employed
she heard the sound of wheels, and looking up, saw standing before
their gate a muddy wagon, from which a little, dumpy figure in black
was alighting, carefully holding up her alpaca dress, and carrying
in one hand a small box which seemed to be full of flowers.
"She must have come to stay a long time," thought Nellie, as she saw
the piles of baggage which the driver was depositing upon the stoop.
"Who can it be?" she continued, as she recalled all her aunts and
cousins, and found that none of them answered the description of
this woman, who knocked loudly at the door, and then walked in to
shelter herself from the storm.
"Forlornity!" Nellie heard her exclaim, as she left the chamber in
answer to the summons. "Forlornity! No table, no hat-stand, no
nothin', and the dingiest old ile-cloth! What does it mean? Your
servant, miss," she added, dropping a courtesy to Nellie, who now
stood on the stairs, with her finger between the pages of her book,
so as not to lose the place. "I guess I've made a mistake," said the
woman; "is this Dr. Canady's?"
"It is," answered Nellie, and the stranger continued, "Dr. Canady
who married the widder Remington? "
"The same," returned Nellie, thinking how unmercifully she would
tease Maude should this prove to be any of her relations.
"And who be you?" asked the stranger, feeling a little piqued at the
coldness of her reception.
"I am Miss Helen--Dr. Kennedy's daughter," answered the young lady,
assuming an air of dignity, which was not at all diminished by the
very, expressive "Mortal!" which dropped from the woman's lips.
"Can I do anything for you?" asked Nellie, and the stranger
answered: "Yes, go and call Maude, but don't tell her who I am."
She forgot that Nellie did not herself know who she was, and sitting
down upon her trunk, she waited while Nellie hurried to the kitchen,
where, over a smoky fire, Maude was trying in vain to make a bit of
nicely browned toast for her mother, who had expressed a wish for
something good to eat.
"Here, Maude," called out Nellie, "your grandmother or aunt has
come, I guess, and wants to see you in the hall."
"It's Janet--it's Janet, I know!" screamed Maude, and leaving her
slice of bread to burn and blacken before the fire, she hurried
away, while Nellie, who had heard nothing of the letter sent the
week before, wondered much who the "witched old thing with the
poking black bonnet could be."
With a cry of delight Maude wound her arms around the neck of her
old nurse, whom she knew in a moment, though Janet had more
difficulty in recognizing the little girl of other years in the
womanly looking maiden before her.
"It beats all how you've changed," she said, "though your eyes and
hair are the same," and she passed her hand caressingly over the
short glossy curls. Then looking intently in Maude's face she
continued. "You've grown handsome, child."
"No, no, not handsome, Janet; Nellie is the beauty of the house,"
and Maude shook her head mournfully, for on the subject of beauty
she was a little sensitive, her sister always pronouncing her "a
fright," and manifesting a most unamiable spirit if anyone
complimented her in the least.
"What, that yaller-haired, white-face chit who went for you?"
rejoined Janet. "No such thing; but tell me now of your marm. How
sick is she, and what of the little boy? Is he much deformed?"
"Come in here," said Maude, leading the way into the parlor, and
drawing a chair close to Janet, she told all she deemed it necessary
But the quick-witted Janet knew there was something more, and
casting a scornful glance around the room she said: "You are a good
girl, Maude; but you can't deceive an old girl like me. I knew by
the tremblin' way you writ that somethin' was wrong, and started the
first blessed morning after gettin' your letter. I was calculating
to come pretty soon, anyway, and had all my arrangements made. So I
can stay a good long spell--always, mebby--for I'm a widder now,"
and she heaved a few sighs to the memory of Mr. Joel Blodgett, who,
she said, "had been dead a year," adding, in a whisper, "but there's
one consolation--he willed me all his property," and she drew from
her belt a huge silver time-piece, which she was in the habit of
consulting quite often, by way of showing that "she could carry a
watch as well as the next one."
After a little her mind came back from her lamented husband, and she
gave Maude a most minute account of her tedious ride in a lumber-
wagon from Canandaigua to Laurel Hill, for the stage had left when
she reached the depot, and she was in too great a hurry to remain at
the hotel until the next morning.
"But what of that doctor--do you like him?" she said at last, and
Maude answered: "Never mind him now; let us see mother first, or
rather let me see to her dinner," and she arose to leave the room.
"You don't like him," continued Janet, "and I knew you wouldn't; but
your poor mother, I pity her. Didn't you say you was gettin' her
something to eat? She's had a good time waitin', but I'll make
amends by seein' to her dinner myself," and spite of Maude's
endeavors to keep her back she followed on into the disorderly
kitchen, from which Nellie had disappeared, and where old Hannah sat
smoking her pipe as leisurely as if on the table there were not
piles of unwashed dishes, to say nothing of the unswept floor and
"What a hole!" was Janet's involuntary exclamation, to which Hannah
responded a most contemptuous "Umph!" and thus was the war-cry
raised on either side. "What was you goin' to git for your mother?"
asked Janet, without deigning to notice the portly African, who
smoked on in dignified silence.
"Toast and tea," answered Maude, and casting a deprecating glance at
the fire Janet continued: "You can't make any toast fit for a
heathen to eat by that fire. Aint there any dry wood--kindlin' nor
nothin'?" and she walked into the woodshed, where, spying a pine
board, she seized the ax and was about to commence operations when
Hannah called out: "Ole marster 'll be in yer ha'r if you tache
"I aint afraid of your old marster," answered Janet, and in a moment
the board, which Dr. Kennedy would not suffer John to use because he
might want it for something, was crackling on the fire.
The hearth was swept, the tea-kettle hung in the blaze, and then,
with a look of perfect delight, Janet sat down to make the toast,
fixing it just as she knew Matty liked it best.
"Biled eggs will be good for her digester, and if I only had one
dropped in water," she said, and quick as thought Maude brought her
one, while Hannah growled again, "Ole marster 'll raise de ruff,
case he put 'em away to sell."
"Ole marster be hanged!" muttered Janet, breaking not one, but
three, into the water, for her own stomach began to clamor for food.
Everything was ready at last; a clean towel covered the server, the
fragrant black tea was made, the boiled egg was laid upon the toast,
and then Janet said, "She ought to have a rellish--preserves, jelly,
baked apple, or somethin'," and she opened a cupboard door, while
Hannah, springing to her feet, exclaimed, "Quit dat; thar aint no
sich truck in dis house."
But Janet's sharp eye had discovered behind a pile of papers, rags,
and dried herbs a tumbler of currant jelly, which Hannah had
secretly made and hidden away for her own private eating. Hannah's
first impulse was to snatch the jelly from Janet's hand, but feeling
intuitively that in the resolute Scotchwoman she had a mistress, and
fearing lest Maude should betray her to the doctor she exclaimed,
"If that aint the very stuff Miss Ruggles sent in for Miss Matty! I
forgot it till this blessed minit!" and shutting the cupboard door,
she stood with her back against it lest Janet should discover sundry
other delicacies hidden away for a like purpose.
"Mother has not had a feast like this--and she'll enjoy it so much,"
said Maude, as she started up the stairs followed by Janet, who, ere
they reached the chamber, suddenly stopped, saying, "I tell you what
'tis, if she knows I'm here she won't eat a mou'ful, so you say
nothin', and when she's through I'll come."
This seemed reasonable to Maude, who, leaving Janet to look through
a crevice in the door, entered alone into her mother's presence.
Mrs. Kennedy had waited long for Maude, and at last, weary with
listening to the rain, which made her feel so desolate and sad, she
fell asleep, as little Louis at her side had done before her; but
Maude's cheering voice awoke her.
"Look, mother," she cried, "see the nice dinner!" and her own eyes
fairly danced as she placed the tray upon the table before her
mother, who, scarcely less pleased, exclaimed, "A boiled egg--and
jelly, too!--I've wanted them both so much. How did it happen?"
"Eat first, and then I'll tell you," answered Maude, propping her up
with pillows, and setting the server in her lap.
"It tastes like old times--like Janet," said the invalid, and from
the room without, where Janet watched, there came a faint, choking
sound, which Matty thought was the wind and which Maude knew was
Through the door she caught sight of her mistress, whose white,
wasted face wrung from her that cry. Stuffing her handkerchief into
her mouth, she waited until toast, tea, egg, and all had
disappeared, then, with the exclamation, "She's et 'em all up slick
and clean," she walked into the room.
It would be impossible to describe that meeting, when the poor sick
woman bowed her weary head upon the motherly bosom of her faithful
domestic, weeping most piteously while Janet folded her lovingly in
her arms, saying to her soothingly, "Nay, now, Matty darling--nay,
my bonnie bird--take it easy like--take is easy, and you'll feel
"You won't leave me, will you?" sobbed Matty, feeling that it would
not be hard to die with Janet standing near.
"No, honey, no," answered Janet, "I'll stay till one or t'other of
us is carried down the walk and across the common where them
gravestones is standin', which I noticed when I drove up."
"It will be me, Janet. It will be me," said Matty. "They will bury
me beneath the willows, for the other one is lying there, oh, so
Louis was by this time awake, and taking him upon her lap Janet
laughed and cried alternately, mentally resolving that so long as
she should live, she would befriend the little helpless boy, whose
face, she said, "was far winsomer than any she had ever seen."
Then followed many mutual inquiries, during which Matty learned that
Janet was a widow, and had really come to stay if necessary.
"I'm able now to live as I please, for I've got property," said
Janet, again consulting the silver watch, as she usually did when
speaking of her husband's will.
Many questions, too, did Matty ask concerning her former home--her
friends--her flowers--and Harry's grave; "was it well kept now, or
was it overrun with weeds?"
To this last question Janet did not reply directly, but making some
excuse for leaving the room, she soon returned, bearing in one hand
a box in which a small rose-bush was growing. In the other hand she
held a beautiful bouquet which, having been kept moist, looked
almost as fresh as when it was first gathered. This she gave to
Matty, saying, "They grew on Harry's grave. I picked 'em myself
yesterday morning before I left; and this," pointing to the rose-
bush, "is a root I took from there last spring on purpose for you,
for I meant to visit you this fall."
Need we say those flowers were dearer to Matty than the wealth of
the Indies would have been! They had blossomed on Harry's grave--his
dust had added to them life, and as if they were indeed a part of
him, she hugged them to her heart--kissing them through her tears
and blessing Janet for the priceless gift.
"Don't tell him, though," she whispered, and a deep flush mounted to
her cheek as on the stairs she heard a heavy footstep, and knew that
Dr. Kennedy was coming!
He had been in the kitchen, demanding of Hannah, "Whose is all that
baggage in the hall?" and Hannah, glad of an opportunity to "free
her mind," had answered, "Some low-lived truck or other that they
called 'Janet,' and a body'd s'pose she owned the house, the way she
went on, splittin' up yer board for kindlin', makin' missus' toast
swim in butter, and a-bilin' three of them eggs you laid away to
sell. If she stays here, this nigger won't--that's my 'pinion," and
feeling greatly injured she left the kitchen, while Dr. Kennedy,
with a dark, moody look upon his face, started for the sick-room.
He knew very well who his visitor was, and when his wife said,
"Husband, this is my faithful Janet, or rather Mrs. Blodgett now.
Wasn't it kind in her to come so far to see me?" he merely nodded
coolly to Mrs. Blodgett, who nodded as coolly in return; then,
turning to his wife, he said, "You seem excited, my dear, and this
ought not to be. 'Tis a maxim of mine that company is injurious to
sick people. What do you think, Mrs. Blodgett?"
Mrs. Blodgett didn't think anything save that he was a most
disagreeable man, and as she could not say this in his presence, she
made no particular answer. Glancing toward the empty plate which
stood upon the table, he continued, "Hannah tells me, my dear, that
you have eaten three boiled eggs. I wonder at your want of
discretion, when you know how indigestible they are," and his eye
rested reprovingly on Janet, who now found her tongue, and starting
up, exclaimed, "One biled egg won't hurt anybody's digester, if it's
ever so much out of kilter--but the jade lied. Two of them eggs I
cooked for myself, and I'll warrant she's guzzled 'em down before
this. Anyway, I'll go and see," and she arose to leave the room.
Just as she reached the door the doctor called after her, saying,
"Mrs. Blodgett, I observed a trunk or two in the lower hall, which I
presume are yours. Will you have them left there, or shall I bring
them up to your chamber? You will stay all night with us, of
For an instant Janet's face was crimson, but forcing down her wrath
for Matty's sake, she answered, "I shall probably stay as long as
that," and slamming together the door she went downstairs, while
Matty said sadly, "Oh, husband, how could you thus insult her when
you knew she had come to stay a while at least, and that her
presence would do me so much good?"
"How should I know she had come to stay, when I've heard nothing
about it," was the doctor's reply; and then in no mild terms he gave
his opinion of the lady--said opinion being based on what old Hannah
had told him.
There were tears in Matty's eyes, and they dropped from her long
eye-lashes as, taking the doctor's hand, she said: "Husband, you
know that I'm going to die--that ere the snow is falling you will be
a second time alone. And you surely will not refuse me when I ask
that Janet shall stay until the last. When I am gone you will,
perhaps, be happier in the remembrance that you granted me one
There was something in the tone of her voice far more convincing
than her words, and when she added, "She does not expect wages, for
she has money of her own," Dr. Kennedy yielded the point,
prophesying the while that there would be trouble with Hannah.
Meantime Mrs. Blodgett had wended her way to the kitchen, meeting in
the way with Nellie, around whose mouth there was a substance
greatly resembling the yolk of an egg! Thus prepared for the worst,
Janet was not greatly disappointed when she found that her eggs had
been disposed of by both the young lady and Hannah, the latter of
whom was too busy with her dishes to turn her head or in any way
acknowledge the presence of a second person.
"Joel Blodgett's widow ought to be above havin' words with a
nigger," was Janet's mental comment as she contented herself with a
slice of bread and a cup of tea, which, by this time, was of quite a
Her hunger being satisfied, she began to feel more amiably disposed
toward the old negress, whose dishes she offered to wipe. This
kindness was duly appreciated by Hannah, and that night, in speaking
of Janet to her son, she pronounced her "not quite so onery a white
woman as she at first took her to be."
As the days wore on Janet's presence in the family was felt in
various ways. To Matty it brought a greater degree of happiness than
she had experienced since she left her New England home, while even
the doctor acknowledged an increased degree of comfort in his
household, though not willing at first to attribute it to its proper
source. He did not like Janet; her ideas were too extravagant for
him, and on several different occasions he hinted quite strongly
that she was not wanted there; but Janet was perfectly invincible to
hints, and when at one time he embodied them in language that could
not be misunderstood, telling her. "'twas a maxim of his that if a
person had a home of their own they had better stay there," she
promptly replied that "'twas a maxim of hers to stay where she
pleased, particularly as she was a woman of property," and so, as
she pleased to stay there, she stayed!
It took but a short time for her to understand the doctor, and to
say that she disliked him would but feebly express the feeling of
aversion with which she regarded him. Not a word, however, would
Matty admit of past or present unkindness--neither was it necessary
that she should, for Janet saw it all--saw how "Old Maxim," as she
called him, had worried her life away, and while cherishing for him
a sentiment of hatred, she strove to comfort her young mistress, who
grew weaker and weaker every day, until at last the husband himself,
aroused to a sense of her danger, strove by little acts of kindness
unusual in him, to make amends for years of wrong. Experience is a
thorough teacher, and he shrank from the bitter memories which
spring from the grave of a neglected wife, and he would rather that
Matty, when she died, should not turn away from him, shuddering at
his touch, and asking him to take his hand from off her brow; just
as one brown-haired woman had done. This feeling of his was
appreciated by Janet, who in proportion as he became tender toward
Matty, was respectful to him, until at last there came to be a
tolerably good understanding between them, and she was suffered, in
most matters, to have her own way.
With John she was a special favorite, and through his
instrumentality open hostilities were prevented between herself and
his mother, until the latter missed another cup of jelly from its
new hiding-place. Then, indeed, the indignant African announced her
intention of going at once to "Miss Ruggles'," who had offered her
"twelve shillings a week and a heap of leisure."
"Let her go," said John, who knew Mrs. Ruggles to be a fashionable
woman, the mother of nine children, whose ages varied from one to
fifteen; "let her go--she'll be glad to come back," and the sequel
proved he was right, for just as it was beginning to grow light on
the second day of her absence, someone rapped at his window, and a
half-crying voice whispered, "Let me in, John; I've been out to
John complied with the request, and when Janet came down to the
kitchen, how was she surprised at finding Hannah there, leisurely
grinding her coffee, with an innocent look upon her sable face, as
if nothing had ever happened. John's raillery, however, loosened her
tongue at last, and very minutely she detailed her grievances. "She
had done a two weeks' washing, besides all the work, and the whole
of them young ones under her feet into the bargain. Then at night,
when she hoped for a little rest, Mrs. Ruggles had gone off to a
party and stayed till midnight, leaving her with that squallin'
brat; but never you mind," said she, "I poured a little paregol down
its throat, or my, name aint Hannah," and with a sigh of relief at
her escape from "Miss Ruggles," she finished her story and resumed
her accustomed duties, which for many weeks she faithfully
performed, finding but little fault with the frequent suggestions of
Mrs. Janet Blodgett, whose rule in the household was for the time
being firmly established.
From the tall trees which shade the desolate old house the leaves
have fallen one by one, and the November rain makes mournful music
as in the stillness of the night it drops upon the withered foliage,
softly, slowly, as if weeping for the sorrow which has come upon the
household. Matty Kennedy is dead; and in the husband's heart there
is a gnawing pain, such as he never felt before; not even when Katy
died; for Katy, though pure and good, was not so wholly unselfish as
Matty had been, and in thinking of her, he could occasionally recall
an impatient word; but from Matty none. Gentle, loving, and
beautiful she had been to him in life; and now, beautiful in death,
she lay in the silent parlor, on the marble table she had brought
from home, while he--oh, who shall tell what thoughts were busy at
his heart, as he sat there alone, that dismal, rainy night.
In one respect his wishes had been gratified; Matty had not turned
from him in death. She had died within his arms; but so long as the
light of reason shone in her blue eyes,--so long had they, rested on
the rose-bush within the window,--the rose-bush brought from Harry's
grave! Nestled among its leaves was a half-opened bud, and when none
could hear, she whispered softly to Janet, "Place it in my bosom
just as you placed one years ago, when I was Harry's bride."
To Nellie and to Maude she had spoken blessed words of comfort,
commending to the latter as to a second mother the little Louis,
who, trembling with fear, had hidden beneath the bedclothes, so that
he could not see the white look upon her face. Then to her husband
she had turned, pleading with all a mother's tenderness for her
youngest born--her unfortunate one.
"Oh, husband," she said, "you will care for him when I am gone. You
will love my poor, crippled boy! Promise me this, and death will not
be hard to meet. Promise me, won't you?" and the voice was very,
He could not refuse, and bending low, he said, "Matty, I will, I
"Bless you, my husband, bless you for that," was Matty's dying
words, for she never spoke again.
It was morning then,--early morning, and a long, dreary day had
intervened, until at last it was midnight, and silence reigned
throughout the house. Maude, Nellie, Janet, and John had wept
themselves sick, while in little Louis' bosom there was a sense of
desolation which kept him wakeful, even after Maude had cried
herself to sleep. Many a time that day had he stolen into the
parlor, and climbing into a chair, as best he could, had laid his
baby cheek against the cold, white face, and smoothing with his
dimpled hand the shining hair, had whispered, "Poor, sick mother,
won't you speak to Louis any more? "
He knew better than most children of his age what was meant by
death, and as he lay awake, thinking how dreadful it was to have no
mother, his thoughts turned toward his father, who had that day been
too much absorbed in his own grief to notice him.
"Maybe he'll love me some now ma is dead," he thought, and with that
yearning for paternal sympathy natural to the motherless, he crept
out of bed, and groping his way with his noiseless crutches to his
father's door, he knocked softly for admittance.
"Who's there?" demanded Dr. Kennedy, every, nerve thrilling to the
"It's me, father; won't you let me in, for its dark out here, and
lonesome, with her lying in the parlor. Oh, father, won't you love
me a little, now mother's dead? I can't help it because I'm lame,
and when I'm a man I will earn my own living. I won't be in the way.
Say, pa, will you love me?"
He remembered the charges his father had preferred against him, and
the father remembered them too. She to whom the cruel words were
spoken was gone from him now and her child, their child, was at the
door, pleading for his love. Could he refuse? No, by every kindly
feeling, by every parental tie, we answer, No; he could not; and
opening the door he took the little fellow in his arms, hugging him
to his bosom, while tears, the first he had shed for many a year,
fell like rain upon the face of his crippled boy. Like some mighty
water, which breaking through its prison walls seeks again its
natural channel, so did his love go out toward the child so long
neglected, the child who was not now to him a cripple. He did not
think of the deformity, he did not even see it. He saw only the
beautiful face, the soft brown eyes and silken hair of the little
one, who ere long fell asleep, murmuring in his dreams, "He loves
me, ma, he does."
Surely the father cannot be blamed if, when he looked again upon the
calm face of the dead, he fancied that it wore a happier look, as if
the whispered words of Louis had reached her unconscious ear. Very
beautiful looked Matty in her coffin--for thirty years had but
slightly marred her youthful face, and the doctor, as he gazed upon
her, thought within himself, "she was almost as fair as Maude
Then, as his eye fell upon the rosebud which Janet had laid upon her
bosom, he said, "'Twas kind in Mrs. Blodgett to place it there, for
Matty was fond of flowers;" but he did not dream how closely was
that rosebud connected with a grave made many years before.
Thoughts of Maude Glendower and mementos of Harry Remington meeting
together at Matty's coffin! Alas, that such should be our life!
Underneath the willows, and by the side of Katy, was Matty laid to
rest, and then the desolate old house seemed doubly desolate--Maude
mourning truly for her mother, while the impulsive Nellie, too, wept
bitterly for one whom she had really loved. To the doctor, however,
a new feeling had been born, and in the society of his son he found
a balm for his sorrow, becoming ere long, to all outward appearance,
the same exacting, overbearing man he had been before. The blows are
hard and oft repeated which break the solid rock, and there will
come a time when that selfish nature shall be subdued and broken
down; but 'tis not yet--not yet.
And now, leaving him a while to himself, we will pass on to a period
when Maude herself shall become in reality the heroine of our story.
PAST AND PRESENT.
Four years and a half have passed away since the dark November night
when Matty Kennedy died, and in her home all things are not as they
were then. Janet, the presiding genius of the household, is gone--
married a second time, and by this means escaped, as she verily
believes, the embarrassment of refusing outright to be Mrs. Dr.
Kennedy, No. 3! Not that Dr. Kennedy ever entertained the slightest
idea of making her his wife, but knowing how highly he valued money,
and being herself "a woman of property," Janet came at last to fancy
that he had serious thoughts of offering himself to her. He, on the
contrary, was only intent upon the best means of removing her from
his house, for, though he was not insensible to the comfort which
her presence brought, it was a comfort for which he paid too dearly.
Still he endured it for nearly three years, but at the end of that
time he determined that she should go away, and as he dreaded a
scene he did not tell her plainly what he meant, but hinted, and
with each hint the widow groaned afresh over her lamented Joel.
At last, emboldened by some fresh extravagance, he said to her one
day: "Mrs. Blodgett, ah--ahem." Here he stopped, while Mrs.
Blodgett, thinking her time had come, drew out Joel's picture, which
latterly she carried in her pocket, so as to be ready for any
emergency. "Mrs. Blodgett, are you paying attention?" asked the
doctor, observing how intently she was regarding the picture of the
"Yes, yes," she answered, and he continued:
"Mrs. Blodgett, I hardly know what to say, but I've been thinking
for some time past--"
"I know you've been thinking," interrupted the widow, "but it won't
do an atom of good, for my mind was made up long ago, and I shan't
do it, and if you've any kind of feeling for Matty, which you haint,
nor never had, you wouldn't think of such a thing, and I know, as
well as I want to know, that it's my property, and nothin' else,
which has put such an idee into your head!"
Here, overcome with her burst of indignation, she began to cry,
while the doctor, wholly misunderstanding her, attempted to smooth
the matter somewhat by saying: "I had no intention of distressing
you, Mrs. Blodgett, but I thought I might as well free my mind. Were
you a poor woman, I should feel differently, but knowing you have
"Wretch!" fairly screamed the insulted Janet. "So you confess my
property is at the bottom of it! But I'll fix it--I'll put an end to
it!" and in a state of great excitement she rushed from the room.
Just across the way a newly-fledged lawyer had hung out his sign,
and thither that very afternoon the wrathful widow wended her way,
nor left the dingy office until one-half of her property, which was
far greater than anyone supposed it to be, was transferred by deed
of gift to Maude Remington, who was to come in possession of it on
her eighteenth birthday, and was to inherit the remainder by will at
the death of the donor.
"That fixes him," she muttered, as she returned to the house; "that
fixes Old Maxim good; to think of his insultin' me by ownin' right
up that 'twas my property he was after, the rascal! I wouldn't have
him if there warn't another man in the world!" and entering the room
where Maude was sewing, she astonished the young girl by telling her
what she had done. "I have made you my heir," said she, tossing the
deed of gift and the will into Maude's lap. "I've made you my heir;
and the day you're eighteen you'll be worth five thousand dollars,
besides havin' the interest to use between this time and that. Then,
if I ever die; you'll have five thousand more. Joel Blodgett didn't
keep thirty cows and peddle milk for nothin'."
Maude was at first too much astonished to comprehend the meaning of
what she heard, but she understood it at last, and then with many
tears thanked the eccentric woman for what she had done, and asked
the reason for this unexpected generosity.
"'Cause I like you!" answered Janet, determined not to injure
Maude's feelings by letting her know how soon her mother had been
forgotten. "'Cause I like you, and always meant to give it to you.
But don't tell anyone how much 'tis, for if the old fool widowers
round here know I am still worth five thousand dollars they'll like
enough be botherin' me with offers, hopin' I'll change my will; but
I shan't. I'll teach 'em a trick or two, the good for-nothin' Old
The latter part of this speech was made as Janet was leaving the
room, consequently Maude did not hear it, neither would she have
understood if she had. She knew her nurse was very peculiar, but she
never dreamed it possible for her to fancy that Dr. Kennedy wished
to make her his wife, and she was greatly puzzled to know why she
had been so generous to her. But Janet knew; and when a few days
afterward Dr. Kennedy, determining upon a fresh attempt to remove
her from his house, came to her side, as she was sitting alone in
the twilight, she felt glad that one-half her property at least was
beyond her control.
"Mrs. Blodgett," he said, clearing his throat and looking
considerably embarrassed, "Mrs. Blodgett."
"Well, what do you want of Mrs. Blodgett?" was the widow's testy
answer, and the doctor replied, "I did not finish what I wished to
say to you the other day, and it's a maxim of mine, if a person has
anything on his mind, he had better tell it at once."
"Certainly, ease yourself off, do," and Janet's little gray eyes
twinkled with delight, as she thought how crestfallen he would look
when she told him her property was gone.
"I was going, Mrs. Blodgett," he continued, "I was going to propose
He never finished the sentence, for the widow sprang to her feet,
exclaiming, "It's of no kind of use! I've gin my property all to
Maude; half of it the day she's eighteen, and the rest on't is
willed to her when I die, so you may as well let me alone," and
feeling greatly flurried with what she verily believed to have been
an offer, she walked away, leaving the doctor to think her the most
inexplicable woman he ever saw.
The next day Janet received an invitation to visit her husband's
sister who lived in Canada. The invitation was accepted, and to his
great delight the doctor saw her drive from his door, just one week
after his last amusing interview. In Canada Janet formed the
acquaintance of a man full ten years her junior. He had been a
distant relative of her husband, and knowing of her property, asked
her to be his wife. For several days Janet studied her face to see
what was in it "which made every man in Christendom want her!" and,
concluding at last that "handsome is that handsome does," said
"Yes," and made Peter Hopkins the happiest of men.
There was a bridal trip to Laurel Hill, where the new husband
ascertained that the half of that for which he had married was
beyond his reach; but being naturally of a hopeful nature, he did
not despair of eventually changing the will, so he swallowed his
disappointment and redoubled his attentions to his mother-wife, now
Mrs. Janet Blodgett Hopkins.
Meantime the story that Maude was an heiress circulated rapidly, and
as the lawyer kept his own counsel and Maude, in accordance with
Janet's request, never told how much had been given her, the amount
was doubled; nay, in some cases trebled, and she suddenly found
herself a person of considerable importance, particularly in the
estimation of Dr. Kennedy, who, aside from setting a high value upon
money, fancied he saw a way by which he himself could reap some
benefit from his stepdaughter's fortune. If Maude had money she
certainly ought to pay for her board, and so he said to her one day,
prefacing his remarks with his stereotyped phrase that "'twas a
maxim of his that one person should not live upon another if they
could help it."
Since Janet's last marriage Maude had taken the entire management of
affairs, and without her there would have been but little comfort or
order in a household whose only servant was old and lazy, and whose
eldest daughter was far too proud to work. This Maude knew, and with
Back to Full Books