Mary J. Holmes
Part 3 out of 4
"Noble man," was Maude's exclamation, as she finished reading the
letter, and if at that moment the two cousins rose up in contrast
before her mind, who can blame her for awarding the preference to
him who had penned those lines, and who thus kindly strove to remove
from her pathway every obstacle to her happiness.
James De Vere was indeed a noble-hearted man. Generous, kind, and
self-denying, he found his chief pleasure in doing others good, and
he had written both to Maude and J.C. just as the great kindness of
his heart had prompted him to write. He did not then know that he
loved Maude Remington, for he had never fully analyzed the nature of
his feelings toward her. He knew he admired her very much, and when
he wrote the note J.C. withheld he said to himself, "If she answers
this, I shall write again--and again, and maybe"--he did not exactly
know what lay beyond the "maybe," so he added, "we shall be very
But the note was not answered, and when his cousin's letter came,
telling him of the engagement, a sharp, quick pang shot through his
heart, eliciting from him a faint outcry, which caused his mother,
who was present, to ask what was the matter.
"Only a sudden pain," he answered, laying his hand upon his side.
"Pleurisy, perhaps," the practical mother rejoined, and supposing
she was right he placed the letter in his pocket and went out into
the open air. It had grown uncomfortably warm, he thought, while the
noise of the falling fountain in the garden made his head ache as it
had never ached before; and returning to the house he sought his
pleasant library. But not a volume in all those crowded shelves had
power to interest him then, and with a strange disquiet he wandered
from room to room, until at last, as the sun went down, he laid his
throbbing temples upon his pillow, and in his feverish dreams saw
again the dark-eyed Maude sitting on her mother's grave, her face
upturned to him, and on her lip the smile that formed her greatest
The next morning the headache was gone, and with a steady hand he
wrote to his cousin and Maude congratulations which he believed
sincere. That J.C. was not worthy of the maiden he greatly feared,
and he resolved to have a care of the young man, and try to make him
what Maude's husband ought to be, and when he heard of her
misfortune he stepped forward with his generous offer, which J.C.
"He never would take his wife to live upon his relatives, he had too
much pride for that, and the marriage must be deferred. A few months
would make no difference. Christmas was not far from June, and by
that time he could do something for himself."
Thus he wrote to James, who mused long upon the words, "A few months
will make no difference," thinking within himself, "If I were like
other men, and was about to marry Maude, a few months would make a
good deal of difference, but everyone to their mind." Four weeks
after this he went one day to Canandaigua on business, and having an
hour's leisure ere the arrival of the train which would take him
home he sauntered into the public parlor of the hotel. Near the
window, at the farther extremity of the room, a young girl was
looking out upon the passers-by. Something in her form and dress
attracted his attention, and he was approaching the spot where she
stood when the sound of his footsteps caught her ear, and turning
round she disclosed to view the features of Maude Remington.
"Maude!" he exclaimed, "this is indeed a surprise. I must even claim
a cousin's right to kiss you," and taking both her hands in his, he
kissed her blushing cheek--coyly--timidly--for James De Vere was
unused to such things, and not quite certain, whether under the
circumstances it were perfectly proper for him to do so or not.
Leading her to the sofa, he soon learned that she had come to the
village to trade, and having finished her shopping was waiting for
her stepfather, who had accompanied her.
"And what of J.C.?" he asked, after a moment's silence. "Has he been
to visit you more than once since the crisis, as he calls it?"
Maude's eyes filled with tears, for J.C.'s conduct was not wholly
satisfactory to her. She remembered his loud protestations of utter
disregard for her money, and she could not help thinking how little
his theory and practice accorded. He had not been to see her since
his flying visit in March, and though he had written several times
his letters had contained little else save complaints against their
"confounded luck." She could not tell this to James De Vere, and she
replied, "He is very busy now, I believe, in trying to make some
business arrangement with the lawyer in whose office he formerly
"I am glad he has roused himself at last," answered James; "he would
not accept my offer, for which I am sorry, as I was anticipating
much happiness in having my Cousin Maude at Hampton during the
summer. You will remain at home, I suppose."
"No," said Maude hesitatingly; "or, that is, I have serious thoughts
of teaching school, as I do not like to be dependent on Dr.
James De Vere had once taught school for a few weeks by way of
experiment, and now as he recalled the heated room, the stifling
atmosphere, the constant care, and more than all, the noisy shout of
triumph which greeted his ear on that memorable morning when he
found himself fastened out, and knew his rule was at an end, he
shuddered at the thought of Maude's being exposed to similar
indignities, and used all his powers of eloquence to dissuade her
from her plan. Maude was frank, open-hearted, and impulsive, and
emboldened by James' kind, brotherly manner she gave in a most
childlike manner her reason for wishing to teach.
"If I am married next winter," she said, "my wardrobe will need
replenishing, for J.C. would surely be ashamed to take me as I am,
and I have now no means of my own for purchasing anything."
In an instant James De Vere's hand was on his purse, but ere he drew
it forth he reflected that to offer money then might possibly be out
of place, so he said, "I have no sister, no girl-cousin, no wife,
and more money than I can use, and when the right time comes nothing
can please me more than to give you your bridal outfit. May I,
Maude? And if you do not like to stay with Dr. Kennedy, come to
Hampton this summer and live with us, will you, Maude? I want you
there so much," and in the musical tones of his voice there was a
deep pathos which brought the tears in torrents from Maude's eyes;
while she declined the generous offer she could not accept.
Just then Dr. Kennedy appeared. He was ready, to go, he said, and
bidding Mr. De Vere good-by, Maude was soon on her way home, her
spirits lighter and her heart happier for that chance meeting at the
hotel. One week later Mr. De Vere wrote to her, saying that if she
still wished to teach, she could have the school at Hampton. He had
seen the trustees, had agreed upon the price, and had even selected
her a boarding-place near by. "I regret," said he, "that we live so
far from the schoolhouse as to render it impossible for you to board
with us. You might ride, I suppose, and I would cheerfully carry you
every day; but, on the whole, I think you had better stop with Mrs.
This letter Maude took at once to her brother, from whom she had
hitherto withheld her intention to teach, as she did not wish to
pain him unnecessarily with the dread of a separation, which might
never be. Deeply had he sympathized with her in her misfortune,
whispering to her that two--thirds of his own inheritance should be
hers. "I can coax almost anything from father," he said, "and when I
am twenty-one I'll ask him to give me my portion, and then I'll take
you to Europe. You won't be old, Maude, only twenty-seven, and I
shall be proud when the people say that beautiful woman with eyes
like stars is the crippled artist's sister!"
In all his plans he made no mention of J.C., whose conduct he
despised, and whose character he began to read aright.
"Maude will never marry him, I hope," he thought, and when she
brought to him the letter from James De Vere, the noble little
fellow conquered his own feelings, and with a hopeful heart as to
the result of that summer's teaching he bade her go. So it was all
arranged, and the next letter which went from Maude to J.C. carried
the intelligence that his betrothed was going "to turn country
school-ma'am, and teach the Hampton brats their A B C's," so at last
he said to Mrs. Kelsey and her niece, between whom and himself there
was a perfectly good understanding, and to whom he talked of his
future prospects without reserve. Mrs. Kelsey was secretly
delighted, for matters were shaping themselves much as she would
wish. Her brother evinced no particular, desire to have his daughter
at home, and she determined to keep her as long as there was the
slightest chance of winning J.C. De Vere. He was now a regular
visitor at her house, and lest he should suspect her design, she
spoke often and respectfully of Maude, whose cause she seemed to
have espoused, and when he came to her with the news of her teaching
she sympathized with him at once.
"It would be very mortifying," she said, "to marry a district
school-mistress, though there was some comfort in knowing that his
friends were as yet ignorant of the engagement."
"Let them remain so a while longer," was the hasty answer of J.C.,
who, as time passed on, became more and more unwilling that the gay
world should know of his engagement with one who was not an heiress
Six happy weeks Maude had been a teacher, and though she knew J.C.
did not approve her plan, she was more than repaid for his
displeasure by the words of encouragement which James always had in
store for her. Many times had she been to the handsome home of the
De Veres, and the lady-mother, whom she at first so much dreaded to
meet, had more than once stroked her silken curls, calling her "my
child," as tenderly as if she did indeed bear that relation to her.
James De Vere was one of the trustees, and in that capacity he
visited the school so often that the wise villagers shook their
heads significantly, saying, "if he were any other man they should
think the rights of J.C. were in danger."
The young school-mistress' engagement with the fashionable Jedediah
was generally known, and thus were the public blinded to the true
state of affairs. Gradually James De Vere had learned how dear to
him was the dark-eyed girl he called his "Cousin Maude." There was
no light like that which shone in her truthful eyes--no music so
sweet as the sound of her gentle voice--no presence which brought
him so much joy as hers--no being in the world he loved so well. But
she belonged to another--the time had passed when she might have
been won. She could never be his, he said; and with his love he
waged a mighty battle--a battle which lasted days and nights,
wringing from him more than one bitter moan, as with his face bowed
in his hands he murmured sadly, the mournful words, "It might have
Matters were in this condition when J.C. came one day to Hampton,
accompanied by some city friends, among whom were a few young ladies
of the Kelsey order. Maude saw them as they passed the schoolhouse
in the village omnibus; saw, too, how resolutely J.C.'s head was
turned away, as if afraid their eyes would meet.
"He wishes to show his resentment, but of course he'll visit me ere
he returns," she thought. And many times that day she cast her eyes
in the direction of Hampton Park, as the De Vere residence was often
But she looked in vain, and with a feeling of disappointment she
dismissed her school, and glad to be alone, laid her head upon the
desk, falling ere long asleep, for the day was warm and she was very
tired. So quietly she slept that she did not hear the roll of wheels
nor the sound of merry voices as the party from the city rode by on
their way to the depot. Neither half an hour later did she hear the
hasty footstep which crossed the threshold of they door; but when a
hand was laid upon her shoulder and a well-known voice bade her
awake, she started up, and saw before her James De Vere. He had been
to her boarding-place, he said, and not finding her there had sought
her in the schoolhouse.
"I have two letters for you," he continued; "one from your brother,
and one from J.C."
"From J.C.!" she repeated. "Has he gone back? Why didn't he call on
"He's a villain," thought James De Vere, but he answered simply, "He
had not time, and so wrote you instead," and sitting down beside her
he regarded her with a look in which pity, admiration, and love were
all blended--the former predominating at that moment, and causing
him to lay his hand caressingly on her forehead, saying as he did
so, "Your head aches, don't it, Maude?"
Maude's heart was already full, and at this little act of sympathy
she burst into tears, while James, drawing her to his side and
resting her head upon his bosom, soothed her as he would have done
had she been his only sister. He fancied that he knew the cause of
her grief, and his heart swelled with indignation toward J.C., who
had that day shown himself unworthy of a girl like Maude. He had
come to Hampton without any definite idea as to whether he should
see her or not ere his return, but when, as the omnibus drew near
the schoolhouse and Maude was plainly visible through the open
window, one of the ladies made some slighting remark concerning
school-teachers generally, he determined not to hazard an interview,
and quieted his conscience by thinking he would come out in a few
days and make the matter right. How then was he chagrined when in
the presence of his companions his cousin said: "Shall I send for
Miss Remington? She can dismiss her school earlier than usual and
come up to tea."
"Dismiss her school!" cried one of the young ladies, while the
other, the proud Miss Thayer, whose grandfather was a pedlar and
whose great-uncle had been hanged, exclaimed, "Miss Remington! Pray
who is she? That schoolmistress we saw in passing? Really, Mr. De
Vere, you have been careful not to tell us of this new acquaintance.
Where did you pick her up?" and the diamonds on her fingers shone
brightly in the sunshine as she playfully pulled a lock of J.C.'s
hair. The disconcerted J.C. was about stammering out some reply when
James, astonished both at the apparent ignorance of his guests and
the strangeness of his cousin's manner, answered for him, "Miss
Remington is our teacher, and a splendid girl. J.C. became
acquainted with her last summer at Laurel Hill. She is a stepsister
of Miss Kennedy, whom you probably know."
"Nellie, Kennedy's stepsister. I never knew there was such a being,"
said Miss Thayer, while young Robinson, a lisping, insipid dandy,
drawled out, "A sthool-marm, J. Thee? I'th really romantic! Thend
for her, of courth. A little dithipline won't hurt any of uth."
J.C. made a faint effort to rally, but they joked him so hard that
he remained silent, while James regarded him with a look of cool
contempt sufficiently indicative of his opinion.
At last when Miss Thayer asked "if the bridal day were fixed," he
roused himself, and thinking if he told the truth he should
effectually deceive them, he answered, "Yes, next Christmas is the
time appointed. We were to have been married in June, but the lady
lost her fortune and the marriage was deferred."
"Oh, teaching to purchase her bridal trousseau. I'm dying to see
it," laughingly replied Miss Thayer, while another rejoined, "Lost
her fortune. Was she then an heiress?"
"Yes, a milkman's heiress," said J.C., with a slightly scornful
emphasis on the name which he himself had given to Maude at a time
when a milkman's money seemed as valuable to him as that of any
There was a dark, stern look on the face of James De Vere, and as
Miss Thayer, the ruling spirit of the party, had an eye on him and
his broad lands, she deemed it wise to change the conversation from
the "Milkman's Heiress" to a topic less displeasing to their
handsome host. In the course of the afternoon the cousins were alone
for a few moments, when the elder demanded of the other: "Do you
pretend to love Maude Remington, and still make light both of her
and your engagement with her?"
"I pretend to nothing which is not real," was J.C.'s haughty answer;
"but I do dislike having my matters canvassed by every silly tongue,
and have consequently kept my relation to Miss Remington a secret. I
cannot see her to-day, but with your permission I will pen a few
lines by way of explanation," and, glad to escape from the rebuking
glance he knew he so much deserved, he stepped into his cousin's
library, where he wrote the note James gave to Maude.
Under some circumstances it would have been a very unsatisfactory
message, but with her changed feelings toward the writer and James
De Vere sitting at her side, she scarcely noticed how cold it was,
and throwing it down, tore open Louis' letter which had come in the
evening mail. It was very brief, and hastily perusing its contents
Maude cast it from her with a cry of horror and disgust--then
catching it up, she moaned, "Oh, must I go!--I can't! I can't!"
"What is it?" asked Mr. De Vere, and pointing to the lines Maude
bade him read.
He did read, and as he read his own cheek blanched, and he wound his
arm closely round the maiden's waist as if to keep her there and
thus save her from danger. Dr. Kennedy had the smallpox, so Louis
wrote, and Nellie, who had been home for a few days, had fled in
fear back to the city. Hannah, too, had gone, and there was no one
left to care for the sick man save John and the almost helpless
"Father is so sick," he wrote, "and he says, tell Maude, for
humanity's sake, to come."
If there was one disease more than another of which Maude stood in
mortal fear it was the smallpox, and her first impulse was, "I will
not go." But when she reflected that Louis, too, might take it, and
need her care, her resolution changed, and moving away from her
companion she said firmly, "I must go, for if anything befall my
brother, how can I answer to our mother for having betrayed my
trust? Dr. Kennedy, too, was her husband, and he must not be left to
Mr. De Vere was about to expostulate, but she prevented him by
saying, "Do not urge me to stay, but rather help me to go, for I
must leave Hampton to-morrow. You will get someone to take my place,
as I, of course, shall not return, and if I have it--"
Here she paused, while the trembling of her body showed how terrible
to her was the dread of the disease.
"Maude Remington," said Mr. De Vere, struck with admiration by her
noble, self-sacrificing spirit, "I will not bid you stay, for I know
it would be useless; but if that which you so much fear comes upon
you, if the face now so fair to took upon be marred and disfigured
until not a lineament is left of the once beautiful girl, come back
to me. I will love you all the same."
As he spoke he stretched his arms involuntarily toward her, and
scarce knowing what she did, she went forward to the embrace. Very
lovingly he folded her for a moment to his bosom, then turning her
face to the fading sunlight which streamed through the dingy window,
he looked at it wistfully and long, as if he would remember every
feature. Pushing back the silken curls which clustered around her
forehead, he kissed her twice, and then releasing her said: "Forgive
me, Maude, if I have taken more than a cousin's liberty with you, I
could not help it."
Bewildered at his words and manner, Maude raised her eyes
wonderingly to his, and looking into the shining orbs, he thought
how soft, how beautiful they were, but little, little did he dream
their light would e'er be quenched in midnight darkness. A while
longer they talked together, Mr. De Vere promising to send a servant
to take her home in the morning. Then, as the sun had set and the
night shadows were deepening in the room, they bade each other good-
by, and ere the next day's sun was very high in the heavens Maude
was far on her way to Laurel Hill.
THE DARK HOUR.
Dr. Kennedy had been to Buffalo, and taken the smallpox, so his
attending physician said, and the news spread rapidly, frightening
nervous people as they never were frightened before. Nellie had been
home for a week or two, but at the first alarm she fled, rushing
headlong through the hall and down the stairs, unmindful of the
tremulous voice, which cried imploringly, "Don't leave me, daughter,
to die alone!"
Hannah followed next, holding the camphor bottle to her nose, and
saying to John when he expostulated with her, "I reckon I's not
gwine to spile what little beauty I've got with that fetched
"But, mother," persisted John, "may be it's nothin' but vary-o-lord
after all, and that don't mark folks, you know."
"You needn't talk to me about your very-o-lord," returned Hannah. "I
know it's the very-o-devil himself, and I won't have them pock-ed
marks on me for all the niggers in Virginny."
"Then go," said John, "hold tight to the camphire, and run for your
life, or it may cotch you before you git out of the house."
Hannah needed no second bidding to run, and half an hour later she
was domesticated with a colored family who lived not far from the
Hill. Thus left to themselves, Louis and John, together with the
physician, did what they could for the sick man, who at last
proposed sending for Maude, feeling intuitively that she would not
desert him as his own child had done. Silent, desolate, and forsaken
the old house looked as Maude approached it, and she involuntarily
held her breath as she stepped into the hall, whose close air seemed
laden with infection. She experienced no difficulty in finding the
sick-room, where Louis' cry of delight, John's expression of joy,
and the sick man's whispered words, "God bless you, Maude," more
than recompensed her for the risk she had incurred. Gradually her
fear subsided, particularly when she learned that it was in fact the
varioloid. Had it been possible to remove her brother from danger
she would have done so, but it was too late now, and she suffered
him to share her vigils, watching carefully for the first symptoms
of the disease in him.
In this manner nearly two weeks passed away, and the panic-stricken
villagers were beginning to breathe more freely, when it was told
them one day that Maude and Louis were both smitten with the
disease. Then indeed the more humane said to themselves, "Shall they
be left to suffer alone?" and still no one was found who dared to
breathe the air of the sick-room. Dr. Kennedy was by this time so
much better that Louis was taken to his apartment, where he
ministered to him himself, while the heroic Maude was left to the
care of John. Everything he could do for her he did, but his heart
sunk within him when he saw how fast her fever came on, and heard
her, in her sleep, mourn for her mother, to hold her aching head.
"She mustn't die," he said, and over his dark skin the tears rolled
like rain, as raising his eyes to the ceiling he cried imploringly,
"Will the good Father send someone to help?"
The prayer of the weak African was heard, and ere the sun went down
a man of noble mien and noble heart stood at the maiden's bedside,
bathing her swollen face, pushing back her silken curls, counting
her rapid pulses, and once, when she slept, kissing her parched
lips, e'en though he knew that with that kiss he inhaled, perhaps,
his death! James De Vere had never for a day lost sight of Maude.
Immediately after her return he had written to the physician
requesting a daily report, and when, at last he learned that she was
ill, and all alone, he came unhesitatingly, presenting a striking
contrast to the timid J.C., who had heard of her illness, and at
first, dared not open the letter which his cousin wrote, apprising
him of Maude's affliction. But when he reflected that he could be
re-vaccinated, and thus avert the dreaded evil, he broke the seal
and read, commenting as follows: "Jim is a splendid fellow, though I
can't see why he takes so much interest in her. Don't I have
confounded luck, though? That will first, the five thousand dollars
next, and now the smallpox, too. Of course she'll be marked, and
look like a fright. Poor girl! I'd help her if I could," and, as the
better nature of J.C. came over him, he added mournfully: "What if
she should die?"
But Maude did not die; and at the expiration of ten days she was so
far out of danger that James De Vere yielded to the importunity of
his mother, who, in an agony of terror, besought him to return. When
first he came to her bedside Maude had begged of him to leave her
and not risk his life in her behalf; but he silenced her objections
then, and now when he bade her adieu he would not listen to her
protestations of gratitude.
"I would do even more for you if I could," he said. "I am not afraid
of the varioloid, and henceforth I shall think gratefully of it for
having dealt so lightly with you."
So saying, he turned away, feeling happier than he could well
express, that Maude had not only escaped from death, but that there
would be no marks left to tell how near the ravager had been.
Scarcely had the door closed on him when, emboldened by his last
words to ask a question she greatly wished, yet dreaded to ask,
Maude turned to John and said, "Am I much pitted?"
Rolling up his eyes and wholly mistaking her meaning, John replied,
"I aint no great of a physiognomer, but when a thing is as plain as
day I can discern it as well as the next one, and if that ar' chap
haint pitied you, and done a heap more'n that, I'm mistaken."
"But," continued Maude, smiling at his simplicity, "I mean shall I
probably be scarred?"
"Oh, bless you, not a scar," answered John, "for don't you mind how
he kep' the iled silk and wet rags on yer face, and how that night
when you was sickest he held yer hands so you couldn't tache that
little feller between yer eyes. That was the spunkiest varmint of
'em all, and may leave a mark like the one under yer ear, but it
won't spile yer looks an atom."
"And Louis?" said Maude, "is he disfigured?"
"Not a disfigurement," returned John, "but the ole governor, he's a
right smart sprinklin' of 'em, one squar' on the tip of his nose,
and five or six more on his face."
Thus relieved of her immediate fears Maude asked many questions
concerning Louis, who she learned had not been very sick.
"You can see him afore long, I reckon," said John, and in a few days
she was able to join him in the sitting room below.
After a while Hannah returned to her post of duty, her beauty
unimpaired, and herself thoroughly ashamed of having thus
heartlessly deserted her master's family in their affliction. As if
to make amends for this she exerted herself to cleanse the house
from everything which could possibly inspire fear on the villagers,
and by the last of August there was scarce a trace left of the
recent scourge, save the deep scar on the end of the doctor's nose,
one or two marks on Louis' face, and a weakness of Maude's eyes,
which became at last a cause of serious alarm.
It was in vain that Louis implored his father to seek medical aid in
Rochester, where the physicians were supposed to have more
experience in such matters. The doctor refused, saying, "'twas a
maxim of his not to counsel with anyone, and he guessed he knew how
to manage sore eyes."
But Maude's eyes were not sore--they were merely weak, while the
pain in the eyeball was sometimes so intense as to wring from her a
cry, of suffering. Gradually there crept into her heart a horrid
fear that her sight was growing dim, and often in the darkness of
the night she wept most bitterly, praying that she might not be
"Oh, Louis," she said to her brother one day, "I would so much
rather die than to be blind, and never see you any more--never see
the beautiful world I love so much. Oh, must it be? Is there no
"James De Vere could help us if he were here," answered Louis, his
own tears mingling with his sister's.
But James De Vere had left Hampton for New Orleans, where he would
probably remain until the winter, and there could be no aid expected
from him. The doctor, too, was wholly absorbed in thoughts of his
approaching nuptials, for Maude Glendower, failing to secure the
wealthy bachelor, and overhearing several times the remark that she
was really getting old, had consented to name the 20th of October
for their marriage. And so the other Maude was left to battle with
the terrible fear which was strengthened every day.
At length J.C., roused not so much by the touching letter which she
wrote him as by the uncertain handwriting, came himself, bringing
with him a physician, who carefully examined the soft black eyes,
which could not now endure the light, then shaking his head he said
gravely, "There is still some hope, but she must go to the city,
where I can see her every day."
J.C. looked at Dr. Kennedy, and Dr. Kennedy, looked at J.C., and
then both their hands sought their pockets, but came out again--
empty! J.C. really had not the ready means with which to meet the
expense, while Dr. Kennedy had not the inclination. But one there
was, the faithful John, who could not stand by unmoved, and darting
from the room, he mounted the woodshed stairs, and from beneath the
rafters drew out an old leathern wallet, where from time to time he
had deposited money for "the wet day." That wet day had come at
last; not to him, but to another--and without a moment's hesitation
he counted out the ten golden eagles which his purse contained, and,
going back to Maude, placed them in her hand, saying: "Go to
Rochester, Miss Maude. I saved 'em for you, for I wouldn't have the
light squenched in them shinin' eyes for all the land in old
It was a noble act, and it shamed the paler faces who witnessed it,
but they offered no remonstrance, though Maude did, refusing to
accept it, until Louis said: "Take it, sister--take it, and when I'm
twenty-one I'll give to him ten times ten golden eagles."
The necessary arrangements were quickly made, and ere a week was
passed Maude found herself in Rochester, and an inmate of Mrs.
Kelsey's family; for, touched with pity, that lady had offered to
receive her, and during her brief stay treated her with every
possible attention. Nellie, too, was very kind, ministering
carefully to the comfort of her stepsister, who had ceased to be a
rival, for well she knew J.C. De Vere would never wed a penniless
bride and blind!
THE NEW MISTRESS AT LAUREL HILL.
The 20th of October came, and with a firm hand Maude Glendower
arrayed herself for the bridal, which was to take place at an early
hour. The scar on the end of the doctor's nose had shaken her
purpose for an instant, but when she thought again of the unpaid
bills lying in her private drawer, and when, more than all, the
doctor said, "We greatly fear Maude Remington will be blind," her
resolution was fixed, and with a steady voice she took upon herself
the marriage vows.
They were to go to Laurel Hill that day, and when the doctor saw
that the handsome furniture of her rooms was still untouched, he
ventured to ask "if she had left orders to have it sent."
"Oh, I didn't tell you, did I, that my furniture was all mortgaged
to Mrs. Raymond for board and borrowed money, too; but of course you
don't care; you did not marry my furniture," and the little soft,
white hands were laid upon those of the bridegroom, while the
lustrous eyes sought his face, to witness the effect of her words.
The dent on the nose grew red a moment, and then the doctor,
perfectly intoxicated with the beauty of his bride, answered, "No,
Maude, I married you."
A rap at the door, and a note from Messrs. Barnabas Muggins & Brown
"hoped Miss Glendower would not forget to settle her bill."
"It's really quite provoking to trouble you with my debts so soon,"
said the lady, "but I dare say it's a maxim of yours that we should
have no secrets from each other, and so I may as well show you these
at once," and she turned into his lap a handful of bills, amounting
in all to four hundred dollars, due to the different tradesmen of
The spot on the nose was decidedly purple, and had Katy or Matty
been there they would surely, have recognized the voice which began,
"Really, I did not expect this, and 'tis a max--"
"Never mind the maxim," and the mouth of the speaker was covered by
a dimpled hand, as Maude Glendower continued, "It's mean, I know,
but four hundred dollars is not much, after all, and you ought to be
willing to pay even more for me, don't you think so, dearest? "
"Ye-es," faintly answered the doctor, who, knowing there was no
alternative, gave a check for the whole amount on a Rochester bank,
where he had funds deposited.
Maude Glendower was a charming traveling companion, and in listening
to her lively sallies, and noticing the admiration she received, the
doctor forgot his lost four hundred dollars, and by the time they
reached Canandaigua he believed himself supremely happy in having
such a wife. John was waiting for them, just as thirteen years
before he had waited for blue-eyed Matty, and the moment her eye
fell upon the carriage he had borrowed from a neighbor, the new wife
exclaimed, "Oh, I hope that lumbering old thing is not ours. It
would give me the rickets to ride in it long."
"It's borrowed," the doctor said, 'and she continued, "I'll pick out
mine, and my horses, too. I'm quite a connoisseur in those matters."
John rolled his eyes toward his master, whose face wore a look never
seen there before.
"Henpecked!" was the negro's mental comment, as he prepared to
When about three miles from the village the lady started up, saying,
"she had left her shawl, and must go back immediately."
"There is not time," said the doctor, "for the sun is already nearly
set. It will be perfectly safe."
"But it's my India shawl. I must have it," and the lady's hand was
laid upon the reins to turn the horses' heads.
Of course they went back, finding the shawl, not at the hotel, but
under the carriage cushions, where the lady herself had placed it.
"It's a maxim of mine to know what I'm about," the doctor ventured
to say, while a silvery voice returned, "So do I ordinarily, but it
is not strange that I forget myself on my wedding day." This was
well timed, and wrapping the garment carefully round her to shelter
her from the night air, the doctor bade the highly amused John to
drive on. They were more than halfway home when some luscious
oranges in a small grocery window, caught the bride's eye, and "she
must have some, she always kept them in her room," she said, and to
the grocer's inquiry, "How many, madam?" she answered, "Two dozen,
at least, and a box of figs, if you have them. I dote on figs."
It was the doctor's wedding day. He could not say no, and with a
mental groan he parted company with another bill, while John, on the
platform without, danced the "double shuffle" in token of his
delight. There was a second grocery to be passed, but by taking a
more circuitous route it could be avoided, and the discomfited
bridegroom bade John "go through the Hollow."
"Yes, sar," answered the knowing negro, turning the heads of the
unwilling horses in a direction which would not bring them home so
soon by one whole hour.
But the grocery was shunned, and so the doctor did not care even if
the clock did strike nine just as they stopped at their own gate.
The night was dark and the bride could not distinguish the exterior
of the house, neither was the interior plainly discernible, lighted
as it was with an oil lamp, and a single tallow candle. But she
scarcely thought of this, so intent was she upon the beautiful face
of the crippled boy, who sat in his armchair, eagerly awaiting her
"This is Louis," the father said: and the scornful eyes which with
one rapid glance had scanned the whole apartment filled with tears
as they, turned toward the boy.
Dropping on one knee before him, the lady, parted the silken hair
from his forehead, saying very gently, "You must be like your
mother, save that your eyes are brown, and hers were blue. May I be
your mother, Louis?"
Very wonderingly the child gazed into her face. It was radiantly
beautiful, while the dreamy eyes rested upon him with such a
yearning look that his heart went out toward her at once, and
winding his arms around her neck, he murmured, "I shall love you
very much, my mother."
For a moment Maude Glendower held him to her bosom, while her
thoughts went back to the long ago when another face much like his
had rested there, and another voice had whispered in her ear, "I
love you, Maude Glendower." That voice was hushed in death, but
through the child it spoke to her again, and with a throbbing heart
she vowed to be to the crippled boy what Matty herself would well
approve, could she speak from her low bed beneath the willows.
"What of your sister?" the lady said at last, rising to her feet.
"Is she recovering her sight?"
"Nellie writes there is hope," said Louis, "though she did not
receive attention soon enough, the physician says."
There was reproach, contempt, and anger in the large black eyes
which sought the doctor's face, but the light was dim, and he did
not see it.
"It will be a great misfortune to her, and very hard on me if she is
blind, for of course I must take care of her," he said at last,
while his wife indignantly replied, "Take care of her! Yes, I'd sell
my diamonds rather than see her suffer!"
Supper was now announced, and in examining the arrangement of the
table and inspecting the furniture of the dining room, the bride
forgot everything save the novelty of her situation. Mentally
styling the house "an old rookery," she forced back the bitter
feelings which would rise up when she thought how unlike was all
this to what she had been accustomed. It needed but one glance of
her keen eyes to read the whole, and ere the close of the next day
she understood her position perfectly, and summoning to her aid her
iron will, she determined to make the most of everything. She knew
the doctor had money, aye, and she knew, too, how to get it from
him, but she was too wary to undertake it in any of the ordinary
ways. She did not tell him how desolate the old house seemed, or
that she was homesick because of its desolation; but after she had
been there a few days she sat down by his side, and told him that
with a few improvements it could be made the most delightful spot in
all the country, and she was glad she had come there to help him to
fix it up. She knew he had exquisite taste, and as he was now at
leisure they would contrive together how their parlors could be
improved. She didn't quite like them as they were, the window lights
were too small, and they must have the large panes of glass. Then
satin paper on the walls would look so much better, and the carpets,
though really very nice, were hardly good enough for a man of Dr.
Kennedy's standing in society.
"But," gasped the doctor, "the one in the back parlor is brand new--
has scarcely been used at all and it is a maxim of mine--"
"Your maxim is good, undoubtedly," interrupted the lady, "but the
chambers all need recarpeting, and this will exactly fit Maude's
room, which I intend fixing before she returns."
The doctor looked aghast, and his wife continued: "The season is so
far advanced that it is hardly worth while to make any changes now,
but next spring I shall coax you into all manner or repairs. I do
wonder what makes that spot on your nose so red at times. You are
really very fine looking when it is not there. It is gone," she
continued, and smoothing away a wrinkle in his forehead, she said,
"We won't talk of the future now, but seriously, we must have some
new Brussels carpets, and a furnace to warm the whole house."
Here she shivered and coughed quite naturally after which she
returned to the charge, saying, "her family were consumptive, and
she could not endure the cold."
"But, my dear," said the doctor, "it will cost a great deal of money
to carry out your plans."
"Oh, no, not much," she answered, "give me five hundred dollars and
I will do everything necessary to make us comfortable for the
"Five hundred dollars, Mrs. Kennedy!" and the doctor's gray eyes
looked as they used to look when Katy and Matty asked him for five.
"Five hundred dollars! Preposterous! Why, during the seven years I
lived with your predecessor she did not cost me that!"
From old Hannah Mrs. Kennedy had, learned how her predecessor had
been stinted by the doctor, and could he that moment have looked
into her heart he would have seen there a fierce determination to
avenge the wrongs so meekly borne. But she did not embody her
thoughts in words, neither did she deem it advisable to press the
subject further at that time, so she waited for nearly a week, and
then resumed the attack with redoubled zeal.
"We must have another servant," she said.
"Old Hannah is wholly inefficient, and so I have engaged a colored
woman from the hotel; and did I tell you, I have spoken to a man
about the furnace we are going to have, and I also told Mr. Jenks to
buy me one hundred yards of Brussels carpeting in New York. He's
gone for goods, you know."
"Really, Mrs. Kennedy, this exceeds all. My former companions saw
fit to consult me always. Really, one hundred yards of carpeting and
a black cook! Astonishing, Mrs. Kennedy! "
The doctor was quite too much confounded to think of a single maxim,
for his wife's effrontery took him wholly by surprise. She was a
most energetic woman, and her proceedings were already the theme of
many a tea-table gossip, in which the delighted villagers exulted
that Dr. Kennedy had at last found his match. Yes, he had found his
match, and when next day the black cook, Rose, came, and Mr. Brown
asked when he would have the furnace put in his cellar, there was
that in the eye of his better half which prompted a meek submission.
When the bill for the new carpets was handed him he again rebelled,
but all to no purpose. He paid the requisite amount, and tried to
swallow his wrath with his wife's consolatory remark, that "they
were the handsomest couple in town, and ought to have the handsomest
One day he found her giving directions to two or three men who were
papering, painting, and whitewashing Maude's room, and then, as John
remarked, he seemed more like himself than he had done before since
his last marriage.
"If Maude is going to be blind," he said, "it can make no difference
with her how her chamber looks, and 'tis a maxim of mine to let well
"I wish you would cure yourself of those disagreeable maxims," was
the lady's cool reply, as, stepping to the head of the stairs, she
bade John "bring up the carpet, if it were whipped enough."
"Allow me to ask what you are going to do with it?" said the doctor,
as from the windows he saw the back parlor carpet swinging on the
"Why, I told you I was going to fit up Maude's room. She is coming
home in a week, you know, and I am preparing a surprise. I have
ordered a few pieces of light furniture from the cabinet-maker's,
and I think her chamber would look nicely if the walls were only a
little higher. They can't be raised, I suppose?"
She was perfectly collected, and no queen on her throne ever issued
her orders with greater confidence in their being obeyed; and when
that night she said to her husband, "These men must have their pay,"
he had no alternative but to open his purse and give her what she
asked. Thus it was with everything.
"Ki, aint him cotchin' it good?" was John's mental comment, as he
daily watched the proceedings, and while Hannah pronounced him "the
hen-peck-ed-est man she had ever seen," the amused villagers knew
that will had met will, and been conquered!
THE BLIND GIRL.
Maude's chamber was ready at last, and very inviting it looked with
its coat of fresh paint, its cheerful paper, bright carpet, handsome
bedstead, marble washstand, and mahogany bureau, on which were
arranged various little articles for the toilet. The few pieces of
furniture which Mrs. Kennedy had ordered from the cabinet-maker's
had amounted, in all, to nearly one hundred dollars, but the bill
was not yet sent in; and in blissful ignorance of the surprise
awaiting him the doctor rubbed his hands and tried to seem pleased
when his wife, passing her arm in his, led him to the room, which
she compelled him to admire.
"It was all very nice," he said, "but wholly unnecessary for a blind
girl. What was the price of this?" he asked, laying his hand upon
"Only twenty-five dollars. Wasn't it cheap?" and the wicked black
eyes danced with merriment at the loud groan which succeeded the
"Twenty-five dollars!" he exclaimed. "Why, the bedstead Matty and I
slept on for seven years only cost three, and it is now as good as
"But times have changed," said the lady. "Everybody has nicer
things; besides, do you know people used to talk dreadfully about a
man of your standing being so stingy? But I have done considerable
toward correcting that impression. You aint stingy, and in proof of
it you'll give me fifty cents to buy cologne for this." And she took
up a beautiful bottle which stood upon the bureau.
The doctor had not fifty cents in change, but a dollar bill would
suit her exactly as well, she said, and secretly exulting in her
mastery over the self-willed tyrant, she suffered him to depart,
saying to himself as he descended the stair, "Twenty-five dollars
for one bedstead. I won't stand it! I'll do something!"
"What are you saying, dear?" a melodious voice called after him, and
so accelerated his movements that the extremity of his coat
disappeared from view, just as the lady Maude reached the head of
"Oh!" was the involuntary exclamation of Louis, who had been a
spectator of the scene, and who felt intuitively that his father had
found his mistress.
During her few weeks residence at Laurel Hill Maude Glendower had
bound the crippled boy to herself by many a deed of love, and
whatever she did was sure of meeting his approval. With him she had
consulted concerning his sister's room, yielding often to his artist
taste in the arrangement of the furniture, and now that the chamber
was ready they both awaited impatiently the arrival of its occupant.
Nellie's last letter had been rather encouraging, and Maude herself
had appended her name at its close. The writing was tremulous and
uncertain, but it brought hope to the heart of the brother, who had
never really believed it possible for his sister to be blind. Very
restless he seemed on the day when she was expected; and when, just
as the sun was setting, the carriage drove to the gate, a faint
sickness crept over him, and wheeling his chair to the window of her
room he looked anxiously at her, as with John's assistance, she
alighted from the carriage.
"If she walks alone I shall know she is not very blind," he said,
and with clasped hands he watched her intently as she came slowly
toward the house with Nellie a little in advance.
Nearer and nearer she came--closer and closer the burning forehead
was pressed against the window pane, and hope beat high in Louis'
heart, when suddenly she turned aside--her foot rested on the
withered violets which grew outside the walk, and her hand groped in
the empty air.
"She's blind--she's blind," said Louis, and with a moaning cry he
laid his head upon the broad arm of his chair, sobbing most
Meantime below there was a strange interview between the new mother
and her children, Maude Glendower clasping her namesake in her arms
and weeping over her as she had never wept before but once, and that
when the moonlight shone upon her sitting by a distant grave.
Pushing back the clustering curls, she kissed the open brow and
looked into the soft black eyes with a burning gaze which penetrated
the shadowy darkness and brought a flush to the cheek of the young
"Maude Remington! Maude Remington!" she said, dwelling long upon the
latter name, "the sight of you affects me painfully; you are so like
one I have lost. I shall love you, Maude Remington, for the sake of
the dead, and you, too, must love me, and call me mother--will you?"
and her lips again touched those of the astonished maiden.
Though fading fast, the light was not yet quenched in Maude's eyes,
and very wistfully she scanned the face of the speaker, while her
hands moved caressingly over each feature, as she said, "I will love
you, beautiful lady, though you can never be to me what my gentle
At the sound of that voice Maude Glendower started suddenly, and
turning aside, so her words could not be heard, she murmured sadly,
"Both father and child prefer her to me." Then, recollecting
herself, she offered her hand to the wondering Nellie, saying, "Your
Sister's misfortune must be my excuse for devoting so much time to
her, when you, as my eldest daughter, were entitled to my first
Her stepmother's evident preference for Maude had greatly offended
the selfish Nellie, who coldly answered, "Don't trouble yourself,
madam. It's not of the least consequence. But where is my father? He
will welcome me, I am sure."
The feeling too often existing between stepmothers and stepdaughters
had sprung into life, and henceforth the intercourse of Maude
Glendower and Nellie Kennedy would be marked with studied
politeness, and nothing more. But the former did not care. So long
as her eye could feast itself upon the face and form of Maude
Remington she was content, and as Nellie left the room she wound her
arm around the comparatively helpless girl, saying, "Let me take you
to your brother."
Although unwilling, usually, to be led, Maude yielded now, and
suffered herself to be conducted to the chamber where Louis watched
for her coming. She could see enough to know there was a change, and
clasping her companion's hand she said, "I am surely indebted to you
for this surprise."
"Maude, Maude!" and the tones of Louis' voice trembled with joy, as
stretching his arms toward her, he cried, "You can see."
Guided more by the sound than by actual vision, Maude flew like
lightning to his side, and kneeling before him hid her face in his
lap, while he bent fondly over her, beseeching her to say if she
could see. It was a most touching sight, and drawing near, Maude
Glendower mingled her tears with those of the unfortunate children
on whom affliction had laid her heavy hand.
Maude Remington was naturally of a hopeful nature, and though she
had passed through many an hour of anguish, and had rebelled against
the fearful doom which seemed to be approaching, she did not yet
despair. She still saw a little--could discern colors and forms, and
could tell one person from another. "I shall be better by and by,"
she said, when assured by the sound of retreating footsteps that
they were alone. "I am following implicitly the doctor's directions,
and I hope to see by Christmas; but if I do not--"
Here she broke down entirely, and wringing her hands she cried, "Oh,
brother--brother, must I be blind? I can't--I can't, for who will
care for poor, blind, helpless Maude?"
"I, sister, I," and hushing his own great sorrow the crippled boy
comforted the weeping girl just as she had once comforted him, when
in the quiet graveyard he had lain him down in the long, rank grass
and wished that he might die. "Pa's new wife will care for you,
too," he said. "She's a beautiful woman, Maude, and a good one, I am
sure, for she cried so hard over mother's grave, and her voice was
so gentle when, just as though she had known our mother, she said,
`Darling Matty, I will be kind to your children.'"
"Ah, that I will--I will," came faintly from the hall without, where
Maude Glendower stood, her eyes riveted upon the upturned face of
Maude, and her whole body swelling with emotion.
A sad heritage had been bequeathed to her--a crippled boy and a
weak, blind girl; but in some respects she was a noble woman, and as
she gazed upon the two she resolved that so long as she should live,
so long should the helpless children of Matty Remington have a
steadfast friend. Hearing her husband's voice below she glided down
the stairs, leaving Louis and Maude really alone.
"Sister," said Louis, after a moment, "what of Mr. De Vere? Is he
true to the last?"
"I have released him," answered Maude. "I am nothing to him now,"
and very calmly she proceeded to tell him of the night when she had
said to Mr. De Vere, "My money is gone--my sight is going too, and I
give you back your troth, making you free to marry another--Nellie,
if you choose. She is better suited to you than I have ever been."
Though secretly pleased at her offering to give him up, J.C. made a
show of resistance, but she had prevailed at last, and with the
assurance that he should always esteem her highly, he consented to
the breaking of the engagement, and the very, next afternoon, rode
out with Nellie Kennedy.
"He will marry her, I think," Maude said, as she finished narrating
the circumstances, and looking into her calm, unruffled face Louis
felt sure that she had outlived her love for one who had proved
himself as fickle as J.C. De Vere.
"And what of James?" he asked. "Is he still in New Orleans."
"He is," answered Maude. "He has a large wholesale establishment
there, and as one of the partners is sick, he has taken his place
for the winter. He wrote to his cousin often, bidding him spare no
expense for me, and offering to pay the bills if J.C. was not able."
A while longer they conversed, and then they were summoned to
supper, Mrs. Kennedy coming herself for Maude, who did not refuse to
be assisted by her.
"The wind hurt my eyes--they will be better to-morrow," she said,
and with her old sunny smile she greeted her stepfather, and then
turned to Hannah and John, who had come in to see her.
But alas for the delusion! The morrow brought no improvement,
neither the next day, nor the next, and as the world grew dim there
crept into her heart a sense of utter desolation which neither the
tender love of Maude Glendower nor yet the untiring devotion of
Louis could in any degree dispel. All day would she sit opposite the
window, her eyes fixed on the light with a longing, eager gaze, as
if she feared that the next moment it might leave her forever.
Whatever he could do for her Louis did, going to her room each
morning and arranging her dress and hair just as he knew she used to
wear it. She would not suffer anyone else to do this for her, and in
performing these little offices Louis felt that he was only repaying
her in part for all she had done for him.
Christmas Eve came at last, and if she thought of what was once to
have been on the morrow, she gave no outward token, and with her
accustomed smile bade the family good-night. The next morning Louis
went often to her door, and hearing no sound within fancied she was
sleeping, until at last, as the clock struck nine, he ventured to go
in. Maude was awake, and advancing to her side he bade her a "Merry
Christmas," playfully chiding her the while for having slept so
late. A wild, startled expression flashed over her face, as she
said: "Late, Louis! Is it morning, then? I've watched so long to see
Louis did not understand her, and he answered, "Morning, yes. The
sunshine is streaming into the room. Don't you see it? "
"Sunshine!" and Maude's lips quivered with fear, as springing from
her pillow. she whispered faintly, "Lead me to the window."
He complied with her request, watching her curiously, as she laid
both hands in the warm sunshine, which bathed her fair, round arms
and shone upon her raven hair. She felt what she could not see, and
Louis Kennedy ne'er forgot the agonized expression of the white,
beautiful face which turned toward him as the wretched Maude moaned
piteously, "Yes, brother, 'tis morning to you, but dark, dark night
to me. I'm blind! oh, I'm blind!"
She did not faint, she did not shriek, but she stood there rigid and
immovable, her countenance giving fearful token of the terrible
storm within. She was battling fiercely with her fate, and until
twice repeated, she did not hear the childish voice which said to
her pleadingly, "Don't look so, sister. You frighten me, and there
may be some hope yet."
"Hope," she repeated bitterly, turning her sightless eyes toward
him, "there is no hope but death."
"Maude," and Louis' voice was like a plaintive harp, so mournful was
its tone, "Maude, once in the very spot where mother is lying now,
you said because I was a cripple you would love me all the more. You
have kept that promise well, my sister. You have been all the world
to me, and now that you are blind I, too, will love you more. I will
be your light--your eyes, and when James De Vere comes back--"
"No, no, no," moaned Maude, sinking upon the floor. "Nobody will
care for me. Nobody will love a blind girl. Oh, is it wicked to wish
that I could die, lying here in the sunshine, which I shall never
There was a movement at the door, and Mrs. Kennedy appeared,
starting back as her eye fell upon the face of the prostrate girl,
who recognized her step, and murmured sadly, "Mother, I'm blind,
Louis' grief had been too great for tears, but Maude Glendower's
flowed at once, and bending over the white-faced girl she strove to
comfort her, telling her how she would always love her, that every
wish should be gratified.
"Then give me back my sight, oh, give me back my sight," and Maude
clasped her mother's hands imploringly.
Ere long she grew more calm, and suffered herself to be dressed as
usual, but she would not admit anyone to her room, neither on that
day nor for many succeeding days. At length, however, this feeling
wore away, and in the heartfelt sympathy of her family and friends
she found a slight balm for her grief. Even the doctor was softened,
and when Messrs. Beebe & Co. sent in a bill of ninety-five dollars
for various articles of furniture, the frown upon his face gave way
when his wife said to him, "It was for Maude, you know!"
"Poor Maude!" seemed to be the sentiment of the whole household, and
Nellie herself said it many a time, as with unwonted tenderness she
caressed the unfortunate girl, fearing the while lest she had done
her a wrong, for she did not then understand the nature of Maude's
feelings for J.C. De Vere, to whom Nellie was now engaged.
Urged on by Mrs. Kelsey and a fast diminishing income, J.C. had
written to Nellie soon after her return to Laurel Hill, asking her
to be his wife. He did not disguise his former love for Maude,
neither did he pretend to have outlived it, but he said he could not
wed a blind girl. And Nellie, forgetting her assertion that she
would never marry one who had first proposed to Maude, was only too
much pleased to answer Yes. And when J.C. insisted upon an early
day, she named the 5th of March, her twentieth birthday. She was to
be married at home, and as the preparations for the wedding would
cause a great amount of bustle and confusion in the house, it seemed
necessary that Maude should know the cause, and with a beating heart
Nellie went to her one day to tell the news. Very composedly Maude
listened to the story, and then as composedly replied, "I am truly
glad, and trust you will be happy."
"So I should be," answered Nellie, "if I were sure you did not
"Care! for whom?" returned Maude. "For J.C. De Vere? Every particle
of love for him has died out, and I am now inclined to think I never
entertained for him more than a girlish fancy, while he certainly
did not truly care for me."
This answer was very quieting to Nellie's conscience, and in
unusually good spirits she abandoned herself to the excitement which
usually precedes a wedding. Mrs. Kennedy, too, entered heart and
soul into the matter, and arming herself with the plea, that "it was
his only daughter, who would probably never be married again," she
coaxed her husband into all manner of extravagances, and by the 1st
of March few would have recognized the interior of the house, so
changed was it by furniture and repairs. Handsome damask curtains
shaded the parlor windows, which were further improved by large
heavy panes of glass. Matty's piano had been removed to Maude's
chamber, and its place supplied by a new and costly instrument,
which the crafty woman made her husband believe was intended by Mrs.
Kelsey, who selected it, as a bridal present for her niece. The
furnace was in splendid order, keeping the whole house, as Hannah
said, "hotter than an oven," while the disturbed doctor lamented
daily over the amount of fuel it consumed, and nightly counted the
contents of his purse or reckoned up how much he was probably worth.
But neither his remonstrances nor yet his frequent groans had any
effect upon his wife. Although she had no love for Nellie, she was
determined upon a splendid wedding, one which would make folks talk
for months, and when her liege lord complained of the confusion, she
suggested to him a furnished room in the garret, where it would be
very quiet for him to reckon up the bill, which from time to time
she brought him.
"Might as well gin in at oncet," John said to him one day, when he
borrowed ten dollars for the payment of an oyster bill. "I tell you
she's got more besom in her than both them t'other ones."
The doctor probably thought so too, for he became comparatively
submissive, though he visited often the sunken graves, where he
found a mournful solace in reading, "Katy, wife of Dr. Kennedy, aged
twenty-nine,"--"Matty, second wife of Dr. Kennedy, aged thirty," and
once he was absolutely guilty of wondering how the words, "Maude,
third wife of Dr. Kennedy, aged forty-one," would look. But he
repented him of the wicked thought, and when on his return from his
"graveyard musings," Maude, aged forty-one, asked him for the twenty
dollars which she saw a man pay to him that morning, he gave it to
her without a word.
Meanwhile the fickle J.C. in Rochester was one moment regretting the
step he was about to take and the next wishing the day would hasten,
so he could "have it over with." Maude Remington had secured a place
in his affections which Nellie could not fill, and though he had no
wish to marry her now, he tried to make himself believe that but for
her misfortune she should still have become his wife.
"Jim would marry her, I dare say, even if she were blind as a bat,"
he said; "but then he is able to support her," and reminded by this
of an unanswered letter from his cousin, who was still in New
Orleans, he sat down and wrote, telling him of Maude's total
blindness, and then, almost in the next sentence saying that his
wedding was fixed for the 5th of March. "There," he exclaimed, as he
read over the letter, "I believe I must be crazy, for I never told
him that the bride was Nellie; but no matter, I'd like to have him
think me magnanimous for a while, and I want to hear what he says."
Two weeks or more went by, and then there came an answer, fraught
with sympathy for Maude, and full of commendation for J.C., who "had
shown himself a man."
Accompanying the letter was a box containing a most exquisite set of
pearls for the bride, together with a diamond ring, on which was
inscribed, "Cousin Maude."
"Aint I in a deuced scrape," said J.C., as he examined the beautiful
ornaments; "Nellie would be delighted with them, but she shan't have
them; they are not hers. I'll write to Jim at once, and tell him the
mistake," and seizing his pen he dashed off a few lines, little
guessing how much happiness they would carry to the far-off city,
where daily and nightly James De Vere fought manfully with the love
that clung with a deathlike grasp to the girl J.C. had forsaken, the
poor, blind, helpless Maude.
NELLIE'S BRIDAL NIGHT.
The blind girl sat alone in her chamber, listening to the sound of
merry voices in the hall without, or the patter of feet, as the fast
arriving guests tripped up and down the stairs. She had heard the
voice of J.C. De Vere as he passed her door, but it awoke within her
bosom no lingering regret, and when an hour later Nellie stood
before her, arrayed in her bridal robes, she passed her hand
caressingly over the flowing curls, the fair, round face, the satin
dress, and streaming veil, saying as she did so, "I know you are
beautiful, my sister, and if a blind girl's blessing can be of any
avail, you have it most cordially."
Both Mrs. Kennedy and Nellie had urged Maude to be present at the
ceremony, but she shrank from the gaze of strangers, and preferred
remaining in her room, an arrangement quite satisfactory to J.C.,
who did not care to meet her then. It seemed probable that some of
the guests would go up to see her, and knowing this, Mrs. Kennedy
had arranged her curls and dress with unusual care, saying to her as
she kissed her pale cheek, "You are far more beautiful than the
And Maude was beautiful. Recent suffering and non-exposure to the
open air had imparted a delicacy to her complexion which harmonized
well with the mournful expression of her face and the idea of
touching helplessness which her presence inspired. Her long, fringed
eyelashes rested upon her cheek, and her short, glossy curls were
never more becomingly arranged than now, when stepping backward a
pace or two, Mrs. Kennedy stopped a moment to admire her again ere
going below where her presence was already needed.
The din of voices grew louder in the hall, there was a tread of many
feet upon the stairs, succeeded by a solemn hush, and Maude,
listening to every sound, knew that the man to whom she had been
plighted was giving to another his marriage vow. She had no love for
J.C. De Vere, but as she sat there alone in her desolation, and
thoughts of her sister's happiness rose up in contrast to her own
dark, hopeless lot, who shall blame her if she covered her face with
her hands and wept most bitterly. Poor Maude! It was dark, dark
night within, and dark, dark night without; and her dim eye could
not penetrate the gloom, nor see the star which hung o'er the brow
of the distant hill, where a wayworn man was toiling on. Days and
nights had he traveled, unmindful of fatigue, while his throbbing
heart outstripped the steam-god by many a mile. The letter had
fulfilled its mission, and with one wild burst of joy when he read
that she was free, he started for the North. He was not expected at
the wedding, but it would be a glad surprise, he knew, and he
pressed untiringly on, thinking but one thought, and that, how he
would comfort the poor, blind Maude. He did not know that even then
her love belonged to him, but he could win it, perhaps, and then
away to sunny France, where many a wonderful cure had been wrought,
and might be wrought again.
The bridal was over, and the congratulations nearly so; when a
stranger was announced, an uninvited guest, and from his armchair in
the corner Louis saw that it was the same kind face which had bent
so fearlessly over his pillow little more than six months before.
James De Vere--the name was echoed from lip to lip, but did not
penetrate the silent chamber where Maude sat weeping yet.
A rapid glance through the rooms assured the young man that she was
not there: and when the summons to supper was given he went to Louis
and asked him for his sister.
"She is upstairs," said Louis, adding impulsively: "she will be glad
you have come, for she has talked of you so much."
"Talked of me!" and the eyes of James De Vere looked earnestly into
Louis' face. "And does she talk of me still?"
"Yes," said Louis, "I heard her once when she was asleep, though I
ought not to have mentioned it," he continued, suddenly recollecting
himself, "for when I told her, she blushed so red, and bade me not
"Take me to her, will you?" said Mr. De Vere, and following his
guide he was soon opposite the door of Maude's room.
"Wait a moment," he exclaimed, passing his fingers through his hair,
and trying in vain to brush from his coat the dust which had settled
"It don't matter, for she can't see," said Louis, who comprehended
at once the feelings of his companion.
By this time they stood within the chamber, but so absorbed was
Maude in her own grief that she did not hear her brother until he
bent over her and whispered in her ear, "Wake, sister, if you're
sleeping. He's come. He's here!"
She had no need to ask of him who had come. She knew intuitively,
and starting up, her unclosed eyes flashed eagerly around the room,
turning at last toward the door where she felt that he was standing.
James De Vere remained motionless, watching intently the fair,
troubled face, which had never seemed so fair to him, before.
"Brother, have you deceived me? Where is he?" she said at last, as
her listening ear caught no new sound.
"Here, Maude, here," and gliding to her side, Mr. De Vere wound his
arm around her, and kissing her lips, called her by the name to
which she was getting accustomed, and which never sounded so
soothingly as when breathed by his melodious voice. "My poor, blind
Maude," was all he said, but by the clasp of his warm hand, by the
tear she felt upon her cheek, and by his very silence, she knew how
deeply he sympathized with her.
Knowing that they would rather be alone, Louis went below, where
many inquiries were making for the guest who had so suddenly
disappeared. The interview between the two was short, for some of
Maude's acquaintance came up to see her, but it sufficed for Mr. De
Vere to learn all that he cared particularly to know then. Maude did
not love J.C., whose marriage with another caused her no regret, and
this knowledge made the future seem hopeful and bright. It was not
the time to speak of that future to her, but he bade her take
courage, hinting that his purse, should never be closed until every
possible means had been used for the restoration of her sight. What
wonder, then, if she dreamed that night that she could see again,
and, that the good angel by whose agency this blessing had been
restored to her was none other than James De Vere.
Three days had passed since the bridal, and James still lingered at
Laurel Hill, while not very many miles away his mother waited and
wondered why he did not come. J.C. and Nellie were gone, but ere
they had left the former sought an interview with Maude, whose
placid brow he kissed tenderly as he whispered in her ear: "Fate
decreed that you should not be my wife, but I have made you my
sister, and, if I mistake not, another wishes to make you my
To James he had given back the ornaments intended for another bride
than Nellie, saying, as he did so, "Maude De Vere may wear them
"What do you mean?" asked James, and J.C. replied: "I mean that I,
and not you, will have a Cousin Maude."
Two days had elapsed since then, and it was night again--but to the
blind girl, drinking in the words of love which fell like music on
her ear, it was high noon-day, and the sky undimmed by a single
"I once called you my cousin, Maude," the deep-toned voice said,
"and I thought it the sweetest name I had ever heard, but there is a
nearer, dearer name which I would give to you, even my wife--Maude--
shall it be?" and he looked into her sightless eyes to read her
She had listened eagerly to the story of his love born so long ago--
had held her breath lest she should lose a single word when he told
her how he had battled with that love, and how his heart had
thrilled with joy when he heard that she was free--but when he asked
her to be his wife the bright vision faded, and she answered
mournfully, "You know not what you say. You would not take a blind
girl in her helplessness."
"A thousandfold dearer to me for that very helplessness," he said,
and then he told her of the land beyond the sea, where the
physicians were well skilled in everything pertaining to the eye.
"Thither they would go," he said, "when the April winds were
blowing, and should the experiment not succeed, he would love and
cherish her all the more."
Maude knew he was in earnest, and was about to answer him, when
along the hall there came the sound of little crutches, and over her
face there flitted a shadow of pain. It was the sister-love warring
with the love of self, but James De Vere understood it all, and he
hastened to say, "Louis will go, too, my darling. I have never had a
thought of separating you. In Europe he will have a rare opportunity
for developing his taste. Shall it not be so?"
"Let him decide," was Maude's answer, as the crutches struck the
soft carpet of the room.
"Louis," said Mr. De Vere, "shall Maude go with me to Europe as my
"Yes, yes--yes, yes," was Louis' hasty answer, his brown eyes
filling with tears of joy when he heard that he, too, was to
Maude could no longer refuse, and she half fancied she saw the
flashing of the diamonds, when James placed upon her finger the ring
which bore the inscription of "Cousin Maude." Before coming there
that night, Mr. De Vere had consulted a New York paper, and found
that a steamship would sail for Liverpool on the 20th of April,
about six weeks from that day.
"We will go in it," he said, "my blind bird, Louis, and I," and he
parted lovingly the silken tresses of her to whom this new
appellation was given.
There was much in the future to anticipate, and much in the past
which he wished to talk over; so he remained late that night, and on
passing through the lower hall was greatly surprised to see Mrs.
Kennedy still sitting in the parlor. She had divined the object and
result of his visit, and the moment he was gone she glided up the
stairs to the room where Maude was quietly weeping for very joy. The
story of the engagement was soon told, and winding her arm around
Maude's neck Mrs. Kennedy said, "I rejoice with you, daughter, in
your happiness, but I shall be left so desolate when you and Louis
are both gone."
Just then her eye caught the ring upon Maude's finger, and taking it
in her hand. she admired its chaste beauty, and was calculating its
probable cost, when glancing at the inside she started suddenly,
exclaiming, "'Cousin Maude'--that is my name--the one by which he
always called me. Has it been given to you, too?" and as the throng
of memories that name awakened came rushing over her, the impulsive
woman folded the blind girl to her bosom, saying to her, "My child,
my, child, you should have been!"
"I do not understand you," said Maude, and Mrs. Kennedy replied, "It
is not meet that we should part ere I tell you who and what I am. Is
the name of Maude Glendower strange to you? Did you never hear it in
your Vernon home?"
"It seemed familiar to me when J.C. De Vere first told me of you,"
answered Maude, "but I cannot recall any particular time when I
heard it spoken. Did you know my mother?"
"Yes, father and mother both, and loved them too. Listen to me,
Maude, while I tell you of the past. Though it seems so long ago, I
was a schoolgirl once, and nightly in my arms there slept a fair-
haired, blue-eyed maiden, four years my junior, over whom I
exercised an elder sister's care. She loved me, this little blue-
eyed girl, and when your brother first spoke to me I seemed again to
hear her voice whispering in my ear, 'I love you, beautiful Maude.'"
"It was mother--it was mother!" and Maude Remington drew nearer to
the excited woman, who answered:
"Yes, it was your mother, then little Matty Reed; we were at school
together in New Haven, and she was my roommate. We were not at all
alike, for I was wholly selfish, while she found her greatest
pleasure in ministering to others' happiness; but she crossed my
path at last, and then I thought I hated her."
"Not my mother, lady. You could not hate my mother!" and the blind
eyes flashed as if they would tear away the veil of darkness in
which they were enshrouded, and gaze upon a woman who could hate
sweet Matty Remington.
"Hush, child! don't look so fiercely at me," said Maude Glendower.
"Upon your mother's grave I have wept that sin away, and I know I am
forgiven as well as if her own soft voice had told me so. I loved
your father, Maude, and this was my great error. He was a distant
relative of your mother, whom he always called his cousin. He
visited her often, for he was a college student, and ere I was aware
of it, I loved him, oh, so madly, vainly fancying my affection was
returned. He was bashful, I thought, for he was not then twenty-one,
and by way of rousing him to action. I trifled with another--with
Dr. Kennedy," and she uttered the name spitefully, as if it were
even now hateful to her.
"I know it--I know it," returned Maude, "he told me that when he
first talked with me of you, but I did not suppose the dark-eyed
student was my father."
"It was none other," said Mrs. Kennedy, "and you can form some
conception of my love for him, when I tell you that it has never
died away, but is as fresh within my heart this night as when I
walked with him upon the College Green and he Called me 'Cousin
Maude,' for he gave me that name because of my fondness for Matty,
and he sealed it with a kiss. Matty was present at that time, and
had I not been blind I should have seen how his whole soul was bound
up in her, even while kissing me. I regarded her as a child, and so
she was; but men sometimes love children, you know. When she was
fifteen, she left New Haven. I, too, had ceased to be a schoolgirl,
but I still remained in the city and wrote to her regularly, until
at last your father came to me, and with the light of a great joy
shining all over his face, told me she was to be his bride on her
sixteenth birthday. She would have written it herself, he said, only
she was a bashful little creature, and would rather he should tell
me. I know not what I did, for the blow was sudden, and took my
senses away. He had been so kind to me of late--had visited me so
often, that my heart was full of hope. But it was all gone now.
Matty Reed was preferred to me, and while my Spanish blood boiled at
the fancied indignity, I said many a harsh thing of her--I called
her designing, deceitful, and false; and then in my frenzy quitted
the room. I never saw Harry, again, for he left the city next
morning; but to my dying hour I shall not forget the expression of
his face when I talked to him of Matty. Turn away, Maude, turn away!
for there is the same look now upon your face. But I have repented
of that act, though not till years after. I tore up Mattie's
letters. I. said I would burn the soft brown tress--"
"Oh, woman, woman! you did not burn my mother's hair!" and with a
shudder Maude unwound the soft, white arm which so closely encircled
"No, Maude, no. I couldn't. It would not leave my fingers, but
coiled around them with a loving grasp. I have it now, and esteem it
my choicest treasure. When I heard that you were born, my heart
softened toward the young girl. Mother and I wrote, asking that
Harry's child might be called for me. I did not disguise my love for
him, and I said it would be some consolation to know that his
daughter bore my name. My letter did not reach them until you had
been baptized Matilda, which was the name of your mother and
grandmother, but to prove their goodness, they ever after called you
"Then I was named for you;" and Maude Remington came back to the
embrace of Maude Glendower, who, kissing, her white brow, continued:
"Two years afterward I found myself in Vernon, stopping for a night
at the hotel. 'I will see them in the morning,' I said; 'Harry,
Matty, and the little child;' and I asked the landlord where you
lived. I was standing upon the stairs, and in the partial darkness
he could not see my anguish when he replied, 'Bless you, miss. Harry
Remington died a fortnight ago.'"
"How I reached my room I never knew, but reach it I did, and half an
hour later I knelt by his grave, where I wept away every womanly
feeling of my heart, and then went back to the giddy world, the
gayest of the gay. I did not seek an interview with your mother,
though I have often regretted it since. Did she never speak of me?
Think. Did you never hear my name?"
"In Vernon, I am sure I did," answered Maude, "but I was then too
young to receive a very vivid impression, and after we came here
mother, I fear, was too unhappy to talk much of the past."
"I understand it," answered Maude Glendower, and over her fine
features there stole a hard, dark look, as she continued, "I can see
how one of her gentle nature would wither and die in this
atmosphere, and forgive me, Maude, she never loved your father as I
loved him, for had he called me wife I should never have been here."
"What made you come?" asked Maude; and the lady answered, "For
Louis' sake and yours I came. I never lost sight of your mother. I
knew she married the man I rejected, and from my inmost soul I
pitied her. But I am redressing her wrongs and those of that other
woman who wore her life away within these gloomy walls. Money is his
idol, and when you touch his purse you touch his tenderest point.
But I have opened it, and, struggle as he may, it shall not be
She spoke bitterly, and Maude knew that Dr. Kennedy had more than
met his equal in that woman of iron will.
"I should have made a splendid carpenter," the lady continued, "for
nothing pleases me more than the sound of the hammer and saw, and
when you are gone I shall solace myself with fixing the entire
house. I must have excitement, or die as the others did."
"Maude--Mrs. Kennedy, do you know what time it is?" came from the
foot of the stairs, and Mrs. Kennedy answered, "It is one o'clock, I
"Then why are you sitting up so late, and why is that lamp left
burning in the parlor, with four tubes going off at once? It's a
maxim of mine--"
"Spare your maxims, do. I'm coming directly," and kissing the blind
girl affectionately, Mrs. Kennedy went down to her liege lord, whom
she found extinguishing the light, and gently shaking the lamp to
see how much fluid had been uselessly wasted.
He might have made some conjugal remark, but the expression of her
face forbade anything like reproof, and he soon found use for his
powers of speech in the invectives he heaped upon the long rocker of
the chair over which he stumbled as he groped his way back to the
bedroom, where his wife rather enjoyed, than otherwise, the
lamentations which he made over his "bruised shin." The story she
had been telling had awakened many bitter memories in Maude
Glendower's bosom, and for hours she turned uneasily from side to
side, trying in vain to sleep. Maude Remington, too, was wakeful,
thinking over the strange tale she had heard, and marveling that her
life should be so closely interwoven with that of the woman whom she
called her mother.
"I love her all the more," she said; "I shall pity her so, staying
here alone, when I am gone."
Then her thoughts turned upon the future, when she would be the wife
of James De Vere, and while wondering if she should really ever see
again, she fell asleep just as the morning was dimly breaking in the
A SECOND BRIDAL.
After the night of which we have written, the tie of affection
between Mrs. Kennedy and the blind girl was stronger than before,
and when the former said to her husband, "Maude must have an outfit
worthy of a rich man's stepdaughter," he knew by the tone of her
voice that remonstrance was useless, and answered meekly, "I will do
what is right, but don't be too extravagant, for Nellie's clothes
almost ruined me, and I had to pay for that piano yesterday. Will
fifty dollars do?"
"Fifty dollars!" repeated the lady. "Are you crazy?" Then, touched
perhaps by the submissive expression of his face, she added, "As
Maude is blind, she will not need as much as if she were going at
once into society. I'll try and make two hundred dollars answer,
though that will purchase but a meager trousseau."
Mrs. Kennedy's pronounciation of French was not always correct, and
John, who chanced to be within hearing, caught eagerly at the last
word, exclaiming, "Ki! dem trouses must cost a heap sight mor'n
mine! What dis nigger spec' 'em can be?" and he glanced ruefully at
his own glazed pants of corduroy, which had done him service for two
or three years.
Maude was a great favorite with John, and when he heard that she was
going away forever he went up to the woodshed chamber where no one
could see him, and seating himself upon a pile of old shingles,
which had been put there for kindling, he cried like a child.
"It'll be mighty lonesome, knowin' she's gone for good," he said,
"for, though she'll come back agin, she'll be married, and when a
gal is married, that's the last on 'em. I wish I could give her
somethin', to show her my feelin's."
He examined his hands; they were hard, rough, and black. He drew
from his pocket a bit of looking-glass and examined his face--that
was blacker yet; and shaking his head, he whispered: "It might do
for a mulatto gal, but not for her." Then, as a new idea crossed his
mind, he brightened up, exclaiming, "My heart is white, and if I
have a tip-top case, mebby she won't 'spise a poor old nigger's
In short, John contemplated having his daguerreotype taken as a
bridal present for Maude. Accordingly, that very afternoon he
arrayed himself in his best, and, entering the yellow car of a
traveling artist who had recently come to the village, he was soon
in possession of a splendid case and a picture which he, pronounced
"oncommon good-lookin' for him." This he laid carefully away until
the wedding-day, which was fixed for the 15th of April. When Mr. De
Vere heard of John's generosity to Maude in giving her the golden
eagles, he promptly paid them back, adding five more as interest,
and at the same time asking him if he would not like to accompany
them to Europe.
"You can be of great assistance to us," he said, "and I will gladly
This was a strong temptation, and for a moment the negro hesitated,
but when his eye fell upon his master, who was just then entering
the gate, his decision was taken, and he answered, "No, I'm bleeged
to you. I'd rather stay and see the fun."
"What fun?" asked Mr. De Vere; and John replied, "The fun of seein'
him cotch it;" and he pointed to the doctor coming slowly up the
walk, his hands behind him and his head bent forward in a musing
Dr. Kennedy was at that moment in an unenviable frame of mind, for
he was trying to decide whether he could part for a year or more
with his crippled boy, who grew each day more dear to him. "It will
do him good, I know," he said, "and I might, perhaps, consent, if I
could spare the money; but I can't, for I haven't got it. That woman
keeps me penniless, and will wheedle me out of two hundred dollars
more. Oh, Mat--"
He did not finish the sentence, for by this time he had reached the
hall, where he met Mr. De Vere, who asked if Louis was to go.
"He can't," answered the doctor. "I have not the means. Mrs. Kennedy
says Maude's wardrobe will cost two hundred dollars."
"Excuse me, sir," interrupted Mr. De Vere. "I shall attend to
Maude's wants myself, and if you are not able to bear Louis'
expenses, I will willingly do it for the sake of having him with his
sister. They ought not to be separated, and who knows but Louis'
deformity may be in a measure relieved?"
This last decided the matter. Louis should go, even though his
father mortgaged his farm to pay the bill, and during the few weeks
which elapsed before the 15th the house presented an air of bustle
and confusion equal to that which preceded Nellie's bridal. Mr. De
Vere remained firm in his intention to defray all Maude's expenses,
and he delegated to Mrs. Kennedy the privilege of purchasing
whatever she thought was needful. Her selections were usually in
good taste, and in listening to her enthusiastic praises Maude
enjoyed her new dresses almost as much as if she had really seen
them. A handsome plain silk of blue and brown was decided upon for a
traveling dress, and very sweetly the blind girl looked when,
arrayed in her simple attire, she stood before the man of God whose
words were to make her a happy bride. She could not see the sunlight
of spring streaming into the room, neither could she see the
sunlight of love shining over the face of James De Vere, nor yet the
earnest gaze of those who thought her so beautiful in her
helplessness, but she could feel it all, and the long eyelashes
resting on her cheek were wet with tears when a warm kiss was
pressed upon her lips and a voice murmured in her ear, "My wife--my
There were bitter tears shed at that parting; Maude Glendower
weeping passionately over the child of Harry Remington, and Dr.
Kennedy hugging to his bosom the little hunchback boy, Matty's boy
and his. They might never meet again, and the father's heart clung
fondly to his only son. He could not even summon to his aid a maxim
with which to season his farewell, and bidding a kind good-by to
Maude, he sought the privacy of his chamber, where he could weep
alone in his desolation.
Hannah and John grieved to part with the travelers, but the latter
was somewhat consoled by the gracious manner with which Maude had
accepted his gift.
"I cannot see it," she said, "but when I open the casing I shall
know your kind, honest face is there, and it will bring me many
pleasant memories of you."
"Heaven bless you, Miss Maude," answered John, struggling hard to
keep back the tears he deemed it unmanly to shed. "Heaven bless you,
but if you keep talking so book-like and good, I'll bust out a-
cryin', I know, for I'm nothin' but an old fool anyhow," and
wringing her hand, he hurried off into the woodshed chamber, where
he could give free vent to his grief.
Through the harbor, down the bay, and out upon the sea, a noble
vessel rides; and as the evening wind comes dancing o'er the wave it
sweeps across the deck, kissing the cheek of a brown-eyed boy and
lifting the curls from the brow of one whose face, upturned to the
tall man at her side, seems almost angelic, so calm, so peaceful, is
its expression of perfect bliss. Many have gazed curiously upon that
group, and the voices were very, low which said, "The little boy is
deformed," while there was a world of sadness in the whisper, which
told to the wondering passengers that "the beautiful bride was
They knew it by the constant drooping of her eyelids, by the
graceful motion of her hand as it groped in the air, and more than
all by the untiring watchfulness of the husband and brother who
constantly hovered near. It seemed terrible that so fair a creature
should be blind; and like the throb of one great heart did the
sympathy of that vessel's crew go out toward the gentle Maude, who
in her newborn happiness forgot almost the darkness of the world
without, or if she thought of it, looked forward to a time when hope
said that she should see again. So, leaving her upon the sea,
speeding away to sunny France, we glance backward for a moment to
the lonely house where Maude Glendower mourns for Harry's child, and
where the father thinks often of his boy, listening in vain for the
sound which once was hateful to his ear, the sound of Louis'
Neither does John forget the absent ones, but in the garden, in the
barn, in the fields, and the woodshed chamber, he prays in his
mongrel dialect that He who holds the wind in the hollow of His hand
will give to the treacherous deep charge concerning the precious
freight it bears. He does not say it in those words, but his
untutored language, coming from a pure heart, is heard by the Most
High. And so the breeze blows gently o'er the bark thus followed by
black John's prayers--the skies look brightly down upon it--the blue
waves ripple at its side, until at last it sails into its destined
port; and when the apple-blossoms are dropping from the trees, and
old Hannah lays upon the grass to bleach the fanciful white bed-
spread which her own hands have knit for Maude, there comes a letter
to the lonely household, telling them that the feet of those they
love have reached the shores of the Old World.
The Methodist Society of Laurel Hill had built themselves a new
church upon the corner of the common, and as a mark of respect had
made black John their sexton. Perfectly delighted with the office,
he discharged his duties faithfully, particularly the ringing of the
bell, in which accomplishment he greatly excelled his Episcopal
rival, who tried to imitate his peculiar style in vain. No one could
make such music as the negro, or ring so many changes. In short, it
was conceded that on great occasions he actually made the old bell
talk; and one day toward the last of September, and five months
after the events of the preceding chapter, an opportunity was
presented for a display of his skill.
The afternoon was warm and sultry, and overcome by the heat the
village loungers had disposed of themselves, some on the long piazza
of the hotel, and others in front of the principal store, where,
with elevated heels and busy jackknives, they whittled out shapeless
things, or made remarks concerning any luckless female who chanced
to pass. While thus engaged they were startled by a loud, sharp ring
from the belfry of the Methodist church succeeded by a merry peal,
which seemed to proclaim some joyful event. It was a musical,
rollicking ring, consisting of three rapid strokes, the last
prolonged a little, as if to give it emphasis.
"What's up now?" the loungers said to each other, as the three
strokes were repeated in rapid succession. "What's got into John?"
and those who were fortunate enough to own houses in the village,
went into the street to assure themselves there was no fire.
"It can't be a toll," they said. "It's too much like a dancing tune
for that," and as the sound continued they walked rapidly to the
church, where they found the African bending himself with might and
main to his task, the perspiration dripping from his sable face,
which was all aglow with happiness.
It was no common occasion which had thus affected John, and to the
eager questioning of his audience he replied, "Can't you hear the
ding--dong--de-el. Don't you know what it says? Listen now," and the
bell again rang forth the three short sounds. But the crowd still
professed their ignorance, and, pausing a moment, John said, with a
deprecating manner: "I'll tell the first word, and you'll surely
guess the rest: it's 'Maude.' Now try 'em," and wiping the sweat
from his brow, he turned again to his labor of love, nodding his
head with every stroke. "No ear at all for music," he muttered, as
he saw they were as mystified as ever, and in a loud, clear voice,
he sang, "Maude can see-e! Maude can see-e!"
It was enough. Most of that group had known and respected the blind
girl, and joining at once in the negro's enthusiasm they sent up a
deafening shout for "Maude De Vere, restored to sight."
John's face at that moment was a curiosity, so divided was it
between smiles and tears, the latter of which won the mastery, as
with the last hurrah the bell gave one tremendous crash, and he sank
exhausted upon the floor, saying to those who gathered round, "Will
'em hear that, think, in France?"
"How do you know it is true?" asked one, and John replied, "She writ
her own self to tell it, and sent her love to me; think of dat--sent
her love to an old nigger!" and John glanced at the bell, as if he
intended a repetition of the rejoicings.
Surely Maude De Vere, across the sea, never received a greater
tribute of respect than was paid to her that day by the warm-hearted
John, who, the moment he heard the glad news, sped away, to proclaim
it from the church-tower. The letter had come that afternoon, and,
as John said, was written by Maude herself. The experiment had been
performed weeks before, but she would wait until assurance was
doubly sure ere she sent home the joyful tidings. It was a wonderful
cure, for the chance of success was small, but the efforts used in
her behalf had succeeded, and she could see again.
"But what of Louis?" asked Dr. Kennedy, who was listening while his
wife read to him the letter. "What of Louis? Have they done anything
"They had tried, but his deformity could not be helped," and with a
pang of disappointment the father was turning away when something
caught his ear which caused him to listen again.
"You don't know," Maude wrote, "how great a lion Louis is getting to
be. He painted a picture of me just as I looked that dreadful
morning when I stood in the sunshine and felt that I was blind. It
is a strange, wild thing, but its wildness is relieved by the angel-
faced boy who looks up at me so pityingly. Louis is perfect, but
Maude--oh! I can scarce believe that she ever wore that expression
of fierce despair. Strange as it may seem, this picture took the
fancy of the excitable French, and ere Louis was aware of it he
found himself famous. They come to our rooms daily to see le petit
artist, and many ask for pictures or sketches, for which they pay an
exorbitant price. One wealthy American gentleman brought him. a
daguerreotype of his dead child, with the request that he would
paint from it a life-sized portrait, and if he succeeds in getting a
natural face he is to receive five hundred dollars. Think of little
Louis Kennedy earning five hundred dollars, for he will succeed. The
daguerreotype is much like Nellie, which will make it easier for
This was very gratifying to Dr. Kennedy, who that day more than once
repeated to himself, "Five hundred dollars: it's a great deal of
money, for him to earn; maybe he'll soon be able to help me, and
mercy knows I shall soon need it if that woman continues her
unheard-of extravagances. More city company to-morrow, and I heard
her this morning tell that Jezebel in the kitchen to put the whites
of sixteen eggs into one loaf of cake. What am I coming to?" and Dr.
Kennedy, groaned in spirit as he walked through the handsome
apartments, seeking in vain for a place where he could sit and have
it seem as it used to do, when the rocking-chair which Matty had
brought stood invitingly in the middle of the room where now a
center-table was standing, covered with books and ornaments of the
most expensive kind.
Since last we looked in upon her Maude Glendower had ruled with a
high hand. She could not live without excitement, and rallying from
her grief at parting with her child, she plunged at once into
repairs, tearing down and building up, while her husband looked on
in dismay. When they were about it, she said, they might as well
have all the modern improvements, and water, both hot and cold, was
accordingly carried to all the sleeping apartments, the fountain-
head being a large spring distant from the house nearly half a mile.
Gas she could not have, though the doctor would hardly have been
surprised had she ordered the laying of pipes from Rochester to
Laurel Hill, so utterly reckless did she seem. She was fond of
company, and as she had visited everybody, so everybody in return
must visit her, she said, and toward the last of summer she filled
the house with city people, who vastly enjoyed the good cheer with
which her table was always spread.
John's desire to see the fun was more than satisfied, as was also
Hannah's, and after the receipt of Maude's letter the latter
determined to write herself, "and let Miss De Vere know just how
things was managed." In order to do this, it was necessary to employ
an amanuensis, and she enlisted the services of the gardener, who
wrote her exact language, a mixture of negro, Southern, and Yankee.
A portion of this letter we give to the reader.
After expressing her pleasure that Maude could see, and saying that
she believed the new Miss to be a good woman, but a mighty queer
one, she continued:
"The doin's here is wonderful, and you'd hardly know the old place.
Thar's a big dining room run out to the south, with an expansion
table mighty nigh a rod long, and what's more, it't allus full too,
of city stuck-ups--and the way they do eat! I haint churned nary
pound of butter since you went away. Why, bless yer soul, we has to
buy. Do you mind that patch of land what the doctor used to plant
with corn? Well, the garden sass grows there now, and t'other garden
raises nothin' but flowers and strabries, and thar's a man hired on
purpose to tend 'em. He's writin' this for me. Thar's a tower run up
in the northeast eend, and when it's complete, she's goin' to have a
what you call 'em--somethin' that blows up the water--oh, a
fountain. Thar's one in the yard, and, if you'll believe it, she's
got one of Cary's rotary pumpin' things, that folks are runnin'
crazy about, and every hot day she keeps John a-turnin' the injin'
to squirt the water all over the yard, and make it seem like a
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