Part 5 out of 6
he more successful in the bold push made by him, so soon as they had
started, for the place beside Dora; for she, thinking just then of
some important communication for Kitty's ear, reined her pony close
to that younger lady's, and good-humoredly desired him to ride on
out of earshot. Karl obeyed the mandate with something less than his
usual amiability, and was riding on in advance of the whole party,
when he found himself detained by Mr. Brown, who asked some
trifling, question about the road, and then attempted a conversation
upon the crops and other ordinary topics for a few moments; until,
unable to contend with the indifference, if not impatience, Karl was
at no trouble to conceal, he remained silent for a moment, and then
"Windsor, this is not soldierly or manly."
Karl looked at him, but made no reply.
"We both know what is in the other's mind," continued Mr. Brown, and
we know that we cannot both succeed; but that is no reason for ill
feeling toward each other. If we were Don Quixotes, we might fight;
if we were gamesters, we might throw for the first chance: but as we
are, I trust, Christian gentlemen, we owe each other every kindly
feeling short of a wish for success."
"Yes: you can hardly expect that of me; and I'm sure I don't of
you," said Karl, half laughing.
"No: that were inconsistent with a true earnestness of purpose,"
said Mr. Brown. "And, after all, the girl we both love is no such
weakling as to accept a man simply because he asks her. She will
decide between us fairly and justly."
"Then let me have the first chance, since you think it no
advantage," said Karl impetuously.
Mr. Brown smiled grimly.
"Is there not some proverb about age before merit?" asked he.
"Besides, you have had more than four years to ask your question in,
and can very well wait a few hours longer. I came to Iowa on purpose
to ask mine, and shall go away to-morrow."
"I don't see, sir, but you saints are just as obstinate in getting
what you want as we sinners," said the younger man petulantly.
The chaplain laughed outright.
"A man at thirty has seldom subdued his worldly passions and
intentions to the degree of sainthood," said he. "And I will not
deny that my heart is very much engaged in this matter. However, I
will be generous, and you may take your chance first."
He reined in his steed as he spoke, and, waiting beside the road
until the young ladies came up, made some remark to Kitty relating
to a question she had asked him concerning Virginian roads as
compared with those of the West, and, by turning into the track
beside her, rather obliged Dora to ride forward to the turn of the
road, where Karl awaited her. But Kitty's satisfaction in the
decided intention Mr. Brown had shown of speaking to her was rather
dampened by perceiving how frequently his attention wandered from
what she was saying, and how earnestly his eyes were fixed upon the
two figures riding briskly in advance.
"If he can only look at Dora, why don't he go and ride with her?"
muttered Kitty; and, as her companion turned his eyes inquiringly
upon her, she asked aloud,--
"Are you pretty quick at hearing, Mr. Brown?"
"Not especially. Why?"
"Oh! I thought you looked as if you would like to hear what Charlie
is saying to Dora."
"And you thought it was very rude of me to be so inattentive to
you," added Mr. Brown, bending his dark eyes upon her with a smile.
Kitty colored guiltily, and answered hastily,--
"Oh dear, no! I'm used to finding myself of no account beside Dora."
Mr. Brown looked again at her, and then, with a sudden association
of ideas, asked,--
"Kitty, are you going to tell me, before I go away, what made you
feel so badly the day I came and found you in the wood?"
Again Kitty's face glowed beneath his gaze, and her bright black
eyes drooped in rare confusion. She was about to answer hastily and
coldly, but found herself checked by a softer impulse. Why should
she not tell him somewhat of the trouble at her heart, and so win at
least sympathy and pity, if nothing more? So she said in a low
"No one cares much for me, I think."
"No one?-not your brother?"
Kitty raised her eyes to the far vista point where Karl and Dora
vanished into the forest, their horses moving close to each other's
side, and then brought them back to the face of her companion. The
look was eloquent, and he said,--
"Yes; but by and by, perhaps, he will not be so engrossed."
The young girl raised her head with a superb gesture.
"To wait for by and by, when some one else has done with him, is not
my idea of love."
Mr. Brown looked at her more attentively, and smiled.
"I think the day will come when some man will love you first and
best of all," said he, in a tone, not of flattery, but of honest
admiration, which fell like sunlight upon the waste places of poor
"Oh! I'm not good enough, or smart enough, or good-looking enough.
He never will," replied she hastily, and then colored crimson again
at the meaning beneath her words.
Again Mr. Brown keenly eyed her, and asked,--
"He? Do you mean some one in particular? No: forgive me. I have no
right to ask such a question. I am only your friend, not a father
Kitty, dumb with confusion and a sudden terror, made no effort to
reply; and, after a moment, Mr. Brown led the way to a quiet
conversation upon the young girl's previous life, her early pursuits
and affections, and finally to the passionate love and regret for
her dead mother, in which he found the key to all she was and all
she might be. So employed, the psychological student even forgot his
own affairs, and for half an hour hardly remembered Dora riding on
beside Karl, who, like the cowardly bather, dallying first with one
foot and then the other in the water's edge, and losing all his
courage before the final plunge, had talked with her of almost every
thing beneath the sun, and worn out his own patience and hers,
before she said, turning her clear eyes full upon him,--
"Karl, be honest and straightforward. It is kinder to us both."
The young man heaved a sigh of relief.
"That's it, Dora. There isn't another such girl in the world. Don't
you know, in camp I used to say I relied upon you for protection,
and for making a man of me instead of an idle boy? O Dora! there's
nothing you couldn't do with me."
He spoke the last words in an imploring voice, and fixed his eyes
upon her averted face. Then, as she did not speak, he went on:--
"It isn't any thing I can offer you, Dora, except the chance of
doing good: I know that well enough. What I am, you know; but what I
might become to please you none of us can know. And I do love you
so, Dora! I know it sounds bald and silly to say just those few
words; but they mean so much to me! and I've meant it so long and so
heartily! No; don't speak just yet: I want to make you feel first,
if I can, how dreadfully in earnest I am. When I first saw you there
at your old home, and you took care of me so tenderly, and looked at
me, so pityingly out of your great brown eyes, my heart warmed to
you; and then in camp, you know-O Dora Darling! you cannot say but
you knew how dearly I grew to love you even then: and when I found
you were my own kin; and when you came to my own home, and my mother
took you to her heart, and thanked God for having given her another
daughter, and such a daughter; and when I saw your daily life among
us, and saw how noble, and how unselfish, and how true, and brave,
you were through all the sorrow, and the trials, and the loneliness,
and the petty spite and insults, you had to endure; and then here,
where you are like a wise and gracious queen among her subjects,--O
Dora! what is there in you that does not call forth my highest love,
my truest reverence? and what better could life do for me than to
grant me the privilege of worshipping and following you all my days,
and making myself into just what sort of man would suit you best?"
And the true-hearted young fellow felt his words strike home to his
own soul so earnestly that he could add to them nothing of the flood
of tenderness and homage swelling there, but only looked at his
cousin piteously; while she, with drooping head and averted eyes,
rode on for a few moments in silence, and then said softly,--
"I hoped, dear Karl, you would never speak of it again. We have been
so happy the last year!"--
"O Dora!" interposed the young man in a voice of agony, "never say
you are going to refuse me! Happy! yes, I have been happy, because I
have looked forward to this day, and thought it might be the
beginning of a life to which this has been but the gray dawn before
the sunrise. You have been so kind to me, so frank and affectionate!
and all the time you knew-oh! you must have known-what was in my
heart. Yes; and, if it had not been for this meddling parson's
"Hush, Karl!" interrupted Dora decisively. "I will not have you
unjust or ungenerous to a man far nobler and purer and wiser than
either you or I. Mr. Brown's visit has nothing to do with what I say
to-day; nor did I know, as you think I did, that you would again ask
me the question you asked a year ago. I only remembered it, when,
last week, you reminded me of the date; and I only let you speak
to-day, because it is better for us both to say out all that is in
our hearts, and then to let the matter rest."
She, paused a moment, and recommenced in a lower and more tender
"I am so sorry, Karl, to give you pain! If the only trouble was that
I don't want to marry you, I wouldn't mind saying no; for I love you
very much: only I don't believe it is the way girls commonly love
the men they marry. But it wouldn't be right."
"Not right! Oh! why not right, Dora?"
"Because it would spoil both of us. You ask me to make any thing of
you I like; but that is not the way. It is you yourself that must
make a man of yourself. If I should try to do it, I should only make
a puppet of you, and a conceited, tyrannical woman of myself. It
would not be good for me to rule as you want me to do; and surely no
man would deliberately say it would be good for him to be ruled, and
that by his wife."
There was a touch of scorn in the tone of the last words; and Karl's
check flushed hotly, as he said,--
"It's hard that you should despise me for loving you so well that I
am ready to forget pride and manly dignity, and every thing else,
for the sake of it."
"No; but, Karl, don't you see yourself what an injury such a love
must be to you? Forget pride and manly dignity and self-respect do
you say? A true love, a good love, would make you cherish them as
you never did before; would make you claim and hold every inch of
manhood that is in you, so that you might feel yourself worthy of
that love. O, Karl! never again offer to put yourself under the foot
of any woman, but wait till you meet one whom you can hold by the
hand, and lead along, keeping equal step with yourself, and both
pressing forward to a common goal."
She turned her face upon him, all aglow with a noble enthusiasm far
above the maiden bashfulness that but now had held it averted, and
extended her hand, saying,--
"Come, dear Karl, forget this idle dream. Be once more my brother
and my helper. Trust me, no one cares more for you so than I; not
He took the hand, put it to his lips, then rode on silently.
Dora's kind eyes sought his again and again, but vainly. His face,
pale and somewhat stern gave no clew to the feelings within: the
mouth, more firmly set than its wont, seemed sealed to love forever.
For the first time in all the interview, Dora found herself troubled
and perplexed. Here was nothing to soothe, nothing to combat,
nothing to answer or to silence; and her womanly sympathies
fluttered about this manly reticence like a humming-bird around a
flower frozen into the heart of an iceberg.
At last, she spoke; and her voice had grown almost caressing in its
"You're not angry with me, Karl?"
He glanced at her, then away.
"Certainly not, Dora. On the contrary, I am much obliged to you."
"Obliged to me!" exclaimed Dora; her feminine pique just touched a
trifle. "What, for saying no?"
"For showing me that I am a fool. It was time I knew it, and I had
rather hear it from you than any one. Why should you care for me? I
am not a man to respect, like Mr. Brown, or one to admire, like Mr.
Burroughs,--I suppose it will be one of them; but I only hope either
one may give you half--No matter, wait here a moment in the shade. I
am going back to speak to Kitty."
He sharply wheeled his horse as he spoke, and was gone. Dora looked
after him in sorrowful perplexity, and then tears gathered in her
eyes; but, before they could fall, the unswerving rectitude
underlying her whole nature came to its relief, and she dashed them
"But I was right."
THE SECOND CHANCE.
REINING up her horse under the shadow of a clump of trees, Dora
waited, as her cousin had requested, for his return; and so much
pre-occupied was she with her own thoughts, that she failed to hear
the quick footfalls of an approaching horse, until his rider
slackened speed beside her, and Dora, looking up, saw that it was
She grew a little pale, divining, not only from the presence of the
chaplain, but from a joyous and significant light in the eyes that
encountered hers, what might be his errand; and though she had not
failed to foresee this moment, no man, and surely no woman, is ever
so prepared for the great crises of life that they fail to come at
the last with almost as much of a shock as if they came quite
She turned her horse into the track, and rode on, her eyes fixed
upon the wide prairie-view, which seemed to dance and shimmer before
them as if all Nature had suddenly grown as strange and unreal as
she felt herself. Her companion spoke, and in her ears his voice
sounded as from some far mountain-cave, hollow, broken, and vague;
and yet the words were far from momentous.
"Dora, I must leave you to-morrow."
"I am very sorry, sir," faltered Dora; and Mr. Brown, glancing at
her face, could not but notice its unwonted agitation. His own
wishes, and his sex, led him to misconstrue it; and, pressing, his
horse closer to her side, he said joyfully,--
"And so am I sorry, Dora; but I need not be gone long if you wish
for my return."
Dora did not speak; indeed, she could not: for the wild dance of sky
and plain, of prairie and forest, grew yet wilder; and in her ears
the voice of the chaplain mingled with a dizzy hum that almost
drowned the words. She grasped the horn of her saddle with both
hands, and only thought of saving herself from falling. The horse
was halted, an arm was about her waist, her head drawn to a
resting-place upon a steady shoulder; and that strange, far-off
"My darling, my long-loved, long-sought treasure, calm yourself; be
happy and secure in my love. Did you ever doubt that it was yours?"
He stooped to kiss her: but, at the motion, the virginal instincts
of the young girl's nature rallied to the defence; and, with a
sudden spring, Dora sat upright, her face very pale, but her eyes
clear and steadfast as their wont.
"Oh, sir, indeed you must not!" cried she, as pleadingly as a little
child, who will not be caressed, yet knows not why he should refuse.
"Must not, Dora?" persisted the lover gayly. "But why must I not
kiss my own betrothed?"
"But I am not; I cannot be. Don't be angry, sir: I would have spoken
sooner; but I could not. I believe I was a little faint;" and Dora's
eyes timidly sought those of the chaplain, who, meeting them,
remembered many such a glance when his pupil had feared to displease
him by inattention or disobedience. Again he thought to have
discovered the source of her refusal, and again he failed.
"Dora," said he gently, "you do not forget, that, some years ago, we
bore the relation of master and pupil; and you still regard me with
a certain deference and reserve, which, perhaps, blinds you to the
true relation existing between us now. Remember, dear, that I am yet
a younger man; and although my profession may have induced a certain
gravity of manner, contrasting, perhaps unpleasantly, with your gay
cousins joyous demeanor, I have all, or more than all, of his
fervency of feeling; far more, I trust, of depth and steadfastness
in my love for you."
"Please, Mr. Brown," interposed Dora, "do not let us say any thing
about Karl. He is not concerned in this."
"You are right, Dora, and I was wrong," said Mr. Brown with a little
effort of magnanimity. "But I was only trying to convince you that
my love is quite as ardent, and quite as tender, as that of a
younger and gayer man could be."
"Yes, sir," said Dora timidly, as he paused for her assent.
"Not 'Yes, sir,' child!" exclaimed the chaplain impatiently. "Don't
treat me with this distant respect and timid reverence. I am your
lover, your would-be comrade through life, as once through the less
earnest battles of war. Call me Frank, and look into my face and
smile as I have seen you smile on Karl."
A quick smile dimpled Dora's cheek, and passed.
"Not Karl, please, sir."
"Dora, if you say 'sir' to me again, I'll kiss you."
"Please not, Mr. Brown," said Dora demurely, "until you quite
"Well then, let me quite understand you very quick; for I think I
shall exact the penalty, even without further offence."
"But I cannot promise,--I cannot be what you said," stammered Dora,
half terrified, half confused.
"Nay, darling,--I am going to always call you that, as expressive
both of name and nature,--it is you who do not quite understand
either yourself or me. I do not expect, or even wish, you to profess
a love for me as ardent, open, and pronounced as my own: that were
to make you other than the modest and delicately reserved maiden I
have loved so long. All I ask you to feel is, that you can trust
yourself to my guidance through life; that you can place your future
in my hands, believing me capable of shaping it aright; that you can
promise to tread with me the path I have selected, sure that it
shall be my care to remove from it all thorns, all obstacles that
mortal power may control, and that my arms shall bear you tenderly
over the rough places I cannot make smooth for you.
"Dora, years ago I resolved that you should be my wife, God and you
consenting. I have waited until I thought you old enough to decide
calmly and wisely; but, through these years of waiting, I have
cherished a hope, almost a certainty, of success, that has struck
deep roots among the very foundations of my life. You will not tear
it away! Dora, you do not know me: you cannot guess at the ardor or
the power of a love I have never dared wholly to reveal even to
myself. Trust it, Dora: it cannot but make you happy. Give yourself
to me, dear child; and I will account to God for the precious
Never man was more in earnest, never was wooing at once so fervent
and so lofty in its tone; and so Dora felt it. The temptation to
yield, without further struggle, to the belief that Mr. Brown knew
better what was good for her than she knew for herself, was very
great; but, even while she hesitated, the inherent truthfulness of
her nature rose up, and cried, "No, no! you shall not do such wrong
to me who am the Right!" and turning, with an effort, to meet the
keen eyes reading her face, she said, still timidly perhaps, but
"I am but a simple girl, almost a child in some things, and you are
a wise and good man, learned in books and in the way of the world;
but I must judge for myself, and must believe my own heart sooner
than you in such matters as these. Years ago, as you say, I was your
pupil, and you then nobly offered to adopt me as your child or
"As my future wife, Dora. I meant it from the very first,"
interposed the chaplain impetuously.
"I did not know that: perhaps it makes a difference. But, at any
rate, I promised then, that if I went home with Capt. Karl, and you
wanted me afterward, I would come to you whenever you said so."
"Yes, yes; that is quite true: well?" demanded Mr. Brown eagerly.
"Well, sir, a promise is a promise; and, if you demand it now, I
will come and live with you, or you can come, and live with me,--not
as your wife, however, but as your sister and child and friend."
"You will come and live with me, but not marry me!" exclaimed the
young man, with a gleam of amusement at the unworldly proposal
lighting his dark eyes.
"Yes, sir," replied Dora, without looking up.
To her infinite astonishment and dismay, she found herself suddenly
embraced, and a hearty kiss tingling upon her lips.
"I am sorry if you don't like it, Dora; but I said I would if you
called me 'sir' again; and you are so scrupulous about your
promises, you cannot wish me to break mine."
"Then I am afraid I must promise, if you do so again, to go back and
ride with Kitty all the rest of the way," said Dora, as, with
heightened color and a decided pout, she drew her left-hand rein so
sharply as to wheel Max to the other side of the road.
"Dora, I am afraid you are a little of a coquette, after all!"
exclaimed the lover, gazing at her with admiration.
"Oh, no indeed, Mr. Brown! I wouldn't be for the world! I said just
what I meant to you. I always do."
"But why, then, if you love me well enough to live with me as
sister, child, or friend, can't you also live with me as wife?"
"Because, sir,--oh, no! I didn't mean sir,--because"--
"Frank, I told you to call me."
"Because, Frank, I don't love you that way."
The answer was so explicit, so unembarrassed, and so quiet, that,
for the first time, Mr. Brown believed it.
"Not love me, Dora, when I love you so much!" exclaimed he in
"Not love you in a wife way, Frank, but a great deal in every other
way. And then I don't think we should be happy together if we were
"And why not?" asked the young man, smiling in spite of himself at
the quiet opinion.
"Because, as you said, you want me to put my life into your hands,
and you will shape it; and you want me to set my feet in your path,
and follow it with you; and you want me to trust my soul to you, and
you will guide it: but I could never do that, Mr. Brown; never for
any man, I think. I could never forget that God has given me a life,
and a path, and a soul, all my own, and not to be judged except by
Him and myself: and I am afraid I should always be asking if your
guiding was in the same direction that I was meant to go; and, if I
thought it was not, I should be very unhappy, and should try to live
my own life, and not yours; and that would make trouble."
"Yes, that would make trouble certainly, Dora," said the chaplain
gravely. "But are you sure that a young and comparatively unlearned
woman like yourself would be a better judge of what was right and
best than a man of mature years, who has made the care of souls his
profession and most earnest duty?"
"No, Mr. Brown, not if I judged for myself: but I think God has
especial care of those, who, like me, have none else to guide them;
and I think this voice in my heart is the surest teaching of all."
The profound conviction of her tone was final; the simple faith of
her argument was unassailable: and Mr. Brown, skillful polemic that
he was, found himself silenced.
After a moment, he said calmly,--
"Dora, you will not forget that this is, to me at least, a very
serious, indeed a vital matter. Is what you have just said the
solemn conviction of your own heart? or have you suffered yourself
to be misled by the tendency to self-esteem and perverseness I have
sometimes had occasion to reprove in you? Have you thoroughly
searched your own heart to its deepest depths? and is not your
refusal tinctured by the natural reluctance of a determined nature
to yield to a love, which, in woman, must bring with it some degree
of dependence and deference?"
He looked almost severely into the pale face and earnest eyes
upraised to his, and read there pain, anxiety, an humble appeal, but
not one trace of hesitation, not one shade of duplicity.
"I have searched my own heart, Mr. Brown; and I am sure of its
answer. I never, never, can be your wife, so long as we both live."
"That is sufficient, Dora. I am rightly punished for building my
hopes and my happiness upon the sandy foundations of an earthly
love. They perish, and leave me desolate; but, among the ruins, I
yet can say, 'It is rightly and justly done.'"
The bitter pain in his voice pierced to Dora's very heart, and
wounded it almost as sorely as she had wounded his. The rare tears
overflowed her eyes; and, pressing close to his side, she laid a
hand upon his own, saying,--
"Oh, forgive me!-say you forgive me! Indeed, I must do and say what
conscience bids me, at all cost."
"It is not for me to gainsay such a precept as that," said the
"But I will come to you, and live as long as you want me. I will be
everything but wife. Say I may do this, or I shall never forgive
myself. Say I may make some amends for the pain I have given you."
The young man laughed bitterly, then, turning suddenly, seized both
her hands, and looked deep into her eyes.
"My poor child," cried he, "my innocent lamb, who turns from the
shepherd because she will not be guided, and yet is all unfit to
guide herself! Do not even you, Dora, guileless and unworldly as you
are, see how impossible it would be for a young and beautiful girl
to live with a man who admires and loves her openly, without such
scandal, as should ruin both in the world's eyes, even if they saved
their own souls unspotted?"
Dora snatched away her hands, and her whole face flamed with a
She was learning fast to-day in the book of human passion,
suffering, and sin.
Without comment upon her embarrassment, the chaplain went on:--
"No, Dora: I must lay aside the dream of four sweet years, and take
up my lonely life without disguise or embellishment. I cannot
dispute your decision. I will not by one word or look urge you to
change it; for I too deeply respect the truthfulness of your
character to dream that it is capable of change. I do not say that I
forgive you, for you have done nothing calling for forgiveness; and
yet, if your tender heart should suffer, in thinking of my
suffering, remember always that what you have to-day said has
increased my respect and esteem for you fourfold: and, if it has
also added to the bitterness of my disappointment, I will not have
you reproach yourself; for I would rather reverence you as the wife
of another than to claim you as my own, and know you untrue to
yourself. And now, dear, the subject is closed utterly and forever."
IT was a balmy September evening, some weeks after Mr. Brown's
return to Ohio, when Karl, or, as he was now generally styled, Dr.
Windsor, standing beside his horse, in the quiet Main Street of
Greenfield, saw Dr. Gershom riding lazily into town, accompanied by
a sturdy, good-looking lad, also on horseback, whom Karl failed to
"A new student, maybe," thought he, and, taking his foot out of the
stirrup, waited to see.
"Hollo, Windsor, hold on a minute!" shouted Dr. Gershom as they
approached. "Here's a young gentleman asking for you."
Karl bowed, and began hastily to review his half-forgotten army
acquaintances; failing, however, to identify any of them with the
young man now bowing to him, and taking a letter from his
"Mr. Brown favored me with this letter of introduction to you, sir,"
said he, holding it out.
Karl glanced hastily at the few lines, and remembered an allusion
the chaplain had made to a particularly promising student of his,
whom he thought of sending to travel a little in the West. So he
frankly smiled, extended his hand, and said,--
"Ah, yes! I have heard Mr. Brown speak of you, Mr. Ginniss; and I am
very happy to welcome you to our prairie life. I am just setting out
for home; and, if you please, we will ride along directly."
"Better come in, boys, and have a glass of bitters to keep the
night-air off your stomachs. Got some of the real stuff right here
in the office," said the old doctor; but, both young men declining
the proffered hospitality, he withdrew, grumbling,--
"You never'll make it work, Windsor, I tell you now! Such a dog's
life as a country doctor's isn't to be kept up without fuel."
Karl laughed, and, turning to his new acquaintance, said,--
"So they told me in the army; but I got through without. I never
tasted spirit but once, and then I didn't like it."
"I never have at all," said Ginniss simply. "I gave my mother a
promise, when I was twelve years old, that I never would; and I
"That's right," said he; "and all the better for you to have had
such a mother."
"You'd say that, Mr. Windsor, if you knew what she'd done for me.
There ain't many such mothers in any class," said the young man
Karl looked at his new acquaintance with increasing favor, and found
something very attractive in his open, manly face, and the honest
smile with which he met his scrutiny.
"I hope you'll stay with us some time, Mr. Ginniss," said he
"Thank you; but, I believe, only for one day. The journey was my
principal object in coming; and I must be at Antioch College again
in a week, or ten days at the outside."
"Tell me about the life there. I was at old Harvard, and never
visited any other college," said Karl; and the young men found
plenty of conversation, until, in the soft twilight, they came upon
the pleasant slope and vine-clad buildings of Outpost.
"Here is our house, or rather my cousin's house," said Karl. "You
have heard Mr. Brown speak of Dora?"
"Yes, before he went away," said Ginniss significantly.
"But not since his return?" asked Karl eagerly.
"Hem! Seth, will you take our horses round? Jump off, and come in,
sir. This is my sister Kitty, Mr. Ginniss. A scholar of Mr. Brown's,
Kitty: I dare say you remember his speaking of him."
"Yes, indeed! Very happy to see you, Mr. Ginniss; walk in," said
Kitty, who, if she had never heard the line, certainly knew how to
apply the idea, of,--"It is not the rose; but it has lived near the
"Where is Dora?" asked Karl, glancing round the room where the
pretty tea-table stood spread, and Dora's hat and gloves lay upon a
chair; but no other sign of her presence was to be found.
"Why," said Kitty, laughing a little, "Dolly took a fancy for
rafting down the river on a log that she somehow managed to push off
from the bank. Of course, she slipped off the first thing, and might
have been drowned; but Argus got her out somehow, and Seth, hearing
the noise, ran down and brought her home. Of course, she was
dripping wet; and Dora has put her to bed."
"Is it a sanitary or a disciplinary measure?" asked Karl: "because,
if the latter, we shall have Dora out of spirits all the evening.
She never punishes Dolce half so much as she does herself."
"Well, I believe it is a little of both this time," replied Kitty.
"I think she'll be down to tea. You had better take Mr. Ginniss
right into your bedroom, Charlie. Perhaps he'd like to wash his
hands before tea."
"Thank you; I should, if you please," said the guest, and left the
room with his host.
When they returned, Dora was waiting to receive them, somewhat pale
and sad at having felt obliged to refuse Sunshine's entreaties to
"get up, and be the 'bedientest little girl that ever was," but
courteously attentive to the guest, and ready to be interested and
sympathetic in hearing all Karl's little experiences of the day. As
for Kitty, her careless inquiry on seating herself at the table,
"How has Mr. Brown been since he got home?" may serve as index to
the course of her meditations.
"How in the world came Dolce to undertake the rafting business?"
asked Karl, when his sister's inquiries had been amply satisfied.
"Why, poor little thing!" said Dora, laughing a little, "she thought
she had found the way to heaven. She noticed from the window how
very blue the river was, and, as she says, 'goldy all over in
spots:' so she slipped out, and ran down there, forgetting for once
that she is forbidden to do so. Standing on the brink, she saw the
reflection of the little white clouds floating overhead, and was
suddenly possessed with an idea that this was heaven, or the
entrance to it. So, as she told me, she thought she would float out
on the log till she got to the middle, and then 'slip off, and fall
right into heaven.'"
"How absurd!" said Kitty, laughing.
"Not at all. She would certainly have reached heaven if she had
carried out the plan," said Karl.
"Don't, please," murmured Dora, with a little shiver. "Don't talk of
"That is like a little sister of mine; a little adopted sister, at
least. She was always talking of going to heaven, and planning to
get there," said the guest.
Dora looked at him with pity in her honest eyes, and hastened to
prevent Kitty's evident intention of questioning him further with
regard to this "little sister."
"It seems to be a natural instinct with children," said she "to long
for heaven. Perhaps that is the reason they bring so much of heaven
"I'm afraid mothers of large and troublesome families would say that
earth would be better with less of heaven," suggested Karl slyly;
and the conversation suddenly veered to other topics. But all
through the evening, and even after he had gone to rest, the mind of
Teddy Ginniss was haunted by the memory of the pretty child, so
loved and mourned, and of whom this anecdote of the little
heaven-seeker so forcibly reminded him.
"Whose child is this, I wonder?" thought he a dozen times: but, in
the hints he had solicited from Mr. Brown upon manners, none had
been more urgent than that forbidding inquisition into other
people's affairs; and indeed Teddy's natural tact and refinement
would have prevented his erring in this respect. So now he held his
peace, and slept unsatisfied.
This may have been the reason of his rising unusually early,--in
fact, while the rosy clouds of dawn were yet in the sky,--and quietly
leaving the house with the purpose of a river-bath. Strolling some
distance down the bank, until the intervening trees shut off the
house, he plunged in, and found himself much refreshed by a swim of
ten minutes through waters gorgeous with the colors of the
sunrise-sky; and, as he paused to notice them, Teddy muttered,--
"The poor little sister! She'd have done just the same if she'd been
It was hardly time to return to the house when the young man stood
again upon the bank; and he strolled on through the wood, at this
point touching upon the river so closely, that a broken reflection
of the green foliage curved and shimmered along the fast-flowing
Teddy looked at the water; he looked at the trees; he looked long
and eagerly across the wide prairie that far westward imperceptibly
melted its dim green into the faint blue of the horizon, leaving
between the two a belt of tender color, nameless, but inexpressibly
tempting and suggestive to the eye. All this the lad saw, and,
raising his face skyward, drew in a long draught of such air as
never reaches beyond the prairies.
"Oh, but it's good!" exclaimed he, with more meaning to the simple
phrase than many a man has put to an oration. And then he muttered,
as he walked on,--
"If it wasn't for the thought that's always lying like a stone at
the bottom of my heart, there'd not be a happier fellow alive to-day
than I. Oh the little sister!-the little sister that I never shall
forget, nor forgive myself for the loss of!"
And, from the cottonwood above his head, a mocking-bird, who had
perhaps caught the trick of grief from some neighbor whippoorwill,
poured suddenly a flood of plaintive melody, that to the boy's warm
Irish fancy seemed a lament over the loved and lost.
He took off his hat, and looked up into the tree.
"Heaven's blessings on you, birdy!" said he. "It's the very way I'd
have said it myself; but I didn't know how."
The mocking-bird flew on; and Teddy followed, hoping for a
repetition of the strain: but the capricious little songster only
twittered promises of a coming happiness greater than any pleasure
his best efforts could afford, and darted away to the recesses of
the forest, where was in progress an Art-Union matin‚e of such music
as all the wealth of all our cities cannot buy for us.
Teddy followed for a while; and then, fearing that he should be lost
in the trackless wood, turned his back upon the rising sun, and
walked, as be supposed, in the direction of the house, his eyes upon
the ground, his mind strangely busy with thoughts and memories of
the life he had left so far behind, that, in the press and hurry of
his present career, it sometimes seemed hardly to belong to him.
"God and my lady have been very good to me," thought the boy; "but I
never'll be as happy again as when the little sister put her arms
about my neck, and called me her dear Teddy, and kissed me with her
own sweet mouth that maybe is dust and ashes now. No: I never'll be
happy that way again."
He raised his eyes as he spoke, and started back, pale and
trembling, fain to lean against the nearest tree for support under
the great shock.
Not fifty feet from him, and bathed in the early sunlight that came
sifting through the trees to greet her, stood a child, dressed in a
white robe, her sunny hair crowned with flowers, her little hand
holding sceptre-wise a long stalk with snow-white bells drooping
from its under edge. Her arms were bare to the shoulder, and her
slender feet gleamed white from the bed of moss that almost buried
them. Still as a little statue, or a celestial vision printing
itself in one never-to-be-forgotten moment upon the heart of the
beholder, she stood looking at him; and Teddy dropped upon his
"It's out of glory you've come to comfort me, darling! and God ever
bless you for the same!"
The child looked at him with her starry eyes, and slowly smiled.
"I knew you sometime," said she. "Was it in heaven ?"
"No: it's better than ever I'll be, you know, in heaven, little
sister. Are you happy there, mavourneen?" asked Teddy timidly.
"Oh! I haven't gone to heaven yet. I never could find the way," said
the child, with a troubled expression suddenly clouding her sweet
face; and then she added musingly,--
"I thought I'd get there through the river last night; but I tumbled
off the log, and only got wet: and Dora said I was naughty; and so I
had to go to bed, and not have some supper, only"--
"What's that, then!" shouted Teddy, springing to his feet, and
holding out his hands toward her, though not yet daring to approach.
" It's not the spirit of the little sister you are, but a live
"Yes, I'm alive; though, if I'd staid into the river, I wouldn't
have been, Dora says," replied Sunshine quietly.
"Oh! but the Lord in heaven look down on us this day, and keep me
from going downright mad with the joy that's breaking my heart! Is
it yourself it is, O little sister! is it yourself that's in it, and
I alive to see it?"
He was at her feet now, his white face all bathed with tears, his
trembling fingers timidly clasping her robe, his eyes raised
imploringly to those serenely bent upon him.
"I knew you once and you was good to me," said the child musingly;
"but I got tired when I danced so much in the street. I don't ever
dance now, only with Argus."
"But, little sister, are you just sure, it's yourself alive? And
don't you mind I was Teddy, and we used to go walking in the Gardens
and on the Commons; and there was the good mammy at home that used
to rock you on her lap, and warm the pretty little feet in her
hands, and sing to you till you dropped asleep? Don't you mind them
things, Cherry darling?"
The child looked attentively in his face while he thus spoke, and at
the end nodded several times; while a light, like that of earliest
dawn, began to glimmer in her eyes.
"Tell me some more," said she briefly.
"And do you mind the picture-books I used to bring you home, and the
story of the Cock Robin you used to like so well to hear, and the
skip-jack you played with, and the big doll that mammy made for you,
and you called it Susan?"--
"O--h! Susan!" cried the child suddenly, and then stood all pale and
trembling, while her earnest eyes seemed searching in the past for
some dimly-remembered secret, which to lose was agony, to recall
"Susan!" said she softly again. "Yes, there was Susan, somewhere,
and--Oh! tell me the rest, tell me who it was that loved me so!"
"Sure, it was Teddy loved you best of all," said the boy longingly:
for, though her eager eyes dwelt upon his face, it was not for him
or his that the depths of her heart were stirring; and, with the old
thrill of jealous pain, he felt it so.
But then from the remorse and bitterness of the fault he had never
ceased to mourn rose a nobler purpose, a higher love. He took the
child in his arms, and kissed her tenderly, then released her,
"Good-by, little sister; for I never will call you so again, and you
never more will call me brother. It's your own lady-mother, darling,
that you're missing and mourning,--the own beautiful mother that lost
you two years ago, and has gone to heaven's gates looking for you,
and never would have come back if you had not been found. It's your
own home, darling, that you have remembered for heaven; and it's
waiting for you, with father and mother, and joy and plenty, all
ready to receive you the minute you can get there."
But it was too much for the fine organization and sensitive
temperament; and, as Teddy's words reached her heart in their full
meaning, the child, with a long sobbing cry, fell forward into his
arms, utterly insensible.
Teddy, not too much terrified for he had seen her thus before,
raised the slender little figure in his arms, and carried it swiftly
toward the house, now just visible through a vista of the wood, but,
before he reached it, met Dora coming to look for her little charge.
"Good-morning, Mr. Ginniss. So you have caught my naughty runaway,"
cried she gayly; but coming near enough to notice Sunshine's
drooping figure, and Teddy's agitated face, she sprang forward,
"Is any thing the matter with her? Where did you find her, Mr.
"She's fainted, ma'am; but it's with joy, and will never hurt her.
It's you and I that will be the sufferers, I'm afraid," said Teddy,
with a sudden pang at his heart of love not yet cleansed of selfish
"Bring her to the house, please, as quickly as you can. Poor little
darling, she is so delicate!" said Dora, not yet caring to ask this
strange news, but walking close beside Teddy, her hand clasping that
cold little one which swung nervelessly over his shoulder, her eyes
anxiously watching the beautiful pale face, half hidden in the
To Mr. Burroughs, smoking his cigar upon the piazza of the Neff
House, came a white-jacketed waiter with a card.
"The gentleman is waiting in the reception-room, sir," said he.
Mr. Burroughs paused to watch an unusually perfect ring of smoke
lazily floating above his head; then took the card, and read in
"Theodore Ginniss would be glad to see Mr. Burroughs a moment on
"Indeed! Well, it is a republic, and this is the West; but only
Jack's bean-stalk parallels such a growth." So said, in his own
heart, Teddy Ginniss's former master, as he drew two or three rapid
whiffs from the stump of his cigar, and then, throwing it into the
grass, strolled leisurely into the reception-room.
"Ah, Ginniss! how are you?" inquired he of the pale and nervous
young man, who stood up to receive him, half extending his hand, but
dropping it quickly upon perceiving those of Burroughs immovable.
"I am well, sir, thank you."
"Want to see me on business, do you say?" continued the lawyer
"Yes, sir." And, as his true purpose and position came back to him,
Teddy suddenly straightened himself, and grew as cool as the stately
gentleman waiting with patient courtesy for his errand.
"I thought, sir, I'd come to you first, as it was to you I first had
occasion to speak of my fault in hiding her. 'Toinette is found,
"What! 'Toinette Legrange found! Teddy, your hand, my boy! Found by
"Yes, sir," said Teddy, suffering his hand to be shaken.
"But what I wanted most was to ask if you think it safe to tell Mrs.
"Oh! I'll see to that. Of course, it must be done very delicately.
But where is the child now? and when did you find her?"
"If you please, Mr. Burroughs, I should like to tell the story first
to Mrs. Legrange, and I should like to tell her all myself. It was I
that hurt her, or helped to hurt her; and I'd like to be the one to
give her the great joy that's waiting for her. Besides, sir," and
Teddy's face grew white again, "though I did what was wrong enough,
I never deny, I have suffered for it more, maybe, than you can think
of; and this is all the amends I could ever want. Mrs. Legrange has
been very good to me, sir, and never blamed me, or spoke an unkind
word, even at the first."
"And I spoke a good many, you're thinking," said Mr. Burroughs
keenly. "Well, Teddy, I am a man, and Mrs. Legrange is a woman; and
women look at matters more leniently and less exactly than we do.
But you must not be satisfied with pity instead of justice; for that
will be to encourage your self-esteem at the expense of your
manhood. I do not deny that I never have recovered from my surprise
at finding you had so long deceived me; but the news you bring to--
day makes amends for much: and, after I have heard the particulars,
I may yet be able to forget the past, and feel to you as I used."
But Teddy's bow, though respectful, was not humble; and he only
asked in reply,--
"Where shall I find Mrs. Legrange, sir?"
"She walked down to the glen about half an hour ago. You may follow
her there, if you please; and, since you insist upon it as a right,
I will leave you to break the news to her alone. But you will
remember, I hope, that she is very delicate,--very easily startled.
You will have to be exceedingly cautious."
"Yes, sir;" and with a ceremonious bow the young man left the room,
and the next minute was seen darting along the path to the glen.
Mr. Burroughs looked after him appreciatively, and muttered,--
"A nice-looking fellow, and not without self-respect. I see no
reason why, in half a dozen years, he should not enter his name at
the Suffolk bar itself, and stand as well as any man on the roll.
But my little Sunshine! Confound the boy! why couldn't he have told
me where to find her?"
So Mr. Burroughs went back to the piazza, and tried to quiet himself
with another cigar, but was too nervous to make any more rings;
while Teddy sped away to the glen, and presently found himself in a
cool and cavernous retreat, which the sunlight only penetrated by
dancing down with the waters that slid laughingly over a rock ledge
above, and shook themselves into spray before they reached the pool
below, then, after dimpling and sporting there for a moment, danced
merrily away. At either hand, high walls of rock, half hid in
trailing vines and clinging herbage, shut out the heat of day; and,
through a thousand ever-changing peepholes among the swaying
foliage, the blue sky looked gayly down, and challenged those who
hid in the glen to come forth, and dare the fervor of the mid-day
Under a tree near the foot of the fall sat Mrs. Legrange, her head
leaning upon her hand, her book idle upon her lap, watching dreamily
the waters that swayed and ebbed, and paused and coquetted with
every flower or leaf that bent toward them; and yet in the end went
on, always on, as the idlest of us go, until through the merry
brook, the heedless fall, the sparkling stream, and stately river,
we reach at last the ocean, calm, changeless, and eternal in its
The lady looked up with a little start as she heard the approaching
footsteps, and then rose with extended hand,--
"Theodore!" said she kindly. "I am very glad to see you; and so
grown! You are much taller than in the spring."
"Yes, ma'am: I believe so. I don't think I shall grow much more,"
said Teddy, swallowing a great bunch in his throat that almost
"No? Why, you are not so very old, are you?" asked Mrs. Legrange,
smiling a little.
"Nearly eighteen, ma'am."
"Oh, well! time enough for a good deal of growth, bodily and mental,
yet. So you have been at the West?"
"Yes, ma'am, and have heard some curious things there,--some things
that I think will interest you. Have you ever thought of adopting a
little girl, ma'am?"
Mrs. Legrange sadly shook her head.
"No, Theodore: I never wished to do that. She never could be any
thing like her to me, and it would seem like giving away her place.
I had rather wait."
"I am sorry, ma'am; for I saw a little girl, where I have been, that
I was going to speak of."
"Was she a pretty child?"
"Very pretty, and looked like"--
"Theodore, don't say that, because I shall think either you have
forgotten or never learned her face. No child ever looked like her,"
said the mother positively.
"This little girl was very pretty though," persisted Teddy.
"How did she look?"
"She had great blue eyes (if you'll excuse, me, ma'am), just like
yours, with long brown eyelashes, and a great deal of bright hair,
not just brown, nor yet just golden, but between the two; and a
little mouth very much curved; and pretty teeth; and a delicate
color; and little hands with pretty finger-nails."
Teddy, for the first time in his description, dared to raise his
eyes, but dropped them again. He could not meet the anguish in those
other eyes so earnestly fixed upon him.
"She was the adopted child of the people I visited in Iowa,"
"Theodore!" said Mrs. Legrange again; and then, in a breathless
"Do not trifle with me; do not try to prepare my mind; and, oh! For
God's sake, if it is a false hope, say so this instant! Is she
"I think it may be so, dear Mrs. Legrange!"
"No, but it is so! you know it! I see it in your eyes, I hear it in
your voice! You cannot hide it, you cannot deceive me! O my God! my
God!-to thee the first praise, the first thanks!"
She fell upon her knees, her face upraised to heaven; and never
mortal artist drew such a picture of ecstatic praise. And though in
after-years Theodore Ginniss wandered through the galleries where
the world conserves her rarest gems of art, never did he find
Madonna or Magdalen or saint to compare with the one picture his
memory treasured as the perfection of earthly loveliness, made
radiant with the purest heavenly bliss.
"Now come!" exclaimed the mother, springing to her feet, and rapidly
leading the way along the narrow path. "You shall tell me all as we
And the young man found it hard work to keep pace with the delicate
woman, as she flew rather than walked towards her child.
"If you will wait here in your own room, I will bring her to you,"
said Teddy, as he and Mrs. Legrange approached the hotel again.
"Bring her! Where is she now? asked the mother, looking at him in
"I left them at the other hotel, thinking, if I brought her directly
here, we might meet you before you were told," explained Teddy.
"Who is with her?"
"Dora Darling, the young lady who adopted her,--the one I told you of
as living in Iowa."
"Yes, yes; and she has come all the way to bring my child to me! No,
I cannot wait: I will come with you."
So Mr. Burroughs, still sitting upon the piazza, saw his cousin
hastening by, and came to join her.
"Yes, come, Tom! come to-oh, to see Sunshine again!" and Mrs.
Legrange turned her flushed face away, to hide the hysterical
agitation she could not quite suppress.
"Take my arm, Fanny; and do not walk so fast. You will hurt
yourself," said Mr. Burroughs kindly.
"No, no: nothing can hurt me now. I must go fast: if I had wings, I
"Here is the house. Will you wait in the parlor till I bring her
down?" asked Teddy, leading the way up the steps of the principal
hotel at Yellow Springs.
"No: take me to the room where they are waiting. I want to see her
without preparation," said Mrs. Legrange.
So the whole party followed Teddy up the stairs to a door, where he
paused and knocked. A low voice said,--
"Come in!" and the opening door showed Dora seated upon a low chair,
with Sunshine clasped in her arms, and fast asleep. She made a
motion to rise upon seeing the visitors; but Mrs. Legrange, lifting
her finger as imploring silence softly advanced, and bent with
clasped hands and eager eyes over the sleeping child. Then, with the
graceful instinct of a woman who knows and pities the wound in the
heart of her less fortunate rival, she put her arms about Dora and
the child, embracing both, and pressed her lips lightly upon Dora's
cheek, devouringly upon Sunshine's lips.
Dora started as if she had been stung, and a sudden tremor crossed
the rigid calm of her demeanor. She had schooled herself to
indifference, to neglect or to civil thanks worse than either: but
this unexpected tenderness, this sisterly recognition, went straight
through all its defences to her quivering heart; and she looked up
piteously into the lovely face bent over her, whispering,--
"I am so glad you have found her! but I have nothing left half so
There was no reply; for Sunshine, without sound or movement,
suddenly opened her eyes, and fixed them upon her mother's face,
while deep in their blue depths grew a glad smile, breaking at last,
like a veritable sungleam, all over her face, as, holding out her
arms, she eagerly said,--
"I've come to heaven while I was asleep; and you're the angel that
loves me so dearly well. I know you by your eyes."
"The mother clasped her own,--as who shall blame her?-and Dora's arms
and Dora's heart were empty, robbed of the nestling they had
cherished,--empty, as she said to herself, turning from the sight of
that maternal bliss, of the best love she had ever known, or could
Mr. Burroughs, who liked character-reading, watched her narrowly;
and when, presently, the whole party returned to Mrs. Legrange's
hotel, he quietly walked beside Dora, lingering a little, and
detaining her out of hearing of Mrs. Legrange and Teddy, who walked
on with Sunshine between them.
"Is virtue its own reward, Miss Dora?" asked he abruptly, when
almost half the distance between the two hotels was passed.
Dora looked at him a little puzzled; and then, as she read the
half-sympathizing, half-mocking expression of his face, answered,--
"You mean I am not happy in bringing Sunshine back to her mother;
"Exactly; and you told me once that no one ought to be rewarded for
doing what is right, because it is reward enough to know that we are
"And so it is. I don't want any reward," said Dora rather hastily.
"No: but, if young Ginniss had not discovered the identity of the
child, my cousin would not have been unhappier than she has been for
two years; and you-would you not be at this moment better content
Dora's clear eyes looked straight into his as she wonderingly
"Do you want me to say I am sorry Mrs. Legrange has found her
"If it is true, yes; and I know you will," replied Mr. Burroughs
"And so I would," said Dora, in the same tone; "but it is not true.
I am glad, not happy, but very glad, that Sunshine has come to her
mother at last,--her heaven, as she calls it. I do not deny that my
own heart is very sore, and that I cannot yet think of her not being
my child any more, without"--
She turned away her head, and Mr. Burroughs looked at her yet more
attentively than he had been looking.
"But, if you could, you would not go back, and arrange it that Teddy
should not come to your house? Word and honor now, Dora."
"Word and honor, Mr. Burroughs, I surely would not. Can you doubt
"No, Dora, I do not; but, in your place, I should doubt myself."
Dora looked at him with a frank smile.
"I would trust you in this place, or any other," said she simply.
"Would you, would you really, Dora?" asked Tom Burroughs eagerly,
while a slight color flashed into his handsome face. "Why would
"Because I feel sure you could never do any thing mean or
ungenerous, or feel any way but nobly"--
She paused suddenly, and a tide of crimson suffused her face and
neck. Mr. Burroughs, with the heroism of perfect breeding, turned
away his eyes, and suppressed the enthusiastic answer that had risen
to his lips. He would not add to her confusion by accepting as
extraordinary the impulsive expression of her feelings. So he simply
said, after a moment of silence,--
"Thank you, Dora. I hope you may never have occasion to regret your
Dora did not answer, but hastened her steps, until she walked close
behind Mrs. Legrange; nor did her companion speak again, although,
could Dora have read his thoughts, she might have found in them
matter of more interest than any words he had ever spoken to her.
WHAT DORA SAID.
IT had been Dora's intention to return to Iowa immediately after
leaving Sunshine in charge of her own friends; but Mrs. Legrange
insisted so urgently upon her remaining with them for some weeks at
least, and the parting with the dear child she had so loved and
cherished seemed so cruel as it drew nearer and nearer, that she
finally consented to remain for a short time, and removed to the
Neff House, where Mrs. Legrange had engaged rooms until the first of
To other natures than those called to encounter it, the relation
between these three might, for a time at least, have been painful
and perplexing; but Mrs. Legrange was possessed of such exquisite
tact, Sunshine of such abounding and at the same time delicate
affections, and Dora of such a noble and generous temper, that they
could not but harmonize: and while 'Toinette bloomed, flower-like,
into new and wonderful beauty bathed in the sunlight of a double
love, Mrs. Legrange never forgot to associate Dora with herself as
its source. And Dora joyed in her darling's joy; and, if her heart
ached at thought of the coming loneliness, the pain expressed itself
no otherwise than in an added tenderness.
"That is a noble girl, Fanny," said Mr. Burroughs one day. "How
different from our dear five hundred friends at home! Put Mary
Elmsly, or Lizzy Patterson, or Miss Bloomsleigh, or Marion Lee, in
her place, and how would they fill it?"
"She is, indeed, a noble girl," replied his cousin warmly. "I never
shall forget the tender and wise care she has taken of Sunshine in
this last year. She has strengthened heart and principle as I am
afraid I could never have done."
"Paul is coming out for you, isn't he?" pursued Mr. Burroughs after
"Yes: he will be here by the 20th. Why did you ask?"
"Because Dora cannot travel home alone, and I think of accompanying
her. I may stay a while, and study prairie life."
Mrs. Legrange looked at him in surprise a moment; and then a merry
smile broke over her face, for such a smile was possible now to her.
"Capital!" exclaimed she. "I never thought of it. But why not?"
"Why not spend a few weeks in Iowa? Well, of course, why not?" asked
Mr. Burroughs a little grimly, and presently added,--
"That is a pernicious custom of yours Fanny,--that rushing at
"Men never rush at conclusions, do they?"
"No: of course not."
"Very well, then: arrive at your conclusion as leisurely as you
like. It is none the less certain."
"Pshaw!" remarked Mr. Burroughs; and as his cousin laughingly turned
to bend over Sunshine, and help her read her story-book, he took his
hat and went out, turning his steps toward the glen.
Not till he reached its deepest recesses, however, did he find Dora;
and then he stood still to look at her, himself unseen. But what a
white, dumb look of anguish upon the sweet face! what clouds, heavy
with coming showers, upon the brow! what rainy lights in the
upturned eyes! what a resistless sorrow in the downward curve of the
lips, ordinarily so firm and cheerful! Even the shapely hands,
tightly folded, and firmly set upon the knee, told their story,--even
the rigid lines and constrained attitude of the figure. Mr.
Burroughs's first impulse was artistic; and he longed to be a
sculptor, that he might model an immortal statue of Silent Grief.
The second was human; and he longed to comfort a sorrow at whose
cause he already guessed, and yet guessed but half. The third was
less creditable, but perhaps as probable, in a man of Mr.
Burroughs's temperament and education; for it was to study and
dissect this new phase of the young girl's character. He quietly
approached, and seated himself beside her with a commonplace
"A very pretty bit of scenery, Dora."
"Yes," replied she, struggling to resume her usual demeanor.
"I am afraid, however, it does not satisfy your eye, accustomed to
the breadth of prairie views. Confess that you are a little weary of
it and us, and longing for home."
"I shall probably set out for home to-morrow," said Dora, turning
away her head, and playing idly with the grass beside her.
"I thought you were homesick. I am sorry we have so ill succeeded in
"Oh, don't think that! I have been so happy here these two weeks!
That is the very reason I ought to go."
"How is that? I don't see the argument."
"Because this is not my home, or the way I am to live, or these the
people I am to live with; and the sooner I am away, the better."
She did not see all the meaning of her words, poor child! but her
companion did, and smiled merrily to himself as he said,--
"You mean, we do not come up to your standard, and you cannot waste
more time upon us; don't you?"
Dora turned and looked at him, her suspicions roused by a mocking
ring beneath the affected humility of his tone; and, looking, she
caught the covert smile not yet faded from his eyes.
"It is not kind, Mr. Burroughs, to laugh at me, or to try to confuse
me in this way," said she steadily. "No doubt, you know what I mean;
and why do you wish to force me into saying, that the more I see of
the life and thoughts and manners of such people as Mrs. Legrange
and you, and even my own little Sunshine, now so far away from me,
the less fit I feel to associate with them? And, just because it is
so pleasant to me, I feel that I ought to go back at once to the
home and the duties and the people where I belong. I am but a poor
country-girl, sir, hardly taught in any thing except the love of
God, and the wish to do something before I die to make my
fellow-creatures a little happier or more comfortable than I find
them. Let me go to my work, and out of it I will make my life."
Perhaps never had the self-contained heart of the young girl so
framed itself in words; certainly never had Mr. Burroughs so fully
read it: and when she finished, and, neither turning from him nor
toward him, steadfastly set her eyes forward, as one who sees mapped
out before him the path he is to tread through all the coming years,
he took her hand in his with a sudden impulse of tenderness,--
"Dora, you will love some one yet; and love will make you happy."
"I have loved two people, and lost them both. I do not mean to love
any one else," said Dora, quietly withdrawing her hand.
Mr. Burroughs stared at her in astonishment; and, with a directness
more natural than conventional, exclaimed,--
"You have loved twice already!"
"Yes. Three times, indeed. I loved my mother and Picter, and they
are both dead. I loved Sunshine and she is lost to me. O my little
Sunshine! who was all to me, and who, I thought"--
And then-oh rare result of all these days of suffering, and hidden
bitterness, and a lingering relinquishment of the sweet and tender
hope of her future life!-Dora gave way all at once, and, covering
her face with her hands, burst into a passion of tears; such tears
as women seldom weep; such tears as Dora herself had shed but two or
three times in her short life.
Mr. Burroughs sat for a moment, looking at her with a yearning
tenderness in his eyes, and then folded her suddenly in his arms,
"Dora, Dora Darling! I love you, and I will be to you more than all
these; and no time nor chance shall rob you of my love, if only you
will give me yours instead."
But Dora repulsed him vehemently, sobbing, "No, no, no! you shall
not say it! I will not hear it!"
"Not say it? Why not? It is God's truth; and you must have known it
"No: it is only pity, because you think I want to stay, and because--
No, I will not have it! I will not hear it! You are quite wrong, Mr.
Burroughs: you do not know"--
She stopped in confusion. She had done sobbing now; but she did not
uncover her face, or look up. Mr. Burroughs regarded her with a
strange expression, and then, taking her hand, said softly,--
"Dora, I have not dared, as you fear that I have, to fancy that you
cared for me. A moment ago, I should not have dared to ask you as I
now do; and remember, Dora, that I ask for the solemn truth,--do you
Dora tore away her hand indignantly, and attempted to rise. She had
not spoken, or looked at him. Over the pale face of the lover shot a
gleam of triumph. But he only said,--
"Dora, it will not be like you to leave me in this way. It is unjust
"It is you who are unkind and ungenerous," said the girl
"Why, Dora? Why is it ungenerous to ask for a confession of your
love, when I have already told you that all my heart is in your
"You fancied that I-that I-liked you; and you knew I did not want to
go home, and you pitied me: and I won't have it, sir. I do not need
pity, and I do not"--
Her voice died away, killed by the falsehood she could not speak.
Mr. Burroughs no longer pressed for an answer to the question he had
asked, but grasped at a new argument.
"Pity and kindness!" sadly repeated he. "Dora, if you only knew how
much more I stand in need of your pity than you of mine, if you only
knew what kindness your life has already done mine, you would not
treat me in this manner."
"You need my pity!" exclaimed Dora, forgetting herself, and turning
to look at him in na‹ve astonishment; "and for what?"
"For a purposeless and weary life; for an empty heart and a corroded
faith," said her lover bitterly; "for an indifference to men,
amounting almost to aversion; for a trifling estimate of women,
amounting almost to contempt; for wasted abilities and neglected
opportunities,--for all these, Dora, I need your pity, and have a
right to claim it: for it is only since I loved you that I have
recognized my own great needs and deficiencies. Complete the work
you have unconsciously begun, dearest. Reverse the fairy fable, and
let the beautiful princess come to waken with her kiss the slothful
prince, who else might sleep forever."
"How can you know so soon that I am the princess?" asked Dora shyly.
"So soon! I felt the truth stirring blindly in my heart that first
night, now a year ago, when I saw you in the old home, and read your
candid eyes, and heard your clear voice, and marked your steady and
serene influence upon all about you. I hardly knew it then; but,
when I was away from you, I was myself surprised to find how vivid
your impression upon my mind remained. When my cousin asked me to
accompany her here, I silently resolved, that, before I returned
home, I would see you again; would study as deeply as I might the
character I already guessed. Then, Dora, when I saw you, as I have
seen you in these last weeks, struggling so nobly to render complete
the sacrifice you came hither to make; when I saw the sweetness, the
power, the loftiness, and the divine truth, of your nature, shining
more clearly day by day, and yourself the only one unconscious of
the priceless value of such a nature,--then, Dora, I came to know for
truth what I tell you now, God hearing me, that you are the woman of
all the world whom I love, honor, and undeservingly long to make my
own. Once more, Dora,--and you cannot now refuse to answer me at
least,--once more I ask, do you or can you love me?"
He grasped her hands in both his own, and his keen eyes read her
very soul. She raised hers as steadily to meet them; and, though the
hot blush seemed to scorch her very brow, she answered,--
"I did not know it, quite, until to-day; but I believe-I think-I
have cared about you ever since a year ago. That is, not love; but
every one else seemed less than they had been: and since I knew you
here, and since I thought I must go home, and never see you any
more, it was"--
She faltered and stopped, drooping her head before the tender
triumph of his glance. Truth had asserted herself, as with Dora she
must have done in any stress, but now of a sudden found herself
silenced by a timidity as charming as it was new in the strong and
well poised temperament of the girl who, a moment before so brave,
now stood trembling and blushing beneath her lover's gaze.
He drew her to his breast, and pressed his lips to hers.
"Dora, my own wife!" whispered he. "God so deal with me here and
hereafter as I with you, the best gift in his mighty hand!"
And Dora, hiding her face upon his breast, whispered again,--
"I was so unhappy an hour ago! and now, as Sunshine, says, I have
come to heaven all at once!"
Her lover answered by a mute caress; for there are moments when
words are all too weak for speech. And so he only clasped her closer
in his arms, and bent his head upon her own; while all about them
the hundred voices of the summer noon whispered benediction on their
joy; the eddying stream paused in its whirl to dimple into laughter
at their feet; the sunlight, broken and flecked by the waving
branches, fell in a shifting golden shower upon their heads; and
Nature, the great mother, through her myriad eyes and tongues,
blessed the betrothal of her dearest child.
A SURPRISE FOR MRS. GINNISS.
"SURE an' it's time they was a-coomin'," said Mrs. Ginniss going out
upon the door-stone, and shading her eyes from the level rays of the
sunset as she looked steadfastly down the road.
"An' who'll they all be, I'm woondherin'? The missus says fove bids
was wanted; an' faith it's well she said no more, for sorra a place
'ud there be to stand anudder in. An' tay ready for eight folks, at
sax o'clock. That's it, I belave; though all thim figgers is enough
to craze me poor head."
She took a little note from her pocket as she spoke, and, unfolding
it, looked anxiously at the delicate letters.
"Sure an' it's all there if on'y I had the sinse to rade it. An'
feth, it's the tail uv it I'm howldin' to the top, as I'm a sinner!
No' thin: it looks as crabbed this way as that. I'd niver be afther
makin' it out if it towld of a fortin coomin' to me for the axin'.
Shusin, Shusin, I say!"
"What is it, Mrs. Ginniss?" asked a pleasant voice from within; and
Susan, looking a little thinner and paler than when we first met
her, came out of the parlor, where she had been picking a few
scattered petals from beneath the vases of flowers upon the
"An' would ye be plazed to read the missus's note to me wonst more?
Me owld eyes are that dim, I can't make it out in the gloamin'."
Susan, with unshaken gravity, took the note, turned it right side
up, and read aloud, while her companion craftily glanced over her
shoulder to note the position of the words as they were spoken:--
"DEAR MRS. GINNISS,--
"We shall be at home on Wednesday evening, at six o'clock, and shall
bring some guests. You will please prepare tea for eight persons;
and make up five beds, three of them single ones. Tell Susan to make
the house look as pretty as she can; and send for any thing she or
you need in the way of preparation. "F. LEGRANGE"
"An' faith it's this minute they're coomin!' Look at the
jaantin'-cars fur down the road!"
"One's a carryall, and the other's a rockaway," said Susan
"Musha, an' what's the odds if they're one thing or the other, so
they bring the purty misthress back halesomer than she wint? That's
her in the first car: I know her white bonnet with the blue ribbon."
"Yes, there's Mr. and Mrs. Legrange, and a strange lady and
gentleman; and the other carriage are all strangers, except Mr.
Burroughs. Those young ladies are pretty; ain't they?"
But Mrs. Ginniss was already at the gate, courtesying and beaming:--
"Ye're wilcoom home, missus and masther; an' it's in health an' pace
I hope yees coom."
"Thank you, Mrs. Ginniss. We are very well indeed, I believe," said
Mr. Legrange, rather nervously, as he jumped from the carriage and
helped out his wife, and then Kitty and Mr. Brown. From the other
carriage, meantime, had alighted, without the good woman's
observation, Mr. Burroughs, Dora, Karl, and another, who, the moment
her feet touched the ground, ran forward, crying,--
"O mamma! I've been at this home before."
At the sound, Mrs. Ginniss turned, dropping the shawls, bags, and
parasols she held, in one mass at her feet, and then dropping
herself upon her knees in their midst; while her fresh face turned
of a ghastly yellow, and her uplifted hands shook visibly,--
"Glory be to God, an' what's that!" exclaimed she in a voice of
"Oh, it's mammy, it's mammy! that used to rock me in her lap, and
hold my feet, and sing to me! I 'member her now, and Teddy said so
too. O mammy! I'm so glad you've come again!"
The sobbing woman opened wide her arms; and Sunshine leaped into
them, shouting again and again,--
"It's the good old mammy! and I'm so glad, I'm so glad!"
"O Mrs. Legrange! is it?" exclaimed an agitated voice; and Mrs.
Legrange, turning, found Susan standing beside her with pale face
and clasped hands, her eyes fixed upon the child with a sort of
"Yes, Susan, it is 'Toinette, her very self. I would not write,
because I wanted to see if she would know you both, and you her."
"Oh, thank God! thank God! I didn't believe I'd ever forgive myself
for not minding her better; but now I may. Miss 'Toinette, dear,
won't you speak to Susan?"
"Susan!" exclaimed the child, struggling out of Mrs. Ginniss's
embrace, and leaving that good woman still exploding in a
feu-de-joie of thanksgiving, emotion, and astonishment. "Are you
Susan? Why, that was a doll!"
"A doll?" asked the nurse in bewilderment, and pausing in act of
kissing her recovered charge, not with the rapturous abandonment of
the Irish woman, but with the respectful tenderness of a trained
"She named a doll after you, Mrs. Ginniss says, although she did not
remember who you really were," explained Mrs. Legrange. "But come,
my friends: we will not wait longer out of doors. Dora, you and
Kitty know the way even better than I; and Mr. Windsor"--
"It isn't Mr. Windsor, it's Karlo, mamma," persisted Sunshine,
dancing up the narrow path in advance of the party.
"Yes, Karl, if you will be so kind," said Dr. Windsor, offering Mrs.
Legrange his arm.
"Then Karl will feel himself as much at home here as he ever did, I
trust," said the lady cordially.
"It was peeping out at that window I saw you first, Dora; and I
thought it must be the sunrise," whispered Tom Burroughs to the lady
"I am sorry I should have so put you out of countenance. Perhaps
that is the reason you never have seen straight since,--so far as I
am concerned at least," replied she.
"One does not care to look straight at the sun: it is sufficient to
bask in its light," whispered the lover.
"Oh! very well, if that is what you want--Here, Sunshine! Cousin Tom
The little girl came bounding toward them; and Dora, with a wicked
little laugh, slipped away, and up the stairs, to the room that had
been Kitty's, now appropriated to the use of the two young girls.
Soon the happy party assembled again in the kitchen, where stood a
tea-table judiciously combining the generous breadth of Mrs.
Ginniss's ideas with the more elegant and subdued tastes inculcated
upon Susan by a long period of service with her present mistress.
"Mind you tell 'em there's more beyant, on'y you wouldn't set it on
all to wonst," whispered the Irish woman hoarsely, as she rushed
into the scullery, leaving Susan to receive the guests just entering
"Mrs. Ginniss thought we should arrive with appetites, I suspect,"
said the hostess, laughing a little apologetically as they seated
themselves; and Susan did not think it best to deliver her message.
"And so we have, some of us at least; and I do not believe even the
ladies will refuse a bit of this nice tongue, or some cold chicken.
What do you say, Dora?" asked Mr. Legrange gayly.
"No tongue for her, please; she is supplied," remarked Mr. Burroughs
sotto voce; and Dora, with a little mutinous glance, passed her
"A slice of tongue, if you please, Mr. Legrange."
"Never mind: wait a few days, and we will see," murmured Burroughs
threateningly; and Dora did not care to retort, but, blushing
brightly, began an eager conversation with Sunshine, who had nestled
a chair in between those of her mother and Dora, and made lively
claims upon the attention of both.
An hour or two later, Mrs. Legrange went to seek her housekeeper,
and found her seated upon the step of the back door, her hands
clasped around her knees, and softly crooning a wild Irish melody to
herself as she rocked slowly backward and forward, her eyes fixed
upon the little crescent moon, swimming like a silver boat in the
golden sea of sunset.
"An' isn't it a purty sight, you?" asked she, rising as Mrs.
Legrange spoke to her. "Sure an' its the hooney-moon for Misther
Booros an' the swate young lady that's to marry him."
"Yes, it's their honey-moon; and I believe it will be as bright and
as long a one as ever shone," said Mrs. Legrange, smiling tenderly,
as happy wives will do in speaking of the future of a bride.
"I came to ask you to go up stairs with me, Mrs. Ginniss," continued
she with a little agitation in her sweet voice. "There is something
for you to see."
"Sure an' I will, ma'am. Is it the chambers isn't settled to shute
"Oh, no! every thing is admirable, except that we must contrive a
little bed for 'Toinette upon the couch in my room."
"An' faith, that's asy done, ma'am. There's lashin's o' blankets an'
sheets an' pillers not in use at all, at all. We've plenty uv ivery
thin' in this house, glory be to God!"
Mrs. Legrange smiled a little at the satisfaction with which the
Irish woman contemplated a superfluity, even when not belonging to
herself; and led the way to her own chamber, where sat Dora, as she
had sat many a time within those four walls, holding Sunshine upon
her lap, and, while loosening her clothes for the night, telling her
one of the stories of which the child was never weary.
"See here, Mrs. Ginniss!" said the mother hastily, as she stripped
the frock from the child's white shoulders, and showed a little
linen bag hung about her neck by a silken cord. "Did you ever see
"Sure an' what would ail me owld eyes not to seen it, whin me own
fingers sewed it, an' me own han's hoong it aboot the little
"You are quite sure it is the very same?"
"Quite an' intirely; for more by token the clot' is a bit uv the
linen gownd that my mother give me whin I wor married to Michael,
an' the sthring wor to a locket that my b'y give me one Christmas
"And what is in it?" asked Mrs. Legrange eagerly.
"The bracelet, uv coorse. Whin Teddy brought her to me the black
night he foun' her sinseless in the strate, she had it clinched in
the little hand uv her; an', whin she got betther, there wor nought
she loved so well to have by her, an' tooch, an' look at. So when
she roomed about, an' I wor thinkin' it might be laid asthray, or
she might lave it out the windy, or some place, an' not find it, I
sewed it in the bit bag, an' placed it round her nick, and bid her
niver, niver, niver let it be took off till she coom to her own
"'That manes hivin, mammy, don't it?' axed the darlint in her own
purty way; an' so I says, 'Yis, that manes hivin; an' don't ye niver
be lettin' man, woman, nor child, be knowin' to it, till ye git to
hivin'.' For sure I knowed she must be some person's child that 'ud
one day give their hearts out uv their buzzums to know for sure that
she wor their own."
"And that is the reason she never would let me look at it, or open
it," said Dora. "She always said, when I asked about it, that it was
to go to heaven with her; and, when she got there, she'd open it. So
I supposed it was a charm or relic, such as some of our soldiers
used to carry about their necks; and I never meddled with it."
"And I, although I knew what it must be, wanted to hear Mrs. Ginniss
say that it was the very same bag and all, that she put about the
darling's neck soon after she went to her. But now"--
The quick snip of the scissors finished the sentence, and the bag
lay in Mrs. Legrange's palm. Sunshine's little hand went up rather
forlornly to her bosom, robbed of what it so long had cherished; and
Dora clasped her tighter, and kissed her tenderly: but neither
spoke, until Mrs. Legrange drew from the bag, and held before them,
the coral bracelet, with its linked cameos, broken at one point by
the force with which Mother Winch had torn it from the child's
shoulder, and with the clasp still closed.
Mrs. Legrange opened it, touched the spring, causing the upper plate
to fly up, and silently showed to Dora the name "Antoinette
Legrange" engraved within.
"Not quite two years since it was engraved, and what a life of
sorrow!" said she softly.
Then, going to her jewel-case, she took out the mate, saved as a
sacred relic since the day it had been found upon the floor in the
drawing-room after 'Toinette's flight, and handed it to the child,
"Here is the other one, darling; and you may, if you like, give it
to Dora for your wedding-present. This one, that has showed the
wanderings of my poor little lost lamb so long, I shall keep for
"Will you take it, Dora, and some love, ever so much love, along
with it?" said Sunshine, trying to make her little offering in
somewhat the form she had heard from older people, but finishing
with a sudden clasp of her arms about Dora's neck, and a shower of
kisses, among which came the whispered words,--
"I love you ever and ever so much better than Cousin Tom does, Dora.
Be my little wife, and never mind him; won't you?"
"MAKE haste, Mr. Sun, and get up! Don't you know it is my birthday,
and, what is better, it is Dora's wedding-day? So jump up, pretty
Sunny, and be just as bright as glory all day long!"
And the sun, hearing the appeal, stood suddenly upon the summit of
the distant hills, shooting playful golden arrows into the child's
merry eyes, and among her floating hair, where they clung glittering
and glancing; while to her mind he seemed to say,--
"Oh, yes, little namesake! I know all about it; and I promise you
sha'n't find me backward in doing my share towards the
entertainment. As for a glare of light, though, I know a trick worth
two of that, as you shall see. But, first, here is my birthday-kiss.
Don't you feel it warm upon your lips?"
"O papa!" shouted Sunshine, as the fancy whirled through her busy
little brain, "it seems just as if the sun were kissing me for my
"If the sun does, the father must; and it ought to be twice over,
because last year he lost the chance. Eight! Bless me! where shall I
put them all? One on the forehead, two on the eyes, one on the tip
of that ridiculous little nose, two on the rose-red cheeks, one in
that little hollow under the chin, and the last and best square on
the lips. Now, then, my Sunshine, run to mamma, who is waiting for
The sun meantime, after a brief period of meditation, took his
resolve; and, sending back the brisk October day that had prepared
to descend upon earth, he summoned, instead, the first day of the
Indian Summer, and bade her go and help to celebrate the bridal of
one of his favorite daughters, as she knew so well how to do.
So, summoning a south-west wind, still bearing in his garments the
odors of the tropic bowers where he had slept, the fair day
descended softly in his arms to earth, and, seating herself upon the
hills, wove a drapery of golden mist, bright as love, and tender as
maidenhood. Then, wrapped in this bridal veil, she floated, still in
the arms of the gentle wind, through the forests, touching their
leaves with purer gold and richer crimson; over the harvest-fields,
whose shocks of lingering corn rustled responsive as her trailing
garments swept past; over wide, brown pastures, where the cattle
nibbled luxuriously at the sweet after-math; over lakes and rivers,
where the waters slept content, forgetting, for the moment, their
restless seaward march; over sheltered gardens, where hollyhock and
sunflower, petunia and pansy, dahlia and phlox, whispering together
of the summer vanished and the frosty nights at hand, gave out the
mysterious, melancholy perfume of an autumn day.
And from forest and field, and pasture and garden, and from the
sleeping waters, the dreamy day culled the beauty and the grace, the
perfume and the sweet content, and, floating on to where the bride
awaited her coming, dropped them all, a heavenly dower, upon her
head; wrapped the bright veil caressingly about her; and so passed
on, to lie reclined upon the hills, dreaming in luxurious beauty,
until the night should come, and she should float once more
But the south-west wind lingered a while, kissing the trembling lips
of the bride, fanning her burning cheek, and dallying with the
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