Stories by American Authors, Volume 6
Part 2 out of 3
As I was proceeding homeward one evening, I spied him standing on a
street corner, holding forth to a select assemblage of his own color,
who were listening to him with an appearance of the profoundest respect.
His back was toward me, and I stopped and caught his words without
attracting observation. He had assumed a very pompous, hortatory manner,
and I could well believe he held a prominent position in Asbury class.
"Yes, gentlemun; yes," he was saying, "ez Brotheh Jones 'mahks, I _do_
live in a ve'y _su_-peeiaw at-mos-pheeh--suh-roundid by people of
leahnin', with books, pens, blottehs, letteh-pess, _en_ what not, ez
common ez these yeah bricks which I see befo' me. But thaih hain't no
trueh wued then ev'y station has its hawdships, gentlemun, en mine ah
not exemp', mine ah _not_ exemp'.
"Fus'ly, thaih's the 'sponsebility. W'y, this yeah ve'y mawnin' I banked
nigh on to a thousan' dollehs fu' de young boss. En w'en I tell you
mo'n two hundred stamps is passed my mouth this yeah blessid evenin', 't
will give you some slight idee of the magnitude of the duties I has to
puffawn. W'y, gentlemun, I is drank wateh, an' I is drank beeh, but my
mouth hain't got back hits right moistuh yit."
The day of the 20th of July, 1877, was very quiet We had heard, of
course, of the "strikes" all over the country, and the morning papers
brought tidings of the trouble with the Baltimore and Ohio railroad
employes at Martinsburg, but no serious difficulty was apprehended in
That afternoon I was detained very late at the office. I intended
beginning a three weeks' holiday next morning, and was trying to get
beforehand with my work. My senior was out of town, and Thomas and I had
been very busy since three o'clock--I writing, he copying the letters.
After five, we had the building pretty much to ourselves, and a little
after half past five, the fire alarm sounded. The City Hall bell was
very distinctly heard, and Thomas--who had finished his work and was
waiting to take some papers to the office of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad for me--took down a list of the different stations, to
ascertain the whereabouts of the fire.
"1--5," he counted, as the strokes fell; "that makes fifteen, and that
is," passing his finger slowly down the card, "that is Eastun Po-lice
station, cawneh--naw, _on_ Bank Street. On Bank Street, seh."
I listened an instant.
"1--5--1," I said, "151; it isn't fifteen."
Another five minutes elapsed, while he searched for "151" I busily
writing the while.
"Hit's--w'y, Lawd-a-massy! Mist' Dunkin, hit's fu' de milinte'y."
"Let me see," said I. "Yes, so it is; but they only want them to go to
Cumberland. There's a strike there, and the strikers are getting
He made no reply, and as the bells ceased ringing soon afterward, I
resumed my work, which kept me busy until seven o'clock. I then placed
the papers in an envelope, and took up the letters.
"Be sure you see the Vice-President himself, Thomas," I said. "You know
him, don't you?"
Receiving no reply, and turning to ascertain the cause of his silence, I
saw he was leaning out at the open window, gazing earnestly northward
toward Baltimore Street.
"Thomas! Thomas!" I shouted.
He heard me at last, and withdrawing his head, apologized for his
"I thought--I heehed sup'n nutha like a hollehin' kine of a noise,
an'--some guns, aw sup'n, an' I wuz look'n' to see, but thaih don't
'peah to be nuthin' goin' on."
"They're mending the railroad on Baltimore Street," I said. "I suppose
that is what you heard." And I gave the papers into his hand repeating
my directions: "If the gentleman is not there, don't leave them on any
account. I'll wait here until you get back--but go first to the
post-office and mail these."
He wrapped the papers carefully in his handkerchief, placed them in his
vest-pocket, and started off.
After he left, I leaned my elbow on the dusty window-sill and lounged
there awhile, watching him as he trotted busily down the deserted
street; then, rousing myself, I stretched my weary limbs and set about
arranging my desk, closing the safe, etc. At last everything was put in
order, and I seated myself in an arm-chair, rubbing my cramped fingers
and wrist, and afterward consulting my watch, more for something to do
than to ascertain the time, which the clock on the mantel-piece would
have told me.
Only quarter past seven, and he might be detained until, half-past
eight. I leaned back and closed my eyes. How still and hot it was! I
believe I was the only human being in that whole long block of big
buildings on that July evening. Everything was as quiet as the typical
country churchyard. I had a lethargic sense now and then of the far-off
tinkle of a car-bell. I could catch a distant rumble from a passing
vehicle a block or two away. And, yes, I _did_ observe the presence of a
dull, continuous drone, which proceeded from the direction of Baltimore
Street, but just as I sat up to hearken, some one passing whistled,
"Silver Threads among the Gold," the melody tracing itself upon the
stillness like phosphoric letters in a dark room. I listened with vivid
interest, but the tune presently grew fainter, faded, and was dissolved
into the dusk, leaving me lonelier than before, and too sleepy to give
my attention to the strange hum, of which I again became dully
conscious. It is tiresome work waiting here with nothing to do, was my
last drowsy thought, as I folded my arms on the desk, and rested my head
upon them, to be aroused by a knocking at my door.
"Come in," I called.
The door creaked on its hinges, and somebody entered. I waited an
instant, when an adolescent voice of the colored persuasion asked:
"Do somebody name Mist' Dunkin live here?"
"Yes. I'm here; what do you want?"
"Dey wan's you down-y street."
I stretched myself, reached mechanically for a match, and lighted the
gas, which disclosed a small yellow boy, standing in the doorway, some
fright and a good deal of excitement in his aspect. I then detected that
he had something important to tell, and that his errand was a source of
gratification to him.
"Well, what is it?" I asked, after we had stared at one another.
"Ain't yer yeared nuth'n' 'tall?" a shade of contempt in his tone.
"No, what is there to hear?" I asked, rather irascibly.
"Dey's a big fight down-town; de folks dey done tore de Six Reggimen'
all ter pieces, an' dey's wuk'n 'long on de Fif now."
I started up, and got on my hat in an instant.
"Dey's et Camd' Street depot, now. Ole colored gentlemun he's been
hurtid, an' sent me atter you."
It did not take half a minute to lock the door and we proceeded
"He's down yere on Eutaw Street," continued my informant. "Dey's
fightin' all 'long dere--I come nigh gittin' hit myself--_he_ gimme ten
cents to come tell yer--maybe he's done dade now," he added, cheerfully,
as we gained the street, and began to walk.
"Dey fet all 'long yere," was his next breathless remark, made some time
later. We were now proceeding rapidly up Baltimore Street, as rapidly,
at least, as people can who are pushing against a steady stream of
agitated humanity. "Dey fawr'd a bullet clean through de Sun-paper
room," pursued the boy, "an' dey bust up dem dere winder-glassis--"
Pausing involuntarily to look, I caught stray scraps of additional
"Twenty-five people killed."
"As many as that?"
"Oh, yes; fully, I should say. The Sixth fired right into the crowd,
all along from Gay to Eutaw Street."
"Well, I hear the Sixth are pretty well cleaned out by this time, so
it's tit for tat."
"The Fifth must be there now--"
"The Fifth?--what are they--two hundred men against two thousand?--Lord
knows how it will end. I hope this old town won't be burnt, that's all."
The boy, listening, turned fearfully around, looking with distended eyes
into mine. "Come on," I responded, and we spoke no more until we reached
Liberty Street. Then, all at once, above the street noises--the rumbling
of fugitive vehicles, the jingle of street-cars, and the hum of excited
voices--rose a deep, hollow roar; a horrible sound of human menace in
it, which was distinguishable even at that distance. The boy pressed
closer, clutching timidly at my hand.
"Is yer--is yer gwine ter keep on?" he faltered.
"De ole gentlemun, he 'lowed puticler you wa'n't to run no resk 'count
"Where _is_ he?" I asked. "In the thick of it?"
"No, sir; he's lay'n' down in a little alley--clean off d' street."
"Come on, then; you'll have to show me where it is. I won't let you get
When we first wheeled into South Eutaw Street, I was conscious of an
almost painful stillness, more noticeable after the tumult of confused
sounds from which we had just emerged. The houses either side were fast
closed, doors and windows Some of them were even unlighted, and not
vehicle was in sight. The street was partially unpaved, where new
gas-pipes had been laid, and piles of paving-stones were heaped on the
edge of the sidewalks. The place seemed deserted.
But presently, far down in the immediate vicinity of the depot, I
perceived accumulated a dense, dark mass, like a low-hanging cloud, from
which a low hoarse murmur seemed to proceed. It swayed slightly from
side to side, with the inevitable motion of a large crowd, while at the
same time it kept well within certain bounds. We walked quickly along,
block after block, without encountering a single soul. I had been so
engrossed with the dark, muttering pulsation in front, that I failed to
attend to the sounds from behind, until the boy, jerking my hand, bade
me listen to the drum. I heard it then plainly, as soon as he spoke, and
the approaching tramp of disciplined feet was soon after distinctly
audible. I turned and looked. The Fifth Regiment was marching down the
middle of North Eutaw Street, having not yet crossed Baltimore Street,
the drum corps in front, the colors flying, and crowding the sidewalks
on either hand was a motley van and bodyguard, consisting of street
loafers and half-grown boys, who had come along to see the "fun," and
whose sympathies were plainly with the rioters. The foremost of these
soon reached the spot where I stood, and as I drew aside to let them
pass, I heard a _gamin_ say to his neighbor:
"I say, Bill, these yere putty little soldier-boys hadn't better make
ther las' will an' testyment--ain't it?'"
"I dunno 'bout that," replied the other, a veteran of fourteen, who was
chewing tobacco, and whom I recognized as a certain one-eyed newsboy.
"These yere men hez fought in the late war, yer see, plenty of 'um, an'
you bet they don't carry no bokays on _ther_ bayonits."
As the column advanced, I glanced anxiously toward the human sea down
yonder. At first, no additional movement could be detected, then, as the
drums approached nearer, a quick stir, like a sudden gust, struck its
troubled waters; the hoarse, horrible cry tore raggedly through the
summer air. And then I hastily drew the terrified child with me into the
shade of a receding doorway--for the mad flood came raving over its
bounds toward us.
The mob was mostly composed of men in their working-clothes, with bare
arms and gaunt, haggard faces. There were some women among
them--wretched, half-starved creatures--who kept shrieking like furies
all the time. As the regiment, still moving resolutely onward,
approached within a few yards of them, there fell the first volley of
stones, accompanied with hoots and jeers of derision.
"Thuz only two hundred of 'um, boys," shouted a rough voice. "They'll
run quick enough if you give it to 'um good," and a second shower of
missiles fell into the ranks, the mob arming themselves with the
paving-stones at hand.
But the little band of soldiers did not once falter, although here and
there in their ranks you could discover a man leaning against a comrade,
who gave him support as they moved on together. The crowd seemed a
little dashed. The dispersion of the Sixth Regiment had been such a mere
bagatelle, and their own number had, since then, been re-enforced by
half the professional rowdies in town. They redoubled their cries,
which, from jeers, now became shouts of rage and mortification.
"Wot are you 'bout? Give it to 'um _good_, I tell yer. They daresn't
fire," howled the same brawny giant who had spoken before.
As they continued the attack, a pistol-shot could be heard now and then
from the crowd. The regiment did not return the fire, but as the mob
pressed closer, an order from the front was passed along the line.
The opposing parties were now only a few feet apart, and a rain of
stones was falling so thick and fast as to darken the air, when all at
once I saw the colonel's sword flash out, the blunt edge striking one of
the rioters who was pressing on him.
"Clear the way, there!" he cried.
Then, wheeling and facing his command, his voice rang out, clear as a
"A--r--m--s, 'port! Double-time, march! Ch--ar--ge, bayonets! Hurrah!
Give 'em a yell, boys, and you can do it," added the colonel.
I cannot describe the shout which followed--a clear, ringing, organized
whoop; fresh and vibrant; of a perfectly distinct quality from the
hoarse, undisciplined howl of the mob--sounding cool and terrible, like
the cry of an avenging angel.
The mob turned and fled, appalled, melting away like wax before the blue
flame of the glittering bayonets, and the regiment entered the depot.
Then I took time to breathe, and remembered Thomas.
"He ain't fur f'om yere," said the boy. "Right 'roun' d' corner."
And we passed out of the shelter of the doorway to a small, dirty alley,
about twenty-five yards distant, where I found the old man resting
against a lamp-post, the blood streaming down his face from a ghastly
wound in the head, and his eyes closed. I made the boy get some water,
and after bathing his face for a few moments, I succeeded in rousing
"Is that you, Mist' Dunkin?" he asked, faintly.
"Yes. How do you feel, Thomas?"
"Dey's tuhibul times down-street," he gasped. "I like to got kilt."
"Dey 'lowed dey wanted dem daih papehs--an'--dey didn't git
'um--an'--den--den dey hit me side de hade--with a brickbat--an' I come
'long tell I git yeah--an' den, disha boy he come 'long--"
His voice was very faint and his hands very cold
"Don't talk any more now," I said, chafing them in mine, while I
wondered perplexedly how I should get him home. Presently he spoke
"But de papehs is all right, seh. I hilt on to 'um, sho'. Dey--dey
couldn't git 'um nohow, wid all de smahtniss," he said, with feeble
triumph. "Dey's right yeah in my wescut pocket." Then he added, with a
sudden change of tone: "But I'd like to go home, Mist' Dunkin; Ailse'll
be oneasy 'bout me."
I had to leave him with the boy while I went for a doctor and a vehicle,
neither of which was easy to be had, but finally a milk-wagon was
pressed into service, and although the mob had gathered together again,
and were besieging the depot, yet, after some delay, we succeeded in
conveying him to his home. I saw him safe in bed, his hurt dressed;
then, after bestowing a reward upon the colored boy, who had rendered me
such efficient service, I left him in charge of the doctor and his wife.
The latter was a small, plump yellow woman, with large, gentle black
eyes, and the soft voice so often found among Virginia "house" servants.
After watching her as she assisted the surgeon to dress the wound, I
came to the conclusion all of her talents were by no means "bound up in
napkins," and I went home assured my faithful old messenger was left in
very capable hands.
Next morning, directly after breakfast, I sallied forth to inquire
concerning his condition. After passing along the crowded thoroughfares,
where everybody was occupied with the riot, it was a relief to find
myself turning into the obscure little street where he lived.
"Here, at least, everything seems peaceful enough," I said, aloud, as I
approached the house. I was just in the act of placing my foot on the
one door-step, when the door was thrown violently open, and a tall black
woman bounced out, colliding with me as she passed, her superior
momentum thrusting me backward across the narrow pavement into the
street. She was too excited to heed my exclamation of astonishment. I
don't think she saw me, even, for she turned immediately and faced some
one standing in the doorway, whom I now perceived to be Ailse, looking
"_Good_-mornin', Mis' Wheatley," said the Amazon, with withering
sarcasm; "_good_-mornin', madam. I _think_ you'll know it the nex' time
I darkens your doors, I _think_ you will. Served me right, though, we'en
I _demeaned_ myself to come; I might 'a' knowed what treatment I'd
'eceive from _you_. Ef I hadn't ben boun' by solemn class-rules to pay
some 'tention to Brother Wheatley's immortal soul "--these words were
uttered at the very top of her voice--"you wouldn't 'a' caught _me_
comin'; but I'll never come ag'in, never; so make yourself easy, Mis'
A shade of relief passed over Ailse's features as this assurance was
repeated, and I coming forward at this moment, the representative of the
church militant betook herself off, while I entered and spoke to Ailse,
who, fairly dazed, sank into a chair, and stared me helplessly in the
face. There was a moment's silence, when she suddenly rose and offered
me a seat, remarking, as she did so, that "Sisteh Ma'y Ann Jinkins
ca'in' on so" made her forget her manners.
"What is the matter?" said I.
"I dunno, seh, 'cep'n' she's mad 'cause docteh won't leave heh stay and
talk to Mist' Wheatley; _he_ made heh go, an' I s'pose hit kindeh put
"What was she doing?"
"Talkin', seh; jiss talkin' and prayin'."
"And exciting the man into a fever," said the doctor, entering at that
moment. "I came here half an hour ago," he continued, turning to me,
"and found this woman--who really is a good nurse--turned out of her
husband's room by that termagant who has just gone, and whom I found in
the act of preparing the man for death, _she_ having decided his hours
on earth were numbered; in fact, I actually chanced in upon a species of
commendatory prayer, which, if continued another half hour--and I have
every reason to think it would have been--would almost inevitably have
ended the man's life."
"I suppose I had better not see him this morning, then," said I.
"Oh, yes; _you_ can see him; he's doing well now, and if he doesn't talk
too much, I think the sight of a cheerful face will do him good," and I
left him giving some directions to Ailse, while I proceeded up-stairs to
the room where Thomas lay. He was awake, so I walked up to his bedside,
and asked him how he felt.
"I'm tollubul, thankee, seh; de medicine makes me kind o' sleepy, that's
I seated myself beside him, there was a moment or two of silence, then
he asked, fretfully:
"Whai--whaih's Ailse? I like to see the 'oman 'roun'; s'haint got no
speshul great gif', but she's kind o' handy wen a body's sick."
"You don't seem to care so much for gifted women in a sick-room,
Thomas?" I remarked, somewhat mischievously, after I had summoned his
wife from down-stairs.
"Well, naw, seh," a little shamefacedly. "Not so much. You see, seh,
dey--dey's mos' too much fu' a body, sich times. Dey _will_ talk, you'se
dey will, an' 'livah 'scouhcis, an' a sick man he hain't got de strenth
to--to supplicate in kine, an' hit kind o' mawtifies him, seh."
Once more there followed a silence, when I asked:
"Thomas, why didn't you give up those papers to the mob, when they
attacked you last night? Your retaining them might have cost you your
life. I didn't mean you to endanger your life for them."
He smiled slightly, as his glance met mine.
"I dunno, seh," he replied, with his old reflective air. "You tole me
mos' pehticaleh to hole on to 'um, an' 'twouldn't be doin' my duty
faithful to let 'um go 's long ez I could hole on to 'um."
"But suppose they had killed you?"
"Well, Mist' Dunkin, ef dey had, I hope I'd been ready to go. I ben
tryin' to lead a godly an' Chris'chun life, ez Scripcheh sez, fu' fawty
yeahs, now, an' I hope I'd a foun' dyin' grace at de las'. You see, seh,
thing hoped me mos' was de thoughts of a tex' Bro' Moss preached on las'
Sund'y; 'peached like hit hep' on jinglin' in my hade all time dey was
jawin' an' fightin' with me."
"What text was it?" I asked.
But he was almost asleep, and his wife signalled me not to wake him. So
I was stealing away toward the door, when he opened his eyes and
"De tex', oh yes, seh. I fo'got--'twas a Scripcheh tex'--'Be thou
He then turned over, settling himself comfortably in his pillows, and in
a moment dropped asleep.
In due course of time, he made his appearance in the office again, being
anxious to "resume his duties," he said. But that blow on the head has
proved to be a serious affair, affecting the old man's memory
permanently, and giving a violent shock to his system, from which it
will never entirely recover. He is no longer the clear-headed messenger
he was, when he was wont to assert--no idle boast either--that he could
"fetch an' cai' eq'il to any man." Now and then, in these latter days,
he confuses things a little, always suffering the keenest mortification
when he discovers his mistakes. As I said in the beginning, he is still
our office-boy and messenger, although a smart young mulatto is hired to
come betimes, make things tidy, and leave before the old man gets down,
so his feelings mayn't be hurt. He sometimes remarks on our being the
"cleanis' gentlemun in de wueld," but we contrive that no whisper of the
real state of the case ever reaches his ear, and he is allowed to sweep
and dust a little to satisfy his mind.
[Footnote 1: A virtuous woman.]
THE HEARTBREAK CAMEO.
By LIZZIE W. CHAMPNEY.
"It is a cameo to break one's heart!" said Mrs. Dalliba, as she toyed
with the superb jewel. "The cutting is unmistakably Florentine, and yet
you have placed it among your Indian curiosities. I do not understand it
Mrs. Dalliba was a connoisseur in gems; she had travelled from one
extremity of Europe to the other; had studied the crown jewels of nearly
every civilized nation, haunted museums, and was such a frequent visitor
at the jewellers' of the Palais Royal, that many of them had come to
regard her as an individual who might harbor burglarious intentions. She
was a very harmless specialist, however, who, though she loved these
stars of the underworld better than any human being, could never have
been tempted to make one of them unfairly her own, and she seldom
purchased, for she never coveted one unless it was something quite
extraordinary, beyond the reach of even her considerable fortune.
Meanwhile few of the larger jewelry houses had in their employ
lapidaries more skilled than Mrs. Dalliba. She pursued her studies for
the mere love of the science, devoting a year in Italy to mosaics,
cameos, and intaglios. And yet the Crevecoeur cameo had puzzled wiser
heads than Mrs. Dalliba's, adept though she was. It was cut from a solid
heart-shaped gem, a layer of pure white, shading down through exquisite
gradations into deep green, and representing Aphrodite rising from the
sea; the white foam rose gracefully, with arms extended, scattering the
drops of spray from her hands and her wind-blown hair; the foamy waves
were beautifully cut with their intense hollows and snowy crests; it was
evidently the work of a cultivated as well as a natural artist; it was
not surprising that Mrs. Dalliba should insist that it could not have
been executed out of Italy.
But Prof. Stonehenge was right too; it was a stone of the chalcedonic
family, resembling sardonyx, except in color; others, similar to it both
in a natural state and wrought into arrow-heads, had been found along
the shores of Lake Superior. This seemed to have been brought away from
its associates by some wandering tribe, for it had been discovered in
Central Illinois. The nearest point at which other relics belonging to
the same period had been found was the site of Fort Crevecoeur, near
Starved Rock, Illinois. After all, the stone only differed from the
arrow-heads of Lake Superior in its beautiful carving and unprecedented
size--and, ah, yes! there was another difference, the mystery of its
discovery. No other skeleton among all the buried braves unearthed by
scientific research at Crevecoeur had been found with a gem for a
heart--a gem that glittered not on the breast, but within a chest hooped
with human bone. Mrs. Dalliba had just remarked that she had never felt
so strong a desire to possess and wear any jewel as now; but when Prof.
Stonehenge told how the uncanny thing rattled within the white ribs of
the skeleton in which it was found, she allowed the gem to slip from her
hand, while something of its own pale green flickered in the disgusted
expression which quivered about the corners of her mobile mouth. The
cameo was a mystery which had baffled geologist, antiquarian, and
sculptor alike, for Father Francis Xavier had gone down to his grave
with his secret and his cameo hidden in his heart. He had kept both well
for two centuries, and when the heart crumbled in dust it took its
secret with it, leaving only the cameo to bewilder conjecture.
Its story was, after all, a simple one. On the southern shore of
Michillimackinac, in the romantic days of the first exploration of the
great lakes by the Courreurs de Bois and pioneer priests, had settled
good Pere Ignace, a devoted Jesuit missionary. The old man was revered
and loved by the Indians among whom he dwelt. His labors blossomed in a
little village, called from his patron saint the mission of St. Ignace,
that displayed its cluster of white huts and wigwams like the petals of
a water-lily on the margin of the lake. Just back of the village was a
round knoll which served as a landmark on the lake, for the shore near
St. Ignace was remarkably level. On the summit of this mound the good
father had reared a great white cross, and at its foot the superstitious
Indians often laid votive offerings of strongly incongruous character.
Here he had lived and taught for many years, succeeding in instructing
his little flock in the French tongue, and in at least an outward
semblance of the Catholic religion. Even the rude trappers, who came to
trade at regular intervals, revered him, and lived like good Christians
while at the mission, so as not to counteract his teaching by their
lawless example. Here Pere Ignace was growing old, and even this
grasshopper of a spiritual charge was becoming a burden. His superior,
at Montreal, understood this, and sent him an assistant.
Very unlike Father Ignatius was Pere Francois Xavier, a man with all the
fire and enthusiasm of youth in his blood--just the one for daring,
hazardous enterprises; just the one to undergo all the privation and
toil of planting a mission; to undertake plans requiring superhuman
efforts, and to carry them through successfully by main force of will. A
better assistant for Father Ignatius could not have been found. It was
force, will, and intellect in the service of love and meekness; only
there was a doubt if the servant might not usurp the place of the
master, and the sway of love be not materially advanced by its new ally.
Indeed, if the truth had been known, even the Bishop of Montreal had
felt that Father Francis Xavier was too ambitious a character to reside
safely in too close proximity to himself; and engrossing employment at a
distance for him, rather than the expressed solicitude for Father
Ignatius, prompted this appointment. The results of the following year
approved the arrangement. The mission received a new accession of life;
its interests were pushed forward energetically.
Father Francis Xavier devoted himself to an acquisition of the various
Indian dialects, and to excursions among the neighboring tribes.
Converts were made in astonishing numbers, and they brought liberal
gifts to the little church from their simple possessions. Father
Ignatius had never thought to barter with the trappers and traders, but
his colleague did; large church warehouses were erected, and the mission
soon had revenues of importance. Away in the interior Father Xavier had
discovered there was a silver mine; but this discovery, for the present,
he made no attempt at exploiting. He had secured it to the church by
title deed and treaty with the chief who claimed it; had visited it and
assured himself that it would some day be very valuable, and he
contented himself with this for the present, and even managed to forget
its acquisition in his yearly report sent to Montreal. Father Francis
Xavier was something of a geologist; his father was a Florentine
jeweller, and the son had studied as his apprentice, not having at first
been destined for the church. Even after taking holy orders, Father
Francis Xavier had labored over precious stones designed for
ecclesiastical decoration. His specialty had been that of a gem
engraver, and his long white fingers were remarkably skilful and
delicate. This northern region, with all its wealth of precious stones,
was a great jewel casket for him, and he became at once an enthusiastic
Before the coming of his assistant, Father Ignatius had managed his own
simple housekeeping in all its most humble details. Now they had the
services of an Indian maid of all work, who had been brought up under
the eyes of Father Ignatius, and whom the old man regarded rather as a
daughter than as a servant. Her moccasined feet fell as silently as
those of spirits as she glided about their lodge. She never sang at her
work, and rarely spoke, but she smiled often with a smile so childlike
as to be almost silly in expression. Father Ignatius loved the silent
smile, and a word from him was always sure to bring it; but it angered
Father Francis Xavier more than many a more repulsive thing would have
done. It seemed so utterly imbecile and babyish to him, he had got so
far away from innocence and smiles and childhood himself, that the
sight of them irritated him. The young Indian girl had a long and almost
unpronounceable name. Pere Ignace had baptized her Marie, and the new
name had gradually taken the place of the old.
One day, as she was silently but dexterously putting to order the large
upper room, which served Pere Francis Xavier as study and dormitory, she
paused before his collection of agates and minerals, and stroking the
stones, said in her soft French and Indian patois, "Pretty, pretty."
Father Xavier was seated at the great open window, looking over the top
of his book away across the breezy lake. He heard the words, and knew
that she was looking at him from the corner of her eye, but his only
reply was a deeper scowl and a lowering of his glance to the printed
page. The silly smile which he felt sure was upon her face faded out,
but the girl spoke again, and this time more resolutely, determined to
attract his attention. "Pretty stones. Marie's father many more, much
Father Xavier laid down his book. He was all attention. "Where did your
father get them?" he asked.
"In the mountains climb, in the mines dig, in the lake dive, he seek
them all the time summer."
"What does he do with them?"
"Cuts them like _mon pere_," and Marie imitated in pantomime the use of
the hammer and chisel. "Cut them all time winter, very many."
"What does he do that for?" asked the priest, surprised.
"All the same you," replied the girl--"make arrow-heads."
"Oh! he makes arrow-heads, does he? Mine are not arrow-heads, but I
should like to see what your father does. Does he live far from here?"
"Marie take you to-night in canoe."
"Very well, after supper."
She had often taken him out upon the lake before, for she managed their
birch-bark canoe with more skill than himself, and it was convenient to
have some one to paddle while he fished or read or dreamed. She rowed
him swiftly up the lake for several miles, then, fastening the canoe,
led the way through a trail in the forest. The sun was setting, and "the
whispering pines and the hemlocks" of the forest primeval formed a
tapestry of gloom around the paternal wigwam as they reached it. Black
Beaver, her father, reclined lazily in the door, watching the coals of
the little fire in front of his tent. He was always lazy. It was
difficult to believe that he ever climbed or dug or dived for agates as
Marie had said, so complete a picture he seemed of inaction. The girl
spoke a few words to him in their native dialect, and he grumblingly
rose, shuffled into the interior of the wigwam, and brought out two
baskets. One was a shallow tray filled with the finished heads in great
variety of material and color. There were white carnelian, delicately
striped with prophetic red, blood-stone deep colored and hard as ruby,
agates of every shade and marking, flinty jasper, emerald-banded
malachite, delicate rose color, and purple one made from shells, and
various crystals with whose names Father Francis Xavier was unfamiliar.
There was one shading from dark green through to red, only a drop of the
latter color on the very tip of the arrow where blood would first kiss
blood. Father Xavier looked at it in wondering admiration, and at last
asked Black Beaver what he called it.
"It is a devil-stone," replied the Indian. "More here," and he opened
the deeper basket in which were stored the unground and uncut stones,
and placed a superb gem in Father Xavier's hand. He had ground it
sufficiently to show that it was in two layers, white and green; in this
there was no touch of red, but in every other respect it was the
"Will you sell it to me?" asked the priest. "How much?"
The Indian smiled with an expression strangely like that of his
daughter, and put it back with alacrity in his basket, saying, "Me no
sell big devil-stone. No money buy."
"What do you mean to do with it?" asked Father Xavier.
"Make arrow-head--very hungry--no blood;" and he indicated the absence
of the red tint. "Very hungry--kill very much--never have enough!"
"Then you mean to keep it and use it yourself?"
"No," said the other. "Me no hunt game--hunt stones."
"What will you do with it?" asked the puzzled priest.
"Give it away," said Black Beaver--"give away to greatest--"
"Chief?" asked Father Xavier.
Black Beaver shook his head.
"No," grunted the arrow-head maker--"give away to big _enemy_!"
"What did he mean by that?" Father Xavier asked of Marie on their way
back to the mission. And the girl explained the superstition that
Indians of their own tribe never killed an enemy with ordinary weapons,
for fear that his soul would wait for theirs in the Happy Hunting
Grounds; but if he was shot with a devil-stone, the soul could not fly
upward, but would sink through all eternity, until it reached the
deepest spot of all the great lakes under the stony gaze of the Doom
When he inquired further as to the whereabouts of the Doom Woman's
residence he ascertained that she was only a sharp cliff among "the
pictured rocks of sandstone" of the upper lake--a cliff that viewed from
either side maintained its resemblance to a female profile looking
sternly down at the water beneath it, which was here believed to be
unfathomable. The Doom Woman still exists. Strange to say, under its
sharp-cut features a steamer has since been wrecked and sunk, and its
expression of gloomy fate is now awfully appropriate. Marie had visited
"the great Sea Water" with her father. Nature's titanic and fanciful
frescoing and cameo-cutting had strongly wrought upon her impressionable
mind, and the old legends and superstitions of paganism had been by no
means effaced by the very slight veneer of Christianity which she had
received at the mission.
From this evening Father Xavier's manner toward her changed. Her smile
no longer seemed to irritate him, and a close observer might have
noticed that she smiled less than formerly. He talked with her more,
paid closer attention to her studies, made her little presents from time
to time, and spoke to her always with studied gentleness that was quite
foreign to his nature. And Marie watched him at work over his stones,
spent her spare time in rambling in search of those which she had
learned he liked, and laid upon his table without remark each new
discovery of quartz, or crystal, or pebble. She had been in the habit of
making little boxes which she decorated with a rude mosaic of small
shells, and Father Xavier noticed that these gradually acquired more
taste and were arranged with some eye to the harmonies of color, while
the forms were copied with Chinese accuracy from patterns on the
bindings of his books or the borders of the religious pictures. Marie
was developing under an art education which, if carried far enough,
might effect great things. She even managed his graving tools with a
good deal of accuracy, copying designs which he set her, until he
wondered what his father would have thought of so apt an apprentice.
Suddenly, one morning in midsummer, Marie announced that she should
leave them. Her father was going on a long expedition for stones to the
head of Lake Superior, and she did not know when she might return. As
she imparted this information she watched Father Xavier from the corner
of her eye, and something of the old childish smile reappeared as he
showed that he was really annoyed.
The summer passed profitably for the Black Beaver, and he began to think
of returning to St. Ignace with his small store of valuable stones
before the fall gales should set in. He was just a few days too late.
When within sight of Michillimackinac a storm arose driving them out
upon the open lake, and playing with their canoe as though it were a
cockle-shell. When the storm abated a cloudy night had set in; no land
was visible in any direction; they had completely lost their direction,
and knew not toward which point to seek the shore. Paddling at hazard
might take them further out into the centre of the lake, and indeed they
were too worn with battling with the storm to do any more than keep the
tossed skiff from capsizing. Morning dawned wet and gray, after a
miserable night; they were drenched to the skin, and almost spent with
weariness and hunger, and now that a wan and ghostly daylight had come
they were no better for it, for an impenetrable fog shut them in on
every side. Marie and her mother began to pray. The Black Beaver sat
dogged and inert, with upturned face, regarding the sky.
The day wore by wearily; some of the time they paddled straight onward,
with sinking hearts, knowing not toward what they were going, and at
others rested with the inaction of despair. When the position of the
bright spot which meant the sun told that it lacked but an hour of
sunset, and the clouds seemed to be thickening rather than dispersing,
the Black Beaver gave a long and hideous howl. His wife and daughter
shuddered when they heard it, as would any one, for a more unearthly and
discordant cry was never uttered by man or beast; but they had double
reason to shudder; it was the death cry of their nation.
"We can never live through another night," said he, and he covered his
face with his arms.
"Father," said Marie, "try what power there is in the white man's God.
Say that you will give Him your devil-stone if He will save us now."
"The priest may have it," said the Black Beaver, and he uncovered his
face and sat up as though expecting a miracle. And the miracle came. The
sun was setting behind them, and in front, somewhat above the horizon,
the clouds parted, forming a circle about a white cross which hung
suspended in the air. They all saw it distinctly, but only for a few
moments; then the clouds closed and the vision vanished. With new hope
the little party rowed toward the spot where they had last seen it, and
through the fog they could dimly discern the outlines of the coast--they
were nearing land. A little further on, and a village was visible, which
gained a more and more familiar aspect as they approached. Night settled
down before they reached it, but ere their feet touched the land they
had recognized the mission of St. Ignace. The cross was not a vision.
The clouds had parted to show them the great white landmark and sign
which Father Ignatius had raised upon the little knoll.
The next day the Black Beaver unearthed his devil-stone, and fastening a
silver chain to it, was about to carry it away and attach it to the
cross, which was already loaded with the gifts of the little colony; but
Marie took it from his hand. "I will give it to the good priest myself,"
she said. "He may see fit to place it on the image of the Virgin in the
A few days later Marie placed the coveted stone in Father Xavier's hand;
but what was his bitter disappointment to find that she had marred the
exquisite thing by a rude attempt at a delineation upon it of the vision
of the cross. She had carefully chiselled away the milky white layer,
excepting on the crests of some very primitive representations of waves,
and within the awkwardly plain cross in the centre of the gem. All his
hopes of cutting a face upon this lovely jewel were crushed; it was
ruined by her unskilful work. Father Xavier was completely master of his
own emotions. He took the stone without remark, and hung it, as Marie
requested, about the neck of the Madonna. Each day as he said mass the
sight of the mutilated jewel roused within him resentful feelings
against poor, well-wishing little Marie. He had been very kind to her
since he had first seen the stone in the possession of her father, but
now it was worse than before. He avoided her markedly, for the smile
which so annoyed him still lighted her face whenever she saw him, and
there was in it a reproachful sadness which was even more aggravating
than its simple childishness had been.
One day Father Xavier, in turning over his papers, came across an old
etching of Venus rising from the sea. The figure, with its outstretched
arms, suggested a possibility to him. He made a careful tracing of it,
took it to the church, and laid it upon the stone. All of its outlines
came within the white cross; there was still hope for the cameo. All
that winter Father Xavier toiled upon it, exhausting his utmost skill,
but never exhausting his patience. His chief trial was in the extreme
hardness of the stone, which rapidly wore out his graving tools. At last
it was finished, and Father Xavier confessed to himself, in all
humility, that he had not only never executed so delicate a piece of
workmanship, but he had never seen its equal. Every curve of the
exquisite-hued waves was studied from the swell that sometimes swept
grandly in from the lake on the long reef of rocks a few miles above St.
Ignace. The form of the goddess was modelled from his remembrance of the
Greek antique. It was a gem worthy of an emperor. What should he do with
As the spring ripened into summer, ambitious thoughts flowered in Pere
Francis Xavier's soul. What a grand bishopric this whole western country
would make with its unexplored wealth of mines, and furs, and forest!
Why should he be obliged to make reports of the revenue which his own
financiering had secured to the mission, to the head at Montreal? Why
should not his reverence the Lord Bishop Francis Xavier dwell in an
episcopal palace built somewhere on these lakes, with unlimited
spiritual and temporal sway over all this country? To effect such a
scheme it would be necessary for him to see both the King of France and
the Pope. He was not sure that even if he could return to Europe
immediately, he had the influence necessary in either quarter, but the
cameo was a step in the right direction. Something of the same thought
occurred at the same time to the Bishop of Montreal. Father Xavier's
reports showed the mission to be in a flourishing condition. The first
struggles of the pioneer were over. Father Xavier must not be left in
too luxurious a position. The Chevalier La Salle was now fitting out his
little band designed to explore the lakes and follow the Mississippi
from its source to the Gulf. A most important expedition; it would be
well that the Jesuit fathers should share in the honors if it proved
successful, and if the little party perished in its hazardous enterprise
Pere Francis Xavier could perhaps be spared as easily as any member of
his spiritual army.
And so, in the summer of 1679, the Chevalier sailed up the Lac du
Dauphin, as Lake Erie was then called, into the Lac d'Orleans, or Huron,
carrying letters in which Pere Francis Xavier was ordered to leave his
charge for a time in order to render all the assistance in his power to
the explorers. The Bishop of Montreal could never have guessed with what
heartfelt joy his command was obeyed. Father Xavier was tired of this
peaceful life, tired of "the endless wash of melancholy waves," of the
short cool summers, and long white blank of winter; tired of inaction,
of the lack of stimulating surroundings, of the gentleness of Father
Ignatius and Marie's haunting smile. Here, too, might be the very
occasion he craved of making himself famous and deserving of reward as
an explorer. It was true that he started as a subordinate, but that was
no reason that he should return in the same capacity. Marie had served
the noble guests with pleasant alacrity, passing the rainbow-tinted
trout caught as well as broiled by her own hand, and the luscious
huckleberries in tasteful baskets of her own braiding, and Tontz Main de
Fer, the chivalric companion and friend of La Salle, was moved like
Geraint, served by Enid, "to stoop and kiss the dainty little thumb
that crossed the trencher." The salutation was received with unconscious
dignity by little Marie; once only was Pere Francois Xavier annoyed by
the absence of a display of childish pleasure in an ever-ready smile.
History tells how trial and privation of every kind waited on this
little band of heroic men; how hunger, and cold, and fever dogged their
steps; how the Indians proved treacherous and hostile; how, having
reached central Illinois, after incredible exertion, they found
themselves in the dead of winter unable to proceed further, and
surrounded by tribes incited against them by some unknown enemy. A
fatality seemed to hang over them; suspicious occurrences indicated that
they had a traitor among their number, but he was never discovered. La
Salle did not despair or abandon the enterprise; but when six of his
most trusted men mutinied and deserted, he lost hope, and became seized
with a presentiment that he would never return from his expedition.
Father Xavier was his confidant as well as confessor, but he seems not
to have been able to disperse the gloom which settled over the leader's
mind. Perhaps he did not endeavor to do so. Hopeless but still true to
his trust, La Salle constructed near Peoria a fort which he named
Crevecoeur, in token of his despondency and disappointment. Leaving
Tontz Main de Fer in command here with the greater part of his men, he
set out with five for Frontenac, on the 2d of March, 1680, intending to
return with supplies to take command again of his party, and to proceed
southward. It was at this point that the most inexplicable event of the
entire enterprise occurred. Before the party divided _some one_
attempted to poison the Chevalier La Salle. The poison was a subtle and
slow one, similar in its effects to those used by the Borgia family; the
secret of its manufacture was thought to be unknown out of Italy.
Fortunately he had taken an under or overdose of it, and the effects
manifested themselves only in a long illness. He was too far on his
journey from Fort Heartbreak when stricken down to return to it, and was
mercifully received and nursed back to health by the friendly
While the leader was lying sick in an Indian lodge, the knightly Tontz,
ignorant of the fate of his friend, was having his troubles at the
little fort of Heartbreak. Pere Francois Xavier had remained with him,
and aided him with counsels and personal exertions; he had made himself
so indispensable that he was now lieutenant; if anything should happen
to Tontz, he would be commander. He was secretary of the expedition,
drew careful maps, and made voluminous daily entries in a journal, which
was afterward found to be a marvel of painstaking both in the facts and
fictions which it contained. Scanty mention was there of La Salle and
Tontz Main de Fer, and much of Pere Francois Xavier, but it was clear,
explicit, depicting the advantages of an acquisition of this territory
to the crown of France in glowing terms, and strongly advising that the
man who had most distinguished himself in the difficulties of its
discovery should be appointed as governor, or baron, under the royal
While Father Xavier was compiling this remarkable piece of authorship,
the Iroquois descended in warlike array upon the somewhat friendly
disposed Illinois Indians, in whose midst Fort Crevecoeur had been
built. The suspicious Indian mind immediately connected the advent of
their enemies with the building of the fort, and regarded the little
garrison with distrust. Tontz, at the instance of Father Xavier,
presented himself to their chief, and offered to do anything in his
power to prove his friendly intentions. The chief accepted his services,
and sent him as ambassador to inquire into the cause of the coming of
the Iroquois. This mission had nearly been his last, for Tontz was
received with stabs, and hardly allowed to give the message of the
chief. His ill-treatment at the hands of their enemies did not reassure
the suspicious Illinois, who ordered Tontz to immediately evacuate the
fort and return with his forces to the country whence he had come. In
his wounded condition such a journey was extremely hazardous, and it
must have been with grave doubts as to his surviving it that Father
Xavier took temporary command of the returning expedition.
It was in the spring of 1681. Father Xavier had been absent nearly two
years. Father Ignatius missed him sadly--all the life and fire seemed
have gone out of the mission. Even Marie moved about her work in a
listless, languid way, which contrasted markedly with her once lithe and
rapid movements. They had not once heard from the explorers, and Father
Ignatius shook his head sadly, and feared that he would never see his
energetic colleague again. The Black Beaver had slept through the last
months of winter, and, as with the general awakening of spring the bears
came out of their dens, and the snakes sunned themselves near their
holes, he too stretched himself lazily and awoke to a consciousness of
what was passing around him. In the first place something was amiss with
Marie. When she came to the wigwam it was not to chat merrily of the
affairs of the mission. She did not braid as many baskets as formerly,
and no longer showed him new patterns in shell mosaic on the lids of
little boxes. He was a curious old man, and he soon drew her secret from
her. Marie loved Pere Francois Xavier, and he had gone.
The Black Beaver went down to the mission one evening and had a long
talk with Father Ignatius. He ascertained first that Pere Francois
Xavier really meant to return; then, with all the dignity of an old
feudal baron, he offered Marie as a bride for his spiritual son. Very
gently the good Pere Ignace explained that Romish priests were so nearly
in the kingdom of heaven that the question of marrying and giving in
marriage was not for them to consider. The Black Beaver went home, told
no one of his visit, and for several days indulged in the worst drunken
spree of which he was capable. When he came out of it he announced to
his wife and Marie that he was going away on his annual trip for stores,
but that they need not accompany him.
Marie knelt as usual in the little church on the evening of the day on
which her father had gone away. Pere Francois Xavier had replaced the
cameo on the Virgin's breast before he went; it was a safer place than
the vault of a bank would have been, had such a thing existed in the
country. There was no one in the island sacrilegious enough to rob the
church. Marie had gazed at the stone each time that she repeated the
prayer which he had taught her. She looked up now, and it was gone.
Half way upon their northward route, Tontz's band were struggling
wearily on when they were met by a solitary Indian, who, though he
carried a long bow, had not an unfriendly aspect. He eyed the little
band silently as they passed by him in defile, then ran after them, and
inquired if the Pere Francois Xavier, of Mission St. Ignace, was not of
their number. He was informed that the reverend father had remained a
short distance behind to write in his journal, but that he would soon
overtake them; and he was warmly pressed to remain with them if he had
messages for the priest, and give them to him when he arrived; but the
Indian shook his head and passed on in the direction in which they told
him he would be likely to meet Father Xavier. The party halted and
waited hour after hour for the priest, but he did not come. Finally two
went back in search, and found him lying upon the sod with upturned
face--the place where he had written last in his journal marked by a few
drops of his heart's blood, and the long shaft of an arrow protruding
from his breast. They drew it out, but the arrow-head had been attached
as is the custom in some Indian tribes, by means of a soft wax, which is
melted by the warmth of the body, and it remained in the heart. Father
Xavier had been dead some hours. They buried him where they found him,
and proceeded on their march. Tontz recovered on the way. They reached
Michillimackinac in safety, where they were joined two months later by
La Salle; and the world knows the result of his second expedition.
Little Marie learned by degrees to smile again, and in after years
married another arrow-head maker, as swarthy and as shaggy as the Black
Beaver. There is no moral to my story except that of poetic justice.
Pere Francois Xavier had sown a plentiful crop of stratagems, and he
learned in the lonely forest that "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he
Meanwhile to all but you, my readers, the Crevecoeur cameo remains as
great a mystery as ever.
MISS EUNICE'S GLOVE
By Albert Webster.
For a long time blithe and fragile Miss Eunice, demure, correct in
deportment, and yet not wholly without enthusiasm, thought that day the
unluckiest in her life on which she first took into her hands that
unobtrusive yet dramatic book, "Miss Crofutt's Missionary Labors in the
It came to her notice by mere accident, not by favor of proselyting
friends; and such was its singular material, that she at once devoured
it with avidity. As its title suggests, it was the history of the
ameliorating endeavors of a woman in criminal society, and it contained,
perforce, a large amount of tragic and pathetic incident. But this last
was so blended and involved with what Miss Eunice would have skipped as
commonplace, that she was led to digest the whole volume--statistics,
philosophy, comments, and all. She studied the analysis of the
atmosphere of cells, the properties and waste of wheaten flour, the cost
of clothing to the general government, the whys and wherefores of crime
and evil-doing; and it was not long before there was generated within
her bosom a fine and healthy ardor to emulate this practical and
She was profoundly moved by the tales of missionary labors proper. She
was filled with joy to read that Miss Crofutt and her lieutenants
sometimes cracked and broke away the formidable husks which enveloped
divine kernels in the hearts of some of the wretches, and she frequently
wept at the stories of victories gained over monsters whose defences of
silence and stolidity had suddenly fallen into ruin above the slow but
persistent sapping of constant kindness. Acute tinglings and chilling
thrills would pervade her entire body when she read that on Christmas
every wretch seemed to become for that day, at least, a gracious man;
that the sight of a few penny tapers, or the possession of a handful of
sweet stuff, or a spray of holly, or a hot-house bloom, would appear to
convert the worst of them into children. Her heart would swell to learn
how they acted during the one poor hour of yearly freedom in the
prison-yards; that they swelled their chests; that they ran; that they
took long strides; that the singers anxiously tried their voices, now
grown husky; that the athletes wrestled only to find their limbs stiff
and their arts forgotten; that the gentlest of them lifted their faces
to the broad sky and spent the sixty minutes in a dreadful gazing at the
The pretty student gradually became possessed with a rage. She desired
to convert some one, to recover some estray, to reform some wretch.
She regretted that she lived in America, and not in England, where the
most perfect rascals were to be found; she was sorry that the gloomy,
sin-saturated prisons which were the scenes of Miss Crofutt's labors
must always be beyond her ken.
There was no crime in the family or the neighborhood against which she
might strive; no one whom she knew was even austere; she had never met a
brute; all her rascals were newspaper rascals. For aught she knew, this
tranquillity and good-will might go on forever, without affording her an
opportunity. She must be denied the smallest contact with these
frightful faces and figures, these bars and cages, these deformities of
the mind and heart, these curiosities of conscience, shyness, skill, and
daring; all these dramas of reclamation, all these scenes of fervent
gratitude, thankfulness, and intoxicating liberty--all or any of these
things must never come to be the lot of her eyes; and she gave herself
up to the most poignant regret.
But one day she was astonished to discover that all of these delights
lay within half an hour's journey of her home; and moreover, that there
was approaching an hour which was annually set apart for the indulgence
of the inmates of the prison in question. She did not stop to ask
herself, as she might well have done, how it was that she had so
completely ignored this particular institution, which was one of the
largest and best conducted in the country, especially when her desire to
visit one was so keen; but she straightway set about preparing for her
intended visit in a manner which she fancied Miss Crofutt would have
approved, had she been present.
She resolved, in the most radical sense of the word, to be alive. She
jotted on some ivory tablets, with a gold pencil, a number of hints to
assist her in her observations. For example: "Phrenological development;
size of cells; ounces of solid and liquid; tissue-producing food; were
mirrors allowed? if so, what was the effect? jimmy and skeleton-key,
character of; canary birds: query, would not their admission into every
cell animate in the human prisoners a similar buoyancy? to urge upon the
turnkeys the use of the Spanish garrote in place of the present
distressing gallows; to find the proportion of Orthodox and Unitarian
prisoners to those of other persuasions." But beside these and fifty
other similar memoranda, the enthusiast cast about her for something
practical to do.
She hit upon the capital idea of flowers. She at once ordered from a
gardener of taste two hundred bouquets, or rather nosegays, which she
intended for distribution among the prisoners she was about to visit,
and she called upon her father for the money.
Then she began to prepare her mind. She wished to define the plan from
which she was to make her contemplations. She settled that she would be
grave and gentle. She would be exquisitely careful not to hold herself
too much aloof, and yet not to step beyond the bounds of that sweet
reserve that she conceived must have been at once Miss Crofutt's sword
Her object was to awaken in the most abandoned criminals a realization
that the world, in its most benignant phase, was still open to them;
that society, having obtained a requital for their wickedness, was ready
to embrace them again on proof of their repentance.
She determined to select at the outset two or three of the most
remarkable monsters, and turn the full head of her persuasions
exclusively upon them, instead of sprinkling (as it were) the whole
community with her grace. She would arouse at first a very few, and then
a few more, and a few more, and so on _ad infinitum_.
It was on a hot July morning that she journeyed on foot over the bridge
which led to the prison, and there walked a man behind her carrying the
Her eyes were cast down, this being the position most significant of her
spirit. Her pace was equal, firm, and rapid: she made herself oblivious
of the bustle of the streets, and she repented that her vanity had
permitted her to wear white and lavender these making a combination in
her dress which she had been told became her well. She had no right to
embellish herself. Was she going to the races or a match, or a
kettle-drum, that she must dandify herself with particular shades of
color? She stopped short, blushing. Would Miss Cro----. But there was no
help for it now. It was too late to turn back. She proceeded, feeling
that the odds were against her.
She approached her destination in such a way that the prison came into
view suddenly. She paused, with a feeling of terror. The enormous gray
building rose far above a lofty white wall of stone, and a sense of its
prodigious strength and awful gloom overwhelmed her. On the top of the
wall, holding by an iron railing, there stood a man with a rifle
trailing behind him. He was looking down into the yard inside. His
attitude of watchfulness, his weapon, the unseen thing that was being
thus fiercely guarded, provoked in her such a revulsion that she came to
What in the name of mercy had she come here for? She began to tremble.
The man with the flowers came up to her and halted. From the prison
there came at this instant the loud clang of a bell, and succeeding this
a prolonged and resonant murmur which seemed to increase. Miss Eunice
looked hastily around her. There were several people who must have heard
the same sounds that reached her ears, but they were not alarmed. In
fact, one or two of them seemed to be going to the prison direct. The
courage of our philanthropist began to revive. A woman in a brick house
opposite suddenly pulled up a window-curtain and fixed an amused and
inquisitive look upon her.
This would have sent her into a thrice-heated furnace. "Come, if you
please," she commanded the man, and she marched upon the jail.
She entered at first a series of neat offices in a wing of the
structure, and then she came to a small door made of black bars of iron.
A man stood on the farther side of this, with a bunch of large keys.
When he saw Miss Eunice he unlocked and opened the door, and she passed
She found that she had entered a vast, cool, and lofty cage, one hundred
feet in diameter; it had an iron floor, and there were several people
strolling about here and there. Through several grated apertures the
sunlight streamed with strong effect, and a soft breeze swept around the
Without the cage, before her and on either hand, were three more wings
of the building, and in these were the prisoners' corridors.
At the moment she entered, the men were leaving their cells, and
mounting the stone stairs in regular order, on their way to the chapel
above. The noisy files went up and down and to the right and to the
left, shuffling and scraping and making a great tumult. The men were
dressed in blue, and were seen indistinctly through the lofty gratings.
From above and below and all around her there came the metallic snapping
of bolts and the rattle of moving bars; and so significant was
everything of savage repression and impending violence, that Miss Eunice
was compelled to say faintly to herself "I am afraid it will take a
little time to get used to all this."
She rested upon one of the seats in the rotunda while the chapel
services were being conducted, and she thus had an opportunity to regain
a portion of her lost heart. She felt wonderfully dwarfed and belittled,
and her plan of recovering souls had, in some way or other, lost much of
its feasibility. A glance at her bright flowers revived her a little, as
did also a surprising, long-drawn roar from over her head, to the tune
of "America." The prisoners were singing.
Miss Eunice was not alone in her intended work, for there were several
other ladies, also with supplies of flowers, who with her awaited until
the prisoners should descend into the yard and be let loose before
presenting them with what they had brought. Their common purpose made
them acquainted, and by the aid of chat and sympathy they fortified each
Half an hour later the five hundred men descended from the chapel to the
yard, rushing out upon its bare broad surface as you have seen a burst
of water suddenly irrigate a road-bed. A hoarse and tremendous shout at
once filled the air, and echoed against the walls like the threat of a
volcano. Some of the wretches waltzed and spun around like dervishes,
some threw somersaults, some folded their arms gravely and marched up
and down, some fraternized, some walked away pondering, some took off
their tall caps and sat down in the shade, some looked toward the
rotunda with expectation, and there were those who looked toward it with
There led from the rotunda to the yard a flight of steps. Miss Eunice
descended these steps with a quaking heart, and a turnkey shouted to the
prisoners over her head that she and others had flowers for them.
No sooner had the words left his lips, than the men rushed up pell-mell.
This was a crucial moment.
There thronged upon Miss Eunice an army of men who were being punished
for all the crimes in the calendar. Each individual here had been caged
because he was either a highwayman, or a forger, or a burglar, or a
ruffian, or a thief, or a murderer. The unclean and frightful tide bore
down upon our terrified missionary, shrieking and whooping. Every
prisoner thrust out his hand over the head of the one in front of him,
and the foremost plucked at her dress.
She had need of courage. A sense of danger and contamination impelled
her to fly, but a gleam of reason in the midst of her distraction
enabled her to stand her ground. She forced herself to smile though she
knew her face had grown pale.
She placed a bunch of flowers into an immense hand which projected from
a coarse blue sleeve in front of her; the owner of the hand was pushed
away so quickly by those who came after him that Miss Eunice failed to
see his face. Her tortured ear caught a rough "Thank y', miss!" The
spirit of Miss Crofutt revived in a flash, and her disciple thereafter
possessed no lack of nerve.
She plied the crowd with flowers as long as they lasted, and a jaunty
self possession enabled her finally to gaze without flinching at the
mass of depraved and wicked faces with which she was surrounded. Instead
of retaining her position upon the steps, she gradually descended into
the yard, as did several other visitors. She began to feel at home; she
found her tongue, and her color came back again. She felt a warm pride
in noticing with what care and respect the prisoners treated her gifts;
they carried them about with great tenderness, and some compared them
with those of their friends.
Presently she began to recall her plans. It occurred to her to select
her two or three villains. For one, she immediately pitched upon a
lean-faced wretch in front of her. He seemed to be old, for his back was
bent and he leaned upon a cane. His features were large, and they bore
an expression of profound gloom. His head was sunk upon his breast, his
lofty conical cap was pulled over his ears, and his shapeless uniform
seemed to weigh him down, so infirm was he.
Miss Eunice spoke to him. He did not hear; she spoke again. He glanced
at her like a flash, but without moving; this was at once followed by a
scrutinizing look. He raised his head, and then he turned toward her
The solemnity of his demeanor nearly threw Miss Eunice off her balance,
but she mastered herself by beginning to talk rapidly. The prisoner
leaned over a little to hear better. Another came up, and two or three
turned around to look. She bethought herself of an incident related in
Miss Crofutt's book, and she essayed its recital. It concerned a lawyer
who was once pleading in a French criminal court in behalf of a man
whose crime had been committed under the influence of dire want. In his
plea he described the case of another whom he knew who had been punished
with a just but short imprisonment instead of a long one, which the
judge had been at liberty to impose, but from which he humanely
refrained. Miss Eunice happily remembered the words of the lawyer: "That
man suffered like the wrong-doer that he was. He knew his punishment was
just. Therefore there lived perpetually in his breast an impulse toward
a better life which was not suppressed and stifled by the five years he
passed within the walls of the jail. He came forth and began to labor.
He toiled hard. He struggled against averted faces and cold words, and
he began to rise. He secreted nothing, faltered at nothing, and never
stumbled. He succeeded; men took off their hats to him once more; he
became wealthy, honorable, God-fearing. I, gentlemen, am that man, that
criminal." As she quoted this last declaration Miss Eunice erected
herself with burning eyes and touched herself proudly upon the breast. A
flush crept into her cheeks, and her nostrils dilated, and she grew
She came back to earth again, and found herself surrounded with the
prisoners. She was a little startled.
"Ah, that was good!" ejaculated the old man upon whom she had fixed her
eyes. Miss Eunice felt an inexpressible sense of delight.
Murmurs of approbation came from all of her listeners, especially from
one on her right hand. She looked around at him pleasantly.
But the smile faded from her lips on beholding him. He was extremely
tall and very powerful. He overshadowed her. His face was large, ugly,
and forbidding; his gray hair and beard were cropped close, his eyebrows
met at the bridge of his nose and overhung his large eyes like a screen.
His lips were very wide, and, being turned downward at the corners, they
gave him a dolorous expression. His lower jaw was square and protruding,
and a pair of prodigious white ears projected from beneath his
sugar-loaf cap. He seemed to take his cue from the old man, for he
repeated his sentiment.
"Yes," said he, with a voice which broke alternately into a roar and a
whisper, "that was a good story."
"Y-yes," faltered Miss Eunice, "and it has the merit of being t-rue."
He replied with a nod, and looked absently over her head while he rubbed
the nap upon his chin with his hand. Miss Eunice discovered that his
knee touched the skirt of her dress, and she was about to move in order
to destroy this contact, when she remembered that Miss Crofutt would
probably have cherished the accident as a promoter of a valuable
personal influence, so she allowed it to remain. The lean-faced man was
not to be mentioned in the same breath with this one, therefore she
adopted the superior villain out of hand.
She began to approach him. She asked him where he lived, meaning to
discover whence he had come. He replied in the same mixture of roar and
whisper, "Six undered un one, North Wing."
Miss Eunice grew scarlet. Presently she recovered sufficiently to pursue
some inquiries respecting the rules and customs of the prison. She did
not feel that she was interesting her friend, yet it seemed clear that
he did not wish to go away. His answers were curt, yet he swept his cap
off his head, implying by the act a certain reverence, which Miss
Eunice's vanity permitted her to exult at. Therefore she became more
loquacious than ever. Some men came up to speak with the prisoner, but
he shook them off, and remained in an attitude of strict attention,
with his chin on his hand, looking now at the sky, now at the ground and
now at Miss Eunice.
In handling the flowers her gloves had been stained, and she now held
them in her fingers nervously twisting them as she talked. In the course
of time she grew short of subjects, and as her listener suggested
nothing, several lapses occurred; in one of them she absently spread her
gloves out in her palms, meanwhile wondering how the English girl acted
under similar circumstances.
Suddenly a large hand slowly interposed itself between her eyes and her
gloves, and then withdrew, taking one of the soiled trifles with it.
She was surprised, but the surprise was pleasurable. She said nothing at
first. The prisoner gravely spread his prize out upon his own palm, and
after looking at it carefully, he rolled it up into a tight ball and
thrust it deep in an inner pocket.
This act made the philanthropist aware that she had made progress. She
rose insensibly to the elevation of patron, and she made promises to
come frequently and visit her ward and to look in upon him when he was
at work; while saying this she withdrew a little from the shade his huge
figure had supplied her with.
He thrust his hands into his pockets, but he hastily took them out
again. Still he said nothing and hung his head. It was while she was in
the mood of a conqueror that Miss Eunice went away. She felt a touch of
repugnance at stepping from before his eyes a free woman, therefore she
took pains to go when she thought he was not looking.
She pointed him out to a turnkey, who told her he was expiating the sins
of assault and burglarious entry. Outwardly Miss Eunice looked grieved,
but within she exulted that he was so emphatically a rascal.
When she emerged from the cool, shadowy, and frowning prison into the
gay sunlight, she experienced a sense of bewilderment. The significance
of a lock and a bar seemed greater on quitting them than it had when she
had perceived them first. The drama of imprisonment and punishment
oppressed her spirit with tenfold gloom now that she gazed upon the
brilliancy and freedom of the outer world. That she and everybody around
her were permitted to walk here and there at will, without question and
limit, generated within her an indefinite feeling of gratitude; and the
noise, the colors, the creaking wagons, the myriad voices, the splendid
variety and change of all things excited a profound but at the same time
a mournful satisfaction.
Midway in her return journey she was shrieked at from a carriage, which
at once approached the sidewalk. Within it were four gay maidens bound
to the Navy-Yard, from whence they were to sail, with a large party of
people of nice assortment, in an experimental steamer, which was to be
made to go with kerosene lamps, in some way. They seized upon her hands
and cajoled her. Wouldn't she go? They were to sail down among the
islands (provided the oil made the wheels and things go round), they
were to lunch at Fort Warren, dine at Fort Independence, and dance at
Fort Winthrop Come, please go. Oh, do! The Germanians were to furnish
Miss Eunice sighed, but shook her head. She had not yet got the air of
the prison out of her lungs, nor the figure of her robber out of her
eyes, nor the sense of horror and repulsion out of her sympathies.
At another time she would have gone to the ends of the earth with such a
happy crew, but now she only shook her head again and was resolute. No
one could wring a reason from her, and the wondering quartet drove away.
Before the day went, Miss Eunice awoke to the disagreeable fact that her
plans had become shrunken and contracted, that a certain something had
curdled her spontaneity, and that her ardor had flown out at some
crevice and had left her with the dry husk of an intent.
She exerted herself to glow a little, but she failed. She talked well
at the tea-table, but she did not tell about the glove. This matter
plagued her. She ran over in her mind the various doings of Miss
Crofutt, and she could not conceal from herself that that lady had never
given a glove to one of her wretches; no, nor had she ever permitted the
smallest approach to familiarity.
Miss Eunice wept a little. She was on the eve of despairing.
In the silence of the night the idea presented itself to her with a
disagreeable baldness. There was a thief over yonder that possessed a
confidence with her.
They had found it necessary to shut this man up in iron and stone, and
to guard him with a rifle with a large leaden ball in it.
This villain was a convict. That was a terrible word, one that made her
She, the admired of hundreds and the beloved of a family, had done a
secret and shameful thing of which she dared not tell. In these solemn
hours the madness of her act appalled her.
She asked herself what might not the fellow do with the glove? Surely he
would exhibit it among his brutal companions, and perhaps allow it to
pass to and fro among them. They would laugh and joke with him, and he
would laugh and joke in return, and no doubt he would kiss it to their
great delight. Again, he might go to her friends, and, by working upon
their fears and by threatening an exposure of her, extort large sums of
money from them. Again, might he not harass her by constantly appearing
to her at all times and all places and making all sorts of claims and
demands? Again, might he not, with terrible ingenuity, use it in
connection with some false key or some jack-in-the-box, or some
dark-lantern, or something, in order to effect his escape; or might he
not tell the story times without count to some wretched
curiosity-hunters who would advertise her folly all over the country, to
her perpetual misery?
She became harnessed to this train of thought. She could not escape from
it. She reversed the relation that she had hoped to hold toward such a
man, and she stood in his shadow, and not he in hers.
In consequence of these ever-present fears and sensations, there was one
day, not very far in the future, that she came to have an intolerable
dread of. This day was the one on which the sentence of the man was to
expire. She felt that he would surely search for her; and that he would
find her there could be no manner of doubt, for, in her surplus of
confidence, she had told him her full name, inasmuch as he had told her
When she contemplated this new source of terror, her peace of mind fled
directly. So did her plans for philanthropic labor. Not a shred
remained. The anxiety began to tell upon her, and she took to peering
out of a certain shaded window that commanded the square in front of
her house. It was not long before she remembered that for good behavior
certain days were deducted from the convicts' terms of imprisonment.
Therefore, her ruffian might be released at a moment not anticipated by
her. He might, in fact, be discharged on any day. He might be on his way
toward her even now.
She was not very far from right, for suddenly the man did appear.
He one day turned the corner, as she was looking out at the window
fearing that she should see him, and came in a diagonal direction across
the hot, flagged square.
Miss Eunice's pulse leaped into the hundreds. She glued her eyes upon
him. There was no mistake. There was the red face, the evil eyes, the
large mouth, the gray hair, and the massive frame.
What should she do? Should she hide? Should she raise the sash and
shriek to the police? Should she arm herself with a knife? or--what? In
the name of mercy, what? She glared into the street. He came on
steadily, and she lost him, for he passed beneath her. In a moment she
heard the jangle of the bell. She was petrified. She heard his heavy
step below. He had gone into the little reception-room beside the door.
He crossed to a sofa opposite the mantel. She then heard him get up and
go to a window, then he walked about, and then sat down; probably upon a
red leather seat beside the window.
Meanwhile the servant was coming to announce him. From some impulse,
which was a strange and sudden one, she eluded the maid, and rushed
headlong upon her danger. She never remembered her descent of the
stairs. She awoke to cool contemplation of matters only to find herself
entering the room.
Had she made a mistake, after all? It was a question that was asked and
answered in a flash. This man was pretty erect and self-assured, but she
discerned in an instant that there was needed but the blue woollen
jacket and the tall cap to make him the wretch of a month before.
He said nothing. Neither did she. He stood up and occupied himself by
twisting a button upon his waistcoat. She, fearing a threat or a demand,
stood bridling to receive it. She looked at him from top to toe with
He glanced at her. She stepped back. He put the rim of his cap in his
mouth and bit it once or twice, and then looked out at the window. Still
neither spoke. A voice at this instant seemed impossible.
He glanced again like a flash. She shrank, and put her hands upon the
bolt. Presently he began to stir. He put out one foot, and gradually
moved forward. He made another step. He was going away. He had almost
reached the door, when Miss Eunice articulated, in a confused whisper,
"My--my glove; I wish you would give me my glove."
He stopped, fixed his eyes upon her, and after passing his fingers up
and down upon the outside of his coat, said, with deliberation, in a
husky voice, "No, mum. I'm goin' fur to keep it as long as I live, if it
takes two thousand years."
"Keep it!" she stammered.
"Keep it," he replied.
He gave her an untranslatable look. It neither frightened her nor
permitted her to demand the glove more emphatically. She felt her cheeks
and temples and her hands grow cold, and midway in the process of
fainting she saw him disappear. He vanished quietly. Deliberation and
respect characterized his movements, and there was not so much as a jar
of the outer door.
This incident nearly sent her to a sick-bed. She fully expected that her
secret would appear in the newspapers in full, and she lived in dread of
the onslaught of an angry and outraged society.
The more she reflected upon what her possibilities had been and how she
had misused them, the iller and the more distressed she got. She grew
thin and spare of flesh. Her friends became frightened. They began to
dose her and to coddle her. She looked at them with eyes full of supreme
melancholy, and she frequently wept upon their shoulders.
In spite of her precautions, however, a thunder-bolt slipped in.
One day her father read at the table an item that met his eye. He
repeated it aloud, on account of the peculiar statement in the last
"Detained on suspicion.--A rough-looking fellow, who gave the name of
Gorman, was arrested on the high-road to Tuxbridge Springs for suspected
complicity in some recent robberies in the neighborhood. He was
fortunately able to give a pretty clear account of his late whereabouts
and he was permitted to depart with a caution from the justice. Nothing
was found upon him but a few coppers and an old kid glove wrapped in a
bit of paper."
Miss Eunice's soup spilled. This was too much, and she fainted this time
in right good earnest; and she straightway became an invalid of the
settled type. They put her to bed. The doctor told her plainly that he
knew she had a secret, but she looked at him so imploringly that he
refrained from telling his fancies; but he ordered an immediate change
of air. It was settled at once that she should go to the "Springs"--to
Tuxbridge Springs. The doctor knew there were young people there, also
plenty of dancing. So she journeyed thither with her pa and her ma and
with pillows and servants.
They were shown to their rooms, and strong porters followed with the
luggage. One of them had her huge trunk upon his shoulder. He put it
carefully upon the floor, and by so doing he disclosed the ex-prisoner
to Miss Eunice and Miss Eunice to himself. He was astonished, but he
remained silent. But she must needs be frightened and fall into another
fit of trembling. After an awkward moment he went away, while she called
to her father and begged piteously to be taken away from Tuxbridge
Springs instantly. There was no appeal. She hated, _hated_, HATED
Tuxbridge Springs, and she should die if she were forced to remain. She
rained tears. She would give no reason, but she could not stay. No,
millions on millions could not persuade her; go she must. There was no
alternative. The party quitted the place within the hour, bag and
baggage. Miss Eunice's father was perplexed and angry, and her mother
would have been angry also if she had dared.
They went to other springs and stayed a month, but the patient's fright
increased each day, and so did her fever. She was full of distractions.
In her dreams everybody laughed at her as the one who had flirted with a
convict. She would ever be pursued with the tale of her foolishness and
stupidity. Should he ever recover her self-respect and confidence?
She had become radically selfish. She forgot the old ideas of
noble-heartedness and self-denial, and her temper had become weak and
childish. She did not meet her puzzle face to face, but she ran away
from it with her hands over her ears. Miss Crofutt stared at her, and
therefore she threw Miss Crofutt's book into the fire.
After two days of unceasing debate, she called her parents, and with
the greatest agitation told them _all_.
It so happened, in this case, that events, to use a railroad phrase,
No sooner had Miss Eunice told her story than the man came again. This
time he was accompanied by a woman.
"Only get my glove away from him," sobbed the unhappy one, "that is all
I ask!" This was a fine admission! It was thought proper to bring an
officer, and so a strong one was sent for.
Meanwhile the couple had been admitted to the parlor. Miss Eunice's
father stationed the officer at one door, while he, with a pistol, stood
at the other. Then Miss Eunice went into the apartment. She was wasted,
weak, and nervous. The two villains got up as she came in, and bowed.
She began to tremble as usual, and laid hold upon the mantelpiece. "How
much do you want?" she gasped.
The man gave the woman a push with his forefinger. She stepped forward
quickly with her crest up. Her eyes turned, and she fixed a vixenish
look upon Miss Eunice. She suddenly shot her hand out from beneath her
shawl and extended it at full length. Across it lay Miss Eunice's glove,
very much soiled.
"Was that thing ever yours?" demanded the woman, shrilly.
"Y-yes," said Miss Eunice, faintly.
The woman seemed (if the apt word is to be excused) staggered. She
withdrew her hand, and looked the glove over. The man shook his head,
and began to laugh behind his hat.
"And did you ever give it to him?" pursued the woman, pointing over her
shoulder with her thumb.
Miss Eunice nodded.
"Of your own free will?"
After a moment of silence she ejaculated, in a whisper, "Yes."
"Now wait," said the man, coming to the front; "'nough has been said by
you." He then addressed himself to Miss Eunice with the remains of his
laugh still illuminating his face.
"This is my wife's sister, and she's one of the jealous kind. I love my
wife" (here he became grave), "and I never showed her any kind of slight
that I know of. I've always been fair to her, and she's always been fair
to me. Plain sailin' so far; I never kep' anything from her--but this."
He reached out and took the glove from the woman, and spread it out upon
his own palm, as Miss Eunice had seen him do once before. He looked at
it thoughtfully. "I wouldn't tell her about this; no, never. She was
never very particular to ask me; that's where her trust in me came in.
She knowed I was above doing anything out of the way--that is--I mean--"
He stammered and blushed, and then rushed on volubly. "But her sister
here thought I paid too much attention to it; she thought I looked at it
too much, and kep' it secret. So she nagged and nagged, and kept the
pitch boilin' until I had to let it out: I told 'em" (Miss Eunice
shivered). "'No,' says she, my wife's sister, 'that won't do, Gorman.
That's chaff, and I'm too old a bird.' Ther'fore I fetched her straight
to you, so she could put the question direct."
He stopped a moment as if in doubt how to go on. Miss Eunice began to
open her eyes, and she released the mantel. The man resumed with
something like impressiveness:
"When you last held that," said he, slowly, balancing the glove in his
hand, "I was a wicked man with bad intentions through and through. When
I first held it I became an honest man, with good intentions."
A burning blush of shame covered Miss Eunice's face and neck.
"An' as I kep' it my intentions went on improvin' and improvin', till I
made up my mind to behave myself in future, forever. Do you
understand?--forever. No backslidin', no hitchin', no slippin'-up. I
take occasion to say, miss, that I was beset time and again; that the
instant I set my foot outside them prison-gates, over there, my old
chums got round me; but I shook my head. 'No,' says I, 'I won't go back
on the glove.'"
Miss Eunice hung her head. The two had exchanged places, she thought;
she was the criminal and he the judge.
"An' what is more," continued he, with the same weight in his tone, "I
not only kep' sight of the glove, but I kep' sight of the generous
sperrit that gave it. I didn't let _that_ go. I never forgot what you
meant. I knowed--I knowed," repeated he, lifting his forefinger--"I
knowed a time would come when there wouldn't be any enthoosiasm, any
'hurrah,' and then perhaps you'd be sorry you was so kind to me; an' the
time did come."
Miss Eunice buried her face in her hands and wept aloud.
"But did I quit the glove? No, mum. I held on to it. It was what I
fought by. I wasn't going to give it up, because it was asked for. All
the police-officers in the city couldn't have took it from me. I put it
deep into my pocket, and I walked out. It was differcult, miss. But I
come through. The glove did it. It helped me stand out against
temptation when it was strong. If I looked at it, I remembered that once
there was a pure heart that pitied me. It cheered me up. After a while I
kinder got out of the mud. Then I got work. The glove again. Then a girl
that knowed me before I took to bad ways married me, and no questions
asked. Then I just took the glove into a dark corner and blessed it."
Miss Eunice was belittled.
A noise was heard in the hallway. Miss Eunice's father and the policeman
were going away.
The awkwardness of the succeeding silence was relieved by the moving of
the man and the woman They had done their errand, and were going.
Said Miss Eunice, with the faint idea of making a practical apology to
her visitor, "I shall go to the prison once a week after this, I think."
"Then may God bless ye, miss," said the man. He came back with tears in
his eyes and took her proffered hand for an instant. Then he and his
wife's sister went away.
Miss Eunice's remaining spark of charity at once crackled and burst into
a flame. There is sure to be a little something that is bad in
everybody's philanthropy when it is first put to use; it requires to be
filed down like a faulty casting before it will run without danger to
anybody. Samaritanism that goes off with half a charge is sure to do
great mischief somewhere; but Miss Eunice's, now properly corrected,
henceforth shot off at the proper end, and inevitably hit the mark. She
purchased a new Crofutt.
BROTHER SEBASTIAN'S FRIENDSHIP.
BY HAROLD FREDERIC.
I, who tell this story, am called Brother Sebastian. This name was given
me more than forty years ago, while Louis Philippe was still king. My
other name has been buried so long that I have nearly forgotten it. I
think that my people are dead. At least I have heard nothing from them
in many years. My reputation has always been that of a misanthrope--if
not that, then of a dreamer. In the seminary I had no intimates. In the
order, for I am a Brother of the Christian Schools, my associates are
polite--nothing more. I seem to be outside their social circles, their
plans, their enjoyments. True, I am an old man now. But in other years
it was the same. All my life I have been in solitude.
To this there is a single exception--one star shining in the blackness.
And my career has been so bleak that, although it ended in deeper
sadness than I had known before, I look back to the episode with
gratitude. The bank of clouds which shut out this sole light of my life
quickened its brilliancy before they submerged it.
After the terrible siege of '71, when the last German was gone, and our
houses had breasted the ordeal of the Commune, I was sent to the South.
The Superior thought my cheeks were ominously hollow, and suspected
threats of consumption in my cough. So I was to go to the Mediterranean,
and try its milder air. I liked the change. Paris, with its gloss of
noisy gayety and its substance of sceptical heartlessness, was repugnant
to me. Perhaps it was because of this that Brother Sebastian had been
mured up in the capital two thirds of his life. If our surroundings are
too congenial we neglect the work set before us. But no matter; to the
coast I went.
My new home was a long-established house, spacious, venerable, and
dreary. It was on the outskirts of an ancient town, which was of far
more importance before our Lord was born than it has ever been since. We
had little to do. There were nine brothers, a handful of resident
orphans, and some three-score pupils. Ragged, stupid, big-eyed urchins
they were, altogether different from the keen Paris boys. For that
matter, every feature of my new home was odd. The heat of the summer was
scorching in its intensity. The peasants were much more respectful to
our cloth, and, as to appearance, looked like figures from Murillo's
canvases. The foliage, the wine, the language, the manners of the
people--everything was changed. This interested me, and my morbidness
vanished. The Director was delighted with my improved condition. Poor
man! he was positive that my cheeks had puffed out perceptibly after the
first two months. So the winter came--a mild, wet, muggy winter, wholly
unlike my favorite sharp season in the North.
We were killing time in the library one afternoon, the Director and a
Swiss Brother sitting by the lamp reading, I standing at one of the
tall, narrow windows, drumming on the panes and dreaming. The view was
not an inspiring one. There was a long horizontal line of pale yellow
sky and another of flat, black land, out of which an occasional poplar
raised itself solemnly. The great mass below the stripes was brown;
above, gloomy gray. Close under the window two boys were playing in the
garden of the house. I recall distinctly that they threw armfuls of wet
fallen leaves at each other with a great shouting. While I stood thus,
the Brother Servitor, Abonus, came in and whispered to the Director. He
always whispered. It was not fraternal, but I did not like this Abonus.
"Send him up here," said the Director. Then I remembered that I had
heard the roll of a carriage and the bell ring a few moments before.
Abonus came in again. Behind him there was some one else, whose
footsteps had the hesitating sound of a stranger's. Then I heard the
"You are from Algiers?"
"I am, Brother."
"Well, tell me more."
"I was under orders to be in Paris in January, Brother. As my health was
poor, I received permission to come back to France this autumn. At
Marseilles I was instructed to come here. So I am here. I have these
papers from the Mother house, and from Etienne, Director, of Algiers."
Something in the voice seemed peculiar to me. I turned and examined the
new-comer. He stood behind and to one side of the Director, who was
laboriously deciphering some papers through his big horn spectacles. The
light was not very bright, but there was enough to see a wonderfully
handsome face, framed in dazzling black curls. Perhaps it looked the
more beautiful because contrasted with the shaven gray poll and surly
features of grim Abonus. But to me it was a dream of St. John the
Evangel. The eyes of the face were lowered upon the Director, so I could
only guess their brilliancy. The features were those of an extreme
youth--round, soft, and delicate. The expression was one of utter
fatigue, almost pain. It bore out the statement of ill-health.
The Director had finished his reading. He lifted his head now and
surveyed the stranger in turn. Finally, stretching out his fat hand, he
"You are welcome, Brother Edouard. I see the letter says you have had no
experience except with the youngest children. Brother Photius does that
now. We will have you rest for a time. Then we will see about it.
Meanwhile I will turn you over to the care of good Abonus, who will give
you one of the north rooms."
So the two went out, Abonus shuffling his feet disagreeably. It was
strange that he could do nothing to please me.
"Brother Sebastian," said the Director, as the door closed, "it is
curious that they should have sent me a tenth man. Why, I lie awake now
to invent pretences of work for those I have already. I will give up all
show of teaching presently, and give out that I keep a hospital--a
retreat for ailing brothers. Still, this Edouard is a pretty boy."
"Etienne's letter says he is twenty and a Savoyard. He speaks like a
"Very likely he is seminary bred," put in the Swiss.
"Whatever he is, I like his looks," said our Superior. This good man
liked every one. His was the placid, easy Alsatian nature, prone to find
goodness in all things--even crabbed Abonus. The Director, or, as he was
known, Brother Elysee, was a stout, round little man, with a fine face
and imperturbable good spirits. He was adored by all his subordinates.
But I fancy he did not advance in favor at Paris very rapidly.
I liked Edouard from the first. The day after he came we were together
much, and, when we parted after vespers, I was conscious of a vast
respect for this new-comer. He was bright, ready spoken, and almost a
man of the world. Compared with my dull career, his short life had been
one of positive gayety. He had seen Frederic le Maitre at the Comedie
Francaise. He had been at Court and spoken with the Prince Imperial. He
was on terms of intimacy with Monsignori, and had been a protege of the
sainted Darboy. It was a rare pleasure to hear him talk of these things.
Before this, the ceaseless shifting of brothers from one house to
another had been indifferent to me. For the hundreds of strangers who
came and went in the Paris house on Oudinot Street I cared absolutely
nothing, I did not suffer their entrance nor their exit to excite me.
This was so much the case that they called me a machine. But with
Edouard this was different. I grew to love the boy from the first
evening, when, as he left my room, I caught myself saying, "I shall be
sorry when he goes." He seemed to be fond of me, too. For that matter
most of the brothers petted him, Elysee especially. But I was flattered
that he chose me as his particular friend. For the first time my heart
We were alone one evening after the holidays. It was cold without, but
in my room it was warm and bright. The fire crackled merrily, and the
candles gave out a mellow and pleasant light. The Director had gone up
to Paris, and his mantle had fallen on me. Edouard sat with his feet
stretched to the fender, his curly head buried in the great curved back
of my invalid chair, the red fire-light reflected on his childish
features. I took pleasure in looking at him. He looked at the coals and
knit his brows as if in a puzzle. I often fancied that something
weightier than the usual troubles of life weighed upon him. At last he
spoke, just as I was about to question him:
"Are you afraid to die, Sebastian?"
Not knowing what else to say, I answered, "No, my child."
"I wonder if you enjoy life in community?"
This was still stranger. I could but reply that I had never known any
other life; that I was fitted for nothing else.
"But still," persisted he, "would you not like to leave it--to have a
career of your own before you die? Do you think this is what a man is
created for--to give away his chance to live?"
"Edouard, you are interrogating your own conscience," I answered. "These
are questions which you must have answered yourself, before you took
your vows. When you answered them, you sealed them."
Perhaps I spoke too harshly, for he colored and drew up his feet. Such
shapely little feet they were. I felt ashamed of my crustiness.
"But, Edouard," I added, "your vows are those of the novitiate. You are
not yet twenty-eight. You have still the right to ask yourself these
things. The world is very fair to men of your age. Do not dream that I
was angry with you."
He sat gazing into the fire. His face wore a strange, far-away
expression, as he reached forth his hand, in a groping way, and rested
it on my knee, clutching the gown nervously. Then he spoke slowly,
seeking for words, and keeping his eye on the flames:
"You have been good to me, Brother Sebastian. Let me ask you: May I tell
you something in confidence--something which shall never pass your lips?
I mean it."
He had turned and poured those marvellous eyes into mine with
irresistible magnetism. Of course I said, "Speak!" and I said it without
the slightest hesitation.
"I am not a Christian Brother. I do not belong to your order. I have no
claim upon the hospitality of this roof. I am an impostor!"
He ejected these astounding sentences with an energy almost fierce,
gripping my knee meanwhile. Then, as suddenly, his grasp relaxed, and he
fell to weeping bitterly.
I stared at him solemnly, in silence. My tongue seemed paralyzed.
Confusing thoughts whirled in a maze unbidden through my head. I could
say nothing. But a strange impulse prompted me to reach out and take his
hot hand in mine. It was piteous to hear him sobbing, his head upon his
raised arm, his whole frame quivering with emotion. I had never seen any
one weep like that before. So I sat dumb, trying in vain to answer this
bewildering self-accusation. At last there came out of the folds of the
chair the words, faint and tear-choked:
"You have promised me secrecy, and you will keep your word; but you will
"Why no, no, Edouard, not hate you," I answered, scarcely knowing what I
said. I did not comprehend it at all. There was nothing more for me to
say. Finally, when some power of thought returned, I asked:
"Of all things, my poor boy, why should you choose such a dreary life as
this? What possible reason led you to enter the community? What
attractions has it for you?"
Edouard turned again from the fire to me. His eyes sparkled. His teeth
were tight set.
"Why? Why? I will tell you why, Brother Sebastian. Can you not
understand how a poor hunted beast should rejoice to find shelter in
such an out-of-the-way place, among such kind men, in the grave of this
cloister life? I have not told you half enough. Do you not know in the
outside world, in Toulon, or Marseilles, or that fine Paris of yours,
there is a price on my head?--or no, not that, but enemies that are
looking for me, searching everywhere, turning every little stone for the
poor privilege of making me suffer? And do you know that these enemies
wear shakos, and are called gens d'armes? Would you be pleased to learn
that it is a prison I escape by coming here? _Now_, will you hate me?"
The boy had risen from his chair. He spoke hurriedly, almost
hysterically, his eyes snapping at mine like coals, his curls
dishevelled, his fingers curved and stiffened like the talons of a hawk.
I had never seen such intense earnestness in a human face. Passions like
these had never penetrated the convent walls before.
While I sat dumb before them, Edouard left the room. I was conscious of
his exit only in a vague way. For hours I sat in my chair beside the
grate thinking, or trying to think. You can see readily that I was more
than a little perplexed. In the absence of Elysee, I was director. The
management of the house, its good fame, its discipline, all rested on my
shoulders. And to be confronted by such an abyss as this! I could do
absolutely nothing. The boy had tied my tongue by the pledge. Besides,
had I been unsworn, I am sure the idea of exposure would never have come
to me. It was late before I retired that night. And I recall with
terrible distinctness the chaos of brain and faculty which ushered in a
restless sleep almost as dawn was breaking.
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