The Complete PG Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (The Physician and Poet)

Part 35 out of 51

days of which I am thinking. There were plenty of huckleberries and
blueberries within half a mile of the house. Blackberries ripened in
the fields, acorns and shagbarks dropped from the trees, squirrels
ran among the branches, and not rarely the hen-hawk might be seen
circling over the barnyard. Still another rural element was not
wanting, in the form of that far-diffused, infragrant effluvium,
which, diluted by a good half mile of pure atmosphere, is no longer
odious, nay is positively agreeable, to many who have long known it,
though its source and centre has an unenviable reputation. I need
not name the animal whose Parthian warfare terrifies and puts to
flight the mightiest hunter that ever roused the tiger from his
jungle or faced the lion of the desert. Strange as it may seem, an
aerial hint of his personality in the far distance always awakens in
my mind pleasant remembrances and tender reflections. A whole
neighborhood rises up before me: the barn, with its haymow, where the
hens laid their eggs to hatch, and we boys hid our apples to ripen,
both occasionally illustrating the sic vos non vobis; the shed, where
the annual Tragedy of the Pig was acted with a realism that made
Salvini's Othello seem but a pale counterfeit; the rickety old
outhouse, with the "corn-chamber" which the mice knew so well; the
paved yard, with its open gutter,--these and how much else come up at
the hint of my far-off friend, who is my very near enemy. Nothing is
more familiar than the power of smell in reviving old memories.
There was that quite different fragrance of the wood-house, the smell
of fresh sawdust. It comes back to me now, and with it the hiss of
the saw; the tumble of the divorced logs which God put together and
man has just put asunder; the coming down of the axe and the hah!
that helped it,--the straight-grained stick opening at the first
appeal of the implement as if it were a pleasure, and the stick with
a knot in the middle of it that mocked the blows and the hahs! until
the beetle and wedge made it listen to reason,--there are just such
straight-grained and just such knotty men and women. All this passes
through my mind while Biddy, whose parlor-name is Angela, contents
herself with exclaiming "egh!*******!"

How different distances were in those young days of which I am
thinking! From the old house to the old yellow meeting-house, where
the head of the family preached and the limbs of the family listened,
was not much more than two or three times the width of Commonwealth
Avenue. But of a hot summer's afternoon, after having already heard
one sermon, which could not in the nature of things have the charm of
novelty of presentation to the members of the home circle, and the
theology of which was not too clear to tender apprehensions; with
three hymns more or less lugubrious, rendered by a village-choir, got
into voice by many preliminary snuffles and other expiratory efforts,
and accompanied by the snort of a huge bassviol which wallowed
through the tune like a hippopotamus, with other exercises of the
customary character,--after all this in the forenoon, the afternoon
walk to the meeting-house in the hot sun counted for as much, in my
childish dead-reckoning, as from old Israel Porter's in Cambridge to
the Exchange Coffeehouse in Boston did in after years. It takes a
good while to measure the radius of the circle that is about us, for
the moon seems at first as near as the watchface. Who knows but
that, after a certain number of ages, the planet we live on may seem
to us no bigger than our neighbor Venus appeared when she passed
before the sun a few months ago, looking as if we could take her
between our thumb and finger, like a bullet or a marble? And time,
too; how long was it from the serious sunrise to the joyous "sun-
down" of an old-fashioned, puritanical, judaical first day of the
week, which a pious fraud christened "the Sabbath"? Was it a
fortnight, as we now reckon duration, or only a week? Curious
entities, or non-entities, space and tithe? When you see a
metaphysician trying to wash his hands of them and get rid of these
accidents, so as to lay his dry, clean palm on the absolute, does
it not remind you of the hopeless task of changing the color of the
blackamoor by a similar proceeding? For space is the fluid in which
he is washing, and time is the soap which he is using up in the
process, and he cannot get free from them until he can wash himself
in a mental vacuum.

In my reference to the old house in a former paper, published years
ago, I said,

"By and by the stony foot of the great University will plant itself
on this whole territory, and the private recollections which clung so
tenaciously to the place and its habitations will have died with
those who cherished them."

What strides the great University has taken since those words were
written! During all my early years our old Harvard Alma Mater sat
still and lifeless as the colossi in the Egyptian desert. Then all
at once, like the statue in Don Giovanni, she moved from her
pedestal. The fall of that "stony foot" has effected a miracle like
the harp that Orpheus played, like the teeth which Cadmus sowed. The
plain where the moose and the bear were wandering while Shakespeare
was writing Hamlet, where a few plain dormitories and other needed
buildings were scattered about in my school-boy days, groans under
the weight of the massive edifices which have sprung up all around
them, crowned by the tower of that noble structure which stands in
full view before me as I lift my eyes from the portfolio on the back
of which I am now writing.

For I must be permitted to remind you that I have not yet opened it.
I have told you that I have just finished a long memoir, and that it
has cost me no little labor to overcome some of its difficulties,--if
I have overcome them, which others must decide. And I feel exactly
as honest Dobbin feels when his harness is slipped off after a long
journey with a good deal of up-hill work. He wants to rest a little,
then to feed a little; then, if you will turn him loose in the
pasture, he wants to roll. I have left my starry and ethereal
companionship,--not for a long time, I hope, for it has lifted me
above my common self, but for a while. And now I want, so to speak,
to roll in the grass and among the dandelions with the other
pachyderms. So I have kept to the outside of the portfolio as yet,
and am disporting myself in reminiscences, and fancies, and vagaries,
and parentheses.

How well I understand the feeling which led the Pisans to load their
vessels with earth from the Holy Land, and fill the area of the Campo
Santo with that sacred soil! The old house stood upon about as
perverse a little patch of the planet as ever harbored a half-starved
earth-worm. It was as sandy as Sahara and as thirsty as Tantalus.
The rustic aid-de-camps of the household used to aver that all
fertilizing matters "leached" through it. I tried to disprove their
assertion by gorging it with the best of terrestrial nourishment,
until I became convinced that I was feeding the tea-plants of China,
and then I gave over the attempt. And yet I did love, and do love,
that arid patch of ground. I wonder if a single flower could not be
made to grow in a pot of earth from that Campo Santo of my childhood!
One noble product of nature did not refuse to flourish there,--the
tall, stately, beautiful, soft-haired, many-jointed, generous maize
or Indian corn, which thrives on sand and defies the blaze of our
shrivelling summer. What child but loves to wander in its forest-
like depths, amidst the rustling leaves and with the lofty tassels
tossing their heads high above him! There are two aspects of the
cornfield which always impress my imagination: the first when it has
reached its full growth, and its ordered ranks look like an army on
the march with its plumed and bannered battalions; the second when,
after the battle of the harvest, the girdled stacks stand on the
field of slaughter like so many ragged Niobes,--say rather like the
crazy widows and daughters of the dead soldiery.

Once more let us come back to the old house. It was far along in its
second century when the edict went forth that it must stand no

The natural death of a house is very much like that of one of its
human tenants. The roof is the first part to show the distinct signs
of age. Slates and tiles loosen and at last slide off, and leave
bald the boards that supported them; shingles darken and decay, and
soon the garret or the attic lets in the rain and the snow; by and by
the beams sag, the floors warp, the walls crack, the paper peels
away, the ceilings scale off and fall, the windows are crusted with
clinging dust, the doors drop from their rusted hinges, the winds
come in without knocking and howl their cruel death-songs through the
empty rooms and passages, and at last there comes a crash, a great
cloud of dust rises, and the home that had been the shelter of
generation after generation finds its grave in its own cellar. Only
the chimney remains as its monument. Slowly, little by little, the
patient solvents that find nothing too hard for their chemistry pick
out the mortar from between the bricks; at last a mighty wind roars
around it and rushes against it, and the monumental relic crashes
down among the wrecks it has long survived. So dies a human
habitation left to natural decay, all that was seen above the surface
of the soil sinking gradually below it,

Till naught remains the saddening tale to tell
Save home's last wrecks, the cellar and the well.

But if this sight is saddening, what is it to see a human dwelling
fall by the hand of violence! The ripping off of the shelter that
has kept out a thousand storms, the tearing off of the once
ornamental woodwork, the wrench of the inexorable crowbar, the
murderous blows of the axe, the progressive ruin, which ends by
rending all the joints asunder and flinging the tenoned and mortised
timbers into heaps that will be sawed and split to warm some new
habitation as firewood,--what a brutal act of destruction it seems!

Why should I go over the old house again, having already described it
more than ten years ago? Alas! how many remember anything they read
but once, and so long ago as that? How many would find it out if one
should say over in the same words that which he said in the last
decade? But there is really no need of telling the story a second
time, for it can be found by those who are curious enough to look it
up in a volume of which it occupies the opening chapter.

In order, however, to save any inquisitive reader that trouble, let
me remind him that the old house was General Ward's headquarters at
the breaking out of the Revolution; that the plan for fortifying
Bunker's Hill was laid, as commonly believed, in the southeast lower
room, the floor of which was covered with dents, made, it was
alleged, by the butts of the soldiers' muskets. In that house, too,
General Warren probably passed the night before the Bunker Hill
battle, and over its threshold must the stately figure of Washington
have often cast its shadow.

But the house in which one drew his first breath, and where he one
day came into the consciousness that he was a personality, an ego, a
little universe with a sky over him all his own, with a persistent
identity, with the terrible responsibility of a separate,
independent, inalienable existence,--that house does not ask for any
historical associations to make it the centre of the earth for him.

If there is any person in the world to be envied, it is the one who
is born to an ancient estate, with a long line of family traditions
and the means in his hands of shaping his mansion and his domain to
his own taste, without losing sight of all the characteristic
features which surrounded his earliest years. The American is, for
the most part, a nomad, who pulls down his house as the Tartar pulls
up his tent-poles. If I had an ideal life to plan for him it would
be something like this:

His grandfather should be a wise, scholarly, large-brained, large-
hearted country minister, from whom he should inherit the temperament
that predisposes to cheerfulness and enjoyment, with the finer
instincts which direct life to noble aims and make it rich with the
gratification of pure and elevated tastes and the carrying out of
plans for the good of his neighbors and his fellow-creatures. He
should, if possible, have been born, at any rate have passed some of
his early years, or a large part of them, under the roof of the good
old minister. His father should be, we will say, a business man in
one of our great cities,--a generous manipulator of millions, some of
which have adhered to his private fortunes, in spite of his liberal
use of his means. His heir, our ideally placed American, shall take
possession of the old house, the home of his earliest memories, and
preserve it sacredly, not exactly like the Santa Casa, but, as nearly
as may be, just as he remembers it. He can add as many acres as he
will to the narrow house-lot. He can build a grand mansion for
himself, if he chooses, in the not distant neighborhood. But the old
house, and all immediately round it, shall be as he recollects it
when be had to stretch his little arm up to reach the door-handles.
Then, having well provided for his own household, himself included,
let him become the providence of the village or the town where be
finds himself during at least a portion of every year. Its schools,
its library, its poor,--and perhaps the new clergyman who has
succeeded his grandfather's successor may be one of them,--all its
interests, he shall make his own. And from this centre his
beneficence shall radiate so far that all who hear of his wealth
shall also hear of him as a friend to his race.

Is not this a pleasing programme? Wealth is a steep hill, which the
father climbs slowly and the son often tumbles down precipitately;
but there is a table-land on a level with it, which may be found by
those who do not lose their head in looking down from its sharply
cloven summit.---Our dangerously rich men can make themselves hated,
held as enemies of the race, or beloved and recognized as its
benefactors. The clouds of discontent are threatening, but if the
gold-pointed lightning-rods are rightly distributed the destructive
element may be drawn off silently and harmlessly. For it cannot be
repeated too often that the safety of great wealth with us lies in
obedience to the new version of the Old World axiom, RICHESS oblige.





It is impossible to begin a story which must of necessity tax the
powers of belief of readers unacquainted with the class of facts to
which its central point of interest belongs without some words in the
nature of preparation. Readers of Charles Lamb remember that Sarah
Battle insisted on a clean-swept hearth before sitting down to her
favorite game of whist.

The narrator wishes to sweep the hearth, as it were, in these opening
pages, before sitting down to tell his story. He does not intend to
frighten the reader away by prolix explanation, but he does mean to
warn him against hasty judgments when facts are related which are not
within the range of every-day experience. Did he ever see the
Siamese twins, or any pair like them? Probably not, yet he feels
sure that Chang and Eng really existed; and if he has taken the
trouble to inquire, he has satisfied himself that similar cases have
been recorded by credible witnesses, though at long intervals and in
countries far apart from each other.

This is the first sweep of the brush, to clear the hearth of the
skepticism and incredulity which must be got out of the way before we
can begin to tell and to listen in peace with ourselves and each

One more stroke of the brush is needed before the stage will be ready
for the chief characters and the leading circumstances to which the
reader's attention is invited. If the principal personages made
their entrance at once, the reader would have to create for himself
the whole scenery of their surrounding conditions. In point of fact,
no matter how a story is begun, many of its readers have already
shaped its chief actors out of any hint the author may have dropped,
and provided from their own resources a locality and a set of outward
conditions to environ these imagined personalities. These are all to
be brushed away, and the actual surroundings of the subject of the
narrative represented as they were, at the risk of detaining the
reader a little while from the events most likely to interest him.
The choicest egg that ever was laid was not so big as the nest that
held it. If a story were so interesting that a maiden would rather
hear it than listen to the praise of her own beauty, or a poet would
rather read it than recite his own verses, still it would have to be
wrapped in some tissue of circumstance, or it would lose half its

It may not be easy to find the exact locality referred to in this
narrative by looking into the first gazetteer that is at hand.
Recent experiences have shown that it is unsafe to be too exact in
designating places and the people who live in them. There are, it
may be added, so many advertisements disguised under the form of
stories and other literary productions that one naturally desires to
avoid the suspicion of being employed by the enterprising proprietors
of this or that celebrated resort to use his gifts for their especial
benefit. There are no doubt many persons who remember the old sign
and the old tavern and its four chief personages presently to be
mentioned. It is to be hoped that they will not furnish the public
with a key to this narrative, and perhaps bring trouble to the writer
of it, as has happened to other authors. If the real names are a
little altered, it need not interfere with the important facts
relating to those who bear them. It might not be safe to tell a
damaging story about John or James Smythe; but if the slight change
is made of spelling the name Smith, the Smythes would never think of
bringing an action, as if the allusion related to any of them. The
same gulf of family distinction separates the Thompsons with a p from
the Thomsons without that letter.

There are few pleasanter places in the Northern States for a summer
residence than that known from the first period of its settlement by
the name of Arrowhead Village. The Indians had found it out, as the
relics they left behind them abundantly testified. The commonest of
these were those chipped stones which are the medals of barbarism,
and from Which the place took its name,--the heads of arrows, of
various sizes, material, and patterns: some small enough for killing
fish and little birds, some large enough for such game as the moose
and the bear, to say nothing of the hostile Indian and the white
settler; some of flint, now and then one of white quartz, and others
of variously colored jasper. The Indians must have lived here for
many generations, and it must have been a kind of factory village of
the stone age,--which lasted up to near the present time, if we may
judge from the fact that many of these relics are met with close to
the surface of the ground.

No wonder they found this a pleasant residence, for it is to-day one
of the most attractive of all summer resorts; so inviting, indeed,
that those who know it do not like to say too much about it, lest the
swarms of tourists should make it unendurable to those who love it
for itself, and not as a centre of fashionable display and extramural

There is the lake, in the first place,--Cedar Lake,--about five miles
long, and from half a mile to a mile and a half wide, stretching from
north to south. Near the northern extremity are the buildings of
Stoughton University, a flourishing young college with an ambitious
name, but well equipped and promising, the grounds of which reach the
water. At the southern end of the lake are the edifices of the
Corinna Institute, a favorite school for young ladies, where large
numbers of the daughters of America are fitted, so far as education
can do it, for all stations in life, from camping out with a husband
at the mines in Nevada to acting the part of chief lady of the land
in the White House at Washington.

Midway between the two extremities, on the eastern shore of the lake,
is a valley between two hills, which come down to the very edge of
the lake, leaving only room enough for a road between their base and
the water. This valley, half a mile in width, has been long settled,
and here for a century or more has stood the old Anchor Tavern. A
famous place it was so long as its sign swung at the side of the
road: famous for its landlord, portly, paternal, whose welcome to a
guest that looked worthy of the attention was like that of a parent
to a returning prodigal, and whose parting words were almost as good
as a marriage benediction; famous for its landlady, ample in person,
motherly, seeing to the whole household with her own eyes, mistress
of all culinary secrets that Northern kitchens are most proud of;
famous also for its ancient servant, as city people would call her,
--help, as she was called in the tavern and would have called
herself,--the unchanging, seemingly immortal Miranda, who cared for
the guests as if she were their nursing mother, and pressed the
specially favorite delicacies on their attention as a connoisseur
calls the wandering eyes of an amateur to the beauties of a picture.
Who that has ever been at the old Anchor Tavern forgets Miranda's

"A little of this fricassee?-it is ver-y nice;"


"Some of these cakes? You will find them ver-y good."

Nor would it be just to memory to forget that other notable and noted
member of the household,--the unsleeping, unresting, omnipresent
Pushee, ready for everybody and everything, everywhere within the
limits of the establishment at all hours of the day and night. He
fed, nobody could say accurately when or where. There were rumors of
a "bunk," in which he lay down with his clothes on, but he seemed to
be always wide awake, and at the service of as many guest, at once as
if there had been half a dozen of him.

So much for old reminiscences.

The landlord of the Anchor Tavern had taken down his sign. He had
had the house thoroughly renovated and furnished it anew, and kept it
open in summer for a few boarders. It happened more than once that
the summer boarders were so much pleased with the place that they
stayed on through the autumn, and some of them through the winter.
The attractions of the village were really remarkable. Boating in
summer, and skating in winter; ice-boats, too, which the wild ducks
could hardly keep up with; fishing, for which the lake was renowned;
varied and beautiful walks through the valley and up the hillsides;
houses sheltered from the north and northeasterly winds, and
refreshed in the hot summer days by the breeze which came over the
water,--all this made the frame for a pleasing picture of rest and
happiness. But there was a great deal more than this. There was a
fine library in the little village, presented and richly endowed by a
wealthy native of the place. There was a small permanent population
of a superior character to that of an everyday country town; there
was a pretty little Episcopal church, with a good-hearted rector,
broad enough for the Bishop of the diocese to be a little afraid of,
and hospitable to all outsiders, of whom, in the summer season, there
were always some who wanted a place of worship to keep their religion
from dying out during the heathen months, while the shepherds of the
flocks to which they belonged were away from their empty folds.

What most helped to keep the place alive all through the year was the
frequent coming together of the members of a certain literary
association. Some time before the tavern took down its sign the
landlord had built a hall, where many a ball had been held, to which
the young folks of all the country round had resorted. It was still
sometimes used for similar occasions, but it was especially notable
as being the place of meeting of the famous PANSOPHIAN SOCIETY.

This association, the name of which might be invidiously interpreted
as signifying that its members knew everything, had no such
pretensions, but, as its Constitution said very plainly and modestly,
held itself open to accept knowledge on any and all subjects from
such as had knowledge to impart. Its President was the rector of the
little chapel, a man who, in spite of the Thirty-Nine Articles, could
stand fire from the widest-mouthed heretical blunderbuss without
flinching or losing his temper. The hall of the old Anchor Tavern
was a convenient place of meeting for the students and instructors of
the University and the Institute. Sometimes in boat-loads, sometimes
in carriage-loads, sometimes in processions of skaters, they came to
the meetings in Pansophian Hall, as it was now commonly called.

These meetings had grown to be occasions of great interest. It was
customary to have papers written by members of the Society, for the
most part, but now and then by friends of the members, sometimes by
the students of the College or the Institute, and in rarer instances
by anonymous personages, whose papers, having been looked over and
discussed by the Committee appointed for that purpose, were thought
worth listening to. The variety of topics considered was very great.
The young ladies of the village and the Institute had their favorite
subjects, the young gentlemen a different set of topics, and the
occasional outside contributors their own; so that one who happened
to be admitted to a meeting never knew whether he was going to hear
an account of recent arctic discoveries, or an essay on the freedom
of the will, or a psychological experience, or a story, or even a

Of late there had been a tendency to discuss the questions relating
to the true status and the legitimate social functions of woman. The
most conflicting views were held on the subject. Many of the young
ladies and some of the University students were strong in defence of
all the "woman's rights" doctrines. Some of these young people were
extreme in their views. They had read about Semiramis and Boadicea
and Queen Elizabeth, until they were ready, if they could get the
chance, to vote for a woman as President of the United States or as
General of the United States Army. They were even disposed to assert
the physical equality of woman to man, on the strength of the rather
questionable history of the Amazons, and especially of the story,
believed to be authentic, of the female body-guard of the King of
Dahomey,--females frightful enough to need no other weapon than their
looks to scare off an army of Cossacks.

Miss Lurida Vincent, gold medallist of her year at the Corinna
Institute, was the leader of these advocates of virile womanhood. It
was rather singular that she should have elected to be the apostle of
this extreme doctrine, for she was herself far better equipped with
brain than muscles. In fact, she was a large-headed, large-eyed,
long-eyelashed, slender-necked, slightly developed young woman;
looking almost like a child at an age when many of the girls had
reached their full stature and proportions. In her studies she was
so far in advance of her different classes that there was always a
wide gap between her and the second scholar. So fatal to all rivalry
had she proved herself that she passed under the school name of The
Terror. She learned so easily that she undervalued her own
extraordinary gifts, and felt the deepest admiration for those of her
friends endowed with faculties of an entirely different and almost
opposite nature. After sitting at her desk until her head was hot
and her feet were like ice, she would go and look at the blooming
young girls exercising in the gymnasium of the school, and feel as if
she would give all her knowledge, all her mathematics and strange
tongues and history, all those accomplishments that made her the
encyclopaedia of every class she belonged to, if she could go through
the series of difficult and graceful exercises in which she saw her
schoolmates delighting.

One among them, especially, was the object of her admiration, as she
was of all who knew her exceptional powers in the line for which
nature had specially organized her. All the physical perfections
which Miss Lurida had missed had been united in Miss Euthymia Tower,
whose school name was The Wonder. Though of full womanly stature,
there were several taller girls of her age. While all her contours
and all her movements betrayed a fine muscular development, there was
no lack of proportion, and her finely shaped hands and feet showed
that her organization was one of those carefully finished
masterpieces of nature which sculptors are always in search of, and
find it hard to detect among the imperfect products of the living

This girl of eighteen was more famous than she cared to be for her
performances in the gymnasium. She commonly contented herself with
the same exercises that her companions were accustomed to. Only her
dumb-bells, with which she exercised easily and gracefully, were too
heavy for most of the girls to do more with than lift them from the
floor. She was fond of daring feats on the trapeze, and had to be
checked in her indulgence in them. The Professor of gymnastics at
the University came over to the Institute now and then, and it was a
source of great excitement to watch some of the athletic exercises in
which the young lady showed her remarkable muscular strength and
skill in managing herself in the accomplishment of feats which looked
impossible at first sight. How often The Terror had thought to
herself that she would gladly give up all her knowledge of Greek and
the differential and integral calculus if she could only perform the
least of those feats which were mere play to The Wonder! Miss
Euthymia was not behind the rest in her attainments in classical or
mathematical knowledge, and she was one of the very best students in
the out-door branches,--botany, mineralogy, sketching from nature,--
to be found among the scholars of the Institute.

There was an eight-oared boat rowed by a crew of the young ladies, of
which Miss Euthymia was the captain and pulled the bow oar. Poor
little Lurida could not pull an oar, but on great occasions, when
there were many boats out, she was wanted as coxswain, being a mere
feather-weight, and quick-witted enough to serve well in the
important office where brains are more needed than muscle.

There was also an eight-oared boat belonging to the University, and
rowed by a picked crew of stalwart young fellows. The bow oar and
captain of the University crew was a powerful young man, who, like
the captain of the girls' boat, was a noted gymnast. He had had one
or two quiet trials with Miss Euthymia, in which, according to the
ultras of the woman's rights party, he had not vindicated the
superiority of his sex in the way which might have been expected.
Indeed, it was claimed that he let a cannon-ball drop when he ought
to have caught it, and it was not disputed that he had been
ingloriously knocked over by a sand-bag projected by the strong arms
of the young maiden. This was of course a story that was widely told
and laughingly listened to, and the captain of the University crew
had become a little sensitive on the subject. When there was a talk,
therefore, about a race between the champion boats of the two
institutions there was immense excitement in both of them, as well as
among the members of the Pansophian Society and all the good people
of the village.

There were many objections to be overcome. Some thought it
unladylike for the young maidens to take part in a competition which
must attract many lookers-on, and which it seemed to them very
hoidenish to venture upon. Some said it was a shame to let a crew of
girls try their strength against an equal number of powerful young
men. These objections were offset by the advocates of the race by
the following arguments. They maintained that it was no more
hoidenish to row a boat than it was to take a part in the calisthenic
exercises, and that the girls had nothing to do with the young men's
boat, except to keep as much ahead of it as possible. As to
strength, the woman's righters believed that, weight for weight,
their crew was as strong as the other, and of course due allowance
would be made for the difference of weight and all other accidental
hindrances. It was time to test the boasted superiority of masculine
muscle. Here was a chance. If the girls beat, the whole country
would know it, and after that female suffrage would be only a
question of time. Such was the conclusion, from rather insufficient
premises, it must be confessed; but if nature does nothing per
saltum,--by jumps,--as the old adage has it, youth is very apt to
take long leaps from a fact to a possible sequel or consequence. So
it had come about that a contest between the two boat-crews was
looked forward to with an interest almost equal to that with which
the combat between the Horatii and Curiatii was regarded.

The terms had been at last arranged between the two crews, after
cautious protocols and many diplomatic discussions. It was so novel
in its character that it naturally took a good deal of time to adjust
it in such a way as to be fair to both parties. The course must not
be too long for the lighter and weaker crew, for the staying power of
the young persons who made it up could not be safely reckoned upon.
A certain advantage must be allowed them at the start, and this was a
delicate matter to settle. The weather was another important
consideration. June would be early enough, in all probability, and
if the lake should be tolerably smooth the grand affair might come
off some time in that month. Any roughness of the water would be
unfavorable to the weaker crew. The rowing-course was on the eastern
side of the lake, the starting-point being opposite the Anchor
Tavern; from that three quarters of a mile to the south, where the
turning-stake was fixed, so that the whole course of one mile and a
half would bring the boats back to their starting-point.

The race was to be between the Algonquin, eight-oared boat with
outriggers, rowed by young men, students of Stoughton University, and
the Atalanta, also eight-oared and outrigger boat, by young ladies
from the Corinna Institute. Their boat was three inches wider than
the other, for various sufficient reasons, one of which was to make
it a little less likely to go over and throw its crew into the water,
which was a sound precaution, though all the girls could swim, and
one at least, the bow oar, was a famous swimmer, who had pulled a
drowning man out of the water after a hard struggle to keep him from
carrying her down with him.

Though the coming trial had not been advertised in the papers, so as
to draw together a rabble of betting men and ill-conditioned lookers-
on, there was a considerable gathering, made up chiefly of the
villagers and the students of the two institutions. Among them were
a few who were disposed to add to their interest in the trial by
small wagers. The bets were rather in favor of the "Quins," as the
University boat was commonly called, except where the natural
sympathy of the young ladies or the gallantry of some of the young
men led them to risk their gloves or cigars, or whatever it might be,
on the Atalantas. The elements of judgment were these: average
weight of the Algonquins one hundred and sixty-five pounds; average
weight of the Atalantas, one hundred and forty-eight pounds; skill in
practice about equal; advantage of the narrow boat equal to three
lengths; whole distance allowed the Atalantas eight lengths,--a long
stretch to be made up in a mile and a half.

And so both crews began practising for the grand trial.



The 10th of June was a delicious summer day, rather warm, but still
and bright. The water was smooth, and the crews were in the best
possible condition. All was expectation, and for some time nothing
but expectation. No boat-race or regatta ever began at the time
appointed for the start. Somebody breaks an oar, or somebody fails
to appear in season, or something is the matter with a seat or an
outrigger; or if there is no such excuse, the crew of one or both or
all the boats to take part in the race must paddle about to get
themselves ready for work, to the infinite weariness of all the
spectators, who naturally ask why all this getting ready is not
attended to beforehand. The Algonquins wore plain gray flannel suits
and white caps. The young ladies were all in dark blue dresses,
touched up with a red ribbon here and there, and wore light straw
hats. The little coxswain of the Atalanta was the last to step on
board. As she took her place she carefully deposited at her feet a
white handkerchief wrapped about something or other, perhaps a
sponge, in case the boat should take in water.

At last the Algonquin shot out from the little nook where she lay,--
long, narrow, shining, swift as a pickerel when he darts from the
reedy shore. It was a beautiful sight to see the eight young fellows
in their close-fitting suits, their brown muscular arms bare, bending
their backs for the stroke and recovering, as if they were parts of a
single machine.

"The gals can't stan' it agin them fellers," said the old blacksmith
from the village.

"You wait till the gals get a-goin'," said the carpenter, who had
often worked in the gymnasium of the Corinna Institute, and knew
something of their muscular accomplishments. "Y' ought to see 'em
climb ropes, and swing dumb-bells, and pull in them rowin'-machines.
Ask Jake there whether they can't row a mild in double-quick time,--
he knows all abaout it."

Jake was by profession a fisherman, and a freshwater fisherman in a
country village is inspector-general of all that goes on out-of-
doors, being a lazy, wandering sort of fellow, whose study of the
habits and habitats of fishes gives him a kind of shrewdness of
observation, just as dealing in horses is an education of certain
faculties, and breeds a race of men peculiarly cunning, suspicious,
wary, and wide awake, with a rhetoric of appreciation and
depreciation all its own.

Jake made his usual preliminary signal, and delivered himself to the
following effect:

"Wahl, I don' know jest what to say. I've seed 'em both often enough
when they was practisin', an' I tell ye the' wa'n't no slouch abaout
neither on 'em. But them bats is all-fired long, 'n' eight on 'em
stretched in a straight line eendways makes a consid'able piece aout
'f a mile 'n' a haaf. I'd bate on them gals if it wa'n't that them
fellers is naterally longer winded, as the gals 'll find aout by the
time they git raound the stake 'n' over agin the big ellum. I'll go
ye a quarter on the pahnts agin the petticoats."

The fresh-water fisherman had expressed the prevailing belief that
the young ladies were overmatched. Still there were not wanting
those who thought the advantage allowed the "Lantas," as they called
the Corinna boatcrew, was too great, and that it would be impossible
for the "Quins" to make it up and go by them.

The Algonquins rowed up and down a few times before the spectators.
They appeared in perfect training, neither too fat nor too fine,
mettlesome as colts, steady as draught-horses, deep-breathed as oxen,
disciplined to work together as symmetrically as a single sculler
pulls his pair of oars. The fisherman offered to make his quarter
fifty cents. No takers.

Five minutes passed, and all eyes were strained to the south, looking
for the Atalanta. A clump of trees hid the edge of the lake along
which the Corinna's boat was stealing towards the starting-point.
Presently the long shell swept into view, with its blooming rowers,
who, with their ample dresses, seemed to fill it almost as full as
Raphael fills his skiff on the edge of the Lake of Galilee. But how
steadily the Atalanta came on!---no rocking, no splashing, no
apparent strain; the bow oar turning to look ahead every now and
then, and watching her course, which seemed to be straight as an
arrow, the beat of the strokes as true and regular as the pulse of
the healthiest rower among them all. And if the sight of the other
boat and its crew was beautiful, how lovely was the look of this!
Eight young girls,--young ladies, for those who prefer that more
dignified and less attractive expression,--all in the flush of youth,
all in vigorous health; every muscle taught its duty; each rower
alert, not to be a tenth of a second out of time, or let her oar
dally with the water so as to lose an ounce of its propelling virtue;
every eye kindling with the hope of victory. Each of the boats was
cheered as it came in sight, but the cheers for the Atalanta were
naturally the loudest, as the gallantry of one sex and the clear,
high voices of the other gave it life and vigor.

"Take your places!" shouted the umpire, five minutes before the half
hour. The two boats felt their way slowly and cautiously to their
positions, which had been determined by careful measurement. After a
little backing and filling they got into line, at the proper distance
from each other, and sat motionless, their bodies bent forward, their
arms outstretched, their oars in the water, waiting for the word.

"Go!" shouted the umpire.

Away sprang the Atalanta, and far behind her leaped the Algonquin,
her oars bending like so many long Indian bows as their blades
flashed through the water.

"A stern chase is a long chase," especially when one craft is a great
distance behind the other. It looked as if it would be impossible
for the rear boat to overcome the odds against it. Of course the
Algonquin kept gaining, but could it possibly gain enough? That was
the question. As the boats got farther and farther away, it became
more and more difficult to determine what change there was in the
interval between them. But when they came to rounding the stake it
was easier to guess at the amount of space which had been gained. It
was clear that something like half the distance, four lengths, as
nearly as could be estimated, had been made up in rowing the first
three quarters of a mile. Could the Algonquins do a little better
than this in the second half of the race-course, they would be sure
of winning.

The boats had turned the stake, and were coming in rapidly. Every
minute the University boat was getting nearer the other.

"Go it, Quins!" shouted the students.

"Pull away, Lantas!" screamed the girls, who were crowding down to
the edge of the water.

Nearer,--nearer,--the rear boat is pressing the other more and more
closely,--a few more strokes, and they will be even, for there is but
one length between them, and thirty rods will carry them to the line.
It looks desperate for the Atalantas. The bow oar of the Algonquin
turns his head. He sees the little coxswain leaning forward at every
stroke, as if her trivial weight were of such mighty consequence,--
but a few ounces might turn the scale of victory. As he turned he
got a glimpse of the stroke oar of the Atalanta. What a flash of
loveliness it was! Her face was like the reddest of June roses, with
the heat and the strain and the passion of expected triumph. The
upper button of her close-fitting flannel suit had strangled her as
her bosom heaved with exertion, and it had given way before the
fierce clutch she made at it. The bow oar was a staunch and steady
rower, but he was human. The blade of his oar lingered in the water;
a little more and he would have caught a crab, and perhaps lost the
race by his momentary bewilderment.

The boat, which seemed as if it had all the life and nervousness of a
Derby three-year-old, felt the slight check, and all her men bent
more vigorously to their oars. The Atalantas saw the movement, and
made a spurt to keep their lead and gain upon it if they could. It
was of no use. The strong arms of the young men were too much for
the young maidens; only a few lengths remained to be rowed, and they
would certainly pass the Atalanta before she could reach the line.

The little coxswain saw that it was all up with the girls' crew if
she could not save them by some strategic device.

"Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat?"

she whispered to herself,--for The Terror remembered her Virgil as
she did everything else she ever studied. As she stooped, she lifted
the handkerchief at her feet, and took from it a flaming bouquet.
"Look!" she cried, and flung it just forward of the track of the
Algonquin. The captain of the University boat turned his head, and
there was the lovely vision which had a moment before bewitched him.
The owner of all that loveliness must, he thought, have flung the
bouquet. It was a challenge: how could he be such a coward as to
decline accepting it

He was sure he could win the race now, and he would sweep past the
line in triumph with the great bunch of flowers at the stem of his
boat, proud as Van Tromp in the British channel with the broom at his

He turned the boat's head a little by backing water. He came up with
the floating flowers, and near enough to reach them. He stooped and
snatched them up, with the loss perhaps of a second in all,--no more.
He felt sure of his victory.

How can one tell the story of the finish in cold-blooded preterites?
Are we not there ourselves? Are not our muscles straining with those
of these sixteen young creatures, full of hot, fresh blood, their
nerves all tingling like so many tight-strained harp-strings, all
their life concentrating itself in this passionate moment of supreme
effort? No! We are seeing, not telling about what somebody else
once saw!

--The bow of the Algonquin passes the stern of the Atalanta!

--The bow of the Algonquin is on a level with the middle of the

--Three more lengths' rowing and the college crew will pass the

--"Hurrah for the Quins!" The Algonquin ranges up alongside of the

"Through with her! "shouts the captain of the Algonquin.

"Now, girls!" shrieks the captain of the Atalanta.

They near the line, every rower straining desperately, almost madly.

--Crack goes the oar of the Atalanta's captain, and up flash its
splintered fragments, as the stem of her boat springs past the line,
eighteen inches at least ahead of the Algonquin.

Hooraw for the Lantas! Hooraw for the Girls! Hooraw for the
Institoot! shout a hundred voices.

"Hurrah for woman's rights and female suffrage!" pipes the small
voice of The Terror, and there is loud laughing and cheering all

She had not studied her classical dictionary and her mythology for
nothing. "I have paid off one old score," she said. "Set down my
damask roses against the golden apples of Hippomenes!"

It was that one second lost in snatching up the bouquet which gave
the race to the Atalantas.



While the two boats were racing, other boats with lookers-on in them
were rowing or sailing in the neighborhood of the race-course. The
scene on the water was a gay one, for the young people in the boats
were, many of them, acquainted with each other. There was a good
deal of lively talk until the race became too exciting. Then many
fell silent, until, as the boats neared the line, and still more as
they crossed it, the shouts burst forth which showed how a cramp of
attention finds its natural relief in a fit of convulsive

But far away, on the other side of the lake, a birchbark canoe was to
be seen, in which sat a young man, who paddled it skillfully and
swiftly. It was evident enough that he was watching the race
intently, but the spectators could see little more than that. One of
them, however, who sat upon the stand, had a powerful spy-glass, and
could distinguish his motions very minutely and exactly. It was seen
by this curious observer that the young man had an opera-glass with
him, which he used a good deal at intervals. The spectator thought
he kept it directed to the girls' boat, chiefly, if not exclusively.
He thought also that the opera-glass was more particularly pointed
towards the bow of the boat, and came to the natural conclusion that
the bow oar, Miss Euthymia Tower, captain of the Atalantas, "The
Wonder" of the Corinna Institute, was the attraction which determined
the direction of the instrument.

"Who is that in the canoe over there?" asked the owner of the spy-

"That's just what we should like to know," answered the old
landlord's wife. "He and his man boarded with us when they first
came, but we could never find out anything about him only just his
name and his ways of living. His name is Kirkwood, Maurice Kirkwood,
Esq., it used to come on his letters. As for his ways of living, he
was the solitariest human being that I ever came across. His man
carried his meals up to him. He used to stay in his room pretty much
all day, but at night he would be off, walking, or riding on
horseback, or paddling about in the lake, sometimes till nigh
morning. There's something very strange about that Mr. Kirkwood.
But there don't seem to be any harm in him. Only nobody can guess
what his business is. They got up a story about him at one time.
What do you think? They said he was a counterfeiter! And so they
went one night to his room, when he was out, and that man of his was
away too, and they carried keys, and opened pretty much everything;
and they found--well, they found just nothing at all except writings
and letters,--letters from places in America and in England, and some
with Italian postmarks: that was all. Since that time the sheriff
and his folks have let him alone and minded their own business. He
was a gentleman,--anybody ought to have known that; and anybody that
knew about his nice ways of living and behaving, and knew the kind of
wear he had for his underclothing, might have known it. I could have
told those officers that they had better not bother him. I know the
ways of real gentlemen and real ladies, and I know those fellows in
store clothes that look a little too fine,--outside. Wait till
washing-day comes!"

The good lady had her own standards for testing humanity, and they
were not wholly unworthy of consideration; they were quite as much to
be relied on as the judgments of the travelling phrenologist, who
sent his accomplice on before him to study out the principal
personages in the village, and in the light of these revelations
interpreted the bumps, with very little regard to Gall and Spurzheim,
or any other authorities.

Even with the small amount of information obtained by the search
among his papers and effects, the gossips of the village had
constructed several distinct histories for the mysterious stranger.
He was an agent of a great publishing house; a leading contributor to
several important periodicals; the author of that anonymously
published novel which had made so much talk; the poet of a large
clothing establishment; a spy of the Italian, some said the Russian,
some said the British, Government; a proscribed refugee from some
country where he had been plotting; a school-master without a school,
a minister without a pulpit, an actor without an engagement; in
short, there was no end to the perfectly senseless stories that were
told about him, from that which made him out an escaped convict to
the whispered suggestion that he was the eccentric heir to a great
English title and estate.

The one unquestionable fact was that of his extraordinary seclusion.
Nobody in the village, no student in the University, knew his
history. No young lady in the Corinna Institute had ever had a word
from him. Sometimes, as the boats of the University or the Institute
were returning at dusk, their rowers would see the canoe stealing
into the shadows as they drew near it. Sometimes on a moonlight
night, when a party of the young ladies were out upon the lake, they
would see the white canoe gliding ghost-like in the distance. And it
had happened more than once that when a boat's crew had been out with
singers among them, while they were in the midst of a song, the white
canoe would suddenly appear and rest upon the water,--not very near
them, but within hearing distance,--and so remain until the singing
was over, when it would steal away and be lost sight of in some inlet
or behind some jutting rock.

Naturally enough, there was intense curiosity about this young man.
The landlady had told her story, which explained nothing. There was
nobody to be questioned about him except his servant, an Italian,
whose name was Paolo, but who to the village was known as Mr. Paul.

Mr. Paul would have seemed the easiest person in the world to worm a
secret out of. He was good-natured, child-like as a Heathen Chinee,
talked freely with everybody in such English as he had at command,
knew all the little people of the village, and was followed round by
them partly from his personal attraction for them, and partly because
he was apt to have a stick of candy or a handful of peanuts or other
desirable luxury in his pocket for any of his little friends he met
with. He had that wholesome, happy look, so uncommon in our arid
countrymen,--a look hardly to be found except where figs and oranges
ripen in the open air. A kindly climate to grow up in, a religion
which takes your money and gives you a stamped ticket good at Saint
Peter's box office, a roomy chest and a good pair of lungs in it, an
honest digestive apparatus, a lively temperament, a cheerful
acceptance of the place in life assigned to one by nature and
circumstance,--these are conditions under which life may be quite
comfortable to endure, and certainly is very pleasant to contemplate.
All these conditions were united in Paolo. He was the easiest;
pleasantest creature to talk with that one could ask for a companion.
His southern vivacity, his amusing English, his simplicity and
openness, made him friends everywhere.

It seemed as if it would be a very simple matter to get the history
of his master out of this guileless and unsophisticated being. He
had been tried by all the village experts. The rector had put a
number of well-studied careless questions, which failed of their
purpose. The old librarian of the town library had taken note of all
the books he carried to his master, and asked about his studies and
pursuits. Paolo found it hard to understand his English, apparently,
and answered in the most irrelevant way. The leading gossip of the
village tried her skill in pumping him for information. It was all
in vain.

His master's way of life was peculiar,--in fact, eccentric. He had
hired rooms in an old-fashioned three-story house. He had two rooms
in the second and third stories of this old wooden building: his
study in the second, his sleeping-room in the one above it. Paolo
lived in the basement, where he had all the conveniences for cooking,
and played the part of chef for his master and himself. This was
only a part of his duty, for he was a man-of-all-work, purveyor,
steward, chambermaid,--as universal in his services for one man as
Pushee at the Anchor Tavern used to be for everybody.

It so happened that Paolo took a severe cold one winter's day, and
had such threatening symptoms that he asked the baker, when he
called, to send the village physician to see him. In the course of
his visit the doctor naturally inquired about the health of Paolo's

"Signor Kirkwood well,--molto bene," said Paolo. "Why does he keep
out of sight as he does?" asked the doctor.

"He always so," replied Paolo. "Una antipatia."

Whether Paolo was off his guard with the doctor, whether he revealed
it to him as to a father confessor, or whether he thought it time
that the reason of his master's seclusion should be known, the doctor
did not feel sure. At any rate, Paolo was not disposed to make any
further revelations. Una antipatia,--an antipathy,--that was all the
doctor learned. He thought the matter over, and the more he
reflected the more he was puzzled. What could an antipathy be that
made a young man a recluse! Was it a dread of blue sky and open air,
of the smell of flowers, or some electrical impression to which be
was unnaturally sensitive?

Dr. Butts carried these questions home with him. His wife was a
sensible, discreet woman, whom he could trust with many professional
secrets. He told her of Paolo's revelation, and talked it over with
her in the light of his experience and her own; for she had known
some curious cases of constitutional likes and aversions.

Mrs. Butts buried the information in the grave of her memory, where
it lay for nearly a week. At the end of that time it emerged in a
confidential whisper to her favorite sister-in-law, a perfectly safe
person. Twenty-four hours later the story was all over the village
that Maurice Kirkwood was the subject of a strange, mysterious,
unheard-of antipathy to something, nobody knew what; and the whole
neighborhood naturally resolved itself into an unorganized committee
of investigation.


What is a country village without its mysterious personage? Few are
now living who can remember the advent of the handsome young man who
was the mystery of our great university town "sixty years since,"--
long enough ago for a romance to grow out of a narrative, as Waverley
may remind us. The writer of this narrative remembers him well, and
is not sure that he has not told the strange story in some form or
other to the last generation, or to the one before the last. No
matter: if he has told it they have forgotten it,--that is, if they
have ever read it; and whether they have or have not, the story is
singular enough to justify running the risk of repetition.

This young man, with a curious name of Scandinavian origin, appeared
unheralded in the town, as it was then, of Cantabridge. He wanted
employment, and soon found it in the shape of manual labor, which he
undertook and performed cheerfully. But his whole appearance showed
plainly enough that he was bred to occupations of a very different
nature, if, in deed, he had been accustomed to any kind of toil for
his living. His aspect was that of one of gentle birth. His hands
were not those of a laborer, and his features were delicate and
refined, as well as of remarkable beauty. Who he was, where he came
from, why he had come to Cantabridge, was never clearly explained.
He was alone, without friends, except among the acquaintances he had
made in his new residence. If he had any correspondents, they were
not known to the neighborhood where he was living. But if he had
neither friends nor correspondents, there was some reason for
believing that he had enemies. Strange circumstances occurred which
connected themselves with him in an ominous and unaccountable way. A
threatening letter was slipped under the door of a house where he was
visiting. He had a sudden attack of illness, which was thought to
look very much like the effect of poison. At one time he
disappeared, and was found wandering, bewildered, in a town many
miles from that where he was residing. When questioned how he came
there; he told a coherent story that he had been got, under some
pretext, or in some not incredible way, into a boat, from which, at a
certain landing-place, he had escaped and fled for his life, which he
believed was in danger from his kidnappers.

Whoever his enemies may have been,--if they really existed,--he did
not fall a victim to their plots, so far as known to or remembered by
this witness.

Various interpretations were put upon his story. Conjectures were as
abundant as they were in the case of Kaspar Hauser. That he was of
good family seemed probable; that he was of distinguished birth, not
impossible; that he was the dangerous rival of a candidate for a
greatly coveted position in one of the northern states of Europe was
a favorite speculation of some of the more romantic young persons.
There was no dramatic ending to this story,--at least none is
remembered by the present writer.

"He left a name," like the royal Swede, of whose lineage he may have
been for aught that the village people knew, but not a name at which
anybody "grew pale;" for he had swindled no one, and broken no
woman's heart with false vows. Possibly some withered cheeks may
flush faintly as they recall the handsome young man who came before
the Cantabridge maidens fully equipped for a hero of romance when the
century was in its first quarter.

The writer has been reminded of the handsome Swede by the incidents
attending the advent of the unknown and interesting stranger who had
made his appearance at Arrowhead Village.

It was a very insufficient and unsatisfactory reason to assign for
the young man's solitary habits that he was the subject of an
antipathy. For what do we understand by that word? When a young
lady screams at the sight of a spider, we accept her explanation that
she has a natural antipathy to the creature. When a person expresses
a repugnance to some wholesome article of food, agreeable to most
people, we are satisfied if he gives the same reason. And so of
various odors, which are pleasing to some persons and repulsive to
others. We do not pretend to go behind the fact. It is an
individual, and it may be a family, peculiarity. Even between
different personalities there is an instinctive elective dislike as
well as an elective affinity. We are not bound to give a reason why
Dr. Fell is odious to us any more than the prisoner who peremptorily
challenges a juryman is bound to say why he does it; it is enough
that he "does not like his looks."

There was nothing strange, then, that Maurice Kirkwood should have
his special antipathy; a great many other people have odd likes and
dislikes. But it was a very curious thing that this antipathy should
be alleged as the reason for his singular mode of life. All sorts of
explanations were suggested, not one of them in the least
satisfactory, but serving to keep the curiosity of inquirers active
until they were superseded by a new theory. One story was that
Maurice had a great fear of dogs. It grew at last to a connected
narrative, in which a fright in childhood from a rabid mongrel was
said to have given him such a sensitiveness to the near presence of
dogs that he was liable to convulsions if one came close to him.

This hypothesis had some plausibility. No other creature would be so
likely to trouble a person who had an antipathy to it. Dogs are very
apt to make the acquaintance of strangers, in a free and easy way.
They are met with everywhere,--in one's daily walk, at the thresholds
of the doors one enters, in the gentleman's library, on the rug of my
lady's sitting-room and on the cushion of her carriage. It is true
that there are few persons who have an instinctive repugnance to this
"friend of man." But what if this so-called antipathy were only a
fear, a terror, which borrowed the less unmanly name? It was a fair
question, if, indeed, the curiosity of the public had a right to ask
any questions at all about a harmless individual who gave no offence,
and seemed entitled to the right of choosing his way of living to
suit himself, without being submitted to espionage.

There was no positive evidence bearing on the point as yet. But one
of the village people had a large Newfoundland dog, of a very
sociable disposition, with which he determined to test the question.
He watched for the time when Maurice should leave his house for the
woods or the lake, and started with his dog to meet him. The animal
walked up to the stranger in a very sociable fashion, and began
making his acquaintance, after the usual manner of well-bred dogs;
that is, with the courtesies and blandishments by which the canine
Chesterfield is distinguished from the ill-conditioned cur. Maurice
patted him in a friendly way, and spoke to him as one who was used to
the fellowship of such companions. That idle question and foolish
story were disposed of, therefore, and some other solution must be
found, if possible.

A much more common antipathy is that which is entertained with regard
to cats. This has never been explained. It is not mere aversion to
the look of the creature, or to any sensible quality known to the
common observer. The cat is pleasing in aspect, graceful in
movement, nice in personal habits, and of amiable disposition. No
cause of offence is obvious, and yet there are many persons who
cannot abide the presence of the most innocent little kitten. They
can tell, in some mysterious way, that there is a cat in the room
when they can neither see nor hear the creature. Whether it is an
electrical or quasi-magnetic phenomenon, or whatever it may be, of
the fact of this strange influence there are too many well-
authenticated instances to allow its being questioned. But suppose
Maurice Kirkwood to be the subject of this antipathy in its extremest
degree, it would in no manner account for the isolation to which he
had condemned himself. He might shun the firesides of the old women
whose tabbies were purring by their footstools, but these worthy
dames do not make up the whole population.

These two antipathies having been disposed of, a new suggestion was
started, and was talked over with a curious sort of half belief, very
much as ghost stories are told in a circle of moderately instructed
and inquiring persons. This was that Maurice was endowed with the
unenviable gift of the evil eye. He was in frequent communication
with Italy, as his letters showed, and had recently been residing in
that country, as was learned from Paolo. Now everybody knows that
the evil eye is not rarely met with in Italy. Everybody who has ever
read Mr. Story's "Roba di Roma" knows what a terrible power it is
which the owner of the evil eye exercises. It can blight and destroy
whatever it falls upon. No person's life or limb is safe if the
jettatura, the withering glance of the deadly organ, falls upon him.
It must be observed that this malign effect may follow a look from
the holiest personages, that is, if we may assume that a monk is such
as a matter of course. Certainly we have a right to take it for
granted that the late Pope, Pius Ninth, was an eminently holy man,
and yet he had the name of dispensing the mystic and dreaded
jettatura as well as his blessing. If Maurice Kirkwood carried that
destructive influence, so that his clear blue eyes were more to be
feared than the fascinations of the deadliest serpent, it could
easily be understood why he kept his look away from all around him
whom he feared he might harm.

No sensible person in Arrowhead Village really believed in the evil
eye, but it served the purpose of a temporary hypothesis, as do many
suppositions which we take as a nucleus for our observations without
putting any real confidence in them. It was just suited to the
romantic notions of the more flighty persons in the village, who had
meddled more or less with Spiritualism, and were ready for any new
fancy, if it were only wild enough.

The riddle of the young stranger's peculiarity did not seem likely to
find any very speedy solution. Every new suggestion furnished talk
for the gossips of the village and the babble of the many tongues in
the two educational institutions. Naturally, the discussion was
liveliest among the young ladies. Here is an extract from a letter
of one of these young ladies, who, having received at her birth the
ever-pleasing name of Mary, saw fit to have herself called Mollie in
the catalogue and in her letters. The old postmaster of the town to
which her letter was directed took it up to stamp, and read on the
envelope the direction to "Miss Lulu Pinrow." He brought the stamp
down with a vicious emphasis, coming very near blotting out the
nursery name, instead of cancelling the postage-stamp. "Lulu!" he
exclaimed. "I should like to know if that great strapping girl isn't
out of her cradle yet! I suppose Miss Louisa will think that belongs
to her, but I saw her christened and I heard the name the minister
gave her, and it was n't 'Lulu,' or any such baby nonsense." And so
saying, he gave it a fling to the box marked P, as if it burned his
fingers. Why a grown-up young woman allowed herself to be cheapened
in the way so many of them do by the use of names which become them
as well as the frock of a ten-year-old schoolgirl would become a
graduate of the Corinna Institute, the old postmaster could not
guess. He was a queer old man.

The letter thus scornfully treated runs over with a young girl's
written loquacity:

"Oh, Lulu, there is such a sensation as you never saw or heard of
'in all your born days,' as mamma used to say. He has been at the
village for some time, but lately we have had--oh, the weirdest
stories about him! 'The Mysterious Stranger is the name some give
him, but we girls call him the Sachem, because he paddles about in an
Indian canoe. If I should tell you all the things that are said
about him I should use up all my paper ten times over. He has never
made a visit to the Institute, and none of the girls have ever spoken
to him, but the people at the village say he is very, very handsome.
We are dying to get a look at him, of course--though there is a
horrid story about him--that he has the evil eye did you ever hear
about the evil eye? If a person who is born with it looks at you,
you die, or something happens--awful--is n't it?

"The rector says he never goes to church, but then you know a good
many of the people that pass the summer at the village never do--they
think their religion must have vacations--that's what I've heard they
say--vacations, just like other hard work--it ought not to be hard
work, I'm sure, but I suppose they feel so about it. Should you feel
afraid to have him look at you? Some of the girls say they would n't
have him for the whole world, but I shouldn't mind it--especially if
I had on my eyeglasses. Do you suppose if there is anything in the
evil eye it would go through glass? I don't believe it. Do you
think blue eye-glasses would be better than common ones? Don't laugh
at me--they tell such weird stories! The Terror--Lurida Vincent, you
know-makes fun of all they say about it, but then she 'knows
everything and doesn't believe anything,' the girls say--Well, I
should be awfully scared, I know, if anybody that had the evil eye
should look at me--but--oh, I don't know--but if it was a young man--
and if he was very--very good-looking--I think--perhaps I would run
the risk--but don't tell anybody I said any such horrid thing--and
burn this letter right up--there 's a dear good girl."

It is to be hoped that no reader will doubt the genuineness of this
letter. There are not quite so many "awfuls" and "awfullys" as one
expects to find in young ladies' letters, but there are two "weirds,"
which may be considered a fair allowance. How it happened that
"jolly" did not show itself can hardly be accounted for; no doubt it
turns up two or three times at least in the postscript.

Here is an extract from another letter. This was from one of the
students of Stoughton University to a friend whose name as it was
written on the envelope was Mr. Frank Mayfield. The old postmaster
who found fault with Miss "Lulu's" designation would probably have
quarrelled with this address, if it had come under his eye. "Frank"
is a very pretty, pleasant-sounding name, and it is not strange that
many persons use it in common conversation all their days when
speaking of a friend. Were they really christened by that name, any
of these numerous Franks? Perhaps they were, and if so there is
nothing to be said. But if not, was the baptismal name Francis or
Franklin? The mind is apt to fasten in a very perverse and
unpleasant way upon this question, which too often there is no
possible way of settling. One might hope, if he outlived the bearer
of the appellation, to get at the fact; but since even gravestones
have learned to use the names belonging to childhood and infancy in
their solemn record, the generation which docks its Christian names
in such an un-Christian way will bequeath whole churchyards full of
riddles to posterity. How it will puzzle and distress the historians
and antiquarians of a coming generation to settle what was the real
name of Dan and Bert and Billy, which last is legible on a white
marble slab, raised in memory of a grown person, in a certain burial-
ground in a town in Essex County, Massachusetts!

But in the mean time we are forgetting the letter directed to Mr.
Frank Mayfield.

"DEAR FRANK,--Hooray! Hurrah! Rah!

"I have made the acquaintance of 'The Mysterious Stranger'! It
happened by a queer sort of accident, which came pretty near
relieving you of the duty of replying to this letter. I was out in
my little boat, which carries a sail too big for her, as I know and
ought to have remembered. One of those fitful flaws of wind to which
the lake is so liable struck the sail suddenly, and over went my
boat. My feet got tangled in the sheet somehow, and I could not get
free. I had hard work to keep my head above water, and I struggled
desperately to escape from my toils; for if the boat were to go down
I should be dragged down with her. I thought of a good many things
in the course of some four or five minutes, I can tell you, and I got
a lesson about time better than anything Kant and all the rest of
them have to say of it. After I had been there about an ordinary
lifetime, I saw a white canoe making toward me, and I knew that our
shy young gentleman was coming to help me, and that we should become
acquainted without an introduction. So it was, sure enough. He saw
what the trouble was, managed to disentangle my feet without drowning
me in the process or upsetting his little flimsy craft, and, as I was
somewhat tired with my struggle, took me in tow and carried me to the
landing where he kept his canoe. I can't say that there is anything
odd about his manners or his way of talk. I judge him to be a native
of one of our Northern States,--perhaps a New Englander. He has
lived abroad during some parts of his life. He is not an artist, as
it was at one time thought he might be. He is a good-looking fellow,
well developed, manly in appearance, with nothing to excite special
remark unless it be a certain look of anxiety or apprehension which
comes over him from time to time. You remember our old friend Squire
B., whose companion was killed by lightning when he was standing
close to him. You know the look he had whenever anything like a
thundercloud came up in the sky. Well, I should say there was a look
like that came over this Maurice Kirkwood's face every now and then.
I noticed that he looked round once or twice as if to see whether
some object or other was in sight. There was a little rustling in
the grass as if of footsteps, and this look came over his features.
A rabbit ran by us, and I watched to see if he showed any sign of
that antipathy we have heard so much of, but he seemed to be pleased
watching the creature.

"If you ask me what my opinion is about this Maurice Kirkwood, I
think he is eccentric in his habit of life, but not what they call a
'crank' exactly. He talked well enough about such matters as we
spoke of,--the lake, the scenery in general, the climate. I asked
him to come over and take a look at the college. He did n't promise,
but I should not be surprised if I should get him over there some
day. I asked him why he did n't go to the Pansophian meetings. He
did n't give any reason, but he shook his head in a very peculiar
way, as much as to say that it was impossible.

"On the whole, I think it is nothing more than the same feeling of
dread of human society, or dislike for it, which under the name of
religion used to drive men into caves and deserts. What a pity that
Protestantism does not make special provision for all the freaks of
individual character! If we had a little more faith and a few more
caverns, or convenient places for making them, we should have hermits
in these holes as thick as woodchucks or prairie dogs. I should like
to know if you never had the feeling,

"'Oh, that the desert were my dwelling-place!'

"I know what your answer will be, of course. You will say,

"'With one fair spirit for my minister;"'

"but I mean alone,--all alone. Don't you ever feel as if you should
like to have been a pillar-saint in the days when faith was as strong
as lye (spelt with a y), instead of being as weak as dish-water?
(Jerry is looking over my shoulder, and says this pun is too bad to
send, and a disgrace to the University--but never mind.) I often feel
as if I should like to roost on a pillar a hundred feet high,--yes,
and have it soaped from top to bottom. Wouldn't it be fun to look
down at the bores and the duns? Let us get up a pillar-roosters'
association. (Jerry--still looking over says there is an absurd
contradiction in the idea.)

"What a matter-of-fact idiot Jerry is!

"How do you like looking over, Mr. Inspector general?"

The reader will not get much information out of this lively young
fellow's letter, but he may get a little. It is something to know
that the mysterious resident of Arrowhead Village did not look nor
talk like a crazy person; that he was of agreeable aspect and
address, helpful when occasion offered, and had nothing about him, so
far as yet appeared, to prevent his being an acceptable member of

Of course the people in the village could never be contented without
learning everything there was to be learned about their visitor. All
the city papers were examined for advertisements. If a cashier had
absconded, if a broker had disappeared, if a railroad president was
missing, some of the old stories would wake up and get a fresh
currency, until some new circumstance gave rise to a new hypothesis.
Unconscious of all these inquiries and fictions, Maurice Kirkwood
lived on in his inoffensive and unexplained solitude, and seemed
likely to remain an unsolved enigma. The "Sachem" of the boating
girls became the "Sphinx" of the village ramblers, and it was agreed
on all hands that Egypt did not hold any hieroglyphics harder to make
out than the meaning of this young man's odd way of living.



It was a curious, if it was not a suspicious, circumstance that a
young man, seemingly in good health, of comely aspect, looking as if
made for companionship, should keep himself apart from all the world
around him in a place where there was a general feeling of good
neighborhood and a pleasant social atmosphere. The Public Library
was a central point which brought people together. The Pansophian
Society did a great deal to make them acquainted with each other for
many of the meetings were open to outside visitors, and the subjects
discussed in the meetings furnished the material for conversation in
their intervals. A card of invitation had been sent by the Secretary
to Maurice, in answer to which Paolo carried back a polite note of
regret. The paper had a narrow rim of black, implying apparently
some loss of relative or friend, but not any very recent and crushing
bereavement. This refusal to come to the meetings of the society was
only what was expected. It was proper to ask him, but his declining
the invitation showed that he did not wish for attentions or
courtesies. There was nothing further to be done to bring him out of
his shell, and seemingly nothing more to be learned about him at

In this state of things it was natural that all which had been
previously gathered by the few who had seen or known anything of him
should be worked over again. When there is no new ore to be dug, the
old refuse heaps are looked over for what may still be found in them.
The landlord of the Anchor Tavern, now the head of the boarding-
house, talked about Maurice, as everybody in the village did at one
time or another. He had not much to say, but he added a fact or two.

The young gentleman was good pay,--so they all said. Sometimes he
paid in gold; sometimes in fresh bills, just out of the bank. He
trusted his man, Mr. Paul, with the money to pay his bills. He knew
something about horses; he showed that by the way he handled that
colt,--the one that threw the hostler and broke his collar-bone.
"Mr. Paul come down to the stable. 'Let me see that cult you all
'fraid of,' says he. 'My master, he ride any hoss,' says Paul. 'You
saddle him,' says be; and so they did, and Paul, he led that colt--
the kickinest and ugliest young beast you ever see in your life--up
to the place where his master, as he calls him, and he lives. What
does that Kirkwood do but clap on a couple of long spurs and jump on
to that colt's back, and off the beast goes, tail up, heels flying,
standing up on end, trying all sorts of capers, and at last going it
full run for a couple of miles, till he'd got about enough of it.
That colt went off as ferce as a wild-cat, and come back as quiet as
a cosset lamb. A man that pays his bills reg'lar, in good money, and
knows how to handle a hoss is three quarters of a gentleman, if he is
n't a whole one,--and most likely he is a whole one."

So spake the patriarch of the Anchor Tavern. His wife had already
given her favorable opinion of her former guest. She now added
something to her description as a sequel to her husband's remarks.

"I call him," she said, "about as likely a young gentleman as ever I
clapped my eyes on. He is rather slighter than I like to see a young
man of his age; if he was my sun, I should like to see him a little
more fleshy. I don't believe he weighs more than a hundred and
thirty or forty pounds. Did y' ever look at those eyes of his,
M'randy? Just as blue as succory flowers. I do like those light-
complected young fellows, with their fresh cheeks and their curly
hair; somehow, curly hair doos set off anybody's face. He is n't any
foreigner, for all that he talks Italian with that Mr. Paul that's
his help. He looks just like our kind of folks, the college kind,
that's brought up among books, and is handling 'em, and reading of
'em, and making of 'em, as like as not, all their lives. All that
you say about his riding the mad colt is just what I should think he
was up to, for he's as spry as a squirrel; you ought to see him go
over that fence, as I did once. I don't believe there's any harm in
that young gentleman,--I don't care what people say. I suppose he
likes this place just as other people like it, and cares more for
walking in the woods and paddling about in the water than he doos for
company; and if he doos, whose business is it, I should like to

The third of the speakers was Miranda, who had her own way of judging

"I never see him but two or three times," Miranda said. "I should
like to have waited on him, and got a chance to look stiddy at him
when he was eatin' his vittles. That 's the time to watch folks,
when their jaws get a-goin' and their eyes are on what's afore 'em.
Do you remember that chap the sheriff come and took away when we kep'
tahvern? Eleven year ago it was, come nex' Thanksgivin' time. A
mighty grand gentleman from the City he set up for. I watched him,
and I watched him. Says I, I don't believe you're no gentleman,
says I. He eat with his knife, and that ain't the way city folks
eats. Every time I handed him anything I looked closeter and
closeter. Them whiskers never grooved on them cheeks, says I to
myself. Them 's paper collars, says I. That dimun in your shirt-
front hain't got no life to it, says I. I don't believe it's
nothiri' more 'n a bit o' winderglass. So says I to Pushee, 'You
jes' step out and get the sheriff to come in and take a look at that
chap.' I knowed he was after a fellah. He come right in, an' he goes
up to the chap. 'Why, Bill,' says he, 'I'm mighty glad to see yer.
We've had the hole in the wall you got out of mended, and I want your
company to come and look at the old place,' says he, and he pulls out
a couple of handcuffs and has 'em on his wrists in less than no time,
an' off they goes together! I know one thing about that young
gentleman, anyhow,--there ain't no better judge of what's good eatin'
than he is. I cooked him some maccaroni myself one day, and he sends
word to me by that Mr. Paul, 'Tell Miss Miranda,' says he, I that the
Pope o' Rome don't have no better cooked maccaroni than what she sent
up to me yesterday,' says he. I don' know much about the Pope o'
Rome except that he's a Roman Catholic, and I don' know who cooks for
him, whether it's a man or a woman; but when it comes to a dish o'
maccaroni, I ain't afeard of their shefs, as they call 'em,--them he-
cooks that can't serve up a cold potater without callin' it by some
name nobody can say after 'em. But this gentleman knows good
cookin', and that's as good a sign of a gentleman as I want to tell
'em by."



The house in which Maurice Kirkwood had taken up his abode was not a
very inviting one. It was old, and had been left in a somewhat
dilapidated and disorderly condition by the tenants who had lived in
the part which Maurice now occupied. They had piled their packing-
boxes in the cellar, with broken chairs, broken china, and other
household wrecks. A cracked mirror lay on an old straw mattress, the
contents of which were airing themselves through wide rips and rents.
A lame clothes-horse was saddled with an old rug fringed with a
ragged border, out of which all the colors had been completely
trodden. No woman would have gone into a house in such a condition.
But the young man did not trouble himself much about such matters,
and was satisfied when the rooms which were to be occupied by himself
and his servant were made decent and tolerably comfortable. During
the fine season all this was not of much consequence, and if Maurice
made up his mind to stay through the winter he would have his choice
among many more eligible places.

The summer vacation of the Corinna Institute had now arrived, and the
young ladies had scattered to their homes. Among the graduates of
the year were Miss Euthymia Tower and Miss Lurida Vincent, who had
now returned to their homes in Arrowhead Village. They were both
glad to rest after the long final examinations and the exercises of
the closing day, in which each of them had borne a conspicuous part.
It was a pleasant life they led in the village, which was lively
enough at this season. Walking, riding, driving, boating, visits to
the Library, meetings of the Pansophian Society, hops, and picnics
made the time pass very cheerfully, and soon showed their restoring
influences. The Terror's large eyes did not wear the dull, glazed
look by which they had too often betrayed the after effects of over-
excitement of the strong and active brain behind them. The Wonder
gained a fresher bloom, and looked full enough of life to radiate
vitality into a statue of ice. They had a boat of their own, in
which they passed many delightful hours on the lake, rowing,
drifting, reading, telling of what had been, dreaming of what might

The Library was one of the chief centres of the fixed population, and
visited often by strangers. The old Librarian was a peculiar
character, as these officials are apt to be. They have a curious
kind of knowledge, sometimes immense in its way. They know the backs
of books, their title-pages, their popularity or want of it, the
class of readers who call for particular works, the value of
different editions, and a good deal besides. Their minds catch up
hints from all manner of works on all kinds of subjects. They will
give a visitor a fact and a reference which they are surprised to
find they remember and which the visitor might have hunted for a
year. Every good librarian, every private book-owner, who has grown
into his library, finds he has a bunch of nerves going to every
bookcase, a branch to every shelf, and a twig to every book. These
nerves get very sensitive in old librarians, sometimes, and they do
not like to have a volume meddled with any more than they would like
to have their naked eyes handled. They come to feel at last that the
books of a great collection are a part, not merely of their own
property, though they are only the agents for their distribution, but
that they are, as it were, outlying portions of their own
organization. The old Librarian was getting a miserly feeling about
his books, as he called them. Fortunately, he had a young lady for
his assistant, who was never so happy as when she could find the work
any visitor wanted and put it in his hands,--or her hands, for there
were more readers among the wives and--daughters, and especially
among the aunts, than there were among their male relatives. The old
Librarian knew the books, but the books seemed to know the young
assistant; so it looked, at least, to the impatient young people who
wanted their services.

Maurice had a good many volumes of his own,--a great many, according
to Paolo's account; but Paolo's ideas were limited, and a few well-
filled shelves seemed a very large collection to him. His master
frequently sent him to the Public Library for books, which somewhat
enlarged his notions; still, the Signor was a very learned man, he
was certain, and some of his white books (bound in vellum and richly
gilt) were more splendid, according to Paolo, than anything in the

There was no little curiosity to know what were the books that
Maurice was in the habit of taking out, and the Librarian's record
was carefully searched by some of the more inquisitive investigators.
The list proved to be a long and varied one. It would imply a
considerable knowledge of modern languages and of the classics; a
liking for mathematics and physics, especially all that related to
electricity and magnetism; a fancy for the occult sciences, if there
is any propriety in coupling these words; and a whim for odd and
obsolete literature, like the Parthenologia of Fortunius Licetus, the
quaint treatise 'De Sternutatione,' books about alchemy, and
witchcraft, apparitions, and modern works relating to Spiritualism.
With these were the titles of novels and now and then of books of
poems; but it may be taken for granted that his own shelves held the
works he was most frequently in the habit of reading or consulting.
Not much was to be made out of this beyond the fact of wide
scholarship,--more or less deep it might be, but at any rate implying
no small mental activity; for he appeared to read very rapidly, at
any rate exchanged the books he had taken out for new ones very
frequently. To judge by his reading, he was a man of letters. But
so wide-reading a man of letters must have an object, a literary
purpose in all probability. Why should not he be writing a novel?
Not a novel of society, assuredly, for a hermit is not the person to
report the talk and manners of a world which he has nothing to do
with. Novelists and lawyers understand the art of "cramming" better
than any other persons in the world. Why should not this young man
be working up the picturesque in this romantic region to serve as a
background for some story with magic, perhaps, and mysticism, and
hints borrowed from science, and all sorts of out-of-the-way
knowledge which his odd and miscellaneous selection of books
furnished him? That might be, or possibly he was only reading for
amusement. Who could say?

The funds of the Public Library of Arrowhead Village allowed the
managers to purchase many books out of the common range of reading.
The two learned people of the village were the rector and the doctor.
These two worthies kept up the old controversy between the
professions, which grows out of the fact that one studies nature from
below upwards, and the other from above downwards. The rector
maintained that physicians contracted a squint which turns their eyes
inwardly, while the muscles which roll their eyes upward become
palsied. The doctor retorted that theological students developed a
third eyelid,--the nictitating membrane, which is so well known in
birds, and which serves to shut out, not all light, but all the light
they do not want. Their little skirmishes did not prevent their
being very good friends, who had a common interest in many things and
many persons. Both were on the committee which had the care of the
Library and attended to the purchase of books. Each was scholar
enough to know the wants of scholars, and disposed to trust the
judgment of the other as to what books should be purchased.
Consequently, the clergyman secured the addition to the Library of a
good many old theological works which the physician would have called
brimstone divinity, and held to be just the thing to kindle fires
with,--good books still for those who know how to use them,
oftentimes as awful examples of the extreme of disorganization the
whole moral system may undergo when a barbarous belief has strangled
the natural human instincts. The physician, in the mean time,
acquired for the collection some of those medical works where one may
find recorded various rare and almost incredible cases, which may not
have their like for a whole century, and then repeat themselves, so
as to give a new lease of credibility to stories which had come to be
looked upon as fables.

Both the clergyman and the physician took a very natural interest in
the young man who had come to reside in their neighborhood for the
present, perhaps for a long period. The rector would have been glad
to see him at church. He would have liked more especially to have
had him hear his sermon on the Duties of Young Men to Society. The
doctor, meanwhile, was meditating on the duties of society to young
men, and wishing that he could gain the young man's confidence, so as
to help him out of any false habit of mind or any delusion to which
he might be subject, if he had the power of being useful to him.

Dr. Butts was the leading medical practitioner, not only of Arrowhead
Village, but of all the surrounding region. He was an excellent
specimen of the country doctor, self-reliant, self-sacrificing,
working a great deal harder for his living than most of those who
call themselves the laboring classes,--as if none but those whose
hands were hardened by the use of farming or mechanical implements
had any work to do. He had that sagacity without which learning is a
mere incumbrance, and he had also a fair share of that learning
without which sagacity is like a traveller with a good horse, but who
cannot read the directions on the guideboards. He was not a man to
be taken in by names. He well knew that oftentimes very innocent-
sounding words mean very grave disorders; that all, degrees of
disease and disorder are frequently confounded under the same term;
that "run down" may stand for a fatigue of mind or body from which a
week or a month of rest will completely restore the over-worked
patient, or an advanced stage of a mortal illness; that "seedy" may
signify the morning's state of feeling, after an evening's over-
indulgence, which calls for a glass of soda-water and a cup of
coffee, or a dangerous malady which will pack off the subject of it,
at the shortest notice, to the south of France. He knew too well
that what is spoken lightly of as a "nervous disturbance" may imply
that the whole machinery of life is in a deranged condition, and that
every individual organ would groan aloud if it had any other language
than the terrible inarticulate one of pain by which to communicate
with the consciousness.

When, therefore, Dr. Butts heard the word antipatia he did not smile,
and say to himself that this was an idle whim, a foolish fancy, which
the young man had got into his head. Neither was he satisfied to set
down everything to the account of insanity, plausible as that
supposition might seem. He was prepared to believe in some
exceptional, perhaps anomalous, form of exaggerated sensibility,
relating to what class of objects he could not at present conjecture,
but which was as vital to the subject of it as the insulating
arrangement to a piece of electrical machinery. With this feeling he
began to look into tho history of antipathies as recorded in all the
books and journals on which he could lay his hands.


The holder of the Portfolio asks leave to close it for a brief
interval. He wishes to say a few words to his readers, before
offering them some verses which have no connection with the narrative
now in progress.

If one could have before him a set of photographs taken annually,
representing the same person as he or she appeared for thirty or
forty or fifty years, it would be interesting to watch the gradual
changes of aspect from the age of twenty, or even of thirty or forty,
to that of threescore and ten. The face might be an uninteresting
one; still, as sharing the inevitable changes wrought by time, it
would be worth looking at as it passed through the curve of life,--
the vital parabola, which betrays itself in the symbolic changes of
the features. An inscription is the same thing, whether we read it
on slate-stone, or granite, or marble. To watch the lights and
shades, the reliefs and hollows, of a countenance through a lifetime,
or a large part of it, by the aid of a continuous series of
photographs would not only be curious; it would teach us much more
about the laws of physiognomy than we could get from casual and
unconnected observations.

The same kind of interest, without any assumption of merit to be
found in them, I would claim for a series of annual poems, beginning
in middle life and continued to what many of my correspondents are
pleased to remind me--as if I required to have the fact brought to my
knowledge--is no longer youth. Here is the latest of a series of
annual poems read during the last thirty-four years. There seems to
have been one interruption, but there may have been other poems not
recorded or remembered. This, the latest poem of the series, was
listened to by the scanty remnant of what was a large and brilliant
circle of classmates and friends when the first of the long series
was read before them, then in the flush of ardent manhood:--


The minstrel of the classic lay
Of love and wine who sings
Still found the fingers run astray
That touched the rebel strings.

Of Cadmus he would fair have sung,
Of Atreus and his line;
But all the jocund echoes rung
With songs of love and wine.

Ah, brothers! I would fair have caught
Some fresher fancy's gleam;
My truant accents find, unsought,
The old familiar theme.

Love, Love! but not the sportive child
With shaft and twanging bow,
Whose random arrows drove us wild
Some threescore years ago;

Not Eros, with his joyous laugh,
The urchin blind and bare,
But Love, with spectacles and staff,
And scanty, silvered hair.

Our heads with frosted locks are white,
Our roofs are thatched with snow,
But red, in chilling winter's spite,
Our hearts and hearthstones glow.

Our old acquaintance, Time, drops in,
And while the running sands
Their golden thread unheeded spin,
He warms his frozen hands.

Stay, winged hours, too swift, too sweet,
And waft this message o'er
To all we miss, from all we meet
On life's fast-crumbling shore:

Say that to old affection true
We hug the narrowing chain
That binds our hearts,--alas, how few
The links that yet remain!

The fatal touch awaits them all
That turns the rocks to dust;
From year to year they break and fall,
They break, but never rust.

Say if one note of happier strain
This worn-out harp afford,--
One throb that trembles, not in vain,
Their memory lent its chord.

Say that when Fancy closed her wings
And Passion quenched his fire,
Love, Love, still echoed from the strings
As from Anacreon's lyre!

January 8, 1885.



In thinking the whole matter over, Dr. Butts felt convinced that,
with care and patience and watching his opportunity, he should get at
the secret, which so far bad yielded nothing but a single word. It
might be asked why he was so anxious to learn what, from all
appearances, the young stranger was unwilling to explain. He may
have been to some extent infected by the general curiosity of the
persons around him, in which good Mrs. Butts shared, and which she
had helped to intensify by revealing the word dropped by Paolo. But
this was not really his chief motive. He could not look upon this
young man, living a life of unwholesome solitude, without a natural
desire to do all that his science and his knowledge of human nature
could help him to do towards bringing him into healthy relations with
the world about him. Still, he would not intrude upon him in any
way. He would only make certain general investigations, which might
prove serviceable in case circumstances should give him the right to
counsel the young man as to his course of life. The first thing to
be done was to study systematically the whole subject of antipathies.
Then, if any further occasion offered itself, he would be ready to
take advantage of it. The resources of the Public Library of the
place and his own private collection were put in requisition to
furnish him the singular and widely scattered facts of which he was
in search.

It is not every reader who will care to follow Dr. Butts in his study
of the natural history of antipathies. The stories told about them
are, however, very curious; and if some of them may be questioned,
there is no doubt that many of the strangest are true, and
consequently take away from the improbability of others which we are
disposed to doubt.

But in the first place, what do we mean by an antipathy? It is an
aversion to some object, which may vary in degree from mere dislike
to mortal horror. What the cause of this aversion is we cannot say.
It acts sometimes through the senses, sometimes through the
imagination, sometimes through an unknown channel. The relations
which exist between the human being and all that surrounds him vary
in consequence of some adjustment peculiar to each individual. The
brute fact is expressed in the phrase "One man's meat is another
man's poison."

In studying the history of antipathies the doctor began with those
referable to the sense of taste, which are among the most common. In
any collection of a hundred persons there will be found those who
cannot make use of certain articles of food generally acceptable.
This may be from the disgust they occasion or the effects they have
been found to produce. Every one knows individuals who cannot
venture on honey, or cheese, or veal, with impunity. Carlyle, for
example, complains of having veal set before him,--a meat he could
not endure. There is a whole family connection in New England, and
that a very famous one, to many of whose members, in different
generations, all the products of the dairy are the subjects of a
congenital antipathy. Montaigne says there are persons who dread the
smell of apples more than they would dread being exposed to a fire of
musketry. The readers of the charming story "A Week in a French
Country-House" will remember poor Monsieur Jacque's piteous cry in
the night: "Ursula, art thou asleep? Oh, Ursula, thou sleepest, but
I cannot close my eyes. Dearest Ursula, there is such a dreadful
smell! Oh, Ursula, it is such a smell! I do so wish thou couldst
smell it! Good-night, my angel!----Dearest! I have found them!
They are apples! "The smell of roses, of peonies, of lilies, has
been known to cause faintness. The sight of various objects has had
singular effects on some persons. A boar's head was a favorite dish
at the table of great people in Marshal d'Albret's time; yet he used
to faint at the sight of one. It is not uncommon to meet with
persons who faint at the sight of blood. One of the most
inveterately pugnacious of Dr. Butts's college-mates confessed that
he had this infirmity. Stranger and far more awkward than this is
the case mentioned in an ancient collection, where the subject of the
antipathy fainted at the sight of any object of a red color. There
are sounds, also, which have strange effects on some individuals.
Among the obnoxious noises are the crumpling of silk stuffs, the
sound of sweeping, the croaking of frogs. The effects in different
cases have been spasms, a sense of strangling, profuse sweating,--all
showing a profound disturbance of the nervous system.

All these effects were produced by impressions on the organs of
sense, seemingly by direct agency on certain nerve centres. But
there is another series of cases in which the imagination plays a
larger part in the phenomena. Two notable examples are afforded in
the lives of two very distinguished personages.

Peter the Great was frightened, when an infant, by falling from a
bridge into the water. Long afterward, when he had reached manhood,
this hardy and resolute man was so affected by the sound of wheels
rattling over a bridge that he had to discipline himself by listening
to the sound, in spite of his dread of it, in order to overcome his
antipathy. The story told by Abbe Boileau of Pascal is very similar
to that related of Peter. As he was driving in his coach and four
over the bridge at Neuilly, his horses took fright and ran away, and
the leaders broke from their harness and sprang into the river,
leaving the wheel-horses and the carriage on the bridge. Ever after
this fright it is said that Pascal had the terrifying sense that he
was just on the edge of an abyss, ready to fall over.

What strange early impression was it which led a certain lady always
to shriek aloud if she ventured to enter a church, as it is recorded?
The old and simple way of accounting for it would be the scriptural
one, that it was an unclean spirit who dwelt in her, and who, when
she entered the holy place and brought her spiritual tenant into the
presence of the sacred symbols, "cried with a loud voice, and came
out of" her. A very singular case, the doctor himself had recorded,
and which the reader may accept as authentic, is the following: At
the head of the doctor's front stairs stood, and still stands, a tall
clock, of early date and stately presence. A middle-aged visitor,
noticing it as he entered the front door, remarked that he should
feel a great unwillingness to pass that clock. He could not go near
one of those tall timepieces without a profound agitation, which he
dreaded to undergo. This very singular idiosyncrasy he attributed to
a fright when he was an infant in the arms of his nurse.

She was standing near one of those tall clocks, when the cord which
supported one of its heavy leaden weights broke, and the weight came
crashing down to the bottom of the case. Some effect must have been
produced upon the pulpy nerve centres from which they never
recovered. Why should not this happen, when we know that a sudden
mental shock may be the cause of insanity? The doctor remembered the
verse of "The Ancient Mariner:"

"I moved my lips; the pilot shrieked
And fell down in a fit;
The holy hermit raised his eyes
And prayed where he did sit.
I took the oars; the pilot's boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laughed loud and long, and all the while
His eyes went to and fro."

This is only poetry, it is true, but the poet borrowed the
description from nature, and the records of our asylums could furnish
many cases where insanity was caused by a sudden fright.

More than this, hardly a year passes that we do not read of some
person, a child commonly, killed outright by terror,--scared to
death, literally. Sad cases they often are, in which, nothing but a
surprise being intended, the shock has instantly arrested the
movements on which life depends. If a mere instantaneous impression
can produce effects like these, such an impression might of course be
followed by consequences less fatal or formidable, but yet serious in
their nature. If here and there a person is killed, as if by
lightning, by a sudden startling sight or sound, there must be more
numerous cases in which a terrible shock is produced by similar
apparently insignificant causes,--a shock which falls short of
overthrowing the reason and does not destroy life, yet leaves a
lasting effect upon the subject of it.

This point, then, was settled in the mind of Dr. Butts, namely, that,
as a violent emotion caused by a sudden shock can kill or craze a
human being, there is no perversion of the faculties, no prejudice,
no change of taste or temper, no eccentricity, no antipathy, which
such a cause may not rationally account for. He would not be
surprised, he said to himself, to find that some early alarm, like
that which was experienced by Peter the Great or that which happened
to Pascal, had broken some spring in this young man's nature, or so
changed its mode of action as to account for the exceptional
remoteness of his way of life. But how could any conceivable
antipathy be so comprehensive as to keep a young man aloof from all
the world, and make a hermit of him? He did not hate the human race;
that was clear enough. He treated Paolo with great kindness, and the
Italian was evidently much attached to him. He had talked naturally
and pleasantly with the young man he had helped out of his dangerous
situation when his boat was upset. Dr. Butts heard that he had once
made a short visit to this young man, at his rooms in the University.
It was not misanthropy, therefore, which kept him solitary. What
could be broad enough to cover the facts of the case? Nothing that
the doctor could think of, unless it were some color, the sight of
which acted on him as it did on the individual before mentioned, who
could not look at anything red without fainting. Suppose this were a
case of the same antipathy. How very careful it would make the
subject of it as to where he went and with whom he consorted! Time
and patience would be pretty sure to bring out new developments, and
physicians, of all men in the world, know how to wait as well as how
to labor.

Such were some of the crude facts as Dr. Butts found them in books or
gathered them from his own experience. He soon discovered that the
story had got about the village that Maurice Kirkwood was the victim
of an "antipathy," whatever that word might mean in the vocabulary of
the people of the place. If he suspected the channel through which
it had reached the little community, and, spreading from that centre,
the country round, he did not see fit to make out of his suspicions a
domestic casus belli. Paolo might have mentioned it to others as
well as to himself. Maurice might have told some friend, who had
divulged it. But to accuse Mrs. Butts, good Mrs. Butts, of petit
treason in telling one of her husband's professional secrets was too
serious a matter to be thought of. He would be a little more
careful, he promised himself, the next time, at any rate; for he had
to concede, in spite of every wish to be charitable in his judgment,
that it was among the possibilities that the worthy lady had
forgotten the rule that a doctor's patients must put their tongues


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