Part 2 out of 7
was digging in Aunt Mercy's geranium pots, and picking off the dead
leaves, two deacons came to visit grand'ther, and, hovering over the
fire with him, complained of the lukewarmness of the church brethren
in regard to the spiritual condition of the Society. A shower of grace
was needed; there were reviving symptoms in some of the neighboring
churches, but none in Barmouth. Something must be done--a fast day
appointed, or especial prayer-meetings held. This was on Saturday;
the next day the ceremony of the Lord's Supper would take place, and
grand'ther recommended that the minister should be asked to suggest
something to the church which might remove it from its hardness.
"Are the vessels scoured, Mercy?" he asked, after the deacons had
"I have no sand."
He presently brought her a biggin of fine white sand, which brought
the shore of Surrey to my mind's eye. I followed her as she carried
it to the well-room, where I saw, on the meal-chest, two large pewter
plates, two flagons of the same metal, and a dozen or more cups, some
of silver, and marked with the owner's name. They were soon cleaned.
Then she made a fire in the oven, and mixed loaves in a peculiar
shape, and launched them into the oven. She watched the bread
carefully, and took it out before it had time to brown.
"This work belongs to the deacons' wives," she said; "but it has
been done in this house for years. The bread is not like ours--it is
Grand'ther carried it into the church after she had cut it with a
sharp knife so that at the touch it would fall apart into square bits.
When the remains were brought back, I went to the closet, where they
were deposited, and took a piece of the bread, eating it reflectively,
to test its solemnizing powers. I felt none, and when Aunt Mercy
boiled the remnants with milk for a pudding, the sacred ideality of
the ceremony I had seen at church was destroyed for me.
Was it a pity that my life was not conducted on Nature's plan, who
shows us the beautiful, while she conceals the interior? We do not see
the roots of her roses, and she hides from us her skeletons.
November passed, with its Thanksgiving--the sole day of all the year
which grand'ther celebrated, by buying a goose for dinner, which goose
was stewed with rye dumplings, that slid over my plate like glass
balls. Sally and Ruth betook themselves to their farm, and hybernated.
December came, and with it a young woman named Caroline, to learn the
tailor's trade. Lively and pretty, she changed our atmosphere.
She broke the silence of the morning by singing the "Star-spangled
Banner," or the "Braes of Balquhither," and disturbed the monotony of
the evenings by making molasses candy, which grand'ther ate, and which
seemed to have a mollifying influence. Grand'ther kept his eye on
Caroline; but his eye had no disturbing effect. She had no perception
of his character; was fearless with him, and went contrary to all his
ideas, and he liked her for it. She even reproved him for keeping such
a long face. Her sewing, which was very bad, tried his patience so,
that if it had not been for her mother, who was a poor widow, he would
have given up the task of teaching her the trade. She said she knew
she couldn't learn it; what was the use of trying? She meant to go
West, and thought she might make a good home-missionary, as she did,
for she married a poor young man, who had forsaken the trade of a
cooper, to study for the ministry, and was helped off to Ohio by
the Society of Home Missions. She came to see me in Surrey ten years
afterward, a gaunt, hollow-eyed woman, of forbidding manners, and an
implacable faith in no rewards or punishments this side of the grave.
I suffered so from the cold that December that I informed mother of
the fact by letter. She wrote back:
"My child, have courage. One of these days you will feel a tender
pity, when you think of your mother's girlhood. You are learning how
she lived at your age. I trembled at the prosperity of your opening
life, and believed it best for you to have a period of contrast. I
thought you would, by and by, understand me better than I do myself;
for you are not like me, Cassy, you are like your father. You shall
never go back to Barmouth, unless you wish it. Dear Cassy, do you pray
any? I send you some new petticoats, and a shawl. Does Mercy warm the
bed for you? Your affectionate Mother."
I dressed and undressed in Aunt Mercy's room, which was under the
roof, with benumbed fingers. My hair was like the coat of a cow in
frosty weather; it was so frowzy, and so divided against itself, that
when I tried to comb it, it streamed out like the tail of a comet.
Aunt Mercy discovered that I was afflicted with chilblains, and had
a good cry over them, telling me, at the same moment, that my French
slippers were the cause. We had but one fire in the house, except the
fire in the shop, which was allowed to go down at sunset. Sometimes
I found a remaining warmth in the goose, which had been left in
the ashes, and borrowed it for my stiffened fingers. I did not get
thoroughly warm all day, for the fire in the middle room, made of
green wood, was continually in the process of being stifled with a
greener stick, as the others kindled. The school-room was warm; but I
had a back seat by a window, where my feet were iced by a current, and
my head exposed to a draught. In January I had so bad an ague that
I was confined at home a week. But I grew fast in spite of all my
discomforts. Aunt Mercy took the tucks out of my skirts, and I burst
out where there were no tucks. I assumed a womanly shape. Stiff as
my hands were, and purple as were my arms, I could see that they were
plump and well shaped. I had lost the meagerness of childhood and
began to feel a new and delightful affluence. What an appetite I had,
"The creature will eat us out of house and home," said grand'ther one
day, looking at me, for him good-humoredly.
"Well, don't shoot me, as you shot the pigeons."
"Pah, have pigeons a soul?"
In February the weather softened, and a great revival broke out. It
was the dullest time of the year in Barmouth. The ships were at
sea still, and the farmers had only to fodder their cattle, so that
everybody could attend the protracted meeting. It was the same as
Sunday at our house for nine days. Miss Black, in consequence of the
awakening, dismissed the school for two weeks, that the pupils might
profit in what she told us was The Scheme of Salvation.
Caroline was among the first converts. I observed her from the moment
I was told she was under Conviction, till she experienced Religion.
She sang no more of mornings, and the making of molasses candy was
suspended in the evenings. I thought her less pleasing, and felt shy
of holding ordinary conversations with her, for had she not been set
apart for a mysterious work? I perceived that when she sewed between
meetings her work was worse done than ever; but grand'ther made no
mention of it. I went with Aunt Mercy to meetings three times a day,
and employed myself in scanning the countenances around me, curious to
discover the first symptoms of Conviction.
One night when grand'ther came in to prayers, he told Aunt Mercy that
Pardon Hitch was awfully distressed in mind, in view of his sins. She
replied that he was always a good man.
"As good as any unregenerate man can be."
"I might as well be a thorough reprobate then," I thought, "like Sal
Thompson, who seems remarkably happy, as to try to behave as well as
Pardon Hitch, who is a model in Barmouth."
When we went to church the next morning, I saw him in one of the back
pews, leaning against the rail, as if he had no strength. His face was
full of anguish. He sat there motionless all day. He was prayed for,
but did not seem to hear the prayers. At night his wife led him home.
By the end of the third day, he interrupted an exhorting brother by
rising, and uttering an inarticulate cry. We all looked. The tears
were streaming down his pale face, which was lighted up by a smile
of joy. He seemed like a man escaped from some great danger, torn,
bruised, breathless, but alive. The minister left the pulpit to shake
hands with him; the brethren crowded round to congratulate him, and
the meeting broke up at once.
Neither grand'ther nor Aunt Mercy had spoken to me concerning
my interest in Religion; but on that very evening Mr. Boold, the
minister, came in to tea and asked me, while he was taking off his
overcoat, if I knew that Christ had died for me? I answered that I was
not sure of it.
"Do you read your Bible, child?"
"And what does it teach you?"
"I do not know."
"Miss Mercy, I will thank you for another cup. 'Now is the day, and
now is the hour; come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, I
will give you rest.'"
"But I do not want rest; I have no burden," I said.
"Cassandra," thundered grand'ther, "have you no respect for God nor
"Have you read," went on the minister, "the memoir of Nathan
Dickerman? A mere child, he realized his burden of sin in time, and
I thought it best to say no more. Aunt Mercy looked disturbed, and
left the table as soon as she could with decency.
"Cassandra," she said, when we were alone, "what will become of you?"
"What will, indeed? You have always said that I was possessed. Why did
you not explain this fact to Mr. Boold?"
She kissed me,--her usual treatment when she was perplexed.
The revival culminated and declined. Sixty new members were admitted
into the church, and things settled into the old state. School was
resumed; I found that not one of my schoolmates had met with a change,
but Miss Black did not touch on the topic. My year was nearly out;
March had come and gone, and it was now April. One mild day, in
the latter part of the month, the girls went to the yard at recess.
Charlotte Alden said pleasantly that the weather was fair enough for
out-of-doors play, and asked if I would try the tilt. I gave a cordial
assent. We balanced the board so that each could seat herself, and
began to tilt slowly. As she was heavy, I was obliged to exert my
strength to keep my place, and move her. She asked if I dared to go
higher. "Oh yes, if you wish it." Happening to look round, I caught
her winking at the girls near us, and felt that she was brewing
mischief, but I had no time to dwell on it. She bore the end she was
on to the ground with a sudden jerk, and I fell from the other, some
eight feet, struck a stone, and fainted.
The next thing that I recollect was Aunt Mercy's carrying me across
the street in her arms. She had seen my fall from the window. Reaching
the house, she let me slide on the floor in a heap, and began to wring
her hands and stamp her feet.
"I am not hurt, Aunt Mercy."
"You are nearly killed, you know you are. This is your last day at
that miserable school. I am going for the doctor, as soon as you say
you wont faint again."
Thus my education at Miss Black's was finished with a blow.
When Aunt Mercy represented to Miss Black that I was not to return to
school, and that she feared I had not made the improvement that was
expected, Miss Black asked, with hauteur, what had been expected--what
my friends _could_ expect. Aunt Mercy was intimidated, and retired as
soon as she had paid her the last quarter's bills.
A week after my tournament with Charlotte Alden I went back to Surrey.
There was little preparation to make--few friends to bid farewell.
Ruth and Sally had emerged from their farm, and were sewing again at
grand'ther's. Sally bade me remember that riches took to themselves
wings and flew away; she _hoped_ they had not been a snare to my
mother; but she wasn't what she was, it was a fact.
"No, she isn't," Ruth affirmed. "Do you remember, Sally, when she came
out to the farm once, and rode the white colt bare-back round the big
meadow, with her hair flying?"
"Hold your tongue, Ruth."
Ruth looked penitent as she gave me a paper of hollyhock seeds, and
said the flowers were a beautiful blood-red, and that I must plant
them near the sink drain. Caroline had already gone home, so Aunt
Mercy had nothing cheery but her plants and her snuff; for she had
lately contracted the habit of snuff-taking but very privately.
"Train her well, Locke; she is skittish," said grand'ther as we got
into the chaise to go home.
"Grand'ther, if I am ever rich enough to own a peaked-roof pig-sty,
will you come and see me?"
"Away with you." And he went nimbly back to the house, chafing his
I was going home! When we rode over the brow of the hill within a
mile of Surrey, and I saw the crescent-shaped village, and the tall
chimneys of our house on its outer edge, instead of my heart leaping
for joy, as I had expected, a sudden indifference filled it. I felt
averse to the change from the narrow ways of Barmouth, which, for the
moment, I regretted. When I entered the house, and saw mother in her
old place, her surroundings unaltered, I suffered a disappointment.
I had not had the power of transferring the atmosphere of my year's
misery to Surrey.
The family gathered round me. I heard the wonted sound of the banging
of doors. "The doors at grand'ther's," I mused, "had list nailed
round their edges; but then he _had_ the list, being a tailor."
"I vum," said Temperance, with her hand on her hip, and not offering to
approach me, "your hair is as thick as a mop."
Hepsey, rubbing her fingers against her thumb, remarked that she
hoped learning had not taken away my appetite. "I have made an Indian
bannock for you, and we are going to have broiled sword-fish, besides,
for supper. Is it best to cook more, Mrs. Morgeson, now that Cassandra
The boy, by name Charles, came to see the new arrival, but smitten
with diffidence crept under the table, and examined me from his
"Don't you wish to see Arthur?" inquired mother; "he is getting his
"Oh yes, and where's Veronica?"
"She's up garret writing geography, and told me nothing in the world
must disturb her, till she had finished an account of the city of
Palmiry," said Temperance.
"Call her when supper is ready," replied mother, who asked me to come
into the bedroom where Arthur was sleeping. He was a handsome child,
large and fair, and as I lifted his white, lax fingers, a torrent of
love swept through me, and I kissed him.
"I am afraid I make an idol of him, Cassy."
"Are you unhappy because you love him so well, mother, and feel that
you must make expiation?"
"Cassandra," she spoke with haste, "did you experience any shadow of a
change during the revival at Barmouth?"
"No more than the baby here did."
"I shall have faith, though, that it will be well with you, because
you have had the blessing of so good a man as your grand'ther."
"But I never heard a word of grand'ther's prayers. Do you remember his
A smile crept into her blue eye, as she said: "My hearing him, or not,
would make no difference, since God could hear and answer."
"Grand'ther does not like me; I never pleased him."
She looked astonished, then reflective. It occurred to her that she,
also, had been no favorite of his. She changed the subject. We talked
on what had happened in Surrey, and commenced a discussion on my
wardrobe, when we were summoned to tea. Temperance brought Arthur to
the table half asleep, but he roused when she drummed on his plate
with a spoon. Hepsey was stationed by the bannock, knife in hand, to
serve it. As we began our meal, Veronica came in from the kitchen,
with a plate of toasted crackers. She set the plate down, and gravely
shook hands with me, saying she had concluded to live entirely on
toast, but supposed I would eat all sorts of food, as usual. She had
grown tall; her face was still long and narrow, but prettier, and
her large, dark eyes had a slight cast, which gave her face an
indescribable expression. Distant, indifferent, and speculative as the
eyes were, a ray of fire shot into them occasionally, which made her
gaze powerful and concentrated. I was within a month of sixteen, and
Veronica was in her thirteenth year; but she looked as old as I did.
She carefully prepared her toast with milk and butter, and ate it in
silence. The plenty around me, the ease and independence, gave me a
delightful sense of comfort. The dishes were odd, some of china, some
of delf, and were continually moved out of their places, for we helped
ourselves, although Temperance stayed in the room, ostensibly as a
waiter. She was too much engaged in conversation to fulfill her duties
that way. I looked round the room; nothing had been added to it,
except red damask curtains, which were out of keeping with the
old chintz covers. It was a delightful room, however; the blue sea
glimmered between the curtains, and, turning my eyes toward it, my
heart gave the leap which I had looked for. I grew blithe as I saw it
winking under the rays of the afternoon sun, and, clapping my hands,
said I was glad to get home. We left Veronica at the table, and mother
resumed her conversation with me in a corner of the room. Presently
Temperance came in with Charles, bringing fresh plates. As soon
as they began their supper, Veronica asked Temperance how the fish
"Is it salt?"
"How is the bannock?"
"Excellent. I will say it for Hepsey that she hasn't her beat as a
cook; been at it long enough," she added, in expiation of her praise.
"Temperance, is that pound cake, or sponge?"
"Charles can eat it," Verry said with a sigh.
"A mighty small piece he'll have--the glutton. But he has not been
here long; they are all so when they first come."
She then gave him a large slice of the cake.
Veronica, contrary to her wont, huddled herself on the sofa. Arthur
played round the chair of mother, who looked happy and forgetful.
After Temperance had rearranged the table for father's supper we were
quiet. I meditated how I could best amuse myself, where I should go,
and what I should do, when Veronica, whom I had forgotten, interrupted
"Mother," she said, "eating toast does not make me better-tempered;
I feel evil still. You know," turning to me, "that my temper is worse
than ever; it is like a tiger's."
"Oh, Verry," said mother, "not quite so bad; you are too hard upon
"Mother, you said so to Hepsey, when I tore her turban from her head,
it was _so_ ugly. Can you forget you said such a thing?"
"Verry, you drive me wild. Must I say that I was wrong? Say so to my
Verry turned her face to the wall and said no more; but she had
started a less pleasant train of thought. It was changed again by
Temperance coming with lights. Though the tall brass lamps glittered
like gold, their circle of light was small; the corners of the room
were obscure. Mr. Park, entering, retreated into one, and mother was
obliged to forego the pleasure of undressing Arthur; so she sent him
off with Temperance and Charles, whose duty it was to rock the cradle
as long as his babyship required.
Soon after father came, and Hepsey brought in his hot supper; while he
was eating it, Grandfather John Morgeson bustled in. As he shook hands
with me, I saw that his hair had whitened; he held a tasseled cane
between his knees, and thumped the floor whenever he asked a question.
Mr. Park buzzed about the last Sunday's discourse, and mother listened
with a vague, respectful attention. Her hand was pressed against her
breast, as if she were repressing an inward voice which claimed her
attention. Leaning her head against her chair, she had quite pushed
out her comb, her hair dropped on her shoulder, and looked like a
brown, coiled serpent. Veronica, who had been silently observing her,
rose from the sofa, picked up the comb, and fastened her hair, without
speaking. As she passed she gave me a dark look.
"Eh, Verry," said father, "are you there? Were you glad to see Cassy
"Should I be glad? What can _she_ do?"
Grandfather pursed up his mouth, and turned toward mother, as if he
would like to say: "You understand bringing up children, don't you?"
She comprehended him, and, giving her head a slight toss, told Verry
to go and play on the piano.
"I was going," she answered pettishly, and darting out a moment after
we heard her.
Grandfather went, and presently Mr. Park got up in a lingering way,
said that Verry must learn to play for the Lord, and bade us "Good
night." But he came back again, to ask me if I would join Dr. Snell's
Bible Class. It would meet the next evening; the boys and girls of my
own age went. I promised him to go, wondering whether I should meet an
ancient beau, Joe Bacon. Mother retired; Verry still played.
"Her talent is wonderful," said father, taking the cigar from his
mouth. "By the way, you must take lessons in Milford; I wish you would
learn to sing." I acquiesced, but I had no wish to learn to play. I
could never perform mechanically what I heard now from Verry. When she
ceased, I woke from a dream, chaotic, but not tumultuous, beautiful,
but inharmonious. Though the fire had gone out, the lamps winked
brightly, and father, moving his cigar to the other side of his mouth,
changed his regards from one lamp to the other, and said he thought
I was growing to be an attractive girl. He asked me if I would take
pains to make myself an accomplished one also? I must, of course, be
left to myself in many things; but he hoped that I would confide in
him, if I did not ask his advice. A very strong relation of reserve
generally existed between parent and child, instead of a confidential
one, and the child was apt to discover that reserve on the part of the
parent was not superiority, but cowardice, or indifference. "Let it
not be so with us," was his conclusion. He threw away the stump of
his cigar, and went to fasten the hall-door. I took one of the brass
lamps, proposing to go to bed. As I passed through the upper entry,
Veronica opened her door. She was undressed, and had a little book
in her hand, which she shook at me, saying, "There is the day of the
month put down on which you came home; and now mind," then shut the
door. I pondered over what father had said; he had perceived something
in me which I was not aware of. I resolved to think seriously over it;
in the morning I found I had not thought of it at all.
The next evening I dressed my hair after the fashion of the Barmouth
girls, with the small pride of wishing to make myself look different
from the Surrey girls. I expected they would stare at me in the Bible
Class. It would be my debut as a grown girl, and I must offer myself
to their criticism. I went late, so that I might be observed by the
assembled class. It met in the upper story of Temperance Hall--a new
edifice. As I climbed the steep stairs, Joe Bacon's head came in view;
he had stationed himself on a bench at the landing to watch for my
arrival, of which he had been apprized by our satellite, Charles. Joe
was the first boy who had ever offered his arm as my escort home from
a party. After that event I had felt that there was something between
us which the world did not understand. I was flattered, therefore,
at the first glimpse of him on this occasion. When Dr. Snell made his
opening prayer, Joe thrust a Bible before me, open at the lesson of
the evening, and then, rubbing his nose with embarrassment, fixed his
eyes with timid assurance on the opposite wall. Several of my Morgeson
cousins were present, greeting me with sniffs. But I was disappointed
in Joe Bacon; how young and shabby he looked! He wore a monkey jacket,
probably a remnant of his sea-going father's wardrobe. He had done
his best, however, for his hair was greased, and combed to a marble
smoothness; its sleekness vexed me, not remembering at that moment the
pains I had taken to dress my own hair, for a more ignoble end.
The girls gathered round me, after the class was dismissed; and when
Dr. Snell came down from his desk, he said he was glad to see me,
and that I must come to his rooms to look over the new books he had
received. Dr. Snell was no exception to the rule that a minister must
not be a native among his own people. His long residence in Surrey had
failed to make him appear like one. A bachelor, with a small
private fortune, his style of living differed from the average
of Congregational parsons. His library was the only lion in our
neighborhood. His taste as a collector made him known abroad, and he
had a reputation which was not dreamed of by his parishioners,
who thought him queer and simple. He loved old fashions; wore
knee-breeches, and silver buckles in his shoes; brewed metheglin in
his closet, and drank it from silver-pegged flagons; and kept diet
bread on a salver to offer his visitors. He lived near us on the north
road, and was very much afraid of his landlady, Mrs. Grossman, who
sat in terrible state in her parlor, the year through, wearing a black
satin cloak and an awful structure of a cap, which had a potent nod.
I was pleased with Dr. Snell's notice; his smile was courtly and his
Joe Bacon was waiting at the foot of the stairs. He obtruded his arm,
and hoarsely muttered, "See you home." I took it, and we marched along
silently, till we were beyond the sound of voices. He began, rather
inarticulately, to say how glad he was to see me, and that he hoped
he was going to have better times now; but I could make no response
to his wishes; the suspicion that he had a serious liking for me was
disgusting. As he talked on I grew irritable, and replied shortly.
When we reached our house, I slipped my hand from his arm, and ran
up the steps, turning back with my hand on the door-knob to say,
"Good-night." The lamp in the hall shone through the fanlight upon
his face; it looked intelligent with pain. I skipped down the steps.
"Please open the door, Joe." He brightened, but before he could comply
with my request Temperance flung it wide, for the purpose of making a
survey of the clouds and guessing at to-morrow's weather. His retreat
"Oh ho," said Temperance, "a feller came home with you. We shall have
somebody sitting up a-Thursday nights, I reckon, before long."
"Nonsense with your Thursday nights."
"Everybody is just alike. We shall have rain, see if we don't; rain or
no rain, I'll whitewash to-morrow."
Poor Joe! That night ended my first sentiment. He died with the
measles in less than a month.
"I wish," said Temperance, who was spelling over a newspaper, "that
Dr. Snell would come in before the plum-cake is gone, that Hepsey made
last. The old dear loves it; he is always hungry. I candidly believe
Mis Grossman keeps him short."
I expected that Temperance would break out then about Joe; but she
never mentioned him, except to tell me that she had heard of his
death. She did not whitewash the next day, for Charles came down with
the measles, and was tended by her with a fretful tenderness. Veronica
was seized soon after, and then Arthur, and then I had them. Veronica
was the worst patient. When her room was darkened she got out of bed,
tore down the quilt that was fastened to the window, and broke three
panes of glass before she could be captured and taken back. The quilt
was not put up again, however. She cried with anger, unless her hands
were continually washed with lavender water, and made little pellets
of cotton which she stuffed in her ears and nose, so that she might
not hear or smell.
I went to Dr. Snell's as soon as I was able. He was in his bedchamber,
writing a sermon on fine note-paper, and had disarranged the wide
ruffles of his shirt so that he looked like a mildly angry turkey.
Thrusting his spectacles up into the roots of his hair, he rose,
and led me into a large room adjoining his bedroom, which contained
nothing but tall bookcases, threw open the doors of one, pushed up a
little ladder before it, for me to mount to a row of volumes bound in
calf, whose backs were labeled "British Classics." "There," he said,
"you will find 'The Spectator,'" and trotted back to his sermon, with
his pen in his mouth. I examined the books, and selected Tom Jones and
Goldsmith's Plays to take home. From that time I grazed at pleasure in
his oddly assorted library, ranging from "The Gentleman's Magazine"
to a file of the "Boston Recorder"; but never a volume of poetry
anywhere. I became a devourer of books which I could not digest, and
their influence located in my mind curious and inconsistent relations
between facts and ideas.
My music lessons in Milford were my only task. I remained inapt, while
Veronica played better and better; when I saw her fingers interpreting
her feelings, touching the keys of the piano as if they were the
chords of her thoughts, practice by note seemed a soulless, mechanical
effort, which I would not make. One day mother and I were reading the
separate volumes of charming Miss Austen's "Mansfield Park," when a
message arrived from Aunt Mercy, with the news of Grand'ther Warren's
dangerous illness. Mother dropped her book on the floor, but I turned
down the leaf where I was reading. She went to Barmouth immediately,
and the next day grand'ther died. He gave all he had to Aunt Mercy,
except six silver spoons, which he directed the Barmouth silversmith
to make for Caroline, who was now married to her missionary. Mother
came home to prepare for the funeral. When the bonnets, veils, and
black gloves came home, Veronica declared she would not go. As she had
been allowed to stay away from Grand'ther Warren living, why should
she be forced to go to him when dead? She was so violent in her
opposition that mother ordered Temperance to keep her in her room.
Father tried to persuade her, but she grew white, and trembled so that
he told her she should stay at home. While we were gone she sent her
bonnet to the Widow Smith's daughter, who appeared in the Poor Seats
wearing it, on the very Sunday after the funeral, when we all went
to church in our mourning to make the discovery, which discomposed us
All the church were present at grand'ther's funeral,--obsequies, as
Mr. Boold called it, who exalted his character and behavior so greatly
in his discourse that his nearest friends would not have recognized
him, although everybody knew that he was a good man. Mr. Boold
expatiated on his tenderness and delicate appreciation, and his
study of the feelings and wants of others, till he was moved to tears
himself by the picture he drew. I thought of the pigeons he had shot,
and of the summary treatment he gave me--of his coldness and silence
toward Aunt Mercy, and my eyes remained dry; but mother and Aunt Mercy
wept bitterly. After it was over, and they had gone back to the empty
house, they removed their heavy bonnets, kissed each other, said they
knew that he was in heaven, and held a comforting conversation about
the future; but my mind was chained to the edge of the yawning grave
into which I had seen his coffin lowered.
"Shut up the old shell, Mercy," said father. "Come, and live with us."
She was rejoiced at the prospect, for the life at our house was
congenial, and she readily and gratefully consented. She came in a few
days, with a multitude of boxes, and her plants. Mother established
her in the room next the stairs--good place for her, Veronica said,
for she could be easily locked out of our premises. The plants were
placed on a new revolving stand, which stood on the landing-place
beneath the stair window. Veronica was so delighted with them that she
made amicable overtures to Aunt Mercy, and never quarreled with her
afterward, except when she was ill. She entreated her to leave off her
bombazine dresses; the touch of them interfered with her feelings for
her, she said; in fact, their contact made her crawl all over.
Aunt Mercy took upon herself many of mother's irksome cares; such
as remembering where the patches and old linen were--the hammer and
nails; watching the sweetmeat pots; keeping the run of the napkins and
blankets; packing the winter clothing, and having an eye on mice and
ants, moth and mold. Occasionally she read a novel; but was faithful
to all the week-day meetings, making the acquaintance thereby of
mother's tea-drinking friends, who considered her an accomplished
person, because she worked lace so beautifully, and had _such_ a
faculty for raising plants! Mother left the house in her charge, and
made several journeys with father this year. This period was perhaps
her happiest. The only annoyance, visible to me, that I can remember,
was one between her and father on the subject of charity. He was for
giving to all needy persons, while she only desired to bestow it on
the deserving, but they had renounced the wish of manufacturing
each other's habits and opinions. Whether mother ever desired the
expression of that exaltation of feeling which only lasts in a man
while he is in love, I cannot say. It was not for me to know her
heart. It is not ordained that these beautiful secrets of feeling
should be revealed, where they might prove to be the sweetest
knowledge we could have.
Though the days flew by, days filled with the busy nothings of
prosperity, they bore no meaning. I shifted the hours, as one shifts
the kaleidoscope, with an eye only to their movement. Neither the
remembrance of yesterday nor the hope of to-morrow stimulated me. The
mere fact of breathing had ceased to be a happiness, since the day I
entered Miss Black's school. But I was not yet thoughtful. As for my
position, I was loved and I was hated, and it pleased me as much to be
hated as to be loved. My acquaintances were kind enough to let me know
that I was generally thought proud, exacting, ill-natured, and apt
to expect the best of everything. But one thing I know of myself
then--that I concealed nothing; the desires and emotions which are
usually kept as a private fund I displayed and exhausted. My audacity
shocked those who possessed this fund. My candor was called anything
but truthfulness; they named it sarcasm, cunning, coarseness, or tact,
as those were constituted who came in contact with me. Insight into
character, frankness, generosity, disinterestedness, were sometimes
given me. Veronica alone was uncompromising; she put aside by instinct
what baffled or attracted others, and, setting my real value upon me,
acted accordingly. I do not accuse her of injustice, but of a fierce
harshness which kept us apart for long years. As for her, she was
the most reticent girl I ever knew, and but for her explosive temper,
which betrayed her, she would have been a mystery. The difference in
our physical constitutions would have separated us, if there had been
no other cause. The weeks that she was confined to her room, preyed
upon by some inscrutable disease, were weeks of darkness and solitude.
Temperance and Aunt Merce took as much care of her as she would allow;
but she preferred being alone most of the time. Thus she acquired
the fortitude of an Indian; pain could extort no groan from her.
It reacted on her temper, though, for after an attack she was
exasperating. Her invention was put to the rack to tease and offend.
I kept out of her way; if by chance she caught sight of me, she forced
me to hear the bitter truth of myself. Sometimes she examined me to
learn if I had improved by the means which father so _generously_
provided for me. "Is he not yet tired of his task?" she asked once.
And, "Do you carry everything before you, with your wide eyebrows and
sharp teeth? Temperance, where's the Buffon Dr. Snell sent me? I want
to classify Cass."
"I'll warrant you'll find her a sheep," Temperance replied.
"Sheep are innocent," said Veronica. "You may go," nodding to me, over
the book, and Temperance also made energetic signs to me to go, and
not bother the poor girl.
Always regarding her from the point of view she presented, I felt
little love for her; her peculiarities offended me as they did mother.
We did not perceive the process, but Verry was educated by sickness;
her mind fed and grew on pain, and at last mastered it. The darkness
in her nature broke; by slow degrees she gained health, though never
much strength. Upon each recovery a change was visible; a spiritual
dawn had risen in her soul; moral activity blending with her ideality
made her life beautiful, even in the humblest sense. Veronica! you
were endowed with genius; but while its rays penetrated you, we did
not see them. How could we profit by what you saw and heard, when we
were blind and deaf? To us, the voices of the deep sang no epic of
grief; the speech of the woods was not articulate; the sea-gull's
flashing flight, and the dark swallow's circling sweep, were facts
only. Sunrise and sunset were not a paean to day and night, but five
o'clock A.M. or P.M. The seasons that came and went were changes
from hot to cold; to you, they were the moods of nature, which found
response in those of your own life and soul; her storms and calms were
pulses which bore a similitude to the emotions of your heart!
Veronica's habits of isolation clung to her; she would never leave
home. The teaching she had was obtained in Surrey. But her knowledge
was greater than mine. When I went to Rosville she was reading
"Paradise Lost," and writing her opinions upon it in a large blank
book. She was also devising a plan for raising trees and flowers
in the garret, so that she might realize a picture of a tropical
wilderness. Her tastes were so contradictory that time never hung
heavy with her; though she had as little practical talent as any
person I ever knew, she was a help to both sick and well. She
remembered people's ill turns, and what was done for them; and for the
well she remembered dates and suggested agreeable occupations--gave
them happy ideas. Besides being a calendar of domestic traditions, she
was weather-wise, and prognosticated gales, meteors, high tides, and
Home, father said, was her sphere. All that she required, he thought
he could do; but of me he was doubtful. Where did I belong? he asked.
I was still "possessed," Aunt Merce said, and mother called me
"lawless." "What upon earth are you coming to?" asked Temperance. "You
are sowing your wild oats with a vengeance."
"Locke Morgeson's daughter can do anything," commented the villagers.
In consequence of the unlimited power accorded me I was unpopular.
"Do you think she is handsome?" inquired my friends of each other. "In
what respect _can_ she be called a beauty?" "Though she reads, she
has no great wit," said one. "She dresses oddly for effect," another
avowed, "and her manners are ridiculous." But they borrowed my dresses
for patterns, imitated my bonnets, and adopted my colors. When I
learned to manage a sailboat, they had an aquatic mania. When I
learned to ride a horse, the ancient and moth-eaten sidesaddles of the
town were resuscitated, and old family nags were made back-sore
with the wearing of them, and their youthful spirits revived by new
beginners sliding about on their rounded sides. My whims were sneered
at, and then followed. Of course I was driven from whim to whim, to
keep them busy, and to preserve my originality, and at last I became
eccentric for eccentricity's sake. All this prepared the way for my
Nemesis. But as yet my wild oats were green and flourishing in the
field of youth.
I was preaching one day to mother and Aunt Merce a sermon after the
manner of Mr. Boold, of Barmouth, taking the sofa for a desk, and
for my text "Like David's Harp of solemn sound," and had attracted
Temperance and Charles into the room by my declamation, when my
audience was unexpectedly increased by the entrance of father, with a
strange gentleman. Aunt Merce laughed hysterically; I waved my hand to
her, _a la_ Boold, and descended from my position.
"Take a chair," said Temperance, who was never abashed, thumping one
down before the stranger.
"What is all this?" inquired father.
"Only a _Ranz des Vaches_, father, to please Aunt Merce."
The stranger's eyes were fastened upon me, while father introduced us
to "Mr. Charles Morgeson, of Rosville."
"Please receive me as a relative," he said, turning to shake hands
with mother. "We have an ancestor in common that makes a sufficient
cousinship for a claim, Mrs. Morgeson."
"Why not have looked us up before?" I asked.
"Why," said Veronica, who had just come in, "there are six Charles
Morgesons buried in our graveyard."
"I supposed," he said, "that the name was extinct. I lately saw your
father's in a State Committee List, and feeling curious regarding it,
I came here."
He bowed distantly to Veronica when she entered, but she did not
return his bow, though she looked at him fixedly. Temperance and
Hepsey hurried up a fine supper immediately. A visitor was a creature
to be fed. Feeding together removes embarrassment, and before supper
was over we were all acquainted with Mr. Morgeson. There were three
cheerful old ladies spending the week with us--the widow Desire
Carver, and her two maiden sisters, Polly and Serepta Chandler.
They filled the part of chorus in the domestic drama, saying, "Aha,"
whenever there was a pause. Veronica affected these old ladies
greatly, and when they were in the house gave them her society. But
for their being there at this time, I doubt whether she would have
seen Mr. Morgeson again. That evening she played for them. Her wild,
pathetic melodies made our visitor's gray eyes flash with pleasure,
and light up his cold face with gleams of feeling; but she was not
gratified by his interest. "I think it strange that you should like my
music," she said crossly.
"Do you" he answered, amused at her tone, "perhaps it is; but why
should I not as well as your friends here?" indicating the old ladies.
"Ah, we like it very much," said the three, clicking their
"You, too, play?" he asked me.
"Miss Cassy don't play," answered the three, looking at me over their
spectacles. "Miss Verry's sun puts out her fire."
"Cassandra does other things better than playing," Veronica said to
"Why, Veronica," I said, surprised, going toward her.
"Go off, go off," she replied, in an undertone, and struck up a loud
march. He had heard her, and while she played looked at her earnestly.
Then, seeming to forget the presence of the three, he turned and put
out his hand to me, with an authority I did not resist. I laid my hand
in his; it was not grasped, but upheld. Veronica immediately stopped
He stayed several days at our house. After the first evening we found
him taciturn. He played with Arthur, spoke of his children to him,
and promised him a pony if he would go to Rosville. With father he
discussed business matters, and went out with him to the shipyards and
offices. I scarcely remember that he spoke to me, except in a casual
way, more than once. He asked me if I knew whether the sea had any
influence upon me; I replied that I had not thought of it. "There are
so many things you have not thought of," he answered, "that this is
Veronica observed him closely; he was aware of it, but was not
embarrassed; he met her dark gaze with one keener than her own, and
neither talked with the other. The morning he went away, while the
chaise was waiting, which was to go to Milford to meet the stagecoach,
and he was inviting us to visit him, a thought seemed to strike
him. "By the way, Morgeson, why not give Miss Cassandra a finish at
Rosville? I have told you of our Academy, and of the advantages
which Rosville affords in the way of society. What do you say, Mrs.
Morgeson, will you let her come to my house for a year?"
"Locke decides for Cassy," she answered; "I never do now," looking at
Cousin Charles's hawk eyes caught the look, and he heard me too, when
I tapped her shoulder till she turned round and smiled. I whispered,
"Mother, your eyes are as blue as the sea yonder, and I love you." She
glanced toward it; it was murmuring softly, creeping along the shore,
licking the rocks and sand as if recognizing a master. And I saw and
felt its steady, resistless heaving, insidious and terrible.
"Well," said father, "we will talk of it on the way to Milford."
"I have kinder of a creeping about your Cousin Charles, as you call
him," said Temperance, after she had closed the porch door. "He is too
much shut up for me. How's Mis Cousin Charles, I wonder?"
"He is fond of flowers," remarked Aunt Merce; "he examined all my
plants, and knew all their botanical names."
"That's a balm for every wound with you, isn't it?" Temperance said.
"I spose I can clean the parlor, unless Mis Carver and Chandler are
sitting in a row there?"
Veronica, who had hovered between the parlor and the hall while Cousin
Charles was taking his leave, so that she might avoid the necessity
of any direct notice of him, had heard his proposition about Rosville,
said, "Cassandra will go there."
"Do you feel it in your bones, Verry?" Temperance asked.
"Do I? I believe I do."
"You are eighteen; you are too old to go to school."
"But I am not too old to have an agreeable time; besides, I am not
eighteen, and shall not be till four days from now."
"You think too much of having a good time, Cassandra," said mother. "I
foresee the day when the pitcher will come back from the well broken.
You are idle and frivolous; eternally chasing after amusement."
"God knows I don't find it."
"I know you are not happy."
"Tell me," I cried, striking the table with my hand, making Veronica
wink, "tell me how to feel and act."
"I have no influence with you, nor with Veronica."
"Because," said Verry, "we are all so different; but I like you,
mother, and all that you do."
"Different!" she exclaimed, "children talk to parents about a
difference between them."
"I never thought about it before." I said, "but _where_ is the family
Aunt Merce laughed.
"There's the Morgesons," I continued, "I hate 'em all."
"All?" she echoed; "you are like this new one."
"And Grand'ther Warren"--I continued.
"Your talk," interrupted Aunt Merce, jumping up and walking about, "is
enough to make him rise out of his grave."
"I believe," said Veronica, "that Grand'ther Warren nearly crushed
you and mother, when girls of our age. Did you know that you had any
wants then? or dare to dream anything beside that he laid down for
Aunt Merce and mother exchanged glances.
"Say, mother, what shall I do?" I asked again.
"Do," she answered in a mechanical voice; "read the Bible, and sew
"Veronica's life is not misspent," she continued, and seeming to
forget that Verry was still there. "Why should she find work for her
hands when neither you nor I do?"
Veronica slipped out of the room; and I sat on the floor beside
mother. I loved her in an unsatisfactory way. What could we be to
each other? We kissed tenderly; I saw she was saddened by something
regarding me, which she could not explain, because she refused to
explain me naturally. I thought she wished me to believe she could
have no infirmity in common with me--no temptations, no errors--that
she must repress all the doubts and longings of her heart for
There was a weight upon me all that day, a dreary sense of
When father came home he asked me if I would like to go to Rosville.
I answered, "Yes." Mother must travel with me, for he could not leave
home. The sooner I went the better. He also thought Veronica should
go. She was called and consulted, and, provided Temperance would
accompany us to take care of her, she consented. It was all arranged
that evening. Temperance said we must wait a week at least, for her
corns to be cured, and the plum-colored silk made, which had been shut
up in a band-box for three years.
We started on our journey one bright morning in June, to go to Boston
in a stagecoach, a hundred miles from Surrey, and thence to Rosville,
forty miles further, by railroad. We stopped a night on the way
to Boston at a country inn, which stood before an egg-shaped
pond. Temperance remade our beds, declaiming the while against the
unwholesome situation of the house; the idea of anybody's living in
the vicinity of fresh water astonished her; to impose upon travelers'
health that way was too much. She went to the kitchen to learn whether
the landlady cooked, or hired a cook. She sat up all night with our
luggage in sight, to keep off what she called "prowlers"--she did
not like to say robbers, for fear of exciting our imaginations--and
frightened us by falling out of her chair toward morning. Veronica
insisted upon her going to bed, but she refused, till Veronica
threatened to sit up herself, when she carried her own carpet-bag to
bed with her.
We arrived in Boston the next day and went to the Bromfield House in
Bromfield Street, whither father had directed us. We were ushered to
the parlor by a waiter, who seemed struck by Temperance, and who was
treated by her with respect. "Mr. Shepherd, the landlord, himself, I
guess," she whispered.
Three cadaverous children were there eating bread and butter from a
black tray on the center-table.
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Temperance, "what bread those children are
eating! It is made of sawdust."
"It's good, you old cat," screamed the little girl.
Veronica sat down by her, and offered her some sugar-plums, which the
child snatched from her hand.
"We are missionaries," said the oldest boy, "and we are going to
Bombay next week in the _Cabot_. I'll make the natives gee, I tell
"Mercy on us!" exclaimed Temperance, "did you ever?"
Presently a sickly, gentle-looking man entered, in a suit of black
camlet, and carrying an umbrella; he took a seat by the children, and
ran his fingers through his hair, which already stood upright.
"That girl gave Sis some sugar-plums," remarked the boy.
"I hope you thanked her, Clarissa," said the father.
"No; she didn't give me enough," the child answered.
"They have no mother," the poor man said apologetically to Veronica,
looking up at her, and, as he caught her eye, blushing deeply. She
bowed, and moved away. Mother rang the bell, and when the waiter came
gave him a note for Mr. Shepherd, which father had written, bespeaking
his attention. Mr. Shepherd soon appeared, and conveyed us to two
pleasant rooms with an unmitigated view of the wall of the next house
from the windows.
"This," remarked Temperance, "is worse than the pond."
Mr. Shepherd complimented mother on her fine daughters; hoped Mr.
Morgeson would run for Congress soon told her she should have the best
the house afforded, and retired.
I wanted to shop, and mother gave me money. I found Washington Street,
and bought six wide, embroidered belts, a gilt buckle, a variety of
ribbons, and a dozen yards of lace. I repented the whole before I got
back; for I saw other articles I wanted more. I found mother alone;
Temperance had gone out with Veronica, she said, and she had given
Veronica the same amount of money, curious to know how she would
spend it, as she had never been shopping. It was nearly dark when they
"I like Boston," said Verry.
"But what have you bought?"
She displayed a beautiful gold chain, and a little cross for the
throat; a bundle of picture-books for the missionary children; a
sewing-silk shawl for Hepsey, and some toys for Arthur.
"To-morrow, _I_ shall go shopping," said mother. "What did you buy,
"A mean shawl. In my opinion, Boston is a den of thieves."
She untied a box, from which she took a sky-blue silk shawl, with
brown flowers woven in it.
"I gave eighteen dollars for it, if I gave a cent, Mis Morgeson; I
know I am cheated. It's sleazy, isn't it?"
The bell for tea rang, and Mr. Shepherd came up to escort us to the
table. Temperance delayed us, to tie on a silk apron, to protect
the plum-colored silk, for, as she observed to Mr. Shepherd, she was
afraid it would show grease badly. I could not help exchanging smiles
with Mr. Shepherd, which made Veronica frown. The whole table stared
as we seated ourselves, for we derived an importance from the fact
that we were under the personal charge of the landlord.
"How they gawk at you," whispered Temperance. I felt my color rise.
"The gentlemen do not guess that we are sisters," said Veronica
"How do I look?" I asked.
"You know how, and that I do not agree with your opinion. You look
"I am cruel hungry."
Her eyes sparkled with disdain.
"What do you mean to do for a year?" I continued.
"Forget you, for one thing."
"I hope you wont be ill again, Verry."
"I shall be," she answered with a shudder; "I need all the illnesses
"As for me," I said, biting my bread and butter, "I feel well to my
fingers' ends; they tingle with strength. I am elated with health."
I had not spoken the last word before I became conscious of a streak
of pain which cut me like a knife and vanished; my surprise at it was
so evident that she asked me what ailed me."
"I never had the feeling you speak of in my finger ends," she said
sadly, looking at her slender hand.
"What has come over you, Cass? An attack of compassion? Are you
meaning to leave an amiable impression with me?"
After supper Mr. Shepherd asked mother if she would go to the theater.
The celebrated tragedian, Forrest, was playing; would the young ladies
like to see Hamlet? We all went, and my attention was divided between
Hamlet and two young men who lounged in the box door till Mr. Shepherd
looked them away. Veronica laughed at Hamlet, and Temperance said it
was stuff and nonsense. Veronica laughed at Ophelia, also, who was a
superb, black-haired woman, toying with an elegant Spanish fan, which
Hamlet in his energy broke. "It is not Shakespeare," she said.
"Has she read Shakespeare?" I asked mother.
"I am sure I do not know."
That night, after mother and Veronica were asleep, I persuaded
Temperance to get up, and bore my ears with a coarse needle, which I
had bought for the purpose. It hurt me so, when she pierced one, that
I could not summon resolution to have the other operated on; so I went
to bed with a bit of sewing silk in the hole she had made. But in the
morning I roused her, to tell her I thought I could bear to have the
other ear bored. When mother appeared I showed her my ears red and
sore, insisting that I must have a certain pair of white cornelian
ear-rings, set in chased gold, and three inches long, which I had seen
in a shop window. She scolded Temperance, and then gave me the money.
The next day mother and I started for Rosville. Veronica decided to
remain in Boston with Temperance till mother returned. She said
that if she went she might find Mrs. Morgeson as disagreeable as Mr.
Morgeson was; that she liked the Bromfield; besides, she wanted to see
the missionary children off for Bombay, and intended to go down to
the ship on the day they were to sail. She was also going to ask Mr.
Shepherd to look up a celebrated author for her. She must see one if
It was sunset when we arrived in Rosville, and found Mr. Morgeson
waiting for us with his carriage at the station. From its open sides
I looked out on a tranquil, agreeable landscape; there was nothing
saline in the atmosphere. The western breeze, which blew in our faces,
had an earthy scent, with fluctuating streams of odors from trees and
flowers. As we passed through the town, Cousin Charles pointed to the
Academy, which stood at the head of a green. Pretty houses stood round
it, and streets branched from it in all directions. Flower gardens,
shrubbery, and trees were scattered everywhere. Rosville was larger
and handsomer than Surrey.
"That is my house, on the right," he said.
We looked down the shady street through which we were going, and saw a
modern cottage, with a piazza, and peaked roof, and on the side toward
us a large yard, and stables.
We drove into the yard, and a woman came out on the piazza to receive
us. It was Mrs. Morgeson, or "My wife, Cousin Alice," as Mr. Morgeson
introduced her. Giving us a cordial welcome, she led us into a parlor
where tea was waiting. A servant came in for our bonnets and baskets.
Cousin Alice begged us to take tea at once. We were hardly seated when
we heard the cry of a young child; she left the table hastily, to come
back in a moment with an apology, which she made to Cousin Charles
rather than to us. I had never seen a table so well arranged, so
fastidiously neat; it glittered with glass and French china. Cousin
Charles sent away a glass and a plate, frowning at the girl who
waited; there must have been a speck or a flaw in them. The viands
were as pretty as the dishes, the lamb chops were fragile; the bread
was delicious, but cut in transparent slices, and the butter pat was
nearly stamped through with its bouquet of flowers. This was all the
feast except sponge cake, which felt like muslin in the fingers; I
could have squeezed the whole of it into my mouth. Still hungry, I
observed that Cousin Charles and Alice had finished; and though she
shook her spoon in the cup, feigning to continue, and he snipped
crumbs in his plate, I felt constrained to end my repast. He rose
then, and pushing back folding-doors, we entered a large room, leaving
Alice at the table. Windows extending to the floor opening on the
piazza, but notwithstanding the stream of light over the carpet, I
thought it somber, and out of keeping with the cottage exterior. The
walls were covered with dark red velvet paper, the furniture was
dark, the mantel and table tops were black marble, and the vases
and candelabra were bronze. He directed mother's attention to the
portraits of his children, explaining them, while I went to a table
between the windows to examine the green and white sprays of
some delicate flower I had never before seen. Its fragrance was
intoxicating. I lifted the heavy vase which contained it; it was taken
from me gently by Charles, and replaced.
"It will hardly bear touching," he said. "By to-morrow these little
white bells will be dead."
I looked up at him. "What a contrast!" I said.
"Here, in this room, and in you."
"And between you and me?"
His face was serene, dark, and delicate, but to look at it made me
shiver. Mother came toward us, pleading fatigue as an excuse for
retiring, and Cousin Charles called Cousin Alice, who went with us to
our room. In the morning, she said, we should see her three children.
She never left them, she was so afraid of their being ill, also
telling mother that she would do all in her power to make my stay in
Rosville pleasant and profitable. As a mother, she could appreciate
her anxiety and sadness in leaving me. Mother thanked her warmly, and
was sure that I should be happy; but I had an inward misgiving that I
should not have enough to eat.
"I hear Edward," said Alice. "Good-night."
Presently a girl, the same who had taken our bonnets, came in with
a pitcher of warm water and a plate of soda biscuit. She directed us
where to find the apparel she had nicely smoothed and folded; took off
the handsome counterpane, and the pillows trimmed with lace, putting
others of a plainer make in their places; shook down the window
curtains; asked us if we would have anything more, and quietly
disappeared. I offered mother the warm water, and appropriated the
biscuits. There were six. I ate every one, undressing meanwhile, and
surveying the apartment.
"Cassy, Mrs. Morgeson is an excellent housekeeper."
"Yes," I said huskily, for the dry biscuit choked me.
"What would Temperance and Hepsey say to this?"
"I think they would grumble, and admire. Look at this," showing her
the tassels of the inner window curtains done up in little bags. "And
the glass is pinned up with nice yellow paper; and here is a damask
napkin fastened to the wall behind the washstand. And everything
stands on a mat. I wonder if this is to be my room?"
"It is probably the chamber for visitors. Why, these are beautiful
pillow-cases, too," she exclaimed, as she put her head on the pillow.
"Come to bed; don't read."
I had taken up a red morocco-bound book, which was lying alone on the
bureau. It was Byron, and turning over the leaves till I came to
Don Juan, I read it through, and began Childe Harold, but the candle
expired. I struck out my hands through the palpable darkness, to find
the bed without disturbing mother, whose soul was calmly threading
the labyrinth of sleep. I finished Childe Harold early in the morning,
though, and went down to breakfast, longing to be a wreck!
The three children were in the breakfast-room, which was not the one
we had taken tea in, but a small apartment, with a door opening
into the garden. They were beautifully dressed, and their mother was
tending and watching them. The oldest was eight years, the youngest
three months. Cousin Alice gave us descriptions of their tastes and
habits, dwelling with emphasis on those of the baby. I drew from her
conversation the opinion that she had a tendency to the rearing of
children. I was glad when Cousin Charles came in, looking at his
watch. "Send off the babies, Alice, and ring the bell for breakfast."
She sent out the two youngest, put little Edward in his chair, and
"Mrs. Morgeson," said Charles, "the horses will be ready to take you
round Rosville. We will call on Dr. Price, for you to see the kind
of master Cassandra will have. I have already spoken to him about
receiving a new pupil."
"Oh, I am homesick at the idea of school and a master," I said.
Mother tried in vain to look hard-hearted, and to persuade that it was
good for me, but she lost her appetite, with the thought of losing me,
which the mention of Dr. Price brought home. The breakfast was as well
adapted to a delicate taste as the preceding supper. The ham was most
savory, but cut in such thin slices that it curled; and the biscuits
were as white and feathery as snowflakes. I think also that the boiled
eggs were smaller than any I had seen. Cousin Alice gave unremitting
attention to Edward, who ate as little as the rest.
"Mother," I said afterward, "I am afraid I am an animal. Did you
notice how little the Morgesons ate?"
"I noticed how elegant their table appointments were, and I shall buy
new china in Boston to-morrow. I wish Hepsey would not load our table
as she does."
"Hepsey is a good woman, mother; do give my love to her. Now that
I think of it, she was always making up some nice dish; tell her I
remember it, will you?"
When Cousin Charles put us into the carriage, and hoisted little
Edward on the front seat, mother noticed that two men held the horses,
and that they were not the same he had driven the night before. She
said she was afraid to go, they looked ungovernable; but he reassured
her, and one of the men averring that Mr. Morgeson could drive
anything, she repressed her fears, and we drove out of the yard
behind a pair of horses that stood on their hind legs as often as that
position was compatible with the necessity they were under of getting
on, for they evidently understood that they were guided by a firm
hand. Edward was delighted with their behavior, and for the first time
I saw his father smile on him.
"These are fine brutes," he said, not taking his eyes from them; "but
they are not equal to my mare, Nell. Alice is afraid of her; but I
hope that you, Cassandra, will ride with me sometimes when I drive
"Oh!" exclaimed mother, grasping my arm.
"You would, would you?" he said, taking out the whip, as the horses
recoiled from a man who lay by the roadside, leaping so high that the
harness seemed rattling from their backs. He struck them, and
said, "Go on now, go on, devils." There was no further trouble. He
encouraged mother not to be afraid, looking keenly at me. I looked
back at him.
"How much worse is the mare, cousin Charles?"
"You shall see."
After driving round the town we stopped at the Academy. Morning
prayers were over, and the scholars, some sixty boys and girls, were
coming downstairs from the hall, to go into the rooms, each side of a
great door. Dr. Price was behind them. He stopped when he saw us,
an introduction took place, and he inquired for Dr. Snell, as an old
college friend. Locke Morgeson sounded familiarly, he said; a member
of his mother's family named Somers had married a gentleman of that
name. He remembered it from an old ivory miniature which his mother
had shown him, telling him it was the likeness of her cousin Rachel's
husband. I replied we knew that grandfather had married a Rachel
Somers. Cousin Charles was surprised and a little vexed that the
doctor had never told him, when he must have known that he had been
anxiously looking up the Morgeson pedigree; but the doctor declared
he had not thought of it before, and that only the name of Locke had
recalled it to his mind. He then proposed our going to Miss Prior, the
lady who had charge of the girls' department, and we followed him to
I was at once interested and impressed by the appearance of my teacher
that was to be. She was a dignified, kind-looking woman, who asked me
a few questions in such a pleasant, direct manner that I frankly told
her I was eighteen years old, very ignorant, and averse from learning;
but I did not speak loud enough for anybody beside herself to hear.
"Now," said mother, when we came away, "think how much greater your
advantages are than mine have ever been. How miserable was my youth!
It is too late for me to make any attempt at cultivation. I have
no wish that way. Yet now I feel sometimes as if I were leaving the
confines of my old life to go I know not whither, to do I know not
But her countenance fell when she heard that Dr. Price had been a
Unitarian minister, and that there was no Congregational church in
She went to Boston that Friday afternoon, anxious to get safely home
with Veronica. We parted with many a kiss and shake of the hand and
last words. I cried when I went up to my room, for I found a present
there--a beautiful workbox, and in it was a small Bible with my name
and hers written on the fly-leaf in large print-like, but tremulous
letters. I composed my feelings by putting it away carefully and
unpacking my trunk.
Rosville was a county town. The courts were held there, and its
society was adorned with several lawyers of note who had law students,
which fact was to the lawyers' daughters the most agreeable feature
of their fathers' profession. It had a weekly market day and an
annual cattle show. I saw a turnout of whips and wagons about the
hitching-posts round the green of a Tuesday the year through, and
going to and from school met men with a bovine smell. Caucuses were
prevalent, and occasionally a State Convention was held, when Rosville
paid honor to some political hero of the day with banners and brass
bands. It was a favorite spot for the rustication of naughty boys from
Harvard or Yale. Dr. Price had one or two at present who boarded in
his house so as to be immediately under his purblind eyes, and who
took Greek and Latin at the Academy.
Social feuds raged in the Academy coteries between the collegians
and the natives on account of the superior success of the former in
flirtation. The latter were not consoled by their experience that no
flirtation lasted beyond the period of rustication. Dr. Price usually
had several young men fitting for college also, which fact added more
piquancy to the provincial society. In the summer riding parties were
fashionable, and in the winter county balls and cotillion parties;
a professor came down from Boston at this season to set up a dancing
school, which was always well attended.
The secular concerns of life engaged the greatest share of the
interests of its inhabitants; and although there existed social and
professional dissensions, there was little sectarian spirit among them
and no religious zeal. The rich and fashionable were Unitarians.
The society owned a tumble-down church; a mild preacher stood in its
pulpit and prayed and preached, sideways and slouchy. This degree of
religious vitality accorded with the habits of its generations. Surrey
and Barmouth would have howled over the Total Depravity of Rosville.
There was no probationary air about it. Human Nature was the
infallible theme there. At first I missed the vibration of the moral
sword which poised in our atmosphere. When I felt an emotion without
seeing the shadow of its edge turning toward me, I discovered my
conscience, which hitherto had only been described to me.
There were churches in the town beside the Unitarian. The
Universalists had a bran-new one, and there was still another
frequented by the sedimentary part of the population--Methodists.
I toned down perfectly within three months. Soon after my arrival at
his house I became afraid of Cousin Charles. Not that he ever said
anything to justify fear of him--he was more silent at home than
elsewhere; but he was imperious, fastidious, and sarcastic with me by
a look, a gesture, an inflection of his voice. My perception of any
defect in myself was instantaneous with his discovery of it. I fell
into the habit of guessing each day whether I was to offend or please
him, and then into that of intending to please. An intangible, silent,
magnetic feeling existed between us, changing and developing according
to its own mysterious law, remaining intact in spite of the contests
between us of resistance and defiance. But my feeling died or
slumbered when I was beyond the limits of his personal influence. When
in his presence I was so pervaded by it that whether I went contrary
to the dictates of his will or not I moved as if under a pivot; when
away my natural elasticity prevailed, and I held the same relation to
others that I should have held if I had not known him. This continued
till the secret was divined, and then his influence was better
I discovered that there was little love between him and Alice. I never
heard from either an expression denoting that each felt an interest
in the other's individual life; neither was there any of that conjugal
freemasonry which bores one so to witness. But Alice was not unhappy.
Her ideas of love ended with marriage; what came afterward--children,
housekeeping, and the claims of society--sufficed her needs. If she
had any surplus of feeling it was expended upon her children, who had
much from her already, for she was devoted and indulgent to them.
In their management she allowed no interference, on this point only
thwarting her husband. In one respect she and Charles harmonized; both
were worldly, and in all the material of living there was sympathy.
Their relation was no unhappiness to him; he thought, I dare say,
if he thought at all, that it was a natural one. The men of his
acquaintance called him a lucky man, for Alice was handsome,
kind-hearted, intelligent, and popular.
Whether Cousin Alice would have found it difficult to fulfill
the promise she made mother regarding me, if I had been a plain,
unnoticeable girl, I cannot say, or whether her anxiety that I should
make an agreeable impression would have continued beyond a few days.
She looked after my dress and my acquaintances. When she found that
I was sought by the young people of her set and the Academy, she was
gratified, and opened her house for them, giving little parties and
large ones, which were pleasant to everybody except Cousin Charles,
who detested company--"it made him lie so." But he was very well
satisfied that people should like to visit and praise his house and
its belongings, if Alice would take the trouble of it upon herself. I
made calls with her Wednesday afternoons, and went to church with
her Sunday mornings. At home I saw little of her. She was almost
exclusively occupied with the children--their ailments or their
pleasures--and staid in her own room, or the nursery.
When in the house I never occupied one spot long, but wandered in the
garden, which had a row of elms, or haunted the kitchen and stables,
to watch black Phoebe, the cook, or the men as they cleaned the horses
or carriages. My own room was in a wing of the cottage, with a window
overlooking the entrance into the yard and the carriage drive; this
was its sole view, except the wall of a house on the other side of a
high fence. I heard Charles when he drove home at night, or away in
the morning; knew when Nell was in a bad humor by the tone of his
voice, which I heard whether my window was open or shut. It was
a pretty room, with a set of maple furniture, and amber and white
wallpaper, and amber and white chintz curtains and coverings. It
suited the color of my hair, Alice declared, and was becoming to my
"Yes," said Charles, looking at my hair with an expression that
made me put my hand up to my head as if to hide it; I knew it was
I made a study that day of the girls' heads at school, and from that
time improved in my style of wearing it, and I brushed it with zeal
every day afterward. Alice had my room kept so neatly for me that it
soon came to be a reproach, and I was finally taught by her example
how to adjust chairs, books, and mats in straight lines, to fold
articles without making odd corners and wrinkles; at last I improved
so much that I could find what I was seeking in a drawer, without
harrowing it with my fingers, and began to see beauty in order. Alice
had a talent for housekeeping, and her talent was fostered by the
exacting, systematic taste of her husband. He examined many matters
which are usually left to women, and he applied his business talent to
the art of living, succeeding in it as he did in everything else.
Alice told me that Charles had been poor; that his father was never on
good terms with him. She fancied they were too much alike; so he had
turned him off to shift for himself, when quite young. When she met
him, he was the agent of a manufacturing company, in the town where
her parents lived, and even then, in his style of living, he surpassed
the young men of her acquaintance. The year before they were married
his father died, and as Charles was his only child, he left his farm
to him, and ten thousand dollars--all he had. The executors of the
will were obliged to advertise for him, not having any clue to his
place of residence. He sold the farm as soon as it was put in his
hands, took the ten thousand dollars, and came back to be married.
A year after, he went to Rosville, and built a cotton factory, three
miles from town, and the cottage, and then brought her and Edward, who
was a few months old, to live in it. He had since enlarged the works,
employed more operatives, and was making a great deal of money.
Morgeson's Mills, she believed, were known all over the country.
Charles was his own agent, as well as sole owner. There were no mills
beside his in the neighborhood; to that fact she ascribed the reason
of his having no difficulties in Rosville, and no enmities; for she
knew he had no wish to make friends. The Rosville people, having no
business in common with him, had no right to meddle, and could find
but small excuse for comment. They spent, she said, five or six
thousand a year; most of it went in horses, she was convinced, and
she believed his flowers cost him a great deal too. "You must know,
Cassandra, that his heart is with his horses and his flowers. He is
more interested in them than he is in his children."
She looked vexed when she said this; but I took hold of the edge
of her finely embroidered cape, and asked her how much it cost. She
laughed, and said, "Fifty dollars; but you see how many lapels it has.
I have still a handsomer one that was seventy-five."
"Are they a part of the six thousand a year, Alice?"
"Of course; but Charles wishes me to dress, and never stints me in
money; and, after all, I like for him to spend his money in his own
way. It vexes me sometimes, he buys such wild brutes, and endangers
his life with them. He rides miles and miles every year; and it
relieves the tedium of his journeys to have horses he must watch, I
Nobody in Rosville lived at so fast a rate as the Morgesons. The
oldest families there were not the richest--the Ryders, in particular.
Judge Ryder had four unmarried daughters; they were the only girls
in our set who never invited us to visit them. They could not help
saying, with a fork of the neck, "Who are the Morgesons?" But all the
others welcomed Cousin Alice, and were friendly with me. She was too
pretty and kind-hearted not to be liked, if she was rich; and Cousin
Charles was respected, because he made no acquaintance beyond bows,
and "How-de-do's." It was rather a stirring thing to have such a
citizen, especially when he met with an accident, and he broke many
carriages in the course of time; and now and then there was a row at
the mills, which made talk. His being considered a hard man did not
detract from the interest he inspired.
My advent in Rosville might be considered a fortunate one; appearances
indicated it; I am sure I thought so, and was very well satisfied with
my position. I conformed to the ways of the family with ease, even in
the matter of small breakfasts and light suppers. I found that I was
more elastic than before, and more susceptible to sudden impressions;
I was conscious of the ebb and flow of blood through my heart, felt
it when it eddied up into my face, and touched my brain with its
flame-colored wave. I loved life again. The stuff of which each day
was woven was covered with an arabesque which suited my fancy. I
missed nothing that the present unrolled for me, but looked neither
to the past nor to the future. In truth there was little that was
elevated in me. Could I have perceived it if there had been? Whichever
way the circumstances of my life vacillated, I was not yet reached to
the quick; whether spiritual or material influences made sinuous the
current of being, it still flowed toward an undiscovered ocean.
Half the girls at the Academy, like myself, came from distant towns.
Some had been there three years. They were all younger than myself.
There never had been a boarding-house attached to the school, and it
was not considered a derogatory thing for the best families to receive
these girls as boarders. We were therefore on the same footing, in a
social sense. I was also on good terms with Miss Prior. She was a cold
and kindly woman, faithful as a teacher, gifted with an insight into
the capacity of a pupil. She gave me a course of History first, and
after that Physical Philosophy; but never recommended me to Moral
Science. When I had been with her a few months, she proposed that I
should study the common branches; my standing in the school was such
that I went down into the primary classes without shame, and I must
say that I was the dullest scholar in them. We also had a drawing
master and a music-teacher. The latter was an amiable woman, with
theatrical manners. She was a Mrs. Lane; but no Mr. Lane had ever been
seen in Rosville. We girls supposed he had deserted her, which was
the fact, as she told me afterward. She cried whenever she sang a
sentimental song, but never gave up to her tears, singing on with
blinded eyes and quavering voice. I laughed at her dresses which had
been handsome, with much frayed trimming about them, the hooks and
eyes loosened and the seams strained, but liked her, and although
I did not take lessons, saw her every day when she came up to the
Academy. She asked me once if I had any voice. I answered her by
singing one of our Surrey hymns, "_Once on the raging seas he rode_."
She grew pale, and said, "Don't for heaven's sake sing that! I can
see my old mother, as she looked when she sang that hymn of a stormy
night, when father was out to sea. Both are dead now, and where am I?"
She turned round on the music stool, and banged out the accompaniment
of "_O pilot, 'tis a fearful night_," and sang it with great energy.
After her feelings were composed, she begged me to allow her to
teach me to sing. "You can at least learn the simple chords of
song accompaniments, and I think you have a voice that can be made
I promised to try, and as I had taken lessons before, in three months
I could play and sing "_Should those fond hopes e'er forsake thee_,"
tolerably well. But Mrs. Lane persisted in affirming that I had
a dramatic talent, and as she supposed that I never should be an
actress, I must bring it out in singing; so I persevered, and, thanks
to her, improved so much that people said, when I was mentioned, "She
The Moral Sciences went to Dr. Price, and he had a class of girls
in Latin; but my only opportunity of going before him was at morning
prayers and Wednesday afternoons, when we assembled in the hall to
hear orations in Latin, or translations, and "pieces" spoken by the
boys; and at the quarterly reviews, when he marched us backward and
forward through the books we had conned, like the sharp old gentleman
he was, notwithstanding his purblind eyes.
I heard from home regularly; father, however, was my only
correspondent. He stipulated that I should write him every other
Saturday, if not more than a line; but I did more than that at first,
writing up the events of the fortnight, interspersing my opinions of
the actors engaged therein, and dwindling by degrees down to the mere
acknowledgment of his letter. He read without comment, but now and
then he asked me questions which puzzled me to answer.
"Do you like Mr. Morgeson?" he asked once.
"He is very attentive," I wrote back. "But so is Cousin Alice,--she is
fond of me."
"You do not like Morgeson?" again.
"Are there no agreeable young men," he asked another time, "with Dr.
"Only boys," I wrote--"cubs of my own age."
Among the first letters I received was one with the news of the death
of my grandfather, John Morgeson. He had left ten thousand dollars
for Arthur, the sum to be withdrawn from the house of Locke Morgeson
& Co., and invested elsewhere, for the interest to accumulate, and
be added to the principal, till he should be of age. The rest of
his property he gave to the Foreign Missionary Society. "Now," wrote
father, "it will come your turn next, to stand in the gap, when your
mother and I fall back from the forlorn hope--life." This merry and
unaccustomed view of things did not suggest to my mind the change
he intimated; I could not dwell on such an idea, so steadfast
a home-principle were father and mother. It was different with
grandfathers and grandmothers, of course; they died, since it was
not particularly necessary for them to live after their children were
It was early June when I went to Rosville; it was now October. There
was nothing more for me to discover there. My relations at home and
at school were established, and it was probable that the next year's
plans were all settled.
"It is the twentieth," said my friend, Helen Perkins, as we lingered
in the Academy yard, after school hours. "The trees have thinned so
we can see up and down the streets. Isn't that Mr. Morgeson who
is tearing round the corner of Gold Street? Do you think he is
strange-looking? I do. His hair, and eyes, and complexion are exactly
the same hue; what color is it? A pale brown, or a greenish gray?"
"Is he driving this way?"
"Yes; the fore-legs of his horse have nearly arrived."
I moved on in advance of Helen, toward the gate; he beckoned when he
saw me, and presently reined Nell close to us. "You can decide now
what color he is," I whispered to her.
"Will you ride home?" he asked. "And shall I take you down to
Bancroft's, Miss Helen?"
She would have declined, but I took her arm, pushed her into the
chaise, and then sprang in after her; she seized the hand-loop, in
view of an upset.
"You are afraid of my horse, Miss Helen," he said, without having
looked at her.
"I am afraid of your driving," she answered, leaning back and looking
behind him at me. She shook her head and put her finger on her eyelid
to make me understand that she did not like the color of his eyes.
"Cassandra is afraid of neither," he said.
"Why should I be?" I replied coldly.
We were soon at the Bancrofts', where Helen lived, which was a mile
from the Academy, and half a mile from our house. When we were going
home, he asked:
"Is she your intimate friend?"
"The most in school."
"Is there the usual nonsense about her?"
"What do you mean by nonsense?"
"When a girl talks about her lover or proposes one to her friend."
"I think she is not gifted that way."
"Then I like her."
"Why should she not talk about lovers, though? The next time I see her
I will bring up the subject."
"You shall think and talk of your lessons, and nothing more, I charge
you. Go on, Nell," he said, in a loud voice, turning into the yard
and grazing one of the gate-posts, so that we struck together. I was
vexed, thinking it was done purposely, and brushed my shoulder where
he came in contact, as if dust had fallen on me, and jumped out
without looking at him, and ran into the house.
"Are you losing your skill in driving, Charles?" Alice asked, when we
were at tea, "or is Nell too much for you? I saw you crash against the
"Did you? My hand was not steady, and we made a lurch."
"Was there a fight at the mills last night? Jesse said so."
"Jesse must mind his business."
"He told Phoebe about it."
"I knocked one of the clerks over and sprained my wrist."
I met his eye then. "It was your right hand?" I asked.
"It was my right hand," in a deferential tone, and with a slight bow
in my direction.
"Was it Parker?" she asked.
"Yes, he is a puppy; but don't talk about it."
Nothing more was said, even by Edward, who observed his father with
childish gravity, I meditated on the injustice I had done him about
the gate-post. After tea he busied himself in the garden among the
flowers which were still remaining. I lingered in the parlor or walked
the piazza with an undefined desire of speaking to him before I should
go to my room. After he had finished his garden work he went to the
stable; I heard the horses stepping about the floor as they were
taken out for his inspection. The lamps were lighted before he came in
again; Alice was upstairs as usual. When I heard him coming, I opened
my book, and seated myself in a corner of a sofa; he walked to the
window without noticing me, and drummed on the piano.
"Does your wrist pain you, Charles?" still reading.
"A trifle," adjusting his wristband.
"Do you often knock men down in your employ?"
"When they deserve it."
"It is a generous and manly sort of pastime."
"I am a generous man and very strong; do you know that, you little
fool? Here, will you take this flower? There will be no more this
year." I took it from his hand; it was a pink, faintly odorous
"I love these fragile flowers best," he continued--"where I have to
protect them from my own touch, even." He relapsed into forgetfulness
for a moment, and then began to study his memorandum book.
"A note from the mills, sir," said Jesse, "by one of the hands."
"Tell him to wait."
He read it, and threw it over to me. It was from Parker, who informed
Mr. Morgeson that he was going by the morning's train to Boston,
thinking it was time for him to leave his employ; that, though the
fault was his own in the difficulty of the day before, a Yankee could
not stand a knock-down. It was too damned aristocratic for an employer
to have that privilege; our institutions did not permit it. He thanked
Mr. Morgeson for his liberality; he couldn't thank him for being
a good fellow. "And would he oblige him by sending per bearer the
arrears of salary?"
"Parker is in love with a factory girl. He quarreled with one of the
hands because he was jealous of him, and would have been whipped by
the man and his friends; to spare him that, I knocked him down. Do you
feel better now, Cassy?"
"Better? How does it concern me?"
"Put Black Jake in the wagon," he called to Jesse.
Alice heard him and came downstairs; we went out on the _piazza_, to
see him off. "Why do you go?" she asked, in an uneasy tone.
"I must. Wont you go too?"
She refused; but whispered to me, asking if I were afraid?
"Cassandra, will you go?" he asked. "If not, I am off. Jump in behind,
Sam, will you?"
"Go," said Alice; and she ran in for a shawl, which she wrapped round
"Alice," said Charles, "you are a silly woman."
"As you have always said," she answered, laughing. "Ward the blows
from him, Cassandra."
"It's a pretty dark night for a ride," remarked Sam.
"I have rode in darker ones."
"I dessay," replied Sam.
"Cover your hand with my handkerchief," I said; "the wind is cutting."
"Do you wish it?"
"No, I do not wish it; it was a humanitary idea merely."
He refused to have it covered.
The air had a moldy taint, and the wind blew the dead leaves around
us. As we rode through the darkness I counted the glimmering lights
which flashed across our way till we got out on the high-road where
they grew scarce, and the wind whistled loud about our faces. He laid
his hand on my shawl. "It is too light; you will take cold."
We reached the mills, and pulled up by the corner of a building, where
a light shone through a window.
"This is my office. You must go in--it is too chilly for you to wait
in the wagon. Hold Jake, Sam, till I come back."
I followed him. In the farthest corner of the room where we had
seen the light, behind the desk, sat Mr. Parker, with his light hair
rumpled, and a pen behind his ear.
I stopped by the door, while Charles went to the desk and stood before
him to intercept my view, but he could not help my hearing what was
said, though he spoke low.
"Did you give something to Sam, Parker, for bringing me your note at
such a late hour?"
"Certainly," in a loud voice.
"He must be fifty, at least."
"I should say so," rather lower.
"Well, here is your money; you had better stay. I shall be devilish
sorry for your father, who is my friend; you know he will be
disappointed if you leave; depend upon it he will guess at the girl.
Of course you would like to have me say I was in fault about giving
you a blow--as I was. Stay. You will get over the affair. We all do.
Is she handsome?"
"Beautiful," in a meek but enthusiastic tone.
"That goes, like the flowers; but they come every year again."
"Yes, I say."
"No; I'll stay and see."
Charles turned away.
"Good-evening, Mr. Parker," I said, stepping forward. I had met him at
several parties at Rosville, but never at our house.
"Excuse me, Miss Morgeson; I did not know you. I hope you are well."
"Come," said Charles, with his hand on the latch.
"Are you going to Mrs. Bancroft's whist party on Wednesday night, Mr.
"Yes; Miss Perkins was kind enough to invite me."
"Cassandra, come." And Charles opened the door. I fumbled for the
flower at my belt. "It's nice to have flowers so late; don't you think
so?" inhaling the fragrance of my crushed specimens; "if they would
but last. Will you have it?" stretching it toward him. He was about
to take it, with a blush, when Charles struck it out of my hand and
stepped on it.
"Are you ready now?" he said, in a quick voice.
I declared it was nothing, when I found I was too ill to rise the next
morning. At the end of three days, as I still felt a disinclination to
get up, Alice sent for her physician. I told him I was sleepy and felt
dull pains. He requested me to sit up in bed, and rapped my shoulders
and chest with his knuckles, in a forgetful way.
"Nothing serious," he said; "but, like many women, you will continue
to do something to keep in continual pain. If Nature does not endow
your constitution with suffering, you will make up the loss by some
fatal trifling, which will bring it. I dare say, now, that after this,
you never will be quite well."
"I will take care of my health."
He looked into my face attentively.
"You wont--you can't. Did you ever notice your temperament?"
"No, never; what is it?"
"How old are you?"
"Eighteen, and four months."
"Is it possible? How backward you are! You are quite interesting."
"When may I get up?"
"Next week; don't drink coffee. Remember to live in the day. Avoid
stirring about in the night, as you would avoid Satan. Sleep, sleep
then, and you'll make that beauty of yours last longer."
"Am I a beauty? No living creature ever said so before."
"No; not that exactly. Good-day."
He came again, and asked me questions concerning my father and mother;
what my grandparents died of; and whether any of my family were
strumous. He struck me as being very odd.
My school friends were attentive, but I only admitted Helen Perkins to
see me. Her liking for me opened my heart still more toward her. She
was my first intimate friend--and my last. Though younger than I, she
was more experienced, and had already passed through scenes I knew
nothing of, which had sobered her judgment, and given her feelings a
practical tinge. She was noted for having the highest spirits of any
girl in school--another result of her experiences. She never allowed
them to appear fluctuating; she was, therefore, an aid to me, whose
After my illness came a sense of change. I had lost that careless
security in my strength which I had always possessed, and was troubled
with vague doubts, that made me feel I needed help from without.
I did not see Charles while I was ill, for he was absent most of the
time. I knew when he was at home by the silence which pervaded the
premises. When he was not there, Alice spread the children in all
directions, and the servants gave tongue.
He was not at home the day I went downstairs, and I missed him,
continually asking myself, "Why do I?" As I sat with Alice in the
garden-room, I said, "Alice." She looked up from her sewing. "I am
thinking of Charles."
"Yes. He will be glad to see you again."
"Is he really related to me?"
"He told you so, did he not? And his name certainly is Morgeson."
"But we are wholly unlike, are we not?"
"Wholly; but why do you ask?"
"He influences me so strongly."
"Influences you?" she echoed.
"Yes"; and, with an effort, "I believe I influence him."
"You are very handsome," she said, with a little sharpness. "So are
flowers," I said to myself.
"It is not that, Alice," I answered peevishly; "you know better."
"You are peculiar, then; it may be he likes you for being so. He is
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