Charles Frederick Holder.

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5,500 to 6,000 carloads. Owing to
untimely frosts and unusually heavy
winds at the end of December, this
estimation was greatly in excess of
the season's product, only 4,593 car-
loads being sent East. This total
was distributed as follows :

Carloads.

Los Angeles County 2,212

San Bernardino " 1 ,7°8

Orange " 5*6

Ventura " 68

San Diego " 66

Santa Barbara M 23

Total 4,593

Comparing this list with the pre-
ceding one, it will be observed that
the great increase was mainly due to
the output in Los Angeles County,



3^4



EDWIN BOOTH.



where a great area had been planted
to the orange, and was beginning to
be productive. It will be noticed also
that Santa Barbara put in an appear-
ance with twenty-three carloads.

As the shipping season extends
from the middle of January to the
middle of June, it is impossible at the
time of writing to state what the total
shipments will be for the present
season ; but careful estimates put the
crop at 7,000 carloads as a minimum,
and 7,500 carloads as a maximum.
This estimate, however, is not con-
fined to Southern California, since
Butte County will ship twenty-five
carloads, a pertinent fact pointing to



the satisfactory progress which the
Northern counties are making in the
horticultural industry.

The profits of an orange orchard
naturally depend upon its age. The
budded trees begin to bear the third
year, but can hardly be said to pay
expenses. At four years of age, how-
ever, the navel variety will generally
yield a box of oranges to the tree, and
at five years of age, prices and trans-
portation charges being favorable,
will net $300 to the acre. From this
time forward the profits increase. A
seedling orchard at Highlands, San
Bernardino County, has netted $1,730
per acre.




EDWIN BOOTH.



BY INA COOLBRITH.



In vision, I beheld by Avon's side

The mighty Shakespeare, and a wondrous train —
The vast creations of that matchless brain —

Walked with him through the dusk of eventide.

Slowly the dim procession, solemn-eyed,

There with the tawny Moor, and Cawdor's thane,

And, soul most beautiful, the princely Dane,

Passed, and re-passed into the shadows wide.

Then, with a sense of overmastering awe,

And listening heart, that scarcely seemed to stir,
I woke, — to lapsing centuries of time,

To thronged walls, and blaze of lights, and saw —

Not Shakespeare — but his grand Interpreter,
Than thoughts great master only less sublime.



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



BY HARRIET PRESCOTT SPOFFORD.




DO not undertake to
defend Mrs. Ffrench. I
only tell you her story.
It is not my fault that
it is a true story.

A brief, sweet dream
of how few years, and
J she was a widow in her
twentieth summer, and longing for
nothing so much as to be lying in the
grave with Paul Ffrench, out there
where mist and moonlight and green
boughs invited to another land ; where
sunshine and blossoms and glancing
wings suggested the heavenly rest
that must not be hers. For there was
the baby. She must live for little
Paula. L,ive ? How must she* live ?
How could she live ? And what was
there to live on ? All the property,
by reason of that miserable entail,
went to Paul's brother, the Colonel,
who made no secret of the fact that he
had meant to marry her had not
Paul been before him, and who had
now been long absent. Her educa-
tion, sufficient for her station, was
not of the quality that in these days
of advanced ideas on the subject,
would enable her to teach; she had
no handicraft powers, and anything of
that sort was so outside the sphere and
'habit of her life that it would have
seemed to her like an impropriety.
She had not a relative in the world;
she could not think of Paul — she
must shut out the thought of him; to
think of him only led towards mad-
ness; there had been such joy, there
was such nothingness, such black-
ness, such despair — such despair but
for the baby. And here with a little
life in her hands, penniless and the
world to face, it had been no wonder
had she grown something hard and
bitter even in her tender youth.

Colonel Ffrench came home just as



she had put the baby out to board in
a neighboring farm-house, having
decided to take a position as a in:
ry-govemess, as the only thing she
could do. She had always understood
that the property went by entail in
the main line.

" What is this ? " the Colonel said,
his black brows making a straight
line across his forehead. "Surely
you forget that your name is Ffrench.
You will remain here. My house
still needs a mistress."

His house — and so recently it had
been hers!

" And — and Paula ? " she breathed.

" The child ? I have not been ac-
customed to children," said the Colo-
nel, cutting off the end of a cigar with
deliberation. "You will pardon me
—but I am afraid it would be what I
particularly dislike."

" She is — oh, she is very good. "
stammered the mother.

* ■ They always are. Very well ; then
she will be quite content where She
is. Your allowance will be quite
sufficient, and you can see her when
it is necessary." There was no alter-
native, for he left the room without
allowing the word that was trembling
on her lips to fall.

Her baby ! Her little baby ! How
infamous ! How indecent — how un-
natural — how cruel ! She would not
stay in his house an hour ! but yet —
a nursery-governess — Paula's mother
— of what use to Paula by and by
would a nursery -governess be ? but if
she stayed here— in the uncle's home
— her own home it was once — if, per-
haps, possibly, by and by, her little
child should interest him — his broth-
er's child — the pretty darling — ah,
how could that fail to be ! Then it
might give back to Paula something
of all that which in the death of her



365



3 66



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



father had been lost to her. Oh, yes,
she must stay ! She could run down
to Paula every day; she was but half
a mile away; she could see her by
morning and by night, and there
would be long, precious hours of her
darling anyway. And sometimes,
when he was gone on his journeys,
his hunting excursions, his outside
pleasures, she could bring Paula home,
and there would be the dear, sweet
nights together then with that soft,
deep breath upon her cheek, with that
dear warm weight upon her arm, with
that sense of invaluable possession —
oh yes, she would stay !

But she had looked so beautiful as
he strode through the door, with the
tears just brimming her great blue
eyes, her soft appealing tender face
with the hair dropping about it — the
Correggio face — he had half a mind
to turn back, to grant her her wish ;
only then that beautiful grief might
turn to weak rapture, and — yes, that
Swibert needed oiling badly; it was
receding out of sight; he must see
some restorer; Paul certainly let
things go ; there was that old armor
of the first Colonel Ffrench falling to
pieces for the want of a rivet or two.
A child working havoc among this
old china, this old hammered silver,
these tapestries — and Paul's child
at that, the faithless scoundrel!
Pshaw !

But that was a beautiful face. In
the old times he had lain awake lim-
ning its beauty on the dark — let the
old times go. They had nearly been
the ruin of him. It was the manner
of a young queen, the mother of this
lovely creature. Whether he would
or not, the thought of her haunted
him. How well she became the head
of the table at dinner — the face over
that throat rising from the parting
crapes, was like a lily on a stem.
Paul always has good fortune set his
way — and suddenly it flashed over
him with a new meaning that he had
fallen heir to Paul.

Heir to Paul ! Houses — lands, pic-
tures — why not this chiefest picture of



all? Colonel Ffrench did not need
any spur to his resolve that he woul4
marry that white sweet woman. But
to resolve is one thing; to carry out .
the resolve is quite another. How
was he going to marry a woman whose
heart was in the grave ? Marry a thing
like to people walking in the halls of
Eblis, with their hands over the place
where their hearts should be, and
where was only a smothered fire !
She hardly seemed to be alive. She
had but one link to earth — Paula. It
was difficult for Colonel Ffrench to be
gentle to anyone; it was difficult for
anyone to be ungentle to this woman.
Perhaps the resolution of forces gave
him an unusual quality which at least
lifted her eyes. Beautiful great dove's
eyes they were. There was something
in his that made her drop them
swiftly; she knew not why.

But Colonel Ffrench did not attempt
to please her. He understood that
that would be impossible. He simply
demanded her attention. He had
work for her to do at his dictation in
the library, cataloguing, letter-writ-
ing, copying of old papers — work fill-
ing every hour of the day, leaving
her no chance before dark to hurry off
to Paula, and sometimes not even
then. At other times he had guests
in the house and required her to be on
the spot, although perhaps not calling
her into their presence; or he was
having a garden made, and wished
for her advice regarding beds and
shrubs and hedges and lines and an-
gles, all day long. He contrived by^
innumerable contrivances to claim her
companionship from dawn to dark;
and then, when on the watch among
the thicker trees he saw the slender
shape flitting, swift with a thousand
fears, down the avenue and across the
fields, he could only set his teeth and
expend himself in oaths.

' ' I must go to Paula, ' ' she said once
as the day waned.

"Is not Paula in safe hands?" he
replied.

" Oh, I hope so!" she exclaimed.

' ' Because if she is not she can be



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



367



placed elsewhere. I know of an ex-
cellent person in Brasmere."

" In Brasmere!"

" You object to Brasmere?"

" It is ten miles away."

M What of that?"

" Oh, I should never see her!"

" Is that very important?"

1 ' Important? My baby — the breath
of my life!"

1 ' If she were my child — ' '

" She is your brother Paul's child!"
she cried, with the very cry of a bird
above her fledglings.

' ' ' By heaven ! I know she is, ' ' he
muttered between his teeth. But how
beautiful was this anger — as beauti-
ful as the grief! It thrilled him as if
it were some great tragic queen he
saw. He would have renewed it more
than once, but that had been a flash
and outbreak of pent-up powers.
After it was past she had herself in
power again for another series of re-
pressions. She must endure, she
must obey, if she would keep the place
here and the allowance, and lay by for
Paula's education, and plan for
Paula's future. Indignation with the
man who, enriched by the death of
Paula's father, could not give the child
a place at his fireside, the child to
whom in justice all belonged — that in-
dignation was not to be shown, was
not to be felt. Ah, it was hard — it
was not to be shown. But if the face
had been so beautiful in grief, in
anger, what might it not be in joy?
Colonel Ffrench thought it worth his
while to see.

"You are unhappy?" he asked,
stopping in his walk up and down, as
he dictated to her pen.

' * I?" she murmured wistfully. "I?"
as if it could not have entered any
one's mind that she could ever be
aught else than unhappy.

1 ' Yes. Your thoughts are with the
child ; Paula — do you call her? You
long to be with her."

14 Oh, with all my soul," she said.

1 ' You would be glad to have her
with you for a week, a month? She
shall come to-morrow."



And Colonel Ffrench had his wish.
Did she hear him? Was it true? The
slow wonder spreading into smiles,
into illumination, the color mounting
flush over flush, the eyes shining with
light, the face blossoming with joy
like some sweet sun-bathed rose. Oh,
was this the man she thought hard,
brutal, cruel! What a wretch had
she been so to misunderstand his na-
ture! Of course, unused to children,
and occupied as he was, the thought
of a child in the way had been irritat-
ing, disturbing. And yet he was will-
ing to undergo the vexation — oh how
good, how noble! She had sprung to
her feet, pushing back her chair; and
now as he drew near and hung a mo-
ment on his foot, his finger-tips upon
the table, she bent suddenly, pressing
her lips upon his hand; and then rosy
to the nape of her neck, and the
quick tears sparkling till her eyes were
only great suffused jewels, she ran
from the room.

"She loves his child so," the
thought swept through the man's
mind. " She shall love mine better!"
exclaimed Colonel Ffrench.

A servant had gone for the child;
and it was nightfall when Colonel
Ffrench lifted the curtain of his sister-
in-law's sitting-room. There was no
other light in the room than that
given by the flames of the wood-fire.
But on what a scene that light was
shed ! The young mother sat on the rug
with the light flickering over her in
rosy flashes, her long hair pulled down
about her by the frolicking child, her
eyes dancing, her cheeks dimpling and
glowing, her lips changing in per-
petual curves of delight, her voice
breaking from singing to laughing and
outcry of caressing— a thing of lovely
radiance past belief, and the child her-
self, like a cherub fallen from the
clouds. Was there ever sight so
sweet ? He stood silent for several mo-
ments, as if he were the spectator at a
play, unobserved, then dropped the
curtain and went away.

A week passed, and every day of it
seemed to strip some pallor from the



3 68



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



k.



cheek of this woman as she went and
came. One night he parted the cur-
tain and went in, pausing beside the
mantel-shelf and leaning an arm upon
it. She started to her feet and
began twisting the long mass of hair
that kept escaping her, the blush
going and coining.

1 You are very happy," he said,
looking down at her.

For answer she snatched the child
and held her up to him. " It is your
•dear uncle, " she cried to the little
girl. " He is so kind! He is so gen-
erous! Kiss him, love him!" But
Paula turned before that lowering
gaze with a truer instinct, and hid her
sweet face in her mother's neck.

11 You would be happy if you had
her always with you?" he asked.

"Oh!" she cried, "Oh, so happy!"

u There is one way in which she
could always be here," he said slowly,
in order that she might gather his
meaning. "If it were her mother's
home. If you were my wife. "

She turned quickly to look at him —
uncertain, bewildered, amazed, half
stunned, dropping the child at her
feet.

He repeated his words. "Her
mother's house would be Paula's
home. If she were my wife that would
go without saying. You do not seem to
understand me,", he continued, his
heart beating in his temples through
the riot in his veins, but with no
wooing tone in his words. "I ask
you to become my wife."

"Paul!" she cried. " Paul!" turn-
ing to the portrait on the wall as if
begging for protection, with such an
agonized cry that she heard its agony
herself.

" There is no Paul," said Colonel
Ffrench.

"Oh, Paul!" she cried again to
that immovable semblance, where as
the eyes met hers the smile should
have flashed into angry lightning.

" There is no Paul," said Colonel
Ffrench again. Truly there could be
no Paul. Had he been in the far-
thest universe of the universes he



must have heard this cry of his wife's,
she thought. She stooped to take
up the child — all there was — and then
the world to her became suddenly
vacant.

She was in Colonel's Ffrench 's arms
when she awoke ; he was holding
her, adjuring her passionately. He
hardly breathed till she could com-
mand her movement; then she slipped
away, caught up the silent and fright-
ened child, and hurried from the
room.

"I am going away for a week,"
said Colonel Ffrench when he next
saw her, his dark eyes lingering on
her with a strange spark in their
depths. " If, on my return I find
Paula here — the western wing can be
set off for her use, and that of her
nurse, of her governess, her masters,
too. If, on my return I find Paula
here, I shall understand that it is
because it is to be her home, her
mother's house." And then he put
his hand on her head and bent it back
and left upon her forehead what
>eeined the indelible stain of his kiss,
and was gone.

A week, and what a week of misery
it was ! No Paul in all the dark and
wide unknown; no help, robbed of all
hope. It had seemed to her, before,
that behind a barrier ever so filmy,
even if impregnable, Paul awaited
her; but the consoling sense of that
was gone. Paul would have heard
her, would have come to her. And
the man had seemed to magnetize her
by the strength of his will and his
assertion. If it had not been for that
she might have found it possible to
slip out of this life and find her love.
She dare not think ; she dared not
look forward or remember; it was all
blank suffering — except for the mo-
ments when Paula's arms were about
her neck, when Paula's little cheek at
night lay close on hers, and the blos-
som-breath fanned her lips. And how
could she give that up ?

Day followed day , and she had not the
strength to send the child away again;
the child out of whom Paul's own



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



369



great, melancholy eyes looked at her
reproachfully in their love. And yet
how could she stay ? And all at
once the week was gone. She watched
the child with hungry eyes at her
play, through her sleep; she could not
lose an instant of the clay; to-day she
had her, but to-morrow — and then it
was twilight. And all like one in a
dream she put on Paula's cloak and
hood and snatched her up and ran out
with her to take her to the farmer's
wife where she had been before, hur-
rying along under the lines of lofty
oaks that stirred and tossed and
groaned in the wind, the child now
singing softly as she went, and now
babbling her sweet baby-talk.

" It was her father's house ! It was
her home ! ' ' the mother kept saying to
herself. "I am taking her away
from her home." And what a home
it would have been for her had Paul
lived; and she thought of the care'and
caresses he would have given her, how
together they would have watched
her growth with wonder, of the maids
she would have had to wait on her,
the clothes like those of a King's
baby, the pony-carriage like the Dal-
ton children's, the music-teachers, the
painting-masters, the joys, the indul-
gences, and when it was time they
would have gone to France together.
She began to remember as she
ran that she could have all this if
she stayed here — that man, Colonel
Ffrench, had said as much. And she
was taking her to a life of ignorance,
by and by of labor, with none of the
culture and appliances that should
develop Paul's daughter as she had
a right to develop. She, her mother,
was depriving her of her birthright !
She had brought this child into the
world; there were certain things she
owed her; these were of them; she
seemed to hear a voice, like a great
bell totling out these words through
the spiritual blackness about her; no
matter at what cost to herself she
must give these things to Paula ! And
she turned about running, running
breathlessly, the child in her arms,



through the darker and darker twi-
light and the sighing and rustling
of the branches, feeling as if she
were pursued by shadows, mount-
ing the steps, and gaining the western
wing, as if fate depended upon her
swiftness.

It was after a sleepless night
night of cold terror of herself that
she came to meet Colonel Ffrench,
pausing on the way to fortify herself
by five minutes of Paula's embraces.
Then she went down. She had made
up her mind; and she went like a
queen to the scaffold. When the
Colonel came in and saw her at the
head of the table, in her white gown,
with the knot of rose-ribbons at her
throat, he knew that the game was
won. A few hours later they w
married.

Colonel Ffrench perhaps deceived
himself in supposing that he had car-
ried his point. It was his wife for
whom he ordered dresses down from
town, who, clad like a princess, sat
with him behind his high-stepping
horses, pale, but gentle as she was
stately. But it did not take him long
to find out that it was a woman who,
having assumed a duty was perform-
ing it; who was paying a price; and
the thing paid for was Paula's well-
being. When he first became aware
of this fact, far from loving the little
creature that had brought him his
desire, he felt himself haling her with
a new hatred. She had been deU
ble to him before, yet in a negative
way; but now it was as if, like the
men of Verona, he let

the silent luxury trickle slow
About the hollow where a heart should be,

and for the rest, if it was love, his
emotion toward his wife, it had a sin-
gular way of showing itself. He
ordered down the portrait of his
brother Paul and had it sent to the
attic. It did not hurt her as he had
thought it would. It was a relief to
her that those eyes, those dark and
splendid melancholy eyes were no
longer there to reproach her. ' ' You



37°



A SMOTHERED FIRE.



have no heart in your body ! "he cried.
''No," she thought, "it is in the
grave ;" but she did not say so. Her
very silence irritated him. But yet,
such is nature, such is feminine nature,
she leaned towards him, she wished to
fulfill the task she had undertaken,
she wished to please him, to be a good
wife to him; she had a faint warmth
at her heart when she heard his step;
she had a certain pride in him; he was
her husband; she would even have
been glad to love him had it been pos-
sible.

But after the first she had seemed
only to displease him. She had
learned early that it was not best to
have Paula too much in evidence; but
the time she spent alone with Paula
was always the time when he particu-
larly wished for her society. As surely
as she sat with the child, he wanted
her to go and drive with him; the one
hour of joy in the twenty-four when
Paula was put to bed, was exactly
the one when she should be reading
him the evening news; in the forenoon
he wanted her to go over papers and
accounts with him, to walk in the
gardens, to mount the black mare and
be off with him for a gallop; and in
the afternoon he insisted that she
should, lie down; it was the way to
preserve her bloom, and her bloom
belonged to him; and later there were
calls to pay or receive, and it ended
in making all her interviews with the
child, stolen ones. For it seemed as
if he were determined to keep them
apart to a point of alienation, were
that possible. But mothers can cir-
cumvent even the evil Principle; and
Mrs. Ffrench saw a great deal of
Paula in spite of him; and every time
she realized the unkindness to the
innocent, orphaned child, it became
an outrage upon her, and she gave
her a double quantity of mother's
love to atone, if might be. But the
fact of the child's existence was poi-
sonous to Colonel Ffrench; it met and
darkened every relation of life.

He had sent once for some diamonds
for his wife — a band for the hair and



for the throat; he brought them to her
when she was making ready for guests,
and himself had them clasped about
her throat and in her shining hair,
with a thrill and bound of pride in
her beauty that they made doubly
radiant. But of course he would not
have been himself had he told her of
it; and she felt as she .saw his ,eyes
glowering over her, that he was only
decking out his own possession. She
went into the western wing before
going down stairs, and the little girl
cried out with joy at the splendid
vision. Colonel Ffrench Heard her,
for he had followed and paused at the
first door. And then like a red light-
ening flash in the midnight, he saw
that Paula would inherit those dia-
monds if there were no children of his
own, and he took them that night and
locked them away, and she never saw
them again.

And there were no children of
his own. And when one year and
another had gone, and the thing he
had wished for was not his, his brow
darkened if the little Paula came into
his presence. ' ' Tak'e her away !" he
said, at last, to the maid who had her
in charge. ''I loathe the sight of her."

"She is your own flesh and blood!"
said the angry woman.

Of course the maid went that day.
But that was by no means the end of
it. For day in and day out Mrs.
Ffrench was given to understand that
he had been insulted in his own house
by the servant whom he paid to wait
on her child.

" Is she not your own flesh and
blood?" she asked, all the sleeping lion



Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 48 of 120)