Susan Warner.

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holiday would come to an end in a few weeks more,
and with the holiday his visit; and that with the
end of the visit would come also an end to this ab
normal state of things and matters would fall again
into their old train. With a movement half of
patience and half of impatience, Stephen again
opened his arms and refolded them, and set him
self to wait.

The hot day moved on; the sun had long passed
the meridian ; the shadows of the trees began to
grow in length. About five o'clock the train paused
at Utica. Here Stephen rushed out, as there was
to be a delay of a few minutes, and presently re
turned with a red book in his hand, which he fell
to studying. The onward way from this point
seemed long. Conversation flagged even between
Erick and Posie. By degrees it grew dusk, arid then
dark; but the train rumbled on. It was near mid
night when our four travellers, with some other
tired people, were finally left by the cars at Ni
agara Falls. To get to their rooms in the hotel,
and wash the dust from their faces, and next to


cave supper, were naturally the first things to be
done. Four glad faces were presently seen round
the table.

" I'm haM'dead ! " said Mrs. Hardenbrook. " Posie,
now you do stand it ! "

" She does more than stand it," said Erick; " she
helps other people to stand it."

"Why it has been great fun," said Posie; "all
the way from home here. Stephen, what have you
made of it? poor fellow, in your corner, with
mother asleep!"

A glance of Erick's eye was quite intelligible to
Stephen who received it, but his own was immove-
able. "I have enjoyed it very much," he said.
" Is your room right ? "

" Capital, thank you. And to think that we are
at Niagara! I never expected it, or anything half
so good. And to stay here till Monday ! It is so
nice not to be in a hurry. Isn't this fish most de
licious ? What sort of fish is it ? "

" White fish. From the lakes," Erick answered.

" We never get anything so good at Cowslip.
What is the first thing we must do, now we are
here ? "

"Go to bed, and take a long sleep," said Stephen,
" and leave business till to-morrow."

And so it befel.



\] EXT day business began in earnest. At break-
1 i fast the question arose, " Where shall we go

" To the ferry," suggested Stephen. " Begin with
what is easiest."

"How do you know, here, what is easiest?"
Posie demanded.

"I have been there; and nothing can be easier."

"You have been there? Stephen! Without us!
How could you ? "

" Couldn't help it. You all seemed to be in no
hurry, and I couldn't lose the time."

" Time ? " echoed Posie.

" It is nine o'clock," said Erick smiling.

" Well, we are going to stay until Monday. We
have plenty of time. It was very wicked of you,

" Turns out to your advantage," said he. " You
sec, it puts me in condition to give you good

" I thought you were always ready to do that," re-


marked Mrs. Hardenbrook. " Is there always such
a horrible noise here ? "

" We are just over the rapids," said Erick. " And
so many pailfuls of water cannot be poured out at
once without making some splash."

" The sound has been heard as far as Toronto,"
Stephen added.

"Where is Toronto?"

" Over forty miles away."

"Has been heard" Mrs. Hardenbrook repeated.
"I suppose then it is always heard there."

"No," said Stephen; "sometimes it is scarcely
noticed only a mile or two away."

" But that's impossible ! " said the lady cuttingly.
" A noise is a noise ; you may shut your ears, but
if you keep them open you cannot help hearing it.
Niagara doesn't stop, I suppose."

Stephen did not repeat his statement.

" I believe however," said Erick, " there is a
difference in the way sound travels. Noises can
be heard some times, and not heard some other

"Because you are thinking of something else.
I often sit before the fire and do not hear the clock
strike on the mantelpiece. I often do that. It ig
just because I am thinking of something else."

" There is more in it than that, aunt Maria. But
I cannot explain it, and I do not believe anybody
else can. Now shall we go, and endeavour to
catch up with this fellow, who has been before
hand with us ? "


So in a few minutes they were descending the
long stairway, and stood at its foot, at the edge of
the American fall. For some little time they all
stood and gazed.

" I don't think that is anything so very wonder
ful," was Mrs. Hardenbrook's pronounced judgment
then. Stephen brought his eyes from the fall to
look at her, and Posie exclaimed.

" Oh, mother ! "

" I don't see it," repeated Mrs. Hardenbrook.
"It is just like any other waterfall, only there is
more of it."

" Did you ever see green water before mother ? "

" No, but I've seen brown. Water must be some
colour. What makes it green ? "

"Will you go out in the boat, aunt Maria, and
take a general view ? " Erick proposed.

" Out on that water ? No, I thank you, Erick !
I have some regard for my life yet, though I don't
suppose it is of much consequence to anybody else.
Mr. Hardenbrook will expect you to bring me back
safe though, I warn you."

" Will you go in the boat, Posie ? They are just
coming over; it will be here in a moment."

Posie hesitated, but finally said she would. Ste
phen of course was bound to stay with Mrs. Har
denbrook. Erick helped Posie into the .boat, and
the two others stood on the rocks looking after
them and watching how the boiling waters danced
the skiff up and down. Stephen wished himself
there. He saw that Erick was talking and point-


ing out things, and that Posie was not at all con
cerned about the water under her but only intent
on what was before her. Was Erick to have all
the pleasure of attending upon her? It went a
little against the grain with him ; but of course,
some one must stay with Mrs. Hardenbrook, and
it was right he should be the one. So he stood
looking after the two in the boat, rather longingly.
How he would have liked to shew Posie everything,
and explain everything to her ! He forgot Niagara
and the green water.

"She'll be sick!" exclaimed Mrs. Hardenbrook.
"It's ridiculous to go such fool hardy ways. It's
very dangerous ! Look how they do toss up and
down ! "

" There is no danger," said Stephen.

" How do you know ? "

"That boat has been ferrying here now for
years; and there has never been the slightest

" I hear overy now and then of an accident or
I read it in the papers. Somebody is lost here
every summer."

" But not in the ferry."

" There must be a first time. they are coming

" mother ! " cried Posie, as soon as she set foot
to land, " there's more of it ! "

" More of what ? "

" More of the falls ! This is only the beginning.
You can't see it here; but up that way, half a


mile off, Erick says, there is a tremendous big fall
three times as large as this; and a great column
of spray going up. it's beautiful ! "

Both the young men seemed to apply the epithet
only to the speaker at that moment. Mrs. Harden-
brook saw the eyes that looked at her, and was in
wardly satisfied.

" One is enough for me, child," she said. " Now
do let us get up to the top again ; we shall be all
Wet with this fine rain."

They mounted the stairs, but Erick took care of
Posie ; Mrs. Hardenbrook leaned upon Stephen.

" Where now ? " said Posie, when they were all
together at the top.

It was decided that Goat Island must be their
next point. At the bridge Mrs. Hardenbrook star
tled and stayed her foot.

" Must we go across there ? "

"Certainly. That is Goat Island, stretching
along yonder, mother."

"What's Goat Island? We came to see the

"You see them best- from Goat Island, aunt
Maria. We must go there to get the views of the
Falls; that is, for the American side."

" But that is dreadful, that water ! The bridge
can't be safe. That furious rush will tear it away
some day."

"Not to-day," said Erick laughing. "Come,
aunt Maria! there's really no danger whatever."

"That is exactly what every man says, until


something dreadful happens; and then he says it
is carelessness, and goes on again."

" It generally is carelessness," remarked Stephen.

"What comfort is that?" demanded the lady
sharply. And I do not know that she would ever
have gone on, only that she reflected she could not
keep Stephen with her, and he would certainly
attach himself to Posie. So she gripped his arm
and went over the bridge, declaring all the way
that she did not approve of it. Arrived at Iris
Island, they prepared to descend another flight of
steps to the shore below.

" What are we going down here for ? " she
demanded, pausing at the top. " It's perfectly
dreadful ! Stephen, I am frightened to death."

" They have gone down," said Stephen, indicat
ing Posie and her cavalier, whose heads were al
ready some distance below.

" What's down there ? "

" The Cave of the Winds."

"I don't care for any more wind than we can
get up here. Ridiculous ! We came to see the
water, not the wind. I won't go, Stephen."

Neither would she be persuaded. Sorely against
his will, Stephen was forced to escort her further
on, to the end of the bridge, where on Goat Island
ho found her a seat commanding the river and the
opposite Canada shore. Here in the warm August
sun it was most lovely ; the heat seemed tempered,
or else it was fancy; but indeed there could be no
dryness of air where fine spray was rising from all


sides. Under the evergreens Mrs. Hardenbrook
Bat down, and fanned herself. Stephen would have
run back to the Cave of the Winds, but it was im
possible ; he must keep his post.

" What place is that over there?" the lady asked,
very content; she had managed so nicely

" Canada."

" But that place ? I see a big house."

" It is the hotel on the Canada side."

" How do you know ? "

" I asked, and was told so."

" Seems to me you find out a great many things!
What are those people doing, Stephen ? "

"Buying something from the Indian women.
There are three Indian women sitting on the grass,
don't you see ? and they have things to sell."

Mrs. Hardenbrook jumped up and went to the
spot. The other strangers moved away, having
finished their purchases; and now came a delight
ful time for the little woman. Real Indian trinkets,
and she could buy them herself! She was still busy
with her bargains when Posie and Mr. Dunstable
came up.

" Just look here did you ever see anything so
lovely? Look at that needlecase it's Tuscarora
work ; and this dear little purse, see ! "

" mother, why did you not come with us ? "

"Too many stairs, child. Here, look at these
bvely beads ! "

" You will find plenty of them in the museum,"
Stephen observed.


" Have you been here before ? you seem uncom
monly wise about Niagara," said Mrs. Hardenbrook.

Stephen stood by and looked on, while all the
rest of the party made purchases. He could not
understand it; with the roar of the falls in their
ears, and the sight of the great Horseshoe only a
few minutes from them, they were exercised about
beads and purses. Even Erick went into the traf
fic, and gave Posie a little hair ring with " Niag
ara " in white porcupine quills embroidered upon
it. At last, they left the Indians and went for
ward, to the point where the grand view opens
before the traveller, and a little path descends the
bank to the narrow bridge over the rapids which
leads to Terrapin tower. They were all silent.
What a wonderful sweep of green water! What
a steam of ascending vapour! What a mighty
rush downwards to the abyss, and what a soft,
sweet spring up towards heaven ! Every minute
the scene seemed new; more wonderful, more im
pressive, more varied, and more grand in its un
changing majesty.

Erick presently persuaded Posie to go on with
him to the tower. Mrs. Hardenbrook would not
be persuaded. She had some value for her life yet,
she declared. But then Posie remarked that where
she was her life would be quite safe, and that Ste
phen must go with them to the tower. Mrs. Har
denbrook could not hinder it; and for the next
twenty minutes or half an hour Niagara was lost
to her. She neither heard it nor saw it; all her


attention was concentrated upon three small fig
ures going along the bridge and then appearing
in the gallery of the tower. She tried to make out
who stood next to Posie, who was talking to her,
what place Stephen kept, if he kept any ; and vexed
herself with fretting and imagining till the three
returned; Stephen this time certainly behind.

They went on and made the circuit of Goat
Island, and came home very hungry for dinner.

" What shall we try for this afternoon ? " queried
Erick, as they sat at table.

" This afternoon ! " exclaimed Mrs. Hardenbrook.
" Erick, do you want to kill me ? For this after
noon I want to lie down on my bed and go to

"0 but mother!" "0 aunt Maria!" ran the
different exclamations. " We cannot afford to lose
all the half of this day. I propose that we visit the
museum and drive to the whirlpool, this afternoon ;
finish up this side; and to-morrow we will go over
to the Canada side, see the Horseshoe fall from
there, go under the curtain, and drive to the mill
and spring."

" Go under what curtain ? "

"Of the Fall. Of the Horseshoe. People go
under every day."

"Under ! To the foot of it, you mean?"

"I mean, behind the great sheet of water. There
is space behind it, the forward spring of the water
is so great; you can go behind it; and I suppose the
sight is like no other sight in the world."


" Anybody may see it that likes, /am not going,
I can tell you. It must be perfectly awful. I should
think people would lose their senses; only they
could not have had any sense to begin with, or
they wouldn't be there."

" Don't say that. Posie and I are going."

" Why mother, we were behind the curtain in
the Cave of the Winds; and it was most beautiful,
and there was not the least difficulty about it,"
Posie urged.

This question being left unsettled for the pres
ent, Erick's plan for the afternoon was agreed to.
They drove to the whirlpool, and they went to the
museum. The latter place held them long. The
two ladies were enchanted with the agates from
Lake Superior especially ; and spent a good deal of
time trying to decide how much money they would
spend upon them, and then in choosing which they
would have, out of such a variety of beauty and so
many degrees of costliness. Stephen was not of
the party this time; he preferred to do some sight
seeing on his own account, being a little tired of
waiting on Mrs. Hardenbrook perpetually and see
ing Erick in the enjoyment of what until now had
been solely his own privilege.

The next day was devoted to the Canada side.
They drove across the Suspension bridge and up to
the Great fall ; which they stood and surveyed for a
time in silence.

"I think it is awful that is what I think,"
Mrs. Hardenbrook uttered her judgment, as she


halt turned away. The accent was of decided

" It's like nothing in all the world, I am sure,"
said Posie. " It is grand ; but it is dreadful."

" Kay, what do you think of it ? " said Erick, aa
Stephen stood by silent and gave no sign.

" To me, it is 'beautiful^ he answered.

" You must have a taste for awful things," Mrs.
Hardenbrook remarked in an uncomplimentary
manner. "The American fall is bad enough; but
this is terrible ! I don't like it."

"Then you won't go under the curtain," said
Erick. "Come, Posie, we will leave your mother
in Stephen's care, and she will be comfortable ; and
we will go down and get this new experience.
Will you come ? "

" Isn't it dangerous ? " said Posie. She was look
ing with wholesome awe at the great leap and rush
of the green water.

" Not a bit dangerous. Never was an accident
there. Come ! I will take care of you."

Posie hesitated. So did Mrs. Hardenbrook, afraid
to have her daughter go, and yet unwilling to check
what might be a nice opportunity for Erick to
recommend himself and for Posie to learn to depend
upon him. Posie too did not want to lose the fun
of the adventure, but she was timid.

" What is gained by going ? " Stephen asked.

"A sight you can never see anywhere else,"
replied Erick. " It will be something all her life
to say that she has been there."


" That is not reason enough," said Stephen. " 1
wouldn't go, Posie."

"But I shall never have another chance" said
Posie, undecided.

" That is no reason either," Stephen said smiling
' You don't want a chance; unless the thing is a
good thing to do."

"But it is!" cried Erick. "Come, cousin, do
not be put off the notion. Trust yourself to me.
If you do not like to go on, when we get nearer to
it, we can come back. You need not go through
unless you like. It's a beautiful day for it, bright
and warm."

Posie made half a step forward.

" Do not go, Posie ! " Stephen said again earnestly.
" I would not go."

" Why not ? " she asked him.

" I do not think you will like it."

" What can you know about the matter?" asked
Mrs. Hardcnbrook; while Erick's face perhaps sug
gested the same question. " How can you tell
whether she would like it or no ? "

" I have been there myself."

" You ? Seen there ? When, pray ? "

" Yesterday afternoon."

Mrs. Hardenbrook poured out a succession of
comments and remarks, to which nobody paid any
particular attention. Erick was busy persuading
and encouraging Posie; Stephen stood silently now
looking on. Posie was pulled two ways, in obedi
ence to two different threads of feeling. Finally


the inclination to go with Erick conquered; and
with a nod of sweet wilfulness at the two she
was leaving, she turned her back upon them
and accepted Erick's hand to lead her down
%/he path.

The other two, left alone, were very silent.
Hardly a word was exchanged between them dur
ing all the time Posie was gone. Mrs. Hardenbrook
sat down upon a log of timber and turned her back
to the falls. Stephen seemed to be lost in contem
plation of them ; what he was thinking of was an
other matter. It seemed a long time, it was really
not a short time, that he stood and she sat so;
scarce moving, not speaking. At length, to the
undoubted relief of both, the adventurers were seen

"Well?" said Mrs. Hardenbrook as they came
up. "Thank goodness you are here again! I am
tired out of all patience. Well ? what do you think
of the falls now ? "

Posie's eyes were bright and her cheeks flushed
with exertion, but to Stephen's fancy her mood was
a little graver than it had been two hours before.
She answered however readily.

" 1 am glad I have been, mother; and I am glad
I need never go again ! It was something fright
ful, the struggling through the cloud of spray be
fore you can really get under the fall. I was
almost choked. Spray! it was like the thickest
kind of rain, coming in your face with the fury
of a hurricane; and in such a kind of place one


would naturally like to keep one's eyes open. You
can't do it, though."

"Then what's the use of going, if you can't see
anything ? "

" afterwards you can see. It is before you get
behind the curtain of the fall that you have to go
through all this. Come, do let us go and get some
thing to eat; I'm as hungry as a wild animal"



'"PHEY lunched, or dined rather, at the Clifton
1 House. Mrs. Hardenbrook chancing to re
mark on the delightful immunity from the noise
of roaring waters, the rapids here not being just
under the windows, Stephen proposed that the
party should shift their quarters and remain on
the Canada side for the rest of their stay. This
was agreed to unanimously, especially as Stephen
offered himself to go over and fetch all the bag
gage. This occasioned his not being with the
others when they drove up the river and visited
the Burning spring and the second museum. It
was hardly a matter of regret to him. Since Erick
had established himself to be Posie's cavalier on
every occasion, Stephen found a very sensible alloy
mingled with his pleasure; and was even willing
at times to do without the pleasure, so he might
escape the annoyance. But they sat together on
the verandah after supper and looked at the falls,
of which the position of the Clifton House gives
such a fine view. At least, Stephen looked at them
persistently. Mrs. Hardenbrook had presently ar-


ranged herself with her back to them, because, as she
said, the light of the moon was in her eyes; and
Erick and Posie were perhaps too deep in talk to
give either moon or falls the regard they merited.
Stephen listened too, while he looked; Erick was
entertaining. He was telling Posie about English
high schools, University boat races, cathedral
towns in England, the Thames and its shipping,
London antiquities; and apropos of these latter
lie developed a good amount of historic knowledge.
It was a little trying; for he referred to a great
many things which Stephen did not know; though
Posie, he saw, followed the talk and seemed at
home in the subjects of it. Ah, it is a great thing
to be really educated ! not merely to have a little
reading and writing and arithmetic. Educated;
made acquainted with the world of men and their
doings, past and present; one's mind enlarged to
take in all these things, and then enriched by the
possession of them. To know what is done,
what has been done, and so, what can be done.
To stretch one's own powers, and having strength
ened them by exercise to bring them to bear
apon some work or other for which both the
individual and the world may be the better.
Stephen was watching the moonlight as it glinted
on the top of the fall over against him, but at
the same time heard Erick's tongue running on,
and as he listened he pondered; he contrasted
himself and the easy speaker; he grudged the lat
ter a little his power of amusing Posie. For a


little; and then, as once or twice before, he took
himself to task. If a workman knows how and
where to apply his various tools, does not the Great
Creator and Manager of all know as much ? If he
himself, Stephen Kay, was in the place he was
meant to fill, then he was in the best that was
possible for him. And "shall the axe lift up itself
against him that heweth therewith?" All it had
to do was to be as sharp an axe as its temper per
mitted. Stephen contented himself again, and
enjoyed the wonderful evening, albeit with that
bit of alloy.

The next day was Sunday. They all went to
church, except Mrs. Hardenbrook. It was too hot,
she said, and she was tired to death with the past
four days' exertion. She would lie down and try
to be rested, before to-morrow's journey. After
dinner she managed to get into a cane chair on the
balcony, whither Erick and her daughter attended
her; but again Mrs. Hardenbrook turned her back
to the view.

" If I were to keep staring at that uneasy water,
as Stephen does for instance, I should go out of my
mind in a little time," she said.

" Where is Stephen ? " Posie asked a while later.

"7 don't know! It is Sunday, you know; our
company isn't good enough for him. I suppose he
is reading his Bible somewhere. Erick, I am glad
you are not sanctimonious."

" Kay is not, I am sure," was the answer. " I
take it, all is genuine about him."


"Yes, indeed!" said Posie. "Erick, the after
noon has grown cooler; don't you think we might
stroll up and take a nearer look at the Horseshoe?
Mother, you wouldn't mind? we are going away
to-morrow, you know; and I would like to see it
once more."

Mrs. Hardenbrook would not mind at all The
two young people accordingly sauntered up along
the edge of the river bank ; more silent than usual ;
enjoying the air and the light and the marvellous
colours of the agitated water; but all the while Posie
was looking out for something. There were other
strollers along the road, from whom they kept apart:
the person she wanted to see was not among them.
At last, near the great fall, they came in sight of
a figure seated in the shadow of some trees, close
upon the edge of the bank; the figure was half
lying on the ground, in a very easy attitude, of
contemplation perhaps, or it might be of meditation.

" There is Stephen ! " exclaimed Posie. And her
accent said, I have found him !

" Unsociable fellow ! " said Erick.

Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 23 of 34)