Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman.

The heart's highway: a romance of Virginia online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryMary Eleanor Wilkins FreemanThe heart's highway: a romance of Virginia → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project
to make the world's books discoverable online.

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover.

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the
publisher to a library and finally to you.

Usage guidelines

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for
personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About Google Book Search

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web

at http : //books . google . com/|



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



A I- H/(i>s:^.i^.ii



Darvard OoUeae Xibrari^




BOUGHT WITH MONEY
RECEIVED FROM THE
SALE OF DUPLICATES




Digitized by VjOOQIC



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



^in^M^BMIpaiWa



^■^■P"



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



Digitized by LjOOQ IC ^

.1




THE AMERICAN
COM^DIE HUMAINE



n'



.. THE
HEART'S HIGHWAY

j^ Romance of Virginia



MARY E. WILKINS



Illuttrattd by F. M. DuMond



NewYork • P. F. COLLIER & SON • FuhlUker,




Thh edition of ^^The Hearths Highivay^* is published under
special arrangement with Messrs. Doubleday^ Page & Co,



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



HARVARD

■flL^/&S i^-llAr a. lUNIVERSITYl
^ ^' '■^''T-t I LIBRARY

AUG 15 1940



^M<^ <• f «"^t ?/}C'>^^<



1



Copyright 1900
Bt Doublbday, Page & Co.

—The Heart*M Btghway



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hearths Highway



In 1682, when t was thirty years of age and
Mistress Mary Cavendish just turned of eighteen,
she and I together one Sabbath morning in the
month of April were riding to meeting in James-
town. We were all alone except for the troop
of black slaves straggling in the rear, blurring
the road curiously with their black faces. It
seldom happened that we rode in such wise, for
Mistress Catherine Cavendish, the elder sister
ol Mistress Mary, and Madam Cavendish, her
grandmother, usually rode with us — Madam
Judith Cavendish, though more than seventy,
sitting a horse as well as her granddaughters,
and looking, when viewed from the back, as
young as they, and being in that respect, as well
as others, a wonder to the countryside. But it
happened to-day that Madam Cavendish had a
touch of the rheumatics, that being an ailment
to which the swampy estate of the country rcn-

t

Vol. 3 Fiction— X



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hearfs Highway

dered those of advanced ytsars somewhat liable,
and had remained at home on her plantation of
Drake Hill (so named in honour of the great Sir
Francis Drake, though he was long past the value
of all such earthly honours). Catherine, who was
a most devoted granddaughter, had remained
with her — ^although, I suspected, with some hesi-
tation at allowing her young sister to go alone,
except for me, the slaves being accounted no
more company than our shadows. Mistress
Catherine Cavendish had looked at me after a
fashion which I was at no loss to understand
when I had stood aside to allow Mistress Mary
to precede me in passing the door, but she had
no cause for the look, nor for the apprehension
which gave rise to it. By reason of bearing al-
ways my burthen upon my own back, I was even
more mindful of it than others were who had
only the sight of it, whereas I had the sore weight
and the evil aspect in my inmost soul. But it
was to be borne easily enough by virtue of that
natural resolution of a man which can make but
a featherweight of the sorest ills if it be but put in
e balance against them. I was tutor to Mis-
ess Mary Cavendish, arid I had sailed from
igland to Virginia under circumstances of dis-
ace; being, indeed, a convict.
I knew exceeding well what was my befitting
portment when I set out that Sabbath morning
ith Mistress Mary Cavendish, and not only
a



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hearf 8 Highway

upon that Sabbaib inpming but at all other
times; still I can well understand that my appear-
ance may have belied me, since when I looked
in a glass I would often wonder at the sight of my
own face, which seemed jrounger than my years,
and was strangely free from any recording lines
of experiences which might have been esteemed
bitter by any one who had not the pride of bear-
ing them. When my black eyes, which had a
bold daring in them, looked forth at me from
the glass, and my lips smiled with a gay confi-
dence at me, I could not but surmise that my
whole face was as a mask worn unwittingly over
a grave spirit. But since a man must be judged
largely by his outward guise and I had that of a
gay young blade, I need not have taken it amiss
if Catherine Cavendish had that look in her eyes
when I set forth with her young sister alone save
for those dark people which some folk believed
to have no souls.

I rode a pace behind Mary Cavendish, and
never glanced her way, not needing to do so in
order to see her, for I seemed to see her with a
superior sort of vision compounded partly of
memory and partly of imagination. Of the lat-
ter I had, not to boast, though it may perchance
be naught to boast of, being simply a kind of
higher folly, a somewhat large allowance from
my childhood. But that was not to be wondered
at, whether it were to my credit or otherwise,

$



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

since it was inherited from- ancestors of much
nobler fame and worthier parts than I, one of
whom, though not in the direct Une, the great
Edward Maria Wingfield, the president of the
first council of the Dominion of Virginia, having
written a book which was held to be notable.
This imagination for the setting forth and adorn-
ing of all common things and happenings, and
my woman's name of Maria, my whole name
being Harry Maria Wingfield, through my an-
cestor having been a favourite of a great queen,
and so called for her honour, were all my inher-
itance at that date, all the estates belonging to
the family having become the property of my
younger brother John.

But when I speak of my possessing an imagi^
nation which could gild all the common things ol
life, I meant not to include Mistress Mary Cav-
endish therein, for she needed not such gilding,
being one of the most uncommon things in the
earth, as uncommon as a great diamond which
is rumoured to have been seen by travellers in
far India. My imagination when directed toward
her was exercised only with the comparing and
combining of various and especial beauties of
different times and circumstances, when she was
attired this way or that way, or was grave or gay,
or sweetly helpless and clinging or full of daring.
When, riding near her, I did not look at her, she
seemed all of these in one, and I was conscious

4



Digitized by LjOOQ IC ,



J



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart* s Highway

only her tutor, approved her in it, but I gave no
sign. The love-hood was made of such thin and
precious stuff that the gold of her head showed
through.

Mistress Mary wore a mask of black velvet to
screen her face from the sun, and only her sweet
forehead and her great blue eyes and the rose-
leaf tip of her chin showed.

All that low, swampy country was lush and
green that April morning, with patches of grass
gleaming like emeralds in the wetness of sunken
places and unexpected pools of marsh water
gleaming out of the distances like sapphires.
The blossoms thrust out toward us from every
hand like insistent arms of beauty. There was
a frequent bush by the wayside full of a most
beautiful pink-horned flower, so exceeding sweet
that it harmed the worth of its own sweetness,
and its cups seemed fairly dripping with honey
and were gummed together with it. There were
patches of a flower of a most brilliant and won-
derful blue colour, and spreads as of cloth of gold
from cowslips over the lowlands. The road was
miry in places, and then I would fall behind her
farther still that the water and red mud splash-
ing from beneath my horse's hoofs might not
reach her. Then, finally, after I had done thus
some few times, she reined in her Merry Roger,
and looked over her shoulder with a flash of her
blue eyes which compelled mine.

6



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hearts Highway

" Why do you ride so far away, Master Wing-
field?" said she.

I lifted my hat and bent so low in my saddle
that the feather on it grazed the red mud.

" Because I fear to splash your fine tabby
petticoat, Madam/' I answered.

" I care not for my fine petticoat/' said she
in a petulant way, like that of a spoiled child who
is forbidden sweets and the moon, and questions
love in consequence, yet still there was some
little fear and hesitation in her tone. Mistress
Mary was a most docile pupil, seeming to have
great respect for my years and my learning, and
was as gentle under my hand as was her Merry
Roger under hers, and yet with the same sort
of gentleness, which is as the pupil and not as the
master decides, and let the pull of the other will
be felt.

I answered not, yet kept at my distance, but at
the next miry place she held in Merry Roger
until I was forced to come up, and then she spoke
again, and as she spoke a mock-bird was singing
somewhere over on the bank of the river.

" Did you ever hear a sweeter bird's song
than that. Master Wingfield?" said she, and
I answered that it was very sweet, as indeed
it was.

" What do you think the bird is mocking, Mas-
ter Wingfield ? " said she, and then I answered
like a fool, for the man who meets sweetness



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hcarf s Hi^way

mth his own bitterness and keeps it not locked
in his own soul is a fool.

" I know not/' said I, " but he may be mock-
ing the hope of the spring, and he may be mock-
ing the hope in the heart of man. The song
seems too sweet for a mock of any bird which has
no thought beyond this year's nest."

I spoke thus as I would not now, when I have
learned that the soul of man, like the moon, hath
a face which he should keep ever turned toward
the Unseen, and Mistress Mary's blue eyes, as
helpless of comprehension as a flower^ looked in
mine.

" But there will be another spring. Master
iWingfield," said she somewhat timidly, and then
she added, and I knew that she was blushing
under her mask at her own tenderness, " and
sometimes the hopes of the heart come true."

She rode on with her head bent as one who
considers deeply, but I, knowing her well, knew
that the mood would soon pass, as it did. Sud-
denly she tossed her head and flung out her curls
to the breeze, and swung Merry Roger's bridle-
rein, and was away at a gallop and I after her,
measuring the ground with wide paces on my tall
thoroughbred. In this fashion. we soon left the
plodding blacks so far behind that they became
a part of the distance-shadows. Then, all at once.
Mistress Mary swerved off from the main road
and was riding down the track leading to the

I



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

plantation-wharf, whence all the tobacco was
shipped for England and all the merchandise im-
ported for household use unladen. There the
way was very wet and the mire was splashed
high upon Mistress Mary's fine tabby skirt, but
she rode on at a reckless pace, and I also, much at
a loss to know what had come to her, yet not
venturing, or rather, perhaps, deigning to in-
quire. And then I saw what she had doubtless
seen before, the masts of a ship rising straightly
among the trees with that stiffness and straight-
ness of dead wood, which is beyond that of live,
unless, indeed, in a storm at sea, when the wind
can so inspirit it, that I have seen a mast of pine
possessed by all the rage of yielding of its hun-
dred years on the spur of a mountain.

When I saw the mast I knew that the ship
belonging to Madam Cavendish, which was
called " The Golden Horn," and had upon the
bow the likeness of a gilt-horn, running over
with fruit and flowers, had arrived. It was by
this ship that Madam Cavendish sent the tobacco
raised upon the plantation of Drake Hill to
England.

But even then I knew not what had so stirred
Mistress Mary that she had left her sober church-
ward road upon the Sabbath day, and judged
that it must be the desire to sec " The Golden
Horn " fresh from her voyage, nor did I dream
what she purposed doing.

9



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

Toward the end of the rolling road the wiet«
ness increased; there were little pools left from
the recedence of the salt tide, and the wild breath
of it was in our faces. Then we heard voices
singing together in a sailor-song which had a
refrain not quite suited to the day, according to
common opinions, having a refrain about a lad
who sailed away on bounding billow and left
poor Jane to wear the willow; but what's a lass's
tears of brine to the Spanish Main and a flask
of wine?

As we came up to the ship l3ring in her dock,
we saw sailors on deck grouped around a cask of
that same wine which they had taken the freedom
to broach, in order to celebrate their safe arrival
in port, though it was none of theirs. The sight
aroused my anger, but Mary Cavendish did not
seem to see any occasion for wrath. She sat her
prancing horse, her head up, and her curls
streaming like a flag of gold, and there was a blue
flash in her eyes, of which I knew the meaning.
The blood of her great ancestor, the sea king,
Thomas Cavendish, who was second only to Sir
Francis Drake, was astir within her. She sat
there with the salt sea wind in her nostrils, and
her hair flung upon it like a pennant of victory,
and looked at the ship wet with the ocean surges,
the sails stiff with the rime of salt, and the group
of English sailors pn the deck, and those old an-
cestral instincts which constitute the memory of



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hearts Highway

the blood awoke. She was in that instant as she
sat there almost as truly that ardent Suflfolkshire
lad, Thomas Cavendish, ready to ride to the
death the white plungers of the sea, and send the
Spanish Armada to the bottom, as Mary Caven-
dish of Drake Hill, the fairest maid of her time
in the Colony of Virginia.

Then as suddenly that mood left her, as she
sat there, the sailors having risen, and standing
staring with shamefaced respect, and covertly
wiping with the hairy backs of hands their
mouths red with wine. But the captain, one
Calvin Tabor, stood before them with more
assurance, as if he had some warrant for allow-
ing such license among his men; he himself
seemed not to have been drinking. Mistress
Mary regarded them, holding in Merry Roger
with her firm little hand, with the calm grace
of a queen, although she was so young, and all
the wild fire was gone from her blue eyes. All
this time, I being as close to her side as might
be, in case of any rudeness of the men, though
that was not likely, they being a picked crew of
Suffolkshire men, and having as yet not tasted
more wine than would make them unquestioning
of strange happenings, and render them readily
acquiescent to all counter currents of fate.

They had ceased their song and stood with
heavy eyes sheepishly averted in their honest
red English faces, but Captain Calvin Tabor

II



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

spoke, bowing low, yet, as I said before, witH
assured eyes,

" I have the honour to salute you. Mistress,"
he spoke with a grace somewhat beyond his call-
ing. He was a young man, as fair as a Dutch-
man and a giant in stature. He bore himself
also curiously for one of his calling, bowing a's
steadily as a cavalier, with no trembling of the
knees when he recovered, and csLtrying his right
arm as if it would grasp sword rather than cutlass
if the need arose.

" God be praised ! I see that you have brought
' The Golden Horn ' safely to port," said Mistress
Mary with a stately sweetness that covered to
me, who knew her voice and its every note so
well, an exultant ring.

'' Yes, praised be God, Mistress Cavendish,"
answered Captain Tabor, " and with fine head
winds to swell the sails and no pirates."

"And is my new scarlet cloak safe?" cried
Mistress Mary, " and my tabby petticoats and
my blue brocade bodice, and my stockings and
my satin shoes, and laces? "

Mistress Mary spoke with that sweetness of
maiden vanity which calls for tender leniency and
admiration from a man instead of contempt.
And it may easily chance that he may be as filled
with vain delight as she, and picture to himself
as plainly her appearance in those new fallalls.

I wondered somewhat at the length of the list,

IS



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hcarf 8 Highway

as not only Mistress Mary's wardrobe, bttt those
of her grandmother and sister and many of the
household supplies, had to be purchased with the
proceeds of the tobacco, and that brought but
scanty returns of late years, owing to the Naid-
gation Act, which many esteemed a most unjust
measure, and scrupled not to say so, being se-
cure in the New World, where disloyalty against
kings could flourish without so much danger of
the daring tongue silenced at Tyburn.

It had been a hard task for many planters to
purchase the necessaries of life with the profits
of their tobacco crop, since the trade with the
Netherlands was prohibited by His Most Gra-
cious Majesty, King Charles II, for the supply
being limited to the English market, had so ex^
ceeded the demand that it brought but a beg-
garly price per pound. Therefore, I wondered,
knowing that many of those articles of women's
attire mentioned by Mistress Mary were of great
value, and brought great sums in London, and
knowing, too, that the maid, though innocently
fond of such things, to which she had, moreover,
the natural right of youth sTnd beauty such as
hers, which should have all the silks and jewels
of earth, and no questioning, for its adorning,
was not given to selfish appropriation for her
own needs, but rather considered those of others
first. However, Mistress Mary had some prop-
erty in her own right, she being the daughter of

IS



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Hcarfs Highway

a second wife, who had died possessed ot a small
plantation called Laurel Creek, which was a mile
distant from Drake Hill, farther inland, having
no ship dock and employing this. Mistress
Mary might have sent some of her own tobacco
crop to England wherewith to purchase finery
for herself. Still I wondered, and I wondered
still more when'Mistress Mary, albeit the Lord's
Day, and the penalty for such labour being even
for them of high degree not light, should pro-
pose, as, she did, that the goods be then and there
unladen. Then I ventured to address her, riding
close to her side, that the captain and the sailors
should not hear, and think that I held her in
slight respect and treated her like a child, since I
presumed to call her to account for aught she
chose to do.

" Madam," said I as low as might be, " do you
remember the day? "

" And wherefore should I not ? " asked she
with a toss of her gold locks and a pout of her
red lips which was childishness and wilfulness
itself, but there went along with it a glance
of her eyes which puzzled me, for suddenly a
sterner and older spirit of resolve seemed to look
out of them into mine. " Think you I am in my
dotage. Master Wingfield, that I remember not
the day?'* said she, "and think you that I am
going deaf that I hear not the church bells ? "

" If we miss the service for the unlading of the
14



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

goods, and it be discovered, it may go atntss with
us," said I.

"Are you then afraid, Master Wingfield?"
asksd she with a glance of scorn, and a blush of
^ame at her own words» for she knew that they
were false.

I felt the blood rush to my face, and I reined
back my horse, and said no more.

" I pray you have the goods that you know
of unladen at once, Captain Tabor," said she,
and she made a motion that would have been a
stamp had she stood.

Calvin Tabor laughed, and cast a glance of
merry malice at me, and bowed low as he
replied :

" The goods shall be unladen within the hour.
Mistress," said he, " and if you and the gentle-
man would rather not tarry to see them for fear
of discovery ^"

"We shall remain," said Mistress Mary, in-
terrupting peremptorily.

" Then," said Captain Calvin Tabor with alto-
gether too much of freedom as I judged, " in case
you be brought to account for the work upon the
Sabbath, *The Golden Horn* hath wings for
such a wind as prevails to-day as will outspeed
all pursuers, even should they borrow wings of
the cherubim in the churchyard."

I was glad that Mistress Mary did not, for all
her youthfulness of temper, laug^ in return, but

15



Digitized by LjOOQ IC



The Heart's Highway

answered him with a grave dignity as if she her-
self felt that he had exceeded his privilege.

'* I pray you order the goods unladen at once,
Captain Tabor," she repeated. Then the cap-
tain coloured, for he was quick-witted to scent a
rebuff, though he laughed again in his dare-devil
fashion as he turned to the sailors and shouted
out the order, and straightway the sailors so
swarmed hither and thither upon the deck that
they seemed five times as many as before, and
then we heard the hatches flung back with claps
like guns.

We sat there and waited, and the bell over in
Jamestown rang and the long notes died away
with sweet echoes as if from distant heights.
All around us the rank, woody growth was full
of murmurs and movements of life, and perfumes
from unseen blossoms disturbed one's thoughts
with sweet insistence at every gust of wind, and
always one heard the lapping of the sea-water
through all its countless ways, for well it loves
this country of Virginia and steals upon it, like a
lover who will not be gainsaid, through meadows
and thick woods and coarse swamps, until it is
hard sometimes to say, when the tide be in,
whether it be land or sea, and we who dwell
therein might well account ourselves in a Venice
of the New World.

I waited and listened while the sailors unloaded
the goods with many a shout and repeated loud

x6



Digitized by Google 1



The Hearts Kghway

eommands from the captain, and Mistress Mary
kept her eyes turned ^away from my face and


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryMary Eleanor Wilkins FreemanThe heart's highway: a romance of Virginia → online text (page 1 of 17)