Sylvester Judd.

Richard Edney and the governor's family : A rusurban tale ... of morals, sentiment, and life ... containing, also hints on being good and doing good online

. (page 1 of 32)
Online LibrarySylvester JuddRichard Edney and the governor's family : A rusurban tale ... of morals, sentiment, and life ... containing, also hints on being good and doing good → online text (page 1 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

iZ^ 3












L./>VS>A jjo



Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1850,

In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

StetVot yped by


New England Type and Stereotype Foundery,


JUST as we have sent the last sheet of the manuscript to the
printer, our publishers write that an Introduction, a brief one, is
desirable. We might yield to their judgment what we 1 should
be slow to extract from our own indifference. A Preface is
an author s observation on his own writings. It might be pre
sumed that a reader would be better prepared to understand, and
more disposed to listen to what an author would say, at the end
of a book than at the beginning. Acting upon this consideration,
we have included in the last chapter certain paragraphs that may
seem to possess a prefatory character. To these all persons inter
ested are respectfully referred. We have endeavored, moreover,
that, in the progress of the work, the curiosity of the reader should
be duly satisfied on any points that might engage it. A Tale is
not like a hoiiss, except in its door-plate, the title-page. It does
not require an entry or a reception-room. It is rather like a rose,
the sum of the qualities of which are visible at a glance ; albeit it
will repay a minute attention, and affords material for prolonged
enjoyment. It is like a landscape, which appeals in like manner to



a comprehensive eye, rather than to critical inquiry. We incline,
then, to the rose and the landscape, notwithstanding there may
be a defective leaf in the first, or a rude hut in the last. Not that
we object to Prefaces ; we like them, we always read them, and
frequently find them the best part of a book. But this book is
written, and the author has put his best things into it ; he cannot
hope to improve it by anything he might here add, and he is
indisposed to peril its fortunes on any uncertainties of speech or
manner ; and therefore prefers to submit it as it is.



IT began to snow. What the almanac directed its readers
to look out for about this time what his mother told Rich
ard of, as she tied the muffler on his neck in the morning
what the men in the bar-rooms, where he stopped to warm
himself, seemed to be rubbing out of their hands into the fire

what the cattle, crouching on the windward side of barn
yards, rapped to each other with their slim, white horns
what sleigh-bells, rapidly passing and repassing, jingled to
the air what the old snow, that lay crisp and hard on the
ground, and the hushed atmosphere, seemed to be expecting

what a " snow-bank," a dense, bluish cloud in the south,
gradually creeping along the horizon, and looming mid-
heavens, unequivocally presaged, a snow-storm, came
good at last.

Richard had watched that cloud, as it slowly unfurled
itself to the winds, and little by little let out its canvas, till
it seemed to be the mainsail of the huge earth, and would
bear everything movable and immovable along with it. He
saw the first flakes that skurry forwards so gingerly and
fool-happy through, the valleys, as if they had nothing to do
but dance and be merry, and were not threatened by a
howling pack behind. He rejoiced in the feeling of these
herald drops on his cheeks, and caught at them with his
lips, refreshing himself in the dainty moisture ; for he had
walked a long distance, and, though it was mid winter, his


blood was warm, and his throat dry. The regular brush
commenced, a right earnest one it was ; and he had
something else to do than dally with it ; he must brave
the storm, and cleave his way through it. He had some
miles to go yet, and night was at hand. The pack he bore
grew heavier on his shoulders, his feet labored in the new-
fallen snow, and what with frequent slips on the concealed
ice, his endurance was sore taxed. But he was cheerful
without, and strove to be quiet within ; and made as if he
were independent of circumstance, and free from anxiety.
The storm had a good many plans and purposes of action.
It riddled the apple-trees ; it threw up its embankments
against the fences ; it fell soft and even upon shrubs and
flowers in the woods, as if it were tenderly burying its dead ;
it brought out the farmer, to defend his herds against it ; it
stirred the pluck of the school-boys, who insulted it with
their backs, and laughed at it with their faces ; and, as if
to spite this, it turned upon an unprotected female, a dress
maker, going home from her .daily task, and twisted her
hood and snatched off her shawl; but, failing in the attempt
to rend her entire dress to pieces, it blinded her with its
gusts, and pitched her into the gutter. This was too much
for Richard. If his blood was hot before, it boiled now; and
flinging down his bundle, he sprang to the rescue. He raised
the woman, refitted her wardrobe, and sent her on her way
with many thanks. The storm, maddened and unchecked,
rallied, to stifle and subdue this new champion of woman s
rights. It smote Richard violently in the face, snatched
away his morsels of breath, and would have sunk him, by
sheer weight, in the White Sea that surrounded him.
When it could not do this, it flapped its enormous wings in
his face, so he could not see his way. Anon it raised its
sweep aloft, and left a little clear space, through which he


beheld houses with bright hearth-fires, and tables savor-
ily spread for the evening meal, and little children getting
into their mothers laps, as if to plague him in this fashion.
The flakes, as if each one had an individual commission,
flew in under the vizor of his cap, settled upon his eye
lashes, clung to his muffler ; some penetrated into his neck ;
others explored his nostrils. He tried to whistle ; but the
storm kept his lips so chilled he could not do that: he
attempted to laugh ; certain flakes that sat on his lips seized
the moment to melt and run down his throat. When the
storm could not arrest his course, it began to trick him for
everybody to laugh at : it whitened his black suit, till he
looked like a miller s apprentice ; the flakes piled them
selves in antic figures on his pack and shoulders, and strewed
his buttons with flaunting wreaths; they danced up and
down on his cap. But he pressed on, with a whistling
heart, as if he thought it was mere facetiousness in the
elements to do so. He knew there was love and gladness
at the core of all things ; and the feathery crystals that
frolicked about him, and then laid themselves down so quietly
to sleep for the dreary months of winter, were full of beauty,
and there was a luminousness of Good Intent in all the haze
and hurly-burly of the storm. Richard was deeply religious ;
and he knew God said to the snow, Be thou on the earth ;
and he felt that the Divine Providence cared for the lilies
of the field as well in their decay as in their bloom ; and
that a ceaseless Benignity was covering the beds where they
lay with the lovely raiment of the season, and cherishing in
the cold ground the juices that should, after a brief interval,
spring forth again, and create a gladsome resurrection of

He had none but kindly feelings when there passed him
a sleigh, with its occupants neck deep in buffalo-robes and


coats, and comfortably intrenched behind a breastwork of
muffs and tippets ; and the horse, he knew, was merry, by
the way he shook his bells. He even went one side, and
stood knee-deep in the drifts, for a slow ox-sled to pass.
" Ho ! my good fellow ! " he cried to the teamster, who sat
on a strip of board, with his back bowed and braced against
the storm, as if there was to his mind certainly something
in the case suggestive of the knout; " you must bide your

" That is the first truth I have heard to-day," responded
a gloomy voice, which, with the coarse shape in which it
was wrapped, soon swept out of hearing.

" One truth to-day," said Richard to himself, " is some
thing, though it is towards night."

He relapsed into musing and philosophizing on the world
and life, the day and hour, and on himself and his objects,
and on the City in which truth was so scarce. Of a sudden,
the Factories burst upon him, or their windows did, hun
dreds of bright windows, illuminated every night in honor
of Toil, and which neither the darkness of the night, nor
the wildness of the storm, could obscure, and which never
bent or blinked before the rage and violence around. The
Factories, and factory life, how it glowed at that moment
to his eye ! and even his own ideal notions thereof were more
than transfigured before him, and he envied the girls, some
of whom he knew, who, through that troubled winter night,
were tending their looms as in the warmth, beauty, and
quietness of a summer-day. The Factories appeared like an
abode of enchantment ; and the sight revived his heart, and
gave him a pleasant impression of the City, as much as a
splendid church, or a sunny park of trees, or fine gardens,
would have done. He was too much occupied to notice a
spread umbrella that approached him, moving slantwise


abreast the storm, now criss-crossing, now plunging- forward,
as it were intoxicated. It struck him, and in his insecure
footing, threw him.

" What is it ? " said the umbrella, peering about on every

"It is nothing," replied Richard, who could hardly be
distinguished from the snow in which he rolled.

The umbrella raised itself, as if it were one great eyelid,
in astonishment, muttering, at the same time, " That s it ;
I knew I should do it, and now I have ! "

Beneath the umbrella was really a man, but apparently a
cloak, a long and slim cloak, with a shawl about its head
and ears ; and it looked, also, as if this cloak was hung by
some central loop to the handle of the umbrella, and as if
the umbrella was the only live thing in the whole concern;
and it kept bobbing up and .down in the wind, wrenching
and prying, as if it would draw the vitals from the cloak.
The language of the thing favored the idea of evisceration.
" I am almost dead ! " it said.

" Let me help you," said Richard.

" I have only a little further to go," replied the other.

" How far have you come ? " asked Richard, sympatheti
cally, thinking of the many miles he had fared that day.

" Across the River," was the reply.

"Is it so far ? " rejoined Richard, despairingly.

;< A hundred rods or so. But one meets with so many
accidents here ; and nobody s ways are taken care of, and
life is of no value whatever, in these times."

Richard, delighted at the near end of his journey, did not
conceal his pleasure.

" You will not laugh, when you have experienced what I
have," said the man.

" Is there nothing to do here ? " asked Richard.


" Yes, everything," was the answer.

" Then I am secure," added Richard.

" Move carefully ! " such was the advice of the retreat
ing shadow; " it is a slip, or a slump, all the way through.
You will be running into somebody else, or somebody will
run into you."

Richard grew thoughtful ; but he repelled the phantom of
discouragement, and clung closer to the good angel of com
mon sense and rational hope, that ever attended him.

He was coming to Woodylin to find employment. The
construction of mill-dams and railroads had sounded a gen
eral summons, throughout the country, for capital and labor
to flow in thither. Business, which means the combined
and harmonious activity of capital and labor, was reported
to be good. The City was evidently growing, and there
were those who hesitated to say how large they thought
it would become, lest they should appear vain. Many
young men were attracted thither, and among these
was Richard Edney. He came from a farm, in a small
interior village, and brought with him considerable mechan
ical expertness ; and now, just turned of age, on the even
ing of the day in which he set out to seek his fortune, or,
more strictly, to find a snug operative s berth, he appears
before the reader. He had a married sister in town, whose
house he would make his home.

He came to the covered bridge, and entering by the nar
row turn-stile, found a breathing-place from the storm in that
labyrinth of timbers. He stamped the snow from his feet,
and, unbuttoning his over-coat, seized the lappels with his
two hands, and shook them heartily, as if they were old
friends whom he had not seen for a long time, and then
folded them carefully to his breast.

One or two lamps suggested the idea of light, and that


was about all. Their chief effect was shadow ; they made
darkness visible, and very uncomfortably so. They worked
it into uncouth shapes, which were put skulking among the
arches, set astride of the braces, hung up like great spiders
on the rafters, and multitudes of them lay in ambuscade
under the feet of passengers. No ; if there were kind
feelings in that Bridge, if any pulse of philanthropy ran
through those huge beams and iron-riveted joints, if there
were any heart of good-will in that long vault, well studded
at the. sides, close-pent above, and firmly braced under foot,
it was an unfortunate bridge ; unfortunate in its expression,
unfortunate in its efforts to show kindness.

The readers of this story would like to know how Rich
ard felt. To speak more in detail, there are two popular
impressions anent the Bridge, one of which Richard avoided,
and into the other he fell. The first is, that the Bridge is
of no use, that it is a damage to the community ; in other
words, that it defeats the very object for which it was built,
the facilitation of travel and increase of intercourse. For
instance, you will hear men say they could afford to keep a
horse, if it were not for the Bridge ; some, that they should
ride a great deal more, if it were not for the Bridge ; one,
that while his business is on one side of the water, he
should like to live on the other, but cannot because of the
Bridge; ladies, visiting on the opposite side of the river, are
always in haste to return before sunset, on account of the
Bridge. So business and pleasure, in innumerable forms,
seem to be interrupted by this structure. This feeling, of
course, Richard had not been long enough in the neighbor
hood to understand or to share. But the other popular im
pression, which indeed is connected with the first, he did,
in some degree, though perhaps unconsciously, entertain;
this, that the Bridge is useful as a shelter from storms,


from cold, and from the intense heat of summer. It has this
credit with the people ; a passive credit, a credit bestowed
without the least idea of desert on its part; an accidental
good, wholly aside from the original design of the thing,
which it cannot help but bestow, and which it would not
bestow, if it could help. It is as if, in this vale of winds
and rain, the Bridge were a little arbor one side of the
way, to which the weary pilgrim can betake himself. So,
in summer, when the mercury is at ninety, or at any time
in a storm, or when the roads are muddy, you will see peo
ple hastening to the Bridge ; wagons are driven faster, and
foot-people increase their momentum. " We shall soon be
at the Bridge," they say; or, " Here is the Bridge ; I do not
care, now." Umbrellas are furled, cloaks are loosened, feet
cleaned, and there is a smile of contentment and of home
in all faces, as soon as they reach that pavilion.

How fine a refuge it was from the hurtling snow, how
admirably it was adapted to protect one in this extremity of
the season, how dry and warm it was, what a convenient
place to take breath in ; this Kichard felt. He had this
feeling even deeper than most folk. Blinded as he was by
the storm, tired by his long journey, lonely in feeling, know
ing no one, harrowed a little by the dark intimations that
had accosted him just as he got into the City, even the small
lamp that glimmered aloft had a friendly eye ; and he over
flowed with gratitude to the little twinkler that worked so
patiently and so hopefully in the deathlike, skeleton ribs of
the edifice ; and as he seated himself on a sill, since he did
not know anybody in particular, and had not participated in
those feelings to which we have referred, he thanked God
for the Bridge. The tramping of horse-feet, grating of
sleigh-runners, and buzz of lively voices, were heard in the
darkness j and immediately there passed near him an empty


sleigh, driven by a man on foot, and four or five men and
women, likewise walking.

" Horrid ! " exclaimed one. "What a place for robbers ! "
cried another. " I had rather face it out there," added a
third, jerking his head towards the gate, " than have my
shins barked here." " I think the lecturer might have spent
a few evenings in a bridge like this," interposed a fourth ;
" it corresponds to his ideas of Gothic architecture. There
is the dimness, awe, and faint religious light ; and there is
no place where one is so reverential, or walks so circum
spectly, as here." These were young people, returning
from the Athenaeum, and among them were members of
the Governor s Family, a name that appears on our title-
page; and these observations fell from them while they
waited for the gate to be opened. " What is that by the
post ? " exclaimed one. " A drunken man ! " echoed another.
The ladies faintly screamed, and rushed towards the gate.
"You are mistaken," said Richard, calmly, but a grain
piqued. His tone and manner recalled the young folk to
their senses, and not the least to a sense of injustice toward
a stranger ; and they all stopped and looked towards him.
The light of the lamp revealed brotherly faces of young
men, and gentle faces of young women, and Richard spoke
freely. " I am very tired," he said ; " I have walked forty
miles since breakfast, and I was glad to sit here. But you
alarm me. Is this such a horrid place ? " " No, indeed,"
replied one of the girls ; it was the Governor s daughter
Melicent, that spoke. "We are addicted to scandalizing
the Bridge, just as one finds fault with his best friends."

"I do not mean that," answered Richard, "but all through
here what is about you here this neighborhood ? "

" There are rum-shops hereabouts, and there is the foot
of Knuckle Lane," said a young man.


" I did not see them," replied Richard.

" We live in St. Agnes-street," said one of the females,
laughing very hard, " and you may have passed our houses,
the minister s, the Governor s, and all. And we all belong
here. I hope you don t think evil of us."

" I was warned of evil hereabouts," responded Richard.
" But I am sure I have nothing to fear from you."

" Melicent ! Barbara ! " cried the laughing voice, " has he
anything to fear from you ? "

" I have been misunderstood," said Richard, laughing in
turn. " But really I have had as pure religious feeling,
while I have been resting myself on this bridge, as I ever
enjoyed, notwithstanding your slight and caricature of the

" Benjamin ! " cried the same bright voice, " defend your
self ; it is your ribaldry the young man has overheard."

"We have come from a lecture on Architecture," said
Benjamin Dennington ; " and the rest is obvious. Fantastic
associations are awakened here."

" You will not say," answered Richard, " that religious
sentiment is fantastic ! " This was seriously said, and the
company became silent when he spoke. " I mean," he
added, " may not religious feeling be as pure in this place,
at this hour, as in any place at any hour ? "

" Certainly, certainly," said Melicent. " But who are you
that says this ? "

" I am Richard Edney," said our friend. " I am seeking
employment; can turn my hand to almost anything; would
like a chance in a saw-mill. Can you tell me where Asa
Munk lives ? "

" I cannot," said Benjamin ; and none of them could. " I
am shivering with the cold," said the laughing one, " and I
would advise the young man to learn better manners than


to sit here and scare folks in the night." " I should think
he might find some place more suitable for his devotions,"
added one of the girls. " Perhaps a mill-log would be as
agreeable for him to kneel upon as a hassock," continued
the laughing one.

" I fear this is a bad place," said Richard. " Farewell to
you all, gentle ladies," he added, and went on his way.

" May it fare well with you ! " rejoined Melicent Denning-
ton, sending her voice after him.

Richard crossed the Bridge, an(J by dint of information
plucked from the few people abroad at that time, he made
his way to a story-and-a-half white house, with doric pilas
ters, that stood near the bank of the River, just above the
first dam.

He went in at the front door without ringing, traversed
with a quiet step the narrow, dark entry, and let himself
into the kitchen, where he knew he should find his friends.
He was evidently looked for, and warmly welcomed; his
sister embraced him affectionately, and his brother-in-law
shook his hand very cordially. They were sitting in front
of the stove, near a large table drawn to the centre of the
room, on which burned two well-trimmed lamps. His sister
was mending a child s garment; his brother was smoking,
and reading a newspaper. These people were about thirty
years of age ; his sister had dark eyes and hair, and a face
that had once been handsome, but it now wore a sallow arid
anxious expression ; she was neatly dressed in dark-sprigged
calico. The brother-in-law, or Munk, as everybody called
him, had a freer look, and more sprightly bearing. He had
a small, twinkling, blue eye, a long, good-humored chin, and
slender, sorel whiskers. He wore a stout teamster s frock,
girded at the waist. If a shadow of seriousness sometimes


stole over him, it was instantly dissipated, or illumined, by
a cheerful voice and a jocund laugh.

Richard laid off his pack and over-coat. " Do not shake
off the snow here, brother," said his sister; "let Asa take
the things into the shed."

Richard took off his boots, and sank into the rocking-
chair his sister drew up for him, with his feet bolstered on
the clean and bright stove-hearth. As he has now got out
of the storm and his storm-gear, and looks like himself, our
readers would like to know how he looks. He, like his
sister, had dark eyes and hair ; his features were comely, his
forehead was fairly proportioned, his eyebrows were distinct
and well placed, his mouth was small, and his teeth white.
His predominant expression was cheerfulness, frankness,
earnestness. He had what some would call an intellectual
look; and, judging from the contour of his head, one would
see that he possessed a modicum of moral qualities. His
cheeks were browned by the weather, but his forehead pre
served a belt of skin of remarkable whiteness. He was of
medium height, and his body was strongly built, and in all
its members very regularly disposed. He wore a red shirt,
and a roundabout, sometimes called a monkey-jacket. His
coat, vest and pantaloons, were of a dark, stout cloth, which
his mother had evidently manufactured, as she possibly had
been the tailoress of her son.

His sister hastened supper for him ; she toasted the bread,
cut fresh slices of corned beef, and prepared a cup of fra
grant, hot tea. They all sat round the table, and each had
many inquiries to make, and many to answer; and many
details of home, and friends, and life, to dilate upon. The
supper was abundant, and freely eaten, but it was not satis
fying; an uneasiness remained so much so, that, although
Richard resumed his chair by the stove, he could not sit in


it. He looked from side to side of the kitchen, and at last
thrust his head into a partly-opened door, that led into the
bed-room. " Not to-night," whispered his sister, earnestly.
"I must," said Richard. "Let him, Roxy," said Munk.
" I must see them," said Richard. " You will wake them,"

Online LibrarySylvester JuddRichard Edney and the governor's family : A rusurban tale ... of morals, sentiment, and life ... containing, also hints on being good and doing good → online text (page 1 of 32)