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week - and how well he had learned to do chores. He fed the pigs every
day; he wished that she could see how well they thrived on the diet
lately introduced by Peter and himself - a dry mash of boiled potatoes
and meal, with an occasional horseshoe thrown in as a relish. Would
she, he wondered, have enjoyed the day that he, Maria, and Peter made
soft soap? He mentioned his intended voyage, and asked her if she
liked sailors. Could he have the hope, he continued, of her sympathy
in his future enterprises, which perhaps would differ from those she
had thought of for him? He avowed a change in himself. Would it affect

He sealed his letters, and began pacing his little room. Writing home
had brought his old life near him again; the distance it had come to
reach him seemed enormous.

"It was only a few days ago," he thought, "and yet I am so different!"

He rolled up his paper window-curtain and softly raised the window.
The moon made the landscape look more vast and desolate than it was in
the light of day. Under the horizon it revealed a strip of sea which
shone as if it were the portal of another world whose light was
reflected thereon. Osgood felt that he was an imprisoned soul this
side of it. The light gave him an intimation of immortality. "Where is
Lily's soul?" he asked. "Has she any dream beyond the life she is in?"

When Lily received Osgood's note she was angry; so was Mrs. Formica
when she received hers. An intuition that Osgood repented his rashness
touched Lily's pride, and preserved her silence. When the second
letter came, she thought he had the intention of experimenting with
her; a test, she concluded, was unendurable, not to be submitted to.
Should she test him, and proclaim the engagement she meditated? it
would be a relief to do something. She could not reach him with a
letter, for he had gone on a mackerel voyage beyond the limits of the
post-office. She decided differently according to the light she had.
Unlike Osgood, she was chained to the place she was in. She was alone,
too; her mother was occupied with neuralgia, and her father was out of
town half his time, on mysterious agencies which referred to canals.
The newspaper reporters at Albany were well acquainted with Mr. Tree's
name while they were putting into short-hand the doings of the
Legislature. Mrs. Formica had no suspicion that Lily was the cause of
Osgood's disappearance; she would not have regretted his absence so
much on these grounds, for a match with Lily was not desirable.

Within a month Lily's engagement to Mr. Barclay Dodge was announced.
He was a young man of fortune, whose father owed his rise in the world
to corn starch, and who had made himself known by spending large sums
of money on pictures, landscapes mostly, which had been indorsed by
the public in exhibitions.

Mr. Barclay Dodge was happy; he had for more than two years followed
Lily through all vicissitudes attendant upon the career of a young
girl in society. From an exhilaration the pursuit had become a
desperation. He had never suspected any man of being his rival, and
accounted for the acquaintance between Lily and Osgood by believing
that Lily was related to the Formica family. How she managed so
suddenly to convince Barclay Dodge that it was safe for him to propose
is a mystery which none but a disappointed, contrary woman may
reveal. He had the usual penetration of his sex in regard to such
mysteries; he was a man of sense and experience, but he was in love,
and when a man is in love he only analyzes himself, and all that he
learns is, that his love must be gratified.

In the whirl of his attentions, and the congratulations of her
friends, the time passed quickly; not so quickly, however, as to avert
the plan by which the Fates were to bring her to a knowledge of

Barclay proposed an immediate marriage. Lily declined the proposal
with so much vehemence that he dared not insist. He pulled his
mustache in rage after he left her, and wondered why he did not
insist. By what means, he cogitated, could he make her yield her will
to his? Her resistance he set down to coyness; all women had freaks;
they were alike in such matters. He divined after a while that she
would let go the lasso at any moment if he proved restive; so he
played the submissive to perfection. If she ever saw his eyes flame,
or any gesture which contained a threat, he never knew it; but every
revelation from him was a revelation to her of herself, and this was
to be her education and her punishment.

"Where is your friend Osgood?" he asked once.

"He has been away a long time," she answered, looking him full in the
face, but with rather a stony expression in her eyes.

"He is your relative?"

"Oh no."

"No? I thought so, always seeing you in the same places."

"Our families have been acquainted always."

"Do you think he is handsome?"


"He is too short" (Barclay was tall), "and his eyes have a wandering,
unsettled look."

"He is following his destiny by them," she answered, bitterly. "I wish
that I could follow mine as a man can."

"Do you mean that you would like to follow Osgood's eyes?"

"By no means; I must see destiny by your eyes."

The words were pleasant, but the tone was malicious. It made his heart
bound as if an invisible foe had come into his atmosphere to do battle
with him, and he could do nothing.

* * * * *

"'With the vapors all around, and the breakers on our lee,
Not a light is in the sky, not a light is on the sea.' -

barring the lantern abaft," roared Osgood, from the deck of the
schooner _Bonita_, which was tossing outside Cape Malabar.

"You may sing t'other side of your mouth afore long," bawled back the
skipper. "We ain't fur from the Cormorant Rocks; the wind p'r'aps will
shove us on the ledge."

"What, when we are just going home with full barrels?"

"The mackerel may be briled in Tophet for all we know."

The skipper was at the helm; Osgood and he were in the radius of a
lantern which revealed their faces to each other. Outside of that was
pitch darkness; the rain drove in fierce slants against them, and the
wind howled all round the sea.

The skipper did not look concerned, neither did Osgood; but they were
both wondering which would first break over the _Bonita_, the light of
morning or the sea.

"Them boys are asleep, I s'pose, wet to the bone?" the skipper yelled.


"Let 'em sleep; there ain't a lanyard loose."

"What time must it be?"

"Hard onto 'leven. My old woman's turned in long afore this, _she_
has; allus goes to bed on the stroke o' nine."

"She has thought of you to-night?"

"She has give me a prayer or so; she's the strictest kind. Now I'll
luff, there is a lull comin'; peskiest storms that have lulls in 'em.
You don't hear a swashing to a distance now?"



A sound, not of wind nor sea, approached them - a rapid, rushing,
cutting sound.

"Up with the helm!" shrieked the skipper to himself. "God Almighty,
she is down on us!"

Osgood leaped up. The bowsprit of a large ship was over him; he threw
up his arms instinctively and caught at something; he felt his feet
drawing over the skipper's head, and that he thumped it with his
boots. He knew no more. The great ship crushed and plowed the _Bonita_
into the waves as easily as a plow buries in the sod the stubble
of the corn-field. Nothing signaled her destruction except the
exclamation of the skipper; nothing remained in the wide sea to show
it. Her timbers and the sleeping crew went to the bottom together.
Morning dawned on the wild scene, revealing no floating spar, no rib
of boat, no stave of tub or barrel, no sailor's hat, no remnant of
sail, no shred of clothing; the jaws of the sea had closed over all.
The ship, a Liverpool liner, driven out of her course by the storm,
cruised round the spot for a few hours, and then went on her way,
taking Osgood with her. He had clung to the folds of the forward sail;
and there he was found with his left wrist dislocated, his body
strained and sore, and his mind wandering. He was no romantic sight
with his red flannel shirt, fishy trowsers, cowhide boots, and hands
pickled in brine. Still the ship's surgeon took to him, and found,
when Osgood came to himself, that he had taken to a gentleman. He
lent him a suit of customary black, and introduced him to his
acquaintances. Osgood would have enjoyed the voyage across the
Atlantic but for the horror which had fallen on his mind from the
catastrophe of the _Bonita_.

"How old are you?" the surgeon asked him.

"About the first of March I was twenty-three; since then I have grown
so old I have lost the reckoning."

"I'll have to give you quinine, my boy."

"Give me some of the tincture of Lethe."

"It is of no use to one to forget; don't be soft."

"Let us reason together, Sawbones."

The Doctor agreed, and Osgood began his story with, "Poor Peter," and
finished it with asking, "Do you think I love her?"

"I'll bet a guinea," said the Doctor, "that she is married."

"She isn't," replied Osgood, indignantly.

"I am sure that she is engaged, as you call it, to somebody besides

"I know better."

"What do you propose doing when you get home?"

"What can I do with thirty dollars, which I left with Peter

"We shall see what we shall see when we come face to face with Aunt
Formica. I intend going the rounds with you in New York. I am a

He carried Osgood to his country-home beyond Liverpool, where they
staid till the ship was ready to sail again. He amused his mother and
sisters with stories of Osgood's adventures on sea and land, and
represented him in the light of a "Jarley's wax-works" hero, till he
was fairly cured of his melancholy.

Five months from the day on which he left New York Osgood returned,
and stood on his Aunt Formica's door-steps with Dr. Black. They looked
like a pair of Englishmen. Both had shiny, red noses, shiny, hard,
narrow-brimmed hats, and shiny, narrow-toed boots, and the nap had
brushed off their coats.

Osgood looked into the familiar area with emotion, and the Doctor
looked at the windows with curiosity.

"They must be out of town," he said; "the house has been put in brown

But Osgood knew the habits of his aunt - knew that from the first of
July till the first of October the house was put on an out-of-town
footing; and that she skirmished between city and country, or
watering-place. The bell was answered by a servant he did not know.

"I wish to see Mrs. Formica," he said, brushing past her, and entering
the dark parlor. "Dr. Black and friend say."

Mrs. Formica came in a moment after with a slight air of amazement,
which increased to astonishment when she saw her nephew. She gave a
little yelp as he embraced her, and said, "Where _have_ you been?"

"To Cape Cod, and to Europe. I have been shipwrecked, aunt - that is, I
lost my mackerel venture, and have been taken care of by my noble
friend, Dr. Black."

Aunt Formica grew pale at the word "shipwrecked," and turned to Dr.
Black. Something in his face made her extend her hand and give him a
warm welcome.

"Black may stay here while he is in port, mayn't he? He will amuse you
with yarns about me."

"Of course," she replied. "Now tell me the whole story."

Between Osgood and the Doctor it was related.

"Why did you ever go from me?" she asked, wiping away a real tear.

"I believe, aunt, I shall keep up the business of going - it suits me.
I can never live through your conventional cramps."

She did not think it prudent to combat him just then; but made a
mental memorandum that something must be done that would change his
foolish resolution. A plan developed at dinner that evening.

"I had a note yesterday from Mrs. Senator Conch," said Mrs. Formica.
"She will be in Saratoga this week, and begs me to meet her there.
Formica and I have been talking it over, Osgood, and we think that it
will be pleasant for Dr. Black and you to go up for a week. You will
go, Doctor?"

"Thank you, Madam, provided Osgood is not averse."

"Any of our set there?" Osgood asked.

"The Trees went up last Saturday with Barclay Dodge. They are making
an extensive tour this year."

"What's Barclay Dodge along for?"

"He is engaged to Lily Tree!"

"Ah!" said Osgood, looking at the Doctor, who could not help giving
him a malicious grimace. "How long since? It's a capital match, ain't

"The engagement must have been announced soon after you left."

This reply put Osgood in a brown study. What impulse, he mused, had
prompted Lily to give herself to Barclay Dodge? Would _he_ have done

Dr. Black commented on Osgood's face, and considered himself in a fair
way to make studies.

"As far as money goes," continued Mrs. Formica, "it may be called a
good match; but certainly not as far as family goes."

"Family!" echoed Dr. Black, softly.

"His father was a tradesman," explained Mr. Formica, "while Lily can
go back to her great-grandfather before trade need be mentioned."

"Old Mr. Tree's father," remarked his wife, "was a brigadier-general
in the Revolution."

"He was a drover, for all that," said Osgood.

Mrs. Formica changed the theme, and talked of Saratoga.

"We'll go," Osgood said, crossly; "but I must first go to my tailor."

Mrs. Formica held a private conversation with him after dinner, gave
him a check, and told him not to worry about the future: she had a
plan in view.

"Plans go by contraries with me, aunt."

"You owe it to me not to be perverse."

"I can't pay any debt."

Previous to going to bed Dr. Black and Osgood smoked several cigars.

"You strike me," said the Doctor, "as growing to the dramatic just
now. One event runs into another with monstrous rapidity among you
Americans. How you differ from the English! How is it that you catch
fortune by the hair so?"

"We are passionate and quick-witted."

"And then you repudiate with ease."

"Bah! you imitate Sydney Smith."

"I did not mean in the sense of State bonds precisely."

"I think," Osgood groaned, "that I begin to feel like a snob again.
What shall I do to be saved?"

"Go on in the groove that is making for you. I'll stand by and be the
chorus. When I hear thy plaints of misery I will let fall the tear;
but remember that 'laws determine even the fates.'"


Except a dispute between the Doctor and Osgood concerning a slouched
hat, which the Doctor would not wear, the party succeeded in starting
and arriving amicably at the Union in Saratoga. In a few hours Mrs.
Formica knew who was there. The Trees were at the Union. Mrs. Senator
Conch had taken a cottage; but the Senator himself had stopped at
Albany for a day to confer with the Governor. Old Madam Funchal of
Philadelphia was at Congress Hall, with her train, and Mrs. Romeo
Pipps Bovis and husband, from Boston. All her friends were round her;
that is, the traveling set she was in the habit of meeting; and her
spirits rose to the occasion. These particulars she detailed, in a
white muslin morning-dress, to Osgood, who, dressed in a new
cream-colored suit, lounged in the doorway of a small parlor off the
hall. He shouldered round just in time to come face to face with Lily
Tree, who was passing on the arm of Barclay Dodge. She stopped, of
course, to shake hands with Mrs. Formica, whose apparently warm kiss
fell on the edge of a braid of her chestnut hair with the weight and
coldness of a snow-flake. Her face settled into rigidity when she
turned to speak to Osgood, and, like a transparent boy, he looked,
with all the earnestness his gray eyes were capable of, straight into
hers. Aunt Formica and Barclay read a story at once upon the text his
countenance furnished; but they both made the mistake of believing
that Lily had rejected him. Lily was too much occupied in managing her
own feelings to divine Osgood's. The imperative necessity of
concealment, which all tutored women feel, governed her. She laughed a
great deal, though nobody said a witty thing, and kept her eyes going
between Mrs. Formica and Barclay with a steadiness which equaled the
movements of the wax women in the Broadway shop windows. Mr. Formica
and Dr. Black added themselves to the party, and the relief of an
introduction to the Doctor came to Lily. She approached him, and his
honest face induced her to skirmish lightly with him; but not a word
did he utter of the whys and wherefores of his being with Osgood. He
would not, at any rate, extend his self-elected office of chorus so
far as to include her. He felt a dislike toward her. She was too thin,
he thought; there was an air of wear and tear about her which was not
pleasant. He felt, too, that she knew more than Osgood; and a woman,
in his estimation, should never be the intellectual superior of a man
she might make choice of. But the Doctor was an Englishman; his ideas
of women had been developed by the cynical Thackeray and the material
Dickens. There was a line between the two classes of women he only
believed to exist - the bad capable woman and the good foolish
woman - which could never be crossed by one or the other. The elements
which go to make up a man, of good and evil mixed, never enter into
the composition of the women of Englishmen of the present time. It is
possible that Lily discovered Dr. Black's impression: she discovered
it so nearly that she was certain Osgood had talked of her with him.
Why had he? she wondered.

In a few minutes the party fell apart as naturally as it had come
together. Lily went on her walk with Barclay; after which she retired
to dress for luncheon, but instead of appearing thereat kept her room
till evening.

Osgood avoided every body; he was tormented with an idea that Lily had
suffered. There was no reason for his thinking so; he derived the idea
from reasoning with himself - reasoning which meeting with her had put
in play. In the evening he went to the drawing-room, and waited till
he saw her come in. Barclay, who was waiting too, darted toward her,
but Osgood reached her first. When Barclay saw Lily take the arm which
Osgood offered her, he turned away; but changing his mind again went
up to them.

"Osgood," he said, in a frank voice, "you have not congratulated me on
my engagement to your friend Lily."

Talk of heroes and martyrs; was not Lily both, at that moment,
standing between these two men, with her hair dressed by a barber, and
wearing a pale blue silk?

She eyed with a dainty air a little bouquet she held in her hand, of
tea-roses and geraniums, and applied it to her nose with great
deliberation. She felt an impetus from Osgood's arm. He had not
answered Barclay, but was dragging her decorously out of the
drawing-room. When they were alone he spoke to her.

"I have faced death since I saw you. I have grown a man; but until
now, I did not know that I loved you. Which man do you belong to?"

"I have faced life since I saw you," she answered, in a silvery
voice, "and I belong to Barclay Dodge."

"Let us go back."

She tossed her bouquet over the railing of the veranda with a
vindictive smile which would have astonished Osgood had he seen it.

Barclay was on the threshold; he looked at Lily and missed the
bouquet; it was not in Osgood's button-hole - what could she have done
with it? He looked at Osgood, and saw that his teeth were set with a
passion which he could understand. Lily sat down in the nearest chair,
and the young men moved away together.

"There is no need of any nonsense between us," said Osgood; "I was
under a wrong impression regarding your engagement. I do offer my

"Thank you," said Barclay, dubiously. And then they looked at each
other with mad eyes. What a relief it would have been if they could
have fought to the death!

Osgood left Barclay abruptly, and sought his Aunt Formica.

"Aunt!" he said, in a mild voice, "you need not ask Conch to blow any
horn for me. I am going to sea."

"You will be better when she is married," she answered, significantly.

"I intend to before that. Your surmise is incorrect. You do not know
that I ran away from Lily, as well as from you and the Sub-Treasury."

"What do you mean?"

"I offered myself to her; she accepted me, and on the strength of it I
left her immediately. What do you think of me?"

"_She_ is a little wretch. Did you care for her _very_ much?"

"I thought she couldn't make a poor man a good wife, _after_ I had
asked her to be such. And I thought a poor man wouldn't be a good

"It was the height of foolishness in both of you. It is most unwise
for two people who have had luxuries separately to join and give them

"Luxuries! I wish you knew Peter and Maria."

"Osgood, you are morbid."

"Now, aunt, hear me. I am resolved to choose my own life; you must let
me go. Whatever way I go, I shall not disgrace you. Formica may give
me a sailor's outfit, if he chooses. Meantime let us enjoy ourselves
for the remainder of the week." Notwithstanding she saw that he was
determined, she applied to Senator Conch for a place, and he promised
her one for Osgood in a department at Washington. When she told Osgood
of it, he deigned no reply; but shook his head so fiercely that she
forebore to trouble him.

Every day that he saw Lily she learned his nature by the contrast
Barclay offered; she also learned to doubt herself. She never had been
worthy of Osgood; it was fit that she should marry Barclay. She
doubted whether she could keep up the strain, which she knew Osgood's
love would impose upon her, of self-abnegation, self-denial,
isolation, and independence. She was not sure that she did not prefer
enervation with Barclay to action with Osgood. Barclay watched them
both. Jealousy gnawed his soul, not because he doubted Osgood, but
because he had a suspicion that Lily once felt an interest in Osgood,
which might be on the point of awakening. He tried experiments upon
her feelings, pinched them, tore them up by the roots, extracted them
with wrenches of his will, applied slow fire; but he learned nothing.
His motive was so palpable to Osgood that he more than once felt on
the point of knocking him down, and had he seen any encouraging sign
from Lily he would have done it. He sometimes sighed over Barclay's
failure, hateful as his conduct was.

Through the torture which Barclay applied to her she saw the passion
which tortured him. Could a woman have been quailed into love she
would have been at his feet; for he broke loose from his feigned
submission and savagely demanded an equal return of his love. Then
came the full measure of her punishment. She was incapable of rising
to the strength, height, and abandon of Barclay's love. She was just
as unworthy of him as she was of Osgood.

How she hated herself!

Somehow she heard that Osgood was going to sea. It is probable that
Aunt Formica's feminine malice directed the disclosure to her ears.
She staggered Dr. Black a moment after she heard the report by asking
if it was true.

"It is," he answered, with dignity, though inwardly scared.

She asked no other question of him, but snapped her fan together and
walked away.

"Lily does not want you to go to sea," he said, when next he saw

Osgood blew a ring of cigar smoke into the air and watched its

"If wedding rings would only disappear that way!" said the Doctor.

Osgood blew another. "Include engagement rings," he said.

"One did vanish," replied the Doctor, slyly.

"I do not believe so. I swear she wears two this moment."

He left the Doctor, shut himself in his room, and wrote a long letter
to Peter about himself, Lily, and Barclay, and posted it.

"Peter will understand me," he thought; "and more than that, he will
understand Lily."

The last day of the Formicas' stay in Saratoga came. Osgood and Dr.
Black appeared in traveling costume. Lily saw them enter the
breakfast-room, and followed them with her father. As she passed their
chairs, she asked, "Do you go to-day?" Osgood bowed. Dr. Black engaged
Mr. Tree in making a remark.

"Why do you go?" she asked.

"Because Barclay stays," he whispered.

She turned a fiery red and passed on. He looked across the table once
and met her eyes. She thought they said "_Farewell._" A wild wish rose
in her heart which compelled all her nature to give way to it, to
speak to him once more; to see him alone, and force him to tell her if
he loved her. She resolved to find him somewhere, at all hazards.

Dr. Black watched her also. His comment was, that she was "coming to a
crisis," and was beautifully following out the laws which governed her

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Online LibraryVariousStories by American Authors, Volume 8 → online text (page 11 of 12)