Francis Hall.

The Century, Volume 11 online

. (page 43 of 163)
Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 43 of 163)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And to think I've kept clar of that sort o'
thing jest on OUy's account, jest that she

Digitized by





shouldn't have any woman around to boss

Nevertheless, when he and Oily sat down
to their frugal breakfast, he was uneasily
conscious of several oddities of her dress,
not before noticeable, and even some pecu-
liarities of manner.

"Ez a gineral thing, Oily," he pointed
out with cautious generalization, *'ez a
gineral thing, in perlite society, young gak
don't sit down a-straddle of their chairs, and
don't reach down every five minnits to heave
away at their boot-straps."

"As a general thing, Gabe, girls don't
wear boots," said OUy, leaning forward to
dip her bread in the frying-pan.

Artfully evading the question whether
high India-rubber boots were an indispen-
sable feature of a girl's clothing, Gabriel
continued with easy indifference :

" I think I'll drop in on Mrs. Markle on
my way to the Gulch this morning."

He glanced under his eyelids at as much
of his sister's face as was visible behind
the slice of bread she was consuming.

"Take me with you, Gabe ?"

" No," said Gabriel, " you must stay here
and do up the house ; and, mind you keep
out o* the woods until your work's done.
Besides," he added, loftily, " I've got some
business with Mrs. Markle."

"Oh, Gabe!" said Oily, shining all over
her face with gravy and archness.

" rd like to know what's the matter with
you. Oily," said Gabriel, with dignified com-

" Ain't you ashamed, Gabe ? "

Gabriel did not stop to reply, but rose,
gathered up his tools and took his hat fix)m
the comer. He walked to the door, but
suddenly turned and came back to Oily.

" OUy," he said, taking her face in both
hands, after his old fashion, " Ef anything
at any time should happen to me, I want
ye to think, my darling, ez I always did my
best for you. Oily, for you. Wotever I did
was always for the best."

Oily thought instandy of the river.

" You ain't goin' into deep water to-day,
Gabe, are you?" she asked, with a slight
premonitory quiver of her short upper lip.

"Pooty deep for me, OUy; but," he
added hastily, with a glance at her alarmed
face, "don't you mind, I'U come out aU
safe. Good-bye."

He kissed her tenderly. She ran her
fingers through his sandy curls, deftly
smoothed his beard, and reknotted his

" You ougliter hev put on your oAer shttt,
Gabe; that ain't clean; and you a* goin'
to Mrs. Markle's ! Let me get your straw
hat, Gabe. Wait"

She ran in behind the screen, but when
she returned, he was gone.

It had been raining the night before, but
on the earth benea£ there was a dewj
freshness, and in the sky above, the beauty
of cloud scenery — a beauty rare to Califor-
nia except during the rainy season. Oabrie!,
although not usually affected by metecMt>-
logical influences, nor peculiarly susceptible
to the charms of Nature, felt that the morn-
ing was a fine one, and was for that reason,
I imagine, more than usuaUy accessible to
the bland^hments of the fiur. From ad-
miring a tree, a flower, or a gleam of sun-
shine, to the entertainment of a dangerous
sentimentalism in regard of the other sex, is,
I fear, but a facile step to some natures,
whose only safety is in continuous practi-
cality. Wherefore, Gabriel, as he approach-
ed the cottage of Mrs. Markle, was induced
to look from Nature up to — Nature's god-
dess — Mrs. Markle, as her strong, bright
face appeared above the dishes she was
washing by the kitchen window.

And here occurred one of those femi-
nine inconsistencies that are charming to
the average man, but are occasionaUy ineflft-
cient with an exceptional character. Mis.
Markle, who had always been exceedingly
genial, gentle and natural with Gabriel dur-
ing his shyness, seeing him coming with a cer-
tain fell intent of cheerfulness in his face, in-
standy assumed an aggressive manner, which,
for the sake of its probable warning to the
rest of her sex, I venture to transo^.

" Ef you want to see me, Gabriel Con-
roy," said Mrs. Markle, stopping to wipe
the suds from her brown, but handsomely
shaped arms, "you must come up to the
sink, for I can't leave the dishes. Joe
Markle always used to say to me, 'Sue»
when you've got work to do, you don't let
your mind wander 'round much on anything
else.' Sal, bring a cheer here for Gabrid —
he don't come often enough to stand up for
a change. We're hard-working women, you
and me, Sal, and we don't get time to be
sick — and sick folks is about the only kind
as Mr. Conroy cares to see."

Thoroughly astonished as Gabriel was
with this sarcastic reception, there was stiU a
certain relief that it brought to him ; ** OUy
was wrong," he said to himself, " that wo-
man only thinks of washin' dishes, and
]ookin' after her boardeis. Ef she was alius

Digitized by




Hke this — and would leave a man alone,
never foolin' around him, but kinder
standin' off and tendin' strictly to the busi-
ness of the house, why it wouldn't be such
a bad thing to mairy her. But like as not
she'd change — you can't trust them critters.
Howsomever I can set Olly's mind at rest;"

Happily unconscious of the heresies that
were being entertained by the silent man
before her, Mrs. Markle briskly continued
her washing and her monologue, occasion-
ally crinkling Gabriel with the overflow of

•* When I say hard-workin' women, Sal,"
said Mrs. Markle, still addressing a gaunt
fem;^ companion, whose sole functions
were confined to chuckling at Gabriel over
the dishes she was wiping, and standing
with her back to her mistress — " When I
say hard-woridn' women, Sal, I don't for-
get ez they are men ez is capable of doin'
all that and more — ^men ez looks down on
you and me." Here Mistress Markle broke
a i^ate, and then, after a pause, sighed,
^ced around with a little color in her chedc
and a sharp snap in her black eyes, and
declared that she was '* that narvous " this
morning that she couldn't go on.

There was an embarrassing silence. Luck-
ily for Gabriel, at this moment the gaunt Sal
lacked up the dropped thread of conversa-
tion, and with her back to her mistress, and
profoundly ignoring his presence, addressed
henelf to the wall.

^ Narvous you well may be, Susan, and
you slavin' for forty boarders, with transitory
meals for travelers, and nobody to help you.
If ydu was flat on your back with rheuma-
tiz, ez you well might be, perhaps you might
get a haiKl. A death in the family might
be of sarvice to you in callin' round you
frioxls az couldn't otherwise leave their
business. That cough that little Manty had
onto her for the last five weeks would
fri^ten some mothers into a narvous con-

Gabrid at that moment had a vivid and
guil^ recollection of noddng Manty Markle
wadrog in the ditch below the house as he
entered, and of having observed her with the
interest of possible paternal relationship.
That relationship seemed so preposterous and
indefensible on all moral grounds, now that
he began to feel himself in the light of an im-
postor, and was proportionally embarrassed.
His confusion was shown in a manner pecu-
liarly charactmstic of himselfl Drawing a
small pocket comb fi-om his pocket, he be-
pn combing out his sandy curb, softly.

with a perplexed smile on his face. The
widow had often noticed this action, di-
vined its cause, and accepted it as a tribute.
She began to relent. By some occult femi-
nine sympathy, this relenting was indicated
by the other woman.

" You're out of sorts this morning, Susan,
'nd if ye'U take a fool's advice, ye'll jest
quit work, and make yerself comfortable in
the settin'-room, and kinder pass the time o'
day with Gabriel ; onless he's after waitin'
to pick up some hints about housework. I
never could work with a man around. I'll
do up the dishes ef you'll excuse my kem-
pany, which two is and three's none. Yer,
give me that apron. You don't hev time, I
declare. Sue, to tidy yourself up. And your
hair's comin' down."

The gaunt Sal, having recognized Ga-
briel's presence to this extent, attempted to
reorganize Mrs. Markle's coiffure, but was
playfully put aside by that lady, with the
remark, that "she had too much to do to
think of them things."

"And it's only a mop, any way," she
added, with severe self-depreciation ; " let it
alone, will you, you Sal ! Thar I I told you,
now you've done it"

And she had. The infamous Sal, by
some deft trick well known to her deceitful
sex, had suddenly tumbled the whole wealth
of Mrs. Markle's black mane over her plump
shoulders. Mrs, Markle, with a laugh, would
have flown to the chaste recesses of the sit-
ting-room ; but Sal, like a true artist, restrain-
ed her, until the full effect of this poetic
picture should be impressed upon the im-
suspecting Gabriel's memory.

"Mop, indeed," said Sal. " It's well
that many folks is of many minds, and self-
praise is open disgrace; but when a man
like Lawyer Maxwell sez to me only yester-
day, sittin' at this very table, lookin' kinder up
at you. Sue, as you was passin' soup, uncon-
scious like, and one o' them braids droppin*
down, and jest missin' the plate, when Law-
yer Maxwell sez to me, * Sal, thar's many a
fine lady in Frisco ez would give her pile
to hev Susan Markle's hair ' "

But here Sal was interrupted by the bash-
ful escape of Mrs. Markle to the sitting-

"Ye don't know whether Lawyer Max-
well has any bisness up this way, Gabriel,
do ye ? " said Sal, resuming her work.

" No," said the unconscious Gabriel, hap-
pily as oblivious of the artful drift of the
question as he had been of the dangerous
suggestiveness of Mrs. Markle's hair.

Digitized by





" Because he does kinder pass here more
frequent than he used, and hez taken ez
menny ez five meals in one day. I declare,
I thought that was him when you kem jest
now ! I don't think thet Sue notices it, not
keering much for that kind of build in a
man,'' continued Sal, glancing at Gabriel's
passively powerful shoulders, and the placid
strength of his long limbs. " How do you
think Sue's looking now— ez a friend inter-
ested in the family — ^how does she look to
you ? "

Gabriel hastened to assure Sal of the
healthful appearance of Mrs. Markle, but
only extracted from his gaunt companion a
long sigh and a shake of the head.

" It's deceitful, Gabriel ! No one knows
what that poor critter goes through. Her
mind's kinder onsetded o' late, and, in that
onsettled state, she breaks things. You see
her break that plate jest now ? Well, per-
haps I oughtn't to say it — but you being a
friend and in confidence, for she'd kill me,
being a proud kind o' nater, suthin' like my
own, and it may not amount to nothin' arter
all — but I kin always tell when you've been
around by the breakages. You was here,
let's see, the week afore last, and there
wasn't cups enough left to go round that
night for supper 1 "

"May be it's chills," said the horror-
stricken Gabriel, his worst fears realized,
rising fix>m his chair ; " I've got some In-
dian cholagogue over to the cabin, and I'll
jest run over and get it, or send it back."
Intent only upon retreat, he would have
shamelessly flown ; but Sal intercepted him
with a face of mysterious awe.

" £f she should kem in here and find
you gone, Gabriel, in that weak state of
hers — narvous you may call it, but so it is
— I wouldn't be answerable for that poor
critter's life. Ef she should think you'd
gone, arter what has happened, arter what
has passed between you and her to-day, it
would jest kill her."

" But what has passed ? " said Gabriel, in
vague alarm.

"It ain't for me," said the gaunt Sal,
loftily, " to pass my opinion on other folk's
conduct, or to let on what this means, or
what thet means, or to give my say about
people callin' on other people, and broken
crockery, hair combs" — Gabriel winced —
" and people ez is too nice and keerfiU to
open their mouths aft>re folks ! It ain't for
me to get up and say that, when a woman
is ever so little out of sorts, and a man is so
bs gone ez he allows to rush off like a mad-

man to get her medicines, what ez, or what
ezn't in it. I keep my own counsel, and
thet's my way. Man/s the time Sue her
said to me : * £f thar ever was a woixi^in ez
knowed how to lock herself up and throw
away the key, it's you, SaL' And there you
are, ma'am, and it's high time ez plain help
like me stopped talkin' while ladies and
gentlemen exchanged the time o' day. "

It is hardly necessary to say that the
latter part of this speech was addressed to
the widow, who, at that moment, appeared
at the door of the sitting-room, in a new
calico gown that showed her plump figruie
to advantage, or that the gaunt Sal intended
to indicate the serious character of the per-
formance by a show of increased respect to
the actors.

" I hope I ain't intrudin' on your conver-
sarion," said the widow archly, stopping,
with a show of consideration, on the thresh-
old. '' £f you and Sal ain't done private
matters yet — I'll wait."

"I don't think ez Gabriel hez an)rdiin^
more to say thet you shouldn't hear, Mrs.
Markle," said Sal, strongly implying a re-
cent confidential disclosure from Gabriel,
which deUcacy to Gabriel alone prevented
her firom giving. " But it ain't for me to
hear confidence in matters of the feelings.**

It is difiicult to say whether Mrs. Markle's
archness, or Sal's wofiil perspicuity, was
most alarming to Gabriel. He rose; he
would have flown, even with the terrible
contingency of Mrs. Markle's hysterics be-
fore his eyes; he would have faced even
that forcible opposition firom Sal of which
he fiilly believed her capable, but that a
dreadful suspicion that he was already hope-
lessly involved, that something would yet
transpire that would enable him to explain
himself, and perhaps an awfiil fascination of
his very danger turned his irresolute feet
into Mrs. Markle's sitting-room. Mrs.
Markle , offered him a chair, he sank help-
lessly into it, while, fix)m the other room,
Sal, violently clattering her dishes, burst
into shrill song, so palpably done for the
purpose of assuring the bashfiil couple of
her inability to overiiear their tender confi-
dences, that Gabriel colored to the roots of
his hair.

That evening Gabriel retiuned from his
work in the gulch more than usually grave.
To OUy's inquiries he rephed shortly and
evasively. It was not, however, Gabriel's
custom to remain uncommunicative on even
disagreeable topics, and Oily bided her
time. It came after their firugal supper was

Digitized by




over— which, unlike the moming meal,
passed without any fastidious criticism on
Gabriers part — and Oily had drawn a small
box, her 4vonte seat, between her brother's
legs, and rested the back of her head com-
fortably against his waistcoat. When Ga-
briel had lighted his pipe at the solitary
candle, he gave one or two preliminary
pu&, and then, taking his pipe from his
mouth, said gently :

"Oily, it can't be done."

"What can't be done, Gabe?" queried
the artful Oily, with a swift preconception
of the answer, expanding her little mouth
into a thoughtful smile.

"Thet thing."

"What thing, Gabe?"

"This yer marryin' o' Mrs. Markle," said
Gabriel, with an assumption of easy, busi-
ness-like indifTerence.

"Why?" asked Oily.

"She wouldn't hev me."

" What ? " said Oily, facing swiftly around.

Gabriel evaded his sister's eyes, and, look-
ing in the fire, repeated slowly, but with
great firmness :

" No ; not fur— fur— fur a gift I "

"^c's a mean, stuck-up, horrid old
thing!" said Oily fiercely. "I'd jest like
to— why, thar ain't a man az kin compare
with you, Gabe ! Like her impudence ! "

Gabriel waved his pipe in the air depre-
catingly, yet with such an evident air of
cheerful resignation, that OUy faced upon
him again suspiciously, and asked :


"She said," replied Gabe slowly, "thet
h« heart — ^was — ^given — to another. I
think she struck into poetry, and said :

'My heart it is another's.
And it never can be thine.'

Thet is, I think so. I disremember her
^)ecial remark. Oily; but you know women
allcrs spout poetry at sech times. Ennyhow,
that's about the way the thing panned out."

"Who was it?" said OUy suddenly.

"She didn't let on who," said Gabriel
measily. "I didn't think it the square
thing to inquire."

"Wen," said Oily.

Gabriel looked down still more embar-
rassed, and shifted his position. " Well,"
be repeated.

" What did you say ? " said OUy.


" No, afore. How did you do it, Gabe ? "
said OUy, comfortably fixing her chin in her
hands, and looking up in her brother's face.

" Oh, the usual way I" said Gabriel, with
a motion of his pipe, to indicate vague and
glittering generalities of courtship.

"But how? Gabe, teU me aU about

" WeU," said Gabriel, looking up at the
roof, " wimen is bashful ez a general things
and thar's about only one way ez a man can
get at 'em, and that ez, by being kinder
keerless and bold. Ye see, OUy, when I
kem inter the house, I sorter jest chuckled
Sal under the chin— thet way, you know —
and then went up and put my arm around
the widder's waist, and kissed her two or
three times, you know, jest to be sociable
and familiar like."

"And to think, Gabe, thet after aU that
she wouldn't hev ye," said OUy.

"Not at any price," said Gabriel posi-

" The disgustin' beast I " said OUy. " I'd
jest Hke to ketch that Mantjr hangin' round
yer after that!" she contmued savagely^
with a vicious shake of her little fist. "And
just to think, only to-day we give her her
pick o* them pups ! "

" Hush, OUy, ye mustn't do an)rthin' o'^
the sort," said Gabriel hastUy. " Ye must
never let on to any one anything. If s con-
fidence, OUy— confidence, ez Uiese sort o'
things aUus is — atween you and me. Be-
sides," he went on re-asstuingly, "that's noth-
in*. Lord, afore a man's married, he haz to
go through this kind o' thing a dozen times.
It's expected. There was a man as I once
knowed," continued Gabriel, with shameless
mendacity, " ez went through it fifty times,
and he was a better man nor me, and could
shake a thousand doUars in the face of any
woman. Why, bless your eyes, OUy, some
men jest likes it — it's excitement — like per-

"But what did you say, Gabe?" said
OUy, returning with fresh curiosity to the
central fact, and ignoring the Pleasures of
Rejection as expounded by Gabriel.

" WeU, I just up and sez this : Susan Mar-
kle, sez I, the case is just this. Here's OUy
and me up there on tfie hiU, and jess you
and Manty down yer on the Gulch and
mountings wUd and vaUeys deep two loving
hearts do now divide, and there's no reason
why it shouldn't be one famUy and one
house, and that family and that house mine*
And it's for you to say when. And then I
kinder slung in a Uttle more poetry, and
sorter fooled around with that ring," said
Gabriel, showing a heavy plain gold ring on
his powerful Uttle finger, "and jest kissed

Digitized by




her agin and chucked Sal under the chin,
and that's all."

"And she wouldn't hev ye, Gabe," said
Oily thoughtfully, " after all that ? Well,
who wants her to ? I don't."
• " I'm glad to hear ye say that, Oily," said
Gabriel. " But ye mustn't let on a word of
it to her. She talks o' coming up on the
hill to build, and wants to buy that part of
the old claim where I perspected last sum-
mer, so's to be near us and look arter you.
And OUy," continued Gabriel gravely, " ef
she comes round yer foolin' around me ez
she used to do, ye mustn't mind that — it's
women's ways."

" I'd like to ketch her at it ! " said Oily.

Gabriel looked at Oily with a guilty
satisfaction, and drew her toward him.

"And now that it's all over, OUy," said
he, "it's all the better ez it is. You and
me'U get along together ez comfortable ez
we kin. I talked with some of the boys the
other day about sendin' for a schoolmarm
from Marysville, and Mrs. Markle thinks
if s a good idee. And you'll go to school,
Oily. I'll run up to Marysville next week
and get you some better clothes, and we'll
be just ez happy ez ever. And then some
day, OUy, afore you know it — them things
come always suddent — I'U jest make a
strike outer that ledge, and we'U be rich.
Thar's money in that ledge, OUy, I've alius

allowed that. And then we'U go— you and
me — to San Francisco, and we'U hev a big
house, and I'll jest invite a lot of little giiis —
the best they is in Frisco, to play with you,
and you'U hev all the teachers you want,
and women ez wiU be glad to look arter yc
And then maybe I might make it up with
Mrs. Markle—"

"Never!" said OUy, passionately.

"Never it is!" said the artful Gabri^
with a glow of pleasure in his eyes, and a
slight stirring of remorse in his breast. ** But
it's time that smaU gals like you was abed."

Thus admonished,' OUy retired behind
the screen, taking the solitary candle, and
leaving her brother smoking his pipe by the
light of the slowly dying fire. But Oily did
not go to sleep, and half an hour later, peer-
ing out of the screen, she saw her brother
stUl sitting by the fire, his pipe extinguished,
and his head resting on his hand. She
went up to him so softly that she startled
him, shaking a drop of water on the hand
that she suddenly tlurew round his neck.

" You ain't worrying about that woman,

" No," said Gabriel, with a laugh.

OUy looked down at her hand. Gabriel
looked up at the roof.

"There's a leak thar that's got to be
stopped to-moiTow. Go to bed. Oily, or
you'll take your death,"

(To be continued.)


What is this melody beneath the grass?

Come hither, stoop and listen, — nearer yet;

And push aside the thick and tangled net
Of bending rushes and the brakes' green mass.

It tones the shrilling of the locust's glee,
And, like a harper's touches faUing in
With high notes of a master's violin,

It binds a jarring strain to harmony.

Hush, bobolink I and cease to emulate.

Gay bird, thou hast not caught the gentle song:
Too many roguish thoughts together throng.

And mingle in thy carols to thy mate.

But, firesh firom graver forest-symphonies.
The winds, in varied movement, low and sweet,
Within the pines and birch-trees may repeat

This sweetest of the meadow's melodies.

Digitized by





" So Joshua sent men to measure their country, and sent with them some geometricians, who could
not easily £ul of knowing the truth, on account of their skill in that art" — "Jew. Antiq." v., I, 21.


The Temple site is now known as the
Haram ash Sh^f. It is at once the most
sacred and the most ancient, and within its

Rome has been to the Catholic Church.
This Noble Sanctuary is the site of every-
thing most dear to the Jew. Here were
chanted in the First Temple the songs of
Zion, and all that the prophets foretold of
glory and dishonor, of victory and defeat, of









Royal CloJgtTg




1 .1 Ic




IHpte Cknaierg



< — ^"^ iM A» ' m»

^^ are concentrated the most important
legends of Jew, Moslem, and Christian. To
t^e Jews, the Holy Hill, with its Inclosure,
^as more than Rome's citadel was to the
Romans. It was the stronghold of their
^^gion and sacred history, somewhat as
Vou XL— 17.

promise and penalty, were drawn to a focus
on the hill of the Temple, comprising an
area confined within the limits of the Haram.
It is at present the most beautiful spot in the
whole city, without exception. It has all the
outward appearance of a private park. The

Digitized by




great Dome of the Rock rises in its midst,
surrounded with cypresses and olive-trees,
marble fountains, arches, domes, cupolas,
and graven pulpits, while the great Dome
itself rests upon a broad platform of Jerusa-
lem limestone.

The Sakhra is the rocky pinnacle or
apex of the rocky spur forming the surface

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 43 of 163)