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she in a whisper. " I do not wish to see any
one," and she went upstairs again.

Mrs. Cudworth returned to the kitchen,
and began bustling about, putting it in
order.

" It's a dark night," said she, going to a
window and peering out between her shad-
ing hands.

A man just then passed beneath the win-
dow, and she half drew back, but saw it
was the lieutenant She watched him pace
down the walk and then tiun again.

" The Lord preserve us," she said to her-
self, "but the lieutenant's keeping guard
He'll catch his death of cold."

"There's many a house in Boston to-night,"
said Mrs. Nixon, " where there's either a dead
body or a dying one. The Lord's judgments
are upon us. The town is doomed to de-
struction."

" Mrs. Nixon," said Mrs. Cudworth, plant-
ing herself before her, " the Lord keeps his
own counsel There have been folks died
from the beginning, and it's no worse dying
in Boston than anywhere else. There are a
good many live people here too, and there
are live people over yonder, the other side
of the Charles, and what we've got to do is
to keep our courage up, that's what I say ;
and when those boys come over here, as
come they wiU, and I shouldn't wonder if
they came this blessed night, what we want
is to be ready for them. Pm not going to
give in. I'm going to stancl it out, and the
town ain't going to be doomed either."

Mrs. Nixon spread out her hands to the
fire, but said nothing, perceiving, poor thing,
in her dull way, diat she and Mrs. Cudwordi
jarred that night, and that not even a corpse
m the house could depress Mrs. Cudworth
to her own habitual level. Presently she
rose and shuffled out of the house, with
a promise to come early in the morning
again.

" I'll not desert ye now, Tabitha, when
ye're in the valley of the shadow of death,"
and from the firmness of her tone, it was
plain that Mrs. Nixon, besides being a little
piqued, was capable of enjoying a walk with
her fiiend through any tract that looked
desolate and gloomy.

Above, in the room where the paralytic
had lain for weeks, steadily watched, a death
in life, by her daughter, lay now the dead
woman, while her daughter still sat by her
side. For weeks no voice had left the
mother's lips, and scarcely a sign of recogni-
tion, yet she had been alive, and now she was



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CUPID AND MARS,



331



dead. Ah, the wide separation there was in
that Speechless, almost immovable, she had
been a comfort and a hope to which her
daughter clung. Now, speechless and im-
movable, still she was a memory receding
with every tick of the clock. Not yet had
the girl turned away from that past which
she was vainly striving to perpetuate in the
present, cheating herself wilhngly into the
belief that, so long as she sat there, she was
living the old life stilL But always, like a
deep-toned bell, came the word dead, dead
to her lips, forced up from her heart, and in
the dullness of her grief, she seemed able
only to repeat it again and a^in, as if
trying to make the fact certam, and so
tolerable.

As she sat thus, isolated by her grief, with
only this dull beat of the melancholy word,
it seemed as if it came with renewed force
at regular intervals. She found herself
mechanically listening to a word which she
-almost mechanically framed for her own
hearing. Then she became strangely aware
of a measured beat mingling with this melan-
choly iteration in her own heart She aroused
herself to listen. It was a foot-fall in the
street below, steady and firm. She heard it
pass and re-pass back and forth, and she
knew before she quite confessed her knowl-
edge to herself that it was the lieutenant
keeping guard over the house. Soon she
watched fcM- the soimd, letting it die away
with a half fear, hearing it come again with
a new sense of relief As she sat thus,
leaning back wearily in her chair, Mrs.
Cudworth entered.

" Dear Miss," said she, " pray take your
rest now and I will watch."

" ReaUy I am not tired, Tabby," said she.
" Have you closed everything b^ow ? Has
Abigail gone ? "

'' She has ^one, and the house is closed ;
but I am dubious what to do about the lieu-
tenant He has not come in, and I mistrust
he is patroling in front of the house. There
has not been a knock at the door since he
went out"

" He said this whisUe would call him ? "
asked Miss Deland, fingenng the toy. " Leave
a light in the kitchen, Tabitha, and I will
call him presently."

" There is a light there now. Miss. I will
watch here if you wish to go down," said
Mrs. Cudworth, having a dim sense that her
mistress must needs be humored.

" No, go to bed. -You are very kind.
Tabby, and you need not fear but 1 will call
you if I need you."



Mrs. Cudworth left her young mistress to
herself; she was wont to obey her, for Miss
Deland's eyes were of the kind that make
one's words final, and she had looked at
Tabitha while she spoke.

When Hope Deland was left alone, she
sank back in her chair again and listened
to assure herself that her guard still paced
back and forth. Presendy she left the
room and went below into the kitchen.
They had closed the sitting-room and din-
ing-room of the house and used the kitchen
for a common room, for wood was scarce,
and Miss Deland had no wish to invite
society. She went to the door, opened it,
and blew a soft note upon the whistie. As
soon as she had done it, and heard a step
coming quickly down the walk, the blood
rushed to her cheeks and she stretched
out her hand to a chair. The lieutenant
entered the open door, and closed it behind
him. The girl rose as he came forward and
held out her hand.

"What can I do for you?" he asked
gentiy, as he took it.

The words cam J to her with a singular
fiiUness, and in her half-active state, she
found herself pursuing them beyond the sim-
ple meaning. A smile even began to grow
upon her lips, unknown to herself, answer-
ing some subtile suggestion of her mind.
What could he do ? She was not looking at
him, and the lieutenant let his eyes rest
eamesUy upon her. Somehow, an equal
leisure of mmd possessed them each. With
her, it was a dreamy condition; the time
for action had not yet come violentiy to her.
With him, it was a steady concentration of
all the turns and questionings of the evening
upon a single idea. Her £ce resolved his
doubts. He let her hand fall, and she
looked up and said simply :

" You are very kind, but I could not let
you stay longer out of doors. Tabitha gave
me your whistie," and she returned it to
him. " I have no fear," she added. " There
is something of a protection in death, I
think."

" I have never known it," said he. " I
have never stood in the presence of death."

" Come," said she, with a swift impulse.

He followed her upstairs into the room
where the mother lay, calm and remote.
They stood side by side. He could not
speak. The silent witness before them was
witness to a silent bond. The weeks of
their life together in this old house had been
steadily drawing them together, yet that
morning they had been apart, separated by



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332



CUPID AND MARS,



questions on one side and the other. To-
night, each had suddenly, swifUy, unmis-
takably been drawn to the other, and the
mutual dependence had decided the ques-
tions that they could not decide apart. " Till
death us do part" is the old formula, and
here it was preceded by " since death us
doth unite." Hope bent over her mother's
face and touched the cold lips with her own,
and Edward Page reverently bent, kneeled,
and bowed over the form likewise. It was
a silent exchange of vows ; but there is a
silence which does not covet words.

III.

On the morning of the 5th of March,
Genoal Howe, climbing the staircase of the
Province House to the cupola, looked out
and saw in the gray distance a redoubt upon
Dorchester Heights.

"The rebels!" he exclaimed. "They
have done more in one night than my whole
army would have done in a month."

The whole town was thrown into an
uproar. It was quickly known that the
council of war had determined upon an
attack of the redoubt, and transports were
bearing men to Castle William, where they
were to rendezvous, previous to the attack,
which was to be made under the command
of £aii Percy. As the day wore on, the
March winds began to rise and increased
in violence. The harbor was beaten by the
wind and the storm which it brought, and
the surf could be seen breaking upon the
shore below the heights, where Uie landing
was to be made. The troops were forced
to return, and eveiy one was running hither
and thither, the officers and men pursued
by varying orders, die loyalists crowding
about the Province House and loudly boast-
ing of the deeds that were to be done, timid
citizens secretly making preparations for a
safer hiding of their property, too well aware
that, in the general disturbance, plunder
would be the first thought of many, while
here and there women of bolder patriotism
met one another with high hopes of a release
at the hands of the colonial troops, with
whose more active valor their own patient
^th had kept company.

The storm rose higher, when a boat pushed
off fix)m Gree's ship-yard, near the Charles-
town ferry-way. The wind blew violently,
and the boat made slow headway, but the
tide was in its favor, as it worked its way
across the river toward Lechmere's Point
The yoimg man who pulled at the oars was



an athletic feUow, but he pulled slowly
and apparendy in no haste, while his com-
panion in the stem of the boat occasionally,
m a low voice, gave directions as to the course.
As they neaied the other shore, the lights
fix)m the camp grew more distinct, and it
was plain that a large body of men were
bivouacked there. The outline of a redoubt
could be seen indistinctly, and presently a
voice was heard on the shore.

"Who goes there?"

" A fiiend. Show me where to land."

There was a murmur of voices cm the
shore, when presenUy a boat pushed off in
the darkness. It came near, and a lantern
was suddenly flashed upon the two occu-
pants of the first boat.

"MissDeland!"

"Whatl Is that you, Thomas Cud-
worth?"

"Aye, it is. Throw us your painter, Cap-
tain, and we'll tow you in," and shortly they
were drawn up by a rough wharf and the
boat made fast

" I was Lieutenant Page, of the

Regiment,*' said that young man to the
officer of the guard " I am a deserter fix>m
the army. That's an ugly word, and it
sticks in my throat; but, as I know very
well what I am doing, I am not to be firight-
ened by a word. I ask that I may be taJLea
to headquarters with this lady, who has
made an escape fix>m the town with me."

The officer smiled to himself^ but ordered
a guard of men to escort the two to Cam-
bridge.

"There's a wagon out here. Captain,'*
said Thomas Cudwordi, who had begged to
be one of the guard ; " it hasn't any springs,
but may be it will be better than walkmg. I
say. Miss Deland, how's mother?"

"Very well, and waiting for you, Tom.
I couldn't persuade her to come with us.
She said you would be sure to be in Bosttm
in a few days, and she meant to welcome
you."

The fi:ee and easy manner of the Am^-
ican soldiers and their officers struck Page
as a great novelty, and suddenly the ludi-
crousness of their situation, so soon after
the peril of his head, overcame him.

" Hope," he whispered, " deserting is a
desperate business, but deserting in a mar-
ket wagon is something of a novelty. I say
that word over often, so as to get used
to it"

" Edward," said she, more eamesdy, •' I
am glad you would not let me persuade yoo
to come alone."



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HOUSEBUILDING.



333



"No, we are deserters together; that's
very plain."

The wagon stopped before General Put-
nam's headquarters at the Inman House
in Cambridge. Green, Sullivan and Putnam
were all there as the two deserters were
brought in. Miss Deland was given in charge
of the ladies of the household, while Page
was examined by the officers. He gave his
name and rank, but utterly refused to give
any information respecting the movements
or position of troops in Boston.

" Gentlemen," said he, " I am a deserter,
as I have told you, and I have left Boston
at the peril of my life. I do not propose to
enter die American army, but I do propose
to be an American citizen. Do not ask me
to betray my late country any further than
by depnving her of my personal services.
It cost me a struggle to give up my country,
and I cannot turn right about and be a fierce
American, but I shall be an honest one. I



became convinced that the principle was on
your side. I could not fight you any longer,
and, when it came to the pinch, I deserted,
rather than join in attacking you. I am to
marry Miss Deland. I could have married
her and thrown up my commission, but the
decision was forced upon me by the exigen-
cies of war. I have thrown up my com-
mission with a vengeance, and I am in no
mood to receive a new one from you, to
fight my late Mends. Gentlemen, I am
fiank with you, and I have only one other
favor to a^, that you will grant me a sol-
dier's wedding to-night"
- The Generab held a* brief council, the
result of which was, that while the storm
was raging and thousands of anxious hearts
in Boston and out were beating at the
near approach of the raising of the siege,
Edward Page and Hope Deland were mar-
ried — a pastoral in the midst of a lower-
ing war.



HOUSE-BUILDING.



I. IN GENERAL.

I DISLIKE and decline the word archi-
tecture in diis connection, because I cannot
see that architecture, properly speaking, has
anything to do with the building of a house.
I have never seen what might be called an
architectural dwelling-house that was not a
monstrosity. As soon as a man attempts to
build architecturally, all the gentler divinities
be^n to weep. Architecture is for public
building, and belongs to the State or the
Church. It is inspired by patriotism or the
grandeur of the religious sentiment ; but a
dwelling-house is the fruit of the domestic
instinct — the need of shelter, the love of
home, of wife, child and friend, and the
question of art, or of what is usually
understood as architectural beauty, is to be
steadily ignored in its construction.
, In fact I set out with the principle that
one's house, outside and inside, is to have in
the main what may be called negative
beauty ; because a house truly viewed is but
a setting, a background, and should never
be pushed to the front and made much of
on its own account

The hangings are a background for the
pictures, and are to give tone and atmo-
sphere to the rooms, while the whole interior



is but a background for the human form
and for the domestic life lived there, and
should always be minor, low-toned, and
unobtrusive.

Mr. Conway describes some artists' houses
in London, the positive beauty of whose
interiors must have completely belittled and
shamed the occupants, and made aU domes-
tic life therein appear vulgar and mean.
What jewels of humanity were these that
required such a setting-?

A house is for shelter, comfort, health, hos-
pitality — to eat in and sleep in, and be bom in
and die in, and should accord in appearance
with homely every-day usages, and with nat-
ural universal objects and scenes. Its root
must be in the affections, its characteristic
tone and suggestion that of domestic life.

The domestic impulse or instinct is not
the greatest the himian heart is capable of.
It is not that which built the cathedrals or
inspired the grand works of art in painting,
sculpture, poetry, etc., but it is that which
must build our houses, our homes, if we would
not have them an eye-sore to the passer by.
When father or grandfather, beginning at
the stump, set out to build his house, filled
with this impulse alone, — the desire for
shelter, safety, and simple comfort, — and the
log cabin arose under cover of the dark



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334



HOUSES UILDJNG,



forest, the result was beautiful to the true
eye ; or later, when the stumps had disap-
peaied, the forest had retreated and th^
family increased, his low, broad, unpainted,
clap-board house still merged in the land-
scape and left the eye free. Its beauty was
negative, it was more or less according to
him who looked upon it. But later still,
when the family had increased in wealth,
and its pride had kept pace, but not its cul-
ture and good manners, and its representa-
tive aimed to build something pleasing,
something that would look well and mark
his place as that of a man of wealth and
social importance, and his white, heavily cor-
niced, towered, French-roofed structure ob-
truded itself upon the old spot, pushing to
the background with its white picket fence,
all the old landmarks, the heart experienced
a chill and every wise eye was outraged
And we know what the pretentious white-
house period marks the end of in the rural
settlement It marks the end of the spirit of
friendliness and social interchanges between
neighbors. It inaugurates the period of
jealousy, of coldness, of back-biting. While
the people yet lived in their log huts, and
the battle went hard with them, they had
things more in common ; there was sympa-
thy and hearty good- will between them;
hard work and hard times made all the
world akin ; the people were drawn together
and their humble abodes were scenes of
sweet domestic life and neighborly inter-
changes. And when the primitive cabin
gave place to the large-ceiled farm-house,
there was still love, and fellowship, and
contentment among the people. They still
had large families, many children, hard
work, plain fare, few wants, and social
gatherings. They had ** bees," apple-cuts,
huskings, quiltings, spinnings, raisings,
shooting matches, trainings, etc., and plenty
of weddings and christenings. The tramp
or the stranger was given lodgings and food,
and the hospitality of the roof denied to
none.

But when the white house comes in, then
stand back; no familiarity, no "changing
works," no borrowing or lending now ; no
welcome to the peddler, or the poor itiner-
ant, now ; jealousy, envy, rivalry, and gen-
eral uncharitablenes^ reign. Of course I
would not have the man of wealth and
refinement imitate in his dwelling the rude
and simple make-shifts of his forefathers.
Let his wealth, his culture, and his position
be all inferred from his house, as we infer
his refinement and good breeding from his



tone and presence, and riot by open adver-
tisement of the fact in dress and equipage.
But all the same his house must be built by
his heart, his love of home. It must be as
truly expressive of his larger and more com-
plex wants, as was the log house of the
simple needs of the settler ; but its beauty
may be negative for all that. It may have
the beauty of rocks and trees, and not come
out and challenge the eye any more
markedly.

For it may be observed that what we call
beauty of nature is mainly negative beauty ;
that is, the mass, the huge rude background,
made up of rocks, trees, hills, mountains,
plains, waters, etc., has not beauty as a posi-
tive quality, visible to all eyes, but affords
the mind the conditions of beauty, namely :
health, strength,* fitness, etc., beauty being
an experience of the beholder. Some things,
on the other hand, as flowers, foliage, brill-
iant colors, sunsets, rainbows, water-falls,
may be said to be beautiful in and of them-
selves ; but how wearisome the world would
be without the vast negative background
upon which these things figure, and which
provokes and stimulates the mind in a way
the purely fair forms do not.

If one's house existed for its own sake, if
it were an end in and of itself, there might
be some fitness in the attempt to give it
positive beauty. Bu| as the matter stands,
only that human habitation satisfies my eye
in which the aim of beauty or art as such is
entirely swallowed up and lost sight of in
the suggestion of comfort, warmth, stability,
and I do not think that the house is beauti-
ful, but inviring and home-like. If the
builder has added any extrinsic ornaments,
anything not in keeping with the necessities
of the construction (of course I would not
confine him to the bare bones of the case) ;
if he has clapped on an abominable French
roof, whi< h, in our climate, answers so poorly
the pur]»oses of a roof, and- suggests no
shelter ur hospitality ; if he has thrust up a
tower where there is no view to command ;
or if he has painted his structure one of
those light, dehcate tints, that is like nothing
out of doors, and makes one feel as if the
house ought to be taken in out of the
wet and the weather, I see he has made a
bid for the admiration of the public, and
that he had no deep want in his heart to
satisfy.

We are drawn most by negative things
or qualities any way, are we not ? The health-
ful, robust mind is positive, and seeks in
nature, and mainly in art, something to



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HOUSEBUILDING.



335



awaken it and draw it but, its feminine
counterpart, a condition in which its own
germs of thought and feeling are unfolded
and given back enlarged.

How we are drawn by that which retreats
and hides itself, or gives«only glimpses and
half views ! Hence the value of trees as a
vail to an ugly ornamental house, and the
admirable setting they form to the pictur-
esque habitation I am contemplating. But
the house the heart builds, whether it be
cottage or viUa, can stand the broad, open
light without a screen of any kind. Its
neutral gray or brown tints, its wide pro-
jections and deep shadows, its simple strong
lines, its coarse open-air quality, its ample
roof QjT roofs, blend it witii the landscape
wherever it stands. Such a house seems to
retreat into itself, and invites the eye to fol-
low. Its interior warmth and coziness pen-
etrate the walls, and the eye gathers sugges-
tions of them, at every point

But how rare to see a country house that
suggests an inviting interior ! The outside
is generally so stark and bald and pro-
nounced, that all other ends or suggestions
are eclipsed, and the building seems to exist
for its exterior alone. Any very light tint
helps to give this effect, and destroys the
sense of depth and retreat the eye covets.

Herein is one great objection to the Man-
sard roof in the country. Now the roof of
a building allies it to the open air, and car-
ries the suggestion of shelter as no other
part does, and to belittle it, or conceal it, or
m any way take from the honest and direct
purport of it as the shield, the main matter
afler all, is not to be allowed. In the city
we see only the fronts, the facades of the
houses, and the flat and Mansard are in
order. But in the country, the house is
individualized, stands defined, and every
vital and necessary part is to be boldly and
strongly treated. The Mansard gives to the
country house a smart, dapper appearance,
and the effect of being perched up, and
looking about for compliments; such houses
seem to be ready to make the military salute
as you pass them. Whereas the steep, high
roof gives the house a setded, brooding,
introverted look. It also furnishes a sort
of foil to the rest of the building.

What constitutes the charm to the eye of
the old-fiEishioned country bam but its
immense roof— a slope of gray shingle
exposed to the weather like the side of a
hill, and by its amplitude suggesting a
bounty that warms die heart ? Many of
the old ferm-houses, too, were modeled on



the same generous scale, and at a distance
little was visible but their great sloping
foo^ They covered their inmates a^ a hen
covered! her brood, and are touching pict-
ures of the domestic spirit in its simpler forms.

What is a man's house but his nest, and
why should it not be nest-like both outside
and in— coarse, strong, negative in tone
externally, and snug and weU-feathered and
modeled by the heart within ? Why should
he set it on a hiU, when he can command a
nook under the hill or on its side ? Why
should it look like an observatory, when it
is a conservatoiy and dormitory ?

The domestic spirit is qmet, infcmnal,
imceremonious, loves ease, privacy, low
tones; loves tiie chimney comer, the old
arm-chair, the imdress garb, homely cares,
children, simple pleasures, etc; and why
should it, when it seeks to house itself from
the weather, aim at the formal, the showy,
the architectural, the external, the superflu-
ous? Let State edifices look stately, but
the private dwelling should express privacy



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 57 of 163)