George Streynsham Master.

The Century, Volume 19 online

. (page 113 of 160)
Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 113 of 160)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Van Wart had on his boat, up to Oneida
Lake, when he tried to anchor with his
stove, and he run a bowlin* round the stove,
and the stove slipped bowlin* and they was
wrecked a'most all to nothin' ! '*

The Tiler's assistant steersman, the
French-Canadian Phileas, had found an ac-
quaintance, an educated boatman's daughter
of old Skenesboro', who in the summer did
menial duty on the canal-boat Annie Gilli-


zling with jewelry and Worth-ljke in toilet.
A fair boatman's daughter in a Sunday
" costume," guiding the tiller with one hand
as she sits on a pretty camp-chair, slowly
waving a gauze fan with the other, and
smiling to a smart young bachelor captain
on the next barge, is a pretty sight for sum-
mer sunsets to see. Snatches of character-
istic conversation reached the tourists.

" Quite a smart of a thunderstorm that
was as we went up," said an old comrade of
our trip, to Captain Davenport. " Tore my

gan^ and in winter taught French and phil-
osophy to a school maintained on the navy
of barges hibernating at Jersey City.

Supposing themselves safe from auditors,
the dark -eyed steersman and the phenome-
nal boatman's daughter conversed with the
most desperate flirting intention.

Meanwhile, the Tilers' landlady, in her
best clothes, was preparing to receive some
matrons of her acquaintance, in the micro-
scopic quarters that represented her exper-
ience of home.

Digitized by





"Just wait, Mrs. Montgomery," she
called up the step-ladder anxiously, " till I
throw my old shaker into the ketch-all,
and ril be ready for you to come down.
What news have ye now ? "

" Why, we had a black snake in our holt,
up to Whitehall, only last month, as ever it
was I And it come into my own cabin. It put
its head into the molasses, and it seemed to
like that, and it eat up a lot of little cakes
as was there, yes, and they shot it through
the window ; why they had it on the lock
day in and day out, for a show ; and if
you've been to Whitehall they could have
showed you the very lock where it was laid

" Laws, laws ! and to think as it might
have been in me as well as in you, and got
into the gentlemen's provisions! But FU
ask *em to let us go through the boat di-

Presently, during this inspection, the visitor
looks up at the sky through the hold.

" Lawks, Mary Ann Davenport, I do be-
lieve it's going to rain, and I've left my
windows all open ! I might just as well have
left this dress of Maria's, for I haven't had
time to put a stitch into it. Good-bye ! You
can come over and pay me a visit by moon-

The party lost its integrity when a little

row-boat, darting
out from a turreted
villa on the Hudson,
bore off one of the
members to his
home, where his
mother, a watcher
in a tower-window,
beheld the maneu-
ver and compared
herself to indefinite
Rhine heroines of
the Nibelungenlied.
After this the de-
scent to the city was
commonplace. The
era of uneasiness, of
bag-strapping, of
little casual good-
byes, was come.
Daniel yet remem-
the appetite displayed
)er, which he made the
his existence. " Laws ! "
1 the sumptuous studio
major-domo and brush-
washer, "how the gemmen did pitch
into that 'ere chicken brile that night !
Teared like they wa'n't never going to get
enough, nor of de waffles, neither," The
portly and Zouave-like waiter, who conde-
scendingly visits him there occasionally,
becomes reminiscent, and hopes that the
gentlemen's appetites continue good, but
remarks that one waiter to attend to that


Digitized by




number of famished artists at table is a mere
derision. At Saratoga, his next summer
home, the contingent of service will be dif-
ferently calculated.

As for Deuteronomy, so wise in his gen-
eration, — the only tourist who contrived to
make the trip a period of unbroken rest, —

his whereabouts are not accurately known.
But it is the confident trust of every mem-
ber of the Club that some one of our
excellent American reformatory institutions
has taken him in hand, to confer the
moral benefits that they so well know how
to extend.



Though I recall no word, no glance, no tone,
Whereon my eager memory might repose.
Yet, like the earth where grew the Persian rose,
I feel a higher life inspire my own; —
And since that higher life I have been near.
Some aura, some mysterious effluence,
Transcending all the scope of thought or sense.
Surrounds me like a rarer atmosphere;
And dwelling now in this new element,
The world of daily life exalted seems ;
I walk therein as in the realm of dreams,
Following the thought that leads me on intent,
As if a stream that wandered aimlessly
Had heard at last the murmur of the sea.

Digitized by






Author of "That Lass o' Lowrie's," "Surly Tim, and Other Stories," "Haworth's," etc



The morning after, Ferrol heard an an-
nouncement which came upon him like a
clap of thunder.

After breakfast, as they walked about the
grounds, Olivia, who had seemed to be in
an abstracted mood, said, without any
preface :

" Miss Rogers returns home to-morrow."

Laurence stopped short in the middle of
the path.

" To-morrow ! " he exclaimed. " Oh, no."

He glanced across at Louisiana with an
anxious face.

" Yes," she said, " I am going home."

"To New York?"

" I do not live in New York."

She spoke quite simply, but the words

were a shock to him. They, embarrassed
him. There was no coldness in her man-
ner, no displeasure in her tone, but, of
course, he understood that it would be
worse than tactless to inquire further. Was
it possible that she did not care that he
should know where she lived? There
seemed no other construction to be placed
upon her words. He flushed a little, and
for a few minutes looked rather gloomy,
though he quickly recovered himself after-
ward and changed the subject with credita-
ble readiness.

" Did not you tell me she lived in New
York ? " he asked Olivia, the first time they
were alone together.

" No," Olivia answered, a trifle sharply.
" Why New York, more than another

" For no reason whatever, — really," he
returned, more bewildered than ever.

* Copyright, 1880, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. All rights reserved.

Macmillan & Co.

Copyright in England by

Digitized by




-** There wns no reason why I should choose
New York, only when I spoke to her of

oertain places there, she — ^she "

He paused and thought the matter over
<:arefully before finishing his sentence. He
«nded it at last in a singular manner.

" She said nothing," he said. " It is
actually true — ^now I think of it — ^she said
nothing whatever!"

**And because she said nothing what-

-ever " began Olivia.

He drew his hand across his forehead
i^th a puzzled gesture.

" I fancied she looked as if she knew," he
said, slowly. *' I am sure she looked as if
she knew what I was talking about — as if
she knew the places, I mean. It is very
-queer! There seems no reason in it. Why
shouldn't she wish us to know where she

" I — I must confess," cried Olivia, " that
I am getting a little tired of her."

It was treacherous and vicious, and she
luiew it was ; but her guilty conscience and
her increasing sense of having bungled
drove her to desperation. If she had not
promised to keep the truth to herself, she
would have been only too glad to unbur-
den herself. It was so stupid, after all, and
she had only herself to blame.
Laurence drew a long breath.
" You cannot be tir^ of her!'^ he said.
•**That is impossible. She takes firmer
hold upon one every hour."

This was certainly true, as far as he was
•concerned. He was often even surprised
at his own enthusiasm. He had seen so
many pretty women that it was almost in-
<x>nsistent that he should be so much moved
by the prettiness of one charming creature,
and particularly one who spoke so little,
who, after all, was — ^but there he always
found himself at a full stop. He could not
say what she was, he did not know yet;
really, he seemed no nearer the solution of
the mystery than he had been at first.
There lay the fascination. He felt so siu-e
there was an immense deal for him to dis-
cover, if he could only discover it. He had
an ideal in his mind, and this ideal, he felt
confident, was the real creature, if he could
only see her. During the episode on the
upper gallery he fancied he had caught a
glimpse of what was to be revealed. The sud-
den passion on her pale young face, the fire
in her eyes, were what he had dreamed of.
If he had not been possessed of courage
and an honest faith in himself, bom of a
goodly amount of success, he would have
Vol. XIX.— 47.

been far more depressed than he was. She
was going away, and Had not encouraged
him to look forward to their meeting again.

" I own it is rather bad to look at," he
said to himself, " if one quite believed that
Fate would serve one such an ill turn. She
never played me such a trick, however, and
I wont believe she will. I shall see her
again — sometime. It will turn out fairly
enough, surely."

So with this consolation he supported
hin^self. There was one day left and he
meant to make the best of it. It was to be
spent in driving to a certain mountain,
about ten miles distant. All tourists who
were possessed of sufficient energy made
this excursion as a matter of duty, if fi-om
no more enthusiastic motive. A strong,
light carriage and a pair of horses were kept
in the hotel stables for the express purpose
of conveying guests to this special point.

This vehicle Ferrol had engaged the day
before, and as matters had developed he
had cause to congratulate himself upon the
fact. He said to Louisiana what he had
before said to himself:

"We have one day left, and we will
make the best of it."

Olivia, who stood upon the gallery before
which the carriage had been drawn up,
glanced at Louisiana fiutively. On her
part she felt privately that it would be
rather hard to make the best of it. She
wished that it was well over. But Louisi-
ana did not retium her glance. She was
looking at Ferrol and the horses. She had
done something new this morning. She
had laid aside her borrowed splendor and
attired herself in one of her own dresses,
which she had had the boldness to remodel.
She had seized a hint firom some one of
Olivia's possessions, and had given her cos-
tume a pretty air of primitive simpUcity.
It was a plain white lawn, with a little
firilled cape or fichu which crossed upon her
breast, and was knotted loosely behind.
She had a black velvet ribbon around her
lithe waist, a rose in her bosom where the
fichu crossed, and a broad Gainsborough
hat upon her head. One was reminded
somewhat of the pictiu:esque young woman
of the good old colony times. Ferrol, at
least, when he first caught sight of her,
was reminded of pictiu'es he had seen of

There was no trace of her last night's
fire in her manner. She was quieter than
usual through the first part of the drive.
She was gentle to submissiveness to Olivia.

Digitized by




There was something even tender in her
voice once or twice when she addressed her.
Laurence noticed it, and accounted for it
naturally enough.

** She is really fonder of her than she has
seemed," he thought, " and she is sorry that
their parting with each other is so near."

He was just arriving at this conclusion
when Louisiana touched his arm.

" Don't take that road," she said.

He drew up his horses and looked at her
with surprise. There were two roads be-
fore them, and he had been upon the point
of taking the one to the right.

" But it is the only road to take," he con-
tended. " The other does not lead to the
mountain. I was told to be siu-e to take
the road to the right hand."

" It is a mistake," she said, in a disturbed
tone. "The left-hand road leads to the
mountain, too — at least, we can reach there
by striking the wagon-road through the
woods. I — ^yes, I am sure of it."

"But this is the better road. Is there
any reason why you prefer the other?
Could you pilot us ? If you can "

He stopped and looked at her appeal-

He was ready to do anything she wished,
but the necessity for his yielding had passed.
Her face assumed a set look.

"I can't," she answered. "Take the
road to the right. Why not ? "


Ferrol was obliged to admit when they
turned their faces homeward that the day
was hardly a success, after all. Olivia had
not been at her best, for some reason or
other, and from the moment at which they
had taken the right-hand road Louisiana
had been wholly incomprehensible.

In her quietest mood she had never worn
a cold air before ; to-day she had been cold
and unresponsive. It had struck him that
she was absorbed in thinking of something
which was quite beyond him. She was
plainly not thinking of him, nor of Olivia, nor
of the journey they were making. During
the drive she had sat with her hands folded
upon her lap, her eyes fixed straight before
her. She had paid no attention to the scen-
ery, only rousing herself to call their atten-
tion to one object. This object was a
house they passed — the rambling, low-

roofed, white house of some weD-«o-:j
farmer. It was set upon a small hiD d
had a long front porch, mottled with bb
and white paint in a sanguine attempc:]
imitating variegated marble.

She burst into a low laugh wheo £:
saw it.

" Look at that," she said. " That is cc
of the finest houses in the country. T -
man who owns it is counted a rich iil=
among his neighbors."

Ferrol put up his eye-glasses to examr-
it. (It is to be deplored that he was a tr-
fle near-sighted.)

"By George!" he said. "That is r
idea, isn't it, that marble business ! I wob-
der who did it ? Do you know the nac
who lives there ?"

" I have heard of him," she answered
"from several people. He is a ntBrnf*^^*-
of mine. His name is Rogers."

When they returned to their cania^
after a ramble up the mountain-side, ^
became conscious that the sky had snddenlj
darkened. Ferrol looked up, and hk £k;
assumed a rather serious expression.

" If either of you is weather-wise,* be
said, " I wish you would tell me what th^
cloud means. You have been among tbe
mountains longer than I have."

Louisiana glanced upward quickly.

" It means a storm," she said, " and i
heavy one. We shall be drenched in hai
an hour."

Ferrol looked at her white dress and ifet
little fiilled fichu, which was her sole prottc-

" Oh, but that wont do ! " he exclaimed
" What insanity in me not to think of um-
brellas ! "

"Umbrellas!" echoed Louisiana "If
we had each six umbrellas they could k«
save us. We may as well get into the or-
riage. We are only losing time."

They were just getting in when an idea
struck Ferrol which caused him to utter as
exclamation of ecstatic relief.

" Why," he cried, " there is that house
we passed! Get in quickly. We can
reach there in twenty minutes."

Louisiana had her foot upon the step.
She stopped short and turned to foce hiiB.
She changed from red to white and froa
white to red again, as if with actual tenor.

" There ! " she exclaimed. " There I "

"Yes," he answered. "We can readi
there in time to save ourselves. Is there
any objection to our going, — in the b^t ex-

Digitized by




For a second they looked into each
other's eyes, and then she turned and
sprang into the carriage. She laughed

"Oh, no," she said. "Go there! It
will be a nice place to stay — and the peo-
ple will amuse you. Go there."

They reached the house in a quarter of an
hour instead of twenty minutes. They had
driven fast and kept ahead of the storm,
but when they drew up before the picket
fence the clouds were black and the thun-
der was rolling behind them.

It was Louisiana who got out first. She
led the way up the path to the house and
mounted the steps of the variegated porch.
She did not knock at the door, which stood
open, but, somewhat to FerroFs amazement,
walked at once into the front room, which
was plainly the room of state. Not to put
too fine a point upon it, it was a hideous
room. The ceiling was so low that Ferrol
felt as if he must knock his head against it ;
it was papered — ceiling and all — with paper
of an unwholesome yellow enlivened with
large blue flowers ; there was a bedstead in
one comer, and the walls were ornamented
with colored lithographs of moon-faced
houris, with round eyes and round, red
cheeks, and wearing low-necked dresses, and
flowers in their bosoms, and bright yellow
gold necklaces. These works of art were
the first things which caught Ferrol's eye,
and he went slowly up to the most remark-
able, and stood before it, regarding it with
mingled wonderment and awe.

He turned fi-om it after a few seconds to
look at Louisiana, who stood near him, and
he beheld what seemed to him a phenome-
non. He had never seen her blush before
as other women blush — now she was blush-
ing, burning red fix)m chin to brow.

" There — there is no one in this part of
the house," she said. " I — I know more of
these people than you do. I will go and
try to find some one."

She was gone before he could interpose.
Not that he would have interposed, perhaps.
Somehow — without knowing why — he felt
as if she did know more of the situation
than he did — almost as if she were, in a man-
ner, doing the honors for the time being.

She crossed the passage with a quick, un-
even step, and made her way, as if well
used to the place, into the kitchen at the
back of the house.

A stout negro woman stood at a table,
filling a pan with newly made biscuits. Her

back was toward the door and she did not
see who entered.

" Aunt Cassandry," the girl began, when
the woman turned toward her.

" Who's dar ? " she exclaimed. " Lor*,
honey, how ye skeert me! I aint no

The face she turned was a strange one,
and it showed no sign of recognition of her

It was an odd thing that the sight of her
imfamiliar face should have been a shock
to Louisiana ; but it was a shock. She put
her hand to her side.

" Where is my — where is Mr. Rogers ? "
she asked. " I want to see him."

" Out on de back po*ch, honey, right
now. Dar he goes ! "

The girl heard him, and flew out to meet
him. Her heart was throbbing hard, and
she was drawing quick, short breaths.

" Father ! " she cried. " Father ! Don't
go in the house 1 "

And she caught him by both shoulders
and drew him round. He did not know
her at first in her fanciful-simple dress an^
her Gainsborough hat. He was not used to
that style of thmg, believing that it belonged
rather to the world of pictures. He stared
at her. Then he broke out with an excla-

" Lor-rd ! Louisianny 1 "

She kept her eyes on his face. They
were feverishly bright, and her cheeks were
hot. She laughed hysterically.

" Don't speak loud," she said. " There
are some strange people in the house, and
— and I want to tell you something."

He was a slow man, and it took him
some time to gr^isp the fact that she was
really before him in the flesh. He said,
again :

" Lord, Louisianny ! " adding, cheerfully,
" How yeVe serprised me ! "

Then he took in afresh the change in her
dress. There was a pile of stove-wood
stacked on th6 porch to be ready for use,
and he sat down on it to look at her.

" Why, ye've got a new dress on ! " he
said. "Thet thar's what made ye look
sorter curis. I hardly knowed ye."

Then he remembered what she had said
on first seeing him.

" Why don't ye want me to go in the
house ? " he asked. " What sort o* folks air

" They came with me from the Springs,"
she answered; "and — and I want to^to
play a joke on them."

Digitized by




She put her hands up to her burning
cheeks, and stood so.

" A joke on 'em ? " he repeated.

" Yes," she said, speaking very fast
" They don't know I live here, they think
I came from some city, — they took the
notion themselves, — and I want to' let them
think so until we go away from the house.
It will be such a good joke."

She tried to laugh, but broke off in the
middle of a harsh sound. Her father, with
one copperas-colored leg crossed over the
other, was chewing his tobacco slowly,
after the manner of a ruminating animal,
while he watched her.

" Don't you see ? " she asked.

"Wa-al, no," he answered. "Not

She actually assumed a. kind of spectral

" 1 never thought of it until I saw it was
not Cassandry who was in the kitchen,"
she said. " Tlie woman who is there didn't
know me, and it came into my mind that
— ^that we might play off on them," using
the phraseology to which he was the most

" Waal, we mought," he admitted, with a
speculative deliberateness. " Thet's so. We
mought — if thar was any use in it."

" It's only for a joke," she persisted, hur-

" Thet's so," be repeated. « Thet's so."

He got up slowly and rather lumberingly
from his seat and dusted the chips from his
copperas-colored legs.

" Hev ye ben enjyin' yerself, Louisianny ? "
he asked.

" Yes," she answered. " Never better."

"Ye must hev," he returned, "or ye
wouldn't be in sperrits to play jokes.**

Then he changed his tone so suddenly
that she was startled.
♦" What do ye want me to do ? " he

She put her hand on his shoulder and
tried to laugh again.

"To pretend you don't know me — ^to
pretend I have never been here before.
That's joke enough, isn't it? They will
think so when I tell them the truth. You
slow old father I Why don't you laugh ? "

" P'r'aps," he said, " it's on account o' me
bein* slow, Louisianny. Mebbe I shall be-
gin arter a while."

"Don't begin at the wrong time," she
said, still keeping up her feverish laugh,
" or you'll spoil it all. Now come along in
and — and pretend you don't know me,"

she continued, drawing him forward by the
arm. " They might suspect something if
we stay so long. All you've got to do is to
pretend you don't know me."

"Thet's so, Louisianny," with a kindly
glance downward at her excited face as be
followed her out. " Thar aint no call fur
me to do nothin' else, is there — jest pretend
I don't know ye ? "

It was wonderfril how well he did it, too.
When she preceded him into the room the
girl was quivering with excitement. He
might break down, and it would be all over
in a second. But she looked Ferrol boldly
in the face when she made her first speech.

"This is the gentleman of the house,^
she said. " I found him on the back porch.
He had just come in. He has been kind
enough to say we may stay until the stonn
is over."

" Oh,, yes," said he hospitably, " stay an'
welcome. Ye aint the first as has stopped
over. Storms comes up sorter suddent, an'
we haint the kind as turns folks away."

Ferrol thanked him, Olivia joining in
with a murmur of gratitude. They were
very much indebted to him for his hospital-
ity ; they considered themselves very fortu-

Their host received their protestations
with much equanimity.

" If ye'd like to set out on the fix)nt porch
and watch the storm come up," he said,
"thafs seats thar. Or would ye druther
set here? Women-folks is generally fond
o' settin' in-doors whar thar's a parlor."

But they preferred the porch, and fol-
lowed him out upon it.

Having seen them seated, he took a
chair himsel£ It was a split-seated chaii^
painted green, and he tilted it back against
a pillar of the porch and applied him^f to
the full enjoyment of a position more re-
markable for ease than elegance. Ferrol
regarded him with stealthy rapture, and drank
in every word he uttered.

" This," he had exclaimed delightedly to
Olivia, in private — " why, this is delighdiil !
These are the people we have read of. I
scarcely believed in them before. I would
not have missed it for the world 1 "

" In gin'ral, now," their entertainer pro-
ceeded, " wimmin-folk is fonder o' settin' in
parlors. My wife was powerful sot on her
parlor. She wasn't never satisfied till she
hed one an' hed it fixed up to her notion.

Online LibraryGeorge Streynsham MasterThe Century, Volume 19 → online text (page 113 of 160)