Hallie Erminie Rives.

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NEW YORK: COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY _G. W. Dillingham Co., Publishers_,
MDCCCXCVIII. [_All rights reserved._]








HE sat just outside the lofty doorway, that opened between the bare
hall and front verandah. The great white columns held a wild clematis
vine, the leaves of which almost concealed the bricks where the plaster
had fallen off. Presently a child came out with a violin in her hand.
She went up to him, and laying her full cheek against his shrunken
one, caressed him. Her blue eyes that went black in an instant, from
the pupils’ swift dilation, had the direct gaze of one knowing nothing
of the world and never fearing to be misunderstood. She was slim yet
strong; her waving hair that fell softly about her face was the color
of sunburnt cornsilk, her skin ovalling from it, smooth and white, like
a bursting magnolia bud.

“Grandpa, I can play ‘The Mocking Bird’ for you now.”

“Play it, God’s child; play it,” he said.

As she leaned against the column and began playing, his face, old and
worn with many griefs, seemed, for a moment, rejuvenated by the spirit
of his lost youth. His heart stirred strangely within him, and he was
minded of another slim, little girl, who came down to the gate to meet
him when the day was done in the long ago. She had the same glorious
hair, and tender, fearless eyes and love for him. But that was more
than forty years gone by and she was dead.

As the strains became fuller and sweeter, a bird began twittering,
trilling among the leaves, imitating the sounds it heard.

“Listen. Do you hear that, Esther?” whispering, as he searched for
a sight of the singer. “There it is. It’s a mocking bird,” he said,
pointing to the young thing, as the fluting feathers on its throat
stood out like the pipes of an organ. Its song, accompanying the tune,
never ceased until the violin was tossed upon the bench and the child
was in the old man’s arms.

“That was beautiful, beautiful!” His eyes were filled with tears of
enthusiasm that fell upon her hair.

“Your mother used to play that, when she was young.” He spoke with the
weight of profound emotion, that glowed in his eyes, and quivered on
his lips.

“And did the bird sing with her?” a softer look coming upon the
childish face.

“I don’t remember that it did, though she was always a friend to the
birds that built their nests about us. She kept the boys from breaking
them up or trapping them. Every spring they sang here in the trees.
They seemed to know that she was looking after them. That must have
been what she was born for. She was always watching over something or
somebody.” He swallowed hard. “I can see her now, bending over her
work, late at night, stitching away, with her fingers on those gray
clothes for the boys in the army - your Uncle Billy and your father.”

“Was she little, then?” Esther inquired, while with one hand she
clasped his wrist, and with the other stroked his brow.

“No. When the war broke out, she was just about to be married to your
father, who had been appointed Captain under General Lee. She made a
coat for him and quilted money in the collar. She had a way of doing
things that nobody would have thought of. You remind me of her.” He
folded his hands across his stick and was silent for a moment. “There
is much about her life that I want you to know, and bear in mind, now
that you are getting old enough to understand. She had great hopes for
you, for your music. I’ve been thinking how proud she would be if she
could know that you had got along well enough to be invited to play at
the University - on commencement night at that. I ask nothing higher for
you than that you make such a woman as your mother.”

They did not see the old negro, ragged to the skin, coming around the
corner of the house, carrying his discolored straw hat in one hand and
mopping his face on a faded cotton handkerchief.


“G’MORNIN’, Marse Hardin.”

“Howdy, Sandy. Where did you come from? I thought you’d gone clear out
of the country, for good.”

“Nor sir, nor sir. You jes’ let a nigger git a taste of dis here spring
water, and he’s charmed, conjured, he kyant stay away if he do go. But
I come back, dis time, to see my young marster - Marse Davy Pool.”

“How is he to-day?”

“He daid. Dat’s what I was sent to tell you. Dey guinter bury him up at
de old place.”

“I am sorry to hear of his death, Sandy. He was the best one of the

“Dat’s so, sir; ’tain’t nobody guine to miss him like his mammy do.
She’s told me to ax you for your hoss and buggy. She’s afeared of the
boys’ hosses, dey keep such wild uns. Marse Davy sold his’n, dat was
the onliest one she would ride behind. She said she wanted Marse Hardin
Campbell’s. It was so trusty and gentlelike.”

“I was going to use it after dinner.” Mr. Campbell hesitated.

“Send it on, grandpa. Send it on.” Esther saw the inquiring look her
grandfather turned upon her. “Something will turn up.”

“Suppose it shouldn’t; would you be disappointed?” he asked.

“I never count on being disappointed,” she responded, quickly.

“Ain’t she some kin to Miss Mary Campbell?” The negro’s face lighted as
he asked the question.

“That’s her daughter, Miss Esther Powel.”

“It ’peared to me like I seed de favor in her face. Ev’ybody loved your
mammy, honey. ’Twarn’ nobody that didn’t,” he said, turning to look
again at Esther.

“The horse is in the pasture.” Mr. Campbell turned to the child. “Can’t
you run and show him where the bridle is?” Bareheaded, she bounded
down the steps, and motioned to the old negro to follow. She took the
bridle and swung it over his arm. “Mind the foot log. Uncle Sandy, the
hand rail has been washed away. The pasture is over the creek. There is
Selam now, under the sweet gum tree.” She pointed. “You will find the
harness in the carriage house here.”

She watched him go over the slope to the creek, then stood gazing
about her in childish contemplation. It was nearly noon. The shadow
straightening in the doorway indicated it.

Mr. Campbell looked and saw her. His heart warmed toward her
comeliness; moreover she was sweet of nature and had a ready smile even
for those who had not been kind to her. Suddenly she disappeared in
the direction of the carriage house. She feared that her pony could
not pull the heavy vehicle that alone was left to take her to the
University. It taxed her strength to draw the heavy bar from across
the carriage house door. She sprang backward, as she dropped it upon
the ground; then went in to examine the carriage that had not been
used since she was a baby, almost fifteen years before. The clumsy
conveyance had small iron steps that let down - steps that her mother’s
child feet had pressed in climbing to the seat. The wheels were so
heavy and cumbersome that she shook her head doubtfully. The green
satin lining was in shreds; the worn leather seats covered with tufts
of hair, while here and there a dead leaf or twig was tangled in its
coarse mesh. It had required a pair to draw it in those old days. She
had forgotten that. The tongue was held up in its position above by a
girder in the loft. Esther gave it a strong, hard pull; the tongue fell
forward, and as she skipped out of its path the lumbering old carriage
went rolling down the incline, and clouds of dust, as though indignant
at being disturbed, sullenly rose and fell about her.

Old and dilapidated harness that hung down from the walls swayed slowly
in the general commotion. Esther wiped the dust from her eyes and drew
a long breath, looking defiantly at the result. She looked down. There,
at her feet, lay a bird, fluttering beside its fallen nest. Her face
lost its look of defiance.

“You poor, little thing,” bending down and cuddling it to the softness
of her cheek. “Don’t die, please, don’t die!” she said, in dismay. “It
will break my heart if I have killed you.” With tears streaming down
her face she ran swiftly to the house.

“Grandpa, do something for it,” laying it in his hand. “Can you save
it? It’s a mocking bird, too. I shook it out of the carriage.”

“They have nested there for years,” he said as he drew the wings gently
through his fingers. “They are not broken,” he assured her.

“Are you sure it will live?” She was looking at him with frightened

“Live? Yes; and have a nest and young ones of its own next year. It is
only stunned. Leave it in the parlor where it will be safe from the
cats and it will be all right soon.”

A faint rumbling noise broke in upon their voices. They looked up to
listen. It was like the sound of a wagon rolling. “Put it away, quick,
and run to the creek to show them how to cross the ford.” They had kept
close watch over the passers since the winter hauling had cut deep
holes in the bed of the stream. It was a treacherous crossing. Closing
the door upon her charge, Esther ran through the garden, the nearest
way. She sped with the lithe agility of a young fawn, and before the
newcomer was fairly into the stream she was there giving directions.
The mountain stream ran fleet between its low banks, winding in haste
through the valley. Tall sycamores, sentinels in silver armor, stood
beside it on either hand.


MR. CAMPBELL stood watching. Very soon the front gate opened and a boy
came in, driving two white mules, with red tassels on their bridle
bits. Amazement filled his eyes when he saw that it was a wagon load of
coffins, and on the topmost one Esther sat smiling. As they drove up
near the door, he went out to help her down.

“Didn’t I tell you something would turn up, grandpa; this wagon is
going right by the University this evening.” She threw her arms about
his neck; her laugh rang out in pure triumph. “Hitch your team, young
man; a boy will come to take it out and feed it.” When they saw
Esther again she was ready for her jaunt. Her violin was in its case;
her fresh white organdie folded with as much care as she gave to
anything - duty and care were unknown to her. Her visit to the University
by such a conveyance would be the extreme limit of indulgence, yet she
had no thought of being denied.

“I am ready,” she announced at table. Mr. Campbell burst into a laugh,
half of annoyance, yet touched with the ring of true amusement.

“I really believe you would go.”

“I’d go on foot if necessary to keep my promise,” she answered quickly.

“How could the college folks know that Mr. David Pool had to be buried
to-day when they printed my name on the programme?”

Watching her eyes, he caught their softness, their innocence, and knew
that her eagerness was sincere.

“Let her go, Mr. Campbell, I’ll take good care of her.” The boy was
a Rudd. Although he held a lowly position, he was not counted of the
common people. Mr. Campbell had the old Virginia pride of race in him.

“I know you would.”

Esther looked steadily into his gray eyes and saw a relenting twinkle.

“Am I going?” Turning to her with a quiet smile: “Yes, you may go.”
He could not see her disappointed when her heart was so determined.
With a little cry of joy she brought her hands together. “I wish you
could come along, grandpa. It will be such fun, and I wanted you to
hear me to-night.” When the wagon came around Esther was helped up with
her case and bundle. Her violin she held tenderly across her arm. Mr.
Campbell went with them to close the gate.

“Good-bye; you will be in for me to-morrow.” Leaning down, she embraced
his head. “Be sweet, God’s child,” he said, as they drove off. Esther
kissed her hand to him, as he stood by the roadside looking after them.
The cook, at the kitchen door, waved her dish rag for a frantic moment.
The whirl of dust from the wheels soon clouded the view. The old man
turned, and went slowly back to the house with a misty smile over his

A quaint, pathetic figure that, of Hardin Campbell, with his age, his
poverty and the care of this child. Here had once been planter life in
its carelessness and lavishness. It had been the home of friend and
neighbor and the hospitable shelter of the transient guest. All the
grand folk that came that way made this place headquarters in the days
when Mr. Campbell was reckoned rich. But what he had lost in wealth he
had more than gained in pride, and the child was brimming over with
it. Generous, impetuous, enthusiastic, as she was, this wild young
creature of nature, unhindered, venturesome and full of whims, would,
he hoped, find pride her safeguard. He did not believe in curbing her.
He guided, but did not limit her and tried to keep from her all warping
influences. This was the way her mother had begun with her and he was
only continuing her way for a while - it could not be very long before
he would have to resign his charge. To whom - he did not know and could
not bear to dwell upon the thought.

About the whole place there was evidence of departed glory. In the
great white buildings which rose from the labyrinth of shrubbery like
grim ghosts of the past; in the rows of cabins, formerly the dwellings
of a horde of happy-hearted negroes, everywhere was evidence of the
bygone prodigal days. The house, of colonial style, with its series
of tall columns standing about the broad colonnade, was partially
screened by the live oaks and was set some distance back from the big
road. These encircling columns were built of brick, with a coating of
plaster, once as white as the teeth of Uncle Simon, the plantation
white-washer, who in former days would put an immaculate dress on
them regularly once a month by means of an elevated step-ladder,
but now Uncle Simon’s labors were done. The neglected columns were
crumbling with age and sadly splotched with the red of exposed masonry.
At one side of the verandah there spread the delicate green of
the star-jassamine, with its miniature constellations flecking the
background. Through the vista, leading to the house, from the big gate
in front, flashed the crimson of a flowering-pear in full blossom. The
blinds of the house that had once been green, were now hanging from
their hinges, weather-stained, giving full view of a number of broken
window panes, in one of which, on the second story, was perched a wren,
whose energetic chattering over her nest hardby was the most decided
indication of active life.

In the rear of the buildings stretched the cabins. To the right of
them were the stables and the carriage house, with its weather vane of
a flying steed on the top, but for years the most vigorous gales had
failed to spur this steed to action and its tail, at one time proudly
aflaunt to the breeze, had yielded to time and rust, and, like that of
Tam o’Shanter’s mare, knew naught of direction. There was the dreary
stillness of desolation over all things. But still a hospitable glow
was in the summer sunshine and shone as well in the eyes of the old

Esther took off her hat when she got into the depths of the woods and
drew out her violin. “I will amuse the boy,” she thought, “if I play to
him,” for she had tired of talking against the rumbling of the wagon
and its load. In his way, he appreciated her motive, for now and again
he called back to her, awkwardly commending her, and urging her to
continue. Near the spring they saw the negro washerwomen, with sleeves
rolled to their shining shoulders, bending over their tubs; faded, limp
skirts, bloused through apron belts, and dangled about their bare legs.
A big wash kettle heaped with white linen stood to one side. Around it
a fire was burning low for want of fuel.

“O - o - h! Yo’ Tagger, Tag-g-e-r; you’d better come on here, ef you know
what’s good for you,” called one of the women with a long, resounding
echo that drowned the answer of the small voice that said he was on his
way. A troop of little niggers came to the roadside pulling a wagon
load of brush and bark gathered through the woods. They looked back and
spied Esther on the coffins. With a wild yell the children, load and
all, tumbled over the embankment, rolling over each other in the dust,
screaming, “Mammy! mammy!” at the top of their voices, scrambling to
their feet and running with might and main down the road. As Esther
drew up to the wash-place, the little fellows were clinging frantically
to the knees of their mothers.

“It’s a little ha’nt blowin’ Gabel’s trumpet. Don’t let it ketch me!
don’t let it ketch me!”

“In de name ob de Lawd!” said one of the women, seeing what had caused
the fright; “ain’t you all got de sense you was born wid? Don’t you
know Miss Esther Powel, Marse Hardin’s granddaughter?” The eyes of the
pickaninnies were blinded by the wads of wet aprons they had covered
them with, and the sound of the wheels filled them with terror. “Dry
up!” The big dripping hand pounded on their heads. “Scuse ’em, Miss
Esther, you’d think dese youngun’s been fotch up wid wild injun’s.”

“Tagger,” Esther called the boy, whose name, Montague, she had been
responsible for. “Don’t you know me? I played for you to dance a jig
for the young men who used to visit Will Curtis before he died. You
haven’t forgotten that, have you?” Hearing her familiar voice, he
slowly peeped out with scared eyes.

“You little monkey. Dip me some water out of the spring.” She saw a
long, yellow gourd hanging from a striped bough above their heads. “I
want a drink.” He sprang up and snatched the gourd, and before she
could say more, he was holding it up to her, standing on his tiptoes,
grinning, as the tears ran down and stained his dusty face.

“I am going to play at the University to-night,” she said, hanging back
the gourd.

“You don’ say? One of dem ’Varsity gemmen’s coming out to see Marse
Will’s folks next week.” Tagger’s mother lived with the Curtises, whose
home was just beyond the spring. “I’ll be bound, you beat ’em all dar
if you does play to-night,” she said when she saw they were leaving.

Bareheaded, Esther rode on, as long as the shade was over them, tying
on her hat only when they got to the sunny way of the road. A man
plowing in a cornfield, looked up as he stopped at the turn of the row.
He gazed intently, rapping the line mechanically about his wrist.

“What is her grandpa thinking of?” seeing it was Esther, whom he knew.
“But she’d a gone in spite of hell and high water.” With this aloud
to himself, he drew his shirt sleeve across the sweat on his brow and
trudged back down the row, relieved.

After two hours or more, through the heat, Esther was glad when at last
she could see the end of her journey. The sunlight lay radiant upon the
stretch of country famed for this honored institution of learning.
Just before her, upon an eminence, spread the University buildings,
the tall spires marking their profile on the sky. The sun’s rays shot
up behind them its last warm flashes. Its heat had already dampened
Esther’s hair, deepening the red tint of its waves against her temples.
The campus was alive with students coming and going in every direction.
The tenor of the glee club, in his striped sweater of the college
colors, humming a popular air, walked leisurely across to where one
fellow was sprawled on the ground, gazing at the wagon with an amused
curiosity on his handsome face.

“By Jupiter! that’s a pretty child.” The tenor turned to look, as his
friend spoke.

“Well, if that isn’t a caper! Wonder where she is bound?” Just then a
pert freshman, standing in a group, gave a college yell. Then there was
a chorus of rapturous cheers, in which most of them joined. Before the
noise had subsided, the man on the grass had leaped to his feet, full
of indignation, and dashed off toward the freshman.

“Silence! you fellows! Have you forgotten yourselves?” A few hisses
were mingled with the applause that greeted him, but the freshman was
quick to say at his elbow:

“I didn’t mean it for her.”

“How could she know that?” He walked away saying: “I’ll wager there is
something out of the ordinary in that girl.”

He was of the fiber that commanded the respect of men at a glance.

“Andrews always turns up at the right time, you may count on that,”
said one of the students as he watched him sauntering in the direction
of the wagon, his eyes following the child. She was perched like
a white winged bird of good omen on a funeral pyre. Only a nature
adventurous to audacity would do such a thing as that. But he loved
daring personalities, strong motives and even a misadventure, if it
were a brave one.


GLENN ANDREWS was, by every gift of nature, a man. His sensitive,
expressive face, his brown eyes glowing with a light that seemed to
come from within, his clear and resolute bearing, all gave evidence
of his sterling qualities. All through his college years he was known
among his fellows as a dreamer. His was one of those aloof - almost
morbidly solitary natures, to whom contact with the world would seem
jarring and out of key. The boys had nicknamed him “Solitaire.” He
had a womanly delicacy in morals, his sense of honor was as clean and
bright as a soldier’s sword.

Those who knew him well loved him, and all of his school fellows
sought for his notice, the more, perhaps, because he gave it rarely.

Whenever he played with them, it was as one who unconsciously granted a
favor. He was looked upon as a man who would be a sharer in the talents
of his race. This was his ambition. He had strong literary tastes and
was a serious worker.

Often he champed at the bit through the slow routine of college
life - the genius within him thirsting for action like a spirited horse,
just in sound of the chase.

After the exercises that night, the pretty faces and scent of roses
filled the chapel with light and fragrance. Everything was in warm
confusion, congratulations blended with tender farewells and honest
promises that youth was sure to break.

Glenn Andrews, with the dignity that went well with his cap and gown,
was making his way out. The tenor touched him on the shoulder.

“What did you think of that violin solo?”

“Fine, my boy, fine! She played just before my turn, and she must have
been my inspiration, for I was surprised to get the medal.”

“I’m jolly glad you got it anyhow.”

“Did you find out who she was?”

“Esther Powel. Her grandfather is a friend of Professor Stark. He did
it to give her a chance.”

“Well she used it for all it was worth,” said Andrews.


ESTHER was standing by the rim of a clear pool in the woods, gazing
down into the water. Her big hat was weighted with cockle blooms that
she had gathered in coming through the wheat. In this natural mirror
she could see that a stem here was too long, another there was turned
the wrong way to look well. With both hands to her head she was intent
upon regulating the effect to please her eye. Turning her head first
to one side, then another, she smiled at herself, impulsive, always
in motion, quick as a wren. The water was so clear that one could see
the last year’s leaves lying at its depths. It was deep and sloped
toward the center. Inverted it would look like a mound where children
are told that Indians are buried, when the one can think of no other
excuse for its grave-like appearance. This pool went by the name of
“Indian Well.” Esther had no thought but that she was alone, until she
saw an image, a serious young face, reflected there, with soft, brown
beard and hair, and deep eyes that wore a languid, meditating look. He
stooped and dipped his curved hand into the surface and was raising it
to his lips. Suddenly, instinctively, she bounded to his side, dashing
the water from his hands before he could drink.

“Don’t you know there is fever in it?”

For a moment he looked at her in wonder.

“The fever,” he repeated, “what do you mean?”

“The germs of typhoid - I thought everybody knew that.”

“But you see I am not everybody,” he answered, laughing.

She looked at every feature of his face. “But didn’t you feel like it

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