UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
HALLIE ERMINIE RIVES
F. TENNYSON NEELY
LONDON NEW YORK
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Neely's Prismatic Library.
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JSOITR SAINTS ANJ> SWEET SINNERS.
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SEVEN SMILES AND A FEW FIBS.
By Thomas J". Vivian. With full-page
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A MODERN fROMJSIHEJ7S.
By E. Phillips Oppenheim.
THE SHACKLES OF F^LTJE.
By Max Nordau.
A BACHELOR OF PARIS.
By John, W. Harding. With over SO il-
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JffONTRESOR. By Loota.
REVERIES OF A SPINSTER.
By Helen Davies,
By I/outs X/omftard*
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OBSERVATIONS OF A BACHELOR.
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KINGS IN ADVERSITY.
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NOBLE BLOOD AND A WEST POINT
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THE KING IN YELLOW.
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IN THE QUARTER. By R. W. Chambers.
A PROFESSIONAL LOVER. By Gyp.
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A CONSPIRACY OJF THE CARBONARI.
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SOAP BUBBLES. By Dr. Ma Nordau.
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Copyrighted In the United Statta and j i
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F. Tennyson fleely. \ \
All fights reserved,
TO MY MOTHER AND THE SOUTH
"Smoking Flax" is a story of the Soufh
written by a young Kentucky woman. Un-
doubtedly in the South its advent will be
saluted with enthusiastic bravos. What
will be the nature of its reception in the
North it is hazardous to predict. One
thing, however, can be confidently prophe-
sied for it everywhere consideration.
This the subject and manner of its treat-
The methods of Judge Lynch viewed
from most standpoints are, without extenu-
ation, evil; from a few aspects they may
appear to be perhaps not wholly without
justification. Miss Rives, through the
medium of romance, presents the question
as seen from many sides, and then leaves
to the reader the responsibility of deter-
mining "what is truth," though where her
own sympathies lie she does not leave
much in doubt.
The authoress comes of an old Virginia
stock to whom the gift of narrative and
literary expression seem to be a birth-
right. Since revolutionary days literature
has been more or less enriched by con-
tributions from successive members of the
familythe well known contemporary
novelist and the youthful author of this
book sharing at the present time the re-
sponsibility of upholding the hereditary
traditions. It seems, therefore, happily
appropriate that Miss Bives should have
taken upon herself the task of placing
before the world southern views of the
problem of lynching, which, be it under-
stood, are far from unanimous. The sub-
ject is handled with admirable tact, the- ;
author steering clear alike from prudish ^
affectations of modesty and shocking de-
tails of inartistic realism: and through-
out is maintained a judicial impartiality
infrequent in the treatment of such burn-
Miss Rives will achieve distinction irr
the South and at least notability elsewhere.
H. F. a
ROCHESTER, K Y.
September 22, nd 97.
The house faced the college campus knct
was the only one in the block. This, in
Georgetown, implies a lawn of no small
dimensions; the place had neither gar-
dener's house nor porter's lodge nothing
but that old home half hidden by ancient
elms. For many a year it had stood with
closed doors in the very heart of that
prosperous Kentucky town, presenting a
gloomy aspect and exercising for many a
singular attraction. Near the deep ver-
anda a great tree, whose boughs were no
longer held in check by trimming, had
thrust one of its branches through the
frontmost window. Dampness had attacked
10 SMOKING FLAX.
everything. The upper balcony was
loosened, the roof warped, and lizards
sunned themselves on the wall.
As for the garden, long ago it had lapsed
into a chaotic state. The thistle and the
pale poppy grew in fragrant tangle with
the wild ivy and Virginia creeper, and
wilful weeds thrust their way across the
Sadly old residents saw the place ap-
proaching the last stages of decaysaw this
house, once the pride of the town, in its
decrepitude and loneliness the plaything
of the elements.
"A noble wreck! It must have a history
of some kind," strangers would remark.
"Ah, that it has, and a sombre one it
is!" any man or woman living near would
SMOKING FLAX. 11
have answered, as they recalled the his-
tory of Richard Hoarding's home. For the
fate of Richard Harding was a sad memory
to them. They remembered how he had
been the representative of a fine old fam-
ily and that much of his fortune had been
spent in beautifying this place, to make it,
a fitting home for Catharine Field, his
She too had been of gentle birth and
held an important place in their memory
as one who brought with her to this rural
community the wider experience usual to
a young woman educated in Boston, who,
after a few seasons of social success in an
ultra fashionable set, has crowned her
many achievements by a brilliant mar*
12 SMOKING FLAX.
Her husband adored her and showed his
devotion by humoring her extravagant
tastes and prodigal fancies. He detested
gayeties, yet complied with her slightest
wish for social pleasures.
Although it was generally agreed that
this young couple got on well together,
at the end of two years the husband had
to admit to himself that his efforts to ren-
der his wife happy had not been entirely
successful. He saw that she fretted for her
northern life, was bored by everything
about her. She cherished a bitter resent-
ment for the slaveholders, vowing that it
was barbarous and inhuman to own human
beings as her husband and neighbors did.
Though expressing pity for the poor,
simple, dependent creatures, she did lit-
SMOKING FLAX. 1$
tie to make their tasks more healthful and
reasonable ones, or to render them more
capable and contented.
Her baby's nurse was the one servant of
her household who met with gracious treat-
ment at her hands. This old slave came
to her endowed with the womanly virtues
of honor, self-respect and humility. But
in marveling at her on these accounts,
Mrs. Harding forgot that it was the former
mistressher husband's motherthat had
made her what she was.
At length the truth became clearly ap-
parent that she was an obstinate, intensely
prejudiced and very unreasonable woman,
who, having lived for a time at a centre
of fashionable intelligence in a city
of culture, supposed herself to be quite
14: SMOKING FLAX.
beyond the reach of and entirely superior
to ordinary country folk. Eventually,
her morbid dissatisfaction became so ex-
treme that her husband yielded to her
importunities, closed the house, and with
her and their baby boy, went to live in
This sacrifice he made quietly and un-
complainingly, his closest friends not then
knowing how it wrenched his heart. A
year passed, then another, and at the end
of the third, the papers announced the
death of Eichard Harding.
Though never again seeing his southern
home, where he had planned to live his
life in peace and useful happiness, it had
held to the end a most sacred place in his
memory a memory which he truly hoped
SMOKING FLAX. 15
would be transmittted to the heart and
mind of his son. It was his last wish that
the old homestead should remain as it
was closed to strangersthat no living
being, unless of his own blood, should in-
habit that abode of love and sorrow, that
it be kept from the careless profanation
The world prophesied that his widow
would soon forget the wishes of the dead,
but as witness that she had thus far kept
faith, there stood the closed, abandoned
home, upon which Nature alone laid a
In process of time, hardly a brick was
to be seen in this old house that had not
grown purple with age and become
cloaked with moss and ivy. Antiquity
looked out from covering to foundation
stone. Only the flowers were young, and
flowers spring from a remote ancestry.
This house, inlaid in solitude, was as quiet
as some cloister hidden away within some
One summer afternoon, the quiet was
broken by a group of college girls look-
ing for some new flower for their botani-
cal collection. But so full of youthful
spirits were they that they hardly saw
SMOKING FLAX. 17
the valley lilies with stems so short
that they could scarcely bear up their
innocent, sweet eyes, distressed, and stare
like children in a crowd.
Among these girls was one whom the
most casual observer would have singled
out from her companions for a beauty
rare even in that land of beautiful women.
She had wandered off alone and found a
sleepy little primrose. As she freed the
blossom from its stem and held it in her
hand, a tide of thought surged up from
her memory and deepened the color of her
face. Quietly she dropped down upon the
grass and began turning the leaves of her
floral diary until she came to a similar
flower pressed between its pages.
In a corner was written: "Gathered in
the mountains on the 18th of August."
18 SMOKING FLAX.
"How strange," she thought, "to note
how late it was found there, while it
blooms so early here."
Commonplace as that discovery seemed
to be, the face so radiant a moment before,
became thoughtfully drawn.
She looked at the name "E. Harding"
written below the dry, dead blossom, and
thought of the time when it had been writ-
ten, thence back to her first meeting with
its owner one of those happy chances of
travel, which have all the charm of the
unexpected as fresh in her memory as
though it had been but yesterday. That
summer had been one of those idyllic
periods which are lived so unconsciously
that their beauty is only realized in
memories. To become conscious of such
SMOKING FLAX 19
charm at the time would be to break the
spell which lies in the very ignorance of
She, this ardent novice in learning,
fresh from graduating honors, and full of
unmanageable, new emotions did not com-
prehend that the same youthful impetu-
osity which had made the two fast friends
in so brief a time, had also made it pos-
sible for a few heedless words even more
quickly to separate them. An older or
more experienced woman would have
missed the sudden bloom and escaped the
no less sudden storm.
"Primroses are his favorite flowers, "
she said half aloud, and a dainty little
smile lifted ever so slightly the corners
of her mouth as if there were pleasure in
20 SMOKING FLAX.
the thought. Then she took up her pencil
and studiously began to jot down the
botanical notes concerning the primrose.
"Primrose, a biennial herb, from three
to six inches tall. The flower is regular,
symmetrical and four parted."
A twig snapped. The girl looked up
quickly. " Welcome to my flowers," said
a voice beside her, and a young man
smiled frankly, as he bowed and raised
his white straw hat.
"Mr. Harding!" she exclaimed, open-
ing her eyes in wonder and staring at him
with the prettiest face of astonishment.
Alarm had brought color to her cheeks,
while the level rays of the sun, which
forced her to screen her eyes with one
hand, clothed her figure in a broad belt
SMOKING FLAX. 21
of gold. "How did you happen to be here?"
"I did not happen. Man comes not to
his place by accident."
His answer, though given with a laugh,
had a touch of truth.
Through the bright excitement of her
eyes, a sudden gleam of archness flashed.
"Have you come to write us up, or
rather down?" she asked.
"I have come to help those who won't
help themselves, but first let us make
peace, if such a thing be necessary between
us. Here is my offering," and smilingly
he laid two fresh white roses in her hand.
She answered his smile with one of her
own as she thrust the long generous stems
through her waist belt; but she did not
thank him with words, and he was glad
22 SMOKING FLAX.
that she did not. Just as he would have
spoken again, a number of girlish voices
called in chorus i
"Come, Dorothy, we are going now."
In the same year that Elliott Harding
was graduated from Princeton, he came
into possession of his estate, which he at
once began to share with his mother. Her
love of good living and luxury, her crav-
ing for such elegancies as sumptuous
furniture, expensive bric-^-brac, and
stylish equipages had well nigh exhausted
her means, and she was now almost en-
tirely dependent upon a half-interest in
the small estate in Kentucky. Considering
that Elliott had a leaning towards the
learned professions and political and so-
cial pursuits, added to a constitutional
abhorrence of a business career, his finan-
24: SMOKING FLAX.
cial condition was not altogether uncom-
fortable. He longed to own a superb
library, a collection of books, great both
in number and quality, and, furthermore,
he wanted to complete his education by
travel abroad, followed by a year or two
of serious research in the South. He real-
ized how ill these aspirations mated with
the pleasure loving habits of his mother
and how impossible it would be for him
to realize his dreams, so long as his purse
remained the joint source of supply.
i To many a young man the outlook would
have been deeply discouraging. To him
it was a means of developing the endur-
ance and the strength of will which were
among his distinguishing characteristics.
Nature had fashioned Elliott Harding
SMOKING FLAX. 25
when in one of her kindly moods. She
had endowed him with many gifts; good
birth, sound health of body and mind, in-
dustry, resolution and ambition. Besides
possessing these goodly qualifications, he
stood six feet in height, and in breadth of
shoulder, depth of chest, sturdiness of
legs and arms, he had few superiors. There
was, too, a nobility of proportion in his
forehead that indicated high breeding and
broad intellectuality, and his face was full
of force and refinement. His steel blue
eyes gleamed with a superb self-confidence.
By profession, Elliott Harding was a
lawyer; by instinct, a writer. He prac-
ticed law for gain. He wrote because it
was his ruling passion. He was a man who
had been early taught to have faith in his
26 SMOKING FLAX.
own destiny and to consider himself an
agent called by God to do a great work.
When he came to his southern home he
came with a purpose a purpose which
he determined to carry out quietly but
with mighty earnestness. When he first
arrived in the town he was content to rest
unheralded, and his presence was not un-
derstood by the villagers. Nearly every
morning now, he could be seen from the
opposite window of the college to enter
the old abandoned house and sit for hours
near the door, his head bowed, his fingers,
busy with note-book and pencil.
For some weeks this proceeding had con-
tinued with little variation. People noted
it with diverse conjectures. Old men and
women feared lest this man, whoever he
SMOKING FLAX. 27
might be, a real estate agent perhaps
would bring about the restoration and sale
of the old Harding home. These old-time
friends, who had known and loved the
father, Richard Harding, through youth
and manhood, now rebelled against the
possible disregard of his last request, which
had become a heritage of the locality.
With anxiety they watched the maneuv-
ers of this mysterious individual and
drearily wondered what would result from
To young Harding the anxiety he had
caused was unknown. Absorbed in his own
affairs, he was too much occupied to think
of the impression he was creating. His
whole thought was given to gleaning the
knowledge he required for the writing of
28 SMOKING FLAX
the book by which he hoped to perma-
nently mould southern opinion in con-
formity with his own against what he
believed to be the shame of his native land.
It was an evening in the third month of
his residence in Georgetown. Elliott Hard-
ing paused in his walk along the street
not quite decided which way to go.
"She writes me she has drawn a ten-
day draft for twenty- two hundred dollars, "
he said to himself. "How on earth can I
meet it? What shall I do about it? Let
me think it out." And checking his steps,
which had begun to tend towards the
college, where a reception to which he
had been invited was being held, he took
a turn or two in the already darkening
street, and then started back to his
SMOKING FLAX. 29
rooms. In his mind, step by step, be
traced out the possible consequences of
action in the matter, but long considera-
tion only confirmed his first impression
that it was too late now to change the course
of affairs so long existing.
"But how am I to meet this last de-
mand?" he questioned. "There is but one
way open to me," he finally thought. "The
old home must go."
He nervously walked on, repeating to
himself, "Mother! mother! I could never
do this for anyone but you."
With the memory of his beloved father
so strong within him, it was difficult to
bring himself to face the inevitable with
composure. The turbulent working of his
heart contended against the resignation of
30 SMOKING FLAX.
his brain, and, when for a moment lie
felt resigned, then the memory of his dead
father's wish would rise up and protest,
and the battle would have to be fought
But what he considered to be duty to the
living triumphed over what he held as
loyalty to the dead, so the next time he
went to the old homestead, "For Sale"
glared coldly and, he even imagined, re-
proachfully at him. It was then that
Elliott realized the immensity of his sacri-
fice and bowed his head in silent sorrow.
After that one time, Elliott Harding de-
termined to face the inevitable and passed
into the house without seeming to see the
One day while sitting in his accustomed
writing place, which was the parlor, now
furnished with a table and office chair, a
man walked up the front steps. Elliott
had just finished writing the words "The
glimpses of light I have gained make the
darkness more apparent," when the man
entered the doorway.
The stranger was a tall, lean individual
with iron gray beard curving out from under
fhe chin. Eyes dark, keen and deep set;
82 SMOKING FLAX.
cheekbones as high as an Indian's; hair
iron gray and thick around the base of
the skull, but thin and tangled over the
top of the head, formed a combination
striking and not unattractive. Though ap-
parently far past his prime, he appeared
to be as hearty and hale as if half the
years of his life were yet to come. After
gazing a moment at Elliott, he opened the
conversation by saying :
"Good morning! I suppose you are the
agent for this property?"
"I am, sir," answered Elliott, cour-
teously. "Come in and have a seat," of-
fering him his chair as he stood up and
leaned against the writing table.
"I have come to make a bid for this
place. I would like to buy it, if it is to be
SMOKING FLAX. 33
had at a reasonable figure. It is not for
the land value alone that I want it," he
went on, "it is the old home of my only
sister. Besides, for another and more
sacred reason, I never want it to pass out
of the family."
"Your sister's old home," said Elliott,
without appearing to have heard the offer,
"then you are Mr. Field Philip Field?' 1
"That is my name and yours?"
"Elliott Field Harding."
"My nephew?" questioned the elder.
"Your nephew, I suppose," assented
"And you did not know you had an
uncle here?" the old man asked quickly.
"Well, I knew you were living some-
where in the South, but was not certain
of the exact locality."
34 SMOKING FLAX.
At this, the face of the visitor softened,
a strange glow leaping to life in his quiet
"Your mother discarded me years ago
for marrying a Southern girl not not ex-
actly up to her ideal, and I thought you
might not have known she had a cast-off
brother, whom she thought had shamed
Ms blood and name," was the low spoken
Then, half-unconsciously he stammered,
"Catherine your mother, is she well?"
"Quite well, I thank you," said Elliott.
"Will she come here to to see you?"
"Not likely, no; I don't think she will
ever come South again," was the contem-
"Then she has not changed ; she still
SMOKING FLAX. 35
hates us here!" commented the other half
"Well 'hate' is perhaps too strong a
word; but I think that her inflexible dis-
approval of the social conditions here
will never alter. You know her character.
Her ideas are not easily changed and she
thinks little outside of Boston and Boston
ideals worthy of much consideration."
"Poor, dear sister! I had hoped that
maternity and her early widowhood would
awake in her a sense of the vast duties and
responsibilities attached to her position as
a southern woman. How I have longed to
hear that she had learned the blessed lesson."
To these words Elliott listened intently,
his breath coming quick with rebellious
36 SMOKING FLAX.
"If she had learned that lesson I might
not now have to sacrifice the old home,"
said Elliott, somewhat impetuously.
"Sacrifice!" repeated the other, "and
did you care to hold it?"
"It was the dearest wish of my life to
do so," was the reply.
Mr. Field gazed at the young man with
a look of admiration.
"Elliott, my nephew," he fervently
said, holding out his hand as he spoke, "if
it will please you to call me friend as well
as uncle, I shall refuse neither the name
nor the duties."
"Uncle Philip, I thank you and accept
your kindly offer," and Elliott's face
brightened. The furrow which care had
been ploughing between his brows the past
SMOKING FLAX. 37
few days, smoothed itself out. Then in a
burst of confidence, he continued:
"It has long been my ambition to do
something with this place, worthy of the
memory of my father; but my mother is a
little extravagant, I am afraid, and I have
not as yet been aple to carry out my wish.
She lately drew upon me for twenty-two
hundred dollars and it came at a time
when my only recourse was either to sell
the place or dishonor her paper."
"Elliott, it is very pleasing to me that
you should speak thus frankly with me.
Let me help you. I will gladly lend you
the money so that you may not be forced
to sell. I am well-to-do and can afford to
Elliott listened in pleased surprise. He
88 SMOKING FLAX.
felt touched beyond expression, but emo-
tion irresistibly impelled him to seize
his uncle's hand, to bend low and press his
lips upon it. This unexpected offer again
buoyed up the hope of his intense desire
to keep the homestead. For a time he
stared steadily at this friend, his whole
soul reflected upon his face.
Mr. Field eyed his nephew closely dur-
ing this silence and noted the evidence of
strength in the sierous young face, and the
unmistakable air of a thinker it bore, and
rightly judged that here was one who had
given over play for work.
"The memory of your kind offer will
live with me forever," said Elliott, his
voice full of deep feeling, breaking the
silence. "But I cannot accept your gene-
SMOKING FLAX. 39
rosity. I have no assurance that my labors
will be attended with success, and I
have a horror of starting out in debt."
"Very well, my boy," kindly spoke the
other, "that spirit will win. I will buy
the place, and it will still be in the fam-
"Thank you, uncle! You don't know
how grateful I am for that."
"And I am doubly pleased to be the
owner since meeting you," interrupted
the elder. This old heart of mine beats
warmly for your father. He was a good
man and I want to see the boy who bears
his name winning a way up to the level of
life which was once Richard's. Yes, I
want to see you foremost amongst just and
40 SMOKING FLAX.
"Uncle Philip," heartily spoke Elliott,
"for the sake of my father's memory, I
hope to fulfill that hope."
"Ah, yes, yes, you will, my boy!" The
old man arose to go and as he and Elliott