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BY {

HARRIETT HUNT CARUS.

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COPYRIGHTED
THE EDITOR PUBLISHING CO.

1900



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES



221 082f>



TO

MY LITTLE SON AND DAUGHTER

Whose quaint appreciation and unflagging interest,
have been my incitive throughout this work, this little
book is lovingly dedicated.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

The New Minister . .1

Jim 19

The Old Man's Story ... .33

Baby Violet . . 47

Little Joe ... .48

A Dutiful Daughter . . 50

Autumn . . . . .92

My Boy ... 93

Little Blue Eyes . . .93

Childhood Home . . 94

Minna's Man ....... 94

The Nation's I )<>;ul . . 95

Innisfallen . .... 96

How Long . .

Prayer ..... . . 98

Old Memories ...... 99

Sunrise ........ 99

My King ... 100

Slumber Song . . . . . .101



vi CONTENTS

Burns ... 102

Appreciation .... 102

A Winter Scene 103

The Silent Acre 104

Retrospective . .104

Monopolistic Monologue ..... 106

Bethlehem . . . . . . .106

Meta Vaughan ....... 107

The Tomb Beside the Hudson . . . . 108

Sterling Castle . . . . . . .109



Trjje New Minister.



THE Churchill First Church had been without a
pastor a year or more. It was very hard to suit
everyone in that church, and previous experi-
ence had taught them the utter futility of ex-
pecting to keep a man against whom any one member
could bring the faintest shadow of objection, either per-
sonal or professional.

They had been very unfortunate in their previous
engagements, each of the many who had filled their pul-
pit failing to give entire satisfaction. For instance:
The Rev. Mr. Brown was too practical, and dwelt too
much on personal integrity and holy living, to the neg-
lect of the doctrines the doctrines were what they hir-
ed him to expound. Some one ventured to suggest a little
different course to him, but alas! when he had complied
with the suggestion, he found he had opened a door to a
score more of the same sort. Deacon Jones believed in
free will, and Deacon White in divine sovereignty, and
the half distracted parson tried to harmonize the dis-
cordant elements, leaning first a little one way and then
a little the other, to the utter disgust of first one and

1



2 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

then the other wing of the different members, according
to which side he inclined. And so the last state of the
man was worse than the first, for the different sections
-were unanimous upon one thing : A minister should be
above all things else, rigidly independent. They had
one weather-vane to their church and that was enough.
And so Mr. Brown resigned.

After this came Mr. Darrow. He was everything
that could be asked eloquent, gracefully uniting theory
and practice in a fine subtle way that offended no one's
prejudices, but somebody awoke to the fact that this
same subtlety of graceful generalizing was undermining
the foundation of their faith, and heads were shaken,
wisely, and " 'Twon't do!" was said more and more em-
phatically, and well, Mr. Darrow had a call from some-
where about that time and it was accepted ! The
church determined to be cautious in the selection of Mr.
Darrow's successor, and each member generally, and the
1 'leading" members particularly, had a nicely prepared
code of qualifications including theoretical, practical,
intellectual, social and domestic qualities they had
severally resolved he must come up to, in order to ob-
tain their suffrage. Strangely enough, their ideas on
these matters didn't perfectly agree, and it was perhaps
stranger still how many faults and imperfections the
clergy were possessed of.

''I'd no idee," said Deacon Harris, "what a miser-
able lot of workmen the Lord had in his vineyard. It



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 3

seems a pity that he couldn't had a little of the wisdom
and good judgment of the Northville Church before he
give 'era a call." But Deacon Harris was terribly old
fashioned in his ideas, and not at all keen in scenting out
blemishes, especially in ministers. Of course an old
fogy like this could have very little weight in so very in-
telligent and discriminating a church as the First
Churchill. After several months of candidating, they
at last settled upon Mr. Marvin, a man who at least had
not the faults of his immediate predecessors, for one
look in his face told you that he was fearless and inde-
pendent, and would both preach and practice what his
own conscience believed to be right. "At last,"
thought this perfect people, "we have a workman
worthy of our hire." And so they gave him a recep-
tion, and introduced him to the "prominent members, " and
everything was altogether lovely for six months. Then
was made the shocking discovery that the Marvin's
didn't own any silver, to speak of and hadn't any
"nice dishes," and to crown all, Mr. Marvin absolutely
refused to discharge an old and tried servant, when he
knew one or two of the "leading" members desired him
to, on account of some personal spite they had against
her. This was the beginning of the end. Mr Marvin's
antecedents were hunted up, the "specks" magnified in
a manner that put to blush the most powerful triumph
of microscopic art, and blazoned abroad with a zeal
worthy of a better cause. In addition Marvin fraterniz-



4 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

ed with the wood-sawyer, actually stopping on the street
to speak with him. Theoretically,the Churchill Church
believed a minister should visit "the poor, the sick and
the destitute; " practically, they preferred it should not
be their minister. And so Mr. Marvin went the way of
his predecessors.

For the next year the Churchill Church "candidat-
ed" to its heart's content, and when at last, with a con-
siderable degree of unanimity, they decided on Charles
Armstrong, there were many who felt a secret sense of
commiseration for the young, untried man, who had de-
cided to risk his fate where his older and more exper-
ienced brothers had failed.

Mr. Armstrong was a single man. This was a new
feature in the experience of the First Church, and in
certain quarters a somewhat exhilarating one. After
the advent of Mr. Armstrong,the Churchill First Church
congregation soon had a proportion of from twelve to
fifteen females to one male attendant. A score of young
ladies who had left the Sunday school because they
were too old, became seriously impressed with the beauty
and worth of that institution, and hastened to show
their faith by their works, when Mr. Armstrong an-
nounced that he should give the school his constant
personal attention.

"Plenty of company, now, Margie," said Deacon
Harris with an odd smile, as his pretty grand-daughter*
Margie Dean, slipped her arm through his, the better to



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 5

guide the almost blind old man through the pleasant
meadow path that led from the rear of the church to the
quaint old homestead where these two dwelt alone.

"Why, yes, grandfather," she replied with inno-
cent enthusiasm. "All the girls are joining the school
again I am so glad ! It will be encouraging to the new
minister, I know he felt disappointed the first time he
came into the school, he looked so gravely about at the
empty seats, and asked 'if only children attended this
school.' "

"And quite ignored my little woman, did he?" the old
man asked with a pretence of anger.

"0 no, indeed! that is, he didn't mind me at all;
it's not likely he should," she explained eagerly. "I am
not a very noticeable person, and I don't really think
Mr. Armstrong has ever seen me yet," she added with a
faint blush. "I came past Lucy Fuller and Julia Har-
per when I left the vestry to-day, talking with him at
the library door, but I don't think any of them saw me."
Then, with a little laugh : "You are not the only blind
person in the village, grandfather."

"I know it, dear, I know it," he said soberly, "but
I'd rather have a clear conscience and a spirit of humil-
ity than all their fine things. 'Man judgeth from ap-
pearance, but God looketh at the heart.' Always re-
member that, dear, and trust him for the rest."

"But, grandfather, I was not complaining," she in-
terrupted. "If people don't see me only when they hap-



6 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

pen to be alone, or want something of me, it is no reason
why I should be unhappy. It must be infinitely more
trouble to them than it is to me."

Deacon Harris' face brightened, and his tremulous
hand involuntarily closed over the firm little fingers rest-
ing on his arm.

"God bless you forever and ever, little Margie," he
whispered in a husky voice. Margie smiled brightly up
into his face, and opened the gate. At each side of the
path was a row of sweet red and white pinks, and at the
end of them, under the high, narrow windows, alternate
dumbs of daffodills and damask roses. All the rest was
greensward, and this sunny June day, of a soft green,
shading from dark to golden, as the sunshine sifted here
and there through the branches of the stately elms. Mar-
gie picked a handful of pinks as she went slowly up the
path. Her grandfather had gone on to the house, when
a murmur of voices struck her ear, and looking up she
saw Lucy Fuller, Julia Harper and Mr. Armstrong walk-
ing leisurely along the meadow path, almost opposite the
house. They had apparently discovered her at the same
moment, for they looked up and involuntarily lowered
their voices. Obeying her first impulse, Margie bowed
to the young ladies, both of whom gave her a cool stare,
and the very faintest possible inclination of the head as
they rustled on in their rich silks. A vivid flush over-
spread the pretty, sensitive face, and the sweet lips
trembled a moment. Then a voice from within called,



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES . T

'Margie," in such a strange, unnatural tone that every-
thing else was forgotten, as, in sudden affright, she hur-
ried into the house.

"Grandfather!" she called. There was no answer,
only a faint moan from the kitchen.

A moment more, and Margie was kneeling on the
floor, trying to lift the limp, nerveless form of her grand-
father in her arms. He had been sitting in the doorway
and had fallen back into the room, his feet still resting
on the broad grass-fringed doorstone.

"O grandfather, speak to me!" she cried, breaking
into tears, and again essaying to lift the insensible form.

"Let me assist you, Miss Dean," said a strong, quiet
voice the voice of the new minister at her side, and
without waiting for her to answer, a pair of muscular
arms lifted the old man as if he had been an infant.
Now where shall we put him that he will get the most
air? Have you a large cool room with a bed in it?"

Without speaking Margie threw open the door into
the "north-room," a great shadowy-looking apartment, in
one corner of which the "spare bed" had stood from time
immemorial.

"Just the thing, only a trifle close. Open the
north window, please, and bring some cold water," he
said, laying down his burden on the white lavender
scented bed.

"O, Mr. Armstrong, is my grandfather going to die?"
Margie asked sharply, her natural awe of ''the minister,"



8 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

as well as her recent mortification completely swallow-
ed up in anxiety and alarm.

"It is nothing more than a faintingfit, I am quite
sure," he said, in such a quiet, assured tone that Margie
regained her composure at once, and went quietly and
deftly at work for his restoration.

It was time for the afternoon service, however, be-
fore he was so far recovered as to speak, though he smil-
ed when his eyes rested on Margie, and pressed the hand
of the young minister warmly when he took his depar-
ture, which he did with no small degree of reluctance.

"I shall see this picture before my eyes all service
time," he said, looking down at Margie as she knelt,
very pale and still, by the side of the white haired old
man, who every now and then passed his hand caress-
ingly over hers.

"If if you could come in this evening," she stam-
mered, feeling her face grow hot. "We are so alone
here, though I never thought of it when grandfather
was well."

"Certainly, Miss Dean," he responded in a hearty
voice. "I should have come if you had not spoken of
your need. I shall be very anxious about Father Harris
until I see him in his accustomed place at church."
Then he shook hands with her in such a friendly, cor-
dial way, that her natural diffidence and dread of strang-
ers quite dissipated, and all the afternoon there was a
pleasant glow in her heart.



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES y

Twenty-five years before my story opens, Mr. Harris
had been a deacon of the First Church, as well as one of
its financial pillars. He had an unbounded faith in
everybody, and believed all the world as honest as him-
self. And so, when Henry Fuller came to him, and be-
sought his name to a note for three thousand dollars,
he signed it unhesitatingly, and thought no more of it.
Henry was a rising young man, everybody said, and
Churchill was rather proud of him, and prophesied that
he would be the richest man in town in twenty years.

Three months went by, and the good-hearted deacon
had nearly forgotten the matter of the note. His son
and daughter were married, and like the prodigal, in-
sisted on having the portion that belonged to them. He
had long before invested five thousand dollars for each.
It was accordingly withdrawn and handed over to them
on the day they left home to try their own fortunes in
the world.

Another three months went by, when a startling
rumor ran through Churchill Henry Fuller had failed!
And the man who held the note for three thousand dol-
lars came post haste to Churchill to look after his inter-
ests. But a New York broker named Gripen, held
everything in his possession. He therefore called at
once on Mr. Fuller's endorser, and presented his claim.

"I shall pay it, of course, but you must give me a
few days," the deacon said with a strange sinking at his
heart, for he knew the old homestead must be mortgaged
to raise the money.



10 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

From the mortgage of the farm dated the decline in
Deacon Harris' fortunes. And after fifteen years of
anxiety and struggle, he gave up the farm, though the
pang it cost him only God and his own heart knew. He
still retained the old farmhouse with an acre of ground,
though but a pitiful caricature of what it once had
been. After a few years his wife died, leaving him
quite alone. He had long since ceased to be a deacon
of the First Church, though the familiar title still clung
to him. Younger and wealthier men, imbued with more
modern ideas, controlled its affairs now.

After twenty-one years of absence, Henry Fuller
came back to Churchill. The prophecy of his youth
was more than fulfilled, and all Churchill went down on
its knees before him. If anyone remembered the past,
they wisely refrained from speaking of it, and Deacon
Harris in his poverty was conveniently forgotten. It
was a business transaction, and if the deacon had chosen
to take the risks, why, it was only his own fault.

The deacon's children, in the meantime, had chil-
dren of their own, and were engrossed in their own fam-
ilies and interests. John could not burden himself with
an old man who might live to be a great deal of trouble.
If his father "hadn't been a fool, he would have been
independent, now."

Clara's husband had been unfortunate, and with a
grown-up family of boys and girls, it was as much as he
could do to live in genteel style.



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 11

After his wife died, Deacon Harris visited each of
his children. It did not take him long to learn there
was no place for him in his children's home, and with a
strange sense of desolation tugging at his heart, the old
man prepared to return to his lonely dwelling. Clara
wept, and "so wished they were able to keep father,"
and the old man slipped quietly out and sat down on the
doorstep, with his head very low on his breast.

"Grandfather," said a low, sweet voice, and a soft
arm was thrown lovingly around his bowed shoulders, "do
you want me? Can I be any help and comfort to you,
if I come to Churchill?"

"You, child!" he exclaimed, grasping the little
hand in both his own.

"Why, yes, grandfather, I am almost seventeen, and
can learn to do anything if I won't be a burden to you.
May I go do you want me, grandfather?" parting the
silver hair with her slender fingers, and leaning over to
look into his face.

"Want you, little Margie!" he cried, a sudden light
in his faded eyes. "But they won't let you go to live
with grandfather, dear."

"1 shall go, most certainly," she said resolutely.

And this was how Margie Dean came to be living at
Churchill at the opening of this story. There had been
a storm of opposition, but she said quietly and firmly :
"I shall go if you all disown me in consequence. I
know it is right."



12 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

And now we will return to the "north room," and
look after our patient and his anxious nurse. The sun
threw a long slant line of p&le gold through each of the
narrow windows, and the quiet room was tremulous with
soft light and shade, and odorous with sweet-brier, when
the minister, retxirning, paused a moment on the
threshold. How long Mr. Armstrong might have been
content to stand silently and listen to the sweet voice of
Margie, as she read in low tones from one of the royal
singer's triumphant psalms, I know not, for Margie,
looking suddenly up, discovered his presence, and gave
him such a glad, welcoming smile that it drove all else
from his mind.

When after the long golden twilight hour had pass-
ed, Charles Armstrong rose to take his departure, he
felt a vague consciousness that whatever the future
might hold in store for him, this day would be forever
sacred in his memory.

It was known in Churchill that the minister went to
Deacon Harris' a great deal, but for once this very keen-
scented people were at fault. The possibility of his
falling in love with quiet little Margie never once oc-
curred to them.

But one day a thunderbolt burst over the village.
Lucy Fuller was returning from the post office, when she
met Mr. Armstrong riding in an open carriage with Mar-
gie Dean beside him, and the careless bow he gave Miss
Fuller proved how completely absorbed he was in his com-



13

panion. I will not attempt to picture the surprise and in-
dignation that convulsed the First Church of Churchill
when this appalling news was noised abroad.

Poor Margie ! how her gentle, sensitive heart was
wounded at every turn, by cold looks and contemptuous
smiles and vague hints which she did not understand,
till some more spiteful than others, openly taunted her
with scheming to entangle the minister, and ruin and
drag him down by a mesalliance.

It was Lucy Fuller and Julia Harper who said this,
and Margie's soft brown eyes held a pained and startled
look, as she passed on homeward, those cruel sentences
ringing in her ears. How chilly it had grown! she
shivered. She was dragging him down. It seemed
strange that she had never thought of it before. She
thought of the bright future, upon whose threshold he
had but just stepped, and her heart gave a quick throb
of mingled pain and bliss. A choking sob forced itself
through the whitened lips, but there was a new light in
the brown eyes, and the glow of a great resolve made
the pure, pale face softly luminous.

Margie was only eighteen, but at that moment her
life looked to her as desolate its bloom and sweetness as
nearly vanished as the dead summer over whose bier
the gaily-colored autumn leaves were already slowly
drifting.

That night the Rev. Charles Armstrong retired in a
very un-Christian temper. He was vexed with himself,



14 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

with the First Church, and last, but not least, with
Margie Dean.

"Who cares what the members of the church say,
I'd like to know. I'm sure I don't, and Margie wouldn't
if she loved me half as well as I love her. And to think
how firm and determined she was ! She would never be
a 'millstone about my neck' what nonsense! As if she
were not fit for a queen this moment ! How pure and
brave she looked when she said : 'Because I love you,
I am firm. lean sacrifice my love, but not your future.'
"My future ! Well I shall resign, and I'll do it to-
morrow!" But he did not, he stayed and fretted him-
self ill, and was in turn jellied and dressing- gowned, and
slippered by all the young ladies in the village save
one; and with the perversity of human nature, this ex-
ception was the only one from whom he desired these
favors. But though Deacon Harris came to see him, no
word or token came from Margie.

Mr. Armstrong grew in favor with the First Church.
At last, after repeated failures, they had found a min-
ister after their own heart. They had not enjoyed such
a season of prosperity for years. The pastor of such a
flourishing society should have been happy. And yet,
I am afraid he was not nay I am sure that the only
thing that kept him from forsaking his admiring flock,
was that once a week he saw Margie. For Margie was
always at church, though (and it made him very angry)
very little notice or attention was vouchsafed her.



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 15

Church aristocracy is the most cool, the most exclusive
thing in the world.

But one Sunday there came a radical change. A
stranger occupied a seat in Deacon Harris' pew, holding
the hymn book with Margie, and when service was over,
both people and pastor were much exercised by seeing
him hand her into an elegant carriage, drawn by a span
of beautiful, black thoroughbreds, with silken manes
tossing from proudly arching necks.

While the people wondered, the pastor remembered
the look of half sadness, half exultation, that crossed
the faintly flushed face of Margie Dean as she went
down the aisle and out at the church door.

There is always someone in every country town,
who contrives to get at everyone's affairs, and with the
most commendable enterprise (worthy a higher calling)
proceeds to enlighten their slower brethren. Tom
David represented this class in Churchill, and before the
carriage was fairly out of the yard he had informed
several that "that was the chap who had come after the
Deacon and Miss Margie, and they were going to leave
Churchill that very week. The stranger lived in the
West and he was rich shouldn't wonder if he was go-
ing to marry Margie."

The minister heard every word of the foregoing as
he came down the church steps.

The short winter twilight was fading out in the
west, when Charles Armstrong crossed with long, nerv-



16 HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES

ous strides the meadow, beyond which stood the Harris
homestead. There was a glow of yellow light against
the high windows, and coming nearer, his eyes rested
upon the sweet face of Margie his Margie ! gazing
dreamily into the glowing fireplace, her pure face bathed
in its rosy light. In that moment, all the pent-up love
he had been trying to trample out, sprang up within him,
a very giant that would not be stayed.

Another moment and Margie's startled and blush-
ing face was held against his breast, his arms folding
her in an eager clasp.

"Margie, I w r ill not give you up," he cried breath-
lessly. "O Margie! you will not leave me you will not
go away with this stranger?"

"If you mean Mr. Grant, both grandfather and my-
self have promised to go with him to his western home
as soon as necessary arrangements can be made," she
responded quietly. Charles Armstrong stood aside now,
his arms folded, his face white and grave.

"Margie," he said, "I will not censure you, but I pray
you may never know the pain you are giving me. I
hope he may make you as happy as I had hoped to do
I cannot say more."

His strong voice faltered, as he turned away, but
Margie sprang to his side, her eyes shining, her face
radiant.

"O Charles! What do you what can you mean?"
she cried. "As if he as if anybody could ever take



HEARTHSIDE SKETCHES 17

your place! And Mr. Grant has a wife and three
children."

''Margie my darling!" was the rapturous cry.

Well, the whole story came out after Deacon Hariss
and Margie had been gone a few days. And this was
the story: More than twenty-one years before when
James Grant was a struggling merchant, there came a
period of financial depression. He had no wealthy


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